§ SIR DE LACY EVANS, who had given notice of his intention "To move for a Select Committee to inquire concerning the measures resorted to or which were available, and as to the lines of communication adopted for reinforcing our army during the pending revolt in India, and to report thereon to this House, with a view to ascertaining the arrangements which should be made towards meeting any future important emergencies involving the security of our Eastern dominions," said, that as the Government had acceded to his Motion he was saved the necessity of trespassing at any length on the attention of the House. At the close of the last sitting an hon. Member opposite (Mr. S. FitzGerald) had asserted that the right hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Hayter) had misled him into 716 postponing this Motion; but he could assure the House that the right hon. Gentleman had had no share in that postponement. It was entirely his own doing, and he alone was responsible. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) had expressed an opinion that this Motion was, in fact, a vote of censure on the Government, but with that he had nothing whatever to do. The result of the Committee might be a censure on the Government, or it might be a matter of praise and congratulation for them. That he did not regard. All he meant and wished for, in case the inquiry was determined on, was that it should be of the most searching and judicial nature, and that hon. Members should approach it free from all party influences. With regard to the suggestion of the noble Lord the Member for London, that this was a question for a Committee of the whole House, and not for a Select Committee, he had looked into the precedents, and he did not think that they were in favour of that course. The inquiries into the charges against the Duke of York and the Walcheren Expedition were the last which had been conducted by a Committee of the whole House, and great inconvenience was then felt from the adoption of that course. Looking, moreover, at the mass of business which had to be got through this Session, it was not possible that the House could spare the time requisite for such an inquiry. Since putting his notice on the paper he had found it desirable to vary the terms of his Motion, and, therefore, he would now, if he were permitted to do so by the forms of the House, propose That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the measures recently adopted by Her Majesty's Government for the transmission of Troops and Stores to India and to report thereon to this House.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the Measures recently adopted by Her Majesty's Government for the transmission of troops and stores to India, and to report thereon to this House.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he could only repeat what he had said before, that the Government could have no possible objection to the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member, and would be happy to afford all the information in their power.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, that the Motion, as put from the Chair, appeared to be very different from the terms in which it stood on the paper. He wished, therefore, to know if it was the intention of the hon. and gallant Member to follow up the inquiry into all the matters which were referred to in the Motion of which he had given notice?
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, he should be the last man to wish to restrict the inquiry. It was his full intention to inquire into all the matters contained in the scope of his original notice,—into the proposition for sending reinforcements from Canada for instance; the measures taken by the local authorities at the Cape; and, in fact, into all the points connected with the subject which were discussed before the adjournment.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he rose to a point of order. He thought that, as there seemed to be grave doubts as to what the hon. and gallant General did mean, and as the Motion which he had made differed greatly from that which stood on the paper, it would be convenient to the House if in his place he would state explicitly the Motion which he intended to make.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, that he had altered the terms of the Motion because he understood that some hon. Gentlemen objected to the last sentence of it, as it stood in its original form; but if the right hon. Gentleman saw anything very attractive in the Motion as it stood upon the paper, he would willingly re-introduce it.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he must again appeal to the Speaker on the point of order. A general notice had been given by the hon. and gallant Gentleman before the adjournment. It was a very important notice, and he was not surprised that his right hon. Friend near him (Sir J. Pakington) should have expressed an opinion that it might be looked upon as a vote of censure on the Government. When notice was given of a Motion of that description, it certainly did imply prima facie that there was some conduct on the part of the Government which ought to be censured. The House would agree that there should be a clear understanding upon such a subject; and he put it therefore to the Speaker, whether it was in the power of any Member first to give a general notice upon a subject of great importance a long time before it could be brought under consideration, and then, at the last moment 718 (after giving a formal and precise notice in the meantime), so to alter the terms of the Motion in such a way as to obtain the assent of the Government, and thus to place an obstacle in the way of a fair and candid discussion of it? He was anxious to have the opinion of the Chair as to whether the hon. and gallant Gentleman was not bound either to give a new and formal notice of the Motion in the altered terms in which he intended to bring it forward, or failing to do so to submit for the consideration and decision of the House the Motion as at that time it appeared on the paper?
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, he was quite prepared to submit to any alteration that would meet the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Motion he now moved was in point of fact the same as he had put upon the paper for the 17th December, to which, except as regarded the omission of the last sentence, the Government had, before the House adjourned, intimated that they were prepared to accede. He should have brought it forward on that day but he was unable to do so. The Motion to which the right hon. Gentleman referred was the one he gave notice of on the 4th December, but that was not precisely the one to which the Government had acceded, and therefore he had moved the one in which the Government had acquiesced.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
remarked, that he could only say that so far as the Government are concerned, they are perfectly willing to adopt either the form of words moved by his hon. and gallant Friend, or the form of words as it stood in the Votes.
§ MR. HORSMAN
suggested, that a simple way of getting over the difficulty would be for the right hon. Gentleman opposite to move as an Amendment the form of words upon the Notice Paper.
§ MR. DISRAELI
observed, that he did not think the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman opportune. It by no means followed that because he (Mr. Disraeli) objected to the Motion as proposed by the hon. and gallant Officer, he was bound to move the substitution of the words as they stood upon the paper. He must again appeal to the Speaker whether, due notice not having been given of this particular Motion, it could then be put? He must, with all due deference, press his question on the right hon. Gentleman, because having repeatedly done so, he had only 719 elicited answers from others when he would with so much more satisfaction have received an answer from the Speaker.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that it was greatly for the convenience of the House that the terms of the notice should be adhered to in proposing a Motion to the House, but it was certainly in the power of a Member to depart from the exact words of his notice, and sometimes inconvenience might arise from not allowing such departure. The hon. and gallant Member was not out of order in proposing the Motion in its altered form. It was equally true that the Committee, in pursuing their inquiry, would be limited to the altered terms of the Motion.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, that he would move as an Amendment, to add to the Motion the concluding words of the Motion as it stood upon the paper, "with a view to ascertaining the arrangements which should be made towards meeting any future important emergencies involving the security of our Eastern dominions." These words were not such as he should himself use, for they did not very clearly state the objects of the inquiry; but as they were those which his hon. and gallant Friend originally intended to move, he would adopt them.
§ Amendment proposed, at the end of the Question to add the words, "with a view to ascertaining the arrangements which should be made towards meeting any future important emergencies involving the security of our Eastern Dominions."
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, it certainly was a surprise upon the House that the hon. and gallant Officer had not proposed the Motion in the form he had put it upon the paper, but as he had amended it, he (Lord John Russell) preferred it to the Motion as now proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman, (Mr. Roebuck) because it appeared to him that the latter opened up the question to the more general inquiry of what the Committee would advise should be done in future to meet similar emergencies, and it was clear that unless the emergency was precisely the same and the means at the disposal of the Government the same, such advice would be but of little use. What they should inquire into was, what means the Government took to transport troops and reinforcements to India, and whether those means were sufficient under the circumstances or in- 720 sufficient—that was an important inquiry, bat as to what ought to be done in future cases, that was a matter that ought to be left open, for it was impossible to say that what it would have been right to do last June would be equally right in 1867 or 1877. He should, therefore, vote against the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, that, whatever might be the strict rule, he could not help thinking that it would be very inconvenient for hon. Gentlemen to give notice of Motions in a different shape from that in which they intended to submit them. He agreed with the noble Lord in his objection to the latter part of the Resolution, but he found that the hon. and gallant Officer had altered the early part of his Motion as well as the latter part. The hon. and gallant Officer had omitted the words, "or which were available," and he owned that it was the omission of those words which had first struck him (Sir John Pakington) and had made him direct attention to the subject, because if the inquiry were to be of any practical use at all they ought to go into the question, whether Government did avail themselves of all the means in their power in sending out troops to India. If the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield would let the Motion stand, as notice had been given, down to the word "House," and would omit the remainder of it, he apprehended that the Motion would then be agreed to without opposition.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, he had no objection to withdraw the words from his Amendment, in fact, he did not care one farthing about it. He had moved his Amendment to get them out of the difficulty, and now, if they had no objection, he would withdraw it altogether.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, that however he might have expressed himself he wished distinctly to state that it was his full intention that the inquiry should extend to all the available means at the disposal of the Government, and how far they had availed themselves of them.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
suggested that if the words "or which were available" were retained, there would be no objection to the Motion.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
observed, that it seemed to him that the House was under some difficulty. He did not remember ever hearing of a Motion which was said to 721 condemn some part of the conduct of the Government being agreed to without their having some grounds laid before them for the assertion that the Government were to blame. They were asked to appoint a Committee without having any allegation whatever before them.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he considered that the House was discussing at some length a matter upon which substantially there could be no difference of opinion. In the course of the last Session great doubts were expressed as to whether Her Majesty's Government had availed themselves of all the means at their command in sending out troops and reinforcements to India, and many hon. Members expressed an opinion that instead of sending the forces round by the Cape of Good Hope, they ought to have been sent overland through Egypt. The Government maintained the opposite view, and were ready to support it by argument and statements. His hon. and gallant Friend stated that he was prepared to move that the subject should be referred to a Select Committee. That he considered was a fair course, and one with which the Government ought to be satisfied, and they were prepared now, as they were then, to assent to such an inquiry being instituted. His hon. and gallant Friend had inserted upon the Notes a form of words for effecting that object, but which, for some reason or other, he had thought fit to alter. The Government had no objection to the form of words as altered, or to the form of words as it stood on the Votes; but if his own opinion was asked he should say that the original form, being more comprehensive, embracing the past as well as the future, would indicate to the Committee the more satisfactory form of inquiry. He therefore would recommend to his hon. and gallant Friend to withdraw his present Motion, and submit in lieu of it the Motion as it stood upon the Votes.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he thought the House was called upon to protest against a course which he held to be irregular, inconvenient, and to a great degree, if not entirely, unprecedented. The noble Lord said that when the House met last year, in December—[Viscount PALMERSTON: Last summer.] He begged pardon, but he thought it was on the 4th December when the noble Lord made his memo- 722 rable statement about the monsoon being the reason why the troops had not been sent through Egypt. It was in December, then, that the hon. and gallant Officer brought forward the subject; and there was certainly at that time much discontent in the mind of every Member of that House and of the country as to the manner in which the troops had been forwarded to reinforce our army in the East. The hon. and gallant officer, than whom no Member of that House was more competent to bring forward such a question, gave notice of his intention to bring on the subject for discussion on an early day; and in consequence of that notice there was an absence of discussion at that time, for although many opinions might have been incidentally expressed one way and the other, it was felt that, acting in accordance with the mode in which the business of the House was ordinarily conducted, that expression of opinion ought to be postponed until the Motion—though certainly no one expected it to be a protracted one—came fairly before them. But the Session was most unexpectedly terminated, and the hon. and gallant Member had no opportunity of bringing on his Motion before the House adjourned. But was it anticipated by any hon. Member that such a Motion could be agreed to without a full and complete discussion? Whatever view hon. Gentlemen might take—whether it was a Motion for the satisfaction of the public mind, or whether it was a Motion of censure upon the Government, certainly no one anticipated that it would be assented to without the grounds upon which it was brought forward being stated and the House being called upon to pronounce a decision on those grounds, and upon those grounds alone. No one could deny that such a Motion as the present was at least unusual. It is only upon a prima facie case being laid before it that the House of Commons can be expected to grant an inquiry, and, therefore, not for a moment could it have been supposed that such a Motion would be made, much less carried, without full opportunity for discussion and the expression of opinion. At the commencement of the present Session it was generally understood that an opportunity would be afforded for a full discussion on this important subject, and when they were told that the sitting, which it was supposed would have lasted three weeks, was only to last one, and that the hon. 723 and gallant Officer had an understanding with the Government that his Motion should be assented to by them, there was a feeling of great and universal disappointment on all sides. He would recall to the recollection of the House the fact that the noble Lord the Member for London stated that he did not consider himself bound by that understanding, but reserved to himself the right of moving for a Committee of the whole House—a most important step, as he need not say. He protested, then, against the view which the noble Viscount has taken of this Motion, and contended that he had no right to expect that this Motion should be referred to a Select Committee without discussion. He concurred with the hon. Member for Surrey (Mr. Drummond), that there was no instance on record in which a Motion of such importance, involving the conduct of the Government, had been carried without the grounds upon which it was brought forward being explained. He contended that the hon. and gallant Officer was bound to lay his grounds for the Motion before the House, and that hon. Members were found to listen impartially to the statements he might have to bring forward, and to what the Government had to say in their own defence. Until this was done he trusted that the House would not agree to the Motion. For what was the object of a Select Committee? It was to obtain that information which the House could not elicit direct from the Minister. But as yet they had no discussion, and they could not therefore know whether the explanations which the Minister might be prepared to give in the House were satisfactory or not—and, consequently, whether or not the Committee was necessary. Whatever the terms of the Motion, of this they might be assured, that if it were agreed to without discussion, the feeling of the public would be that there was an arrangement between the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster and the Government, by which full and open discussion of a subject which so immediately concerned the public interest, and which had so much agitated the public mind, had been prevented.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, he rose to explain:—He was quite sure the right hon. Gentleman did not intend to misrepresent him, but he had, nevertheless, made a remark which might lead to a very incorrect inference. The right hon. Gentleman had attributed to him an ar- 724 rangement with the Government for the purpose of preventing discussion. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that he had not exchanged a word with any member of the Government upon the subject, beyond what had taken place in the House when the subject was last before them. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that he (Sir De Lacy Evans) ought to have stated the grounds of his Motion, and to have called for a full discussion. He thought he had brought the subject before the House already, and so far from having misled the House, he stated distinctly on the last night on which the subject was mentioned that as the Government had assented to his Motion, it was not his intention to induce a discussion.
§ MR. SPEAKER
, after intimating that the hon. and gallant Officer must confine himself to explanation, said that looking at the opinions expressed on both sides of the House, he would suggest to the House that the most convenient course would be, to adopt the suggestion of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. That the hon. and gallant Member should withdraw his Motion, and move it in the words in which it had originally stood on the paper.
§ MR. FRENCH
remarked, that as the Motion had in that form been already put and withdrawn, it could not now be put again.
§ Motion by leave withdrawn.
Motion made and Question proposed,—
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire concerning the measures resorted to or which were available, and as to the lines of communication adopted for reinforcing our Army, during the pending Revolt in India, and to report thereon to this House; with a view to ascertaining the arrangements which should be made towards meeting any future important emergencies involving the security of our Eastern Dominions.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, that he thought the proceedings of the House were certainly somewhat irregular; but whether it was irregular or not, after a form of words had been proposed, and by the leave of the House withdrawn, to move it again, he thought the words which originally stood in the former part of the Motion were essential. It appeared to him that the words "which were available," which it was proposed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite to insert, were necessary. If including those words they adopted the Motion down to the words "this House," they would leave it to the Committee to consider what measures were available, 725 and what measures were adopted by the Government, which was a reasonable and useful subject of inquiry. But if they went further and the Committee were asked to consider what arrangements might be made to meet future emergencies that might arise in our Eastern dominions, they called upon them to go beyond what was necessary, and to enter upon an inquiry that could result in no practical benefit. There might be certain reasons existing now why the Government thought it better not to send the troops overland through Egypt, or by steam round the Cape, instead of by Bailing vessels, but which in future emergencies, when there might be a railway the whole distance from Alexandria to Suez, and improved means for the reception and transport of troops at the latter place—in fact when different circumstances existed from those with which the Government had now to contend, might not apply. Therefore he thought it would be better to confine the Motion to the earlier part, leaving out the words after "this House;" and he would move as an Amendment that the last sentence be omitted.
§ Amendment proposed to leave out from the words "House" to the end of the Question.
§ MR. DISRAELI
The House must consider before it assents to this Motion, the position in which it is placed. The reason for appointing a Select Committee in such a case as this is, that when a subject in which great interest is felt has been brought before the House and discussed, the House feels that it is yet so involved in a mass of details as to render it impossible in a public discussion to deal with it completely, and to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion. But here there has been no pretence of a debate at all. And yet, so far as I can understand the question, I am of opinion that this question might very completely and profitably have been debated and disposed of in the House itself without the interposition of a Select Committee. It was open to the hon. and gallant Gentleman to have brought forward his Motion, and to have stated his opinion that our army in India ought to have been reinforced by the overland route, as generally a more early and more efficient mode than that to which the Government had recourse. We should have listened to his statement, supported as he would no doubt have been by information and argument, and we 726 would also have heard what the Government had to say in vindication of the course which they thought proper to pursue. We have, however, had no opportunity of pursuing that course, and I ask the House is it wise or expedient that we should relinquish our functions as a deliberative assembly, representing the feelings and opinions of the country, and bound to watch over its interests, and without any reason assigned, appoint a Select Committee to inquire into a subject which we ought to inquire into, and which by the ordinary means of public discussion we are expected to extricate from its confusion. The course proposed is, no doubt, convenient, when the conduct of Government is called in question—and called in question, too, not by an opponent but by one of their habitual supporters, but it is one which is not very honourable to this House. For observe how the House is placed with regard to it. On the first night of this Session the hon. and gallant Gentleman gives notice of a Motion on the subject, and, of course, by the courtesy of the House, he prevents any hon. Gentleman on this side of the House from giving notice on the same subject. I speak with authority on this point, because I know there was an hon. Friend of mine, on this side of the House, who would, but for that notice, have submitted the question to the House and taken its decision upon it. See, then, the position in which we are placed. At the unexpected early Session in December there was a general feeling that the position of our army in India would have been improved by an earlier adoption of the overland route, and great discontent and dissatisfaction throughout the country as to the means by which our army in India had been reinforced and the military power of England in the East sustained. It was naturally expected that, when Parliament did meet, this question would be brought to that sure test of truth—a discussion in the House of Commons. But while matters were in that state, a hon. and gallant Gentleman, who is an habitual supporter of the Government, gets up and gives notice of a Motion for a Select Committee. By the courtesy which in this House one hon. Member invariably shows to another, he thus makes himself master of the situation, and prevents any opponent of the Administration from originating inquiry. The question is thus left in the possession of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and till the very last 727 moment in the December Session we are left to suppose that the question will be brought forward. We supposed, and we had a right to suppose, that no Government would allow Parliament to adjourn without having first secured for that question a full and ample discussion. Yet, by some hocus-pocus, which it is difficult to understand, which it is by no means easy to trace, we find affairs are so managed, not of course by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, because he says he is incapable of management, that no discussion of a question can he had on a point on which the country was most anxious there should be a discussion. Then consider in what a crude, inconsiderate, incoherent way the matter is now brought before us. The hon. and gallant Gentleman first makes a Motion, then he withdraws it, and then he introduces it again in another form. For my part, I agree with the noble Lord the Member for London, (Lord John Russell), that even though this question were now to be discussed, it would be | impossible to agree to the form in which, at your recommendation, Sir, it has now been put from the chair. The whole question has been brought before us in the most crude and incoherent form, and quite beyond the power of this House to sanction. The best thing would now be that the hon. and gallant Gentleman should manfully withdraw his Motion, and so shape it that discussion on it might be challenged by a clear and definite issue. The noble Lord at the head of the Government indeed, tells us that the question has been sufficiently discussed. When was it discussed? I never recollect any instance when the question was made matter of serious discussion, or sustained attention. It is true that on one memorable occasion the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown gave us the grave reason why the troops could not be sent by way of the Red Sea. I must say I listened to the noble Lord's statement—made, I believe, about midnight on almost the last evening the House met before Christmas—with astonishment. I remember the noble Lord said he could not take upon himself the responsibility of allowing the British troops to proceed across the desert when the monsoon was blowing, and when there was no accommodation provided for the men at Suez; and further, that he did not think it was befitting the dignity of Great Britain to go cap in hand to any foreign Potentate, and ask 728 for permission to allow British troops to proceed through his territory. The noble Lord's objections resolved themselves into a physical and a moral one. As to the moral objection, I do not think there would have been anything degrading, under the circumstances, in a British Minister asking a foreign Power to allow the passage of our troops through his territories, even as a matter of favour; but that was altogether unnecessary, for it happens that we have a treaty of transit through the territories of the Ruler of Egypt, which would permit our troops to pass as a matter of right. Then as to the physical difficulty. The noble Lord talked of the danger of encountering the monsoon and the desert. Now, Sir, this desert is a mere strip of land. One would suppose, to hear the noble Lord's description, that it was the desert of Sahara, instead of being a mere strip of land, the greater portion of which was traversed by a railroad. As for the monsoon which British troops cannot encounter, it has been habitually encountered on the voyage to India not by Englishmen only, but by English women and English children. If they could encounter the heats of the monsoon I should think British troops would not fear to face it. Besides, it ought to be remembered that this wind, against which the noble Lord inveighs so much, is favourable to the passage of the troops, as it blows up the Bay of Bengal, and would then enable them to make the voyage in a fortnight. And when the noble Lord tells us of the perils that were likely to be encountered by the British soldiers during these few days of the monsoon, he forgets the inconveniences to which they are subjected during their long three months' voyage round the Cape. Now, if the noble Lord have no better defence than this, I can easily understand that the noble Lord thinks it would be better to have the question remitted to a Select Committee. But that is not the position of the House of Commons. We have our duties to consider and our dignity to uphold, and I think it will be more consonant with them that this question should be brought fully before the House—that the mover of this Motion should state his reasons why he thinks the conduct of the Government objectionable—and that we should listen to his reasons rather than that, by a reference to a Select Committee we should seek to protect ourselves from that responsibility from which, as a representative assembly, we ought not 729 to shrink. I hope the hon. and gallant Member—after the unsatisfactory state in which the Motion stands, a Motion which has suffered from the attentions of fathers, godfathers, and friends of all kinds—will shrink from any responsibility connected with it; that he will withdraw it for the present, and give notice, after due reflection, of a Motion which will allow the House fairly to discuss its merits, with a view to elicit some result which will be satisfactory to the country, and a guide to that opinion in the country which is always ready to be affected by that of this House, when the country believes that the House does not shrink from the pains necessary to ensure the truth.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
The right hon. Gentleman has talked of the various fathers and godfathers of the Motion of my hon. and gallant Friend. One's eyes sometimes deceive one in this House; but, if mine have not deceived me on this occasion, one of the godfathers of this Motion sits close to the right hon. Gentleman himself,—for I think that the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) raised his hat in sign of approbation of the Amendment just proposed to limit the last Motion of my hon. and gallant Friend. I leave the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend to settle between them who is right—he himself, who opposes the Motion, or the right hon. Baronet, who appears to give it his support. The right hon. Gentleman said the Government hurried the House through the short Session which took place before Christmas, and implied that one of the objects for which that precipitate termination of the sittings was brought about was to prevent the discussion of the question now before us. Sir, I really put it to the right hon. Gentleman (and he is much too candid, even in Parliamentary dialectics, not to avow the truth) whether he and a noble Friend of his in the other House were not much more anxious than we to put an end to the late short Session; and whether we had not the distinct assurance held out to us that, if no other business was to be brought forward by the Government, except that connected with the special matter for which Parliament had been called together, it would be agreeable to all parties that our ante-Christmas sittings should be as brief as possible? The right hon. Gentleman, who appears to put himself forward as the champion of Government, says—" What can be so unjust 730 as to call for a Committee to inquire into a matter connected with the conduct of the Government, before they have had an opportunity of justifying themselves in debate in this House, and of thereby rendering further investigation unnecessary?" The right hon. Gentleman is therefore anxious, for the sake of the Government, that this Committee should not be appointed. Sir, I thank him exceedingly for the kind care he takes of our interests; but we are perfectly willing, as I have already said, that the inquiry should take place, and we are confident that an investigation before a Committee upstairs will lead to a more satisfactory conclusion of the whole matter than could result from a desultory discussion in this House. The right hon. Gentleman says that a debate 13 the best test of truth; but I take leave to think that, in cases like the present, a sifting inquiry carried on by a Select Committee is a much better method of ascertaining the truth. The right hon. Gentleman says that such a Committee is only fitting when the question at issue is one involving complicated details. Why, this is precisely a question of that nature; it is precisely a matter in regard to which the opinion to be formed must turn upon a great variety of complicated details. Those details can be better inquired into by the examination of witnesses before a Committee upstairs than in a debate in this House. There have undoubtedly been some details adverted to by the right hon. Gentleman which I am afraid even the searching inquiry of a Committee will not be able entirely to ascertain. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the disastrous effects of the monsoon in the deserts of Egypt; and, although he did not mention it, I presume he also meant to turn his thoughts to a sand-storm in the midst of the Indian Ocean. But these meteorological details I leave to the right hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Baronet who sits next to him. Setting aside these particular geographical questions, I am of opinion that a Committee of this House would be the best instrument for determining whether the arrangements of the Government were those most suited for their purpose. The right hon. Gentleman says that, on a former occasion, I gave very unsatisfactory reasons for the course we pursued. I have no doubt the reasons I may state for anything are usually unsatisfactory to him. That is nothing new. It is a misfortune to which we who sit on this side of the 731 House must naturally make up our minds. Still, the unsatisfactory judgment of the right hon. Gentleman by no means shakes my confidence in the opinion I expressed, and for which, I think, I gave sufficiently detailed reasons—namely, that the plan we adopted was the one best calculated to promote the public service. I then stated that to have Bent troops in large numbers through Egypt, and down the Red Sea, would have required an amount of previous preparation involving an immense loss of time; and, from the difficulty of getting adequate transport from Bombay to Suez, would have been utterly impracticable, and would have entirely defeated the object in view. I said that if you had to send ships from England to arrive at Suez, in order to convey the troops thence to India, it would be much better to send the troops in those ships from hence all the way to India. Certainly, to have sent the ships round the Cape of Good Hope, in order that they might proceed up the Red Sea and receive troops which had been conveyed through the Mediterranean by another set of vessels, would have been a very circuitous operation. These, however, are details which the Committee will have an opportunity of examining. But I must say the right hon. Gentleman's complaint is most extraordinary, and one the least complimentary to himself that I have ever heard in this House. He says he has been taken by surprise, and seemed to imply that he has not had long enough notice to prepare a speech on this subject. Why, he has had six weeks; and if he was unable in the whole of the recess to prepare his mind for a Motion that was announced before Christmas, what chance is there that, if my hon. and gallant Friend's Motion were postponed for four or five days more, those four or five days would be more prolific in a speech from the right hon. Gentleman than the longer interval that has preceded them? The right hon. Gentleman is not a man to be taken unawares. He is not a man who is unable to collect his thoughts and put his information in a proper shape upon the shortest notice; and, therefore, the very meagre statement he has made this evening, and the very unwillingness he has shown to enter into this subject, prove that something has been passing in his mind during the Christmas recess which leads him to think that the result of an inquiry before a Committee will not be precisely that which may suit the views of those hon. Gentle- 732 men who sit on his side of the House. The course of my hon. and gallant Friend appears to me the proper one. He has yielded to the wishes of the House by withdrawing the Motion he had made, and by reverting to the Resolution of which he had given notice in print upon the Votes. And as far as we are concerned we are perfectly ready to adopt that Motion, satisfied that the Committee, by a sifting inquiry, will arrive at the conclusion that the course we pursued was the one best adapted for the public service. Instead of thinking the latter part of the Motion inappropriate, it seems to me that any investigation with regard to the past would be deficient in results, did it not lead to suggestions as to the best methods by which troops should hereafter be sent to India, either in time of peace when no great emergency exists, or in time of war when there is an urgent necessity for transporting a large amount of force with every possible despatch.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, he agreed with the noble Lord that a Committee upstairs was the best mode of conducting this inquiry, and he thought that the Government showed great courage in acceding to the Motion, for he could tell them that there were things that would come out in that Committee which would surprise them. He thought the hon. and gallant Gentleman was quite right not to enter into any discussion on the subject now; for, in the first place, there were no papers before the House. A return ha (Sir Charles Napier) had moved for with regard to the number of sailing and steam ships sent out to India had not yet been given, and he was not prepared with papers to prove that he was right with regard to the course which ought to have been taken by the Government in sending out troops in steam ships. Still, when the President of the Board of Control laid these returns upon the table, it would be seen that the Government had been perfectly wrong, and that he had been perfectly right. As to what had been said about sending the troops overland to Suez, the Government, however, were quite right. No preparations of any kind had been made for it, and they could not be certain that vessels would arrive from Bombay. With respect to the "circumbendibus" described by the noble Lord, nobody would have thought of sending vessels round the Cape of Good Hope and up the Red Sea to Suez. The real diffi- 733 culty was whether the Government of India could have found ships to receive the troops when sent from this country. He believed that they could not. He believed that steamers would have arrived in India much sooner than troops sent viâ the Isthmus of Suez. But he could not acquit the Government of neglect—perhaps their conduct might deserve a stronger epithet—in not hiring steamers in the first instance, and sending them out with troops to India. If they had done that, he believed the men would have arrived six or seven weeks in advance of those conveyed in sailing vessels.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, that he begged leave to remind the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) that when he talked of the various paternities of this Motion, that right hon. Gentleman had been the cause of that variety of paternity, by objecting to the course which the proceedings had taken. The right hon. Gentleman said that he (Sir De Lacy Evans) had not made a proper statement to the House on so important a subject. If he believed that he had any of the powers of oratory which the right hon. Gentleman possessed he would enlighten the House as often as the right hon. Gentleman did; but as he had great misgivings as to his own oratory he was careful not to obtrude himself unnecessarily on the House. He had inquired what could possibly be the cause of the right hon. Gentleman's excitement on this subject, and he found that the right hon. Gentleman had come down to the House primed with a very long speech, which the course taken with regard to the Motion had prevented his having an opportunity of delivering. He (Sir De Lacy Evans) had not now troubled the House, because he had spoken on the subject two or three times last Session, and had gone into the whole question. The right hon. Gentleman charged him with being a habitual supporter of the Government. He denied that he was any such thing. He was the habitual supporter of no one, and owed allegiance to no party. He was there as the independent representative of one of the greatest constituencies of the country, and, as far as he could judge, his constituents believed him to be independent, and were quite satisfied with the course he bad pursued in Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman also charged him with making an arrangement with the Government with respect to his Motion, and he now answered 734 that he had not made any arrangement with the Government. He had not even exchanged a word with any Member of the Government on the subject, but had learned that the Government intended to accede to his Motion in the same manner that the right hon. Gentleman came to the knowledge of that fact. The Lord President of the Council in the other House had stated that it was the intention of the Government to accede to it. On the following evening an hon. Gentleman, who sat on the same side of the House as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Horsham (Mr. Seymour FitzGerald), made a very able speech, and urged upon him (Sir De Lacy Evans) to pursue the course he had adopted, and to press for the Committee of Inquiry, and he asked the Government to ratify the statement of the President of the Council. Upon this the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control rose and did ratify that statement, and said that the Government would not object to a Committee; and that was his (Sir De Lacy Evans's) whole knowledge of the matter, and all the diplomatic arrangement of which he had been guilty. There was no foundation whatever, therefore, for the insinuations of the right hon. Gentleman, which he was astonished that the right hon. Gentleman should have made, for he was so fortunate and felicitous as to agree on this question with the right hon. Gentleman, and it was rather ungrateful of the right hon. Gentleman to attack him in this violent manner. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman that he had found an opportunity of making part of his speech, and if it had not been so long as it otherwise might have been, it was certainly very effective as far as it went.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he did not rise to prolong the discussion, but he wished to enter his protest against the position in which many hon. Members might find themselves, in consequence of the course which had been taken with regard to this Motion. he could not agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Southwark (Sir Charles Napier), that there was no better way of sifting a question of this sort than by means of a Select Committee; for his (Mr. Bentinck's) experience had taught him that when a question was raised against a Government the surest way to shelve it was to refer it to a Select Committee; and the noble Lord had exercised a wise discretion in acceding to this 735 Motion. As he (Mr. Bentinck) thought that referring the question to a Select Committee was only shelving it, he must guard himself and other Members, in case they were called on to divide on the Amendment, and did not have an opportunity of going to a division on the original Motion, for they would be in the position of being able to record their opinions on a portion of the Motion without an opportunity of voting on the whole of it. If the arrangement originally proposed—that there should be no discussion, and that the Committee was to be agreed to—had been carried out, he should not have troubled the House; but, as it was, he felt bound to say that there ought to be an opportunity given to hon. Members to express their opinions on the original Question.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
said, that he thought that an opportunity ought to have been afforded for going into the whole of this question, as it was a long time before the Committee could report, and there was a strong feeling on the subject in the country. He himself entertained a very strong opinion with regard to it, for although large bodies of troops could not be forwarded over the Isthmus of Suez, yet a beginning might have been made sooner than it was. It was confidently asserted that Bombay steamers were kept ready coaled, in order that they might be sent to Suez as soon as information should be received that troops could be forwarded by that route. He himself crossed the desert before it was a fashionable amusement to do so, and he could assert that it was by no means physically impossible for troops to cross at that season of the year. There were large and convenient barracks at Cairo, to which place the troops might have been conveyed by railway, and although there might have been some difficulty in crossing the twenty-five miles of desert at the further end, yet troops might, by a forced march, have accomplished that distance during the night, and have gone on board ship next morning. In this way 100 or 150 men might have crossed at a time, and 400 or 500 might have been forwarded by each of the monthly steamers. In passing down the Red Sea they would have had calm weather, and though probably it would have been very hot, yet the temperature would not have been so great as that experienced by their brother soldiers before Delhi. After passing the Straits of Babelmandeb they would have 736 got a strong breeze from the south-west, which would have carried them speedily and comfortably to Bombay, whence they might in a few hours have been transported into, probably, the most delightful climate in the world. From these premises he drew the conclusion that the Government ought much earlier to have sent troops by the Isthmus of Suez. As to the relative merits of sailing and steam ships, he believed that from the month of February to that of April sailing ships, such as the James Baines and the Sovereign of the Seas, might make the voyage to India in seventy or seventy-five days; but in the summer time, when calms extended down to the north-east trade wind, and the wind blew lightly, it was a great oversight not to have towed these ships to the southward. He did not think that sufficient expedition was shown in taking up the steamers which performed such good service in the conveyance of troops to the Crimea, and this, as well as other neglects, he attributed to the abolition of the Transport Board, which was formed, and had proved so efficient, during the late war. That Board was in possession of various documents and data, which showed the various powers of every merchant steamer, so that it could at once have laid its hand upon the best and most powerful vessels. If that Board had been still in existence, he believed that troops would have been forwarded in a much shorter period than they had been. In conclusion, he could not but express his disappointment that some member of the Government had not made a comprehensive statement of things as they now stood.
§ MR. WILLIAM VANSITTART
said, he would express a hope that the inquiry which was about to take place would be full and comprehensive. He thought that it would be proved that the Government had made a mistake in not availing themselves of the overland route for sending troops to India at an early period. It had since been proved, in the case of the 97th regiment, that such a course was quite practicable, and in one instance 300 artillerymen had passed from Alexandria to Suez in twenty-six hours. As to the heats in the Red Sea, he believed that the troops would have suffered no more, or so much from heat, than they must have done under the equator in the transit by sea. The Pacha of Egypt was quite ready and willing to assist us in the transit of our troops, and it had been stated that he was ac- 737 customed to send 300 of his troops from Alexandria to Cairo in one train.
§ MR. MARSH
observed, that having twice passed along the Red Sea, he was able to say that he never experienced such discomfort and suffering as during that transit. He had been in Australia when the thermometer was at 110 degrees, but there his appetite was good, and he could do anything; but in the Red Sea the effect of the heat on the human frame was very great—the appetite failed—and there was a depression of the system peculiar to the climate, which would render any soldiers unfit for fighting for weeks after the passage. He had passed during the cool season, and much as he suffered, he was told by the officers of the ship in which he sailed, that he could not conceive the misery which was endured by passengers during the hot season; and if that was the case in a well-fitted and ordered passenger-steamer, what must be the case in a crowded troop-ship?
§ LORD ADOLPHUS VANE-TEMPEST
expressed his belief that the country would be disappointed when they knew that the whole conduct of the Government with regard to the reinforcement of our army in India had been referred to a Select Committee, instead of being discussed in that House. Last year, on the breaking out of the Indian mutiny, the Government proposed an addition of 2,000 men to the army; and, as most of the operations which were expected must have taken place on land, he had said that it was strange that the Government had made no statement with regard to the measures they proposed for carrying on those operations on land. He had also, on more than one occasion, appealed to the Government to send out the troops in steamers, but he was told by the First Lord of the Admiralty that sailing vessels were better than steamers at that time of the year; time, however, had shown how fallacious that opinion was. Hon. Members on his side of the House, following in the wake of the hon. and gallant General, and the hon. and gallant Admiral (Sir C. Napier), had pressed on the Government the necessity of looking the crisis in India in the face; hut they could get no satisfactory reply from the Government, which pursued its own course. He should have been glad to have been able to think that an investigation into this subject by a Select Committee would be the best course; but, at any rate, he hoped that opportunity would be taken by the Govern- 738 ment to make some statement with regard to the measures they were taking for the future. By the last accounts from India, Sir Colin Campbell was stated to be prevented from realizing the great results which his military genius would have secured by the want of men. It was to be feared that the unfortunate motto, "too late" would be found as applicable to the proceedings of the Government in India as it had been in the Crimea. He trusted that some hon. Member of more influence than himself would induce the House to press upon the Government the necessity of adopting some means for adequately reinforcing the army in India, and thus enable our generals to retrieve our position, and restore peace and tranquillity in that country.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes 147; Noes 78: Majority 69.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.