§ MR. LYTTELTON
Mr. Speaker—Sir, in rising to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty in answer to Her gracious Speech, I have, in the first place—and I do so in no conventional spirit—to appeal to the House for its forbearance and indulgence. I do so with the more confidence because I believe the House will agree with me in thinking that Her Majesty, in her Royal Message this year, deals with subjects, some of them of more than ordinary importance, and others of more than ordinary delicacy or difficulty. With regard to that portion of Her Majesty's Speech which refers exclusively to Foreign Affairs, allusion is made to no less than five questions which have arisen between Her Majesty and Foreign Powers, and which have been, or now are, the subject of more or less anxious negotiation. Under these circumstances, I cannot but regard it as a matter for more than usual thankfulness that Her Majesty is able to declare that She maintains relations of friendship with foreign Powers all over the world. Of the questions to which I have alluded some have been already decided—and happily decided—and of others it is not too much to say that they have reached a stage which justifies our anticipating a speedy and favourable settlement. With regard to the slave trade at Zanzibar, we have been informed that Papers will be presented to the House; and, as negotiations are still in progress, I will only say that we have every reason to hope that a favourable and honourable settlement will be arrived at as to the slave trade in that part of the world. Those who are interested in that abominable traffic are, no doubt, well aware that this country, if on no other question, is in earnest upon this point, and that what the course of successive Governments has been in the past will continue to be the course of Her Majesty's Government, with the unanimous approval of the country.
Sir, the arbitrations with respect to the San Juan Boundary question and 58 the Alabama Claims having come to a conclusion since the termination of last Session, these are now referred to in the Royal Speech. The country at largo is, I believe, of opinion that Her Majesty's Government is entitled to great credit for the sustained efforts they have made to introduce the principle of arbitration into the settlement of international disputes. We have been told, indeed, that in all probability this principle will be one but of limited application, and that when nations are actuated by greed of territory, or by deep-seated international animosity, there will be no scope for its operation. This may be so: but in these particular instances of which I have been speaking, I think it may be said that the matters which have been submitted to arbitration were of no light or transient importance, relating to grievances which, having rankled for years, might have led, under different treatment, to the calamity of war. It cannot, therefore, be unreasonable to suppose that, so far, at all events, as concerns our relations with America, in the settlement of any future disputes the principle of arbitration will play a great and important part. In the arbitration on the question referred to him of the San Juan Boundary line, the Emperor of Germany decided against us; and whatever disappointment may be felt at that award, with regard to its good faith and technical accuracy no objection has been or can be taken. On the contrary, the House will echo the expression of thanks to the Emperor of Germany for the impartiality he has displayed in this matter. Objection has been taken since the event to the terms of the reference; but it must be remembered that these terms of reference were included in the very Treaty which received the express approval of the body most interested in the question, and most competent to form a judgment upon it—the Canadian Parliament. We have, too, good grounds for the belief, shared in by our North American fellow-subjects, that they will sustain no substantial injury from the decision which has been arrived at under the provisions of the Treaty. As the House is well aware, the Arbitration at Geneva ended in this country being held liable to the United States to the amount of more than £3,000,000 sterling. Notwithstanding this fact, the great majority of this House will probably be 59 of opinion that Her Majesty's Government has merited, and will receive, the thanks of the country for the able manner in which they conducted this most difficult and arduous matter. Doubtless we have heard it objected in many quarters that in the course of the negotiations in reference to the American claims Her Majesty's Government exhibited an undue love of peace and an undue fear of war:—but, Sir, I would remind the House that the American Government, against whom no such taunt has been or can be levelled, emulated our Government, throughout the negotiations in their honourable and patriotic shrinking from the possibility of a fratricidal war.
Sir, the next subject of negotiation referred to in the Speech has reference to the Treaty of Commerce with France. That Treaty has still to be discussed in the French Assembly; but I think I may say that if any mischance happens to it during its progress, its failure cannot but be regarded by this country with regret. There is, no doubt, much that is false and retrograde according to our notions of fiscal policy, in the Treaty, and much that may affect oppressively and harshly the British manufacturer; but, on the other hand, it may well be urged that the high protective duties which form, in our opinion, the chief blot upon the Treaty, might and no doubt would be imposed by France upon our manufactures whether there was a treaty or no treaty in existence. It must also be remembered that the abolition of those vexatious differential dues on. British shipping under the Treaty cannot be regarded otherwise than as a solid and substantial advantage to this country.
Sir, the last point on which I need touch with regard to Foreign Affairs is the subject of Central Asia. It is well known that the difficult question of the northern boundaries of Afghanistan has long occupied the attention of Her Majesty's Home and Indian Governments; and therefore we must hear with satisfaction that attempts are being made to set the question at rest by amicable negotiation, so far, at least, as that object can be attained by an identity of view between our own and the Russian Government. This country, I am convinced, would sanction no mere meddlesome interference with the in- 60 evitable advance of European civilization in the benighted countries of Central Asia, still less would it approve of an aggressive or annexing policy, or the making of a treaty or compact with any foreign country which would compromise or restrict our freedom of action. But, notwithstanding this, our course of duty is clear and will not be misinterpreted. It is as much our duty to preserve India from the false hopes and expectations and disturbing influences which would arise from the proximity of a great military nation to her frontiers, as it is to develop her internal prosperity; in fact, we cannot do the latter without the former, although we may reasonably hope the time will soon arrive when the prosperity and contentment arising from a course of good government will prove to be India's best and most efficient protection from the fears and alarms of foreign aggression.
Sir, I now pass to that part of Her Majesty's Speech which deals with home legislation; and I find that the first subject in point of order and importance is that of University Education in Ireland. The House is well acquainted with the Parliamentary history of this question, and I will not go further into that, especially as there are many other reasons, independent of Parliamentary pressure, which justify, or rather compel, the promised attempt of Her Majesty's Government to deal with the question in a final and comprehensive manner. The passing of the University Test Bill made it impossible to retain any longer University tests in Ireland, and the disestablishment of the Irish Church seriously modified the position of that great and time-honoured institution, Trinity College, Dublin. In the words of Dr. Smyth, of the Presbyterian Magee College—"Trinity College, having been deprived of the privilege of resting upon the Church, must now rest upon the nation. "And, again, the Irish Universities do not attract to their walls or examinations the number of pupils which the population of the country, no less than their own wealth and character, would lead us to expect. No doubt the main reason for this state of things is to be found in the abstention from the benefits of University education of the great majority of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, who do not furnish one-twentieth of the number of students they might be expected to 61 send as compared with the Protestants, if population alone were made the basis of our calculation. Allowance must be made, of course, for the preponderance of Protestants amongst the wealthiest class of the country—a preponderance, however, which does not extend to all the University-going classes of Ireland; but still the fact that Roman Catholic students are to Protestant students only as one to six must be deplored, and acknowledged to call urgently for a remedy. No doubt I shall be told that the disabilities under which the Roman Catholics of Ireland labour with regard to University education are self-imposed; I do not deny that; but I maintain that no Government can be called wise, just, or liberal which refuses to take account of principles—or perhaps prejudices—which have for centuries been inherent in the faith of three-fourths of the people which that Government is called upon to rule. I am convinced that by the advice of Her Majesty's Government no endowment will be attempted to any Roman Catholic University or College in Ireland; but we may confidently expect from the Government a removal of those disabilities which affect not only Roman Catholics, but many others, and, by a wise remodelling of the educational system where it seems to call for it, extend the sphere of University culture in Ireland.
No doubt the House has received with considerable satisfaction the announcement that the Government intend to bring in a Bill to establish a Supreme Court of Judicature, and remodel the whole of our present system and practice of appeal. The complexity of that system and its insufferable delays have long been a scandal, and the difficulty of its amendment has appeared to be insuperable:—if the necessary reform is effected by the promised measure, fresh lustre will be added to the reputation of the distinguished lawyer, so long an ornament of this House, upon whom has devolved the duty of introducing it in "another place." With this Bill will be introduced another, having for its object to facilitate the Transfer of Land. Whether it will, if successful, so far affect the present disposition of landed property as many imagine may well be doubted; but it may be hoped that it will be especially beneficial to those of 62 the less opulent classes, whose dealings are chiefly in small parcels of land, and who at present are embarrassed by the difficulty of acquiring and investigating titles to land and the consequent delay and expense of its transfer. We are also promised a measure for the amendment of the Education Act of 1870. That measure will doubtless be one not contrary to the main principles of the Act, but tending to the development of principles already approved by this House and the country. There is no conceivable proposal on this subject that could be introduced into this House which would meet with unanimous approval from all sections; but it is only fair to anticipate that the measure of the Government will be an honest and complete attempt to solve the difficulties and amend the defects of the Education Act. If it fails—if it is not met in the spirit in which it will be introduced, there will be grave ground for apprehension as to the future of the cause of education in England. I have now noticed all the points relating to home legislation, with the exception of local taxation, and I shall not attempt to make any speculations as to the character of that Bill, especially as the subject in all its bearings is, as yet, far from being understood by the country at large. An exception should be made in favour of one section of the community, who, from their own point of view at all events, have thoroughly investigated and popularized the subject. Whatever may be the conclusion as to the claims or position of the agricultural or rural section of the rate paying public, it cannot be denied that the thanks of the country are due to them for bringing under the strong light of publicity, the anomalous jurisdictions, the complex areas, the unjust incidence of burdens, and other evils which have so long disgraced our local system of taxation.
Sir, I have touched upon all the principal measures in Her Majesty's Speech. They are few; but they are in character of the utmost importance. I venture to say that if they are passed into law, the legislation of this Session will be a worthy continuation of that policy which has guided our administration for the last four Sessions, and to which, I venture to think, it is in a measure due that these last four years have been years of progress and prosperity not surpassed 63 in our history. I have only now to thank the House for the attention they have given me, and to move the Address, which I trust will meet with the unanimous approval of the House. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to convey the thanks of this House for the Most Gracious Speech delivered by Her Command to both Houses of Parliament:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for greeting us on our re-assembling for the discharge of our duties, and to assure Her Majesty that we rejoice to hear that Her relations of friendship with Foreign Powers throughout the world are unimpaired:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us of the steps which have been taken for dealing more effectually with the Slave Trade on the East Coast of Africa:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us of the decisions which have been given by the German Emperor, and by the Tribunal of Arbitration at Geneva, with regard to the questions referred to them:To thank Her Majesty for informing us of the course which Her Majesty has been pleased to take, and the provision which Her Majesty will ask to be made, in consequence thereof; and to concur with Her Majesty in acknowledging the pains and care which have been bestowed by the German Emperor, and likewise by the Tribunal at Geneva, on the peaceful adjustment of those controversies which had arisen between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States:To thank Her Majesty for informing us that a Treaty for the Extradition of Criminals has been concluded with the King of the Belgians:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for the information which Her Majesty has given us with regard to the communications which have been renewed with the Government of France for the purpose of concluding a Commercial Treaty to replace that of 1860:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us of the Correspondence which has passed between the Governments of Russia and the United Kingdom respectively, of which the main object has been to arrive at an identity of view regarding the line which describes the northern frontier of the Dominions of Afghanistan, and to assure Her Majesty that we join with Her in trusting that its tenour, no less than its object, may be approved by the public opinion of both Nations:64Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that the Estimates of the coming Financial Year have been framed with a view to the efficiency and moderation of Her Majesty's Establishments under present circumstances; and that, although the harvest has been to some extent deficient, the condition of the Three Kingdoms with reference to Trade and Commerce, to the sufficiency of the Revenue for meeting the Public Charge, to the decrease of Pauperism, and to the relative amount of ordinary crime, may be pronounced generally satisfactory:Humbly to assure Her Majesty that we will give our earnest attention to the measure which will be submitted to us for settling the question of University Education in Ireland, as well as to the other proposals which will be laid before us:And to join with Her Majesty in trusting that the guidance and favour of Almighty God may attend our deliberations.
§ MR. STONE,
in rising to second the Address, said: Sir, the House has shown of late years an increasing disinclination on the opening night of a Session to enter upon any serious and detailed discussion of the various matters referred to in the Speech from the Throne; and the Speech which Her Majesty has caused to be delivered on this occasion is perhaps more than usually calculated to encourage that mode of procedure—because it refers to a great extent to matters with regard to which information is not yet fully before the House. I make that remark, not in any spirit of complaint, but as an additional plea for the extension to myself of that indulgence which this House always accords to those who have to discharge the difficult but honourable duty which has fallen upon me. The remark I have just made applies more especially to the paragraphs of the Speech which relate to Foreign Affairs. It would be most unbecoming in me, when Papers on these various subjects are promised by Her Majesty's Government to be laid before the House, were I to endeavour either by surmise, or by any information which I might happen to possess, to anticipate the statement which it will be the duty of the responsible Ministers of the Crown to make to the House on those various topics. There is one of these subjects, however, which I venture to think I may deal with more freely, and that is the 65 question of the mission to Zanzibar. The state of affairs which has led to that mission is sufficiently within the knowledge of the House. One among the most glorious traditions of this country is that which makes it a duty—which I may almost say gives her a prescriptive right—wherever she meets with the evil of slavery in any part of the world, to deal with it as her own question. We have succeeded to a large extent in suppressing this evil on the West Coast of Africa. Perhaps I am going too far in saying that it is wholly due, but the diminution of this traffic is due, in great measure, to the exertions of this country. There can, however, be no doubt, that the same evil has sprung up on the opposite side of the continent, and nothing can be more lamentable than the accounts which explorers have given as to the state of the traffic on the East Coast, where the band of destruction is widening far into the interior. Most pathetic is the description given by Dr. Livingstone of the tribes which he found—apparently of a gentle and amiable disposition, well adapted for improvement and civilization, and which are in danger of being, if not depopulated, ruined and barbarised, by the few reckless and unprincipled men who follow in the track of discovery with this abominable trade. The evil is not one of small magnitude. It is estimated that not fewer than 20,000 slaves are annually exported from Zanzibar; and those who know best say that that represents at least 100,000 persons captured as slaves in the interior—four-fifths of whom consequently die from extreme suffering on their way to the coast. That is a sufficient cause for the intervention of England. But there is another cause for intervention. The Sultan of Zanzibar is bound by treaty to stop the traffic; yet he neglects to do so. Much has been said of late, which in my opinion is very foolish, about a change in the position of England in the scale of nations, and about her reluctance to undertake duties which she was formerly forward to assume. I do not agree with such an idea. I hold, as everyone must, that England is ready, when the interests of civilization and philanthropy really require it, and when her honour and dignity as a nation require it, to take any trouble and make any sacrifice to uphold both. The present mission may 66 be a small matter, but it is one in which our country will take an opportunity of showing her principles; and the only wish of the public will be that, as Government has taken this work in hand, it will go through with it thoroughly, and will not allow any question of expense to interfere with the entire, effectual, and thorough suppression of the slave trade on the East Coast of Africa. I shall next say a few words on the Treaty with Franco—because I know there is a feeling among many persons that there is something unsatisfactory in that Treaty. It must be borne in mind that the treaty by which we have hitherto been bound has almost expired, and the question before the country is either to take the best treaty it can get, or to have no treaty at all. The disadvantage of having no treaty at all is, with commerce above everything, very great, as commerce is largely affected by uncertainty. If France requires money she must raise her duties, and we should be entirely at her mercy from year to year in the course she adopts for obtaining money, so long as we have no treaty. However much the terms of the Treaty may be disapproved of, it is better than having none at all. There is great delicacy in speaking on this subject, because the Treaty has not been yet ratified by the French Assembly; but if the French Government introduces any modifications into it adverse to this country, Her Majesty's Government will hold itself perfectly free to consider them. In the passage relating to the Estimates of the year I dare say hon. Members will miss a familiar phrase which I miss myself—a time-honoured phrase; but it has been so often misused that it is well it should disappear. I mean the word "economy." It has of late been the fashion to assume that the word "economy" is identical with "parsimony." There could not be a greater mistake than that. No one can wish that our establishments should be other than efficient, and the best path to cheapness is found on the way of efficiency. There may be another reason for omitting the phrase, and that may be the exceptional circumstances of the country. We are all quite familiar with the fact that certain commodities required by Government have risen largely in price. I think we should not be surprised if, owing to the increase in the price of materials and the cost of labour, 67 we should find that the Estimates are increased in amount. All I can do is to express a hope that, considering the constituency I represent—Portsmouth—Her Majesty's Government have not lost sight of the rise of the cost of labour in a branch of industry carried on there. I hope it will be found, when the House come to consider the Vote for labour in the Dockyards, the Government have done what they can to secure the cheerful and efficient services of the people they employ. They can ill spare what they have hitherto had, but what they may not always obtain—I mean the services of able men; and, as it is impossible that the Government can shut their eyes to the necessity of making some concession to their labourers, so I am sure that neither the country nor the House will grudge the necessary expenditure. Sir, the next passage of the Speech refers to the condition of the country. It is a great satisfaction to learn that, in spite of some disturbances, the state of trade and commerce is generally satisfactory. Recent official Returns, now in the hands of Members, show that the enormous increase of our trade during the previous year has been fully maintained, and even exceeded, during the last year. The House will be glad to hear that there is also a steady decrease of pauperism. At the end of the year 1871 the decrease was 92,000, as compared with the previous year, which itself showed a decrease of 100,000, as compared with 1870. The number of paupers in England and Wales is now 835,000, a number much in excess of that we could wish to see; but if this decrease of 100,000 a-year could be continued for a few years, the amount of pauperism and the crime which accompanied it would become such as might be regarded with a measure of satisfaction. I shall now refer in a very few words to the programme of measures which the Government will introduce in the present year. No one has over charged them with deficiency of courage. They have been always ready, when the necessity came, to grapple with the most difficult and complex questions, and they show the same courage in the measures which they have put in the forefront of the battle this Session. When we remember what difficulties the theological zeal of England has set in the path of every one who has endeavoured 68 deal with elementary education, we shall see that dealing with University Education in Ireland is likely to prove a very difficult matter. Experience tells us that theological disputes are not less luxuriantly developed by their transfer to the other side of the Channel. I cannot but think, therefore, there may be some touch of irony in the paragraph of the Royal Speech which tells us that the object of the measure to be introduced is the advancement of learning in that portion of Her Majesty's dominions, because the measure may give rise to debates in which that important consideration may be almost entirely lost sight of. If the advancement of learning be the object which Government has in view, there is sufficient reason for the introduction of this measure. As I understand the matter, Parliament has been engaged for some years past in various measures for the attainment of one great object—the weaving into one harmonious whole all our systems of education—elementary, secondary, and higher education; but hitherto the question of University Education in Ireland and in England has hardly assumed the importance which really belongs to it; and if anything could be done to put Ireland on a level with England it would be worthy of the attention of this House. The subject of education in Ireland leads naturally to that of education in England. It would be unsuitable now to touch even lightly upon the difficulties which are awaiting us on this question. But I am well aware that in the minds of many persons there is a reasonable disappointment with the results of the Education Act; and I fear that official Returns will confirm this feeling. Such a state of things should not lead to hurried legislation, nor is the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) a man to pull up his plant in order to see how it is growing. The providing of school accommodation is a simple matter; but the practical difficulty which now exists is—how to compel the regular attendance of children. I am told that the small school board of which I am chairman is the only such body in an agricultural district which has practically formed by-laws for compulsory attendance. This fact shows how little has yet been done; and I am sure that a measure for securing the regular attendance of children at schools will receive cordial support from all the 69 friends of education. Of course the Government has a full right to arrange the order of its own measures. I may, however, express a hope that the debates on the subject of Irish Education will not be so prolonged as to prevent the House from entering upon and disposing of some of the other subjects referred to in the Speech. One of those subjects is most formidable. All must agree that our present system of local taxation is thoroughly unsatisfactory, and the decisive vote of the House last year undoubtedly meant that some change ought to be made. From the extreme complexity which arises from the great number of the areas of taxation, the variety of authorities, and the different kinds of rates levied, it almost seems as though the whole system of local taxation were devised so as to excite the utmost amount of dissatisfaction, and insure that the money raised should be the greatest possible burden. The time of this House would, therefore, be well spent in simplifying the system and in ascertaining how local burdens affect different classes. Doubtless many interests must be touched, and many difficult points must be adjusted; but I have never yet known the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government turn his back upon a question because of its difficulty and complexity, and therefore it is to be hoped that in the course of the Session the right hon. Gentleman will pass a comprehensive measure on the subject. If that result be accomplished, and the other topics touched upon in the Speech be satisfactorily dealt with, I think we shall have a satisfactory Session, and shall do a very good stroke of business. I now beg to second the Address, thanking the House for its indulgence and attention.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That," &c. [See page 63.]
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, Her Majesty's Speech from the Throne consists—omitting pure formalities—of 15 paragraphs; 10 of these are devoted to our external relations, five refer to our domestic politics. I do not know whether that is at all ominous of the class of subjects which are hereafter mainly to engage the attention of the House of Commons. If it means that the attention of the House of Commons is to be 70 given more than it has been of late years to the consideration of our foreign relations, I shall not altogether regret it. I think it is as well that the House of Commons should remember that it has to perform the duties of a Senate as well as those of a Vestry. The warmest advocates of political parsimony may learn in recent transactions that some knowledge of foreign affairs and some attention to our external relations, may perhaps prevent a costliness of expenditure which they did not contemplate.
Sir, I propose, in the few observations that I shall make this evening, to reverse the order, or, rather, the arrangement of the Queen's Speech from the Throne, and to make, in the first place, one or two remarks on the paragraphs that refer to our domestic interests. I conclude, from the arrangement of the Speech, that the great measure of the Session will be that of Irish Education. I do so because it has a paragraph to itself; and I know from experience that that is very significant. The right hon. Gentleman has engaged in an enterprise of a noble character. He is about to bring in a measure which shall have for its object "the advancement of learning," and the advancement of learning by means which shall be consistent with the "rights of conscience." The "advancement of learning" and the "rights of conscience" are two very good things; perhaps the best. I have myself a reverence and respect for both; but I must say, from my own experience, that I have not found so easy, as the hon. Member who has just addressed us with so much ability seems to anticipate, the task of reconciling the "advancement of learning" with the claims of the "rights of conscience." I have never failed in meeting with warm support when I projected any measures for the "advancement of learning;" but there has always been received in a more chilly way any reference to the rights of conscience—while those who advocated those rights did not express that ardent sympathy which I could have desired for the advancement of learning. I trust, however, that the right hon. Gentleman will succeed in settling this difficult problem; but I shall be greatly mortified myself if the solution, after all, turns out only to be the sacrifice of a famous and learned University, in order to substitute for it 71 the mechanical mediocrity of an Examining Board.
There is another paragraph—the last but one in the Speech, and it is the only one with reference to our domestic affairs which I shall find it necessary to notice to-night—which I confess fills me with some alarm. It would almost seem that this paragraph must have been drawn up by some individual who has digested with the greatest interest all that vagrant rhetoric that distinguishes the Recess. After Parliament is prorogued you know, Sir, we have several months not idle in respect to rhetoric. It is about that time that we have schemes brought forward by which the country is promised that every man shall be a landed proprietor without paying for it; schemes to settle the great question of local taxation, which generally end in the novelty of the expense being defrayed in Downing Street; schemes for relieving the House of Lords of its judicial functions, retaining, however, their political ones, but upon this condition—that they do not exercise them; schemes for the Government taking all the railways; and, I suppose, if it be necessary, working all the collieries. Sir, I have looked upon this rhetoric of the Recess myself in a different light from that which I think the individuals who have been consulted on the composition of this Speech have done. I look upon the Recess in this respect as a safety-valve. In a free country, with the right of petition and the right of holding public meetings, with even a halfpenny Press, and other blessings of that kind, where every town has a debating club, and where now every village has its agitator, I cannot conceive how it is possible to prevent a certain degree of nonsense from being uttered during the Recess. But I have always considered these projects very much as I would the autumnal foliage; and believed that as the year advanced, and Parliament met, and we came to real business, and have entered into a more vigorous and healthy atmosphere, we should give our attention to subjects which had at least the recommendation of the necessities of the country, and which might be brought about by sober and prudent legislation. But when I read this paragraph, in which so many and such various subjects are specifically mentioned, and so many more indirectly alluded to; and when I 72 recollect what happened during the last hour, when Notices were given for 50 or 60 Bills upon the very first night of the Session, I confess that I do not look forward to the result of the present Session with the sanguine spirit that I did 24 hours ago. I think there is a prospect of a terrible July—that the moral atmosphere will be charged and sultry, and that instead of reforming our methods of effecting Public Business under the rule of the right hon. Gentleman—at least of dealing with one subject at a time—that we shall find even an exaggeration of those unfortunate circumstances that we have already experienced and deprecate, and that there is some prospect of hurry-slurry debates and helter-skelter legislation.
Sir, I would now, with the permission of the House, make some remarks upon the more considerable portion of Her Majesty's Speech—that part which refers to our foreign relations. Under ordinary circumstances, although the subjects are many and important, it would not be necessary for me to trespass upon the consideration of the House, because in almost every case Papers are promised; and it is convenient, I think, when Papers are promised to the House by the Government, to postpone any observations on the subjects with which they deal until the Papers are in the hands of Members. But, Sir, I must say that there are some points with reference to these subjects, and even with reference to those subjects on which Papers are promised, which seem to demand information immediately from Her Majesty's Ministers, and that we should not wait until there are placed before us Papers which will more adequately and completely answer the inquiries that we may urge than the Ministers themselves can offer in the places which they now occupy. And, first of all, I would call the attention of the House to the results of the proceedings before the Tribunal of Arbitration at Geneva. Now, Sir, I hold this as a rule. When any nation, and more especially a nation like England, refers a question to the arbitrament of a third Power, and the Award is made, nothing is left to us but to treat the Arbitrators with respect, and fulfil the Award with dignity; and, therefore, not a word will escape my lips that would criticise in any degree the conduct of the Sovereigns or the States who have joined in 73 those Awards upon the subjects which have been referred to them by this country. But, notwithstanding that, I think I shall be able to show the House that it is our duty not to pass over those Awards to-night without notice, and that there are points on which we require and must request information from the Government. When it was first announced to the world that the contentions that had long subsisted between the United Kingdom and the United States, and which arose from the proceedings of the great Trans Atlantic War, were about to be referred to the arbitration of a third Power, there was considerable excitement and exultation among a portion of the population of this country. It was supposed, and it was announced, that a new era was about to be inaugurated in the conduct of our foreign affairs; that the golden age was about to return; that the on and the lamb were indeed about to lie down together; that horrid war was to cease, and those armaments which occasioned us so much discussion were altogether to disappear. Great fame and glory were of course to be achieved by the Ministers—who ever they might be—who could carry such a policy into effect. Now, Sir, I wish to say for the late Government that they do not lay any claim whatever to any share of the fame and the reputation associated with such a policy. We do not shrink from our responsibility in taking the course which we did in recommending the referring of this question to arbitration. In doing so we thought we were only adopting a sensible and not unusual course under the circumstances. We did not believe that it was original or novel. We knew that questions had been before referred by this country to the arbitration of a third Power, and we believed that the controverted claims between the United Kingdom and the United States were exactly one of that class of questions which might successfully and satisfactorily be so referred. I think, as a general rule, that the class of questions that can be referred to arbitration satisfactorily are exactly those matters which do not involve the question of peace or war. I can say myself most sincerely that I, for one, never for a moment supposed that the claims which arose from the late American War would ever result in a war between England and the United 74 States. I can venture, without reserve, to say that that was the opinion of the eminent statesmen in the United States with whom we had communications. But we all believed that it was of great importance that those controverted Claims should be inquired into and settled, because we knew that professional politicians on the other side of the water—agitators on matters of this kind—would take advantage of those Claims being left open to excite the passions of the people in America, and in time, if they were neglected, create a chronic irritation; so that if a period arrived when it might be of the utmost import to the authorities of both nations to appeal to the generous sympathies and feelings of the population of both countries, instead of appealing with success, they would appeal to feelings of vindictive distrust; and therefore we thought that it was of high importance that those questions should be settled, and we were of opinion that arbitration was the mode by which they could be settled with satisfaction. For myself I have never concealed—and, therefore, I need not conceal it now—that I held that the result of that arbitration could not be injurious to this country. I stood on the case as I found it argued by my predecessors, and placed by that eminent statesman, Lord Russell. I stood on that case, and I myself have no hesitation in saying that it was the opinion of the American statesmen with whom we communicated that the result would not be very different from that which was contemplated by the English Government. Well, Sir, under these circumstances, when the present Ministry proposed a policy of arbitration, the proposition received from me a genuine support. When they proposed even to carry on that arbitration at Washington, I saw very good reasons for the course which they contemplated taking. It was a controverted course. I know one to whom I greatly defer in such matters—Lord Derby—who objected to it. But, on the other hand, I knew that Sir Henry Bulwer, whose loss this House has to deplore, was strongly of opinion that, if adequately represented, the interests of Great Britain could never suffer if the negotiations were conducted at Washington; that there were facilities for communicating with members of that all-powerful Assembly, the Senate, which could not be enjoyed in this 75 country; and that there were other advantages which no prudent Minister would neglect. Well, under these circumstances we heard of the negotiation of the Treaty, and at the same time we heard of the three new Rules which Her Majesty's Ministers had introduced, and by which they gave a retrospective character to the negotiations. The House may recollect—if, indeed, they deign to recollect such things—that I took the earliest opportunity of protesting against those three Rules. I saw in them the probable cause of great inconvenience, of great disappointment, and the possibility of results accruing very different from those which were contemplated from the arbitration proposed by the late Administration. But I had to consider the difficult position in which the country was placed with regard to this negotiation. At that time the Treaty was virtually concluded, which alone would make one pause before one originated discussions which could but create acrimonious feelings across the Atlantic. But besides that, there was the possibility, and more than the possibility, that the interpretation which was at the same time announced by Her Majesty's Ministers would be accepted, or probably had been accepted, by the United States of America; and I am bound to say that if that interpretation had been established, the consequences—the evil consequences—of the Treaty would have been comparatively innocuous. You must remember that on the very night when the negotiation of the Treaty was announced in the other House of Parliament, Lord Ripon, the Chief Commissioner in that negotiation, declared to the House of Lords that the new Rules which had been communicated only expressed the ruling policy of the Government of Lord Palmerston. And so, also, Sir Roundell Palmer, in that highly important post which he occupied as the counsel of his Sovereign and his country, stated in the most decided manner that those three Rules aimed at nothing more, and could accomplish nothing more, than what the Cabinet of Lord Palmerston had undertaken to achieve. Therefore there can be no doubt as to the interpretation which was placed upon those three Rules by Her Majesty's Ministers, for we are now all aware of what the policy of Lord Palmerston on that subject was. But if I had not been aware of the 76 policy of Lord Palmerston on this matter, I should have felt almost an equal confidence, because I am convinced that Lord Palmerston was a statesman who never would have committed this country to an engagement of ambiguity and peril. Now, Sir, that being the case, I regret to find that the interpretation which Her Majesty's Government placed upon those Rules is not the interpretation which has been placed upon them by the Tribunal of Geneva. We know the interpretation that was placed upon the Rules by Her Majesty's Government. It is a subject upon which there can be no doubt, because Sir Roundell Palmer—and I regret his absence at this moment—I regret the loss which at least the House of Commons has experienced in his quitting us—one of the greatest lights that ever shone in our debates—but Sir Roundell Palmer, in his commanding position as counsel of his Sovereign and his country, has defined what was the construction which Her Majesty's Government put upon those Rules. He has told us that what we mean and what we meant by those Rules was that the Executive could avail itself of all powers which the municipal law of the country invested it with, and could act upon those powers, and no more. "And no more" were the words of Sir Roundell Palmer; and he went on to lay down also another proposition which those Rules were intended by the British Government to express—namely, that the Executive of the neutral Power was not bound to take the initiative, was not bound to search and to inquire, but only to wait for such information as might be placed before it. Such was the construction—expressed by their consummate advocate—which Her Majesty's Government placed upon those three important Rules. Now, I will show the House that the Tribunal of Geneva has on three cardinal points placed a totally different I would say a totally contrary—construction on the Rules from that which was placed upon them by Her Majesty's Government.
The first cardinal point on which this difference arises between the interpretation of Her Majesty's Government and that of the Tribunal of Geneva has reference to the celebrated undertaking with regard to due diligence. By the Rule which we introduced we are bound to observe due diligence in prevent- 77 ing the building and equipment of ships, &c., which might afterwards be used against a belligerent Power. We know from the mouth of the counsel for this country what interpretation was placed upon that Rule by Her Majesty's Government. We know that in making the Rule we only, according to our belief, engaged that we would exercise those powers which the municipal law of the country invested the Government with, and which the latest municipal law of 1870 on these subjects—namely, the Foreign Enlistment Act of 1870, specifically alluded to. Now, the Tribunal of Geneva has come to a totally different conclusion upon that point. It has announced that "due diligence" means such diligence as would prevent the evil complained of, and the House will at once see what must be the inevitable consequence of such a rule—namely, that a neutral power must absolutely guarantee that none of its subjects should build or equip any ship which at any time may act against a belligerent at peace with itself.
There is another cardinal point, and one of not less importance, to which I must call attention. By one of these new Rules, acting in harmony with international law, and with the latest municipal law of this country, it is, or in our opinion was, provided that we should not be bound to seize any vessel that had been commissioned by either of the belligerents, and had thereby become a national ship. Our holding was this—that if any vessel violated the laws of neutrality, and was afterwards found in our jurisdiction, commissioned by a belligerent, and in the character of a national ship, we were not bound to make, and could not, indeed, make, a seizure of that ship. The House will see the importance of this law—the law of nations and the municipal law of England—because, otherwise, if we attempted to seize a ship under those circumstances, commissioned by a belligerent, we were committing an act of hostility against the belligerent, and might ourselves soon be involved in war with him. Now, what is the judgment upon this point of the Tribunal of Geneva?—which I do not question; I am not criticizing it; I am only calling the attention of the House to the complications of these new Rules, occasioned by the various constructions put upon them by Her Ma- 78 jesty's Government and the Tribunal of Geneva. The Tribunal has decided in an unequivocal manner that it is the duty of a neutral to seize a ship commissioned by a belligerent.
There is a third and, I think, a cardinal point in which a difference exists between the construction of these Rules by Her Majesty's Ministers and that placed upon them by the Tribunal. It refers to the case of a belligerent obtaining fuel in neutral waters—a process which it is convenient to describe by the somewhat more barbarous expression of "coaling." Now, it was always held to be legal that a belligerent might coal in neutral waters. That was the understood law upon the point; and it was the interpretation placed on the third Rule by Her Majesty's Ministers. There was probably during the whole war no power which used that privilege so much ad libitum as the United States of America. Her Majesty's Ministers construct a Rule that neutral waters shall not be the basis hereafter of hostile operations, with a clear understanding, in their own minds, that coaling in neutral waters was to remain legal; but the Geneva Tribunal has come to a different conclusion. It is laid down that even coaling in neutral waters may be a violation of neutrality, and we must take the consequences. I have placed before the House to-night three cardinal points in which the Tribunal of Geneva has placed upon the new Rules of Her Majesty's Ministers a construction very different, and in some cases absolutely contrary, from that which has been placed upon them by Her Majesty's Government. And now I want to know from Her Majesty's Government what is the course they mean to take in this respect. The House will remember that this country is bound by the Treaty of Washington to make these new Rules of Her Majesty's Ministers known to other countries, and to urge then upon them for their acceptance and adoption. Have Her Majesty's Ministers as yet made known these Rules, or are they making them known to other countries? Are they urging them upon other countries for their acceptance and adoption: and, if they be doing so, what is the interpretation which they are placing before these other countries by which these Rules are to be acted upon? Is it the interpretation of Her Majesty's Ministers, or is it 79 the construction of the Tribunal of Geneva? I would also ask the right hon. Gentleman to-night what is the view which Her Majesty's Ministers place upon the construction of the Tribunal of Geneva? Is their view with respect to the construction of the Tribunal of Geneva that which has been recently expressed by one of their principal Members, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, in that cordial and conciliatory tone which distinguishes him, said in one of his Recess speeches that his view of the construction of the Tribunal and of the Rules themselves was that hereafter they will be binding upon no man? Let me point out the practical consequences of that.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
One moment. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to misrepresent me. What I said was, that what was laid down by the Tribunal was not binding. I certainly said that the Rules we had agreed to were binding.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I made a note at the time. I do not, of course, place it in opposition to the right hon. Gentletleman's statement; but I wish to show that I did not make the quotation loosely. The words I took down were, that in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman this construction—the construction of the Court of Arbitrators—"binds no one hereafter." [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: Just so.] Well, then, what is the consequence? The consequence is, if it binds no one here after, that we are to pay according to the American construction; but that if we afterwards have a claim on America, they are to pay according to the English version. There is yet another very important consideration resulting from these transactions before the Tribunal which, on the first night of the Session, it is my duty to place before the House, and one upon which I think we require information from Her Majesty's Government. These are not questions on which the public anxiety can be satisfied by a promise of hereafter giving us Papers. They are vast questions—they are urgent questions; they involve the highest interests and the very honour of the country. Let me ask the consideration of the House to the manner in which treaties are negotiated by the Government of England. I am the last man who would for a moment impugn the Prerogative 80 of the Crown, speaking generally, with regard to treaties. I should regard that Prerogative with tenderness and respect under all circumstances, and the Prerogative which leaves to Her Majesty the power of making peace or declaring war I believe to be a Prerogative which has acted most advantageously for this country, and to be one that is essential to good government. The Prerogative of the Crown, however, must, like everything else, be occasionally considered with reference to the changed circumstances of the time, and to the complicated relations which now subsist between different countries. As long as our foreign relations mainly consisted in making war and peace, rude, though important matters, it was not perhaps necessary for Parliament to consider the course they might take; but when you come to treaties which establish rules of arbitration and create public law, the House will see that there are grounds for believing that such treaties should not be concluded without an appeal to Parliament. I will put the present case in its true light before the House; at least, what I believe to be its true light. What could be more to be deprecated, for example, than that it should be in the power of a Minister to force a neutral country to change its municipal law? Yet that is about to happen and must happen in this country in consequence of the Treaty of Washington. Your municipal law must be re-constructed; it must be modified; it must be expanded, to work with the interpretation placed upon your Rules by the Tribunal of Geneva. And you, therefore, a free Parliament, are absolutely forced to change your municipal law, because your Ministers have made a treaty which renders that course absolutely necessary. I say it is absolutely necessary if the interpretation of the Tribunal of Geneva is to hold; if it is at this moment regulating public affairs; if it is introduced to the notice of other nations by Her Majesty's Government, and recommended to their adoption. Why, the President of the Tribunal of Geneva was perfectly aware of this. Count Sclopis distinctly says to England—"You must change your municipal law; you have placed these points before us, we have given our decision; our decision is contrary to your municipal law, and all that is left for you to 81 do is to alter it." I say it is not a proper position for a country like England to be placed in—that it may be in the power of a Minister, by negotiating a treaty of this kind, to force a Parliament to change its municipal law. I hope there is nothing revolutionary in the suggestion I have thrown out, because we have, I am glad to say, a very efficient precedent to guide us. Take the question of Extradition Treaties. Her Majesty's Government cannot conclude an Extradition Treaty without an Act of Parliament; and for the very same reason, under circumstances almost analogous, where you are entering into a treaty which creates rules of arbitration and lays down principles of public law, Her Majesty ought equally to be advised to consult her estates of the realm.
Sir, I have made these remarks respecting the reference to Geneva, because it appears to me that the questions I have addressed to Her Majesty's Ministers on this subject are questions of an urgent character, which do not wait, and the House of Commons would not be doing its duty if it were to postpone that inquiry for a moment. I have made no reflection whatever, and I mean no reflection whatever, on the conduct of the Tribunal of Geneva. I have no doubt they did their duty completely, cordially, and fully. I am not here to question at this moment even the policy or the propriety of their decisions. I do not now for a moment question them. But I say this—that your municipal law does not agree now with the public law which, according to your engagement under the Treaty of Washington, is about to regulate the civilized world; and that we require from Her Majesty's Government a full and candid explanation upon these points, and as to the course they intend to pursue in a matter in which the highest interests of the country are concerned.
Having trespassed so long upon the attention of the House, and so unexpectedly, at a time when I am not particularly inclined to weary them, I would say little upon the other important matters. I will not touch upon the French Treaty, because I should be glad if, when the Papers are placed before us, I find that those statements which have obtained currency have no foundation. At present I must say that I look upon that 82 subject with less confidence than I could wish. I had hoped that the interests of the manufacturers of England had not been sacrificed; and I trust that the right hon. Gentleman, when he addresses us upon the matter on the subsequent occasion, when the Papers are in our hands, will be able to prove to us that the course which Her Majesty's Government has taken with respect to the French Treaty has been distinguished by discretion, and necessary from the state of affairs. At present I think it is a matter perplexing and ambiguous; and all that I shall do to-night is, to express my hope that the important interests of this country have not been needlessly sacrificed.
I am not inclined, Sir, to make many observations upon the important announcement in Her Majesty's Speech with regard to the relations between Russia and England. But so much has been said upon that subject, and it is one upon which such misapprehension exists, one also upon which it is so important that we should take calm and unimpassioned views, that I would for a very few moments detain the House while I place before them not my views merely, but the views of those with whom I act, because we have no wish to be misunderstood upon a question which most deeply interests the feelings of the people of England. It is possible, Sir, that in these remarks I may repeat what I have said before, because I remember that two years ago, when the Treaty of Paris was in question, I had to address the House on the subject. But even at the risk of repetition I will venture to make them, because it is of the utmost importance that the views of public men, and especially of powerful parties, should be distinctly known, and not be misrepresented in such matters. Sir, we do not look with any jealousy on the natural development of the Russian Empire. Russia is an inland country of immense size, with a very sparse population, producing illimitable supplies of human food and raw materials of inestimable price. It follows from such a natural combination of affairs that Russia must force her way to those waters which can alone allow her to communicate with the rest of the world, carry food to their population, and raw materials to their manufactures; and the policy of Russia, as it has proceeded now for two cen- 83 turies, so far as it has been a systematic attempt to obtain this access to the waters of the world—is a natural and inevitable policy, and one which, I believe, cannot and ought not to be successfully resisted. Its development has occasioned many political circumstances, which some of us may deplore. It has cost gallant Sweden some of its provinces; it has cost the Empire of Turkey many of its provinces. But so far as the policy of Russia has been confined to this necessary and, as I maintain, inevitable development, England should view it without jealousy and without fear. But if the policy of Russia takes a different character—if it attempts to do that which its natural development does not require—if it wants to seize upon Constantinople, or to conquer India—the conduct of Russia must be distinguished from her conduct when she follows her natural policy; and Russia must not be surprised that it excites the jealousy and the distrust, as it will undoubtedly provoke the resistance, of Europe. The attempt to appropriate Constantinople is a freak of ambition, and not a natural development of a natural policy. The idea of conquering India is a distempered dream. Therefore do not let it be said on the one side that we are prejudiced against Russia, or on the other hand that we do not view her proceedings with the vigilance they deserve. What I wish to insist upon, and the policy which we will uphold, is that the moment Russia takes a course different from and inconsistent with its natural development, it embarks upon a course which must create distrust, and must, in all probability, meet with resistance. The House must recollect that these questions between Russia and England are not questions that can be be settled by arbitration. They are questions in which power is involved; and power can only be met by power. Questions of this kind can only be settled by force. I do not mean, necessarily, by war. I mean by diplomacy or war; because, in my opinion, diplomacy is force without violence. So far as I can form an opinion—as long, at least, as I have been in public life, and taking even a much longer range—there never have been disturbed relations between Russia and England which might not have been prevented, which might not have been settled by an able and adequate diplo- 84 many. I was always of opinion, and I now know from documents which are in my possession, that the Crimean War need never have occurred if the first intentions of Russia had been met with that clearness of diplomacy which a knowledge of affairs and a determined spirit would have counselled. That war was a necessary war when it became a war of invasion and aggression on the part of Russia. The moment that Russia crossed the Pruth war was inevitable. But that passage of the Pruth need never have occurred. Sir, I know not what are the communications that are to be made to us by Her Majesty's Ministers on this subject. We shall have the Papers, I suppose, very soon in our hands. I am disappointed that they were not brought up to-night. It appears to me, considering the subject, and the great interest in the public mind upon it, that they could not be produced too soon. There are some expressions in the Speech with regard to them as seem to imply that we are on the point of arranging a frontier with Russia, which I confess fill me with considerable alarm. But I entirely avoid any argument upon that matter to-night. It is not fair to the House, and it is not fair to the Government; and I only make the observation to show that, so far as we are concerned, we are anxious to have the Papers in our hands as soon as possible. I am obliged to the House for having listened to me with patience when I was not in a condition to address them in the manner I could have desired. I will merely say, in conclusion—to quote the language of the last paragraph of the Royal Speech—I mean that which commends our deliberations to the guidance and favour of the Almighty—I heartily echo that sentiment, for I believe that we never required that guidance and that favour more than we do at the present moment.
§ MR. HORSMAN
Sir, I hope the House will excuse me for venturing to disturb for a moment that routine which so frequently makes a discussion on the Address a formal passage-at-arms between the two party Leaders. Though various subjects of domestic interest are mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, yet the questions relating to foreign affairs are those which excite the greatest interest—for they involve the momen- 85 tous alternatives of peace or war, before which all other questions sink into insignificance. We all know that questions connected with foreign affairs rim into one another. The manner in which one question is settled diminishes or increases the difficulties of the next, and the experience which foreign Powers have of our diplomacy becomes the measure of their respect. For these reasons the allusions in Her Majesty's Speech to the recent diplomatic transactions with America and Russia, possess for us, from their bearing on the future, a special and growing interest. As to Russia, we are told that Papers will shortly be laid on the Table, and we wait, not without some anxiety, to see then before expressing an opinion. But as to America our information is more full. Her Majesty informs us that our differences with America have been settled; that they have been settled by arbitration; that the arbitration has in both cases been unfavourable to England, and that amicable relations are now established. And we are invited to vote an Address to Her Majesty, assuring her that we share her gratification at the last result she has communicated. Now, we all listened with an attention that was well repaid to the thoughtful and practical speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the Address; but before we commit ourselves to all that we were invited to by the sentiments they expressed and the conclusions they drew, it may be desirable to have some explanations among ourselves, in order that the foreign policy of England, and the principles on which it is conducted, should be made known and understood clearly and unmistakably by ourselves and the world. And the manner in which Her Majesty brings the subject under our notice tonight releases us from that false position in which the]louse of Commons is so apt to find itself placed on questions of foreign policy. While the diplomatists are busy we are told that discussion would be prejudicial to the public interest; when negotiations are at an end we are told that discussion would be idle on accomplished facts. Pending negotiations the time is too soon; at the close of negotiations it is too late. And thus it almost invariably happens that Parliament, silenced and shut out, is compelled to abdicate its highest function, and questions of world-wide 86 interest, that have kept us on the rack for months, are shuffled by with as little notice—sometimes even with less—than a trumpery Bill for improving the sewerage of a provincial town. We all rejoice that our differences with America have been settled. We all appreciate the value, the incalculable value, of friendship with America. We acknowledge the frankness, straightforwardness, and fairness with which the American Commissioners conducted themselves before the Arbitrators at Geneva. We acknowledge, also, the impartiality and pains with which the Arbitrators discharged their duty. Having submitted our case to Arbitration, we have shown ourselves anxious and determined honourably and promptly to pay the award, and we accept loyally and entirely the settlement which has been made. So far, therefore, as regards the past—so far as those proceedings do not compel us to take thought for the future, there can be no motive or inclination on the part of anyone to go back to a discussion of transactions which are now closed. But, in so far as those proceedings of the past do bear directly on the future, and may be expected, as we were told to-night, to influence the future, their interest is not abated, but increasing, and we are tonight brought face to face by the reference to them in the Royal Speech—with an important and vital question which we have neither the right nor the power to evade. We unanimously accept the settlement which is announced to us from the Throne; but in what sense do we accept it? Do we accept it as a happy deliverance from a fog of difficulties which the present Ministry inherited, but did not create; difficulties which had been so aggravated by delay that when it fell to their lot to deal with them the situation had become so complicated and so grave as to necessitate a departure from the ordinary rules of international procedure, and justify concessions and sacrifices which could only be justified because the circumstances were so exceptional? Is that the limited and restricted sense in which we accept this settlement, or are we to go further and accept it in accordance with the views of the Mover of the Address, as a settlement which, notwithstanding some unfortunate drawbacks, is to be regarded as being on the whole advantageous and honourable to 87 England—as inaugurating a new and benevolent spirit in diplomacy and an exalted policy, and a truly efficacious mode of lasting peace and brotherhood with America, and which is to be made the rule and measure of our future dealings with her in any fresh difficulties which may arise? I apprehend there is no man of common sense in the country who has given five minutes thought to the subject who does not see that fresh difficulties must arise and are inseparable from the situation. With the old Governments of the world our causes of difference may be chiefly of a political character, and few and far between. There is at this moment one impending with that same Power with which we were at war not 20 years ago. But with America our occasions of difficulty must be of frequent occurrence. We come into contact with America every day. We jostle one another at every point. Territorial jealousies, commercial rivalries, boundary disputes on land, fishery disputes at sea, the over-zeal of a hotheaded military commander, a filibustering expedition on the eve of a Presidential election—these, and a thousand other accidents, may at any moment, without the fault of either Government, embroil the two nations and create new cases for arbitration. That being so, the question becomes important—what is to be our rule of conduct in the future, and how far is it mapped out for us and predetermined by the acts which we are ratifying to-night in voting for this Address? Therefore, though we accept the past acts of our Government without challenge, and pay the Award without a murmur, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact—and it would be weak and culpable in us to attempt to shut our eyes to the fact—that this settlement, on which we are congratulated to-night, has been purchased on the part of England by concessions and sacrifices absolutely unparalleled in the history of nations professing to treat on equal and independent terms. If the House will give me its attention for a few moments, I will endeavour to disembarrass this point from some of the mist and confusion in which some speakers of great authority have lately attempted to envelope it. I will ask the House to examine with me, and comprehend and realize the actual situation. It is well known that 88 three successive Secretaries of State either refused or failed to bring the Alabama question to arbitration. But in 1871, the present Cabinet, with the entire concurrence and support of their opponents, and with the approval of the country, made a fresh offer of arbitration, and a Joint Commission was appointed to carry it into effect. The Americans, however, insisted on certain preliminary conditions—and when I say they "insisted," I do not mean to imply a shadow of complaint against them on that account, but merely to state facts which the Americans themselves have published and made historic. The first condition insisted upon by America was that the Joint Commission should hold its sittings at Washington. To that the present Government consented, as their predecessors had done before them. They in the next place insisted that England should make an apology for the escape of the Alabama. Now, every successive Ministry, with the entire concurrence of Parliament and of the country, had consistently maintained that England had done nothing which required either reparation or apology. The present Government at the outset showed as bold a face as any in repudiating the offence, and made for a long time a very wry face at the apology. But the Americans insisted. Our Commissioners referred home for instructions, and the apology was made. The Americans next insisted that certain new rules of law should be agreed on to guide the judgment of the Arbitrators. To this, again, the English Commissioners demurred; they proposed that the arbitration should be on facts—on proved and acknowledged facts—to be judged of by well-established principles of law. But the Americans did not argue the question—they presented their ultimatum. Again our Commissioners referred home for instructions, and again they were instructed to concede the point. But the Americans required something more than that—they required that these new Rules should have a retrospective application, and that England should consent to be tried for acts done in 1862 by a new law which made them illegal in 1872. That point also was conceded, and then the Americans, having gained step by step every point they raised—having gained the sitting of the Commission at Washington, the apology, the ac- 89 ceptance of the new Rules and their retrospective application—went before the Arbitrators and won the Award. And when we add that the British Government had put in a claim for compensation for the Fenian raids on Canada which was abandoned, and that the Canadian Fisheries were made over to America, for which Parliament has to provide compensation to Canada on the security of the British taxpayer, we arrive at a proximate idea of the sum total of English losses and American gains by the Alabama Treaty and Arbitration. I say nothing at present with respect to the San Juan Boundary arbitration, and the loss of territory it involved, as that is another and different question. I recall these facts. I leave not said one word to reflect on the American Government, nor one word to impugn the good intentions of our own; but did I use too strong a term when I said that these concessions were unexampled in the transactions of equal States? I have not said that they were uncalled for; they may have been necessary and wise, and right and statesmanlike; as to all that we are as yet in the dark. Her Majesty's Government last year were very reticent in their speeches, and they were, if possible, even more reticent in the Papers they presented; but that is the greater reason why we should ask ourselves to-night, both for our own information and for the information of the world, what was the necessity and what have been the permanent advantages which we have secured by all these one-sided concessions, which, if unexplained to-night, may rise up to embarrass us in the future. We may be told that a policy is to be judged of by its consequences, and that the consequences of this policy are as yet in the womb of time, and time only can develop them. But I trust we shall have a better answer than that, because what is all statesmanship but a perception of consequences? And the consequences of these concessions may be judged of by a very simple and easy test, and an infallible one, and that is by their effect on the American mind. What construction do the Americans put upon our concessions? Answer me that, and you have told the future. Do the Americans ascribe our concessions to magnanimity or to fear? If ever there was a people whose public opinion 90 was to be taken from its Press it is the American people; and what does the American Press say about these concessions? Does it appreciate, does it admire our magnanimity? I am afraid that all the admiration of the American Press has been bestowed on that speech which the hon. Member for Shaftesbury (Mr. Glyn) made to his constituents, in which he asked indignantly—Was it not worth while for England to pay £3,500,000 to avoid war with America? I believe that speech has gained for the Member for Shaftesbury a European reputation. The House must recollect that it is not as if that speech had been made by an ordinary irresponsible Member of this House. From the opposite side of the House the hon. Gentleman may appear to be nothing more than an individual Member of Parliament and a political unit; but on our side he is regarded as a representative man—he constitutes an interesting link between the Liberal party and Her Majesty's Government. He flourishes the whip over the one, and is said sometimes to blow the trumpet for the other. And we cannot be surprised at the Americans, knowing the position that he holds, believing that they saw in him an embodiment of the spirit and sentiments of the Liberal party in England. And as they are an acute and logical people we cannot wonder if they went on to argue that if national spirit were so dead in England as to make it worth while to pay £3,500,000 to avoid war in 1872, then with increasing riches increasing our debasement, it would be equally worth while to pay £13,000,000 or £30,000,000 to avoid war in 1882; and if we feel no shame in ceding a portion of Canadian territory to avoid war to-day, we should feel still less shame in ceding the whole of Canada tomorrow. And who can tell where this degrading and suicidal policy is to stop, or whether it can ever stop at all. But the Mover of the Address told us that we had gained something more—that we had gained arbitration—that the great principle of arbitration had been introduced; and he added, speaking with more moderation than others, partially established. Ever since the Geneva Arbitration our attention has been sedulously diverted from the misfortunes of the Award to the blessings of arbitration. All the changes have been rung upon it. Minis- 91 terial speakers and writers have each in their way contributed to swell the chorus. "True," they say, "we have sustained a disappointment, but it was only temporary, and some loss, but it was very trifling; but, on the other hand, see how we have been compensated, and more than compensated, for it! Have we not, as a nation, cause to be proud and thankful that through us the great principle of arbitration has been acknowledged and acted on, and triumphantly established?" If that really were so—if we could really see or believe that any sure or sensible progress had been made towards saving mankind from the calamities which will be averted by a general substitution of arbitration for war, then I should say that not £3,000,000, nor £30,000,000, nor £300,000,000 were a sufficient price for so blessed a consummation. But have we made any such progress? Have we shown to the world a successful example of arbitration? What is arbitration? I can well understand that when two great nations, having a cause of strife which in other times could only have been determined by the sword, agree to submit their cause of contention to peaceful arbitrament, each side seeking what is its right, asking no more and content with no less, and the whole strength of each case set forth in facts to be judged of by well established principles of international law—I say I can well understand such a submission as that to a free and unfettered tribunal, being watched with interest by other nations, as a great stride in the march of civilization, and one to be admired and imitated. Sir, that would be arbitration. But when the so-called Court of Arbitration is not permitted to have before it the real facts, or to apply the real law, when new principles are extemporized for the occasion, new rules concocted, new liabilities created, and when this string of novelties, which first saw the light in 1872, is by a fiction declared to be the law in 1862, and when the Arbitrators are restricted and tied down to found their judgment on a law not so old as the Court that has been created to expound it—a new law specially devised by the one party to ensure the conviction of the other, then that is not arbitration, but a mockery of arbitration; it is prostration, humiliation, deception, surrender; and it behoves the House to be awake and 92 vigilant, lest under the Court of Arbitration we are made the dupes and instruments of that policy of peace-at-any-price, which, if the hon. Member for Shaftesbury be an authority, has already become the policy of England. I have made these observations because I wish to state distinctly the sense, the only sense in which I can accept the settlement which has been announced from the Throne, and which I accept by voting for the Address. I accept it as exceptional—as a hard, unpalatable, exceptional necessity of the past. I condemn it; I abjure it as not for a moment to be tolerated as a precedent for the future. And I say this the more emphatically because I have seen with surprise and concern in some speeches which have been made by leading Members of the Cabinet during the Recess a disposition rather to make light of the loss and detriment which we have sustained, and to speak of them as trifling and unimportant. I think it would be a very great mistake if we allowed it to go forth to the world that we regard the concessions we have made and the sacrifices they have involved as trifling and unimportant. I look on thorn as most important. I think it difficult to exaggerate their importance. I can recall no transactions in my time so deeply affecting the interests and character of England. That twice within twelve months, when questions of international morality and honour have been raised before tribunals of her own selection, England should have been adjudged to have done wrong, and condemned to pay in cash and in territory for the mischances of her diplomacy; that she should have been compelled to apologise, even while she adhered to a denial of the offence, and should consent herself to change the law—these are incidents to startle the most apathetic among us. I hope we shall hear to-night explanations of all this which may make it more satisfactory to the world outside than any explanations which have been given. The Government last year, as I have said, felt themselves obliged to be very reticent. I think that on this occasion we should have such an explanation as will enable us to say that this settlement is only an exceptional occurrence of the past, and forms no precedent for the future.
§ MR. OSBORNE
Sir, the annual formality of a Queen's Speech is, no doubt, a most favourable opportunity for most excursive criticism. I rather lament that the excellent speech which has just been delivered by my right hon. Friend is somewhat late in the day. I think it is a speech that might have been more appropriately delivered during the debates of last Session, when those points came more immediately under our consideration. I should not have laid much stress on that paragraph in the Speech from the Throne in which Her Majesty's Government pronounce such a paean or eulogium on themselves, if the Mover of the Address, in his most promising and capital speech, had not drawn our attention to, and given credit to the Government for, what he called the principle of arbitration, which they first introduced. Now, this principle for which the Prime Minister has got the credit is as old as the time of Henry IV. of France and the Abbé St. Pierre. They tried it to the same effect as our own Government, and they broke down with it. But when he talks of avoiding the calamities of war by means of this principle, I must say I think that was not the sense in which the House consented to the Treaty of Washington. It did not consent to go to arbitration to avoid war. I think the less that is said about the arbitration which has taken place the better, and I have no doubt that the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer at Glasgow, that nobody will be bound by this Arbitration will eventually come true. But I think it was worth at least some money on our part if we could restore commercial confidence and a good understanding with the people of America. I believe this to have been done; and though this Treaty was, in my mind, unfortunate in its conception, and more bungling in its conclusion, if possible, than in its conception, still it is now an accepted and acknowledged fact, and I hope we shall do no more than pay our money and put our vexation in our pocket. We are told that we should be thankful to the Emperor of Germany. Well, I think we owe certain thanks to the Emperor of Germany; but we also owe our thanks to one individual in this country who, at Geneva, made me feel proud of it—I mean the Lord Chief Justice of England. And although he has been sneered at 94 and attacked by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in that famous Glasgow speech, I think the people of this country are proud of the Lord Chief Justice, and thankful for the judgment delivered on the Alabama Claims. So much for the Emperor of Germany and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I now come to a paragraph of which I hope some explanation will be given, in which the Queen says, "I have concluded a Treaty for the Extradition of Criminals with my ally the King of the Belgians." I should wish to ask Her Majesty's Government if they have any intention to come to some understanding with the Spanish Government as to a treaty of that sort. Very lately we have seen and read with horror the case of the Northfleet and the Murillo. Without at this stage pronouncing any opinion upon it, and giving credit to Her Majesty's Government for having bestowed a well-merited pension upon the widow of that here, Captain Knowles, I hope Her Majesty's Government will take determined steps, and speak in a manner not to be misunderstood, and arrange some diplomacy on this subject. I hope they will see that justice is done to the survivors. I come now to another question, if possible of greater interest than any that has yet been alluded to—I mean the paragraph, somewhat confused and somewhat obscure, relating to the Russian proceedings in Central Asia. Now, however natural it may be for the possessors of their enormous Indian dominion to express some jealousy of the movements of Russia in Central Asia, I hope the House will pause before it allows itself to exercise any unfair jealousy of the proceedings of Russia in Central Asia. Why, Sir, what is the case? We are taking credit to ourselves for sending a mission to Zanzibar for the suppression of slavery. What is the case of Russia at this moment in Central Asia? Russia is simply forwarding an expedition to rescue her merchants and her subjects from slavery in Khiva. If you look into M'Culloch's Dictionary you will find that the staple commodity of Khiva is dealing in Russian and Persian slaves. There are, at least, 40,000 slaves in that territory, and I think Russia cannot be blamed for undertaking an expedition to rescue those slaves from the horrible torture which they are enduring; therefore, I hope that we shall not hear any- 95 thing that will by any possibility produce a feeling in this country which will make us eventually go to war with Russia. A more ferocious state of society does not exist than exists in the Khanate States. It will be time enough for us to take the necessary precautions when Russia interferes with Persia. Of course we cannot prevent Russia from bringing indirect pressure to bear upon Persia at any time; but so long as she confines herself to the Khanates in Central Asia, we are not called upon to interfere. I view, however, with some fear this project to "arrive at an identity of view regarding the line which describes the northern frontier of the dominion of Afghanistan." "Identity of view?" What are we about to do? It seems to me, if there be anything in this paragraph, that we are about to come to some understanding by laying down a frontier on territory which belongs to neither of the great Powers concerned. What can be more dangerous? We shall have, at least, no arbitration as to such a frontier, for what would be the consequence if an Afghanistan chief or a Tartar Khan were called upon to give an opinion upon the identity of views between England and Russia as to the northern frontier of Afghanistan? It seems to me that the policy we are about to pursue is a most questionable policy. Of course, when the Papers are laid on the Table we shall have a better opportunity of discussing this question, and shall be in a better position to understand what this identity of view is. We have heard little about the Estimates, and they will come on for discussion in due time; but I pass now to a question of the utmost importance—that concerning University Education in Ireland. While giving the Government credit for attempting to settle a point which I fear they will find great difficulty in settling, I hope this House will cone to the consideration of this question throwing aside all feelings—I will not say of bigotry, but of dislike to a creed which, say what you will, is the predominant creed of the people of Ireland. I shall approach this question with a desire to do my duty both to this country and to Ireland; but I much fear that, do what the Government will—not only this, but any other Government—there are difficulties in the way which will not only deprive the people of Ireland of any advantage from the advance- 96 ment of learning, but which may imperil the rights of conscience. In conclusion, I do hope that Her Majesty's Government will be content without urging on a great number of measures. What with the 66 Notices of Motion given tonight, and the numerous Bills hinted at in the Speech from the Throne, we know what the end of the Session will be. We shall pass one or two complete measures, and shall see a badly conglomerate mass of undigested legislation. I hope, therefore, the Government will strike out some of these measures from their programme. At any rate they shall have my support in carrying to an issue all good and useful legislation.
said, he had never heard a speech which if not so wholly misplaced would have been so mischievous as that of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman). The right hon. Gentleman attached great importance to America opinion; but what would be the effect of such a speech upon the American mind? He had regretted that the Arbitrators had come to so lamentable a conclusion, without justice, without facts, and without law; and it would go forth to the world on his authority, as well as on that of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli), that the English people were dissatisfied with the Award, regarding it with sorrow, if not abhorrence. Now, he (Mr. White) did not hesitate to say that he regarded the Award with entire satisfaction, and so far from thinking we had been assessed at too high an amount, he thought we deserved to pay much more than was awarded for the nation's default. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen might smile; but he had taken the trouble to study this question in every phase. He was the first Member to move for Papers upon the subject. Immediately after the infamous evasion of the Alabama, he moved for copies of the Correspondence between the Commissioners of Customs in London and the Collector in Liverpool. It was intimated by Lord Palmerston that the Government would not grant those Papers. He (Mr. White) said to the official who was the medium of communication—"Are you ashamed of them, then?" The reply was—"Do you want to make out a case for the Americans?" He (Mr. White) said, "No, I do not want to make out a case for the Americans; but I do want to 97 show those scoundrels at Liverpool that the eyes of Parliament are upon them." The result was, that he had to be satisfied with garbled extracts from the correspondence. Those, however, who were acquainted with the subject, knew that the Government had distinct notice that such a vessel as the Alabama was going to leave the Mersey, and everybody who had eyes to see or ears to hear also knew the object of the vessel. At that time, however, the builder of the Alabama was the here of the hour, and if he had gone into the lobby to move for the Papers entire, not a dozen Members would have voted with him. Nearly the whole feeling of both Houses and of that mob of useless persons called society was in favour of the South, together with all the scribblers of the blood and culture school. At that time an insulting retort to the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) evoked frantic cheers in this House. Mr. Cobden's declaration that we should sooner or later be obliged to pay for all damage done by the Alabama was treated with scorn. He and those who thought with him were in a miserable minority, and were almost subjected to insult for the line they took. He was astonished that his right hon. Friend (Mr. Horsman), with his sense of the gravity of the position, and his professed desire to cultivate friendly relations with America, should have spoken as he had spoken to-night, for he could have devised no better plan of arousing feelings which all should wish to see buried in oblivion. To his honour the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) during the Civil War abstained from saying a single word to exasperate the feelings of one side or the other. He wished that some eminent statesmen on the Liberal side had been equally scrupulous; but it was to be regretted that the right hon. Gentleman, after showing this note worthy sagacity, should now depart from his statesmanlike reticence when the matter was really settled. It was true the right hon. Gentleman said he did not want to dispute the decision of the Arbitrators; but the Americans would understand that the great party whom he represented were dissatisfied with the Geneva Arbitration. As to the San Juan Award, that question had been wholly misunderstood. The original Treaty of 1842, and the Oregon 98 Convention of 1846, showed clearly that from the first the Americans intended to have the Haro Channel; and the reason we did not so understand it was, that in 1846 our Foreign Office knew little about so remote a part of the world, and cared less. It believed that the country would never be fit for anything but the breeding of fur-bearing animals; but in process of time all this was changed by the discoveries of gold in California and British Columbia. He could not help expressing his regret at the way in which his right hon. Friend (Mr. Horsman) had referred to the speech of the hon. Member for Shaftesbury (Mr. Glyn). He understood that his right hon. Friend had been influenced by the newspaper comments on the speech; but it should be remembered that during the Recess it was not always an easy matter for newspapers to find subjects on which to comment, and he felt bound, therefore, to protest against the manner in which that speech had been dealt with by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) and also by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Horsman) the Member for Liskeard.
§ MR. LAIRD
said, the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White) had now substantially repeated the statements which he had made during the Recess at meetings at Brighton and elsewhere, where he had stated that he would have brought the case of the Alabama before the House, but for the fact that Mr. Laird was able to command a majority.
said, he had at no time intended any personal reflection upon the hon. Gentleman. If anything he had said was capable of such an interpretation, he unhesitatingly withdrew it.
§ MR. LAIRD
at once accepted the hon. Member's explanation. With reference to the question as to who was responsible for the payment of the Award, he contended that the responsibility rested with the Government and with their Republican supporters, at whose instigation they had sacrificed the interests of the country by going into an arbitration on a law made ex post facto, and on such admissions and conditions as entitled America to a verdict. He regretted that the Government had not gone into the Arbitration in a straightforward way, as men of business would have done. With reference to the sub- 99 ject of the Alabama, Messrs. Laird Brothers published a letter in May, 1869, in which they stated their case, and that case no one had attempted to disprove or answer. In that explanation, they suggested that an inquiry should be instituted by a Royal Commission, or a Committee of the House of Commons, into the support given to the North and South during the American War in reference to ships, warlike stores, guns, ammunition, armour plates, and the enlistment of men to serve for either of the belligerents, which would tend to place all the matters in dispute clearly before the British Parliament and people. The Government never instituted any inquiry, nor asked them for any information until 1871. In that year the Government applied to Laird Brothers to know if they could give any information in reference to the question. In answer to that demand Messrs. Laird, the builders of the Alabama, supplied to the Government copies of the contracts and other documents relating to the contract and delivery of the ship. The result was that the Government stated in the British Case that they had no reason to doubt, after these documents had been placed in their hands, that the building and delivery of the Alabama were, so far as the builders were concerned, transactions in the ordinary course of their business as shipbuilders. Those documents had been laid before the Arbitrators, and Messrs. Laird had nothing to fear from the wild statements of itinerant orators and enthusiastic Republican Members of Parliament.
Mr. Speaker—With reference, Sir, to the treatment of the general topics of the Queen's Speech I do not intend to add anything to what has been said by my hon. Friends the Mover and Seconder of the Address, both of whom have discharged the difficult duty they have undertaken with great ability, and in a manner which entirely commended itself to the approval of the House. Perhaps, as I have reason to feel a special and personal interest in one of those hon. Gentlemen, I may be permitted to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Lyttelton) upon the success which has attended his performance of a public duty to-day. Sir, as respects the general comments made upon the various portions of the Speech, 100 as usually happens, we have no reason to complain of the tenor of those comments. I will confine myself, therefore, in the remarks I am about to make entirely to those special references which have fallen from hon. Gentlemen, and which seem to demand, from the importance of the questions to which they relate, some notice on my part.
The first subject referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), whose appearance in this House, under the present circumstances, has been a matter of such deep sympathy to us all, was the question of Irish Education. And here I will deviate for a moment to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne) for, as I think, the wise and equitable observations which he made with regard to this subject. I have no complaint to make with regard to the manner in which it was treated by the right hon. Gentleman. He spoke of his hopes and of his fears with regard to the question. To some extent we are in the same predicament with regard to Irish education. Both of us, at different times, have burnt our fingers in attempting to deal with it, and it is to be hoped that both of us, in time to come, will use the best efforts in our power to avoid the danger we formerly incurred. However, the case, although it is recognized on all sides as difficult, is not hopeless. The advancement of learning in Ireland is not irreconcilable with the preservation of the sanctity of the rights of conscience. And that is not a merely theoretical doctrine, because we have one great example of it upon record—an example due mainly to the patriotic energy of the late Lord Derby, when he was a Member of the Government of Lord Grey, and when he introduced a great measure of popular education in Ireland, which undoubtedly did contribute largely to the advancement of learning in that country, and which was at the same time devised with the most careful regard to the rights of conscience. Therefore, though no doubt we have much difficulty before us, we shall proceed cheerfully in the work we have undertaken, relying only upon that assistance of Parliament and that fair amount of favourable consideration which we have experienced on other occasions when we have endeavoured to solve problems of great magnitude with respect 101 both to Ireland and to England. Sir, I think there is no other matter of domestic interest to which it is necessary for me to refer. I will, therefore, at once pass to those paragraphs in the Speech referring to foreign politics, upon which a variety of comments have been made. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) expressed his hopes that Papers with regard to Central Asia would be laid upon the Table of the House. My hope is that those Papers will be laid on the Table at a very early date; but when the right hon. Gentleman sees how recent is the time to which they come, he will easily understand that it was not possible to lay them on the Table tonight. And here, again, I must say that my hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne) called attention to a subject that is too apt to be overlooked in connection with the difficult subject of Central Asia, and with the impending Russian expedition to Khiva. We certainly should have thought it an act of great presumption on the part of any foreign Power to have dictated, or attempted to dictate, to us the course that we ought to take with regard to relieving our countrymen who were imprisoned in Abyssinia, or to extort from us by pressure any pledge or engagement whatever as to the measures we might adopt for this purpose, or the consequences they might entail. I hope it will be borne in mind that—so far as we are in possession of the facts—we believe that the causes which lead Russia to seek redress at the hands of the Khan of Khiva are graver still than those which led us into Abyssinia, and we shall endeavour to pay that same respect to the independence of other countries—even when they are tempted perhaps for a moment to forget it—that we shall restrain ourselves and endeavour to pay to that independence and free agency the very same respect that, under like circumstances, we should exact and require to be paid to our own.
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman referred very briefly to the paragraph which touches on the Treaty that was signed between the Government of France and the Government of the United Kingdom, and he expressed his hope that statements to the effect that the interests of British manufacturers had been recklessly and needlessly compromised would prove to be without foun- 102 dation. I hope that when that Treaty is produced it will be found that those statements are—as the right hon. Gentleman hopes they may be—unfounded. I will not enter into a detailed explanation of the circumstances or of the provisions of the Treaty, because it is an instrument which assumes of necessity a character of some complexity, not on account of anything that we have introduced, or have desired to introduce, into it; but on account of the somewhat complex character of the variety of engagements under which. France lies to foreign Powers. And I should perhaps find it difficult—without wearying the House by some details not easy of popular exposition—to convey a perfectly just description of the character of the instrument. I will only say we have felt that the situation of France was one in which it was our duty at least to take care that we did not needlessly refuse to concur in an instrument of this description. On the other hand, we knew very well that there were British interests which it was our duty to regard. We knew, also, that there were general principles connected with the subject of freedom of trade of which, through a long course of circumstances, we have become the special guardians. I trust that when the Treaty comes to be examined—a Treaty which is at this very moment awaiting the judgment on very important parts of it of the French Assembly—it will be found that we have acted, upon the whole, and undoubtedly in circumstances of some difficulty, with no unjust or warped judgment, and upon principles which the House will not be disposed to dispute.
Sir, my hon. Friend the Member for Waterford has asked a very simple question with regard to the paragraph of the Speech referring to the Treaty for the extradition of criminals—namely, whether any steps have been taken with a view to conclude a similar Treaty with Spain. I can assure my hon. Friend that the subject is under the consideration of the distinguished person who represents the Government of Spain at the Court of London, and that communications upon the subject are in progress. And, perhaps, I may here take the opportunity of correcting what I think was a misapprehension, and consequently an erroneous statement, on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the 103 Member for Buckinghamshire, who appeared to be under the impression that in every case where an Extradition Treaty is entered into it is necessary to have it confirmed by an Act of Parliament. Now, Sir, that is not so. Although Treaties of Extradition necessarily involve the most sacred and most important questions of personal right, yet Parliament has intrusted to the Crown—to be administered under the general responsibility of the Government—those powers by which Extradition Treaties are concluded; and when an Extradition Treaty is formed in the Foreign Office, it undergoes no other legal ordeal than that of its being submitted to the Law Officers of the Crown with a view to ascertain whether it exceeds the powers conferred by the statute.
Sir, as was to be expected, the interest, or at least the argument of the evening's discussion, has turned chiefly upon that paragraph of the Speech which refers to the Arbitration at Geneva. Those who have heard my right hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Horsman), and my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. White), will have an opportunity of measuring the serious differences of view or temper with which the conclusion of the Arbitration under the Treaty of Washington is regarded by various Members of the House. I think we cannot be surprised that there should be variations of this kind. That the whole House of Commons and the whole country conforms at once and without a murmur to the discharge of the duties incumbent upon us, I need not say. We have had fresh evidence of it in the tone of the speeches to-night; but no such evidence was needed. My right hon. Friend asked towards the close of his speech whether we were to regard the transaction which had taken place as an exceptional one, to be justified by exceptional circumstances, or as a precedent for the future? I am bound to say that, in my opinion, if we had unhappily the same circumstances again before us, it would be our duty to meet them in the same manner. If my right hon. Friend says—"Are you likely, without serious cause, to expose the country upon every occasion that arises to the intervention, even in the form of arbitration, of foreign Powers in our concerns, and in matters touching our interest and our 104 honour?"—then I say certainly not. It is not as an alternative for the independent communication of independent countries that arbitration is to be preferred. The serious question is, whether arbitration is not a comparative blessing when, being resorted to without the slightest sacrifice of honour, it becomes the means by which worse, far worse, results are to be avoided? And by those far worse results I do not only refer to the contingency of war, much less to the mere cost of war; but I refer to the planting of habitual and perpetual discord between countries that every consideration of interest and duty ought to lead into the closest alliance. For the avoidance of a mischief such as this—even without speaking of the avoidance of bloodshed—arbitration, whatever inconvenience it may entail, is, in my opinion, to be hailed as a great blessing. Before parting with the portion of the speech of my right hon. Friend to which I have referred, I may say I think he is in error when he states that the consent to what he terms an apology on our part—that is to say, to an expression of regret for the fact of the escape of the Alabama, irrespective of all questions of right or wrong connected with it—was a condition precedent to the negotiation with America. [Mr. HORSMAN: What I said was, to the Arbitration.] I think it was not. If my right hon. Friend refers to the Papers, he will find that statement would not be borne out. [Mr. HORSMAN: It occurred at Washington.] Well, if it occurred at Washington it was not in the nature of a condition precedent. The basis of the whole proceeding was to arrive at an arbitration; and, therefore, the request for an explanation or expression of regret on our part was not a condition precedent to that proceeding. I may say, also, that I can hardly regard it, and I do not regard it, as a concession to America. It was a concession to right, to good-feeling, to international friendship. There was no desire on the part of America to extort it. There was no wish on our part to withhold it. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) has referred to the nature of the dispute between America and ourselves being referred to arbitration in a manner which leads me to apprehend that he does not precisely recollect the course of transactions which preceded the Arbitration. The right 105 hon. Gentleman says that those questions were not of a character to inspire any fear of war. The right hon. Gentleman used those words evidently with the Alabama Case principally in his mind. But then the right hon. Gentleman should recollect that it was not Great Britain which proposed to refer the case of the Alabama and her companions, if I may so call them, to arbitration. They were American proposals, which we were called upon to accept or to reject. But what were the other cases referred to arbitration? There were the cases of the British counter-claims. Of these, also, I fully admit that they were not of a character likely to lead to war. Then there were a number of questions connected with trade, transit, and communication in Canada, with respect to which, desirable as it was that they should be settled, I may say that undoubtedly they fall into the same category. But I now come to the case of the island of San Juan. I am prepared to say in broad terms—and I am not sure that the right hon. Gentleman would not be prepared to say also—that a question of contested territorial right is the kind of question which might probably in the course of years lead to war. We had, it is true, endeavoured to guard against it by a joint occupation; but that joint occupation was essentially a provisional arrangement. It was impossible it could last over a long tract of time, and the end of that joint occupation whenever it occurred would, in my opinion, have brought us to a crisis by no means free from the danger of the last extremity. But I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman, when he described the questions referred to arbitration as not being likely to lead to war, could not have had in his mind that other question which I have not mentioned, but which more than any among them actuated the British Government in proposing an arrangement of this kind. I allude to the question of the Canadian Fisheries. The question of the Canadian Fisheries was a perpetual source of exasperation and of danger. Not a year passed over our heads that was not attended with serious risk, and the risk would continue if we allowed that state of things to be prolonged. It was not the mere expediency of settling the question on a basis most advantageous, I think, to Canada—and the maritime portion of the country con- 106 cur in that opinion—but it was the desire of putting an end to a state of things which, if it did not involve immediate danger, certainly was a standing danger, and a grave and serious one, of absolute quarrel between the two countries. And here let me remark that the right hon. Member for Liskeard is evidently under some error when he says we have made over to America the Canadian Fisheries, for which Parliament has to pay compensation. [Mr. HORSMAN: I said security, meaning the guarantee of the loan.] I can assure my right hon. Friend that the transaction relative to the fisheries has no connection whatever with any compensation either in the form of money or guarantee to be found for Canada. The right hon. Gentleman opposite does not think this matter of arbitration is to be made too much of as a step in the transactions between nations, and I quite agree with him. Arbitration is not a novel invention. Arbitration has undoubtedly its own grave and serious and characteristic difficulties; but what I think we are justified in saying—not wishing to make either too much or too little of the matter—is this. There may have been particular questions which have previously been made the subject of reference to arbitration between independent countries of as great consequence as any one of the questions which remained unsettled between ourselves and America. But this, I think, remains indisputable—that when so far a step in advance has been made, there has been no instance in which such a group of controversies, reaching over so wide a surface, descending so far into detail, and involving in certain cases such serious issues, have, by the joint and single act of two great countries, been thus brought to a peaceful termination. The right hon. Gentleman says that when his Government—which, in my opinion, as far as the Alabama Claims are concerned, certainly deserves the entire credit of having been the author on this side of the water of the idea of arbitration—accepted that idea as the basis of its communications with America, he thought the result would not be injurious to this country. I am not quite sure what sense I am to attach to those words. Perhaps he means that there would be none of the international complications which he now thinks likely to arise out of the three 107 Rules. If he means that he thought the result would not be injurious in the sense that we should not be called upon to pay any money, I know not whether that was his personal opinion; but, undoubtedly, it was not the opinion of many others, nor was it the opinion propounded on behalf of the right hon. Gentleman's Government. My hon. Friend (Mr. Osborne) asked us last year, when he thought we were leading the country into complications, why we had not accepted the offer made by the American Government to settle the matter in the beginning by the payment of a lump sum? He said it might have been done. He had reason to believe that they offered to take a lump sum for damages, and that that amicable settlement amounted to this—that they would have taken £6,000,000 in satisfaction of all claims; but, said my hon. Friend—Although they might not have objected to take £6,000,000 a long time ago, we cannot get off so cheaply now. What will they take now?"—meaning that nothing but a very much larger sum could possibly bring the matter to a solution in the way he pointed out. We had higher, because official, authority in the declaration made by Lord Derby, when, speaking from this Bench on the 6th of March, 1868, as Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Government to which he belonged, he said—I have never concealed my opinion that the American claimants, or some of ,them at least, under the reference proposed by us"—not under the three Rules—" were very likely to make out their case and get their money. To us the money part of the affair is inappreciably small, especially as we have on our side counter claims which, if only a small portion of them hold water"—[Ironical cheers.] Well, those counter claims are now under adjudication; they are going forward, and very important judgments have been given by the Commissioners who have them in hand. Lord Derby said—Counter claims which, if only a small portion of them hold water—and you never can tell beforehand how these matters will turn out—will reach to a considerable amount, and form a by no means unimportant set-off to the claims preferred against us. But I think if matters were fairly adjusted, even if the decision went against us, we should not be disposed to grudge the payment. The expense would be quite worth incurring, if only in order to obtain an authoritative decision as to the position of neutrals in future wars."—[3Hansard,cxc. 1177.]108 Whether it was wise or not to make that declaration at that moment, while the Arbitration was pending, I am not now called upon to decide; but as to the expectation that was entertained and the value of the whole element of money payment in this matter, I think it is a comprehensive and equitable statement of the case. The right hon. Gentleman, however, when he said he did not apprehend embarrassing consequences, probably referred, not to the question of money at all, but to that which he afterwards dwelt on at some length and with much force—namely, the consequences, as he thinks, of the three Rules that were laid down. Sir, with respect to the three Rules, if some amount of disadvantages had been incurred by us in consequence of their adoption, I would still entreat the House not too hastily to conclude that it was unwise to agree to them; because, undoubtedly, whatever may be true with respect to the expression of regret, or the apology as it has been termed, these three Rules were an essential condition of proceeding. They were an essential condition, therefore, of settling the questions connected with the Alabama and the other cruisers, and inasmuch as they are an essential condition binding upon all the others, they were the essential condition of settling the whole contested subject between us and America, I think, only to this extent—not to assume that we were right in adopting bad and embarrassing rules for the sake of the ulterior objects we had in view, but to appreciate the gravity of the question to us—that undoubtedly we should not have been justified in declining to enter on the subject of these Rules from any mere objection of a secondary character, provided that we were satisfied that they were sound and right in themselves. It is perfectly possible that this question of the Rules maybe further debated hereafter; and, although the right hon. Gentleman has exercised a right that belongs to him in discussing the matter to-night, yet it is to be borne in mind by the right hon. Gentleman that this subject must depend upon a very close examination indeed of the construction of terms, and no general statement, even though made by a Gentleman of so much ability as himself, can possibly dispose of points such as those at issue, and I will illustrate what I have said by the manner in which I am obliged to meet 109 the statements of the right hon. Gentleman. He began by very fairly making the admission that if the three Rules had received at Geneva the interpretation which we placed upon them, they would have been innocuous. That interpretation I take from the argument on due diligence which was presented by the Lord Chancellor, then acting as counsel for England. He said what we had undertaken by these Rules was this—to acknowledge as a rule of judgment for the purposes of the Treaty the undertaking which the British Government had actually and repeatedly given to the United States to act upon the construction which they themselves placed upon the prohibitions of their own municipal law, according to which it was coincident in substance with those Rules. That is a declaration upon which we have ever stood, and which, I affirm, has not been in any particular shaken by the proceedings at Geneva. The right hon. Gentleman says, Count Sclopis has declared that our municipal law must be reconstructed to bring it into conformity with the Award. Here, again, we are under the disadvantage that the right hon. Gentleman, speaking without the full Papers in his hand, had no power of giving me a distinct reference to the terms he had in view; but what I think I can venture to say is this:—I believe the right hon. Gentleman has entirely, though quite unintentionally, misapprehended, and, therefore, mis-stated the words of Count Selopis, and that, on the contrary, he said our municipal law as it now stood was in perfect conformity with what the case required. We have, however, never contended, nor did we ever agree, that our municipal law, as it now stands, was to be imported into the proceedings at Geneva. What we agreed was this:—We looked back to the time of the Alexandra case, to the serious and important differences which then arose between the view of municipal law taken by the Crown and by the Executive Government of the country on the one hand, and by the Judges on the other. Of course, it was what the Judges declared which constituted the law of the land, and that law we thought, not the law as our legal advisers viewed it, required altering. The whole effect of our concession, as far as we knew its effect, with regard to the formation of the three 110 Rules was this:—That we agreed to treat as if it had been a part of the international law of the time—that is, as if it were part at least of a special engagement to America, that doctrine and construction of the municipal law of England, for which our own Law Officers had contended in the Courts. I think I understand the right hon. Gentleman that so interpreting the three Rules he does not find that any vital or cardinal objection is to be taken to them. But he says that on three essential points our interpretation of the three Rules was over-set at Geneva; and he went on to state those three points. First of all, he says we were bound under the three Rules to use due diligence. The Arbitrators interpreted the term "due diligence" in a certain manner, and we were found to be liable to make a certain payment under that Rule and under that interpretation of due diligence. The right hon. Gentleman says it is due to the Rule that we were cast in that portion of the Award. Sir, I deny that that had the slightest connection with the substance of the three Rules. What are the words "due diligence" but a merely common-place expression of that which every country is bound to use for the purpose of fulfilling the obligations which it admits? The question does not lie in the introduction of the words "due diligence;" it lies, on the contrary, in the extent of the obligation you allow to be incumbent on you. I want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to admit that there is any obligation of international law outside of the three Rules to which the doctrine of due diligence is inapplicable. It is the absolute duty of every country, whatever covenants it enters into, whatever it is bound to do on behalf of a foreign State, to use diligence in doing it. The question whether the words "due diligence" were correctly construed by the Arbitrators at Geneva is a totally different and wholly irrelevant one. If we admitted in any terms whatever the obligations that we admitted under the three Rules, the same judgment must have been given. There is no extravagance in the words "due diligence." What more safe, what more innocent, what inure common-sense phrase could have been adopted? In truth, they only express for a particular case the principle that must apply to every international obligation—namely, 111 that, with due allowance for the occasional failure incident to human affairs, vigilance and earnestness of purpose are to be exerted in giving effect to those obligations which are admitted to exist. Again, the right hon. Gentleman says the three Rules were construed at Geneva on an essential point in a manner contrary to our construction of them when the Arbitrators proceeded to lay down the doctrine that we were required by international obligation to make seizure of a ship which unlawfully escaped from our ports, even although it had become a national ship by receiving a commission as a ship of war. That is not an accurate account of the declaration made by the Arbitrators. But, undoubtedly, the effect of their declaration goes to this extent—that the receiving of a commission and becoming a ship of war in the case of a vessel which has escaped in fraud of our laws does not purge its original offence. The right hon. Gentleman then says that the Arbitrators in this respect construed the three Rules differently from our selves. But that proposition of the Arbitrators has nothing whatever to do with the three Rules, in which there is nothing expressly referring to it; and if the three Rules had not existed, it would have been just as competent for the Arbitrators to declare that doctrine. The right hon. Gentleman here again—naturally confining himself to that generality of observation which appertains to the first night of the Session—did not give the particular words on which he founded himself. Therefore, I need hardly trouble the House by reading the three Rules at this moment; but anyone who takes the trouble to refer to them will see that they have no bearing on the question, whether this doctrine is a true doctrine or untrue doctrine. The other point on which the right hon. Gentleman thought the decision of the Arbitrators had gone against us was as to the coaling of a ship; and he said that under that decision the coaling of a ship might be an offence. Why, Sir, the coaling of a ship might be an offence, quite independently of the interpretation of the Geneva Arbitrators. It has never, I believe, been contested by any authority that the coaling of a ship might be an offence. It all depends upon the circumstances, the time, the manner, the quantity of the coaling, and the purpose 112 for which it is carried on; and, therefore, the Arbitrators have not laid down the doctrine as supposed by the right hon. Gentleman. They have stated the doctrine as to the coaling of a ship in terms that are general. I do not know whether it is necessary for me to read them or not but those terms have nothing whatever to do with the three Rules. Before the three Rules the doctrine as to coaling was understood, and the right hon. Gentleman must enter into a very different kind of argument from that which he has made to-night if he undertakes to show either that the Arbitrators have laid down the principle that the coaling of a ship can become what everybody knew it might become long before the three Rules, or that it has any connection with the introduction of those Rules. What I take to be really the case is this—that the term "due diligence" has been subjected by the Arbitrators at Geneva, in the exercise of their judgment, to what some may think a rather rigid construction. And the rigidity of that construction is not a whit greater, if it is no whit less, than the construction which might, and which in all likelihood would—I might almost say must—have been adopted if the words "due diligence" had not appeared in the Rule at all, because the doctrine of due diligence is not an essential part of the Rule, but applies to the fulfilment of all international obligations. But before we complain of the three Rules, let us consider both sides of the case. If a strict doctrine has been laid down, and if the first consequence of that is that we are called upon to pay money which under a doctrine more relaxed we should not have had to pay, the fact of such a strict doctrine having been laid down is an important fact in the history and in the gradual formation of international law. But though the first effect of that doctrine may be unfavourable to us in the sense of requiring from us a certain payment of money, I want to know whether the House in general is of opinion, or whether the right hon. Gentleman himself is of opinion, that the strict enforcement of the doctrine of due diligence in the execution of international obligations, even if pushed to harshness against us—which I do not say it has been—in a particular case is a declaration or a measure unfavourable to the permanent 113 interests of this country? In the same way, in regard to the doctrine on which the right hon. Gentleman dilated with great force that the offence of a ship which has escaped from a neutral port in fraud of the laws of the neutral country is not purged by her subsequent reception of a commission as a ship of war, undoubtedly that proposition is one of the very gravest importance. But the thing which it is essential for me to observe is that it has no connection whatever with the three Rules. Beyond this I would say that it is not established, it cannot be made international law, by the proceedings of the Arbitrators. The judgment of the Arbitrators in regard to it is among what may be called the dicta sapientium; it is a grave judgment given in a particular case, and a fact for the consideration of future tribunals. It may be right, or it may be wrong. It may be said that we have suffered by it to a certain limited extent; but I am not prepared to admit that the Arbitrators have inflicted, even in that sense, an injury on the permanent interests of England; while I contend that, whether they have or have not, their dictum was a matter which it was free to them to deliver, but which was not chargeable upon the three Rules agreed upon between England and America, and which the right hon. Gentleman himself has not by any distinct logical argument attempted to show was connected with the three Rules. Therefore, not regarding the present as an occasion on which the matter can be bolted to the bran, I content myself with a counter assertion in reply to the assertions of the right hon. Gentleman. But the right hon. Gentleman having, as he thought, established the doctrine that these three Rules are to be the source of infinite confusion, and that Count Sclopis had declared that they would require an alteration of our municipal law—a thing which, if I am not greatly mistaken, Count Sclopis never declared at all—the right hon. Gentleman asked what course we are prepared to take in reference to the three Rules. Well, that course has been defined for us, and has, I may say, become a matter of international engagement. We undertook with America, in regard to these Rules, which the two countries had agreed to as likely to improve and clear the basis of international law, that we would act upon the convic- 114 tion which we jointly entertained that their adoption would be favourable to the formation of a sound code of maritime law on the duties of neutrals throughout the world; and consequently in the 6th Article of the Treaty the concluding words were that the high contracting parties agree to observe these Rules as between themselves in future, and also to bring them to the knowledge of other maritime Powers and invite them to accede to them. Well, in pursuance of that undertaking, the British Government did some mouths ago forward a recommendation of this kind to the allied Powers. We have not, I think, in any case, as far as I know, yet received a definite reply on the subject of these Rules. [A laugh.] Do hon. Gentlemen feel any surprise at that? I must say I think it is a question not of legislating as we legislate here by an Act of Parliament, which we can pass to-day and undo to-morrow, but we are legislating for the international concerns of the world, and establishing a general consent of nations, which no one or no two of them, once they are established, will be able to undo. Therefore, for each of these countries to say it will take a few months, or even many months, to consider whether it will accede to these Rules would, I think, only be a most reasonable and proper proceeding on its part. I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne) that there was no intention on our part in the composition of this Speech from the Throne to sing a paean over those proceedings. I should be sorry to appear to exaggerate or over-colour the statements with regard to this Arbitration. I must say it appears to me, speaking generally, but without any exception almost, that it has been received by the country at large in the light which reason and justice would recommend. It is not, certainly, particularly agreeable to find with regard to San Juan, of however little consequence that island may be, that the construction of an instrument was against us when we believed it would be in our favour. It is not particularly agreeable to have to pay money to a foreign Power, even though certain results may be obtained which are not unfavourable to our own permanent interests. The good sense of the country has, however, I think, at once passed by all these secondary matters, 115 some of which are scarcely worthy of consideration; and, looking to the large interests of humanity and civilization involved in this mode of dealing with international disputes, taking the good and the bad together, has arrived at the conclusion that if it be not in every respect precisely what we could wish, yet it is a thing to be heartily welcomed and embraced on account of the principle which it tends to consecrate and establish, and the evils which it may operate to remove.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
I very reluctantly trespass upon the House, because I know the disposition to vote at once an Address in answer to the Speech from the Throne; but, at the same time, the points that have been raised by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli) appear tome to be so important that, if the House will bear with me for a short time, I should like to offer a few remarks on the comments which have been made upon them by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. As to the past, I do not wish to say a single word, because last year the Treaty had been ratified and the Rules had been established before Parliament had any means of interfering with them, and Parliament having taken no step with respect to them last year, and the Award having been made, it appears to me that it would be inconsistent with the dignity of this House or with that of any Member of it particularly to cavil at the result. At the same time, we have, I think, a very grave question before us, as I find now from the right hon. Gentleman opposite that these Rules have been submitted, to other nations with a view to their adoption. I cannot help remarking that if these Rules are to be submitted to, it must be because they introduce something that is new into international law. The right hon. Gentleman, indeed, tells us that these Rules merely carry out that which we were prepared to carry out before; but if that be so, is it not somewhat remarkable that it was deemed to be necessary on the part of the British Government to protest in the Treaty that these Rules were not in force when the alleged offence was said to have been committed, but were Rules established for the purpose of the special inquiry? But I should prefer to state the case in language which is not my own. I entirely concur 116 in eulogy which has been passed by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne) on Lord Chief Justice Cockburn. I cannot read his Judgment without a feeling of surprise and astonishment at the ability which it displays, as well as the enormous amount of labour which must have been expended upon it. He says—We have the one party denying the prior existence of the Rules to which it now consents to submit as the measure of its past obligations, while the other virtually admits the same thing, for it 'agrees to observe the Rules as between itself and Great Britain in future, and to bring them to the knowledge of other maritime Powers, and invite them to accede to them,' all which would plainly be superfluous and vain if these Rules already formed part of the existing law recognized as obtaining among nations.The right hon. Gentleman complained of my right hon. Friend speaking of Extradition Treaties being confirmed by statute, but he was correct in substance, for they are submitted to the Law Officers of the Crown to see whether they exceed the statute on the subject, and therefore they are made in conformity with an Act of Parliament, and not absolutely in the discretion of the Executive of the day. The right hon. Gentleman says that arbitration itself is a great blessing, and that in order to secure it we ought to be prepared to submit to a great deal. Well, I admit that we ought to do a great deal for the purpose of obtaining the settlement of disputes by arbitration, and I think the Government of which I was a Member took that view when they themselves proposed it on what I believe to have been an honest and true principle. But when the right hon. Gentleman quotes my noble Friend Lord Derby as having made the statement which he quoted with respect to the possibility of our incurring a loss while no doubt every one must have contemplated that there might be a decision against us, it must be borne in mind that that decision must have been based on the existing international law, and not upon the Rules. My noble Friend said it was of the utmost importance to obtain a decision on the existing international law, and so said Lord Chief Justice Cockburn—It is, I cannot but think, to be regretted that the whole subject-matter of this great contest in respect of law as well as of fact, was not left open to us, to be decided according to the true principles and rules of international law in force and binding among nations, and the 117 duties and obligations arising out of them, at the time when these alleged causes of complaint are said to have arisen.Now that is precisely what Lord Stanley, then at the head of the Foreign Office, said in this House. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that he would not deny that a rigid view had been taken by the Arbitrators of the question of "due diligence," and the words, he told the House, were such as came in everywhere and had always to be considered. But if that be so, why were those words so specifically introduced into the Treaty? Why was a force given to them in the Treaty which had never been given to them elsewhere? And why, if they previously existed, as the right hon. Gentleman informs us, did there arise this difficulty among the Arbitrators in deciding upon them? I refer once more, and I hope for the last time, to Lord Chief Justice Cockburn, who says—When we proceed to apply practically the test of 'due diligence' to the conduct of the Government, the anomaly of the present position, to which I adverted in the outset, makes itself sensibly felt. As I have shown upon abundant authority, the equipping of a ship for sale to a belligerent in the way of trade was at the time in question no offence against the law of nations or a violation of neutrality, though it was an offence against the law of Great Britain. The Government was under no obligation to a belligerent to enforce the law for his benefit, and incurred no liability to such belligerent for not doing so so long as the law was not enforced against the latter any more than against his enemy.My right hon. Friend then was quite justified, it seems to me, in the remarks which he made on this question of "due diligence," and on the danger of everything being strained to the advantage of the belligerent and against the harmless neutral. It is fixing in fact on neutrals an obligation, not for their own benefit or the benefit of their citizens, but solely for the benefit of those who disturb the peace of the world, and, in my opinion, the Rules ought to be for the benefit of of peaceful nations, and not entirely for the benefit of belligerents. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, indeed, that the decision of the Arbitrators was not binding in the future; but he did not say that the Rules were not binding. He supposes that the Arbitrators have gone out of the Rules altogether, and have given, not an interpretation of them, but have added something to them on their own account, and upon 118 that based their decision. If, however, my right hon. Friend will refer to the Award, he will find that the whole decision is stated to be based on the Rules, which alter international law and raise very great difficulties hereafter, if you accept the interpretation of the Arbitrators. The Arbitrators interpreted the words "due diligence" not as they were interpreted by the counsel for this country—not as they were interpreted by the British Government—not as they were interpreted by Sir Roundell Palmer, as having reference to the municipal law of England. That is to say, that in exercising "due diligence" you were not bound to find a new municipal law for the purpose, but to use such diligence as on a reasonable belief of certain things happening you thought you were bound by your municipal law to use. You were not bound to take the initiative, to search or to inquire, but you were to receive information, and you were not bound to act on that information unless you thought it was likely to lead to a conviction. If you were of opinion that it would result in an acquittal, it was not your duty in the discharge of "due diligence" to proceed. If you brought a case before the tribunals of the country and a judicial acquittal took place, it was argued by our counsel that in such a case it was quite clear that this country was no longer responsible. It was also argued by him that if our subordinates at a distance acted without or against instructions, or against the wishes of the Government at home, we were not responsible. And yet these points were decided against us. According to the right hon. Gentleman's statement, we have submitted these Rules to foreign States for their approval. What I desire to know is, whether we have submitted them with an interpretation as contained in our Case attached to them, or with the interpretation which has been put upon then by the Arbitrators? If we have submitted the Rules to foreign States without annexing either interpretation to them, then I say that we have done still worse, because we have thrown loose upon the world a question which may bring still greater complications upon us. What say the Arbitrators upon the point of "due diligence?" They say—Due diligence is in exact proportion to the risks to which either of the belligerents may be 119 exposed from a failure to fulfil the obligations of neutrality on the part of the neutral Governments.Now, conceive the position in which we are placed by such a rule as that. According to Mr. Adams, that puts you in a different position as regards different belligerents, and therefore you are to be liable, not for what you do, but according to the results of your actions. Now, is not that most unjust? Will any country in the world accept such a rule as that by which they are to be bound? They will naturally say—"We will be judged by the law, and not by the results of our actions." Now, what do the Arbitrators go on to declare?—that we shall be held not to have used due diligence because we "omitted to take effective measures of prevention." If I rightly understand this finding, the Rules become useless; because if "effective measures of prevention" are taken, the thing which can be complained of cannot take place. Is it a reasonable interpretation of the expression "due diligence" that it shall absolutely prevent the performance of the thing sought to be prevented from being done? But they go still further, and they say with reference to the Alabama that the "measures taken after the escape of the vessel were so imperfect as to lead to no result," and that, therefore, they were not sufficient to release us from our liability for her escape. The measures to be taken, therefore, must not be the legal ones, but they must be successful ones. I maintain that the burdens thus cast upon us are such that no neutral nation can accept. Then they say, with regard to the Florida, that we did not "resort to measures adequate to prevent the violation of neutrality." In the case of the Oreto there was actually a trial, and this country had actually put in force the legal power it possessed, and yet, in spite of that, it is said by the Arbitrators that—We cannot justify for a failure in due diligence on the plea of insufficiency of the legal means of action; and that the judicial acquittal of the Oreto cannot relieve Great Britain from responsibility under international law.These matters are of the most serious character. But they go still further, and they say that if a ship gets out from one of our ports without being arrested, without any want of due diligence on our part, yet if she clandestinely augments her 120 crew at Melbourne, we are responsible for her acts from that time. Mind, I do not here complain of the interpretation that the Arbitrators have put upon these Rules; all I say is that the country ought thoroughly to understand her exact position under them. On all these points, then—errors of judgment where there is no crassa negligentia, the non-seizure of vessels where the evidence is insufficient for condemnation, where there is judicial miscarriage, where there are acts of subordinates at any distance, where there is a delay for the purpose of investigating the facts, and where commissioned ships are permitted to depart or to coal, the neutral country is to be held responsible in future. Now, all I ask of the Government is whether, in submitting these Rules to foreign Governments for their acceptance, they have placed the same interpretation upon them that has been adopted by the Arbitrators. Is it reasonable that we should stand for the future on such a foundation, and ought we not at once to frame new Rules, or fix upon these a meaning more consonant with justice, in concert with America? If it is bad that the law should be doubtful at all, it is far worse that it should be doubtful after the decision under which it has been given. In future, if we, without protest or explanation, agree to be judged by these Rules, no Arbitrators can escape from putting the same interpretation upon them as the Geneva Arbitrators did; neither would it be open to us, after having so submitted to the Award, to take exception to the interpretation. I come now to the second point—that of ships which have escaped from this country by fraud, and which have subsequently been commissioned, re-entering our ports. We have been told that in such a case we are bound to seize them. That may be the case under the new Rules; but I maintain that, according to the international law that was in force in 1862, we were not only not bound to seize, but had not the power to seize, a commissioned ship belonging to a foreign country which was in our ports. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Arbitrators held that we should have been justified in seizing such a vessel on general principles, and quite independently of the new Rules; and the right hon. Gentleman further says 121 that, in order to carry out the decision in future of the Arbitrators, we need not alter our municipal law. But I maintain, on the contrary, that under our Foreign Enlistment Act of that time we could not, and under that of 1870 we cannot seize a commissioned ship of war, which is in terms specially exempted from such seizure; and, moreover, that it would be hardly for the interests of peace that we should attempt to exercise the right of seizing an armed vessel which might happen to be in our ports. Those who have commissioned and not those then on board have become responsible. Then, as to the coaling of vessels. It is true that coaling under certain circumstances may be a breach of neutrality. But is it not notorious that the United States deliberately and constantly used our ports for the purpose of coaling? Now, the ground on which the Geneva Tribunal had arrived at their decision was this—that no belligerent was to be allowed to make use of any of our ports for the purpose of establishing a base of operations against another belligerent. But they go so far as to say that the act of coaling by any vessel supposed to be in the interest of a belligerent may be a breach of neutrality. Now, Sir Roundell Palmer, in his final argument before this Tribunal, contended, on the contrary, that coaling was perfectly admissible, and referred to the practice of the United States as a justification for this view of the matter. Notwithstanding, however, all the able arguments that were offered against including this practice in the category of illegal acts, the Arbitrators have made their Award in a contrary sense. If this interpretation of our rule be acquiesced in generally, it would have the effect of making neutrality so burdensome that it would be almost impossible to observe it strictly, and people would prefer going to war rather than be bound to adhere to it. What we wanted was a law of neutrality which might be fulfilled without imposing any such burdens upon the people as the Rules as interpreted by the Geneva Tribunal must create. Do not let us give up anything which unduly curtails our legitimate freedom. Let us have clear, definite, and decisive language as to what are or what are not our precise obligations. We must not be bound in such important matters by the loose 122 language used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in interpreting these Rules. It is not only our own interest, but also the interest of all nations with whom we enter into treaties, that their meaning should be as clear and as explicit as it is possible for words to make them.
§ MR. VERNON HARCOURT
What has been stated to-night must convince every hon. Member that this matter requires a great deal more consideration than it has hitherto received or can receive to-night. It is quite plain from what the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has said, that very grave questions have been raised which may influence the peace of the world. If we could accept the view of this Arbitration put forward by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at Glasgow—the only authoritative declaration upon the Arbitration yet furnished, by the way—we might have been spared this discussion and others which must necessarily ensue. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in very characteristic language, stated that the Arbitration was an isolated affair; that it did not depend upon any principles of law whatever; that it was got together haphazard for a particular object, and that object being served, there was an end of it; that it was a case of spilt milk; that it was a bad job, and the less that was said about it the better. Now, if we could have taken this view of the matter we should have been spared much difficulty, and we might have been spared this discussion and all those which must necessarily follow on future stages of the proceedings. That speech was delivered shortly after the Award was published, when it is not very gratifying to be adjudged to have done wrong and then to have to pay a large sum of money. It was extremely important that the transaction should be placed in its true light, in order that the people of England should be reconciled to the Award; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer approaches this "grave subject," as he describes it, in these words:—I have no doubt in the world that as a mere question of the law of nations, we were altogether in the right, that the law of nations was entirely in our favour, and that nothing could have been extracted on that ground.If the law of nations was entirely in our favour, why were we pronounced to be in the wrong, and ordered to pay 123 £3,500,000? The Chancellor of the Exchequer explains that extraordinary position in this way. He says—We adopted not the line which is taken by litigants when they oppose each other, but the line which is taken by friends when they have a quarrel. We did not care to investigate too narrowly as to the question of the law of nations, which, after all, is no law at all, which has issued from the mind of no Legislature, which is merely a collection of customs often created in a manner which would not bear very strict investigation.["Hear, hear!"] The hon. Member for Brighton who says "hear" is, like me, a friend of peace; and I would advise him and those who join with him, in the interests of peace and in the interests of taxation, not to cast ridicule on the law of nations. I know that the pedagogues of jurisprudence and the prigs of technicalities have laid down definitions of law by which they have succeeded in excluding from that category the law of nations; but that has not been the language of statesmen in this country, and it is not the language of statesmen in any country who know what belongs to the interests of peace and justice. It was part of my business to make myself acquainted with Continental writers on this subject, and the charge made against England is that she has acted with habitual contempt of the law of nations. I believe this is a most unjust charge. But when this opinion is held by Ministers of the Crown, Continental writers will have more justice in the future than in the past in the language they have aimed at Great Britain in reference to the law of nations. The view which the Chancellor of the Exchequer presented on this affair was that it had nothing to do with the law of nations. But if it had nothing to do with the law of nations, then we owed nothing at all. I cannot understand the logic of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He says that our course of action in this matter should be that of two friends who had quarrelled with each other—that it should not be quite according to the law of nations, or of any other law, but according to the law of justice and kindness—according to the law that would have us do to others as we would have them do to us. Now, I want to know if that is the law on which the Arbitration proceeded; because if you are going to attempt to reconcile the interests of neutrals and belligerents upon some vague idea that you 124 can arrange upon the basis of doing to others what you wish they would do to you, you have no defence against the Indirect Claims at all. The Chancellor of the Exchequer gives this account of these Rules—he says, "Let us sit down and draw out such a rule of conduct in the abstract "—now, that is what these Rules are, they are the rules of the law of kindness in the abstract—"and then appoint persons of undoubted capacity, not as a tribunal to judge between us, the word is entirely misapplied; not to administer the law, but to say who was in the wrong." Yet I find in the Speech from the Throne it is called "the Tribunal of Geneva," the very phrase against which the Chancellor of the Exchequer at Glasgow loudly and solemnly protested. In the opinion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Arbitrators who sat at Geneva were not, in the proper sense of the word, judges at all, but were arbitrators between individuals. But I always thought that an arbitrator was a judge, who acted upon principles of law, and that if he failed to do so, his award would be set aside. The Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to be under the impression that arbitrators do not act upon principles of law, and yet we have arbitrators sitting within a stone's throw of this House every day, who deliver judicial decisions with reasons for their judgments. And, indeed, according to my experience, the reasons for the decision of arbitrators on international matters are more often given than not. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer's view is the right one, we need not have discussed the matter at all, but we should have paid the money and shaken hands and been good friends again. I sometimes wonder whether the Treaty of Washington was ever submitted to the Cabinet. It certainly must have been a meeting of the Cabinet at which the Chancellor of the Exchequer happened to be absent, for he certainly could never have taken this view of the functions of an arbitrator. The Treaty of Washington says—In deciding the matter to be submitted to the Arbitrators they shall be governed upon the following three Rules, and by such principles of international law as are not inconsistent therewith as the Arbitrators shall determine to be applicable to the case.How is that possible in the face of the 125 declaration that the matter had nothing to do with international law? The Arbitrators acted according to the principles of international law. If I had not so understood, I would have protested against the Treaty at the very first moment. The article, after setting forth the Rules, proceeds thus—Her Majesty's Government cannot assent to the foregoing Rules as a statement of the principles of international law which were in force at the time when the claims arose; but in order to evince its desire of strengthening the friendly relations between the two countries, and of making satisfactory provision for the future, agrees that in deciding the questions between the two countries arising out of those claims the Arbitrators shall assume that Her Majesty's Government had undertaken to act on the principles set forth in those Rules, and the high contracting parties agree to observe those Rules as between themselves in future, and to bring them to the knowledge of other maritime Powers, and to invite them to accede to them.It is idle to say this was not a solemn international adjudication upon principles of international law, only modified and altered by rules which were deemed to be expedient for the purpose of that solemn adjudication. Then, that being so, it is quite impossible to give the goby to the judgment of persons exercising those functions. Judgment was given against you upon certain reasons. Unless you protest against these reasons you admit that they are right. I shall not attempt to argue whether these reasons are right or wrong—whether, if they are right, they would be advantageous to England, or whether, if wrong, they would be injurious to England. But it seems to me plain that the country and the House of Commons, before we attempt to incorporate these Rules so interpreted, should have a better understanding from the Government, whether we are agreed upon the interpretation placed upon these Rules. If we agree in the interpretation of these Rules, why, then, let the Government take the responsibility of recommending the adoption of them. But if the Government are of the opinion expressed by the Chief Justice of England in his judgment on that Arbitration that these Rules are not sound and ought not to be accepted for the future, then I cannot understand how it is consistent with the position of Her Majesty's Government to recommend foreign countries to incorporate these Rules into the law of nations. I hope that we may have to-night some assurance from 126 the Government that at an early period this question will be brought up, when we may have a full discussion and a real understanding of the position in which these Rules will place us and will place the world for the future, and whether these Rules are to be incorporated into the international law of the world, so far as concerns ourselves, and so far as we can influence the world. A great feature of these rules is that they are Rides which I believe almost for the first time in this form have attempted to define a principle. They differ in that respect from the Rules of the Declaration of Paris, 1856. The main point of that Declaration was that it defined acts which were or were not to be done. It declared that privateering was abolished, and, undoubtedly, privateering was abolished. There was no room for ambiguity on that subject. It declared that free ships made free goods. That was a doctrine which had been discussed for more than a century in Europe. Everybody knew what that meant. The moment England determined to accept that principle it was embodied in the Declaration of Paris, and there was no further difficulty about it. But here the Rules are of a character which creates ambiguity. No Court could differ upon the question of privateering, of free ships, and free goods; but when you come to apply principles like those to which I am referring, they lend themselves inevitably to great ambiguity and embarrassment. Before adopting these Rules, then, as binding in the future, for Heaven's sake let us understand what we mean by them. I said "before we adopt them;" but, unhappily, we have adopted them, and are bound to recommend them to other nations; yet Her Majesty's Government have not told us to-night whether they do or do not approve the principles of interpretation laid down at Geneva. The English nation ought to know whether the interpretation of the Judges at Geneva is or is not adopted by their Government. Foreign Governments must know, if these Rules are offered for their adoption; and I venture to think that we must have a great deal more discussion upon this subject than we can by any possibility have tonight. I confess I have read with the same admiration with which I think every Englishman must have read the masterly judgment delivered by tire Lord 127 Chief Justice of England; and I never read anything with greater regret in my life than the censure which the Chancellor of the Exchequer thought it his duty to pass upon the Lord Chief Justice at Glasgow. We find a man of the eminent position of the Lord Chief Justice of England sent forth, as the representative of the Crown, to discharge his duty to his Sovereign and maintain the honour of his country. He does so to the best of his ability, and is bound by the Treaty to administer the law of nations under certain rules, and then the moment he reaches the shores of England on his return, the right hon. Gentleman says—I think if the Chief Justice was of opinion that we ought to acquiesce quietly and without murmur in the Award, he had better not have published his arguments. If he had thought it right to publish his arguments, he had better have retrenched his advice.That is a pretty sharp satire and sarcasm upon a person who was something more than a plenipotentiary of the Crown. How could the Lord Chief Justice help publishing his arguments? Was he, being charged to defend the honour of his country, to sit by in patience and in silence, when he heard imputations made upon that honour—imputations believed by him to be unfounded? Was he, being bound to administer these Rules under the law of nations, to sit by without a word when he heard doctrines laid down which he believed to be inconsistent with the law of nations; and was he by his silence to give consent to those doctrines? Was it not known by the Cabinet for days beforehand—I believe for weeks—that the Lord Chief Justice of England was going to deliver the judgment and publish his argument? If this was contrary to his duty—if he was bound to have held his tongue, why did he not receive instructions from the Cabinet to keep quiet? Why was he not told to pass unnoticed anything which might be said against his country and leave any adverse argument to go without protest? It would be impertinent on my part to attempt to offer any tribute of admiration to the Lord Chief Justice of England; but I entirely agree with speakers who have preceded me that the English nation owes him a deep debt of gratitude for the manner in which he performed his high functions, and that they have recognized with gra- 128 titude the services he has rendered. The Chancellor of the Exchequer went on to say—Then as to the Arbitrators, I confess I also regret that they should have felt it necessary to deviate from the practice of ordinary arbitrators. They are not really Judges, not really a Tribunal, but simply Arbitrators.I have already said that the Treaty of Washington constitutes a Tribunal; the Speech from the Throne has called the Arbitrators a Tribunal. They were Judges, they acted as Judges, they delivered judgment, and they have given their reasons for it. The net result of tonight's debate is that we are very much where we were before in our information as to the view the Government take of the position in which we stand for the future with reference to these Rules. Are these Rules hereafter incorporated into the law of nations, which I will assume—though the Chancellor of the Exchequer denies its existence or authority—Her Majesty's Government accepts as being the arbiter of the peace of the world? If they are incorporated into the law of nations, are they so incorporated with or without the interpretation placed upon them by the Tribunal of Geneva? It seems to me that, in the interest of this House, of the English nation, and of the civilized world, some declaration of opinion must be made before long whether the Rules by which we are personally bound are to be regarded as part of the law of nations.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Before speaking of the law of nations, I may remind the hon. and learned Gentleman of another law which, though not perhaps to be found in any treaties or code, is nevertheless a tolerably well-established law of Parliament. The hon. and learned Gentleman has come down with my speech in his pocket; but though he has prepared this elaborate attack upon me, he has not thought it necessary to give me notice of the attack. Now, that may be a very good practice as between belligerents; but it is not a good instance of comity and fair play among English gentlemen. I will not, however, dwell upon this point, and am content that the hon. and learned Gentleman should enjoy all the advantage he may gain by a personal attack upon me for a speech which was made without any communication with my Colleagues, and made a great many 129 months ago. I will endeavour to answer him as well as I can. In the first place, he finds fault with me for denying the existence of the law of nations. Now, I think the passage he read shows clearly that he has, of course unintentionally, misinterpreted what I said. I do not pretend to remember the words I used; but the sense of what I said was that it was a misnomer to call the law of nations a law in the sense in which we speak of municipal law, because it was not the result of the mind of any Legislature, but was collected from customs, from treatises, and sources of various kinds, and therefore did not form a law in any precise or accurate sense. That is not an unfair account of the law of nations, for you can nowhere find it embodied in any sort of code; nor is it accessible except in the manner I described. Therefore I treated it in my speech as being a thing which could not be defined with any great strictness and accuracy. What I meant to infer was, that though we were not liable here under the law of nations, still there might be good ground for saying that we might in fairness be liable for something. In that statement I see nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to retract. The next thing the hon. and learned Gentleman objects to is my statement that an arbitrator is not a Judge. Now, the hon. and learned Gentleman is a practising lawyer, while I have long since ceased to be one. But I appeal to any lawyers in this House whether it is not familiar to them that an arbitrator is not a Judge—whether he is not merely an agent between the parties for settling their disputes; whether the great difficulty which often arises in sustaining his awards and the facility of setting them aside does not arise from the very fact that the arbitrator is not invested with the protection and the authority which are given to a Judge; and whether his decision is not scanned as that of an agent rather than as a judicial decision? There are thousands of cases which bear out this doctrine, and in which enormous injustice has been done because the rule has been upheld; and the hon. and learned Gentleman must allow me to express my surprise that such a doctrine should have escaped him in the course of his legal studies. I do not know that there is anything else to defend in my speech. I gave 130 my view as to the advantage we have afforded to the Americans, my view being that whereas we might be defeated then upon a strict view of the law of nations, it was better to run the chance of losing our case upon principles which were fair between man and man, than to stand upon any defence and any difficulties which we might raise under international law. I think we acted wisely in that respect. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman goes on to charge me with having been wanting in proper respect towards the Lord Chief Justice. Now, nothing was further from my intention and feeling than to be wanting in any respect for that learned Judge. I will state to the House candidly what I felt and what I said, and the reason which actuated my conduct. I have a sincere detestation and horror of war. That feeling is engrained in my nature; and the only way for the avoidance of war is, as it strikes me, to be found in arbitration. It must, however, be arbitration where the parties are content to leave the decision of the difference to persons whom they have selected to decide it, and the case should be decided without reasons being given for the decision. I pointed out, without wishing to impute anything against the actual Award, but as a warning for the future, that it would be far better that no judgment should be given, but that a decision should be pronounced without reasons. For what is the case now? Here we are, after having agreed, as the result of solemn debate, to submit the matter to Arbitrators whom we were willing to trust with the decision—here we are, on the first night of the Session, employing our time in criticizing the decision of the Arbitrators and in reopening all the points of difficulty which arose. That must necessarily be the result, if you will choose to refer these things to persons acting as Judges instead of as arbitrators; because then they must give their reasons, in which some persons will not agree, and the case will consequently be cropping up afterwards from time to time. Look at the case in which the Emperor of Germany was concerned. He gave his decision, but His Majesty having given no reasons, there was nothing to say or do, but to act upon the decision. I expressed my regret that reasons were given for the decision in the case of the Geneva 131 Arbitration, but not with any intention to speak otherwise than with the greatest respect of the Lord Chief Justice. That is my opinion, and what has happened to-night only confirms me in it. I have not spoken of the Lord Chief Justice in the language in which the hon. and learned Gentleman has spoken of him, and which filled me with unbounded astonishment. The Lord Chief Justice was sent to Geneva as an "arbitrator" to act impartially, and not to allow him-self to be biassed by the fact of his being an Englishman, but to give his judgment on what he thought to be the merits of the case. That is my belief with regard to the Lord Chief Justice, with regard to whom I am arraigned by the hon. and learned Gentleman as having treated him disrespectfully. But how does the hon. and learned Gentleman himself speak of the Lord Chief Justice? He says that the Lord Chief Justice went out to Geneva as a "plenipotentiary" of the Crown—that he went there avowedly to do the work of England, merely as the agent of England, not to decide what was right as between the two countries, but biassed, and committed, without choice, to go all lengths in favour of England. Well, the Lord Chief Justice is certainly unfortunate in his advocate when the hon. and learned Gentleman, who involuntarily comes forward to vindicate his character, ends by throwing such a stigma upon him as that. But the conduct of the Lord Chief Justice negatives such a statement, because in some respects the learned Lord went against us. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman said that the Lord Chief Justice was sent to Geneva to defend the honour of this country; but the fact is that he was sent to arbitrate, and Sir Roundell Palmer and others were sent to defend the honour of the country. It would be a libel on the Lord Chief Justice to insinuate that he would, undertake the office of going to Geneva nominally in the character of Arbitrator, but really to act as an advocate and plenipotentiary for this country. The hon. and learned Gentleman, pursuing the same line, says that the Cabinet ought to have sent the Lord Chief Justice instructions while he was at Geneva. Why, what does the hon. and learned Gentleman think of the Lord Chief Justice when he supposes that he would have condescended to allow any 132 Cabinet to instruct him how to act in his capacity as Arbitrator? Had I said any of these things I should have deserved a far heavier censure than any that the hon. and learned Gentleman has cast on me; and I ask him to review his own conduct, and to see if he has not really laboured to injure the character of the Lord Chief Justice whom he comes forward so unnecessarily to defend? I have very little more to say. The hon. and learned Gentleman asked whether we had sent these three Rules to foreign countries; and, if so, whether we had accompanied them with the gloss or comment, or criticism, or decision—call it which you will—of the Arbitrators. It could hardly have escaped the acuteness of the hon. and learned Gentleman to perceive that it was superfluous to ask whether the three Rules had been communicated to foreign Governments, because the Treaty was laid before Parliament, and, therefore, Parliament was cognizant of the three Rules, and there is a provision in the Treaty which binds us to communicate them to foreign Governments and ask their concurrence in them. Therefore, it was not for hon. Members who had become parties to the transaction, and so are as responsible as the Ministers themselves, now to turn round and argue and declaim against all that they solemnly bound the Ministers to do. I say that we have no choice. The hon. and learned Gentleman further says that the Arbitrators at Geneva made certain comments and put certain constructions on these three Rules which rendered it difficult and dangerous for foreign countries to accept them. Supposing they have, what choice have we? The Treaty forces us to lay them before foreign countries. Then, as to the question, which it was almost ridiculous to ask, whether we are to lay the comments of the Arbitrators before foreign Governments, I should say not. But we are bound to lay the Rules before foreign Governments, and to ask their acceptance of them; and in doing so we discharge the obligation imposed upon us by the Treaty, and we are not likely to do more. I really cannot conceive in what respect blame is to be attached to the Government, and the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) admitted that we had taken the best advice in England—that of Sir Roundell 133 Palmer and others. The House, too, is just as responsible in the matter as we are, and therefore I apprehend that, whatever comments may be made on the Rules, we cannot be said to be in any way liable to censure, for censure implies choice, and we had no choice. But although the right hon. Gentleman says that the Arbitrators have put a different construction on the Rules, the text does not bear hint out in some of his assertions. For instance, one of the Rules provides for what is to happen in case of the departure of a vessel, and he says that they have made the word "departure" apply to a second departure after the ship had been commissioned. But when we look at the consideration given by the Arbitrators, on which he founds that argument, we find that the consideration does not deal with the Rule at all. It is only stated as the present opinion of the Arbitrators. I submit that all this discussion on the interpretation or construction put upon these Rules by the Arbitrators is a very considerable waste of time, and Her Majesty's Government had no choice but to do what they have done. Whether the glosses and interpretations of the Arbitrators affected the Rules or not is a question not for us, but for foreign countries who are at liberty to take them into consideration and either to receive or reject them.
§ MR. G. BENTINCK
said, that the right lion Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) had concluded his speech with a pious hope that the deliberations of the House might be guided by a higher power, and the turn this debate had taken showed that that aspiration was not unnecessary. The House had lost sight of the question as to how far the principle of arbitration was or was not desirable, and whether the honour of the country had or had not suffered from what had occurred. The latter question had not even been touched upon in the debate. He differed from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman) when he said that the country had made up its mind to pay the Award without grumbling. He thought, on the contrary, that there would be a good deal of grumbling before the Award was paid. The opinion of the country was that the honour of England had been degraded by what had passed in the Geneva Arbitration. 134 The hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne) had said that he approved both of the Arbitration and of the Judgment of the Chief Justice. He was rather surprised at that statement, for it certainly seemed to him that the Judgment was a condemnation of the Arbitration. Even the right hon. Gentleman at the head of' the Government had spoken of arbitration with somewhat of hesitation, and had limited his approval of it to instances where it could be followed without dishonour. He would ask, what was the position of the country when the Alabama Claims were made by the United States? It was this—that by the existing law of nations we were not liable for a farthing. An ex post facto law was then invented, under which we became liable, and then a distinguished Member of the Government had told his constituents that he considered we had had a cheap job and had made an advantageous arrangement by paying £3,500,000 in order to avoid war with the United States. What did such language mean if not this—that the country had paid £3,500,000 rather than go to war, though it knew it was in the right in the controversy? So far from a resort to arbitration being likely to create good feeling between States, nothing was more likely to lead to a disruption of the ties which bound them together. The result of such an Award would be that we should have fresh demands made on us, and the country would be roused to a state of indignation which would bring about the very rupture it was desired to avoid. If we had said to the Government of the United States "we owe you nothing, and will pay you nothing," all matters in dispute would soon have been forgotten. With respect to our relations with Russia in Central Asia, we had so reduced our military and naval forces that the Russian Government, which was perfectly well informed on the subject, treated our Government with contempt and laughed at their remonstrances. The Treaty of Paris was torn up and thrown in the face of the Government after a war which cost the country many millions, but which, he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli), ought never to have been entered upon. No man in his senses believed that the progress or proceedings of Russia would be influenced in the slightest degree by 135 any remonstrances which might be made by the Government of this country.
said, there had been throughout the debate a very general consent as to the fact that the Treaty of Washington had produced for this country several very material benefits. First of all there had disappeared from our periodical view a claim on the part of America which was urged with great pertinacity, and which we at first rather haughtily refused to entertain, although we eventually agreed to refer it to Arbitration. In fact, we gradually ran through the whole descending gamut to the very extreme of conciliation. Before the Plenipotentiaries who negotiated the Treaty of Washington went across the water, the British people had become exceedingly tired of this subject, and were willing to pay a considerable sum for having it settled one way or another. Now the Treaty had been concluded, and we had got rid once for all of the Alabama Claims, which formed the principal subject of dispute. We had also derived other advantages under the Treaty. We had settled many other claims against us which arose during the Civil War in America; and we were to receive a cash payment, to be assessed by the persons appointed to decide what amount the Americans should pay us for a joint share of the Canadian Fisheries. Then we were to have for 10 years the navigation of Lake Michigan, and for the same period fishing rights on the coast of America, and the right of freely importing fish and fish oil into the United States. These were blessings which we ought to be duly grateful for; but it was possible that we might pay too high a price for them. The fact was that these benefits, be they great or small, acquired by Great Britain, had been mainly paid for, not by the people of these islands, but by the inhabitants of our Trans-Atlantic Dominion. That point had not been brought before the House; but he thought it would have been very graceful if some expression of sympathy with the Canadian people had been introduced in the Address in answer to Her Majesty's gracious Speech from the Throne in order to inform them that we recognized the fact that the benefits which had accrued to this country had been mainly purchased at their expense, and that we regarded with the greatest admiration the spirit of loyalty which 136 induced them to submit without murmuring to the burdens imposed on their patriotism. When the Treaty was in course of negotiation the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury said that the Americans, and not we, first proposed to refer the Alabama Claims to Arbitration. This was quite true; but Sir Edward Thornton was instructed to press on Mr. Fish the claims of the Canadians for satisfaction in respect of certain grievances which had accrued to them during the American War. Mr. Fish took occasion to say that the principal subject in dispute between the two nations was the Alabama Claims, and straightway it was settled that the Canadian grievances, which Sir Edward Thornton was at first instructed to bring under the notice of the Americans, should be set aside, and the Alabama Claims substituted. At all events, the Canadian claims were not thoroughly discussed. A dispute had arisen between the First Lord of the Treasury and his right hon. Friend who sat near him (Mr. Horsman) as to whether or not the Americans demanded as a prior condition of entering into negotiations that an apology should be given. The truth was that it was not until the Alabama Claims had been for some time under discussion, and the new Rules submitted for approval to the British Cabinet, that our Government consented to give an apology. In the first instance, however, they refused to do so, and consequently the apology could not have been a condition precedent for entering into negotiations. Then the new Rules, as the right hon. Gentleman had remarked, were not proposed by the americans in the first instance, as the first draught was written by Lord Granville, and forwarded with the instructions to the Plenipotentiaries at Washington. The Americans, however, were not satisfied with the concession, and demanded that the new Rules should be made retrospective. At first the British Plenipotentiaries said we were not responsible for what had occurred, and denied all liability for the escape of the Alabama, but within a few days they tendered the apology which was embodied in the first Article of the Treaty. If they were right at first in refusing to give an apology, surely nothing had occurred within a fortnight to make them change their views on this point? The whole state- 137 ment of the British Case was to the effect that we never committed the acts with which we were charged, and that, although we might feel sorry the commerce of the Americans had been crippled, yet to express such regret in a treaty would be to concede the whole point at issue, and to lower the dignity of England. The First Lord of the Treasury had asserted there was no connection whatever between the guarantee given to the Canadians and the reference of the fisheries to arbitration. He was at a loss to account for what the Prime Minister had said seeing what the facts were. In a communication made by the Privy Council of Canada it was stated that the proposed solution was distasteful to the people of Canada, and it was impossible it could be acquiesced in by them. After considerable correspondence, a guarantee of £4,000,000 on the Pacific Railway was suggested as a quid pro quo for the concessions to be made. Lord Kimberley offered one of £2,500,000, and that was accepted, and it was therefore difficult to account for the Prime Minister denying that the guarantee and the fishery question were connected. For himself he would not describe the guarantee as a bribe, because he did not regard it as a benefit, and there were Canadian financiers who believed Canada would have raised money on easier terms without it. Another point of great importance was found in the Fenian raids which were made from America into Canada in 1865, 1866, and 1870. These expeditions were organized in America and officered by men owning American allegiance, and for those grievances Canada very properly demanded redress. At Washington it was proposed to sot up these Fenian raids against the Alabama Claims; but the result was, that it was found that the three now Rules which had just been assented to were to be used as against England, but not as against America, and the Americans positively refused to discuss the Claims arising out of the Fenian incursions at all. Under all the circumstances Canada had very grave reasons for being dissatisfied with the position we occupied. In the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 the free navigation of the St. Lawrence was acknowledged not only to be ours, but to be something of great value; it was set off against one of the free trade Articles; and the Article said that the 138 free navigation of the river and of Lake Michigan should continue in force as long as Great Britain allowed the Canadians to have it. Therefore, the United States had no right to say, as they did at Washington, that they were even with us in the possession of the free right to navigate the St. Lawrence. We yielded without a single word a right which was of great importance, and better terms might have been obtained for us. Every single point was yielded by our negotiators. We night congratulate ourselves on having got rid of some difficult questions; but we did it at the price of a series of concessions which he did not think a first-rate Power ought to have made. On the authority of a great lawyer, he affirmed that the new Rules imposed upon neutrals a burden which they had never borne before, their whole tendency was to remove burdens from belligerents to neutrals; and they would be a burden to our neutral commerce such as it had never before endured, and which would be found unendurable. It was obviously impossible that in future Rules which existed only as between the United States and ourselves could be quoted in our favour. If the Americans had always acted up to the principle of those Rules, what could they do more under them, and how were we benefited by them? We had put an interpretation on "due diligence" such as would invariably be quoted against us in future. There was one question which he wished to put to the Government before he sat down—it related to the running of a boundary between the Russian possessions in North America and our territory in British Columbia. There was a grave question underlying that point, which would be just as bad as the San Juan difficulty unless it was speedily settled. He wished to ask the Government, whether any steps would be taken for carrying out the recommendations of the President of the United States to run a boundary at once between Alaska and our possessions?
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
It is impossible to sit by and listen silently to such statements as have been made twice or thrice in the speech of the noble Lord that all the benefits obtained by this country by the Treaty of Washington were obtained at the expense of Canada, and that Canadian interests 139 were trifled with by the Commission. I dispute them. It has been my misfortune to hear many things said with regard to the negotiations which I could not admit to be accurate, and which were much the reverse, but they were upon matters which I do not feel it necessary to touch upon; but really, after the way in which the noble Lord has spoken, it is important that a few words should be said on the subject. It has been rather the fashion of late of certain persons who hold very different views, as I am aware, from those of the noble Lord, upon the importance of maintaining our Colonial Empire, and who are not unwilling to sow dissension between the mother country and the colonies, to say to the colonies, "The mother country makes every possible use of you, but throws you over whenever your interests are concerned." I hold that to be most mischievous language, and it is altogether untrue. I protest against it. Throughout these negotiations, the interests of our great colony, the Dominion of Canada, were carefully considered. There was nothing more present to the minds of the Commissioners and the Government than to obtain such a settlement as would be for the interests and benefit of Canada. I totally and wholly deny that the Canadian bargain was a bad one. Putting the settlement of the Alabama Claims altogether out of the question, and looking at the Treaty simply as affecting Canadian questions, it was an extremely good arrangement for the Empire in general, and for Canada in particular. On one point I agree with the noble Lord in his criticisms—that the claims of Canada for compensation for the Fenian raids were set aside. Canada had a right to complain of these raids and expect some compensation. There was some difficulty in the matter, and the compensation was not granted; but it was always frankly acknowledged by the Government that the claim was a reasonable one, and always a matter of regret that no compensation could be obtained for them. But when the noble Lord complains that the rights of Canada have not been fully discussed, I say that we did fully discuss them, and even that we made on behalf of Canada the very best bargain we could. The noble Lord spoke of the fisheries—was that a bad bargain?
explained. He did not mean to enter into the subject of the fisheries, because they were referred to arbitration.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
That is exactly what I complain of. It is this loose language which does so much harm. He complains that the interests of Canada have been sacrificed; but he does not tell us how. The noble Lord is perfectly aware that this matter has been discussed in the Dominion of Canada, and the Treaty was affirmed by more than two to one in the Canadian Parliament, and by nearly the whole of the members of the maritime provinces; at all events an overwhelming number of them voted in favour of the Treaty on the express ground that those whose interests were concerned were perfectly well pleased with the bargain that had been made, because it gave the Canadian the right of importing their fish into the Canadian market. The noble Lord spoke of the navigation of the St. Lawrence, but what is that we have conceded? Montreal is a free port, and there was no concession in allowing foreign vessels, American or other, to come up to it. Above Montreal the natural course of the river is of no use for navigation upwards, and not much downwards. You must use the canals, and the canals have not been thrown open. After all, this was not an isolated transaction. It was part of the whole transaction, which included the navigation of the canals and the right of transit through the United States. I say, if we went into the detail of all these questions, you would find that Canada had got by no means a bad bargain. But, whether it was so or not, it was certainly not owing to any want of fully considering her claims or any undue concession to America. Every point was fully and fairly discussed. The noble Lord says everything the Americans asked was; but that was not; they asked for much which was refused, and some of the advantages we obtained for Canada were carried with very great difficulty.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
I think, apart from the argument and authority of the right hon. Gentleman, there is this to be said to show that the interests of Canada were not wholly neglected during the negotiation, that Canada was represented in the Commission at Washington 141 by one of the ablest and most courageous of public servants—Sir John Macdonald. As long as he was there he would take care that the interests of Canada were not neglected. I have no wish to make a speech; but I wish to remonstrate and protest against the doctrine laid down in the course of the few observations made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He argued to this effect—he said deliberately that Parliament was a party to the Treaty of Washington. The House of Commons, he said, could not question what had been done under the Treaty of Washington, because the House of Commons were parties to that Treaty. Now, that is exactly what we are not. It was the Crown that made the Treaty, and the Ministers of the Crown are responsible to Parliament. The Treaty was not made by the vote or action of either House of Parliament. The Ministers are responsible for the Treaty, and the full right is still in the House of Commons to enforce their views of that Treaty. One word as to the Treaty. I believe the country at large accepted it, not because they at all liked it, but because they thought it a by-gone matter, and that it was well to pass a veil of oblivion over all these transactions. They could not feel proud of the result of the Treaty. I did not observe, indeed, that either the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, or the Chancellor of the Exchequer expressed any satisfaction at the particular results or outcome of the Treaty. On the contrary, I think they must have been grievously disappointed at the decision of the Arbitrators; because the language always held by Ministers in their places led to this inference—that they fully believed that even under the three new Rules this country would be able to show that due diligence had been used, and that they had faithfully discharged all their duties as a neutral. However, we have been cast in damages to the extent of £3,500,000. We have that to pay; but it is remarkable that the Rules which are now presumed to be established between the United States and ourselves, and which we are bound to get other nations to adept, are Rules extending very much the duties and obligations of neutrality in case of a war at the very time in the history of the world when we are likely to be more neutral in any great war in the world than we ever 142 were before. We have involved ourselves in far heavier obligations as neutrals than ever were dreamed of before on the part of any neutral nation. I therefore think the Government before they accepted these three Rules ought to have seen that the United States were committed to something they were not committed to before. I trust, however, that at no time in the future history of these two great countries is there any likelihood of such differences arising between us as would involve the attempt on our part to enforce these Rules against the United States. As I have said before, the feeling of the public is that the matter is a by-gone; they are not proud of the result, they do not think it satisfactory to contemplate no surplus during the present year, and they hold it would be much pleasanter that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have £3,500,000 to dispose of in the remission of taxation. But the Treaty having been entered into on the responsibility of the Government, if any fault is to be found it must be found with the Ministers of the Crown, and the House of Commons is not to be saddled with any responsibility on account of it.
I wish to offer some explanation with reference to an inaccurate statement which I made in the course of my speech. In answering a question put by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) as to steps for inviting the other Powers to assent to the three Rules, I confounded some informal proceedings with a formal invitation. The exact truth is no invitation such as the Treaty contemplated has been addressed to foreign Powers, for the matter was suspended in consequence of the discussion which arose on the Indirect Claims, and it has not been thought that the time has yet arrived for resuming it.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Committee appointed, to draw up an Address to be presented to Her Majesty upon the said Resolution:—Mr. LYTTELTON, Mr. STONE, Mr. GLADSTONE, Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER, Mr. Secretary BRUCE, Mr. Secretary CARDWELL, Mr. GOSCHEN, Mr. WILLIAM EDWARD FORSTER, Mr. CHILDERS, Mr. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE, Mr. MONSELL, Mr. STANSFELD, Sir HENRY STORKS, Mr. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN, Mr. WINTERBOTHAM, Mr. GLYN, and Mr. ADAM, or any Three of them:—To withdraw immediately:—Queen's Speech referred.