§ (In the Committee.)
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £60,000, be granted to Her Majesty, in aid of the Expenses of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales on the occasion of his Visit to India, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1876.
§ MR. MACDONALD
said, when the Prime Minister had first laid his proposition connected with the Prince's projected visit to India before the House, he (Mr. Macdonald) had felt it to be his duty to protest against the proposed Vote. He now felt it be his duty not only to protest against it, but to ask the Committee to go to a division upon the subject. He should follow that course, because he felt that no real ground had been shown to the Committee for the Vote. It was true that they had been told by the Prime Minister and others that the proposed visit might add to the dignity and glory of our Empire; but he and many others who held a similar belief were of opinion that the visit was not calculated to promote either the honour or the lustre of our Empire. They had been told that it would not be an official visit, but that the Prince of Wales—the Heir Apparent to the Throne—would travel, as it were, in the simple character of a citizen. Now, he ventured to assert, looking at the history of India, at the condition of India, and at what had transpired there a few years ago, that this visit would not be calculated to promote the honour or the dignity of this country. They had been told by the Prime Minister that the Prince of Wales would attend the pastimes and sports of the Chiefs in India. He was not aware what these pastimes and sports were; he presumed they referred to Royal tiger-hunting. If that was so, attendance at each pastimes and sports would not add to the honour or grandeur of the Empire, nor would it promote the object which it was said the visit was intended to bring about. He was as loyal as any Member of that House, but he objected to the Vote most strenuously. During the last debate, and again that evening, he had been told that he did not speak the feelings of a large proportion of the community. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite called out "Hear, hear!" but those hon. Gentle- 1510 men would permit him to call their attention to what had taken place during the brief period of one week, and with that he would leave the Committee to say whether he expressed the feelings of a great body of the people outside that House. The hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) said that he had no right to speak of the working classes, and he admitted that it was not on this occasion right to speak in their name, because the working classes alone did not protest against this Vote, for they had been joined by a great body of the middle class. He was at a meeting at Leeds last night which was called for the purpose of protesting against the Vote, and an Alderman of the borough was in the chair. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite might laugh when he said that an Alderman filled the chair; but an Alderman was as high a dignity as an esquire, and Aldermen were elected by the voice of the people. ["No, no!"] He was wrong in this; but, at all events, the town councils were elected by the people, and Aldermen were elected by the town councils. Then, again, at Northampton, a similar meeting had taken place, and at the borough which he with his hon. Colleague opposite (Mr. Salt) represented (Stafford), a large meeting took place last night to protest against this Vote. He held in his hand not only those resolutions, but some from Sheffield, Liverpool, and many other places both in London and in the country, and if another week had been granted before the Vote was asked for there would have been expressed, not only by the working classes, but by a great body of the people, feelings very different from those which had been expressed in that House that evening. The hon. Member for South wark (Colonel Beresford) had said, when the question was last before the House, that he (Mr. Macdonald) did not represent the feelings of the working people; but he had yet to learn that that hon. Member knew much of the feelings of the people generally. Again, the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley) had said that he would like to visit with him (Mr. Macdonald) the borough which he, with his hon. Colleague opposite, represented (Stafford), to try the issue with him whether he represented the feelings of the people or not; but the issue which the hon Member referred to had nothing to do with 1511 this Vote. The hon. Member was in the unfortunate condition of having an idiosyncrasy on a certain subject—
§ MR. WHALLEY
rose to Order, and said he did not make any such proposal or suggestion; but he would repeat what he did say, and that was that he would meet the hon. Member before any body of the working classes and show him that he did not represent their feelings, and that challenge had not been accepted.
§ MR. MACDONALD
said, that he accepted the explanation of the hon. Member, though he must say that he thought his ears heard what he had referred to. However, the hon. Member might have gone to the meeting at Stafford last night, and have used that eloquence which he so often resorted to in that House with so little result. Then the hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. Beckett-Denison) had told the House that he (Mr. Macdonald) did not represent the feelings of the people; but that hon. Member could not know what was passing daily in the districts which he represented. However that might be, as the Prime Minister had given no tangible reason, no sufficient ground whereby the Committee could judge whether this visit to India would be beneficial to this Empire or not, he should call upon those of the Committee who agreed with Mm to follow him into the Lobby, and show to the country that this Vote ought not to be sanctioned.
said, he knew from his own personal experience that the influence of the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Macdonald) with the working classes was not very great. A short time ago the hon. Member went down to "Warwickshire and favoured the working classes there with his views on a strike which was then going on. ["Order, order!"]
said, he wished merely to show the House of what value the hon. Member for Stafford was as representing the working classes. What he said to the Warwickshire labourers was—"Continue your strike though you make Warwickshire a desert for 20 years." Now, any person who used such language did not represent the working classes.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, the hon. Member for Stafford objected to the Vote, and he claimed to speak out against it on behalf of the working classes. Now, it was impossible to deny that there was as much difference of opinion respecting this Vote among the working classes as there was upon any other question. He himself mainly owed his position in the House to the support of the working classes. He, along with his Colleague, represented the largest borough having only two Members in the Kingdom outside London. Owing thus so much to the working classes, he had always endeavoured loyally to defend their cause. But he had never found that the working classes were mean, narrow, or parsimonious. He had always found them to be as just as broad in their views, as generous in their conduct, and just as capable of cherishing lofty desires and aspirations as any other class of the community. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor) objected to the Vote on the ground of the Monarchy. Well, he (Mr. Mundella) contended, in opposition to that, that if they were to have a Monarchy at all it should not be a cotton velvet or a tinfoil one of which they would have reason to be ashamed. The Monarchy ought to represent the greatness and wealth of the Empire. He did not believe in a cheap and shabby Brummagen Monarchy. He gave his opinion on the question of the dowries, and he had not heard that he acted wrongly, and though there was no constituency more ready to communicate their views to their Members than his was, yet up to that moment he had not heard one word from Sheffield, or seen anything in the Sheffield newspapers, upon the question or against this Vote, and therefore he believed that the men of Sheffield would do in this case as in others—act on a broad and generous view. At the General Election not one word was said to him about his vote on the dowry question. He did not think that hon. Members who represented large industrial constituencies should come down to the view of the fewest and the narrowest of their constituents. They should have the courage to take broad, straightforward, and manly views of these questions, and support their own views before the working classes; and when they did they would find that 1513 the working classes were just as much open to reason and common sense, and just as much interested in the honour and greatness and dignity of the Empire, as any other portion of the community. The hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) no doubt represented a large constituency; but his own was three times as great. The Prince of Wales was going to Sheffield next month, and he undertook to say that the people of that town would spend about as much in his reception as the House of Commons was disputing whether it should spend upon the Prince's visit to India. Believing that he represented the opinion of the majority of the working classes, he should best do his duty to his constituents by supporting this Motion.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he should not have thought it necessary to make any remarks if it had not been that the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Macdonald), with that unctuous delivery with which he frequently favoured the House, had put himself forward as the mouthpiece of the working classes. As the Representative of a constituency which probably numbered 30 times as many inhabitants as that of the hon. Member, and which comprised among its members a very large proportion of the working classes, he (Mr. Ritchie) felt bound to enter his protest against the manner in which the hon. Member for Stafford had professed to speak on behalf of the working classes in reference to this question. At the time of the General Election he had addressed immense masses of the working classes, and in only one case was he asked a single question with reference to matters such as that now before the Committee; and upon that single occasion, when he answered in the same way as the majority of hon. Members would have done the question of whether he was in favour of the grants to the Royal Princes, his answer was received with applause. He claimed to represent a large proportion of the working classes of a great metropolitan constituency. He had presented a Petition from the Tower Hamlets against this Vote, and after carefully going through the signatures he found that out of a constituency, with a population of 350,000, the Petition was signed by only 57 individuals, 15 of whom did not reside in the borough. Another Petition which he was unable to pre- 1514 sent, because it was out of form, was signed by 160 persons. The fact of these two paltry Petitions having been sent in bore ample testimony to the real feeling of the working classes.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
said, when this matter was discussed a few days ago he ventured to express some doubts as to whether the proposed visit of the Prince of Wales to India was founded on sound public policy; the discussion which had just taken place had convinced him that those doubts were well founded, for no single hon. Member or right hon. Member who had addressed the Committee had gone farther than making some general statements with respect to the good which this visit was likely to produce. He walked out of the House when the question submitted by the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) was put to the vote, because he objected to either the people of England or the people of India paying the expenses of this visit until some statement was produced which would convince both countries that it was likely to lead to public advantage. The Committee had received no such statement. The hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfred Lawson) had asked for a Copy of the Correspondence which had passed between the Home Government and the Viceroy of India. The Prime Minister did not think it his duty to furnish the House with that information, and in the speech which he had delivered he failed to bring forward any substantial reasons why this visit should be undertaken at all. The hon. Baronet the Member for Kirkaldy (Sir George Campbell) had proffered his support to the Government; but he (Mr. O'Connor Power) was rather suspicious of "office men" in questions of this kind. He looked upon this question not as a question of parsimony or of the amount to be expended. It was rather a question of whether, considering the present state of India, the time was appropriate for any Royal visit to be paid to it at all? The Committee could not lose sight of the fact, prominently brought forward in the excellent speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, that during the progress of the visit His Royal Highness would have occasionally to make stoppages at certain places. Native Princes of India would make an effort not to be outdone by any munificence which he might display. No hon. Mem- 1515 ber would get up and propose that the people of the United Kingdom should pay for the expenses incurred by the Native Princes; but the Native Princes would take care to recoup themselves by putting intolerable burdens upon their already oppressed subjects. He could not forget that this visit was to be made at a time following very closely after an appalling scarcity of food in India, and at a time, too, when the deposition of the Guikwar of Baroda had caused great disaffection in that country—and looking at all these things, and having no evidence on the other side to show that any practical good was to be accomplished by the visit, he felt bound in the interests of his constituents and of the country at large, to record an emphatic negative against the Motion of the Prime Minister. No doubt some gentlemen holding office in India were big with the importance of this visit. It would augment their own self-importance to be enabled to rub skirts with Royalty; but it would simply be an insult and a mockery to the people of India. It had not come home to them as calculated to atone for their grievances or for our past misgovernment. It would tend to develop flunkeyism, and the Indian people would regard it as an insult adding to the injuries we had already inflicted upon them. Whatever decision the Committee might come to it was, at all events, desirable that it should be in possession of the real facts with regard to the feeling entertained out-of-doors. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) was in frequent communication with his constituents; but some occurrences had taken place in his borough which did not appear to have come to his notice. He would read a letter from the Trades' Council of that borough, representing, to a very great extent, the opinions of the working classes. The letter was as follows:—My dear Sir,—I am requested to forward you the following resolution, passed at the Sheffield Trades Council in general meeting assembled:—' That the best thanks of the Council be given to A. Macdonald, Esq., M.P., for protesting against the expenditure of a sum of public money for the Prince of Wales's proposed visit to India, believing that the proposed visit would not have any beneficial political effect, and that the expenditure is unnecessary and uncalled for by the country.'
§ "I have the honour to remain, yours truly,
§ "M. PRIOR, Secretary.
§ "To A. Macdonald, Esq., M.P."1516
§ That letter he would submit to the careful consideration of the Committee. ["Divide!"] He would not be put down by clamour, but would be heard, as he had been before, in spite of such interruptions. He wished to remind the Committee that a meeting of delegates had also been held at Stafford, representing 150,000 miners, and passed unanimously a resolution protesting against the Vote now proposed by the Prime Minister. For these reasons, he gave an emphatic negative to that proposal.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
, who spoke amid cries of "Divide," was understood to say that a feeling of deep disappointment was widely shared in by the Committee, that Her Majesty's Ministers had not thought fit, in spite of the feeling which had been very openly manifested, to propose a larger Vote. Necessity for a considerable increase in the sum to be provided had been clearly shown by a remarkable letter in The Times of that morning, the statements of which no hon. Member had attempted to refute. Whether they were alarmed at the hostile expressions of opinion from some hon. Members below the Gangway opposite, or whether they were really averse to the expenditure altogether, it was difficult to say; but this he would state—that the very timidity of their proposals had encouraged the hostile expression of opinion, and he ventured respectfully to point out that they were going the way to render the expenditure undignified on the part of the country and of the Prince who undertook it. Even allowing, for the sake of argument, that the expediency of the expedition could be doubted, the project had gone too far for such a question to be raised, and it ought to be supported with an unsparing, if not a lavish, hand.
§ MR. LOCKE
Sir, I do not rise for the purpose of discussing the Vote, but simply to ask why the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Macdonald) has singled out the borough of Southwark as an example of the opposition which exists to this Vote among the working classes. My hon. Friend and Colleague (Colonel Beresford), who sits on the other side of the House, and with whom on many questions I do not agree because we belong to different political Parties, disputed the right of the hon. Member for 1517 Stafford to speak in this House on behalf of the working classes. In that I quite concurred; and, so far as Southwark is concerned, the statement has been amply borne out. I can assure the hon. Member for Stafford that, out of the 20,000 constituents I have the honour to represent, I have not received a single letter of remonstrance or opposition on this subject. I receive a great many letters from my constituents on all kinds of subjects; some of them I would rather not see, others I am always glad to receive; but, in this case, I am bound to state that I have not received one single letter of any description whatever opposing this visit and the consequent Vote.
Sir, I cannot but think that the Committee has been led off to the discussion of a great many matters that really do not much bear upon the question. There seems to me to be two questions before the Committee. The one is whether the Committee is to give any sanction to or to put any obstacle in the way of this proposed visit of the Prince of Wales to India. That is the question before us, because we are asked, if we decide that the visit may be paid, or shall be paid—we are asked to provide the means; and surely, as we hold the purse, we hold the determination whether the journey shall take place or whether it shall not. Now, I have no objection to admit that if I had been in the place of the Secretary of State for India, or—which is a still bolder figure of speech—if I had been in the place of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli), when this proposition was first submitted to me, I should have received it and considered it with some hesitation and with some anxiety. It must be obvious to every person who considers the subject that the visit of the Heir Apparent of the Throne of these Kingdoms to India is a matter of considerable importance to that country, and, it may be, of considerable importance to this. There are questions of accidents to his life and health, and there are many other circumstances which make it very important for us to consider and determine; and although it is quite likely that I might have come to the conclusion that it was not right to object to it, still I should have come to the conclusion with a great deal of anxiety. But I presume, 1518 with regard to this special proposition, that it has already received the consent of the Queen; and we know from long experience, which I hope may be much longer, how intelligent and how prudent is the conduct of Her Majesty in all public matters. We know, of course, from what has been said to-night and the other night, that the proposition has been submitted to the Cabinet, and that it has received their consideration and approval. I think we may conclude that it has the approval also of what there is of Indian Government in this country; and I think the right hon. Gentleman told us the other night, that the Governor General of India (Lord Northbrook) had expressed an unhesitating approbation of the proposed visit of the Prince. If that be so, I should be very presumptuous to put my opinion, even if I had still any doubt, against the proposition now before us. I give up any hesitation I had. I believe my opinion is not at all to be put in opposition to, or in comparison with, the opinions of those to whom I have referred. Therefore I am willing to believe, and do believe—at least I do most strongly hope—that the visit is a wise one, and will tend, in the main, to useful purposes both for England and India. Then, if the visit is agreed upon, what sort of a visit shall it be? The right hon. Gentleman described two kinds of visits—one a great regal or Imperial progress through the different Provinces of India; and the other a more moderate journey, an arrangement to which the Government have consented, and which they proposed. But there is another mode which, for aught I know, the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Macdonald) might like to see adopted. For surely you could not say that under no circumstances should the Prince leave this country, or that, if he left it, under no circumstances should he go to India. Now, unless he goes to India with a single portmanteau and carpet bag, as many Gentlemen in this House might go, it is obvious to my mind that between the various modes of journeying that which the Government has approved and offered to the House is the one which really meets the common sense and propriety of the occasion. If it was any other of the sons of the Queen it would be somewhat different. But the Prince of Wales is the Heir Ap- 1519 parent to the Throne of these Kingdoms, and you cannot, in his travels through India, divest him of that character and that position. A man being Heir to the Throne of this Empire, how much in his position greater than that of almost any other man of whom we know anything? This Empire is greater than all the historic Empires of which we read from the the time of Alexander the Great down to the time of the conquering Corsican. We know that there has been nothing greater than the Empire over which the Prince of Wales at some distant day may be called upon to rule, with the population, wealth, intelligence, and power of these United Kingdoms, with Canada, with the growing Empires and nations of Australia, with the Indian Continent with its 200,000,000 of people, and countless islands, of which none of us could give the exact number. I say that a Prince who is Heir to the Throne on which he is to sit and to govern an Empire like this ought, if he visits India, to go in such State as should commend itself to the ideas, the sympathies, and wishes of the population he is about to see. I am not one of those who believe that the journeying of Princes through subject States is likely to have a great effect on the people. ["Hear, hear!"] I see that is cheered by one or two Irish Members. I think the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government said last year, or at all events not long ago, that the Irish insisted upon being a subject race; but the people of India are really a subject race, and I do not expect that the visit of the Prince of Wales among them would make them forget that great fact, which must be constantly to many of them the subject of dissatisfaction and of sorrow. But there are influences which he may employ, there are circumstances which may arise, which may have a beneficial effect upon the public mind in that country. I have not had so much opportunity of knowing the Prince by personal intercourse as many Members of this House have had; but all persons will admit this—that he is of a kindly nature, that he is generous on all occasions, and that he is courteous in a remarkable degree. Now, one of the things which to my mind is always most distressing with reference to our rule in India is that Englishmen there are not kind, and are not courteous, in the main, to the popu- 1520 lation of the country. I recollect in the year 1858, when a Bill introduced by the present Lord Derby for the change in the Government of India was before the House, I took the opportunity of addressing it upon that Bill and upon that change of Government. I addressed myself particularly to this point, and I argued that it was the solemn duty of the Governor General of India to insist that every man, from himself down to the lowest officer—down to the soldier of the rank and file, and the lowest civil officer—that amongst them all there should be kindness and justice in their dealings with the Native population. I believe that the absence of that conduct is one of the greatest dangers to which English rule in India is subject. Now, as the Prince travels through that country he will see, of course, all the great men of the Indian races. But he will come necessarily in contact with many who are not great men, and his behaviour will be observed, and much, I doubt not, in this particular will be admired. The Indians say that the Englishman in India is rude, coarse, and dominant, but that when the Indian comes to England he says that the English are the kindest and most courteous people he ever met. They will find when the Prince travels through India that his kindness, his generosity, and his courtesy will be always distinguishable and always marked, and I shall be glad if it is said hereafter—as it may be said if the Prince keeps before his eyes the great object of his journey—that since the Prince of Wales was in India there has been a following of his example, and that there has been a marked improvement in the conduct of all Englishmen who are trustees or servants of their country in the government of the vast population of India. I rose for the purpose of saying that although I had some doubts, and although it is impossible to say and believe that the journey of the Prince of Wales will turn the current of feeling on great political questions in the minds of the Natives of India, yet I think that in all probability, by his conduct—his personal conduct—his kindness, his courtesy, his generosity, and his sympathy with that great people over whom it may at no distant period be his tremendous responsibility to rule, he may leave behind him memories that may be of exceeding value and equal in influence to the greatest measures of 1521 State policy which any Government could propound.
§ MR. DOUGLAS PENNANT
wished to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the hon. Member for Stafford had expressed considerable pride and satisfaction concerning certain meetings which had lately been held; but it appeared to him that the account of a meeting held last evening in Trafalgar Square on the same subject might be accepted as a tolerably truthful criterion of the character of the rest. In the report of that meeting it was stated that it was but thinly attended, and that after some extremely scandalous remarks had been made upon the Prince of Wales, the company rapidly dispersed.
§ DR. KENEALY
, who rose amid cries of "Divide!" said, he did not intend to take any public part in the discussion but for the extraordinary sentiment which he heard laid down by the hon. Member for Sheffield, that the working classes were not interested in the result of that great question. ["No, no!"] He begged most distinctly to differ from that statement, and he would give the House some good reasons for doing so.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
I must rise to Order. I beg to say I said the very reverse of that attributed to me by the hon. Member.
§ DR. KENEALY
said, he understood the hon. Member to say that the working classes took no interest in the question—[" No, no!"]—and it was not for him to object to the interpretation which he put upon his own words. When the question was first before the House he (Dr. Kenealy) was not present, and since then he had received from almost every part of Great Britain at least a thousand letters from persons whom he considered to be representatives of the working classes, all expressing their wonder and regret that he was not in the House to oppose it. Therefore, it was a perfect mistake on the part of the hon. Member for Sheffield to suppose that the working classes were indifferent to the matter. ["No, no!"] He had listened with very great regret, and he was quite sure the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bright) would pardon him the allusion to the introduction of the Queen's name into his powerful speech, because he had always understood it to be the law and custom of the House that, under no circumstances, should Her Majesty's name be 1522 introduced, or should any attempt be made to influence the debates by any allusion to the conduct of the Sovereign. He yielded to no man in his loyalty, and therefore he hoped it would not be considered any want of respect for the Queen that he objected to her name being introduced. While he shared in a great deal with what the right hon. Gentleman had said of the Prince of Wales, he did not think it was a question really before the House. If His Royal Highness were going to India in any representative capacity it would be a different thing; but as he understood His Royal Highness was going simply in his own private and personal capacity, he strongly objected to the people of this country being taxed one shilling towards the expenses. He believed that in the present state of feeling in India consequent on the iniquitous and wicked trial of the Guikwar of Baroda, the whole Mahommedan population were incensed, and he thought they would be more and more incensed, having no representative in the House, if they were called upon to pay a sum of £30,000 for the expenses of the Prince of Wales's visit. So far from the visit inducing those friendly feelings which the right hon. Gentleman was so anxious should exist between England and India, he thought the worst possible time had been chosen to send His Royal Highness there. He did not intend to address the House any longer; but he could not give a silent vote and allow the matter to pass without a protest against what he understood to be the meaning of the hon. Member for Sheffield.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
rose, and was received with loud and continued cries of "Divide!" which lasted for several minutes. At last,
said: If this interruption is to continue, I move, Mr. Chairman, that you report Progress.
I beg to point out to the hon. Members that if silence be not obtained, I shall feel it necessary to call upon the Sergeant-at-Arms to clear the Bar.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
then proceeded to say that he only desired to offer a few words in fulfilment of what he deemed his duty. As an ex-Member of the Indian Council, and concerned for many years in the administration of the affairs of India, he had given his ap- 1523 proval of the arrangements made by Government. As Member for a British constituency he would support this Vote. He did not exaggerate the importance of the visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to India, and if Her Majesty's Government had proposed a much larger sum he should have opposed it. What they had proposed he believed to be reasonable and therefore he should vote for it. What, however, he rose to say was that, having long laboured in the administration of our Empire in India, he thought he was entitled to assert that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) had done some injustice to his countrymen in India when he said their behaviour there was habitually unkind and uncourteous. The right hon. Gentleman had in that respect spoken in too unqualified a way; for, as a rule, those who were employed in India as the representatives of this country, whether they were high or low, were courteous and kind to the Natives in the highest degree.
§ MR. ANDERSON
, who was received with loud cries of "Divide!" said, he was sorry the Committee was so very hungry. He did not wish to be forced to move Progress in order that this important subject might be fully discussed, and he promised to detain the House only a moment. He represented a constituency which did not like Royal Votes, and his previous opposition to them had been approved by a very large majority of his constituents; but he wished to say why it was that he did not intend on this occasion to give a vote in the same direction. It was because he did not think this was a personal Vote—a Vote to any Member of the Royal Family. If the proposed visit of the Prince of Wales to India were merely a matter of form; if he simply wished to exchange the shooting of the forests of Abergeldie for the sports of pig-sticking and tiger-hunting in India, he should not, perhaps, support the Vote; but he intended to support it, because he saw in the visit a possibility of securing those advantages which had been so well pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham. The Prince of Wales was acknowledged by all who were acquainted with him to be exceedingly gracious and courteous in his manner, 1524 above almost all other men, and being, perhaps, tired of those pleasures to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred, and ambitious to do all the good in his power, his visit to India might be productive of great benefit. Entertaining these views, he should vote in favour of the proposal of the Government.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
Having had the opportunity of witnessing the manner in which the Prince of Wales was received by the operatives of Birmingham and Warwickshare last autumn, I do not believe any feelings but those of respectful cordiality towards His Royal Highness exist among the great majority of them. There may have existed among the operative classes some doubt as to the intended visit of His Royal Highness to India; but this doubtfulness, I am convinced, arose from a recollection of the severe illness from which the Prince of Wales once suffered, which suggested a homely feeling of economy for his health; but it is clear that the objections raised by hon. Members opposite to the intended journey of His Royal Highness come too late. After the highest personage in this Realm, who stands nearest to His Royal Highness, has consented to his journey; after the invitation he has received from the Government of India; after the Cabinet have recommended this expedition; after the great majority of this House that has just voted in favour of this mission of peace which His Royal Highness has undertaken, and I believe it will prove to be a mission of peace; after such a bidding, it would be inconsistent with the respect which he who will hereafter hold the principal share in the guidance of the destinies of this Empire now to hesitate in accomplishing the mission he has undertaken. I repeat that the objections raised by hon. Members opposite come too late fairly to represent the feelings which are, I am convinced, entertained towards His Royal Highness, and upon the subject now before the House. By these objections to the mere expense of the journey His Royal Highness is about to undertake, the hon. Members opposite misrepresent, I am confident, the feelings and opinions of the great majority of the operative classes of this country.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he had not heard any valid reason given for that Vote, except the one assigned by the right 1525 hon. Member for Birmingham—namely, that the Prince was a man of kindly manners, and would treat the Natives of India in a different way from that in which Europeans were in the habit of treating them. In Ireland they had had two or three Royal visits, and great things had been expected from them by some people; but the agitation for the Repeal of the Union, for Catholic Emancipation, and against tithes, still continued as strong after George IV.'s visit as it was before. Her present Majesty, when she visited Ireland, was right well received; but the people were still dissatisfied, because they were misgoverned, and they still agitated for Repeal, for Home Rule, for the improvement of the Land Laws, and the Fenian agitation had supervened. For these reasons he thought they had no right to expect that the visit of the Prince of Wales would have any effect on the loyalty of the people of India to English rule. The Prince would be put in a false position by being allowed to go to India. Let them not live in a fool's paradise, or think they could throw dust in the eyes of the people. What they ought to do was to govern India well, and to act fairly and honestly in their dealings with Native Potentates.
§ MR. BURT
said, he thought that the question had been treated too much as a class question, and he regretted that so much had been said about the opinions of the working classes. The hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Macdonald) did not arrogate to himself the exclusive right to speak on behalf of those classes, but other people had attributed that to him. The working classes were very much like other folk—they differed in their opinions on that subject. Some of them, he dared say, were in favour of that Vote. A very large number of them had a very strong objection to it; but the great mass, he believed, were indifferent about it. He would go into the Lobby against the grant, not because the opinions of the working classes were against it, but because he honestly believed that it was an improper Vote. With every respect for the views stated by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, he could not admit that because the Government thought that it was a proper grant to propose, they ought to bow to their decision in silence and not take a division on the question.
§ SIR FREDERICK PERKINS
said, he would vote with the Government on that occasion, and he only regretted that the amount they asked for was not much larger. He should be unworthy of his position as the representative of the working classes of Southampton, if he did not emphatically deny the serious charge made against their class by the hon. Member for Stafford. It was a libel on their character to be continually imputing to them disloyalty. The working men were thoroughly loyal, and they would never grudge a Vote of money when the dignity of the country was concerned.
§ MR. MACDONALD
repudiated entirely the statement that he had uttered a word that would indicate that to his knowledge the working classes were disloyal, and he believed there was no people in the world more loyal to the Constitution than were the working classes of this country. He also repudiated the insinuation that he desired that the Prince of Wales should travel through India with a carpet bag. The reason that he had objected to this Vote was that he believed the visit would not be beneficial, but would be prejudicial to the best interests of that country.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 350; Noes 16: Majority 334.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £42,850, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the additional Expenditure under the several heads of the Annual Estimates of Her Majesty's Navy, consequent on the Visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to India, which will come in course of payment in the year ending on the 31st day of March 1876.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 255; Noes 12: Majority 243.