HC Deb 06 March 1876 vol 227 cc1420-37

Order for Third Reading read.


in moving that the Bill be now read the third time, said, his object in moving the stage so early was to enable the Bill to be sent to the other House to be passed, so as to complete the matter within the prescribed time. He mentioned on Friday last, when the Bill passed through Committee, the dates at which it was proposed that the payments should be made. The first would be on the 10th of this month, and it was necessary, in order to enable the Government to meet that payment, that the Bill should pass before that date. Some misunderstanding appeared to prevail, owing, he thought, to his not giving a proper explanation at the time as to the nature of the arrangement which was contemplated; and he was asked how these Exchequer Bonds were to be issued? It was proposed that Exchequer Bonds for various sums should be issued; that they should fall due at different periods year by year; that they should bear interest at 3½ per cent, and that they should be issued, not to the market generally, but to the National Debt Commissioners, who would have considerable sums of money available in their hands at the present time, in consequence of the repayment of the monies which they were authorized to advance for the purposes of the Irish Church. At the time when the arrangement was originally proposed, in December last, a scheme was proposed, showing how the matter would work, and although it slightly differed from that which the Government now intended, it sufficiently explained the nature of the operation. The proposal was, that a sum of £200,000 a-year should be set aside to redeem the debt of £4,100,000, the sum in round numbers to be paid for the purchase of the Suez Canal shares and the expenses, and it was calculated that the Debt would be extinguished in 37 years by the payment partly of interest and partly of capital. In the first year £200,000 would pay £143,500 of interest on capital and leave £66,500 with which to pay off bonds. In the following year there would be a smaller interest to be paid on capital and a larger amount would be available for the bonds until the 36th year, when £11,000 only would be required for interest and £118,000 for bonds. Since then the Government had determined that it would be better to pay off the bonds half-yearly instead of yearly, and the effect would be somewhat to the advantage of the Treasury; although the change would somewhat disturb the transaction, and make the practical settlement somewhat longer; and he also hoped that it would not be thought necessary to issue £4,080,000 of bonds, but simply £4,000,000, paying £80,000 out of the surplus of the year. In point of fact, according to the Table which he had now in his hand, it was proposed that the payment should be made in March and September, and that the first payment should be made in September next, and the last payment in March, 1912. The matter was one of a purely financial character, and would be best discussed when they came to consider the financial condition of the country. As he had said, it was not intended that these bonds should be put upon the market. They would be held by the National Debt Commissioners, and would bring them 3½ per cent. It would be a good interest to them, and would not be lost to the nation, because they were in fact paying the interest on behalf of the Savings Banks deposits. The arrangement was similar in principle to what had been done in like cases before, with the difference that Exchequer Bonds were to be employed instead of Terminable Annuities. The Exchequer Bonds had two advantages—they distinguished between the amount of principal and the amount of interest, and though these securities were not intended to be negotiated, they could, in the case of any emergency, be negotiated.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)


thought the principle which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to pursue was a right one—namely, that he should only provide for the capital amount, and that the expenses should be paid out of revenue. When, however, the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his first statement it was understood that there was included in this £4,000,000 a further sum which was for payment of expenses, and he (Mr. Dodson) should like to know whether, in accordance with the principle which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was now pursuing, that sum ought to be paid out of revenue and not provided for by way of loan? He had intended to take that opportunity of asking the right hon. Gentleman a question concerning the production of Mr. Cave's Report, or at least the communication to the House of the substance of the information which Mr. Cave had furnished to the Government; but as he understood there would be another Bill in connection with the subject of the Suez Canal shares shortly before the House, and that by that time Mr. Cave would probably have returned to England, he should defer putting any questions. He should like, however, to know when the Bill to which he alluded would be introduced, and when Mr. Cave might be expected home?


Sir, I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Chester (Mr. Dodson) that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made a great improvement in the Bill by his proposal to take the larger part of the commission by way of Vote in a Supplemental Estimate, and not in the form of a loan. There is still, however, a small part of the commission to be borrowed. It is proposed to borrow £20,000 and to vote £80,000, and I hold that the whole commission ought to be voted by the House. I should like to know something about another small sum which was mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he computed the exact sum payable to the Khedive at £3,976,000, and raised the sum to £3,980,000, for the sake, as he said, of round numbers. It is a small sum, but I think the uniform principle is, that when a large sum is voted by this House, to vote the exact amount under that particular head, and not to vote a lump estimate for any supposed expenses. I do not desire to enter at large, although I should be quite entitled to do so, upon the subject of the Canal; but I wish to refer to one point which was alluded to the other night and to another which has arisen from something that has been said to-night. I will take first the point that has been raised to-night. In answer to the Question of my hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Cartwright), it has been stated by the Prime Minister that the Government have refused the proposal of the Pacha of Egypt to appoint a Commissioner to superintend and to participate in the proceedings of a bank which it is proposed to found in Egypt in some kind of connection with the Government. The right hon. Gentleman says that Her Majesty's Government have declined, and I have not the least hesitation in saying the answer of Her Majesty's Government will convey a sense of considerable relief to the public mind. But unfortunately, as has been observed by an ancient poet— Medio de fonte leporun, Surgit amari aliquid. The right hon. Gentleman did not allow us to enjoy the comfort which he administered for any length of time, for he proceeded to sketch out another extreme, which, if it were proposed. Her Majesty's Government would be in a condition to entertain. I hope it will not be thought that I am premature in calling attention to the very slight and at the same time appalling outline of the scheme which it is proposed to substitute for the scheme of the Khedive. I shall be glad if any explanation is given which will remove the difficulties and apprehensions which we may feel in connection with it. Let me say that while I can understand the motives connected with recent transactions which have led Her Majesty's Government to feel that it may be matter of importance, for reasons connected with their own conduct and proceedings, to bolster up Egypt, I think that in the whole of that matter they are treading upon tender ground. This is a question on which the public mind is extremely sensitive, and unless they are very cautious in the proceedings they adopt they may bring serious consequences on Parliament and on themselves. The scheme which the right hon. Gentleman has described as one which might be entertained we know nothing of, except from the language which was used. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that he was not disposed to entertain—[Mr. DISRAELI: Consider.]—I am glad to be corrected, but we mean the same thing, though I think "consider" goes rather farther than "entertain." Whether it goes farther or not, the proper course is to take the right hon. Gentleman's own word, and not the word which my imperfect recollection substituted for it. He said that the Government would not be indisposed to consider a proposition of the Khedive's, that they should appoint a Commissioner to be the receiver of certain branches of the revenue of Egypt, whose special office would be to apply those branches to the liquidation and payment of the calls arising upon a portion of the Egyptian Debt. It immediately suggested itself to my mind, What is to be the position o£ this fortunate or unfortunate Commissioner? I will imagine myself, for the sake of argument, discharging, or attempting to discharge, the duties of the Commissioner: I set out to Alexandria armed, or not armed, as the case may be, with a plentiful following of financial and diplomatic secretaries. When I get to Alexandria I obtain a comfortable lodgment, and wait there to receive certain money which is to be brought to me. I am told that it constitutes the proceeds of the customs of Alexandria. When this money is brought to me my difficulties begin. How am I to know, being Commissioner for Her Majesty's Government, that this money constitutes the proceeds and the whole proceeds of the customs of Alexandria? If I am only to be there to receive what I am told constitutes the proceeds of the customs of Alexandria, then it seems to me that the appointment of this Commissioner may only be what I am sure is not desired by Her Majesty's Government—a mask under which Egypt, or the agents and advisers of the Egyptian Government, may inveigle the British public further with reference to Egyptian finance. Upon that consideration I am completely at the mercy of those who bring me the money—when they please, how they please, and in what quantity they please. I have no means of knowing whether it represents the customs of Alexandria. If the Commissioner is to be really responsible he must have the means of knowing what his revenue is, and that the money brought to him really represents the entire revenue levied under the head on which it has been paid. It is impossible that he can have that knowledge, unless he is naturally entrusted in every material and substantial respect with the levying of that revenue. For my part, I cannot conceive how there can be a fallacy in that method of looking at the case. If the Egyptian Government were to send a Commissioner to England, and that gentleman were to receive the customs at the port of London and apply them to a specific purpose, he would have no difficulty in ascertaining the amount from our system of accounts; but I do not at all feel the same assurance with regard to Alexandria. I should, therefore, wish to know whether, if the proposition for the appointment of such a Commissioner be entertained, the right hon. Gentleman means the appointment of a Commissioner who would really have such an effective control over all arrangements and the mode of accounting for these revenues that he could guarantee to us the receipt of the whole, that it might be applied to the purpose in view? If this is what it does mean, it appears to me that we are only shifting the difficulty one step further; because in that case our Commissioner is to take into his hands the administration of a very important portion of the government of Egypt; so that the measures which we may think necessary as a matter of prudence to cover the proposal which we are to consider may entail upon us still greater difficulties and mix us up still further with a heavier responsibility for a portion of the internal government of Egypt. When we have begun with one portion of the internal government of Egypt we may pass on to another. We may come to occupy the entire ground by series of degrees not difficult to contemplate, and possibly this may have been in the mind of the right hen. Gentleman the other night, when he said that while the people of this country would view the diminution of the Empire with horror, they would see it increased without dissatisfaction. I now wish to refer to the dismissal of Sir Daniel Lange. I must go back to the controversy with respect to the publication of these letters. My opinion is that the publication of these letters was an inadvertence. They were addressed to the Secretary of State in confidence; but I am not disposed to blame either the Government or the Foreign Secretary, because the preparation of these documents necessarily takes place in an office. It is impossible that the whole manuscripts can be revised by the Foreign Secretary, and it may be that, through the mistake of some official, these letters came before him without the important appendage of "Private and confidential" which was marked upon them. Now, with regard to Sir Daniel Lange, I cannot help saying, that there is no individual next to M. de Lesseps himself who has been more essentially associated with the whole history of this great enterprize, and with all its struggles in the period of its most formidable difficulties, than Sir Daniel Lange. I know the untiring zeal and ardour with which this gentleman has laboured to dispose the public mind of England in favour of this project. In company with M. de Lesseps he held 22 meetings in the great centres of commercial industry, and the effect of these meetings was to satisfy M. de Lessops that however the Government at that moment might, unfortunatey, be indisposed to the prosecution of the enterprize, the commercial public perfectly understood its beneficial character, and would take full advantage of it in the event of its being carried into effect. It was, therefore, with a feeling of painful surprise that I hoard of Sir Daniel Lange's dismissal. Of course, we have nothing to do with the dismissal of an officer of the Canal under ordinary circumstances, but I maintain that in this case the circumstances are not ordinary. This is the moment when we have been told that it is necessary for us to obtain a paramount influence and effective control over the Suez Canal. We have just paid £4,000,000 for the purpose of introducing England to the responsibilities and duties of this great undertaking, and yet this is the very moment chosen by the administrative Council in Paris and M. de Lesseps as Director-in-Chief to dismiss Sir Daniel Lange. Sir Daniel Lange is said to be dismissed on account of those letters marked "Private and confidential" addressed to Lord Granville seven years ago. I will only say I think it unfortunate that those letters have been published without the privity of Sir Daniel, who under the circumstances has a great title to the consideration of Her Majesty's Government. In fact, I would suggest that the commanding influence we have acquired over the Suez Canal shall be at once exercised—and it cannot be more becomingly or more beneficially exercised than by the friendly intervention of Her Majesty's Government with M. de Lesseps and his colleagues on the Council at Paris in order to procure by amicable means the reinstatement of Sir Daniel Lange. His sole offence is that he has been too English in his feelings, for the plea of official irregularity is but a poor pretext for the dismissal of a man who has had more to do with the making of the Canal than any one except M. de Lesseps himself. I must, however, look for another reason for the dismissal of Sir Daniel Lange. It is complained that he com- municated with the late Government in a manner which betrayed too much leaning towards his own country, and too much English prejudice. I know that the official objection was, that these were unauthorized communications; but my belief is that the spirit of official pedantry cannot be so predominant in the Council of the Canal that this is the real reason. My opinion is, that the real reason was a little self-assertion on the part of M. de Lesseps. M. de Lesseps has read plenty of articles in the English newspapers; he has read the speeches of the ardent and glowing admirers of this transaction in its substance as well as its form. He was threatened with deposition from that throne on which he sits administering the supreme control of the affairs of the Canal, and it is not unnatural that he should say—"It is time for me to show the English Government and the English Press, and the world at large, that I intend to be master of my own house." If that was his intention, he could not possibly have adopted a more convenient and effective method of proving the reality of the power which he wields, and its complete concentration in his own hands—his determination that this country shall not cease either the control of this enterprize, or the influence in the conduct of its affairs which has been the result of these proceedings, than by this sudden and, I think, not very courteous dismissal of this most zealous, most indefatigable, and, I believe, able and faithful agent of the Company. I hope the Government will consider this matter. The people of this country cannot fail to perceive that it has a direct and serious bearing upon the existence of English influence. Sir Daniel Lange has been guilty of no offence that I am aware of, except that he loved his country a little too well, and was anxious that she should obtain a greater influence over the Canal. I am certain it is a matter of great satisfaction to all who are interested in the subject of the Suez Canal, if any hope is held out that this gentleman is to receive any—I will not say any compensation or reparation—but if any measures are to be taken with respect to him, which will have the effect of removing the consequences of the blow that has fallen upon him. There is yet another matter with regard to which I want to make a request of Her Majesty's Government. It is this— No contradiction has been given by the Government to the statement which reached us some time ago from the East, with regard to the new arrangements between M. de Lesseps and Colonel Stokes on the subject of the surtax, and I am very anxious that the Government should, at the earliest opportunity, explain to us the particulars of the arrangement, and the exact operation of that charge which has been made in respect to the trade of the Canal. As I read the figures—and my computations are not founded upon as large information as theirs—the effect of the charges will be to impose an increased burden, and a prolongation of the burden upon the trade passing through the Canal. If that be so, naturally the country will again be surprised at the operation of this new and commanding influence which we are constantly told we have acquired. But I speak subject to correction: my only request is, that correct information may be given us through the kindness of the Government at as early a period as may be convenient.


Mr. Speaker, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman commenced by attributing to us some financial projects which were purely imaginary. An inquiry was addressed to me which I answered in frankness and without circumlocution, adding an observation which I felt it my duty to make, and which I was authorized to make. The right hon. Gentleman then creates a project or scheme of which he has no proof, and dissects and criticizes it at considerable length. Sir, I must protest against the introduction of imaginary projects on matters of this importance, precipitating events, arriving at premature conclusions, and not at all advancing the progress of Public Business in this House. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that, when negotiations are proceeding, whether with respect to the Suez Canal, or in answer to requests made by a foreign Potentate, he is at liberty to make comments which, I think, every man of sense and temper must feel may be productive of very injurious consequences. I cannot, therefore, gratify the curiosity of the right hon. Gentleman upon the first point, on which he dwelt at so much length. I think it will not be convenient to the public service to go further than I have gone upon this topic. I can only say that Her Majesty's Government will enter into no arrangements for sending Commissioners to Egypt or any other country, unless they believe that the course they are taking is for the public advantage, and they will guard the public interests entrusted to them to the best of their ability. With regard to the incident of Sir Daniel Lange, upon which the right hon. Gentleman also commented at length, I can only judge of it as others do, so far as Sir Daniel Lange is concerned, from the public journals. The right hon. Gentleman hints that we should make Sir Daniel Lange some compensation; but Sir Daniel Lange has made no communication to the Government, and no complaint has reached us from him upon the point mentioned by the right hen. Gentleman. I believe Sir Daniel Lange to be an estimable and able man, and in this matter of the Suez Canal he has rendered service, and I should be glad to protect his interests as I would any other of Her Majesty's subjects. If he makes any communication to the Government he will be listened to with attention. But at present we are in total ignorance of the feelings of Sir Daniel Lange; he has made no complaint, and has not placed himself in communication with us. I may say that I do know privately that a personal communication has been made by M. Charles Lesseps to our Ambassador at Paris; and certainly so far as regards the feelings entertained towards Sir Daniel Lange and the explanation of his withdrawal from the partial management of the Canal, those feelings were not of a hostile, but were of a conciliatory, character. I should hope, indeed, that explanations may be given which will be generally satisfactory; and perhaps we shall find that the right hen. Gentleman has been unnecessarily alarmed with respect to Sir Daniel Lange. As to the passages published from Sir Daniel Lange's letters, the propriety of which publication the right hon. Gentleman challenged so severely, I repeat that these letters did not appear through inadvertence. The question whether they should be published or not was well considered, and they were published according to the rules and accepted regulations of our Foreign Office. There are five despatches of Sir Daniel Lange addressed to the distinguished statesman who was then Secretary of State, and a Colleague of the right hon. Gentleman. They were not all "private and confidential." Two of them are not so marked, and they are the most important. They were considered necessary to give the House a clear conception and complete history of the relations of this country with the Suez Canal, and of the previous negotiations which had occurred in this country respecting it. Moreover, the letters were submitted to the distinguished Colleague of the right hon. Gentleman before they were published. Having received his sanction, and no complaint of their publication having been made by Sir Daniel Lange, I am still in hopes that the right hon. Gentleman has taken a perverted view of these transactions—that ultimately it will be found that Sir Daniel Lange has not suffered from the publication of the letters as the right hon. Gentleman supposes, and that he may be restored to the position he held in connection with the Canal. The right hon. Gentleman asks for some further information as to the result of the negotiations between Colonel Stokes and M. de Lesseps respecting the surtax on the navigation of the Canal. As Colonel Stokes is almost daily, I may say hourly, expected in England, I think the House will feel it would be but fair to us to have the advantage of conferring with Colonel Stokes before we have any debate in Parliament upon this subject. Let me also remind the House that these negotiations between Colonel Stokes and M. de Lesseps respecting the surtax and other matters connected with the Canal cannot be decided by the mere will of Colonel Stokes and M. de Lesseps; they must be submitted to the signatory Powers represented at the International Convention upon the Canal which met at Constantinople; and though I anticipate no difficulty, this is an affair which requires some time. The comity of nations requires that we should not attempt to decide these things without duly consulting the Powers concerned. I think, therefore, it will be on the whole more beneficial to discuss the question when it is completely settled rather than prematurely. At the same time, when Colonel Stokes comes over, and we have the documents in our hands, we shall be glad to give information and enter into explanations, on the understanding that we do so pro- visionally, subject to the ultimate acceptance and ratification of the terms by the other Powers. These, I think, are the three points noticed by the right hon. Gentleman. I protest against his imaginary project respecting the conduct and duties of the Commissioners whom, he says, we are going to send to Egypt. I hope that, notwithstanding the dark view he takes, the relations between the Suez Canal Company and Sir Daniel Lange are not of that tyrannical character which he indicates; and with regard to the negotiations respecting the surtax, I think the House, and even the right hon. Gentleman, will feel that our discussion on this subject had better be postponed till Colonel Stokes returns and the Papers are in our possession.


said, that before the Bill was read a third time he was anxious to express his regret at the manner in which the financial part of the operation had been carried out by Her Majesty's Government. He confessed that while fully recognizing the necessity of preserving our access to India and the desirability of assisting a friendly Power, he was unable to see in what manner we should have acquired any additional power by the purchase of the reversion of those shares; but even supposing that it was desirable to purchase the shares, the manner in which the operation was effected seemed to him open to very grave objection. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, said that the Government could not go to the Bank of England, because the Bank was by law forbidden to lend money to the Government. But that was no answer to the right hon. Gentlemen (Mr. Lowe and Mr. Gladstone), who urged that the Government would have done well to consult the authorities of the Bank, and if they had done so, they would certainly have obtained the money on much more favourable terms. It had been supposed that the intention, in the first instance, must have been that some mercantile house should purchase the shares for the £4,000,000, contracting at the same time to re-sell them to the Government at an advance of £100,000. If that had been done, and if Parliament had really been free to act, the case would have been very different. But as the operation was actually carried out, it was a simple loan to Government at 15 per cent. Now, what was the state of the money-market at the time? The purchase was made on the 25th November, at which time the rate of interest was very low, and money very plentiful. The Times City Article of the 24th of November said— The figures continue daily to droop, and are now quoted at 2⅜ to ½. Money in large amounts has been returned on the banks by borrowers, who could find no profitable employment at all for it, and the rates charged for the day-to-day loans against the security of Government stock are purely nominal. To the great increasing abundance of money is due mainly the rise referred to in Consols through the purchases of bankers, who see no prospect at present of preventing their surplus balances from becoming troublesomely large. But then the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government said—"Oh, but the firm which lent us the money would of course have to sacrifice securities, and in doing so might easily lose even the whole of the 2½ per cent commission." That was no doubt the impression under which the right hon. Gentleman acted; but if he had consulted any confidential adviser in the City, that idea would have been dispelled; and he thought he was speaking quite within bounds when he said that if the proper course had been adopted the money might easily have been borrowed without paying any commission at all. We had been told that this was a very small matter. Economy was, no doubt, just now at a discount. A great deal, however, might be done with £100,000. He trusted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he came to submit his Budget, would be able to look upon £100,000 as being a matter of very little consequence; but it was not so much the amount of money which had been lost as the humiliating fact that England should at this moment be borrowing money at 15 per cent. Her Majesty's Government seemed to have thought there was a necessity for secrecy in the matter. There was no need for secrecy; there was a great need for publicity. And that brought him to the second aspect of the question, in which, also, as it seemed to him. Her Majesty's Government were seriously to blame. As soon as the purchase was made they ought surely to have announced it publicly. Why, if a railway company declared a dividend, the fact was at once made known; if a telegraph cable was broken, the public were at once informed. Yet here was an operation which must necessarily have had a great effect on prices, yet it was kept a secret; and those who were in the secret were enabled to make large profits at the expense of the public. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government did not deny that there were gigantic speculations, but he said that they were in consequence of telegraphic orders from Grand Cairo. But suppose they were, that did not affect the broad question at all. With regard to Mr. Cave's Report he did not know how far the telegraphic summary of it which had recently appeared was authentic. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: Not at all.] Before sitting down he would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reconsider some of the advice which he had tendered to the Khedive. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Khedive had fallen into the error of parting with valuable and improving property for too low a price. He (Sir John Lubbock) ventured to say that the Khedive had done exactly the reverse. Many a man in this country had brought himself into pecuniary difficulties by borrowing money at 4 and 5 per cent to buy land which only paid 2 or 3. The Khedive was one of the largest landholders in the world; he was probably the largest farmer in the world, and one of the largest manufacturers and merchants, and these gigantic operations were carried on to a great extent by means of capital borrowed at a high rate of interest. In conclusion, he would only say—and he did so with regret—that whether this purchase was wise in itself or not, the manner in which it was carried out gave an unfortunate opportunity for speculation, and imposed an unnecessary expense upon the country.


said, that in the publication of the despatches of Sir Daniel Lange it appeared that some letters marked "Private and confidential" had been published as well as those not so marked. He would like to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, first, whether, when Papers were marked "Private and confidential," it was usual to publish those so marked; and, secondly, whether it was usual to publish them without communicating with the writer? He heard with surprise from the Prime Minister, if he understood him rightly, that Lord Granville had given his consent to the publication of those letters. If so, he was convinced that Lord Granville must have felt satisfied that no injury could have accrued to Sir Daniel Lange. But, so far as appeared, the publication of those letters was most indiscreet. There were in the letters expressions which might have wounded the feelings of M. de Lesseps; but the whole correspondence did honour to Sir Daniel Lange, as an Englishman who had at heart the interests of his country, and at the same time faithfully represented the interests of the Company.


Sir, I have only one observation to make on the speech of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government. In speaking of the despatches addressed by Sir Daniel Lange to Lord Granville, the right hon. Gentleman stated that a copy of those despatches was sent to Lord Granville, and that it was with his consent they had been published. It is true that a copy of the despatches was sent to Lord Granville, but I have not been able to ascertain the circumstances under which it was sent, whether as a matter of courtesy or in accordance with the usual practice of the Foreign Office. But it is entirely a mistake to suppose that if the despatches were sent. Lord Granville was consulted as to their publication. No expression of opinion from Lord Granville was expected or asked; and Lord Granville would have gone entirely out of the way if he expressed any opinion as to the propriety of the publication or not. So far as my information goes, there was nothing in the despatches submitted to Lord Granville by the Government to show that they were private and confidential. If the House wishes, after having an opportunity of seeing Lord Granville, I can lay further information on the subject before it; but this I can state at once—that Lord Granville took no responsibility, nor was he expected to take any, in the matter of the publication.


I did not for a moment wish to intimate that Lord Granville underwent any responsibility by reading those despatches, but only that it was usual for the Foreign Office to submit despatches which it had received to a late Foreign Secretary, and when they are submitted he has certainly an opportunity of objecting to their publication.


said, he wished to say a word or two upon the subject of these despatches. It seemed to him that a very extraordinary doctrine had been propounded by the Prime Minister. Some of these despatches were "private and confidential," and the right hon. Gentleman said that they had been published by the Government notwithstanding. The meaning of that was, that the Government received information, given on the express condition by the informant, that it should be "private and confidential," and then, having gained the advantage of that information, assumed to itself the right to break the condition on which the information had been given, and thus subjected the person who had given it to great disadvantage and loss. He maintained that no Government had any right to do that. He utterly denied that any Government could discharge themselves of their moral obligation to preserve faith with people who had given them their confidence? And, further, he would say, even if those despatches were sent to Lord Granville,-and oven supposing he were asked his opinion as to whether they should be published or not, it was no more in the power of Lord Granville than of the right hon. Gentleman to break faith with the man who had given the information. One word more. The right hon. Gentleman the other evening was never tired of telling us of the immense influence and power we had gained by the purchase of the Suez Canal shares. Well, here was a fine opportunity of showing it. A most estimable person had been discharged from his place and put to a good deal of annoyance for doing a service to us. He could not imagine a more fitting occasion on which this great power and influence which we had gained could be shown. The right hon. Gentleman might say that though the Government had acquired great influence they did not want to abuse it. He did not want them to abuse it. But let them use that influence. Lord Derby, when boasting of the great influence we had obtained by the transaction, had said that even though we should receive no dividends for 19 years, and even if we should obtain no share in the direction, the man who did not see that we did gain immense additional influence by this expenditure of £4,000,000 it was useless to argue with. Now was the time to show what influence we had gained. In the case of any other person, instead of summary dismissal the matter would have been laid before Her Majesty's Government and some conferences or correspondence would have been entered into before any step was taken. But here a man had been summarily dismissed without any communication whatever with Her Majesty's Government. Could there be a better opportunity of showing that the Government had gained the power of which they spoke? On the other hand, could any one believe that we had influence if we could not redress an injury to a most meritorious man?


wished to say one word in explanation. He had been asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich whether the intention was to submit a Vote for £80,000 in Committee of Supply, but the Vote in Supply had already been taken for £4,080,000, and the only question now was how to find the Ways and Means for it. With respect to the issuing of Exchequer Bonds for £4,080,000, he did not expect to issue more than £4,000,000. The case was analogous to that of the Alabama Claims. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Lowe) took power to issue the whole, but he did not find it necessary to do so.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the third time, and passed.