HC Deb 09 August 1877 vol 236 cc687-722

MR. GRANT DUFF rose to call attention to the apparent change of policy of the Government of India in the States to the West of the Indus; and to ask explanations from Her Majesty's Government with reference to the occupation of Quetta, the negotiations at Peshawur, and the proposed change of administration in the Frontier districts. He said that before the Session commenced there were rumours of a great increase of activity along the Western Frontier of India beyond the Indus, and on the second day of the Session he put a Question to the noble Lord opposite (Lord George Hamilton), and gathered from his reply that the troops sent into the Khelat territory were intended merely to serve as an escort to Major Sandeman, who had been commissioned to settle the disputes between the Khan and his Sirdars, and to arrange for the undisturbed passage of caravans through the Bolan Pass, that Major Sandeman remained at Khelat at the request of the Khan, and that his troops were likely to move about the country as occasion required. When he asked the Question, he feared that the troops were going to be stationed at Quetta, a point some 257 miles in advance of our existing Frontier, the occupation of which had repeatedly been pressed by the active or "forward" school of Indian Frontier politicians, who, believing that Russia would one day make an attack upon India, desired to anticipate her in an attempt upon Herat, by advancing our military posts far beyond our present Frontier. The subject was again brought before the House by the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Robertson), who, on the 15th of March, asked the Under Secretary of State for India— If his attention has been called to the following paragraph in the ' Times' of the 5th March instant:— 'A Treaty has been concluded with Khelat whereby the British Government agrees to support the Khan against internal and foreign foes, and to pay an annual subsidy of £10,000, besides a further sum of £2,200 for the purpose of effecting such improvements in the country as the Government may approve. In return the Government will have the right to occupy the chief towns with troops, to construct railways and telegraphs, and to erect forts. The British Agent's head-quarters will be at Khelat, and an officer will also be stationed at Quetta;' and, if he will inform the House if such a Treaty has been concluded; and, if the Government approves of the policy indicated of thus occupying places in Beloochistan far beyond the British territory? The noble Lord the Under Secretary of State replied, among other things, that the revision and adaptation of an old Treaty to existing circumstances did not in any way indicate, on the part of the Indian Government, any intention of pursuing in any sense an aggressive policy towards the countries beyond their borders. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury had not asked whether the Government meant to pursue an aggressive policy, but whether they approved the policy of occupying places in Beloochistan, far beyond the British territory; and he (Mr. Grant Duff) supposed it to be a fair inference from that reply, that the Government then at least considered that the permanent occupation of a place at a very great distance from our Frontier did constitute a move of an aggressive character. If that was not a fair inference, then his noble Friend would lay himself open to the charge that he had given no reply whatever to the most material part of the Question of the hon. Member for Shrewsbury. In the month of April, he (Mr. Grant Duff) again called attention to the subject, and asked whether certain Khelat Papers would be laid on the Table. The noble Lord replied, that he would lay the Papers on the Table immediately; but as they were very voluminous, they would not be in the hands of hon. Members for a considerable time. Some months elapsed during which the rumours from India were not less disquieting than they had been before; but people were very much comforted by the pacific assurances of the noble Lord at the head of the India Office (the Marquess of Salisbury), and by the extremely pacific and consolatory language which the noble Lord used in a speech he made at the Merchant Taylors' banquet. He found some difficulty in reconciling Lord Salisbury's tone 'with the things which were going on under his auspices; but he waited till the Papers were issued, which was on Saturday, the 21st of July. He (Mr. Grant Duff) was extremely sorry to say that when he came to examine those Papers he found that the very worst fears which he and others had formed on the subject were confirmed. A despatch of the 23rd of March from the Government of India to the India Office contained statements of a very remarkable character, which appeared to him to be as nearly as possible a declaration of absolute disagreement with the policy enforced on the Frontier ever since the later days of Lord Lawrence, and he did not know how to reconcile its statements with the replies given earlier in the Session in that House, or with the tone of Lord Salisbury's statements elsewhere. These were the words of the Government of India in the despatch of March 23, Paragraph 17— The present Viceroy, having had the advantage before leaving England of personal communication with your Lordship on the general subject of our Frontier relations, was strongly impressed by the importance of endeavouring to deal with them simultaneously, as indivisible parts of a single Imperial question, mainly dependent for its solution on the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government, which is the ultimate guardian of the whole British Empire, rather than as isolated local matters. From this point of view, and bearing in mind the ambiguous and unsatisfactory character of our relations with Affghanistan, it had been his Excellency's intention to depute a confidential envoy to the Court of Cabul, viâ Candahar, and in and about which locality the Affghan population is most friendly to the Government. In Paragraph 25 of the despatch occurred the following:— Moreover, we were also of opinion that the highest and most general interests of this Em- pire (interests no longer local, but Imperial) rendered it necessary to place our relations with Khelat on a much firmer, more durable, and more intimate footing than before. "Whatever may have been the personal disinclination of this Government in times past to exercise active interference in Khanates beyond our border, it must now be acknowledged that, having regard to possible contingencies in Central Asia, to the profound and increasing interest with which they are already anticipated and discussed by the most warlike populations within as well as without our Frontier, and to the evidence that has reached us of foreign intrigue in Khelat itself (intrigue at present innocuous, but sure to become active in proportion to the anarchy or weakness of that State and its alienation from British influence), we can no longer avoid the conclusion that the relations between the British Government and this neighbouring Khanate must henceforth be regulated with a view to more important objects than the temporary prevention of plunder on the British border. Unless otherwise explained, he drew several conclusions from that despatch. The first conclusion which he thought might be drawn from it was, that the policy of active interference indicated was the result of a personal communication between the Viceroy and the Secretary of State (before the former left for India); that, as the Viceroy was subordinate to the Secretary of State, this policy of active interference was the policy of Lord Salisbury; and that, Lord Salisbury being a Member of the Cabinet, it was the policy of Her Majesty's present Advisers. The second inference he drew from the despatch, in spite of the disclaimer of the Government, was, this policy of active interference was that thoroughly approved by Her Majesty's Government—that they had departed from the old policy, and now went for a policy of active interference beyond our Frontiers very hard to distinguish from that aggressive policy. The third inference he drew from the same despatch was, that the Government had been led to that policy of active interference beyond our own Frontiers, on account of the fear of certain contingencies in Central Asia, and with a view to checkmate foreign, or, in other words, Russian, intrigue in Khelat. If so, that policy of active interference, pursued under the influence of the fear of possible contingencies in Central Asia, stimulated by uneasiness about the intrigues of Russia in Khelat, and emanating from the personal intervention of Lord Salisbury, he ventured to think was an unwise and dangerous policy. The more that all questions of Frontier policy were treated in India as local questions, and the less they were treated as Imperial questions, the better it would be. The very worst way in which a Viceroy could employ his time was in thinking out the relations which the policy pursued by him along the Trans-Indus Frontier should bear to the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government. His efforts should be directed to keep his Frontier disputes down to the dimensions of isolated local matters. He did not say that he ought not to be thoroughly well informed of everything that Russia was doing in any part of Central Asia. He ought to know it, and he ought to transmit it to the Government at home, as it, in turn, should transmit all such information to him. There was no better way for a Government to disconcert panic-mongers than to show that it knew everything they knew, and a good deal more; but, except for that purpose, the Viceroy should think as little about Russia and her doings as possible. That might not be the proper policy 20 years hence, or 10 years hence. Alors comme alors; those who succeeded us would best know what action to take; but what he maintained was, that a waiting policy was the wisest for this year 1877, and that any other was a most dangerous policy. The noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for India might be able to state that Quetta was not to be occupied permanently, although how he was able to reconcile such a contention with the terms of the despatch of the 23rd of March, one was at a loss to understand. If there was any intention of permanently occupying Quetta, he (Mr. Grant Duff) must protest against that course in the strongest possible way. It was undesirable for several reasons. In the first place, it was a triumph given to the most aggressive school of Indian politicians. In the second place, it would be very expensive. In the third place, it would add seriously to the duties, already very considerable, of our not too large Army. In the fourth place, what would be the advantage of 1,000 men in Quetta? Why, none whatever; for in the case of troubles arising we should only lay ourselves open to insult. If the occupation was to be permanent, they would have to increase that Force; and might have to send re-inforcements across some of the very worst country in the East at the season of the year least adapted to European constitutions, as it was not likely that our enemies would choose the most favourable time for us to raise a disturbance. In the fifth place, as implying virtual annexation, it could not be agreeable to Khelat. In the sixth place, it excited the jealousies of the Affghans, and would increase the difficulties we already experienced with Affghanistan; and, lastly, it exposed the Viceroy to have his hands forced by the extreme party who, the first time that Russia made any forward move in Central Asia in the direction of Merv, would assuredly clamour for advance to Kandahar, and ultimately to Herat, and we should not be allowed to stop at Quetta. They would urge the Government of India to go in for the whole Rawlinsonian policy, before which it faltered. Now, there were three things which he (Mr. Grant Duff) wished to ask the noble Lord in regard to this part of the subject—first, if the occupation of Quetta was or was not meant to be permanent; secondly, whether, if it was meant to be a permanent occupation, it had anything whatever to do with contingencies in Central Asia; and, thirdly, whether, if Quetta, was to be permanently occupied, it was to be so occupied for local reasons or for reasons of general Imperial policy. Unhappily, the occupation of Quetta was not the only thing which disquieted those who were in favour of playing a waiting game along the "Western Frontiers of India. All kinds of rumours reached them about the disposition of the Ameer of Affghanistan, and the state of mind into which he had been thrown by recent events. [The hon. Member then read a passage describing a recent scene at Cabul, and proceeded to say] — He hoped the noble Lord would explain how it was that the negotiations at Peshawur between the agents of the Ameer and the Representative of the Viceroy did not lead to some better state of things than this. During the greater part of Lord Lawrence's administration there had been war, and the Governor General had not interfered until the Affghans had very generally supported Shere Ali, when he did so too. The policy of "masterly inactivity" had been pursued by different Governors, and the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House was committed to it. Why should not that policy continue? When the Ameer of Afghanistan got out of temper and refused to take the gifts in arms and money that were sent him, why was he not left to get back into good temper as he pleased? Why had they not waited until he should have thought proper to send for them, letting him clearly understand that they wished to help him without making him a bulwark against anybody? Why had the negotiations at Peshawur been entered into at all? He was in an evil frame of mind towards this country, and they had a right to know what had taken place there. It was not fair and reasonable that they should separate without having some general idea of what had been done. The policy of trying to coax him to admit a British Resident into his territory, either at Herat or Cabul, was surely a very doubtful one. But it was said that the Russians had organized a regular system of agents at Cabul, who reported what went on there to the authorities at Tashkend. He thought it likely they had. It was in accordance with the petty kind of finesse which was so characteristic of their diplomacy. But why need we be disquieted about that? They all knew, from the necessities of the case, the Ruler of Affghanistan must fall in with our policy—if there came to be a struggle between us and the Russians at any future time. Why put it into his head that his proceedings were of such consequence that we insisted upon watching them by a highly-placed European agent? Lord Lawrence, Lord Mayo, and Lord Northbrook did all in the way of assisting him that he could reasonably expect. If he were left to the meagre diet of Russian flattery and promises for the future, he or his Successor would be the more ready to return to the more solid diet with which we supplied him for a time. The last matter about which he would like some explanation was the threatened change of administration on the Western Frontier of India. What was really intended; and why was a change about to be made? They were told that its Trans-Indus districts were to be taken from the Punjab, as well as the Hazara country—that its Trans-Indus districts, or nearly all of them were to be taken from Scinde, and that the whole was to be made into a new Chief Commissioner-ship. Further, they were told that the object of all this was that the Viceroy might have Frontier affairs more constantly kept before him, and that, through a person in whom he had full confidence, and who would be inclined to look for Russian intrigue in Khelat and Cabul. It was very likely that intrigue did exist there, but what matter did it make? Cabul must, from the necessity of the case, side with this country; for the Affghans must be enemies of the first foreign army that entered their territory, whether Sclav or British. If that was not the object of the change, or if the scale of the change had been exaggerated, perhaps the Government would state what it was to be, and why it was to be made? The object was, he feared, what it was said to be— namely, to keep Frontier affairs to the front, whereas, in his judgment, they should be kept in the background. He knew the noble Lord would tell him of certain difficulties that had arisen between the officers on the Punjab Frontier and on the Scinde Frontier; but those were small matters, and did not need a revolution to put them right. Unless he was misinformed, the policy all hung together, and the watchword was, "Forward along the whole line" —forward in Beloochistan, forward amongst the wild tribes along the Frontier, forward in Affghanistan; and all this when Lord Salisbury had been imagined in some quarters to be a sort of genius of peace, who had been opposed by certain evil genii in the Cabinet. Very strange indeed was the light which the noble Lord's proceedings in Asia threw on the legend of the Conference. For it was clear that this Asiatic imbroglio at least was his personal policy. The 17th paragraph of the despatch of the Government of India completely proved it. It should have been pointed out to the new Viceroy that la haute politique had little place in India. Instead of that, the mischievous activity of the Indian Government arose from the orders given to Lord Lytton before he started for India. As far as he was personally concerned, he should have thought that if the Government was to pick out for the office of Viceroy an eminent man whose life had hitherto been devoted to diplomacy, the wise course would be to impress upon him the very small part that diplomacy played in Indian affairs when compared with administration, and how, when there was a field for diplomacy, it was chiefly for that kind of quasi-diplomacy —nearly half administrative—which was applicable to English intercourse with Native States. The present Viceroy had abilities equal to anything. Perhaps no man of finer genius had ever occupied his august position. No one could deny that; but by the whole previous training of his life his mind had been led towards diplomacy and foreign politics, and it would have been wise not to stimulate that unfortunate taste, but to diminish it. Had Lord Salisbury, instead of encouraging him to waste much of his strength on these Frontier questions, encouraged him to bring his fresh intelligence to bear on internal matters, and on our relations with the Native States, great and excellent results might have been produced, for which they might look in vain, if his thoughts were wandering to the Oxus and the Jaxartes. But he hoped the noble Lord would tell them that some extraordinary mistake had been made; that Lord Lawrence and all the other great authorities on Indian affairs were disquieted in vain; that Quetta was not going to be permanently occupied; that there was no intention of pressing an Envoy on the Ameer, but that he was now to be left, as he ought to have been before the Peshawur Conference, to get into good humour in his own time and way. Lastly, with regard to the Frontier, an article in Blackwood's Magazine had been written by some person obviously inspired from Simla, who had pointed out that the present was a "detestable" Frontier; just as the French did, before their unfortunate attack on Germany in 1870. A wiser policy had been indicated by the noble Lord the Secretary of State at the Merchant Taylors', when he asked why should they follow and let their enemy choose his own ground, and not await him where they would have the advantage; and he said " that it behoved the English people to look at these matters with that steadiness and prudence which formed the best part of courage." Exactly so. That had been the policy of successive Governments; and he had expressed it by the Spanish proverb— —" Let him attack who wills; the strong man waits." Why then was it to be changed? Or was it to be changed? What was really the policy of the Government? Were they going on with this policy of bringing the Frontier to the front; or would they keep up the policy of previous Governments— of Lords Lawrence, Mayo, and North-brook? In conclusion, he hoped that the noble Lord would be able to say that they were all under some glamour and that nothing material was to be changed. If he could, the sooner it was said the better, for the present, "facing-both-ways" policy was not, he thought, fair to the Viceroy, while he was very sure it was not fair to Parliament.


thought it was important to consider the question which had been raised in this debate on the affairs of the State of Khelat, from a point of view which had reference to the future policy of England as far as Central Asia was concerned. It was, however, made evident that the consideration of that large policy was intended to be excluded from this discussion, because the volume of Papers presented to this House did not contain the slightest information of a political character relating to any other State than that of Khelat. Without these details it would not be just to the Government of India, and Secretary of State, to raise this wide and grave discussion. It must be remembered that the Bolan Pass had always been regarded as the best means of getting from India into Central Asia, and that Herat had always been considered the keystone of India. In order to secure access to the elevated plateau, which afforded the power of moving on Herat, it was necessary to dominate over the Northern or Western end of the Bolan; and Quetta, belonging to Khelat, which practically commanded the Northern end of the Pass, had therefore been occupied; and, besides, it should be remembered that Candahar must also be commanded. The possession of that fort and city would then lay open to us an excellent and easy line of communication to Herat, which could be reached in 21 marches; but as it was clear that our political relations with the Ameer of Affghanistan did not permit of our advance into his territory, we had limited our movement to Quetta, a dependency of the Khan of Khelat, who was bound to us by Treaties and obligations; but whether these were sufficient to justify us in garrisoning a fort such as Quetta, in view to ulterior and greater measures of policy than those set forth in the Blue Book, remained to be proved. For that occupation a small and insufficient Force had been sent forward, and he also doubted much the policy of that advance. If it was to be part of the English policy to advance our position into Asia from India we ought to do so in strength, and not by means of a Force that would be of no value whatever should a critical time arise. The strength of the detachment recently moved to Quetta must be very weak, for, as the official documents showed, it consisted of only one mountain battery, one regiment of Native Infantry, and a squadron of Cavalry, all Native troops, and probably numbering under 850 men. That was a force which, neither in composition nor in numbers, ought to be left exposed in a foreign position, and as yet amidst an unfriendly nation. It would sully the name and fame of England throughout all Asia if any accident befel this weak military body. It was essential to be careful of the safety and honour of our troops, and England should not take a step in advance, without the certainty that, having once placed down our foot, we could maintain our hold. No doubt below the Pass we had an equally small force located, consisting of a mountain battery, a regiment of Cavalry, and a wing of Native Infantry. This was also composed of Native troops, fewer in number than the Quetta detachment. It was, however, unreasonable to expect that this small body could support the detachment in advance, by forcing the difficult and dangerous defiles in the Bolan Pass. It was fully admitted that this movement of troops beyond the Scinde frontier was intended as a defensive measure for our vast territories of India, against the threatening or aggressive policy which, everyone must admit, was either at present more or less in operation, or else liable to be enforced by a nation, whose avowals and threats left but little doubt of their intentions, if not at this time, yet at some future period. This kind of guarding against even a certain act of aggression was not that which, in his opinion, was most suitable. The most effective kind of defence which could be carried out, was by enforcing in India thoroughly good government. It was only by attaching the people to our rule, and by keeping our basis of operations open for an advance, that we should be safe against aggressive acts or hostile intrigues. Lord Canning had repeatedly declared that he feared a financial embarrassment more than a war, and that he would prefer holding India with diminished military forces, than with strong forces, entailing additional taxes on the people of India. We were in greater danger from the present bad state of the finances in India than from any attempts of Russia, though he admitted that Russia was a dangerous Power. He had, however, never admitted the Russian danger to arise from physical force, but only to be dreaded when frightening us into extravagant expenditure. In that physical force view Russia was weak, and was in far greater danger from our military action in Turkestan than India was from a Russian Army. But Russian intrigues were, indeed, most dangerous if India was badly governed; and as this advance to Quetta was the result of hostile intrigues, it ought not to have been made. It was our interest and our best policy to keep open Central Asia to British trade, and thereby to counteract the monopolizing spirit of Russian traders; but that was only to be done by making the trade along our land frontiers and at Indian ports free. He did not approve of the policy of giving money, in the shape of a subsidy, to the Khan of Khelat, who was only one of several Chiefs. By giving money to him alone they would probably excite the jealousy and angry passions of the others. The hon. Member for Elgin (Mr. Grant Duff) was not correct in saying that we had shown a "masterly inactivity" as regarded our frontier policy. On the contrary, the official Papers showed that since 1854 we had never ceased to be in hot water with the Native Chiefs of Khelat. There was one alteration which should at once be made in regard to the trade of Khelat, and which could not fail to exercise a powerful and useful influence amongst the trading classes throughout Khelat, that was by declaring the trade between India and the sea coasts of that territory, known by the names of Makran and Sonmeeannee, entirely free. The present state of our relations with that country, and the occupation of a part of its territory by British troops, virtually made this tract a dependency of India, and entitled thereby to all the advantages of free trade. All the Chiefs, even the Khan himself, were deeply interested in trade, and there was a large part of the population who were entirely devoted to commercial pursuits and not inclined in any way for war. And if we set the good example of removing all duties from the articles passing between the sea coasts of India and of Beloochistan, and bought up the duties levied in Beloochistan, also freed goods on the frontier passing by land to and from India, we should certainly influence all classes in our favour much more effectually than could be effected by bribing the Khan Chiefs. Such a result would be a more reliable force than weak bodies of British troops isolated within the territory of Khelat, and with which he could not agree.


said, that he ventured to intervene between the House and the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for India (Lord George Hamilton), as he wished to express the sentiments which he believed were entertained by independent Members on the Opposition side upon this great question of Hindostan. He fully endorsed and sympathized with much that had been so well said by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kincardineshire (Sir George Balfour), a Gentleman whose long and profound knowledge of India entitled his remarks to respect. It was by good government, by justice, and by conciliating the people of India that we could alone hope to retain dominion there; and if our power perished, it would be because we had not treated her people as we should. He was sorry to think that we did not fulfil our duty in that particular, and that we still continued to govern India on the same insolent principles on which we had long ruled Ireland, and with the same result—smothered disaffection and dissatisfaction with our government. This being so, it was our duty, if we did not improve our administration, at all events to take measures for our own protection and safety. We could not shut our eyes to the fact that Russia was advancing slowly but surely over Central Asia. She had but one object ever in view, and that was to destroy English supremacy and influence in Hindostan. The day could not be far off when the great fight would come, which would require every man that we could bring into the field, when we should have to battle, as it were, for existence, with this ambitious Empire. He had listened, therefore, with astonishment to the speech of the hon. Member for Elgin (Mr. Grant Duff). What admission had that hon. Gentleman made? Why, this—that Russia at the present moment was intriguing with the Ameer and with the Khan of Khelat. Intriguing for what purpose? To undermine British authority. And yet the hon. Gentleman had advised that we should remain quiet; that we should do nothing but rest upon our oars, while our most powerful and deadly enemy in Asia was plotting our destruction. Do not interfere in any way, said the hon. Gentleman, to circumvent this plotter. Was that common sense, or what was it? He (Dr. Kenealy) protested against Her Majesty's Ministers entertaining any such wild policy, and thought that they had exercised sound wisdom in the course which they had pursued. What did Russia mean? Conquest! Conquest of what? Of India. And what did that mean, but the ruin of England? Wherever Russia went—wherever she held sway—she followed but one course, and that was to annihilate our trade, to destroy our commerce, to prohibit our manufactures. And what did that mean to our operatives? Simply ruin. Her hope was, if she conquered Hindostan, to subdue China next; and if that were so, this nation would be excluded from the two mighty markets that she possessed. What, then, would become of our greatness? India gone, China subjugated, we lost the two greatest marts in the world, and how could our millions live? It had always been matter of astonishment to him that the Peace Party—the Manchester Party, who depended so much upon trade, could not see this. But it was clear that, with all their keenness, they never had been able to realize the true result even in idea. And yet it was a certain thing if our Indian Empire was wrested from us. In his opinion, we had all along been too calm, too quiet. The Peace Party cried out that this fear of Russia was all a bugbear. It was nothing of the sort, but a stern reality, which we should have to face some day with fire and sword, and every soldier. Every man who had been to India, or who had given her any of his study, must know and feel this. And there was an instinctive sentiment in the hearts of all our countrymen in that Peninsula that our motto should be "Forward." He believed in instinct, and in this instinct. He thought that those who dwelt in India were far better judges than we of what was the wisest policy to pursue. They were on the spot—we were thousands upon thousands of miles away. He believed that these Russian intrigues foreboded terrible consequences. The hon. Gentleman had told us a good deal about the Ameer of Afghanistan. It appeared that he was in a state of disquiet and discontent because we had gone to Khelat. He did not care much for his discontent. He had no faith in this Ameer. He believed him to be no better than a Russian secret agent. He had chafed ever since an arbitration had been decided against him, in which Lord Northbrook had played some part. That reminded him that perhaps there never was a worse Governor General in India than Lord Northbrook, or one who had done more by misrule to alienate the Natives from us. He doubted whether he had not done as much as Clive or Hastings to disgust the people with our sway. Fortunate it was that he had been recalled, and had been replaced by the present Viceroy, who had been just to the Native population, and had secured their love and confidence. Well, it appeared that this Ameer was out of humour, and he had made a speech at Cabul. The hon. Gentleman had not told us on what authority he quoted that supposed speech.


The Mirror of India.


supposed that that Mirror did not always give a true reflection; and, probably the report of the speech was like reports of speeches in other papers. But, assuming it to be true, what did the hon. Gentleman tell us? Why, this—that we should abandon Khelat to reconcile us with the Ameer.


I did not say that.


I took it down at the time, and if the hon. Gentleman has forgotten it, I cannot help that.


It was in the speech of the Ameer.


understood the hon. Member to endorse all that the Ameer had said. He was glad to find that he was mistaken. Who was this Ameer? He did not come of a good stock. He was the son of old Dost Mohammed, whose proceedings some years ago this nation never could forget. He did not care, therefore, very much about him, though he regretted at the same time that Lord Northbrook, amid his other great errors, had by his conduct helped to turn the Ameer into a foe. This he knew from many Indians whom he was in the habit of meeting—that there was but one feeling throughout the length and breadth of Hindostan, and that one was against the late Governor General. The contrast which they drew between him and his Successor was painful to contemplate. The hon. Gentleman had intimated that the intrigues which were going on ought not be noticed, and had asked, what were they to us? They were a great deal to us, for Russian intrigues usually ended in war and blood. But the hon. Gentleman had neutralized the whole of his arguments on this matter, because he wound up by saying ''that whatever happened Cabul must side with us." If that were so, and Affghanistan opinion were in that direction, the Ameer would have to go with it, no matter how much he was annoyed. The hon. Gentleman had advanced another strange proposition—that Lord Lytton was a diplomatist, and therefore unfit to be Viceroy. And he lamented that in the interview which he had with Lord Salisbury before he left this country for Calcutta, the latter had "stimulated the Viceroy's unfortunate taste for diplomacy." Thus, the very quality which a Ruler should possess was accounted as his chief defect. How could this strange language be characterized? And how were Empires ruled and maintained but by wise diplomacy? He would not pursue the matter further, but hoped that Her. Majesty's Ministers would proceed in the way in which they were going, and would do all they could to check the march and the plans of Russia. He did not regard their proceedings in Khelat as a military menace of any kind. It was absurd to call it so. The small number of soldiers— under 1,000—that accompanied the Envoy could be viewed only as a guard of honour, and in that light the Khan of Khelat regarded it. Nobody could say that it was an army of occupation. He hoped that, if it were necessary, the Government would go still farther, and advance even beyond Khelat, to stop intrigues and countercheck plotting. Let there be no hesitation; this country would support Ministers in their conduct. Our whole existence as a commercial Empire was threatened by Russia. He did not see why we should not struggle against her.


said, his hon. Friend (Mr. Grant Duff) who had opened the debate, in a speech characterized by his usual sobriety of thought and that sense of responsibility which his long connection with the India Office imparted, had asked the Government to give the House some explanation with regard to certain action which had been taken by the Indian Government upon the North-West Frontier of India. He had, however, made one omission which he (Lord George Hamilton) must supply. His hon. Friend spoke at some length upon the policy which had for some time past been in existence in India; but he did not tell the House what the result of that policy was. Now, before any censure could be attached to any Government for an apparent change in carrying out a particular policy, there were some things which we should have clearly in our minds. In the first place, we should consider whether the circumstances now were precisely the same as they were when that policy was initiated; we had next to consider whether the manner of carrying out that policy had been accompanied by a perfect success; and it depended on the reply to be given to those two questions whether the change that had taken place was fussy and foolish, or whether it was wise and statesmanlike. Among the difficult tasks which the Indian Government had to perform, none perhaps required more careful watching than the relations with the Frontier tribes on the North-West. We, a civilized Government, occupied a territory touching upon a series of almost inaccessible mountains, inhabited by large and semi-barbarous tribes. They from time immemorial had been accustomed to bloodshed and plundering. They had been accustomed to descend from their mountain fastnesses in order to prey upon agriculturists living in parts of our territory. When the Punjab was annexed great attention was bestowed on the policy to be pursued towards these Frontier tribes. These tribes might be divided into two classes—one ruled over by the Ameer of Affghanistan, and the other by the Khan of Khelat. The controlling powers of these Rulers was to a very considerable extent nominal, and although we were bound to enter directly into negotiations with them, yet the Indian Government never held them directly responsible for the acts of people over whom they had only nominal control. Two principles were laid down by Lord Dalhousie—one was, abstention from unnecessary interference with the internal affairs of these tribes; the other was, cultivation by all means of friendly relations with them externally. That was the policy which had always been carried out by all subsequent Viceroys, and was shown in the various Treaties entered into with the Rulers of Khelat and Affghanistan. There was a considerable difference in the institutions, the nature, and character of these two countries, and our dealings with them varied. In Khelat we had an agent, and paid the Khan an annual sum. In Affghanistan we had in one way or another helped the Ameer by presents of arms and also by a subsidy, but we had no European officer residing in his territory. Now that was the manner in which the Indian Government had for more than 20 years past endeavoured to carry out their Frontier policy, and it was only fair to the Indian Government that he should describe what was the exact state of affairs when Lord Lytton arrived in India. He must protest against the language used by the ton. Member for Stoke (Dr. Kenealy) with reference to Lord Northbrook. Lord Northbrook had during his Vice-royalty, which doubtless passed over a somewhat quiet period, displayed an intimate knowledge of India, an aptitude for business, and a straightforward candour in all his dealings, both with Europeans and Natives, which had won for him the highest regard, and had, he believed, endeared him to the people of India. He was quite sure they all recognized the well-earned honour which Her Majesty had conferred upon him on his return from India, and he hoped his life would long be spared so that he could give in "another place" his advice arid assistance in the many complications of Indian matters. What was the state of affairs when Lord Lytton went out? When Lord Lytton arrived in India we had broken off relations with Khelat; our agent had been withdrawn, and our subsidy had been withheld. Our merchants were unable to trade, for the great outlet from India to Central Asia was blocked. In Affghanistan our relations certainly had not improved in cordiality—for what reason it was unnecessary to say; but the Ameer of Affghanistan bad refused to receive the £100,000 which the Indian Government annually paid to him. Lord Lytton went out with a full knowledge of the importance of establishing friendly relations with these two neighbouring Sovereigns. He knew also that the question of Central Asian politics had passed from a local to an Imperial phase. He was also fully aware that, owing to the unsettled state of affairs in the East of Europe, there was considerable commotion all along our Border. Eight days before he arrived in India, however, Lord Northbrook was compelled to undertake a very important step. Our relations with Khelat had got into such a state towards the end of 1875 that Sir William Merewether wrote to Lord Northbrook that there were only three courses open to us—first, to break off all relations with Khelat, and allow the state of anarchy then existing to continue. But that was a course which, the Indian Government could not agree to, because constant feuds disturbed the tranquillity of our Border. The next course which Sir William suggested was that we should occupy Khelat and annex it. That was a course wholly contrary to our Indian policy, and which Lord Northbrook declined. The third course was that a responsible agent should be sent to mediate between the contending parties, the Khan and his Sirdars, and establish more amicable relations. Lord Northbrook wrote this despatch to the Khan of Khelat, which was so important that he would read it at length. It was dated Fort William, March. 20, 1876— I have received your Highness's letter in which you communicate your wish to remain under the protection of the British Government, and your urgent desire to offer explanations in order to prevent a severance of the friendly relations which long existed between Khelat and the British Government. My friend! the British Government has always desired the maintenance of friendly relations with the Khelat State, and I would remind your Highness that the suspension of these relations, which has unhappily continued for nearly three years past, is the result of your Highness's own conduct. Nevertheless, I am willing to accept your High-ness's communication as evidence of regret for the past and a desire for reconciliation. I have, accordingly, determined to authorize Colonel Munro, the officer now in charge of Khelat affairs, to depute Major Sandeman, an officer who possesses my full confidence, and with whom your Highness is already personally acquainted, for the purpose of conferring with your Highness upon the affairs of Khelat, and, if possible, effecting a settlement of all disputes. I take this step in the expectation that your Highness will not fail to co-operate sincerely and heartily with Major Sandeman in the adjustment of all existing differences, whether in respect to your relations with my Government or in respect to the chieftains and tribes of Beloochistan. By hearkening to Major Sandeman's counsels, and acting in conformity with his advice, your Highness will afford the best proof of the sincerity of your professions, and relieve me from the necessity of taking further measures to secure the tranquillity of the British Frontier and the protection of trade. It was absolutely necessary to speak thus plainly to the Khan. Major Sandeman accordingly mediated between the Sirdars and the Khan, tranquillity was established, and the Bolan Pass was opened to trade. That expedition was thus attended with success; and on a second mission, Major Sandeman succeeded in establishing tranquillity and commercial relations. Having thus succeeded in effecting the primary object of his mission Major Sandeman wrote to the Government of India expressing a hope that our intervention would be permanent, and requesting leave to interfere to a certain extent in the affairs of Khelat. The Viceroy, very judiciously, declined to sanction such interference. As Quetta, however, was the most convenient station for conducting further negotiations Major Sandeman had remained there. The escort of 986 men who had accompanied Major Sandeman, who were all Natives, were also sent to Quetta; but the mere fact that the Force was under 1,000 men—a Force with which it would be evidently impossible to take the field with any effect—of itself showed that they were not sent for aggressive purposes. He therefore hoped the House would dismiss from their minds the idea that either aggression or annexation was intended. Lord Lytton expressed his regret that Major Sandeman had been sent to Khelat before he arrived, as he wished to have sent at the same time an Envoy to Cabul to explain the object of Major Sandeman's mission. If any suspicion had arisen in the Ameer's mind, it was most desirable that the earliest opportunity should be taken of removing this suspicion, and restoring the cordiality that Prince had previously shown. Lord Lytton was compelled to adopt a somewhat isolated action as regarded Affghanistan. His opinion was, that if any such difficult negotiation was to be undertaken between the Indian Government and the Cabul Durbad, the agent should be European, and Sir Lewis Pelly was accordingly selected for that duty. He met an Envoy from the Ameer, and spent some time in negotiation; but before those negotiations terminated the Envoy of the Ameer died, and in all the circumstances of the case the Governor General thought it would not be expedient to continue these negotiations. He hoped that the frank exchange of opinion which had undoubtedly passed between Sir Lewis Pelly and the Ameer's Envoy had removed previous misconception, and would lead to a restoration of those friendly terms which had formerly existed. With the opinion which his hon. Friend entertained of Lord Lytton, he could find no greater consolation than was furnished by his Lordship's declaration that he looked upon Frontier matters as part and parcel of the Foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government; and if his hon. Friend had complete confidence in the assurances of Lord Salisbury, what better guarantee could he have than Lord Lytton's statement that the action of the Indian Government would be in accordance with Lord Salisbury's assurances? It was of no use discussing questions affecting Central Asia as if they were purely Indian questions; if they had been, the long correspondence between the British and the Russian Governments upon Central Asian affairs would not have taken place, and the Teheran Mission would not have been transferred to the Foreign Office. These questions were of such an Imperial character that not long ago the control of them was transferred from the India Office to the Foreign Office. If questions arising West of Affghanistan were considered to be Imperial, surely the Viceroy was wise in placing those that arose East of Affghan- istan in the same category. No language or axiom could afford a better guarantee that the Indian Government were not about to embark in a policy of aggression in Central Asia. It remained to him to explain the reasons for the proposed changes in the administration of the Frontier districts. When Scinde was conquered it was placed under the Government of Bombay, and when we annexed the Punjab, that was placed under the Supreme Government; and thus the Frontier was in the anomalous position of being half under one Government and half under another. Different systems of treating the Natives were necessary, and were attended with success; but they came to overlap each other, and at length trouble arose from the decisions of one set of British officers being played against those of another. Lord North-brook, therefore, joined Scinde to the Punjab, making a territory larger than the North-West Provinces; and, to lighten the onerous duties of the Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab, as well as to avoid the inconvenience of Frontier questions passing through the local Government to the Supreme Government, Lord Lytton proposed to take a slice off the Punjab and to place it under a Frontier Commissioner with two Sub-Commissioners directly subject to the central authority at Calcutta. There was much to be said for and against this scheme, which was under the consideration of the Secretary of State in Council, and when he came to a decision upon it, the Papers should be issued; but it would be premature to present them without his deliberate opinion. If there was an appearance of departure from our past policy, there was no departure from the principles underlying that policy, but only a change in the method of carrying them out. There were divergent opinions as to the best means of establishing settled relations with the tribes of the North-West Frontier, and it was difficult to reconcile them; but in dealing with these Frontier troubles the Government had only one object in view. India had now been for many years an integral part of Her Majesty's dominions. He was not one of those who believed that India was likely to be invaded, at all events for some years to come. Any Power which undertook the invasion of India would be undertaking a somewhat hopeless enterprize. At the same time, as the Frontier was inhabited by turbulent tribes, who if their relations were unsatisfactory with us and were stirred up by foreign intrigue might occasion us a great deal of anxiety. It was, then, the primary duty of every one at the India Office, without departing from the sound principles laid down by his Predecessors, and while not unnecessarily interfering with those tribes, to lose no time in establishing these cordial relations with them, as would make India not only an integral, but also an invulnerable part of the British Empire.


expressed his approval of the speech of the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for India, but said the question was one which involved Imperial interests extending far beyond India. He (Mr. Whalley) had been called to Order in the earlier part of the Sitting, and he did not know whether that had been done because the Chancellor of the Exchequer had had some misgiving as to what he was about to say. He declared now that the only possible explanation of the policy of Her Majesty's Government in reference to the Eastern Question was, that we were now being made the advocate and the sword of the Papacy against the Czar as the head of the Greek Church. We did not merely drift, but were dragged into the Crimean War by the same infernal influence, against the intentions and the sober judgment of those who were at that time responsible for our actions. With reference to the remarks which had been made by the hon. Member for Stoke (Dr. Kenealy), could anything be more improper, could anything be more unbecoming, could anything be more dangerous at the present moment, than to drag in the character of Russia, to allege that she had been intriguing, and to say that it was the duty of Her Majesty's Government to oppose her? He did not wish to intrude unnecessarily upon the attention of the House; but he must express his conviction that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had taken a great responsibility upon himself in preventing a discussion of that memorable despatch of Lord Derby's, dated 6th May, in which his Lordship had stated, in all but so many words, that the Emperor of Russia was a deliberate falsifier. That was the question which the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) had desired to raise; and he (Mr. Whalley) protested against the right hon. Gentleman opposite having deprived the House of an opportunity of debating a proceeding which had done about as much as language could effect to embitter the relations between this country and Russia. What he might term forcible feebleness had never been better exemplified than in the conduct of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with respect to certain Questions which he (Mr. Whalley) had sought to address to him on this subject. The first time he interrogated him the reply of the right hon. Gentleman was—"I cannot answer;" the second time the reply again was—"I cannot answer; "and the third time, when he was threatening to express his opinions, he was called to Order for a slip in logic for which he was not responsible, and the Leader of the House, without affording him (Mr. Whalley) an opportunity of giving an explanation, as he had a right to do under the terms of the right hon. Gentleman's own Resolution, had moved that he be suspended from debate—


said, he must call the hon. Member to Order. The question as to the course taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not now before the House. The only question before the House was the second reading of the Appropriation Bill.


said, he had always thought that in these matters considerable latitude was allowed. He had been endeavouring to compare the extraordinary strictness and exactitude of view manifested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in regard to the conduct of the Business in that House, with the conduct of the Government which he represented in sanctioning the despatch of Lord Derby of 6th May, in which the Emperor of Russia was charged with having receded from his plighted word —in which, in our vernacular, the Czar was called something like a liar. [Cries of "Order!"] That was the sort of language which had been used towards the Emperor, and it was in such circumstances that they were now asked, without pronouncing any opinion upon that despatch, to leave the conduct of relations between this country and Russia in the hands of Her Majesty's Government during the Recess. He confessed that that fact excited in his mind an anxiety as to the result which was nothing short of painful. He objected to the course which had been followed in the matter, and he was prepared to make any efforts, at any sacrifice, to bring the subject fully and fairly before the country.


said, that although he had hitherto been unable to catch the Speaker's eye, the subjects raised were those to which he had paid so much attention that he thought it was not right that the discussion should close without his submitting some observations on the question. The statement of the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for India was a very satisfactory statement, of which he had not much to complain, except for the few words at the close, and for certain statements of facts to which he was obliged to take exception. The noble Lord had told them that when Lord Lytton was appointed Viceroy, in consequence of events which were at that time happening in Eastern Europe, our Indian Frontiers were in a state of considerable commotion. He (Sir George Campbell) could not find anything in the Blue Books to that effect, and he could not understand how such should be the case. On the contrary, he thought the Blue Books showed that whatever disturbances and difficulties had existed they were purely local, and had their origin in local reasons. There was another matter to which the noble Lord drew attention—the statement in the letter of the Viceroy of the 23rd March as to there being "foreign intrigue" with reference to Khelat. He (Sir George Campbell) could see no evidence in the Blue Book of anything of the kind, and he did not suppose that any such evidence existed. If the noble Lord intended to justify the present action of the Government of India on those grounds, he thought his case was a poor one. The Governor General of Russian Turkestan was a somewhat active and fussy man—General Kauffman—who had separated himself from the control of St. Petersburg; but we had the authority of Mr. Schuyler, who had told them that the course pursued by this gentleman was perfectly regular and above-board so far as we were concerned. Therefore, so long as this charge of foreign intrigue rested merely upon vague rumours, we must refuse to believe them altogether. The noble Lord had said that the Government had not adopted an aggressive policy in India. He quite believed with the noble Lord that nothing like aggression or annexation was intended; but the fact remained that our military Frontier had been pushed forward considerably—to the extent of 200 to 250 miles. He regretted to hear that an Envoy had been despatched to Cabul, more especially because the Ameer of Cabul had refused to receive him, and had stated that he would not be responsible for his personal safety. Such a determination on the part of the Government, in his opinion, marked the inauguration of a policy of activity instead of one of inactivity. The noble Lord had not told them what was the result of this meeting between the Ameer of Cabul and our special Envoy; and inasmuch as our present relations with Cabul were anything but satisfactory, he presumed that nothing good had resulted from the mission. The fact was, we were still labouring under the difficulties which commenced with the war between 1838 and 1842. The Affghans still remembered that campaign, and as they were a people who were most suspicious as to any interference, he believed that despatching the Envoy would retard rather than hasten a settlement of our differences. It was supposed also in India that the re-arrangement to which the noble Lord had referred was due to the desire of the Viceroy to bring the Frontier under his own more immediate control by the appointment of a subordinate who would be in direct communication with himself. We were bound, no doubt, to look to the security of our Frontier; but beyond that object, at present, at least, we ought not to go. With regard to the Affghans, they were still extremely jealous of us, and our best policy was not to seek to interfere in their affairs, but to wait till they asked favours of us. If we held aloof, he had no doubt the time would come when they would make advances to us. As far as he was concerned, he thought the policy which we ought to pursue in India was one of "masterly inactivity," which they had hitherto followed, and he feared that the action of the Viceroy showed a policy of activity on the Frontiers would soon be substituted for it. He was sorry that the letter of the 23rd March had ever been written, and he was afraid that by printing it in the Blue Book the Government intended rather to express an opinion in its favour. He trusted, however, that such was not the fact. He was glad that the debate had taken place, as it would enable the whole subject to be thrashed out before the end of the Session, and he hoped some explanation would be given with reference to the points he had raised. There was no doubt that a considerable change of policy had taken place between the Viceroyalty of Lord Northbrook and Lord Lytton, and that the Viceroy wished or intended to go far beyond the "John Jacob" policy, and he (Sir George Campbell) did not think it was a change for the better. He had stated last year, when the Bill constituting the Queen Empress of India was under discussion, that he regarded it as a sign that for the future we were about to pursue a policy of activity. He was assured at the time it was not so; in fact, he was pooh-poohed and laughed at, but circumstances since then had proved that he was right. He thought it was most prudent for us not to enter into a course of interference in the case of Central India, but the Blue Book showed that the present Viceroy was of a different opinion. He hoped to hear that the Government would not encourage him in thus pushing forward. He would next refer to the State Envoy sent from the Sultan of Turkey to the Ameer of Affghanistan, who, according to a telegram received that day, had arrived at Bombay, and who to reach his destination would have to pass through our territory. He looked upon a step of that kind as a mistake. In his opinion, we ought not to meddle ourselves with these people; while, at the same time, we ought to see that nobody else meddled with them, and he trusted they would be told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the Government were not encouraging any diplomatic interference between the Sultan of Turkey and the Ameer of Affghanistan, as such a policy would be a dangerous one. To try and rule the Mohamedans of India by means of the Sultan would be like endeavouring to govern Ireland with the assistance of the Pope. He was sure that such a system could not answer. He therefore trusted nothing would be done beyond letting the Envoy pass through our territory, without any notice, just as any one else might be allowed to pass through. He, at one time, supposed that the noble Lord at the head of the India Office was afraid of the Russian advance; but he had hoped that after he had been brought into intimate contact with Representatives of Russia at Constantinople all fear on this head would have vanished. He (Sir George Campbell) did not believe with the hon. Member for Stoke (Dr. Kenealy) that we should at one time or another necessarily have a great war with Russia. Russia, in his opinion, was not an aggressive Power, and had not succeeded in advancing very far from her own frontiers. He thought there was no probability of a rapid advance of Russia in India. They were more likely to try and take away our trade in China; and before the great war to which the hon. Member for Stoke had alluded took place, he believed it not unlikely that Russia, as a Power, would have fallen to pieces. He ventured to express the hope that in the interest of the world and in the interest of humanity, the Government would maintain a good understanding with Russia, and he hoped the result of the events now going on in Europe would be that we should return to our friendly understanding and concert with that country. He did not believe one word of the atrocities which were manufactured by Pashas for English readers; but he felt that in a war like this, there must be great loss of life and frightful suffering amongst the population, and he hoped that directly the Government could see their way to assist in putting a stop to the war they would do so; and that when a settlement took place it would take the form of providing for a different form of government for the Christian subjects of the Porte.


considered the last speaker had gone considerably beyond the mark in his observations. The simple question they had to consider was, what was to be done with the Frontier tribes? In his opinion, that was a matter which was not only a serious, but a dangerous one—one too important to be left in the hands of a Lieutenant Governor, however able, and that it should be dealt with by the Viceroy himself. He could not conceive how the mere sending of an Embassy to Beloochistan could be interpreted as a step towards the annexation of that province. This country could have no desire to enlarge her territory; but still he thought the policy of non-annexation had been carried too far. If we were to annex any more territory, we should first be sure of the ground on which we proceeded, and of the likelihood of our maintaining a friendly feeling with the people whose territory we annexed, and all that the Governor General wished to express by the despatch of the 23rd of March was, that the preservation of the interests of the Natives living within our own borders should be the first consideration of Her Majesty's Government; and he (Mr. Onslow) thought that, in the long run, that policy would have a good effect, as it would confirm the Natives on each side of the Frontier that we were determined to hold India against every other Power in the world; and it was, too, a policy of which he trusted the House would now approve. The time had come, he thought, when matters of Frontier policy should be taken out of the hands of Lieutenant Governors and placed in those of the Viceroy, as the central authority. Whatever the policy might be, he would prefer to see a policy of activity to that of "masterly inactivity."


I wish, Sir, to address a few observations to the House on a subject which appears to me to be of extreme importance, and as to which I think it would be desirable that Her Majesty's Government should add somewhat to the assurances as to their policy which have been given to us by the noble Lord opposite (Lord George Hamilton). I listened with, on the whole, general, if not entire, satisfaction to the statement made by the noble Lord, who stated that if there were any change in our Indian Frontier policy, it was on account of changed circumstances, and not on account of any change in the intentions or objects of the Government; and I understood the noble Lord's meaning to be that the circumstances to which he referred were local Frontier matters, and that, they did not refer to those larger questions to which my hon. Friend near me (Mr. Grant Duff) alluded. Another part of the statement and argument of the noble Lord, however, appeared to me to be less re-assuring and satisfactory. It was not necessary for the noble Lord to enter into any defence of the interference which had occurred in Khelat. As the noble Lord pointed out, that interference commenced during the administration of Lord Northbrook, who entirely shared the opinions of the most pacific Administrators of India on this Frontier question. What my hon. Friend asked was, whether the occupation of Quetta was to be permanent, and, if so, on what ground, local or general, that occupation was to be maintained? From the statement of the noble Lord, I gather that the occupation is to be permanent; at all events, that the Government have no intention of withdrawing at present. But I understood the noble Lord to say that the occupying Force was so small that it could not excite apprehension of aggression in any mind. But, as has been pointed out, the very smallness of the Force may prove to be a source of danger. The smallness of the Force situated in a position of considerable danger almost invites aggression, and further steps might very conceivably become necessary to defend it. The noble Lord also defended the despatch of Lord Lytton on the subject of our Frontier policy. My hon. Friend called attention to the terms of the despatch, in which Lord Lytton says that he— feels strongly impressed with the importance of endeavouring to deal with these questions simultaneously as indivisible facts of a single Imperial question depending for its solution on the foreign policy of the Government. The noble Lord, I admit, gave some very plausible reasons why our Indian Frontier policy, as well as all other matters of foreign policy, should be under the control, not of less responsible Governors, but of the Viceroy or Secretary of State. But I cannot help remembering that that has not been the opinion held by the most competent and most pacific, and some of the most able of our Indian Administrators. Most of these have been of opinion that these matters are best dealt with locally, and not as matters of Imperial policy. I confess I do not pretend to be an authority upon this subject; but what I conceive to be the difference between the two policies is this—there is no question as to a policy of non-interference. The character of the tribes bordering on the Frontier is such that it is absolutely ne- cessary we should, from time to time, take part in their affairs to preserve tranquillity on our Frontier. But there are two different policies which are advocated on this question. As I understand it, the one policy would interfere as little as possible; and when it does interfere, it would do so solely with reference to local objects; it would terminate its interference as early as possible, and do nothing except what was necessary for the end in view. That is the policy which, up to the present time, has been adopted by the most able of our Indian Administrators. The other policy, instead of interfering as little as possible, would interfere—I will not say as much as possible—but on many and various occasions, not with the idea of dealing with the local and immediate questions which had arisen, but with the general idea of extending and increasing our dominion among the Frontier tribes, and with the ultimate object of establishing that influence which would counteract that advancing influence of Russia of which we have heard in Central Asia. That is the policy which my hon. Friend apprehended lay under the expressions quoted by him from Lord Lytton's despatch. That is the policy which he wished the Government to disown, which I understood, upon the whole, the noble Lord has disowned, and which, I think, it would be satisfactory if the right hon. Gentleman opposite would still more distinctly and emphatically disown. I am not qualified to speak with any authority on Indian questions; but, from the little I know respecting them, I should like to hear from Her Majesty's Government that there is no fundamental change in the principle which hitherto has governed our Indian policy; that that policy is directed to the maintenance of peace and tranquillity within our own borders, and, as far as possible, in the immediate vicinity of our borders, and that we are not about to adopt a new policy for the purpose of meeting the—I will not say imaginary —but, at all events, the distant danger which is apprehended from the advance of Russia in Central Asia. I can add very little to the knowledge of the House on this subject; but if I can obtain an expression of his opinion from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I shall not consider that I have addressed the House in vain.


Sir, I feel undoubtedly bound to respond to the appeal which the noble Lord has made to me; and I do so both because it is my duty to speak if I am challenged on behalf of the Government, and also because this is a question in which I have in former times taken a good deal of interest. And although I must frankly own that I am not so familiar with all the details and all the arrangements of the subject as to be able to speak upon every point upon which it may occur to hon. Members to put questions, yet I can speak with confidence on the general lines of policy which I have always considered ought to be followed, and which I believe the Government are fully determined to follow, in the matter of our Indian policy. My hon. Friend the Member for the Elgin Burghs (Mr. Grant Duff), speaking with that knowledge and clearness which he always shows in treating these subjects, spoke of two schools which may be recognized in regard to the question of our frontier policy in India. He spoke of the school which advocates what may be called a forward policy, and of the opposite school, which is rather for keeping back, and not committing us to advancing beyond our frontiers. I have myself, as my hon. Friend has reminded us, always leant to the policy of the second of those schools. I have always demurred to the idea which has been put forward by some, that the best way to meet danger is to advance beyond our frontier, and have always held that the true lines we ought to lay down for ourselves are these —to strengthen ourselves within our frontiers, and to do so by a combination of measures, moral and material. I believe myself that the first and most important of all the measures we can take for the defence of India is to improve in every possible way the government of that country—to improve the condition of the people, and to conciliate as much as possible, and to gain the affections and confidence of those whom we rule. And, secondly, I think it is most important that we should in every possible way endeavour to husband the wealth and resources of India; and that it is of great importance to do all we can to complete—I am now speaking in a certain sense of a military question, as to which I am no authority—to complete our internal lines of communication, so [...]hat we should be able to proceed rapidly to any point where we might be threatened, rather than that we should expend our force by distance, and weaken ourselves by an unwise advance. In all these views—which are the views I have always been led to hold as the best mode of protecting India from direct attack— I believe there is no change whatever in the policy of Her Majesty's Government. But when I say that, I must also remind the House of other views which I have held in former times, which I hold now, and which I think we should do wrong to leave out of sight. Though not in the least afraid of the material effects of any attack upon our Indian possessions by any military Power, if we are sufficiently careful to husband our resources and strengthen our position in the way I have described—yet we have to guard against moral effects which may be produced within our dominions by proceedings outside our borders, if these proceedings are of a character calculated to shake the confidence of any of Her Majesty's subjects. In this discussion I have heard something said about foreign intrigues, and about the necessity for taking steps to counteract the effect of these intrigues. Then hon. Gentlemen get up and ask—"What do you mean by foreign intrigues? Do you mean the intrigues of Russia? If so, what evidence have you of the existence of these intrigues?" What I say with regard to this is—not that intrigues are actually going on, but that the rumours and suspicions that are raised that something is going on here or there— that the influence of some great Power is advancing, and that the influence of England is waning—that, in fact, our time is drawing near and that a change is at hand—all these rumours have a very dangerous, and might have a very disastrous, effect on our position in India; and therefore it is necessary to have a policy beyond our frontiers in order that we may take note of what is going on there, and if possible prevent any mischiefs that may be contemplated. The circumstances of India at the time when I was more intimately acquainted with it were so different from the present state of things that a different mode of treatment has been necessary and desirable—I refer particularly to what has been called the occupation of Quetta and Khelat, and the advisability of taking precautionary steps to guard ourselves against attack from that side. As to the occupation of Quetta, if we are to regard that advance from a military point of view—a step in the nature of taking up a certain position to defend ourselves against an apprehended attack—then I should maintain the opinion that it would be a false move; but if our relations with the Government of Khelat are of such a character as to demand that we should take certain steps to improve and regulate those relations—if it is thought right and desirable that we should send an Envoy there, and that the Envoy should be accompanied by a sufficient escort to secure him an honourable reception, I do not see that such a course can be open to objection, or can be liable to the construction that in taking such a step, Her Majesty's Government are doing anything that is inconsistent with the policy that has hitherto been pursued—the policy originated by Lord North brook, approved by my noble Friend Lord Salisbury, and continued by the present Viceroy Lord Lytton. I gather from the language of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) and the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) that they are not dissatisfied with the explanation of my noble Friend if they could only feel sure that there was not something behind. They refer to some expressions used by my noble Friend, Lord Lytton, in which he speaks of the desirability of considering our frontier policy as a whole, and treating it from an Imperial point of view, and they seem to assume that that policy is going to change its character, and pass from a policy of inactivity into one of activity. I do not admit that that is a fair construction of the language of my noble Friend's despatch. It does not follow because we lay down the doctrine of a frontier policy, that we determine what that particular policy should be. It is obvious that you may find your policy of inactivity thwarted in many cases by the absence of a true frontier policy. If you leave matters to be regulated entirely by the Lieutenant Governors of the different Provinces along the frontier, and not by the Government of India, under the direct supervision of the Imperial Government, you run a great risk of some step being taken by a local Governor here and there, on his own autho- rity, without the directions of the superior Government, which may commit the superior Government to a course of proceedings which would not be safe. The true idea of a frontier policy is one which will leave in the hands of the Lieutenant Governor of Provinces a certain amount of power, but will leave them under the control of the Viceroy and of the Imperial Government; for it is only by such control that satisfactory relations with our neighbours beyond the frontiers can be maintained; and the more difficult they become the more desirable it is that the policy to be adopted should be in the hands of the Supreme Government. That is, I apprehend, the reason why the Government desire to make changes in the administrative conditions and regulations of our frontier Provinces. There seem to be good reason for making a change in that respect. It is most inconvenient that one portion of the frontier should be under the Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab and another under the Commissioner of Scinde; and it is a double inconvenience when a special officer is appointed to look after frontier arrangements—you have a division of authority which is likely to lead to complications and difficulties, which is very desirable to avoid. Upon that point my noble Friend (Lord George Hamilton) has explained that a Correspondence is going on. The matter is of so much importance that the Secretary of State naturally consults his Colleagues upon it—but whatever is done will be done for the reasons and upon the grounds I have stated—in order to prevent the dangers to which I have adverted, and with a view to strengthen our position. I hope that hon. Gentlemen will not run away with the idea that there is any great revolutionary change of Indian policy in our minds; nothing could be more unfortunate than that that should be. We have two dangers to guard against. We have, on the one hand, to guard against exciting the people of India into believing that there is some great policy of aggression in contemplation; and, on the other hand, against the idea that we are cowed and inactive through fear of some great foe that is coming upon us. Neither of these views is true. The policy of England in India is—as it ought to be—a firm and courageous policy, because a temperate policy. The lines of it are to strengthen our position in that country, to do everything we can to improve the condition of the people; not to provoke attack, and yet to be ready. It is necessary to have regard to our relations with the bordering Tribes—and I do not deny that it becomes all the more necessary, when events take place in Central Asia, or elsewhere, which cause agitation and excitement among those tribes. The main lines of our policy are unchanged, and I believe the country will be satisfied with, and will wish them to continue.


expressed his gratification at the line which had been taken up both by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for India, but he regretted that nothing had been said on the military side. The despatches which had just been laid before the House were of the deepest importance, and it was to be regretted that they had been delivered so late as to prevent more hon. Members from reading them. He found from those Papers that by Article 4 of the Treaty recently executed with the Khan of Khelat, arrangements were to be made for the permanent residence there of two British Residents with a suitable escort. In conformity with this, arrangements had been made as to the military escort. Telegraph lines had been ordered, and other important works at Quetta. The land had been surveyed for a military railway, and permanent barracks were to be erected. That was a very different state of things from that shadowed forth by the speeches of either the Prime Minister last year, or the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the present occasion. The Papers certainly did not bear out the view that nothing had been done which was inconsistent with friendliness towards Russia. He contended that it was not true that Central Asia was under the Foreign Office. It was well known that if a question affecting Kashgar, for instance, was asked in the House, the answer would be given by the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for India, and not by the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He could but think that the suggestion of Lord Northbrook for the establishment of Commissioners for the Frontier districts would work disadvantageously, and be a step entirely in the wrong direction.