HC Deb 07 February 1878 vol 237 cc1215-314

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [31st January], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair" (for Committee of Supply).

And which Amendment was, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House, having teen informed in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech that the conditions on which Her Majesty's neutrality is founded had not been infringed by either belligerent engaged in the war in the East of Europe, and having since received no information sufficient to justify a departure from the policy of neutrality and peace, sees no reason for adding to the burthens of the people by voting unnecessary Supplies,"—(Mr. William Edward Forster,) —instead thereof.

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

Debate resumed.


I understand that the right hon. Gentleman desires to withdraw his Amendment.


I have no right, Sir, to make any further remark, but I beg to withdraw the Amendment.


Is it your pleasure that the Amendment be withdrawn? ["No, no!"]


I understand that the suggestion of the noble Lord is that the House should assent to the withdrawal of the Amendment on the Motion that you, Sir, should leave the Chair, and that there should be an opportunity of discussing the Vote in Committee, and that we should have information from the Government as to the mode in which this Vote is to be applied. Under these circumstances, I hope the Vote will not be pressed this evening. ["Oh, oh!"] I do not know whether the Government intend to make use of their great majority to force this Vote down our throats.


The hon. Member asks, whether, in the event of the Amendment being withdrawn and the Speaker leaving the Chair, the Government would be prepared to assent to the adjournment of the debate, and not to proceed with the Vote in Committee of Supply? Now, I see no reason why we should act upon that suggestion. The Government made this proposal on their own responsibility, and with a sincere feeling of the necessity for making this proposal. They made it some consider- able time ago, and the House, of course, had to consider how it would deal with that proposal. After time had been allowed for consideration, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster), on behalf of the Leaders of the Opposition—supported, I suppose, by a great majority on that side—proposed a certain Amendment, which has been considered at considerable length; and I think we are now arriving at a time when, after so much inconvenience, and so much delay, we may hope to get the Vote, and see something practical done. It appears that the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman, in consequence of certain intelligence which has been received to-day, which is certainly of a serious character—more or less serious, but which is not at all different from that in anticipation of which we proposed this Vote—we originally proposed this Vote—they propose to withdraw their Amendment. I cannot see any other motive for the adoption of the course than that' they wish to facilitate the progress of Public Business, and not to delay the passing of the Vote. Under these circumstances, I think we would be stultifying ourselves if we were to adjourn the debate. Of course, we are quite willing—and, indeed, very glad—to get into Committee, and have the Business we have in hand facilitated; but I do not think we would be acting with proper respect to ourselves—indeed, I think we would be acting in a very undignified way—if we were now to propose any adjournment.


Sir, I think there is a great deal of force in the observations which have just been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. However much we may disagree with the conduct of the Government, we must admit that that conduct has been perfectly frank and straightforward. They have said that it is expedient and desirable that the House should vote this money, and they maintained that attitude before the peace was signed, after the peace was signed, and before they knew the conditions of the armistice. Their position, therefore, is not affected by the news of the advance of the Russians that has reached us this afternoon; but if we turn to this side of the House the position is altogether different. I had not the slightest idea before I came down to the House that this Amend- ment was to be withdrawn. I was prepared to have given it my cordial support. I was not, however, responsible for the wording of that Amendment. Let us inquire under what circumstances it was brought forward. When it was brought forward by my right hon. Friend, it was approved of by all the Leaders of the Liberal Party. Peace was not then signed; the armistice had not been concluded. In the course of this discussion, peace was signed and the armistice concluded, and yet the Liberal Leaders thought it right to persevere in the discussion of their Amendment. Now, if this was desirable then—and I am not saying whether it was or was not, but that was the opinion of the Liberal Leaders—it seems extraordinary that, without the slightest notice, on intelligence not yet confirmed, and on Papers not yet in the hands of hon. Members, a considerable number of hon. Members should be deprived of an opportunity of expressing their opinion on this important question. I have not myself risen once in the course of this debate, and I would have been willing to let it conclude without speaking; but I know that many of my hon. Friends are anxious to take part in it, and there is not the slightest reason why they should be deprived of their opportunity of doing so. The financial arguments against this Vote are not in the slightest degree touched by the doubtful intelligence of the advance of the Russians to Constantinople. Of course it is a very difficult position to find ourselves in, and I am not going to take a course which would be likely to increase it. If some of us oppose the withdrawal of the Amendment, it is not unlikely that we may be misunderstood; but of this I feel certain—that it will suit our purpose just as well to meet it with a direct negative. Therefore, I do appeal to the fairness of the Government. If intelligence has reached this country, and if it appears that the Emperor of Russia has disregarded the conditions of the armistice, of course then the condition of affairs will be altered; but until we do know it, I put it to the fairness of the Government that they ought not to press nor to vote this money at once. If the Amendment is withdrawn, we will reserve the right of voting against this proposal in Committee. I have only one other remark to make with regard to the proposal to withdraw this Amendment. From the way in which that proposal has been received in a certain quarter on the other side of the House, it seems to me that it is only too probable that the proposal to withdraw will not be consented to, and that there is a determination in certain quarters that it should be negatived.


Perhaps it may be for the convenience of the House that I should point out that in the event of the House permitting the Amendment to be withdrawn, the Question to be put then would be "that I do now leave the Chair," and any discussion may take place, or even any Amendment be put upon that Question. At present the preliminary Question before the House is whether the Amendment shall be allowed to be withdrawn.


Sir, I wish to say that I believe there can be no Member of this House who is more strongly opposed to the policy of the Government in relation to the Eastern Question than I am, and I think it is fair that I should say this. I had intended—and perhaps fortunately for the House I was disappointed—to inflict a speech on the House upon this subject. But I own it does seem to me that in the presence of the stupendous events that are taking place in the East—of which the least we can say is that they are mysterious and uncertain—it is to me a melancholy thing that we should be here discussing—apparently a divided people—a miserable question of £6,000,000. When events of this magnitude are going on in every part of the world, the relevancy of which to the question is changing every six hours, I venture to point out this, that any reasonable or honourable way out of the dilemma in which we are placed ought to be accepted by the whole House at once, not in the interests of Party, for there are many of us here who do really feel something more on this question. I think in the interests, not of the House or of a Party, but in the interests of the country, and in the presence of foreign nations, that we should advoid these discussions; and I shall be delighted to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer resist the Motion of postponing this Vote. I think our duty is clear—to proceed with the Vote in Committee and bring the affair to a speedy and definite conclusion.


said, he was not disposed to agree with his hon. and learned Friend who had just spoken, but feared they were about to do with precipitancy that which they might be ashamed of the next day. They were told, and they had heard certain Papers read to them that evening, that the Russians were advancing. They had heard that the other night. They had heard it several times before, and always from the same source—from the British Ambassador at Constantinople. That Ambassador had done his best by every despatch to give rise to the notion that the Russians were advancing; and, therefore, when he found that the latest edition of their intelligence rested solely upon a despatch from that gentleman, he made bold to say—it was not disrespectful to him (Mr. Layard), and it was respectful to the House—that he and other Members should express their opinions on the matter under debate, because he did not believe the accuracy of the information conveyed. He, for one, would assist in obstructing the matter if the opportunity were refused which they asked for—the delay of any further discussion until the next day. ["Oh, oh!"] If the House would not listen to him he would wait till they did. There was no desire on his part from any personal motives to keep this discussion up. The Porte was said to have no intelligence on this subject. The Porte had passed that off on them two or three times during the past fortnight or three weeks, and they now found that the delay in signing the armistice, of which so much was made at the time against Russia solely was caused by matters of fact perfectly within the knowledge of the Porte and its Plenipotentiaries. In this case, the further intelligence only rested upon information from the British Ambassador at Constantinople, and the intelligence supposed to be possessed by the Porte. He asked them that they should not be precipitate in this matter, and that they should have the proposal made on that (the Liberal) side of the House adopted, that the Amendment should be withdrawn, and that they should have a postponement of the discussion until the next day. ["No, no!"] If not, he thought there were plenty of Gentlemen there who were free to take their own course upon it, and to procure that indulgence which the House did not seem inclined to give them.


I am one of those who have felt that it was a very unfortunate thing for our own Party and for the country that a discussion of this Eastern Question should have been hung upon a direct obstruction to the money credit asked for by the Government. I merely rise for the purpose of saying that I do hope that we may now get rid of this money question, and grant the money at once, in order that as soon as possible we may leave ourselves free to consider the only question which it is worth the while of the House to discuss at the present moment—namely, the future proceedings of the country with regard to the Eastern Question.


My hon. and learned Friend behind me (Mr. Watkin Williams) has just said what I intended to say. In his opening remarks he said there was no one in the House more opposed to the policy of Her Majesty's Government on the Eastern Question than himself. I am not in accord with him there. I think the foreign policy of the Government on this question, take it as a whole, view it without the consideration of details, has been prudent and judicious. If this Amendment had been put to the vote I, at least, as a Liberal Member, would not have voted for it. But the circumstances are entirely altered—the position is entirely changed—and I think we shall best consult our own dignity and the interests of the nation by at least foregoing any further discussion of it. In discussing domestic politics, there is no need for reticence. The fuller and franker the expression of opinion, the better. But when national interests are involved, and when, perhaps, even national existence is at stake, patriotism and good sense should lead us to present a united face to the world. We are not here now as Tories, or Liberals, or Radicals. We are here as Englishmen; and without undertaking to say that the Government have been correct in all their predictions, at least we have this evidence before us—that their suspicions so far have been warranted by events. I would suggest to my hon. Friends the necessity of allowing, not only this Amendment to be withdrawn, but also the Vote to be taken at once, and to be passed unanimously, and that will be the best answer to the advance of the Russians upon Constantinople.


The question which, I believe, we are really discussing is whether the House shall permit the Amendment to be withdrawn. I believe, although that is the question which everyone has in his mind, that we are technically still upon the Amendment of my right hon. Friend. In order that this question may be discussed, I will move the adjournment of the debate; and I will take the opportunity of saying that I was no party to the opposition to the Government taking the Vote this evening. It has been pointed out that, even after the Amendment has been withdrawn or otherwise disposed of, it will be quite competent for any hon. Member to discuss this question upon the Speaker leaving the Chair. I do not advise that that course should be taken; but I think, after what has been said by my right hon. Friend, probably it would be more convenient if we were to go into Committee, when I have no doubt the Government will not flinch from a full discussion of the point raised. It seems to me that it will be for the convenience of the House that the preliminary point should be first disposed of as to whether the Amendment of my right hon. Friend should be withdrawn. I believe the Government have not yet expressed their opinion upon that point, but I hope they will do do so. Although I cannot answer for all hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, yet I have a strong opinion that, in the circumstances and after what has occurred, a division upon the Amendment cannot possibly be any indication of the real state of opinion in the House or in the country upon the question at issue, and that it would be for the convenience of both Parties that that division should not be taken. As far as my right hon. Friend's feelings and my own are concerned, I must admit that it seems to me a matter of very small importance whether the Amendment be withdrawn or negatived. Our course, in the event of the House not permitting it to be withdrawn, will be a clear one to myself and to the greater part of us. If the House tries to force us to vote on the question which we wish to withdraw, we shall, instead of withdrawing the Amendment, withdraw ourselves. I think it will be for the convenience of the House and of the Government, however, not to take a division on this point; and, by way of enabling them to state what course they will adopt, I beg, Sir, to move that this debate be now adjourned.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—{The Marquess of Hartington.)


My right hon. Friend, as I understood him, and as I am authorized to state for him, did accept the withdrawal of that proposition. He accepted it as an unconditional withdrawal. The objection he took was to some conditions proposed to be imposed upon it. An unconditional withdrawal we still accept.


I should like, Sir, to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what he means by unconditional withdrawal. If he means such a withdrawal as enables you, Sir, immediately to leave the Chair, then I should oppose it. If, on the other hand, it is merely a withdrawal of the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, leaving us free to discuss the main Question as to your leaving the Chair, I would hope all Members would agree to it. I certainly would.


I certainly think that in the telegram which the right hon. Gentleman has read and in the statements which are made out-of-doors—and I do not know whether there is more than one source of information—there is very little which is more certain than the rumours we had before, and also very little which does not require confirmation. The right hon. Gentleman did not, I think, give any opinion himself as to what was the opinion or the view of the Porte with regard to the alleged advance of the Russians; but I think the telegram said that the Porte was very much alarmed. "Well, Sir, our Ambassador at Constantinople has been alarmed several times, and the Porte has had a good deal of occasion for alarm. But what I should like to have known, if it had been possible for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to tell me, was whether there was really any positive information which made them believe that whatever has occurred has not occurred by connivance with the Porte. That is the opinion which I should form from the circumstances. An armistice has been signed, the preliminaries of peace have been agreed upon, and there is, it is alleged, some advance of some portion of the Russian troops in the direction of Constantinople. And this leads me to the conclusion that it is a matter of arrangement between the two Powers; that it is not, on the part of Russia, an act of war; and that it, therefore, in no degree changes the position as regards either the interests or the objects of this country. [Murmurs.] Well, we shall see more, very likely, in a day or two, and I may be wrong. I am only telling the House what appears to me to be a reasonable conclusion from the partial statement which has been made to us. I suppose the Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us with regard to this all he knows, and I am not assuming that he has kept anything back. But, judging from what we have heard and from what we have read in the papers this morning, I think it is not at all unlikely it may turn out that, as it were behind the back of England and of the other Powers, Turkey has come to the conclusion that it would be better to be off with her old friends and wash her hands entirely of what is called European protection and the favouritism of England, and to make herself a friend in the future of the Russian Government. If this be so, of course it is a very great change; but it is not a change which would enable this country, or justify any Party in this country, to proceed to hostilities either with Russia or Turkey. Therefore, I am of opinion that the condition of things in regard to the Vote which we have been discussing during the last week is in no degree materially changed. But there is one thing which has changed, and it is in order to refer to that that I have ventured to trouble the House for a few minutes. There is no doubt whatever that there is a difference in the style of discussion and in the state of feeling in this House. If there were a Parliament in St. Petersburg, and a House of Commons there, and if speeches were made with regard to England such as have been made in this House with regard to Russia, then I venture to think it would not be in the power of Gentlemen opposite, even if they were so disposed, or of Gentlemen on these benches, to prevent the occur- rence of that frightful calamity, of hostilities between this country and Russia. It is because of this state of feeling—which is not confined to this House, but which exists among some portions of people in some parts of the country—that I think that probably the true interests of the country, and also the true dignity of Parliament, would be promoted by a cessation of a discussion of this nature, at a time when facts of great importance are just trembling, as it were, in the balance, and when we are unable to know what is the exact position of the matter which is under discussion. Therefore, on that ground—and on that ground only—I have been brought to the conclusion that it would be a judicious thing if the Amendment were withdrawn, and if the discussion at this point came to an end. I trust, however, that none of those who have supported the Amendment—and I hope there are many Gentlemen on the other side to whom I may address the same remark—will believe—indeed, I hope that none of us will believe—that there is at this present time any condition of things which, more than the conditions which has existed for a considerable time past, makes it necessary or imperative that the Government of this country should again venture into a great war for purposes which few appear to understand, or for objects which all of us know—if we know anything of the geography of that part of the world—to be absolutely unattainable; a war which can only repeat the disasters—I will not say the ignominy, but the disasters—and the failures, and the disappointments of that great war which we had 24 years ago. I have ventured to address these remarks to the House from a standpoint which I admit many Gentlemen here cannot exactly, necessarily, perhaps, recognize; but I have only done that which I have done before. I have been consistent, I hope, during the whole of these transactions, and I am anxious now, as I have ever been, that we should be wise and just in our foreign policy as in our home affairs. I believe now, by patience and moderation and courtesy, and a thorough examination of all the points of this great question, we may find before long that, in spite of the clouds on the horizon, the sky will become clearer, and that this country, at least, will neither have to spend its trea- sure nor to waste its blood in a cause which our past experience has proved to be one in which we had no interest, and certainly one from which we gained no advantage.


I am only addressing the House, technically by its indulgence; but the matter which I have to mention is of so much importance that I am quite sure the House will listen to me. I wish, in the first place, to point out to the House that the proceedings of this evening originated entirely in a Question which was addressed to me by the noble Lord, and which I answered to the best of my ability. I stated to the noble Lord what was the substance of the despatches which we had received last night; and I concluded by informing the House that in consequence of those communications the Government had thought it right to-day to address a communication to the Russian Ambassador, and to ask for explanations of certain circumstances which had been noticed. [Mr. JOHN BRIGHT: Lord Augustus Loftus.] The right hon. Gentleman is quite right. A communication was addressed to Lord Augustus Loftus to ask for an explanation. But, however, that is not the matter in issue. The communication which I have now to make to the House, and which I have just received from my noble Friend (the Earl of Derby), comes from the Ambassador of Russia in this country. It is as follows:— The Ambassador of Russia, having addressed his Government in order to ask whether it was true that the Russian Army was advancing towards Constantinople, and had taken a fortified position forming part of the line of defence of Constantinople, had received from Prince Gortchakoff the following reply, dated St. Petersburg, Feb. 7.—' The order has been given to our military commanders to stop hostilities along the whole line in Europe and in Asia. There is not a word of truth in the rumours which have reached you.' I must express to the House my regret that the circumstances should have been of so dramatic a character as they have been. It was not, of course, our fault. We gave the information exactly as we received it. It has been throughout this difficult business our anxiety to deal most frankly with the House. I can only say, in conclusion, what I said just now, and what the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) entirely confirms —that, so far as the conduct of the Government is concerned, our view of the necessity of the Vote proposed, whether the Amendment is withdrawn or not, whether the rumours be true or whether they be not true, remains precisely the same, and we propose to proceed with it in exactly the same manner.


I wish to ask one Question of the right hon. Gentleman. Of course there is no man in this House or out of this House who would reflect for one instant on the course the Government have taken upon the information they have given us on the question. But in the interest of the peace of England, and of the peace of the world, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman what steps Her Majesty's Government will take in order to procure trustworthy and reliable information with regard to the advance on Constantinople?


who rose amid cries of "Order!" said: I believe I am perfectly in Order. I have a Question to ask, and I will be very precise. Owing to the information which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has communicated to the House, I understand now that things are in precisely the same position as on Tuesday; and I beg to ask my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, now that things are in precisely the same position—a rumour having reached this country which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said to be untrue—whether he still intends to withdraw his Amendment?


Certainly we are in rather a curious position. I entirely support the appeal of my hon. and learned Friend (Sir William Harcourt) in the hope that we shall not again be put in such a difficulty. Perhaps my old Friend, Mr. Layard, when he hears what has happened, will be induced to take, if possible, even more care than he has taken up to the present time with regard to the information he sends. However, my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) has asked me a very pertinent Question. I have not had time to consult other Gentlemen. I confess it seems to me the best course that could be now taken would be to let the debate proceed—if it is to proceed—upon the actual proposal of the Government and not upon my Amendment. I do not think, after what has happened, that any Gentleman ought to suppose that the circumstances are in that position in which his opinion, with regard to the proposal of the Government, should not be stated, if he thinks it desirable to do so. It appears that the information that is given, and upon which we thought there was a change of circumstances, may not be well founded; but I would also submit that the circumstances have very considerably changed since my Amendment was proposed, for the form of my Amendment would have been different if the circumstances had been then as they are now. That is a reason why the discussion should not proceed upon my Amendment, although it is also a ground which applies to the proposal of the Government, the proposal of the Government being a Vote that is asked on account of the "present crisis in the war between Russia and Turkey;" and we are still, I trust, under the belief that the war has practically ceased. However, I have nothing to do with the consistency of facts in the proposal of the Government, though I think that under present conditions the discussion would be better conducted on this proposal than upon the Amendment. Before I sit down I think I may state, and I think hon. Members on both sides of the House, and even the Government itself, must admit that there is much more ground for adjournment now than there was a week ago. I am quite aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer states that the reasons which induced the Government to make this proposal still exist; but the Government cannot get rid of this fact—that the House is not in a condition to form a judgment; because we have had a most extraordinary and novel statement made by Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople, which has been contradicted by information from St. Petersburg. I really think it would be advisable, in the general interest of the country, and in the general interest of the Members of the House being able to arrive at a thoroughly fair decision on the question, that the Government should allow another opportunity for debate.


thought the House was placed in an unfortunate position by not knowing the real terms of peace settled between Turkey and Russia: and it seemed to him at the present juncture that it would be very advan- tageous to wait until they had the terms of peace and the terms of the armistice before continuing the discussion. In the present state of the public mind it was, indeed, essential that an adjournment should take place for at least two days.


Sir, I was one of those who had learnt, before the House met, the intention of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, under the great alteration of circumstances which we were given reason to suppose had occurred, to ask leave to withdraw his Amendment; and I entirely concurred with him in thinking that that course would be a proper course, provided the conditions were fulfilled, under which, I think, he had arrived at that decision—namely, that we found we had to deal, not only with vague and idle rumours, but with something in the nature of a definite statement from official authority, which commanded the belief of Her Majesty's Government. When I heard the answer of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the Question of my noble Friend the Member for the Radnor Boroughs, obviously those conditions were fulfilled. The statement was one perfectly definite. It was given with the sanction and the authority of the Government; and I certainly was an entirely concurring party to the proceedings of my right hon. Friend. Nor do I say that my right hon. Friend is wrong in proposing to withdraw his Amendment even after what has occurred. When such an announcement has been made, and so generally acquiesced in by the House—although it is of extreme inconvenience that such an announcement should have been made under erroneous information, yet nobody—at all events nobody here—is to blame; and therefore I do not wonder, nor do I in the least complain, of my right hon. Friend for adhering to his decision, nor do I think we have the smallest right to complain of the Government or of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has treated us with perfect frankness and ingenuousness. He has supplied us from moment to moment with the very latest intelligence in his possession. I must, however, here go a step out of my way, while we are discussing the adjournment of the House, and say that that is a remarkable letter which has been read by the Chancellor of the Exchequer proceeding from Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople. It fills me with an astonishment and a dismay that I cannot adequately describe. I have seen plenty of rumours gathered by the Ambassador, and transmitted home, which were worthless; but this is not transmitted as a rumour. There is not in this letter—as far as I have been able to discern—one single word that indicates uncertainty. It may be, therefore, and I am bound to think, that the Ambassador's information is right. If he is not right, he is tremendously wrong; but if he is right, then the position and the attitude under which the House proceeds in this great question is immensely changed by the communication, not only for the Government, but for a very large portion of the House. I really think, under those circumstances, it is not an unfair request that we should adjourn this debate for 24 hours-—["No, no!"]—in order that we may know how this matter stands. I can hardly conceive the opposition of any fair-minded man to that request. We have a title, which I may put very high, to know whether this statement—or whether the contradiction of this statement—is correct. If this statement is an untrue statement, it raises the gravest question, as has been indicated already by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt), as to the sources from which, and the channels through which, information is communicated for our guidance from Constantinople. If, on the other hand, it is true and veritable information, then we are equally astonished and equally dismayed with respect to the telegram that has just been read; and surely, in that position, it would be a strong—I might even say, a rather violent, exercise of the power of a majority, to drive us to proceed with the discussion of the proposal of the Government. It will be for the Government to say how far the emergency of affairs is such that a postponement of the Vote cannot be allowed. I never understood it to be stated that the matter was one of very great emergency from day to day.


I wish to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he understands the letter which he read just now to imply that the Russians were not advancing at all, or only that they were not advancing in a manner hostile to the Turks, and in a manner objected to by them? The two things are very different; for, as the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) has pointed out, it is possible that the Russians are advancing under a clause of the armistice; and I could not gather from the letter read by the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether a complete denial was given to the report that the Russians were advancing at all, or only that a denial was given to the report that they were advancing contrary to the will of Turkey, and in a manner hostile to her.


said, the assertion which came from Constantinople was of a positive and definite character, and the communication which came from St. Petersburg was of an equally positive and definite character. He wished to ask whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer was aware that it was possible for Prince Gortchakoff, when that denial was given to Lord Derby, to have been perfectly apprised of the movements of the Russian Army?


In answer to the noble Lord opposite (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) I may read once more that particular message from the Ambassador of Russia. The House will observe that this is not an answer to the inquiry made by my noble Friend (the Earl of Derby), but it is an answer made to some question that we have not got before us which has been addressed by the Russian Ambassador here to Prince Gortehakoff. The message is this— The Ambassador of Russia, having addressed his Government in order to ask whether it was true that the Russian Army was advancing towards Constantinople, and had taken a fortified position forming part of the line of defence of Constantinople, has received from Prince Gortchakoff the following reply, dated St. Peters-burgh, Feb. 7:—' The order has been given to our military commanders to stop hostilities along the whole line in Europe and in Asia. There is not a word of truth in the rumours which have reached you.' I can only, of course, understand those rumours to mean those which were alluded to in the question of the Russian Ambassador—namely, whether it was true that the Russian Army was advancing towards Constantinople and had taken a fortified position. I am really unable to answer my right hon. Friend's (Mr. Hubbard's) Question. We have reason, however, to believe that there is something wrong with the telegraphic wires, because the last two telegrams from Mr. Layard have come to us by way of India, and not by the direct route. There appears to be some interference with the wires. There are several telegrams from Mr. Layard which ought to have reached us, but which we have never received. We know by the numbering of those telegrams which have come to us that others have been sent from Constantinople which have not arrived; and therefore there is some confusion on the telegraph lines. As to the Question of the right hon. Member for Greenwich, I cannot admit that we are to treat this as a matter in which time does not signify. We are very anxious to get this Vote. Without reference to these rumours, every day renders us more anxious that the funds for which we are asking should be placed in our hands. I do not press the House to grant us the Vote without debate. Of course it would be unreasonable when such a demand is made, that there should not be any amount of discussion which the House thinks necessary; but we cannot consent of our free motion to the adjournment of the debate which has been already so prolonged. It is, I believe, a fortnight since I originally gave Notice of this Vote; every opportunity has been given for its consideration, and I hope that the House, in whatever form it thinks best, will proceed with the discussion and grant us this money as soon as possible.


I venture to make a suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which I hope may induce him to meet the proposals which have been made from this side of the House half way, and consent to the adjournment of the debate. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford asked leave to withdraw his Amendment. He did so under circumstances of misapprehension as to the state of the facts. That state of facts is not even now quite clear. Had my right hon. Friend not offered to withdraw his Amendment, it was an understood thing on both sides of the House that the debate on it should have gone on to-night and to-morrow night, and that the Government could not have brought the direct proposal of their Vote to an issue before Monday. Why, if the proposal to withdraw the Amendment of my right hon. Friend be assented to, do not the Government consent to adjourn the discussion of the Vote until to-morrow? The Government would be clearly advanced in the consideration of the Vote; and I further think it should be postponed, so that the question which the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) has addressed to our Ambassador at St. Petersburg should be answered, and which might probably materially contribute to clearness of appreciation of the position now under discussion.


said, he thought the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken would be fair and reasonable if—and only if—the Opposition were prepared to drive things to extremity and to refuse the Vote of Credit should the answer be unfavourable. A disposition had been shown to blame Mr. Layard, who had endeavoured to do his duty to the best of his ability. Hon. Gentlemen opposite ought to suspend their judgment in regard to Mr. Layard. It would be unfair—especially when communications were interrupted—to condemn him without receiving his explanation. Let them wait and see whose information was accurate. ["Hear, hear!"] He meant that they should wait before they condemned Mr. Layard; because it was quite possible that the Russian military commanders, irrespective of higher orders, might have pushed on their troops, that the facts which Mr. Layard narrated so positively might have taken place, and that Prince Gortchakoff might have been in ignorance of them. He did not say that that was the case; but it was quite possible. In all seriousness he asked the Opposition whether they were prepared to push things to extremities and to refuse this Vote. If the Opposition were prepared to do so, there must be but one alternative—let Ministers place their resignations at the foot of the Throne. Were the Opposition prepared to face that alternative? If they were, let them go on; but if they were not, he contended that hon. Members opposite were bound by every Constitutional consideration to stay their opposition and to give this Vote of Credit to the Government their unanimous support.


did not see that there was any ground for post- poning the debate. He hoped the House would proceed with the discussion on the proposed Vote of Credit.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether he was aware that any telegraphic communication existed between St. Petersburg and the Russian Army south of the Balkans; and, whether the Russian Government had any means of knowing the movements of the Russian Army?


I do not know.


said, the telegram which had been communicated to the House, and which had come through the Russian Ambassador, was merely a repetition of the statement originally made by Prince Gortchakoff and already on the Table of the House—that orders to suspend hostilities had been sent to the Russian Generals in Europe and Asia, not by telegraph, but by courier. We had received, on the one hand, a communication from the English Ambassador at Constantinople, by way of Bombay, dated the 5th: and we had, on the other hand, the re-assertion from St. Petersburg that certain orders had been sent to the Russian Generals, not by telegraph, but by messenger, which could not be received until two or three days had elapsed. The Russian Generals might not yet have received the orders in question; and, therefore, the statement of Prince Gortchakoff, so far as his knowledge went, might be correct; while the information received from our Ambassador at Constantinople might also be true.


would suggest that, as there appeared to be considerable uncertainty as to whether the statement made by our Ambassador at Constantinople or that made from St. Petersburg was the more accurate of the two, they should now adjourn the debate for 24 hours, on the distinct understanding that it should terminate to-morrow.


concurred in the suggestion made by the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken. If the news that had reached us from our Ambassador at Constantinople were true, the House would have before long to take some grave action. If the House believed that Russia had forfeited its pledges in respect of the occupation of Constantinople, the Vote which it would give would be a very different one from what would otherwise be the case. The information which had reached us was not at all satisfactory. We had no reason to believe that our Ambassador at Constantinople had deceived us by the information he had sent; but, on the other hand, we had the most solemn assurance that the Russian Government could give, that his telegram was without foundation. In these circumstances, he hoped that Her Majesty's Government would consent to adjourn the debate. If Her Majesty's Government would consent to this course being adopted, he, for one, should be prepared to say that if it should turn out that the information was correct, and that Russia had forfeited her pledges, we should show a united front in this country.


said, he heartily reechoed the language which had been addressed to them by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen), which exhibited a natural eloquence inspired by a deep patriotic feeling. The occasion was a serious one. Both sides of the House must perceive that the position of affairs was deeply critical. He therefore trusted that both sides of the House would give Her Majesty's Government their united support in their difficult position.


If I may be allowed, by the courtesy of the House, to address one or two more observations to it, I will venture to say that, in my opinion, the appeal which has been addressed to the Government, that the debate should be adjourned, is by no means an unreasonable one. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his Colleagues are perfectly justified in saying that the information which was received last night, and which was believed all this morning, and which was only summarily contradicted within the last half hour, has not made any serious difference in the view with which they laid this Vote upon the Table. The right hon. Gentleman, however, refused to take into account the effect which that information may have upon the feelings and the opinions entertained on this side of the House. It is a fact, however, that the truth or the falsehood of that information will most materially affect the view of the Government proposal taken on this side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, will perceive, upon consideration, that it is hardly fair for him to press hon. Members on this side of the House to arrive at a decision with regard to that proposal in the present uncertain state of our information. By Her Majesty's Government accepting the reasonable suggestion which has been made, no time need necessarily be lost. At the same time, I am most unwilling—if the Government refuses to entertain the plea for delay which is made on this side of the House—that a Vote should be given which may lead to grave misconceptions in various quarters, and I should also be extremely unwilling to be a party to a vote for purely obstructive purposes, and for the purpose merely of delay. Should Her Majesty's Government, therefore, persist in refusing what I must still regard as a reasonable request, I shall not be prepared to support the Motion for the adjournment. In that case I think the only course open to hon. Members on this side of the House is to continue the debate, although in doing so they will necessarily be placed in a position of considerable difficulty, in consequence of the uncertainty of the information which has reached us. I, therefore, suggest that, in the event of Her Majesty's Government not yielding to the appeal which has been made to them, we should continue the debate as though the proposal for the withdrawal of the Amendment had not been made. The suggestion I have made possibly may not meet with the approval of my hon. Friends; but it is the one which appears to me to be the best we can adopt under the circumstances.


I trust that the House will permit me to make a few remarks in answer to the noble Lord. We on this side quite understand the position of the right hon. Member for Bradford. He desires to withdraw his Amendment, and, independently of all other considerations which influenced him, there was the fact that since the terms of that Amendment were framed circumstances have altered, even in his own view, so as to render that Amendment inapplicable. That Amendment he desires to withdraw, and no doubt the House will consent to such a step; but then where do we stand? On resuming the debate we should continue to discuss the origi- nal Motion that you, Sir, should leave the Chair, and upon that direct question or upon any other Amendment which hon. Members might think fit to propose, there would still be room for debate should hon. Members wish to continue the discussion. I should wish to point out to the House that the step which we are now asking you to take is not the final stage in these proceedings; and that even if we were to get the Vote to-night—which I do not know we should in the event of there being a full debate on the question—still there would be ample opportunity for further discussion upon the Report, or at other stages of the proceedings. Our position is this. We have from the first considered this a proper Vote to propose, and nothing which has occurred since has changed our view or our position with regard to it. It is perfectly true, as the noble Lord has pointed out, that what was supposed to be accurate information has had a certain influence upon hon. Members opposite and upon others, and they say—"Let us have a little more time, in order that we may see whether this particular statement is well founded or not." But what I would point out to hon. Members is this—that, in the present crisis which has arisen in the East, we must expect events to happen and rumours of all sorts to get afloat, the reports of which will come in from day to day; and, therefore, hardly a day can pass without bringing to us intelligence which may give occasion to hon. Members to say—"Let us pause and take time to inquire into this state of affairs before we proceed further." It is, therefore, unreasonable to ask us to postpone this discussion in order that information may be obtained on an interesting question, which, however, is to my mind quite unconnected with the view which Her Majesty's Government take of the necessity of this Vote. I must further say that the particular form in which these suggestions for the adjournment of the debate has been made is open to objection, on the ground that it almost assumes that of raising the question whether our Ambassador at Constantinople or Prince Gortchakoff is speaking that which is true. Now, I do not think that is a question which ought to be raised here, and certainly no vote of this House ought to turn upon it. The Vote which this House has been asked to agree to is not intended to be offensive to any Power whatever—certainly not to Russia—and it has only been asked for in order that this country may have its resources perfectly at its command, with the view of strengthening it in critical circumstances, and at a time when it may have occasion to use that strength. If we are to make the vote turn upon the veracity of one side or the other—["No, no!"]—but it is so; at all events, it may appear to be so, and it will be unfortunate if we adjourn this debate expressly for the purpose of investigating anything of that sort. I am fully convinced that when Mr. Layard's communication comes to be explained, it will appear that he has perfect justification for whatever he has stated. No one, even if he has not our means of knowledge, can fail to perceive the enormous difficulty of Mr. Layard's position. And at the present moment, when we actually know nothing of what is going on at Constantinople, it would be most unfair to condemn him. On the whole, the course which I think we ought to pursue is to proceed with the debate. The reason I have not pressed the House to arrive at a speedy decision with regard to the Government proposal is in order that we might hear the opinions of hon. Members on the subject, and if we adjourn this debate we shall not have the opinions of those hon. Members. If we were to agree to the adjournment of the debate, we should probably be told on resuming it that, after all, we must give those hon. Gentlemen an opportunity of expressing their views upon the question; and, therefore, to consent to the adjournment would be merely to consent to so much time being wasted. At the same time, I hope the House will not unnecessarily delay arriving at a decision on the question before them.


thought that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not put the question of the adjournment quite upon the right footing. The question at issue, and which it was sought to have determined before proceeding with the debate, was not as to the truthfulness of our Ambassador at Constantinople or as to that of Prince Gortchakoff; but what were the facts? The point upon which hon. Members on that side of the House wished to be satisfied was, whether the Russians had really advanced upon Constantinople notwithstanding the armistice, and not whether Mr. Layard's information was correct. If the Government refused to permit an adjournment, hon. Members on that side would have to carry on the debate without knowing that which would materially influence their minds. He trusted it would be seen out-of-doors that, when it was clearly shown that Russia had broken faith, the Opposition would be prepared to take a very different course from that which they had hitherto adopted.


I put it to the House that the squabbles of the Opposition on this question are hardly worthy of the reputation of the House. Why cannot hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite follow the advice given them by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen)? It was patriotic advice which the Member for that important constituency submitted to their approval. Observe the position in which you are placed. An opportunity is afforded to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E.Forster) to withdraw his Amendment. Many on the opposite side of the House are too glad of the opportunity to withdraw from the position in which they have unfortunately been placed. And when this opportunity is presented, I am surprised that Members sitting on the front Opposition bench should try to raise the question of a little further adjournment in order to consider this question. I feel bound, for a moment, to refer to the observations that were made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone). I was surprised at the remark which he made with regard to Mr. Layard. The insinuation he threw out as regards former representations of his that were said to be inaccurate was unworthy of my right hon. Friend. Mr. Layard served under my right hon. Friend, and the insinuation that was evidently intended to be conveyed was that the information which he now gave was erroneous, as he had given information, on a former occasion, which, in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, had proved to be false. With respect, also, to the remarks that fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), I must, too, take exception. Of course, whenever he refers, as he frequently does, to the Crimean War, his remarks are always marked by that eloquence and fervour for which he is so distinguished. But he ought not to have said in this House what fell from him to-night. I have said before—and I repeat it now—that, whether right or wrong, that war was undertaken with the almost universal assent of the public opinion of this country. He said he hoped at all events that the Government would hold their hand, and were not going now to rush into a war with Russia. We all hope so too. But he said that he could not help referring to the ignominy, failure, and disaster of that war. Such a remark, I hold, was not worthy of him. I heard Ministers speak at that time, and I was a witness of the compliment which the Sovereign paid to the troops on their return home; and, so far from imputing ignominy and failure as the result of that war, I think the officers and men who shed their blood for their country were worthy, after the lapse of 25 years, of some better compliment than to be told by the right hon. Gentleman that those exertions and those sacrifices amounted to nothing less than ignominy, failure, and disaster. I do hope that the Opposition will see the error of their ways. I am certain of the good intentions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford. But the Opposition are in a horrible scrape. As the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) very truly observed, they withdrew their Amendment on information given to the House which has proved to be erroneous. ["No, no!"] I beg pardon—on information which may possibly prove to be erroneous. Well, if I had been the right hon. Member for Bradford, I would have said—"It having been proved to the satisfaction of the Government that the information is untrue, I will stand to my guns and go on." I always thought him a chivalrous man. But even now, when we give him a golden bridge, he says—"No, let us postpone the debate till tomorrow." And the right hon. Member for Chester (Mr. Dodson) tries, also, to argue that it would go on till Friday, that the Government could not get their Vote till Monday, and what objection could there be to withdraw it for 24 hours? That will not do. As the hon. Member for Newcastle said, for once give up your Party faction; give a Vote to the Government when they ask it, and let us at once go into Committee and discuss it there on reasonable terms.


said, as he had been misunderstood by the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel), he might be misunderstood by others. What he (Mr. Gladstone) had stated respecting Mr. Layard was that our Ambassador at Constantinople had transmitted rumours which had proved totally groundless, and that the fair inference was that he had shown an unfortunate credulity; but that the information now transmitted was not a rumour at all, but a most particular and careful statement, which appeared to be in direct conflict with another statement that had been received through the Russian Ambassador—the result being to place matters in a position of great difficulty and danger.


observed that the House had before it two conflicting authorities as to events at Constantinople, and they ought to endeavour to determine which of the two was to be preferred. It seemed to him that as between the information sent by Mr. Layard and that transmitted from St. Petersburg all the rules of evidence should lead them to the conclusion that the telegram from Mr. Layard was the more reliable, for he told them that a part of the defences of Constantinople were occupied by Russian troops. He thought the House should rely upon the statement of our Ambassador, as Mr. Layard was nearly on the spot, Prince Gortchakoff many hundreds of miles away.


I own I am one of those who cannot conceal from myself a feeling of weariness that these proceedings should have assumed so much of a Party character. I differ from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) as to the way in which he asks the House to consider our dilemma—for dilemma it certainly is. Let me call the attention of the House to the state of facts. In my judgment it is not the duty of the House to decide upon the accuracy, the discrimination, the fidelity, and the strict propriety of language as between our own Ambassador, placed in a situation of the most tremendous peril and difficulty, and that of a foreign Ambassador at our Court. I make no imputations; but I am bound to remember facts. I am bound to remember that that foreign Ambassador is an Ambassador who, when Khiva was invaded, thought himself justified in going to the noble Earl (Earl Granville), and giving him the assurance of his Government that they did not intend to appropriate that territory. So much for the historical accuracy that we are now asked implicitly to rely on. But there is a far more serious question for the House of Commons to consider to-night. It is not, in my judgment, a mere alternative as to whether Count Schouvaloff is correct, or Mr. Layard's telegram is correct. There is a worse and third alternative behind. It may be true that both these communications are true, and that would be the worst of all. If at the present moment we understand from the Government that they are uninformed of the terms and details agreed upon between the Plenipotentiaries—if the Government are still in the dark as to what has been agreed upon—if it be true that Prince Gortchakoff has justified Count Schouvaloff in saying what he has said—o fortiori, it is perilous to Europe and to this country if, consistently with an armistice, Constantinople is about to be occupied. If that be true, let me tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer what I have never said before—that whatever the consequences may be, whatever the claims and ties of Party may be, there are Gentlemen on these benches, thank God! who, regardless of Party, will certainly vote, not £6,000,000 to the Government or to the Queen, but £26,000,000.


said, he desired to point out that the letter read by the Chancellor of the Exchequer contradicted some rumours of which the House knew nothing. The communication from Mr. Layard read by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was entirely new matter, whereas that from the Russian Ambassador simply repeated what they had already heard from St. Petersburg under the date of February 4th. There was, therefore, no conflict between Mr. Layard and the Russian Ambassador, as the two communications might well relate to two different states of circumstances.


said, it appeared to him that there were two interests at stake in this discussion—one was the interest of the country, and the other was the interest of the Liberal Party. As regarded the interests of the country, he humbly begged to hold that it was desirable that the debate should be brought to a conclusion as soon as possible, and that Her Majesty's Government should be put in possession of those funds necessary for maintaining the honour of the country in reference to Eastern affairs. With reference to whether these telegrams were or were not correct, and whether the Liberal Party should withdraw their Amendment, these were matters for their consideration. But the House should persevere with the Motion in the interests of the country, leaving Gentlemen opposite to take what course they might think desirable. With reference to the telegrams, he thought there was one point with regard to the report Count Schou-valoff had received which was deserving of notice. It was not positively stated that the orders issued from St. Petersburg had been obeyed. All that was said was that orders had been given, and the assumption was led up to that they ought to be obeyed. But he did not gather that Prince Gortchakoff was in a position to affirm that the orders had been obeyed by the Generals.


on the Question of adjournment, submitted to the Leaders of the Party to which he belonged that it would be a misfortune for the House to divide on this question, seeing that whatever happened the money would be voted. A very proper protest had been made on the Liberal side of the House against the general policy of Her Majesty's Government; and whatever might have been thought of the expediency of the particular mode in which the question had been raised, he thought there would have been a very large and nearly unanimous Party vote in support of the Amendment. But to-day the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) had come down to the House, and, acting from a motive which he (Sir Henry Jackson) highly respected, had withdrawn his Amendment. They had accordingly no longer to consider what the effect of this withdrawal would be; and the only ground on which it was suggested their determination ought to be changed was the unfortunate conflicting telegrams which had been received. All he could say in reference to these telegrams was this, that whenever this country found itself in a crisis, and whenever it seemed that some determined action was about to be taken, we had a Russian telegram assuring us there was nodanger. He hoped—and had no reason to doubt—that the last information they had received was true; but, considering that a protest against the policy of the Government had been made, that hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House had expressed their opinion that it was through the vacillating policy of the Government that the present state of things had arisen—["No, no!"]—that might or might not be the correct view of the matter, but it was the view which had been expressed, and which he himself entertained—considering how the debate had been protracted, that this money would be voted, and seeing that all parties agreed that we were in a very critical position, would it not be the best thing for the House at once to go into Committee in order that the responsibility—and the whole responsibility—of having asked for this money and spending it, if it was to be spent, might be cast upon those who had asked for the Vote?


denied that if the House divided hon. Members opposite would, as stated by the hon. and learned Member who had just spoken, give a unanimous Party vote. [Sir HENRY JACKSON: I said a nearly unanimous vote.] He could point to some of the Representatives of the largest and most important constituencies in England sitting on the benches opposite who would not vote for the Amendment. There was the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen)—who he was glad to congratulate upon the honourable and patriotic course he had adopted—and also the hon. Member for Hull (Mr. Norwood), who represented a large and important constituency, there was the hon. Member for Finsbury, and others, who would support the Vote. He challenged and disputed the statement which the hon. and learned Member had made as to the unanimous feeling on the other side. What he wished to say was this—the Government asked for this money upon their own responsibility, and upon the Government let the responsibility rest. It was the proper place for it to rest. If the money was wanted, it was wanted at once. It was required in order to make due and adequate preparations for any contingency that might arise. It was now more than a fortnight since it was asked for; and he hoped that, following the examples to which he had referred, all petty Party considerations would be dropped, and that hon. Gentlemen opposite would place in the hands of the Government the means of doing that which was best for the interests and honour of the country.


if the House would bear with him, would state his views of the present position of matters. His noble Friend had suggested that after the withdrawal of the Amendment of his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) they should have 24 hours to consider before adopting definitely and finally the Vote proposed by Her Majesty's Government. His right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford had distinctly asked the House to allow him to withdraw his Amendment, and that, it was presumed, would be granted, and the Amendment would be disposed of. Then, his noble Friend (the Marquess of Hartington) had suggested that instead of having a divison, which would not in the slightest degree indicate the opinion of the House, the matter should stand over until to-morrow—["No, no!"]—he was merely repeating what his noble Friend had said. His noble Friend had asked for 24 hours' delay, so as to close the matter to-morrow; and he rose on behalf of his noble Friend, who had already spoken and could not speak again, to say that if the Government would not give them 24 hours to consider the matter; upon them must rest the responsibility—[Ministerial cheers]—and his noble Friend would not persist in asking for 24 hours' delay.


said, the real question immediately before the Committee was short and very simple. Everyone knew that the Vote would be carried by an overwhelming majority. The only question, therefore, was—"Shall the money be voted in Committee that evening and reported to-morrow, or voted on Saturday morning and reported on Monday?" Now, let every man look at that in a business-like manner, as he would treat his own private affairs. If the telegram from Mr. Layard was not correct, would the public service suffer in the slightest degree whether the Vote was passed 24 hours earlier or later? It would make no difference whatever. If, on the other hand, the telegram from Mr. Layard was cor- rect, then the detriment to the public service and the danger to the country would be enormous if they postponed this Vote for 24 hours. The responsibility on the head of any Member sitting on the front bench, or on any other bench in that House, was enormous if he opposed the money Vote merely for the sake of postponing it.


said, it appeared very likely that the debate would proceed in some form or other, and he desired to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty a Question. They had not yet heard the right hon. Gentleman upon the Eastern Question. He wished to give him an opportunity of making a few remarks. He wished to ask him whether, after the alarming telegram arrived from Mr. Layard which had thrown them all into a state of consternation, the right hon. Gentleman had given orders to the Fleet to go anywhere. One more Question—if the right hon. Gentleman had given that order, had he sent a telegram to recall it? He would vote for the adjournment being pressed to a division.


thought they might say of the hon. Baronet—Nihil tetigit quod non ridiculum fecit. For himself he could not see what these conflicting telegrams, assuming that they did conflict, had to do with the matter before the House. Assuming Prince Gortcha-koff's supposed assertion to be true—that there had been no movement of the Russian forces in the direction intimated—the House was in the same position as they were before Mr. Layard's telegram arrived. If, however, the telegram of Mr. Layard correctly represented the situation, then, a fortiori, the Vote ought to be pressed on.


I think I have authority to speak on behalf of a great number of Irish Members when I say that we resolved not to take part in this debate, as we thought it a Party question. If, however, the House is of opinion that we were not only not going to vote upon the Amendment, but also to let the House go into Committee without any notice of it upon our part, the House will be greatly mistaken. For my part, I have always felt that if this Vote is granted the House will have to go into Committee of Ways and Means to consider how the money is to be provided. I have already stated my opinion that the Irish people are unjustly taxed; and although they are bound to support the integrity of this Empire, yet additional taxation upon the people of Ireland will not be readily agreed to by us in support of a war policy.


wished to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer a Question in reference to the telegram which he had received from Russia. The Earl of Derby had in "another place," in answer to a Question, stated that the Governments of Germany, Rrance, and Austria had not received similar information to that which had reached the hands of Her Majesty's Government, and he wanted to know whether that was so—whether the Government of this country alone had received this information?


I have no doubt, if my noble Friend has stated that, it is so; but I have no knowledge on the subject.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


I must say, after the remarkable scene we have just witnessed, that in rising to take part in the discussion, I cannot do it with any satisfaction to myself; but I think I am bound to protest against the conduct of Her Majesty's Government, who are apparently prepared to take advantage of the surrounding circumstances and announcements in forcing on this Vote without due consideration. The telegram received from Mr. Layard is covered with great doubt and suspicion, not only by the Russian Ambassador denying the material parts of the announcement; but also by the fact that the other Ambassadors in Europe have received no intelligence of the event. I felt confident that the information given to us would prove, as on other occasions, a statement not authorized and justified by the facts of the case. Why, Sir, I have seen in the Blue Books—as other hon. Gentlemen must also have seen—repeated statements from the Ambassador at Constantinople intended to alarm Her Majesty's Government, and through Her Majesty's Government the people of this country. What is the fact? We know that Mr. Layard went to Constan- tinople, and was sent there because he had a strong prejudice against Russia, and a strong feeling in favour of Turkey; and from the time when Mr. Layard first went to Constantinople until the present moment I believe he has continued—as shown in the despatches—to make the Turks rely upon the friendly assistance of the English Government, and it seems to be his main object, so far as he can, in producing by his advices the same line of action on the part of the British Government and a corresponding feeling against Russia. My hon. Friend the Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn), alluded this afternoon to a statement in The Daily News, and asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether that statement was true. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, however, put it aside as an anonymous communication. But it is not an anonymous communication, in the strict sense of the words. It was published on the authority of one of the most respectable journals in this metropolis. It is not the first time I have heard in this House the correspondence of The Daily News denied. I remember that in a most important crisis in the history of this unfortunate affair, we heard intelligence of a nature that horrified Europe and produced a feeling of distress amongst hon. Members. When we heard of these frightful events, which were so horrible that Europe cast its eye from the contemplation of them; I say, when we had the intelligence of these atrocities, which were unparalleled in the history of Europe, upon the authority of the correspondent of The Daily News, the Prime Minister got up and told the House that they were "exaggerations and coffee-house babble." I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not say what he does not believe, and when he finds that a correspondent of The Daily News gives in such a manner and with so many particulars, and with such circumstantial evidence, the statements which were laid before the readers of The Daily News this morning, can he say that these are anonymous communications, and should be treated with indifference? I, for one, am prepared to believe that the statement is substantially true; and I must say it will raise a serious charge, not only against the Prime Minister, but against the Ambassador at Constantinople, and one which can no more be treated with indifference by the Treasury Bench than they were able to treat the atrocities with indifference. The information which the correspondent of The Daily News gives is just the information which the public have a right to expect. No one can have followed carefully the circumstances of recent history, no one can have marked the course of proceedings in Turkey and Russia, without coming to the conclusion that, in the first instance, up to the time of the Conference, and secondly in the progress of the war, the voice of the Prime Minister of this country gave encouragement to Turkey, and that the Government placed at Constantinople an Ambassador who is ready to give still further encouragement. The effect has been to buoy up Turkey. Now we have in The Daily News an absolute statement of fact. A correspondent of The Daily News had a conversation with Server Pasha, Minister of the Foreign Affairs of Turkey, and the Pasha made to him a statement in which he says— I have hitherto been a partizan of England, of English policy, of the English alliance. I believed there were ties of sympathy, friendship, and of interest between the two peoples that necessitated an alliance. I believed in England to the extent of compromising myself and my Government. I see that I have been mistaken; that I was deceived, or (correcting himself) that I deceived my self. I now abandon the English alliance. I no longer believe in English policy, the English Government, or the English people. I accept the Russian policy and alliance. I am a partizan of them. I believe in the Russian policy. I am more Russian than the Russians themselves. Another informant of the correspondent says— We were encouraged to go to war by England, and even to continue the struggle when our better judgment told us we had better make a peace on any terms." We would have made a peace before the fall of Plevna that would have satisfied Russia, but for the counsels of the English Government. I do not refer to the official notes of Lord Derby. They were explicit and clear. If we believed them we had nothing to hope from England; but it is not official notes diplomatists believe in most. It is 'officious' notes. It is words whispered in the ear. It was the private conversation of Lord Beaconsfield with Musurus Pasha, of Mr. Layard with Server Pasha and with the Sultan, that led us on and deceived us. Why, I assure you that no longer than three weeks ago Mr. Layard still assured us England would come to our aid; that we had only to fight on; that all would come right in the end. I allow you to repeat what I am now saying. Mr. Layard said to me—' Do you think I, as a friend of Turkey, was sent here for nothing? Do you not see that it was to encourage you, and offend Russia? Believe me. Have courage. Make no peace. Fight to the end.' Mr. Layard spoke in the most open manner. The language held by him is well known to all the other Ambassadors at Constantinople. It was no secret. He was even indiscreet, he encouraged us so openly. I would remark that Mr. Layard was by no means the man that should have been chosen for the difficult mission he has to fill in such troublesome times. I can only urge in his behalf that he himself was honestly deceived; that he deceived us the more readily because he himself was so completely deceived. Musurus Pacha represents Lord Beaconsfield's language to him in private as almost as strong, though far more cautiously expressed than that of Mr. Layard. Server Pacha has documents which will prove beyond doubt all I say, and which will be published after the war. The House have before them that statement. I do not for a moment doubt that there may be some misconception of Server Pasha in that statement; but I must say it is perfectly consistent with what we have heard from other sources. It is perfectly consistent with the speeches of the Prime Minister; it is perfectly consistent with the despatches of Sir Henry Elliot and the views of Mr. Layard, and I say, therefore, we have a right to conclude that the statement of the correspondent of The Daily News contains a considerable amount of truth with regard to the action of the Government and our Representative at Constantinople. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary said in the House that if we examined the Blue Books we should find that Russia has made no complaint of our departure from the policy of neutrality. I admit that the statement of the Home Secretary is correct. Russia has made no complaint in diplomatic language of our breach of neutrality. But what I venture to say is this—that the whole course of proceedings in connection with Constantinople has been a course in which our Representative there has shown a disposition to befriend Turkey, and obstruct the policy of Russia. But when you talk about diplomatic despatches as being the means of judging the course adopted by Her Majesty's Government, I say that you are only dealing with one limited mode of judging of the policy and public intentions expressed by Her Majesty's Government. It may be true that you have not these expressions of opinion in diplomatic documents; but there can be no doubt that the speeches of the Prime Minister expressed the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and clearly showed that the sympathies of the Government were entirely in accord with Turkey, and that they have throughout looked with the greatest possible suspicion on Russia. I do not intend to indulge in any personal attacks upon the Earl of Beacons-field, and so follow the bad example of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin), who the other night spoke in such a way as to degrade and lower the character of debates in this House. His speech in attacking the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) was felt by hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Ministerial benches to be as objectionable as we thought it. I may be allowed to say, as one who has watched the career of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich during the last two years, that I believe a large proportion of the people of England look up to the right hon. Gentleman with admiration and gratitude, and I believe that when the history of this period comes to be written, the course which has been adopted by him on this and other questions, and the great national objects he has secured, will secure him the gratitude of future generations, and will be unimpaired by the uncalled-for attacks of the hon. Gentleman opposite to whom I have referred. If you take the Earl of Beaconsfield's speech at Aylesbury in 1876, and his Mansion House speeches in November of the same year and in 1877, extending over a period of 15 or 16 months, I venture to say there is the same character in the whole three speeches, and that character has been one of hostility and suspicion towards Russia. And, in fact, his speech in the Mansion House of November, 1876, taunted Russia in a manner not at all creditable, seeing that at that moment the English Government had received from the Emperor of Russia the most solemn assurances, and consequently he ought to have been treated differently. I am not going to say that the Prime Minister had the wilful intention of carrying the country into war with Russia. I am not prepared to make such a charge. I believe with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, that if the Prime Minister had intentionally and wilfully wished to drag the country into war, it would have been a criminal state of mind, and I cannot believe that such a character is possible; but this I will say, that if the object of the Prime Minister had been to sting the Emperor of Russia into an act of retaliation which would be calculated to rouse the country into a feeling which would facilitate war, then nothing could be calculated more to bring about such a result than his three speeches on the occasions I have named. If you look at the Andrassy Note, you will find that that Note was grudgingly accepted by Her Majesty's Government, and it was brought under the notice of the Porte in such a form that it was rendered nugatory. There was the Berlin Memorandum, which was agreed to by the three Emperors, and concurred in by France and Italy. The Berlin Memorandum gave at the time the promise and hope that the Porte might see that it was necessary to make an entire change of policy, and submit to the conditions imposed upon her. But when that Memorandum, if adopted, might have secured the submission of Turkey, and so have prevented war, the Prime Minister boasted in this House that the Government had refused the Berlin Memorandum, and the Government actually refused it with curtness and disrespect, and so isolated themselves from the rest of Europe. This was a course taken by the Government which led to unfortunate results. The British Government sent the Fleet to Besika Bay, and at the same time strengthened the garrisons in Malta. The Government evidently took this step in regard to the Berlin Memorandum, in order to show that they were prepared by the power of our Fleet to support Turkey. Then came the Conference of Constantinople, and there was a ray of hope that Turkey might submit to the reasonings of the Powers of Europe, having been summoned like a criminal to the High Court of Justice. England was represented at that Court of Justice by a Nobleman whom we all respect—a Nobleman of the highest character—a Nobleman of marked ability—and before this tribunal Turkey was judged by her misdeeds, and a verdict given which it was hoped Turkey would accept and submit to. The Russian Ambassador agreed with our Representative in reducing the terms to the lowest possible minimum in order to prevent war, and secure some mitigation of the evils prevalent in the Turkish Provinces. And when Turkey had resisted the decision of the Conference with contempt, and the Plenipotentiaries Extraordinary left Constantinople with some expression of dissatisfaction, our Ambassador was allowed to remain behind and give her soothing words and to tell her that she might rely upon us, and that her independence and integrity was a cardinal point to be considered by us and protected. There was a chance of peace again when the Protocol was proposed by Russia, which was to show that the decision of Europe should not be set aside with contumely. But the action of the Government again interfered to render the Protocol nugatory. And then followed war as a matter of course. It has been urged in favour of the Government that in the midst of foreign complications they have not allowed England to be dragged into war. Peace is no doubt the greatest British interest of this country, and not only so, but it is also for the interest of England that Europe should be at peace. If the Government had been decided in their policy, and had not vacillated and been two-voiced, this war might have been prevented, and such results procured that the bloodshed which has taken place might have been averted. Now, just when the war was nearly completed, the Government made another frantic effort, and gave orders for the Fleet to proceed to the Dardanelles; fortunately, however, the Fleet was brought back. If such a course had been adopted, I have no hesitation in saying that it would have been a breach of the Treaties under which we professed to act, and would consequently have been a blunder and a crime. And yet, in the face of this failure of their policy, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General on Tuesday night said that the conduct of the Government is universally approved. Why, there is not a fair or moderate man on either side of politics who does not say that it is owing to the conduct of the Government that we do not know where we are. When the House is asked for a Vote of £6,000,000 it is bound to consider it in view of the past policy of Her Majesty's Government. One objection urged against the course the Opposition have taken is that they are attempting to stop the Supplies. That is the cry which is attempted to be got up; but it has fallen dead, though there is a distinguished Member of the Cabinet who is well known for his ability in manufacturing cries. My complaint against the Government is that in asking for this Vote they have given no sufficient reasons for it, and if they ask for it on any grounds, those grounds shift from day to day. It is, in fact, an attempt to obtain money under false pretences. When Parliament met on the 17th January we were told in the Queen's Speech that if hostilities should be unfortunately prolonged, some unexpected occurrence might render it necessary to adopt measures of precaution. There has been no unexpected occurrence during the prolongation of hostilities, such as was alluded to in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech from the Throne, except that hostilities were not prolonged, so that pretence disappeared; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer came down to the House and told us that he was asking us for this money, because of the suspicious delay in the signing of the armistice, and because of the advance of the Russians towards Constantinople. Then we were informed that the armistice was signed, and the Russians had stopped their advance; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not alter his demand, but supports it with another pretence. It is this—that we ought to give the Government this money to mark our confidence in the policy of Her Majesty's Ministers, and to enable our Ambassador to attend the approaching European Council "armed with the strength of a united people." But this is as great a pretence as was the other, and I say so on this ground—Do they really want the united voice of the country? and what proof have they shown of wanting it? Was it a proof shown in the House the other night, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, in a speech couched in the spirit of the greatest magnanimity, although he objected to the Vote, proposed that we should unite in such an Address to the Crown as would give the impression abroad that there is a united feeling in the country? But that proposal of the right hon. Gentleman was received with contumely, and the moderation of his language was followed by the vehement invectives of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin). It was then shown that the Conservatives in the House were more desirous of getting a Party triumph than they were of securing for the Government such an expression of confidence as would arm them with the strength of being the Representative of the united people of Great Britain. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General the other night charged us who oppose this Vote as guilty of being actuated by the spirit of faction; but among the Conservative Party I saw in their reception of the moderate proposal I have alluded to, a much stronger evidence that they are influenced by factiousness. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, in his speech the other night, said if the Government were to accept the Vote of Confidence instead of the £6,000,000, they might probably be considered mere children in the school of politics. "At the present moment," said the Secretary of State for War, "the nations of Europe are preparing to attend the Conference armed to the teeth, and we know what large forces they possess." Now, is it not a ridiculous proposal, and does it not place us in a position discreditable in the face of Europe, that we should propose to put ourselves, by a Vote of £6,000,000, on an equality with the great Powers of Europe armed to the teeth? If you rely upon force can that force be secured by an expenditure to be completed within six weeks out of a Vote of £6,000,000, and the balance to be then handed back? The Secretary for War went on to say that a single spark would involve Europe in flames that might in an instant envelope all we hold dear to an extent we do not imagine for a moment, and we heard from the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, that if we became acquainted with all that was known at the Foreign Office, that knowledge would be so alarming that not one voice would be raised against the Government proposal. Well, I have had a good deal to do with the investigation of Foreign Office bugbears; I have known cases where the Office has claimed to have information unknown to the rest of mankind; but that information I have subsequently found to be partly incorrect and partly behind that possessed by the Press. If all these sources of alarm were known at the Foreign Office, we should have had some intimation of them from the noble Lord in "another place," and they would not have been left for an interpolation in a speech from the Under Secretary in this House. This morning we have seen in the newspapers the report of the speech made by the Emperor of Germany at the opening of the German Parliament. We know the position Germany occupies in Europe—that it stands as the centre of Europe, and acts as it were as a balance weight. We know perfectly well that the German Emperor is well alive to all the circumstances of the present situation in Europe, and as well or better informed than we are of the intention of Russia. Though he has the most direct and personal interest in the events now taking place in the East, we find in his speech to the German Parliament he gives the most re-assuring expressions of his confidence that matters will be settled in a peaceful fashion. It is an unfortunate aspect of this Vote that, like all the other measures of the Government, it is a compromise between the two sections of the Party who support the Government. To the moderate section of the Party it is explained that it is of very little importance, really, whether the Government have the money or not, for it will not be spent; while to the other section it is said it does matter—this Grant will be a substantial act of the British Government, it will be an indication of an active policy, it will be another menance to Russia of the same character as the rejection of the Berlin Memorandum, or the sending of the Fleet to Besika Bay, and the ordering of the Fleet to enter the Straits of the Dardanelles. It is a manifesto that the Government do not trust Russia, and we must, therefore, beprovided with material of war for any event. There is another thing that will serve to show the folly of this Vote. You cannot suppose for a moment that, if England does arm, that the other European Powers will not arm also. You have already heard an echo of the speech made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when announcing his intention to ask for the Vote of £6,000,000. The latest intelligence from Russia tells us that Russia is mobilizing considerable bodies of troops. I do not know how far it may be true, or if it is true, but I should not be surprised if it is true. You look with suspicion upon Russia, and do you think that she will not look with suspicion upon you? You say that the word of Russia is not to be relied on, and will not Russia in return be suspicious? We cannot take up this cry to arm without creating a distrust in Europe, and without inducing other Powers to arm too; and in the end we shall be in the same position of strength relatively as we are now, and with the addition of the great misfortune of having given to Europe the example of our reliance upon brute force when taking part in a Council of Europe, rather than upon the higher moral influence we should bring to the settlement of international difficulties. I have seen no reason for supporting this Vote, and not even the telegram we received this evening led me to suppose there was any wisdom, prudence, or necessity in proposing it. We cannot have listened to the outcries proceeding from the benches opposite during this debate, without perceiving that if the Government should deal with the Vote as they did with the Meet when they sent it into the Dardanelles—that is, recall it—there would be a revolt among their legions, and the Government would be unable to stem the rising tide of disaffection among their followers who desire not only a more spirited foreign policy, but who would not be satisfied without what I consider a paltry Party triumph. We shall no doubt be defeated, and defeated by a large majority; but it makes no difference to me that I shall vote in a minority; for, at all events, I think we shall show, by the proposition made from this side, and by opposing the Vote, that the great Liberal Party, whilst ready and willing to support everything for the welfare and the honour of the country, wish that the Representative of Great Britain should enter the Conference—if the Conference meets—without bluster and provocation—that in the Conference our Representative, whilst upholding all reasonable British interests, should not be actuated simply by a selfish purpose; but should express those kindly feelings towards other nations which men recognize in that high command—"Do unto others as you would they should do unto you." We wish to throw away suspicion, and above all we wish that from the blood-stained battle-fields, and the dreadful carnage which Europe has so long looked upon, new and independent nations may spring; that the people who have so long striven against the incubus of Turkish tyranny may be released from that thraldom, and enter upon a new career of prosperity and happiness.


said, he had intended to enter somewhat fully into the Eastern Question; but after the withdrawal of the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), he thought it would be more agreeable to the House that the debate should close as soon as possible. He regretted the delay that had already taken place, which he thought had been most detrimental, and might itself have led to the difficulties which the House had just been discussing, and therefore he should only say a very few words. He deeply regretted the violence with which the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) had expressed himself, for very little good could be done by such language. With regard to the two accounts which had been put before the House as to the state of affairs in the East, he deemed it possible that they might both be true. It should be remembered that there were two Russias. One was led by the Czar, whose word, he doubted not, was given in good faith. There was another one—the military Russia; and he (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) feared lest the Emperor should be forced on by the will of the army to take a course which he himself might not approve. He could not, he might add, believe that our Ambassador at Constantinople would send a telegram which was not founded on fact, while Count Schouvaloff, the distinguished Representative of Russia in this country, would, he felt equally satisfied, not have made any statement which he did not think was well founded. With regard to the pushing forward of the Russian Army after the armistice, it was perfectly possible that orders had been given by the Czar that the advance should cease, but that the general had been forced on by the will of the Army. He would appeal to the House and to hon. Gentlemen opposite whether, in a great crisis like the present, after the statements which had been made that evening, and after the Amendment had been withdrawn, it would not be more dignified and more in accordance with the feeling of the country that this discussion should be stopped? He, for one, though anxious to enter fully into the discussion, declined to do so under the circumstances; and he hoped that the hon. Gentlemen opposite would adopt the same course, and thus allow the House of Commons and the country to be unanimous in support of the dignity of this great Empire.


said, the appearance of the Treasury bench and those behind it seemed to indicate that orders had gone round from the Government to prevent any other of their followers from speaking, and that impression was strengthened by what had just been stated by the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) as to his desire that the debate should close as soon as possible, and by the fact that the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), who had also intended, he believed, to address the House, had suddenly left his place on receiving unexpected intelligence of the death of the Pope. He thought, however, there were good reasons why the debate should not be allowed to close. He could not, in the outset of his observations, refrain from adverting to one of the speeches which had been delivered the previous night, and which afforded strong evidence that the proposed Vote ought to be opposed from the Liberal side of the House. He alluded to the speech of the junior Member for Oxford (Mr. Hall). That speech was a most violent speech, full of vituperations of Russia, and he had no hesitation in saying that if the sentiments which it contained had come from a Prime Minister, or from an occupant of the Government bench, their utterances might have set Europe in a blaze. Such sentiments as those to which he referred were quite unworthy of a Member of the House of Commons. Coming from the hon. Gentleman by whom they were expressed, they would probably have no weight in Europe; but, at the same time, they could not be passed over in that House, for every anti-Russian sentiment in the speech in question, however violent in language, had been most vociferously cheered, even from the Treasury Bench. That was an indication of the meaning of the Vote, and showed the spirit in which Her Majesty's Government would meet the Representatives of the other Powers. They would go into the Conference with a strong leaning towards Turkey, and in order to get the best terms for her, irrespective of whether or not those terms were the best for the Christian Provinces and for Europe. The other night the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) had suggested a compromise on this question, and it rather surprised him that the Government did not at once accede to that compromise. Had the Government acceded, he believed that it would have been generally approved of on the Liberal side of the House, for the sake of showing a united Parliament, always presuming, of course, that its terms had been tolerably well defined as to what the policy of the Government was to be. For himself, however, he confessed that he would have agreed to that compromise with considerable reluctance, for this reason—that it would have required the expression of a certain amount of confidence in a Ministry presided over by a noble Lord in whom he, for one, had no confidence. The compromise, however, had been refused, and the Government had resolved to play out the comedy to the end, even after it had become something in the nature of a farce. Ministers asked for money, which some of their Members said they did not really require, and would not expend. Ministers asked for money, but they did not explain the precise purpose they had in view in making the request. He, for one, was not prepared to agree to a Vote under such circumstances. If millions were to be voted away in this unconstitutional and reckless manner, it was time for the Representatives of the people to make a stand, and he approved of the observation of the hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), that it would be better, if there should be a respectable minority, that there should be an appeal of some sort to the country, rather than that hon. Members should seem to approve of a Vote which they could not really sanction.

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,


resuming, said, the Government had spoken loudly about neutrality, or what they had called conditional neutrality; but was it neutrality to send the Fleet into the Dardanelles before any of their conditions had been violated? That had undoubtedly been done by arrangement with one of the belligerents, while the proceeding had been kept secret from the other. He was glad that the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) had made an attempt to count out the House, for the Chancellor of the Exchequer and other Members of the Government were now present and might perhaps reply to him. The instructions to the Fleet commenced "most secret," and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had explained that the reason why those words were inserted was that the Russians might have interfered with the operation if it had not been kept strictly secret. The Homo Secretary, however, had said that the object in view was only to protect British life and property, and that the waterway was to be kept open only that the British ships might be able to get out again. But, if that were all, why the words "most secret?" Russia could never contemplate preventing that, and the words "most secret" seemed to mean just the usual insulting distrust of Russia, and the contradiction between the explanations of the two right hon. Gentlemen (the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Home Secretary) needed explanation. But even if the Government had been neutral in action, the speeches of the Party by whom they were supported had certainly not been neutral. Insinuations and suspicions of the most unfounded kind had been thrown out against Russia. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had set an evil example in that respect, and he had been followed by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, who spoke in a still more offensive tone. The right hon. Gentleman had not hesitated to state that speeches had been made in the country which breathed a "lying spirit," and even now those words had not been explained or withdrawn. Such language was most improper, and came very badly from the Home Secretary, or from any Member of a Cabinet, which had not been pervaded by a spirit of straightforward honesty in all its communications. ["No, no!"] Hon. Members opposite said "No, no!" but he meant to prove his statement. Well, on the 2nd January, as they all knew, Lord Carnarvon made a speech in regard to the East. That speech was delivered at a critical time in public affairs, and it did a good deal to re-assure the people. The country had been gradually losing its faith in the Government, and Lord Carnarvon's speech did more than anyone or anything else could have done to rehabilitate Ministers at that time. They now knew that Lord Beaconsfield in the Cabinet next day condemned Lord Carnarvon for making that speech, and they also knew that for weeks the Prime Minister had taken all the benefit which that speech was calculated to confer upon the Government, without once attempting publicly to repudiate sentiments which had done him so much good. Was that a frank and straightforward mode of dealing with the country? In his opinion, Lord Carnarvon had acted the part of a thoroughly honest politician, and Lord Beaconsfield had not. Again, on the 17th of January, Lord Beaconsfield, in his place in Parliament, made a speech by which he endeavoured to convince the country that the Cabinet was united; but all this time he had Lord Carnarvon's resignation in his pocket. The Prime Minister told Lord Granville on that occasion that he could not bring forward any evidence of disunion. He had the words beside him, and if the House allowed him he would quote them.


pointed out that it would not be in Order to quote speeches made during the current Session in the other House of Parliament.


resuming, said, he would then merely state the purport of the words, which was to taunt Lord Granville with being unable to produce evidence of disunion, while he himself knew that he had that evidence safe in his own pocket; but the whole purport of Lord Beacons field's speech was to prove a union which he knew did not exist. He had given a few examples of the way in which Lord Beaconsfield dealt with the country, and he did not think they were very creditable. Yet, with all those matters unexplained, the Government came forward and asked for a Vote which was to be interpreted as one of Confidence. Why ask for such a Vote if they were not conscious that they had already for feited confidence? Was it that they felt they required a whitewashing for driving out Lord Carnarvon, and nearly frightening out Lord Derby? He, for one, was not prepared to give them such a Vote. The country had lost confidence in them. ["No, no!"] But if they thought otherwise, their proper course was to appeal to the nation. They might get the vote of a large majority in the House, but they would not be any nearer the confidence of the country than they were now. The present Parliament was not elected with reference to this Eastern Question. In the Election of 1874 "Bible and Beer" was the watchword. A dissolution of the House of Commons would be about as inconvenient to himself as to any Gentleman present, and perhaps it might be that he might not appear there again. Possibly that might be a gain to hon. Members opposite, but private feelings should not be considered in a great public crisis. So far as he could judge the expressions of public feeling which had been given by meetings and Petitions, he thought the opinion of the people was in favour of the course which the Opposition had pursued in this matter, and Government should appeal to the constituencies, if they really expected that Vote of Confidence by the country which they desired to obtain. He had looked at the Petitions which had been presented to the House on this question up to last Saturday, and he found that there were 229 Petitions in favour of neutrality, bearing 11,285 signatures; 89 Petitions, with 8,175 signatures, against the Vote, and only I Petition, bearing 54 signatures, for the Vote. As to public meetings, the result of gatherings which had been held in large constituencies, such as the one which he represented, showed that confidence in the Government did not exist in the country. He must say for himself he regarded Lord Beaconsfield as the most dangerous Minister who had ever led a Cabinet since he could remember anything of politics. The present Premier had done more to lower the political principle of his Party, if not of the country, than any Minister ever did to any country since Machiavel, who had done it for all the world. He had taught that there was no principle higher than expediency, and no policy better than tact, and himself being a master of expediency and tact, the young men of his Party, who followed and worshipped him, were dazzled by his success, and got to look with leniency—perhaps even with approval— upon such deviations from what was absolutely straightforward as those he had pointed out. But he thought the Government, with Lord Beaconsfield at its head, was not only a disingenuous Government; it was also a blundering Government. He would not go back to tax them with being the sole authors of the late war, though he held a strong opinion on that point; but he would give another instance that occurred the other day. There could be no doubt the question of our position in the Mediterranean was essentially important in connection with this Eastern complication. It was important that we should be on friendly terms with other naval Powers in the Mediterranean. And he did not think there was any Power which held so high a place there as Italy. There was no other European country whose friendship we should more carefully seek. It was a great Constitutional Kingdom, and was rapidly advancing as a European Power. It had a great seaboard, splendid harbours, and a considerable and increasing Navy. In Italy England used to be an honoured name, because in the time of her sorest trial British statesmen had aided and encouraged her aspirations, and the British people had gloried in her success. But now Italy was getting to hate us just as other Continental peoples did. What did Her Majesty's Government do to consolidate friendship between the two countries? The other day the King of Italy died. He was her first Monarch, the very founder of that ltaliaunificata under which Italy was undergoing a renaissance, and his sudden death was a great blow to the people. What steps did our Government take to express sympathy with the Italian people in their loss? The Queen's Speech was to be delivered on his burial day—probably it was being uttered when the late King was being consigned to the tomb—but there was not a word of sympathy in it at the sad event. No notice whatever was taken in it of the death of Victor Emmanuel, though he had been one of our closest Allies, and though his Armies had fought side by side with ours, and had shared the bloody glories of the Crimea. But, as if that slight were not enough for Her Majesty's Government to put upon Italy, they did something more. When other countries, much less closely allied with Italy than we had been, were sending royal Princes to the funeral of the departed Monarch, our Government sent a Lord-in-waiting. That appeared to the Government to be the most fitting tribute of respect we could pay to a great Ally; but it had made a deep impression amongst the Italian people. Rumour had it that the Lord-in-waiting was hissed at the railway station, and got the cold shoulder from everyone. Her Majesty's Government then found out that they had committed a gross mistake, and the Queen attempted to make matters right by bestowing on the new King the vacant Garter that had belonged to his father; but, as if to take away all grace from the act, this was only done after the Garter had been offered to and refused by Lord Beaconsfield.


One word, as the statement of the hon. Member for Glasgow might have some effect on foreign opinion. The Garter sent to the King of Italy is sent on a wholly different footing from that which is set free by the death of one of the ordinary Knights of the Garter, and has nothing whatever to do with the honour which was offered to Lord Beaconsfield. Not only so, but it had been decided to send the Garter to the King of Italy long before any offer was made to the Prime Minister.


said, he was delighted to hear what had just been stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he was glad that the right hon. Gentleman had had an opportunity of making such an explanation to the House, for the explanation greatly altered the value of the atonement. Notwithstanding what had been said, he was afraid that it would take a long time to remove the bad impression created in Italy by the omission from the Speech and by sending only a Lord-in-waiting to the funeral. The Government made a mistake when they despatched a Lord-in-waiting while other countries sent Princes to the funeral of Victor Emmanuel. Where were all our Princes at the time? Were they all so busy at home that none of them could have been got to do a little service of that kind in return for the large sums which they received from the country? Well, the House of Commons was asked to vote confidence in a Government whose policy they never knew until some blunder divulged it; and certainly he could not give his approval to such a Vote while Lord Beaconsfield was at the head of affairs. It had been suggested the other night that the Prime Minister should be muzzled. He would say, shelve the noble Earl. Allow him to enjoy that ease which he had fairly earned after a life of hard work, and put at the head of the Government some statesman who would command confidence, and whose utterances the country could implicitly trust. Till then he must decline to be a party to any Vote of Confidence in the Government.


said, the speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) had wandered altogether from the subject before the House, and he (Mr. Mills) regretted much the attack he had made upon the Prime Minister, which he considered to be most unjust in every respect. If he were asked to justify the appeal which Her Majesty's Government had made to the House for this Vote, he should found their justification upon the fact that, for the last 18 months, their policy had been assailed, and that they were now about to go into a peace Conference, in which it was essential that they should enter supported in the face of Europe by the authority and the confidence of Parliament. There were special reasons why Her Majesty's Government should be supported in that Conference by the voice of the nation as represented by Parliament. The Russians did not understand our system of government, nor the freedom on which we prided ourselves, and they seriously misapprehended the extent and the depth of the agitation which had been kept up against the Government recently. Despotically governed countries could not perceive the difference between a shallow and brawling stream of agitation and the real and deep feeling of the country on this question; and therefore it was important that Her Majesty's Government should enter the Conference supported by a Vote of that House, carried, if not unanimously, at all events by an overwhelming majority. Thus armed, Her Majesty's Government would be able to counteract, in some degree, the schemes of despotic Russia, who, while professing to be the champion of oppressed nationalities, was possessed of a great power of crushing. He was not going to make an attack upon Russia, but having travelled in the country and studied its antecedents and history, the last term he should think of applying to her was that which had been used by the hon. Member for Gloucester, who had characterized Russia as the "champion and deliverer of oppressed nationalities." Among the trophies exhibited to those who visited the Kremlin at Moscow were the ancient gold crowns of Kazan, Siberia, and Astrachan, which were once independent, but were now merged in the domains of the. Emperor; nor could they forget that Finland, whose freedom had been guaranteed, had been brought under Russia's iron rule; and that Poland had been trampled upon. For the last two centuries Russia had been the enemy of freedom in Europe. He was not a Russophobe, and he was not afraid of Russia's marching an army 1,500 miles from the Caspian Sea to India, especially when he remembered that the Commissariat had not greatly distinguished itself, and that she would not be very welcome in India when she got there. England would be able to vindicate herself in the Congress with regard to India, the Mediterranean, and the Suez Canal, though she would have to watch her interests and those of Europe in all these respects. He thanked God that we had not stood side by side with Russia against Turkey, because now we could go to the Conference infinitely stronger, in a moral sense, than if we had aided her in her victory over the Turks. The most important question before the Congress would be the future government of the Christian subjects of the Porte, and it was ridiculous to suppose that Russia, coming in the somewhat novel garb of a missionary of Christian civilization, would be able to accomplish more for Bulgaria than a free country like England would be able to do. Opponents of the Vote had said that public opinion out-of-doors was against it, but he thought that those who had watched the recent course of events in the country would hold a contrary view. It was comparatively easy to pack meetings which, though called public, were held within doors; but the task was a far different one when outdoor gatherings were summoned. Many such had been held in the different parts of the country, and they had spoken out strongly in support, not only of the Vote now asked, but of the general foreign policy followed by Her Majesty's Government. Only last Monday in Exeter a large open-air meeting of 6,000 persons was held, at which resolutions were passed expressing confidence in the policy of the Government, which they described as a policy of peace. He denied the charges often made against the Conservative Party—that, in the first place, they formed a docile majority, and, in the second, that they were afraid to test the opinion of the country. He claimed for them as much independence of thought and action as was to be found on the Liberal benches, and affirmed that they were perfectly ready to submit their opinions to the test of public opinion through the means of an appeal to the constituencies. He deprecated the attacks that had been made upon Mr. Layard—an absent man, who was ably discharging duties of great delicacy and difficulty. In conclusion, he must express his satisfaction that the Amendment had been withdrawn, and trusted that, if a unanimous decision was not arrived at, the Vote would yet be agreed to by a majority so overwhelming as to convince European nations that the English were, so far, at least, as the great question now before Parliament was concerned, a united people, living under the rule of a Queen whom they loved.


said, the hon. Member had expressed distrust of public meetings as a test of public feeling, and had announced his own readiness to face the ordeal of an appeal to the country. One reason why he (Mr. Parker) ventured for a few moments to address the House was that he had just gone through that process of appealing to the country. In Scotland three burgh elections within the last week had given results strongly in favour of the policy of the Opposition. On the other hand, in the great Scottish county which he had once the honour to represent, though the majority was reduced, the Conservative candidate had been returned, that county, therefore, ranking on the side of the Government policy. In fact, the country, like the House, was divided. Appeals had been made to the Opposition to act at this crisis in the spirit of patriotism rather than of Party. He would try to do so. The end which both sides of the House had in view was that this country should present to Europe not only a united Cabinet, which it now had, but a united Parliament and a united nation. What were the means proposed towards that end? A Vote of £6,000,000 was asked. In what aspect were they to regard that Vote? They were told by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that they ought to regard it in two aspects—partly as a Vote of Confidence, and partly as what was immediately needed for the public service. The right hon. Gentleman had explained that he meant, of course, not a Party Vote of Confidence in the general policy of the Ministry, or even in their foreign policy; but a practical expression of confidence to the extent of trusting the Government in present circumstances with the sum of £6,000,000. But those circumstances were already changed. The march of events had been too swift for their protracted, slow debates. When the Vote was first asked, Russia and Turkey were at war; now an armistice was signed. He must confess that his own mind had not been greatly affected by the announcements made this evening—by either the statement from Constantinople or the contradiction from St. Petersburg. He did not think they were of sufficient importance to have warranted the withdrawing of the Amendment, though he was not sorry it had been withdrawn, as it was framed under other circumstances, and its wording did not suit the present state of the case. Last year, before the war began, both parties were agreed as to peace being the end in view; but they had different ways of securing it. The policy of the Government for obtaining peace was to maintain the status quo with certain improvements. They desired an improvement in the condition of the Christian populations, but it was by means of an ameliorated status quo. The policy on the Liberal side was to recognize that these insurrections, if stimulated by Russia or other Powers, nevertheless had their origin in gross misrule, and that a time had come for a great change in the condition of things in Eastern Europe, to be brought about by concerted action on the part of the great Powers. The opposite policy of the Government had not averted war between Russia and Turkey. When that war broke out, a new declaration of policy was, of course, required. The Government then announced a policy of neutrality, and to that he did not object, nor even to the phrase which the Prime Minister so often repeated of conditional neutrality. So far, not only the Cabinet, but, with few exceptions, the country was united. But a difference arose when they came to discuss the conditions, under the excitement caused by the rapid advances of Russia. Before Lord Derby's resignation came out, he (Mr. Parker) happened to be closely challenged upon this subject by the electors of the City of Perth, and he said that in his opinion it was no use talking in general terms about neutrality. The question was, whether the occupation of Constantinople should be prevented by diplomacy only, which he quite desired, or by force of arms? He had a clear opinion that it should not be prevented by force of arms, and his chief reason was this. Supposing Russia guilty of such gross bad faith as not only to enter, but to endeavour to retain, Constantinople, Austria and England together, with probably the assistance of Germany, would very soon turn her out again, and that belief had kept his mind calm through all the excitement. If Russia acted in the manner apprehended, we were strong enough to deal with her. But now once more all was changed. He assumed that the present armistice would soon be a peace. The question was, what was to be the policy of the Government at the Conference for discussion of the terms of peace? The Solicitor General last night pointed out the difficulty of the Government making any detailed statement on this matter. But who had asked for details? The Solicitor General spoke of questions that were for the Queen's Ministers alone, and not for the House of Commons. It was, no doubt, impossible that the Government should state in detail what they would do in Conference. But they could at least relieve the House from apprehensions. What hon. Gentlemen on that—the Opposition—side wanted was, that the Government should lay down the principles on which they intended to act. Was the policy to be defined only as a policy of peace? No doubt peace was the greatest British interest; but was it to be only "peace," and carte blanche for all the rest, or was this House to know something more about the matter? When we entered this Conference, we should, if possible, not do so with a tone of extreme jealousy against Russia. Some distrust of that Power might be justifiable, but he deprecated the language used by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in moving the Vote as offensive towards Russia. He told them that it was reported a Russian Prince was going to rule over Bulgaria, that Russia might demand as territorial compensation Smyrna and Salonica, and that such arrangements might give Russia such a voice in the Conference that no other would be heard. As regarded the general feeling of constituencies in this country, his experience was that they were all disposed to stand up for British interests, and to put those interests prominently forward; but besides British interests they were concerned with British sympathies and British duties. What were our sympathies in this case? There were two Russias, and also two Turkeys. As regarded one Russia and one Turkey, our antipathies, he feared he must say rather than our sympathies, were divided. The people of this country had an antipathy to the Government of Turkey, and to the system of misrule that had so long flourished there, and were therefore glad to see it fall; but they had sympathy with the Turks, as a gallant nation fighting for their country. So, again, we had a strong antipathy to Russian ambition and military aggression; but we felt a sympathy for the motives which led the great masses of the people of Russia so willingly to die for their country and for the emancipation of their neighbours of the same blood and of the same religion. And was it not also a British duty now to take active part in that emancipation? It was to be regretted they had ever separated themselves from the European concert, and perhaps the most instructive portions of the Blue Books were those which showed the protests which came from all parts of Europe against our breaking up the concert of Europe. So much for the policy to be pursued. And now a few words on the question of Supply. Before the House proceeded to vote £6,000,000, it would be necessary to require from the Government some reason why so large a sum was wanted. As, on a similar occasion in 1870, only £2,000,000 were asked for, he hoped some further explanation would be given why £6,000,000 were asked for now. And here he had a remark to make. It was scarcely generous of the Secretary of State for War to speak of the 20,000 men raised in 1870 being immediately dismissed again, nor was it the fact that they were so dismissed. Of course, some of the men taken suddenly on an emergency were not such as it was desirable to retain when they could be spared; but the general result of the Army administration at that time was that there was now a better Reserve to fall back upon than ever before. That was why no vote of men was needed now. Besides, if the right hon. Gentleman thought the reduced numbers in time of peace insufficient, why had he not increased them? The general total of the Army in 1873—the last year of the late Government—was, in round numbers, 188,000; in 1874 it was 186,000; and in 1875 and 1876 it was 184,000. In conclusion, he would state what he considered to be the practical course to be adopted. His name had been mentioned the other day as being pledged with regard to this Vote of Credit. He had avoided pledging himself on most subjects, and he had avoided pledging himself on this question. Before the rupture of the Cabinet, before the advance of the Russians on Gallipoli and Constantinople, he had held this language—that he, for one, should regret to mix up the money question with the question of Confidence, and he should be disposed, on the responsibility of the War and Naval Ministers, to vote any moderate and reasonable sum. But when two Cabinet Ministers resigned rather than be parties to sending the British Fleet to the Dardanelles, then he was inclined to oppose this Vote of £6,000,000. Now we were entering upon a time of peace, and in such circumstances, he thought the Government were called upon to give to the House and the country satisfactory assurances as to their general intentions at the Conference. If they would do this, he would be disposed to vote all necessary Supplies; but he could assure them that if they were to come into as close contact as he had done recently with the electors, they would know it was desirable to explain, also, why so large a sum was asked for as £6,000,000.


said, he rejoiced in finding that the House was gradually-approaching to such unanimity on this question as would give force to the action of Her Majesty's Government in any European Conference that might be summoned. He was anxious to state why he had, to the best of his ability, supported the Government on this occasion, after having felt compelled to differ from them in the great division of the last Session. He supported them now on precisely the same ground, and for the same reasons, which had induced him to differ from them last Session. At that period the Government seemed to him to be disposed to set aside and ignore as exaggerated the information upon which Lord Derby, in his despatch of the 21st September, 1876, impugned the conduct of the Turkish Government in European Turkey, on account of the savage measures they had adopted for the suppression of the outbreak in Bulgaria, measures which had revolted the feelings of civilized Europe, and rendered it impossible for Her Majesty's Government to sanction or countenance the course which the Turkish Government were adopting. Many arguments were used for the purpose of showing that Her Majesty's Government had been deceived with regard to the extent of the Bulgarian outrages; but he felt that, whatever deduction ought to be made from the heavy account against the Turkish Government, enough remained to render it impossible for Her Majesty's Government to justify the conduct of the Turkish Government; and that these outrages left in the hands of Russia a justification for the course which she subsequently pursued, and that if she were left to pursue that course alone, the probability was that there would be a sanguinary war. His anticipations had been fulfilled; and remembering that Her Majesty's Government were a party to the Conference of last year, that the recommendations of that Conference were repudiated by the Porte, and that, in consequence of that repudiation, Russia, in defiance of all remonstrances, entered upon this lamentable war; remembering, in fact, that the result of the Conference had been a war that had shocked humanity, he rejoiced that Her Majesty's Ministers now saw that it would be unbecoming and useless on their part to be again represented in a European Conference, unless they were in a position to give weight to their representations, and back the decisions of the Conference by force. That, then, was the justification, in his opinion, for the proposal of this Vote. In the Conference of last year, England did nothing in the sense of preparing or of recommending that the decisions of the Conference should be enforced. She resisted every proposal to enforce the decisions of the Conference by coercion; and what was the result? Why, that Russia, by herself, had undertaken to enforce those decisions; and, having made all the sacrifices which were entailed by a great war, Russia was now in a position to affirm that the decisions of the Conference had fallen short of what must now constitute her requirements. We were in danger of the policy, which we had sanctioned in that Conference, being carried beyond the desires and expectations of the Government and the country, unless recourse was had to another Conference, which should correct the defective work of the last Conference. England must be prepared to take her share in upholding the decisions of the Conference now contemplated by force. It was manifest that this country could not afford to leave the settlement of the great Eastern Question in the hands of any one foreign State, especially if that State had been a party to the war, and proved the victor. How was that difficulty to be overcome? Arbitration was, no doubt, a blessed means of contributing to the preservation of justice and of peace; but arbitration was but a poor creature, unless she had a policeman at her back. That was the lesson to be learnt from our experience of the last Conference. Now, however, this country was about to go into another Conference, and, he hoped, on better terms. His (Mr. Newdegate's) understanding was, that Her Majesty's Ministers proposed this Vote that they might join the Conference, prepared to enforce its decisions. He was aware that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) held a different opinion. Their mutual constituents knew that they were both anxious for peace. They also knew that the right hon. Gentleman and he (Mr. Newdegate) differed with respect to the means by which that object was to be best secured. The right hon. Gentleman approved of the conduct of Russia, in applying coercion to the Porte; but the right hon. Gentleman appeared to forget that Russia would require compensation for the sacrifices she had made, and that the compensation she demanded might affect the interests of this country. He (Mr. Newdegate) could not forget that Russia, after cooperating with England, with respect to, in Turkey, the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi, concluded a private arrangement with the Porte, by which Russian ships of war were allowed to pass the Straits of the Dardanelles, whilst those of England and other Powers were excluded. An historical fact like this ought not to be forgotten. It must be remembered that there was within the vast Russian Empire more than one Russia. There was the Government of the Czar, who, he firmly believed, was wise enough, at the commencement of the war, and even before it, to desire peace. Then there was the Panslavist Russia, which was animated by the dominant ambition of a race who looked forward to the time when there should be a vast union that would cover a still larger portion of the world than the Russian Empire already commanded. Finally, there was the professional soldier, ever anxious for employment in a country under the constitution of which other fields of action were restricted. Allowance must, therefore, be made for the difficulties of the Russian Government. Intrinsically, a despotism was always weaker than a Constitutional Government. Instead of being, as some supposed, exempt from the necessity of compliance with intrigue or popular agitation, there was no form of Government so frequently dominated and controlled by internal commotion. Knowing this, he held that, if England would act a friendly part towards the Russian Government, she must be prepared, on every matter where the respective interests of the two Empires might come into collision, to take her own part, so that the Emperor of Russia might be able to say to his people—"If you take such or such a course you will trench upon the interests of a great nation which has proved itself fully able to hold its own in the face of any foreign Power." He (Mr.

Newdegate) rejoiced at the course which had been taken by the Leaders of the Opposition in regard to this Vote. Instead of their course being actuated by mere Party or factious motives, it was a course that was highly honourable to them. There was not a word spoken by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich as to the exceptional character of this Vote; there was not a word spoken by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers), whose speech had not been fairly reported, in which he did not con-cur. The precedent cited for the present Vote was that of 1871; but that was a most questionable precedent, and if they sought for further precedents, they must go to the Vote for the armament on account of the differences which arose between this country and Spain on the subject of Nootka Sound in the year 1790. What happened then? The Government of Mr. Pitt came down to the House and asked for a Vote of Credit for £1,000,000, to prepare an armament with which to redress the wrongs done to some British subjects, whose settlement in Nootka Sound had been seized by a Spanish frigate. The Government of Mr. Pitt asked for £1,000,000, and the Spanish Government saw fit to yield to the demands of England. But what had been the expenditure meanwhile? Not £1,000,000, but more than £3,500,000. The object being accomplished—as he trusted it would be in the present instance by the Vote of £6,000,000—instead of expending £1,000,000 only, which was the sum asked for, £3,500,000 were spent, and in the following year Mr. Pitt came down to the House, and admitted that the precedent he had set was an evil one, and from that hour he never asked for a Vote of Credit without submitting what was equivalent to an Estimate. In the present instance the House was asked to vote Ways and Means before Supply. He had seen it stated in the newspapers, and heard it said in debate—"Oh! this is a mere matter of form." But the Forms of Parliament had substance in them—that had often been proved in perilous times. For years the House had adhered to the principle, that it must know what was the object of a particular expenditure before voting money for it; and that was the reason why Supply was always taken before Ways and Means. The Forms of the House ensured the power of the House, and rendered it the appropriate guardian of the safety, the economy, and the peace of the country. When, therefore, he gave his vote for this £6,000,000, without an Estimate, he did it under protest that it was an exceptional Vote. He was a pupil of Mr. Pitt. Mr. Pitt obtained the Vote of Credit, to which he had referred, in 1790, and the next year reverted to the ancient practice of Parliament, and never again asked for a Vote of Credit without submitting an Estimate. The Opposition had so nobly done their duty in these debates that an historical incident had recurred to his mind. After the general peace, Alexander the First, of Russia, during his visit to this country, came down to the House of Commons to witness its proceedings, and when he left the House he said—"I wish, when I go back to Russia, I could establish an Opposition." And that was a feeling which, he believed, had arisen in the breast of many a despotic monarch. It seemed to him as singular that advanced Liberals like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham should desire to see the power of Russia extended over European Turkey. ["No!"] Well that was the inference he had drawn from what he had observed. He remembered reading the late Mr. Cobden's famous pamphlet in praise of Russia, which was published in the year 1835; and he remembered one illustration which Mr. Cobden gave of the advantages of that Government, and of its respect for commerce, and this was, that the commercial classes of Russia were exempt from corporal punishment. Still it was surprising to find advanced Liberals so much in favour of the Russian Government. For himself, he had the greatest possible respect for Russia, and was most anxious that England should be on good terms with her; but he certainly should not like to be a Russian subject, of whose condition he knew something. Her Majesty's Government, responding to the powerful and benevolent voice of the Emperor of Germany, were about to enter into a Conference, which would, he trusted, act in the sense of arbitration, with means of coercion to enforce its decrees, and would, he hoped, lead to another Treaty as durable as that of Vienna in 1815. They had seen the Treaty of 1856 and the Treaty of 1870 virtually abrogated by one of the parties to them; and the hon. and learned Member for Oxford City (Sir William Harcourt) spoke disparagingly of the Treaty of Vienna. He (Mr. Newdegate) could hardly understand how anyone could speak disparagingly of a Treaty which was the outcome of a mighty war, which had secured peace to Europe for 35 years. It was true that Treaties were mortal, like their framers. But no nation's interests were so bound up with peace as those of England; and who would venture to say that the Treaty of Vienna, in the conclusion of which she took part, was not a blessing to the world, and especially to the Continent of Europe, when that Treaty had secured unbroken peace for 35 years? God grant that the Treaty which would probably result from the Conference now to be held might have as beneficial and durable an effect! Sure was he of this—that Her Majesty's Government, in proposing not only that England should enter the Conference, but be prepared to take her share in enforcing its decrees, were adopting a wise and salutary course—a course which promised to secure a solid and lasting peace.


had heard a great deal said about Party feeling and the course taken by the Opposition. He had been several years a Member of that House, and upon the discussion of all great and important questions there had been imputations made against the proceedings of the Opposition, and on this occasion the hon. and learned Solicitor General had imputed to Members sitting opposite to him that if they had not been certain that the Amendment to the Vote would fail they would not have supported it. Such imputations ought not to be indulged in, and he trusted they would hear no more of them, but rise to the importance of the occasion and give their opinions according to their conscientious convictions. He hoped all there were Englishmen before they were Whigs or Tories, and that they would only be influenced by considerations which affected the national interests and the national honour. He was not one of those who shared in the new-born affection for Russia which had sprung up in the breasts of many hon. Members sitting on that side of the House. He thought that there would be little to choose between the influence of Russia and the influence of Turkey on the Christian populations of the East. He did not believe that those populations would be one jot better under Russian than under Turkish rule. We could not shut our eyes to the effects, comparatively recent, of Russian policy upon those Christians who were outside the Russian Church. But it was entering into a narrow and miserable sphere of discussion if we were to treat this great European question—for it was the greatest European question that had arisen within our memory—upon a comparison between one despotism and another. If he had a fault to find with Her Majesty's Government, it was that they had suffered this question of humanity and civilization to drift into the hands of the greatest of wrong-doers, who would now get all the credit for ameliorating the condition and advancing the civilization of the populations of the Principalities. He last year took an active part in denouncing the Bulgarian atrocities, but he did not think that what was done was to end in empty sound. That was, however, the case, and they had allowed the question to be dealt with by a military despotism, and Russia to achieve the work of emancipation, while this country was content to play a secondary part in the matter. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) had cited two precedents for this money Vote—that of 1870 and that of 1790. The case of 1870 was not analogous, and had been disposed of by the right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), and the hon. Member for North Warwickshire was unfortunate in citing the precedent of 1790. That case was not analogous, because, in the first place, Mr. Pitt came down and stated the immediate practical purposes to which the money was to be applied; and, in the second place, because the money proved insufficient. He apprehended that these £6,000,000, if granted, would also prove insufficient.


explained that what he had said was that in 1790 Mr. Pitt refused to give an Estimate, whereas in 1791 and on every subsequent occasion he gave Estimates.


said, that Mr. Pitt stated in 1790 the grievances which were to be redressed, but that was not done by Her Majesty's Government. He had searched the records of Parliament and had been unable to find a precedent for this Vote. The matter was not one of mere form, and it was the duty of the House of Commons to guard the public purse, to watch carefully every public expenditure. But what had Her Majesty's Government done now? The Chancellor of the Exchequer asked the House to give to the Government £6,000,000, which they said they would expend with wisdom. They had not followed the example of Mr. Pitt, nor had they stated the specific purposes to which this money would be applied. They said they asked for this money in order that our hands might be strengthened at the Conference. What was meant by strengthening our hands at the Conference by voting £6,000,000 unless the Government meant that this money should be spent for war purposes—unless they meant to threaten Russia or some other Power, or to threaten all other Powers who would not agree with us? We had been treating Russia as a friendly Power, but now the Government proposed that they should be armed to the teeth when they went to the Conference. To enter the Conference armed would be tantamount to saying to Russia—"We do not trust your word." ["Hear, hear!"] An hon. and gallant Admiral said "Hear." He might be expected to have warlike feelings, but we had to deal with statesmen on this question. The object of a Conference was to effect a pacific adjustment of things, but this was nothing but a war Vote—a Vote to enable us to flourish our arms in the face of Russia. If this money had been asked 15 months ago he could have understood it; but now that Turkey was prostrate at the feet of Russia, and we ought to treat on equal terms with that Power as to the national interests as well as for the good of Europe, we should be entirely stultifying ourselves if we provoked that war which it was the object of all of us to avoid. If the British Fleet had been sent to Gallipoli simply for the purpose of protecting unfortunate people at Constantinople who might be involved in case of tumult, why was not Russia informed that that was the object of sending the Fleet, if we were acting in a friendly and not in a hostile spirit to her? Russia had as much right to send her troops to Constantinople for the protection of people as we had to send a Fleet for a similar purpose. He thought the two telegrams which had been read that night were reconcilable. He did not join with hon. Members on his side of the House in their attacks on Mr. Layard. If it was supposed that Mr. Layard was hostile to the national interests, let him be removed from Constantinople; but as long as he was retained in this country's service, we ought to treat him with confidence. Mr. Layard might have been misinformed. The Russian Ambassador seemed to assume that the Russian military forces had been stopped, but it might turn out that the orders had not been obeyed, and Mr. Layard after all might be right. But how did we know that it was not one of the terms of the armistice that the Russians should protect the Turks against their own soldiers, or that the Sultan did not require protection in the disastrous position of events? The question now before the House, however, was one that far transcended in gravity any Vote of Confidence upon a money grant. There was a great European crisis before them, and it was for them to consider whether they would take part in the creation of a new chapter in the history of the world. It was beyond all question that there was in the moral life of a Christian an elasticity which they did not find in that of the other races subject to Turkey. He was not seeking to decry the religious faith of any people; but with respect to the forthcoming Congress, he hoped our course would be one worthy of the traditions and character of the British nation, and would be a course tending to lift the enthralled and subject-races of Turkey out of the slough of despondency and depression in which they had been plunged, and give them a chance of taking their place side by side in the rank of civilized Europe.


said, that owing possibly to the march of events, the tone of hon. Members of the Opposition had been very much modified, and it remained for the hon. and learned Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Serjeant Simon) to raise the question whether England ought not to have gone to war with Russia before. It was an unfortunate characteristic of this nation to be late in these matters. Although the Mahomedan faith had produced great qualities in the Turks, and although it had shown great defects, he did not think it was necessary, in the presence of the great misfortunes which had overwhelmed Turkey, to raise a discussion on that point. Several years ago, he himself called attention to the state of affairs in Turkey; but, coming from so humble a Member as himself, the Motion did not attract attention. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) did not come down to take part in the debate, and it proved fruitless; nobody contended that the Turks were immaculate; but he maintained that the various Provinces of Turkey would bear comparison in point of security to life and property with Spain, or Italy, or any country in which the Executive was not quite strong enough to give adequate protection to its subjects. The independence and integrity of Turkey was a thing of the past, and they were endeavouring to make the best of a bad business. The difficult problem now awaited the Government of trying to reconcile in the Conference British interests with Russian predominance. The remains of Turkish power now only existed on sufferance, and they must contemplate a period, possibly not very remote, when, our attention being called away, the Russians would step in and finish their present work. Having that problem to deal with, the Government had come to the House to ask to have their hands strengthened, and under ordinary circumstances any Government would have that power confided to them without much hesitation; but, in the present case, a different course was pursued. What were the reasons of the Opposition for refusing that confidence? The first was, that the Cabinet was divided; but, however that might have been, they were now divided no longer; and it must be remembered that, although any 12 men might be quite agreed as to their policy, it was almost morally impossible that they should not sometimes differ as to the best mode of carrying that policy into effect. There was a division among the Twelve Apostles, and one of them once withstood another to the face because he was to be blamed. The second was, that Lord Beaconsfield had never concealed his wish to plunge this country into war. He had read all Lord Beaconsfield's speeches, and though he had never been much prejudiced in favour of the noble Lord's policy, he had never any just grounds on which to base such an argument. It appeared to him that in those speeches the noble Lord had frequently alluded to contingencies, in which the honour and interests of this country might be difficult to reconcile with the interests of peace, and never concealed that in such a ease he would be found on the side of the former. Another charge made against the Government was, that they were determined to grant only a minimum amount of liberty to the Christian subjects of the Porte. On that point he would say that he did not believe in giving people liberty all at once, for to make good use of liberty required education, and the present social and financial condition of Greece did not give us much reason to be satisfied with our first experiment in giving liberty to subject-populations. Now that the Russian lion had conquered, all the jackals were coming in for their share of the spoils. In that position of affairs the right hon. Member for Greenwich stepped forward, and, advising them to let bygones be bygones, asked them to make a new start, and to unite together in giving—a most extraordinary suggestion to come from him—a general Vote of Confidence in the Government, to be passed by both Houses of Parliament. In the course of his speech, the right hon. Gentleman had made two or three valuable admissions—one of which was that a virtual guarantee had been given against the presence of the Russian army in Constantinople. But what did we know about the conditions of the armistice? Only that evening the extraordinary imbroglio which had occurred was owing to the fact that we had no certain information with regard to the preliminaries of peace. It might turn out that one of the conditions of the armistice was that the Russians should occupy Constantinople with the consent of the Turks. The right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his speech, had said that there was no word for which he had so great a dislike as for prestige. He would, however, point out to the right hon. Gentleman that prestige stood in the same relation to power that bank notes did to sovereigns, and that as long as a nation had prestige, it had an influence which might otherwise have to be asserted by armaments. He was glad that the right hon. Gentleman was opposed to Russia's obtaining possession of Bessarabia, and had admitted that Russia had no natural interest in the Danube, expressing a hope that Her Majesty's Government would in the Conference support the free navigation of that great river. But he saw objections to his suggestion that, though Bulgaria should be made autonomous, it should be made to pay a considerable tribute. He had observed that this tribute had always been a matter of difficulty. At the time of Servia declaring war she was two years behind in the payment of tribute, and the arrangements with regard to tribute had been a continually recurring source of irritation between them and Turkey. He should be sorry to see an extension of such a state of things, because it would leave a sore which before long would tend to renewed difficulties. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had well stated what would be the result of attempting to include the whole of the Bulgarian people in such a tributary Province, seeing that it would be necessary to include territory stretching almost as far as the Egean Sea. It was desirable that the House should grant that Vote without much further delay. He hoped that the money would not be actually wanted, but there would be no harm in having it in hand. It would be an emphatic protest against the unprincipled agitation which had been excited throughout the country, and a pledge given in answer to those who asserted that England was divided. He trusted, therefore, that the House would pass that Vote in the way to give it the maximum effect in the direction that was required. One of the Cabinet Ministers had stated that the English people did not understand foreign politics, and never had there been a truer word spoken. Unfortunately, they were not on that subject under the best tutors. The very virtues of Englishmen made it difficult for them to understand the course of foreign politics. What had occurred that night was a specimen of the difficulty experienced in such transactions when they sought to follow diplomatic arrangements. There was only one other matter to which he wished to allude—that it was not the interest of Russia to make a lasting peace; but he trusted that the efforts of Her Majesty's Government would be directed to that object, and he believed that if they could go into the councils of Europe strong in the support of the House of Commons, and in the support of their countrymen, as would be proved by the passing of the Vote now under consideration, they would have every chance of concluding an arrangement which, if not everlasting, would, at any rate, be solid and durable.


said, that the difficulty of discussing the question was much enhanced by the various emotions through which the House had passed. It might also be thought almost foolhardy to form an opinion on the subject, considering the ignorance with which opinions were often formed; but he, nevertheless, desired to direct the minds of hon. Members to some points which had not yet been fully discussed. In the first place, the real reason for the Vote was explained by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he first made the Motion that the House should go into Committee. He had then said that the war had ceased, and that negotiations for a Conference were proceeding. But he wished to ask hon. Members whether they fully understood upon what principles the Government would go into that Conference, with what associates, and with what aims? He thought that it could not be imputed to them that they were less Englishmen because they gave no Vote of unbounded Confidence. On the contrary, they scrutinized the demands for that very reason, because they were jealous of the interests of their country, and because they loved it beyond any other consideration. The charge of the want of patriotism was as old as the days of Jeremiah. In every country, in every century, in every generation, it had been possible to get hold of some man accused of being untrue to his country, but whom succeeding generations declared to be an honest patriot; he had been sorry, then, when the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen) had announced himself as an Englishman first, and then a Liberal. If a man called himself a Tory it was because he believed that he was advancing the interests of his country; and another, for the same reason, might be a Liberal. Not long ago a dis- tinguished man—now, alas! no more—was violently denounced, because he ventured to object to a war upon which his country seemed resolved to embark—denounced in language which The Pall Mall Gazette and The Daily Telegraph appeared now to be re-echoing. It was M. Paul de Cassagnae who asserted that M. Thiers was no lover of France, because he opposed the war with Germany, M. de Cassagnae wanting it to be believed that he himself was the true patriot. The present was simply an analogous case to that, and it was by the Cassagnacs of the Press that the opponents of the Government were being assailed. The real question, however, was with respect to the armistice. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had asked for the sum of money, and had asked the House to grant it in the confidence that it would be used properly, and he had also spoken of a united nation; but he asked in what spirit did the Government mean to attend that Conference? Was it in a siprit of heat and passion, or were they rather to be trusted? He ventured to think that the debate would excite the very strongest arguments for distrust. All the Ministers had said, almost in so many words, that they were going into the Conference to put themselves side by side with Austria, to take their stand on the Treaty of 1856, and to compel Russia to accept its conditions. These, he felt sure, were aims of which the people of England would not approve, and he owed it as a duty to his constituents to resist such a policy. He could not possibly admit that this was in any sense a united nation. That epithet was conspicuously untrue of its attitude towards the Eastern Question; and, in his opinion, the power and authority of a united nation with which it was proposed to endow the Ministry did not exist. It was quite impossible to doubt that a great portion of the Kingdom looked back at the Crimean War with abhorrence, and had no wish to abide by its results; while many others would, if they could, re-produce that war, were it not for the general feeling of the country. There was, then, no such unanimity as the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer imagined, except, perhaps, on one solitary point, the resolve—namely, that the Dardanelles Straits either remained as they were at present, or that they should be open to the Meets of all nations. Every Englishman was agreed that no nation should have a privilege. What was the present position of affairs in the East? The war between Russia and Turkey might be assumed to be practically over, and the former was undoubtedly entitled to all the rights of the conqueror. As against the Porte, Russia was entitled to insist upon the exclusive right to passage through the Dardanelles and to annex any portion of Turkish territory she might choose. But in attempting to obtain for herself the exclusive right to the passage of the Dardanelles Russia would come face to face with the mortagees of that Strait, and with those who had acquired easements in those waters, and in such a case Russia would have no more power over them than the Porte itself possessed. Russia, under the Treaty of 1856, was bound to respect the integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire; and if those Treaties were still valid, the moment she entered into the Conference she would find herself debarred from obtaining exclusive power over the Dardanelles or over any portion of the Ottoman Empire, because the Sultan had debarred himself from the same thing. The Government had shown that they considered the Treaties valid, and they could not at once approbate and reprobate a document, as the lawyers said. And on entering this Conference, with whom were we to find ourselves allied? Austria was going into the Conference to prevent the autonomy of Bosnia and the independence of Servia and Rou-mania; and England's position was that the Dardanelles should be open or shut to all nations. These two Powers were joining together, one with one object, and the other with another; and did not this offer a great temptation to the two to join their forces and to say—" You help us to secure what we want, and we will help you to secure what you want?" If the Government claimed the co-operation of Austria, or if Austria claimed the Government's co-operation under the Treaty of Paris, and Austria said—"We are jointly and severally bound to help each other," in this state of circumstances, how could either refuse to acknowledge the claim of the other? Suppose that the Russians remained in their present situation and Austria and England combined against them, and the Austrian troops came upon them from one side and the English ships attacked them on the other. They would be placed in a very uncomfortable position. [Ministerial cheers.'] Oh! then you are anxious for an easy war. You, the Party of peace, wish—


I would remind the hon. Member that one of the first Rules of our debates is that hon. Gentlemen should address themselves to the Chair.


said, he must apologize to the Speaker and the House for having momentarily departed from the rule of debate. Hon. Members opposite became excited the moment the prospect of an easy and successful war presented itself; and when he saw their excitement and also the excitement prevailing among the democracy, he confessed he was astonished to hear hon. Members speak of the peril of war as past. The peril past! Why, the coming Conference was full of peril. Point after point might arise in it of a nature to incite the Government and the people of England to war. Suspicion first, anger next, resentment the third day, and then a fiery determination to overcome your antagonist. That was the history of the origin of all wars, and he felt bound to say that he had no confidence in the people or the Government of England that they would not be led from one false step to another until they found themselves in some position from which they could not retreat without dishonour, or advance without great danger. See how easily Her Majesty's Ministers had stepped into the false step of sending the British Fleet to the Dardanelles; and had they not that very day been the slaves of an unfounded rumour? The only hope he and those who agreed with him had was, in being true to themselves and in not flinching for one moment, however small their minority might be, from endeavouring to avert the perils which lay before them. He believed the Conference would be held at Vienna, Russia having waived her objections to Vienna, and he was afraid if that proved to be true we might find our special Representative in association with Sir Henry Elliot, instead of being in a position to assist in obtaining the freedom of Bulgaria and of the Greeks. For the sake of his country he deeply regretted this, for she ought to shake herself free from Austrian and Turkish influences. There was only one interest which we had to guard, and that was the keeping open or the keeping shut of the Dardanelles. Let them go to the Conference with that object alone. If they went for anything else let it be to neutralize Austria and to uphold the settlement proposed by Russia of the question of the subject-races. To keep the Dardanelles open they had no need of any force but their own. In conclusion, he expressed a hope that the Government would engage in no entangled alliances, and that, in going into the Conference, they might possess the strength that came to the Representative of a united people.


said, that patriotism was a thing that was much abused, and under the name of patriotism many of the horrors that disgraced the pages of history had been perpetrated. It was in the name of patriotism that Robespierre performed the deeds of a monster, and in the name of patriotism the First Napoleon waged his cruel wars. He rose to make some remarks on what they had heard and seen that night. He was grieved to see that, after the Opposition had determined at the eleventh hour to do what they could to support Her Majesty's Government, when they believed the hour of peril was at hand, some hon. Members opposite had repudiated the conduct of their Leaders, and had refused to join with them in presenting a common front to the Power which was believed to be our enemy. But he was the more grieved at what fell from one who sat on the front Opposition bench. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) had dared to get up in his place—["Oh, oh!"and cheers]—yes, dared to get up in his place—believing that we were on the eve of war with Russia, and say if we were embarked in a war with Russia it was owing to statements which had been made on the Ministerial side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman said that, if similar statements had been made in a Russian Parliament with reference to England, nothing could have prevented a war between the two countries. That was not a statement which any Englishman ought to make in such a time and when we were in such great peril of a war with Russia. No doubt some strong things had been said on the Ministerial side of the House; but who was it that had forced them to say those things? Who had taunted them month by month with upholding Her Majesty's Government in their policy of not submitting calmly to the will and dictates of the Emperor of all the Russias? Hon. Members opposite. Who was it who went about, north, south, east, and west, condemning Her Majesty's Government for the policy they had pursued, and advocating a Russian policy as against the policy of the Government? It was the Members of the Party opposite, and he thought, therefore, he was justified in protesting against the language used by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, and in saying that it had become necessary to speak out plainly the truth in regard to the aggressive policy of Russia in times past as well as present. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had asked that the settlement of this question should be postponed for 24 hours; but, if that had been done, they would have been the first to go into the country and say the Government, by postponing the matter, showed there was no pressing necessity for pushing it forward. He—and he spoke for many hon. Members on his side of the House—rejoiced that the Government did not consent to that suggestion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) had talked about union, and asked that the Vote should be withdrawn. It was true that union was generally considered strength; but there were unions which brought no strength to those who were united, and which showed nothing but disunited and divided counsels. If we went into the Conference united with those who had for the last two years been advocating the policy of Russia, we should not have presented, to the nations of Europe a united front. Hon. Members opposite seemed to forget that England's prosperity could not be separated from England's greatness, and that we could not be commercially great and politically small. We had to maintain the interests, not of England only, but of India and of our Colonies and dependencies all over the world. It was impossible for England to go into the Conference unarmed and unable to give effect to her words. She could not go with nothing but moral force, and neglect her physical strength. She must go into the Con- ferenee armed with her own strength and her own might. Were they prepared to take a lowly and humble position? Unless England was prepared to take the position of Holland, she could not afford to cease to do as the other nations of Europe did. Taking this Vote of £6,000,000, it did not amount to more than 2s. per head of the population. He would ask if there was anyone in the country who did not value the honour and interests of England as worth more than 2s? A great deal had been said about the conduct of the Government; but, although Englishmen might be hasty in their political dislike, they were not ungenerous; and, when the history of the present crisis came to be read, it would be found that the British people were pervaded by a feeling of generosity and gratitude towards Her Majesty's Advisers for the steps they had taken to protect the interest and uphold the dignity of the nation which scarcely any other Government had received.


said, he hoped the House might soon arrive at that state of feeling—although the speech to which they had just listened afforded little ground for such hope—in which they might be able to discuss this great question on some more satisfactory basis than the miserable one of personal recrimination. If it were true, as the last speaker had assumed, that war was imminent or even probable, was it, he would ask, seemly that they could find nothing else to discuss than inaccurate statements or errors of judgment? When, in the earlier part of the evening, he appealed to the House to get this money question out of the way, he did so with the wish that they might at once enter upon the discussion of the momentous question before them, on which so much depended in the future. He did not wish to cast the slightest reflection upon the right hon. Gentlemen on the front Opposition bench; but he regretted, he might add, that a money Vote had been made the ground for a discussion bearing upon international interests; and the moment he saw the terms of the Amendment he had felt that it would serve to consolidate opinion on the other side of the House, and turn popular feeling in favour of the Government, because it was the natural disposition of the people of this country to do nothing which might appear ungenerous to those who at a great crisis were entrusted with the conduct of their affairs. At the same time, he felt it would have the effect of putting the real question at issue aside, and although they might not approve of the heat with which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) expressed his opinions, he alone had attempted to call back the attention of the House to the main Question. Her Majesty's Government was placed in a most trying position, and the greatest difficulty of the situation was that they had to discuss their foreign policy in a free Parliament and in a free Press; for, much as the people of England justly prided themselves on these institutions, the effect of them was to force the Government to show its hand to the other Powers of the world. He could give two illustrations of his idea. In May last the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary made his famous speech, in the course of which he stated that the approach of the Russian Army to Constantinople would not be viewed with indifference by the British Government. What had been the effect of that? Why, the Turks evacuated Adrianople, and practically allowed everything to go by the run after the capture of Plevna and the passage of the Shipka Pass. Let them take another case. On the first night of the Session, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that the Government did not intend to propose any money Vote until the Russian conditions of peace were known, and he noticed the wise reluctance which the right hon. Gentleman exhibited to repeat the statement more explicitly when questioned on the subject by the right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone). He was obliged, however, to answer, and the consequence was that the Russians at once became aware that no action was to be taken until the terms of peace were announced; while we, finding that they were withheld, jumped to the conclusion that that was being done purposely by Russia. That suspicion had not proved correct, and in consequence we had done a great deal of injustice to Russia. It turned out that the Turkish Delegates had not signed the terms of peace, and this fact was the cause of the delay. But the mere fact of the Chancellor of the Exchequer having announced that we should do nothing till the terms of peace were known probably had the effect of persuading Russia that the power of England was paralyzed until she—Russia—chose to disclose those terms, and great excitement and danger had consequently arisen. It should be remembered that in a time like the present the Government had many such difficulties to encounter. He also objected to many of the hostile criticisms pronounced against the Government. If they came to this House to inflict every possible injury on the Government, how could they expect it to deal calmly with the great and weighty affairs that lay upon it? How could they expect it to go into the Conference with success if it was worried with every incident that could be brought against it? When they heard anyone talking about the paramount influence of Lord Beaconsfield in the Cabinet, and his war proclivities, they ought, instead of blaming the Members of the Cabinet, to thank them for curbing those proclivities if they existed, and endeavouring to turn the influence of the country in the direction of the peace which all Parties in the State alike desired. He objected to anything like cavil; to anything like violent criticism; to anything like personal imputations at a time of great national crisis, and that not because he would say a word in favour of any warlike policy by the Government; on the contrary, his reason was to prevent the Government being driven into a war policy. What had happened tonight? The right hon. Member for Bradford had come down to the House this afternoon, and in the face of certain telegrams from Constantinople had withdrawn his Amendment; and but for the timely arrival of the letter from Count Schouvaloff to the Government, the House would, in the moment of excitement, have given a vote with something like the appearance of a war Vote. He would infinitely prefer giving the vote calmly. He would put the responsibility upon the Government. Give them the money and get rid of the so-called Constitutional doctrines which had been now discussed for a week, and then the House would be free to ask the most careful consideration of the Government to this Eastern Question, and to tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to embody in the European Conference the indications he had pointed out the other night. The great reason why we were going into the Conference was to carry out the work of emancipation, and if we did not take care, the Government would find itself acting against the liberties of Bulgaria and the other Provinces of Turkey. Well, why should they not be able to discuss these questions calmly, and drop personal attacks upon each other? There was nothing which gave him greater pain than to see men attacking greater men in this House, and seeking to climb to fame upon their shoulders, from whichever side those attacks proceeded. There was not a man who could look back on the career of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, and of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, who would not admit that they stood amongst the most eminent men of the age. If they did make errors, let the errors be pointed out, instead of assailing them with violence and pretension. He merely wished to show that we had arrived at a moment when, he believed, it was essential for the Opposition side of the House to give to the Government as much confidence as they could, not for the purpose of putting us into war, but for the purpose of keeping us out of war. He was sorry to see so much disposition to go lightly into war with Russia. He was not by any means an out-and-out admirer of Russia, and there were things in that country which he did not approve of; but, at the same time, they all knew—every man of culture and every man of travel knew—that, with all the historic faults of Russia, with all her historic crimes, and with all the present faults of Russia, she was a progressive country, and was desirous of following in the path we had trod. He believed there were men alive who would see Russia a Constitutional country, with a free Parliament; and it had already a Press freer than many men suspected. But the question of the moment was not whether Russia was a good or a bad Power. The question was, on the side of what interest was the power of England to be engaged? He would agree to the Vote; but these eternal altercations, these eternal debates, did not promote the public interest. All the time this crisis lasted he would give the Government all the support he could, and he would do everything he could to prevent them from entering upon a wrong course. The Government was far less likely to go wrong if treated with fairness and generosity on that side of the House than if treated in an opposite spirit. He had confidence in the Government, and he believed there was not only one man, but there were many men in the present Cabinet who would use their utmost exertions to keep the country out of war, and he believed there were many men on the other side as sensible as those on the Opposition side were, and who would look upon it as a deep and damning degradation to go into the Conference for the purpose of re-enslaving the people of Bulgaria.


said, that of all the extraordinary speeches delivered in that House during this debate, the speech of the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. E. J. Reed) was the most extraordinary. The latter part was a direct answer to the first. In the latter part, the hon. Member expressed a hope that one day despotic Russia would establish free Parliamentary institutions, whereas, in the first part, he had told them that in times of difficulty and danger Parliamentary institutions were a source of embarrassment. This was what was said at the time of the Crimean War; but it was because Parliament did not do its duty at that time and insist on discussion that they drifted into a war from which they derived an inheritance of woe. He did not mean to say that they had not also derived great glory to the country in connection with the war. ["Divide!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite were determined not to listen to anything which did not exactly tally with their own views. ["Oh, oh!"] He did not object to their murmurs, but he did in the face of Europe protest against such conduct. Every word spoken in the House of Commons at this moment, no matter what was the position of the Member who spoke it, was telegraphed throughout Europe.[Laughter.] The spirit of levity displayed upon the Conservative benches would be telegraphed throughout Europe, as well as the arguments in support of what they called a spirited policy. He protested against the doctrine laid down by the hon. Member for Pembroke as to Parliamentary government. He maintained that the House had a right to know and criticize the conduct of the Government.


said, the hon. Member entirely misunderstood him. He did not intend to make the slightest complaint of Parliamentary government. What he had said was that the system of Parliamentary government, although most excellent and valuable in itself, unavoidably added to the difficulties of a Government at a time like this.


said, it seemed to him that this meant that if a free Parliament criticized the policy of the Government they embarrassed the Government; but he believed, on the contrary, that such criticism was a great source of strength to the Government. The hon. Member for Pembroke seemed to have been engaged in so many Russian operations that he had apparently imbibed Russian principles, and wished to shut the mouth of the House of Commons. If the present Government were embarrassed by the action of hon. Members opposite, it was because nobody knew what the policy of the Government was. Having referred to the account that had appeared of an interview which a correspondent of The Daily News was reported to have had with Server Pasha, and which account he believed to be true, the hon. Member urged that the House should not pass the Vote under pressure, because hon. Members did not know the exact circumstances of the case. He had heard it stated that Prince Gortcha-koff's telegram was all a piece of chicanery. If that was so it would raise a grave issue, because it would show that they could not depend upon the word of the Foreign Minister of Russia. If it were true that Russia was deceiving us, the people of this country would be found united as one man in resisting her policy; but we had no proof that such was the case. They wished to know for what cause Parliament had been brought together, and whither they were going? He would go further, and say this—that much as they must respect the talents of the noble Lord at the head of the Administration, every human being knew that he was a master of the science of language, and that he habitually used language which did not fully reveal his own meaning or his own object. That was one reason why he doubted whether they should vote this sum precipitately to-night. Nor could it be forgotten that the noble Lord had an Oriental tendency of mind. If they took the writings of the noble Lord—if they took all his acts—they were tinged with much that was essentially un-English. They were tinged with, that tendency to believe that human events were to be influenced by surprises, by magnificent spectacles, by new titles, by new orders of chivalry—by all those things which went to make up what could only be called the Oriental mind. [Cries of "Question!"] That was the question which they had to debate, and which nothing would prevent him from discussing. He thought the Government should postpone the debate until they really knew where they were, and until they knew whether the despatch of Prince Gortchakoff represented the actual truth. The Government would soon know what the real state of affairs was, and would have an opportunity of uniting the House in a way which they would not be able to do to-night. For these and for other reasons stated by other Members, he hoped the Vote would not be pressed that night.


said, that as he was one of the small number of Members of that House who considered that question with as an entire absence of Party bias as it was possible to imagine, he should like to express, in a very few words, the impression which the debate had produced on his mind. After an experience of nearly 30 years, he could truly say he had never listened to a debate which had given him so much pain. If he were asked to describe it in a sentence, he should say it was a war debate tempered by telegrams. The general tone of the debate and the circumstances which had led to it had, to his mind, been most unsatisfactory. There was something peculiarly unfortunate and unpropitious in the circumstances in which they were called together at an earlier period of the year than usual, in the reasons given for the summoning of Parliament, and in the manner in which these reasons had been fulfilled. It was not his intention to have voted for the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), which was an unfortunate Amendment. It did not really express the circumstances in which they were placed; it was directed to a wrong issue; and it could not have led to a satisfactory result. The Motion for the Vote had been unfortunate, both as to time and manner. When Parliament was called together they were told that, in the event of certain unforeseen contingencies, the Vote might be called for. Nothing unforeseen had occurred. The only thing which was absolutely certain to occur was a Conference. Of all the uncertainties which had existed from time to time with regard to this war, the only thing absolutely certain was that a Conference would be the end of the whole business. It was to meet, not any unforeseen occurrence, but a Conference, which must have been foreseen, that this Vote was asked for. We were to go into this Conference in a temper which took its colour and its tone from the most irritating debate he had ever heard in Parliament. That, by itself, was a most unfortunate circumstance. The amount of the Vote was a thing not worth discussing; but had he been in a position to advise the Government, he should have advised them not to ask for any Vote at all, but to act upon their own responsibility. He thought any Government would have been justified in the circumstances in which they were placed—in an attitude of expectation, of suspense, and of watchfulness, ready, if necessary, to make a spring at once—in taking the money they wanted, and claiming an indemnity from Parliament. He thought that would have been a far wiser course to have taken. It would have relieved them, at all events, from the awkward position in which they were now placed in asking for this Vote, in order to go into a Conference, which might have the appearance either of an act of defiance towards Russia, or of an act of retaliation against the Opposition for certain injudicious speeches delivered during the Recess. He remembered to have read a story somewhere of some notorious character, fond of fighting, who used on going into a tavern to take off his sword and throwing it on the table, say—"Lie there, and I pray God I may not have occasion to use you." That was pretty much the attitude of the Government in asking for the Vote of £6,000,000. With regard to the way in which he should vote upon this occasion, he felt very much in the position of the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. E. J. Reed) and others who had spoken, who felt that while they were exceedingly unwilling to offer any active opposition to a Vote of Confidence in the Government in such an emergency, yet felt that something was due to their own sense of responsibility, when the Vote was asked expressly for going into a Conference, in which the honour and interests of this country were deeply involved. There were some points upon which he should have liked to have had more information. There were points, no doubt, upon which they were all agreed. The acquisition of Constantinople by Russia, and the navigation of the Dardanelles, were questions upon which there was scarcely any difference of opinion among Englishmen; but with regard to those more remote questions in which we had little immediate concern, such as the amount of freedom to be accorded to Bulgaria, Montenegro, or Herzegovina, Englishmen were likely to be divided. He would not willingly vote one shilling, or say that one drop of English blood should be shed in order to curtail the liberties of these Provinces, while he would vote anything that might be asked to secure the former objects. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, in the course of his speech, said that the paramount British interest was the peaceful settlement of this question. So far he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman; but he went on to say that a peaceful settlement might not be arrived at, and he phrased it rather vaguely. He (Mr. Walter) should like to hear something more definite with regard to the arrangements to be made for the Turkish Provinces. He wanted to know how far, by the expenditure of money or military operations, the Government were prepared' to curtail liberty in those parts? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer dropped a very significant hint with regard to which he should like to have some more information. He said England's weak point was the length of its line of communication, and anything that jeopardized that line of communication with its dependencies must be a source of anxiety. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman meant by that that the policy of England was against the opening of the Dardanelles. If so, he should differ from the right hon. Gentleman. He believed that the policy of England was on this occasion to open the Dardanelles, and claim for herself and give to all other nations the right of free navigation. Though he should decline to go to war for that object, he should equally decline to expend any English money or blood in opposing it. He should like to know something about the policy of the Government on that point. He would say a word or two upon the really grave question about which all this discussion had taken place—namely, the policy of England with regard to the Turkish Empire. He differed entirely from the hon. Memberfor WestNorfolk (Mr. Bentinck), and others who had spoken in this debate, with regard to the effects of this war upon the Ottoman Empire. He deeply deplored the necessity for the war, which had been one of the most horrible waged in modern times, yet he rejoiced unfeignedly at the result of it. He was one of those who never believed in the integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire; and when the Crimean War was talked of, he should like to read to the House a very interesting and remarkable passage which was written by an illustrious personage, whose name had been alluded to in this debate. It was contained in a book which had been referred to by the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), and the publication of which was supposed to be intended to have some bearing upon this question—a bearing rather hostile to Russia and friendly to Turkey. He would like to read a short extract from a very remarkable memorandum drawn up by the late Prince Consort in October, 1853, with regard to the Crimean War. After saying that, setting aside all Turkish considerations, England and Europe had an interest that Turkish territory should not fall into the hands of Russia, and that they should in the last extremity even go to war to prevent such an overthrow of the balance of power, he wrote— But this would be a war, not for the maintenance of the integrity of the Ottomon Empire, hut merely for the interests of the European Powers and civilization. It ought to he carried on unshackled by obligations to the Porte, and will probably lead to the peace which must be the object of that war, to the obtaining of arrangements more consonant with the well-understood interests of Europe, of Christianity, liberty and civilization, than the re-imposition of the ignorant, barbarian, and despotic yoke of the Mussulman over the most fertile and favoured portion of Europe. That memorandum was communicated to Lord Palmerston and Lord Aberdeen. Lord Palmerston, it was stated—and he grieved to say it—scouted the idea altogether, and said that the improvement of the Christian populations meant simply the expulsion of 2,000,000 of Mahomedan inhabitants. But Lord Aberdeen did not believe in the improvement of Turkey; he held that her whole system was radically vicious and inhuman, and he quoted Lord Stratford de Redcliffe to that effect. He (Mr. Walter) thought the House would believe now that the Prince Consort and Lord Aberdeen were right, and Lord Palmerston wrong; and it was to give effect to the wishes and views of the Prince Consort and Lord Aberdeen that he hoped the Government would go into this Conference. Whatever else might be the result of the Conference, he believed that the present settlement could not be final; and that the best chance for its being lasting for a certain time—a peace, lasting in such a sense, that when the next stage came, it might come without another dreadful war such as that which we had lately seen—would be in leaving to Turkey only such an amount of territory and importance as should be consistent with its preservation as a territorial Power in Europe, and for the sake mainly of keeping Constantinople open till a worthier successor might be found. He believed the best settlement would be that what was to remain of European Turkey should be placed under the protection of the European Powers, with such guarantees for good government as could be obtained. He hoped the time might come when that fertile country would be inhabited by a free and Christian population. The House might, perhaps, recollect the lines of one of their greatest poets— The City won for Allah, from the Giaour The Giaour from Othman's race again may wrest; And the Serai's impenetrable tower Receive the fiery Frank, her former guest… But ne'er will Freedom seek this fated soil, But slave succeed to slave through years of endless toil. He trusted that this gloomy prediction would not be fulfilled; but that, at no distant time, that splendid territory would be occupied and governed by a free and prosperous people.


Sir, I beg to move the adjournment of the debate.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—{Mr. Richard.)


Sir, I do not rise at this moment for the purpose of making any lengthened speech, but for this purpose—I wish to ask the House whether they would not consent now, after five nights' debate, to let us take one stage in Supply in regard to this Vote? The questions which have been raised are so large and so interesting that debate upon them might run to almost any extent. Undoubtedly many questions have been raised during the debate on which I might like to speak at some little length, and on which I have no doubt other hon. Members would like to speak also. But I cannot help feeling that time is precious, and I also feel the responsibility on the part of Her Majesty's Government, which makes me now repeat the suggestion made earlier in the evening—that there are other stages in the course of the proceedings on the Vote in which there will be an opportunity for further remarks which any hon. Member may wish to make. I would, therefore, most earnestly press upon the attention of the House that we should now be allowed to take the first stage of the Vote; that you, Sir, should leave the Chair, and that we should take a Vote in Supply. In the other stages of the Vote there will be ample opportunity for discussion. I venture to say that this is a matter of considerable importance. I think that anyone who listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. E. J. Reed) must have been struck by the good sense of that speech. It really put matters in a clear light before us. The hon. Member wishes the general policy of the country to be discussed, and I think it ought to be discussed. But I think the House sees that it will not do to be continually putting off the decision of this question. The merits of the proposal have been explained, and have been fully discussed. No doubt there are points which may require further discussion in detail in Committee; but I think there can be no doubt that the matter has been brought to such a point that it is fair and reasonable that we should vote upon it. I can assure the House that the Government deem it a matter of such serious importance that there shall be no further delay than can be helped in obtaining the Vote. I must take exception to one of the remarks of the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) in describing the circumstances under which we met, and I think he quotes from memory rather inaccurately from Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech from the Throne. According to the hon. Member's view of the circumstances under which we were called together, the Speech from the Throne announced that Parliament would only be appealed to in case of some unexpected occurrence. Now, that was not the language of the Speech from the Throne. The Speech from the Throne was to this effect—that should hostilities unfortunately be prolonged, some unexpected circumstance might render it necessary for Her Majesty to take steps for the protection of British interests, and that such steps could not be effectually taken without adequate preparation. That is precisely the position in which we now stand. As my hon. Friend fully explained the other day, the measures that we are prepared to take, and that we must take, must occupy some time. We take it that much time has elapsed since we made our proposal, and that no further time ought to be wasted; and, therefore, we earnestly trust that the House will proceed to decide upon this Vote. There is one matter of a personal kind which has been mentioned more than once this evening, on which it is necessary for me to say a word. In the beginning of the evening the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) put a Question to me with regard to a correspondence in The Daily News to-day, and subsequently, the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) made some lengthened and severe remarks upon it; and I believe other Members referred to that correspondence. I stated I had seen there was such a correspondence, but had barely noticed it, as I had been very much engaged during the day; but after I had my attention more particularly called to it, I thought it right immediately to send word to Lord Beaconsfield, to whom the matter applied, to ask him whether there was anything he desired to state to the House on the subject? I have received this note in reply— My dear Chancellor of the Exchequer—I have only to say that the statement is an infamous fabrication. In saying that, Sir, of course, the noble Lord speaks for himself only. I feel not the slightest doubt, with regard to Mr. Layard also, that the statement is altogether untrue; but, of course, Mr. Layard is not here to speak for himself; and I do feel, with reference to the remarks in consequence of that paragraph and also with reference to other remarks that have been made in the course of this evening, it is our duty, on behalf of a public servant placed in a difficult position, to protest against such attacks upon his character. The position of England towards Turkey has been one of considerable difficulty—it has been one which has often led to misrepresentations. But all the difficulty of the situation and all the exposure and misrepresentations may be said to have been concentrated upon the head of our Ambassador at Constantinople; and I think we ought not to be too ready at the first blush to catch up any stories that may be going to his prejudice. We should remember he is one who has served Her Majesty for a great number of years, that he is a man who has done his duty, and who commands the confidence of the Sovereign. Full and fair play in all cases ought to be given to Mr. Layard with reference to any matter of this sort. There is one other matter to which I must allude with reference to a subject on which we were speaking in the beginning of the evening. I was asked whether it was true that Lord Derby had stated in the other House that communications had been received from some of the Great Powers of Europe which did not confirm the statements that had been received from Mr. Layard? I find it is true that from several of the Powers communications have been received saying that they have no news confirming the statements of Mr. Layard; but, in each case, they state that their latest despatch from Constantinople was one or two, and, in one case, I believe, three days earlier than that from Mr. Layard. Therefore, they have no communication of so recent a date; and when we consider that we have these delays in direct telegraphing between Constantinople and the rest of Europe, it will account for what I have stated. Now, having stated so much, I would again repeat my earnest entreaty that the House would allow us to go into Committee and to take this Vote tonight.


Mr. Speaker, I do not rise for the purpose of following the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer into all the topics upon which he has touched, except to say that I am scarcely prepared to acknowledge that he has quite made out his case, that the grounds upon which he now asks the House to go into Committee on this Vote are the same as those which were stated in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech. If that is the case, it is rather a remarkable circumstance that the right hon. Gentleman, in the speech in which he proposed this Vote, should have dwelt so much upon a subject which was not mentioned in the Speech from the Throne—namely, the influence which such a Vote would give to the voice of England in the Councils of Europe. However, there will, no doubt, be other opportunities for discussing the proposal. With reference to the suggestion which has been made, that the Government should be allowed to proceed one stage in this matter, I am sure there would be a general feeling of inclination on this side of the House to comply with what appears to be a reasonable request. But, unfortunately, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer finds it necessary to ask that we should practically take two steps—that the Speaker should leave the Chair, and that we should take the Vote. I can quite understand the reason of that demand; because, according to our rules of procedure, if the Motion for adjournment is negatived, this debate may still be renewed on the next occasion when the Motion is made that the Speaker leave the Chair. No doubt that would be very inconvenient; and I quite agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it would be most desirable we should make one step in advance in these proceedings. The discussion tonight has been virtually a continuation of the debate upon the Amendment of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster); and, although that Amendment has been withdrawn until we have advanced a stage, it is impossible that it should be otherwise. Hon. Gentlemen who had not the opportunity of making speeches while the Amendment was before the House, naturally desire to take advantage of the opportunity now offered them. In that way the original debate has been virtually continued, though without the vigour and point which must have marked it had the Amendment been still before us. I hope that the Motion for adjournment will not be persisted in; and I think I may with some confidence appeal to hon. Gentlemen that they will to-morrow, when the Motion is made that the Speaker leave the Chair, allow that Motion to be agreed to without further discussion, so that the proposals of the Government may be debated in Committee, which is virtually the next stage in these proceedings. I think, however, that it would be hardly possible for the House, without abdicating one of its most essential and important functions, to consent to pass the Vote in Committee to-night without more discussion. Indeed, to do so, would scarcely be fair to hon. Members who are at this moment absent, and who could not be aware that that course would be proposed by the Government. I hope it may be possible, without further obstacles being put in the way of the Speaker leaving the Chair, to have full discussion in Committee on the proposals of the Government. The House is aware that I myself have not troubled it with many observations since the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was made. Perhaps the House would hardly think it respectful that I should refrain from stating my views with reference to the propositions which have been submitted to us before the conclusion of the discussion; but I have felt very strongly, indeed, since the withdrawal of the Amendment, that the present would not be a convenient opportunity for me to do so. If hon. Members will consider the position between this and to-morrow, I hope they will come to the same conclusion as that at which I have arrived—that a continuation of the debate on the Motion that the Speaker leave the Chair could not be productive of much advantage. But I also hope that the Government will not consider it necessary to urge and press upon the House to take the Vote in Committee to-night. Such a proposal would hardly, I think, obtain the consent of this side of the House.


said, he desired shortly to state the decision which a few hon. Members below the Gangway had come to. He spoke for himself and a few more when he said that, in his opinion, the position had not materially changed since the day when his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) moved his Amendment; and he did not see why, if the circumstances warranted him in moving it on that day week, those who were then supporting him should take a different course now, and allow the Speaker to leave the Chair. They had had two different stories told them that night; but, speaking for himself, he would say that even if that which was considered to be the worst and most alarming telegram should turn out to be true, it would make no difference to his position as to this Vote. He was not one of those who was in the least afraid of seeing the Russians at Constantinople, and he said boldly he would rather see the Russians there than the Turks. Before he sat down, he thought he ought to say one word about the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne (Mr. J. Cowen). No man had a higher respect for the independence and spirit of his hon. Friend than he had, but he certainly thought he stepped a little beyond the bounds of fair Parliamentary warfare when he said that he, as an Englishman, should support this Vote. Were they to be talked to in that way? This was a question of whether they should vote certain Supplies to the Government, lay certain burdens on the people, and simply because of an intellectual difference—for that was all it was—with hon. Members opposite, were they to be told they were not acting as Englishmen? They were all English men, and patriots too. He did not want this Vote to be misunderstood, and he would affirm distinctly that he should give a patriotic vote, because he considered peace to be the greatest interest of this country. They could not persuade him that this Vote was anything else but a war Vote. He felt as sure of that as that he was standing there. The Government said they did not mean war, and yet they asked for the Vote in order to provide materials, stores, &c. He was not such a Jesuit as to be able to draw the fine distinction between preparation for war and war itself. Preparation for war meant war. The Vote was a war Vote, and therefore a senseless Vote. Who were they going to war with? They were not going to war along with Turkey, for Turkey was virtually wiped out. They were certainly not going to war in company with Russia—hon. Gentlemen opposite would never allow that—they must then be going to war against Russia and Turkey united. There was no other natural construction to put upon the Vote. He maintained that it was his duty as a patriot and an Englishman to take the first opportunity that arose of voting against the principle which was embodied in this demand for money, and that occasion was when the Speaker put the Question that he leave the Chair. When that Question was put, he should consider it his duty to go into the Lobby against it.


said, the Government were proposing by this Vote to take one step further in the direction of that war into which, judging from the temper of the House, not only on the opposite side but also on this, they were likely very shortly to be landed. He merely wished to raise his voice against the course which Her Majesty's Government were pursuing, and to say that the constituency which he represented had recently in a public meeting, which was not of a political character, passed a resolution against the Vote of Credit, and against any course which might have a tendency to drive the country into war. He sincerely trusted that the hon. Member for Carlisle would persist in his opposition to the adjournment of the debate, and he would cordially support him.


said, he had had the honour and the pleasure of listening to many of his Friends on the other side of the House, and they had only been asked to afford him their courtesy for a very few minutes in the early part of the evening, when he rose to express a doubt as to the truth of the information which had been conveyed to the House. He did not mean to make any personal charge against Mr. Layard. He merely wished to say this—that the information had been sent him either through credulity, or carelessness, or some other cause; but he had no intention whatever of impugning Mr. Layard's personal honour. He thought the communication made to the House contained statements upon which they could not implicitlyrely, and he had urged that within the last week or two there had been a perpetual cuckoo-cry of Russia advancing. He, therefore, expressed a hope that they would not be led away by the information given to them. He had now one word to say in reference to the adjournment of the debate. The actual position of things was this—they came to a conclusion a night or two ago that this debate should go on until Saturday morning—that was agreed to on all hands—and nothing whatever had occurred since, that in the least degree justified a departure from that understanding. Having discussed the adjournment this evening, they came to the conclusion that the Vote was not to be taken to-night, and two-thirds of the House were under the belief that a division would not be taken. Now, the Leader of the House rose in his place and suggested that it should. One or two hon. Members, to his own knowledge, had gone away under the impression that there would be no division that evening, and it was contrary to Parliamentary usage to break through an understanding which had been come to with the House. He, therefore, submitted that the Motion for adjournment should be pressed.


earnestly trusted that no hon. Member on his side of the House would support the adjournment. The question had now been sufficiently discussed in its present state. Hon. Members on the Opposition side had supposed that this Vote was not a Vote which ought to be passed, and they believed they ought to have an opportunity of making a firm and decided protest against it. But if the great majority of the House wished Supplies to be granted to the Government at a great crisis, there were many hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side who did not wish to place themselves in the position of appearing to give factious opposition. Still, he hoped when the Motion was put that the Speaker leave the Chair, a decided and determined protest would be made against the Vote.


said, it would be impossible to proceed with the Business in such a grave and solemn crisis if hon. Gentlemen opposite comported themselves so little like gentlemen. ["Oh, oh!"] It had been suggested that he should withdraw that expression, which he did, and he would say in a manner so unbecoming the dignity of Parliament. He had simply risen to make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer). He thought the Motion for the adjournment should be withdrawn, and that, if the Vote was taken, it should be taken on the Question directly whether the Speaker leave the Chair. But, of course, that would be an understanding with the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the Vote should not be proceeded with to-night. ["No, no!"] He had understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that he would not proceed with the Vote to-night, and he therefore wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether that was the understanding if the Motion for adjournment was withdrawn?


thought the noble Lord opposite (the Marquess of Hartington) had exactly appreciated the situation. The point which had been pressed upon the House by Her Majesty's Government was that the House should allow one stage to be taken at least, and he had made certain proposals which the noble Lord thought implied two stages. But he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had replied that if they did not take the stage indicated, the Government might find itself to-morrow just in the position where it was to-day, on the Motion that the Speaker leave the Chair. He did not wish at all, though he was anxious to get on with the Business, to take any unfair advantage of the House, and he should especially be very sorry to lose the observations which the noble Lord had promised to make to-morrow night. As suggested by the noble Lord, this would be a reasonable course to adopt—namely, to come to a general understanding, that if they had a division upon the Question, "That the Speaker do now leave the Chair," they should, immediately after going into Committee of Supply, agree to report Progress, without taking a Vote of money to-night. In that case there would be no opposition to-morrow on the Speaker leaving the Chair, and discussion could be taken in Committee. That was an understanding which he thought would meet with the approval of the House.


upon that understanding, intimated his willingness to withdraw his Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put.

The House divided:—Ayes 295; Noes 96: Majority 199.

Adderley, rt. hon. Sir C. Cuninghame, Sir W.
Agnew, R. V. Cust, H. C.
Alexander, Colonel Dalrymple, C.
Allsopp, C. Davenport, W. B.
Anstruther, Sir W. Deedes, W.
Archdale, W. H. Denison, C. B.
Arkwright, A. P. Denison, W. B.
Arkwright, F. Denison, W. E.
Assheton, R. Dickson, Major A. G.
Astley, Sir J. D. Digby, Col. hon. E.
Bagge, Sir W. Douglas, Sir G.
Bailey, Sir J. E. Duff, J.
Balfour, A. J. Dyott, Colonel R.
Barne, F. St. J. N. Eaton, H. W.
Barrington, Viscount Edmonstone, Admiral Sir W.
Barttelot, Sir W. B.
Bates, E. Egerton, hon. A. F.
Bateson, Sir T. Egerton, Sir P. G.
Bathurst, A. A. Egerton, hon. W.
Beach, rt. hn. Sir M. H. Elliot, G. W.
Beach, W. W. B. Elphinstone, Sir J.D.H.
Beaumont, W. B. Emlyn, Viscount
Bective, Earl of Eslington, Lord
Benett-Stanford, V. F. Estcourt, G. S.
Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C. Fellowes, E.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Finch, G. H.
Beresford, Lord C. Fremantle, hon. T. F.
Beresford, G. de la Poer Freshfield, C. K.
Beresford, Colonel M. Gallwey, Sir W. P.
Birley, H. Galway, Viscount
Blackburne, Col. J. I. Gardner, J. T. Agg-
Boord, T. W. Garnier, J. C.
Bourke, hon. R. Gibson, rt. hon. E.
Bourne, Colonel Giffard, Sir H. S.
Bousfield, Colonel Gilpin, Sir R. T.
Bowen, J. B. Goddard, A. L.
Bowyer, Sir G. Goldney, G.
Bright, R. Gordon, Sir A.
Brise, Colonel R. Gordon, W.
Broadley, W. H. H. Gorst, J. E.
Brooks, W. C. Goulding, W.
Browne, G. E. Grantham, W.
Bruce, hon. T. Greenall, Sir G.
Bruen, H. Greene, E.
Brymer, W. E. Gregory, G. B.
Bulwer, J. R. Grey, Earl de
Burghley, Lord Hall, A. W.
Burrell, Sir W. W. Halsey, T. F.
Buxton, Sir R. J. Hamilton, Lord C. J.
Cameron, D. Hamilton, Lord G.
Campbell, C. Hamilton, Marquess of
Cartwright, F. Hamilton, hon. R. B.
Cecil, Lord E.H.B.G. Hamond, C. F.
Chaine, J. Hanbury, R. W.
Chaplin, Colonel E. Hardcastle, E.
Chaplin, H. Hardy, rt. hon. G.
Charley, W. T. Hardy, S.
Close, M. C. Harvey, Sir R. B.
Cobbold, T. C. Hay,rt.hn.Sir J.C.D.
Cochrane, A. D. W. R. B. Heath, E.
Cole, Col. hon. H. A. Hermon, E.
Coope, O. E. Hervey, Lord F.
Corbett, J. Heygate, W. U.
Cordes, T. Hick, J.
Corry, hon. H. W. L. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Corry, J. P. Hill, A. S.
Cotton, W. J. R. Hinchingbrook, Visct.
Cowen, J. Holford, J. P. G.
Crichton, Viscount Holker, Sir J.
Cross, rt. hon. R. A. Holland, Sir H. T.
Cubitt, G. Holmesdale, Viscount
Holt, J.M. Plunket, hon. D. R.
Home, Captain Plunkett, hon. R.
Hood, Capt. hn. A. W. A. N. Powell, W.
Praed, C. T.
Hope, A. J. B. B. Praed, H. B.
Isaac, S. Price, Captain
Jenkinson, Sir G. S. Puleston, J. H.
Jervis, Colonel Raikes, H. C.
Johnson, J. G. Read, C. S.
Johnston, W. Rendlesham, Lord
Johnstone, Sir F. Repton, G. W.
Jolliffe, hon. S. Ridley, M. W.
Kavanagh, A. MacM. Ripley, H. W.
Kennard, Colonel Ritchie, C. T.
Kennaway, Sir J. H. Rodwell, B. B. H.
King-Harman, E. R. Bothschild,Sir N. M. de
Knight, F. W. Bound, J.
Knightley, Sir R. Russell, Sir C.
Knowles, T. Ryder, G. R.
Lawrence, Sir T. Sackville, S. G. S.
Learmonth, A. Salt, T.
Lechmere, Sir E. A. H. Samuda, J. D'A.
Lee, Major V. Sanderson, T. K.
Legard, Sir C. Sandford, G. M. W.
Legh, W. J. Sandon, Viscount
Leighton, Sir B. Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.
Leighton, S. Scott, M. D.
Leslie, Sir J. Selwin - Ibbetson, Sir H. J.
Lewis, C. E.
Lindsay, Col. R. L. Severne, J. E.
Lindsay, Lord Shute, General
Lloyd, S. Sidebottom, T. H.
Lloyd, T. E. Simonds, W. B.
Lopes, Sir M. Smith, A.
Lowther, hon. W. Smith, F. C.
Lowther, J. Smith, S. G.
Macartney, J. W. E. Smith, rt. hon. W. H.
M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J. Somerset, Lord H. R. C.
Majendie, L. A. Stafford, Marquess of
Making, Colonel Stanhope, hon. E.
Mandeville, Viscount Stanhope, W. T. W. S.
Manners, rt. hn. Lord J. Stanley, hon. F.
March, Earl of Starkey, L. R.
Marten, A. G. Starkie, J. P. C.
Mellor, T. W. Steere, L.
Merewether, C. G. Stewart, M. J.
Mills, A. Storer, G.
Mills, Sir C. H. Sykes, C.
Monckton, F. Talbot, J. G.
Montagu, rt. hn. Lord R. Taylor, rt. hon. Col.
Montgomerie, R. Tonnant, R.
Montgomery, Sir G. G. Thornhill, T.
Moore, S. Thynne, Lord H. F.
Moray, H. E. S. H. D. Tollemache, hon. W. F.
Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R. Torr, J.
Mulholland, J. Tremayne, J.
Muncaster, Lord Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill-
Naghten, Lt.-Col. Turnor, E.
Newdegate, C. N. Verner, E. W.
Noel, rt. hon. G. J. Wait, W. K.
Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H. Walker, O. O.
Walker, T. E.
O'Leary, W. Wallace, Sir E.
O'Neill, hon. E. Walsh, hon. A.
Onslow, D. Walter, J.
Paget, E. H. Warburton, P. E.
Palk, Sir L. Waterhouse, S.
Parker, Lt.-Col. W. Watney, J.
Pateshall, E. Welby-Gregory,Sir W.
Pell, A. Wellesley, Colonel
Pemberton, E. L. Wells, E.
Pennant, hon. G. Wethered, T. O.
Percy, Earl Wheelhouse, W. S. J.
Whitelaw, A. Yarmouth, Earl of
Williams, Sir F. M. Yeaman, J.
Wilmot, Sir J. E. Yorke, J. R.
Wilson, W.
Wolff, Sir H. D. TELLERS.
Woodd, B. T. Dyke, Sir W. H.
Wroughton, P. Winn, E.
Wynn, C. W. W.
Acland, Sir T. D. Hutchinson, J. D.
Anstruther, Sir R. Ingram, W. J.
Backhouse, E. James, W. H.
Balfour, Sir G. Jenkins, D. J.
Barclay, J. W. Jenkins, E.
Barran, J. Johnstone, Sir H.
Baxter, rt. hn. W. E. Leatham, E. A.
Beaumont, Major F. Lefevre, G. J. S.
Bell, I. L. Leith, J. F.
Blake, T. Lloyd, M.
Bright, J. (Manchester) Lush, Dr.
Brocklehurst, W. C. Macdonald, A.
Brogden, A. Marling, S. S.
Brown, A. H. Middleton, Sir A. E.
Brown, J. C. Monk, C. J.
Burt, T. Morgan, G. O.
Cameron, C. Mundella, A. J.
Campbell, Sir G. O'Conor, D. M.
Chamberlain, J. O'Conor Don, The
Cholmeley, Sir H. Palmer, C. M.
Clarke, J. C. Parker, C. S.
Cole, H. T. Pease, J. W.
Colman, J. J. Pennington, F.
Courtney, L. H. Philips, R. N.
Cross, J. K. Potter, T. B.
Davies, D. Price, W. E.
Davies, R. Ramsay, J.
Dickson, T. A. Rathbone, W.
Dilke, Sir C. W. Richard, H.
Dillwyn, L. L. Robertson, H.
Dodds, J. Samuelson, B.
Earp, T. Samuelson, H.
Fawcett, H. Simon, Mr. Serjeant
Fay, C. J. Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.
Ferguson, B. Stevenson, J. C.
Fletcher, I. Stewart, J.
Forster, Sir C. Tavistock, Marquess of
Gladstone, W. H. Taylor, P. A.
Gourley, E. T. Tracy, hon. F. S. A. Hanbury-
Gower, hon. E. F. L.
Grant, A. Trevelyan, G. O.
Harrison, C. Vivian, H. H.
Harrison, J. F. Waterlow, Sir S. H.
Havelock, Sir H. Whitwell, J.
Henry, M. Wilson, C.
Hibbert, J. T. Young, A. W.
Hill, T. B.
Holms, J. TELLERS.
Holms, W. Lawson, Sir W.
Hopwood, C. H. Anderson, G.
Howard, hon. C.

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £6,000,000, be granted to Her Majesty, beyond the ordinary Grants of Parliament, towards defraying the Expenses which may be incurred, during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1878, in increasing the Efficiency of the Naval and Military Services at the present crisis of the War between Russia and Turkey.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.