THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
, in rising to move—That, by the Constitution of this Realm, no Forces may be raised or kept by the Crown in time of peace, without the consent of Parliament, within any part of the Dominions of the Crown, excepting only such Forces as may be actually serving within Her Majesty's Indian Possessions,said: Mr. Speaker, it is, of course, impossible for me, even if it were my desire, to attempt to fix any limit to the scope of the debate which may arise on the Motion which I am about to submit to the House. The measure of the Government to which I shall have to advert, and which is the cause of my Motion, is one, no doubt, of the most important character. It is one not only important in itself, but it is one of a series of measures which form part of a policy which has already engaged, to a certain extent, the attention of the House, which has already received discussion from the House, and which will probably, at some future time, receive still further consideration. But the measure, taken by itself, irrespective of its being part of the policy of the Government, is of a most grave nature. It is a measure which raises totally new questions concerning the relations between this country and our Indian Empire—which raises, probably, some of the most difficult questions connected with the problem of government in India. Compared with these considerations, I must admit that the issue to which I am now about to ask the attention of the House is an extremely narrow one; and I confess I have purposely and intentionally thus narrowed its scope, partly because we have reason to believe that negotiations are at present going on of an extremely delicate character, and because we have very recently been informed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, in his opinion, a general discussion of the state of affairs in the East would not be for the interest of the public service; and that, after that intimation, I do not wish to be a party to raising such a discussion. I will also admit that I have endeavoured to narrow the scope of my Motion, because I think 265 that the issue itself which is raised in the Resolution is one of sufficient importance to merit full consideration and discussion upon its own merits, irrespective of any other consideration. Well, Sir, I need not detain the House at any length in vindicating the necessity for the Resolution I have brought before the House. It will not, I think, be denied that the claim put forward by the Government is very novel. I do not think it will be disputed that that claim, and the issue raised by my Resolution, are not simply issues of a technical character. It will, on the contrary, be admitted that they involve considerations of the greatest importance as affecting the relations hitherto existing between the Crown, Parliament, and the Army, and also the principles of financial control which Parliament has always maintained over every branch of the Administration. It will not be denied, I think, that, whatever may be the merits of the case, it is the duty of the Opposition, if the Opposition has any duties whatever—it is the first duty of the Opposition fully to examine and call in question any novel claims of this description which may be put forward, so that if they are to be admitted and to become part of our Parliamentary system, they may become so only after full and sufficient consideration. The claim of the Government is understood to be that, by the Prerogative of the Crown, they are entitled to transfer troops raised in India, and not voted by Parliament, to be made use of in time of peace, in other Dominions of the Crown. Lest there should be any mistake upon this point, I may, perhaps, be allowed to read what was stated on the subject by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In answer to a Question from me, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said—I can only say that the decision of Her Majesty's Government to order a certain number of Indian troops to Malta was one arrived at some time ago, but that it was not thought necessary, nor is it according to practice, that such a decision should be communicated to Parliament."—[3 Hansard, ccxxxix. 1421.]That appears to me to bear out the statement I made that they claim to employ these troops without the consent of Parliament as a Prerogative of the Crown. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made this still more clear the same evening, when he said— 266But, under any circumstances, I may frankly say that we should not have thought it our duty, even if we had foreseen that the matter would become public within so short a time, to have made a communication to Parliament with respect to it until the arrangements had been completed."—[Ibid. 1436.]Further, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said—There is no doubt whatever that this is a very important step; but it is, at the same time, a step which, after all, when you come to regard what it is, is neither more nor less than a direction given by Her Majesty for the moving of a portion of Her Forces from one part of the Empire to the other. And though it is a movement which will undoubtedly come under the notice of Parliament, and over which Parliament holds the control which it holds over all movements of British Forces—that of the right of withholding or challenging the Supplies asked for the purpose—yet, so far as the order given to Her Majesty's troops is concerned, it is an order strictly within the proper Constitutional Prerogative of the Crown, and one which Her Majesty has as much right to give as to order any portion of British troops now in England to proceed to Gibraltar or Malta, or anywhere else."—[Ibid. 1435.]That is what I understand to be the claim of the Government, and it is that claim which we deny. We contend, on the other hand, that it is in India, and in India only, that Forces can be raised and maintained without the authority annually given by Parliament; and that when such Forces are transferred to any part of Her Majesty's Dominions, they would come under those conditions which govern and regulate the other Regular Forces of the Crown. I will have to ask the House to consider—and I will do it as briefly as I can—the general principles which govern the relations between the Crown, Parliament, and the Army; and I will ask them to consider, further, the exceptions to those general principles which are made in the case of India, and which conditions ought to govern the transfer of Indian Forces when they are removed to other Possessions of Her Majesty outside that country. There is no Member of this House who is ignorant that, since the Revolution, Parliament has always claimed a special control over the Regular Forces of the Crown, altogether separate from that financial control which it exercises over every branch of the Administration. That control has been asserted by three distinct guarantees. It has been asserted by the annual voting by this House of the number of men to be maintained, 267 by the annual voting of the Supplies for their maintenance, and by the enactment for one year only of the Act for securing their proper discipline. The Bill of Rights did not specially enact these or any other guarantees. It was not an enacting Statute; it did not prescribe or lay down penalties; what it did was to lay down general principles. It was a Statute declaratory of the ancient liberties of the Kingdom which had been infringed, and declaratory of the principles which, in the opinion of Parliament, were then necessary for the maintenance and, continuance of those liberties. The principles thus laid down in the Bill of Rights have been carried into force and into effect, not so much by special enactment as by a constant course of practice, precedent, and usage, which have shown what was the intention of Parliament, and what are the guarantees which Parliament thought necessary for the proper regulation and control of the Army. I wish it, I may add, to be clearly understood that I am not saying that the numbers of the Regular Army are to be limited to the exact number stated in the Preamble of the Mutiny Act. What I say is, that such number cannot be exceeded except with the consent of Parliament, and that the consent of Parliament must be obtained, if not by a Supplementary Statute, at least by a Supplementary Vote; and by a Vote, not only for the cost of the additional number of men, but by a Vote of the precise and actual number of the men themselves. Such was the doctrine laid down by Lord Hardwicke in 1734. Lord Hardwicke said—As to the giving His Majesty a power by an address or a vote to raise land forces, there is certainly nothing illegal in it: for though the King cannot by law raise or keep up a standing Army in this nation in time of peace without consent of Parliament, yet, my Lords, I know of no law that directs how that consent is to be obtained; it may, in my opinion, be had by a vote or an address from each House of Parliament, as well as by an Act regularly passed in Parliament."—[Parl. History, vol. 9, p. 539.]Even at the risk of repetition, what I say and maintain is, not that it is necessary that a Supplementary Statute should be passed, but that any increase to the number of the Regular Army to be raised or kept in any of the Dominions of the Crown must be obtained, if not by legislation, yet by the special consent of Parliament, and that that consent 268 must be given not merely to the cost but to the number of the men. To illustrate what I mean, I may say that I hold—and I hardly think the Government will dispute the proposition—that it would not be within the competence of the Crown to increase the numbers of the Regular Army, even if, by some means or other, they could maintain the Regular Forces more cheaply than they had estimated. Again, I maintain that it would not be within the competence of the Crown to increase the numbers of the Regular Army, if, by means of reference to some other resource—private contributions or otherwise—it was found to be not necessary to seek the assistance of Parliament for their maintenance. The principle which I maintain, and which has invariably been asserted by Parliament is, that the consent of Parliament must be obtained to the increase in the number of men. I understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other night to say that by the Bill of Rights it was only from the United Kingdom that Indian or other troops were excluded. I do not know whether the Government is prepared to maintain that construction of the Bill of Rights; but it is one which was entirely repudiated more than 100 years ago. In 1775, an important debate occurred in both Houses of Parliament on the occasion of the garrisoning of Gibraltar and Port Mahon by Hanoverian troops during the American War. One defence of the Government of that day was that the prohibition in the Bill of Rights was confined to the United Kingdom; but that construction was finally repudiated by all sides in the debate. "Lord Camden," according to the records of the debate—Elucidated in the most satisfactory manner the literal and obvious meaning of the clause in the Bill of Rights; adverted to the spirit of that law, as applying to the grievance which was then to be remedied; pointed out the true construction of the letter and spirit united, as interpreted for a series of almost 90 years, and during the reigns of four Princes, besides the present, three of whom were foreigners, no slight matter of consideration, and then drew this obvious conclusion—that no foreign troops could be brought into the Dominions of the Crown of Great Britain, without the previous consent of Parliament."—[Parl. History, vol. 18, p. 811.]It was true that the word "foreigners" was not mentioned in the law; but would anyone infer from that, that though it was not permitted to keep a standing Army of Natives, it might be 269 wise, constitutional, and legal, to keep on foot a standing Army of Foreigners? Lord Chancellor Bathurst spoke for the Government—Deserting what he called the quibbles of Westminster Hall, and the subtle distinctions of lawyers, he allowed that the fortresses of Gibraltar and Port Mahon were fairly within the spirit and meaning of the paragraph of the Act of Settlement."—[Ibid. 815.]Finally, the Earl of Shelburne said—The Bill of Rights is declaratory: it supposes a law which can be found in no written book or statute whatever. It can only be looked for by recurring to its principle. The only principle that can be suggested is the danger to be apprehended by keeping a standing Force without the consent of Parliament. To do this within the limits of the Kingdom, and in time of peace, is more dangerous, and carries with it less colour of necessity. To do the same in Ireland, Gibraltar, or any of the dependencies of the Kingdom, may be less dangerous; but will any man say, there is no danger?"—[Ibid. 816.]The hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. A. Mills), whose constituents appear to take a good deal of interest in this question, the other night put aside this debate as altogether beside the question; because, he said, the subject in dispute at that time was whether foreign troops might be admitted within the Dominions of the Crown without the consent of Parliament?—but that appears to me to be a total misapprehension of the argument. What was then laid down and assented to by all parties was that no troops of any kind, whether Native or Foreign, could be raised or maintained in any of the Dominions of the Crown without the consent of Parliament having been previously procured. It may be said that the Bill of Indemnity which was brought in at that time was not passed. That, no doubt, is true; but the very fact that Lord North thought it necessary, if only out of regard for the scruples of some of his supporters—who appear to have been more ticklish on these Constitutional points than some hon. Gentlemen who sit opposite now—to introduce a Bill of Indemnity, went to show that he thought it at any rate an open question, that ought to be in this case reserved; and the House, perhaps, will remember on what ground the indemnity was thrown out. It was thrown out in the House of Lords because it recited—what? It recited that there were doubts about the matter. The House of Lords declined to assert that there were any doubts at 270 all about the matter, and rather than admit those doubts the Bill was rejected altogether. I do not think that the fact of the Bill not having been passed, and of Lord North having still kept his head upon his shoulders, can be cited as a proof that his conduct at that time was constitutional or correct, or that it received the consent of Parliament. The question is, what was asserted and admitted by Constitutional authorities at that time and the continuous course of practice since. If the House will reflect for a moment, it cannot fail to see that the limited construction of the Bill of Rights to which I have referred is not consistent with, I might say, common sense. What are the words of the Mutiny Act?Whereas the raising or keeping a standing army within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in time of peace, unless it be with the consent of Parliament, is against law: and whereas it is adjudged necessary by Her Majesty and this present Parliament that a body of forces should be continued for the safety of the United Kingdom, and the defence of the possessions of Her Majesty's Crown," &c.Then it goes on to say—"The whole number of such force" shall be such and such. What is the meaning of the recital of the whole number of Forces? When Parliament voted this year the number of troops to be maintained, Parliament was perfectly aware that only a certain portion of these troops were to be maintained within the United Kingdom. Parliament knew perfectly well that a large number of them would be maintained in the Colonies and in the Colonial garrisons. If the view of the Government is correct, that a large number of Native troops may be brought over to fill these garrisons and these posts without the consent of Parliament, why, then, it is obvious that a very much larger number of troops may be withdrawn from the Colonies, and concentrated in the United Kingdom, than was ever contemplated by Parliament at the time when it voted the Estimates and when it passed the Mutiny Act. I am quite aware that at a later time—in 1794—Mr. Pitt held very high language as to the power of the Crown to introduce troops into the United Kingdom without the sanction of Parliament; but I hardly think that right hon. Gentlemen opposite will make use of the authority of Mr. Pitt at that time, if they recollect that Mr. Pitt himself, at a later 271 time, was obliged, or thought it necessary to bring in and pass the Bills of 1800 and 1806, giving the express authority of Parliament to such an increase of the Forces as he had hitherto made as being within the Prerogative of the Crown, and limiting the number of the troops which might be so introduced. I assert in general terms—not resting upon any special interpretation of the Bill of Rights, and not taking my stand upon any particular precedent, or any obiter dictum of any statesman, however eminent an authority he may be on the Constitution, but resting on what I believe to have been the constant usage and practice of Parliament—I assert that, in the words of my Resolution—By the Constitution of this Realm, no Forces may be raised or kept by the Crown in time of peace, without the consent of Parliament, within any part of the Dominions of the Crown, excepting only such Forces as may be actually serving within Her Majesty's Indian Possessions.When I use the term "Forces of the Crown," I believe I am using a strictly correct and technical description. I wish it to be understood that my Resolution applies solely to Regular Forces of the nature of a standing Army, and that it applies in no way—I do not wish or intend that it should apply—to the Militia Forces raised either in this country or in any of the Colonies. The latter Forces have always been regarded as being under different conditions and as not requiring any guarantees for security similar to those which have been insisted upon in the case of the Regular Forces or the standing Army. I come now to the exception which has been made in the case of India. I need not detain the House by reminding them that in almost every respect India has been, and still is, an exception to our general Constitutional system. There is no parallel in our own history, or, as far as I know, in the history of the world, to the record of our Dominion in India—originally begun by a Trading Company, and eventually becoming a great Eastern Power. When that anomaly was finally terminated, in 1858, India still remained an exception to our Constitutional system. Parliament decided—wisely I think, and of necessity—that a system more nearly approaching a despotic and absolute system of government should be applied to India, where we ruled over such vast 272 numbers of subject-races, and where we were surrounded by a still larger number of semi-barbarous people. Parliament decided that the system of Constitutional checks and guarantees which we maintain at home and in all our Colonies and Dependencies was not suited to the government of India; and accordingly Parliament established, and still retains, a different system of government there. The Indian' Army was transferred to the Crown under substantially the same conditions which it had previously existed under. Parliament did not insist in 1858 on the same Constitutional checks and guarantees in the case of the Army which was maintained for the defence of our Indian Possessions as it had always maintained in the case of the standing Army at home and in our other Dependencies. The Indian Army is not limited in numbers by an annual Vote of Parliament. It is not voted by Parliament at all; its numbers are not enumerated in the Mutiny Act; and the Native portion of the Indian Army is not even subject to the Mutiny Act. In fact, it may be described as a non-Parliamentary Army, as compared with the Army which is maintained at home and in the other Dependencies of the Crown. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has already stated that this is simply a case of moving one part of Her Majesty's Forces from one part of Her Majesty's Dominions to another. That, in my opinion, is a fallacy. It is perfectly true that Her Majesty has power; at all events, there is nothing to restrain the Crown from moving one part of the Parliamentary Army from one part of Her Majesty's Dominions to another; but what we maintain is, that when they are brought into the Dominion of the Crown outside India, those troops I have described as a non-Parliamentary Army must come under the same regulations as a Parliamentary Force. That has been partially provided for by the Act of 1858. The 55th section of that Statute enacts that the Indian Army should not be used for military operations out of India except in certain specified cases of emergency, and that they should not be made use of at the charge of the Revenues of India without the consent previously obtained of both Houses of Parliament. If that provision had been literally and strictly observed, this question could 273 never have arisen at all. These troops have now been moved—temporarily, at any rate—on the charge of the Revenues of India. If the Act of Parliament had been literally and strictly obeyed, they would never have come for a moment on the charge of the Indian Revenues; and the Imperial Revenues could not, legally, at all events, have been charged without the previous assent of Parliament. I am not going to contend that the 55th section of the Government of India Act was mainly intended to prevent such an operation as this. It was mainly intended, no doubt, to protect the Revenues of India. That point is one to which I will come by-and-by; but I contend that one of the effects of this 55th section, if strictly obeyed, would have been to prevent any violation of Parliamentary practice. The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated the other day, in reply to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Taunton (Sir Henry James), that—The Native Indian troops of Her Majesty are not, and never have been, reckoned in the numbers mentioned in the Mutiny Acts. The Native Indian troops recently ordered to Malta are not, and ought not to be, reckoned in the number mentioned in the Mutiny Act of the present year.That is perfectly true; but I fail to see what argument the right hon. Gentleman derives from it. I fail to see that that absolves the Government from the necessity of coming to Parliament for authority to remove these troops. It is altogether, in my opinion, beside the question. The relations of the troops employed in India under the Mutiny Act are extremely peculiar. The British troops employed in India are under the Mutiny Act; but, nevertheless, they are not enumerated in the Preamble of the Act. The Native troops of India when employed out of India are not under the Mutiny Act; but I will show the House immediately that when they are employed out of India they have been, and ought to be, voted distinctly and directly by Parliament. My contention, therefore, is, that in time of peace, both in accordance with general principle and by the Act of 1858, Native troops cannot be moved to Dominions outside India without the consent of Parliament. I say in time of peace; because it is very well known that Indian troops have been employed frequently in time of war outside the limits of India. I have 274 nothing to say about the Prerogative of the Crown to use these troops in time of war. I should not be prepared to admit that, even in time of war, the Crown has an unlimited power of ordering troops to be moved from India without the consent of Parliament. But we are not at war, and it is not necessary to discuss that matter now. As far as I know, the only case of employment of Indian troops in a time of peace outside India, is that of the sending of Indian, troops to China after the China War. General Peel, who had been Secretary for War in a Conservative Government, and who took a great interest in all military matters in this House, called the attention of the Committee of Supply to the employment of those Indian troops in China, and remonstrated against their employment without their being voted by Parliament. General Peel said, in March, 1864—Certainly, if the control of the House was necessary in any case, it must be in the case of the Indian Native troops. If any part of the Indian Native Army could be employed without a Vote of that House, those troops were altogether removed from Parliamentary control. In the case of ordinary troops there were two checks—the Mutiny Act, and the money voted by Parliament for the pay of the troops. But neither of these checks applied to Indian troops. Native Indian troops were not liable to the Mutiny Act, being expressly excluded from the operations of that measure, and were ruled by Articles of War expressly framed for India; and the House had no control over Native troops through its privilege as to money Votes, because these troops were paid, in the first instance, by the Indian Government, and the expenditure never came under the notice of the British Parliament till long after it had been incurred.''—[3 Hansard clxxiii. 1436–7.]That was what General Peel said in criticizing the action of the Government of the day—the Government of Lord Palmerston—and it appeared so sound to that Government that, in the subsequent year, a Vote was taken for the Indian troops employed at that time at Hong Kong; and, from that time up to 1870, so long as the troops remained there, a Vote, distinguished from Vote "A," was taken for the Native troops who were employed in the Dominions of Her Majesty outside India. That is precisely what we ask the Government to do now. General Peel, being a military authority on the other side of the House, called upon the Government in 1864 to comply with Constitutional practice, and to vote the men, wherever they might be and whoever they might be, employed upon 275 the service of the Crown outside of India. We make precisely the same demand. If the Government intend, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has declared, to take a Vote for the men, the case will no doubt, be greatly altered. So far, I have referred to what is the Constitutional aspect of this question; and, before I conclude, I wish to say one or two words about the financial aspect. The conduct of the Government appears to have violated both the Rules which have been made for the protection of the Indian Exchequer and the English Exchequer. As I have pointed out, I am unable to say how far the 55th section of the Government of India Act has been broken. In the year 1867, in a case somewhat similar, but not entirely so—because it was a case of war and not of peace in—1867, Indian troops were moved from India, and the assent of Parliament had not been previously obtained, Parliament not being then assembled. When Parliament met, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer was then extremely humble. He was not then supported by quite so large a majority as he now finds behind him, though I do not know that that has anything to do with the difference between his action then and his action now. The Chancellor of the Exchequer then said the point had been raised as to whether the conduct of the Government had been strictly within the law, and he was rather inclined to doubt whether, on a strictly technical interpretation of the Act, they had kept within the limits of the law. He said—The point on which we are challenged, so far as I understand, is this—in the application of the Revenues of India to the purposes of the Abyssinian Expedition, as far as it has hitherto gone, we have been proceeding upon the view, not to their ultimate application without the consent of Parliament, but only to their advance for the purposes of an Expedition, which advance will be repaid by subsequent payments from the Imperial Revenue. I am inclined to think that the wording of the clause would, strictly speaking, prohibit that proceeding."—[3 Hansard, cxc. 360.]The right hon. Gentleman, then, seems to have thought that he had so far violated the law, or, at all events, he regarded it as extremely doubtful, that he came to Parliament and moved a Resolution which had the effect of obtaining the consent of Parliament. Well, those scruples do not appear to trouble the Government now. We have heard nothing of any violation of the 55th 276 section of the Government of India Act. I admit I am curious to know what explanation will be offered on the point by the Government. Well, now, has the British Exchequer received better treatment at the hands of the Government of the day than the Indian? If the cost of this movement is not to be paid out of Indian Revenue, it must be paid out of British Revenue. But the Government have obtained no authority either by a specific Vote for the purpose, or by a Vote of Credit. So far, in effect, they have pledged the credit of the country to an expenditure which it would be impossible for this House to refuse to sanction, even if it should consider the movement of troops which occasioned it impolitic. I want to know what is the justification for this course on the part of the Government? I am perfectly aware that there are occasions upon which it is necessary for the Government to take responsibility upon themselves and come to Parliament afterwards for an indemnity. But I want to know what is the justification, not of taking responsibility upon themselves, but of keeping Parliament in the dark? Parliament was sitting, according to the admission of the right hon. Gentleman, at the moment when the order was given for the movement of Indian troops. If, as was alleged the other day, it was impossible for the Government to lay upon the Table of the House an Estimate of the cost, it is perfectly well known that, according to Parliamentary practice, there are other means by which that consent might have been obtained. If the precise cost of this movement could not have been communicated, there was nothing easier than for the Government to have asked for a Vote of Credit. That is the ordinary Parliamentary proceeding in a case of unforeseen emergency of this description. A Vote of Credit, we know, was resorted to by the Government for other purposes; but the authority conferred upon them by that Vote of Credit had expired, and nothing was easier, if the Government wished to remain within the ordinary Constitutional practice, than to communicate with Parliament, who were sitting at the time, and ask for their approval at once and for a Vote of Credit. It was said, the other day, it was extremely desirable that the arrangements as to the despatch of Indian troops should not be made known. Why was it extremely desirable? 277 That has not been explained. I can understand perfectly well that, when we are engaged in war, it may be desirable that all the arrangements of an Expedition should remain a profound secret as long as possible. We are not at war. It has been represented by the Government, over and over again, that it was not even a menace of war, but only one of a series of preparations. I should be rather inclined to call this, not in an invidious sense, a series of military demonstrations. But what is the object of that in a time of peace? To preserve peace, we are told. But how is that object to be accomplished, if the military demonstration is to be kept an absolute secret? If a demonstration is to produce any effect at all, the sooner and the more widely it is known the better. If a demonstration of the military power of this country was required, surely the demonstration would not have had a less, but a greater effect, if it had been looked upon, as it might and would have been, with the overwhelming approval of the House? I cannot see that the concealment of this movement by the Government from the House can have been intended for any other object than a deliberate assertion of the right of the Government, by the use of the Prerogative of the Crown, to make a use of our Indian Forces which has never before been attempted. Something was said about the difficulty that would have been placed in the way of making the arrangements by publicity. I should be glad to know whether the Government are still prepared to maintain that it was necessary to keep this secret from the House and from the public up to the very rising of the House of Commons, in order to facilitate the arrangements which would have to be taken? I have no desire to obstruct this operation of the Government, or this movement of Indian troops if, after deliberation, Parliament should consider it to have been a wise and well-considered step. I am not going to discuss the merits of the question now; but I do say that the House has a right, before expressing its approval of this proceeding, to consider well the grounds on which all information regarding it has been withheld from it. Now, I have only one or two words to say as to the Amendment to my Motion, which is to be moved by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. That Amendment asserts that the Constitutional control of Parliament 278 is amply secured in two ways. It asserts that it is maintained by the provisions of the law, and by the undoubted power of this House to grant or refuse the Supplies. As to the provisions of the law, I do not know exactly to what provision the right hon. Gentleman refers. I have endeavoured to show that the Constitutional control of Parliament over the Army is rather the result of practice and of precedent than of any special enactment. I have endeavoured to show, also, that, in my opinion, the claim of the Government in this case is inconsistent with the Declaration contained in the Bill of Rights. Well, if that is so, then either the provisions of the law referred to in the Amendment are insufficient, or, if they are sufficient, they must have been violated. I do not know to what provision precisely the right hon. Gentleman refers. If he refers to the Act of 1858, to which I have alluded before, then I admit, with the right hon. Gentleman, that the provisions of the law would have been sufficient if they were observed. But, unfortunately, they have not been observed; and, I suppose, the Government would say, with good reason. But it is impossible to maintain that those provisions are sufficient, and also, at the same time, to maintain that they are such as, whenever an emergency arises, they must necessarily be broken. Then, as to the undoubted right of the House to grant or to refuse the Supplies, I have already endeavoured to prove—I think not altogether unsuccessfully—that Parliament has always required in the matter of the Army something more than the financial check for securing the control over it. Parliament possesses a financial control, undoubtedly, over every branch of the Administration. In the case of the Army, I have endeavoured to show that Parliament has required something more than that. But what does the financial control, to which the right hon. Gentleman refers, amount to? What is the question which will be put to this House, and which this House will have to answer, when the Estimate of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is submitted to us? That question will be, whether the House will recoup—whether it will provide for an expenditure which has already been incurred temporarily and illegally out if the Indian Revenues, and which, if this House refuses to make it good, must continue to be paid illegally 279 and unjustly out of those Indian Revenues? Sir, that is the sole question which will be put to the House when the Estimate is submitted; and how can it be maintained for a moment, when the discretion of the House is limited to answering "Aye" or "No" to such a question as this, that a control of that sort enables us to exercise any real or substantial control over a proceeding of this kind? There is no doubt that the financial control possessed by Parliament is a very substantial one when it is previously asked for. But when, as in this case, it is asked for only subsequently to the expenditure, and when no power of Parliament can prevent its being incurred, and it has only to pay the bill, then I say, if the Government which has taken on itself a responsibility of that character appeals to Party, and turns the question into a Vote of Confidence, Parliament has no check whatever. Well, the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman, not depending altogether on its argumentative part, concludes with something which is extremely like a Vote of Confidence in Her Majesty's Administration. I think it is a very unusual course for a Member of a Government to move a Vote of Confidence in his own Administration. That is a point on which I do not wish to dwell. But it appears to me that the effect of the conclusion of the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment—I do not know whether that is its intention—would be to widen the scope of this discussion. I have stated, at the outset of my remarks, why I thought it was desirable on many grounds—and mainly on consideration of what has been said by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—that a wide scope should not be given on this occasion to the discussion. If the Government now think that a different course should be taken, we shall know how to judge on a future occasion how much value is to be attached to representations such as those made to us a very short time ago by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and we shall also be able to form some sort of an opinion on the relative value which is placed by Her Majesty's Government on the public interests and on Party convenience. No doubt, if Her Majesty's Government choose to put the question that I have raised aside by bringing forward a Vote of Confidence in themselves, it is perfectly within their competence to do so; and I have no doubt, 280 also, that it is within their competence to carry it. But I must say, in the interests of fair and free Parliamentary discussion, I think I have a right to protest against such a course as this, which, it seems to me, might be employed to cover or evade any breach whatever of the Constitution. These are all the remarks which I think it necessary to make with respect to the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman. I have endeavoured as well as I am able—and, I am afraid, most imperfectly—to lay before the House the great Constitutional issues which, I think, are raised by the proceedings of the Government in relation to the Constitution of this country; and I submit, with confidence, the Resolution of which I have given Notice to the judgment of the House.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, by the Constitution of this Realm, no Forces may be raised or kept by the Crown in time of peace, without the consent of Parliament, within any part of the Dominions of the Crown, excepting only such Forces as may be actually serving within Her Majesty's Indian Possessions."—(The Marquess of Hartington.)
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
, in rising to move the following Amendment:—That this House, being of opinion that the constitutional control of Parliament over the raising and employment of the Military Forces of the Crown is fully secured by the provisions of the Law, and by the undoubted power of this House to grant or refuse Supplies, considers it to be unnecessary and inexpedient to affirm any Resolution tending to weaken the hands of Her Majesty's Government in the present state of Foreign affairs,said: Sir, the last thing that I should wish to do would be to object to the raising and the full discussion of a Constitutional question, however inopportune the time, or however small the leisure at the disposal of this House. To us, at any rate, if to any Party in this House, the Constitution of our country should be dear; and all that I would say with regard to the action of the noble Marquess is, that I think it is a subject of congratulation for the present, and of happy augury for the future, that so strict and careful a jealousy for the English Constitution in matters relating to the control of the Army should be shown by those who are responsible for the Royal Warrant for the Abolition of Purchase. Now, the noble Marquess has raised this as a Constitutional question, and has complained, to 281 some extent, that his Motion should be treated by us as a Vote of Censure. I have, Sir, but to refer to the mode in which that Motion has been received by some of his own Followers, to the Notices which have been withdrawn in its favour, and the support which has been given to it by certain obscure sections of people in the country, to justify us in regarding it as something more than an abstract discussion of Constitutional questions, and as being accepted, if not intended, as a Vote of Censure on Her Majesty's Government. Now, on our behalf, I have to say that we do not admit the accuracy of the statement of Constitutional or legal doctrines contained in this Resolution. We do not accept the argument of the noble Marquess as to our position in connection with the question; but we maintain that we have acted in this matter for the best interest of the Empire, and that in that action we have not in one tittle violated either the Constitution or the law of the Realm. And I must add that, to some extent, the circumstances in which this Motion has been proposed, carry with them its refutation. For what has happened in "another place?" There, if anywhere, both Parties in the State can muster their leading Constitutional authorities. There, if anywhere, a violation of the Constitution—had any occurred—would be discussed and voted upon with perfect freedom, independence, and absence of Party feeling; yet there it is that no one has ventured to propose a Motion that, in this matter, Her Majesty's Government have acted in violation of the law and Constitution of the country; and the action of the noble Marquess himself is, I think, an additional proof of the weakness of his case—for I have that belief in the straightforwardness of his character, that I am confident that if he had really believed that we had violated either the Constitution or the law, he would put that issue plainly to the House, and would not have contented himself with a Resolution of the character of a Constitutional truism. Now, what are we accused of having done? In the first place, there is no question whatever of the movement of foreign troops. The noble Marquess referred to debates on this subject a century old—debates of which the results were scarcely favourable to his view; because, whether 282 in 1775 or 1794, both Houses of Parliament, by large majorities, approved the course of the Ministers of the day; and, when a Bill of Indemnity was proposed, perhaps under circumstances somewhat similar to those of the present Motion, by a noble Lord who was acting rather on account of the demands of his Followers than on his own view of the merits of the question, it was rejected by the House of Lords, not on account of the Preamble, but because it was inconsistent with the Vote they had come to, and no need whatever existed for the passing of such a Bill. I do not propose further to refer to those debates. The question now before the House is not a question of the movement of foreign troops, nor even of troops that can be separated from the other Forces of the Queen. What was the use of passing the India Act of 1858, if it did not assimilate and unite the East India Forces, whether European or Native, to the other Forces of the Crown? After having united these Forces into one Army, are we to be unable to use them? The argument of the noble Marquess, if carried to its full logical extent, would not merely hinder us from using the Native Indian Army, but must lead to its entire abolition; for what is the good of a Force that cannot be used by this country in the time, perhaps, of its greatest need? The Native Indian Army is as much a part of the Forces of the Crown as any other part of Her Majesty's Army; but we are told that the undoubted Prerogative of the Crown, under which the Army can be moved from one portion of the Empire to another, is limited in the case of these Indian Forces. Now, it rests with those who assert the existence of such a limitation to prove it; and I have failed to find, in the speech of the noble Marquess, any proof of the kind. I do not admit that there is anything in the Constitution or in the law which prohibits their movement to any part of Her Majesty's Dominions, unless it be to the United Kingdom. And, in connection with this subject, I must demur to the statement with which the Motion of the noble Marquess concludes, that the Forces actually serving within Her Majesty's Indian Dominions are excepted from the consent of Parliament. In the first place, I would remind the noble Marquess that the consent of Parliament implies something more than a Vote by this House in Committee of Supply; it implies something 283 more than the mere recital of the numbers in the Preamble of the Mutiny Act; it implies an Act of Parliament; or, at any rate, a solemn Resolution arrived at by both Houses of Parliament. The noble Marquess admitted that it was not necessary to adhere strictly to the number of the Forces serving in this Kingdom enumerated in the Mutiny Act; but he added, that no increase to those numbers could be made without the consent of Parliament. Now, it is easy to prove that this enumeration in the Preamble of the Mutiny Act is really, so to speak, not an essential part of that Act, but a recitation of the Vote already arrived at by the House in Committee of Supply. Until 1717, the numbers were seldom mentioned in the Preamble of the Mutiny Act. From 1713 to 1812, the men serving in the Colonies, India, and the Peninsular, were not included. In later times, the numbers mentioned have not been invariably adhered to even in the United Kingdom. In 1820, many thousand men were raised beyond those mentioned in the Preamble of the Mutiny Act, Lord Palmerston defending it on the plea of urgency. In 1858, there were 15,000 men raised in excess of the numbers stated in the Preamble. And what happened in 1870? The Mutiny Act of that year was, as usual, passed early in the Session, and towards the close of the Session, in consequence of the state of foreign affairs, the right hon. Gentleman then Prime Minister, came down to the House of Commons and proposed, not a Vote of men, but a Vote of £2,000,000 to pay 20,000 men in addition to those already voted by the House. That Vote was passed by this House; but it cannot really be argued from that circumstance that the consent of Parliament was obtained to that increase of the Army, because a Vote of the House in Committee of Supply, as the hon. and learned Member for Oxford knows full well, is not the consent of Parliament. [Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT: The Appropriation Act.] Does the hon. and learned Gentleman mean to say that the inclusion of the £2,000,000 to pay these men in the Appropriation Act is the consent of Parliament?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
As the right hon. Gentleman has appealed to me, I must say, that in the Appropriation Act of 1870, the number of men was mentioned as well as the money.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
I am unable to refer to the Act at present; but my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer says, to the best of his recollection, that the numbers were not mentioned at all. But even if they were, are we to be told that the scruples of the noble Marquess are sufficiently met by the mere mention of the numbers in a Schedule of the Appropriation Act, an Act which deals with all the annual expenditure voted by Parliament, and which the House of Lords cannot amend. However, that is a point which the hon. and learned Gentleman can take up when he addresses the House. It is not material to the point I am arguing—namely, that the numbers named in the Preamble of the Mutiny Act have, on several occasions, not been taken as limiting the strength of the Army in the United Kingdom. And, further, if we are to consider the actual wording of the noble Marquess's Resolution, and include within the Forces of the Crown all those that can properly be included in that designation, it is notorious that the Army Reserve, the Militia, the Volunteers, and the Indo-European Forces, never have been included in the numbers mentioned in the Preamble of the Mutiny Act. Therefore, it by no means follows that, because any part of Her Majesty's Forces is not included in the numbers named in the Preamble of the Mutiny Act, that it is not raised with the consent of Parliament. There can be no question whatever that the Indian Army, though not mentioned in the Mutiny Act, is raised with the full consent of Parliament. The Native Indian Army was raised at first by virtue of the Charter of the East India Company. That Charter was confirmed by a series of Acts of Parliament which empowered them to make laws and regulations for the discipline of the Army. I think the first Act giving that power was the 53 Geo. III., c. 153; but the next is one to which I would call the special attention of the House, because it is very material to a branch of the question we are discussing—that is, the 4 Geo. IV., c. 81. That Act confirmed the previous Acts by which power was given to the East India Company to make regulations for the government of their Native Indian Forces—Whenever any portion of such Native troops shall be serving in any country or place out of the possessions or territories which are, or may 285 be, under the government of the East India Company, whether such be the Dominions of His Majesty or elsewhere.I think that clearly proves that the possible service of the Native Indian Army outside the possessions of the Company, and within the Dominions of His Majesty, was absolutely recognized by Parliament. The Act 3 & 4 Will. IV., c. 85, gave power to the Government of India to make Articles of War, and provided for courts martial wherever the troops might be serving; and, under the Articles of War framed under that Act, the Native troops are to go wheresoever they may be ordered, by land or by sea, and are to obey all the commands of the officers set over them, and courts martial might be held outside the limits of India. And now, Sir, I come to the last Act dealing with the subject—the Government of India Act. By that Act, the Forces of the Company were transferred to Her Majesty the Queen, and the 55th section of that Act, to which the noble Marquess has referred, clearly contemplates the service of those troops without the Indian Possessions of Her Majesty, and without the consent of Parliament. ["No, no!"] The words are—Except for preventing or repelling actual invasion of Her Majesty's Indian possessions, or under other sudden and urgent necessity, the Revenues of India shall not, without the consent of both Houses of Parliament, be applicable to defray the expenses of any military operation carried on beyond the external frontier of such Possessions by Her Majesty's Forces charged upon such Revenues.That clearly implies, that in certain cases, these troops may be used beyond the limits of those Possessions without the special consent of Parliament. ["No, no!"] All that the section does is to provide that, except in such cases, the Revenues of India shall not be charged with the expense of using them, without the consent of Parliament. It does not hinder such use at any time, if the expense is otherwise borne; and anyone who will look at the debates on this section will see that it was carefully altered so as to meet objections which were made that, in its original shape, it interfered with the Prerogative of the Crown in moving these troops. But, if I turn from the law to the facts of the case, what do I find? I find that these Native Indian troops have frequently been so moved and used beyond the limits of Her 286 Majesty's Indian Empire. It is not necessary to refer to cases in which they have been used in time of war. I will simply mention cases in which they have been moved to other places in Her Majesty's Dominions in time of peace. There are two special instances of that having been done—in the first place, a regiment of Madras Native Infantry garrisoned Singapore, after it was transferred to the Colonial Department, from April 1867 to 1871; and Hong Kong was similarly garrisoned from 1868 to 1871. I do not know whether it will be argued that those places are within the old limits of Her Majesty's Indian Possessions. I am glad the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt) is not going to raise that, because it is a technicality unworthy of him. These places were recognized at the time as within the Dominions of Her Majesty, but not within Her Majesty's Indian Possessions; for, in the Estimates of the respective years in which they were employed, these Forces are referred to as "maintained beyond the limits of the Indian Empire." Therefore, I say, as a matter of fact, it has been held to be absolutely legal and Constitutional, in time of peace, for the Crown to employ these Native Indian Forces within Her Majesty's Dominions outside the Indian Empire, provided always that they are paid for by Parliament. [Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT: They were voted.] I will come to the question of financial control later on. But more than this—I will venture to say that this Constitutional and legal objection raised by the Motion of the noble Marquess, has never been really accepted by any Party in this House till to-day; for what happened in 1868? A Committee was appointed by this House on the Motion of Major Anson, to inquire, amongst other matters, how far it might be desirable to employ certain portions of Her Majesty's Native Indian Army in our Colonial and Military Dependencies. I find it stated in the Report that the inquiries of the Committee were chiefly limited to the expediency of such employment. It then discussed questions of health, cost, and efficiency, and referred to a scheme of Sir Richard Temple for a partial substitution of Indian for English troops in certain places, including Malta and Gibraltar; and, finally, it came to a conclusion against making any considerable 287 change in the proposed direction, mainly on the ground of adverse military opinions and doubts as to the financial value of the measure. But, in the Report of that Committee, which appears to have been agreed to by the noble Marquess, who was himself a Member of it, there is not a word which points to any Constitutional or legal objection. Now, perhaps, it may be said that the facts I have endeavoured to lay before the House, if they prove anything, prove too much, and that if there is this complete power in the Crown of employing these Indian troops within Her Majesty's Dominions outside the limits of Her Indian Possessions, they may be brought into the United Kingdom. The question now before us is not the question of their employment within the United Kingdom at all. Whatever Constitutional doctrine may be laid down on that point by no means necessarily applies to the case before us. The noble Marquess appeared to object to any possible difference from the interpretation which he was pleased to put upon the word "Kingdom" in the Bill of Rights. He argued that any commonsense interpretation of that term must be held to extend to all the Dominions of the Queen with the exception of India. I believe that such an interpretation is unwarranted in law, and inaccurate in fact; and I think I have a higher authority to appeal to on the subject than even the great authorities quoted by the noble Marquess. The provisions of the Bill of Rights, as they originally stood, and as they were quoted in many successive Mutiny Acts, use these words, and these only—namely, "this Kingdom;" and when Great Britain and Ireland were united, Parliament itself supplied a definite interpretation of the term; because, from the year 1801, you will find that in substitution for the words "this Kingdom" in the Preamble of the Mutiny Act, these words occur—"the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland;" and, therefore, I say, that the view put forward by the noble Marquess, with regard to all the Dominions of the Crown being comprehended in the words of the Bill of Rights, is entirely unwarranted in point of law. But, further, there has been since the authoritative interpretation to which I have alluded, an actual occurrence which, I think, shows how the country and Parliament viewed the matter. At the time of the Crimean 288 War, a German Legion was raised. In the Act authorizing that Legion to be raised, it was distinctly laid down that it should not serve within the United Kingdom. It did not serve within the United Kingdom; but it did serve in Malta, and it did serve at the Cape. In this instance, therefore, a clear distinction was purposely drawn between service in the United Kingdom and in other parts of Her Majesty's Dominions. But, besides being unwarranted in law, the view adopted by the noble Marquess is also inaccurate in fact; he asks this House to declare that—By the Constitution of this Realm, no Forces may be raised or kept by the Crown in time of peace, without the consent of Parliament, within any part of the Dominions of the Crown, excepting only such Forces as may be actually serving within Her Majesty's Indian Possessions.Now, if we are to read these words literally, they must be subject to an interpretation which in his speech the noble Marquess repudiated. I cannot help thinking, that when he gave Notice of this Resolution, he had forgotten the existence of Forces which throughout our Colonies are raised for the service of the Crown—the existence of those Colonial Forces which may at some day play so important a part in the defence of our United Empire. He says that he does not mean to include the Colonial Militia; but there are Colonies in which not only a Militia, but a Force is raised in form the same as our standing Army, under the powers of the Colonial Parliaments and the Prerogative of the Crown. No doubt such Forces are at present small in numbers; but they are likely greatly to extend, with the increasing desire of the Colonies to take measures for their defence against any possible attack by an enemy of the Empire. In New South Wales and Victoria Forces are permanently maintained—mainly artillery—under the Colonial Acts, without the consent of the Imperial Parliament, for the defence of the Colonial harbours and towns liable not only for service in the Colony, but to embark and serve according to regulations to be made by the Governor; and, according to the words of the Resolution, it would be contrary to the Constitution of this Realm that these Forces should be raised and maintained. Now, I listened with great attention to the speech 289 of the noble Marquess to ascertain precisely where it was that this great Constitutional crime which he imagines us to have committed was to be found. I fail to detect exactly what that crime is; but it appears to me, from his speech, that the whole question at issue is one of the financial control of this House. I do not gather that he disputes that the movement of those troops was within the Prerogative of the Crown. I do not think he disputed that we were justified in advising that movement. I do not think he disputed—I believe he agreed—that we should be performing our duty if we proposed a Vote to the House to defray the expense of that movement. The whole point of his speech, it seems to me, turns upon this—that the Vote was not moved before these Forces were actually ordered to be sent to Malta. It is usual, I admit, and in every way proper and convenient, that, before expenditure is incurred, this House should be asked to sanction that expenditure. There have, however, been numerous cases in which that salutary doctrine has been departed from, on account of the special circumstances of the time, and we maintain that the special circumstances of the present case were such as to warrant our taking this action on our own responsibility before proposing a Vote to the House of Commons. We may, in this matter, have been somewhat to blame for having done that which, I am bound to say, we have very rarely felt disposed to do—for having accepted the advice of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. I find that the right hon. Gentleman, not very long ago, used the following words with reference to our action in proposing a Vote of Credit to this House:—If a sudden emergency did arise, the Government must know their duty too well to wait for a Vote of this House. No Government worthy of its place but would, on a sudden emergency, give the orders which the circumstances of the time might demand, and then come down at the earliest moment in their power to ask the concurrence of the House in what they had done. Undoubtedly, that is the principle on which all Governments have acted in this country: a principle which has never been challenged.Now, that is precisely the course which we have adopted. The real difference between us and those who sit upon the other side of the House is this—that they disbelieve in the reality of the 290 present crisis. I admit that we are not at this moment—and I hope we may not be—in a state of war. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] I have not asked the House to consider the precedents under which, in a state of war, expenditure has been incurred by Governments before the sanction of this House was obtained. I may, however, be allowed to refer to one instance—that of the Abyssinian Expedition—in which an Expeditionary Force was sent out without a state of war existing, composed of Native Indian troops. That Force arrived in Abyssinia on the 26th of September, 1867, but the Vote of Credit was not moved until the 26th of November in the same year; yet I am not aware that Parliament at the time considered that any Constitutional or legal rule had been broken, or even infringed, by that course of proceeding. But, again, I say we differ from the noble Marquess and many of his Followers in our appreciation of the circumstances of the present crisis. It is not a time of war; but is it a time of peace, in the real meaning of that term? This House has sanctioned the Declaration on the part of Her Majesty that the present is a time of emergency; and it was because we believed that it was a time of emergency that we thought it necessary to show quickly and decisively to the world that we were able, if need be, to wield the Forces of an united Empire. The time that elapsed from the date when the decision was arrived at, to the date at which local circumstances in India rendered it necessary that the Expedition should sail, was but very short for the purpose of settling all the practical difficulties that had to be arranged; and that might, perhaps, have prevented the departure of the Expedition within the time allotted. What would have been said of us if we had come down to this House and announced to the world that this policy was to be adopted, and it had been afterwards found that the practical difficulties to which I have just referred had prevented its execution? We believed, that, in order to insure the successful carrying out of that policy, it was necessary that until the actual movement of the troops occurred, the sanction given by the Government should be kept secret; and, so far as we were concerned, we were anxious that that secrecy should be maintained 291 longer than turned out to be actually possible. We took this course, because we knew that, in spite of the attacks of those who have long been endeavouring to mislead foreign nations as to the real feeling of this country, and who now would seek to minimize her power and depreciate the valour and the loyalty of their fellow-subjects in India—our policy would receive the approbation of a patriotic Parliament. We knew this, because that policy was but the natural if not the necessary complement of what Parliament had already approved as the only one which was really likely to secure an honourable and a permanent peace. If the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition differs from the course which we have felt it our duty to pursue, I would venture to suggest that he might more properly meet it with an alternative policy than with a Constitutional Motion, which, after all, is but a shelter for all kinds of objectors to the policy of the Government. If he approves the course we have taken, surely we have a right to ask for his support. We have, at any rate, a right to ask the House if they mistrust us, to relieve us from those onerous and difficult duties which, for more than two years past, we have been endeavouring to perform. But if, in their opinion, we are to be maintained in the position which we have the honour to hold, then let them, by their votes, support us against the petty cavils, the ceaseless misrepresentations, and the vulgar personalities of those who appear to believe everything that is good of foreign Ministers, and nothing but what is bad of their own countrymen.
§ MR. FAWCETT
Mr. Speaker, I rise to Order. I ask you, as a matter of Order, whether it is usual for a Member of this House, without specifying names, to charge a section of this House with vulgar personalities?
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH rose to continue his speech, but——
§ MR. FAWCETT
again appealed to the Speaker to say whether the right hon. Baronet was in Order in using the words which he had just mentioned?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I understood the right hon. Baronet was about to make an explanation of the words he used. The House will hear his explanation.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
I am bound to say that when I used those words I had in my mind not the 292 statement of any hon. Member made in this House or out of it, but personal attacks on the Government, and mainly on the Prime Minister, such as those which were made by members of a certain deputation who waited on a Member of the late Government—I forget who it was—and whose expressions I think fully deserved the application to them of the words which I employed. I appeal to this House to support the Government against attacks of this nature made out-of-doors, not so much because we who now sit here happen to be the existing Government of the day, as because I believe it to be the true English principle that in a time of national difficulty the Ministers of the Crown, as such, irrespective of differences in domestic politics, are entitled to the support of all patriotic citizens. Sir, I trust that this House, by rejecting the Motion of the noble Marquess, and adopting in lieu of it the Amendment which I have placed upon the Paper, will not only declare that, in its opinion, the hands of Her Majesty's Government ought not to be weakened in the present state of foreign affairs, but will also say, with no uncertain voice, that the policy we have ventured to adopt, while consistent with the Law and Constitution of England, is calculated to prove to the world that when danger threatens us the ties of our Empire will be drawn but closer and closer still; and that in defence of the cause, as we believe it to be, of right and freedom and of civilization, we can, if necessary, marshal, not only the inhabitants of the small Islands within these narrow seas, but the peoples of distant shores and varied climes, united by those ocean waves which are at once the symbol and the bond of the world-wide Dominions of our Queen.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House, being of opinion that the constitututional control of Parliament over the raising and employment of the Military Forces of the Crown is fully secured by the provisions of the Law, and by the undoubted power of this House to grant or refuse Supplies, considers it to be unnecessary and inexpedient to affirm any Resolution tending to weaken the hands of Her Majesty's Government in the present state of Foreign affairs,"—(Sir Michael Hicks-Beach,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."293
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, that the right hon. Baronet who had just sat down (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) had spoken of the strength of England; but there was something which was even more peculiar to her than her strength, and something, therefore, of which Britons were more proud—and that was that freedom which had been expressed in the maxims in which the ancient Constitutional liberties of the Realm were stated. It was to be regretted that the right hon. Baronet should have replied to the noble Marquess in a tone and manner so different from his, and that he should have ventured to have complained of the importation of personality into the question; when it had been imported into the debate, indeed, but only by himself. The right hon. Baronet had begun his speech by a tu quoque argument, and had attacked the occupants of the front Opposition bench for having strained the Prerogative some years ago in the issue of the Purchase Warrant. He (Sir Charles W. Dilke) had protested against their action at the time, and had spoken against it frequently; and when the present Government denounced, and, as he thought, rightly, Lord Granville's conduct, in not proposing to take a division in the Lords, it should be borne in mind that in the Purchase Warrant case the present Prime Minister had not ventured to divide the Commons. But when the right hon. Baronet was defending the conduct of the present Government in the present case, he should have seen that that conduct had to be defended, not to their Predecessors, but to the House of Commons as a whole. The acts of the late Ministry had nothing to do with the question now before the House; and if it were important that England should make a show of her strength, it was still more important, and far more likely to impress foreign nations, that she should stand forth as the champion of Constitutional freedom. What was the case presented by the right hon. Baronet against the terms of the Resolution of the noble Marquess? Almost in the same breath he said—"I do not admit the accuracy of the Constitutional doctrine contained in the Motion of the noble Marquess," and "the Resolution is a Constitutional truism!" Which did he mean? If it were constitutionally inaccurate, it hardly could be a Constitutional truism; and if it were a Constitutional 294 truism, it could hardly be constitutionally inaccurate. The right hon. Baronet then went on to allude to the so-called precedent of 1775. Now, the events of 1775 had no bearing whatever on the present case, although the debates of 1775 had a most important connection with it, as he would show. What was done in 1775 had no importance, because it was done in time of war, as both Parties in that day allowed; but what was said in 1775 was of the highest moment. The right hon. Baronet, with commendable ingenuity, had taken note of what was done, and had made no reference to what was said. The right hon. Baronet had completely misrepresented the scope of the Motion of the noble Marquess, when he had declared that it might "prevent a Government from using the Indian Army in the time of our greatest need." Not at all. No one wished to prevent a Government from using the Indian Army in a time of need. That our Indian troops might be employed in time of war was perfectly admitted by hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House, and even their employment in time of peace was not objected to, provided only that the previous consent of Parliament was asked. The right hon. Baronet had then gone on to contend that there was nothing in the Bill of Rights to prevent the use of Indian troops in any portion of the Dominions of the Crown, except only in the United Kingdom, and upon this point he must be reminded, not of what had been done in 1775, but of what had in that year been said. The speeches, from which he would quote, were the speeches of two legal Peers of the highest name and fame, one of whom was, indeed, Lord Chancellor at the time. He (Sir Charles W. Dilke) had some respect for the legal dicta of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Colonies; but he had even higher respect for the direct opinion of the Lord Chancellor of the day, directly given by way of admission against his own case when arguing in support of the Prerogative; given amid general assent, and in terms the accuracy of the report of which could not be impeached, inasmuch as the words were over and over again quoted and referred to in the course of the debates. Lord Chancellor Bathurst [Parl. History, vol. xviii. p. 815] distinctly admitted that the words "within the Kingdom" applied to Gibraltar and 295 Malta, and that there was in 1775 "a rebellious war" also "within the Kingdom"—that is to say, in the Colonies in America. The right hon. Baronet next came to the so-called precedent of 1870, and displayed his utter inability to grasp the question that was at issue, by failing to see that the case of 1870 told altogether against his view. Why, in 1870, the number of men—20,000—was voted by the House, and, after being voted, was distinctly referred to in an Appropriation Act. He would make a fair offer to the Government—let them now place the number of men distinctly in the Estimates; let them refer to it again in the Appropriation Act, and not another word should be said upon the question of legality, although there would remain much to be said upon the Constitutional aspect of their policy, and upon the discourtesy with which they had treated Parliament. The right hon. Baronet had next taken up a different line of defence, and one inconsistent with that which he had adopted in the previous portion of his speech. He seemed to have tried a number of arguments which answered one another, in the hope that, if all but one should be upset, some single one might yet remain which would hold good. After arguing that the Bill of Rights did not prevent the Crown from raising an Army in time of peace anywhere in the Realm outside of the United Kingdom, he proceeded, a little later, to contend that even the Indian Army itself was raised with the consent of Parliament. That contention was utterly untrue. Parliament neither voted the number of men nor paid them. But, said the right hon. Baronet, their service outside of India was always contemplated. No doubt it was in time of war, but the present was a time of peace. The right hon. Baronet further contended that the words "other sudden and urgent necessity" covered the point. In the first place, he would reply, without going into the question of whether any "sudden and urgent necessity" existed in Europe at the present time, that the word "other," taken in connection with the word "invasion," which preceded it, and which, undoubtedly, applied to India alone, showed that the meaning of the words "other sudden and urgent necessity," was a sudden and urgent necessity applying directly to India. What was the clause? A clause, declaring 296 that the troops when employed outside of India should not be paid by India except in certain cases. Those cases, of course, must be cases which referred to India. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] He was glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman, who, in 1858, had first brought before Parliament the necessity for such a clause, expressed his full assent to that view. Moreover, if it should be again contended that the words "sudden and urgent necessity" applied to the needs of the Empire in general, he would further reply that Parliament was sitting when Government decided to use these troops, and that to Parliament the question should have been referred. The right hon. Baronet then came to certain cases of the use outside of India of Indian troops. He first named the case of a Madras regiment which served at Singapore from 1867 to 1871. Those troops, he would point out, were left in Singapore, which had been part of India. It would be found that they were mentioned in the Estimates voted by that House. The right hon. Baronet then alluded to the case of some troops who served at Hong Kong at the same time. They also were mentioned in the Estimates. The Amendment of the right hon. Baronet said that the control of Parliament over these troops was secured by the provisions of the law, and by the power of the House to refuse Supplies. What law? No law but the Bill of Rights, which the Government had broken. What power to refuse Supplies? On the 3rd of March, 1864, that eminent Conservative Minister, General Peel, had, by anticipation, directly answered the eminent, but less eminent, Conservative Minister who had just spoken—If any part of the Indian Native Army could be employed without a Vote"—and by these words they would see directly that General Peel had meant a previous Vote—of this House, those troops are altogether removed from Parliamentary control. In the case of ordinary troops there are two checks—the Mutiny Act, and the money voted by Parliament for the pay of the troops. Neither of these checks apply to Indian troops. Native Indian troops are not liable to the Mutiny Act, being expressly excluded from the operation of that measure; and the House has no control over Native troops through its privilege as to money Votes, because those troops are paid in the first instance by the Indian Government, 297 and the expenditure never comes under the notice of the British Parliament until long after it has been incurred.The right hon. Baronet had next referred to the Report of a Committee which had inquired, in 1867, into the employment of Indian troops outside of India. His noble Friend the Leader of the Opposition and his right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) had both of them been Members of that Committee, and had been present at the discussion of its Report. They would correct him if he were wrong; but he had read the Report of that Committee, and the evidence submitted to it, and it was obvious that the Committee had all along assumed that Parliament should be consulted in any arrangement which might be made. [Mr. CHILDERS: Hear, hear!] It had never occurred to that Committee that any sane Minister would ever suggest a contrary course. The right hon. Baronet had then referred to the so-called precedent of the German Legion. Now, most of the "precedents" of the right hon. Baronet failed only in a single point. It was true that that point was invariably essential; but, in the dearth of precedents, he could not afford to be too particular. This German Legion precedent failed in every point, and the right hon. Baronet ought to be fairly ashamed of himself for having mentioned it. It was raised in time of war, the number of men were specified and voted, not one single step was taken without previous communication to Parliament, and the whole of the conditions of the service of the Legion were laid down in an Act of Parliament which was passed before it had been raised. At last, however, the right hon. Baronet thought that he had found a precedent which really did apply. There was "a small Artillery Force in Victoria and in New South Wales." He was not in a position to impugn the accuracy of that statement. How many of them were there? Did the right hon. Baronet think that there were 100? Would he swear that there were 50? He was Colonial Secretary, and he ought to know. Was it not the case that this Colonial Artillery Force was a local Force, serving under a Colonial Act, which would prevent their being employed outside the Colony, not only in time of peace but even in time of war itself, without the consent of the Colonial Parliament? After concluding his argument with regard to the Colonial 298 Force, the right hon. Baronet turned to the case of Abyssinia. Abyssinia was not "within the Realm," and the times were times of war. The Abyssinian case was certainly not a case of increasing the standing Army within the Realm in time of peace. It should be observed, that at the very same moment Indian troops were being employed at Hong Kong, and that these, so employed in British Territory, were being voted by the House. Moreover—[Hansard, vol. cxc. p. 359]—the present Leader of the House came down to the House and apologized, over and over again, for the illegality which he had committed in the Abyssinian case, and threw himself upon the hands of the House, supplicating Parliament in the most humble terms. The point upon which the Opposition were now insisting was this legal and Constitutional point—that, never in time of peace, and not even in time of war if Parliament were sitting, and à fortiori never in time of peace when Parliament was sitting, ought the standing Army, authorized with special regard to the state of our foreign relations and to the needs of our Colonies and fortresses, to be increased without the previous consent of Parliament. The right hon. Baronet, who had first denied "the accuracy of the Constitutional doctrine contained in the Motion of the noble Marquess," and had then proceeded to call it "a Constitutional truism," had left the House in the dark as to how far he really contested the Constitutional principle for which the Opposition were contending. The works of those great authorities, Hallam and De Lolme, clearly showed that the Resolution of the noble Marquess exactly expressed the Constitutional doctrine applicable to the present case. These were the words of De Lolme—The King cannot raise Land Forces without consent of Parliament. In these times, however, when it is become a custom with Princes, …. Parliament has thought proper to establish a standing body of troops. … But this Army is only established for one year; and at the end of that term it is (unless re-established) ipso facto disbanded; and as the question which then lies before Parliament is not whether the Army shall be dissolved, but whether it shall be established anew as if it had never existed, any one of the three branches of the Legislature may, by its dissent, hinder its continuance.The right hon. Baronet, in his Amendment, 299 spoke first of law, and next of the Votes of Supply. As had been pointed out, it was impossible to discern from his speech what law he could mean, except it were the Bill of Rights, the provisions of which had been infringed. But the contention of his speech appeared to be that the real control of Parliament lay in its power to refuse Supply. Now, it must be remembered, that this power, if unaccompanied by other forms of control, could be evaded—for instance, by private subscription, such as that proposed by Pitt in 1794, by supply granted by a Colony, by subsidy from an Ally, or by requisitions upon an occupied country. Let them suppose, for instance, that the Indian troops were to be detained in Egypt, and paid by the Khedive in return for a guarantee of the Sovereignty of Egypt to himself and heirs—such an employment of Indian troops, according to the right hon. Baronet, would be Constitutional, although no Estimate would be laid, no Supply would be asked, and no control of Parliament would exist. It was clear that, even in a fuller sense than had been argued by General Peel, the voting of Supply was an illusory manner of exercising the control of the House of Commons over the numbers of the Indian troops. In 1816, when a Treaty was signed between the Crown of England and the Crown of France, by which an English garrison in Paris and in Northern France was to be maintained at the expense of France, the English House of Commons insisted that the number of men to be so employed in France and paid by France should be voted by that House. The dangers which lay in the contrary course, dangers not probable but possible, conceivable, against which it was the duty of the House to guard, could only be effectively prevented by compelling Government, in all cases, to ask the previous consent of Parliament to any augmentation of the Forces of the Crown. If such a step were taken suddenly, on a great emergency—a really great one—Government must come for a Bill of Indemnity, which, if their action had been defensible, would be freely granted by the House. If the King were to be allowed to increase the standing Army within the Realm in time of peace, without previous reference to Parliament, he was thus permitted to impose charges 300 upon his people without the assent of Parliament. For Parliament could not refuse to pay the soldiers who, in obedience to military commands, had been brought within the Realm. The Government had no kind of right to pre-assume the approval of that House, to take a novel step which could not be undone without punishing innocent persons and destroying the credit of the Realm. There was behind the present case this fact—that if the House refused to supply money for the payment of these troops, the expense would illegally be charged upon the Revenues of India—a starving country, which had been suffering from famine within the year, and the finances of which were in a condition of decay. If there were put before the House the alternative of either condemning the illegal action which the Ministers had committed, or of illegally burdening the Revenues of India with this charge, there could be no doubt what course generous Englishmen would adopt. He thought it a grave stretching of the principles of the Constitution to bring the Indian troops to Europe on the assumption that the consent of Parliament would be given; but, if angry debates should arise on the occasion, Members opposite would have to thank their Leader, because of the light manner in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had treated the matter at the first meeting of the House after the Recess. It was the right hon. Gentleman who had caused the proposal of the Motion of the noble Marquess. The Opposition had been placed by him under the necessity of either allowing dirt to be thrown on their principles, or else of exposing a Resolution, expressing the high Constitutional view, to the chance of rejection upon the votes of a docile band. The Amendment of the right hon. Baronet was what the lawyers termed a plea in confession and avoidance. As between the Amendment and the Resolution of the noble Marquess, which way would the great authorities on the English Constitution pronounce themselves were they present in the House? Which way would Hallam vote, if he were there? It might be answered that Hallam was a Whig; but, to be frank, most men had of late times come to think that the Whig view of the Constitution, however much it had been ridiculed in the early novels of the present Premier, was 301 nevertheless in these days accepted by both sides. Hallam's History, for instance, Whig book though it was, was the text book of both the older Universities; and the modern Tory voters, who last week had given so triumphant a majority at Oxford to their side, had certainly, many of them, been trained on Hallam in doctrines very different to those which were being taught them by their Leaders now. There was a passage in Hallam, of which he would remind them in case they had forgotten it, in which he declared that that was unconstitutional which was "a novelty of much importance, tending to evade the existing law." Those words appeared exactly to describe the present proceeding of the Government. There ought immediately to be issued, for the use of the next generation of Conservative Undergraduates, an expurgated edition of Hallam, in which this and many other leading passages would be left out, even if Oxford and Cambridge were not compelled to accept as a brand-new text book, the Constitution according to Lord Beaconsfield. To turn for a few moments to the historical view of this question, let him call the attention of the House to some words which fell from Lord Winchilsea in 1734, and which were exactly applicable to the present situation—If Parliament should come into the practice of raising phantoms in the air, as an excuse for their granting extraordinary powers to Ministers of State, the liberties of this nation will then begin to stand upon a very precarious footing."—[Parl. History, vol. ix. p. 556.]Those debates of 1734 did not, as a whole, help them much, for that was done which had not been done on the present occasion—namely, the previous consent of Parliament was asked to the augmentation of the Forces; but there was much in the language which was made use of in the debates that was of the highest moment. They should not lightly forget, for instance, these words of Shippen—We all know how difficult it is to refuse to the King upon the Throne those favours or powers which have been granted to his Predecessor; and, therefore, it has always been the established maxim of every honest man, who had a seat in either House of Parliament, not to grant to a good King those powers which a bad King might make ill-use of."—[Ibid. 583.]As for the precedent of 1775, he had 302 pointed out already that it did not apply; but the debate of 1775 was worthy of the most careful consideration by the House. The doctrine which he collected, by reading the India Act of 1858 in connection with the debates of 1775, was the following:—The territory of the Crown was, for military purposes, of two kinds; there was what might be called the Parliamentary Kingdom, garrisoned by troops subject to the English Mutiny Act, and there was India. Parliament left it to the Crown to keep up in India such Military Forces as the Advisers of the Crown thought fit. As regarded the Parliamentary Empire, the countries garrisoned by troops subject to the English Mutiny Act—or, in other words, the whole of the Dominions of the Crown, except India—Parliament did not leave it to the Advisers of the Crown to settle what Forces should be kept up; but Parliament itself, after hearing the statement of the Secretary of State for War, annually considered what Force was necessary, taking into account all the circumstances of the case and the state of international relations. Having considered all those facts, Parliament annually voted the number of men, and then passed an Act, the Preamble of which recited that number, and exhaustively specified and explained the whole of the reasons for which the men were needed. It must be obvious that if the Crown could bring the non-Parliamentary Army, the numbers of which were not voted, and which might be indefinitely great, into the Parliamentary territory without the previous consent of Parliament, all their present trouble—annual trouble—over the number of men and the Preamble of the Mutiny Bill was mere idle waste of time. Parliament, in sanctioning the numbers of the Parliamentary Army, had regard to the need for placing garrisons at Halifax, Bermuda, the Channel Islands, the Cape, Gibraltar, Malta, Aden, Ceylon, the Straits, Hong Kong, Vancouver Island, and so forth; but, if what Ministers had done was legal, the whole of these garrisons might be brought into Great Britain or into Ireland without the previous consent of Parliament and replaced by Indian troops. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Colonies had said that Parliament had approved of what was done in 1775. Now, it was 303 quite true that the Bill of Indemnity, which was assented to by Lord North, and which passed through the Lower House, was thrown out in the Lords; but, in 1775, the Electoral troops of George III., who had been sent without the previous assent of Parliament to garrison Gibraltar and Minorca, had been sent there in time of war, for it was admitted on both sides that the American Rebellion constituted a state of war. Parliament, too, was not sitting in 1775 at the time the troops were sent, and as soon as it met, it was informed of what had been done by means of a Royal Message. Parliament had been treated with vastly greater courtesy in 1775 than had been extended to it now. On the consideration of the Message of the King, a Resolution had been moved by the Duke of Manchester, which declared—That the bringing into any part of the Dominions of the Crown of Great Britain the Electoral Troops of His Majesty, …. without the previous consent of Parliament, is dangerous and unconstitutional."—[Parl. History, vol. 18, p. 801.]In the Commons, the Whig Motion had been in the following words:—That the introducing the Hanoverian Troops into any part of the Dominions belonging to the Crown of Great Britain, without the consent of Parliament first had and obtained, is contrary to law."—[Ibid, p. 818.]How were these Resolutions met? Lord North moved that the measure was one—''Demanding more despatch than was consistent with waiting for the assembling of Parliament.That defence could not be made on this occasion. Parliament was actually sitting when the movement was decided on by the Cabinet, and there was no question of the immediate employment of these troops. The Government of 1775 most certainly had not taken the line of the right hon. Baronet the present Secretary of State as to the scope of the Bill of Rights. It might be added, that, even with regard to a time of war, the Tory doctrine was not admitted by the leading Whigs in 1775. The Duke of Manchester, omitting the words "in time of war," declared—From every instance I have submitted to you, and from constant practice, I must infer that the King has no right to maintain, in any 304 part of the Dominions of the British Crown, any Troops, other than are consented to by Parliament, both as to number and to nation.The Protest of the Lords, which was signed by the Dukes of Richmond, Portland, Grafton, Manchester, and Devonshire, by the Marquess of Rockingham, and by many other Peers of great Constitutional authority, declared—That Hanoverian Troops should, at the pleasure of the Minister, be considered a part of the British Military Establishment …. tends wholly to invalidate the wise and salutary declaration of the grand fundamental law, which has bound together the rights of the subject and the succession of the Crown.Lord North, in answer to these speeches and declarations, had at first maintained, but, ultimately, by consenting to a Bill of Indemnity, had half given up, a Prerogative which had gone to this extent, that in time of War the Crown might employ troops out of the United Kingdom without the previous consent of Parliament. But they were not now at war, and he ventured to maintain that the Resolution of the noble Marquess, containing, as it did, the words "in time of peace," would have received the assent even of Lord North. Mr. Clode, who was the chief authority upon The Military Forces of the Crown, declared that—It can no longer be questioned that the assent of Parliament is needed to the continuance of any armed Force within the Realm in time of peace.He explained that the Vote and the Preamble of the Mutiny Act, taken together, gave to the Crown the right to employ in the Army the number of men specified, and no more. And he then said—If ever the Crown should intentionally retain in arms a larger number of Forces than has been agreed upon, the Minister upon whose advice this course had been adopted would be open to impeachment.These were not times in which there was such danger of the invasion of the liberty of the subject that any man would seriously propose the impeachment of a Minister; but, nevertheless, they ought to guard against the setting of a mischievous precedent. He would make but one further allusion to the debates of 1775, and that would be a quotation. Serjeant Adair, a great Constitutional authority, had in that debate made use of words which, in another sense, were applicable to the existing situation, when he had said— 305Of all Foreign Troops, the most dangerous are those who are the subjects of the King, and not of … Parliament.And he might add that, as regarded the employment of the Native Indian troops, they were calling in men who, whatever might be their military virtue, could neither esteem nor understand the laws and liberties of the English people. Besides the debates of 1775, there were many others of a later date, in which similar doctrines had been accepted by both sides. For instance, those of 1794 and those of 1798, when Parliament recognized that even voluntary offers of aid from British subjects in time of war required Parliamentary sanction. In 1803 it had, indeed, been allowed that the number of ordinary volunteers need not be limited by Statute, because any volunteer not on actual service could resign without the assent of the Crown. In 1816 there occurred the debates to which he had already briefly alluded, and to which he would now recur; only mentioning in passing that in 1800, and again in 1806, Mr. Pitt came down to the House and asked the previous assent of Parliament to the augmentation of the Forces of the Crown, even though it was time of war. In 1816, it would be remembered that it had been arranged between the English and French Governments that the English garrisons of Paris and of Picardy were to be paid by France. The right hon. Baronet maintained that the necessity for voting Supply was sufficient to meet all cases; but, certainly, it did not meet the case of 1816; and Parliament, in 1816, insisted that the number of men intended for these English garrisons to be paid by France, even though they were not to be maintained within the Realm, should previously be voted by that House. There were many other cases which went to show that the financial control referred to in the Amendment was not enough. He would mention one which occurred in the recollection of many hon. Members still in that House. He referred to the Chelsea Pensioners Bill, which was opposed by Mr. Cobden and by the right hon. Gentleman who now sat for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright); and, although the number of pensioners was not at first stated in the Bill, yet it was afterwards specified in deference to the objections that were raised. All the later debates that had been referred to 306 bore upon the state of things in time of war. There was one case which had not been named, which was not a case of war, and which might possibly be referred to as a precedent. He meant the occupation of Quettah—which was outside India—by Indian troops two years ago. Quettah was not "within the Realm." No one could possibly maintain that the Bill of Rights applied to Quettah; but it was certainly his view that the charging on the Revenues of India of the expenses of the Quettah operations was a breach of the 55th clause of the Indian Government Act. He hoped that if the Quettah case were to be quoted as a precedent, the question of its legality would yet be brought forward and carefully debated by the House. To return to the main question, the old Constitutional doctrine took no account of any differences between any one part and any other part of the Dominions of the Crown. In the days of Lord North, it was generally allowed that "the King's Prerogative is no greater in one part of his Dominions than another." In the panic of 1858, they had unfortunately changed all this, and accepted the direct government by the Crown of a despotically-ruled community, the laws of which were not the laws of England. This fact was first brought home to the people of England by the adoption, under the auspices of the present Minister, of a despotic title to apply to that portion of the Dominions of the Crown. Parliament was now asked to condone a fresh act of the same kind, but one taken without even the observance of Constitutional form, and which, if approved, would bring about a permanent confusion between the Parliamentary and the non-Parliamentary portions of the Realm. He had tried to keep closely to the Constitutional argument; but, in replying to that which had been urged upon the other side, there were two special circumstances of the present case to which it was necessary to allude. They were told that there was a need for secrecy. For what purpose? These troops were not to act. It was by the mere bringing of them that Russia was to be impressed. Surely, the impression would have been more profound had a communication been made to Parliament by means of Message, and the consent of Parliament obtained? The ground for secrecy given by the Chancellor of 307 the Exchequer was no military necessity, but the saving of a few thousand pounds in transport. The House had already been told by the highest authorities upon the subject that the money had not been saved, and could not have been saved; and, even if there were this reason for the concealment for about a fortnight, while the arrangements for the transport were being made, there could be no such reason for continuing the concealment up to the Easter Recess, when it was certain that the news would become known. He could not but think, judging from the date at which one of the ships of Lord John Hay's Squadron had sailed with sealed orders, which had ultimately proved to be orders to convoy the Indian troops back to Malta, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's memory must have failed him when he had given the House the dates a few days before that time. The second circumstance peculiar to the present case, which must also be briefly mentioned, was that it had become clear that the Crown was maintaining in India—a famine-stricken, an almost bankrupt, and a wholly unrepresented country—a Native Army larger than was needed for its defence. They were, in short, burdening India for Imperial purposes with a charge which, from a purely Indian point of view, must be a needless charge. In conclusion, he complained, in the first place, of the illegality which had been committed; in the second, that, even according to the views of the Tories of the last century, a grossly unconstitutional method of proceeding had been followed; and, in the third, that an act of great discourtesy had been done towards Parliament.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, he was prepared to argue that the question of the Bill of Rights, on which the whole issue now before the House turned, was much more limited than had been assumed by preceding speakers. The wording of the Preamble of the Bill of Rights showed that it was intended to be limited to this Kingdom alone; while, on the other hand, under the existing and preceding Mutiny Acts, the Indian Forces, having been directly recognized by Parliament as the Forces of the Kingdom, were placed under the Prerogative of the Crown. In the early Mutiny Acts the number was not mentioned. The present 308 Act stated that it was necessary that a body of Forces should be employed for the safety of the Kingdom and the defence of the Possessions of Her Majesty, and that the whole should number 135,452 men "exclusive of those actually serving in Her Majesty's Indian Possessions;" and the Prerogative of the Crown obviously gave the Queen the power of moving these latter as she might think fit. In 1867, after the Indian Forces had become part of the Forces of the nation, Colonel Anson moved for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire how far they should be employed elsewhere than in India, and no person ever questioned the right of the Crown to deal with these Forces, and when the subject was brought before the Committee, no question was raised as to whether such employment would be unconstitutional. It was proved, in the course of the evidence taken before that Committee, that the Governor General of India had actually made provision that the troops should serve outside of India by issuing a General Order refusing the services of anyone who would not undertake at the time of enlistment to serve anywhere as required. Beyond that, Sir Richard Temple had proposed to send Indian troops to China, Africa, Malta, and Gibraltar. The question had been raised whether, under the Bill of Rights, the Queen could exercise Her Prerogative, without the consent of Parliament, in moving these Indian troops. Now, he contended that the Forces set out in the Mutiny Bill comprised not only those there enumerated, but the troops employed in India; and it had been clearly contemplated by the authorities in India that any troops employed there might be called upon to serve in any portion of the Queen's Dominions; because, under the Indian Act, the Governor General had the power to frame Articles of War binding on the Native troops, in whatever part of the world they might from time to time be called upon to serve. He contended, therefore, that it was in the power of the Crown, seeing that it was contemplated that Indian troops might be employed to garrison our Mediterranean fortresses, to do all that they had done. The idea was not new, but the opposition was entirely novel, and was a condemnation of powers which had hitherto never been challenged. The 309 Resolution was framed on the assumption that the Mutiny Act, by containing the word "excepting," did not confer this power; but he, on the other hand, held that it did not comprise that word, and that the control of Parliament had been asserted and recognized in a practical way in the measures taken, and, believing it inexpedient to affirm any Resolution weakening the hands of Her Majesty's Government, he had no difficulty in cordially supporting the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach). He was unable to see that the Government had in any way exceeded the legal and Constitutional limits within which they were permitted to act in this matter, and he hoped that that would be the view which the House would take of the question submitted to it.
§ After a pause,
§ MR. SPEAKER rose to put the Question, when
§ MR. DILLWYN rose and said, that although he had not intended to address the House, he could not allow the debate to fall through unexpectedly. The Resolution submitted to the House by the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition asserted a great Constitutional question, and ought not to be passed by lightly whilst hon. Members were having refreshment. He declined to accept the doctrine of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Goldney), and supported the Resolution, on the ground that the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government had violated the Bill of Rights in a particular not second in importance to anything in that Bill. He was surprised at the manner in which the Government met the charge. Without attempting to deny the violation of the Bill of Rights, they simply contended that it was not such as to call for discussion or condemnation. It was true, no doubt, that no penalty was attached to this particular violation in the Bill of Rights, and so far it might be contended that it was not a breach of the law; but the Bill of Rights suggested, instead of penalties, an appeal to the House of Commons, and that appeal was now made. As the violation had been made by a Conservative Government, they had no alternative but to re-assert the principle in the strongest possible manner, without proceeding for pains and penalties 310 against the Government. To his mind, their Empire in India, and their interests in the East, were second by far to the interests of the people of this country, and, therefore, he did lay great stress upon the assertion of this principle. The right hon. Mover of the Amendment did not condescend to argue whether the Government had violated the Bill of Rights; indeed, his Amendment fell little short of an admission that it had been violated, while it assumed that the present securities were sufficient to insure Parliament having ample Constitutional control over the Military Forces of the country. But there must be no assumption of the kind. It was their duty to watch with a jealous eye all encroachments on the rights of the people; and it was with that view only that they now took the course they did. He (Mr. Dillwyn) did not know what greater security Parliament had over the Military Forces by voting money than was secured by the Bill of Rights. If the Amendment were carried, it would be tantamount to an admission that, in certain cases, the Bill of Rights might be violated with impunity, and they did not know in what other particular it might not next be infringed by Her Majesty's Government. If it were allowed to be violated in one instance, it was impossible to say where the evil would stop; they would find themselves at the beginning of a downward course in the direction of sacrificing the rights of the people to the Prerogative of the Crown. There was no doubt that the country was now governed by a Sovereign who would not willingly do wrong; but that was no reason for not preventing any Constitutional right being trenched upon, or any new Prerogative being set up, because some future Sovereign might not be so scrupulous. There was no doubt that what was now claimed as a Prerogative of the Crown was an innovation, though it had been brought in by a Conservative Government. He hoped and believed that many hon. Gentlemen opposite would give a non-Party vote on a question which involved the rights and privileges of the people, and which was a distinct violation of the Constitution.
MR. MAC IVER
said, that like the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn), he desired to see a non-Party division on the question, although he thought there was nothing which hon. Gentlemen opposite 311 less contemplated. If there were really a non-Party division, almost the whole House of Commons would go into the same Lobby in support of Her Majesty's Government; but he feared that many Liberal Members who outside the House, in their private capacity, said there was little difference of opinion between moderate men on both sides with reference to this subject, and that the Government had done their best, and the Liberals could not have done better, would vote against the Government on the present occasion. This was one of a long-continued series of attacks on the Government for no other than Party reasons; and it seemed to him that hon. Members opposite took up the Turkish question for the purpose of troubling the Government, and, if possible, to obtain their places—desirous to get back to power, no matter by what means. With gradually diminishing minorities, however, these attacks must, sooner or later, come to an end. He believed that in their hearts nine-tenths of the House of Commons and of the people completely approved of what the Government had done. The Government had carried out a wise measure in a most successful way. They had picked up all the useful vessels they could get at Bombay; they had taken all the available troops, and had sent them off at once; and the operation had been as successful as the best friends of the Government could wish. Hardly any hon. Member representing a large constituency having relations with Eastern trade, was opposed to the Government, and the opinions of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. E. Jenkins) had been repudiated in that town. He admitted that the Government might have obtained transports for the Indian troops at a cheaper rate from London, Calcutta, or Madras; but if they had not secured such as were on the spot, the effect of the Expedition would have been prejudiced. The moral effect of what the Government had done was, as had been ably put by the right hon. Gentleman, that it at once showed the world that it knew its own mind, that it was strong, and would use the resources of their united Empire to defend interests which were equally dear to India and Great Britain.
MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
said, the question, though important, was exceedingly simple, and it was purely legal 312 and Constitutional. The right hon. Baronet the Colonial Secretary (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) had achieved nothing less by his Amendment than the distinction of adding a new chapter to the Constitution. The proposition which the right hon. Baronet laid down came to this—that because the House could undoubtedly refuse to vote Supply, therefore it was competent to the Crown to raise 100,000 men in India, or, as far as he (Mr. Osborne Morgan) could see, anything else, without the consent of Parliament, and bring those troops to Malta, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands, in sight of these shores, provided only they did not land them in Great Britain or Ireland. He must say a more startling proposition, coming as it did from a Leader of the Constitutional Party, he never heard. Those who followed the right hon. Baronet, however, did not go so far, though they contended that the Government might do anything, provided, after they had done it, they obtained the consent of Parliament. Now, that was not his notion of the Constitution; it was not his view, though the Constitution was intended to operate prospectively, and not retrospectively. No doubt, salus populi suprema lex was the first maxim of their law and their Constitution, and he did not deny that circumstances might arise which would justify high-handed, arbitrary, even illegal and unconstitutional, acts, for necessity had no law; but would anyone seriously and honestly assert that any such necessity as that had arisen in the present case? Would anyone assert that, in time of peace, when Parliament was sitting, the safety of the nation—for it was necessary to put it as high as that—required that these Indian troops should be sent to Malta, not only without communicating the fact to Parliament, not only without obtaining the consent of Parliament, but with an affectation of secrecy, and an almost ostentatious disregard of the wishes and opinions of Parliament in the matter. Were the Government afraid of Russia, or of Parliament, or of both? He never saw such a disproportion of means to an end as in this case. It was a most monstrous thing that for the sake of getting transports cheap, for the sake of saving a few hundred pounds, or a few days at most, the Government should value, as 313 they seemed to have done, the British Constitution at the price of a bag of old clothes. Talk of driving a coach and four through an Act of Parliament? Why, the Colonial Secretary had driven a coach and six through the whole Constitution. Had the Crown the right to take 7,000 men from India? If so, it had the right to take 70,000 or 700,000, if it could get so many. If that plea were put aside, the question resolved itself into a purely Constitutional question. He knew the difficulty of arguing a grave Constitutional question before a popular Assembly. Such questions had always been, and always would be, debated and decided on Party lines; and, unfortunately, when a lawyer tried to address an audience as if they were a bench of Judges, he was told he was splitting straws and getting into Nisi Prius. But he would not be deterred by any such considerations from stating his belief that this course on the part of the Government to be equally opposed to the letter of their law and to the spirit of their Constitution. India was excluded from the Mutiny Act because she had a Government of her own, a Budget of her own, and a military system of her own. Under the Preamble of the Mutiny Act, there was a contract between the Crown on the one side and Parliament on the other. Mr. Clode, in his work on Military Law—a great authority—said—''This limitation created a Parliamentary compact that no larger number of soldiers than are here stated should he continued on foot by the Crown during the period of time to which the Act had reference.It was very well to say that was a lawyers' crotchet, but it was a crotchet which had cost one King his head and another his Crown. He maintained that the words in the Bill of Rights "within the Kingdom" applied to other parts of Her Majesty's Dominions besides this country, and that was the opinion of Lord Camden and Lord Bathurst. From Magna Charta downwards their Constitution had abhorred military law, which only existed on sufferance in England, and, but for the Mutiny Act, the putting under that law of any subject of the Realm would be an illegal act. The exigencies of the State requiring a certain number of men to be kept in the Army, Parliament every year gave permission for the levy of that number of 314 men, and no more. From the recitals of the Mutiny Act, it appeared that two distinct propositions were there maintained—firstly, the financial right of control possessed by Parliament, which applied to every branch of the Service, civil as well as military; and, secondly, that no man could be placed under martial law in time of peace without the consent of Parliament, which was only given from year to year. Hallam in his Constitutional History, said—These are the two effectual securities against military power; first, that no pay can he issued to the troops without a previous authorization by the Commons in a Committee of Supply, and by both Houses in an Act of Appropriation; and, secondly, that no officer or soldier can he punished for disobedience, nor any court martial held without the annual re-enactment of the Mutiny Bill. By the Bill of Rights it is declared unlawful to keep any Forces in time of peace without consent of Parliament. This consent by an invariable and wholesome usage is given only from year to year, and its necessity may he considered, perhaps, the most powerful of those causes which have transferred so much even of the Executive power into the management of the two Houses of Parliament.There were two proposals involved in the Bill of Rights and the Mutiny Act. The Motion of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) took both in; but the Amendment, while it admitted one, gave the go-by to the other. Further, he denied the correctness of the construction which had been put by the Colonial Secretary on the 55th section of the Act of 1858 for the Government of India, contending that that section related merely to finance and not to Prerogative. He did not accuse Her Majesty's Government of mala fides, but no doubt in reading the Mutiny Act they had made a blunder, and there were blunders which were worse than crimes. Had the right hon. Baronet come forward and said—"We have misread the Mutiny Act; we have made a mistake"—had the right hon. Baronet in that way appealed to the generosity of Parliament, he (Mr. Osborne Morgan) was sure that the House of Commons, which was, perhaps, the most generous Body in the world, would have met him half-way and said—"Let bygones be bygones." But that was not the language of the Colonial Secretary, or of the Leader of House. The right hon. Baronet took high ground, and declared—"We have not violated a tittle of the Constitution; we have not broken a particle of the 315 law." That being the tone adopted, it was absolutely necessary that those who were opposed to the action which the Government had taken should occupy equally high ground. He knew that the Government would beat their opponents in a division. He knew that the Government were blessed with a majority so docile and obedient—he would not say so mechanical—that it would endorse anything it was told to endorse. He had no doubt that the Amendment would be carried by a large majority, but to his mind that would only make the matter worse; because, if it were so easy to obtain the consent of Parliament to the policy of the Government, why, then, was the consent not obtained before that policy was entered upon? The result of several recent Elections did not give the Government much encouragement for believing that the country was so entirely on their side as some supposed; and he would warn them that, in appealing to popular passions in support of a high-minded policy, they were trading on dangerous ground—Incedis per ignes Suppositos cineri doloso.In conclusion, he asserted that though the arguments and authorities which had been adduced by the noble Marquess in support of the Resolution against the Government might be conveniently ignored—they could not be satisfactorily answered.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Osborne Morgan), that there was a certain amount of inconvenience in discussing great Constitutional and legal questions in a popular Assembly where Party feeling was likely to be imported into the discussion; and therefore he regretted, with his right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary, that noble Lords who raised that question in "another place," which was eminently fitted for its discussion did not take on themselves the responsibility of inviting a decision upon it there. He did not know the reason, but it appeared to him that the circumstance that no Resolution was before the other House argued a certain want of confidence in the position taken up by the Opposition; and it had even seemed doubtful at one time whether the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) intended to take a 316 decision on the Resolution before the House. It was not in direct terms a Vote of Censure on the conduct of the Government; but, to be logical, the noble Marquess should have gone further, and asked the House to censure the Government for having departed from the lines of the Constitution. If the proposition of the noble Lord were correct, then the Government had violated the Constitution; if, on the other hand, the Government had not violated the Constitution, then the Resolution of the noble Marquess was not correct, and it asked the House to alter the Constitution by means of an abstract Resolution of one of the Houses of Parliament. Many precedents had been quoted, some in favour of the Government, and some against; and an objection had been raised that the employment of the Native Indian troops would infringe the Mutiny Act by taking the place of the British troops authorized by that Act, and so set them free for other service; but he would remind the House that at that very moment a war was going on at the Cape, in which their troops were helped by Native levies and by friendly volunteers, who, of course, liberated a certain number of European troops, and yet who would venture to say this was contrary to the law and the Constitution. The debate of 1775 had been mentioned, and he would only remark that on that occasion many good authorities had construed the word "Kingdom" in a sense totally opposite to that put upon it by the noble Marquess. The point had also been debated at the same time in the House of Commons, where the Resolution extending the meaning of the word "Kingdom" to the other Dominions of the Crown had been rejected by 283 votes to 81. The Bill of Rights was, by general admission, the test. It professed to declare the law, not to enact the law, and for the reasons for which a standing Army had been voted a grievance, it was necessary to look back further. Those reasons all applied to the Kingdom in the limited sense of the word, and were, in fact, chiefly local and domestic. Besides, the Bill of Rights spoke not only of the "Kingdom," but in another clause it spoke of the "Kingdom and the Dominions there unto belonging;" so that one might fairly conclude that when in the same Bill it spoke only of the "Kingdom" it was not intended 317 to include the other Dominions of the Crown. The truth was, that it was never in contemplation to extend the provisions of the Bill of Rights beyond the limits of the Kingdom, and the Mutiny Act, as it recited almost the words of the Bill of Rights, confirmed that view. If the Constitution required alteration, then let it be altered by a deliberate Act of all the Estates of the Realm, and not by a Resolution of the House of Commons. It had been said that our liberties were in danger; but did any sane man really believe that so long as Parliamentary control and Ministerial responsibility existed, our liberties were endangered by such a proceeding as that under discussion. Parliament must vote the Supplies; but objection had been taken that the Government had first spent the money and then come to Parliament, thus leaving it no option but to vote the money; but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had, when the Vote of Credit was under discussion, admitted that Ministers would be justified in a time of great emergency in spending money, and afterwards coming to Parliament to sanction the step. Well, the Government had declared that the emergency had arisen, so that really this matter was a question of Ministerial responsibility, and nothing more. But the noble Marquess who moved the Resolution said that the Government ought to come to Parliament, not only for money, but for the men they wanted, and referred to Native troops having been employed in China, saying that a Vote had then been asked for; but he forgot to say that from 1859 to 1863 Native troops were being employed in China, not only without an application by the Government to the House for a Vote of money, but even for a Vote of men. Yet the Chancellor of the Exchequer during that time was the right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone). It was not until 1863 that the money expended for those troops was put into the Votes, and not until 1864 were the men put into the Votes. The whole affair was made a matter of account between England and India, and the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for not putting either the money or the men into the Votes until 1863 and 1864. But why, it was asked, did not the Government state openly to the House that troops were to be brought 318 from India to Malta, when the decision was taken, seeing, as had been observed by the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last, that they had behind them a docile majority, who would at once approve any measure they might think fit to adopt. The hon. and learned Gentleman, however, seemed to him (Mr. Ritchie) to have altogether failed to take into consideration the composition of the Opposition, which consisted of a great many separate factions, with a great many Leaders, and, as time was an element of importance in this matter, the Government might well hesitate to bring the matter prematurely before the House. If the hon. and learned Member took this into consideration, he (Mr. Ritchie) was sure he would sympathize with the Government in the course which they felt it to be their duty to pursue in a time of great emergency, and when the difficulties they might have to contend with in bringing the matter before Parliament would not have been found easy to overcome. It had been said that this movement of troops had taken the House by surprise. That was true, so far as the actual movement of the Indian troops was concerned; but the question was openly discussed for some time previously whether the Government would fall back upon Indian troops, and it was, therefore, a surprise that might any day have been expected by this House. ["Oh, oh!"] For his own part, he maintained that the Government had not only acted in a strictly legal and Constitutional manner in what it had done, but that it had also acted wisely. From an Indian point of view, it had acted wisely, because those who were well acquainted with India were of opinion that no step could have a greater effect in drawing the people of that country more closely to us than the asking them to come and fight side by side with our soldiers in a time of common danger. Such a step increased the bond of sympathy between the English and the Indian people, which had been lately strengthened by the gracious visit of the Prince of Wales, and the wise assumption of Imperial rank by the Queen. It had also acted wisely from an English and European point of view. What was the position of England at this moment? She had the approval of the whole of Europe in standing up for the integrity of Treaties. She admitted that they 319 required modification, but contended that they should not be altered by one of the parties, but by the whole of the parties to them. At the present moment, no step which the Government had taken had, he thought, been more calculated to bring about the peace of Europe, or secure the object we had at heart, than the bringing over of Indian troops; because it showed a determination on their part to draw upon all the resources of the Empire to maintain its integrity and the independence of Europe.
§ MR. LAING
, having had some experience in India as Finance Minister to Lord Canning, wished to say a few words on the question of our Indian policy, as regarded the employment of Native troops outside India, believing, as he did, that the principles that had been laid down by the Government were fraught with great danger and most destructive consequences to the future of our Indian Empire. The great principle now laid down was that we ought to consider the Native Indian Army as an integral portion of the British Army—that it was to be used on all occasions as a portion of that Army to supplement the military power of this country in the case of European wars or foreign expeditions, in order that by drawing on the immense population of India, great Britain might become one of the great military Powers of Europe. That new policy involved the necessity of entirely re-organizing it, and bringing it up to a high standard, both in point of numbers and of military efficiency. The question arose, was such a policy consistent with the safety of our Indian Empire? It was contrary to the principles laid down by Lord Canning, and many others of our most eminent statesmen. The fundamental conditions laid down for the safety of that Empire were—first, that the Force should be brought down to the lowest standard at which it could perform garrison and police duty. The numbers were fixed at 120,000, and the Force was reduced to that number. The next principle laid down was that for every two Native, there should be one European soldier, or a force of 60,000 men. The third principle was that the Native Troops were not to have any artillery, except a few mountain guns. The fourth was that the Native Army was not to be brought together in large bodies, but kept to separate and 320 distinct regimental duties. Now, was not each one of these principles inconsistent with the principle that the Native troops were to be looked upon as a portion of the British Army? If these troops were to be used for European wars, all that system would have to be altered. The Army in India was not and could never be a national Army. In the first place, India was not a nation, but merely a geographical expression, It contained many different races, only agreeing in their entire difference to the English and dominant race. The Army in India must always be a mercenary Army, and, therefore, could never be actuated by national impulses and feelings. There never could be any community of feeling between the Rulers in India and those who were ruled, and it was a serious matter to depart from the principles which had been laid down. As to the statements about the popularity of the Expedition in India, of course, every soldier worth his salt preferred active service to the monotony of garrison duty. But public opinion in India, military and civilian, had always been in favour of any foreign Expedition. The great inducement which the Indian soldiers had to engage in those Expeditions was the hope of preferment, increased pay, and loot. It had been precisely the same thing in the case of the Expedition to Cabul, which had been undertaken under the same influences as had now been operating, mainly because the influence of the English Foreign Office had been brought to bear upon India, to come forward against supposed Russian encroachments in Central Asia, and next because civilian and military pressure had been brought to bear upon a weak Governor General. That had led to an Expedition which had struck a great blow at the security of our Indian Empire. He hoped nothing of the sort might occur now. Supposing that these Indian troops were employed, the real difficulty of the case would only occur when the war was over and the men were sent back to their Native country. Some persons thought that as the expedition was so popular among the troops, their return, instead of being a danger, would cement the bond existing between this country and India. In his opinion there could not be a more complete delusion than this. While conceding that the 321 Expedition was popular, he could not admit, as some ton. Members opposite seemed to imagine, that the "Jingo" feeling extended to India, or that they were all Mussulman troops who would go into a war singing "Rule Britannia" because they fancied they were defending the Mussulman power of Turkey. The preposterous nature of such an idea would be apparent when it was considered that more than three-fourths of the population of India and the Indian Native troops, were not Mussulmans, but the descendants of people who had been for ages the subjects of Mussulman misrule during the Mogul domination. It was only the dread of the establishment of a Central Mahomedan Government at Delhi which kept the great bulk of the other races from joining in the Mutiny. To speak, then, of the feeling of the Mahomedans who rebelled against our rule a year or two after we had spent millions of treasure and oceans of blood in support of tottering Turkey, as sympathizing with the Sultan, was to talk utter nonsense. Indeed, there could be no greater danger to our rule in India than favouring one particular race, as the favoured one immediately jumped up to the conclusion that we were afraid of them; while, at the same time, it excited the jealousy of others. Our true policy, instead of being either the champions or the enemies of the Mahomedans, was to treat all creeds alike, holding the scale firmly and fairly between all the races, and showing no fear of any. If war really took place, and the Indian troops were employed, we must either be victorious or be beaten. In the latter case, the Native troops would go back sullen and discontented, to proclaim in every bazaar in India how much greater a Power Russia was than England. In the alternative—which all hoped might be the case—the Indian, troops would go back to boast that they had crossed bayonets successfully with the best troops in Europe, driving them like chaff before the wind, and to reflect that, in the event of another Mutiny, they would have a good chance of success. They were not the men to put their light under a bushel, and would have to get something more than empty praise. Then, again, there would be a large number of Native officers, who, by courage in the field, would gain promotion; was it to be supposed that such 322 men could be sent back and put under the command of an English boy-subaltern? But if they were not, the whole system of officering the Sepoy Army would be broken up, and Native officers of ability would then attain positions which would ensure the success of another Mutiny; the want of Native leaders and the heroism of our own countrymen being the cause of the failure of the last. These were serious dangers, not to be met by empty phrases, but which had been met by the statesmen who had re-organized the Indian Army after the Mutiny. In addition to those questions of principle, there were other difficulties of detail which had been mentioned to the House a few evenings since, by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) arising from the existence of caste and other causes, which made an Indian Army engaged in European warfare far more costly than the same number of English troops, all of which would have to be seriously considered when employing Indian troops became a reality. What was to be done in regard to the additional batta and pay which Indian troops received as compared with British troops? A colonel in the British Army received about £500 a-year, while a colonel of an Indian regiment received £1,500; was it likely that, with the troops serving side by side in Europe, such an anomaly could be continued? With regard to the financial aspect of this question, he found that the condition of Indian finance was at that moment one of great tension and great distress. The Mutiny, following the wars which had been carried on many years in India, aggravated the condition of India into a severe financial crisis. She was saved by the great efforts of Lord Canning and other Governors General in reducing expenditure, based mainly on military reduction. Indian finances were thus brought into a fairly satisfactory condition, and so continued for a series of years. But India was overtaken in the last few years by famine and a great fall in silver. The consequence was, that after struggling against that depression with temporary loans, the Indian Government had been driven to the most disagreeable necessity of imposing new taxes, and those of an unpopular kind, and of which he did not know which was the worst—namely, the salt 323 tax and the licence duty. The political bearing of increased taxation there was shown by a saying of Lord Canning that danger for danger, he would rather undertake to govern India with 40,000 Europeans without the income tax, than with 80,000 Europeans with it. Economy in India meant military reduction; civil expenditure was not only fixed there, but inevitably tended to grow with the growth of the population and with the increase of civilization, like the Civil Estimates in this country. Therefore, it was the first duty of every Government in India to keep its military establishment down to the lowest figure possible, and the key-note of the position in that respect must be the number of Native troops. If, in this particular case, 7,000 Native troops could be spared from India for an indefinite time—and probably they would be followed by another 7,000, and possibly more after that—surely it would appear that she had been maintaining 7,000 troops who were not wanted for the ordinary garrison duty in India, and who ought to have been disbanded; and by sending home three European regiments to keep up the same relative proportions between the Native Indian and the European troops in India, £600,000 or £700,000 might have been saved. That was about the same amount as we got by imposing the obnoxious salt duty. We might not only have avoided increasing the salt duty, but have reduced it and given millions in India a large and immediate relief. If these men could be spared from India it was clearly the duty of the Government to give the people of that country the benefit of such an economy. Had Lord Canning been Governor General he believed it was what he would have done. Was it fair that India should pay the excessive expense of military establishments, which were kept up for English policy, to enable England to take a more prominent part in European quarrels? We never thought of bringing Indian troops to Sebastopol. To employ Indian troops in exceptional expeditions—to send them to meet Chinese matchlocks or the warriors of King Theodore—was totally different from employing them in regular European warfare, where they would have to stand in the same line as British troops, against adversaries like Russians or French or Germans. What had been done marked 324 a clear revolution of policy in the question which should not have been determined on without consulting Parliament. He wanted to know what the late Governor General, or a still higher authority, Lord Lawrence, and the other high authorities upon India had to say to this question. The objections that had been raised ought to be met by the Government, and if the policy now complained of were to be allowed to continue, Indian finance would become thoroughly disorganized, or England would have to take upon herself a very heavy burden, and rightly so, if she made Indian troops fight her battles.
said, he was unhappily placed in a similar position to that occupied by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) with regard to this question, because he could not pretend to the knowledge of Indian matters that was possessed by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. But when he heard the hon. Member ask why they kept 60,000 English troops in India, and also speaking in disparaging terms of the utter want of community of feeling between the Rulers and the ruled in that country, he could not help referring to the striking display of loyalty on the part of the Native troops and people of India which had been evoked by the recent policy of Her Majesty's Government. The immediate question, however, before the House was the Motion of the noble Lord opposite. Now, however much on home grounds they might regret that Motion, no one could dispute the right of the noble Lord and his Friends to challenge the decision arrived at for ordering the Indian troops to Malta without the knowledge or consent of Parliament. If there was any reason for thinking that the Constitution had been infringed in that matter, the House of Commons would not only have a right to demand, but would fail in its duty if it did not demand a full explanation from the Government. He was resolved, if the occasion should arise, to do all in his power to uphold the Constitution which they had inherited from their forefathers, and under which they enjoyed a degree of prosperity and of freedom which fell to the lot of few other nations. At the same time, he was not prepared to accept the doctrine contained in the noble Lord's Resolution, which, he thought, 325 involved a direct infringement of the Prerogative of the Crown. Although, as regarded the English troops of the Crown, the Resolution only affirmed what was generally acknowledged, yet in regard to Indian troops it would preclude the use of those Forces beyond the limits of India, without the consent of Parliament, in every case short of actual war, whether Parliament was sitting at the time or not, and however great might be the necessity or emergency. On that ground alone, therefore, if on no other, he would resist the Motion to the utmost. Supposing that a declaration of war between this country and another Power was a question of weeks, or perhaps of days, and that that war would imperil the fortunes of England in some part of her Empire, the Government might know that by due preparation and the movement of Indian troops in good time, the danger might be altogether averted; but Parliament not being in Session, its consent could not be obtained without a great loss of time. Was he to be told that in such a case a Government which used, without scruple, as it was bound to do, all the resources at its command in defence of the Empire, would be guilty of unconstitutional conduct? That, however, would be the effect of the noble Lord's Motion, whether it was so intended or not. Now, was it the fact that the Constitution was really in danger from recent proceedings? If the ordering of those Native troops to proceed to Malta, in a great emergency, was a breach of law and Constitution, he asked what Act did it violate? It was a fact that before those Indian troops were ordered to Malta, the number of men authorized by the Mutiny Act was more than completed. Therefore, it might be argued that the Mutiny Act was being infringed, because troops were being used in excess of the number specified in that Act. That was a very plausible ground on which to base an attack on the Government. But, on the other hand, the troops serving in that case were Native Indian troops which never had been included in the number specified by the Mutiny Act, and which formed part of a separate establishment altogether, and were serving under separate law. It was perfectly clear that the employment of troops, who did not come under an Act, could not by any ingenuity be distorted or twisted into a breach of 326 that Act, which related to troops of a totally different description. The noble Lord said, if that was so, the law was either insufficient, or it had been violated. He could not agree with that; but if the noble Lord thought the law was insufficient, let him propose its amendment. So long as the law remained as it was, and so long as Her Majesty's Ministers remained within it, they had no right to charge the Government with unconstitutional conduct. In 1858, when the Government of India Bill was under discussion, an additional clause was moved by the right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), providing—That, except for repelling actual invasion, or under other sudden and urgent necessity, Her Majesty's Forces in the East Indies shall not be employed in any Military operation beyond the external frontier of Her Majesty's Indian Possessions without the consent of Parliament to the purposes thereof.That clause was identical in its effect with the present Motion of the noble Lord; and if that clause had been carried, he admitted that then the Government would have been guilty of a grave breach of Constitutional law. That clause was opposed by Lord Palmerston and others on the ground that it embodied a doctrine inconsistent with the Prerogative of the Crown and with the Constitution. After certain Amendments had been made in it, the clause was carried on a division; but it was not allowed to become law, or it was superseded by another, which had been quoted already. It said that, except in emergency, the Revenues of India should not be applied to defray the expenses of any military operations beyond the frontier of India; and the movement of troops from India to Malta was, he contended, precisely one of the cases contemplated by that clause. It was a military movement "beyond the external frontiers of India," and the House would see that while the acknowledged Prerogative of the Crown in this case was in no way interfered with the counter-check to that Prerogative which Parliament in former days devised, was exercised fully, in that the Government could not defray the expenses of the movement out of the Revenues of India without coming to the Legislature—could not, indeed, obtain those expenses from any source whatever, unless Parliament 327 chose to vote Supplies for the purpose. It was not accurate to distinguish the English Army as a Parliamentary Army; so far as their movement was concerned, both the English and the Indian Army were on the same footing. It was true there was this distinction between them, that the number of troops in England was annually voted by Parliament, and that in India there was no Parliamentary limit whatever upon the number; but when Parliament had voted the particular number for England, and when they came to the question of moving either those troops, or the troops in India, their control in the one case was precisely similar to what it was in the other. They could stop the Supplies, but they could do nothing more. Why, however, were they asked by the Motion of the noble Lord to impose a restriction for the first time in India upon the Prerogative of the Crown which did not exist, and which was altogether unknown in this country? The noble Lord opposite had said—"What is the justification of the policy of secrecy, which has been pursued by the Government?" That was a fair question, and in connection with it he would ask—"Is it the case that the Government have been at all wanting in the deference, the courtesy, and respect which are due to the House?" He had heard the explanations which had been given from the Treasury bench, and one of these explanations appeared to him to have been more than sufficient. Surely hon. Members could not deny that it would have been the height of unwisdon on the part of the Government to have announced their intention of calling out Indian troops, unless they had been perfectly certain of the success of their scheme. As it was, their success had been greater almost than they could have themselves hoped for, and all Parties in the country must now agree that they had been justified fully by the event. He could come to no other conclusion than, that no charge of unconstitutional conduct could be maintained against the Government; and of the wisdom of their policy he never had a doubt, and, indeed, it was not called into question, nor challenged by the Motion. Hon. Members opposite might be assured that those on the Conservative benches were animated by a resolution no less ardent and determined than their own to guard and maintain 328 that Constitution which they had inherited from their fathers, and to hand it down unimpaired to posterity. But with that Constitution they should remember that they had inherited something else besides—that those who sat within those walls were at this moment the trustees of the future fortunes of the Empire, the traditions of the people, and the greatness of the country, and those fortunes and traditions and the greatness they were determined, come what might, to maintain.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, that had the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition required any confirmation of the argument which he addressed to the House, or any testimony to the justness of the Resolution which he had brought forward, it would have been found in the answer, if answer it could be called, which had been given on the part of the Government by the Colonial Secretary. The character of that answer was almost as singular as the Amendment by which it was accompanied. The right hon. Baronet had attacked the Resolution of the noble Lord with some severity, and the condemnation which he passed upon it was that it was a Constitutional truism. If it was a Constitutional truism, the least one might have expected was that a Constitutional Government would have accepted the proposition contained in it. On the contrary, however, no sooner had the Colonial Secretary declared it to be a Constitutional truism, than he added—"You must understand that the Government do not accept it." That was a very singular situation for a Secretary of State, to decline that which he stated was' a Constitutional truism.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
I never said I accepted the Resolution of the noble Lord as a Constitutional truism.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
The right hon. Baronet having so dealt with the proposition of the noble Lord, had gone on to refer to the general policy of the Government, and in a peroration of a most imaginative character had called upon the House to set aside the Constitution, and to declare their confidence in that policy which, if he remembered rightly, linked together, according to the right hon. Baronet, the various races of the Empire by the ocean wave. When the policy of the Government properly 329 came under the consideration of the House, and was stated in a somewhat more prosaic and, perhaps, more intelligible form than in the peroration of the Colonial Secretary, he, and those with whom he acted, would be prepared to consider it; and he hoped it might then be found that the races of this Empire might be linked together by something more stable than the ocean wave. Having stated that the Resolution of the noble Lord was a Constitutional truism which the Government could not accept, the right hon. Baronet had gone on—he could not say to grapple with the argument of the Leader of the Opposition, but to nibble at it. The right hon. Baronet, criticizing the terms of the Resolution, had said—"You speak of the Forces of the Crown; but you exclude the Militia and other Forces in the Colonies." The noble Lord, however, in drawing up his Resolution, had adopted well-known and Constitutional terms, which had received Parliamentary acceptation, and were thoroughly understood. The Forces which were spoken of in the Mutiny Act did not include the Militia or the Reserves. The word "Forces" in that Act meant Forces of the character of a standing Army, and it had always been so understood. His noble Friend, therefore, had employed the word in the sense in which it was perfectly well known in Constitutional language. So in reference to another cavil, if he might so call it, on the part of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The right hon. Baronet said—"What do you mean by the consent of Parliament? The consent of Parliament is given by statute in the Mutiny Act, and you cannot add to the Forces without altering the Act." But that was precisely the point which was dealt with, in 1874, by Lord Card-well, who said the consent of Parliament need not be testified by statute, but might be testified in another way—by a vote of the House of Commons after the Mutiny Act had been passed. "But," said the right hon. Baronet again, "you only vote the money and do not vote the men." He had been astonished at that statement. In 1870, no doubt, there was a Vote of Credit for money; but then there was also a separate and distinct Vote for men. In 1870, when it was necessary to add 20,000 men to the Army, it was done by a Supplementary Vote and a Vote of Credit for £2,000,000. What 330 he charged the Government with was, not with the intention of violating the Constitution with any sinister motive, but with having come down to the House without understanding the Constitution of the country upon the capital points he had named. The Secretary of State for the Colonies had made two errors of the most palpable kind. Then, that right hon. Gentleman had endeavoured to excuse himself and the Government by stating that these Indian troops were employed in the same way at Singapore and Hong Kong. Yes; but on what terms and conditions? These troops were voted on a specific Estimate. They were voted at the instance of General Peel, the Secretary for War of the Conservative Government, who took the Constitutional objection that they ought not to allow the Native troops of the Crown to be employed unless they voted them on a specific Estimate. Then the Secretary of State referred to the Committee moved for by Colonel Anson, who, said the right hon. Baronet, did not say a word about there being no right to employ those troops. No one contested the right to employ these troops, if the proper Parliamentary preliminaries were taken. Then, said the Secretary of State, the Bill of Rights was wholly confined to the United Kingdom. He asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to explain what claim he put forth. Was he prepared to say that outside the United Kingdom the Crown claimed the right to maintain an Army of any amount it chose in all its Dominions without the consent of Parliament? If that was not the claim, he could not deny the position of his noble Friend. If that was the claim of the Crown, then he said there had been no Government since the days of the Stuarts—not in the bad days of Lord Bute and Lord North—who had dared in the presence of the House of Commons and the country to maintain such a proposition. If they were not prepared to maintain that, he asked what intermediate proposition was there between that and the proposition of his noble Friend? It was said to be sufficient that Parliament should have the command over the Supplies. But the Crown might maintain an Army without Supply. The Crown might use its own means, or utilize the other resources which it might 331 obtain. There was such a thing as subsidizing countries to maintain armies. He would give an example. In the year 1816, after the war was over, the English Government maintained an Army of Occupation in Paris. He supposed, according to the doctrine of the Government, that the Crown might do what it liked with that Army without the consent of Parliament. It so happened that the Ministers of the day did not want Supplies for it; because, by the Treaty of Peace, an indemnity had been obtained', and a sum was to be paid by the French nation for maintaining the Army of Occupation. The consequence was, that the Minister said he would not apply to the House of Commons for the maintenance of the troops in Paris. But what was the language of the House of Commons? They said—"No; we will not stand that. We will not stand the Crown having an Army in Paris which is not under the control of Parliament. You must get a Vote of money for that Army, and you must pay into the Treasury the indemnity you receive from France; and so the control of Parliament shall be kept over the Army which is outside the United Kingdom, as well as over the Army within it." Then the right hon. Gentleman came to a precedent which was a little interesting, as it would appear as if for once, and once only, the Government had become disciples of his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich. The Secretary for the Colonies read a passage from a speech of the right hon. Member for Greenwich, to the effect that there were emergencies in which a Government ought to act even without the consent of Parliament, upon condition that they should come down and ask the concurrence of Parliament at the earliest possible moment. That was most excellent doctrine, a doctrine in which they would all agree; but what was most amazing was that the right hon. Gentleman said—"That is exactly what we have done." Why, it was a month ago since the thing was done, and they had not come down for the concurrence of Parliament yet; and when the Chancellor of the Exchequer was asked about the matter, he said—"We did not even think it necessary to allude to it." And that was what the Secretary for the Colonies called following the example of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich! All 332 he could say was that the Secretary for the Colonies was not a very apt disciple of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. The right hon. Gentleman said that the object of the movement was to show to Europe that the British Government had the command of the Forces of a united Empire. But if they had pursued a different method, they might have shown not only that they had the command of the Forces of a united Empire, but the support of a united Parliament. [Laughter.] He did not know what the laughter meant. Did it mean that the Government did not communicate their intention because they did not think Parliament would support them? The Government had not ventured so far as that; but he thought the laughter of hon. Gentlemen opposite meant that. Passing from the right hon. Gentleman's speech, he would ask the House to consider some of the other speeches which had been made—very interesting, no doubt, but without any particular bearing upon the Resolution of the noble Lord. What was the meaning of that Resolution? It did not dispute, and he did not dispute, that this employment of Indian troops was a thing which might be done, and which ought to be done. But the question was whether this was a thing which ought to have been done in the manner in which it had been done. That was really the only question before the House. Some people said it was a very trivial matter, but he maintained it was not a very light thing to depart from Constitutional precedent. Hon. Gentlemen opposite—among them the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ritchie)—had said that, after all, it was a question of the responsibility of the Government; but what did that mean? Did it mean that a Government was entitled to do anything in which it could secure the support of a majority? If so, it was a very dangerous proposition. Hon. Gentlemen opposite might not always be in a majority; and they might depend upon it, it was quite as important for them to consider the matter. The principles of the Constitution were checks upon majorities. They had seen Assemblies where democratic principles had prevailed, and where a majority had ruled without Constitutional checks. If these checks were swept away, they might depend upon it the danger was 333 very great to whichever Party might prevail. When, therefore, they said that the act of the Government was being covered by a majority, surely they did not mean that a Government ought to be allowed to do anything, regardless of Constitutional checks, so long as it was certain that it might come down and get the sanction of a majority.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, if the hon. and learned Gentleman was referring to his observations, he begged to disclaim his interpretation of his argument. What he said was, that the question of urgency was a question which must be decided by Ministers on their responsibility.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he was not referring particularly to the hon. Gentleman; but he would deal with the argument upon its own merits. We must regard these Constitutional checks as something totally different from the power which a Government had to cover anything it might do by the vote of a Party majority. The Government relied upon the fact that in 1775, the Motion against the employment of foreign troops in British territory was rejected by a large majority. But those were bad times, and there was no Government who, in bad times, might not command a majority in Parliament. We were now in the presence of a proceeding which, as his noble Friend had said, was certainly a novel proceeding. The Indian Army had only to a slight extent been used outside India, and in each of those cases provision for it had been voted by Parliament in the Estimates of the year. It might be wise to employ the Indian troops for general purposes; he did not say it was not. But it could not be denied that the principle of so employing them was a novel one, and therefore it ought to be examined. As he understood the contention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, these troops were to be used in exactly the same manner as the other Forces of the Crown. That was an important proposition, as affecting not only the members of the Army, but as equally affecting Parliamentary control over the Army, and they could not blame the Opposition for examining it. If it was a right thing to do, Parliament ought deliberately to have pronounced it to be right; but it could not be right 334 that it should be slurred over, and that Parliament should treat with carelessness and negligence a matter on which their ancestors and Predecessors were justly and wisely jealous. What was the position of Her Majesty's Government in this matter? They said—"These Indian troops are in exactly the same position as any other of our troops, and therefore they should be dealt with in the same manner." But he and those who thought with him entirely denied the truth of that proposition. They said that the British and the Indian Armies were under totally different conditions, and that when it was sought to convert Indian into British troops the authority of Parliament should first be obtained. The hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) had just now challenged the phrase "Parliamentary Army," used by his noble Friend. It was, however, perfectly justifiable when rightly understood. In one sense the English Army was a Parliamentary Army; in another it was the Army of the Crown. The control of the Army was in the hands of Parliament—it determined the number and pay of the Force, and it gave authority for its discipline. The Executive, on the other, had in its hands the discipline of the Army, and by this wise compromise the rights of a free people had been reconciled with the Prerogative of an ancient Monarchy. But not one of those conditions applied to the Indian Army, and that made the whole difference between the Indian and the British Army, all the elements of control being absent in the case of the former. The general principles of the relation of Parliament to the Army had been declared in the Bill of Rights. As he had said, the main element was the voting of the money; but it was a mistake to say it was only the money which was voted. In 1843 there were riots in Lancashire, as there unhappily were at the present time, and Sir Robert Peel's Administration thought it was necessary to embody the Chelsea Pensioners. When the Bill for that purpose was brought into the House of Commons, there was no specification of the numbers, and at the instigation of the Liberal Party a limitation was placed on the number to be embodied, which would be found in the Act. That showed that the principle of enforcing the limitation 335 of numbers had been observed down to the latest times. He could not admit that the case of the Abyssinian War, and the employment of Native troops therein, came within the principle which was urged in support of this particular line of conduct on the part of the Government. Abyssinia was not within the dominions of the Crown, and the time was not a time of peace. So far as he knew, the only cases in which Native Indian troops had been employed out of India in time of peace were when they served in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Labuan; but, on those occasions, they were included in the Votes. He did not contend that these troops should be included in the Mutiny Act; but they ought, at any rate, to be included in the Votes for the numbers of men and for the money which was to be used in paying them. He wished to say one word about the contention that the Bill of Rights only applied to the United Kingdom. The old recital was only done away with 10 years ago, by which it was upheld that troops were maintained for supporting the balance of power, and he did not know why it was struck out by the present Prime Minister. Coming to the Act of 1858, the Indian Army never was and never had been on the same footing as the English Army. It was not voted in numbers; it was maintained by moneys which did not come from Parliament, and it was governed by a Mutiny Act, which was not annual, but perpetual. Now, all those anomalies were tolerated with respect to the Indian Empire, and that was the reason why the Indian Army was, and as long as it remained in India must be, different from the Army of the Crown. If this non-Parliamentary Army was to be treated on exactly the same footing, Canada, Australia, and the Channel Islands, and, according to his view, the whole of the United Kingdom, might be filled with troops who were not voted by Parliament, and who were not subject to the Mutiny Act. That would be betraying the ancient liberties of the country, and was exactly what had happened in ancient Rome. They could not be too cautious in this respect. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said it was only moving troops from one part of the Empire to another. Yes; but the distinction was between non-voted Forces and voted Forces. The Act of 1858 was indirectly 336 clear upon this subject—not directly, he admitted, because it was stated that the troops should not be moved out of India and charged upon the Indian Revenue. But the Government had violated the Act, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted that the very thing he had now done was contrary to the law. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman shook his head; but what he told the House he was doing was that he should move these troops from India, charging the cost in the first place on India, and then recouping the Indian Revenue afterwards. That was exactly what was done in the case of the Abyssinian War—the charge was put first on India, to be afterwards repaid. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: Only to repay them partially.] In the case of the Abyssinian War, the Chancellor of the Exchequer confessed that what he had done was outside the letter of the law, and pleaded in extenuation that others had done the same thing before him. That was a very pardonable thing, then, in the face of the bad example set him. [Mr. GLADSTONE: It was not a bad example.] He would not argue the matter with his right hon. Friend. All he could say was that, having discovered that the thing was unlawful and required condonation, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had come again to the House of Commons and done the very thing which he had found was unlawful—that was to say, making an advance from the Indian Revenue, with the intention of recouping it afterwards. Of course, they would hear the explanation the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to give them. He (Sir William Harcourt) said that Parliament must vote these men not only as a Constitutional principle, but as a matter of necessity. They must vote them as new levies, otherwise they would have no control over them. He considered that he had now shown that the Government had violated the rules of English finance. The rule of English finance was that the object should be first stated to Parliament, which should then vote the expenditure necessary to carry it out, unless they obtained a Vote of Credit for the expenditure, for which they might afterwards account to Government. If, however, it was enough for Government first to spend the money, and then come 337 down and ask Parliament to sanction the expenditure, where, he would ask, was the use of a Vote of Credit at all? He had endeavoured to discuss this question far from anything like Party asperity, as he wished rather to maintain a great Constitutional principle than to gain any mere Party advantage. Indeed, he was bound to say that he was not opposed to the general policy of Her Majesty's Government. So far as they were contending for the authority of England, and that she should have her just weight in the councils of Europe, he entirely agreed with them. He had always desired, and did now desire, that the dominion of Turkey should be put an end to. But he had never desired that Russia should have the undisputed control of the East; and, if the policy of the Government was to insist that Europe and England should be consulted in this matter, he was ready to place at their disposal, not only the Forces of the United Kingdom, but of the Empire generally. But it seemed to him quite as necessary for them to have, in a matter of this kind, the cordial co-operation of the House of Commons, which could only be obtained by treating the House on terms of complete confidence. It seemed to him that it was never more necessary than at a time of public danger, to adhere to the principles of the Constitution—he did not mean in a pedantic spirit. If the Government convinced the country that an overwhelming necessity existed, the country would put a liberal construction upon their acts. But what was the case? No such plea was put forward. The Government had not said—"We were obliged to do this thing, and could not consult you." No such thing. They came down and said it was not necessary to consult Parliament at all. With the majority they had at their backs, they might have had the Vote at any time for the last month. They might have had it before Parliament adjourned. They might have had it sooner. They might have had a Vote of Credit. Well, what was the plea of urgent necessity? The secret of the Government had been known for a month, and yet they said they could not communicate it to Parliament. What the Government said was, that this was to be a demonstration of the Forces of a united Empire. It could not be demonstrative 338 and secret too. This essence of a demonstration was, that it should be made public. They could not demonstrate in secret any more than they could conspire in public. He did not impute to the Government any of the sinister motives that had been attributed to them in trying to find out precedents of Prerogative. There was a good deal of the trash of Imperialism talked in places where they would not expect to hear it, and written in quarterly organs, which, it was said in one case, ought to be burnt by the common hangman. Well, they did not do that kind of thing now, but rather reserved them for domestic use. He believed that what they had done was a sheer blunder, and it was a greater mistake that it had not been corrected. Very much the same kind of blunder had been committed by Mr. Pitt in 1794, accompanied by similar criticism, when he advanced the very violent doctrine of Prerogative, that the Crown had a perfect right to bring any number of foreign troops into the United Kingdom without the consent of Parliament. He was offered a Bill of Indemnity, and refused to accept it; and The Annual Register, which was written in those days by men of ability not unfriendly to him, said, that though people approved of the measure itself, still the propriety of a Parliamentary Commission for it appeared manifest; that the Ministers declined to accept an indemnity for conduct which was not reported blameworthy in any other light than in their refusal to acknowledge its illegality; that it was not without difficulty that their friends could find arguments to exculpate them; and that false pride and obstinate prejudice induced them to uphold measures once adopted, rather than candidly and magnanimously to admit an error. But how had the Government met the Motion of his noble Friend? The Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies did not take issue upon the Constitutional principles laid down by the Motion. It did not deny them. It did not accept them. It did not regard the Motion as a Vote of Want of Confidence. It was an appeal of what lawyers called confession and avoidance. It was a mixture of the Previous Question and a sort of resolution of general indemnity. That was not the way in which a grave error, however unintentional, should be atoned for. He 339 believed that the principles which the Government had infringed in this case were principles that required to be re-established by the Resolution which his noble Friend had proposed, because it asserted principles which were consistent with the Prerogative of the Crown, which were agreeable to the authority of Parliament, and which, therefore, were essential to the interests of the Empire.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
said, that in the course of the debate to which they had listened, and in no slight degree in the speech which they had just heard, there had been a great deal of confusion of thought which, in the first instance, he desired to clear up. What Her Majesty's Government wanted to know was, whether they were really charged with a breach of their Constitutional obligations, or with the crime of secrecy, in having concealed from their political opponents something they thought they had a right to know. From what had occurred he was inclined to think that it was because the Government had not told them what they proposed to do that they brought forward this Resolution. The charge of secrecy, however, had been, he thought, sufficiently answered by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But he must say that if they desired to seek any further justification, or to prove the necessity of the step which the Government thought it necessary to advise Her Majesty to adopt, it would be found in the proceedings of that night and of the last fortnight. Was it not perfectly obvious that, if the Government had come down to the House and stated that Indian troops were to be brought to Malta, they would have been exposed to a perfect catechism? They would have been cross-examined as to the ultimate destination of the troops, as to whether 7,000 was the limit they intended to propose, and they would have had such patriotic speeches as that of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), who thought it consistent with his duty to express for the advantage of the enemies of this country his opinion of the character and qualities of these troops. Never did he hear a more despairing speech than that of the hon. Member for Orkney (Mr. Laing). As to a great part of it, he would be prepared, when the proper time came for 340 discussing this question upon its merits, to meet the arguments of the hon. Member; but he ventured at once to protest against some of the doctrines laid down by the hon. Gentleman. And he had gone just one step too far. He had told them a story to show why they ought not to engage the services of the Indian troops outside of India. It happened that the story attracted the attention of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had a retentive memory, and he had referred him (Mr. Stanhope) to an occasion when the hon. Member related the same story—of that he did not complain, as a good story would bear repeating—but, unfortunately, it was used to support just the opposite principle. The hon. Member contended in 1867 that the employment of Indian troops was most desirable, and that, being in India when the Indian troops were returning from service in China, and having special opportunities of consulting military men, he could declare that in India we possessed a Reserve in an extremely warlike population which might be drawn on largely for reinforcements. He said, also, that the Sikhs, who had served in China, had been so much impressed with the valour and discipline of the British troops, and their superiority to the French, that they evinced the greatest desire to serve with the British in any part of the world they might be sent to. He hoped the hon. Gentleman who had just related the story would change his mind on the subject once more, and quote the story in support of his original view. As for the speech made by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, it reminded him (Mr. Stanhope) of what used to take place at quarter sessions. He had always found there that when any person was anxious not to have a discussion upon the merits, he always raised a preliminary objection upon the notices. That was what the noble Lord in effect had done. He had said to the Government, "Prove your notices." The noble Lord would not attend to the political bearings of the question, he would not consider the opportuneness of what had been done and the necessities of a great crisis; all he would think of was his technical point. It had been stated by the noble Lord with great fairness and moderation; but when the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William 341 Harcourt), who had some claim to be considered a Constitutional authority, rose, he fully expected to hear some argument adduced in support of the Motion; but he did not hear a single argument from the hon. and learned Gentleman addressed to the Constitutional aspects of the question. Much had been said about the consent of Parliament. Well, what did that mean? The noble Lord seemed to be a little shy of it. He was a little afraid of that plank in his platform. Ho went back to the year 1734, and told them what somebody else had then thought might be the different meanings of the phrase. But he would have liked to have got from the noble Lord what he himself meant by it in his Resolution. Parliament must mean both Houses of Parliament. The noble Lord could not get out of that position. It could not mean the vote of the House of Commons only; and he protested against any interpretation of the Resolution in that sense as an utterly unconstitutional proposition. But what the consent of Parliament undoubtedly involved was excessive delay. If this Resolution were correct, it applied not only to Native troops in India, but it applied to British troops in India; and, suppose there was a revolt in Ceylon, the consent of both Houses would be required before we could move British or Indian troops into Ceylon—that was what the proposition would lead to. Suppose Parliament was not sitting. Of course they might call Parliament together; but that would involve a delay of five or six weeks at least, so that they would not be able to move a single regiment without calling Parliament together in order to receive its sanction. Or, if there was a revolt in the Mauritius, they must send home and get a Vote of Parliament before they could take measures to put it down. But that was not all. What they wanted in a case of that kind was to send troops, if they could, to overawe an insurrection, rather than to put it down after it had occurred. If this Resolution was accepted, they would not be able to move a single regiment until they had obtained the consent of Parliament. Then a question had been raised as to the limits of the employment of the Native Army, and as some exception had been taken to the argument of his right hon. 342 Friend (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), it was only due to him to re-state, as far as he was able, one or two points which he desired the House to consider. What was the position of the Indian Army? It was clear that in the time of George II. it was not intended to go beyond the limits of the trading Company; but it had been the subject of subsequent legislation; and in the Preamble to the Statute of 4 Geo. IV. it was referred to in terms which assured its employment not merely within the limits of the Charter of the Company, but anywhere upon land or sea, within or without the limits of the Company. If Parliament then made that declaration, it could not now be maintained that Indian troops could only be employed outside the limits of India after obtaining the consent of Parliament. If it were unconstitutional, why had Parliament declared, in such wide and comprehensive terms, that the Indian Army might go anywhere? The fact was that the Indian Army had been employed elsewhere. That was a fact which it was impossible to get over. It had been sent to the Cape and to China; and if they were going to contend that what had been done already was a thing which ought not to be done now, they ought to bring forward the most definite and conclusive propositions in support of, and in proof of, such contention. But what had the noble Marquess done? Why, he had told them that he did not so much rely upon any particular words as upon practice and precedent. But precedents, so far as he (Mr. Stanhope) was able to understand them, were in favour of the action of the Government. But the noble Lord thought his proposition so clear, so indisputable, that; it was worthy of being submitted to the consideration of the House of Lords without taking a division. The proposition of the noble Lord was not affirmed by the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights said "within the Kingdom;" therefore, no one could maintain that it forbade the use of the troops which the Government had made. Then it was said they did not rely on the exact words, but on the principle of the Bill of Rights. The noble Lord had relied on the precedent of 1775; he said at that time it was agreed on all sides of the House that the proposition for which he contended was a sound one, and that the Kingdom included the Dominions of the Crown. 343 Well, if that were so, he should have expected to find that proposition afterwards re-affirmed. But had any evidence been produced of that character? On the contrary. He would not rely on The Annual Register, though it might be made up by a very competent person; but on what he believed to be a most authentic register in that respect of the proceedings of the period, and that was the Protests recorded in the House of Lords. They were in the writing of the noble Lords themselves, and had been, on the book of Parliament ever since. On one occasion referred to, in 1795, two Protests were recorded in the House of Lords, and one began thus—Because it is contrary to law for the Crown to keep an Army in this Kingdom, either in time of peace or of war, without the consent of Parliament;while the second ran—Because in this debate it has been unanimously admitted, with, the exception of one noble Lord, that the keeping in this country of troops, native or foreign, in time of war or peace, without the consent of Parliament is unconstitutional.''At that time the House of Lords had examined the doctrines laid down in that Protest, and had struck out the words "with the exception of one noble Lord," and had affirmed that the keeping of troops in this Kingdom in time of peace or war was unconstitutional. Then the noble Lord relied on the Mutiny Act. Well, the propositions laid down were not to be found in the Mutiny Act. He had taken two distinct propositions out of the Preamble of the Act, and, jumbling them together in one Resolution, had flung them down for the acceptance of Parliament. If, however, the House went a little further, it would see that that Act did contemplate the raising and keeping troops other than those mentioned; for the 4th clause, which dealt with Colonial and Foreign troops in Her Majesty's pay, said that all officers and soldiers raised and serving in any of Her Majesty's Dominions should be subject to the Articles of War; and if such officers and soldiers, having been made prisoners, should be sent into Great Britain or Ireland, they should not be allowed to serve therein. That evidently meant that they could serve elsewhere; and it expressly denied their right to serve in this Kingdom, according to the Bill of 344 Rights. The House should look still further. What the Preamble of the Mutiny Act said was, that there was a declaration on the part of Parliament that the whole number of troops capable of serving in England should be 135,452, exclusive of the number actually serving in Her Majesty's Indian Possessions, which, of course, meant that the Crown might maintain 135,452 men plus the number actually serving in Her Majesty's Dominions. Not a single word in the Preamble of that Act interfered with the Crown's undoubted right to regulate the removal and exact disposition of the troops. When he looked for a moment to the Bill of Rights, he was led to the conclusion that the noble Lord was wrong in his interpretation of its principle, and he admitted that the actual words did not bear out the proposition which he had placed before the House. But what were the principles on which the Bill of Rights was founded? We had only to read any history of the time to estimate the jealousy with which the standing Army was then regarded, though most historians found it rather difficult to explain the reasons for that extraordinary jealousy. They told us that the reasons mainly were, the desire to prevent the assembling of military Forces for unjustifiable purposes, so as to overawe Parliament, and induce it to enact for the people measures destructive of their freedom. Parliament objected, also, to the billeting of troops on the people without their consent; and those were the chief objections then raised to the maintenance of a standing Army, which, they urged, ought not to be kept in this country. That was the real principle on which the Bill of Rights was founded; but was there any man in that House, he would ask, who would pretend that we were in such danger no w? Why, in any one year, on Salisbury Plain or somewhere else, we had an army assembled far larger than that by which the liberties of our forefathers were endangered. Even within the last few months, Reserved Forces far exceeding it had been called together. If, therefore, that danger ever again arose, Parliament would be perfectly prepared to meet it. At that time of night he would not trouble the House to listen to any elaborate argument; but he might be permitted to advert to the precedent of 1815, when the French indemnity was. 345 handed over. Sir J. Mackintosh then said that one of the controls which Parliament possessed over the Army was the annual Mutiny Bill, and another, which belonged solely to the House of Commons, the annual granting of money for its support. It was this latter control to which he desired especially to direct attention—the financial control. Was the intention and meaning of the Resolution, that certain Forces could not be introduced into any of the Dominions of the Crown, without the previous consent of Parliament? The word "previous" was not in the Resolution of the noble Lord, and the reason was that neither by precedent nor by authority could the proposition be justified that it was only with the previous consent of Parliament, in all cases, that these forces could be brought into any of the Dominions of the Crown. There must be many cases in which the Executive must be allowed to exercise their discretion. There was a time when the right hon. Gentleman opposite proposed a clause in the Government of India Bill. It was at a time at which the Indian Army could be employed anywhere, with no control except the provisions in the Bill of Rights, declaring that it could not be employed within this Kingdom. The House very properly desired to have some check against those constant frontier wars which were often begun and ended without Parliament having any control at all in the matter. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, brought forward a clause to the effect that Her Majesty's Indian Forces should not be employed beyond the frontier of India without the consent of Parliament. There was upon that occasion a very interesting discussion, in which a noble Lord whose name could not be mentioned, especially at the present moment, without the deepest respect—he meant Lord Russell—took part, and in which he concurred with Lord Palmerston in the inexpediency of fettering the power of the Crown in the movement of these troops—Supposing we had a war with some European Power, and that, this war being supported by the House of Commons, it was considered desirable for the Indian Army to attack the possessions of this enemy of the Crown, it appeared to him the clause would prevent the employment of those Forces without the consent of Parliament."—[3 Hansard, cli. 1015.]346 Propositions such as those to which he was referring were, he was aware, laid down in time of war; but hon. Gentlemen opposite appeared unable to understand a state of affairs so critical, without amounting to actual war, as would necessitate preparations for the maintenance of the honour of England. General Peel had some right to complain, because the troops, in that case, had been kept for some years in a particular locality, without any explanation being given to Parliament of their number or of the amount of money which would be required to sustain them. When the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke) talked of the phantoms which the Government had conjured up, he seemed to him to speak far too lightly of a crisis which, in the Gracious Message which Her Majesty had been advised to send to Parliament, was described as an emergency. If hon. Gentlemen opposite disagreed with the course adopted by the Government, they could express their disapprobation of that policy, and say that the troops should go back to India—though no doubt, in some form or other, the country would have to bear the burden if that were done. The Opposition could satisfy their consciences, if they chose to do so, by turning out the present Ministers of the Crown and taking their places. Therefore, it was idle to say that the House had no effective control over this movement. The Government fully admitted the financial control which Parliament ought to exercise over this matter; in the course of a short time they would be prepared to submit a general Estimate of what they believed the expenditure was likely to be, and it would then be for Parliament to exercise the control which they thought fit under the circumstances. Anything that could have been said before the Easter Adjournment would have been a mere declaration of what the Government intended to do; no Estimate could possibly have been given. A certain amount of discretion had necessarily to be exercised by the Executive; but it was far from their thoughts to interfere with the form of the Constitution, and still less to tamper with its spirit. To institute any comparison between the dangers which threatened their forefathers and those against which they had now to guard was obviously impossible. But 347 while, on the one hand, it was the advantage and the strength of their Constitutional system that it was capable of easy extension and adaptation to the altered circumstances of the Empire, so it ought not to be their weakness that, while amply secured against any real dangers, they were to be fettered and hampered by a too rigid interpretation of technical rules in the development and employment of their power. They all remembered the classical story of the man who carried a newly-born calf, and day by day as it grew he continued to carry it, so that his powers became enlarged just in proportion as the demand upon them increased. So must it be with England. They too, always, indeed, on the whole with advantage, but sometimes with purpose and deep anxiety, had had to bear an ever-increasing burden. And lo! it was suddenly made lighter. India had contributed, and willingly to the strength of their Empire. The Government had asserted the strength of the British Empire in the midst of a crisis which might exercise a material influence on the future of Europe. Was it necessary, wise, or opportune, to choose that exact moment to cast doubt upon the legality of this proceeding on the part of the Government, and in the eyes of Europe—because Europe would not understand these technical distinctions which hon. Gentlemen opposite had been attempting to draw—upon its wisdom also. To that question Her Majesty's Government awaited the answer without anxiety; because, whatever might be the feebleness of the efforts they could make to maintain the honour of the country, they would be satisfied, if it were said of them, as it had been said of another man in days gone by—"They knew how to make a small State great."
§ MR. FAWCETT moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
hoped the House would assent to the debate being renewed on Tuesday, and that hon. Gentlemen who had Notices on the Paper for that day would give way.
§ MR. W. HOLMS
said, he had no wish to interrupt the progress of so important a debate. He stood first on the Orders of the Day for Tuesday, and had a Resolution of considerable importance to propose on a question which excited 348 great interest in Scotland. He, therefore, asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give him a day for his Motion. He did so the more readily, because during this Session Scotland had not received a large amount of attention from the Government.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.