§ MR. RYLANDS,
in rising to move the following Resolutions:—
said: We hear rather curious discussions as to what are the principles and the policy of the Conservative Party under 988 its present Chief; and I do not wonder that there is some difficulty in coming to a satisfactory conclusion on this knotty question, seeing the Protean character of the measures of the Government. But, Sir, there is one matter which we can always predicate when a Conservative Government with Lord Beaconsfield at its head comes into power, and that is an increase in the National Expenditure. Lord Beaconsfield, in Opposition, is one of the most economical of critics; in power, he is the most extravagant of Ministers. During the latter years of Lord Palmerston's Government, Mr. Disraeli, in this House, constantly declaimed against the expenditure of Government. He denounced "bloated armaments;" he charged the Government with "profligate expenditure." He said to Lord Palmerston that his "turbulent policy abroad" increased taxation and involved large expenditure; and, in 1862, he warned the Government that—
- "1. That this House views with regret the great increase in the National Expenditure.
- "2. That such Expenditure, for which Her Majesty's present Government are responsible, is not necessary, in the opinion of this House, to provide for the security of this Country at home, or for the protection of its interests abroad.
- "3. That the Taxes required to meet the present Expenditure impede the operations of agriculture and manufactures, and diminish the funds for the employment of labour in all branches of productive industry, thereby tending to produce pauperism and crime, and adding to the local and general burdens of the people.
- "4. That this House is of opinion that immediate steps should be taken to reduce the present Expenditure to such an amount as may not only equalize the Revenue and Expenditure, but may give material relief to the British taxpayers,"If they allowed their resources to be sapped, weakened, and exhausted, they would deprive themselves of the principal source of their power—a sound state of finance.It would be well if Lord Beaconsfield would bring to bear on his own policy at the present moment the wise counsels he gave to Lord Palmerston's Government. But it was not very long after Lord Beaconsfield had made that statement in this House that he was called upon to join Her Majesty's Government; and in 1866 the Conservative Government, of which Mr. Disraeli was a prominent Member, was formed. Now, Sir, the moment that Cabinet was formed, we find that the economical professions of Mr. Disraeli were thrown to the wind. There was, in point of fact, a marvellous inconsistency between his promises and the literal fulfilment of them. When the Government was formed, we observe at once that the Cabinet began making things pleasant all round. It was a good time for disposing of the patronage of the Crown; and in every Department—in the Army and Navy, and in the Civil Service—we had inflated Estimates and Supplementary Votes. That Government came into power, as I have said, in 1866, with an Expenditure, for the year ending March, of £66,000,000. The Government was in power for only a very short time. It went out of power in 1868, and yet, during that short 989 period of its existence, it had increased the Expenditure from £66,000,000 to £72,000,000. The Government also left arrears of £4,500,000, on account of the Abyssinian Expedition, and other Services, to be paid by their successors. Well, exactly the same thing has happened with the present Government. They came into Office in 1874, and they found an Expenditure of £73,000,000, excluding the Alabama Claims. Last year the Expenditure was £85,000,000. But that was not the whole of the case. The House would recollect that in February last year the Government came down and proposed a Vote of Credit; and they obtained that Vote, I would say, on grounds very much resembling false pretences. ["Oh, oh!"] I will tell hon. Gentlemen why—and I am within their recollection. The Government said if we would grant them £6,000,000, it was only to be a sort of demonstration of moral influence to Europe, and they would not spend the money. Do not hon. Gentlemen recollect that the moment that those £6,000,000 were voted, the servants of the Crown rushed upon the expenditure of the Grant with almost reckless extravagance? They laid violent hands upon those £6,000,000, and then performed a financial feat which is unparalleled. Within six weeks, in addition to the ordinary Expenditure, they managed to spend £3,500,000. I want to point out that that £3,500,000 was spent for stores, and other charges, which properly came into account in the following year. Many of those stores, I am quite sure, were brought into stock, because this Expenditure was going on at the very last day in March, 1878; and I have very good reason to believe that we paid out of the Vote of Credit for a number of things which were not supplied until after the 31st of March. I believe, also, that a portion of that £3,500,000 was paid into the Treasury Chest, and that a certain portion was actually expended after March. 31st, 1878; but whether that be so or not, I say we are entitled, in looking back at the Expenditure of last year, to bring into it the £3,500,000 which practically belonged to the year 1878–9. But that is not all. During that year we carried on, for Imperial purposes, a war in India, and we have spent £2,000,000. The Government shrink from imposing the £2,000,000 990 on our taxpayers. If, in addition to ordinary Expenditure, they had added the £2,000,000, there would have been an additional tax to impose; and the Government, therefore, had recourse to a financial juggle. The £2,000,000 is to be loaned to India without interest; and every hon. Gentleman knows that, sooner or later, Great Britain will have to pay the £2,000,000. Just add up the total, and you will find a Budget Expenditure of £85,000,000; Vote of Credit, £3,500,000; Loan to India, £2,000,000—giving a total Expenditure for Imperial purposes by Her Majesty's Government in one year of £91,000,000. Of course, this has not been exhibited to the country; this has been concealed. It has been concealed by means of Exchequer Bonds and other devices of impecuniosity. They have raised in Revenue during the last 12 months no less a sum than £83,115,977; and I say that it is an amount so enormous that it is entirely unprecedented in the history of the country. There has been ample justification for the Resolutions which I have the honour to propose. To show the way in which the National Expenditure is going forward by leaps and bounds, I will just ask the attention of the House for a moment to a statement of the Expenditure during the last 60 years. [Laughter.] I am not going into the figures for each year. In the year 1819, when the Expenditure was resuming its normal proportions after the great pressure of the Continental War, the gross Expenditure of this country was £57,750,000; in 1850, £55,500,000—making a decrease in the 30 years ending 1850 of £2,250,000. What has happened since? Why, since 1850, upon the Budget Expenditure of last year there has been an absolute increase of £30,000,000 in the Expenditure of this country. That is to say, the gross Expenditure has increased from £55,500,000 to £85,500,000. Now, Sir, there are two statesmen who have been chiefly responsible for this enormous increase in Expenditure during the last 30 years—one was Lord Palmerston, and the other is Lord Beaconsfield. Mr. Cobden once said, in this House, that Lord Palmerston had cost the country £100,000,000, and he thought that Lord Palmerston was dear at the price; but Lord Beaconsfield has determined not to be inferior to any other states- 991 man in any walk of life, and Lord Beaconsfield has, indeed, distanced every competitor in the race of extravagant Expenditure. It is not surprising. Lord Beaconsfield came to take charge of the National Finance with an axiom which he announced to his admiring friends at Aylesbury some years ago, when he said that—"If it is earned by an industrious and free people, the National Debt is a mere fleabite!" If he regards the National Debt as a mere fleabite, one can easily imagine his indifference to reducing it or keeping down the Expenditure. Now, I charge upon Lord Beaconsfield that he has not only heaped up from year to year additional millions of Expenditure upon this country, but that he is, in fact, exposing us to future liabilities which it is utterly impossible for anybody to realize. In fact, he is going in a spirit of reckless adventure all over the world, and a costly adventure it is. There is a class of people in this country—perhaps they are represented on the other side of the House—who seem to like being taxed, and they join in a "People's Tribute" to the Premier, and they are going to present him with a gold wreath. The active promoter of this scheme is a gentleman with a curious name—Mr. Tracey Turnerelli—and he has placed himself upon a pinnacle of fame by initiating this grand scheme, and he, no doubt, derives great assistance from the eloquence of a clergyman in Manchester, who, a few weeks ago, preached a sermon of an admirable description. I shall not trouble the House with the whole of the sermon, but only a few passages, and must give out the text. The Rev. Richard Butler, preaching at St. Silas's Church, spoke from the text—"What shall be done unto the man whom the King delighteth to honour?" And upon that text he drew an elaborate parallel between Mordecai, Joseph, the Ruler of Egypt, and Lord Beaconsfield, whom he considered three of the greatest statesmen in the world's history. He asked—What had been done in England for the man who, by God's grace, had risen from a gentleman of the Press to be a Peer in England, and almost the King of England?There were a number of other very pretty recognitions of Lord Beaconsfield's great services. ["Go on!"] I will not trouble the House with the whole of the sermon. He concluded it by saying that— 992He hoped that, in addition to the honour Lord Beaconsfield had received, a splendid gold wreath might be got up for Benjamin Disraeli by the millions of England, each giving a penny for this wreath of gold to adorn the head of Benjamin Disraeli, in whose career there was not one dishonourable blot.But out of the 34,000,000 people of England, 52,800 only have been found each of them to give a penny towards this tribute to the Premier. 1 suppose those people are the Rump of the Jingo Party; and I hope that they will take the tribute in procession to Downing Street, and thus achieve the dignity of a Tich borne demonstration. But, Sir, this is not the only tribute which is now being paid by the industrious millions of this country to the Premier. Every struggling trades-man and farmer sees his income diminishing and his anxieties increasing in consequence of the burdens which have been laid upon him. Every distressed operative not only has to sacrifice the comforts but the necessaries of life; and even the poor wretched pauper, who goes into a grocer's shop and buys half-an-ounce of tobacco, contributes his tribute in recognition of the great policy of the Premier of England. I ask the House to consider whether the present condition of England does not furnish very important justification for the Resolutions which I have ventured to submit to their notice. I have no doubt that in former periods there have been occasionally narrow districts in England where trade has been more seriously depressed, and where the sufferings of the people have been greater than at present; but I think I shall be borne out by the House, when I say that in no former period of our history has there been such a general and such a universal depression of trade, and so much commercial suffering in all branches of industry, as there is at the present moment. ["No, no!"] I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen take the trouble to read the trade reports in The Times; but if they look over the trade reports of last Monday they will find a notice of the state of trade in all the principal centres of industry. They will find that in Birmingham orders are slack and stocks heavy; Sheffield, trade unsatisfactory; Manchester, cloth slow of sale; Nottingham, prices unremunerative; Bradford, trade dull and without improvement; Dundee, limited business; Huddersfield, trade very dull; Leeds, unremunerative rates; 993 and Middles borough, trade depressed. I have taken all of the most important places of industry in England. Hon. Gentlemen seemed to think that these accounts mean very little; but we, who are connected with those industries, know they mean very much. We know they mean that millions of capital at the present moment are being employed in this country without remuneration, and, in many cases, with absolute loss. We know that these reports mean that amongst the working classes of the country there is a less demand for employment, there are reduced wages, there is an absolute loss of work, and we know that the effect of all that is to add to the demand upon the relief granted by the guardians of the poor. Well, Sir, it appears to me that there is another point in the present state of the country which is worthy of great consideration—that is, the interest represented so fully in this House—I mean the agricultural interest. It so happens, perhaps to a greater extent than we have ever experienced in this country, that trade and agriculture are at the present moment companions in distress; that agriculturists are suffering in a manner that they have never done before. There has been a succession of four bad harvests. While I hope, and, no doubt, we may believe, that that source of difficulty with the agriculturists may be removed under happier circumstances, yet we must bear in mind that there are other causes at work, the effect of which must necessarily continue to press very severely upon the agricultural interest. I noticed a speech, delivered the other day in Suffolk, by the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read), in which the hon. Gentleman alleged that one of the great difficulties under which agriculturists were labouring arose in consequence of the cheapness of food, brought about by increased importation of cattle and corn from other countries. My hon. Friend alluded, in his speech, to California, whence, he said, there were large importations of corn at a cost in freight of only 1s. per bushel; and he said that the farmers in California had a great advantage over the farmers in England, because they had a virgin soil, light taxes, and low rent. He also mentioned that from India, in 1873, we received 11,000 tons of wheat, but that in 1877 we re- 994 ceived 256,000 tons. I saw in the paper a short time ago that Mr. Lawes, one of the highest authorities on agriculture, stated that in the United States more than 1,000,000 acres of wheat had been brought under cultivation every year for some years past; and he notices the fact that the agriculturists working the land are lightly taxed. I think it must be observed that there is a great depression coming upon the agricultural interest on account of the great importation of all kinds of agricultural produce. I know perfectly well what will be the result of all this suffering and national distress in all branches of industry. We shall find hon. Gentlemen coming to the Government and to the House with what Lord Derby so well called, at Rochdale, "quackish remedies for our present difficulties." What are the real remedies for this state of things? Now, I think I shall be borne out, when I say that one of the most important remedies of the present difficulties in which we are placed is that we should be able to have a cheap production if we are to stand against foreign competition. In regard to agriculture, as well as manufacture, we must endeavour to secure cheapness. We have to compete with the world; but we cannot do that satisfactorily with dear articles in manufacture. So, in the same way, if the agriculturists of England were to compete and stand successfully this importation of food from other countries, they must be in a position to dispose of their produce cheaply. Well, now, Sir, I think no hon. Gentleman can deny that it is a very important element in the cheapness of production that the burden of taxation should be reduced. When taxation was very much less than at the present moment, I remember that Mr. Cobden pointed out that heavy taxation, even then, was a most serious hindrance to the prosperity of the country. Could Mr. Cobden have lived until to-day, and have seen the enormous taxation of the Government now pressing on the country, I am quite sure he would have told us we were running a risk of permanently and seriously interfering with the manufacturing and commercial interests of the country. But it is not only as to Expenditure, in which Government could render great assistance to trade and agriculture—they could not only do this by cutting down Expendi- 995 ture and relieving taxation; but what we want for the security and promotion of commerce is peace in our time. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt), in one of his eloquent and powerful speeches—for which the country is greatly indebted—only a short time ago, spoke about our living in the midst of war, and in the atmosphere of war. Sir, when war flourishes trade decays; it is utterly impossible for us to carry on the industry and commercial arrangements of this country if we are to be in a state of apprehension, if we do not know from one day to another where another thunder cloud may not burst. It is very essential, for the success of commerce, that there should be confidence not only in the present, but in the future. But we can have no confidence in the future so long as the Imperial policy of the present Government exists. And when they are approached by people who want some relief from this present distress, I venture to tell them that there are only two ways in which they could at once assist the trade of the country and agriculture also. One alternative was to cut down their Expenditure several millions and entirely change their policy; the other was for them to resign their seats. [Laughter.] I am not now speaking simply as a joke; but I firmly believe that any change of policy, or change of Government, would at once be felt by the great industrial interests of the country as a positive relief, and it would give confidence in future transactions. If hon. Gentlemen opposite doubt it, they had better take the opinion of the country upon it forthwith. Now, there is another urgent necessity for the Resolutions which I now submit to the House, and it is the extraordinary manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has presented to the House, and has conducted the financial arrangements of the country. The mode in which the financial arrangements have been laid before the House has necessarily confused the minds of hon. Members, and has prevented the people appreciating, to the full extent, what the proposals of the Government were. There was, in the days of Queen Anne, an expression used by Dean Swift, which would not be inapplicable in this matter. I may say 996 that, in respect to the financial arrangements of the year, the House and the country have been "bubbled"—have been kept from ascertaining, as they ought to ascertain, what is the actual Expenditure which is proposed; and, in fact, they have been prevented from grasping the financial affairs of the country. I do not, however, intend to dwell on this part of the case. I do not intend to dwell upon the way the Expenditure has been met by the issue of Exchequer Bonds—nor do I intend to dwell upon the first Budget, the second, or the third Budget; nor upon the fact that every anticipation experienced in the first Budget speech, except as to what was raised from taxation, has proved to be a delusion. One justification for the Resolution which I am now bringing before the House is that we shall have valuable contributions to the debate, which will enlighten the country with regard to the present financial policy of the Government. I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich—the highest financial authority in the Kingdom—will give us the benefit of his opinion; and I am sure we are all glad to see the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) in his place, believing that he, too, may address us upon this important subject. Well, now, when we look back at the manner in which the financial affairs of the last year have been conducted we are asked to go over exactly the same ground again; and I must say it will be scarcely respectful to the House for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to ask us this year to pass through the same humiliating course that we passed through during the last financial year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has laid before the House his Budget Estimate, and he fixed the Expenditure at £81,153,573. Now, Sir, does the Chancellor of the Exchequer for a moment believe that this Estimate will not be exceeded? I cannot for a moment suppose that the Chancellor of the Exchequer imagines that his Estimate will not be exceeded. Does any Member of the Government, either in or out of the Cabinet—unless it may be the right hon. Gentleman the Judge Advocate General, who, judging from his speech at Cockermouth, does not hesitate to say almost anything—now venture to make such an assertion? I 997 fully sympathize with the Chancellor of the Exchequer; for I am quite aware that all this financial confusion must be excessively distasteful to him. I am quite sure he feels very strongly these difficulties, which are not of his own creating. But how is it that he is unable to place before us in the Budget speech of the year a correct and reliable Estimate of the amount of the Expenditure? In ordinary Cabinets, there is no difficulty at all in affording this information. I presume when an ordinary Cabinet meets at the beginning of the financial year, they are enabled to calculate, with pretty fair certainty, what will be the Expenditure that the policy they have decided to adopt will be likely to require. But the Cabinet we have at present presents a most extraordinary spectacle. On many occasions we have seen evidences that there is a mind of wonderful power of tenacity—a mind filled with schemes of an Imperial and Oriental policy—which controls the minds of his weaker Colleagues in the Cabinet, and, practically, develops a policy which is made known to the Government when they are absolutely committed to it, and afterwards disclosed to the world. Why. Sir, it seems as though we were witnessing—when we look at the proceedings of Her Majesty's Government—it seems as if we were witnessing some great process of evolution proceeding from, and connected with, an inscrutable purpose. The Government have been positively dragged on, in spite of themselves, on these lines of turbulent aggression, which cannot be followed without seriously embarrassing the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his financial arrangements. Hon. Gentlemen, perhaps, think I have made this statement without any sufficient consideration. I would ask them just to look for a moment at some of these evidences, which will enable them to see that the policy of the Cabinet is one in which they have been controlled. Take, for instance, the period before the breaking out of the Russo-Turkish War. There is no doubt whatever that this House and the country felt with Lord Derby when he said that the greatest of British interests was peace; and I believe that the majority of the Cabinet had no bitter hatred against Russia—that they had no desire the occasion should occur to 998 even humiliate Russia—and I do not think that they had the care for Turkey which would induce them to endeavour to bolster up an infamous Power. Lord Salisbury was sent to the Constantinople Conference, and it was understood he would make it appear that Turkey must yield to the decisions of the Conference. I believe Turkey would have yielded—we are entitled to say she would have yielded. But at the very moment that Lord Salisbury was trying to bring to bear this pressure upon the Porte—at that very moment—there was another agent of the British Government at work, who was backing up the Sultan of Turkey to resist the determination of the Conference. Sir Henry Elliot, who was supported by the great power at home, defeated Lord Salisbury's Mission, and the noble Lord returned unsuccessful from what had every appearance of a fool's errand. Now, Sir, I will give hon. Gentlemen another instance of this remarkable process of evolution. Take Afghanistan. In this House, in 1877, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer rose in his place, and stated his own opinions and those of the Government in a most explicit manner on this subject. He laid down two lines of policy—one of prudence, keening within our own Frontier, developing our own resources, and keeping down our own Expenditure; and the other, a dangerous policy, crossing the Frontier and getting all our affairs into a difficult and dangerous position. He said in this House that he was in favour of the prudent policy; and in the other House I feel certain similar assurances were given. What, however, was the effect? At the very moment the right hon. Gentleman was stating his views conscientiously in this House there was one representative of this power behind the Government in India—Lord Lytton—who was carrying on a great scheme of policy, advancing on the forward line. One quarrel after another was picked, until at length the time of action arrived, and then we heard of a pretended insult from the Ameer—we heard something of Russian intrigue—and then we had an Ultimatum, setting forth in the clearest terms all the charges that could possibly be brought against the Ruler of Afghanistan. At length, however, the real motive eked out—the enigma 999 of the Sphinx was solved—for at a Mansion House dinner the Premier, putting aside altogether as unworthy of notice all these pretended reasons for this Indian policy, announced the true reason of the Government—a scientific rectification of the Frontier; in other words, an absolutely unjust and criminal invasion of another's territory, in order to obtain property which does not belong to us. I will give you another instance. We have heard that Her Majesty's Government have not the slightest intention of annexing any country, or of interfering in any way in the rights of surrounding tribes; but what has been done in South Africa? Sir Bartle Frere was not sent out there without instructions, and when he got into the country he very soon began to show his hand when he set to work upon the planned lines of Imperial policy; and you have it announced, in his earlier despatches, that he believed it was necessary that the Queen's Dominions should be largely extended in South Africa. He also told the Government, in despatches of wonderful eloquence and ingenious pleading, that so long as Cetewayo's power existed, there would be no peace or protection to the British Colony. What then happened? It was alleged, as in the case of the Ameer of Afghanistan, that Cetewayo had insulted us; that he was a menace to British interests; and we sent a long Ultimatum to him, and commenced hostilities against him. The Secretary of State for the Colonies evidently had no intention of adopting this course of policy. I doubt whether he had any idea of it; and he began by feeble remonstrances in his despatches to check this arrogant pro-Consul; but the pro-Consul gave his official superior a snub. Sir Bartle Frere treated the right hon. Gentleman with the cool assumption of a man conscious of superior information and judgment, and prosecuting lofty plans, when questioned or criticized by ignorant incapacity. The misfortune is that every measure of this Imperial policy leads to further complications, further wars, and further expenditure of blood and treasure. The Government are on an inclined plane; they cannot take one of these steps without going still further downwards. Facilis decensus Averni. Well, now, Sir, I should like to ask how is it possible, under 1000 these circumstances, for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to form any correct idea of the Expenditure of the coming year, or to lay on the Table any reliable Estimate? I wish we could have a large map hung up of three-quarters of the globe; and if we could mark with a dark spot every place in which British Armies are engaged, and if we could mark that wider range where the consequences of the policy of the Government have planted seeds of future difficulties and disturbances, we should find that the dark shadow of fatal British Imperial policy covers hundreds of thousands of square miles of country inhabited by many millions of people. The fact is, Sir, that if we look round on the position of the relations of this country, we find that nothing is settled anywhere. I am afraid to quote the words used in reference to the Berlin Treaty—their repetition, "Peace with honour," has made them a little nauseating; but with regard to the Berlin Treaty itself, I suppose there is nobody who really supposes it to be a settlement of the question. Does anybody think that by means of this Treaty we can hand back 27,510 square miles of country and 1,500,000 of its inhabitants in Bulgaria to what has been called "the uncovenanted mercies" of the Turk? Can we keep these Bulgarians severed in this unnatural way from the fellow-men of their nation? It is utterly impossible to think such an arrangement can be made permanent. Then there is Greece. I shall not travel over that subject, which was discussed here the other night with so much ability; but we cannot but believe that there the elements are left which will lead to serious results. Then we have the annexation of the Transvaal, of which, at the close of the Session of 1877, it was said, in the Queen's Speech, that the Proclamation of Her Majesty's Sovereignty "had been received throughout the Province with enthusiasm." Yet there we find the elements of difficulty and disaffection. Then there is the Zulu War; and whatever may be its results, there must be enormous expenditure; and assuredly there are most painful emotions throughout the country in watching the occurrences of the war by the belief that the war is both unjust and unnecessary. Then, just before we separated for Easter there was anxiety that 1001 we should have no advance upon Cabul. The Chancellor of the Exchequer tried to satisfy us, and Lord Lytton telegraphed that there would be no advance upon Cabul without a reference to home. But he used some rather ominous words. He said, in order to give the negotiations a reasonable chance of success, the troops must be ready for all contingencies. Well, my impression is that the next thing we shall hear is that there has been an advance on Cabul. History repeats itself, and one of the blackest pages in English history is in danger of being repeated. ["No, no!"] If hon. Gentlemen doubt, let them read Sir Archibald Alison's account of the retreat from Cabul 40 years ago, and they must admit it is, indeed, a black page in our history. Then we turn to Burmah. ["Question!"] This is closely associated with the question. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in one of his soothing—I might almost say soporific—assurances, led us to believe that it was the intention of the Government that no action should be taken in Burmah; but these assurances amount to nothing, unless we know that the annexation of Burmah forms no part of the Imperial policy of which we are now 'witnessing the gradual evolution. If it is the intention that Burmah shall be annexed, then we shall have the Afghan story repeated—there will be insults offered to our Resident, and a violation of our Frontier, a Frontier also which, I believe, is very unscientific. I see by The Times of Monday that it is asserted that King Theebau is determined not to hear or speak of proposals from the Indian Government; and, to make the story complete, the correspondent of The Times says that two Russian officers are expected at Mandalay. If all this leads to the necessity, on the part of Lord Lytton, of taking possession of the Throne of His Golden-footed Majesty the King of the White Elephants, then the annexation will take place. If that event is brought about, considering the character of the territories which the Government are annexing to the British Dominions, the Queen should have an addition to Her title of Empress of India of that of the Queen of all the White Elephants. The catalogue of difficulties is not yet complete; but time will fail me if I attempt to mention them all. You have Cyprus, which Lord Beacons- 1002 field says is not to be a burden to the country. Does anybody believe that? Everyone knows there will certainly be a large expenditure this year on that account added to the Estimates Parliament will have to provide. Is the protection of Asia Minor a sham or a reality? If a sham, let us know it; if a reality, then we may at any moment be called upon for an expenditure to maintain engagements of an utterly impossible character. In Egypt the meddling and muddling has been going on for years; and we cannot tell that at any moment we may not be called upon for expenditure there from the British Treasury. Looking round at all these facts and circumstances, foreigners must regard us with amazement as suffering from a national craze, combined of a nightmare hatred of Russia and an insane lust of dominion. How are we to put a stop to this? We cannot refuse to vote Supplies. I believe there are a great many people in the country who are strongly of opinion that we ought not to pay the cost of the Army and Navy to be used to deprive the inhabitants of a country of their possessions; but if we send forth our Army on an expedition—inglorious and unjust though it may be—we must provide the necessary Supplies. We cannot refuse the Supplies, however much we deplore that the lives of our gallant soldiers should be exposed in such a war. But, at all events, we can do this—we can mark with our reprobation the policy which leads to the necessity of voting these Supplies; and this we can do by joining in the Resolution I have the honour to propose, condemning a Government who are sacrificing the best interests of the country—who are imposing intolerable burdens of taxation en the people—and who are disturbing the peace of the world by a policy of aggression and menace. I beg, Sir, to move the first of the Resolutions which I have placed on the Paper—namely—"That this House views with regret the great increase in the National Expenditure."
§ MR. BAXTER
The hon. Member for Burnley has asked me to second his Resolution, and I do so with the greatest pleasure, although I do not believe it will be carried. [Ironical cheers.] Hon. Gentlemen laugh at this; but it is not the first Resolution calling for a reduction of Expenditure which I have 1003 seconded and seen rejected with scorn, but which the next succeeding Parliament has carried into effect. The Resolution which we now have before us is a mere amplification of the old Liberal motto—"Peace, retrenchment, and reform;" and I cannot believe that anyone advocating that policy will be found in the Lobby against us. I will not follow the lively line of argument taken by my hon. Friend; and I am not going to say much on that foreign policy, with an account of which he has amused and interested the House. Nor am I about to make any comparison between the financial practices and management of the present Government and the Government preceding. I leave this to other hon. Gentlemen more competent and willing to engage in it. My desire now is to call the serious attention of the House to the condition of the country with relation to the proposals of the Budget; because I am, and have been for years, impressed with the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in common with many other Gentlemen—some of them, I am afraid, on this side of the House—has taken far too sanguine a view of our position and prospects. I am not in the habit of making Party speeches on financial matters, or of intruding myself on the attention of the House on frequent occasions; but two years ago I ventured to say to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he was taking far too favourable a view of the condition of the country, and that, if not in the financial year 1877–8, certainly, in the year 1878–9, he would be landed in a deficit. I admit, once for all, it is not very desirable on ordinary occasions to criticize the Estimates on which those able and well-informed Gentlemen whom the Chancellor of the Exchequer consults on the yield of the Revenue form their calculations; but there are occasions forming an exception to this rule, and I now rise to repeat with more emphasis the warning I addressed to the House in 1877. Gentlemen who have studied the connection between commercial distress and the Revenue know that trade, commerce, and agriculture may be very bad for a long time—for a year, or even two years—before the effect on the wage-earning classes is such as seriously to diminish the receipts of the Exchequer. That is a fact very commonly overlooked. It is towards the conclusion of 1004 a period of commercial distress that the diminution of the receipts takes place; and it is a remarkable fact that the falling-off is really continued even after the trade has begun to be better. Therefore it was that, two years ago, I told the Chancellor of the Exchequer we were just at the beginning of bad times, and things would be very much worse, indeed, before they got better. Two years ago, there was a remarkable falling off in the spring purchases in London, and the state of our foreign trade was very alarming all over the world. But if foreign trade was bad in 1877, it is a great deal worse now. With the exception of the United States, where all classes—the Government included—have manfully and persistently reduced expenditure, there is no bright spot. With the experience of a merchant, and knowing something of the subject, I never knew the look-out abroad so gloomy. Distress and perplexity prevail all over Europe. One of the largest markets for British manufactures is South America; but the rate of exchange shows the financial condition there to be most alarming. Trade with the East—with India, China, and Japan—has been bad last year and the year before; but if bad then, what adjective can be applied to it now? Losses have been enormous. Houses have failed; and I hear from one gentleman in the trade that many commercial houses have altogether disappeared from view—as my informant described it, "crumpled up." I am satisfied no man knows the extent of the losses suffered by the Eastern banks. Looking at these circumstances, and at the dismal state of commerce and agriculture at home, I cannot agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he says his Estimates for the Revenue are not too sanguine. Do not let us forgot, when Gentlemen talk of accepting the figures given, that Customs for last year were over-estimated by £184,000, and Excise by £200,000. Before I go further, I wish to make a few remarks on two collateral subjects. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, on a recent occasion, drew a distinction between our floating and our unfunded Debt; but after the most careful consideration, I really cannot see any real and valid distinction. The fact referred to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the bonds are held by the National Debt Commissioners, no 1005 doubt mitigates the evil; but if the trade gets seriously worse, and if its effect is felt in the Post Office Savings Banks, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will derive small consolation from the distinction. For my own part, I cannot regard the state of the unfunded Debt without feelings of something like dismay. The other subject I will refer to in a word or two, which may be unpopular, but I care not for that. It is the extraordinary, and, to my mind, most injurious, practice which has been going on for years past of transferring the local expenditure to the National Exchequer. This is a practice which I am bound to say will make a miserable man of some future Chancellor of the Exchequer. I have never had the slightest sympathy with the movement, sanctioned by a majority of 100 in the last so-called economic Parliament. The best that can be said for it is that it is transferring money from one pocket to the other; but a more truthful description of the process would be, seeking the advantage of the county at the expense of the town, and tempting localities to ask the Government to do for them what they can as efficiently, and less expensively, do for themselves. I do not believe that in the future we shall be able to carry on this process. For my own part, I say at once I cannot see why so largo a proportion of such expenditure as that for the education of the country should be placed among the Civil Service Estimates. In the United States the cost of education is paid by the localities, and no tax is paid more cheerfully, and the educational system there is as efficient as it is popular. I believe that that Chancellor of the Exchequer will deserve well of his country who reverses the present policy altogether. My right hon. Friend near me (Mr. Lyon Playfair) reminds me we are quite singular in our system, most countries having followed the example of the United States. Coming back to the main point, I will read a few statistics, which conclusively bear out the statement I have made as to my opinion of the state of the country. We had delivered the other day a comparative statement of pauperism for England and Wales for the month of January for 1878 and 1879, which shows an increase in the latter years, exclusive of lunatics and vagrants, of 86,809 paupers, or 12⅓ per cent. The last Return which I have 1006 seen from the Clearing House shows a decrease for three months of 10 per cent, and the Stock Exchange transactions up to the 4th of this month had fallen off 5i per cent. Then, take the traffic receipts of the Railway Companies. For the 14 weeks ending 6th April the receipts of 13 of the chief English railways were £301,715 less than the corresponding period of last year; while the three principal Scotch railways and the Great Western showed for 10 weeks a decrease of £122,717. It is not my nature to take alarming or pessimist views of affairs; but I cannot help observing that there are many in this House, and out of it, eminent politicians, who simply close their eyes to the fact—for fact it is—that the immense advance of other nations in education and industrial science has, to a large extent, deprived us, and is depriving us more and more every day, of our monopoly of the markets of the world. Not that there is any occasion for despondency; but I do say there is the greatest occasion for less magniloquent language about the manufacturing and mercantile supremacy of this country. There are some who ignore and pooh-pooh the competition of the United States; but I do not adopt that line. I have travelled in that country, and I have mixed much with Americans in all parts of the world. Their education is superior, and their inventive genius is remarkable and unprecedented. I am very much mistaken if our industries will not have a hard battle to fight with those of the United States. Another mistake among many people is that if the Americans adopted Free Trade principles—of which there is small hope—their competition would immediately cease. I believe that is far from being the case. Will the House allow me to read a single extract from a book published by the hon. Member for Glamorganshire (Mr. Hussey Vivian), who has lately returned from the United States? The hon. Gentleman says—I am not prepared to say that England is likely to be greatly benefited by Free Trade with America. I believe that she can produce every article as cheaply, or cheaper, than we can, if she will only cease to interfere with Nature's laws, and allow the general value of her pro-duets to find their natural level. Wages must fall, but the cost of living must fall also. America will then be able to compete with us in foreign markets, and a most formidable competitor she will be. That we shall even here- 1007 after be able to compete with. American manufacturers in their own home markets I greatly doubt.Some Gentlemen seem to think that because we have enjoyed in this country a remarkable period of commercial prosperity for 30 years, we are not likely to have any great change; but there are certain facts I would commend to these Gentlemen. We are living, to a certain extent, on our capital rather than our interest. This, and the especially small income derived from the soil, are most important factors in this subject. There is a work lately published by Longmans that refers at length to this point. It is entitled Conditions of Social Well-being, by Mr. D. Cunningham. During these years of our greatest prosperity, all classes in this country—I am sure the Home Secretary will agree with me—have been guilty of extravagance, and I think the Government has followed the example of the community. It appears to me the time has come when we ought to cut down Expenditure with an unsparing hand; and not only so, but, looking to the future, to consider the propriety of revising the whole system of our taxation. No one feels more than I do the vast benefits conferred on this country for the last 40 years by the fiscal changes inaugurating Free Trade; but do not let us forget we are only partially Free Traders after all. We have heavy Customs duties on wines, especially those imported from Spain and Portugal; and we, who boast of Free Trade, have an expensive system of Custom Houses—the statistics of many of which, considering the money received as duty, the expenses are simply ludicrous. Will any statesman arise, who will make a bold effort to do something in the way of amalgamating and reducing our Revenue Departments, with a view to cut down their expense—who will also revise our whole system of taxation, so as to render it a little more just and equitable? There are political economists who maintain that the taxation of realized property, and a graduated House Tax, would give sufficient to allow of the abolition of Customs and Excise. Hon. Gentlemen may think this is extreme; but I will read them a remarkable sentence from Richard Cobden, as sagacious and far-seeing a statesman as any of this generation. He says— 1008The man, or body of men, who succeeds in abolishing, in this or any other country, the Customs and Excise duties, will be its greatest benefactor.Without going so far as that, hon. Gentlemen must admit the inequality of the taxes in the favour shown to land against real property, and to the rich against the poor, in the Probate and Succession Duties. Well, now I come to the last point of my argument. If Expenditure is to be greatly reduced, I repeat what I have often said before—that it is to the Naval and Military Expenditure that the people, when their calmer moments come—and they are coming—will look for the reduction of Expenditure. The Government have not done much in that line, but very much the reverse. But I think there is an excuse for them. They have only too faithfully reflected the wild, boastful, and unreasoning military spirit which has taken possession of the country for the last few years. Irecollect, when the Franco-German War broke out, a Scotch Militia regiment volunteered for active service in the event of Great Britain being involved in the war. That we should be involved in the war they did not doubt; and when they volunteered for foreign service they added at the end of their Memorial—which, I believe, was signed by every man in the regiment—that they did not much care on which side they fought. I will read only one other extract. It is from a remarkable speech, delivered by the Earl of Derby at Rochdale, on the 2nd of January last. It is pregnant with meaning; and however much hon. Gentlemen may disregard it now, these words will afterwards be remembered as' being as far-seeing as the words which the noble Lord used at King's Lynn with respect to the rising nationalities and the downfall of Turkey. The noble Lord said—Till we can have some evidence that peace will be kept in Europe, it is idle to expect that trade will revive. As a fact, whatever the cause may be, confidence does not exist. We all profess to wish for peace—and I hope most of us do so sincerely—but do not let us forget that in a country like this there are interests which tend steadily and constantly in an opposite direction. I am not referring to politics or to Parties, but to social tendencies, which will operate equally whatever Ministry or Party is in power. In the first place, we have a more numerous and a more highly trained military class than we ever had before. There is a keener professional feeling among English officers than in the days 1009 when military teaching was less attended to. There is a natural, and a not discreditable, desire among them to test the value of what they have been learning, and to acquire the professional distinction which can only come with actual service. They are much more a writing class than they were. They have learned to work the Press instead of treating it with contempt; and when you recollect that there is in what are called the upper classes scarcely a family that has not some connection with the Army, you must recognize a social influence which tells powerfully when questions of war or peace are in the balance. Then you have a large number of persons in the business classes to whom war is a profitable speculation. A campaign involves an enormous outlay, and of that outlay a good deal remains in the hands of those who supply the special articles required in war. Ships are wanted for transport, guns, rifles, armour plates, stores of every description, and horses; and that vast demand, however dearly it has to be paid for by the community as a whole, gives a temporary stimulus to industry, and makes a good many private fortunes. I can only touch on this in passing, though it is a subject well worth looking into in detail. But there is more behind. You have always a certain number of interests—not, of coarse, always the same—which may be described as threatened interests. Those who represent them are expecting Parliamentary interference of some kind, and look forward to it with about as much pleasure as a patient in the surgeon's hands looks forward to an operation without chloroform. They will do anything to gain time; and to persons so situated, no event is more welcome than a state of things which, if only for a year or two, concentrates all attention on foreign affairs, and puts what is passing at home out of people's heads. I speak purposely in vague terms to avoid offence; but you will understand me, and you will perceive that it is a mere delusion to say—as people are constantly saying—that everybody is against war if it can be honourably avoided. On the contrary, there are a good many persons who think either that they will make a very good thing out of war, or that it will serve to keep off something that they dislike even more; and in cither case we must not be surprised if they act according to their convictions. It is no use being angry with them. They do only after their kind; but let us see clearly where the danger lies, and not deny its existence.I met with a very remarkable instance of this military spirit last year. I met a friend in the street, who said—"You are surely not going to Algeria, when we are about to be involved in a war with Russia." I said that I did not think we were likely to be involved in war. He replied with a familiar expletive—"Surely we must fight someone. I have two sons in the Army." It is precisely hero that the shoe pinches; and I admit at once that all these proposals to reduce Expenditure and to revise taxation are outside the domain of practical 1010 politics as long as this policy of interference, jealousy, aggrandizement, and annexation prevails. When you think of what is going on in different parts of the world—in Zululand, in Afghanistan, and possibly in Burmah—I sometimes think that the joke of the hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) is about to prove a reality, and that the policy of the Government will be found to be to make war in all parts of the world against the strongholds of Satan. Reference has been made by the hon. Member for Burnley to the policy of Lord Palmerston. I sat for many years behind that noble Lord; but I never was much in favour of his foreign policy. I never felt so much perplexity and difficulty in my life as in 1857, when Parliament was dissolved, for I could not deny the force of a criticism from very high quarters on the policy of Lord Palmerston. It was a passage from the address of Mr. Disraeli to the electors of Buckinghamshire. The right hon. Gentleman said—With no domestic policy, he is obliged to divert the attention of the people from the consideration of their own affairs to the distraction of foreign politics. His external system is turbulent and aggressive, that his rule at home may be tranquil and unassailed. Hence arise excessive expenditure, heavy taxation, and the stoppage of all social improvement.That, I think, was an exaggerated account of the policy of Lord Palmerston; but I think it is an exact account of the policy of the Earl of Beaconsfield. There is only one other source of unnecessary and unjustifiable expenditure to which I wish to call attention. Years ago, I was one of those who urged on successive Governments the necessity of withdrawing the troops from the Colonics which had representative Governments and refused to take adequate means for their own defence; for I believe that it is unjust to make the British taxpayer pay for wars and expeditions with which he has nothing to do, or to defend prosperous settlers who will not lilt a finger to defend themselves. I think we all regret that a much firmer attitude was not assumed in South Africa many years ago. When it was proposed to withdraw the troops from the Dominion, it was said that in that case Canada would become disloyal. But the only effect of the measure has been to make the people of the 1011 Dominion more self-reliant in their own defence. With the withdrawal of our troops from New Zealand, the Maori difficulty disappeared. We shall never get rid of Kaffir Wars until we adopt the same policy in South Africa. I was reading the other day the work of Sir Arthur Cunynghame, lately in command in South Africa, and I was much struck with the prominence he gave to the utter want of organization and preparation which existed at the Cape of Good Hope. He actually quotes a speech of the Colonial Minister, in which he said that he would rather have a Kaffir War every 10 years than increase the Military Force on the Frontier by one man. No doubt, largo fortunes have been amassed, both in South Africa and elsewhere, by these wars; and as long as the British taxpayer pays the whole bill, you will have men in the Colonies who will get up wars. Now is our time to put down our foot firmly; and unless we do so, we shall have a succession of fresh wars as our Frontiers extend. I say, with the utmost sincerity, that I believe we have a very dismal and gloomy prospect before us. India is on the verge of bankruptcy. We have wars in every part of the world. We have a falling Revenue, and we are afraid to impose taxes to pay our way. We are taking into consideration wild, Egyptian-like schemes for the redemption of taxes; and the situation being one of great danger, I think it is high time for the constituencies to inaugurate a juster, wiser, more economic, and more dignified policy.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House views with regret the great increase in the National Expenditure,"—(Mr. Rylands,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, that the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down indulged in anticipations of sorrow and gloom, which, for the sake of the country and the world, he (Mr. W. H. Smith) hoped would not be realized. Whatever satisfaction political opponents might have in contemplating trouble and misfortune overwhelming 1012 their antagonists, he was perfectly certain that the right hon. Gentleman would regard the fulfilment of his anticipations with great regret and concern. The right hon. Gentleman had favoured them with his views on finance,and had been understood to say that it would be expedient that the Customs and Excise should disappear altogether, and that there should be an entire re-construction of the basis of taxation.
§ MR. BAXTER
I did not say that. I said that that was the view of Mr. Cobden and others of high authority.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
had understood the right hon. Gentleman to express a favourable opinion of those views. It appeared to him a startling proposal that the country should part with a Revenue of upwards of £47,000,000, raised in a great degree by voluntary taxation, and substitute a system which had not yet been tried, and which it was curtain would fall heavily on the capital and resources of the country. The right hon. Gentleman stated, also, that he looked favourably upon the suggestion of Mr. Cobden, because he sought to accomplish at the same time a large reduction in the Military charges of the country. Well, there was no one in the world—certainly no one in that House—who desired peace, retrenchment, and reform more heartily than the Members of the present Government. [Ironical cheers.] It could not be supposed that the Government were unconscious of the great responsibilities that rested upon them, nor was it to be supposed that they did not care for the interests and prosperity of their country. There were, he maintained, no men in this country—certainly not in the House of Commons—who cared more for peace, retrenchment, and reform than the Members of the present Government. Reference had been made by the hon. Member for Burnley, in terms which made it somewhat difficult to distinguish whether he was speaking jocularly or in earnest, to the policy of Her Majesty's Government, as it had been considered and dealt with and approved in the House of Commons during the last two or three years. He would not waste the time of the House by going over each separate transaction, each separate vote of the House, which had distinctly and by large majorities—majorities greatly exceeding those which might properly belong to the Conservative 1013 Party who sat here, but a majority I which represented not only the feelings of the Party who supported Her Majesty's Government, but also Members on the other side of the House who thought themselves bound for the time to put Party feelings aside in order to maintain that which they considered necessary for the honour and credit of the country. He would only say that every step which the Government had taken, every step which had involved expense, every step through long-continued and anxious negotiations, had been taken with the firm object and the sole I desire of securing an honourable peace for Europe and of maintaining the interests of this country, in no spirit of brag, in no spirit of boasting, but with a deep sense of the responsibility which rested upon the shoulders of the Ministers of this country. The right hon. Gentleman who had preceded him had spoken of the distress existing in the country during the last year, and had dwelt on the falling trade and falling Revenue. Well, he admitted that there had been distress, and that there was at the present time bad trade; but these deplorable circumstances were due to the extravagance indulged in for many past I years. That extravagance had arisen very largely during the inflated condition of trade which preceded the formation of the present Parliament, and which existed, not in England only, but in other parts of the world. He failed to see how Her Majesty's Government could be held responsible for the present condition of trade. Banks had failed, and merchants had sustained losses; but was the Government responsible for this state of things, trade having been carried on by persons over whom they had no control, and whom they had certainly not encouraged in the reckless transactions in which they had embarked? It was the history of the world, that when there had been great profits and great excitement, when the belief had existed that by doubling their capital in trade men could double their profits—that had gone on till the moment came when it could go on no longer, and then it had come to a stop. The history of the years previous to 1875 was one of inflation and excitement, and had been succeeded, as all inflation and excitement must be, by loss, misfortune, and trouble. The cost of production during the years prior to 1874 and the profits 1014 had so largely increased that competition was stimulated, the consequence being that they were now losing great profits which but for the prosperity of those years they would be realizing. Now, what was this Resolution moved by the hon. Member (Mr. Rylands)? It said—"That this House views with regret the great increase in The National Expenditure." Now, in order to know what the increase in the National Expenditure was, The hon. Gentleman took two years together, and put a portion of the Expenditure of the year 1878 into that of 1879, and said—"See what an enormous amount you have been spending!" Then, in order to show how enormously costly the government of Great Britain was at the present time, the hon. Member compared The Expenditure now with what it was 60 years ago, thereby comparing two periods which were under totally different conditions. He (Mr. W. H. Smith) would endeavour to explain to the House what the real state of the accounts was. He apologized for troubling the House with statistics; but the allegations made against the Government must be met with distinct statements and clear explanations. He would take the Estimates for the year 1879–80 and those for 1874–5—at The time when The present Government came into Office. He thought it must be admitted that they were the basis of a fair comparison. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite left those Estimates which were adopted by their successors with scarcely the most minute change. The Estimates for 1874–5 showed a gross charge of £72,502,930; but upon the principle worked out by the right hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers), if they deducted The non-taxation charges, the net charge on the taxes would have been £60,807,930. The Estimates for the coming year amounted to £81,153,573, or, abating the non-taxation receipts, double entries, &c.—things which marvellously increased the apparent Expenditure—the net charge on taxes for this year was £67,285,573. These figures showed a gross increase of £8,653,633 as between 1874–5 and 1879–80, and a net increase of £6,477,643; and, considered in either point of view, such an increase was a very serious one. Indeed, he was prepared to go a great deal further, and to say that no Estimates were justifiable which were capable of reduction; that any economy which was possible either in 1874–5, or in more re- 1015 cent years, ought to have been effected; and that economy neither was, nor ought at any time to be, a virtue in the sole possession of any particular Party or Government. There was a gross increase, as he had said, of over £8,650,000; but what did it consist of? It consisted, in the first instauce, of a provision for the Debt nominally of £2,160,000; but of that there was £780,000 which appeared on both sides of the account, and the net increase charge for it was, therefore, £1,452,000. It would only be necessary, therefore, to deal with the net increase of £1,452,000. This was to be accounted for by the new Sinking Fund of £601,636, the conversion of £7,000,000 stock, in 1874, into an annuity of £651,681, involving a temporary increase of charge of £441,681, and by the new Terminable Annuities created for Fortifications and Local Barracks under obligations imposed by the late Government. It would thus be seen that more than £3,000,000 of the net increase was due to new measures set on foot by this Government for diminishing the capital of the Debt. This, however, was very far from showing the true increase in the proportion of the total charge that was applicable to the redemption of Debt. An analysis of the Terminable Annuities actually paid in 1873–4, the last year of the late Government—such being the nearest approach to a comparison with the original Estimates for 1874–5 that could conveniently be made—proved that the proportion then applicable to redemption was £3,133,673. Applying the same process to the Estimates for Terminable Annuities for 1879–80, the proportion was found to be £4,592,091, or £1,458,418 more. If this increase were added to the new Sinking Fund of £601,636, a total increased provision for redemption was arrived at of £2,060,054, a sum curiously nearly corresponding to the gross increase of charge for the Public Debt. Having thus explained a fourth of the gross and a third of the net increase, he would next refer to the Army. The gross Estimate for the Army in 1874–5 was £15,242,780, and for 1879–80 £16,745,000, or an increase of £1,502,920 on the last-named period. But then there were some double payments to be taken into account—that was, payments which went to swell the charges in the first instance, but which were afterwards repaid to us, 1016 and those amounted to £195,000, so that the actual net increase over the year 1874–5 was £1,307,920. He dared say the House would like to know how this increase arose. They had gone carefully into the question, with the assistance of his right hon. and gallant Friend the Secretary of State for War, and found that £417,000 was due to increased pensions paid to soldiers who had served many years ago, and who must be paid, whatever the Government might be which might happen to be in power. It was no act of the present Government, who had nothing to do with it. There was also a charge under the head of the Army for increased pay; and if there was anything in the House which had in time past distressed him more than another when he was Secretary to the Treasury, it was the manner in which hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House had pressed increases of pay on the Government. He had a lively recollection of the manner in which every Friday evening he was pressed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, entreating the Government to take into considerasome very meritorious person or class, or something that ought to be done for the benefit of the community at large; and he remembered that during the discussions which took place in that House there were hon. Gentlemen opposite who strongly urged the claims of certain ranks in the Army to increased pay. The net increase in the cost of the Army, then, was £1,323,920, of which £417,000 was due to the pensions to which he had already referred, and £230,000, or thereabouts, was due to an increase in the Forces, and another large proportion to the necessity which had arisen for giving higher and deferred pay—not only to the privates, but to non-commissioned officers. The cost of warlike stores had also largely increased; the majority of hon. Members little knew of the increased cost in this direction that had been rendered necessary in late years by the progress of invention and the consequent necessity of employing skilled designers and artificers to carry on the production of the stores that it was absolutely necessary to provide. The materials of war in the present day were not only most costly, but they were most destructive; and if they were in the possession of one country, they must be procured by all who aspired to high rank in the 1017 comity of nations. As far as he was personally concerned, he was unable to foresee the time at which they could cease from augmenting year by year the expenditure on this branch of the country's Service. The gross total of the Estimates for the Navy in 1874–5 was £10,179,485, and this year it had gone up to £10,586,894, or an increase of over £407,000, with regard to which there was pretty much the same story to tell that was told concerning the Army. Of this increased sum, £105,938 came under the head of wages; and every hon. Member must know that they were obliged to employ a higher class of artificers, engineers, and skilled labour to deal with the torpedoes, and the infinite number of engines which were now placed in vessels of war. A man-of-war now, instead of being a mere case for guns and men, was a vast network of machinery, containing sometimes from 25 to 30 separate steam engines, and it required a vast amount of ability, and a costly class of servants, to take proper care of those valuable instruments, so that the Naval Service had become a very costly one indeed. Then he came to another item—military pensions—in which there had been an increase of £146,000; but, as right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite knew, this was duo to an automatic rule consequent upon the long service system, and upon the absolute necessity there was for keeping faith with the men concerned, and that he had just as much to do with it as the right hon. Gentleman who preceded him in the Office which he held. Now, he had got through half of the gross increase, he had told The House that upwards of £2,000,000 was applied in payment of the National Debt in excess of The sum paid in 1874–5; that £1,500,000 gross, or £1,300,000, was the additional cost of the Army; and that £400,000 was the additional cost of the Navy. Now he came to the Civil Service. The right hon. Member for Montrose, and he thought, also, the hon. Member for Burnley, drew attention to The grant made from Imperial funds in aid of local expenditure; and on that subject he could only say that any hon. Gentleman who proposed to disallow such grants would find himself, in a very considerable minority in that House. The last House of Commons expressed its opinion, when the late Government was strong, that a concession ought to be made out of the Imperial 1018 purse towards local expenditure, and effect had been given to that opinion. The increase in the Estimates under the Civil Service head of Expenditure in 1879–80, as compared with 1874–5, was about £2,000,000; but there were several matters to be urged in explanation of this. There was an increase in the rates on Government property—that was to say, property held by Government now contributed towards the local charges. That principle had long been admitted, but never carried out to its legitimate application until lately. For the grants in relief of local taxation they contributed now £4,966,000; whereas formerly they contributed £2,946,000. It was a question how far that principle should be carried; and the Government thought it was right that they should contribute to the cost of the police and pauper lunatics in a larger degree than had been done by their Predecessors. They bad also dealt with the prisons as an Imperial and not a local responsibility. The country had gained by the change, for the uniformity of the new prison administration was calculated to contribute largely to the advantage of the State. He had shown the House how £6,000,000 out of the £8,000,000 had gone; and as regarded this last £2,000,000 that he had mentioned, it was not an increased charge on the tax-payers. It was simply a transfer from one class of taxes to another class of taxes. He knew that hon. Gentlemen opposite said sometimes that the counties had profited at the expense of the towns; but his impression was, that it was very much the other way. In many towns the burden of rates for local purposes was heavier than in many counties; so that he had no doubt that the towns had gained at the expense of the counties, rather than the counties at the expense of the towns. He now came to another item to which reference was made with, he thought, some amount of justice. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the large charge for education. The increased charge for education was very considerable indeed, and he was far from saying that might not be a subject which might require to be considered. The increased charge for education was £1,500,000 over that which existed in 1874–5. The charge now amounted to £3,600,000, as against £2,100,000 in that year. He did not, however, regret the experimen 1019 which had been made with regard to education. A great deal had been spent and a great deal had been done; but he was sure the opinion which had been expressed by many that the cost of education had increased unnecessarily—that there had been a large expenditure which possibly might have been less—required careful consideration. They must consider whether this large charge on the Imperial Exchequer was to go on. The item to which he would next refer related to the Revenue Department. The gross increased charge for Revenue Services was £602,000; but there was a net decrease of charge on taxes of £271,555 in 1879–80, as compared with 1874–5. It was fair, however, to say that the Post Office ought to have the credit of the decrease of the net charge under this head. It was entirely due to the large increase in the Post Office revenue and the diminished cost of the Packet Service. There had been an increase in the salaries of the Excise and Customs offices, an item which was pressed on the Government from both sides of the House, and by none more urgently than hon. Gentle man opposite. The net increase of charge on the taxpayers in 1879–80 was £6,477,000 more than it was in 1874–5; but, as he had said, of that more than £2,000,000 went in increased provision for the payment of the National Debt. Was it the desire of the hon. Member for Burnley to object to that? The increased provision for the payment of the National Debt by the operation of Terminable Annuities and by the operation of the Sinking Fund exceeded £2,000,000 over that which existed in 1874–5. Did the right hon. Gentleman The Member for Montrose object to the contribution in aid of local rates—that was, for a sum taken out of one pocket in order to put it into the other? Did the right hon. Gentleman object to the relief of local burdens? He heard no response; but he thought he knew what response the House would make if the proposition was put to it. He thought he had now disposed of the net increase, and, after all, what was the complaint which the hon. Member made, and was followed up by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose? It was that the cost of the Army was £1,307,000, and that the cost of the Navy was £441,000, more than it was in 1874–5. That was really and substantially all that Her 1020 Majesty's Government could be made responsible for, so far as the net increase of the payments of the country were concerned. [Mr. MUNDELLA: Ordinary Expenditure.] He would come to the provisions made for extraordinary Expenditure. The right hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) asked whether the figures were right about Terminable Annuities? The provision for the redemption of the Debt in 1874–5—that was to say, the actual money provided towards the re-payment of the Debt—was £3,133,673. In 1879–80 the amount paid off was £4,592,091, the increase of the amount so applicable to the reduction of the Debt being £1,458,418. To this £4,500,000 had to beadded£602,000 new Sinking Fund, making a total of £5,194,091 in 1879–80, as against £3,133,673 in 1873–4, or a total increase in the provision for the reduction of the Debt over the latter year of £2,060,428. Reference had been made by the hon. Member to the alarming state of the finances—that the Government was accumulating Debt and adding especially to the floating Debt. Now, The Bonds outstanding at the present moment with respect to the preparations during the war in Europe, the Vote of Credit, and the Zulu War amounted to £5,350,000, or only £150,000 more than the provision made for the actual payment of the Debt in the present year. Could it, then, be said that the finances were in such a deplorable condition, when the Government actually made provision for the re-payment of Debt which amounted practically to the sum of the responsibility incurred in circumstances of great emergency and difficulty? He thought that instead of showing that the finances were in confusion, that fact was evidence of their strength, and of forethought and care on the part of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and it would be certainly one of the most unjustifiable courses that could be taken by a man responsible, as he was for the finances of the country, if, under circumstances like the present, when there was great distress in trade and almost a paralysis, as described by the right hon. Member for Montrose, he had proposed, especially after so large a provision for the payment of the Debt, to impose fresh taxation to meet the requirements of the year. He had heard something, not in that House, but out of it, as to the gross impropriety of post- 1021 poning the payment of liabilities which were incurred under circumstances like the present. If there was an excuse for the postponement of the payment of liabilities, it was when the country was in circumstances of difficulty, when it had to face what possibly might be a great exertion, and when the period was admittedly not a favourable one for the imposition of taxation. But he could not help referring with some interest to a system in operation under which liabilities had been postponed by high authorities. The right hon. Gentleman l (Mr. Baxter) referred in terms which were not very complimentary to Lord Palmerston. He (Mr. W. H. Smith) did not think that the country was prepared to adopt the right hon. Gentleman's views as to the services of Lord Palmerston; but one thing which Lord Palmerston did, and which he (Mr. W. H. Smith) thought the right hon. Member for Greenwich concurred in, was to postpone the charge for fortifications by a series of Acts of Parliament, and to borrow large sums of money in order to carry them out. But still more recently the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich provided for the localization of the Forces in this country—that was to say, for building barracks, at a cost of £3,500,000, by borrowing. The circumstances of the day were not unusual; there was no war in Europe pending; there was no subject of great anxiety and care which occupied the mind of the right hon. Gentleman at the moment; but still it was deemed right that an Act of Parliament should be passed in 1872 by which powers were obtained to borrow £3,500,000 to build barracks. What was the charge upon this present year as a consequence of this system of postponing liabilities. It was not a liability which was to fall upon two or three years; it was not a charge to be paid out of taxes in existence; it was a liability extending over till 1885. The charge of this postponed liability which they had to meet, and which was none of their creating, was £1,000,000 a-year. That was to say, £1,000,000 was required to pay the yearly charge for the Terminable Annuities, created to meet the cost of the Fortifications and Local Barracks. The amount authorized by the Acts up to 1869 for the Fortifications was £7,460,000, and the localization of Forces £3,500,000. He knew that the circumstances under 1022 which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich postponed the liabilities with regard to the building of barracks fully justified the step he took; but there was no other emergency in 1872 than this—that the Government of the day felt it to be a step necessary to promote the efficiency of the Army. The Government had schemes of Army organization which seemed to require that these barracks should be built; and Lord Palmerston's Government was convinced that these fortifications should exist. The present Government, however, might just as well come to this House and say that there were docks to be built and ships to be built; and both were as necessary as fortification son shore. Her Majesty's Government did not come to the House and ask for a loan to build ships or docks. They had had heavy charges to meet on account of the course which was adopted during a series of years from 1860 to 1869 in respect to fortifications, and in 1872 in respect of the localization of the Forces. They had had to do more—namely, to find the armaments for the forts which were nearly finished when they came into Office, a very few guns existing to be mounted in the forts when the Government had to take charge of them. The question arose—Was our Force too numerous or too costly to be maintained? He agreed that the addition which had been made to them since 1874 and 1875 ought not to have been made if it was not needed for the interests of the country. Neither he nor any of his Colleagues at all shared the views attributed to them by hon. Gentlemen opposite. They had no desire for aggression or conquest. All they desired was that England should be capable of maintaining her place in the world and of discharging the duties which her position imposed upon her. When he came to think of the cost of our armaments, he had deemed it right to look into the costs of the armaments of some other countries. In 1870, when the Government of the day came down to the House and asked for a Vote of Credit for the Army and Navy, because they were alarmed at the state of affairs which prevailed in Europe at that time, the total cost of the Armies and Navies of Europe was £73,651,000. In 1878 it had risen to £97,744,000. In 1870 the Army of Russia cost £l8,392,000, and her Navy £2,319,000. In 1878 the cost of her Army was £25,852,000, and 1023 of her Navy £3,988,000. In 1870 the Army of France cost £16,613,000, and her Navy £4,933,000. In 1878 the Army of "France cost £21,533,000, and her Navy £6,528,000. In 1870 the Army of Germany cost £13,011,000, and her Navy £1,201,000; while in 1878 the German Army cost £17,494,000, and the Navy £1,729,000. In 1870 the Italian Army cost £7,253,000, and the Italian Navy £1,349,000. In 1878 the Army of Italy cost £8,116,000, and the Navy £1,854,000. In 1870 the Army of Austria cost £7,642,000, and her Navy £938,000. In 1878 the Army of Austria cost £9,689,000, and her Navy £961,000. They had thus a growth in the cost of the Armies and Navies of those five Continental Powers of from £73,651,000 in 1870 to £97,744,000 in 1878. Now, he by no means urged that it was the duty of this country to compete with others by raising regiment for regiment, or even ship for ship; but it could not be denied that the condition of affairs in Europe was such as must fill the minds of all thoughtful men with very great concern, and that, at all events, it was the duty of this country to be sufficiently protected in the case of danger or of difficulty. He would only say this for himself—that he did not believe they had a single man too many, or a single ton of shipping too many, and that none of the expenditure which had been incurred, speaking generally and broadly, was such as it would not have been incumbent on the Ministry of the day, whoever they were, to undertake. He did not believe that if the present Government changed places to-morrow with right hon. Gentlemen opposite, the latter would dare, in the interests of this country, to reduce the Army or the Navy by a single man, or would venture to interfere with the efficiency of any of the Services to effect economy in the Expenditure. He was convinced that right hon. Gentlemen opposite were honourable and patriotic men, and incapable of taking a course which would be dangerous to the interests of this country. The question, then, was whether the burden which the country had to bear was really too heavy to be borne—was it operating, as the right hon. Member for Montrose suggested, to crush the industry of the nation, or to impede the proper development of its resources? Now, first of all, the country must be rendered secure, and then it would do its duty by all who were 1024 concerned. The right hon. Gentleman said that the pressure of taxation was seriously heavier on the poor working man than it had been. What was the actual state of the case? He had mentioned that the net charge on the taxes was a little over £6,500,0000 more than it was in 1874–5. How had that occurred? When the present Government came into Office they found a 3d. Income Tax in existence. That tax was now bd. When they came into Office there was a sugar duty. That duty was now abolished. There was also a duty on horses, which had now been abolished; and the substitute for it was the additional taxation on tobacco, about which the hon. Member for Burnley had spoken so feelingly. For himself, he could not regard tobacco as an absolute necessary of life; it was one of those articles on which the people taxed themselves voluntarily. But, as a matter of fact, against the increased tax on tobacco they had the repeal of the sugar duty. In other words, against that which was estimated at something like £500,000 sterling they had a reduction of taxation amounting to more than £2,000,000. He had already stated substantially what had been done with that Expenditure, and he would not weary the House by repeating it. But the question came simply to this—Did they desire that the Army and Navy should be reduced? Did they desire that, in the face of the present condition of affairs in Europe—in the face of what every statesman regarded with concern and fear as to that which might be involved in it? He had said that he would not refer to the debates that had occurred in the House on the question which had agitated the public mind for the last two years, and on which majorities ranging from 100 up to 204 had affirmed, in distinct terms, the policy of Her Majesty's Government. But he thought there must be few Gentlemen worthy to occupy the position of Members of that House who did not regard with concern the development of that Eastern Question, which every statesman for the last 50 years had endeavoured, by every means whatever, to postpone, in order to avert the calamities which they feared it might bring on their own country and on Europe; and it had been the duty of Her Majesty's Government, in a period of great anxiety and responsibility, to take steps for the protection of this country, for the exhibition of its 1025 force, not alone in the assertion of its rights and its power, but in the simple discharge of its duty in The Councils of Europe. They had endeavoured to take security for peace and contentment at home, and to make the name of England respected abroad, he was glad to know that her name was now respected far more than it was in past times—far more than it was in those days when it was not felt that there was a definite policy of resolve on the part of the Government of this country to do its duty by the world and by The glorious traditions which had been handed down to them.
§ MR. LAING
observed, that, without going into the details and figures of the Budget, it amounted shortly to this—that they now had for the second year been running a Budget with an admitted deficit. For the lust two years there was a deficit of £5,325,000. That condition of our finances, he thought, exemplified in the fullest manner that it was the foreign policy of a country that really made its Budgets. Imperial finance trod so close on the heels of Imperial policy, that when they departed from British foreign policy they found themselves entangled in Imperial finance. They generally found that an Imperial policy was one of surprises, and that had been the state of affairs during the existence of the present Government; but he denied that they had any right to rush into foreign wars for the sake of what he might term a momentary brilliancy. The Italian War, the Franco-German War, and The Crimean War brought all Europe into a conflagration, and everybody were opening their eyes in order to see what would arrive next; and he saw no reason why these events should be repeated, instead of adopting what he might call a common-sense view. The only reason was that the hand of England should be traced in any settlement which might be arrived at. In other words, it was a direct reversal of the policy of Lord Derby, who said that the greatest interest England had was that of peace, and that if war were to come sooner or later, he preferred The latter. To that reversal he (Mr. Laing) entirely attributed the nature of the Budget which had been laid before the House this year. But that was not a time to discuss the merits of that policy. They had to consider the question of providing the costs out of which 1026 to pay for it. The nation had now awakened out of the stage of the overnight's supper, and was enduring the morning's reflection with the prospect of the bill to pay. In the French Budgets, as the expenditure was larger than the current taxation would meet, devices were resorted to, and The Budgets were called ordinary and extraordinary, and there was a Sinking Fund; Birthing was caught at to postpone or push out of sight as much of the larger expenditure as possible. Until now they had never heard of "ordinary" and "extraordinary" Budgets. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he introduced the Budget, claimed a surplus of £1,900,000; but when they came to examine it, they found that it was a surplus leaving out of view the expenditure that was actually going on, and that had to be paid for by The taxpayer just as any other expenditure. Instead of a surplus, or anything like a surplus, there was a deficit of £5,325,000 in two years. Why was that disguised under the forms of "ordinary" and "extraordinary" Budgets? The fact was, the Government did not like to ask the country to pay the tax. What used to be done by the French Government was the manipulation of the Sinking Fund. What was the British Government doing now, but manipulating the Sinking Fund? He recollected hearing a statement of almost millions of Debt that were to be paid off by the year 1890. What had become of the Sinking Fund, and the millions that were to be redeemed by it? The amount of unfunded Debt had far more than swallowed up that which should have been applied to Terminable, Annuities. They had heard some time ago of their duties to posterity, and they had had the example of America, which, under circumstances of extreme depression, had actually kept up the Revenue by taxation, and paid a Debt of many millions sterling. What was this Budget of ours but an attempt to stave off the pressure caused by wars, which he must say might have been avoided? Continental nations invariably, in a Debt of this sort, staved it off as long as they could from the floating or unfunded Debt. What difference was there between Debt, whether funded or unfunded? Unfunded Debt was the worst and most dangerous form of Debt; whereas, funded was the most convenient 1027 and safest form. What had Railway Companies been doing but converting their debentures, payable at short dates, into funded debt, of which the interest only could be converted, and not the principal? By the course the Government had pursued, there had been indirect damage to the Treasury by injury to trade and commerce. He did not doubt, from his own experience of the commercial world, that the statement of the right hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) was strictly true—namely, that the measure of mischief to the trade of the country, and therefore to the Revenue of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was vastly greater from the insecurity and want of confidence which had been engendered by a constant succession of surprises in foreign policy than by the direct pressure of taxation imposed upon the country. He had known instances of men, who were warm adherents of the Conservative Party, who were afraid to go into transactions, because they could not calculate for a single day or month what political surprise might be in store for them. They might wake up some morning and find that the Indian troops were ordered to Malta, a panic in the City being the consequence. But the most serious feature of our financial policy was the deferring till a more favourable occasion—which he presumed meant till after the next General Election—of a great portion of our Expenditure which must be met. There was not a single penny provided in the Budget for the Afghan War. There was£2,000,000 to be paid to India without interest. It was assumed that that money would be regularly re-paid, and that, therefore, it need not be taken into account. Would any man, who knew anything of the circumstances of India, maintain that any one farthing of that money would ever be paid out of the produce of the country? It would go to swell the National Debt, which would ultimately fall upon the taxpayers of this country. It was, to his mind, really the serious financial question of the day, because, after all, the others were minor affairs. The £6,000,000 was gone and spent, and there was an end of it. The Zulu War could not last for ever. It would cost a certain number of millions, and there would be an end of it. But how were they to encounter the difficulty—he might also say the desperate 1028 condition—of their great Dependency, the Empire of India? The situation there was most serious. He did not speak of the immediate cost of the Afghan War. They had drifted a long way from the time when the Chancellor of the Exchequer had told them the cost of the war was to be paid out of the Indian Budget. It was as unlikely that there would be £1,100,000 to apply to it, as that £1,100,000 would cover the expenditure. He recollected saying that they would never see an end of the war for £5,000,000, and he ventured now to repeat that prediction. Suppose some sort of peace were negotiated with Yakoob Khan, he did not believe the cost would be less than £5,000,000; but if they were drawn into an advance on Cabul, and a permanent attempt to occupy Afghanistan, there was no knowing what the cost would be. He saw no reason why it should not be £5,000,000, or £15,000,000, or £20,000,000. The first cost of the war was not the only thing. There was the cost of occupation. There was the cost of a "scientific Frontier." Was there anyone who had any acquaintance with India or military affairs who thought that any advance of Frontier in Afghanistan would not be attended with great expense? Sir Henry Norman, who was for many years Military Secretary in India, and was the right hand of the Indian Government on Military Finance—who knew every garrison fort, and how many men were required for each—had written a most admirable article in The Fortnightly Review, which any hon. Gentleman who had any doubt on the subject would do well to study. The management of a scientific Frontier might require 13,000 or 14,000 additional men, at the additional cost of £1,000,000 to £1,500,000 a-year to India. So far from Indian expenditure being diminished, Sir Henry Norman said that the absence of troops in Afghanistan would in no way enable them to do with fewer men in India. Indeed, it was obvious, the garrisons being so far away, and separated by mountain passes, would be sources of constant anxiety. The question was, was India in a condition to sustain the additional expenditure of from £1,000,000 to £3,000,000 which this would involve? This was not a time to enter fully into the question; but he might say that the time 1029 must come when Indian finance must be treated as a part of English finance. No choice could be made between India becoming bankrupt and England imposing burdens on the English taxpayers. The real Revenue of India was £38,000,000. Out of that, the Army and Navy before the Afghan Expedition cost £17,000,000 a-year. The loss on silver was over £3,000,000. There was Interest on the Debt of £4,500,000; and allowances and superannuations, £3,500,000—mating £28,000,000, leaving £10,000,000 for the expenses of administration of law, and police, public works, and education, and allowing nothing for famines which, in five or six years, had actually cost £16,000,000. It was perfectly obvious that the amount of Revenue was insufficient to carry on the affairs of an Empire of 200,000,000 of people. They had spent more than they had received, and they had got into Debt. The charge on the National Debt, in 1850, was £2,190,000; at the close of the Mutiny, £3,200,000; in 1876 it was £4,350,000; and with £4,500,000, irrespective of the cost of the Afghan War, they could not make both ends meet. This was the sort of thing Egypt and Turkey had done, and it must end in the bankruptcy of India, and would have ended but for the knowledge of the moral obligation England felt to back her up. Reform could only be effected by cutting down military establishments. Instead of that, they had sent out a Viceroy who was the worst man they could have selected, and who had already plunged them into the Afghan War. It was clear, therefore, the Indian finance must be added to English finance. The £2,000,000 might be put off to a more convenient season—which might be after the next General Election. The Government were shirking a difficulty—not meeting it. The people of England must be prepared to pay the piper both in England and in India. They had had a jolly time, and had sung patriotic songs; but the morning's reflections had come, and they would have to pay, and with interest.
§ MR. J. G. HUBBARD
said, that the speech which the House had just listened to dealt not only with the Budget, but with the foreign policy of the Government and the state of India. His remarks would be confined to the Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which he 1030 considered eminently satisfactory, because it was wholly unsensational. The Statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer frankly and clearly described the actual position of the country as managed by the Finance Minister. But if the mode was satisfactory, so was the result of the Budget. It showed that upon the Estimates of 1879–80 there was, beyond the the ordinary expenses, an excess of £1,900,000. The retrospect of the year just passed was not so satisfactory, because it showed a deficit of £4,254,000. How was that deficit provided for? By the issue of Exchequer and Treasury Bonds. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer attempted to hide the amount of their obligations, by representing that the Debt was not increased when it was increased upon the unfunded portion of it, it would be a deception. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer made no such declaration, but reckoned the funded and unfunded Debt together. The right hon. Gentleman also did wisely in raising the necessary Supplies by the issue of Exchequer and Treasury Bonds, upon which, owing to the favourable state of the market, he had to pay only about 2 per cent, instead of 3¾. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had, therefore, done wisely in raising the money by way of temporary obligations. It was right, however, that the country should be made sensible that it must make efforts to meet the Debt. He would not approve putting it out of sight. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had presented a Statement of Revenue and Expenditure, showing a balance in his favour of £1,900,000. In that Expenditure was included the very largo sum of £28,000,000, which was appropriated expressly to the charge for the National Debt. That charge, however, was only about £22,000,000 or £23,000,000; and, therefore, £5,000,000 were devoted to the laudable purpose of paying off that mortgage. He was afraid the Armies in Asia and Africa would cost a great deal; but that was a matter which could, not be estimated now. It must be considered hereafter, and provided for as the House might think well. With reference to the Motion of the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands), it presented a curious contrast to the speeches which had been addressed to the House. The Motion called upon the House to condemn the taxes levied on the people, because they 1031impede the operations of agriculture and manufactures, and diminish the funds for the employment of labour in all branches of productive industry, thereby tending to produce pauperism and crime, and adding to the local and general burdens of the people.That was a very heavy indictment; but on what ground was it based? The speeches on the other side which followed that of the Mover called upon the House to censure the Government because they had not put on new taxes. Therefore, they were blamed for two very different things. In the first, for having imposed heavy burdens on agriculture and trade; and, secondly, for not having put on new taxes. Then hon. Members opposite had called upon the Government to reduce the Expenditure, and had fanned into fury their indignation at the outlay the Government had incurred upon the Army and Navy of the country. But those hon. Gentlemen should consider that our Army and Navy were not employed, as some Armies and Navies of Continental Powers were employed even at the present day, for purposes of aggrandizement and conquest. We were not in the habit of invading other States. Nor did we seize other States for the purpose of national aggrandizement. Our Armies and Navies had been used, within the present century at least, for no other purpose than that of promoting the interests of commerce and industry in our Colonies. They looked at the Army and Navy with gratitude and admiration, for they were the props and mainstay of commerce for which this country had been renowned. He maintained that the Budget was a perfectly frank and transparent exposition of the state of the national finances. There might be some points of financial policy on which he had, in past times, differed from the Government; but he saw nothing in this Budget to attract the animadversions delivered against it by the hon. Member for Burnley, and he hoped they would reject the Resolutions.
§ DR. KENEALY
Mr. Speaker, I hardly know whether the movement on which these Resolutions are founded is more deserving of ridicule, or compassion, or contempt. It seems to be the dying effort of a defeated and infuriated faction to bring, if possible, some odium on Her Majesty's Ministers; but I believe that in this attempt they will fail, as they have already failed in so many 1032 similar devices. I am not prepared to support the Government in their Zulu War. I have voted against them on that question. Neither do I wholly approve of their warlike proceedings in other matters, which I think, with wise and bold management, might have been avoided. Nevertheless, I cannot help expressing my free opinion on the motives which seem to have dictated this wretched Motion. It appears to be the latest outcome of that wild and frantic agitation which began with "Bulgarian atrocities," and which has been continued since by the Party out of Office, in so random and reckless a manner, that the whole country has been thrown into a state of confusion by the various misrepresentations made as to the policy of the Ministry. There is hardly any sophism which they have spared; there is scarcely a single mis-statement to which they have not resorted in their endeavour to inflame the public mind. But their audacity on the present occasion exceeds all their former daring. The Mover of these Resolutions simply asks us to stultify ourselves—to undo all that we have hitherto done, because we thought it right to do. The first paragraph asks the House to view with regret the great increase in the National Expenditure. The second asks us to affirm that such Expenditure—For which Her Majesty's present Government are responsible, is not necessary, in the opinion of this House, to provide for the security of this Country at home, or for the protection of its interests abroad.How can this House view with regret what it has already sanctioned on numerous occasions by large majorities? How can this House, which by its votes is really responsible for the Expenditure which the hon. Member wishes to fix upon the Ministers, pass a Vote of Censure upon itself, for what it has most fully sanctioned? Yet it is this which the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) modestly asks us to declare. We have already supported and backed up the various Military enter prizes and expeditions which Ministers have undertaken. What new light has now been flashed upon us, that we should retrace all our steps, and express our regret for the Expenditure which we have so frankly authorized? The hon. Member—if I may be permitted to form an opinion from the ludicrous portions of his speech 1033 —appears emulous of occupying the place of Chief Jester to the House, which the late Colonel Sibthorp once so well sustained; and if we hear many more harangues from him in the present style, I think the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) will have to look to his laurels for comicality, which seem already in some danger. With intense curiosity and attention I listened to the speech of the hon. Member. I was anxious to learn what remedy had been devised by him and his fellow-comedians to meet our present difficulties. I hoard nothing practical; only vague commonplaces and generalities. The hon. Gentleman tells us, like an oracle—"We want peace in our time." Of course, we do. Nobody desires or wants war; but war seems to me to have been forced on Ministers by the conduct pursued by their Predecessors in Office. The hon. Gentleman goes on to say, that "when war flourishes, trade decays." These are no now discoveries. I think they are several thousand years old. Yet we have heard them propounded hero to-night with an emphasis, a gravity, and an affectation of originality, which might well provoke the laughter with which the hon. Gentleman was so largely greeted. Can anyone seriously believe that any Ministers of the present day have a mania for war, when the peace spirit and the peace party are so strong everywhere? The hon. Gentleman seems anxious to load the present Ministry with the entire ignominy of the Afghan War. But what is the fact? That war, which I lament, is one of the evil legacies bequeathed to us by the foolish or the wicked policy pursue by Lord Lawrence and Lord North brook in India, and which has alienated from us so many of the Native and the independent Princes in that great Empire. That policy had rendered all things insecure; no one believed that he was sale. Those Viceroys had, by their contemptuous—I may say their ignominious and insulting—treatment of the Ameer, Shore Ali, absolutely forced him into the arms of Russia. It is well-known that that unfortunate Prince desired to live in peace and friendship with us; but these representative of England had almost insolently rejected his overtures, and he then began to think, not unnaturally, "I must have friends somewhere, since I cannot have England for 1034 my friend;" and so he turned to the Emperor. Circumstances have since shown on what a rotten reed Shore Ali rested; but when he made no secret of hostility to us, what were we to do? And how unjust it is to condemn the present Ministers for the proceedings in Afghanistan, which have been entirely brought about by the conduct of Lord North brook. If that Viceroy had not acted in the most imperious and tyrannical manner, Shere Ali would have been alive to-day, and our most faithful friend. The hon. Gentleman then passes on to Burmah; indeed, he has nearly traversed every portion of the habitable earth to find cause for quarrel with Her Majesty's Government, and particularly that Member of it whom he holds in special horror—I mean Lord Beaconsfield. As I understand the Burmah question, it is this. A new King has come to the Throne; one who is either naturally mad, or who has made himself so by perpetual intoxication. He signalized his advent to the Crown by some brutal massacres. Our countrymen in Burmah felt themselves in danger; and because we have taken steps to save them from being butchered by this lunatic, the hon. Gentleman must find fault. I should like to know what he, what would the country say, if we had taken no steps to protect them, or if we had allowed them to be slain in cold blood, as might very probably have happened if we had remained quiescent? The hon. Gentleman then fancies that he has made so good a case, that he recommends Ministers" to take the mind of the country;" and he asserts, in hardly Parliamentary language, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had "bubbled" us all. In my judgment, the bubble is on the other side. Hon. Gentlemen on the Whig and Sham Liberal Benches have traversed the whole country, blowing their bubble; dazzling and deceiving the minds of the community, with a kind of rhetoric run mad, in winch there was no lack of any element that could excite or load astray an ignorant community. Nevertheless, both the House and the country still have faith in the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Ministers. Both have supported them during the Russo-Turkish War; and I believe that the Sham Liberal bubble has burst, and that the country will support them still. The Whigs and Sham Liberals, however, do 1035 not, or will not, see that they have failed; they are still endeavouring to sow discontent among the masses. They do so in their speeches; they do so in their newspapers. They have declared that their bogey, Lord Beaconsfield, has committed almost every political crime. One day he is accused of "Imperialism;" another day of "personal Government;" a third, he and his Colleagues are violating the Constitution, and deserve, perhaps, impeachment for not dissolving Parliament before Parliament has legally expired. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) is particularly earnest and eloquent, and even angry on this subject. I suppose Her Majesty's Government, having a large majority, are content to let well alone; and I should very much distrust their common-sense, if they selected that particular moment for a General Election which would be most convenient to the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends. Those hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Whig side, who are now clamouring so noisily for an immediate Dissolution of Parliament, appear to have forgotten that a seven years' House of Commons is their own pet measure; that the Septennial Act was passed by Walpole and the Whigs and the Sham Liberals of the last century; that they did so as if for the special purpose of destroying the liberties of England, and making Members independent of the voice and will of their constituents; and if the Tories now say—"We shall not dissolve Parliament till the seven years have expired, we shall not go to the country at the time you choose, but when we think it right and expedient; we shall wait until the mass of falsehoods which you have spread far and wide are utterly dispelled and blown to the winds"—if they said this, and did it, I think they show good policy and good statesmanship. Not that I think they need to be at all afraid to go to the country at this moment. The Whigs and Sham Liberals are deluding themselves with the bubble that they will win. I believe they will be beaten at the General Election, for which they now profess to pant so ardently. But they have another grand cry, which we have heard echoed here to-night, and thousands, no doubt, have been misled by it. While the Tories are in—while Disraeli is Minister, trade will be de- 1036 pressed, commerce will not flourish—even agriculture, for which the Whigs and Sham Liberals have lately taken a sincere love, will be in a bad condition. "We have nothing but wars and rumours of war. Nobody knows when he gets up in the morning, with what foreign country we shall be at battle before night. How, then, can trade be prosperous? How can the people be otherwise than in want? It is all caused by Beaconsfield and the Tories." This is very well for the platform, or for the noisy meetings at which these orators figure. But then they get alarmed lest the masses of the people may grow very discontented; may even break out in rebellion, and do something desperate. So they employ their newspapers to tell them. "Be patient. Be patient. You are no worse off than others. In America, in France, in Italy, in Spain, in Austria, in Germany, there is the same depression, the same stagnation, the same want of employment, the same poverty that there is in England." Now, these two statements cannot be reconciled. In the first, Lord Beaconsfield and his policy are the causes of misfortune. But, then, similar misfortunes has come upon all those industrial lands which I have named. Have they a Beaconsfield bogey in the United States, in Franco, Belgium, and elsewhere, who kills trade? Has America, or Germany, or Italy been at war, or have they had rumours of war? Nothing of the kind; all has been peace. This fact proves that it is not our bogey who has done all this, nor his policy; but that there is, for reasons that I do not presume to solve, a general depression of trade all over the world. Yet with these facts, which they must know, they still keep harping on the same string. The Sham Liberals have entirely refuted their own assertions; and one may well blush for a Party which uses such devices for gain. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Burnley, inadvertently, I fancy, told us what The Whigs would have done had they been in Office when Russia wanted to destroy Turkey. He says they would have united with the Emperor, and would have forced Turkey to do what Russia willed. From this, therefore, it is clear, that if this country had had the dire misfortune of having the present outcasts from Office at the head of affairs, we should have presented to the world the ignominious and 1037 degrading and most craven spectacle of having joined one of the greatest Military Powers in putting down a weak country -which was simply defending itself. I am glad that we did not till a part so dishonourable on the world's stage as that would have been; and I hardly think that the hon. Gentleman's backers will thank him for having brought before us so pointedly the cowardly course which the Sham Liberals would have followed—a course that would have dishonoured us in the eyes of all mankind. I do not follow the hon. Member farther. Indeed, I think I have followed him too far; and I hardly know into what quagmire he might lead mo. But I pass to his Seconder, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Monttrose (Mr. Baxter). When the right hon. Gentleman rose, I was all attention. Now, I thought, we shall hear the great man; now all difficulties will be cleared away; now we shall learn the true remedy for all our misfortunes. I listened, and listened, and listened in vain. I had expected to hear some tolerably reasonable grounds for dissatisfaction with Her Majesty's Ministers. All that appeared was some complaint about Probate and Succession Duties. I likened myself to one of those rustics who assembled to witness the mountain in labour. There was thunder and wind and lightning; and, at the end, a miserable mouse crawled forth. The right hon. Gentleman did not go even the small length of the Proposer of these Resolutions, who suggested that we might save £1,000,000 or so in the reduction of our Military expenses. What is all this but peddling? Neither of these Gentlemen has grappled with the great evil, which is now too much for this country to bear—I mean the £15,000,000 or £20,000,000 which our standing Army costs us every year. I have a Motion on the Paper with reference to the abolition of a standing Army; but, even if I went down on my knees to every Whig and Sham Liberal in this House, I could not get one of them to second me. Why is this? Because these great Financial Reformers are not Reformers at all. They use the words, Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform, when they desire to evoke cheers at the meetings, and to lead unthinking multitudes in their chains. But when a great Reform, such as I propose, is mooted, then they fail to see it. If 1038 you want Peace, abolish your Army. If you want Retrenchment, save your expenditure upon it of £15,000,000 or £20,000,000 a-year. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty told us, an hour or two since, that every man of honour and patriotism in the country would support the cost of an Army and Navy. I trust I have honour and patriotism—quite as much as those who are paid for professing both; and, yet, I am for the abolition of a standing Army, which I regard simply as a standing menace, and no less. I will not enter into the Constitutional question. Another time I may do so. But I crave leave to remind the House that a standing Army is a violation of the ancient Law and Constitution of our forefathers. A standing Army was unknown in England until the evil days of the Stuarts. The first Charles kept a standing Army, and it was one of the charges brought against him by the people, for which he lost his head. I need not add that he kept up an Army solely to maintain the despotism at which he aimed. He suffered justly for that violation of our laws. His son James had an Army, like his father, and lost his Throne, because he used that Army to war with his people. The Bill of Rights declared, in the reign of his Successor, that standing Armies were illegal and un-Constitutional; and they still are so. But when the Guelphic Family came to the Throne, Walpole and the Whigs, as part of their conspiracy against the liberties of the nation, set up a standing Army, and maintained it on numerous false pretexts. The Tories of those days violently and patriotically opposed a standing Army; but then, as now, they were borne down by a clamour of falsehoods, and standing Armies became a regular institution, but, still, in violation of the English Constitution. I do not know what the present Tories will do, if I seek to abolish a standing Army. Probably they will unite with Whigs and Sham Liberals to maintain it, for it affords illimitable fields for patronage—which is only another and a reformed name for bribery. Many protests were made against it, in the last century, by able and honest men, in this House; and these protests were so far successful that, Hallam tells us that, even an unreformed Parliament never allowed, in the whole of that century, a standing Army 1039 of more than 17,000 men. Now, under the auspices of Whig and so-called Liberals, and in a highly formed Parliament, I believe, we have a standing Army numbering 120,000 men; and of what use they are, unless it be to keep us all down, I do not see. They cost us enormous sums; and there is positively nothing to show for these sums but winked bloodshed and a fearful amount of debt and taxation. I should be glad to know what our Army is for; and I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer will tell us. The Americans have no standing Army. We say that we have the most powerful Fleet in the world, and we pay the most powerful price for it. The First Lord of the Admiralty, to-night, has told us the cost of other Fleets; they amount to absolutely nothing when compared with what we pay for ours. Well, then, is this costly Fleet unable to prevent England from invasion? I cannot think it. But assuming, if you like, for the sake of argument, that this Fleet is vanquished—the thing is incredible, but I will assume it—an enemy lands on our shores; he would be in rather a crippled condition, after running the gauntlet of our Fleet. But here he is. Well, how shall we resist him if we have no Army? Very easily. In the first place, we have 150,000 Volunteers—brave men, thoroughly efficient and patriotic, and nearly all with a stake in the country. What invading force could stand against these disciplined and noble soldiers? Whenever the Duke of Cambridge, and other great warriors and generals, attend at banquets, they uniformly speak of the Volunteers with the highest, and, I am sure, with the most deserved, praise. But the whole strength of the country would gather to the aid of these Volunteers to fight the invader. He could not land at many points. We have a circle of railways; and the whole force of the nation would be concentrated to thrust him back into the sea. In six weeks, America turned out grand Armies; why could not we? We should have but a poor Fleet, if he could land in less time. Then we have a Militia—a large and well-disciplined, and loyal and fighting Force. And we have a Yeomanry Cavalry, consisting of some of the finest and stoutest men in England, and to be counted by tens of thousands; and what could we not do with these? And what 1040 would they not do in defence of wives, and families, and homes? Away, then, with a standing Army. And if it were away, from what crimes should we not be saved? We now use it abroad for purposes of aggression, which means robbery and murder; and at home, as a menace against the millions of our land. Abolish it, and we shall have no Maori massacres, or Kaffir Wars, or Zulu slaughters. The Colonies, which now depend upon us to maintain them in their raids against the Natives, will depend upon justice and honesty as their best safeguards; and we, with £20,000,000 a-year to the good, which we shall save by this measure that I propose, will be in time released from distress, from poverty and discontent, and shall present to the world a spectacle that has not been witnessed here for many a long day—of happy homes, and households free.
§ MR. RICHARD
I am glad my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) has moved an Amendment which admits of our discussing, not only the Budget, but the whole policy of Her Majesty's Government, which has brought our finances into the present deplorable condition. For that they are in a deplorable condition, is evident from this one fact, that, according to the Estimates of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Government is about, during the present year, to extort some £83,000,000 from the people of this country, and that at a time of almost unprecedented commercial embarrassment and distress, when trade is failing, enterprize paralyzed, and every considerable industry crippled; when The Gazette is full of announcements of bankruptcies, when there are thousands of working men out of employment, and tens of thousands more who while in employment can scarcely earn bread enough to feed themselves and their families. Not only so, but, in spite of this enormous sum which is to be wrung from a suffering people, there is a prospect of a large deficit which the Government dare not face, but which they are prepared to leave to the chapter of accidents in the future. All this, or almost all of it, is due to one cause—and that is that the Government have adopted what is called "a spirited foreign policy." I always hear that phrase with suspicion and alarm. After many years' observa- 1041 tion, I have found that "a spirited foreign, policy" always means a policy of aggression and meddling, of bluster and blood, and has almost invariably led either to war or to national humiliation, generally to both, as I believe is the case in the present instance. I have not been forward to find fault with the foreign policy of the Government. When, three years ago, the Eastern Question began to rise into notice, I found myself unable to join with some of my hon. Friends on these Benches in pronouncing unqualified condemnation of the course the Government were taking. On the contrary, they seemed to me, amid great difficulties, and not, perhaps, without some pardonable mistakes, to be earnestly trying to avoid involving the country into dangerous compromises and complications. And so long as Lord Derby was at the head of the Foreign Office, I felt considerable confidence that our Councils would be guided in the paths of peace. But when he and Lord Carnarvon had been got rid of, the Prime Minister appears to have taken the bit between his teeth and to have run away with the coach. It was a matter of great surprise to me how some Members of the Government, especially the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Home Secretary, had allowed themselves to be dragged by him into such wild and perilous enterprizes. And after all, what has come of your spirited, your Imperial policy? Well, for one thing, this Budget has come out of it; for those who choose to indulge in bounce and braggadocio, under the name of patriotism, must be prepared to pay pretty dearly for their whistle. But what else has come of your spirited foreign policy? I really think that even its most devoted partisans must begin to feel that it has proved, and is proving, more and more every day a conspicuous and ignominious failure. I doubt whether there is in our whole history such an instance of speedy and utter collapse. Yes, after all we have done and suffered on its behalf; after the nation has been held for many months in a state of the utmost anxiety and apprehension; after having been brought to the very verge of a war with Russia, the extent and duration of which no human sagacity could forecast; after being taxed to the tune of many millions to support the preliminary bluster before going into the Berlin 1042 Congress; after having strained to the utmost, and, as many believe, actually and flagrantly violated the Constitution by bringing outlandish troops to Europe without the knowledge or consent of Parliament; after demoralizing and dishonouring the national character by calling forth the rowdy element to the surface of society; after rushing into an unnecessary and unjust war in Afghanistan, which will, to a terrible extent, still further embarrass our all but bankrupt Indian finances; after plunging into another unnecessary and unjust war in South Africa—for that is also the offspring of your spirited foreign policy—after all this, what have you got to show for it? So far as I can see, absolutely nothing. All your grand plans are turning out abortions. The Turkish Empire, which was to be, not partitioned, but "concentrated and consolidated," is falling to pieces under the influence of incurable internal corruption and anarchy. Russia, width was to be checkmated and humiliated, has acquired and retains possession, so far as I can see, of everything she wanted to possess. The division of Bulgaria into two Provinces, which was the one great achievement of the Berlin Treaty, is proving to be, and all but acknowledged to be, impossible. The Anglo-Turkish Convention is turning out a gigantic fiasco, except that the vast and vague obligation it imposed on this country is still hanging over our heads. Cyprus, that glorious "place of arms," is an enormous white elephant, from the occupation of which, I believe, the Government would gladly retreat, if they could do so with any decent show of dignity. In Egypt you have got into an extricable mess, from which you are in vain struggling to escape. The Afghan War, which was to give you lasting security against Russian aggression and intrigue, is believed by all thoughtful men acquainted with India to be only the beginning of sorrows and troubles in that region. In short, the whole pretentious fabric of Imperial policy is crumbling into ruins under the very eye of its architect, almost before the scaffolding is removed. What I cannot forgive the Government is, that they have deliberately set themselves—at least, some of them, and all of them by silence and connivance—in the language of the noble Marquess the Leader of the Op- 1043 position, in an admirable speech he delivered during the Recess, "to stimulate and inflame the warlike passions and instincts of the people," and to encourage them to demand a policy which, if it is to be followed to its consequences, would necessitate the military conscription. What rendered this all the more disgusting was, that the men who clamoured most loudly for war had no intention whatever of going in their own persons to bear the brunt of the misery which they were willing to throw upon others. Neither the rowdy Jingoes of Hyde Park, who supported the Government by singing doggerel war songs, and then went to hoot and howl around the residence of the most illustrious statesman of the age; nor the respectable Jingoes of the City, who rushed in with bludgeons and brickbats to disturb a meeting held by peaceable citizens, had any idea of offering themselves to go forth in. order to encounter the suffering and agony to which they were willing to see others exposed. It would have been some satisfaction if these Jingoes had been got hold of and sent out to Afghanistan or South Africa to see how they liked it. In reference to such people, we may use the words of Edmund Burke, who said, on a somewhat similar occasion—I cannot conceive any existence under heaven (which in the depths of its wisdom tolerates all sorts of things) that is more truly odious and disgusting than an impotent creature without civil wisdom or military skill, without the consciousness of any qualifications for power but his servility to it, bloated with pride and arrogance, calling for battles which he is not to fight.The levity with which we enter wars in these days seems to me perfectly shocking. Anything suffices as a pretext for this—a pompous and unmeaning phrase, like the "scientific rectification of Frontier"—and, by the way, your scientific Frontier seems, like the mirage, to be receding before you the further you pursue it. Some of the reasons assigned for the war in South Africa are of a most extraordinary kind. Sir Bartle Frere said it was necessary to make war on the Zulu Chief, because be maintained a standing army of celibates which was a menace to his neighbours. But if that justified war with Zululand, it would equally justify war with France, with Germany, with Austria, with Russia—in fact, with all the nations of the 1044 Continent, for they all maintain standing Armies of celibates which are a menace to their neighbours. It was added, as an aggravation of the conduct of Cetewayo, that he was proud of his Army, and that he delighted to bring it into military kraals for exercise and discipline. Of course, he was proud of his Army. Are you not all proud of your Army? Nay, are not their standing Armies the one thing of which all civilized and Christian nations are supremely proud—on which they expend by far the larger proportion of the enormous revenues which they wring from the toiling millions of Europe—on which they lavish most freely all the honours, titles, distinctions by which a State can show its highest appreciation of any institution? I am no friend to standing Armies. I believe they are at this moment the greatest curse of Europe, oppressing the people with intolerable burdens of taxation and military servitude, embarrassing the finances of States and bringing them to the verge of bankruptcy, spreading corruption and vice like a canker through society, and keeping neighbouring nations, who ought to live side by side in mutual confidence and dependence, in a state of perpetual jealousy, suspicion, and alarm. But was it not a piece of disgusting hypocrisy to go and make a war on a poor barbarian African Prince for keeping a standing Army, while we ourselves are maintaining a large one, and actually to send a portion of our celibate standing Army to put him down for keeping a similar institution. I shall, perhaps, be told again, as we have been told before, that it is not fair to attack men in their absence—that Sir Bartle Frere is a distinguished public servant, who was placed in circumstances of great difficulty, and has a claim upon our sympathy. There is a great deal of that kind of cheap chivalry in this House, especially among the official class, who are always ready to rush forward in defence of one of their own order. But, let who will sympathize with Sir Bartle Frere, I am free to confess that my sympathies are with the 1,200 or 1,500 families who have been plunged into anguish and desolation by his means. Yes, my sympathies are with the mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, who in those desolate homes are sobbing and breaking their hearts over the brave and the beloved 1045 who at Isandlana, and elsewhere, were hurled into bloody and premature deaths by his headlong and reckless policy. Yes, and I feel sympathy for the relations of the unhappy Zulus—for they also had wives, mothers, and sisters—thousands of whom, we are told, have already perished while bravely and patriotically, as we should say of others, defending their country against a wanton and unprovoked invasion. For myself, I must say that, not for all the wealth and honour which this world could confer upon me, would I have on my soul the burden of blood guiltiness which must be on the consciences of those who brought about that horrible slaughter at Isandlana, and all the havoc and misery which I fear is to follow. We have been told by a great authority that the danger to which this country is exposed is from the prevalence of the principles of the Peace-at-any-price Party. Now, in the first place, I should like to know where that Party is to be found? It is well known that there is a small body of persons in this country who, on high religious grounds, maintain that war is opposed to the spirit of the Christian religion, and that is a proposition which defy the whole Bench of Bishops to refute. But those doctrines are never brought into the arena of politics; partly because those who maintain them have long become sorrowfully convinced that our political Christianity is a mere Ecclesiasticism, to which it is utterly vain to appeal on any matter touching the moral life of the nation, and, least of all, its foreign politics; and partly because they shrink in very reverence from thrusting the sacred words of the Gospel into the coarse conflicts of the Chauvinism and Jingoism of the age, since they feel that that would be to cast pearls in a direction expressly forbidden by the Gospel itself. But where among politicians can be found the Peace-at-any-price Party? Can any trace of it be found in this House? Certainly not among the hon. Gentlemen opposite, who seem always breathing threatening and slaughter against somebody; and I observe that the more violent and warlike any sentiment uttered in this House, the more uproarious are their cheers. Not among hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway on this side; for some of them have still on their consciences the absurd and unnecessary 1046 war with Russia in 1854, and the still worse and wickeder war with China in 1857. Not among my hon. Friends who sit on these Benches around me below the Gangway, for they can be as full of fight and ferocity as anybody, if you let them indulge that temper in their own direction. Some of them hold by the singular paradox that the best way to promote freedom and philanthropy on the earth is to let loose the scourge of war, which fills the habitations of humanity with mourning, lamentation, and woe, and "shuts the gates of mercy on mankind." ["No, no!"] If it were possible to believe—which I, for one, certainly do not believe—that those who throw out this taunt do so for any other purpose than as a piece of very hollow clap-trap, intended "to split the ears of the groundlings," we may safely say that the idea that this country is in danger of being too much influenced by the Peace-at-any-price Party is about as unfounded and fantastic an apprehension as ever troubled any man's brain. Why, Sir, there is no nation in the world which is so frequently—I was going to say, so constantly—at war as we are. I doubt if you can put your finger on any two consecutive years within this century when we have not been fighting somebody somewhere, and for some cause or another. There is scarcely a nation, savage or civilized, on the face of the earth with which we have not come into hostile conflict. There is scarcely a country whose soil we have not manured with human flesh; scarcely a sea whose waters we have not crimsoned with human blood. Does the House know how many wars we have had on our hands since 1816? I mention that date because the era since then is sometimes called an era of peace. Well, since 1816, we have been at war with Turkey, with Egypt, with the Algerines, with the Ashantees (twice), with the Burmese (twice), with the Dutch, with the Kaffirs (six times), with the Boers (twice), with the Arabs at Aden, with China (three times), with Coorg, with the Rajpoot States, with the Afghans (twice), with the Ameers of Scinde, with the Mahrattas, with the Sikhs (twice), with the Sonthals, with the New Zealanders (four times), with Greece, with the Dyaks, with Russia, with Persia (twice), with Siam, with Nicaragua, 1047 with Japan, with the Malays, with the Zulus; besides civil conflicts with our own subjects in Canada, in Jamaica, in the Ionian Islands, in Ceylon, in India, and in Ireland, and an indirect share in the revolutionary wars of Spain and Portugal. But that is not all. In 1864 there was a Parliamentary Paper published, giving a list of the little wars in which we have been engaged in India since the annexation of the Punjaub. I have got all the names here, but I will not inflict them on the House. They amount to 20. But since then, there have been at least three more with the Afreedees, the Bezotees, and the Sitana fanatics. And we have had something very like war with the King of Dahomey and the Sultan of Zanzibar. But, without including them, or our share in the wars of Spain and Portugal, I find that we have been engaged in 73 wars in 63 years; and that is pretty well for a country that is said to be in danger of being corrupted by the Peace-at any-price Party. Within the same period we have spent £1,300,000,000 sterling in wars and in preparations for war. Of course, it is the fault of all those people whom I have enumerated. We are told, with re-iterated emphasis, that we are an eminently amiable and pacific race. We never encroach on other people's rights. We never invade other people's territories. Still, there is a vulgar prejudice in society, that when you find a man always getting into loggerheads with his neighbours all round, it affords some presumption that he is himself of an arrogant and quarrelsome disposition. No, it is not the love of peace which is dangerous to a nation; the danger to a country arises when men in high places, and who exercise necessarily great influence upon the character, as well as upon the destinies, of a nation, take such a course as is calculated to deprave and demoralize the public sentiment by habitually tampering with the truth, by exciting a rowdy war feeling through artful appeals to the lowest passions of the lowest classes of the people, by erecting national selfishness into a supreme rule of State, and by a cynical and habitual disregard of those eternal principles of justice and truth and morality on which, I believe, God governs this world, and the recognition of which forms the only secure and lasting foundation on which national prosperity can be built.
§ MR. JACOB BRIGHT
said, that as no one rose from the front Ministerial Bench to answer the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard), he presumed it was unanswerable; indeed, he thought that hon. Gentlemen opposite must have found great difficulty in combating the arguments which had been brought forward. The defence of the Government that evening had fallen on the shoulders of the First Lord of the Admiralty, and he had endeavoured to induce the House to believe that so largo an amount of money had not been expended as was supposed, and that the Expenditure which had been incurred was inevitable. There were, however, certain facts in connection with the subject, of which it was impossible to get rid. When the present Ministry came into Office five years ago, they found themselves possessed of a large Surplus, partly from a national increase of prosperity and partly from good management on the part of the then Administration; but all this had been spent by the present Government, together with the annual accumulations of Revenue, and they were now some £5,000,000 in arrear, £100,000 of which would have to be contributed by his constituency. That sum, if spent upon local improvements, would add greatly to the comfort and the convenience of the working classes residing in that great city. It might, of course, have been shown that the Government had some great Expenditure to meet, but no such case had been made out. In his opinion, the increased Expenditure of the present Government had arisen in a considerable degree from war, and preparation for war. But where was the advantage which they had gained from that policy? In South Eastern Europe the Government had given all its influence to a State which was doomed to inevitable decay, and it had done what it could to discourage, if not to put down, the only races in that part of the world who appeared to be capable of freedom, or of taking their share in the race of civilization. Its next step was to go to Afghanistan; but since the beginning of the war with that country, no hon. Member of either House of Parliament had given a satisfactory reason for that war. He defied any hon. Member to point to any speech delivered in the House which would prove that they were justified in going to war with that country. It was 1049 pitiable to road the accounts of our contest with a people who ran before our troops like a flock of sheep. For every English soldier killed fully 100 Afghans fell. We did not go to Afghanistan, therefore, because we feared the Afghans; while the Prime Minister himself had spoken at the Mansion House of an invasion of India by the North-Western Frontier as impracticable, an opinion in which he was supported by the high authority of Lord Northbrook. If that was the case, he (Mr. Jacob Bright) could not see the use of the present campaign. Well, that was nut all. We were now incurring a great expenditure in South Africa, where there were only about 300,000 Europeans, of whom he believed only something like one-fourth were English or of English descent. If he wanted to show with how little wisdom the British Empire was governed, he could point to nothing which would so conclusively show it than the condition of things in that part of the world. Our great Colony there, he might add, had, as a Colony, been a great failure; and although the Cape used to be a very important place of call for our ships, its importance had, since the opening of the Suez Canal, to a great extent passed away. Yet, from some fatality, we were pouring million after million of money into that Colony. It was not only a waste of money. He could not read the telegrams and despatches which came to this country, telling of the fall of soldiers and officers, without a feeling of pain for the waste of life, which, he was sure, was shared by every hon. Member of the House. If these men fell in a great cause, or in defence of their country, they knew that even the nearest relatives would be reconciled to their loss; but when they fell in a wretched war, which was not only useless, but grossly unjust, there was not alone the intense pain of their loss, but the added feeling of bitterness that such an injustice had been placed upon them. Turning elsewhere, he found that Spain had set herself in opposition to us, while Germany was making it more difficult for us to trade with her, and Canada was turning her back upon us. It might, indeed, be said that the Government could do nothing with respect to such matters as the arrangement of tariffs; but there was a strong suspicion among commercial men that its Members were 1050 so engrossed in exciting occupations in all parts of the world, that they had no time to attend to the necessities of trade. As to India, with its impoverished and suffering peasantry, what it required was not annexation, but less expenditure and less taxation. What had been the effect of the remission of duties in past times by Liberal Governments? It had been to give the country greater freedom and accompanying prosperity of trade year after year. Another effect had been a great increase in the population of the country, and that with a corresponding increase of case and comfort. He quite admitted that there might be a great increase of population even in times of great depression; but what he pointed to in the instance to which he referred was, that the people increased in prosperity as they increased in numbers. From 1849 to 1874, there were added 6,000,000 persons to the population of England and Wales. In the former year, we had 1 pauper to 18 of the population; in the latter, there was only 1 to 28; and that was a very striking and suggestive fact. The belief on that side of the House was that, at least, £5,000,000 a-year had of late years been spent which might have been saved; and, if that were so, he asked the House to think what an effect such a saving would have had upon the happiness and well-being of the people of the country. They might have abolished the tea duty, or modified the wine duties, so as to enable them to have advantageous arrangements with the Continental countries. Whenever taxes, and especially Custom duties, had been reduced or abolished, they invariably had an increase of trade, and a greater number of people able to live within our own borders and with greater comfort. He could not help thinking that if the country had such statesmen as they desired to govern them, ten times more attention than at present would be paid to their comfort and welfare. The present Government seemed to be quite content with the results of their own policy; but it appeared to him that their foreign policy was foolish, senseless, and cruel, and that their home policy was a policy of taxation and debt. The population of the country was increasing; and he asked, could any man say that the trade and industry of the country were growing in proportion to the increase 1051 of the population? If such were not the case, whence where the means of the livelihood of the people to come? The outlook was alarming. He believed that the Minister who, in such circumstances, added to the already enormous burdens of the people was not a wise or patriotic Minister, and was not alive to the best interests of his country.
§ MR. RITCHIE
observed, that the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had entirely ignored the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty. The hon. Member had stated that the Government had increased the Expenditure of the country by £5,000,000 a-year, whereas the right hon. Gentleman had conclusively proved that the sole increase had been in the expenditure for the Army and Navy, and amounted only to £1,500,000; and a great portion of that sum, it would not be difficult to show, was entirely due to the measures of the late Government. Something had been said to the effect that the speech delivered by the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard) had not been answered. Why should it be answered? That speech had not been intended for this debate at all. Probably it had been meant for the Zulu War, the Afghan War, or some other war. The hon. Member had found an opportunity for delivering that speech, and had taken it from its pigeon-hole for use on this occasion. That being so, he should not attempt to follow it. To discuss the policy of the war in South Africa, or that in Afghanistan, would require more time than Her Majesty's Government would probably be inclined to grant; but he congratulated the Government that at last the question of National Expenditure had been transferred from platforms in the country to the floor of the House, where the reckless statements indulged in outside could be sifted and probed. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had been lavish of late in the amount of dirt they attempted to throw at the Government up and down the country. They had prophecied that the action of the Government in reference to the Treaty of Berlin would not be justified by the result. In that they had been deceived. In like manner, their dismal forecast as to the Afghan War had been falsified. He ventured to think that their gloomy prophecies with regard to the effect produced upon 1052 the country by the financial policy of the Government would also remain unverified. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty had proved that the accusations made against the Government with reference to the financial part of their labours were altogether unfounded. Resolutions of such a grave nature, and covering so much ground, had never been introduced into this House by a more unsubstantial and unconvincing speech than that of the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands). The hon. Member had travelled all over the globe, yet failed to touch the subject of the Resolutions he had placed before the House. His personalities about Lord Beaconsfield only showed how weak he considered his case to be. The hon. Member had set out with, the expression of an intention to disregard figures, yet no subject ever required the introduction of figures more than the one under the consideration of the House. He (Mr. Ritchie) supposed that the hon. Gentleman did without figures because he found that they would not answer his purpose. As to the figures which the hon. Member did quote, they were wrong to the extent of £5,500,000. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty had accounted for all the extra Expenditure, and showed that after deducting what was not in reality Expenditure, the only extra sum for which the Government were responsible was £1,500,000 distributed over the Army and Navy. The right hon. Gentleman might have alluded, in order to do himself full justice, to the great expense caused by the short-service system, which was bequeathed to the present Government by their Predecessors. Some exception had been taken to the increased amount spent on education, and the Government had been blamed for passing a Bill by which the grants to voluntary schools were made somewhat larger than before. He (Mr. Ritchie), however, thought that this Act had done more than anything else to decrease the amount of the education rates, as except for the grants on results made under the Act there would have been an end to a great many voluntary schools—a state of things which must have resulted in an increased cost to the ratepayer. In a speech delivered before his constituents at Knottingley, the right hon. Member 1053 for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) had maintained that the amount of the grants in aid of local taxation was owing to the policy of the present Government—the truth being that those grants were made in consequence of the action of the last Liberal Parliament. The right hon. Member for Pontefract had next impressed upon the artizans of Knottingley how much better it would have been for the £10 householder if the £2,000,000 applied for the relief of local taxation had been spent in another manner—for the removal of the tax upon tea, for instance. But was it certain that the Liberals, had they come into power after the last Election, would have taken off the tax upon tea? No indication to that effect was to be found in the manifesto of the late Prime Minister when he dissolved Parliament. The bait then held out by the Liberals was the abolition of the Income Tax, and the abolition of that tax would not have affected the £10 householder at all. It would, however, have done this—it would have rendered it impossible for the Government to take off their indirect taxation, and quite impossible for them to take 3d. off tea. Had a Liberal Government, therefore, been placed in power, the artizan at Knottingley would still have had to pay his 10s. for tea and 2s. 6d. for local taxation, a charge from which he had been relieved by the present Government. And he would also have had to pay his 10s. for sugar, a charge from which this Government had also relieved him. Another matter to which the right hon. Member for Pontefract referred in addressing his constituents was the large amount by which he said the Liberal Government had decreased the National Debt—namely, some £30,000,000, between 1869 and and 1874, but the right hon. Gentleman did not profess to go elaborately into figures in support of his statement. In that Estimate, however, were included various large sums which could not be claimed at all as reductions of the National Debt. One was a sum of £6,000,000 of Stock, which was cancelled, not from any savings on the part of the Liberal Government, not even from any surplus, but from money in the hands of the Court of Chancery and the Court of Bankruptcy, on the ground that it would not be claimed, an obligation being undertaken to pay if the 1054 balance fell below a certain sum. However good an operation that might have been, it was rather a bold thing on the part of the right hon. Member for Pontefract to claim it as a payment towards reducing the National Debt. It had no more to do with the action of the Liberal Government than it had to do with the action of Cetewayo. There were other sums which the late Government claimed as reductions of the National Debt on no better grounds. An examination of the figures would show that, while the late Government, between 1809 and 1874, reduced the Debt by £20,000,000, the present Government had since that time effected a reduction of £19,250,000, the one reduction being made in a time of great national prosperity and inflation, and the other in a period of considerable depression, coupled with bad trade and bad harvests. Then, it had to be borne in mind that, besides reducing the National Debt by about £19,000,000, the present Government had paid about £10,000,000 more than their Predecessors in aid of education and the relief of local burdens. It was said that the present Government had increased taxation by about £1,500,000; but the amount was only in fact £1,000,000, as the right hon. Member for Pontefract had omitted the exemptions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the lower scale of Income Tax, which amounted to almost £500,000. Even £500,000 out of this £1,000,000 was really no taxation at all, as the price of tobacco to the consumer had not been raised, the cost of the raw material having fallen to about the same amount as the additional taxation. One of the Resolutions which had been put on the Paper by the hon. Member for Burnley asked the House to affirm—That the Taxes required to meet the present Expenditure impede the operations of agriculture and manufactures, and diminish the funds for the employment of labour in all branches of productive industry, thereby tending to produce pauperism and crime, and adding to tin-local and general burdens of the people.It was not, however, sufficient to show that the country was passing through a period of great depression, in order to prove that the present Government were responsible for the existing state of things. The bad trade, which every one now deplored, was not due to any- 1055 thing which had or had not been done by the Government, but was a re-action naturally and almost inevitably following upon the inflation of former years. Though the hon. Member blamed the Government for causing an increase of pauperism and crime, he had not blamed it for causing bad weather and disease, like some people out-of-doors. It was, he (Mr. Ritchie) contended, unjust to charge the Government with the badness of trade; and as to the increase in pauperism, they must not forget the severe weather of last winter, which put a stop to out-of-door employments. To say that the pauperism and crime of the country had increased in consequence of taxes levied by the present Government was clearly inaccurate, because an examination of the Returns would show that, in 1871, with a taxation and expenditure of only £70,000,000, the number of paupers was larger by 25 per cent than in 1878, and the number of criminals had remained about stationary. He could also show that the Revenue derived from the population was in 1873 and 1874, £2 8s. 2d. per head; in 1878–9, £2 8s. 9d.; and it would be in 1879–80, £2 8s. 1d., or 1d. less than in the last year of the so-called economical Government of the Liberals. In these latter years, the Revenue was swelled by interest received on local loans and interest on the Suez Canal Shares, which was merely a debtor and creditor entry. It was also swelled by about £2,000,000 necessary for the payment of Local Charges now borne Imperially. If these items, which did not increase taxations, were deducted, the amount of Revenue per head was, in 1878–9, £2 7s. 2d.; and in 1879–80, £2 6s. 6d. per head, compared with £2 8s. 2d. when the Government came into Office. Then, if they compared the Expenditure of the late and the present Governments, they would find that, while in 1874 the amount per head was £2 7s. 7d., in 1878–80 it was only £2 3s. 6d. This, of course, was the result, after deducting the sums for local taxation and education, which were now included in the Budget, and which must be deducted before a proper comparison could be made with the Expenditure of 1874. He thought he had now shown that the charge advanced by the hon. Member was not sustained against the Government, and that the Resolution ought to be rejected.
§ MR. DODSON
said, the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, in the speech which he had addressed to the House earlier in the evening, to which they had all listened with the greatest interest, had given an assurance that Her Majesty's Government were most anxious to tread in the paths of peace, retrenchment and reform. But he (Mr. Dodson) believed it would appear to the House that, assuming the Government to be animated by the motives stated by his right hon. Friend, they had been singularly unfortunate in the pursuit of their object. They had been told that the depression of trade was in no way to be attributed to the policy of the Government, or to the taxation imposed by them; and the right hon. Gentleman had implied that an adverse condition of trade, and a prosperous condition of trade, were alike independent of the policy of Governments. But no man, in his opinion, would deny that a prosperous trade might be retarded, and an adverse trade aggravated, by the policy of Governments, and that state of alarm and uneasiness which it might give rise to in regard to war. They were also told that taxation had no effect upon the depression of the country; but he would, upon that point, recall to the House the statements of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that his reason for shrinking from imposing additional taxation to meet his deficit was furnished by the circumstances in which the country was placed. The First Lord of the Admiralty proposed to institute a comparison between the Expenditure of the late Liberal Government and that of the present Government, and had selected for the purpose the Estimates for the year 1874–5 and the year 1879–80. He (Mr. Dodson) demurrred in limine to the years of which his right hon. Friend made his comparison. The Liberal Government were not responsible for the Expenditure of the year 1874–5. They were not even responsible for the Estimates of 1874–5; for when they went out of Office they loft nothing settled, but only inchoate Estimates in the various Departments. The responsibility for the Estimates of 1874–5, and the Expenditure of that year, rested with the present Government. But Estimates, as everybody knew, were not secure tests of Expenditure, and Budget Estimates, under the present Govern- 1057 ment, afforded no data for calculating the yearly Expenditure. In connection with that matter, he would like to tell the House what had been the Supplementary Estimates, exclusive of Votes of Credit and of the purchase of the Suez Canal Shares, under the present and late Governments respectively. Under the late Government the average of the Supplementary Estimates introduced in the course of the financial year, in addition to the Budget Estimates, was, on the four years, £527,000; and the average amount of Supplementary Estimates, introduced by the present Government, in five financial years of Office which they had completed, was £1,746,000. In view of such financial laxity, we could not assume, with the First Lord of the Admiralty, that the Estimates for 1879–80 afforded any basis on which reliance could be placed in calculating the Expenditure for the year. By a comparison which he made of the two years selected by him in that manner, he argued that the increased charge of taxation was £6,477,000 under the present Government; but the right hon. Gentleman ignored that there was another growing Revenue derived from other sources than taxation, which had increased within the last few years from £10,000,000, according to the Return from which he quoted, to £12,500,000, or, perhaps, it would be more correct to say, £13,000,000 sterling. In making a comparison of the Expenditure under the late and present Governments, he would follow the example of his right hon. Friend and claim the privilege of selecting his own years. In doing that, he would not take the years 1873–4, nor 1874–5, because the first of these was a divided year between the two Governments, and the second was the first year of the present Government; but he would select the last year in which the Liberal Government had undivided responsibility for the Expenditure—namely, the year 1872–3, and would compare it in respect of actual Expenditure with that of the year just completed, 1878–9. The ordinary Expenditure in the last year of the Liberal Administration in which they had undivided responsibility for the Expenditure, including £946,000 for the abolition of Purchase in the Army was £70,714,000; the ordinary Expenditure of the present Government in the year 1878–9, including £500,000 1058 for the abolition of Purchase, and after making a reduction of between £700,000 and £800,000 for items which had been added to both sides of the account, and, therefore, fictitiously swelled the totals of both Revenue and Expenditure, was £80,000,000, or an increase of more than £9,000,000 in the ordinary Expenditure, between the last year of the present Government and the last year of the Liberal Government. It was not, however, sufficient merely to compare the ordinary Expenditure of one year with that of another; a comparison must be also instituted to ascertain what was the total Expenditure, because, without that, one could not appreciate the cost of the policy of the Government in conducting the affairs of the country. Take the total Expenditure of the Liberal Government in the last year, 1872–3, in which they had undivided responsibility; it amounted to £71,700,000; whereas the total Expenditure of the present Government in the year 1878–9, after making a deduction as before of amounts which swelled the total on both sides, amounted to £84,500,000, or an increase, in round numbers, of £13,000,000. And even if they gave the last Government the solo responsibility for the divided year 1873–4, and reckoned the cost defrayed in that year of the Alabama Award and of the Ashantee War, the Expenditure had been greatly exceeded. The right hon. Gentleman had gone on to explain how the Expenditure of the present Government had been incurred, and where it went; and, first of all, he said we were paying £2,000,000 a-year more for the reduction of the National Debt. But he forgot that they applied to the creation of Terminable Annuities £500,000 or more of interest on local loans which, before they came into Office, was not treated as interest or part of the Revenue of the year, but as capital to be placed to the balances in the Exchequer. Notwithstanding this increase of the Terminable Annuities, and the creation of the much-vaunted New Sinking Fund, the total of the National Debt had in the last four years been increased by a net amount of upwards of £2,700,000. If the Government reduced the Debt with the one hand and increased it to a larger amount with the other, as they had done, the operation was very like a sham, and was, moreover, mischievous 1059 in itself, because there was necessarily incurred the expense of carrying it on. The right hon. Gentleman had proceeded with great satisfaction to enumerate the other items to which the increased Expenditure applied—apparently thinking it was quite enough to mention those items to dispose of any charge of extravagance. He had said that they were spending £1,500,000 upon education more than the late Government, and added that such expenditure would shortly be re-considered. There could be very little doubt that the expenditure in question had been carried on with considerable laxity by the present Government, and that, instead of being re-considered shortly, it ought to have been re-considered before. Again, he said that £2,000,000 had been granted in aid of local taxation; and in that case, also, he (Mr. Dodson) maintained that a firm hand had not been kept upon the grants, which had been made in a manner to stimulate local expenditure rather than to check it. Then, he said, quoting this year's Estimates, that something under £2,000,000 was added to the cost of the Army and Navy. Of course, no fault could be found with that; and, again, that £602,000 more would be spent upon the Revenue Departments; but then he stated that the Revenue Departments earned more. In connection with that, he (Mr. Dodson) again reminded the Government that this increase in the earnings of the Revenue Departments was so much added to the Revenue of the country and spent by the Government. The right hon. Gentleman, proceeding in this quiet way to enumerate the various items of Expenditure, and appearing to think that the mere enumeration of them was a sufficient explanation, would seem to be in the position of a private gentleman who, when told by his steward that his expenditure had been increasing of late years, and that unless he checked it he would get into difficulties, replied—"It is quite true; but so much has been spent on the garden, so much on the stable, and so much for keeping my son at the University; and then there is so much for charity, which you surely cannot blame me for; while the rest has been spent on the home farm, which I hope will produce more income in consequence." Hon. Members all 1060 knew what would be the result of that. And if the Government went on spending money, getting into debt, and contenting themselves with pointing to the objects of outlay, and saying that they were good and laudable, without attempting to keep any check upon their Expenditure, they would soon find themselves landed in very considerable difficulties. Speaking of the increased expenditure of the Army and Navy, the right hon. Gentleman had endeavoured to justify it by pointing to the joint expenditure last year of five great Continental nations upon their Armies and Navies, which he said amounted to £97,000,000. If that sum was divided amongst the nations alluded to, it amounted to less than £20,000,000 a-piece. But what was the cost of our own Army and Navy? If we added to the £25,000,000 which was spent upon our armaments the cost of the Indian Army, which was £17,000,000, it would appear that we spent just about double the average expenditure of those great Continental nations. The fact was that Government were trying to reconcile three incompatible things. They wanted to have an active, sensational, and blustering policy abroad, easy taxation at home, and, at the same time, a character for high financial virtue. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in endeavouring to reconcile those three incompatibilities, was at his wits' end. He would not pay his way as he went, for he said that would be heroic, besides being unpopular and ridiculous; nor would he fund his debts, for that would not be virtuous. So he had hit upon a viâ media, and said—"I will not pay my debts; I will keep them in sight." In this respect the Government were like the ancient Egyptians, who introduced a mummy at their banquets to remind them of their mortal end, although the recollection of the debt of nature which they would have to pay would seem to have had no particular effect in checking their appetites and indulgences. Still less was it to be expected that the sight of debts which could be postponed at pleasure would have a great effect upon the action of the Government. Last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer had proposed to spread the expenditure in connection with Turkey over three years, trusting that nothing would happen during those years to prevent his paying it off. But the principle 1061 of trusting that nothing would happen, and then spending income up to the hilt, was a very risky one in a private establishment or in an Empire. It was doubly risky for this Government, and for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had Colleagues and Agents all over the world, imbued with notions in favour of a spirited foreign policy, and who were nothing loth to find opportunities for making history in different parts of the globe. Contrary to his expectations, something had happened last year. It was not the revival of trade. It was first the Afghan War, and next the Zulu War; and so the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman was scattered to the wind. But he was nothing daunted; he began da capo, and, still preserving the great principle of keeping his debts in sight, postponed them a stage further. Meanwhile, for the present year, he had stated that there was an estimated surplus of £1,900,000; but, seeing that he had unpaid Bonds to the extent of £5,350,000, he (Mr. Dodson) thought it would occur to most mortals to say that he had a deficit of more than £3,000,000. But, setting aside the £4,750,000 Bonds for the Turkish Expenditure, had the right hon. Gentleman a surplus in any natural sense of the term? It was necessary to set the Bonds for £600,000 for cost of the Zulu War against the estimated surplus, which would be thereby reduced to £1,300,000; and against that there was the unascertained and unestimated cost of winding up the war. The fact was, the right hon. Gentleman had a margin for War Expenditure over his ordinary Expenditure; and hoped, if he had no supplementary Expenditure, it would be sufficient for that purpose. But that could not be considered, in any sense of the term, a surplus. In connection with the subject before the House, he desired to say a few words upon the large amount of the floating Debt, or, if the right hon. Gentleman objected to that term, he would call it the unfunded Debt, which amounted to between £24,000,000 and £25,000,000, and which, if they were to have loans for India, and further amounts as advances to local authorities, might reach the sum of £30,000,000 by the end of the year. Did the right hon. Gentleman suppose there was no cause for uneasiness in 1062 that fact, because £11,000,000 or £12,000,000 of Exchequer Bonds were not in the hands of the public; but were held by the National Debt Commissioners, and that, therefore, no inconvenience could arise? Was he prepared to say there was no inconvenience in having an unfunded Debt of more than £15,000,000 or £20,000,000 in the hands of the public? He (Mr. Dodson) would remind him of what happened in January last, when the Government had to go into the market and pay 4 per cent for three months' bills. Again, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that part of the unfunded Debt was incurred for making advances to local authorities, that the transaction was a profitable one, and that they were making income by that proceeding. But it was very dangerous and undesirable for the Government to embark upon that course to a largo extent, because they might have calls made upon them, and be obliged to borrow money, for the purpose of renewal, at a high rate of interest. Again, there was the chance of bad debts—by no means an imaginary danger—for he well remembered that when he had the honour of being Chairman of the Committee on Public Accounts, the Controller and Auditor General brought under the notice of the Committee that the country had lost money, amounting to very little less than £3,000,000, by loans to local authorities. In addition to this, there was the inconvenience to the Government of advancing money which was repaid to them only in driblets, whereas it would otherwise increase the balance in the Exchequer and be at their own command. He would not criticize the Estimates of Revenue further than to say that they were cautiously not based upon any anticipations of the revival of trade. The right hon. Gentleman had estimated a decrease of £445,000 for Customs and Excise, and an increase of £540,000 for Income Tax, which was less than the estimated amount of the uncollected arrears of the new 2d. for the year 1878–9. The only branch of Revenue on which he anticipated any substantial advance was the Stamp Duty, for which he estimated an increase of £110,000; but that, as he informed the House, he expected to receive, not from those stamps which represented the prosperity, but the mortality of the 1063 country. The condition of affairs, both financially and commercially, appeared to be very serious, and it would seem that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not rise to the gravity of the situation, and was not prepared adequately to grapple with it. It happened that a state of things not dissimilar to the present existed at a former period of our history, within the present century; and he held in his hand a work which gave some description of affairs at that time. Without quoting the words, he would give a fair summary of that portion of the work which related to the period in question. It appeared that there was then a deficit, actual and prospective, of £4,819,000. There were arrears, not altogether estimated, for hostilities in the East; recent events in Afghanistan were likely to necessitate further expenditure; the state of Indian finance was serious, and it was apprehended that if the credit of that country became disordered, the credit of England must in some way have been involved to support it; in the preceding year Customs and Excise had disappointed expectations; the shortcomings following upon a well - meant attempt to obtain a balance by an addition to taxation; the Whigs had been in Office several years, and had become unpopular; they had mismanaged the finances, and there was distress in the country; they had increased the Naval and Military Expenditure by several millions; they had brought us to the brink of a war with France; to actual war with China, and to a struggle with Afghanistan; besides having to deal with difficulties in Canada, and Chartist riots. If for "Whigs" the House read "Tories;" for "China" "Zululand;" and for "France" "Russia," they would have a description singularly apposite to the present situation. It was true we had not the Chartist riots on hand; but there were other difficulties in the present state of affairs which did not exist at the period referred to. We had difficulties in Egypt, Roumelia, and Burmah, besides a dormant war in the Transkei. But how had the Minister of the day dealt with the former troubles? On that point, he would quote the actual words of the writer, who said—The Minister came down to the House; he swept away all idea of meeting the difficulty 1064 by financial nostrums, disguised loans, application of savings bank funds, issue of Exchequer Bills, or any other expedient for easing off the crisis.The writer then stated how the Minister made a strong appeal to Parliament to support the public credit and proposed to grapple with the difficulties. The period referred to was the year 1842; the Minister was Sir Robert Peel, and the author of the work which he (Mr. Dodson) had quoted was Sir Stafford Northcote. He recommended the Chancellor of the Exchequer to study his own work, to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the words which he had written, and the way in which Sir Robert Peel had dealt with circumstances so singularly analogous to the present. The First Lord of the Admiralty had said that our first duty was to make the country secure, and that the expenditure for that purpose should not be grudged. He (Mr. Dodson) was sure no hon. Member would grudge the expenditure which might be necessary for that purpose; but what they did grudge was an expenditure made use of for the purpose of placing this country in the position of an aggressive Power, and exercising a turbulent influence in Europe and other parts of the world. The First Lord of the Admiralty had said that the name of England was more respected now than it was in former times; but with all due respect to the right hon. Gentleman, he ventured to question that statement. He very much doubted whether the last few years of foreign policy, with its successive fits of irresolution, panic, bluster, and irritation, and in which we had deferred payment of the expenditure which this policy involved, had been so very much calculated to raise the name of England abroad. It appeared to him that the name and reputation of England would have been more respected, and much more likely to be raised, by the exhibition of a calm consciousness of, und deliberate confidence in, our own strength and resources, than by a policy of bombast, menace, and provocation.
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
congratulated the last speaker on having brought the discussion down from the height at which it began to the level of a discussion on going into Committee of Ways and Means, which the House had more reason to expect. He did not complain of the comparison between the Expendi- 1065 ture of the Government for the current year and that for the year which the right hon. Gentleman had selected, because the Government admitted that, for one reason and another, the Expenditure of the country had increased during their term of Office. The Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day, and the First Lord of the Admiralty that evening, had sufficiently analyzed and exhibited, the items of the increased Expenditure; but neither the House nor the country cared to make an invidious comparison between one year and another. They would be willing to accept the candid admission of the Government that the Expenditure had increased, and would be thankful that, in spite of all adverse circumstances, there was such an increase in the current Revenue that it met these largely increased charges and provided a surplus of nearly £2,000,000. The country knew that the increased Expenditure of the last five years had either been forced upon the Government, or had come upon it in the natural course of events. The country knew that the Government had remitted some taxation and had imposed some, but only slightly in excess of that remitted. In spite of bad times and the depression of trade and commerce, the growth of the population and of the resources of the country had been comparatively unchecked, and a Revenue of £83,000,000 was now raised without any perceptible pressure. These comparisons, which were not made now for the first time, did not affect the opinion and determination of the country, which was conscious of its responsibility for supporting the Government in the policy they had pursued. It was true that Expenditure must follow policy; but policies were forced upon Governments by the course of events, and were not made by Governments. The Government was not responsible for the troubles which had occurred in the Provinces of Turkey, nor for the armaments and attitude of the European Powers. In spite of all the comparisons that could be made, the country was satisfied, as it had shown on many occasions, that the Government had done its best in the difficult circumstances in which it was placed, and it was gratified that the Public Services had been maintained with so slight an addition to the burdens of the people. The 1st Resolution, upon which it had 1066 been announced that a Division was to be taken, said that the House viewed with regret the increased National Expenditure. That was a proposition to which all men would be likely to give in their adhesion; but of all men the most likely to assent to it in its pure and simple meaning were the Members of Her Majesty's Government. The Resolutions attacked the Government, not only for their Expenditure, but still more for their Expenditure as compared with the Ways and Means of the year; but speakers had carefully avoided the latter part of the question, because it did not suit their convenience to advocate increased taxation this year. The right hon. Gentleman had hinted that increase of taxation was the course that ought to have been pursued; but little was heard on that point from the hon. Member for Burnley. The 1st Resolution was a skilfully contrived manœuvre to catch votes. The House, however, would not shut its eyes to the language of the Resolution or the meaning which underlay its words. The word "regret" in the Resolution was an ambiguous term; it was not regret that was meant—it was censure of the Government for the Expenditure of the year; but if there was to be censure, it must fall upon Parliament for its support of the policy of the Government, and not only on the present Parliament, which had directly sanctioned the policy of the Government, but also on the late Parliament, which had sanctioned measures leading to the increase of permanent charges, and also on the people out-of-doors, who had shown such willingness to support the Government in its polity. The right hon. Gentleman evidently felt that we must look, not so much at the Expenditure, as at the Expenditure compared with the means of meeting it. It was said by hon. Gentlemen opposite that the taxes and Revenue of the year ought to be equalized. He was not about to deny that, by the enforcement of that proposition, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) had done much for the Public Service, and brought about many reforms in the financial system of the country. But he thought they might carry that principle too far. It was a very desirable principle to raise the Revenue of the year to meet the charge of the year on all reasonable occasions; 1067 but he thought there were other occasions when having to meet a charge of, say £5,000,000 of an extraordinary charge, it might very well be advisable to provide only one-half of it from the taxation of the year. He therefore believed the common sense of the country would support his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the course he had taken. He had provided one half of the semi-war expenditure of the country out of the taxes of the year, and proposed to hold the other £5,000,000 as a sort of suspense account. If it had not been for the unmitigated calamity of the outbreak of the Zulu War, no one would have ventured to challenge the proposals of his right hon. Friend. With the existing taxation of the country they would have had a surplus of £2,000,000, which would have been sufficient to meet all the charges for the year, and to extinguish a portion of the Debt of £5,000,000 previously assigned to it. But it appeared to be the wish of hon. Gentlemen opposite that every taxpayer should feel, when he bought any particular article, that he had to pay so much more for it in consequence of the disturbances in Roumelia. Even the late Government, however, were not altogether guiltless in this matter. It was not so long ago that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Lord Palmerston's Government pursued a course with respect to fortifications hardly different from that which was now challenged. Why was the expense of fortifications not to be made an annual charge? For many years, a sum averaging £400,000 or £500,000 was spent on the fortifications of the country, the whole amount being withheld from the public view by a system of Annuities which was nothing but a system of hocus-pocus, to prevent any re-action of public opinion putting a stop to the systematic expenditure of a large sum of money. But as far as the taxpayers were concerned, it was the same to them whether the money was raised by Terminable Annuities payable at the end of 30 years, or whether £500,000 a-year was paid out of the Revenue. He wanted to know what difference there was between the course of procedure taken by Lord Palmerston's Government, and the course of the present Government? His right hon. Friend, out of the Vote of Credit last year, had purchased three or four iron-clads, which had added 1068 enormously to the power of the country, and that policy had met the entire approval of Parliament and the country. He (Mr. Sclater-Booth) admitted that, as a rule, it was unwise to draw a distinction between ordinary and extraordinary Expenditure; but he thought that in the present case such a course was allowable, especially considering the peculiar circumstances of the country. Considering the disturbance which was always created even by the prospect of any increase in taxation, he could not but feel that the line which had been taken by the Government was in every way the judicious course. It was very easy 40 or 50 years ago, when everything was taxed, to raise or diminish taxation. But now there were only two or three sources of taxation available. Some two years ago, he troubled the House at some length in commenting upon the extraordinary fuss made in the public journals at the prospect of an increase of a penny in the Income Tax. As he pointed out at the time, they had repeatedly within his own experience, without the slightest reluctance or remorse, added charges to the local rates which amounted in the gross to more than a penny in the Income Tax. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Dodson) had adverted to the policy of the present Government in investing money in local loans. But the right hon. Gentleman should have remembered, in connection with that subject—what he did not appear to recollect in the course of his observations—that many of the most important Statutes in our time had been, as it were, run through the House of Commons by the aid of that policy. In the passing of the Education Act, the Artizans' and Labourers' Dwellings Act, and other important measures, no objection had been taken to the principle that advances should be made. Then, again, when they came to examine what was called the floating Debt of this country, it appeared to him that some hon. Gentlemen were apt to forget how large a portion was embarked in advances for local works. The floating Debt was about £5,000,000 when the present Government acceded to Office; it was now something like £25,000,000. Of that sum, £5,350,000 was a quasi- war loan, and stood in those Exchequer Bonds which were to be paid off, and not added to the National Debt. The balance of about £16,000,000 was the 1069 sum of the advances to local authorities. The advances were more; but that was the amount advanced by the present Government for this particular purpose. It had been already stated that these sums were not Debt at all, but capital outstanding; and if the mortgages were properly executed, there was no risk of loss in that quarter. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Dodson) had ascribed the quasi- war expenditure to the blustering policy of the Government. He (Mr Sclater-Booth) maintained that there had been no blustering policy at all. The Government had certainly been most unfortunate in having imposed on them the necessity of raising the charges of the Budget from year to year; but with regard to the mode in which that had been done, he said that £5,000,000, which was the sum of money that had been spent on those war charges, was by no means an immoderate sum to be what he would call held in suspense. Then, as to the increased subventions, the right hon. Gentleman stated that they led to local extravagance and were of no utility whatever. That was not the case. He could show that so far as the Police Service, for instance, was concerned, the subvention given by the Government had led to increased efficiency. To see what good the subventions had done, a distinction must be made between two classes of rates. The subventions given by the Government, compared with the local burdens which they were designed to mitigate, amounted to about one-sixth of the whole. The charges on rates to which he alluded amounted to £11,000,000 a-year. It was said that the subventions led to increased expenditure. The subvention with which he had most to do was the subvention in aid of pauper lunatics. It was said that, in consequence of this assistance of 4s. per head given for pauper lunatics—the whole amounting in the present year to the large sum of £395,000—the guardians in the workhouses would send lunatics by troops into the asylums, and so rob the Exchequer. That was not the truth of the case at all. He held in his hand the figures showing the numbers of the lunatics in the asylums from 1873 to 1878, inclusive, and he was sorry to say that they showed an increase of something like 1,200 or 1,500 patients every year. When he came, however, to examine the numbers 1070 of lunatic paupers in the workhouses, he found that they likewise showed a continuous and constant augmentation. Therefore, the increase of this Vote was due partly to the real increase of lunacy in the country; and under no circumstances could it be said to have been caused by the guardians improperly sweeping into asylums paupers whom they ought to take charge of in the workhouses. Sometimes it was imputed to the Government that these subventions were greatly to the advantage of the country population as compared with that of the towns. The reverse was the case. Out of the police subvention £741,000 went to the Metropolis and the great boroughs, while £381,000 only went to the country districts. As regarded the sums given for lunatics, and for sanitary and Poor Law purposes, the case was still stronger. Hon. Gentlemen were apt to forget that rates, in the first place, meant taxation for public purposes on real property, and this was where the shoe pinched in the country; but rates in the towns and urban districts meant private improvement charges, which were borne by the houses, and which were nothing but a house tax in a different form. Some of his hon. Friends behind him often spoke of rates as if it were a monopoly of the farmers to pay them. Yet the amount assessed to local rates in the country was by no means chiefly, as in former days, paid by the occupiers of land. The valuation of house property was at this moment £93,000,000 per annum, while the valuation of agricultural land was only £51,000,000 per annum. This was not the case in former days. For instance, in 1848, the assessment of lands was £40,000,000, and of houses £35,000,000. It was stated in the Resolutions that the taxation required to meet the present Expenditure would impede the operations of agriculture and manufactures. But surely, if there were a tax which the farmer did not feel, it was the property tax. This country was not heavily taxed in comparison with France, and he doubted whether any country of Europe had been so lightly taxed during the last 20 years, in proportion to its wealth, as England. Moreover, he believed that the people thoroughly well knew this, and that the violent outcry raised in that House against a slight increase of taxation had produced very little effect indeed on the minds of the 1071 public out-of-doors. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Rylands) had asserted that pauperism was on the increase. The figures showed, however, that the expenditure on pauperism had decreased by between £800,000 to £900,000 a-year between 1874 and 1878. No doubt there had been, in the present year, a considerable increase in the pauperism of the country; but that was as nothing in comparison with the diminution which had gone before. A Local Government Inspector, who had been instructed to make inquiries of the guardians in various districts, sent a Report to him on the 19th of last month. From this document it appeared that the great distress in Sheffield and other manufacturing towns had not affected the rates. In conclusion, he said that if the Government had adopted the policy which had been shadowed forth by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dodson), and had reduced the Army and Navy when everything pointed to the necessity for strengthening them, that policy might have commended itself to the House and to the country; but he must say that all experience seemed to point to the contrary. He believed that the Government, whatever the consequences might have been, would have felt the course they had taken to have been one which it was incumbent on them to pursue as Ministers of the Crown and as trustees of the interests of this mighty Empire; and they would cheerfully abide the result if the House of Commons should, at the last moment, turn against them.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, that the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had endeavoured to justify the action of the Government, in borrowing-money for the ordinary Military Expenditure and for the ships which they had purchased, by citing the example of their Predecessors with reference to the fortifications and barracks. But surely the House would feel that there was a great difference between borrowing money for permanent improvements and borrowing it for temporary expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the system of Terminable Annuities was a financial juggle. He (Sir John Lubbock) was not an ardent supporter of the system of Terminable Annuities; but he could not help thinking that several of the Colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman would dissent from his views as re- 1072 garded Terminable Annuities, and from his argument that we ought not to impose taxation at the present time, when taxes were comparatively light, because it was not so easy to do so as it was years ago when they were much heavier. The right hon. Gentleman said that all this increased expenditure had been forced on the Government, and was not due to their policy; but he believed that when the country came to consider the question they would arrive at the conclusion that it was entirely unnecessary and clearly due to the aggressive policy of Her Majesty's Government. The First Lord of the Admiralty had stated, at an earlier period of the evening, that they had not a soldier or a ship too many; but that entirely depended on the policy of the country. He admitted that if we were to go on in future as we were now that statement would be correct; but he maintained that if we were to pursue a policy of wisdom and prudence our armaments might be diminished without occasioning any mischief to the country. It appeared to him a noticeable circumstance that, in dealing with the Expenditure of the country, the only part of it which the right hon. Gentleman seemed to regret was that which related to education. The House must have felt indebted to the right hon. Member for Chester (Mr. Dodson) for his remarks upon the comparison which had been made by the First Lord of the Admiralty of the Expenditure for the year 1874–5 with that of the present year. The details which had been presented were, no doubt, very interesting; but it was necessary not to lose sight of the totals of the figures. He was glad that attention had been called to the Expenditure of the two periods in question, because the more they were contrasted with each other the better. It was, indeed, impossible not to contrast the present Budget with that of the first year in which the right hon. Gentleman had held Office, for at that time we had a surplus of £5,000,000, while we were now brought face to face with an accumulated deficiency of more than £5,000,000, Moreover, that surplus was but one of a series which we enjoyed during the prudent Administration of the late Government. In 1870 they reduced taxation by the sum of £4,500,000. [An hon. MEMBER: And then put it on again.] 1073 Yes, that was quite true; they had a large expenditure to meet for the Army, and they raised it boldly by taxation, without following the Conservative policy of putting it off—on the contrary, they met the expenditure within the year. In 1872 they were able to remit £3,900,000; in 1873, £3,400,000; and in 1874, £4,600,000. Those results were duo to a course of rigid economy, the only means by which a surplus could be secured. The course adopted by the Government of the present day had, unfortunately, been very different. As it was but an imperfect test to compare one single year with another, he would take the four years from 1870 to 1874, during which it would be found that the total Expenditure of the country was £280,000,000, or £70,000,000 a-year. On the other hand, for the last four years our total Expenditure had been £322,000,000, or £80,500,000 a-year. This showed a total increase of £42,000,000 sterling during the four years of Conservative Administration. It took some years, however, for a Government to arrive at such a degree of extravagance; and even this comparison was, therefore, scarcely a fair one with respect to the late Liberal Government. If they took the last two years, the Expenditure of the right hon. Gentleman opposite had been £168,000,000, or an average of £84,000,000 sterling a-year. He asked where was this continual increase in the National Expenditure to stop? The increase had not been upon any one single year, but continued in an unbroken series from the time when Her Majesty's Government came into power, and showed a regular addition of from £2,000,000 to £3,000,000 annually. Before the present Government came into Office the average annual Expenditure of the country amounted to £70,000,000 for several years; but since that period there had been a continual increase. In 1875, our Expenditure was £74,000,000; in 1870, £76,000,000; in 1877, £78,000,000; in 1878, £82,000,000; and in 1879, £85,000,000. The First Lord of the Admiralty argued that an increased payment had been made on account of the National Debt; but, on the contrary, the reduction of debt was greater under the late than under the present Government. No doubt there had been additional expenditure for 1074 education; but he argued that if they had an increase of expenditure in a certain direction it ought to be met by increased economy in another. Of course, Her Majesty's Government were not to be blamed for the whole of the increase which had occurred in the National Expenditure; but let them look at the Army and Navy. The average expenditure under that head for the years 1870 to 1874 was £25,000,000 sterling, and did not vary to any great extent. To many persons that sum appeared a very largo one; but this item had increased in 1876 to £27,000,000, in 1878 to £30,000,000, and in 1879 to £32,500,000, or an increase of £5,000,000 sterling in four years. They were told that the times had been exceptional, and that the Liberals had left to their successors a legacy—the charge to meet the abolition of Purchase in the Army; but the principal legacy of the Liberal Administration had been a surplus of £5,500,000 sterling. Every Government had certain extra payments to meet; and accordingly, the late Government, he believed, had to make up the large sum of £5,000,000 to close the accounts of the Abyssinian War. Besides this, there was £800,000 for the Ashantee War, and £2,000,000 for the Anglo-German, difficulties. Moreover, the amount paid last year for purchase was actually less than in 1874. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that they were to have a very large diminution this year in the ordinary Estimates. He stated that "they amount to £81,153,000, against £85,407,000 last year, or a net decrease of £4,254,000." A very largo reduction, indeed; but it appeared to him (Sir John Lubbock) that in questions of finance, in order to make a fair comparison, they must compare Estimate with Estimate. Now, the Estimate in last April was £81,020,000; and it was 'for this year £81,153,000; so that, in place of there being a reduction of the; large sum of £4,254,000, it would be I seen, on comparison of one year with the other, that there was a substantial increase. Was there anyone in the; House who supposed that the Expenditure of the country was to be only £81,153,000 for the present year? He did not accuse the Chancellor of the Exchequer of having kept anything back in that respect, because he had frankly stated that he had not provided 1075 for the Zulu War; but, of course, if he excluded an item of that magnitude, his Estimates became of little value. The right hon. Gentleman himself said—It is very difficult to say what may be the calls that may be made upon us for the expenses of the Zulu War. I am afraid that, having consulted with my right hon. Friends at the head of the War Office and of the Admiralty, I am not in a position to give any definite or distinct Estimate with regard to it. But, finding that I have a surplus of £1,900,000, I think I may fairly assume that that sum will be quite sufficient to cover any calls likely to be made upon us in respect of that charge in the current year, and also in respect of the sum of £600,000 which remains as debt raised on Exchequer Bonds. But, at all events, if it fails to pay the £600,000, I have every hope that the surplus of £1,900,000 will be sufficient to meet the charge, whatever it may be, that falls upon us in respect of the Zulu War.He (Sir John Lubbock) thought that it would be a very sanguine view for anyone to expect the large reduction promised by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There were some other points upon which he desired to say a few words. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Sclater-Booth) had made some remarks upon the unfunded Debt, from which it seemed that he had rather misunderstood the objections raised upon that subject by the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) and the right hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter). Those hon. Gentlemen had not objected to the expenditure which had been met by the unfunded Debt; but they maintained that the unfunded Debt was a form of Debt inconvenient in itself. The unfunded Debt was that portion of the national responsibilities which required most careful watching; and it had been for many years the policy of this country to diminish, as far as possible, the amount expected to be called for at any moment, and to replace them by permanent forms of indebtedness. Accordingly, our unfunded Debt, which in 1840 amounted to £20,000,000, had been gradually reduced, and in the year 1874 it stood at £4,500,000 only. But during the last four years it had swollen again to £21,000,000, and was now higher than it had been for a quarter of a century. He was far, indeed, from saying that there was anything really formidable in those figures; but it was well that attention should be directed to them, 1076 and he confessed he should be glad to see the total reduced. Moreover, it would be a great mistake to suppose that this was the full amount which the country might be called upon to pay at a short notice. On the contrary, the real unfunded Debt, so far from being represented by a sum of £21,000,000, amounted to over £90,000,000, because the deposits in the Post Office Savings Banks were £29,000,000, and were repayable at a few days' notice; while the old Savings-Bank Trustees had over £46,000,000 deposited with the Government. Thus, there was a sum of nearly £100,000,000, which the Government might be called on to pay at a short notice. That large amount of indebtedness was a strong reason why the unfunded Debt in other forms should not be increased. He was far from saying there was anything in this to cause uneasiness; but he would just call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the very small amount of reserve held by the Banks in question. He believed that the Post Office Savings Bank had £29,000,000 of deposits, and £26,000 only in cash, while the Old Savings Bank Department, with its liability of £46,000,000, had but a cash reserve of £143,000. These proportions of cash to liability were very small, and the subject was one well worthy of the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. With regard to the rates, their objection was not so much to the transference of these, although many persons felt that they were much better controlled by the local authorities, and few people would maintain that it was merely a question of taking a shilling out of one pocket and putting it into another. On the contrary, the complaint was that we took a shilling out of one pocket in order to put sixpence into the other. With regard to the state of business, he did not think his hon. Friend (Mr. Rylands) had in any way exaggerated in what he had said upon that subject. Look at the Clearing House Returns. In 1875, £6,000,000,000 passed through, which had since fallen to £5,000,000,000, and would this year show a further reduction of rather more than £200,000,000 upon that account. Lest it should be thought that this might be merely caused by a diminution in Stock Exchange operations, he 1077 pointed out that on the 4th of the month, which he need not say was a test day of our internal trade, there was a falling of no less than £12,000,000 sterling. They might be asked why, in a period of depression like the present, did they urge that an amount should be raised by immediate taxation, rather than that the payment should be put off for another year? He felt strongly on that point, and thought that the country should realize what was being done; and he maintained that if they were to have an aggressive policy they should at least put their hands in their pockets and pay for it at once. War meant taxation and suffering; and he doubted whether, if there was to be no General Election next year, the policy of the Government would have been what it was at present. He could not help thinking that the Government did not wish to go to the country with an increase of taxation. On the Budget of 1875, the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a strong speech in favour of reducing the National Debt, which, for aught he knew, might have been intended as a check upon the possible extravagance of his Colleagues. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman wished to strengthen himself by committing them. He spoke strongly upon the subject, and admitted that his Predecessors had done something; but he added—I am bound to say that I do not think that this House has any great reason to be proud of the amount we have expended in the past year in the payment and reduction of the Debt." [3 Hansard, cexxiii. 1037–8.]The National Debt in 1869 amounted to £805,500,000, and in 1874 to £779,300,000. Consequently, in five years, it had been reduced £26,000,000, or more than £5,000,000 a-year. Even in 1874, the year especially referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, the reduction was £3,700,000. Under the most favourable circumstances, the reduction for the present year could not amount to more than £2,500,000, and would probably be very much less. What a change had come over the right hon. Gentleman! Five years ago, he complained that a reduction of £5,000,000 was too little, and now he was satisfied with half the amount. Under the present system, we were borrowing with one hand in order to pay off with the other, 1078 and we were reducing the Debt which was most convenient in form to increase that which was most inconvenient, and even dangerous—in other words, we were reducing the funded Debt and increasing the unfunded Debt. Moreover, heavily as the country was burdened, he did not think that the people fully realized its position, owing to the complex financial arrangements of Her Majesty's Government. For instance, the right hon. Gentleman proposed that we should loud India £2,000,000, free from interest, to pay for the Afghan War. This appeared to him, in many ways, open to objection. In the first place, they had not got the money to lend. They were borrowers themselves. He would not say more upon the subject that evening than that the amount would not appear in the India Accounts, because it was a loan from this country. India would not require to raise the money, and as to England, it would appear merely as a loan on good security; therefore, what was paid in this way would not show itself in the Accounts of either country. Where was that sort of arrangement to stop? Why should not India lend us £2,000,000 to carry on the Zulu War? Upon such a system as that we might carry on a series of little wars, and the amounts expended upon them would appear as a series of investments on good securities. Although he did not say that Her Majesty's Government were responsible for the depression which prevailed at the present moment, it seemed to him a mathematical certainty that the course they had pursued had done much to aggravate it. Did anyone suppose that, during a period of commercial and agricultural depression, £40,000,000 could be taken out of the pockets of the people without their feeling it? Could £15,000,000 be added to the taxation of the country without its being felt? But he complained of more than this. The state of uncertainty in which the country was kept by the policy of Her Majesty's Government was even worse than the actual expenditure. Nobody was sure that we might not be soon engaged in another war; and, as a consequence, everybody was afraid to engage in any new commercial transaction, for who could say what would be the next policy of Her Majesty's Government? He maintained 1079 that the course followed by the Government generally had greatly injured the manufacturing trade of the country, and thereby tended to paralyze our commerce. And what had the Government to show for their enormous Expenditure? The division of Bulgaria was, in his opinion, a serious danger, and re-opened the question of the East of Europe. As to the so-called acquisition of Cyprus, it had roused the suspicions of the Mahometan world, while it was impossible to foresee in what difficulties and dangers our relations with Asia Minor might involve us. It could not be disguised that the country was in a critical position. Trade was languishing, and the farmers were suffering. He did not deny that, in some circumstances, a spirited foreign policy was inevitable; but he maintained that it was, at best, an unfortunate necessity. He trusted that when the constituencies calmly considered it they would cease to approve the policy which had been adopted for the last two years, because he was satisfied that there was no hope of better times and a revival of prosperity until we returned once more to a policy of economy and of peace.
§ MR. GRANTHAM
said, whether the policy of the Government was aggressive to other countries might be and was a question of great doubt; but there could not be much doubt that the public at large thought the policy of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Rylands) was, at any rate, a very aggressive one towards Her Majesty's Government, for, in the many speeches which had been made during the last four months, nothing short of defiance of the Government and their policy was to be read. No doubt, also, the Party opposite had looked forward with much pleasure to the debate promised them by the hon. Member, because he was thought by his friends to possess some knowledge of finance and political economy. Their expectations were doubtless satisfied when they saw the debate announced, and speculated upon its result; but he questioned very much if they would be as gratified tomorrow when they read the account of the debate which had taken place. Hon. Members had expected to have a fair debate on the financial policy of the Government; but the hon. Gentleman had sat down without having grappled with that subject at all. The speech 1080 of the right hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) was one of a very different character, and showed itself to be the outcome of a financial investigation of the question; and although he (Mr. Grantham) had not followed him through the whole of his allusions, he felt that his speech had in it a great deal more of the ring of finance than that critical and egotistical statement of the hon. Member for Burnley. The right hon. Member for Montrose had endeavoured, with much knowledge of his subject, to revert to the proper topic of discussion, while the hon. Member for Burnley had merely re-opened questions of foreign policy which had over and over again been settled by the votes of the House. The great charge against the Government was that, in consequence of their excessive Expenditure, agriculture and commerce had declined. But he thought it would be evident to anyone conversant with the question that the distress which affected agriculture scarcely ever arose from the same circumstances that created distress in the manufacturing interest. It was quite new to him to hear that excessive expenditure of money by the Government could produce agricultural distress. It was always considered to have the contrary effect, and the taunt had always been directed against the Conservatives that they were in favour of a war policy, because it was to the interest of the landowners and farmers that such a policy should be carried out. Everyone, therefore, knew, who looked at the matter honestly, that the policy of the Government had nothing to do with the distress in agriculture, even if it had had anything to do with the distress in manufactures. But the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) could answer that charge far better than he. The right hon. Member said—It was idle to talk about the distress being so great, and that it was nothing to be compared with what it was a few years ago.If that was true, what was the meaning of the discussion which had been got up that evening? The meaning was, that it was the outcome of the aggressive policy of the hon. Member for Burnley, and others in readiness for the Elections, who thought that if they threw dirt enough on Her Majesty's Government some of it would be sure to stick. 1081 He rejoiced to have heard the speeches that had been delivered by hon. Members opposite, because they had completely shown how empty and baseless were the charges which had been brought against Her Majesty's Government; and he thought that when the people read the speech of the hon. Member for Burnley, and the reply of the First Lord of the Admiralty, very little more would be heard in the country about Conservative extravagance, and very little more of the financial ability of the hon. Member opposite. The fairness of the comparisons which had been made might be judged of by the references made by the right hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter), who, in order to show how great had been the distress in trade, compared the railway traffic on the Scotch lines for the last three months with the traffic for the corresponding period of last year. Why, everybody knew that the traffic this winter and spring had been entirely stopped by the snow; there never had been such a year in that respect, and yet hon. Members opposite considered that comparison to be a fair one. It was also, in his opinion, unfair on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chester (Mr. Dodson) towards Her Majesty's Government, to compare the year 1873 with succeeding years. He had taunted the First Lord of the Admiralty with having compared 1874 with the following year under the present Administration, and said that he had no right to make that comparison; but what right had he to take that year which he found had been the least expensive under the late Government, for the purpose of comparison with the outlay of the year 1878–9? Everyone knew that the Expenditure was settled at the commencement of the year; it might be altered during the latter part of the year, but who ever heard of its being altered in February or March? Looking more closely at the Expenditure since the year 1872, and taking the Revenue raised per head of the population during the last three years in which the late Government were in Office, for the purpose of comparing it with the Revenue raised per head of the population since the accession of Her Majesty's Government, it would be found that under the late Government the amount 1082 had every year exceeded the Revenue raised per head during the latter period. In 1872 it amounted to £2 7s. 3d.; in 1873 to £2 8s. 2d.; and in 1874 to £2 8s. 2d. per head. Since then, under the present Government, with its aggressive blustering policy so much talked about, and which was said to have cost the country so much, it would be found that the Revenue raised per head had been invariably loss than it was under the late Government, for in 1875 it was £2 6s. 3d.; in 1876, £2 7s. 1d.; in 1877, £2 7s. 6d.; and in 1878, £2 7s. 8d. per head. But what was the moaning of the term "blustering policy?" It was the policy of talking without the intention to act—of professing to do great things without the power to perform them. And who was it that advised the Government to "bluster" with regard to Turkey? Why, hon. Members opposite—who said that Her Majesty's Government ought to have adopted the Berlin Memorandum, and threatened Turkey. But the Government had adopted a policy not of bluster but of firmness, and had thereby preserved peace to England. They had said to Russia that certain things would not be allowed, and they were not allowed. Hon. Members had been talking as if we had been taking part in the war that had been raging between Russia and Turkey, and people, without thinking, and without analyzing the language of hon. Members opposite, would go away with that idea. But the converse had been the case, and the Government had preserved peace for this country. In asking hon. Members to look back to the past history of the Eastern Question, he ventured to say that there never was a time during the last 200 years in which England had kept out of war with more success, though with greater difficulty than she had done during the last two years. And that had been achieved by the firm, but not "blustering," policy of Her Majesty's Government. He therefore maintained that, on looking back to the history of the time, there was nothing to be ashamed of, but much, on the contrary, of which this country might be proud; and he ventured to say that a greater moral and diplomatic victory had been obtained over Russia, without recourse to arms, than was gained by the Crimean War, which cost the country so 1083 many millions of our money, and so many thousands of our troops. With regard to the way in which this question had been brought forward, the charges made against the Government divided themselves into three distinct propositions. The first was, that the Government had no domestic policy, and so adopted an aggressive policy. The second was, that they had an aggressive policy. The third was, that they had a warlike policy, and had created unnecessary wars. And first, with regard to the allegation that the Government had no domestic policy. That was the charge the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) had brought forward. But everyone must remember that when the Government first came into power exactly the contrary was alleged. He utterly denied that the Government had no domestic policy, and how it could be said that they had none, when they were formerly taunted with having too much of it. They were charged with having a policy of sewage, because they chose to look to the health of the people of this country. If the history of the first few years during which the present Government had been in power was looked at, and especially the second year, it would be found that there never was a time when more attention had been given to the domestic policy of this country. Then, as to our aggressive policy, the Eastern Question was neither sought for nor raised by the Government. Was it a likely thing that a question which had troubled Europe for so many years would be voluntarily raised by the Government? Was it likely that any Government would, of their own free will, put their head into such a hornet's nest? They knew too well the difficulties that surrounded them, and did all they could to avoid them. The fact of the Eastern Question, and the difficulties in connection with it, having been forced upon the Government, was the occasion of the domestic policy of the Government having been to some extent put aside for a time. The right hon. Member for Chester (Mr. Dodson) said that England was not now more respected than she was before. He would ask the right hon. Member to refer back to the position which England held, first at the time of the Berlin Memorandum, and then at the time of the Berlin Treaty. Last 1084 year Europe followed the lead of England, whereas, before that, it was expected that England would follow the lead of the Emperors of the East. They could look back with pride upon the altered position of England since the Berlin Treaty was made. As to the third charge, that we had created unnecessary wars, the Division in the House on the Afghan debate and the present aspect of the question were the only answers necessary to refute such charges. He would now quote a few figures to show how utterly fallacious and misleading were the figures given by the hon. Member for Burnley as to the effect of our policy on the position of the country. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Richard) had told them that the country was now unable to bear the taxation formerly put upon it. Taking the years which he himself had given, he found that in the year 1850 the taxable property of this country in land, and what he might call personal property, was £159,000,000; whereas, in 1877, taxable property of the same kind had risen to £369,000,000. Thus, the taxable property had considerably more than doubled in that interval. They did not find that the population had anything like doubled in the same period; and, therefore, the people were much better able to bear taxation now than then. Taking other taxable property, including that coming under Schedule D, whereas, in 1860, it amounted to £56,000,000, in 1877 it had risen to £489,000,000. A great deal had been said about the inability of England to stand competition with foreign nations. That, again, was incorrect, because the value of British exports had risen from £2 11s. 10d. per head of the population in 1856 to £5 18s. 11d. per head in 1877. Those figures showed that the trade of the country was perfectly well able to bear competition, and that England was not sinking down into the position of Holland, or any other third-rate Power in Europe. It had also been said that they had reason to fear the competition of America. But with regard to America, he did not think England had anything to fear. At the present time England was not only holding her own, but more than that, it was taking trade from America. He would mention one instance. They found that whereas, formerly, sewing machines were manufactured and im- 1085 ported from America, now the American companies had factories in England and made their own machines here. The import of those machines to this country had fallen off to one-fourth of what it was 10 years ago, showing that English traders and manufacturers were able to compete, and more than compete, with American manufacturers of such goods. If the difficult question between capital and labour were settled in this country, he believed that England could produce and manufacture articles much cheaper than any other country, not even excluding America. Even now, with all the American boasted cheapness, the whole trade of America, with regard to the export of woollen or cotton goods to this country, was only about £1,500,000. He did not wish to occupy the time of the House at any greater length; but, so far as he was concerned, he must say that he rejoiced that the question of the Expenditure of the Government had been brought forward, because he thought that the many charges that had been made against the Government had been entirely refuted; and no one had answered the arguments of the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) better than his Seconder, the right hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter). There was only one thing more to which he would refer, to show the complete absurdity of the whole of the charges made against the Government. In a speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), he found fault with the Expenditure of Her Majesty's Government upon the Suez Canal. He said—With regard to Egypt, look at the Expenditure on the Suez Canal. I admit that it is the highway to India, but if we lose it the Cape route is still open to us.When ex-Cabinet Ministers spoke in such a strain as that, it was idle to argue upon the Expenditure of the Government. Recently, everyone had been saying that, at whatever cost, they must have telegraphic communication to the Cape Colonies. And, with regard to India, there would be a greatly-increased risk of losing it, if they were not able to send troops there at the shortest notice. When either the Sultan, or the Khedive, or Russia was in possession of the Suez Canal, British communications with India would become greatly exposed, 1086 and their hold upon the country considerably weakened. Who would have been the first to condemn Her Majesty's Government for not taking proper steps to secure the Suez Canal, but hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite? Yet an ex-Cabinet Minister did not hesitate to suggest that we could afford to give up our communications with India by means of the Suez Canal and take to the old route round the Cape! If circumstances similar to those now taking place in South Africa were to arise in India, in such a case the opponents of Her Majesty's Government would be the very first to blame them if, through our inability to send troops viâ the Suez Canal, any mishap should happen. After the discussion they had had that night, he did not think the Government need have any fear of going to the country on the questions which had been raised by the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands).
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Goschen.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till Monday.