HC Deb 07 August 1879 vol 249 cc470-5

(14.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £26,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1880, for defraying the additional expenditure entailed upon the Government of Cyprus by the Augmentation of the Police Force, rendered necessary by the reduction of the Military Garrison of the Island.


said, it was quite impossible to adequately discuss the question raised by that Vote at that hour of the night. He did not, therefore, intend to enter upon the principle of submitting the Vote to the House; but, at the same time, he would venture to appeal to the Government as to whether it would not be better to postpone the Vote until the beginning of next Session? It could not really be necessary to establish a military police force at Cyprus. It was clear that it would be desirable that they should have some further information before saddling the House with so large a charge as £26,000, which, if once incurred, would be very difficult, subsequently, to get rid of. There were indications that the Government itself was not unanimous as to the desirability of the Vote. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, at an earlier period of the Session, when the Vote was proposed to be taken upon the Army Estimates, had considered that it would be illegal, and everyone who heard the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other night would see that he had great doubt as to the desirability of the Vote. The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury had never spoken one word in its favour. The Vote had been the subject of a good deal of discussion, and there was by no means unanimity concerning it. He would suggest that, looking to the period of the Session, and the improbability of fairly discussing the matter at the present time, it would be alike fair to the House and the country to postpone taking the Vote on that occasion, and to leave it till next Session.


wished to have some information with regard to the military exemption tax in Cyprus. The military exemption tax was imposed by the Turks upon those persons who did not serve in the Army; but there was now no compulsory military service in the Army at all. He wanted to know whether the Christians now had to pay the tax, while the Mahommedans were exempt from military service? With respect to the police, the very large sum of £26,000 was asked for by the Vote. He might say that there was also in the Island of Cyprus a military police, and Captain Scott Stevens, late Adjutant of the 42nd Highlanders, was in command of that force. Thus, they had in Cyprus three distinct bodies of police. There was the Army police, which cost £23,000; and there was the police, for which they were now asked to vote £26,000—altogether, £50,000 was spent in Cyprus upon police, and of that sum Cyprus was to pay less than half. He did not think there was any adequate necessity for the police charged for in the Vote. In the Estimate for the revenue expenditure of Cyprus, a small sum was put down for interest upon money borrowed for Public Works, and a Schedule was given of the Public Works required to be executed. There was no doubt that the works which were intended to be constructed during the next financial year would be done by means of forced labour. That institution was entirely repugnant to this country, and the Vote would be opposed until the system was brought to an end.


supported the appeal of the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) that the Government would withdraw the Vote until next Session. It was a Vote which required a great deal of consideration before it was passed, and at that hour of the night they could not adequately discuss the advisability of establishing a new police. It would be next to impossible to discuss the question on Report the next day. He did not think that there could be any immediate necessity for the Vote; it was one of very doubtful expediency, and there were very grave doubts whether the Government itself was satisfied as to the advisability of taking it. He would, therefore, urge upon the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to press the Vote at that period of the Session.


ventured to make the same appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but on different grounds. The Vote they were then asked to pass was a military Vote which had been placed upon the Civil Service Estimates, and he might say that it was not the only one. A new practice had grown up of placing Votes upon the Civil Service Estimates which had never' appeared upon them before. Several Votes for Military and Naval Services had that year been placed upon the Civil Service Estimates and not recharged as before to the Military and Naval Departments. The result was that the Civil Service Estimates were that year considerably swollen by the additions which had been placed upon them. He thought that was a departure from the usual practice which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be the last to defend or tolerate. On a former occasion he had asked why the practice that had always been followed had not been adhered to; but he had received no answer from the Treasury Bench. They contended that in the case of special Services they ought not to be placed on the Civil Service Estimates. The present was another case of a Vote for actual military purposes being placed upon the Civil Service Estimates. The practical effect was to deceive the country.


was sorry that he could not assent to the proposal of the hon. Member for Reading and postpone the Vote. If the hon. Gentleman wished to discuss the Vote he was quite prepared to enter into any discussion that might be thought desirable. But he understood the hon. Member to prefer to raise the discussion upon Report the next day. That being so, he would place Report upon the Paper as the First Order at 9 o'clock. He did not think he could undertake to enter into the questions raised by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) on that occasion; but he thought a more convenient time might be found for discussing them.


was willing to postpone the main discussion on the Vote until Report; but there were one or two matters upon which he wished to have a distinct understanding. There wore two separate establishments of police at Cyprus—the British establishment and the Native establishment. Under the British establishment for 1878–9 there was an item for police of £11,000; under the head of Native establishments the pay of the zaptieths for six months was stated at 500 piastres, or about £12,000. As that was only the cost for six months, it followed that the charge for a year would be £24,000 for the Native zaptiehs, besides £11,000 for the British establishment. Therefore, there was a charge for the police force alone in Cyprus of about £35,000. That really required explanation; and they ought also to know why they were then called upon to pay £26,000 for a fresh police force. He hoped that the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs would give some explanation on that subject.


could readily explain the matter to which the hon. Gentleman referred. He was not correct in saying that there were two police forces in Cyprus, as there was, in fact, only one. The police force that existed in Cyprus was that commanded by the gentleman whoso name had been mentioned. Several times during the debates they had had upon the condition of Cyprus the hon. Member for Reading had mentioned that there were two kinds of police in Cyprus. That was not so; sometimes they were called zaptiehs, and sometimes police the explananation was that they were originally called zaptiehs, and, since being organized, they had been called police. There was only one force, therefore, not two forces. With regard to the question of the hon. Member for Reading, he would explain that the first sum he had mentioned related to the re-organization of the police. A question had been raised by the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke) with regard to the military exemption tax. On the British occupation that was found to be a tax existing in the Island. It was thought unfair to place the tax only upon the Christians; and, therefore, it had been placed also upon the Mahommedans. With respect to forced labour so much had been said with regard to the question that he would only say a word or two. They knew that there had been forced labour in past times; but that institution had only been put in force in one instance. What was called forced labour was not so, but was paid labour. In future there would be no forced labour in Cyprus.


said, that the answer of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary with regard to the exemption tax was completely satisfactory; but in respect to the other matters his answer was not so satisfactory. He had no doubt that the hon. Gentleman made the statement as to there being only one kind of police in Cyprus in perfect good faith; but what he had said did not remove the impression that there were two kinds of police. There was the police commanded by Captain Scott Stevens, consisting partly of Europeans; but there was another force of police with entirely different head-quarters.


could not reconcile the statements which had been made. He believed that there wore two establishments—the British and the Native establishments—and £11,000 was the charge in respect of the British establishment. It would really appear from the statement of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary that since the re-organization of the police there had been two bodies, one on the British establishment, and one on the Native establishment. He hoped that further inquiries would be made and the matter thoroughly explained before the discussion on the next day.


thought it desirable that the Government should give some reasonable explanation for having placed the Vote for the Cyprus police on the Civil Service Estimates. He could suggest a reason for it, and that was that, in order to show a good balance-sheet for Cyprus, they had placed £26,000 upon the English Estimates. Therefore, they paid £26,000 for the enjoyment of having a good balance-sheet for Cyprus. At first, they knew that the Government did not intend to take it at all in its present form; and it was only because his hon. Friend the Member for Reading had found that the way in which they originally proposed to take it was absolutety illegal that they had changed their tactics. They admitted that he was right by withdrawing the original Estimate.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 76; Noes 26: Majority 50.—(Div. List, No. 214.)

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.