§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Mr. Speaker, I rise to move, Sir, that you do now leave the Chair; not, of course, for the purpose of making any progress with the business of Supply, there being no Notice down; but I think it may be for the convenience of the House that I should take this opportunity to offer a few observations upon the position of Business, and upon other matters such as are usually referred to at the beginning of a Session. The circumstances of the present Session have been exceptional. At the time that we met in December it was not thought necessary, or, at all events, desirable, if it was even possible, to introduce many measures to the notice of the House, the House being met for one object alone, and the observations which usually are made at the commencement of the Session were then deferred to the present time. I will, therefore, take the opportunity of moving that you leave the Chair to state what the Business is which we propose to call the attention of the House to during the present Session. But before I do so, there are necessarily one or two matters of exceptional and external interest on which I ought to say a few words; and the House will, I am sure, anticipate that the first subject upon which I must touch is one of a melancholy character, which has already been before our notice this evening, and which engages at this moment the first attention of the country—I mean the serious military misfortune which we have met with in South Africa. Sir, I am quite sure it is far from the wish of anyone either unduly to exaggerate, or unduly to depreciate, what has there occurred; but we cannot help feeling the great sorrow which has been caused, the great blow which we have received, and above all things we cannot avoid feeling and expressing our sorrow at the severe loss we have sustained in the death of those men who have so gallantly maintained the honour of the Army. I am quite sure that there 1077 is but one feeling throughout the country of admiration for the gallantry with which those men and officers behaved, so far as we are able to know, in the closing scene of their lives, for the manner in which they sustained the honour of the Army to which they were proud to belong, and that there is but one universal feeling of sympathy for those who have been sufferers by the bereavement. But, Sir, I also feel that there is in the British character a readiness, upon all occasions such as this, to rise with all the more spirit from any calamity that has been sustained, and that the impulse of which we are conscious is a resolution to repair and wipe out any blow of this kind that seems to have been received. No time has been lost in taking the first measures that are necessary for that end. A very considerable force has already been ordered to sail for South Africa. That force is being rapidly brought together. The transports which are to take it out have been already engaged, and in the course of next week, probably before this day week, the first of them will have sailed. No time will be lost in hastening forward the detachments which are to be sent. Having said so much, I hope that I may appeal to the House to abstain for the moment from making any conjectural comments upon circumstances as to which we are as yet very imperfectly informed. We have received a telegraphic communication of the bare fact only, and it must be several days—it cannot be till next week—before we can receive any detailed account of what has happened. I think we must all be aware that justice and every other consideration requires that we should suspend our judgment upon what has happened until we have a full and complete account of it. With regard to the general policy of the war I would say much the same thing. Papers have already been laid upon the Table which bring the account of what has taken place up to the 30th or 31st of December, and further Papers are now in the printers' hands, and will be distributed on Saturday or at latest on Monday, which will bring the Correspondence down to the end of January. Of course, still further Papers will be given as soon as possible. I think that when we receive the full accounts of what has taken place, and those Papers are in 1078 the hands of Members, we shall be better placed than at the present moment to consider our position, and to decide as to what steps it will be necessary to take. But I may say, Sir, even beforehand, that I am perfectly conscious that it will be necessary for me to make some proposal to the House with reference to the expenses which these necessary measures have occasioned. I only desire that I may be in a position to give a full account, and to take a complete view of, the circumstances before I am called upon to go into details on that subject. Turning from this darker page of what we have to state to the House, I am happy to be able to congratulate the House and the country upon the more satisfactory state of affairs in other parts of the world. If we look especially to our foreign relations, and consider how the arrangements consequent upon the Treaty of Berlin are proceeding, we see that there is every reason to be satisfied with the progress that is being made. There is, no doubt, a natural impatience in the minds of all men to see things proceed with an almost impossible rapidity; but when we consider how many interests have been involved, and how much there has been to arrange—how many have been the difficulties to be overcome—I think, when we look back and take stock of what has passed in the six months or whatever may be the time since the conclusion of the Treaty, we have no reason at all to be dissatisfied with the real and satisfactory progress that has been made. The exchanges of territory which were provided for in Asia have been accomplished. The exchanges on the Frontier of Montenegro have also been accomplished. Both those were matters which were subjects at one time of anxiety. The occupation of Bosnia by the Austrian forces has also been accomplished. The supplementary Treaty which the Porte and Russia had been engaged in negotiating has been signed, and the Russian Army has now begun to withdraw from Turkish territory; and we have no doubt that the evacuation of Turkish territory will be very speedily and peaceably completed. I think we may, without going into disputed questions, fairly take this opportunity of expressing the sense which certainly Her Majesty's Government feel, and I hope the House and the public will feel, of 1079 the very great energy, the very great skill, the very great temper and patience with which Sir Henry Layard has fulfilled his duty in these difficult and critical circumstances. The House, I am sure, will hear with regret, though hardly with surprise, that Sir Henry Layard's health has suffered not a little from the long strain and the great anxiety which have been put upon him for the past few months, and that he will be obliged to take a short respite from work to improve his health. We hope, however, that matters have now arrived at that point that he can be spared from his post for a short time without any inconvenience to the Public Service. Other matters besides those which I have already mentioned have also been satisfactorily in progress. A scheme of pacification has been adopted in Crete, which appears to have given satisfaction to all parties; and negotiations in pursuance of the stipulations and Protocols of the Treaty of Berlin have been set on foot between the Porte and the Kingdom of Greece. With regard to Asia, there has not been any slackness in pursuing the Correspondence which was opened, as was mentioned, some time ago, on the subject of Asiatic reform. I believe that there has been some unreasonable impatience on the part of some persons in this country with regard to the reforms in Asia; but then it must be considered that those reforms have had to be entertained and begun by a Government whose territory is occupied by a large foreign army of some 200,000 or 300,000 men, and, whose attention has naturally been attracted by matters of a very different character. I doubt whether there have ever been any instances of a country having effected reforms under such pressure as that. But, at the same time, I may say that there has been manifested on the part of the Porte a sincere desire to proceed with reforms. Some of the appointments which have been made—notably that of Midhat Pasha—have indicated the earnestness with which the Porte is proceeding; and arrangements for carrying out the objects in view are now under discussion which I believe will be found adequate and satisfactory. Then there is another matter which has excited attention, and that is the position of the Island of Cyprus. In regard to the Island of Cyprus, I need not at the pre- 1080 sent time, I hope, enter into any long discussion, as I have Friends on these Benches who will be able to speak from personal knowledge of what they have seen and what they know of the Island; but I think it may be of interest to the House to know that the question which has given some trouble, as to the effect of the reservation of the land rights of the Porte under the 4th Article of the Treaty, has been settled. All the land rights and claims of the Porte, including claims on waste lands, and all questions affecting the land, have been settled and commuted for a payment of £5,000 a-year. That payment is in addition to what has been ascertained to be the surplus due to the Porte on the basis of the excess of revenue over expenditure. I am unable to say what precisely that surplus may be found to be; but we are in a position to say that the sums which have been named—£120,000 or £130,000 a-year—are exaggerated, and that the amount will be much lower—£100,000, or a few thousands more. I believe, when the Budget of Cyprus comes to be considered, it will show this to be a satisfactory and hopeful settlement. With regard to another question which was under consideration when the House met in December, I hope we are now in a position to deserve congratulation. The objects of the expedition which was then under consideration appear now to have been accomplished, and a satisfactory arrangement may now be made for the future protection and tranquillity of the North-West Frontier of India without destroying the independence of Afghanistan. Turning from these matters to the condition of the country, I do not think it necessary to enter into any details; but it would be improper and indecent, on such an occasion as this, not to express the sincere regret which we all feel for the serious distress which has prevailed in some parts of the country; and I hope that the time has come for improvement, as the change in the weather and other circumstances may serve to mitigate the distress. [Opposition cheers.] I think you will admit that the winter has been exceedingly severe—[Laughter from the Opposition]—by which it has been rendered difficult for many persons to obtain employment. This may be a subject for the laughter of hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, but it is not so regarded by 1081 us, and especially by the people of those towns in which the distress has prevailed. In many of the communications which we have received stress has been laid upon the additional suffering caused by the severity of the weather, which has rendered it impossible for many people to obtain employment. I can only again express my hope that matters will tend to improvement. Before leaving this subject, however, I think it would hardly be graceful not to acknowledge the very great liberality and self-sacrifice with which so many persons during the distress in their districts came forward in order to relieve the sufferings of those among whom they lived. I am happy to say that the benevolence of the people of England has never yet been appealed to in vain. Not only has the relief been liberal, but, so far as we have been able to judge, the relief given has been very wisely and judiciously distributed. I have nothing more that I need trouble the House with, except to mention the subjects which will be brought forward in the present Session. The subjects which appear to be of the highest importance are these—There will, in the first place, be a necessity for proceeding with the Mutiny Bill, which, as the House is aware, is in a peculiar position. The Mutiny Bills of past years have been frequently altered and patched; nevertheless, considerable portions of the legislation have been of an obsolete character of a very early date, and it has been found desirable that it should be revised. I need not go back upon what has occurred in past Sessions, but I think it only right that we should give some expression of acknowledgment to the Committee—and especially to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt)—which sat last Session upon this subject, and under whose guidance great progress has been made in the work of reform, for their labours upon it. Their recommendations have led us to substitute what will practically be a new Military Code—for that is what our suggestion will really amount to—and that Military Code will be submitted to the House, and will require careful consideration. And here f may take the opportunity of correcting a mistake that has got wind in some quarters in reference to this question. It has been assumed that we intend to 1082 alter the whole system of our Mutiny Legislation, and to withdraw from Parliament the annual supervision and control of the Army. Such an insane idea has never entered into our minds. Even hon. Gentlemen opposite could never have imagined that we intended to introduce so sweeping a change. The next measure which we wish to mention is the Criminal Code, which has also been the subject of very careful revision by very competent and high authorities; and we hope that it will be presented this Session in a form which will enable the House to deal with it and pass it immediately. There will be a measure for the amendment of the Bankruptcy Laws, which I think will be introduced in the other House of Parliament. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will re-introduce a measure, of which he has had charge, for amending the Summary Jurisdiction of Magistrates. Then there is another subject which urgently requires attention in this House, because the powers of the Railway Commissioners will expire during this Session; and it is, therefore, necessary to introduce some measure which will deal with those powers. We propose to introduce a measure for establishing County Boards in England, and for amending the Grand Jury Law in Ireland. There is also to be a Valuation Bill, and there will be a Bill for the amendment of the Poor Law of Scotland. In mentioning these measures in detail, I wish, at the same time, to say that there are many other measures we have in hand, some of which will demand special attention. I gave a pledge last Session, which I have not forgotten, that the Corrupt Practices Act should be dealt with early in this Session, and I have stated to my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Coope) that we should have to introduce some measure with regard to Banks. There is a measure upon the relations of Employers and Workmen which will also be introduced when ready; and amongst others I may mention one measure of a financial character, in which I myself am interested, for dealing with the question of Public Works Loans. There are also other measures which, as time goes on, we propose to introduce; but I need not trouble the House with them now, and will only say what is the order of Business which we at present 1083 contemplate. To-night I will give Notice of certain Bills which it is proposed to introduce to-morrow evening, which probably will not give rise to much discussion. On Monday I propose to invite the House to consider some Resolutions with regard to the Public Business of the House, and I propose to move certain Resolutions which were recommended by the Committee of last Session, although not the whole of them. I will place the Resolutions upon the Table in the course of the evening. "We may also have some other Bills to introduce on Monday. On Thursday I hope my right hon. and gallant Friend the Secretary of State for War will be able to introduce the Mutiny Bill, which will require some little time to explain. Possibly I may be able also to do the second reading of the Public Works Loan Bill; but I think it will be more convenient to keep it in abeyance. The Army and Navy Estimates are, I hope, in a position to be proceeded with on the following Monday—if possible with the Army, but it may be that the Navy Estimates will be taken on the following day; but, whichever is taken first, the other Estimates will be taken on the following Monday. On Thursday, the 27th, we shall take the second reading of the Mutiny Bill. I need not go further into the details; but, of course, Notice will be given of the introduction and progress of those measures I have referred to. I now move that you, Sir, do leave the Chair.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, he could recollect no precedent for the most unusual course which had been adopted by the right hon. Gentleman on the present occasion. In 1867, when there was an Autumn Session, the whole of the Bills were brought forward in the Queen's Speech; and, as regarded 1868, there was a Queen's Speech made on the re-assembling of the House in February 1869. Perhaps it would be convenient that the most responsible Members of the Opposition should refrain from addressing the House until towards the close of the debate to which it was likely the speech of the right hon. Gentleman would give 1084 rise. Next to the unfortunate event which had occurred in South Africa, the subject that was the uppermost in the public mind, and which he (Sir Charles W. Dilke) chiefly rose to address the House upon, was the distress that prevailed throughout the country. The language of the right hon. Gentleman in referring to the latter question was, perhaps, scarcely adequate to the occasion. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that that distress had been occasioned by the late frost. ["Oh!"]
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
explained that he had remarked that the distress had probably been aggravated by the frost.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
feared that the distress was more widely spread in the Northern centres of industry than the right hon. Gentleman appeared to think; and he could not share in the sanguine view taken by the right hon. Gentleman that it was decreasing. He would only tell the right hon. Gentleman that those who represented the great centres of industry were not of the opinion which he understood the right hon. Gentleman to express. They thought that not only was the present distress more generally spread over the country than had been the case for many years, but that it was rather increasing than diminishing. He could not understand the principle upon which the right hon. Gentleman had constructed the list of Bills which he had mentioned; for after reading out a catalogue of nine measures he went on to refer to others which were more important than those which he had first mentioned. He (Sir Charles W. Dilke) supposed that it was intended that these nine Bills should be those to which the attention of the House should first be directed. With regard to these measures, he would only say that Scotland and Ireland came out somewhat badly. There was only one measure relating to each country, and neither of them was of first-class importance. He had not been in the secret of the negotiations of which they had heard with regard to Irish University Education; but he supposed that these negotiations had broken down, as no result had come from them. It was possible, however, that a surprise might be sprung upon them at the last moment. The Bills relating to Corrupt Practices and to the Liability of Employers for Injuries to 1085 their Workmen ought to have taken a prominent place in the programme of the Government Business for the Session, seeing that Her Majesty's Government had pledged themselves to introduce them at the earliest opportunity, and to give them precedence. With reference to the first they had great reason to complain of the course pursued, for a Dissolution could not long be delayed; it would be welcome to a large number of hon. Members on that side of the House, and it was therefore of importance that the grave questions which the Bill raised should be settled as soon as possible. With regard to the other Bills which had been named by the right hon. Gentleman, all of them were old friends. Hon. Members had seen them beforehand if the Government did not press them forward with more vigour than in former years they would probably see most of them again. In reference to one of them—the County Government Board Bill—the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not said whether the measure which it was proposed to introduce was the same as that which was brought in last year. If it were the same Bill, he could tell the right hon. Gentleman that it would certainly be opposed on the second reading by a large number of those who sat on his (Sir Charles W. Dilke's) side of the House. If they were to deal with the subject of County Government in this country at all, they ought to deal with it on the basis of principle. There was no principle in the Bill of last year, and he knew there were many hon. Members who were determined to do all they could to prevent the passing of any such measure unless it were founded on the principle of representation, in which they all believed. Passing to the subject of South Africa, the right hon. Gentleman had asked them to abstain from conjectural comments; and he was, of course, perfectly right in making that appeal to the House. It would be monstrous to raise a debate to-night on the military questions involved in the recent disaster, because they had not the facts before them on which to found an opinion; but if the right hon. Gentleman wished them altogether to avoid discussion as to the causes of the war, he did not go the right way to work, because he had spoken of the measures which had been taken—whether of inva- 1086 sion or of defence was a matter depending upon what the real intentions of the Government had been—as having been necessary measures. Now, some of them on his side of the House, as far as they could judge from the information in their possession, were disposed to deny that there was any proof before them that those were necessary measures. At the same time, he must confirm what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman as to the feelings with which they had all heard the painful news received that week of the reverse and calamity which had been recently sustained; and they could not but entertain a determination, as Englishmen, that every sacrifice should be made which was necessary in order to retrieve our military situation. He could not refer to that subject without paying a tribute of admiration to the heroism displayed by the men engaged, and of deep sorrow for the sad loss which had befallen the country. He hoped he should be allowed to make special allusion to the death of Colonel Durnford, an officer who, as all who knew him were aware, was the very soul of chivalry. Colonel Durnford was, curiously enough, the Commissioner by whose vote the disputed boundary question was lately settled in favour of the Zulus, and it was a remarkable fact that the Commission held its meetings at Rourke's Drift, so that that gallant officer was killed at the very place where, eight months before, he had performed a great act of justice. The House would ask for more proof than had yet been afforded whether those brave men had died for a just cause. Whether the responsibility rested on Her Majesty's Government or on the Government of the Cape was a question which must depend on information yet to be produced; but the Papers now before them showed that there was no sufficient cause of war as far as regarded its first inception. The war appeared to have been resolved upon before its cause was found. We who had before blamed the Boers for their aggression upon the Zulus, when we stepped into the shoes of the Boers pressed against the Zulus the very territorial claims we had thus condemned. Those claims related to a disputed territory, and they were likely to be a cause of war. The Natal Government had seemed to be opposed to war and in favour of ar- 1087 bitration. Arbitration was adopted, and the award was given in favour of the Zulus. Then another cause of war was found, and he and others doubted whether that cause was sufficient. The war was a matter upon which the House ought to express its views, because for 20 years they had had profound peace at the Cape, and now suddenly war arose against tribes which seemed to have no knowledge of, or communication with, each other; and they could not but draw the inference that it must have been an aggressive policy, such as had marked the reign of the present Government in other parts of the globe, which had caused all that disturbance. The annexation of the Transvaal had been advocated on the ground that it would give us peace and secure tranquillity at the Cape; but, instead of that being its result, it had brought us war. Those who sat on his side of the House must have different evidence from that before them to make them think that the war was just and necessary. The House, however, would have an opportunity shortly of discussing those necessary measures to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had alluded—
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
explained that when he spoke of necessary measures, it was in reference, not to the general question, but to the measures to be taken at the present moment in consequence of what had now occurred.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
had not understood the right hon. Gentleman in that sense. Of course, he accepted that explanation. He would now turn to affairs in Afghanistan, and upon that subject he desired to make but a single observation. Looking to the fact that all military operations had been suspended, they must all be much gratified to know that the Government had succeeded, at not a large loss of life, in occupying those positions and that territory which they intended to hold. But he thought the time had arrived when some distinct statement should be made respecting our intentions towards that country. The explanation made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been singularly vague, and had not conveyed any accurate impression to the minds of those who heard it; nor would it to those who would read it. One thing was certain. We had the military posi- 1088 tion in our hands. We could take as much territory as we liked. There had been a talk of a scientific Frontier. Well, what they wanted to know and what they had a right to demand was—what was that so-called scientific Frontier to consist of? With whom, moreover, were the Government to treat; and had they not themselves destroyed all chance of finding that independent Afghanistan which they were so anxious to see on our Indian Frontier? He asked whether they would not be forced to take the advice of General Kaufmann, as reported by the correspondent of The New York Herald? Whether they wished it or not, might they not find themselves compelled to go forward until they reached Herat—a long and troublesome journey? The Government would strengthen themselves and prevent their hand from being forced if they would frankly tell the House what Afghan territory they were to keep. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would have acted more discreetly if he had not mentioned Cyprus. It was treading on delicate ground. He (Sir Charles W. Dilke) would ask whether the total revenue of that Island was more than £160,000 or £170,000, of which £115,000 had to be paid as rent to Turkey, and whether it was possible to do more than make the two ends meet? Nothing would, he feared, be left for carrying out such improvements as constructing harbours, establishing sanatariums, and making roads. The right hon. Gentleman had mentioned that some of his Colleagues had visited Cyprus, and they had the advantage of reading in The Times of yesterday column after column of the utterances of the First Lord of the Admiralty. [Cheering from the Government Benches."] He was glad to hear that cheer, because it showed that hon. Members opposite were prepared to defend the right hon. Gentleman's views, which hon. Members on the Opposition side were equally prepared to attack whenever an opportunity arose for thoroughly thrashing out the subject. If the Returns moved for by the hon. Member for Frome (Mr. H. Samuelson) were granted, they would show who were right and who were wrong with regard to the unhealthiness of Cyprus. The right hon. Gentleman said he had been at Cyprus for a week, and had not found the climate pestiferous; but he 1089 might, perhaps, have been able to make I a similar remark if he had spent a week at Sierra Leone. In the opinion of the First Lord of the Admiralty, a grand harbour might be constructed at Cyprus at a ridiculously small cost—probably for £150,000. The right hon. Gentleman's authority for his statement was the hon. Baronet the Member for North Durham (Sir George Elliot), who, he believed, built the harbour at Alexandria, which, according to other authorities, was in a much worse condition now than it was before it was touched. However this might be, he should like to know what was the expenditure at Alexandria, and what was the difference between that expenditure and the original estimate? If there should be a similar difference in the cost of the construction of a harbour at Cyprus, he pitied the poor taxpayer of this country. Again, in December last, he put a Question to the Government as to the jurisdiction to be established in Cyprus, which was a very serious matter, as it was likely to bring every civilized Power in Europe into collision with this country. He asked what would be the position of the citizens of other countries in that Island? According to the Capitulations, the subjects of all the Frankish Powers were to be judged by their own officials. The Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs admitted last December that a Correspondence had been commenced with foreign Governments respecting these Capitulations, and the Government ought now to have told them how the negotiations stood. Was it not a fact that Italy and the United States had made very strong representations to us upon this subject? With regard to the Berlin arrangements, the right hon. Gentleman spoke very pleasantly, saying they would be carried into effect on every side, and adding that negotiations had been set on foot with reference to the claims of Greece. What was the history of the Greek question? Last year the House carefully debated the question whether Her Majesty's Government had done much or anything for Greece. The Government maintained that they had done a great deal for that "interesting Power;" but lie thought the Opposition were successful in exposing the falsity of that view, and that they had shown that the Government had not only done a great deal less than they ought to have done, but 1090 that it was owing to the conduct of Her Majesty's Government at Berlin that Greece did not obtain more territory and did not get it by an express stipulation of the Treaty, instead of having to rely upon a mere recommendation to the Turks. Even now it was doubtful whether effect would be given by Turkey to the recommendation; and this was a point on which the Government had left the House wholly without information. They were, therefore, entitled to ask when the time would come for the publication of Papers connected with the Greek question. It would be observed that it was not until the 21st or 22nd of January that the Turkish Government appointed a Commissioner under the Treaty of Berlin. The Turkish Commissioner had met the Greek Commissioner; but negotiations of a most unsatisfactory nature were reported to have taken place. Yesterday it was said that the Commission had been broken up; and though it was rumoured to-night that negotiations had begun again, he believed there was little hope of a satisfactory issue—or, indeed, of any issue—being reached in the course of these transactions. Not only did those who sat on his side of the House desire further information on this subject; but, as matters stood, they could not but think that what had taken place was discreditable to Her Majesty's Government. From the Papers which had been published by foreign Governments it would seem that the conduct of Her Majesty's Government had been calculated to alienate from England the sympathy of that rising nation; and just as the Government had driven all the other Powers of the Peninsula into the arms of Russia, so, he believed, they would be found to have driven the Greeks into the arms of France. It was to be feared that in future Greece would regard France as her solo benefactor in Europe, instead of looking as she would otherwise have done, to this country as her saviour.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Sir, I rise to re-enforce what my hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea has urged—that we should have a little more accurate information with respect to the Island of Cyprus than could be gathered from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster. I am sure I hope that the First Lord of 1091 the Admiralty—although he considers his first duty is to his constituents—will also think that he owes something to the House of Commons. I want, then, first to ask for something distinct with respect to this naval station at Cyprus. I understand, as far as we have the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty, that he admits at present there is nothing which can properly be called a harbour at Cyprus; but his phrase, as I took it down, is that there is the making of a harbour at Cyprus. He said—"We have the opinion of the Hydrographer of the Navy." It is not presented to Parliament—for we have very little information on that subject; but the Hydrographer to the Navy has given that information to the Geographical Society. There was a Paper read at a meeting of the Geographical Society, at which the Hydrographer to the Navy took part in the discussion—and this is what he says on the possible harbour of Cyprus. He says there was a long spit or reef which ran out for a mile into shallow water, and between this and the mainland there was a deep gulley of seven or eight fathoms, which gradually shallowed up to the old port. It would require a very small amount of stone and labour, compared with the harbour works in this country and in the Mediterranean, to make this area a port that would be suitable for a small fleet of large ships. It strikes me as rather remarkable that after the Hydrographer to the Navy has said when you have made this harbour of Cyprus it will accommodate a small fleet of large ships, the First Lord of the Admiralty should tell his constituents it would hold the largest fleet in the Mediterranean. Now, the fleet we have in the Mediterranean is not a small fleet; and, if Cyprus is to be used as a place of arms, a large fleet will have to be stationed there. The Hydrographer went on further to say even at the present time some six or eight steam vessels of moderate size—by which I understand him to exclude large iron-clads—could lie in shelter under the shores and shallowest parts of the reef. Now, the value of this paper that I have seen is that it is accompanied by a chart which makes a landsman capable of understanding the whole thing. The greater portion of the reef, as I understand, is under water, and it is not continuous, but broken up. 1092 According to the account given by the gentleman who read the paper there is spit of a mile in length covered by from two to four fathoms of water. Well, but a reef covered by from two to four fathoms of water wants a good deal doing to it before it becomes a breakwater. To say, therefore, that there is no harbour in Cyprus is perfectly correct. To say you may make a harbour in Cyprus, I dare say is perfectly true; but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea has said, the First Lord of the Admiralty is too shrewd a man of business to rely on an estimate for making it like that at Dover for £150,000. If he would inquire into the cost of the harbour at Dover or Plymouth Breakwater, and see what it came to, he would not lead people to suppose that upon a reef you could make a breakwater for £150,000; and it is a thing which I am sure the hon. Member for North Durham (Sir George Elliot) would not take a contract for. Indeed, I should be sorry if he took it from the Government, because he would forfeit his seat in this House, which I should greatly regret. Then I ask, first of all, are the Government really going, and when are they going, to begin the harbour at Famagosta? I ask it because, in a recently published letter from Sir Garnet Wolseley to the First Lord of the Admiralty, there is nothing said about the harbour, but there is about Famagosta. And what does he say about Famagosta? He says it is the unhealthiest spot in the whole of Cyprus. I therefore ask the First Lord of the Admiralty—Are they going to commence the breakwater on this reef to hold a small fleet of ships at that which Sir Garnet Wolseley declares to be the unhealthiest spot in Cyprus? To form a naval station, you must have something on land as well as on sea; you must have naval stores, munition, a certain amount of workshops for repairs, a population to look after these shops, and therefore I ask the First Lord of the Admiralty—Is he going to propose to run the country into expense for establishing a naval station for Cyprus at Famagosta? If he is, it will certainly be a most unwise proceeding after the description given of it by Sir Garnet Wolseley. Then, I ask him, if the object of this fleet is to support an army in a strong place of arms, where is the camp going to be? How far is it 1093 going to be from the port of Famagosta? I will show you that the place where it is proposed to put the camp is, as far as I can judge, about 50 miles from Famagosta. Therefore, you are going to make your station to embark and disembark in the unhealthiest part of the Island, and you are going to remove your camp to a plateau 5,500 feet high. I want to see the combination of these two great officers of the Army and Navy who have been to Cyprus. Will the First Lord tell us exactly what the plan is which the Government is going to propose for Her Majesty's Army and Navy? My first question is—Is he going to begin a harbour at Famagosta? Our complications with Armenia may a rise to-morrow or next month. Who can state or determine when Armenia is to be invaded. When it is is invaded we shall want this harbour, which will not very well accommodate the fleet. Then I would ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, where is the money to come from? Is it to be supplied from Cyprus or from England? You are not to have this kind of work begun without money. I understood the First Lord of the Admiralty to say money had been advanced for works in Cyprus. I read it from a report, but surely it must have been a misreport; for, from the First Lord's knowledge of the Treasury, he would have told us that he could not give money which had not been voted by Parliament. If not a misreport, I should like to know when the Estimates will be laid before Parliament, and the Votes taken for the amounts. I will address myself to another question, but I approach it with less alarm, because the Secretary of State for War belongs to a class of people whom the First Lord of the Admiralty affects to hold in such great contempt. He thinks that the good opinions that I and others entertain are due to our being younger sons. Addressing myself, then, to the Secretary of State for War, I want to ask him some questions about the Army; and I will ask him, first of all, why 10,000 men were sent to Cyprus in the month of July. That is a thing Parliament has never been told. A statement was made by the Prime Minister—and we all know his careful accuracy in those matters—that the Government, before they took Cyprus, had carefully ex- 1094 amined all the islands of the Ægean. What we should like to have would be the Reports, especially the Reports made to him on the Island of Cyprus, and its capacity as a strong place of arms and for the entertainment of troops. He would not have sent 10,000 men—no Government would do that—to a place where they had not ascertained that its climate was fit for them at that time of year. And why, at the present time, do they only want 900 men there, and what has been the change of the circumstances which make 900 men sufficient now and made them send something like 10,000 men in the month of July? Now, the general public had none of the Reports which the Prime Minister referred to. We only had those cyclopædias to which Lord Salisbury refers, and those cyclopædias told us it was a very unhealthy climate in the summer months. However, the First Lord of the Admiralty says it is not more unhealthy than Gibraltar or Malta, and we want an explanation of that. If it is the fact, I think the Government should have given us some reliable statistics on the matter. I do not think the course the First Lord of the Admiralty took is exactly the most regular or Parliamentary. He has not had the Report made to Parliament or the Government by the Governor of the Island of Cyprus with reference to the health or climate of Cyprus. He seems to have sent a speech which I addressed to my constituents to Sir Garnet Wolseley, with a request that he would send him information which he could give to a Conservative Constitutional Association at Westminster. I am, of course, very proud that the First Lord of the Admiralty should think that anything coming from me was worthy of exportation to Cyprus; but what I must complain of is that he sent a perfectly inaccurate version of my speech, so that Sir Garnet Wolseley has been under a misapprehension that I made a statement of facts with respect to Cyprus. I made no statement of facts at all. Gentlemen opposite must have read an incorrect version. I read a statement of facts not of my own, but from a newspaper; and the First Lord of the Admiralty, in a very good-natured way, said he was a person who had no objection to newspapers. He said there were newspapers and newspapers. I should have thought the First Lord 1095 the Admiralty would have said the newspaper of newspapers was The Daily Telegraph. I read from a letter of the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, who said he went with the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Secretary of State for War, and I did not vouch for a single fact. The First Lord of the Admiralty did not write to Sir Garnet Wolseley to contradict me, but The Daily Telegraph; but I must leave the First Lord of the Admiralty and Sir Garnet "Wolseley to settle the matter with The Daily Telegraph. It is not my business at all to defend The Daily Telegraph and its correspondent. I am sure The Daily Telegraph would not defend me; but having read the letter, I see there is no contradiction of it. I would ask him first, with regard to the 101st Regiment to which the correspondent refers, will he tell us that the 101st Regiment did not suffer in health from the climate of Cyprus? Is it entirely untrue, what is there stated by the correspondent, that the medical Report on that regiment was of a character which implied that it was unfit to go to its destination, and was to be sent to Halifax for change of climate? I go on to ask a second question. He did not see the 101st Regiment, but he did see the 42nd Regiment. The writer in The Daily Telegraph says that that regiment was in a deplorable condition, 99 men sick of fever out of 500, and the regiment was shortly afterwards removed, and it was stated that it was removed in consequence of suffering from fever. Will the Secretary of State for War say it did not suffer from fever and was not removed because of fever, but that the health of the regiment was the average health of troops in the Mediterranean? If he does, then, of course, the whole statement that I have quoted falls to the ground. I hope, therefore, the right lion, and gallant Gentleman will say whether it is true or untrue. We should have returns week by week of the state of their health, and we should then see how the matter stands. That would be the most satisfactory way in which to settle the matter. But there is a very remarkable statement in the letter which the First Lord of the Admiralty obtained from Sir Garnet Wolseley. What does he propose to do with the troops in Cyprus for the future? Why, he is going to put them on the plateau 5,500 feet high, and that is an island which is 1096 as healthy as any part in the Mediterranean. Why is he going to put his army in the summer on the top of the plateau 5,500 feet high, if the troops can be perfectly well accommodated in an island 140 miles long and 100 broad? Why is he going to perch the camp on this place of arms in a place twice as high as Snowdon? Where is this plateau? I have made a measurement, and I believe it is something like 40 or 50 miles from Famagosta. But even supposing it is only 30 miles away from the port where troops and ammunition are to be landed to defend Armenia when the time arrives, you are going to take these men and land them at the first place—Famagosta. Then they are to go up to a plateau 35 miles distant, 5,500 feet above the level of the sea. Are the Government going to make a railway up to the top of it for the corps d' armée? It is perfectly plain, according to Sir Garnet Wolseley's own project, that he is going to have two camps—a winter camp, because the plateau is covered with snow in winter. There is to be a summer camp on the plateau, and a winter camp down below—rather an expensive way of working your army. You do not want to have a winter camp and a summer camp at Gibraltar; you do not want it at Malta or at Aldershot. What are you going to do with these camps? Are they going to be under canvas, or are they not? Are you going to have another Aldershot in Cyprus on the top of the plateau? How are you going to handle your troops? I do not mean the handful you have got there now. Are the troops to be thrown, as in July last, into bell-tents, dependent, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. T. Brassey) has shown, upon a commissariat which has broken down, or, are the men to be accommodated in barracks; and, if so, at whose expense is that to be done, and when are hon. Members to see the plans and Estimates? The Government were quite entitled to say, at the end of last Session, that they had not examined the place; but they have examined it now, for the Secretary of State for War and the First Lord of the Admiralty have been there, and I am justified in asking what kind of provision they are going to make. I will now leave the Army and Navy, and come to a civil subject, I do not see the hon. and 1097 learned Gentleman the Attorney General here; but when I asked him last Session what law was to prevail there, he said it was as easy as possible, and that the English law was to be administered to English subjects there. I would like to ask if it is a fact that the English law has been administered there within the last six months? I am told there has been an Ordinance drawn up on the subject. That I should like to see, and we ought to have the Papers laid before Parliament. My information is that for six months there has been no attempt to administer the English law, but that there has been a mixture of Turkish Kadi and drumhead court martial on the basis of the Turkish jurisprudence; and I have read of an instance in which a gentleman was asked to represent a client on some question of a right of way, and that he was told by the authorities that he could not practise before a tribunal in Cyprus, unless he had got a licence from the Turkish Minister of Justice. I suppose you want English people to embark their capital in Cyprus? But I am told that even the ginger-beer sellers are leaving the Island, and you cannot expect anything else until you furnish traders with some security in regard to the administration of the law. We ought to have some fuller explanation in reference to the nature of the law. As regards the financial question, we are told we are to have a Cyprus Budget. When, and in what form, will the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer bring it forward? We are much interested in the Imperial Budget; but as we are to have, it is said, a great surplus in both, it is very comforting. The First Lord of the Admiralty told his constituents that Cyprus was a steping stone to India. My notion of a stopping-stone is a step in the direction in which you wish to go; but that is not the case with Cyprus, for I observe in the map that the great future port of Famagosta is more distant from Malta than Port Said or Alexandria. It is desirable that we should hear more on all these points.
§ COLONEL STANLEY
I gathered with great regret from the speech of my hon. and learned Friend that I am not to have the honour of having him among my audience when it is my duty to lay the Army Estimates before the House, 1098 because there are many questions which could be much more conveniently answered then, and many points I could more satisfactorily explain to the House and the Committee then, by means of figures I should be prepared to lay before them, than I can do now, when I am obliged to endeavour, from the best of my recollection, to answer points which very much turn upon small matters of detail. But this I should like expressly to emphasize—that those wrong impressions which my hon. and learned Friend retracted in answer to the challenge of my right hon. Friend near me (Mr. W. H. Smith) seem also to run through those portions of his remarks which refer to the military importance of Cyprus at this moment. In the discussion last year I endeavoured to make clear the fact that it was not in contemplation by the Government to place Cyprus at all in the same position as regards military forces as either Malta or Gibraltar. What I said then I repeat now. We, in the first instance, in taking over a country from a Power whose subjects in various parts of its Dominions had been exposed to a good deal of disturbance, had to take it over with such force as to render it impossible for those unquiet spirits which exist in the best of communities to take the opportunity of a transfer of the Government to commit outrages which happen even in very civilized communities. We determined, therefore, especially as there was a large force at hand at Malta, to send such a force to Cyprus as would show unmistakably that we had both the power and the determination to maintain peace and order. But I expressly said at that time in the House that I anticipated the moment would come, and that before long, when we would be able to withdraw almost all the troops we had there, and be able to hold the Island with a small British garrison, perhaps even a single battalion. I am anxious to point out to my hon. and learned Friend that there is a considerable difference between a fortress such as Malta or Gibraltar and a place where you may form a base of operations, should operations become necessary, in the East. You require different conditions altogether. Malta and Gibraltar, as all the world knows, are almost bare rocks; but if we relied upon them as bases of operations in the East, we should find ourselves in a difficulty from 1099 the want of some place where transport animals, forage, and all those numerous stores which constitute the well-being of an army could be collected, prepared, brought together, and constituted. Now, to our mind, Cyprus very fairly fulfilled those conditions. You must, in making comparisons, compare what are like, and not what are unlike. I do not for a moment profess to compare the climate of Cyprus with that of this country; but I say without hesitation that, so far as I have been able personally to ascertain, the Island of Cyprus is certainly as healthy as, and probably more healthy than, that of any other place in the Levant where troops are likely to be sent under similar conditions. I am sorry I have no means of stating these facts as accurately as I could wish to the House; but I recollect distinctly to have been informed that when our troops first went to the Ionian Islands it was stated that disease was especially rife amongst them. Complying, however, with the conditions suitable for troops in such a climate, and also with the conditions of ordinary sanitary arrangements, we find that so far from Corfu, Cephalonia, and the other Ionian Islands, being unhealthy, they became amongst the most healthy of our possessions. My hon. and learned Friend asked what was the use of having 30,000 troops perched 5,000 feet above the level of the sea. Has he never heard of places where troops are specially stationed for the preservation of their health during the summer months? Has he never heard of the Hill Stations in India, Ceylon, and Jamaica? Where sanitary conditions exist which render it necessary to place the British soldier in a more elevated and healthier atmosphere during the summer, it would be simply wrong from every point of view to keep him upon the plains, where he would be subject in an unusual degree to disease. When we received the most gloomy telegrams in regard to the health of the troops, I directed that these telegrams—and for this I incurred some blame—should be put before the public exactly as they came, and that other people should have exactly the information that I myself possessed. With regard to the information asked for by the hon. Member for Frome (Mr. H. Samuel-son), I do not know whether it is technically in my hands to give it; but I may 1100 say that, in the course of a very interesting conversation which I had with Sir Anthony Home, principal medical officer in that district, whom everybody will recognize as being competent to deal with most matters respecting these diseases, he told me that he was daily gaining information, and he was anxious, at as early a date as possible, to collate all the information he possessed. I think that by placing before the House the Report of Sir Anthony Home they will be possessed of better information than they could obtain in any other form. With regard to the 101st Regiment, no doubt they did suffer very severely from fever; and it is perfectly true that, although they were originally intended for service in the Straits Settlement, they were ordered to a colder climate, inasmuch as it was not thought right to send troops to that Settlement unless they were in a thoroughly healthy state. All the Reports, however, which have reached us up to the present time tend to show that no permanent harm has been done to the constitution of the men. Speaking from recollection, I think that their loss from fever and other causes has only amounted up to the present time to something like six men. No doubt, also, the 42nd did suffer severely from fever, and the general appearance of the men, and the general state of their health, were such as caused me to recommend that they should be transferred to another station in the Mediterranean. The hon. and learned Member referred to the condition of the 71st as deplorable; but their "deplorable" condition when I saw them was exemplified by a hardy set of men, working with heart and goodwill under a very hot sun, and having a sick rate of something about 4–8 per cent. The commanding officer of the regiment assured us that he considered Cyprus as healthy as any other station in the Mediterranean known to him. In regard to the erection of barracks, it behoves us, as I have said before, to proceed very tentatively until we have all the information we can get. Sir Anthony Home said until he got to Cyprus he really did not know how completely science could be disappointed. Where the best sanitary conditions apparently existed fever had been extremely rife; on the other hand, some of those places where it was feared the men would suffer most 1101 had been almost entirely free from fever. I hope that much may be done in regard to the Island in the course of next year; meanwhile, let it not be supposed that we have changed our minds as to the value of Cyprus for the purposes for which we intended, or that we are to be discouraged by the circumstances of a singularly unhealthy year throughout the East from enabling our troops to perform those military duties which, I am sure, they are ready to perform in any climate. With regard to harbours, my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty is more competent to speak of those matters, and I have no doubt he will deal with them.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
I hope I may be permitted to recall the attention of the House to some matters nearer home than the interesting Island of Cyprus. I gathered from the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it is the intention of the Government to propose certain new Rules for the conduct of the Business of the House. Everybody must admit that there are new Rules with respect to the Business of the House which might be adopted with great advantage. The best of all Rules would be that of removing from the cognizance of the House the vast local legislation with which it is powerless to contend. But if, as I imagine, the Chancellor of the Exchequer implied in his statement, it is the intention of the Government to introduce Rules into this House which will tend to fetter the freedom of a weak minority in debate, I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that he cannot altogether accomplish his object. I am not surprised that the Government should give a first place to this intention of theirs; because if ever there was a time when a minority would have a right to push its privileges to the utmost point I think it is after a statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We have been amused during the Recess with divers rumours—put out evidently by the Government, and supported by the Press which is supposed to represent the Government—that it is their intention to deal with some very weighty matters which concern Ireland. We have been left in doubt up to this moment as to whether we were or were not to be gratified in this respect. Only a week ago I had the honour of being present at a dinner given by the Lord 1102 Mayor of Dublin—an historical dinner in that City—at which the Lord Lieutenant was present, and the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The Chief Secretary, whom I do not now see in his place—he seldom is in his place when we are discussing Irish questions, except for the purpose of opposing some Bill which the Irish people desire—said on that occasion, in reference to those rumours, that the best answer he could make would be to refer us to the forthcoming speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We now hear that all the Government contemplates in the way of legislation for Ireland is the introduction of a Grand Jury Bill; and of what nature that Grand Jury Bill will be we may form a very complete idea from the kind of Bills which they have previously given us on that subject. We are on the eve of a General Election, and one of the subjects which I did expect to hear would have been dealt with this Session is the Franchise in Ireland. We have been told over and over again during the last five years that it is the desire of the Government to extend to Ireland exactly the same laws and privileges as you have in this country, and in Scotland. We who represent Irish constituencies, and who sit on the Liberal side of the House have introduced Bill after Bill to show the Government in what respect our privileges are different from and inferior to yours. This Bill for the Equalization of the Borough Franchise in Ireland with that in England has been defeated on every occasion, generally by small majorities. In my opinion, the Government is playing with the subject. It has never put forth its strength in opposition to the demand of the Irish people that they should have the ordinary privileges of other subjects of Her Majesty in the United Kingdom. But now that the question is going to be debated on the eve of an Election the Government has issued a Whip for the purpose of voting down, by a larger majority than ever before, this demand of the Irish people not for extra privileges, but for similar privileges to the rest of the United Kingdom. However, I will not anticipate any observations that may be made on that subject to-morrow; but I ask hon. Gentlemen to calmly weigh this fact—that there is not in all the boroughs in the whole of Ireland an electorate equal to the electo- 1103 rate of several of your largest towns in England. There is not in the whole of Ireland an equal number of people entitled to the borough franchise as exist in Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool, or Leeds. I say that the Irish people will not remain content until another Election under such a franchise as this. With respect to Education, the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt), whose absence I so much regret, had reason to believe that the Government were going to deal with that great subject. The belief, I have no doubt, was well founded on his part. But for some reason or other the Government have changed their minds, and are not going to do anything for the equalization of Irish privileges with those which exist in other parts of the Kingdom with regard to University Education. Under these circumstances, the Government need not expect that any facilities will be given by Irish Members for the progress of Public Business. I, for my part, have never taken any course in this House which could be called obstructive; but I say that the Government is putting to a severe test the forbearance, not of the Irish Members alone, but of the Irish people. I note also in regard to legislation in Ireland, from an answer given in a previous part of the evening, that even as regards the important inquiry into, perhaps, the most important Department in Ireland—the Board of Works—the Government again does not intend to comply with the demands of the people. This will cause deep disappointment in Ireland. I notice also that the Chancellor of the Exchequer congratulated the hon. and learned Member for Oxford—whose amusing badinage at the expense of the First Lord of the Admiralty we have all so exceedingly enjoyed—on his exertions in reforming the Mutiny Act. I could not help thinking that the Chancellor of the Exchequer might in his generosity have remembered other Members of the House to whom the country is really indebted for the reform of the Mutiny Act. The hon. member for Meath (Mr. Parnell), has done many things in this House distasteful to Members on that side and on this side of the House; but there is one service which he, and he alone, has rendered. He called the attention of Parliament and of the United Kingdom to the Mutiny Act; and if it had not been for his exertions and 1104 his persistence nothing would ever have been done in the way of reforming those Acts. I think, under those circumstances, the Chancellor of the Exchequer might have remembered his services. I am not desirous of entering into other questions respecting foreign politics or the formation of a harbour in Cyprus. I can only say that much of the discussion on this subject has been trifling and of an unworthy character. We have begun the Session badly, and it will end badly, unless the Government rise to an appreciation of the feelings of disappointment and rising anger in Ireland at the total neglect of the people's demands. Unless the Government is prepared to give us the same electoral franchise and the same facilities for exercising that franchise that a reform of the registration laws will secure, and unless it is also prepared to give the Irish people the same facilities for education which are lavishly conferred on the people of this country, the House of Commons need not expect by any reform of Regulations to bring Irish Members to such a course of conduct as will facilitate the progress of Public Business.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
Sir, although the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not of any great length, it yet touched upon several very important matters. Being ignorant of how far the House might wish to enter upon a discussion of those subjects, I thought it might perhaps be for the convenience of the House that I should abstain from making any remarks until I had seen what was the feeling of the House upon it. From what has passed I think it is not the desire of hon. Members to enter with any fulness into the important questions that have been raised and alluded to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Therefore, it may not be inconvenient, although some are desirous of speaking, if I make such remarks as I feel called upon in connection with the Minister's statement to which we have listened. It is not necessary that I should take up the time of the House with any prolonged criticism on the Bills proposed to be introduced by the Government. Two of these Bills have been prepared either by a Committee or a Commission, and, although relating to very important matters, they can hardly be said to be Bills of the Government, unless it be the intention 1105 of the Government to depart to a very considerable extent from the line laid down for them. With the County Boards Bill, if it is the same as that which has been introduced before, the Valuation Bill, and the Grand Jury Law Amendment Bill we are familiar, and our opinions on this side of the House with regard to them are known. It is not necessary, therefore, that I should take up the time of the House upon these matters. There is one subject which has been a good deal discussed during the Recess upon which the Government have not seen their way to legislate. It has been currently reported that the Government intended to legislate upon the subject of Irish University Education. Knowing as we do by experience the difficulties connected with this subject, I cannot say I am surprised that the Government have not succeeded in framing a measure which they thought would be satisfactory. I cannot say I can impute any blame to them if they shrink from dealing with this matter. At the same time, I must say it is a circumstance to be regretted, because I thought there was a hope the Government might have been able to deal more successfully than we were able to do with this important question. There are some subjects, of which this would have been one, which it is easier for one Government to deal with than another, upon which the division of opinion does not entirely coincide with the ordinary Party feeling. The House will remember the circumstances in which the last Government was defeated upon this question by a combination of the whole of the then Opposition with many Members of Scotland, Ireland, and England who generally supported the Government. The Government made an attempt last Session to deal with the subject, and brought in a Bill upon the subject of Intermediate Education; and I think the reception that the measure met with from this side of the House was such as to warrant us in saying that any proposal made on this important question would be met in a very fair spirit. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the depression of trade. I did not expect that either he or the Government would pay attention to those panaceas which in some quarters have been proposed a remedies; but still, I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman who addressed his 1106 constituents the other day, and other Members of the Government, have taken up so firm a position on this subject and have lent no encouragement to the doctrine of reciprocity or some such panacea. There is only one boon which the Government can give to trade or industry. It is in their power to maintain peace, and to inspire confidence in the minds of men at home and abroad that it is their intention to maintain peace. Whether they have been or are now taking the best means to inspire that confidence is a question of so wide a character that I will not deal with it on the present occasion. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the progress of events in Afghanistan. I am happy to be able to congratulate the Government and the Indian Army upon the rapid and successful progress of the campaign. I am specially glad that these results have been accomplished with such comparatively small loss of life. I am not sure that I can so completely congratulate the Government upon the results which have been attained. They are now in possession of the Frontier which was the object of the war; but they have accomplished more than the acquisition of certain strategic points. They have not only defeated, but they have annihilated the enemy with whom they engaged. It has been the policy of all former Governments to establish a strong and friendly Afghanistan, and the circumstances which led to this change of policy were discussed at the last meeting of Parliament. It may be said that recent events have shown that Afghanistan could not in any circumstances be a strong country, because it has collapsed so completely under our attack. But I do not think it has been proved that because Afghanistan has collapsed under the attack of a great military Empire when left entirely to its own resources, it might not have been a very powerful and useful Ally if we had been engaged with some other Power and Afghanistan could have relied on our support. It is satisfactory—as far as anything connected with this matter can be satisfactory—to hear that the Government do not intend to go any further. I have on a former occasion expressed my own opinion that it is a mistake from a military and political point of view to extend our Frontier at all, and I do not wish to say more upon 1107 the subject at the present moment. I will, therefore, only repeat the Question asked by the hon. Member for Chelsea, whether any information can be given as to the time when the Government will be able to announce to the House definitely what their intentions are and what they propose to do in regard to Afghanistan? The right hon. Gentleman has also referred with satisfaction to the Treaty of Berlin, and the progress made in its execution. There appears to be in some quarters an idea that the Opposition regret this progress. I am not aware of any such expression of opinion. On the contrary, the Resolution which I had the hononr of moving last year, and which was rejected by a large majority in this House, expressed in general terms an approval on that subject, and there is no conceivable reason why the Opposition should view with dissatisfaction the progress that is made towards its execution. But I must remind the Government, when they speak of this rapid progress, that what has been done as yet has reference, for the most part, to the easiest portions of the Treaty. Those portions which are more difficult of execution, and which are in principle more open to question, are by no means accomplished, or, as far as we can see, in the way of being accomplished. It is true that Batoum and other parts of Turkish territory have been evacuated; but it was not the Opposition which prophesied that any difficulty would arise on that score. It was those who believed in the unconquerable spirit of the Turks who predicted that Batoum would never be evacuated without trouble. It is true that considerable progress has been made in the rectification of the Frontiers of Turkey, Montenegro, and Roumelia, that the arrangements of the Treaty of Berlin in these respects are in course of execution without more friction than was expected; but two provisions of the Treaty which were specially and unfavourably canvassed do not appear to be in course of so rapid an execution. My hon. Friend has referred to the case of Greece. He has spoken on that subject with very great knowledge, and referred to sources of information which have not been laid before the House. I cannot add anything to the statement of my hon. Friend on that point; but I think it cannot be asserted that 1108 any progress has been made in settling the relations between Turkey and Greece, and we on this side of the House feel certain that tranquillity will never be restored in the East so long as the claims of Greece, although not put forward in the shape of warlike measures, remain disregarded. Well, Sir, a provision of the Treaty to which the Government last year attached much importance—an importance greater, perhaps, than was indicated by the Protocols—was that which referred to the division of Bulgaria and to the creation of the Province of Eastern Roumelia. We pointed out the anomalous state of things established by that Treaty. If Lord Salisbury's original proposal had been accepted, the difficulties might possibly have been avoided which now appear to be impending, although it is probable that difficulties of another kind might have had to be encountered. Lord Salisbury's original proposal was that the Turkish power, civil and military, should be replaced, and that, at all events, was a simple proposition. But it was not the arrangement which was accepted by the Congress. The arrangement agreed to by the Congress was that while the civil power of the Sultan should, under certain limitations which were prescribed, be restored in the Province of Eastern Roumelia, the military power of the Sultan within the limits of the Province should be utterly destroyed; and the ultimate force upon which the civil power is to rely for the preservation of order is not the military power of the Sultan, but a Militia, which will be composed of the Christian inhabitants of the Province. All we hear points to a probability that when the Russians evacuate this Province the Bulgarians will not consent, without great compulsion, to be placed under the rule, direct or indirect, of the Sultan. What is to happen in these circumstances? There is a provision of the Treaty, no doubt, which may be held to apply to it. The Governor may, in certain circumstances, call in the assistance of the Turkish troops. But his power is restricted by many qualifications. This decision of the Governor is to be communicated to the Powers, and I suppose with the intention of their expressing an opinion upon it. If Turkish troops are to be called in to assist in the inauguration of 1109 the new Government and Constitution of the recently-erected Provinces, the Turkish military occupation of them will be permanent, and not merely temporary. It is, undoubtedly, considerations of this kind which have given rise to the rumour that has been so extensively circulated that some proposition has been made, either by this or some other Government, for a joint occupation of those Provinces. I should wish, therefore, to ask Her Majesty's Government, whether there is any foundation for that rumour; whether any negotiations have been made, or are in progress, for a joint occupation; and, if such an idea has been entertained, whether some opportunity will not be given to us to discuss the matter, and whether Parliament will not be consulted before the country is pledged to such a measure? I have been accused—my Friends and myself have been accused—of having said things which indicated a wish to undo what has been done; and that if we should find ourselves in Office, we should not consider ourselves bound by the stipulations entered into by the Government. I am not aware that anything of the sort has been said by anyone; and I am quite certain that nothing of the sort has been said by me. What we have said, however, is that if a state of things should arise which was not contemplated by the Treaty—such, for instance, as a proposal for the joint occupation of Eastern Roumelia—we should feel ourselves at liberty to form our own opinion in reference to it, and to canvass and dispute the propriety of such a course of proceeding. The right hon. Gentleman has touched upon the question of Turkish reform, and has contended that we have expressed undue impatience with the Turks in their delay to introduce the promised reforms. The right hon. Gentleman, however, must not regard that impatience as being unreasonable, inasmuch as Sir Henry Layard has stated in his despatches that his patience in the matter was nearly exhausted, and that he assumed that that of Her Majesty's Government was nearly exhausted also. I think these Papers show a very remarkable thing. One of the first observations they suggest is the extraordinary confidence with which Lord Salisbury proposed, in the first instance, the reforms which Turkey ought to undertake. Why 1110 should there have been any doubt in his mind? Was he not armed with the Anglo-Turkish Convention? Had he not the promise of the Sultan and the Turkish Government, in return for which the Sultan had received valuable consideration in the shape of an unconditional guarantee? Why, then, should Lord Salisbury doubt? But his confidence must have been a little shaken when he found that Sir Henry Layard did not consider it necessary or expedient to present the whole of Lord Salisbury's proposals for reform in the first instance. One proposition to which Lord Salisbury attached great importance was the irremovability of the Valies, but that was not obtained. None of the suggestions for that object were even made. Lord Salisbury made four proposals. One of these was as to the institution of certain tribunals in a certain number of Asiatic towns, and the answer to that was, that the Sultan informed Lord Salisbury that the proposal he made was one contrary to the first principles of judicial administration. This appears to have been the opinion which was finally acquiesced in by Lord Salisbury. That proposal is rejected altogether; but the Sultan says there are different Inspectors whose duties are to inspect prisons, who will, in the exercise of that duty, superintend the administration of justice. It certainly is an original idea that the administration of justice of the higher Courts should be superintended by a set of Inspectors of Prisons. The third proposal was as to the appointment of collectors, and to that the Sultan said he highly approved the plan, but he would only introduce it in one or two Provinces. There was also a modified response to the fourth proposition. This, then, was the consideration that we had got for the guarantee to which this country is pledged for the protection, in all and every circumstance, of Turkey. An infinitesimal portion of reform is to be carried into execution at some future day, and that is what we have got from the Sultan in return for our guarantee. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer or some other Member of the Government, I recollect very well last year, said that it might become a question to re-consider our position and to re-consider the measures which might be necessary for the protection of our in- 1111 terests in Asia. I wish to ask the Government whether it is too soon now to inquire of the Government whether they are satisfied with the instalments which they have obtained of their reforms from the Porte; whether they are satisfied with the temper which has been displayed; and whether they consider that this country is bound in honour or in policy to maintain that most onerous obligation which has been imposed upon us? The right hon. Gentleman referred, of course, to the lamentable event which has taken place in South Africa. I entirely agree with him that exaggeration ought to be avoided in this matter quite as much as the other extreme. I think that the right hon. Gentleman, in speaking of it as a great blow to our Army, and as a military disaster, used terms as serious as the situation demanded. How serious it is, is proved by the fact that, great as is our grief at the loss of the gallant lives which had been sacrificed, great as is the pain with which this military reverse has been heard of, those sentiments are almost for the moment over-reached by the feeling of anxiety which exists—a feeling which I fear must exist for some time—as to the consequences the event may have had on the safety of the remainder of our Army, and even on the safety of the Colony itself. I shall follow the advice of the right hon. Gentleman, and not attempt to discuss, on this occasion, the causes which led to the war. The Papers which have been issued gave some information; but I think the right hon. Gentleman made a slight mistake in speaking of the date.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I said they brought the Correspondence down to the end of last December, and that there were other Papers which would be distributed on Saturday or Monday giving additional information.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
If the information were brought down to the end of December, that would be the latest; but the last despatch in these Papers from South Africa is dated the 4th of November. The date of the latest despatch in this Book, no doubt, is November 28; but the latest despatch from the Cape bears date November 4. No doubt the Papers 'which have been promised may throw some light upon the matter; but at present I can only 1112 say that there appears to have been an inexplicable change of policy between the date to which the Papers before the House bring the matter down and the declaration of war. The Colonial Government were extremely anxious about the state of Zululand; and the requisitions for troops appear to be framed upon the idea that they were asking for the very smallest number which were required for the safety and defence of the Colony. At the same time, the Home Government appeared to have been giving very judicious advice to the Colonial Government, pointing out that there could be no pressing cause for alarm, and very strongly deprecating offensive movements. But two months beyond the period to which the despatches bring the events down everything appeared to have been changed. The reinforcements were received, offensive instead of defensive movements were undertaken, and the objections formerly entertained by the Government to a Zulu campaign seem to have vanished. I will not enter further into the matter at this moment; but I hope that some explanations will be given, and that the further Papers will enable the House to understand the cause of this extraordinary change. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the requisitions of the Commander-in-Chief had been complied with to the fullest ox-tent. But there, again, is another inexplicable matter. In one month the Colonial Government asked, as a matter of very great importance, that a cavalry regiment should be sent. The next month that demand appears to be altogether dropped, in a manner which seems altogether unaccountable. I have not the slightest intention of entering further into a discussion of the matter at this time. It is one so serious both in its military and political aspect that it requires, and I hope it will receive, as soon as we have the material, the most careful and thorough consideration on the part of the House. I do not think any premature discussion of it now would be calculated to improve the spirit or the temper of that discussion which at some later period must take place.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
As the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt) has asked me some questions I am bound to reply to them, 1113 and I shall do so briefly. But before doing so I wish to express my regret at the fact that any observations which fell from me when I addressed my constituents the other night should have caused the hon. and learned Member annoyance.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Not at all.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
The hon. and learned Gentleman, when he addresses his constituents, is in the habit of using strong language. When I spoke to mine it did not occur to me that the plain and good-humoured language I employed should have caused annoyance to the hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I beg pardon—surprise, but not annoyance.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
Well, all I can say is that if there was any annoyance I did not intend to occasion it. But to pass from that. The hon. and learned Gentleman asks me to explain an opinion expressed by the Hydrographer of the Admiralty with reference to Cyprus and Famagosta. Having received no intimation from the hon. and learned Gentleman of his intention to refer to the statement of the Hydrographer, I cannot, of course, just now quote his precise words. He is, however, an officer of such extremely high merit that I have the utmost reliance in the opinion he has expressed in the report referred to. I feel confident that the information he has given to the Admiralty and to the Geographical Society is correct, and can be justified. But we are told that there can be no harbour at Famagosta. All I can say is that, when I was there, the Himalaya troop ship went into the place, and was perfectly protected from any water coming over the reef. Then as to the cost of constructing a harbour there, I assert that the information I have received justifies me in saying that an expenditure of £150,000 would secure perfectly smooth water for as many line-of-battle ships as we are likely to have in the Mediterranean in ordinary times. Perfectly smooth water could, in fact, be secured in all weathers for such an expenditure. A larger expenditure would give us a secure harbour within the breakwater for a greater number of ships than can be sheltered at Malta. That is a statement I am prepared to justify on a future occasion, 1114 if it should become necessary to do so. But the hon. and learned Gentleman asks me whether we are going to make a harbour. Well, it is one thing to know there is a roadstead there which affords the material, so to speak, of making a good harbour—that there is at present shelter for ships drawing 20 feet of water; but it is another thing to say we are about to enter into an enterprize of considerable importance and magnitude. We have, if we want it, the opportunity of doing so. There we have such natural facilities that, at any time we desire to avail ourselves of them, they can be advantageously used. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman asks me if I sent a copy of The Daily Telegragh to Sir Garnet Wolseley.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
No, no. My speech.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
All I can say with reference to the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech is that it did not occur to me to send the hon. and learned Member's speech to Sir Garnet Wolseley. I had occasion to communicate with his Excellency, and naturally having a great interest in the progress of his government I asked him to tell me how affairs were progressing in Cyprus. Well, it happened that, at the time I asked this question, the gallant Governor of Cyprus received his newspapers from England. In writing back to me he referred to the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech in the terms of the letter I read on Wednesday last. That surely was a very natural thing for the Governor of Cyprus to do under the circumstances. I therefore give the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite all the credit he deserves when he admits that the statements contained in his Oxford speech about Cyprus were based entirely on the authority of The Daily Telegraph, and that they had no other foundation. I am anxious that the public should know that such is the case.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
They seem to be true.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I prefer my own version of the truth—or, I should rather say, the fact—under the circumstances of the case, and I feel no doubt whatever that the result will fully bear out the statements I have made. I am asked whether it can possibly be true that advances have been made to Cyprus without the authority of Parliament, 1115 The House of Commons has sanctioned advances to Cyprus. £8,000 were voted last year. That being so, it may be satisfactory to know that the resources of Cyprus will in time enable the Exchequer to receive back that £8,000, and that is the statement which I made. I think, Sir, I have answered all the questions that have been put to me.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I have asked whether you intend, or do not intend, to construct a harbour at Famagosta?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I think I have answered that. If we think it necessary for the interests of the country that a large or small expenditure should be incurred for a harbour at Famagosta, we shall come down to the House and make our statement, and I have no doubt we shall be supported. As the hon. and learned Gentleman wishes for Papers on Cyprus, we shall be prepared to lay them on the Table of the House.
§ MR. H. SAMUELSON
observed that the right hon. Gentleman had told them about the so-called harbour of Famagosta, that there was a possibility of making it; but he had not told them that the Government intended to make it. Now, if there was no harbour, he was at a loss to see of what possible use the Island could be to us. He had been at Cyprus, but without the advantages possessed by the right hon. Gentleman when he visited the Island. The town of Famagosta was an absolute ruin—a kind of mediseval Pompeii, and he did not believe it would be possible on the shores of the Mediterranean to find a more unhealthy spot than the so-called port of Famagosta. As a coaling station quays would be wanted, or at least a foreshore, on which to build them; but Famagosta possessed neither. It had been stated to him on credible authority that the contract for the harbour of Alexandria was something like £3,000,000 sterling, but that the real cost was about £2,000,000, and that the harbour was very little better afterwards than it was before. The law which was to be administered in Cyprus appeared to be a matter of the greatest uncertainty. One officer had told him that it was purely Turkish, or the law of the Koran; another that it was a mixture of Turkish and English law; and a third that it was the Code Napoleon. With respect to healthiness, Cyprus was a fever- 1116 stricken Island. He did not believe that last season was, as had been alleged, a peculiarly unhealthy one in the Levant, or that there had been more fever in Cyprus last July, August, and September than usual. The Colonial Secretary had attributed the sickness which had occurred among the troops to the careless way in which Englishmen lived when they went to other climates. The way in which Englishmen lived had nothing to do with the epidemic fever from which they suffered. The troops lived in bell-tents and had only what was given to them. The fever attacked the Natives, who did not live in bell-tents, as much as it did Englishmen; and it prevailed every year. The great majority of the houses in which he stayed had an inmate suffering from fever. It was absurd to send soldiers to receive the seeds of fever in Cyprus before they went to fight in some other country. With respect to the proposal to establish a camp on a certain plateau some 5,000 feet above the sea level, it seemed an extraordinary thing that it should have taken so many months to discover that plateau in an Island not larger that Yorkshire; and now that it had been discovered, it was difficult to see how the troops were to be got up to it, and the commissariat arrangements were to be carried out without great expense. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told them the Cyprus Budget was likely to be a very hopeful one. When was it to be laid before the House? Had the Government tried to buy the Sultan's rights out and out? The rent they were to pay for the privilege of making improvements, without any claim to compensation for unexhausted improvements when they left the Island, was, as he was informed, 50 per cent above what they might have bought those rights for. He also wished to know what was to be the official language of the Island. It was said that it was to be Turkish and English. Greek was not recognized in the tribunals, and the Greek population thereby suffered detriment. In conclusion, he wished to know if the Returns with respect to Cyprus for which he had given Notice to move would be granted by the Government?
SIR GEORGE ELLIOT
said, he had been informed that during his absence from the House the hon. and learned Member for Oxford had made some re- 1117 ferences to him in connection with the contract for the harbour of Alexandria.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
explained that all the reference he had made to the hon. Member for North Durham was that he was happy to think the hon. Baronet could not take a certain contract because it would forfeit his seat in that House.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, he had never referred to the hon. Baronet.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
observed that he had been the first to refer to the subject in this debate, and that his authority was the report of the right hon. Gentleman's speech in The Times, where the name was given at full length—Sir George Elliot.
§ MR. H. SAMUELSON
said, he had also derived his information from The Times.
SIR GEORGE ELLIOT
wished to say he had never made any estimate in connection with the works of the port of Alexandria. Therefore, it followed that his estimate could not have been exceeded, and that there could not have been a great many extras. So much, then, for that part of the subject. He should not be surprised, however, if, in conversation, he had given an opinion about Famagosta. He took the area of the harbour and the depth of the water and the mud in it and made a mental calculation, multiplying by two the cost of similar works in the Rivers Tyne and Wear. In this manner, he arrived at the conclusion that the expense of constructing a harbour at Famagosta would be considerably under £150,000. He did not believe that the collective wisdom and experience of the Institution of Civil Engineers could select a place better suited than Famagosta for the formation of a harbour. An inner harbour might be constructed there which would be as secure as the harbour at Liverpool or at any other port in the world. He had had the inner harbour within the Mole sounded at Famagosta and found a depth of 27 feet which was sufficient to receive any of our iron-clads. In his judgment, a harbour was indispensable to the success of the enterprize in which we had embarked by acquiring the Island of Cyprus. At present, Cyprus was unhealthy because it had been so long neglected. The Island was so small that a sufficient rainfall 1118 could not be got to create a river of so large a volume that it would find its way to the sea. Consequently, the plain behind the coast became a swamp and required to be drained. This might be done by means of small engines at Famagosta, Larnaca, Limasole, and other places. The drainage could be thus collected from the swamps and run back again in a channel or pipes and it would re-irrigate the land. Thus the towns would be made healthy, while what was now a great mischief would become a real benefit. Of course, if anyone visited Cyprus with a desire to make things appear as black as possible, it would be easy enough for him to do so. At all events, it was a most fertile country. The vines were most prolific, and he had seen grapes offered for sale at a halfpenny a pound in the streets of Nicosia. Only patience and capital were required to develop the resources of the Island. If he was on the Treasury Bench, and was asked, as the First Lord of the Admiralty had been, if he intended to make a harbour, he should reply in the affirmative, and he was sure they would get full value for their money. A railway might also be constructed at a cost of about £3,000 a-mile, and persons would, he believed, be found ready to make the railway if land were ceded with it.
§ MR. MACDONALD
complained that the Employers' and Workmen's Bill had not been promised this Session, and he reminded the House that it had been promised more than once before; but the Attorney General and the Home Secretary had failed in their pledges. With reference to the Attorney General, he said he had a fair reputation for saying that which he meant to do, and his promise was as good as an order at 90 days' date. He, however, attributed his failure to fulfil his pledges in this particular as the effect of his being bound to those whom he served. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had in his statement to the House almost trifled with the subject; but he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would re-consider the question, and, having re-considered it, deal with it as the Government had already dealt with several other important questions affecting the people. If the Ministry would take the subject up and place it in a first position, they would gain gratitude in quarters where 1119 gratitude was least to be expected. He begged to assure the House it was not his intention to argue the principle of compensation now. One thing he felt bound to say—that during the two lengthened discussions that had taken place on the subject they had been told again and again, that the employers of labour, if they continued to harass them with laws of this kind, would take their capital and proceed to other countries with it, where they could develop it without any trouble or difficulty. He, however, had been making more extended inquiries into the matter, and felt bound to tell them that the law of France was exactly what his Bill desired to make the law, and that the law of Germany was very much akin to that. In almost every State of the American Union modifications were taking place on the subject, and he felt convinced that before long in other countries the law which was based on such illogical assumptions as that which was the law of this country would soon be swept away.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir JOHN HOLKER)
said, that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had taken him to task somewhat severely for having made a promise last Session and not performing it. He had said, in a complimentary tone, that the promises made by him (the Attorney General) had generally been trusted in, and that he had obtained a reputation, that he was not aware of, of performing his undertakings. He was happy to hear this, and he hoped he should not lose his good character. What the hon. Gentleman had said, however, was perfectly true, that he (the Attorney General) promised last Session, on behalf of the Government, to introduce a Bill relating to the liability of employers for accidents to such of their workmen as might sustain injuries in consequence of the negligence of their fellow-workmen. He should have been quite as much pleased as the hon. Gentleman if he had been able to perform that promise; and if he had thought for a moment at the time he made the promise that he should not have been able to perform it, he certainly would never have made it. He was more disappointed, perhaps, than any other Member of the House of Commons to find that the pledge he had given it was not in his power to redeem; but he was not alone in this matter. 1120 Other people that entertained somewhat different views to himself had to be consulted, and towards the close of the Session the Government found they had embarked on a measure which involved a question of a most difficult nature. He did not say that the Bill was one of first-class importance; but certainly the question, as dealt with by the Bill, would have shown it was one of the very greatest difficulty. It was easy, of course, to frame a measure which would take away the inequalities, or supposed inequalities, of the law of which the workmen of this country and those by whom they were represented complained; but the difficulty was to make that alteration without unduly or improperly affecting interests of the greatest possible importance to the workmen themselves. He could, of course, very easily frame a Bill which would saddle the employers of labour with a much greater responsibility for accidents which might happen, not through their own fault, but through the fault of their servants, than the responsibility under which they were at present suffering; but they must consider, before they attached such an increased measure of responsibility, what would be the consequences to the trade and commerce of the country by so attaching it—whether they would not unfairly handicap the employers of labour; and if they unfairly handicapped the employers of labour the results might be disastrous to the workmen themselves. When the matter came to be discussed it was found that it was one of the greatest difficulty, and obstacles presented themselves to the Members of the Government which had not been present at the outset to his mind. Though he did all in his power to redeem the pledge which he had made, and though he had himself prepared some measures and submitted them for consideration, he owned that those measures were not satisfactory, and he was not surprised at all that the Government, after carefully considering the matter, could not accept any of them. It was, therefore, his misfortune and not his fault that he was not able to redeem his promise, and he had suffered great disappointment in consequence. He did not mean to say that he had an overwhelming interest in this subject, or that he was so fully convinced of the inequalities of the law; but what he 1121 did feel very acutely was that having engaged himself to introduce a certain measure he was not able to do so. Having made this short explanation of his own position, he pleaded guilty, and threw himself upon the mercy of the House. But the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had that evening stated that the Government were prepared to deal with this question, and would do so. That being so, he (the Attorney General) made no pledge. The right hon. Gentleman had much more power than he; indeed, he was all-powerful, and when he made a pledge no doubt he intended to redeem it. The Bill might, therefore, be expected to be introduced. He did not think it would be a measure of vital importance, and he looked upon the agitation with respect to it as somewhat of a sentimental character. Other hon. Members might take a different view. In reference to the Bill for amending the law in regard to corrupt practices at elections, he would remind the House that it was introduced last Session, but that it had not the fortune to be proceeded with, and it accordingly met, in company with other measures, a disastrous fate. He had, however, done his best this Session to atone for the last, and he had already given Notice of the re-introduction of the Bill for Monday next.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, that the Government proposed to deceive the expectations of the people of Ireland in regard to beneficial legislation, and contemplated a coercive code for Irish Members. That was about the summary of the Ministerial Message as regarded Ireland. He supposed it was the memory of counsels which were thrown away upon the Government when they entered on their disastrous campaign in South Africa a couple of years ago which now induced them to introduce measures of coercion, in order to prevent similar good advice being offered to them on some future occasion. No one felt more than he did for the gallant lives that had been lost in the performance of duty, though upon an errand of which he could not approve; but the disaster on the Tugela could not blind them to the nature of the policy in the prosecution of which it had occurred. The Government were fully aware that the objections which would be raised to their policy this 1122 Session would be precisely those which were raised two Sessions ago, and which they overcame by the sheer weight of an obedient majority. He was not going to refer to foreign politics or complications. He had already in that House spoken and voted upon these questions with independence, and was prepared to do so again. But when he heard this Message delivered to the House, barren of every promise of real benefit to Ireland, coupled with the challenge which had been thrown down at the very outset of Public Business, he begged to toll the Government that he took up the challenge, not as an Irishman only, not as one of those Members specially aimed at, but as a plain citizen of the Empire. He took it up because he knew that the sympathies of the English people would be against a Government which proposed to suppress freedom of opinion while offering every inducement to disaffection, and setting a premium on the expression of discontent. He said that the Government—or at least persons who might be taken to represent them—had spared no pains to induce the Irish people to believe that grievances moderately and temperately represented to that House and to the Government would be treated fairly, and, as far as possible, redressed. The Government did not, however, propose to remedy the grievances of the Irish tenants; but they proposed to saddle disabilities on the defenders of Irish tenant-right. The Government did not propose to grant even electoral equality with England to the Irish people; but they did propose to render the Representatives of Ireland in Parliament still more inefficient and ineffectual than hitherto. In a word, the Government were carrying out a policy of coercing Ireland, and he could assure the Government that he had sufficient confidence in the people of Great Britain to be satisfied that this policy would meet with a disastrous repulse at the hands of the electorate. Whatever measures might be introduced into Parliament this Session, the Government might be perfectly assured that they would be debated on their merits by Irish Members with as full freedom as was permitted to any English Member, and for every infraction of the liberties of Irish Members it was not they who would suffer most. He had never yet, either by words or action, conduced to 1123 the maintenance of any hostility between the English and the Irish peoples. He was ready to compete for the applause of an English meeting with most of the hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House. He had addressed thousands of Englishmen in all parts of the country, and he did not find the policy of the Government reflected in the wishes of the English people. After so many Sessions barren of beneficial legislation for Ireland, with one exception, they were to have another Session barren of beneficial legislation for that country. Well, the end of the Session would enable the Government to judge more accurately than they could at present of the utility of that policy. He did not know whether it was the example of an eminent statesman in a Continental State not remarkable for the freedom of its institutions which had spurred on Her Majesty's Government to the proposed step; but he thought that he knew quite enough of the English people as well as of the Irish people to assure the Government that Liliputian Bismarckism was not going to succeed in this country.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
congratulated the Government upon having fully realized the promise recently made by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Colonies—namely, that legislation during the present Session would be of an unostentatious character. [Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH dissented.] Well, at all events, the Bills mentioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer deserved that title. They were asked to deal with a Criminal Code, with a Bankruptcy Law, and with pauperism in Scotland. The list was an appropriate one now that pauperism and crime were increasing and bankruptcies very numerous. He wished, however, to ask the Government their intention with reference to two subjects. A Committee appointed last year to inquire whether increased facilities should be given for purchase of land by the occupying tenant in Ireland came to the unanimous conclusion that it was very desirable increased facilities should be given. There was difference as to how this should be effected, but there was unanimity that a change was necessary. Therefore, it appeared incumbent on the part of the Government that something should be done. He was surprised to find no allusion to it made by 1124 the Government. The Chief Secretary for Ireland told him before Christmas that the Government was considering the question, and he would like to know what they intended doing in the matter. Then, again, a Bill was introduced two years ago by the then President of the Board of Trade to afford to seamen facilities such as were given to workmen by the Act of 1875. That Bill met the approval of a Select Committee, and, not having passed, a pledge was given that it would be re-introduced. No mention, however, had been made of it by the right hon. Gentleman; and he therefore begged to inquire whether it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to re-introduce the measure. He would not go into the general question which had been debated. It was clear from the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty that they would not that year be asked for any Vote for the formation of a harbour at Famagosta; but he would remind the Government of the case of the harbour at Alderney. That harbour was to have cost £200,000, and it cost £1,250,000, and was now abandoned as totally useless. He believed that a harbour at Famagosta would cost as much and be as useless.
§ MR. COGAN
said, he could not allow the debate to close without expressing the deep disappointment which he felt, and which he believed would be shared by a large portion of the people of Ireland, when they learned that it was not proposed by the Government to deal with the question of University Education in Ireland. Hopes had been excited on this question in the minds of the people of that country. From various things which had transpired, and from the tone of the public Press of late, they had, he thought, every reason to believe that Her Majesty's Government were prepared to deal with this question. He regretted that this expectation had been disappointed, not only for the sake of education in Ireland. He regretted it for political reasons. He believed that it would have a very bad political effect in the present state of public opinion in Ireland, if the people should come to the conclusion that a question which to them was of so great importance, and which both parties in the House had admitted was a question that deserved and required to be dealt with, was postponed 1125 indefinitely. He believed that there never was a Government in power who could have dealt with the question so effectually as the present Administration; and it was much to be lamented that they had omitted to take advantage of the opportunity which presented itself to them. He did not abandon all hope, however; because, although the question of University Education in Ireland did not figure amongst the measures which the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke of as those to be first dealt with by the Government, yet the right hon. Gentleman stated that other questions might arise which circumstances might enable them to deal with, and he (Mr. Cogan) should not abandon the hope that they would refuse to deal with a question which would be fertile of good to their common country. He had only further to express his entire concurrence with what had been stated by his hon. Friend the Member for Beading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), and his hope that the Government would introduce a well-considered measure for giving increased facilities to tenants for the purchase of the fee-simple of their farms.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, he thought that the Government would have done well to have legislated on the subject of the extradition of criminals. At present, the Convention—if any now existed at all—with the United States was left in a most unsatisfactory condition. Before any practical solution of the difficulty with the United States could be reached legislation would be necessary.
§ GENERAL SIR GEOEGE BALFOUR
asked the attention of the House to a country called Scotland. This was necessary, because, except the few words uttered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer about an Amendment to one Bill affecting Scotland, no allusion was otherwise made to that part of the Kingdom. He complained that this Scotch Poor Law Bill had been so prominently mentioned, because, as usual, it had hitherto received no attention from the House except the mention made of it by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it would probably drop. It was a plain and simple question, which could be settled in a short time if a small amount of attention were given to it. Indeed, a Committee of the humble but useful Inspectors of the poor would dispose of all the questions requiring settlement. He 1126 agreed with the complaint that the Government had not acted towards Ireland quite so well as they might have done; but the peace-loving people of Scotland were even more neglected than the unfortunate and misgoverned people of Ireland. Had they Home Rule in Scotland, with the Scotch Members sitting in Edinburgh, the Poor Law Question would have been considered and settled satisfactorily long ago. This one measure was not by any means the most important of the other claims which Scotland had so frequently and persistently urged on the attention of the Government. He instanced the Law of Hypothec, the "vile gun tax," the Game Laws, and the functions of the Commissioners of Supply, as subjects well worthy the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, whom he thought he might with propriety style the Secretary of State for Scotland. He fully expected, after the two recent visits to Scotland by the Home Secretary, that the conclusions formed after those visits would have been mentioned. For instance, the decision of the Government about the Lord Clerk Register, the arrangements for facilitating the Scotch Business, and the changes in the offices at Edinburgh should have been spoken of; above all, the state of the land tenures might have been noticed. There could be no doubt that, what with the restrictions by the Law of Hypothec, and the stringent leases of owners, the Scotch landlords and farmers, owing to the two bad seasons, were not in a satisfactory condition as to payment of rents. He could also have wished that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given some indication of the intentions of the Government in regard to the Church Question, and the extent to which they proposed to interfere with the Banking System of Scotland. Not a word had been said about the Revenues of India. Last year it was stated they would have, in 1878–9, a surplus of £2,000,000. Since then telegraphic intelligence had largely cut down the amount. Now there were ominous warnings that that surplus had disappeared, and that the It had also been suggested that the expenditure was exceeding the revenue, might carry on the war in Afghanistan with the normal forces of India; but now it was said that the expense was being augmented by an increase of 1127 European troops. Already a considerable addition had been made to the Native Regular Army, and the troops of Native Chiefs were called out in considerable numbers. This addition, with the cost of the large army in the field, must require several millions, and consequently largely drain the cash balances.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
It was not my intention to have troubled the House with any remarks to-night, but for the observations which have just fallen from the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Sir George Balfour). I can assure him that before the Session is over he will find that Scotland has not been so entirely neglected as he now appears to think likely to be the case. I do not suppose it was ever the intention of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to detail to the House every measure which may be brought forward in the course of our proceedings, or to enter into particulars as to the way in which we may meet the various questions which may be introduced by hon. Members, and which at the present moment stand on the Notice Paper of the House. That would be quite foreign to such a debate as generally occurs at the opening of a Session like the present. I know that Scotland is interested—and naturally interested—in many of the measures which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has named—measures, however, which are not confined to Scotland, but which apply to the whole of the United Kingdom. We have, however, named one in which Scotland is especially interested—namely, the question of the Poor Law. That is a subject which certainly needs the immediate attention of Parliament. It is not mentioned as a new topic; but as one with which we have not had time in other Sessions to deal—one, however, with which we mean, so far as lies in our power, to take in hand during the present Session. The hon. and gallant Member has referred to other matters. He has spoken on the question of game. I thought that that subject had already been discussed at considerable length, and that a Bill had been passed with reference to it, which, I believe, is working thoroughly well North of the Tweed. That being so, I think that, so far as game is concerned, we may be quite content to leave matters alone for the present. As to the 1128 way in which Scotch Business is managed, I made the proposition last year that I should have the assistance of an Under Secretary for Scotland. That proposition at first received a great deal of support from many hon. Members who represented different Northern constituencies; but they objected, not unnaturally, to the source from which I thought the emoluments of that officer might be derived. I was very much surprised to find afterwards that there was a very serious difference of opinion among the Scotch Members as to whether any such officer ought to exist at all. [General Sir GEORGE BALFOUR: Hear, hear!] That was a bonâ fide attempt, however, to remedy what I considered to be a grievance; and it was alone owing to the opposition which came from Scotland that the Bill on the subject was not passed during the last Session of Parliament. I hope in the course of the present Session to be able to present to Parliament some scheme by which, at all events, considerable facilities may be given to Scotch Members for having all their grievances fully discussed, and by which scheme we may hope to arrive at some satisfactory conclusion. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has also alluded to the question of hypothec. I would remind him that a Bill on that subject is to be introduced by the hon. Member for Wigtownshire (Mr. Vans Agnew), and when that measure is brought forward I shall be prepared to state the intentions of the Government with regard to it. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has likewise touched upon the question of the Church. That is undoubtedly a very serious and important question. It is one which no Government could—unless they saw ample time for its discussion, and unless they also saw a reasonable prospect of carrying a measure—have brought forward; and I doubt very much whether, considering all the Business before the House, it would be possible, even if the Government wanted it, to introduce such a measure upon such a subject with a reasonable prospect of success at present. That being the case, it is much better that the Government should not approach it, but should leave it to be taken up by any private Member who may think it necessary to raise it. I shall have other opportunities of speak- 1129 ing more fully on the subjects referred to by the hon. and gallant Member; and I will content myself at present by repeating my assurance that Scotch Business will receive due attention from the Government.
§ SIR HENEY JAMES
said, that although the statement that there were measures which would command the attention of legal Members of the House was not favourably received he trusted there would not be much difference of opinion between the two sides of the House upon those measures. The chief object of the Mutiny Bill would be to introduce the Articles of War into the Mutiny Bill and to make them a Parliamentary measure; and in this matter the Government would receive assistance as loyal from the legal Members of the Opposition as from those on their own side of the House. As to the Criminal Code Bill, it would be almost impossible to present it as a whole for the consideration of the House in Committee. No doubt it had been referred to a Commission, including the most distinguished Judges on the Bench, well able to determine matters of definition and procedure; but the Code contained other matters which it was the duty of Members to determine for themselves. No Member ought to delegate it to a Judge to determine the law relating, for instance, to Sunday observance and to public meetings; and there were other social and political questions which could not be disposed of as matters of technicality and drafting. The difficulty of codification could not be known until it was encountered, and they realized the difference between the elasticity of the Common Law and the rigidity of definitions intended to cover every crime without committing injustice to any person accused. It was one thing to allow existing laws to continue and another to re-enact them. They had borne with the Sunday Observance Act of Charles II. because it was old, and, though partially obsolete, was not quite so; being in existence, it had been endorsed; but would they take the responsibility of re-enacting it merely as a piece of codification by a draftsman? A Bill of 480 clauses could not be carried as one measure; it was not one, but 50; but some progress might be made if it were divided into sections. However valuable might be the technical provisions formulated by 1130 Lord Blackburn, Mr. Justice Lush, and Mr. Justice Stephen, the Government would not find the House disposed to accept en bloc the provisions of the Bill embodying the law as it affected every citizen. He asked the Goverment whether it would not be well to draw a line between what was merely technical and what was political and social. The House would no doubt accept the former on the recommendation of the much respected Members of the Commission; but to the other sections the fullest consideration must be given. He felt sure that if the Bill should be submitted to the House as a whole there would not be time to pass it into law in one Session. With respect to the two other legal measures which had been announced—the Bankruptcy Bill and the Summary Jurisdiction Bill—not knowing on what lines they were drawn he should not offer any opinion which could only be hypothetical. He would only say if the latter Bill was similar to that which the Secretary of State had formerly introduced he should agree with the principle, but the details would be matter for examination. There was one other matter to which he wished to refer, and was it to ask what had been the administration of justice in Cyprus up to this time. The Attorney General had told them when the House last met that the law of Cyprus was clear and distinct—the Colony had been coded to us, and therefore the law which existed there was valid till some other law was introduced, but time had passed, and the prophecies of the hon. and learned Gentleman had not been fulfilled; therefore he wished to know what was the state of the law in that Island, and how it was administered. He was told an Ordinance had been sent out to Cyprus, but was not yet published. The people of this country had a right to know what the law of Cyprus was as well as the people of that Island. He understood that at the present moment there was perfect chaos in the Island, and that British subjects had been denied justice. He had been informed that an English barrister of the Middle Temple had not been permitted to practise in the Courts of Larnaca because he had not obtained the permission of the Turkish Minister, and that that had been supported by Sir Garnet Wolseley. Was that so? Surely he was not pressing the Government 1131 too strongly to say whether they were aware of that fact. Did the Foreign Office know of those things; and, if so, had any objection been taken to the course which had been pursued towards British subjects? He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his reply, would give some answer to this complaint.
§ MR. BOURKE
said, that as the lion, and learned Gentleman (Sir Henry James) had pointedly alluded to him he must say that the matter referred to had not been brought officially before him at the Foreign Office, and therefore it was impossible for him to give an answer at that moment; but if the hon. and learned Gentleman would put a Question on the Notice Paper there would be the necessary inquiry into the matter.
§ MR. O'SHAUGHNESSY
said, that before he alluded to the Irish questions which had been brought forward he would first of all refer to the administration of Cyprus. As he understood the matter this country was not mistress of the Island, and they merely held a tenancy, and whether they were to be masters there or not remained to be determined. He objected to the building of harbours, or the outlaying of any expenditure in regard to Cyprus, unless the money could be provided from the Revenue. In regard to the Merchant Shipping Acts, the Committee, after due consideration, arrived at certain conclusions in which were shown the necessity for legislation, so that it would be a great breach of duty on the part of Her Majesty's Government if they were not acted up to, and he trusted that an Act of Parliament would be passed embodying the Resolutions of the Committee. He now turned to what he looked upon as a very meagre programme, which they had set forth for Ireland, and which would cause very great disappointment amongst all classes in that country. He listened with profound respect to the warnings given by the right hon. Member for Kildare (Mr. Cogan), a Gentleman of moderate opinions, who did not hesitate to express the bad effects which would be produced on the minds of all classes in Ireland by the neglect of the greatest interests on the part of the Government with reference to that country. An hon. and gallant Member from Scotland (General Sir George Bal- 1132 four) had received the assurance of the Home Secretary that Bills would be introduced in reference to Scotland; but he would recommend that hon. and gallant Member not to place too much reliance upon that assurance, for he (Mr. O'Shaughnessy) in December last complained that no Irish measures had been mentioned in the Queen's Speech, and he and the Irish Members were told to be full of hope as they did not know what good things were in store for them. He would not be surprised if Scotland did not agitate for Home Rule as well as Ireland, considering that they had similar complaints to make of the neglect of their interests. The only Irish question alluded to in the programme was the Grand Jury Question, and at the end there was a general allusion to some other topics which might fairly form subjects of legislation. He looked forward with great interest to the Grand Jury Law Amendment Act that it should be properly framed; but the conduct of the Government during the last Session did not encourage them to hope for much. He thought that they might not have expected to be put to the trouble of discussing the extension of the franchise of Irish towns, for upon every occasion the Press of this country had almost unanimously said that they deserved to be victorious in this respect. He would now pass from that question to one which was of the most importance to Ireland at this moment, and that was the question of University Education, and on that subject he thought they were entitled to expect that the Government would tell them what were their real intentions. Even at that stage of the debate, and at that hour of the evening, they ought to be informed whether the Government did or did not intend during the present Session to fulfil the promises which had been made. The Lord Chancellor, when dealing with the Intermediate Education Bill, said he looked forward to crowning the edifice in Ireland by passing such legislation with regard to University Education as would meet the requirements of the country. Now, he would not rely too much upon a promise which might be out of date, or upon the negotiations which were alleged—perhaps truly and perhaps falsely—to have taken place between the Government and those who had the confidence of the people of 1133 Ireland on this subject; but he would come to a speech which was made a few days ago at the Mansion House in Dublin by the Duke of Marlborough, the Lord Lieutenant, in which he distinctly admitted this question of University Education was one in the first rank of importance, and he said that this year or some other it must be dealt with. He further expressed the anxiety of his Party to deal with it. The speech of the Lord Lieutenant was followed by one from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, whom he rejoiced to see at his post. That was a mysterious speech, because, as the right hon. Gentleman said, it was addressed to the common sense and moderation of the Irish people. He wanted Irishmen to reduce their demands to moderate dimensions so that some settlement might be arrived at, and this question be no longer made a business of battledore and shuttlecock. Of course, the Chief Secretary did not bind himself to anything by that expression, but he did admit the necessity of dealing with the question; and he would now ask him—and he thought he was quite within his right in so doing—whether it was the intention of the Government to do anything during the present Session on the subject? Her Majesty's Government had considerable encouragement to give a favourable answer to the question. The noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, speaking on this delicate and interesting subject, announced, as he was informed—for he was not present in the House at the moment—that difficulties lay in the way of dealing with it by one Party which did not stand in the way of its settlement by the other. In fact, he believed the noble Marquess had said that he expected the question would be dealt with by Her Majesty's Government. Under these circumstances, let the Government state what they really intended to do, and let them not be afraid to put forward their programme in this matter. They could not complain that any topic upon which they had hitherto legislated for the Irish people, even including the Coercion Bill, had not been fairly and frankly discussed, and whenever Irish matters had been introduced they had been properly discussed. Therefore, if the Government would introduce a measure on Irish University Education it would be fairly 1134 discussed; and if the Bill was rejected it would not inflict upon them any very wonderful defeat, because Bills of their own had been thrown out on previous occasions and the Government still existed. At all events, he thought the Irish people had a right to know what the intentions of the Government were. He now desired to refer to the question of the Land Laws, which was one which could not be allowed to remain in its present condition. It was not merely a matter which concerned the comfort and existence of the farming classes in Ireland, but it concerned the consumer in England. In the present state of the relations between the landlords and tenants in Ireland, the people of England who purchased from the people of Ireland did not get one-half out of the produce of the land which the land could give them; and this was directly traceable to the existing law. Ireland could not, perhaps, expect that any broad and liberal view would be taken of this subject by Her Majesty's Government; but with regard to the purchases by tenants through the medium of the Landed Estates Court, there was a perfect and necessary case made out for legislation. Certain clauses of the Act of Parliament were a complete failure as far as the object for which they were framed was concerned, and a Committee of this House had reported in favour of the alteration. Could any case be stronger? There were other branches of the Land Act besides the Bright clauses which had been a failure; and even Irish Northern landlords in this House had been forced to admit an alteration. They had heard something to-night about a Valuation Bill for England. He hoped they were not threatened with a valuation for Ireland. Practically the present valuation of the country meant that the landlord was entitled to demand a rent something like a third over the present valuation. An alteration of the law would give landlords another argument for increasing rents, and that, with the fall in the value of land in Ireland, would be a great injustice. These were matters which it was a duty on the part of Irish Members to bring prominently, and even pressingly, under the notice of the House, and it was their intention to do so. If they did not, he thought they had no business there.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, I am perfectly aware I have no right to address the House a second time; but under the present peculiar circumstances, I think I may claim the indulgence of the House to offer a few observations upon some remarks that have been made in the course of the evening. I will say, in the first place, that I have not been surprised at the observations which have been made upon the omission from the list of measures which I mentioned to the House of a good many Bills on subjects which are interesting both to hon. Members and the House at large. But I must point out to the House that, as to the list which I mentioned, the Government, in deciding upon the course that should be taken, felt that there was a danger to be guarded against—namely, the danger of smothering legislation by proposing too large a number of subjects at once. And, undoubtedly, the error which we sometimes fall into of announcing a very large number of measures, all more or less important and interesting, has the effect of rendering it very difficult to proceed with and pass any measure at all. The other day, when we were considering what should be the statement to be made to Parliament, I wrote a line to the Government draftsman, and requested him to send me a note stating the preparation of the different Government Bills that had been intrusted to him for preparation, and in reply he sent me back a list of 18 Bills, all of considerable interest. Four of the principal Bills which I have mentioned were not included in that list, because they had been prepared in other Departments. It was, therefore, perfectly obvious that if we had proposed to introduce a very large number of Bills, and had stated that that was the programme of the Session, we should have been not only exposed to considerable ridicule, but justly reprobated for making an impracticable proposal. We should have been told that we were making a great show, and would accomplish nothing. We thought it wiser and better, and more convenient for the House, that we should make a selection of a smaller number of measures; but I admit that that selection was a matter of difficulty, and that there are measures of importance that have been referred to which we must consider as included 1136 in the programme of the Session. We shall do the best we can to fulfil that programme, and in addition to the Bills I have mentioned, I hope that a few others not unimportant or uninteresting will be brought forward and considered before the end of the Session. I can well understand the remarks that have been made by hon. Members, and especially by hon. Gentlemen who represent Irish constituencies, as to what they seem to look upon as the inadequacy of our proposals with respect to Ireland. I trust, however, they will find that we are not inattentive to Irish wants; while we, at the same time, do the best we can in the way of legislating for the whole of the country, and undoubtedly for Ireland as a part of the country. Our sins, I think, have been made to appear a little worse than they are by the remarks of some hon. Gentlemen. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry), for instance, went to the extent of saying that we were abstaining from introducing any measure of importance with respect to Irish matters, and not only were we going to introduce coercive regulations for restricting the rights of minorities—which I hope he will see by the Resolutions is not the case—but that we even declined to take notice of so important, but comparatively minute, a matter as the recommendations of the Committee which inquired into the condition and management of the Public Works Department in Ireland. He made an observation in reference to what was said at an earlier stage of the evening as to its not being our intention to call upon the Chairman of that Board to tender his resignation. I do not wish it to be understood that we undervalue the Report of that Committee upon which the hon. Members for Galway and Wexford gave their assistance. To a certain extent it may throw light on some of the questions which are brought before us with regard to Ireland. At the present time, there is no doubt that the Board of Works in Ireland is very much over-weighted with business. We are seriously considering whether, even for the performance of its present functions, it may not be necessary to strengthen it, and it is possible that proposals may be made which would add to its functions. Hon. Members for Ireland will remember that we are now approaching the time when the 1137 Commission on the Irish Church Temporalities has nearly completed the 10 years for which it was originally appointed, and it will very soon become a matter of importance that we should consider what is to be done, both as to the future administration of that large fund, and as to the mode in which it is to be applied. A portion was taken out of that fund last year and was applied to purposes connected with Intermediate Education in Ireland; and, so far as we have yet had an opportunity of watching that experiment, it appears to be working successfully. But it is one of very recent growth, and it requires some little time to watch carefully, and to see how the experiment is likely to succeed. Even after that sum has been taken from the Church surplus a very considerable amount remains to be disposed of, and the mode in which that amount is to be disposed of is a question requiring very deep consideration. I think there is no doubt that there is one object to which a portion of it may be very properly applied; and although I am not at this moment in a position to state exactly how it can be done, I have no doubt that a portion of that fund could be made use of in settling a question of great interest and some difficulty—with regard to the pensions which are to be granted to the teachers in Irish elementary schools. I hope we may be able to make a proposal on that subject which may be of advantage in helping towards a settlement of the question. It is one of great importance to Irish Members, and one to which we have had our attention directed for several years. Whether beyond that any arrangement can be made for the application of the surplus to public objects in Ireland is a matter requiring great consideration; and it is also a matter for consideration how far the strengthening of the Irish Board of Works may be made to bear on any arrangements that may be introduced for dealing with the funds arising from the surplus of the Church temporalities. These are matters which I hope the hon. Member for Galway and others will understand that we are not forgetting, or passing over without consideration. I am not, at the present moment, in a position to make any proposals on the subject; but the matter is receiving our attentive 1138 consideration. There are other measures besides those relating to Ireland, which have been adverted to, and with some of which we hope to be able to deal; but I will not at present say more with reference to measures relating to that country. The hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) has put to me a question with regard to legislation affecting merchant seamen, a subject to which he has always paid great attention. There is a measure bearing upon that subject among those to which I have referred, and I hope it may be possible to make a proposal dealing with it. It is a subject of great difficulty, and it has not been placed in front because I am not able to say how far we may be able to get on with other measures. I confess I have heard something to-night from another hon. Member which has a little alarmed me, even as to getting through with the measures we have mentioned—I allude to the hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Sir Henry James)—who has told us that a number of questions may be raised on the Criminal Code Bill. His warnings, however, have been given in a most courteous manner, and, I am sure, in a very friendly spirit. I will not take note now of what has been said about Scotch measures, although the hon. and gallant Member for Kincardineshire (Sir George Balfour) seems to think it rather hard on Scotland that, because she is a well - governed and peaceful country, she should not have her share of legislation. No doubt we are anxious that that should not be the case; but I may suggest to him that it is, perhaps, because the Scotch are a peaceful and well-governed population that they need legislation rather less than any other part of the country. Be that, however, as it may, I hope it will be found that Scotch interests have not been omitted from our consideration. I now pass from domestic questions, merely observing that I disclaim the extraordinary construction which has been put by the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke) on some words which fell from me when he said I attributed the distress to the frost. The observation which I really made was to the effect that the cessation of the frost might have led to a certain diminution of the suffering which unhappily prevailed, I pass from these 1139 domestic matters, and wish to notice one or two questions which bear on matters of foreign policy. The hon. Member for East Sussex (Mr. Gregory) asked a question about extradition. There is no difficulty about the United States; but the question is one which is under the serious consideration of the Government. A good many questions have been asked about Cyprus. Amongst others, it has been asked when the Cyprus Budget was to be brought forward. I used the phrase "Cyprus Budget," not in the sense of a Budget that we were to bring forward and submit to special discussion in this House. What I said was that when the statement of the revenue and expenditure of Cyprus was laid before the House hon. Members would see, I hope, a satisfactory result. I hope we shall soon be in a position to lay a good deal of information before the House with respect to Cyprus; and most assuredly there will be no indisposition to lay all the information that can properly be laid before it. The hon. Member for Frome (Mr. H. Samuelson) has given Notice of a number of Motions for Returns respecting Cyprus, and I think there will be no difficulty in giving a part of what he asks for. But with regard to the Motion as to the Commissioner, and the state of government in the Island, I think it better that we should be allowed to present that information in as convenient a way as we can. We have heard a great deal about legal questions, and, as a layman, I must confess I have been a good deal puzzled by the observations that have been made. So far as I can recollect, there was a complaint made by an hon. and learned Gentleman that barristers and lawyers were not allowed to practise in the Courts in Cyprus. Now, I may observe, as a matter of fact, that the administration of justice in Cyprus, though a little irregular, is remarkably satisfactory in its results. There is very little crime, while there is no great difficulty in procuring justice in civil cases. I do not know that the difficulties of the lawyers are so very serious; but, at any rate, we are anxious to remove whatever irregularities may exist. Certainly, it is satisfactory to think that in an Island where there has been a great deal of corruption so great a reform has been instituted in 1140 so short a time, that crime has much decreased, and that, so far as corruption among high authorities goes, it is almost unknown. We may be tolerably satisfied with the general progress of the Island. With regard to the Capitulations, I think a great deal more is made of that point than is needed, and difficulties have been somewhat conjured up on the subject. No doubt there are inconveniences and questions which have to be considered; but there have been no difficulties between us and foreign Governments. There have been communications with these Governments; but the real point is, the Capitulations were introduced because of the extremely bad administration of justice under the Turkish system, and it was found necessary for foreign Powers to guard themselves against the consequences of the bad administration of justice. But the bad administration of justice having ceased, the Capitulations will naturally fall to the ground. I have no doubt that the difficulties conjured up will prove to be much of the same shadowy character as the difficulty mentioned just now, arising from the fact that English subjects have no appeal to the Turkish Court at Rhodes from the English Court at Cyprus. The noble Lord opposite (the Marquess of Hartington) put a question to me with regard to a subject upon which reports have appeared—the proposal, namely, for a joint occupation of Roumelia after the Russian troops have been withdrawn. The state of the case is this—that during the Congress of Berlin the idea was put forward that in case any disaster should arise after the Russian occupation it should be remedied by a joint occupation. Austria and England approved of it, but Russia opposed it, and the other Powers expressed no opinion, and no decision was arrived at. The subject was mentioned in confidential communications between the other Powers; but it has not advanced beyond the point at which it was left in Berlin. We have not heard much of it lately; and it is believed that it is a subject which the Porte does not look with any favour upon; and the other Powers look with indifference upon it. With regard to Greece, I do not know if there is much to be said at the present moment. The proceedings with regard to Greece are founded on the re- 1141 commendations of the Congress, and negotiations are proceeding. I think there has been some misapprehension in stating that they were broken off. They are still going on, but I am not in a position to say anything about their progress. With regard to the remaining question of India and Afghanistan, the noble Lord asked when we should be in a position to make a statement as to the views of the Government with regard to the final settlement of that question. I had hoped that we should by now have been in a position to make a statement, but we must wait for a short time. I hope we shall soon be in a position to make that statement. We have obtained the point we wished to obtain; but the disappearance of Shere Ali has rendered it difficult to find the means of treating with any authority in Afghanistan. Still, I do not think that that will prevent us from making a satisfactory settlement. The House must not run away with the idea that there are great advances and annexations in contemplation. The hon. and gallant General (Sir George Balfour) asks for some information with regard to the Revenues of India and the effect that this expenditure will have on them. That is a very natural question for him to ask. At present I cannot give anything like an Indian Budget; but in the course of a few weeks—indeed, in less than a fortnight—I think we may expect to have a Financial Statement made by the Finance Minister of India, and we shall then know in what precise condition the Revenues of India stand. But a communication has been made tons of a general character with regard to the expense which has been occasioned by the military operations, and also with regard to the degree in which the financial position of India is likely to be affected by that very remarkable circumstance, the depreciation of the silver currency, which, by affecting the rate of exchange, does add £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 a-year to the cost of the Administration. And under these circumstances, the Government of India have intimated to us that they are desirous of making a proposal that the Imperial Treasury should come to the assistance of India by advancing a loan not exceeding £2,000,000 for a certain number of years without interest. I may mention, in anticipation of the 1142 statement to be made by the Finance Minister of India in the course of a week or two, that the loan will not be made in the present financial year, but in 1879–80; and that measure is one which, if it can be taken in a manner beneficial to India, Her Majesty's Government will submit with great confidence to the House of Commons. There is a general expression of opinion among Indian authorities that India ought to bear, and can bear ultimately, all the expenses of these hostilities; and there is no desire on the part of India to ask for or accept aid, except in the way I have mentioned, which will be of very considerable advantage and assistance to her. I have taken this opportunity of stating informally the proposal I shall, in due time, make to the House. I will only add that I hope the spirit which has prevailed in the House during this discussion is to be taken as an indication of the spirit in which we shall be able to conduct the Business of the Session. It is perfectly inevitable that there should be great differences of opinion as to the course we propose to take, and we cannot expect our measures not to be warmly and fully debated; but I feel perfectly convinced that hon. Members will best do their duty to those whom they represent by fair, and open, and reasonable discussion, and by meeting in a corresponding spirit the efforts we shall make to promote the convenience of the House. We, on our part, will do our best to bring forward our measures in such a way as to give the House the best opportunity for discussing them.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he wished to remind the right hon. Gentleman that he not answered his question about the purchase clauses of the Irish Land Act.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
remarked that the question of the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke) had not been answered, as to taking possession of the Khurrum Valley.
§ MR. O'SHAUGHNESSY
also reminded the right hon. Gentleman of the Catholic University Question.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
remarked that there were many cases in which it was understood that when communications and requests were made and no answer was given, the 1143 matter could not at the present time be answered. He was not prepared to make any proposition, or to intimate, on the part of the Government, that they had any proposal to make in regard to two of the subjects mentioned. They deserved the most serious consideration; but he thought he had sufficiently intimated that the Government had no proposals to make at the present time. They had no proposals to make as to the Irish Land Clauses. They did not undervalue the recommendations of the Committee; but although he might say, speaking for himself, that there were recommendations which he could not accept or agree to, he was not prepared to say that there were not clauses to which the attention of the Government had been directed, but they had not at present any proposal to make. With respect to the Khurrum district, he hoped, before long, to be able to state what were the proposals of the Government and the contemplated arrangements in regard to the Afghan Frontier.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
said, that Irish Members were placed in the most difficult possible position, for the reason that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, in the most pleasant manner, last December, promised that there were many messages of peace for Ireland in preparation. However, the only mention of Ireland in the speech was the Grand Jury Question. There was not only no reference to the University Question, but no reference to the great Question in which the Irish people were deeply interested—the Land Question. As to the University Question, they were told that many Bills were in the hands of the draftsman; and that such difficulties were found with them that no University Bill could be entertained. The leading papers of England had been led to believe that the Government were doing something, and yet it came on hon. Members by surprise that no reference whatsoever was made to the subject. There had been little time for consultation, but short as the time was, he had written out an Amendment which he would offer as a protest against nothing being done in the matter. He would move an Amendment to the Motion that the Speaker leave the Chair the following words:—That the omission of all reference to legislation on the questions of Reform in the Land 1144 Laws and of the University Education of Ireland, both in the Queen's Speech and in the Statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer this evening, is calculated to produce great discontent in Ireland, and is an ill return for the increased burthens which the warlike policy of the Government is calculated to entail on the Irish as well as on the British people.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
seconded the Amendment. Until the question of University Education was dealt with to the satisfaction of the Catholics of Ireland, there could be no religious equality in that country similar to that enjoyed by their Protestant fellow-countrymen. He had indulged the hope that when the question of religious education was disposed of they would be able to take up the larger question of Primary Education in Ireland, and deal with the whole subject without taking note of religious differences, and in that way doing a great benefit to the country. What the Government proposed in the shape of legislation for Ireland was simply to take away a Grand Jury system distasteful to the people of Ireland, and give them one in all respects equally objectionable. Such tinkering legislation could not be accepted. That was the whole sum and substance of what Ministers proposed to do with regard to Ireland. The Irish people would ask themselves whether it was worthwhile to send 103 Irish Members over to London year after year for so small a boon. He denied the Constitutional right of that House to legislate for Ireland. He maintained that the English Parliament was neither willing nor able to legislate for Ireland, and that he was justified in repudiating the control which that House exercised over Irish affairs.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the omission of all reference to legislation on the questions of Reform in the Land Laws and of the University Education of Ireland, both in the Queen's Speech and in the Statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer this evening, is calculated to produce great discontent in Ireland, and is an ill return for the increased burthens which the warlike policy of the Government is calculated to entail on the Irish as well as on the British people,"—(Major Nolan,)—instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."1145
§ MR. P. MARTIN
said, the people of Ireland were dissatisfied at the manner in which they were treated. Hopes were continually being held out, to be followed by disappointment. University Education had been for years the primary grievance of Ireland. He charged the Government with having, through the newspapers under their control, circulated the report that they intended dealing in a satisfactory manner with the Irish University Question, and then withdrawing from what they had professed their anxiety to carry through Parliament. Lately the Law Adviser of the Government, attending a meeting of an Orange Lodge, to celebrate the return of Conservative Members, heard it stated that it was a gross calumny and slander on the Government to suppose for one moment that they had any intention of dealing with this University Question. It might be said that the Roman Catholic Prelates of Ireland had made demands which the Government could not concede; but those Prelates represented not merely the feelings and wishes of their flocks in that matter, but also those of all the educated and fair-minded Protestants in every part of that country. When the English Conservatives had adopted denominational education for England, why were they not to have it for Ireland? If Ireland had been a dependent Colony of the Crown, she would, like our other Colonies, have had endowed Catholic Colleges. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had enumerated some 15 Bills which the Government were to bring forward, and out of the whole number there was only one for Ireland, and that was a Bill which they had indignantly rejected last year. The people of Ireland asked for bread; but they found that they only received in response stones. He believed that the course the Government was pursuing would, day by day, render them more unpopular with all classes in Ireland. Anxious though he was to facilitate Business, he would tell the Government that they would hear more of this question of University Education in Ireland, as the Irish Members, in justice to their constituents, would take care that it should on every possible opportunity be continuously, steadily, and persistently pressed upon the attention of the House, The Land Code, too, 1146 was a subject which the Irish people demanded to have considered, and he maintained that at a time of great distress in Ireland, when the pressure of taxation was so severe, it was the duty of Conservative statesmen to speak some consoling words to people who experienced so much suffering. It was, also, a great mistake on the part of Her Majesty's Government to suppose that the question of the Board of Works was a mere Departmental one. On the contrary, it was one of the greatest possible importance, as all works of public improvement were rendered impossible on account of the confused and complicated character of the code which that Board had to administer. He warned the Government that they were trifling with the Irish people by dealing as they had done with these questions of University Education and Land Reform. If the Government fancied they could get rid of the Irish Members by mere mocking phrases they would find they were entirely mistaken. If such conduct were persevered in, they would find the people rise at the back of the Irish Members, and show the Government the necessity of being as alert in remedial measures for Ireland as they were upon the Bills promised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, he differed with his hon. Friends who thought the Government wanted to hoodwink the Irish people on the question of University Education. For his own part, he viewed the matter in a very different light, and he believed that the right hon. Gentleman who led that House and a large majority of the Members of the Government were actuated by a sincere desire to give them such a measure as would be acceptable to the Irish people, and, at the same time, confer upon themselves a great amount of popularity. He believed that under the circumstances the mot d'ordre had been given to the different papers in the interest of the Government, and that the leading journal had accordingly written those inspired articles which, no doubt, every hon. Gentleman in that House had read within the past fortnight. The change of tone on the part of that journal was unusually sudden. From holding out the greatest possible hopes upon the question of Education for Ireland, The Times had suddenly turned round, and then 1147 every man at all conversant with, public affairs asked himself what had created this bouleversement. He himself did not profess to very acute political knowledge; but he had asked several persons in town, and they had told him that in this proud England there was an Imperium in Imperio. At present Lancashire ruled the British Empire in the Cabinet as well as outside it—it was considered a little Principality, beautiful in its political construction, which enabled the Tories to rule in England as well as elsewhere. As a consequence, the wishes of the right hon. Gentleman opposite and of the noble and learned Lord who introduced the Intermediate Education Act last year were set aside, because certain Lancastrians said to the Government—"Ye shall not concede to these Irish Catholics what we Evangelicals of Lancashire tell ye ye shall not give." They represented that if such a concession were made, it would be all up with Conservatives in Lancashire at the coming Election. This was the reason why the wishes of 4,000,000 Catholics in Ireland had been disregarded. He considered such a result, arising from such a cause, pitiable; and it was sad to see the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, contrary to his own inclinations, rendered dumb upon this question. Were this Governmental change of front owing to the action of the Irish Orangemen, which he did not believe, he could understand the situation. The Government might say—"They supported us in our time of deep despondency, and we shall not forget them now." This he could understand. The ancient opponents of Irish rights had triumphed.Our tyrants then,Were still at least our countrymen.But he felt it a degradation that Ireland should be sacrificed to the intolerance of a single English county. He supposed his lion, and gallant Friend, not having given Notice of his Motion, had merely proposed it to create that most necessary discussion.
§ MR. O'CLERY
said, the idea which had prevailed during the last 10 days that the measure on University Education had collapsed because of the impracticable pretensions of the Irish Catholic Bishops was a fallacy. On the contrary, they earnestly desired a set- 1148 tlement of the question. He believed the Ministry were really deterred from bringing forward a measure by the representations of a section of the Irish Conservative Members. In his judgment, this was a mistake on the part of the Government, who ought to remember the support they received from the Irish National Representatives last year on the Intermediate Education Question. Beyond that, so far as the Irish Roman Catholic Members were concerned, he could appeal to the Government to say if they had not, during the five years the Government was in power, supported them in every proposition for denominational education, even against the English Liberals.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, he was sure that the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had moved the Amendment (Major Nolan), did so merely as a means of raising a discussion, and could not seriously mean in that attenuated state of the House to anticipate any decision which the House would have other opportunities of coming to on various Irish questions. The Government had been charged with entirely neglecting the interests of Ireland, and the hon. and gallant Member had by anticipation denounced one important measure which the Government intended to introduce—namely, that relating to Grand Juries; and it had been alleged that the measure brought in last year had been rejected by the Representatives of Ireland. He failed to remember any occasion on which it was so rejected. The fact was that many hon. Members expressed a preference for going on with another measure which it was known the Government had prepared. That other measure—the Intermediate Education Bill—was in due course introduced and carried, and it was admitted that it deserved the thanks of the people of Ireland. He would not place himself out of Order by attempting to give any outline of the Grand Jury Bill. If they were to discuss at that early period every one of the nine measures for shadowed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as well as the other measures which might be brought in, a great deal of time would be wasted. But it was not so much sins of commission as sins of omission that the Government were charged with. They were told that they were trifling with the most cherished opinions of the 1149 Irish nation. ["Hear, hear!" from Irish, Members.] One hon. and learned Gentleman had charged the Government with having suborned the Press and having inspired articles in the newspapers——
§ MAJOR O'GORMAN
Hear, hear! so they have.
§ MR. P. MARTIN
said, he had never stated that the Government had suborned the Press. What he did say was that the gentlemen of the Press seemed to anticipate what the Government were about to do from time to time, and it was not met by any denial from the Government.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
most distinctly begged to say that no article in any newspaper had been in any way inspired by Her Majesty's Government, nor did they accept the slightest responsibility for any opinions expressed by the Fourth Estate of the Realm. While freely alluding to the English Press, no reference had been made by hon. Gentlemen to any organs of opinion in the Sister Island. He did not wish to follow up the matter by asking the reasons for that omission, which, however, was very marked, and seemed to call for some explanation. If that subject was to be further dwelt upon, the House would consider that before approaching a question of gravity like University Education in Ireland the Government should have some assurance that measures likely to commend themselves to the judgment of Parliament would also command the confidence of the people for whom they were intended. Some remarks had been made on certain observations of his own on a recent occasion at the Mansion House in Dublin to the effect that the days had gone by when this question should be tossed from Party to Party like a mere shuttlecock. What he had said was that the question of Intermediate Education had proved one thing sufficiently—namely, that such a subject as Education would never be adequately dealt with until Party spirit was laid aside. That Act was no Party measure, but was carried with the general concurrence of all Parties, with the exception of a very small minority; and he intimated that if ever a time came when the other branches of the Education Question could be satisfactorily settled it would be in some similar lull of Party strife. To that opinion he adhered. He knew certain hon. Members regretted 1150 that Ministers had come to that decision, and that some people would perhaps like to see the fortunes of an Administration commanding a large majority in the House shipwrecked on this Question; but they could hardly complain if those responsible for the conduct and policy of the Government did not see matters precisely in the same light. Then it was said that the great Land Question of Ireland had been wholly excluded. The views of the Government might not commend themselves to all parties interested; but it was the duty of the Government to consider carefully the line which they should adopt with regard to every question. The hon. Gentleman who had alluded to the subject of land had only touched one portion of the question—a question which in its breadth might be described as consisting of proposals for removing a certain commodity called land from the persons to whom it belonged to other persons to whom it did not belong. The suggestions made by the Committee over which the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had presided, and which dealt only with a distinct and very limited portion of what was known generally as the Land Question, had not escaped attention; but while there were, no doubt, matters to be commended to the attention of Parliament, he could hold out no hopes that the Government would be prepared to deal with the subject in the comprehensive manner which the hon. Member for Reading urged upon the Committee. At the same time, he was not without hope that on that subject they would be able to make some reasonable suggestions which would meet with the approval of Parliament. Reference had been made to the question of the re-construction of the Board of Works. That Board was entirely under the control of the Treasury, and he was informed by his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury that a scheme relating to that body had been under the consideration of his Department, and that in due time it would be submitted to the House. He hoped that the hon. and gallant Member who had brought the Amendment forward would not attempt by pressing it to a division to obtain a snap vote, after the statement which had been made showing that the interests of Ireland were not being neglected.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I do not intend, Sir, on this occasion to discuss the views which have just been expressed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. J. Lowther) upon what he calls the great Irish Land Question, or I should be inclined to doubt whether, holding the position he does, it is altogether a judicious observation on his part to describe in a mass all the schemes which have been proposed for dealing with the Land Question as schemes for depriving one set of people of their property for the purpose of transferring it to another set of people. When the right hon. Gentleman recollects that some of these proposals to which he is, I believe, opposed, are approved by many of the Members from the North, of Ireland—Gentlemen who generally support the Government—I think he may find reason to doubt whether he has used an altogether judicious expression. At all events, the principal measure to which this statement refers is that which has been under the consideration of a Committee of this House. No doubt, the principle of that measure is the transfer of property from one set of holders to another; but still I do not think there is any objection to the recommendation of the Committee, because the transfer will only take place upon just and equitable principles, as fair and advantageous to one party as another. I do not, however, rise to reply to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman. My object is to explain the reasons which will influence me in the vote I am about to give, if the Amendment is pressed to a division. I am very far from denying that the Members for Ireland may not have very considerable reason to complain of the statement made by the Government. Still, I think there are very grave objections to the passing of any Amendment such as has been proposed by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Galway (Major Nolan). My hon. Friend the Member for King's County (Sir Patrick O'Brien) has stated, as one of these reasons, that it is inconvenient that we should be called upon at a moment's notice to vote a Resolution of this kind. I quite admit the force of the argument that has been used—that until the statement of the right hon. Gentleman had been made it was impossible to know what Irish subjects were going to be dealt 1152 with. But when the right hon. Gentleman read a list of measures to be dealt with it was perfectly well known that neither the Irish University Question nor the Land Question were intended to be handled by the Government in the present Session. I think, therefore, it was due to the House that the earliest possible Notice should have been given of this Amendment, and that when the House was more full than at present. Hon. Members should have been informed that there would be this opposition and division. But besides this objection, there are others which have not yet been referred to. I think this House ought to be very careful in assenting to Resolutions of this kind, and ought to be sure that they are in conformity with the general spirit of its proceedings. Now, I believe it would be a proceeding nearly, if not altogether, unprecedented to vote a Resolution which is founded not upon a Bill, nor upon Papers before the House, but merely upon a verbal statement made by a Minister. As far as I could catch the words of the Resolution read from the Chair, it also appears to me to be open to objection of another kind. I do not think it is usual, and I think it would be hardly dignified for the House to state that a certain thing is an ill return for the services and sacrifices which the Irish people are called upon to make. In fact, in my opinion, Resolutions of this kind ought to be much more carefully prepared and much more fully considered than there has been any opportunity for doing upon this occasion. However, as I have said, I do not wish to deny that Irish Members have some considerable ground for complaint. I have already referred to the matter of Irish University Education, so that I need not say any more on that subject. It certainly is unfortunate that among all the subjects for legislation at their disposal the Government should only have a Grand Jury Bill to offer to Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland said he had no reason to know that the measure would be rejected by the majority of the Irish Members because they had not had the opportunity of considering it; but there was a feeling showing that the lines upon which it was formed were not such as were calculated to give satisfaction to a very large number of Irish 1153 Members. Besides, there is something in the past history of these Bills which is not calculated to inspire confidence. An Irish Grand Jury Bill has been promised, and generally introduced, in almost every Session of Parliament since I can recollect, but they have very seldom made much progress; and I cannot very much wonder that Irish Members should consider that the Bill is introduced very much as a matter of form, and is intended to share the fate of all its predecessors. Another part of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is also, I think, open to objection. I understood him to say that though there was only this legislation to be offered to Ireland this year the Government had it in contemplation, at some future time, to devote some part of the Irish Church surplus to the payment of the pensions of the Irish School Teachers. I do not think that is a very judicious proceeding on the part of the Government. If the Government has measures to propose, by all means let them bring them forward; but I hardly think it is fair to treat the Irish people in this way. To hold out these promises as bribes for good conduct on their part, and to tell the Irish Members that if they behave well they will, at some indefinite period, be indulged with another slice of the Irish Church surplus. That does not appear to me to be a dignified mode of treating the question, and I regret that the sop should have been held out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. At the same time, while I sympathize with the complaints of the Members from Ireland, it is quite impossible for me, for the reasons I have stated, to support the Resolution.
§ MR. MELDON
said, he wished to make but one observation with reference to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that night, and the one with which he favoured them at Dublin recently. Upon the good taste of the latter speech he did not intend to comment. It had, however, made a great impression upon large numbers of the people of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman told them that the Government, while admitting the importance of the University Question, did not think it right and proper to introduce any measure on the subject, because it would be made a Party question. He 1154 had also read a speech of the noble Lord who had just sat down (the Marquess of Hartington) at Liverpool, and it had given him intense satisfaction. That feeling he knew was shared by a great many people in Ireland, and it was due to the fact that the noble Lord declared he did not disapprove of the Government introducing a measure on this question of Irish Education, and that he, for one, would not offer any factious opposition to it, or oppose it in any Party spirit, if the measure were such as had been suggested. He read that speech with great satisfaction, and he hoped that he had interpreted its meaning fairly. If the Chief Secretary for Ireland had also read that speech, he (Mr. Meldon) did not understand how he could have made the announcement that he had done. He must say, however—and he said it with deep pain—that there was an impression abroad in Ireland that since the right hon. Gentleman had been appointed a policy of exasperation had been initiated and carried out, and that he was the adviser of it. His predecessor did not do much for them; but he showed his desire for conciliation, as far as his Party would let him do so. ["No, no!"] He was speaking his own opinion. But, on the other hand, it could not be denied that for some months past there had been a policy of exasperation tried in Ireland. It should be clearly understood, also, that they had not taken action in this matter without notice. They had not raised a debate on the principle of Land Reform, or of the establishment of a University; but they did say that it was the duty of the Government, after the speech of the noble Lord at Liverpool, to have made some proposal to the House on these two subjects.
§ MR. GRAY
said, the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) opposed the Amendment because sufficient Notice of it had not been given, and because it was unusual to base an Amendment upon a mere verbal statement. But he would remind the House that his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Galway (Major Nolan) gave Notice of his Amendment immediately after it had been elicited from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the Government were not going to deal with the question of University Education. As to the second point; because the Government had 1155 taken the unusual course of not making their statement of domestic policy in the form of an Address from the Crown, they were to be debarred from their Constitutional right to move an Amendment. For his part, he thought the responsibility for this Amendment should be fairly put on the right shoulders, and those shoulders were not on his side of the House. His hon. Friend gave as early a Notice as was practicable, and, therefore, the fault that it was not earlier and more formally before the House was not his; and, in his opinion, his Party was justified in proceeding to a division. There might, of course, be a difference of opinion as to the wisdom of moving such an Amendment, with so many Irish Members absent; but now that it had been moved it would be puerile to withdraw it, and therefore he hoped it would be pressed to a division. As to the general question, he thought the Irish Party were punished in a way that they deserved for their conduct at the opening of the Session. The Irish Party was a small one, and it could only make itself respected, and its influence felt, by strict organization. They appeared, on the contrary, to be utterly disorganized. The Government and the Government organs were now studiously formulating the idea that the Irish Party, which at one time was formidable, was now broken up, and no longer formidable to anybody. The Government assumed that statement to be true, and treated Irish Members according to the strength which they now imagined them to possess. He and his Friends would take that lesson to heart. They would remember the contemptuous manner in which the Irish nation had been treated, and Her Majesty's Government would by-and-bye find that the Irish Party was not so weak and powerless as they thought. They were promised a Grand Jury Bill, which the majority of the Irish Members had already rejected, for they were told that the measure was not materially changed from that of last year, and they were also to be treated to a series of Resolutions calculated to curtail the rights and powers of minorities. That was the Ministerial programme as regarded Ireland. It would create considerable exasperation in that country, and he was certain the Irish Members were only expressing that feeling in the Resolu- 1156 tion which had just been moved. He thought the Government would have done far better if it had attempted to settle the question upon which the hearts of the Irish people were bent, instead of proposing a series of gagging Resolutions; but he, for one, was not afraid to face the issue, and they would soon see which would get the better of it.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, if he spoke candidly he hoped it would not be thought he spoke unwisely, at any rate from his own point of view. It was now almost a matter of history with the Irish Party that concessions were not to be won from any English Government by a policy of conciliation. At the beginning of the Session, when a question of the utmost importance was occupying the attention of Parliament and the Empire, many of the people of Ireland desired that their Representatives should bring before the House this question of Irish Education, and other kindred subjects. That desire was over-ruled, for it was represented to them that such a course would excite exasperation, and that the feelings of Members would be so influenced by it that a settlement of the University Question would be postponed, or perhaps prevented altogether. Under these circumstances, the Irish Members forebore to press their grievances. He was one of those who thought that that time was a fitting time for them to explain their grievances, and by showing their own belief in them to impress the House with their reality. They were overborne, however, and when the attention of the Government was directed to the omission of all reference to Irish affairs, the Home Secretary held out hopes that there might be some measures in store for Ireland. His hopes were not unduly excited; but some hon. Members did think that at last there was some hope of an English Government being honest, and doing justice to Ireland. But again the stern lesson had been taught them; again they had believed in the honour and justice of an English Government, and again they, once more, found themselves deceived. ["Order!"] He said, in beginning, that he meant to be candid, and he hoped his candour would not injure any great principle or any great cause. If the Government had deliberately chosen to play into his hands, 1157 and to advance the designs that they had chosen from time to time to attribute to him, they could not have chosen a better way. He must not be told that the articles in The Times were not inspired, and were not put out as feelers to ascertain how far the Government might go. It had now come to this—that the Irish Representatives must make up their minds how they were going to deal with Irish questions, and how they were going to show that great Assembly that they felt the importance of these questions from the bottom of their hearts. When they had done that, and not till then, the first step would have been taken in the settlement of these questions.
§ MAJOR O'GORMAN
said, he was sincerely glad at everything that had taken place that night. He was delighted beyond anything he could express that the Government had treated these great Irish questions in the way they had done. Nothing more rejoiced his heart than to find that the English Government were still doing as they had done for centuries, and still continued to trample on the Irish people. Nothing, also, more rejoiced his heart than to feel for the Government—as he was sure every Irishman should, and did feel—the utmost hatred and contempt.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 72; Noes 25: Majority 47.—(Div. List, No. 3.)
§ Main Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ MR. DILLWYN
said, before the Speaker left the Chair, he thought they ought to have some further information on the Corrupt Practices Bill. It was an important measure, which had been before the House a great many years, and in view of the coming Election it should certainly be dealt with this year. The Government had distinctly pledged themselves to bring forward the Bill early in the Session. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: Notice of the question has not been given.] Then he would bring the matter forward again on Monday. There was one other matter. He understood that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was about to propose a loan of £2,000,000 to the Indian Government without interest for two years. 1158 He did not propose to discuss the matter now; but the Government would be misleading the House and the country, as they had often done before, and would be misleading the people of India also, if they were to say that they ever expected this money to be repaid. They had much better propose to give the money to India at once, for he knew it would be useless to expect that it would ever be repaid.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Committee deferred till To-morrow.