HC Deb 27 February 1879 vol 243 cc1881-909

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

(1.) £2,750,000 Exchequer Bonds.


said, he had been so much criticized for irregularity that he hardly knew whether he was justified in taking notice in Committee of observations which were made out of it; and, in fact, he doubted whether he should be justified in making any Statement except as to the particular Vote before the Committee. He also, with some hesitation, referred to the other questions which had been raised, and he hoped he was in Order in doing so. He did think, however, that he was consulting the convenience of the House in making the Statement he did. In the first place, there undoubtedly had been occasions— several occasions—on which Budgets had been brought forward earlier in the year than the present time. He did not know whether all the cases which had been mentioned were exactly in point, because the change made in 1854 in the date of the financial year affected some of them, though he did not wish to insist very much upon that. At the same time, he was quite sure that there were inconveniences, and always had been, in making a Budget Statement prematurely. That inconvenience had been very much increased of late by the change made in collecting the Revenue. The great charge of the Income Tax fell upon the third and fourth quarters of the year, and there was great difficulty in estimating with accuracy what the whole amount of the tax would be. Of course, there was a similar difficulty with other sources of taxation; but he referred especially to the Income Tax. He thought his right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Childers) would agree with him that though it might be inconvenient, and undoubtedly was inconvenient, to the public to have any delay occur in making the Financial Statement of the year known, yet that it would be almost more inconvenient that an imperfect Statement should be made prematurely, necessitating fresh arrangements afterwards. There was considerable difficulty, at the present time, in estimating, not merely the Revenue for next year, but the Expenditure also. This latter must depend very much upon what they might have to pay for the operations in South Africa; and at the present moment, and until they got the next fortnight's despatches, of course, it would be extremely difficult to know for what sum it would be necessary to make provision. Therefore, it would hardly be consistent with cer- tainty in taxation if they were to attempt to introduce a Budget at so early a date as the beginning of March. For these reasons, he had suggested that they should wait until the beginning of April for his financial propositions. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Childers) had rather exaggerated the position in which they stood. He said it was the gravest and the greatest since the time of the first Reform Bill. That, he thought, was a statement calculated to alarm the public mind quite unnecessarily.


said, that was not quite his statement. He said it was the most serious deficit since the first Reform Bill.


said, he did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman in that opinion; but he would not discuss that point for the present. However, if it had not been for the South African War the arrangements he had made last year would have been sufficient, and it would have been unnecessary for him to make any Financial Statement at all. He now had to propose a Vote for the renewal of those Bonds which were issued for the Service of the year 1877–8. He had hoped they might have been able to pay off a portion of these Bonds in the present year. They had not been able to do so, partly on account of the deficiency in the Revenue, partly on account of the greater demand for Expenditure; and he had, therefore, no other alternative but to make provision for meeting these Bonds when they fell due on the 16th, and the following days of March. He hoped the Committee would see that in making these propositions they were only carrying into effect the contemplated arrangements.


said, the right hon. Gentleman had just told them that it would not have been necessary for him to come down to the House and ask for power to make any alteration in the arrangements he proposed last year had it not been for the breaking out of the war in South Africa. That was a very important qualification, and bore very materially upon the plan of finance put before them in the month of August last. In that month the right hon. Gentleman contemplated an excess of Expenditure over Revenue for the current year of £1,556,000, and, adding to that the de- ficit which he would have to provide for of the Exchequer Bonds for Expenditure in connection with the Vote of Credit incurred in 1877–8, left him with a deficit of £4,306,000. The right hon. Gentleman said he proposed to spread that over the next two years, and, assuming that his Revenue for the next two years continued the same as in the current year, plus £600,000, the additional amount of the new 2d. on the Income Tax, and that his expenditure continued the same, minus the expenses incurred in connection with Turkish affairs, he hoped to be able in each of the two years to pay off, roughly speaking, £2,000,000 of Debt, and thus, in the two years, to wipe off the £4,000,000 odd of deficit. The right hon. Gentleman justified his action by saying that if this was not actually war expenditure it was next door to war expenditure, for it was the cost of averting war. If, however, the cost of averting war was to be treated as war expenditure, he did not know where they were to stop. In one sense, the whole cost of the Army and Navy was the cost of averting war, for they were intended to guard them—to protect them—against war. Unfortunately, this expenditure for averting war proved, in the case of Afghanistan at least, to be rather the cost of provoking war. It could not be doubted, indeed, that the policy pursued in regard to Turkey led to the Afghanistan War. Then the right hon. Gentleman, on the assumption that his Revenue and Expenditure would continue the same, spread his deficit over the two coming years. But he had been singularly unfortunate, because since that time he had had two fresh wars—the Afghanistan War and the Zulu War. He was not then going to discuss the policy of the Government, or to lay any blame upon the right hon. Gentleman; but the course he had taken did show the danger of spreading the so-called cost of averting a war over future years, and trusting that the future years would be so uneventful as to enable them to pay off such arrears. The right hon. Gentleman had certainly met with singular ill-fortune in having the Zulu War and the Afghanistan War come upon him. Besides this, the right hon. Gentleman had told them that he was about to propose a loan to India of £2,000,000 without interest. He would not stop to discuss whether that would not, in reality, be a gift; but, in any case, the money would have to be provided. Therefore, in addition to the deficit of £4,306,000, they had also to face a proposition for £1,500,000 for the Zulu War, something over £354,000 for the Supplementary Civil Service Estimates, and the prospect of a loan of £2,000,000, without interest, to India. The right hon. Gentleman had also told them what they must have all been exceedingly sorry to hear—that the Revenue was likely to fall short of the estimate by something not much less than £1,000,000. He was afraid, looking at the Revenue Returns, that that shortcoming would be, at all events, in great part upon the three most important heads of finance — Customs, Excise, and Stamps. At the close of the third quarter, the receipts from these three heads were £200,000 behind the receipts for the same period in the previous year. But, at the present time, according to the Return up to February 22, the falling off was £371,000; or, in other words, the falling off, during the last seven or eight weeks, had almost doubled. It must be remembered that the right hon. Gentleman, instead of calculating on a falling off, had reckoned on a considerable increase under two of these heads, for he had calculated on an increased Revenue from Customs of £531,000; from Excise, including the additional dog duty, of £136,000; and a decrease on Stamps of £26,000. Therefore, while he had reckoned on an increase by the 31st of March next of £641,000, he had instead, up to the present time, a decrease of £371,000. It was obvious that, unless these three important heads of Revenue much improved, the right hon. Gentleman would be £1,000,000 short of his calculations. He dared say that the Revenue would come in better, as it often had done before, just before the close of the financial year; but still the prospect wad, as these three important heads of Revenue were falling off with remarkable rapidity, that they would disappoint the expectations of the right hon. Gentleman; and the fact that this falling off had been recently so rapid did not promise well for the Income of the next year. He wished to call attention to one other point with regard to the new Sinking Fund, established in 1875. The right hon. Gentleman, by means of that Sinking Fund, paid off in the first year £280,150; in the second year, £624,780; and in the third year, £764,825, making a total paid off in the three years during which the Fund had been in operation of £1,669,755. But in the course of the same three years the Debt had been increased by a larger amount than the total amount paid off; therefore, while they had been paying off the Debt with one hand, they had been adding to it with the other. The money, in fact, by which it had been paid off had been borrowed for the purpose, or if not actually so borrowed, was withdrawn from Revenue, at the cost of leaving a corresponding amount of Expenditure to be met by borrowed money. The result was an increase in the Debt, funded and unfunded. The right hon. Gentleman estimated, in his Budget last April, that he would pay off in the current year, by means of that Sinking Fund, £684,747. He would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman whether he would not apply that money to meet part of his deficit, seeing that he must borrow so much the more if he were going to keep the Fund up. Of course, if the operation of the Sinking Fund were a continuous one, with a definite object to be attained in a definite time, it might be worth while not, even temporarily, to hinder its progress. But as this was not the case, and as the proposition simply was to provide so much surplus each year in order to pay off a certain amount of Debt, it seemed to him, when no such surplus was provided, an illusory and useless operation to continue it. Without expressing any definite opinion, he would merely suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it would not be a wise thing to suspend the action of the Sinking Fund for the current year, at all events until they saw what their prospects wore?


suggested to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he should put into the financial accounts every year a statement showing by whom these Exchequer Bonds and Bills were hold. He could tell him frankly that, by allowing the very large amount of unfunded Debt to exist without making the public acquainted with the way in which it was held, he had done himself much harm, as one of their ablest financiers, and lowered the national credit, because the public was not acquainted with the fact that these Bonds and Bills were at present mainly in the hands of the Commissioners of the National Debt and the Bank. They amounted to £14,500,000, leaving about £5,000,000 only in the form of Treasury Bills in the hands of the public. But, as nobody knew where they were, it was assumed that all were mainly in the hands of the public; and until they had heard the Statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it was generally assumed that this kind of indebtedness, known as the Floating Debt, must end in the issue of Consuls, and with this notion the rise in price had been checked of this kind of securities. If the right hon. Gentleman would publish the statement to which he had referred, it would do much to insure that steadiness in the Money Market which was so essential. With regard to the plea urged for delaying the Budget till after the close of the year, he very much regretted the assigned cause being the change that had taken place of late years in the mode of collecting the Revenue from the Income and Property Tax. Appeals of the strongest character were made to the late Chancellor of the Exchequer not to do it, but in vain; and then appeals were made to the late Prime Minister, but he did not feel himself justified in interfering to stop the unwise project of his Chancellor of the Exchequer. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman had, he thought, some right to urge that the mode of collecting this Revenue by which the larger portion of this tax was collected in the last quarter of the year, had placed them in their present position of being unable till the year closed of dealing with the Estimates for the year ensuing. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would deal with the deficiency in a bold and statesmanlike manner. Within one year this Floating Debt had increased by £7,000,000. It was not safe to allow of further increase, and it would be preferable to reduce the amount. He hoped, if necessary, he would ask not only for 1d. but 2d. more on the Income Tax, and that he would not any longer run the great danger of leaving this heavy burden of a dangerous kind of Debt hanging over them.


said, he should like to know how this money was to be raised. He hoped it would not be carried beyond next year, and that the matter would be dealt with in the Budget.


said, the money would be raised by Exchequer Bonds, which would only be current for a year; and when he brought in the Budget he would make a statement concerning the manner of providing for them.

Vote agreed, to.

(2.) £1,500,000, War in South Africa (Vote of Credit).


said, he merely rose to protest against the Vote of this sum of money. Of course, he was aware that no protest of his would have the slightest effect; but he felt, on the other hand, that he would not be discharging the duty he owed to himself and his constituents if he did not protest against this most unjust and flagitious war. They had deliberately invaded a country inhabited by people who had done them no harm, and they had, for several years, deliberately prepared this invasion. It had been the policy of Her Majesty's Government to provoke this war, in order that it might annex portions of the territory of these Zulus. At the time of the annexation of the Transvaal this tendency of theirs was pointed out, and it was shown clearly, and proved, as far as anything could be proved, that if the Transvaal were annexed the next step, must be the annexation of a portion of the lands of the enemy. Of course, the Colonial Governor was carefully instructed as to his duties, as to how he was to get up this little war, and the name of humanity was put to shame by the proceedings of the Government. Then, after the way had been carefully prepared, and after excuses had been carefully got ready, troops were sent into the country, and these people were attacked. He knew that the disaster which had recently befallen the troops would compel the re-instatement of the military position; and, so far as that went, he supposed nobody would object to that. But he did not apprehend, from the temper he had recently seen displayed by the people of this country, that the Government would be satisfied with the recovery of the military position. On the contrary, he supposed the Government would proceed to carry out their original intentions with regard to attacking the country. Of course, it was now clear that the panic and the alarm sedulously got up when the news first arrived of the massacre of a battalion of the 24th, and that Natal was in danger, were utterly groundless, and that the Forces on the spot were perfectly capable of defending the Colony against any attack from the Zulus. The resistance of Lieutenants Bromhead and Chard, at the head of only 80 men, after they had had time to entrench themselves in a very slight and scanty manner, showed that the Zulus were perfectly incapable of conducting an offensive campaign against our troops. These enormous preparations, and the dispatch of these thousands of men, meant neither more nor less than a premeditated determination to annex that country, as the Transvaal had already been annexed. He supposed that there would be no quarter given to these savages, as, in accordance with their savage nature, they had given none; that the sword would go amongst thorn, and that their villages would be burned, as they had burned the villages of the unfortunate people in Afghanistan. These poor people had displayed instincts which, in other nations, were supposed to indicate heroism, for they had endeavoured to defend their country against the attacks of foreigners and strangers. He would not go through the form of dividing the House; but he would again protest against the application of this money to what he was sure would be a war of annexation and extermination.


said, he could not allow one charge brought by the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell) against Her Majesty's troops to pass unanswered. The hon. Member had said that no doubt their troops in South Africa would have received orders that no quarter should be given; but that was very far from being the case, as would be seen from the examination of a document already published, but which had not, as yet, been laid upon the Table of the House. The document to which he (Sir John Hay) alluded was an order of the late Lieutenant Governor at the Cape, Sir Arthur Cunynghame, and it contained the most positive instructions, not only to British troops, but to the ordinary Native levies, both to give quarter, and, if possible, to make prisoners in battle, instead of the course suggested as likely to be pursued by the officers and men of Her Majesty's Army by the hon. Member who had just sat down. He (Sir John Hay) could not have imagined that any hon. Member would have expressed such an opinion at once to the House, the Committee, and the country. That suggestion was entirely unfounded, and one which it would be seen could not possibly be carried into effect. The hon. Member had further said that Her Majesty's Government had conceived this scheme of spoliation and war; but he (Sir John Hay) believed that the South African War had come upon them as a matter of great surprise. If the hon. Member would read the despatches and Blue Book, it would be found that there was not a single instance of any order from Her Majesty's Government to carry the war into the Zulu country. On the contrary, so far from there existing any desire to carry fire and sword into that country, the arbitration which had been held, under that distinguished Governor, Sir Bartle Frere, had resulted in the arrangement that a very considerable portion of territory, which had been in dispute, should be conveyed back to the Zulus. Pending the further opportunity of discussing the question of the war, he thought that the study of the publications he had referred to was desirable, as they certainly did not bear out the statements of the hon. Member for Meath.


said, he thought it undesirable that any debate should be taken upon the causes of the war at that moment; but he could not help expressing his surprise that a Vote of such enormous importance should be submitted to the House without any explanation or statement whatever on the part of the Government. The £1,500,000 just asked for was but for two months' expenses of a war which might attain a great magnitude. [THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: No, no!] It was for expenses up to the 31st of March; it was a Vote for beginning a war, the end of which they did not see. But whether the inception of the war were just or unjust, it was a fact, and must be carried to a conclusion —namely, the entire disarming of the Potentate with whom it was being waged. A great distinction was to be drawn between wars of such different characters as the late Kaffir War, which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had called the Transkei War, and the present Zulu War. His impression and experience was, that when they had districts of savage and unruly tribes, wholly surrounded by British territory, the best course was to take them in hand, conquer, and bring them entirely under British control. In that view he considered that the Kaffir War might be a good job; and if the expense was not excessive, he might not object to the result, on the express condition that henceforward the Cape Colony should undertake the wars within its own borders, and that Kaffraria should be treated as part of the Cape Colony which should bear the cost of its own defence. On the other hand, the Zulu War was one of a totally different character. In that case they were not forced by circumstances to attempt the conquest of a bit of territory, but were undertaking the conquest of a great Kingdom upon the borders of our Colony, beyond which extended the whole Continent of Africa, with its enormous population. They were, consequently, brought face to face with the great question— were they to be forced to go on more and more into that great Dominion in Africa against their will, just as they were formerly forced to go into the great Dominion of India? He felt surprise and regret that it had been found necessary to employ only their finest regiments in the present somewhat ignoble war against savages, and that no assistance had been derived from the Indian Army. The Native Indian soldiers were, in his opinion, admirably well fitted for the kind of work now on hand in South Africa. If, instead of making an unfortunate demonstration at Malta and Cyprus, and allowing their Representative in India to entangle his troops in Afghanistan, Her Majesty's Government had been able to move a brigade or division of their best Indian troops into Africa, the war might have been carried on and concluded without that destruction of the power and sinew of the country, which he knew very well had resulted, and must result, from what he must call this ignoble war. He was not sanguine that the people at the Cape would be willing to undertake the responsibility of government with respect to the Zulus by consenting to federation when the war was over, for it was their opinion that they had already enough to do within their own borders. He did not think they would be willing to relieve us of the expense and responsibility of future wars in the interior of South Africa. They had a large Native population to deal with, whilst they were separated at present by British Colonies, and the Orange Free State, from places in which they had no concern. If the Cape Colony would not, the Colonies of Natal and the Transvaal could not undertake to deal in a fitting manner with the Native African population, especially now that they were supplied with arms from the Portuguese Coast—they were without the resources needful for the prosecution of great wars. But while these Colonies were not able to carry on war on their own account, they had, on the other hand, enormous temptations to get the British Government to carry it on for them. The present war would be enormously profitable to the people of Natal. Sir Arthur Cunynghame's Book showed this. He had seen lately that the carriage of 1 cwt. of goods from Durban to the capital of Natal had run up from 2s. 6d. to 15s. 6d. He noticed in the Estimate that there was only £200,000 for the cost of Naval transport, while £1,200,000 was devoted to the military charges, almost the whole of which would go into the pockets of the Colonists, who had the greatest inducements to promote war for the sake of the profit accruing to them. Another reason why the Colonists were inclined to war was, that they were habitually wont to carry it on in the form of a cattle raid; and during the first 10 days of the present Zulu War the troops were engaged in collecting many thousand head of cattle from the peaceful villages, which they afterwards divided among themselves in the name of loot. There was another important point about which he would say a few words, and that was the land system now prevailing in South Africa, which gave another and very strong inducement to the Colonies to engage in war. He asked hon. Members to compare the present Colonial land system with the wise policy pursued in the United States, where the lands were reserved in the power of the Government as a means of forming new Colonies. Of all the monopolists of land, he was quite sure that the South African Colonists were the greatest. And it was their habit not only to divide the whole land which they could appropriate, but to encroach upon the land of their neighbours. Hon. Members might observe that these Colonists had a habit of dealing in what they called farms; but the term had a very different meaning in South Africa to what it had here; for there a farm consisted of at least 6,000 acres—indeed, farms out there might reach a maximum of more than 20,000 acres. Such were the farms in the Transvaal, where every boy who attained the age of 16 years was entitled to one of 6,000 acres and upwards. Sir Arthur Cunynghame told them that the demand for farms was such that the authorities of the Transvaal were obliged to appropriate their neighbours land in order to distribute it among the rising population. The farms, of course, could not be cultivated by boys of 16, and the consequence was that they were sold for a song, and got into the hands of monopolists, who left none for new Colonists. He was not prepared to say that it might not be a wise and merciful policy to establish their rule over greater regions in South Africa; but that they should not leave it in the power of the Colonists to job away the land. He asked the other day a gentleman travelling who came from the Cape — "Why they did not get more Colonists in South Africa?" And the reply was—"The real fact is that we have no land to offer them; it has all been jobbed away." He (Sir George Campbell) impressed on Her Majesty's Government the advantage of carrying out the wise policy of the United States of reserving the land in the power of the Central Government, and not letting it fall into the hands of jobbing Colonists. By those means they might be able to settle a Colonial population, and so free themselves from the great burden of future wars. It appeared to him that if we must advance in South Africa, one of two policies must be followed— either the government of the country under a despotic system, like that of India, or the establishment of free Colonies, which might be capable of relieving the Home Government by taking upon themselves their own burdens. There was a good deal to be said in favour of the acquisition of land in South Africa. If this were fairly dealt with, it would become an admirable outlet for the younger sons and brothers of the upper and middle classes in this country, for whom it was sometimes difficult to make provision, and who were not prepared to do that which must be done by those who wished to succeed in America—namely, to work with their own hands. They might have the assistance of Native labour.


rose to Order. He could not see that the land question had anything to do with the Motion before the Committee.


would not trouble the Committee longer. When the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Assheton) called him to Order, he was just coming to the end of his speech. He implored Her Majesty's Government to look the question in the face, and feel that they had part in a great war—he would not add of conquest and annexation. He should be happy if the question were dealt with in a large and serious spirit, and the land question made the means of colonization and improvement, instead of jobbery and profit.


said, he would not attempt to follow the lion. Member who had just sat down (Sir George Campbell), as it required a much cleverer man than himself (Sir Henry Holland) to see any connection between the subjects introduced by the hon. Member and that before the Committee. The institutions of the United States of America on the land question had nothing whatever to do with the question under discussion; but in listening to the hon. Gentleman when he was showing us how to govern Zululand, he was struck with the truth of the old advice "to hatch your eggs before you nurse your chickens." He (Sir Henry Holland), however, rose to correct the statement of the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell), who said that this country had annexed the Transvaal with a view to the subsequent annexation of Zululand. Nothing was more contrary than this to the view of the Government. The Transvaal was annexed because the Dutch were in constant collision with the Zulus, from which resulted danger to the peace, lives, and property of our Colonists. In April, 1877, after the annexation, we sent to Cetewayo to inform him that in the case of any aggression having been made on his territory we were prepared to have the whole question considered, and the question of disputed territory properly arbitrated upon. This proposition was agreed to, and very able and, experienced men were sent to examine thoroughly the question of disputed territory. An award was made, by which we were enabled to hand over to the Zulus a large portion of territory unfairly annexed by the Boers. He (Sir Henry Holland) had, therefore, the right to say that the observation of the hon. Member for Meath as to our reasons for the annexation of the Transvaal was certainly without foundation.


would be glad if Her Majesty's Government would state, by way of explanation, to the House what had become of that vast amount of warlike stores prepared last year in view of another war. Of the £3,000,000 voted last year, the sum of £987,500 was spent upon two items under this head. He wished to know why the shot and ammunition, the appliances and warlike stores were not available for the purposes of the war in South Africa? He thought the House was entitled to a statement, showing how the Supplies granted last year were disposed of, and trusted that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, or the noble Lord the Surveyor General of Ordnance (Lord Eustace Cecil), would favour them with an explanation.


said, that the hon. and gallant Member who had just sat down (Sir Alexander Gordon) had urged the Government to give an explanation of the expenditure of Supplies voted last year. He felt bound to support him in that request. He only wished to add, that he failed to see why the Government had not employed Indian troops in the South African War, as they had recently done in the Mediterranean and at Cyprus. Whether the policy of the Government was right or wrong was an important question; but the present was not the proper time for discussing it. It appeared to him that the House required much fuller particulars in order to be able to form a correct opinion of the war now being waged, and, therefore, that discussion should be delayed until such particulars had been received. He thought that the urgency of the case did not allow of contention in the matter of granting the money asked for; and his only reason for rising was to say that the agreement to the Vote by hon. Members on this side of the House must not be taken as an approval of the general policy of Her Majesty's Government in South Africa. So far as he was able to judge from the information before the House, he thought that Government were not justified in embarking in these wars. As to what fell from the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Stamford (Sir John Hay), he wished to observe that the Zulus appeared to have been unfairly treated in the matter of their award. It had been agreed that the lands, about which the dispute arose, should be restored to them; but it appeared that, in direct opposition to this, we had allowed the Boers to remain in occupation of them.


quite agreed with the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell), who had objected altogether to this Vote. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Stamford (Sir John Hay) had stated that they were much indebted to Sir Bartle Frere for his services in South Africa; but in his (Mr. Macdonald's) opinion, they were only indebted to him for having incurred an expenditure which required this Vote of Credit to meet it. He considered that if Sir Bartle Frere had not been there, they should not now be embroiled in this war. He felt bound to enter his protest against it, and regretted exceedingly that the hon. Member for Meath did not press for a division in the matter. If he might be allowed to make the remark, in reply to the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), who had said that the Government should follow the example of America in the matter of public lands in South Africa, he should say that it would be a baneful day for England when she decided to enter upon such a course. How did they find it in that country? The poor had 160 acres each out West, if they chose to go and select 1he same and pay taxes upon it. The great Railroad Corporations of the United States had gone to the Legislature and got over 200,000,000 of acres by a system of jobbery unequalled in any country on the face of the earth. He hoped that, whatever might be done in the matter of public lands in Africa when acquired, at least one example would be avoided, and that was that of the United States. The disposal of those lands had been a greater scandal than any other public matter in that country.


said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer seemed not quite to understand the Question which he had put to him. His Question was as to the amount of money in successive years which had been voted for war in Africa.


intimated that he had not understood the hon. Member's Question in that way.


entirely agreed with the words that had fallen from the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn); but still it seemed to him that hon. Members must decide for themselves whether this was or was not an unavoidable war. It was certain that during the last few years too much assistance had been rendered to Colonists by Her Majesty's Government. He held that the war was entirely unnecessary, as the Colonies in South Africa ought to defend themselves. He could not understand how the Votes that had been given had been spent or accounted for. In 1876–7, £170,000 was voted by this House for South Africa; in 1877–8, £208,000; in 1878–9, £428,000 —of course, that was connected with the affair in the Transvaal. Now, in 1879–80, a Vote was required for £642,000; so that it had gradually increased during the last few years from an almost nominal sum to the present amount of more than £500,000, to conduct a war in a Colony in which it was an acknowledged fact that a war was more expensive than in any other. They had derived no benefit from these wars. They had increased their territory, and that was all. They had little interest in things as they were; but now they hoped to improve the condition of the Natives, not by example of self-government, but by enjoining upon the neighbouring States the necessity of leaving the Natives out in their policy of annexation and aggrandizement, and by those means they hoped eventually to reach the centre of Africa. And, above all, the Government had been asked to commence the system of carrying the legions of India to protect their territories and extend their annexations over every barbarian tribe. He had listened with great attention to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell); but he failed to hear him say that he hoped this war would prove of benefit to the Natives. He trusted that the matter would be ventilated thoroughly, and that before long they would be able to enter upon a minute discussion with reference to it, and that they would be supplied by Government with Returns of men and money that had been sent to Africa during the last 10 years. He feared, however, that they would find that they had received nothing in return.


said, that beyond question the Vote would be accepted by the House, although, no doubt, on a future occasion, the policy of the war would have to be fully discussed. It would be some time before they would be in possession of sufficiently full information to be able to discuss that question thoroughly in all its bearings. But he rose to call attention particularly to a question which occurred to him when the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his Statement before they went into Committee, and which was to be reserved until the discussion on the Vote. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that last Session a sum of £340,000 was voted for operations in South Africa, £40,000 of which would be required for the Navy. But, in addition to this £340,000, £400,000 had been previously spent— in fact, to a great extent, in the financial year 1877–8; and this the Chancellor of the Exchequer only knew by the drafts maturing on the Treasury Chest. The Chancellor of the Exchequer last August warned them that probably it would be found necessary to take a Vote to place this matter in a right position. He (Mr. Childers) wished to point out that thus a very large expenditure had been going on without any Supplementary Estimate, although subsequent expenditure of the same character had been the subject of an Estimate voted six months ago. He thought that no one would deny that such a financial arrangement was very unsatisfactory. He did not wish to blame the Government; but he thought that it was a bad precedent to take Votes in such a manner. What, however, he asked especially was this —as the £1,500,000 which they were now asked to vote was for the expenditure of the Zulu War, or South African transactions, beginning last October —was it expected that this sum would cover the entire expenditure up to 31st March, which had been incurred either in this country or in South Africa? In other words, whether the amount covered the total expenditure to 31st March; or only those drafts which had up to this time been presented against the Treasury Chest?


said, he had some real difficulty in answering the question. He thought it would be understood, with reference to last year, that, in the first place, the Government had had no information beforehand for the year ending 31st March, 1878. But inasmuch as an extraordinary expenditure had been going on, it was certain that, sooner or later, an amount would be required to adjust the account of the Treasury Chest from which sums had been drawn. But that amount could only be ascertained when the Government were in possession of full information. At the time he was speaking—at the beginning of August—it was thought that the amount required would be the £300,000 for the expenditure of the Army, and £40,000 for the Navy, and the Government anticipated a further charge for the year 1878–9. A saving had been effected on the several Votes in the Estimate; but what had been expended over the amount saved would require to be voted. He was unable to say what was the amount of actual expenditure; but the War Office had given the Government an approximate account of what had been spent since October, and they estimated the amount to 31st March at £1,000,000. The Admiralty, however, who were able to calculate with greater precision than the War Office authorities, had named £200,000 as the amount they would require. The Government had considered that another £300,000 would be sufficient—probably more than sufficient—to cover contingencies, and on that account they had now asked for a Vote of £1,500,000 to coverall outlay to 31st March next.


asked whether the Government had taken any steps to ascertain the actual expenditure going on in South Africa?


replied, that a financial officer had been sent out to take charge of the matter.


Sir, we find ourselves once again sitting in Committee of the Whole House to vote a war subsidy. I grievously fear that so long as the present occupants of the Treasury Bench retain their places they are determined the Temple of Janus shall not be closed. In the Reading Room of this House, a couple of years ago, Her Majesty's Ministers were kind enough to send up, for the convenience of the Members of the House of Commons, and to hang on the walls, maps of our latest acquisitions and our seats of war. We had maps of Cyprus and the harbours of Famagousta and Limasol, and all the rest of it. Then came the seat of war in Afghanistan, which covered all that remained of the wall; and the other day, when the clerks of the Intelligence Department came to fix up our newest seat of war, it was discovered that we had on hand so many seats of war, that there was no room for any more maps on the wall. Sir, if this sort of thing is to go on, where is it to end? I will tell you, at any rate, that it will not end so long as Her Majesty's Government can have money voted in this House on the excuse that, because we are involved in war, money must be voted to carry it on. It is always too late, or too soon to protest. For my part, I do emphatically protest against what seems to have become a System of plunging us into wars from which our consciences revolt, and then, because the butcher's bill is incurred, we are told that Government must needs have money, that it would be unpatriotic to refuse it. I object to being placed in any such predicament by the conduct of the Government. I know there are hon. Members round about me who will say—"We are as much opposed to this Zulu War as any man can be. We believe it to be an unjust war; but will vote for the money because the country is now engaged in the struggle." I can quite recognize that that is a ground which conscientious men of this House may take up; far be it from me to quarrel with them; but, for my part, I say my conscience recoils from having act, hand, or part in voting a sixpence for a war which I challenge any man in or out of this House to defend on the principles of public equity, if he will only suppose that it is Russia that is waging the war, and not England. I say that no man in this House will dare to apply to such a war the principles which you apply towards elsewhere. If this dusky savage, spear in hand, set forth to defend his home against the Frank, the Russian, or the German, English pens would trace his record of glory, and English poets would sing his fame. We have been reminded of the days of Pizarro, when men, savages perhaps, withstood the civilizing tyrant that came upon their shores. And when we stand in Pizarro's place in South Africa to-day, is no voice to be raised in England better worthy of being heard than mine to say—"I believe this to be an iniquitous and a wicked war. It is one in which I cannot sympathize. It is against all my convictions of right and wrong?" And at what an hour do we find ourselves so far gone in this onward march of aggression—this lust of territory, this greed of annexation? It is at the very moment that you have been contesting the right of a Christian Power to redress Christian wrongs in the East of Europe. You call Russia an aggressive Power, and treat us to homilies on the iniquity of her pushing her frontiers forward. Was ever hypocrisy so gigantic as yours? To call Russia aggressive, when you are reaching out your hands to grasp move territory in every region of the globe by every violation of right. You annex the Transvaal, and it is incontestible that you led this man to believe that you favoured his claims to this strip of land. The British authorities induced him to believe that they would recognize his claim; but no sooner had you annexed the Transvaal, than you turn round upon him in conduct which he calls—and I say justly calls—something very like perfidy. Now, that you are the Rulers of the Transvaal, you say he shall not have what you led him to expect. I wonder where slumbers the public morality of England? I look in vain in the public Press of this country for that voice which ought to speak out, when we read the Ultimatum—that impudent and insolent missive of Sir Bartle Frere. I know of nothing more audacious than the document which was sent to provoke this war; and now the land is agitated from end to end by the story of the terrible disaster in Zulu, and money is being sought here—not for defence of our South African Possessions, but in order to wage a war of vengeance on Cetewayo, and carry sword and flame into his territory. I pay my tribute—and it is all the more honest because it comes from me—to the gallantry and heroism of those soldiers who fell in support of their colours. They served their Queen and their colours well; but while I admire them, I more admire the men, savages though they be, who fell, with their feet on their native soil, defending themselves against invaders. My morality is not cribbed, cabined, and confined by geographical lines. I mete out to the savage the same measure of justice which I do to the more civilized races. Although a man is a savage, we ought not to deny him the degree of praise which is due to his patriotism, as praise was paid to Caractacus and Kosciusko. This Prince stood within his own territories, and he only did what Queen Elizabeth did in the case of the Spanish Armada, when it threatened English soil. He called his forces around him, as she did hers, and said—"I will make the invader bite the dust," and he did so. England, with the £1,500,000 you vote to-night, will doubtless succeed in a war of revenge upon this wretched Zulu Prince. £1,500,000! Why, if the Government had asked for £5,000,000, they would have got it. For my part, if I saw Cetewayo pushing his advantage so far as to invade the territories which do not belong to him, and to endanger the safety of peaceful settlers who are outside his own land, I could sympathize with your military movements; but in so far as he stands in the position of one who is resisting invasion, and is on his own soil, defending his own people and country, for my part I cannot avoid confessing— whatever consequences may follow from my avowing it—that I feel for the savage man, and say he ought to have from us the same admiration that the writers of history have taught us to pay to the men who resisted the Spanish invaders in Central America. I prize very highly the advantages of civilization, and the blessings of civil and religious liberty; but never shall a vote of mine be given to encourage unjust invasion and conquest on the pretext of pushing civilization, or to carry the Bible with the sword, so that rapacity may call its crimes the diffusion of Christianity. No, Sir; I will give no vote to extend this already swollen Empire at the cost of the liberty of these Natives, howsoever dark their skins may be. I protest here to-night against further annexation. I believe if the Representatives of Ireland, or the people of Ireland, had a voice in this question, they would say that the British Empire is wide enough, great enough, grand enough, powerful enough, and rich enough, without sending an Ultimatum to take a rood of ground from Cetewayo. We might leave this dusky savage to himself, and the British ensign would float as proudly from the turrets of Windsor Castle as it does now. Nay: much better and happier might we all be by giving up these aggressive enterprises and costly schemes of aggrandizement. While trade is languishing, and industries are perishing in our midst, and the cry of absolute destitution comes to us from the Midland Counties, £1,500,000 is being asked for from us in order to carry out this most iniquitous war. But all vainly I speak. To-night this money will be voted. I know that well; but I know what verdict will yet be passed on this episode of British history. When the present feeling of resentment has passed away—when passion has cooled, and reason returned—there will arise some Alison, or some Macaulay, or some Lecky, to trace this chapter. They will say it was a reproach to the British Parliament that it had not patriotism enough, orind ependence enough, to resist this application for money to spend in a war which is as unjust, as wicked, and as wanton, as that which George III. waged—thankGod, he waged in vain!—against the liberty-loving people of the American Colonies.


said, he had listened with a great deal of sympathy to the eloquent words which had fallen from the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan). He (Mr. Chamberlain) had studied the Papers which had been presented to the House with reference to the unfortunate war in which they found themselves engaged, and he must say that, as far as those Papers went—as far as the information went which had at present been afforded to Members of the House—he believed that nothing had been produced which justified the war. It appeared to be a war as iniquitous and as unjust as any with which this country had ever been engaged. He, however, felt they were bound, in fairness to the Government, and still more in fairness to those persons in authority who were incriminated in the proceedings, to wait until they had all the information which their friends considered necessary to their defence. They had been assured by the Government that there remained to be produced Papers of the greatest importance; and if he had rightly understood the answer of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Papers which were to be published on Monday would contain all that the Government considered to be essential to the proper consideration of the causes of the war. [Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH: I did not say so.] He had understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that there would be further Papers which would have reference to the disaster at Isandula; but that as regarded the causes of the war they should have Papers on Monday that would enable them to come to a right conclusion.


So far as I have them, the hon. Member will have all such Papers by Monday; but there may be other despatches on the way that may be of great importance.


said, all he wished to urge was this—That until the Government could tell them that they were in possession of all essential documents, it was undesirable to discuss this matter in detail; but as soon as they were in possession of those documents, unless the further documents which were to be produced threw an entirely new light upon the subject, he should be pre pared to condemn, as absolutely and as entirely as did his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Louth, the proceedings which, unfortunately, had led the country into war. In his comprehension that was the view of the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W Dilke), who had put a Resolution upon the Paper, which, as he understood, the hon. Baronet was determined to discuss as soon as the full information was before them. Under these circumstances, there only remained the question as to what was to be done with reference to the Vote they were asked to pass that night. It appeared to him that it was one of the misfortunes of all inequitable proceeding's, by whomsoever initiated, that while it was very easy to drag this country into war, or to allow it to drift into war, it was not easy to stand still after the mischief had been done. At the present time the result of the action in South Africa had been to place in danger a large number of British subjects, and possibly also the British troops who had been sent over to their assistance; and he did not see how, while holding the Government to their common responsibility in this matter, they could refuse them the resources which they believed to be necessary, not, as he understood, to prosecute a war of revenge, but in order to secure life and property in the Colony which was menaced. Under those circumstances he was prepared to support the Vote, while he reserved absolutely his opinion as to the causes of the war for discussion at another period. Now he was on the subject, he should like to ask a Question of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. When the right hon. Gentleman first introduced the Vote in the House, he understood him to say that the previous war in which they were engaged—the war in Transkei—had finished in July, 1878. He should like to know whether he correctly understood the right hon. Gentleman, and in what sense he meant to represent the war in Transkei as having been entirely concluded? As far as he (Mr. Chamberlain) could judge from the Papers presented to Parliament, he thought that war was only standing over until they had had time to deal with Cetewayo; and at the present moment he understood that one of the dangers with which the Colonies in South Africa were menaced was the possibility that Secoceni might take advantage of our being engaged with Cetewayo and might invade the Transvaal territory. There appeared no certainty whatever that they might not have two wars on their hands at the same time; and he did not understand the confidence with which the Chancellor of the Exchequer told them that the £400,000 which they voted last Session would be sufficient to pay the whole expenses of the war, which, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, had been concluded.


said, the war in the Transkei was concluded last July. That district was on the borders of Cape Colony, many hundreds of miles from the points at which their troops were now engaged, and still further from Secoceni's country. It was perfectly true that the war with Secoceni might, in a certain sense, be said to stand over; but as he believed this Chief to be but a vassal of Cetewayo's, it might be reasonably hoped that when the Zulu War was concluded little more would be heard of him.


understood that the £1,500,000, if voted at all, was voted for ever; and that it was not a Vote of Credit, detailed Estimates for which would be afterwards furnished. There appeared to be a great discrepancy between the charge for Naval transport and the Military charges; for while the sum of £200,000 only was asked for the former, the latter amounted to the enormous sum of £1,300,000. As the 8,000 or 9,000 men now being sent to the Cape could not arrive till the end of March, it was clear that hardly a farthing of military expense could be incurred on their account; and it appeared that by far the greater part of the £1,300,000 must have been expended in South Africa upon the small force now there. He must express a hope that the Head of the Department concerned would afford some idea of the mode in which the sum in question had been applied.


said, he had received no reply to his inquiry about the stores provided last year. He wished to know why the large amount of stores, prepared last year for a war which did not take place, were not now available for the war in which they were engaged? He must beg to have a reply from some Member of the Government.


said, with regard to the Question of the hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeenshire (Sir Alexander Gordon), as to the amount for warlike stores voted last year, he must ask the Committee to consider the very difficult services their Army had to perform, and the stations which were in question when the Vote was granted. He was speaking without figures and from recollection; but the Committee was, perhaps, aware that undoubtedly a very large amount had been spent for warlike stores—torpedoes, heavy guns, field guns, and stores of that kind. Their present requirements, it must be borne in mind, were of a very special character. For instance, they had sent out guns of the very lightest class that could be manufactured; not 9 or 10-pounders, but guns mounted on special carriages. There were other matters connected with the transport which would also be of very special requirements. He would further remind the Committee that the troops were at great distances from each other in a very difficult country. Again, there were certain questions on which the Government had thought it wise to send out a financial officer to settle accounts, and endeavour to get an audit on the spot, which, although rough-and-ready, would be the best obtainable. Many of the advances which had been made, so far as his opinion went, came out of the Military Chest. His right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had promised that a careful account should be rendered to Parliament; and he (Colonel Stanley) could say that he desired nothing more earnestly than that every information should be laid before the Committee concerning the items in question at the earliest opportunity.


said, he thought that, as the sum of £1,500,000 was going to be voted, some view should be taken of the position in which they stood. For the second time they had been brought into war, and asked to vote money for that war, while they were told, if any question was raised as regarded the propriety of voting the money, that their course was unpatriotic, and against the interests of the Colony and country, which were at stake. Such an answer was very unsatisfactory to the people, and was utterly inconsistent with, and opposed to, the Constitution of this country, no matter what might be found in black-letter books on the subject. That they should be hurried into war, and have no discretion left to them but to pay when asked, was a condition of things which could not last very long. Somebody must be fixed with the blame of the Zulu War. The organs of the Government among the Press had been saying for some time that Sir Bartle Frere was the cause of the war. If that was the case, he had committed a great crime, and it should not go unpunished. If the Government made out a case, and threw it upon his shoulders, he must bear the charge; if they did not try to prevent the war, the country would revenge itself upon the Government; but if, on the other hand, Sir Bartle Frere had been made the scapegoat, justly or unjustly, the matter would not be allowed to pass. He would, if nobody else did, place a Notice of impeachment of the Government on the Paper.


said, it had been stated that the Government were not to blame for this war. Then, if that was the case, and if Sir Bartle Frere was the cause of it, why did they not recall him? It was as clear as noon-day that either the Government at the Cape or at home were to blame for the war. It appeared to him that the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Holland) was on the horns of a dilemma. He had also raised another point— namely, that arbitration was held, the result of which was in favour of the Zulu King. They decided, it would appear, that the King was perfectly in the right, but that the other party should keep the property. With regard to the mode of carrying on the war, they had recent experience of English warfare in Afghanistan, where the English troops massacred in cold blood a number of prisoners bound and unarmed. That was not, in his opinion, in accordance with the rules of civilized warfare; and he feared they might have further instances of this system in the present war.


inquired whether it would not be possible to have the casualties among the rank and file telegraphed in future, in the case of disaster, as well as of the officers?


said, that as long ago as last summer he had addressed a despatch to the Governors of the South African Colonies, requesting full information in the case of any casualties, and a fortnight ago he had repeated that request to Sir Bartle Frere. He would add one word with regard to what had passed that evening. He had listened to the speeches of several hon. Members, most of whom had said that they would not discuss the policy and causes of the war, and had then entered into an expression of opinion upon one or more points of the subject. There were, no doubt, great differences of opinion thereon; but it seemed to him that the right view had been expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers), when he said that the present was not the time for discussion upon the causes of the war. He would, therefore, only say that he wished to enter his protest against such language as had been made use of by the hon. and learned Member for Louth, who had applied the words "wicked" and "audacious" to the Ultimatum sent to Cetewayo by Sir Bartle Frere. On behalf of Sir Bartle Frere, he must ask even those who were most disposed to blame him, at any rate to hear what he had to say for himself before they condemned him.


said, that if the war was wicked and impious, as he believed it to be, they ought to divide upon it. No Party combination ought to prevent them from expressing their opinion on the money Vote. What would be the use of expressing an opinion on the policy of a war after the money was voted?

Vote agreed to.

House resumed.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow;

Committee to sit again To-morrow.

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