§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
rose to call attention to the occupation of Cyprus. He said, that various reasons had been given for the occupation. One 1510 was that the Island had been occupied as "a strong place of arms, so that there present in our force we might support the Sultan." But the force had disappeared, melting away before our eyes. Another explanation declared that Cyprus had been occupied as a sort of model farm—as an example to the Turks of what might be done in Asia Minor. But we had bound ourselves by the terms of a wretched Convention, by which the Cypriotes continued to be Turkish subjects, and by which we were for ever to wring £115,000 a-year out of the unhappy people for the benefit of the Constantinople Pashas, in addition to what was needed for the government of the Island. We had become tax-gatherers for the Turk. It was from the second, or model-farm point of view, that he wished to ask certain questions as to the changes which had been introduced into the government of the Island by Sir Garnet Wolseley, who was eating out his heart upon this modern Elba, when he was greatly wanted elsewhere. The questions which he had indicated in his Notice had a somewhat startling look. "Forced labour," "flogging," "exclusion of newspapers," "refusal to allow barristers to plead," and "non-recognition of the mother tongue of the Cypriotes"—these were singular reforms, and did not seem likely to give the best example to the Turks. Yet he should read to the House letters, the charges made in which ought to be investigated, from leading native inhabitants, in which these were the statements made. He would say but little about the health question, the harbour question, or the military and financial situation of the Island. He would leave these points to others. They would have an opportunity of dealing with the military question in an unusual place, for there was a regiment of troops for Cyprus borne upon the Civil Service Estimates for the coming year. The regiment had been put there to evade the plain words of an Act of Parliament. There was an Act of Parliament to forbid our enlisting foreigners. The Cypriotes were foreigners, by the admission of the Lord Chancellor and of the Law Officers of the Crown. So the difficulty was to be got over, in a manner worthy of the present Government, by putting them into the Civil Service Estimates, although it was admitted that their duties would 1511 be military. As for the harbour, a Blue Book had been issued, which was meant to be, not blue, but rose in colour. But it made no reference to cost. When he looked at a similar Blue Book as to Alderney, and saw what had been said about that "natural harbour," and then considered how much had been spent before that harbour had been given up as a bad job, he could not have pleasant anticipations about Famagousta. The Admiralty Blue Book itself declared that in 1878 every inhabitant of Famagousta had had the fever, that one-half had ophthalmia, and one-sixth were blind; so Famagousta was not, on the whole, an encouraging place, though, doubtless, there was room for improvement. It was true that Fortunatus had been born at Famagousta, and had returned and been buried there in his own chapel; but his purse and his cap had been lost, for the inhabitants no longer ever got their wish, or else they would not go blind, and their wealth was certainly no longer inexhaustible. As for the Famagousta fever, the hon. Baronet the Member for North Durham (Sir George Elliot) had a plan for pumping the rivers round to their sources and back again to make them run, a plan which he had explained to the House, but not made clear. That the health of the troops in the Island was in a most terrible condition, The Lancet had conclusively shown. As for the finance, the First Lord of the Admiralty had naively said that "Cyprus had not been obtained in order to make a good investment." No; for, in spite of frightful taxes, such were the hard conditions of the Convention to which we had bound ourselves, that we were raising only £170,000 a-year, out of which we paid £115,000 to the Turk, leaving only between £50,000 and £60,000 for all the costs of government. This was swallowed up by the civil administration, leaving the British taxpayer to provide for military and naval costs, barracks, harbour, and also for roads, except so far as the abominable institution of forced labour might be brought to our aid. Now, with regard to this forced labour. An Ordinance lately published by our Government in Cyprus enacted that—Every Cypriote is required to serve, either consecutively or at intervals, one month in the year for public works.1512 That Ordinance ought to be withdrawn. The Under Secretary of State had said, on that day last week, that that Ordinance had been "enacted by the Legislative Assembly." There was no such Body. If he meant the Council, that Body consisted of seven nominees of a paternal, foreign, and despotic Government, of whom five were foreigners, and only two were Cypriotes—one of the two a Turk, and one a Greek. On the night after that on which the Under Secretary had admitted that forced labour had been introduced into Cyprus he had had the pleasure of hearing the Governor of Fiji denounce the system of forced labour, which, on his arrival at Fiji, he had abolished, and denounce it on the ground that, even if honestly executed, and not enforced by flogging, it was a monstrous tax, for it fell with crushing force on some, while others escaped scot free. A writer in Thursday's Times had declared that forced labour existed in Canada. Everybody knew that the corvée existed in Canada, as it existed in the Channel Islands, in Switzerland, and in many other free countries. This was work by regular roster on the village road, and for the village. If that were forced labour, then we had forced labour in London, because all of us were bound to sweep the snow from our doors. But it was ludicrous to compare the corvée to the forced labour in Cyprus. The fact was that the system of forced labour which we had introduced into Cyprus was similar to that which we had denounced and opposed in Egypt—forced labour on public works at the decree of the State. A pretty institution this for our model farm, which was to teach the Turks how to govern Asia Minor! Colonel Warren, the Commissioner at Limasol, had already built a khan by forced labour, and also, he believed, a slaughterhouse; and he was about to construct dykes and aqueducts by forced labour. The Under Secretary said that this was but a modification of the custom of the Turk. Were we to adopt all the Turkish customs? Besides forced labour, there was Negro domestic slavery still existing on the Island, in the Turkish families under the shadow of our Flag. Was that to be continued? The fact that the custom was a modification of the Turkish custom, if it had been true, would not have made it better. But was it true? He held in his hand a 1513 letter from Mr. Jassonides, a Cypriote Undergraduate at Christchurch, who wrote—To the best of my knowledge and recollection, there has been no instance these 30 years of forced labour in Cyprus by the Turks. I know, by hearsay only, that such a practice existed during the Age of Terror—1820–1830—and is quoted now as a custom of bye-gone, barbarous ages.This law, which had become obsolete under the Turks, it had been left for the English Government to revive. The pressed people were to be paid, they were told by the Under Secretary. But Mr. Jassonides wrote to the effect that some of the people "compelled to labour have not received a farthing—they are starving." The incredible statement was made in Cyprus that the Edict had been sent to England for approval, and that it had received the sanction of the English Government. Mr. Jassonides added—"Corporal punishment has been enjoined against Greek natives." That statement as to flogging did not stand alone. He held in his hand a letter from Mr. Palæologos, President of the Greek Club at Limasol, who said—Torture is now in use, which, in the darkest lime of Turkish mis-rule, was not inflicted.The Archbishop of Citium also wrote—The Turkish Zaptiehs commit more violence than they did formerly.He knew Sir Garnet Wolseley to be a humane and an enlightened man; and he could only suppose that, having no funds from which to pay disinterested and competent persons to carry on his government in the interior, he was forced to rely upon the services of cruel and corrupt Turkish police officials. Besides the letters he had mentioned from Mr. Jassonides, Mr. Palæologos, and from the Bishop of Citium, he had one from Mr. Oratis, of the firm of Violara and Oratis, of Alexandria, who was President of the famous Cypriote Fraternity in Egypt. That gentleman wrote—The inhabitants of Cyprus are right in complaining against the present Administration. England, as you know, has not condescended to consider the natives of Cyprus as English subjects. Hence all Cypriotes are required to pay to the English authorities, on leaving Cyprus, 11s. each for a passavante. When they come to a Turkish country, as here to Egypt, they are imprisoned by the police, and they are not let free till they present two Turkish subjects as 1514 their sureties, and pay 10 francs again each, because the Harbour-Master will not accept the English passavante. It is quite impossible for me to describe to you the hatred of the English authorities against the Christians in Cyprus.Mr. Oratis then goes on to make specific complaints, of which the chief are—The rejection of the election of Theokaris Mitzi in Larnaca, only because he was a Greek;" "the rejection of the Greek language, and order to the Archbishops and Bishops to write in Turkish;" and, "the prohibition on the introduction of Greek Newspapers into Cyprus.Mr. Palæologos writes upon these points—Our poor country is in a far more wretched state than when under direct Turkish rule. The present Administration, by measures inconceivably Turkish and anti-Christian, are endeavouring to force the most numerous portion of the population to leave the Island. Our Bishop has been forbidden to write in Greek, and is ordered to write in Turkish all applications he has to make to the Council. Our Bishop answers bravely that he knows no other tongue but his mother-tongue, which even the Turkish Government considered the official language of the ecclesiastical authorities. Taxes, which have been paid up to March, have been exacted a second time, although the people possess documents to prove that they have paid them.The Bishop of Citium wrote—You probably know that I was delighted at first at the change of Administration in the country. In a short time I found, however, from those who represent among us the noble and generous English nation, that we were in great error in the hopes we entertained. They are not ashamed to openly declare that the present Administration is not a new one, but a continuation of the former—that is, of Turkish mis-rule, and that they are the clerks of Turkey. Their acts, unfortunately, prove that they speak the truth. Our peasants are brought down in manacles without the slightest cause, although all the Pashas we had in Cyprus confessed to me that they are the most peaceful and law-abiding people in all Turkey. The sentences of the Turkish Cadi, the well-known Bekkir Effendi, are even more unjust than formerly; hut they are pitilessly executed by the Commissioner when they are pronounced against Christians.Mr. Jassonides wrote that those of the Greek residents who could afford it would leave the Island. He went on to say that the Greeks complained of the exclusive recognition of the Turkish language as the official one. No application written in Greek was accepted, even from villages exclusively Greek.And it is hopeless for poor people speaking only Greek—which is the general tongue of the Island, and spoken even by the Turks—to have any redress for wrong done to them. The Archbishop, and the Bishop of Citium, had their 1515 letters on important questions rejected, simply because they were written in Greek. Violence and crimes committed by the Turks are left unpunished, and the slightest offence of a Christian is visited with heavy fine and imprisonment. Priests are manacled and imprisoned in the fortress for debt, and forced to work publicly in the market, which affords the highest satisfaction to the fanaticism of the Turks. All the rayahs have been compelled to pay twice over the licence tax—once to the Turkish Government, up to March, 1879, and once to the new Government. The rent tax has also been increased, and very heavy fines imposed. The Customs duties are increased, and have led to a general depression of trade in Cyprus.Mr. Jassonides went on to make a definite charge, as to which he would ask for a definite reply. He said that—One Greek gentleman has been imprisoned, and fined £25, for having said that the Greek community in Cyprus had expected that the arrival of the British would have improved the position of the Greeks in the Island; but that, as a fact, it had made it worse.Was that statement correct? Mr. Jassonides went on—I have no doubt that such an abuse of power as that exhibited in Cyprus, if the people were not peaceful and law-abiding—as they are—would create a revolt. But the timid Greeks are not like their warlike brothers, the Cretans; they prefer to leave the Island and abandon their property.The Constitution of the new Council in Cyprus was also a matter of complaint. The Council under Turkish rule had consisted of nine persons, of whom seven had been natives of the Island, and four of these seven were elected by the natives. The new Council consisted of seven persons, none of whom were elected, and only two of whom were natives of the Island—one a Greek, and one a Turk. In other words, under direct Turkish rule, Cyprus possessed the management of her own affairs. The Government of Cyprus was now an iron despotism, already detested by the population. Further complaints concerned the opening of private letters and the interception of telegrams. He had also to complain of the refusal to allow barristers to plead, which had been brought before the House by some of his hon. and learned Friends. Up to the present time, the order had been maintained that no barrister could be allowed to address a Cyprus Bench without permission from the Turkish Minister of Justice at Constantinople. That permission had not been granted, and he 1516 understood that it would continue to be refused. He could, of his own knowledge, make a further complaint as to the administration of the law in Cyprus, for he was in a position to state positively that a priest under sentence of imprisonment for debt at Limasol was, and long had been, confined in the same room with a convicted murderer. The priest's debt consisted in the non-payment of a tax which he had never paid under Turkish rule. So much for our model farm, which was to be an example to the Turks in Asia Minor! It was admitted that the great need in Cyprus was capital; but how could they expect people to invest capital in the Island until they had some security for the administration of good law by competent Judges? The present system was one of drum-head court martial by English naval and military officers, varied by decisions of corrupt Turkish cadis based upon pretended Turkish law. During the days of direct Turkish rule there were two securities for justice which had been now removed. As regarded cases between natives, there was a possibility of appeal, which had been abolished; and foreigners, by the Capitulations, had been subject only to the jurisdiction of their Consuls. These were the words in the Treaties by which that privilege was given—Even when they may have committed some offence they shall not be arrested and put in prison by the local authorities; but they shall be tried by their Minister or Consul, following the usage observed towards other Franks.Now, we had claimed the right to set aside these Treaties as regarded Cyprus, although the Cyprians continued to be Turkish subjects and Cyprus to be Turkish soil, without the consent of the other Frankish Powers. In December he had pointed out that an American citizen had, contrary to the Capitulations, been arrested in Cyprus by the British authorities for an offence against Turkish law, had been tried by a Turkish cadi and a British assessor, and had been punished. He wished to know whether the American Government had acquiesced in those proceedings? During the present month he had called the attention of the House to an official Note, published in the autumn of last year, from the office of the Assistant Commissioner of Larnaca, to the following effect:— 1517His Excellency the High Commissioner desires that the business of the Court should be conducted without recognizing any Consular jurisdiction. If cases occur in which Consular jurisdiction is involved, the parties must he informed that the authority of foreign Consuls in these matters cannot be allowed to interpose itself, and the ordinary procedure of the Court is that to which all persons in the Island must submit.Now, "the ordinary procedure" meant Turkish procedure—the law of the Koran administered without appeal. Looking to the extraordinary terms of this order, he had asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it had been published, and "whether the Frankish Powers entitled to exercise Consular jurisdiction in Cyprus under the Capitulations had agreed to waive their rights?" The Under Secretary of State had replied that the Powers had not waived their rights, and that the High Commissioner had not reported the issue of any such notice. He wished to ask whether the High Commissioner had now reported his notice? The Under Secretary of State had also told him that "communications had passed between some of the Powers and Her Majesty's Government as to the most convenient way of dealing with the question of foreign jurisdiction in Cyprus." He knew that a complaint had been made by Italy to our Ambassador at Rome, on or about the 27th of December, and he believed that a complaint had been made by the United States. He wished to know if any settlement of the subject had been arrived at? An Ordinance as to jurisdiction in Cyprus had been drafted here, and sent out there; altered there, and sent back again; and he believed it had now been sent out a second time. The House ought to see that Ordinance. He wished to ask the Government to give the House any information in their possession as to forced labour and flogging; as to taxation in Cyprus and fines; as to the case of the Greek merchant said to have been fined and imprisoned for the mere expression of an opinion which seemed to be universal in the Island; as to the exclusion of Greek newspapers; as to the refusal to allow barristers to plead; and as to the position of the negotiations upon the subject of the Capitulations.
§ SIR JULIAN GOLDSMID
said, he also desired to ask a few questions on some points which had not been re- 1518 ferred to by his hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea. In the first place, he wished to know why the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs should take charge of an Island which was governed by a British General and garrisoned by a number of British troops? He wanted to know what precedent there was for such a course on the part of the Foreign Office? The country had been told, upon the authority of the Prime Minister, that Cyprus was to be occupied as a great military and naval station. Well, if it was to be a great military and naval station, the Island ought surely to be either under the War Office or the Admiralty. They had been distinctly told that it was not a Colony; and that would be the reason given, he supposed, for its not being placed under the control of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Why had the Government adopted the unusual course which they were following? Cyprus had been said by the Prime Minister to be one of the brightest gems in the Crown of England; but he (Sir Julian Goldsmid) was afraid it was a gem which had been borrowed from the pawnbroker, and one which the British Crown had no right to wear. It had yet to be explained how a property, which we were administering on behalf of the Turks, could be "a bright gem of the British Crown." He wished also to refer to the arrangements that were made by the Government with regard to Cyprus under the Berlin Treaty. The country was told that, under the Convention, Cyprus would be occupied by us to counterbalance the possession by Russia of Kars or Batoum or one of them. It was his opinion that the Government had never explained fully their conduct with regard to Batoum. Lord Beaconsfield had stated that Great Britain would protest against the cession of Batoum to Russia; and yet Russia knew well, if she had not been directly informed by the Foreign Office, that we did not mean to do more than protest. Therefore, as we professed to go to the Berlin Congress without having any personal interest to serve, it looked ill for the Prime Minister to enter that Assembly with a copy of this Convention in his pocket, and to say—"We have made an arrangement elsewhere in consequence of your occupying Batoum." If Her Majesty's Government deemed the 1519 possession of Cyprus to be so valuable, why did they not make arrangements with Turkey for buying it outright? Such a course would have been cheaper and more creditable to us, and there would have been no occasion for differences with foreign countries. There would have been no cause for those reflections in foreign papers, in the truth of which lay their sting, that to serve our own purposes we were endeavouring to set aside the Treaty stipulations with regard to the Capitulations because they were inconvenient to us. They had been told that the Island was to become a great naval and military station. He denied that it would be either. 10,000 troops had been sent there, and, after many of them had died or been invalided, nearly the whole 10,000 had to be removed. Last year, as he had previously unsuccessfully endeavoured to land in the Island, he asked the Secretary to the Admiralty whether it had a port or not? His hon. Friend said he was informed by the Admiralty that there were two or three very good roadsteads. But at Larnaca, one of the roadsteads referred to, he believed it would be impossible to make a port. Famagousta was at one period a magnificent port; but harbours which were fine ones in the times of the Venetian triremes could obviously not be considered fine ones now. At present we possessed in Cyprus neither a military station nor a place where our Fleets could ride at anchor with safety. Consequently it was obvious that if Cyprus was to become a naval station, we should have to go to great expense to make a suitable harbour at Famagousta; and when made it would be of little use for Cyprus is as far from the Dardanelles as Malta, and consequently the latter station, where we have everything ready to hand, is at least just as good a base of operations for checking a Russian fleet. To say that the occupation of Cyprus was necessary in order to protect a possible railway across Asia Minor was perfectly futile; for he ventured to assert that such a railway would not be constructed in the lifetime of any person now living. The occupation was also equally useless for the purpose of protecting our interest in the Suez Canal. The Prime Minister, who was the licensed romancer of a prosaic Ministry, stated at the Lord Mayor's banquet, on the 9th of Novem- 1520 ber last, that Cyprus was a strong place of arms, and that the Government had fixed on it after having examined all the other Islands in the East of the Mediterranean. He challenged the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to produce the Papers on which that statement was founded. From their classical studies, hon. Members might be inclined to think that Mitylene would have been much better suited for the purpose. They had occupied the Island of Cyprus for a purpose which could not be accomplished. They were to administer it on behalf of a country whose government had been hitherto miserable, and would, he was afraid, continue to be equally bad. They were getting the discredit of this precarious occupation. He appealed to the Government whether they had not found difficulties arising because of the false position in which they were placed as the lieutenants of the Turkish Government in Cyprus? His hon. Friend had pointed out the difficulty with Italy in regard to jurisdiction. He was informed that there existed a German difficulty also. Her Majesty's Government were not afraid of Italy, but they were afraid of Germany; and they might be preparing for themselves in that quarter a difficulty which would not be easily surmounted. He should like to be informed whether the edicts or decrees of the Council had not to be submitted to the Porte for approval in those cases where they were in opposition to existing Turkish law? If they had no right to enforce them without first obtaining the sanction of the Turkish Government, it would be most humiliating to us. They ought not to have sent one of their best Generals to Cyprus, in order to place him in the position of a Turkish Pasha. With regard to the financial question, the Government had taken credit to themselves because they were going to pay the cost of the civil administration of the Island out of the surplus that remained after the payment of the tribute to the Sultan; but he contended that they deserved no credit, because from this account they omitted all the main items of their expenditure. He believed that the maintenance of Cyprus would involve an enormous cost to this country. It was the duty of the Government to get out of the awkward position into which they had fallen. Either an 1521 arrangement should be come to with Turkey, whereby the Island could be administered according to British practices, or the Island should be given up altogether. The real state of the case was this. They had undertaken to govern an Island on behalf of Turkey; they had doubtful authority there; and the occupation had obviously not accomplished the objects for which it was said to be undertaken. They ought, therefore, either to simplify the position in the way he had indicated, or retire from it absolutely.
§ MR. BOURKE
said, he was very glad the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea had had an opportunity of bringing that question before the House. He was glad of it for two reasons—first, because he was anxious that a short statement should be made on that subject; and, in the second place—what was far more important—because he quite agreed with the hon. Baronet that many of the observations he had made required strict investigation. All he could say for the Government was that they should receive all the investigation which the hon. Baronet could wish; and in corroboration of that he might add, that whenever they had any complaints of the nature of these brought before the House by the hon. Baronet they had sent them to Sir Garnet Wolseley for explanation. From the evidence they possessed respecting some of the subjects to which those statements related, he made bold to aver that no person would be more astonished than Sir Garnet Wolseley when he read the interesting, and, he might say the alarming, statements of the hon. Baronet. Something had been said by the hon. Baronet with respect to a regiment sent out to Cyprus whose expenses had been included in the Civil Service instead of in the War Estimates. The Government had, in fact, been accused of having evaded the law by that transaction. Now, he understood the Secretary of State for War to have explained the circumstances of that matter the other night; and if his own explanation was not quite satisfactory, he felt sure that his right hon. And gallant Friend would be ready to explain it more fully later in the present discussion. But the reason for what had been done was very simple. It was not their wish to evade the law, but to comply with it. If that charge had been put into the Army Estimates, 1522 it would have been against the law. He could not see that they should blame themselves for endeavouring to follow the law in that respect. They had, in the most open manner, placed the charge in the Civil Service Estimates; and, considering the criticism and discussion to which those Estimates were always subject in that House, it was not likely that the Government would have placed it there if they had desired to evade the law. Then the hon. Baronet stated that in Cyprus the taxes were raised all round. That was not the fact. There had been an equalization of some small taxes; but no new taxes had been raised in the Island.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
explained that he had not stated as from himself that the taxes had been raised; but had asked a question in consequence of what he had heard about the subject.
§ MR. BOURKE
said, that whether the matter was mentioned by the hon. Baronet on his own authority or otherwise, all he could say was, it would receive from the Government exactly the same attention. The hon. Baronet had devoted the greater portion of his speech—as was natural, considering what his information had been—to the question of forced labour. He would himself call it statute labour; but it was called forced labour, he supposed, by Gentlemen who wished to make a charge against the Government. He would state exactly how that question of forced labour really stood. The right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) said the other day that it was new, as far as he was aware, that any labour of that kind, or any statute of that kind existed in our Colonies. All he could state was that the principle of forced labour for the repair of public roads had been applied from early times in British North America and the West Indian Colonies under the name of statute labour. Acts and Ordinances of that description were in force in Nova Scotia and various other Colonies, which he could furnish to the right hon. Member for Bradford if he desired to have them. He had not contradicted the right hon. Gentleman at the time, because the right hon. Gentleman had had considerable official experience; and he, therefore, felt crushed at the moment, when it was suggested that no such thing was to be found in the Colonies. But the 1523 right hon. Gentleman was entirely in error. Almost the first thing the Government had heard of this statute-law labour in Cyprus was contained in a telegram from Sir Garnet Wolseley, asking that there should be legislation on the subject. His Excellency said—The law to compel villages and districts to furnish labourers at a fixed rate of 1s. a-day for the construction of roads or other public works is in accordance with immemorial custom in Cyprus and generally throughout the Ottoman territory.And here he might remark that he was inclined to take Sir Garnet Wolseley's evidence that that was in accordance with immemorial custom in Cyprus, rather than the opinion of any gentleman who had been in communication with the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea. But, at the same time, they would send that communication to Sir Garnet Wolseley and ascertain whether the fact was so or not beyond dispute. The telegram went on to say—It was the law in Zante when we occupied that Island, and to its existence the people there owe the admirable roads and public works constructed by Sir Charles Napier while he administered that Island under the High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands. It is not intended to put it in force when sufficient labour can be obtained in the open market; and as all employed under its provisions will receive a fair rate of wages, it cannot be considered as in any way oppressive. Great care will be taken that it is not enforced at periods of the year, or, indeed, in any way, that would impede or interfere with the ordinary farming operations.When that despatch was received by the Foreign Secretary in last October, his noble Friend sent Sir Garnet Wolseley this reply—You may requisition labour either under old law or a new one, as you please. We think punishment in default should be a fine on villages, not on individuals.So that anything in the shape of personal coercion was not only not intended or supposed by his noble Friend, but absolutely forbidden by him the moment he heard of a requisition on the subject. There could be no doubt as to the opinion of Lord Salisbury on the matter; and it naturally came into his noble Friend's mind, because, as he afterwards mentioned to Sir Garnet Wolseley, taking into consideration the proximity of Cyprus to Egypt and that they had set their faces in the strongest manner against forced labour in Egypt, and also against the Slave Trade in those countries, 1524 and as, moreover, they were now negotiating a Turkish Convention for the abolition of the Slave Trade, his noble Friend immediately saw that if anything in the nature of forced labour was imposed by personal coercion it might give rise to a suspicion that the Government would countenance practices which were really repugnant to it. Therefore, his noble Friend gave the most emphatic orders on the subject. Another reason which actuated his noble Friend all through in dealing with the question was that if such labour were to be enforced by personal coercion, through the medium of officers not very often of a superior class, it would, of course, be liable to abuse. The despatch went out, and an Ordinance was passed; and when it came home it was found to contain a clause permitting the penalty of imprisonment to be passed on any person who left his work. That principle, it was felt by the Government, would infringe the one they had thus laid down for their guidance, and it would therefore be repealed. The date was 17th January.
§ MR. BOURKE
replied that it was the 25th October. The position in which the matter stood at present was this—The head of every village was required to furnish yearly a statement as to the number of persons who would be available for statute labour if their services should be required, and the result was that once in three years those persons were required to give their labour in roadmaking in their particular districts. That was the effect of the Order, and when it came to this country in the shape in which it would be eventually put in force it would be laid on the Table of the House. Knowing that the House would be anxious to obtain as much information as possible, he bad telegraphed to Sir Garnet Wolseley on Saturday, and asked him whether the forced labour Ordinance referred to in his telegram had been put in force in any district; and in his reply, received just before the meeting of the House, Sir Garnet stated that the Ordinance referred to had been most successfully applied in a small way at Limasol, where a military road was being made. He should infer from that telegram that the Order had only been put 1525 into force in that particular district; but if be was wrong on the point he should be able to correct the mistake hereafter. That was all the information he was in a position to give the hon. Baronet at the present moment. The hon. Baronet had further asked him whether fines had been inflicted in certain cases. He did not understand what kind of fines the hon. Baronet alluded to. He did not know of any authority which existed on the Island which allowed fines to be inflicted except those fixed by law; and certainly the fines referred to by the hon. Baronet had not been enforced. In reply to another question of the hon. Baronet, he could not believe that any Greek merchant had been imprisoned because he had expressed disappointment at the small improvement in the government of the Island which had been effected by its transference to British rule. But Her Majesty's Government would make inquiries on the point. With regard to the case of the English barristers who desired to practise in the inferior Courts of the Island, he could only give the same answer as he had given the other day, and that was that English barristers did not seem to Sir Garnet Wolseley to be of much assistance where the Judges were two Greeks and two Turks. The hon. Baronet mentioned some cases of flogging; but Her Majesty's Government knew of no case of flogging; and he did not believe that Sir Garnet Wolseley would have permitted it to have happened without having inflicted the most severe punishment upon the Zaptieh who had been guilty of such conduct. He was sure also that the Commissioners and sub-Commissioners appointed by Sir Garnet Wolseley would take the same view of the matter. If such a charge were well founded, it was a pity that the matter was not brought under the notice of Sir Garnet Wolseley at the time. As far as he was aware, there was no law in Cyprus which permitted of flogging, and if there was he was quite certain that it had never been put in force. An Ordinance had been passed with regard to the military police, giving power to Sir Garnet Wolseley to inflict lashes on the military police who were proved guilty of insubordination and mutiny. The hon. Baronet also mentioned the case of a Greek newspaper having been excluded from 1526 the Island. He had not heard of any such case, and did not believe that any such exclusion had occurred; because, some months ago, Sir Garnet Wolseley had mentioned an article that appeared in some of the London journals to the effect that newspapers had been stopped at the Post Office, and had obtained a Report from the Postmaster on the subject. That Report stated that only two newspapers had been sent back, as the parties to whom they were addressed had not desired to renew their subscriptions. In. reference to the subject of the alleged manacling and imprisoning of priests in the Island, he had to say that he did not believe the statement. It was clear, however, that the ecclesiastical authorities in Cyprus bad hitherto believed that they were above the law, instead of being bound to obey it, and in one case a priest had been imprisoned for a few days because he refused to pay the taxes which he justly owed, and because Sir Garnet Wolseley was anxious to show that nobody was above the law, no matter what his ecclesiastical status was. He had received a private letter from Sir Garnet Wolseley on this subject to the following effect:—My first object since I landed has been to do justice to all men, no matter what their faith may be. And, in order to show that I have throughout endeavoured to check illegal exactions on the part of those in office here—in fact, to purify the system of official administration and to reform the judicial departments—I may mention that one tax collector has been imprisoned for robbing; a dignitary of the Greek Church has been imprisoned for a few days for refusing to pay the tithes he owed the Government; Mr. Cesnola was tried for breaking the law in order to show the people that Europeans should abide by the law as well as Cypriotes; and I have dismissed from office men whom I found to be unworthy or dishonest. I have, in carrying out this policy, endeavoured to strike at the top of the tree, and, in doing so, have shown the people that I am no respecter of persons. For the first time, I imagine, in the Turkish history of Cyprus, the peasants have been protected against the cruel exactions of the tithe farmers. I believe the results of this policy to have been successful, and that the character of the English nation stands high here in consequence. This has been effected without any new laws, and in strict accordance with the Turkish written law. The Native Judges now feel that they are secure in their places as long as they act justly; but they and the people also know that if they are found tripping they will be severely dealt with.The hon. Baronet appeared to have made one error in his speech. He seemed to think that everybody in the 1527 Island was now subject to Turkish law. But this was not the case. All Cypriots were subject to Turkish law; but no person was subject to it who would have been exempt from the Turkish jurisdiction under the Capitulations. These persons were now dealt with under the Ordinance of Her Majesty's Government to which he had referred. The whole subject of the judicature in Cyprus was, however, under the consideration of Her Majesty's Government, and would be dealt with by them, though it was a matter of great intricacy. When a system of judicature had been drawn up, it would apply not only to Cypriotes, as administered by two Greeks, two Turks, and one English assessor, under the old Turkish law, but also to those foreigners who were now excluded under the Capitulations. The hon. Baronet also mentioned the subject of passports, and referred to cases in which passports had been asked for by the Egyptian Government from Cypriotes coming from the Island into Egypt. He believed it was quite true that the Egyptian Government had asked for passports in these circumstances; but Her Majesty's Government had already communicated with Sir Garnet Wolseley on this subject, and arrangements were now being made with the Egyptian Government for doing away with passports in the case of Cypriotes going to Alexandria and other places in Egypt. The hon. Baronet had further stated that there was a minority of Christians in the Legislative Council.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, what he complained of was that there were only two Cypriotes out of seven on the Council.
§ MR. BOURKE
said, the Council consisted of three official members and three natives. Of the three natives one was a Turk, one a Cypriote, and one an Italian, who had been nearly all his life in the Island. This Legislative Council had been called into existence by Her Majesty's Government, and he was not aware that any charge had been brought against it in respect of its constitution. As to Negro slavery, he did not believe any such thing practically existed in Cyprus, and he was quite sure that if it did it would be very soon put an end to under British administration. They were now firmly determined to govern Cyprus. It was, 1528 of course, impossible to bring new laws into operation immediately. They were obliged at first to administer the law they found existing there at the time; and Sir Garnet Wolseley, and everybody else who had studied the subject, admitted that Turkish law was not bad in itself; but its vice arose from bad administration, from the corruption of those who administered it, and the weakness of the Government. The opinion of Sir Garnet Wolseley, and of everybody who had gone to Cyprus, was that the law in existence there was not the old Turkish law, but that it was framed upon the Code Napoléon, and they came to the conclusion that it was a very good law. With regard to the jurisdiction of the Courts over foreigners resident in the Island, he would remind the House that, in the Convention of the 4th of June, 1878, it was declared that—His Imperial Majesty the Sultan further consents to assign the Island of Cyprus to be occupied and administered by England.By the "Additional Article" of the 14th of August, it was furthermore declared that—His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, in assigning the Island of Cyprus to be occupied and administered by England, has thereby transferred to and vested in Her Majesty the Queen, fox the term of the occupation, and no longer, full powers for making laws and Conventions for the government of the Island in Her Majesty's name, and for the regulation of its commercial and Consular relations and affairs free from the Porte's control.These stipulations gave the fullest power to Her Majesty's Government over all the inhabitants of Cyprus, whatever their nationality; and hon. Members would recollect that in the Foreign Jurisdiction Act it was provided that the Queen might exercise any power or jurisdiction which Her Majesty might have in any country or place out of Her dominionsin the same and as ample a manner as if Her Majesty had acquired such power or jurisdiction by the cession of conquest of territory.It was, therefore, in the power of Her Majesty to establish in Cyprus a form of government analogous to those which had hitherto been established in British Colonies acquired by cession or conquest which did not possess representative institutions, and which were usually termed "Crown Colonies." In accordance with 1529 these powers, therefore, an Order in Council was issued, providing for the establishment of Executive and Legislative Councils for Cyprus. It would, therefore, be seen that when Her Majesty's Government determined temporarily to maintain the existing tribunals in Cyprus, and when they passed the Ordinance he had referred to, they were acting within their powers. It was their intention that that Ordinance should apply to foreigners who had been hitherto exempt from Turkish rule. The hon. Baronet had asked several questions as to the disputes which he assumed they had had with foreign Powers, and he had also mentioned the subject more than once in the House. Of course, the matter had been carefully considered by the Government, who had decided that all who had been under the authority of the Turkish Government should, in future, be subject to the authority of the Representatives of Her Majesty, both Judicial and Executive.
§ MR. BOURKE
The hon. Gentleman seemed rather anxious that they should have difficulties with foreign Governments. Questions had been asked on the subject; but there was no reason to suppose that any foreign Government would make objections. However, as to the Capitulations proper, they all knew that they contained a vast number of judicial regulations which no Christian State could admit for a moment. They had been called into existence on account of the weakness and corruption of the Turkish Government; but when the evils that they were designed to counteract were removed, the very raison d'étre of the Capitulations ceased, and foreign Governments would not wish to supersede the administration of British law. The hon. Baronet had also asked questions as to the Revenue of the Island. He (Mr. Bourke) would not pledge himself by any statement of figures. That Revenue was derived chiefly from Customs, Excise, Tithes, Capitation Grants, and other minor sources. With regard to the tithes and the method of their collection, they were bought in March by speculators and merchants, who gave in return bonds payable in six months, and signed by the farmer himself and two sureties. 1530 The farmer watched the fields, and saw the corn cut and the grain stored in the thrashing places. Then came the transport of the tithe, with respect to which, and the labour compulsorily supplied for the purpose, considerable hardship was often inflicted. In the case of fruit and other perishable produce which could not be stored up, the tithe was usually commuted into money. As for the vines, they had often been the subject of dispute. The vineyards were visited in August by the tithe farmer, when their value was estimated, and the cultivator often submitted to exactions rather than delay the sale of the grapes. The natural consequence of that was that the cultivation of wines was very much reduced. It was clear that the result of the whole system was a great loss to the Revenue and the impoverishment of the Island. Production was checked, and at least two-thirds of the culturable area was unfilled. He need not dwell on the necessity of reform, or on the fact that the subject had demanded the most serious attention of Sir Garnet Wolseley. In future, he was glad to say, the tithes would be differently collected, and their value would be assessed by officials under Government supervision, so that when the tithe farmers were done away with there would be a more perfect land settlement, in character similar to our own. He might mention, in passing, that the triangulation of the Island was now complete, and that an efficient map of the whole country was being made. He next came to the Verghis, of which there were three classes—namely, the tax upon occupied houses and lands, the tax upon unoccupied houses and lands, and the tax on trades and professions. The village authorities prepared an annual statement designating the contribution required from each village, and the money was then levied according to the number of the houses and the means of the population, and forwarded to the treasury of the sandjak; but now, owing to the corruption of the collectors—corruption not unknown even under our rule in India—the system would be altered, and the collection would be made by officials under the supervision of the Government, with the assistance of the village councils. The Customs were very simple; it was a tariff of 8 per cent upon importation, and of 1 per cent export duty. Since our occupation of 1531 the Island the Customs had been more than doubled; and there was every reason to believe that, though less would probably be consumed in the next year than in the present, there would be no very material diminution of that very great increase. The export duty, he knew, sounded badly in the ears of the House, and he hoped that its repeal would give a fresh impetus to the trade of the Island. There was also a tax of 6d. per head on sheep, which were enumerated in March, and it would be the duty of the Government to see to the just collection of that tax. The monopoly of salt was more important, and had once yielded a large revenue; but on account of an injudicious increase of price, the supply had been diverted to Tunis and other places. Moreover, two or three years ago the excessive rains had inundated the salt lakes, and great damage had been done in consequence, so that not much money would be derived from that source in the present year. In fact, the Government, regarding all monopolies as undesirable, had determined not to renew the salt monopoly; and no money would, therefore, be spent in restoring the lakes. With regard to the expenditure of the current year, money had been spent on the Turkish Governor for part of the year, on the High Commissioner, the Financial and Judicial Commissioners, the District Commissioners, the Native and British Establishments, the Military Police, the Customs and Excise Establishments, and on Public Works. He might say that the estimates made some months ago by Mr. Kelner showed that, in all probability, there would be a fair surplus. He would not, however, quote the figures to the House, partly because the accounts were not yet quite complete, and partly because he could not be responsible for their absolute accuracy in every particular. The House, he might add, was well aware that under the provisions of the Anglo-Turkish Convention there were certain reservations made of land which belonged to the Porte. With regard to those lands, which were of considerable extent, the Government had been in negotiation with the Porte, and it was thought by Sir Garnet Wolseley that it would be extremely inconvenient that the Government should not possess the same rights over them as over other 1532 lands in the Island. Those negotiations had, he was happy to say, come to a conclusion, and an agreement had been entered into, by which all the rights of the Porte in those reserve lands had been given up to us just as fully as in the case of the other lands in the Island.
§ MR. BOURKE
No; the private lands of the Sultan, however, would be in the same position as those of private individuals. The consideration to be paid the Porte for—
§ MR. BOURKE
was just going to say that for those lands which they had now acquired they had given the Porto £5,000 a-year in perpetuity. When he said they should have a respectable surplus, he took that sum into consideration. As to future Expenditure and Revenue, he had every reason to believe that they would turn out to be more satisfactory than that of the current year. He was fortified in that conclusion by the fact that the estimates formed had turned out to be satisfactory so far as we had gone. After only nine months' experience, however, it was not thought desirable to make any great change in the taxes, or the sources from which they were derived; but the practical result of the steps which had been taken would be, it was hoped, considerably to increase the Revenue. The hon. Baronet (Sir Charles W. Dilke) seemed to think they would get into a terrible scrape with respect to public works, and would not be able to expend anything on roads. But, during the ensuing year, roads connecting the various towns of the Island would be commenced. The question of constructing railroads had also been under the consideration of the Government; but they had come to the conclusion that it would not be desirable to make them at present. He hoped, however, hon. Gentlemen opposite would not be disappointed if he stated he had reason to hope that railways would be made by means of private enter-prize. He might also mention that the question of planting had engaged the attention of the Government, inasmuch as the forests throughout the Island were in a lamentable state. The Eucalyptus had accordingly been planted, 1533 and a large quantity of wire fencing had been sent out to fence round the trees, of which he hoped there would be a large number in a few years, as they were likely to produce a very sensible effect on the health of the Island. A permanent forester would be engaged, and £3,000 would be taken for forests. Considering the great importance of facilitating communication, and the great impulse which a good system of roads would give to commerce and agriculture, Sir Garnet Wolseley had been authorized to commence the necessary works immediately, and to borrow for the purpose a sum of £28,000 in the event of there not being a sufficient surplus from the general Revenue. The Government, he might add, had laid down a rule that no more money was to be borrowed than the Revenue of the Island would bear the interest of in addition to annual instalments, which would discharge the principal. He would, in the next place, say a few words as to the administration of the affairs of the Island by the Foreign Office. Personally, he need hardly say, he should wish very much that the Foreign Office had nothing to do with it, inasmuch as it was likely to involve a considerable amount of trouble. The administration of the Island, however, it appeared to him, came peculiarly within the province of that Department of the Public Service. The negotiations which he had referred to had to be conducted with the Porte, as well as other negotiations with foreign Powers which the circumstances of the case had made necessary. It was, therefore, thought by the Government that a great deal of time would be lost if matters were to be referred to another Office. There were in the Foreign Office many gentlemen who were well acquainted with Colonial affairs; and he might mention, especially, that his noble Friend the Secretary of State had the benefit of the Colonial and legal experience of Sir Julian Paunceforte. With regard to other points which had been referred to, they were well worthy of investigation, and he did not think they could do better than send out the speech of the hon. Baronet to Sir Garnet Wolseley, who would no doubt read it with astonishment. He had now, he thought, given the House such information as would enable it to form an opinion 1534 on the question before it. He had no doubt that as time went on there would be improvement, and that our administration of the affairs of the Island would be an advantage to all people in that part of the world. They had been told, that they had taken over Cyprus in order to make it a "model farm," and show the whole of Asia Minor how such farms should be conducted. It was the old story of persons putting into the mouths of their opponents things they did not say; and he was not aware that any responsible Member of Her Majesty's Government had put that forward as a reason—though it might be one of the reasons—and he had no doubt they would be able to show a good example. The reason for the occupation of Cyprus was one of high policy, and was justified by the events which had arisen out of the Turko-Russian War. There could be no doubt that those events forced themselves upon the attention of Her Majesty's Government. They perceived that those events changed the relations of all the European Powers with Turkey. Those events made an enormous change in the power of Turkey. Therefore, considering those changes and the position of the Turkish Empire, it was absolutely necessary that Her Majesty's Government should, in view of future events, have at their command in that part of the world a place where a harbour could be made, [A laugh.] Well, he was not ashamed to say so. They wanted a harbour which would be a means of safety in case of the Suez Canal being threatened, and which could be the basis of future operations in case their communications with India were threatened. If it was true that the Ottoman Empire was to be overwhelmed, and in a few years to be no longer heard of or, seen, he should have thought that those who held that opinion would have been the very first to wish that improvement should be carried into those countries where they had always been so much interested. But that had not been the way in which their opponents had acted. They had magnified every single impediment—impediments which were, and must always be, necessary when a Government took possession of a new country. In this case, they much recollect a circumstance they never seemed to recollect, which was that the 1535 occupation of Cyprus had been taken with the virtual assent of every man in the Island, with the exception, perhaps, of a few Turkish officials; and, notwithstanding particular hardships that might have been suffered from the loss of ecclesiastical authority on the part of the privileged Christian hierarchy, yet he believed their rule was popular, and would continue to be so. He had no doubt that Cyprus would become a place of arms for England, and that Famagousta would become one of the finest harbours in the world; and these results could be obtained without any appreciable expense on the part of the Imperial Exchequer. All he could say, in sitting down, was this—that he believed it to be the opinion of Her Majesty's Government that, no matter how much they might be assailed and taunted with any petty failure, there was nothing to which exception might be taken in Cyprus which could not be accounted for by causes that were easily removable. Notwithstanding all taunts, Her Majesty's Government would continue to carry out the policy which was contained in the Anglo-Turkish Convention, which he believed in his heart would do much to increase the power of England, to promote liberty in the East, and to secure our position alike in Asia and in Europe.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State, in the course of his speech, had given a good deal of information—and he might say, interesting information—about the present position of Cyprus and the intentions of the Government, and had indulged in some rather sanguine expressions of trust as to what the future of Cyprus would be. In the few words which he (Mr. W. E. Forster) intended to offer to the House, he should not refer to that part of the hon. Gentleman's speech; but should confine himself to the answers which the hon. Gentleman had given to the different questions brought forward by the hon. Member for Chelsea. Those questions affected two subjects. First, the confusion— and, he confessed, what seemed to him the almost hopeless confusion—of law in Cyprus. He would not, however, dwell upon that. Other Members of the House were much better able to deal with that question. But to a layman it certainly did appear as though the confusion was hopeless, and that it was 1536 most difficult to find out whether justice prevailed, whether an attempt to administer justice was made in Cyprus upon Turkish law or upon British law, or upon Turkish law upon British principles, or upon British law upon Turkish principles. One difficulty—which was evidently a very great difficulty, and one which the Government ought to have foreseen when they took Cyprus—had not been at all removed by anything the hon. Gentleman had said. The present Government had added Cyprus to the rule of Her Majesty. Having made Her Empress of India, they had now made Her vice-reine of Cyprus; and, if the last title had any real meaning in it, it would be a very great difficulty for Her Majesty to administer law and justice and govern Cyprus in subordination to the Turkish Government; and until that position was put an end to, these difficulties would continue. The point upon which he wished to make a remark was really the nature of our present rule. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was supposed to have said they were about to convert Cyprus into a sort of model farm. At Birmingham and elsewhere, the right hon. Gentleman had pointed to the great advantage of our reign in Cyprus, and the importance of our setting a good example to the Turkish Government; and the right hon. Gentleman had spoken in sanguine terms of the improvements that were to follow the hoisting of the British flag. What he wanted to know was, how far they had succeeded in setting an example? Take the question of forced labour. No doubt they would have been in a far better position for discussing that question if the hon. Gentleman had allowed them to have the Ordinance before them; and he thought they had some right to complain that they had not got that Ordinance. A week ago it was asked for, and the hon. Gentleman gave an answer which he (Mr. W. E. Forster) certainly did not understand, and many other Members of the House were in the same difficulty. The hon. Gentleman said he could only give the Ordinance with other Ordinances. Now, it appeared to him (Mr. W. E. Forster), that the Ordinance was a thing by itself, and that the House might have had it before them—
§ MR. BOURKE
said, he had quite forgotten to mention this subject in his 1537 speech. When the hon. Member (Sir Charles W. Dilke) asked for the Ordinance, he (Mr. Bourke) promised that it should be laid on the Table; and he repeated again, that it would be produced when it had been received as altered by Sir Garnet Wolseley, in accordance with the instructions sent out to Sir Garnet by the Secretary of State. He wished it to be understood that, although he had promised the hon. Baronet to lay the Ordinance upon the Table, it could not be produced at the present moment.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the object of the House was to know what had been done by the British Government and Administration of Cyprus, and they ought to have been informed what the Ordinance in force was, and the actual Ordinance under which the people of Cyprus had to labour. There could be no question that there was such an Ordinance in force; and there was no reason why the Government should not have it laid before them. The Government might enter into any explanation they pleased; but the fact still remained that this Proclamation had been issued in Cyprus, and was still in force, and the Government might have allowed the House, in entering upon the discussion that night, to be informed of the exact state of the matter. His hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea had quoted what he believed to be the Proclamation which had been issued in Cyprus. It did not seem to him to be a matter on which it was likely there would be any great mistake. The words were these—and he read them again, because his hon. Friend had omitted two important lines at the beginning—Whereas, it was in use long ago that every Cypriot served the Government for a month in the year. Every Cypriot is required to serve either consecutively or at intervals one month at the public works, receiving Is. per diem.It might turn out that this Preamble was a mistake; but, if it was true, or anything like the truth, the House would see at once an enormous difference between it and an agreement for repairing the roads by what had been called forced labour throughout the Colonies. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State expressed surprise at his (Mr. W. E. Forster's) not having heard of this so-called forced labour in the Colonies. Now, he inquired about it at 1538 the Colonial Office afterwards, and got substantially the same answer from the permanent officials.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
could only say that the requirements in the Colonies did not mean forced labour.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he had asked more than one, and they were very important officials also. It was evidently not their impression that the two things were identical; and it was certainly his (Mr. W. E. Forster's) impression that to compare the two things together would be absolutely to mislead the House. It was useless to say that where everybody was free, and yet came to a mutual agreement to repair the roads by labour, it was such an act as that involved in such a Proclamation as he had read. In the case of Cyprus, his informant stated that forced labour was found to be such an exaction from the Turks, and so oppressive, that it was discontinued. It had now, however, been renewed by an edict establishing it all over the country; and, although there was payment for it, otherwise it was made even more onerous than it was before. Sir Garnet Wolseley had declared that it should be enforced by personal coercion; and he suspected that he would find it very difficult indeed to carry out his Proclamation without such personal coercion; and he should like to know, after all, what was the great difference between the Ordinance as Sir Garnet Wolseley proposed it and as Lord Salisbury intended to change it? The personal imprisonment of the individual was removed, and the penalty was to be a money fine on the village. But supposing the village could not pay the fine? Was a mere inability to pay it to be a sufficient excuse? He could not for a moment believe that there was not something in the nature of personal coercion behind all this, and that if it had to be enforced it would be by personal coercion. [Mr. BOURKE: No, no.] He (Mr. W. E. Forster) thought that if it were not so, the Proclamation would become a dead letter. The House, however, were in some difficulty in the matter, as they had not before them either the Ordinance itself nor 1539 the interesting Correspondence from which the hon. Gentleman had quoted. It seemed to him, however, that the system was condemned by a few words quoted from Sir Garnet Wolseley's despatch—It was not intended to put the system in force, if labour could be obtained in the open market.Well, why could not labour be obtained in the open market? There could only be one reason for it, and that was that the Government of Cyprus would not pay the market rate of labour. Now, he could not conceive that, if they wished to set an example of good government to Turkey, they could more surely do so than by acting with justice in the vital matter of the payment of wages, and not with injustice. If they could not get the labour in the open market, it was because they would not pay the market price for it; and if they insisted on getting labour at less than the market price, they would be setting an example to Turkey and to Egypt which would lead to the continuance of one of the greatest abuses in the East, and which had had a great deal to do in leading to the present state of things. He had fully expected that the hon. Gentleman would have told the House that Sir Garnet Wolseley had found a necessity for forced labour in the desirability of getting some works done quickly; and he could not but think that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer said anything in the course of the debate, he would not permit the Government to stand up in defence of this kind of labour. Was it worth while to keep up this system of forced labour? If the Government wanted a hint, he would give them one, not from his own intelligence, or from any one of his friends; but he would inform them what was done by a great Indian official in a very similar case. The late General John Jacob—the right hon. Gentleman knew very well what an able man General Jacob was—in receiving temporary charge of the Province of Scinde from Sir Bartle Frere, immediately issued the following Order, finding that forced labour was the visual method adopted for carrying on all public works:—Statute for forced labour is abolished. Every man is at perfect liberty to work when, where, and at what rates he pleases. Every Govern- 1540 ment servant hereafter guilty of compelling a person to labour on public or private works is liable to be dismissed from the Government service, and to legal prosecution. Every work, of whatever description, is to be performed by contract, or by payment of daily task wages, at the discretion or pleasure of the parties concerned. No person, henceforth, is to assume the right arbitrarily to name the rates at which labourers are to be paid, such rates to be by mutual consent and agreement between the parties concerned.If the right hon. Gentleman really wished to set a good example to Turkey and the East generally, it would be by carrying out such instructions as these, which were the principles of English administration and of English freedom; and not by discovering and making use of some old law which the Turks themselves did not venture to enforce, and then supporting it on the ground of what had been done by some villagers in Canada, when they found it easier to do things by labour than by payment of wages. There were one or two other things which he thought had hardly been fully answered. In the first place, in regard to the imprisonment of certain priests, he entirely agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea, that Sir Garnet Wolseley had done right in putting the priests under the common law of the country; but he thought that the law ought to be put in force with great care, and that it was unfortunate to see the priesthood imprisoned for non-payment of taxes in prison by the side of a murderer. As regarded slavery, he had been sorry to hear the remarks of the Under Secretary of State. He knew that the hon. Gentleman disliked slavery as much as he (Mr. W. E. Forster), and he had proved it by the good work he had already done in trying to put a stop to it. But he thought the hon. Gentleman showed an alarming amount of ignorance in regard to the practice in the Turkish States as to slavery—
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
asked what the position of the English Government was at this moment? They had come into possession of Cyprus, which up to that time had been a Turkish State, with Turkish habits and under Turkish authority—
§ MR. BOURKE
said, he knew very well that slavery existed in Turkey; but, in practice, he did not believe that slavery existed in Cyprus,
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he did not suppose that the hon. Gentleman was of opinion that slavery existed in Cyprus. When a Question was asked last year as to what the Government would do with regard to slavery, he remembered very well an answer being given by the Government to this effect— "You must not be in a hurry in this matter. We mean to put slavery down, but we want first to know what our position and powers are."[Mr. BOURKE: Exactly.] Surely they knew by this time what their power and position were; and why had they not issued an Ordinance declaring to the people of Cyprus that slavery would no longer be allowed there? He thought it would be found, on examination, that slavery did still exist. The writer of a letter, which had already been quoted, said—During six months' residence in Cyprus last autumn, I made inquiry respecting the existence of slavery, with the following result:—Every family of moderate means has in its household a black servant, who is held as a slave. Negresses are employed in the villages. I was told by a Greek gentleman, who could speak Turkish, that they were there as slaves. They are well treated, as domestic servants generally are.Under the circumstances, he (Mr. W. E. Forster) confessed his surprise that, while we had been in the Island so long, a more careful inquiry had not been made as to whether slavery existed or not; and that, having to deal with a country which had been under Turkish rule and Turkish authority, and acting under Turkish customs, an Ordinance had not been issued prohibiting slavery. He had no doubt it would be found necessary to do so very shortly. Reference had been made to M. Jassonides. He was acquainted with that gentleman, who had been studying at Oxford, and bore a most excellent character. He appeared to be a modest gentleman, believing thoroughly and absolutely what he said. It might turn out that he had been misinformed, or that his story was exaggerated; but, if so, the exaggeration would have been unintentional. There was no doubt that M. Jassonides's relations in Cyprus were in great alarm lest he should get into difficulties in consequence of the information he had given. This showed that, with every intention to rule justly, Sir Garnet Wolseley had not yet removed from the people of Cyprus the idea of vengeance 1542 attaching to any attempt to interfere with the acts of the Government. He told the gentleman of whom he was speaking that the last thing he need fear was danger from laying before the Government or its officials any information on any subject which he believed to be true. He would not enter into the question brought forward by the hon. Member for Rochester (Sir Julian Goldsmid) with regard to the great advantages of obtaining Cyprus as a place of arms, because the question of the government of the Island was of more importance at the present moment; but nothing that he had heard in the discussion which had taken place seemed to make those advantages greater, nor the difficulties and dangers less, than they had hitherto appeared.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
said, he had no doubt that the step taken in abolishing the salt monopoly, and in freeing salt from all taxes, would effect a great good both on the people of the Island and on trade. This one necessary of life, all Conservative Governments had taxed heavily, merely by reason of the inability of the poor, who mainly suffered, being unable to oppose the burden. It was hoped that this free trade in salt would be followed by like freedom in India; but the principle might be extended by the Government of modifying the other taxes of the Island, and in abolishing some of the special taxes peculiar to Mahomedan rule, which would also work some good; but when he compared this Island with other Islands in our possession, he could not but come to the conclusion that it was an exceedingly poor and wretched place. Compared with the Island of the Mauritius—which was only one-fifth of the size of Cyprus —it would be found that the former had four times the Revenue of the latter. It could not, therefore, be said that Cyprus was by any means a "gem" of the ocean, which the Mauritius undoubtedly was. If Cyprus were even compared with Tanjore, an inland district of India which was about the same size—4,000 square miles—it would be seen that Tanjore produced more than double the Revenue of Cyprus. The only conclusion he could come to was that Cyprus was very badly cultivated, and that the population must be extremely poor. To raise up the cultivation, extensive works and reservoirs 1543 ought to be constructed. The highly advanced state of Tanjore, and of the Godavery districts of the Madras Presidency, were examples of what irrigation could effect. But to provide these works for Cyprus for irrigating 1,000,000 acres, a capital outlay of about £2,000,000—or, say, £2 per acre—must be incurred. With this improvement there ought to be a Land Revenue of at least £1,000,000 per annum. With regard to the extensive improvements which the Government contemplated in the Island, he hoped the people of England would remember that this could only be done out of the taxes of this country. It was all very well to say that there was a surplus revenue in Cyprus which could be employed in carrying out public works. The surplus probably did not extend to £60,000; and according to the scale of Civil establishment to be maintained on this small Island, this sum would barely pay the Civil charge. It should be borne in mind that they were bound to pay Turkey £110,000 a-year in accordance with the Convention, and this sum deducted from the stated Revenue of £170,000, only left the £60,000. When he remembered that the Mauritius paid £26,000 a-year towards the Military Expenditure, he asked why the people of this country should be taxed for the purpose of converting Cyprus into a model garden? It was not fair nor just that the Government should tax the people of this country for the benefit of Cyprus. The liability for the military government of the Island could not be less than £100,000 a-year, taking into account the £20,000 charged this year in the Army Estimates for Staff, and Staff establishments, and for the regimental pay and allowance of the officers and men of the Infantry, Artillery, and Engineers now forming the garrison, so that the people of England were really contributing to the Revenue of Cyprus with taxes raised in this Kingdom. If they were bound to contribute at all, it ought not to be in that form. He thought it was only just that they should make the contribution of English taxpayers quite clear by paying the whole sum they were now liable for by a direct grant to the Island, so that it should be seen that the people of England were paying for their own government more than the inhabitants of Cyprus. The House had been told that I 1544 it was contemplated to spend £28,000 in the construction of 1,000 miles of new roads, and that this sum would be raised by borrowing He contended that it was impossible to make these roads for less than £300 a-mile; and he felt sure the entire cost would be ten times the amount of the Government Estimate. If once the Island Administration was permitted to enter on great public works by the aid of borrowed money, no other result than that of indebtedness could be expected, and with it all the evils now seen in Egypt and Turkey. When he heard of the harbour that was about to be made in Cyprus he was alarmed, for the money for those works must come directly from the pockets of the people of England. He had made much inquiry into harbour works and their cost in this country, and he knew the disastrous results attending the construction of many of them. This project of spending £150,000 or £200,000 on the harbour of Famagousta excited his alarm; because, speaking from experience, he knew that sum would be quite insufficient. As to the question of forced labour, he might mention that, some 25 years ago, he was nominated a Member of a Commission to inquire into the question of conducting useful works by means of labour provided by the villages interested therein in the Presidency of Madras, which had an area of 128,000 square miles. The whole of the irrigation works in that vast area were constructed with this kind of forced labour. After a long inquiry, the Commission came to the conclusion that a more objectionable plan could not be followed than that of constructing irrigation works in the Madras Presidency by such means. He earnestly hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would obtain the evidence from the Madras Presidency, where forced labour was at one time in force, in order to prove to the Foreign Secretary that it was unwise to continue such labour in Cyprus. No European Governor could control the evils that inevitably would flow from it. Besides, forced labour would be more expensive at 1s. than voluntary labour at 2s. per diem. He objected strongly to continue this expenditure, even though the villagers, who were to be forced, might hereafter benefit by the works so made. He thought they had a right to 1545 complain that the Reports which it was known had been made to the Government with reference to the Island of Cyprus had not been laid before the House.
§ SIR EDMUND LECHMERE
, having had some experience during a short stay in the Island of Cyprus, wished to say a few words on this subject. There could not be a doubt that last season had been a most unfortunate and exceptional one. Considering the heat which the troops encountered after being some time on board ship, having been placed at once under a broiling sun with the very slight protection of tents, the Commissariat not being quite prepared to meet them, and their food not being that to which they had been accustomed, the amount of sickness that prevailed could not be matter of surprise; but the gravity of the sickness had been very much exaggerated. A servant of his own had suffered from fever, and he had helped to nurse him. There was a good deal of exhaustion and oppression, but he shortly recovered; and he was assured by his medical attendant there was no fear of its return. Important objects were sought to be secured by the possession of the Island; and being so close to Asia Minor, with a mixed population of varying creeds, it presented an admirable opportunity for carrying out some of the reforms which were very much wanted. He had made the acquaintance of some of the principal landowners, who were wealthy men; and they had assured him that while formerly they had been obliged to arm their servants, since they came under British rule they had been able to sleep with open doors without their accustomed protectors. With reference to the ecclesiastical question, he had an interview with the Archbishop of Cyprus, who told him that they hailed with the greatest satisfaction the advent of the British rule; that they felt secure under British rule; that they felt their religion would be respected; and that the English and Greeks would continue to work together for the good of the whole community. He (Sir Edmund Lechmere), however, could not close his eyes against certain things that were anomalies in the Island, and he hoped the Government would take the proper means to remove them. He thought there would be great advantage in securing the services of a better class of interpreters. 1546 This would be a great satisfaction to the people of Cyprus. At present they were derived from a class little better than dragomans. The import duty levied on goods arriving at Cyprus from Egypt was a very high one. The Egyptian export duty was 1 per cent to English ports and 8 per cent to Turkish ports; and on arrival at Cyprus goods were charged another 8 per cent, on the ground that it was not a Turkish, but an English port. This was a matter which required the attention of the Government. He thought great care should be taken to avoid taxing too heavily the industries of the Island; and that, on the contrary, everything possible should be done to encourage and develop its industries and natural resources. It was probable that any accumulation of property would bring a visit from the tax-gatherer. There was a duty on building material which ought certainly to be abolished. He thought the Government should do their best rather to improve the Oriental institutions of the Island than to Anglicize them, since the Orientals clung to their old institutions, and were unwilling to give them up. He considered that ample reasons had been given for the retention of the Island under the administration of the Foreign Office; and if, in the future, it was possible there might be a military depot under the War Office, at the same time the fiscal arrangements might be under the Colonial Office. Coming in contact with a number of well-informed persons of various nationalities in French and Austrian ships, he was glad to hear universal approval of our action in acquiring Cyprus, which was considered to have added to the prestige of this country. His own favourable opinion of the policy of the Government had not been shaken by anything he had heard. He believed they had secured an advantageous position, from which they might exert a useful and reforming influence; but he hoped the Island might in time become the absolute property of this country, and that they might also obtain the Island of Rhodes, which, being salubrious and having a less variable temperature, would be valuable as a "sanatorium." The fortifications there, once held by the Knights of St. John, could be easily adapted for barracks, and in other respects the Island would be a valuable acquisition.
§ MR. H. SAMUELSON
agreed with much that had fallen from the hon. Baronet (Sir Edmund Lechmere), and particularly that the vast majority of the inhabitants of Cyprus welcomed British rule; but he did not concur in what was said about the salubrity of the Island. He was told that last year the temperature had been but a few degrees above what it was normally in the months of July, August, and September. He was there in September, the most unhealthy month, and the hon. Baronet in November and December, the more healthy season. But his own muleteer—a Cypriot—like the hon. Baronet's servant—a Turk— was stricken with the fever, which attacked Natives equally with Europeans, and repeatedly, too; so that, as medical observers remarked, the Natives had the general appearance of men imbued with the seeds of malaria. No doubt, there was increased security now; but the insecurity was formerly mainly due to the depredations of Turkish criminals, and not to the acts of Cypriots, who rarely brought themselves within the criminal law. The Government declared they had selected Cyprus as the best place they could find for their purpose; the hon. Baronet, however, said Rhodes would have been better; at any rate, it had an harbour; while Crete, a footing in which might have been acquired on easier terms, had an harbour at Suda Bay that would hold the Meets of the world. He was told that efficient and trustworthy interpreters were much wanted, but that they would cost more than the Government of the Island could afford to pay them. The "model farm" theory had been adopted by the hon. Baronet; and if the exact phrase had not been used by the Ministry, it was a fair illustration of their language, for the Under Secretary of State had spoken of the Island affording an example of good government to Asia Minor; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, while disclaiming presenting a "model farm." spoke of using it to show the Turks what was to be possible in the way of improvement and good government. Then the noble Earl the Prime Minister said that Cyprus was admirably suited to be a place of arms, and that they had fixed on it after having examined all the other Islands in the East of the Mediterranean. He did not know when that examination 1548 was made; at all events, they had not had any Papers on the subject; but if of all the Islands in the East of the Mediterranean, Cyprus was the most suitable for their purpose, then it was plain that no Island in the East of the Mediterranean was suitable. It was said the Island would pay its way in due time. That might be; but not a single penny had been spent as yet on improving it, though they were told that next year roads were to be made that would cost £28,000, which they were to borrow, and that £6,000 would be spent on Government buildings, of which the Island was entirely destitute. He considered it most anomalous that works of this description should be placed under the Foreign Office. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State had talked of the intense pleasure which Gentlemen on that (the Opposition) side felt at the difficulties which the Government experienced. But that was no wonder, seeing they believed, and had said all along, that the Government had made an enormous blunder in occupying the Island, and were committing this country to great expense, to no purpose. The hon. Gentleman had said that they were attacking Sir Garnet Wolseley. There was no hon. Member who would make an attack on one who had proved himself an admirable General; but for all that, he thought it would be better if in such positions military men were replaced as Governors by tried civilians. He denied that there was any parallel between the "statute labour," as the hon. Gentleman called it, of the Island of Cyprus and that which prevailed in our North American Colonies — Nova Scotia, for example. There it existed in the form of a voluntary arrangement to work instead of paying for the repair of roads; but there was no voluntary arrangement on the part of the inhabitants of Cyprus, who were forced to labour under a despotic Turkish law, which even the Turks had for a long time not enforced. He hoped, now that the matter had been exposed, they had heard the last of this system of enforced labour, which was not creditable to the British Government, and was anything but a good example to the Porte for the government of Asia Minor. From beginning to end there was a confusion of laws. No one knew under what National 1549 Code the Island was administered. With regard to flogging, under the Turkish law that punishment was strictly legal; and he asked whether, because the zaptiehs were subject to the bastinado, the police raised under the Foreign Office were to be subject to it also? It would be a singular thing if the Government introduced into Cyprus a system which, owing to the exertions of the hon. Member for Rochester (Mr. Otway), had been abolished in the British Service. They were told that foreigners residing in Cyprus were to come under the jurisdiction of our Courts; but what would happen supposing any foreign country refused to agree to this breach of the Capitulations? Was it possible that Her Majesty's Government, without the consent of foreign countries, would relieve themselves from the binding force of these engagements? With respect to the employment of the Islanders in Government labour at the commencement of the occupation, and afterwards, he had authority for saying that it had greatly injured the prospects of the grain harvest in the Island by diminishing the amount of labour necessary for work in the fields. It had been said that the labourers would receive more money under the improved system, as it was called; but even if that were so, he believed that the Island would suffer loss, inasmuch as the progress of agriculture would be seriously interfered with. Then, as regarded the harbour and town of Famagousta, they could not doubt, from the official evidence in their hands, that the harbour and town were unhealthy, and that they were not more unhealthy than the neighbouring plains. [The hon. Member read an extract from a report by a civil engineer—who was, on the whole, greatly in favour of the occupation—in reference to the harbour, which went to prove that it would be both difficult and costly to construct a harbour in that place.] [Cries of "Name, name!"] He did not like to state the name of the gentleman at that moment, as he had left it behind him, and was not quite sure that he correctly recollected it; but he would give it to the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir George Elliot), or to any other Member privately—
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
rose to Order. He wished to know whether the 1550 hon. Member was in order in appealing to a high authority, and then being unable to give his name to the House?
§ MR. H. SAMUELSON
said, he was always willing to give way to the hon. and learned Baronet; but there were occasions when hon. Gentlemen could not give their authorities, as he had explained. The engineer in question was author of an article in the February number of The Journal of the Society of Arts, which was accessible to every hon. Member.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, that when an hon. Gentleman gave someone as a high authority he ought to be prepared with his name.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that the hon. Member was quite in Order in referring to the document. If, however, he did not give the name of the author, the House could take the authority for what it was worth.
§ MR. H. SAMUELSON
hoped that nothing would be done towards the construction of a harbour in Cyprus until the plans were laid before the House, the cost was estimated, and full opportunity was given for discussing the entire question. There were some pertinent questions he should like to put to the Government on this question of Cyprus. He should like to know, for instance, what was to be the recognized coinage of the Island? Was it to be English or Turkish? Again, under what flag was a Cypriot ship to sail—English or Turkish? If a Cypriot committed murder on the high seas, by what law was he to be tried? Or, if he committed a crime in Constantinople, was he to be tried by the Consular Court, or by what other authority? Then, again, with reference to the status of the inhabitants of Cyprus and the administration of justice in the Island, he was informed in Cyprus that no Petition was allowed to be received by the Courts in the Greek language. They must be written in Turkish, and might be accompanied by an English translation. He had put a Question the other day to the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Bourke), asking whether Petitions that were not in the Turkish tongue were entertained, and received an answer to the effect that the hon. Gentleman did not know, and at his (Mr. Samuelson's) request, he promised to obtain information upon the subject.
§ MR. BOURKE
The hon. Member does not seem to have a very good memory. He says my answer to his Question was that I knew nothing about it.
§ MR. H. SAMUELSON
The hon. Gentleman was not in his place when I used the words, and I do not know where he heard me from. Some words I uttered appear to have caught his ear. What I said was, that when I put a Question to him the other day as to whether petitions other than in the Turkish language were received, he told me he did not know as to the petitions. He did answer another part of my Question.
§ MR. BOURKE
What I object to, Sir, was, that the hon. Member said a moment ago, that when he put a Question to me the other day, I answered that I knew nothing about it. Those are his words. Now, I appeal to the House whether that was my answer? I deny, Sir, that that was my answer, or anything like it.
§ MR. H. SAMUELSON
I rise to Order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to know if I am in possession of the House? By some curious and unfortunate misapprehension the hon. Gentleman has managed to distort my meaning. ["Oh, oh!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is, no doubt, bound by his words; but he says he did not use these words.
§ MR. H. SAMUELSON
I did not intend to say the hon. Gentleman knew nothing of the subject generally.
§ MR.H. SAMUELSON
The hon. Gentleman said he knew nothing of the question of petitions. He did not know anything about it, and he knew nothing about it now. If he did, why could not he tell the House what he knew, as he (Mr. Samuelson) now challenged him to do. ["Order, order!"] These interruptions rather interrupted the current of one's ideas. It seemed to him a strange thing that they should compel the population of Cyprus to petition in a language which was only the language of a small minority of the inhabitants of the Island. He had also to complain of the partiality that was shown to the Turks at Larnaca and elsewhere. At Larnaca four Turks were placed on the municipal tribunal, and only two Greeks, and the Turks formed but one-tenth of the population of the 1552 town. Referring to a statement made by the Prime Minister on February 14th, he asked what extent of land in Cyprus came under the head of the Sultan's private estate? He had been informed that nearly one-half the Island did so; but possibly the statement was not correct. If they were to gain any advantage from the Island, either in the sense that it was to prove a model of good government to the Turks, to be a place of arms, or a naval station—the attention of the Government must be turned, without delay, to the erection of the necessary buildings. When he was at Larnaca there were enormous quantities of valuable stores lying about exposed to the air. At present there were no harbours, no roads, no railways, no quays, few trees, and very little water. He thought the Government ought to place in the hands of the House some Papers showing what they proposed doing with reference to the Island.
SIR GEORGE ELLIOT
said, he would not have spoken had it not been for certain remarks that had fallen from the hon. Member for Chelsea. Some time ago he had addressed the House, and he then pointed out what he thought was the best mode of improving the sanitary condition of the towns of Cyprus, especially those on the sea coast. Its unhealthiness arose from, the want of drainage. The Island was small, and there was no river sufficiently large to produce a volume of water to find its way to the sea, but was stopped before reaching it. The sea itself was almost tideless, and the rain water collected together on the soil and formed large marshes. In his opinion, however, it would not be a difficult thing to produce an improved state of things. Nearly every one of the towns specially subject to unhealthiness was built at the base of an inclined plane, down which the water flowed, yet was unable to break its way through the soil and sand to the sea. The consequence was the formation of a deadly marsh. To remedy this, he thought the water should be collected, and either lifted into the sea or forced back to irrigate the land behind it. Famagousta, he predicted, would be a great place at no distant day. It had all the elements for a harbour. It had 85 acres of dock. [An hon. MEMBER: Made?] Yes, made as clearly as 1553 any dock at Birkenhead, Liverpool, or Cardiff. All it wanted was what the docks of any of those other places would want if they were neglected a quarter of the time that Famagousta had been. It wanted dredging, having got silted up merely by lapse of time. It was all inclosed and sheltered; it had got its mole, its entrance, and everything perfect; and a better situation than Famagousta for a dock could not have been selected. He had not seen a better place in the Mediterranean, or one which was more easily capable of being made to meet all the requirements either of commerce or of war. He would challenge any engineer to contradict that statement, in spite of the authority who wrote the stupid article quoted by the last speaker as having been read before the Society of Arts. He ventured to say that the writer of the article had no repute in Great George Street. The Government said they would lay down no railways; but he hoped they would change their mind on that point and make a narrow-gauge line to Nicosia, which would be of great service. He did not say it would be impossible to make a harbour at Larnaca; but it was not desirable to do so when they had such a convenient place for the purpose as Famagousta. With regard to the system of forced labour, he took it that there could be no intention of introducing it into any of our dominions. As to slavery, there were no doubt slaves. There had always been eunuchs, who were really slaves, and who were necessary for the government of the establishments where they ruled. If sanitary and other improvements such as he suggested were effected; and if England, taking the bolder course, acquired the fee simple of the land from the Porte, and secured the unconditional enjoyment of the Island, there would be no difficulty in finding private capital and enter prize that would prove beneficial to the Island.
§ MR. T. BRASSEY
, having recently visited Cyprus, asked leave to present to the House the result of a personal examination of our most recent acquisition. He went to Cyprus unprejudiced and unbiased, and he came away convinced that in our hands the Island would certainly be prosperous. As a place of arms it was useless. As a coaling station it might prove valuable. Cyprus was not adapted for a place of arms, 1554 partly because of its climate. There could be no question as to the miserable condition, to which the troops who first landed had been reduced. It might be that the summer of 1878 was exceptionally unhealthy. The troops would, doubtless, have suffered less in permanent barracks, or in the mud huts of the natives, or in the barracks it was now proposed to build on the Troados. Assuming, however, that the troops could retain their health in the Troados, it was scarcely conceivable that they could occupy such a position in any considerable numbers, without a large expenditure in transport. During his visit to Cyprus he spent two days on the Troados, and remained one night at the monastery of Kikho, 4,000 feet above the sea level. At that elevation the mountains were almost precipitous. The only vegetation consisted of the fir and the vine. Provisions must be carried up on camels. Roads for carts were impracticable. Even a railway on the Right system, as proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt), was impossible. With so many disadvantageous features, strategical and sanitary, it could not be contended that Cyprus was important as a place of arms. A fleet of steam transports must be a more effective base of operation in Syria, and the possession of Cyprus would not supersede the necessity for a commodious harbour on the mainland. As a coaling station, Cyprus possessed great natural facilities. They were informed by the Hydrographer that an inexpensive break water would render Famagousta available for the coaling of our Fleet, and a secure anchorage for six large ships of war. He doubted the necessity for any new works, other than a light iron pier for the mere purpose of coaling the Fleet. The outlying rocks would afford excellent shelter for a pier of sufficient length to allow of two ships being coaled simultaneously. At present six or eight steamers of moderate size could find an anchorage in all weathers. The easterly gales, to which Famagousta was exposed, seldom blew with violence. The sea wall at Larnaca, which was exposed to the full range of the swell from the south and east, was only six feet above the water. The rickety buildings at Larnaca and Limasol, which were almost washed by the sea in fine weather, received no 1555 injury from the winter gales. Whatever the decision of the Government might be as to a breakwater, he trusted that no attempt would be made to establish a naval station or a mercantile port at Famagousta. It was the most unhealthy town in Cyprus. If the Fleet were detained at Famagousta during the summer season, the health of the crews would be most seriously affected. When they turned from the political question to the capabilities of the soil of Cyprus, they found themselves on less controversial ground. The plain of Messarea was admirably adapted to the growth of wheat. The plain of Morfu produced madder. If properly made, the wine would be excellent; and all descriptions of fruit were abundant. He had received from the Commissioners at Larnaca and at Limasol letters conveying the most favourable impressions of the agricultural prospects of the Island. New potatoes were offered for sale in December at 1d. per lb. The growth of wine had been doubled; and the inhabitants needed only the assurance that our occupation would be permanent to induce them to make further exertions. Here we opened up a large question. Were we going to remain in Cyprus? He fully concurred with the leading Members of his Party in the wish that we had never gone there; but he held that, once having entered upon an occupation, we could not surrender the Island to the Turks, without great injustice to the inhabitants, and that to attempt to establish any form of self-government would be quite premature. He proceeded, therefore, to consider the position, on the assumption that our occupation would be permanent. Such being the case, the terms, under which that occupation was commenced, would require revision in many essential particulars. We must ourselves acquire the nominal sovereignty still retained by the Sultan, and relieve the Island from the payment of an annual tribute of £115,000 a-year. Under the terms of the present Convention, England stood in an unworthy position. We were tax-gatherers for a bad Government. The tribute was a heavy burden upon Cyprus. The majority of the people were miserably poor, and they had perhaps been impoverished by the very circumstance that the tribute had been too heavy for their scanty resources. The amount of the 1556 tribute was based on Turkish estimates, and on Turkish notions of administrative responsibility. The so-called surplus was only realized by ignoring all the reciprocal duties of a Government to wards its subjects. The total Revenue of the Island was £170,000. A portion of this amount was derived from taxes, which must be repealed; and when the tribute, the salaries of local officials, justice, and police, had been provided for, a paltry surplus of £15,000 would remain to do all that was required in so large an Island, after the neglect and misgovernment of ages. Once relieved of the heavy burden, which Cyprus was compelled to bear, while in bondage to the Porte, the Local Government would possess ample resources, without the aid of the Imperial Parliament. It could resist all unjust taxation. It could make Cyprus a free port, and the great depôt for the trade with Syria and Asia Minor. It would be able to construct a railway, if a railway were thought necessary, and to cover the expenses of new roads, public buildings, and the planting of forests. Once let the people be assured of the honest administration of justice, and of protection for life and property, and we might safely leave in their own hands the development of the material resources of Cyprus. Whatever could be usefully done, to co-operate with the spontaneous enterprize of the people, would certainly be undertaken with zeal and enlightened philanthropy by Sir Garnet Wolseley and his able staff. As an example of the spirit in which those gallant gentlemen had undertaken their task, he would read an extract from a communication lately received from Colonel Warren, the Commissioner at Larnaca—You may not approve of our being here, but we have to labour here to make England's name respected and beloved. Do not believe that our mission here is a small and humble one. We in Cyprus have already commenced to show what a beneficial and just rule means. Syrians, inhabitants from the neighbouring countries, men from Beyrout, Alexandria, and the Lebanon, are here, and have revisited their homes, which still lie under Turkish Government. These speak out their minds; and soon the clamour of the people will necessitate a change in the manner of ruling in Asia Minor. When people demand what the whole world knows that they deserve, they will assuredly get it. The holding of Cyprus will be the leaven in the mass of dough. Do not let your politics stop the good work.1557 Colonel Warren thus proceeded to speak of the foundation of schools, and concluded by saying—We have a pier now; our market is finished; we have planted trees, widened roads, and are working as Englishmen ought. Give us words of encouragement now and then.The advantages to England of the acquisition of Cyprus were problematical. To the Cypriots the substitution of such men as Colonel Warren and his colleagues, for the corrupt officials of the Sultan; must be an unmixed blessing.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
entirely agreed with the hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. T. Brassey) on the general question; but he wished to point out that if it was necessary—as he believed it was—for us to have a harbour, coaling station, and port in the eastern part of the Mediterranean, the present unhealthiness of the place ought to be no bar to the occupation of Cyprus. There were, no doubt, means by which the Island might be made healthy. He had the honour of serving when the Island of Hong Kong was occupied, and for three years great unhealthiness prevailed amongst the troops and the seamen. At that time there was the same outcry against the occupation of Hong Kong as there was now against that of Cyprus. But Hong Kong was now as healthy as almost any Island in the tropics, and it had yielded all the advantages which were anticipated from it. It had given us a hold upon the China Seas and the commerce of that part of the world, which had fully repaid us for the difficulty and danger in originally occupying it. And if it were true—as he believed it was— that they ought to have a naval station in the East of the Mediterranean, the position of Cyprus was one of the best that could be obtained. He wished to say a few words on the advantage of having such a station for our men-of-war. It had been pointed out, in a very able Paper which had gained the gold medal at the United Service Institution —and he believed it was not disputed— that the coaling capacity of their men-of-war represented generally a distance of about 3,000 miles; so that a ship could not be despatched to a greater distance than about 1,500 miles from a coaling station. It was, therefore, exceedingly desirable that, in the event of war, they should possess a coaling station between Malta and Aden, in order 1558 to protect the Suez Canal and serve as a stepping-stone on the road to India; and besides being of the greatest advantage as a naval and coaling station, would prove highly useful for the protection of their trade. It must be remembered that while Port Said offered a coaling station during peace, it would be neutral territory during war, and therefore not available as a coaling station for our ships either stationed in the Levant, or on their way to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. Good and sufficient reason therefore, had been shown for the occupation of such an Island. With regard to the harbour of Famagousta, he referred the House to the opinions expressed by the Hydrographer of the Navy and Admiral Hornby. The Hydrographer reported, as the result of a preliminary examination made early in the present year, that the harbour of Famagousta was capable of affording shelter from the south-east gales of winter for vessels- of from 20 to 22 feet draught; and Admiral Hornby, in inclosing this Report, said that after the erection of a breakwater, which it was said could be made at a small cost, 14 iron-clads might be moored there under its shelter in five fathoms of water with a good bottom at one cable apart. Now, the grand harbour of Malta could only accommodate nine iron-clads, at three-quarters of a cable apart; go that Famagousta, when improved, would afford a better harbour than the grand harbour of Malta. It was on these grounds that he believed Cyprus to be a great naval acquisition.
§ MR. DODSON
thought he had probably a longer personal acquaintance with Cyprus than any other hon. Member in the House, and, so far as his experience went, he could say that during the last year it was about the best abused Island in the world. When he visited Cyprus he saw no signs of the unhealthiness of which they had heard so much. On the contrary, the inhabitants appeared healthy and robust. It was true that a great deal of sickness prevailed among the soldiers stationed there. That, however, was not the fault of the climate of Cyprus, but of those who sent 9,000 or 10,000 men there, when 500 or 600 men would have sufficed, to swelter in bell tents in the heat of summer without sanitary arrangements, without occupation, or amuse- 1559 ment. The same thing would have occurrred, under similar circumstances, in the West Indies, or Gibraltar, or any other tropical or sub-tropical climate. Her Majesty's Government were in a dilemma. If they did not know when they sent that large force to Cyprus the docile character of its population and its utter want of accommodation for troops, they were guilty of grasping at the possession of the Island without acquiring as much information about it as they might have learnt from a school geography or a traveller's handbook; and if they did know these things, they had risked the health of our men for the sake of a portion of a policy of bluster and display. Cyprus, he believed, was at least as healthy as the average of places in the Levant. It was an Island of infinite fertility and of great resources and natural beauty. But what did they want with Cyprus? And what use was it to be to them? The Prime Minister told a deputation from California that it was capable of containing an illimitable military power. But they had not got an illimitable military power, and if they had they would not want to place it in Cyprus. He believed Cyprus had been taken with the idea that it would be a valuable naval station, and the Prime Minister had said that it was selected after examining all the other Islands in the Eastern Mediterranean— words which implied that they had not examined Cyprus itself. The ideal of a naval station was a small Island with a large harbour; but Cyprus was a large Island with no harbour at all. A rocky islet like Scarpanto, with its land-locked harbour Tristoma, would have been better adapted to our wants. True, the harbour of Famagousta was now proclaimed to be better than that of Malta, only there was the fatal objection that it did not exist, and still had to be created. Then, again, it had often been said that Cyprus would be valuable as a coaling station; but Cyprus was further from Malta than either Alexandria or Port Said. The Report made to the Admiralty as to the harbour of Famagousta only showed the magnitude of the works that we should have to undertake. The old Venetian harbour was silted up, and when dredged and excavated would not be suitable for any but mercantile purposes. For the reception of ships of war, a break- 1560 water must be constructed a mile or more in length upon a broken and sunken reef of rooks. That was not a very promising state of things; and even when all the works were complete the entrance to the harbour would prove an awkward one except to steamers. The Report went on to describe Famagousta itself. It was, as he knew, the most unhealthy place in the Island; but he should never have believed it to be so deadly a town as to necessitate the elaborate measures described as requisite to make it simply habitable. A lake was to be drained, lagoons were to be filled up and planted; and while the trees were growing, what might not happen to the Armenian Frontier? According to this Report, earth, air, and water must be changed, to make Famagousta serviceable. Now, it did not appear that the Government had any present intentions respecting the place. The First Lord of the Admiralty, indeed, had spoken of future contingencies, but had been indefinite as to time; and the Foreign Secretary had referred to the time when "England might be called upon to defend actively her interests in that part of the world," and that, he had implied, would be time enough for us to consider our position. No doubt, it was probable that nothing would be done at present; but some day an alarmist Ambassador at Constantinople would frighten the Government, and a Vote would be taken for works at Famagousta. Very naturally the Government was 10th to begin the great expenditure that would be necessary, because our position in Cyprus was peculiar. He would refer hon. Members to the assurances given to foreign Powers as to our tenure of the Island. Lord Salisbury, in a despatch to M. Waddington, dated July, 1878, had declared that our possession of Cyprus was provisional only, and was not intended to last longer than our defensive alliance with Turkey. If, then, that defensive alliance were in any way broken off, their occupation of Cyprus would be at an end also; and if they were to leave the place, what would be their position with regard to compensation for material improvements? Hon. Members would see by the annexe of the Anglo-Turkish Convention and the correspondence thereon that they waived claims for compensation. Lord 1561 Salisbury objected to the introduction of any such clause in the Convention; but he wrote to Sir Henry Layard, to the effect that he did not object to the principle that, in the event of their leaving the Island, they should not require compensation for money spent by them in improvements, unless such improvements were yielding an annual revenue to Her Majesty's Government, or the money had been advanced by private capitalists. The consequence was that if they were to retire from Cyprus after having constructed a military harbour at Famagousta, barracks for their troops, prisons, sanitary works, and done other works of that character, not yielding a revenue, Her Majesty's Government would not be entitled to receive any compensation for those works, and the British money which had been expended upon them would be completely sunk in the Island. He had listened with satisfaction to some of the statements which had been made by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs with regard to financial matters. There was, indeed, it seemed, a sum of £5,000 to be paid in perpetuity to the Sultan; but he presumed, nevertheless, that the payment would cease if they were to retire from the Island. Someone in the course of the debate had said they hoped they were not going to Anglicize Cyprus. They had, however, begun the work of civilization by creating a debt to the extent of £28,000. As to farming the tithe, which was to be abolished, he would observe that a tithe as understood by Turkey was generally more than one-tenth; but he would add that a tithe in Cyprus had the advantage over a land settlement such as that in India, that it varied with the circumstances of the season. The system was, therefore, convenient in a country where there was little or no capital belonging to, or to be borrowed by, the cultivators to carry them through a bad season. He had heard with satisfaction that the Customs duties on exports—which amounted, he believed, to only I per cent—were to be done away with, and that the tax on sheep and goats would receive the attention of the Government, he hoped with a view to its abolition. He agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. T. Brassey), that no w they were in possession 1562 of Cyprus it was their duty while they continued to be its rulers, both out of regard to the interests of the inhabitants and their own credit, to endeavour to administer its affairs as well as they could, and to make the laws there more equal and just than they had hitherto been. Up to the present time, however, they had, in his opinion, only involved themselves in a series of anomalies. The Anglo-Turkish Convention recited that we had occupied Cyprus to enable us to defend the Armenian Frontier, which was, on the face of it, absurd. It was sometimes said that Cyprus was to hold an illimitable military force, which they had not; it was sometimes spoken of as a great naval station, although it had no harbour; while, again, it was said that it was to be made a model of good government to every Pasha in Asia, although it seemed very doubtful whether they were not resorting to forced labour, and, in other respects, imitating Oriental Rulers. They were tributaries to the Sultan; they had not got the fee simple of the Island; they had not even got a lease of it. Their tenure of it, in short, was quite uncertain; and if they were called upon to leave it at any moment, they could not, so far as he could see, be entitled to compensation for works, without which the place was valueless. He hoped the Government would seriously turn their attention to those matters. If they could obtain the fee simple of the Island it would be better, he thought, than the precarious position which they now held with respect to it; and unless they acquired that fee simple it was a question whether they had not better be quit of it. At all events, he hoped the Government would not be so chary of giving information with regard to it in future, and would lose no time in laying all the Papers connected with the subject on the Table.
MR. MAC IVER
said, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dodson) had begun his speech in a spirit of noble independence, but as he went on, the temptation to attack the Government—honestly, if he could, but still to attack them—became too strong for him. On the other hand, the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. T. Brassey) had greatly disappointed him. He commenced his speech with a weak attack upon the Government, which, 1563 afterwards, the facts did not support; hut as he went on his honourable nature gained the ascendant, and his natural truthfulness compelled him to do the Government more justice. At any rate, he must congratulate him upon his appreciation of the great fact that, whether or no the English Government were right in acquiring Cyprus, we had, at all events, got it, and it was our duty to administer its affairs with the object we had in view when we acquired it. As for the speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea, who introduced this subject, it was evidently addressed to an audience outside that House, and the statements it contained were only part of the truth. There was, for instance, no real analogy between the harbours of Alderney and Famagousta. He had no doubt Famagousta could be made as good a harbour as had been predicted. The statement of the Hydrographer to the Navy was an absolute contradiction of that made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chester (Mr. Dodson). The Hydrographer's Report, taken in conjunction with the speech of the hon. Baronet (Sir George Elliot) who spoke behind him (Mr. Mac Iver), and who had practical knowledge of the subject, ought to satisfy any reasonable man that there would be no great difficulty in making a harbour at Famagousta. As to the denunciation of forced labour in Cyprus, it was a very different kind of thing to what had taken place in Egypt in the construction of the Suez Canal. We should not attempt too rapidly to Anglicize Cyprus; but what we had done was, at all events, an improvement, and would infinitely benefit the inhabitants of that Island, and he had no doubt would justify the arguments that had been used by more than one Minister. People with whom he traded in the Mediterranean informed him that the whole of the East of the Mediterranean, last summer, was exceptionally unhealthy, and Cyprus was not worse than the coast of Barbary, or the coast of Syria. He knew that some persons in the Island had certain aspirations, expecting that when the English came they would put down the Turks in favour of the Greeks, and that they would gain Cyprus in the same way that they gained the Ionian Islands. The surrender of the Ionian Islands, by the Ministry of which the right hon. Gen- 1564 tleman the Member for Greenwich was a Member—and on his recommendation—he regarded as the first symptom of decadence of the British Empire. He feared that if the right hon. Gentleman came again into Office, the same fate that had overtaken the Ionian Islands would befall Cyprus. He trusted that that time would never come, to which some persons were looking forward, when the destinies of this country would again pass into the hands of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. He regarded the accession of Lord Beaconsfield as the era of the revival of the national prestige, and trusted the power would long remain in the same hands.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he did not know by what right it was that the hon. Gentleman assumed that it was only those who supported Her Majesty's Government who were governed by honourable and truthful motives. Let him tell the hon. Gentleman that before he lectured Gentlemen on this side of the House—["Oh, oh!"]—
MR. MAC IVER
begged to call the hon. and learned Gentleman to Order. ["Chair, chair!"] He never said a word of the kind.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, before the hon. Gentleman lectured Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House, he had better make himself acquainted—
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. and learned Gentleman is in possession of the House; and if, at the close of his address the hon. Member for Birkenhead desires to make any explanation, he would have an opportunity of doing so with the indulgence of the House.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he should always be the first man to yield to any Gentleman who desired to make an explanation when he addressed the House in a becoming manner; but, in his opinion, the language which the hon. Gentleman addressed to Members on the Opposition side of the House was not becoming.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he did not yield to the hon. Member, because he thought the language which he used with reference to the hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. T. Brassey) and others on the Opposition side was not language which ought to be employed. If he might give a bit of advice to the hon. Gentleman, it would be to make himself a little better acquainted with the political history of this country before presuming to make such remarks as those with which he closed his speech. The hon. Gentleman seemed to attribute the giving up of the Ionian Islands to his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich. The hon. Member was a very young Member of the House, and probably had not begun to study politics at the time the event in question occurred; otherwise, he would know that the mission of his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich to the Ionian Islands was undertaken at the instance of a Conservative Government. He was sent there by the late Lord Lytton during the Government of the late Lord Derby, and the cession of the Ionian Islands was not made by his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich, but by Lord Palmerston. He now passed from the hon. Member and his language to matters of more importance. It had been often asked, during that debate, why they were at Cyprus at all after the inquiries and investigations that they were told were made with reference to the Islands in the East of the Mediterranean; and his hon. Friends had complained that they had got no information from the Foreign Office as to those investigations, of which surely there ought to be some record. But the curiosity of hon. Members would be satisfied when they learned that it was not in any recent Blue Book that it was to be found. The fact was that the acquisition of Cyprus was determined upon at a much earlier period, and the record of it might be found in works that were not, perhaps, so official, but far more interesting, than any Blue Book. By referring to it, he thought he could tell them when the investigations into the Islands of the Ægean were made which determined that the Island should be acquired. The work to which he referred said— 1566The English want Cyprus, and they -will take it as compensation. The English will not do the business of the Turks for nothing. They will take this city and occupy it. They want a new market for their cotton, and, mark me, England will never he satisfied until the people of Jerusalem wear calico turbans.There was the investigation which at a much earlier period determined that England should acquire Cyprus, and should not do the work of the Turks again for nothing. It would be found in a work entitled, Tanered; or, the New Crusade, and if hon. Members wished to know the name of the author, he would tell them. After this, of course, it was unnecessary to go any further into the matter. Now that they had Cyprus, everybody admitted that it ought to be made better than it was; but, curiously enough, this was a possibility which never seemed about to be realized. He was not going to enter into any controversy about Famagousta—whether it was as good a harbour as that of Birkenhead but for the accidental circumstance of its having 15 feet of sewage in it. The House was relieved from all difficulty in the matter, because it had it on the authority of the Foreign Secretary that nothing was to be done to the harbour of Famagousta. It was, indeed, suggested that some future Administration might be absurd enough to make a harbour at Famagousta; but that was an assumption that some future Administration would be more unwise than the present one; and, though he did not say that was an impossibility, it was, at least, improbable. If Her Majesty's Government, having acquired Cyprus, were not going to do anything with it, he thought their Successors would follow their example, and not waste money by making a harbour at Famagousta. They might, therefore, pretty safely dismiss Famagousta from their consideration. In a Correspondence between the Foreign Secretary and the Porto as to the improvement of Asia Minor, one of the arguments of the Porte was that they were unable, although willing, to perform their promises, because they had not got any money. Our administration of Cyprus seemed to be intended to show them how to do it without money. They were driven to every sort of shift, such as compelling people to work for inadequate wages. Then they were employ-ingzaptiehs and police on what he should call the "cheap and nasty" principle, 1567 because they had not got any money; and they were starving everything in Cyprus in order to make good the statement that Cyprus was self-supporting, while all the time they knew it was nothing of the kind. The Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said they would have a very respectable surplus for public works; but he added that if it did not turn out so much as they expected they had taken power to borrow £28,000. That showed, at all events, that the Government had begun to make Cyprus a respectable place by laying the foundation of a National Debt. There were signs everywhere of their insolvent condition in Cyprus. What was the meaning of those pioneers on the Civil Service Estimates? Why were those people called "military pioneers?" His theory was that they were not really military people at all; but that, as the Government wanted people to do their civil work, and make good their assurances that Cyprus would pay, they called them military pioneers, and accordingly put them in the Estimates. The Government had placed themselves in a very false position. They wanted to be more Turkish than the Turk, in order to make good their promise to administer Cyprus for the Turk. It was for that purpose apparently that they flouted and snubbed the Greeks in every possible way. He had read in a book by Mr. Hepworth Dixon that the English Commissioners, in order to look as much like Turks as possible, had whips and horsetails in their hands, it having been the custom of the Turkish Commissioners to carry those articles. Because the Government were administering the Island for the Turks, they were obliged to give a certain amount of countenance to all sorts of things which English ideas very much disapproved. He hoped the Under-Secretary for State would not be angry with him for saying that some things existed in Cyprus of which he knew nothing. When it was alleged that slavery existed in the Island the Under Secretary of State said it was not the case; but his hon. Friend the Member for Durham, (Sir George Elliot), who knew a great deal about Cyprus, told them that there were a great many slaves there, and the domestic institutions of the Island could not be carried on without them. Why had not the Government acquired Cyprus for themselves? Why had they 1568 not made it an English Island, which could have been administered under English law by the British Crown? That was a question the Government would have to answer. He would tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer why the Government did not adopt that policy, and he asked the right hon. Gentleman to deny it if he could. Time pressed, and they could not afford to wait. It was necessary for them to have Cyprus before they went to Berlin, and they were obliged to take it at the price that was asked for it. He should have thought that a permanent guarantee of a Protectorate of Asiatic Turkey was of such value to Turkey that it would be worth a free gift of the Island. The Turks were a very cute people, and preferred having hard cash to relying upon the guarantee and the Anglo-Turkish Convention. Thinking a cheque for £100,000 a very good thing, they allowed the Government to have the administration of the Island, though they would not hand it over to the English. He was not going again over the disputed point as to the health of Cyprus; but seeing the Secretary of State for War in his place, he desired to call his attention to the fact that the figures he gave the other day as to the sanitary condition of the Army had been distinctly challenged. He read the other day in The Lancet some remarks upon those figures. They were compared with the Returns laid on the Table of the House as to the health of the Army in other places. The statements given in The Lancet showed that the proportion of the deaths in Cyprus to strength was four times that of the troops in England, double that in India, more than double that in all the Colonies, except the Mauritius. Those comparisons were made on the average of the 10 years from 1867 to 1876. The average rate of death, according to that journal, in Cyprus was 37 per 1,000; in Bombay, 17 per 1,000; and in Bengal, 23 per 1,000; the last average being taken in years in which numerous visitations of cholera occurred. With regard to sickness, which was, perhaps, more important in connection with the efficiency of a force required for immediate action, the figures given by the Secretary of State for War were 4,298 per 1,000, so that it appeared that each man had been admitted to the hospital more than four times in 1569 each year included in his Report. The Lancet said that at Malta the admissions were 806 per 1,000; that was to say, the admissions into hospital in Cyprus were five times as numerous as the admissions in Malta, seven times as numerous as those at Gibraltar, three times as numerous as those in Bengal, four times as numerous as those at Madras, and three-and-a-half times as numerous as those of Bombay. The Secretary of State for War referred to the Mauritius as a proof that a place, originally unhealthy, afterwards became, by sanitary precautions being taken, more free from disease; but The Lancet spoke of that as an instance rather to the contrary, as the rate of admission had trebled since 1867.
§ COLONEL STANLEY
What I meant was that, although the Mauritius was an unhealthy quarter, there was a curious case to the contrary—namely, there had been a wave of epidemic which had become endemic. I was making merely a general comparison.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, the figures of the Secretary of State for War might possibly have been taken from those relating to the existing year in Cyprus; whereas those given in The Lancet were taken from other places upon an average of years. He would now like to ask what was the legal position of the Government in Cyprus. It seemed to be one of a most obscure character. His hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs told them that the Ordinance was issued in January. They had often heard about it, but had not been able to see it, and it had not been published in Cyprus. What had become of it since January? The Attorney General in July last had stated, in answer to a Question he had put to him, that British subjects would have justice administered to them in Cyprus according to their own laws; but no British subject had had British law administered to him since July. They had had Turkish law administered by people who did not understand either Turkish or British law. He did not yet quite understand what was to be done with the Ordinance. Was it to be applied to the Cyprians or to British subjects? There would, as he understood, be this difficulty—that there would be two codes of law in the Island— Turkish law for the Cypriots, and the 1570 Ordinance for British subjects. This was not a very convenient arrangement. [Mr. BOURKE explained that this was only a temporary arrangement.] But how long was it to last? Perhaps the occupation of Cyprus was only to be temporary, too. But whether the Ordinance was to be only temporary or not, he thought it would get the Government into a great difficulty. He understood the Under Secretary of State to say that foreigners in Cyprus were to be bound by the Ordinance, which was to exclude the jurisdiction under the Capitulations. But this was a very serious matter. These Capitulations were Treaties between European Powers and the Porte. Did they claim that, by a Convention between themselves and the Porte, or an Ordinance issued by the Queen in Council, they could annihilate these Treaties without the consent of the Powers? Was this in accordance with the Law of Nations? He had asked the Attorney General this Question last year; and the answer he received implied that their action depended upon the fact whether the foreign States put forward their claims or not. He did not know whether the Attorney General had acquired more courage since then, and was prepared to state how, by an Order in Council, they could terminate the Treaties of foreign States with another country, and so put an end to the Capitulations. But the Under-Secretary said their administration would be so excellent that nobody would object to it. Well, if this was so, of course there was no difficulty. But he would, not advise the Government to chance things of this kind. They had already got into several scrapes of this sort, and he would advise them not to get into any more. They had got into a scrape about extradition, when they maintained they had a right to impose conditions on the United States which were not in the Treaty, and after they had voted this by their majorities, they were obliged to give way and acknowledge that they were wrong; and at the present moment they were giving up prisoners to the United States without those conditions which they had held it was their duty to impose. That was not a good position to put a great country in. It was humiliating to a great country to advance claims it could not support. He would, therefore, re- 1571 commend Her Majesty's Government to be very cautious in dealing with this matter. If they chose to prolong this ridiculous mixed occupation of Cyprus, their proper course was to go round Europe and get their authority recognized. But this was not a very dignified thing to do. How in the world was it possible that the Porte could give them a right as against third people without their consenting? Cyprus remained Turkish soil for 20 purposes as much as any part of Asia Minor, or Constantinople itself; and if that were so, how could they, if the claim was ever set up, dispute it? To go into matters blindfolded in this way was like a man buying an estate with a bad title on the chance of his never being found out. It seemed to him to be perfect madness to take a course of that kind. He trusted that the Attorney General would be as prudent at the present moment in giving advice to Her Majesty's Government as he was in July last; and that he would not lay down the doctrine that two countries together could destroy a Treaty, which had been made with several other Powers, without their consent.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir JOHN HOLKER)
My hon. and learned Friend (Sir William Harcourt) has challenged me with some emphasis, and I cannot, therefore, altogether abstain from making a few observations on the legal objections which he has taken to the policy of Her Majesty's Government. He has given us advice—no doubt very disinterested advice—which the Government will attend to and, perhaps, follow. But the difficulty as to the advice which my hon. and learned Friend has given—at all events, the difficulty which occurs to my mind—is, that it is so vague that one does not exactly understand what it is. What kind of Ordinance my hon. and learned Friend would have framed it is quite impossible for us to imagine. It is, of course, not a very difficult thing to find fault, and the hon. and learned Gentleman is a great hand at that kind of criticism; but I should like to be able to judge of the sort of performance which would have come from him had he been in a position and required to act. With reference to the answers I gave in July last, I daresay they were in reply to Questions framed with a good deal of 1572 anxiety to make them as embarrassing as they could possibly be made; and I think I am hardly to be blamed—as I am, to a certain extent, responsible for the answers given to those Questions— for making them as cautious and circumspect as possible. I told him in July last, what I believe was perfectly correct, that, as things existed, Her Majesty's subjects would be governed by the laws which then applied in the Island of Cyprus. [Sir William Harcourt: My hon. and learned Friend said "British Law."] I doubt whether I did say that; and, as I cannot carry all these things in my mind, I shall be glad if he will read me the passage. It appears that I am reported in Mansard to have said—Any power or jurisdiction which Her "Majesty possesses by Treaty out of Her Majesty's dominions, the Queen may, by the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, exercise in as ample a manner as if Her Majesty had acquired it by the cession or conquest of territory.And, further—With regard to the population of the Island generally, law will be administered on this footing—British subjects will have justice administered to them according to their own laws, as they would at present."—[3 Hansard, ccxlii. 40–41.]Well, at the time I spoke, I believed that British subjects in Turkey were entitled, under certain stipulations made between this country and the Ottoman Court, to have British law administered to them; and that was the position of British subjects at the time I answered the Question propounded so astutely by my hon. and learned Friend. I should have thought he would have known that himself. No doubt he did; but it was convenient to get an answer from myself as representing the Government. But since that time matters have been altered, and the power of Her Majesty with regard to Cyprus has very considerably increased. My answer was given in July; but in August a Convention was entered into between the Sultan and Her Majesty the Queen, by which Her Majesty, for a term of occupation, should have full power of making laws for the government of the Island in Her Majesty's name, and the regulation of its commerce and Consular affairs, free from the control of the Porte. Undoubtedly the Island was not ceded to 1573 the British Government; but Great Britain was allowed to occupy it and to administer its affairs. Thus, at that time, the law which I endeavoured to explain to my hon. and learned Friend prevailed. But after that time, Her Majesty acquired further powers, and the Sultan has now relinquished to Her the power of making laws for the regulation of the Island, its good government, and so on. It is, therefore, clear that after the answer given to my hon. and learned Friend, with which he does not seem substantially to quarrel, Her Majesty did acquire more authority in Cyprus than She formerly possessed. But let us endeavour to see of what it is that he now complains, and in ascertaining that, I fear there will be great difficulty. As far as it appears to me, his complaint was, that although the Sultan had given such powers to Her Majesty, Her Majesty had no right, by any Ordinance which She may make under the Treaty, to deal with any subjects other than British or Turkish subjects; or rather to deal with the subjects of any Power having Capitulations with the Ottoman Court. Now here, of course, arises, or there might arise, a question of considerable anxiety and of considerable difficulty. The Sultan has given to Her Majesty the occupation and administration of the Island. He has given up not only the occupation and administration of the Island, but he has given to Her Majesty the right to legislate, and the right to make Treaties. Therefore, he has relinquished to a highly civilized Power—perhaps the most civilized Power in the world, if I may venture to use the term—not only the right to occupy and to administer the affairs of the Island, but the right to legislate and make such laws as Her Majesty shall please, and to enter into such Conventions and Treaties with regard to that Island as She shall think proper. The reason why foreign Powers—take France or Italy, for example—made Conventions with the Porto, under which it was stipulated that, to a certain extent, and under certain conditions, the subjects of such Powers should be treated differently to Turkish subjects, was that the administration of the law by the Ottoman Courts was distrusted; because it was thought —and, perhaps, justly—that their tribunals were corrupt, and because it was 1574 considered by those Powers that entered into these Capitulations, and made these Conventions, that they could not rely upon the justice of the Porte being impartially administered to their subjects who might happen to be in Turkey. But as soon as the government and administration of the Island was handed over to Great Britain; as soon as Her Majesty was empowered to make laws for the Island; as soon as She had any power to enter into Treaties and Conventions with respect to the Island, surely the reasons for the Capitulations being entered into entirely ceased, and there was no reason to enforce their stipulations. I think it will not be considered unreasonable in me to express a wish that my hon. and learned Friend would take a somewhat broad and extended view of this position, when possibly he might come to the conclusion that the Capitulations are not binding upon this country. Let my hon. and learned Friend, in justice to me, bear in mind that I do not say this is so. He will surely allow me to continue to be cautious. I am not going to pledge myself to the proposition that these Conventions have ceased to exist because Her Majesty has entered into a Treaty with Turkey. That is a question that it is not necessary for me to decide. But my hon. and learned Friend, who has made International Law his study, has not been able to cite any authority to show that the proposition is not an accurate one. On the contrary, he candidly admits that he cannot put his hand upon any case to show that the proposition is not accurate. I suppose he will not object to my statement that it is at best a moot point. But what has Her Majesty's Government done? Her Majesty has received from the Sultan certain powers to make laws, and in the exercise of those powers She has made certain temporary provisions that have been alluded to by my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State with respect to the regulation of the judicial system in Cyprus. If Her Majesty has no power to bind those subjects of other States having Conventions with Turkey, of course they cannot, and will not, be bound; and Her Majesty has no power to make laws binding upon them. That is a proposition which my hon. and learned Friend will not, I apprehend, contest; and, therefore, no harm will 1575 be done. But what is my hon. and learned Friend contending for? The Cypriotes are subjects of the Sultan, and are subject to the laws of Turkey, which they have been under for some considerable time. It is not proposed substantially to alter their position; but it is the intention to make such laws as Her Majesty can properly do to regulate the administration of justice, so far as British subjects are concerned, and for those who are not British subjects or Cypriotes, and for whom Her Majesty can make these laws. What condition of affairs would be produced if my hon. and learned Friend's ideas were carried out? He says that there are States which have made Conventions and stipulations with Turkey, and that the subjects of those States are not in and by virtue of those stipulations to have justice administered to them by the Turkish Courts, but that they are to have justice administered to them by their respective Consuls. That is not altogether correct. It is only correct to a certain extent; and though my hon. and learned Friend seldom errs, he does so sometimes. The proposition is too wide; it is only applicable to disputes between the subjects of a common State. But supposing a subject of a foreign State—I speak of the general tenor of these Conventions, I do not say that there is no difference between them—if a subject of one of these foreign States commits a crime upon a Turkish subject, the provision is not that that subject of a foreign State shall be tried by his own Consul, or tried by a tribunal of his own country, but that a representative of his country shall be allowed to attend the Turkish tribunal and represent him there. In minor offences it is a dragoman who attends, and in more serious cases the Consul is allowed to go; but, nevertheless, the offender, although the subject of a foreign State, is to be tried by a Turkish tribunal, and to have justice, or injustice, administered to him by Turkish Judges. Bearing that in mind, what would be the position of those persons who are the subjects of foreign States having these Conventions if, when Her Majesty was making these Ordinances, She had excluded all those persons from the benefit of them? Her Majesty's Government erect Courts of Justice in Cyprus, framed after the model of our English Courts of Justice, 1576 where the law is administered with perfect impartiality and fairness, and where there cannot be the slightest objection to the mode in which the law is applied. Such Courts Her Majesty's Government proposes to establish; and She says to all the world outside British subjects— "You may have the benefit of these Courts." Would it not be a cruel injustice to say to the subjects of any Power which has made Conventions with Turkey—"These Courts—these excellent Courts—we are are going to establish under this Ordinance shall not be open to you. So far as you are concerned, the door shall be shut against you." But from whence do these objections come? I have said that Her Majesty's Government has no power to make Ordinances so far as these people are concerned, and that any Ordinance it might make would be inoperative. Does the objection come from those States having subjects in Cyprus? No. It comes from the Opposition Bench and from my hon. and learned Friends opposite; and in order that my hon. and learned Friends may embarrass or inflict some disastrous defeat upon Her Majesty's Government, they strike at the Government through those States. If any country thought that it would be wronged by any action of Her Majesty's Government with regard to these matters, it would very soon make a complaint, and say—"You must take care that our subjects are placed in the position in which they would be but for the Ordinance. You must take good care that if our subjects commit any offence they shall be taken before the Turkish, and not the English tribunals, and have a dragoman or Consul to represent them." These States do not say this, and personally they are quite content. If they did not urge any difficulty, their self-elected Representatives cannot be heard on their behalf. This Ordinance is a temporary measure, and it has only been made for the emergency, and may last but for a short time. If any representations come to the Government from foreign countries to say that they are dissatisfied with the nature of the Ordinance, can any hon. Member doubt but that they will be duly considered; and that the grievance, if grievance there is found to exist, will be at once removed, as it can be, without the slightest difficulty.
§ SIR HENRY JAMES
was sure that the House would agree in congratulating the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General upon some portion of the observations which he had made. One-half of the House would congratulate him upon the courage with which he stated his opinions, and the other half upon his caution. But no one could congratulate him upon his accuracy; for if the course of the debate had been followed, it would be found that while the Under Secretary of State had been saying one thing the Attorney General had been giving expression to another view. The House had been endeavouring to discover what would be the position of foreign States in relation to the administration of justice to their own subjects; and it had a right to ask what their position would be? It was not that they were fighting the battle of the foreign States, as the Attorney General had put it; and that because the foreign States had made no complaint their position was not to be regarded. On the contrary, it was wise caution on the part of the House to see what their position was, and to prevent the Government from getting into a scrape. They had got into a good many scrapes; and it appeared to him to be a wise precaution for the House to prevent them getting into any more. In the early part of the evening the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was questioned as to the relation of foreign States to the English Court, and he stated that the Government had come to the conclusion that they should be subjected to the administration of law in the English Courts. That was the statement of the Under Secretary of State with regard to the position of the subjects of foreign nations having Conventions with the Sultan. He distinctly stated that the Government had determined upon the course they were going to take, which would subject foreign nations to the administration of justice by the English Courts.
§ MR. BOURKE
I spoke as to the Ordinance itself; that is the construction of the Ordinance; the policy of the matter does not depend upon me.
§ SIR HENRY JAMES
said, that what the Attorney General had stated was that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford was fighting Her Majesty's Government in the cause of foreign na- 1578 tions; but that, when any case of complaint arose, the positions of the foreign nations would be considered. But the Government had considered it, and they had made an Ordinance relating to it. The question had arisen, and the Government had provided for it. It was useless to say that when the question arose the Government would provide for it, or to say that when any representation was made by foreign nations it would be taken into account. The position of the foreign nations had been considered, and the action of the Government was that, according to their Ordinance, foreign nations were to have justice administered to them by English Courts. If foreign nations objected to the course taken, Her Majesty's Government must either yield to their representations or get into a difficulty with them. The Attorney General had taunted that Bench that it was fighting the Government over the shoulders of foreign nations; the hon. and learned Gentleman said—"Let us wait until foreign nations object, and then we can provide for them."
§ SIR HENRY JAMES
would ask his hon. and learned Friend one question. Did he give advice to Her Majesty's Government with relation to the position of foreign nations under the Ordinance referred to?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir JOHN HOLKER)
My hon. and learned Friend has no right to ask me what advice I have given to Her Majesty's Government.
§ SIR HENRY JAMES
said, that the Attorney General's statement had been that if this Ordinance did not bind foreign nations, then they would not be bound by it. That was the result to which he arrived; but he had forgotten that the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had been more candid, and had told the House that Her Majesty's Government had made up its mind, and that this Ordinance was framed for the purpose of binding foreign nations. He presumed that the Attorney General had been mistaken in saying that he did not know whether foreign nations would be bound by the Ordinance, and that if they raised the question then it would be decided. But 1579 if it were raised in the way the hon. and learned Gentleman contemplated, the result would very soon be seen. It was a most undignified position for that country to occupy—that the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs should tell the House one thing, and that, 11 hours after, Her Majesty's Attorney General should state to the House another. When Turkey owned Cyprus she made Contracts with foreign nations, to the effect that the subjects of those nations should be tried by their own laws and by their own Consular Courts. That night they had heard the Attorney General contend that because the reason for that contract was gone the contract itself had gone. That was the proposition which was presented to the House, and, said the Attorney General now, "You are going to have good laws administered under the Ordinance by the English Courts." But that was not the proposition of the Under Secretary of State, and it was a proposition that no lawyer in that House had a right to present to it. It was a doctrine that might in time of shift be put forward as an apology; but it was not an argument which ought to be allowed in the House. What right had this country to say to foreign nations that because it had intervened in the affairs of Cyprus the contract with Turkey was broken? This country was now saying to foreign countries—"You may decide matters between your subjects, but not between them and the subjects of other nations, or between natives and your subjects." It was useless to say that the day for the consideration of these questions would be postponed, and that it would not arise until Borne foreign nation protested. He thought it would come soon; but the House had better understand now what the position was, audit had better abide by the view laid down by the Under Secretary of State, that under all circumstances Her Majesty's Government would insist that the contract between Turkey and foreign nations was gone, that it had been absorbed into their Ordinance with the permission of Turkey, though certainly without the consent of any other European Power. What he wished to protest against was the view of the Attorney General, that they had not the right to declare in the face of Europe that they were going to do these things when they were really going to 1580 do them, but that they should wait until some Power protested, and then do the best to remedy the wrong done.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I do not feel very clear as to the advantage that has arisen from the discussion of the last few minutes. Undoubtedly very abstruse arguments have been put forward by the legal authorities on one side and the other of the House; and there can be no doubt that the arguments that have been brought forward have in them a great deal of ingenuity, whether they lead to any practical or useful result or not. It certainly seems to me, looking at the matter from a practical point of view, that what has really taken place is a matter of this kind. In former times the administration of justice in the Ottoman Empire was so unsatisfactory that foreign nations felt themselves compelled to claim from the Porte special privileges and special systems of administration for the protection of their own subjects. These privileges were granted under Capitulations, the substance and meaning of which was this—that, whereas the Ottoman Porte could not be trusted or expected to administer justice in matters in which Christians were concerned fairly and properly, the Porte handed over to the Consuls of those nations certain powers which placed the administration, or a great part of the administration, of the affairs of their own subjects in the hands, not of the Porte itself, but in the hands of the Consuls of those nations. I apprehend there was a very good reason for that, for there was a very great difficulty in administering the Ottoman law in the Cadi's Courts to Christians who might be suitors there. And there were various reasons which made it the lesser of two evils that an abnormal and stringent power should be given to the Consuls of foreign countries to administer law within the Ottoman dominions. I am right in saying it was strange and abnormal, and that it came about for strange and abnormal reasons. What has happened recently? The Porte has handed over to a Christian Government—to a Government which administers law and justice on the same principles as other European nations—the Porte has handed over the administration of a certain portion of its territory to that Government. It is admitted that if there had been a complete cession of Cyprus there would not have 1581 been any question raised as between the Porte and the countries with which the Treaties have been made; but it is said that Treaties between those countries and the Porte were so binding that, as no complete cession has been made, those Treaties cannot be altered. Are you to assume that in those parts of the Ottoman Empire ceded to Russia the Capitulations are enforced? I am at a loss to know what difference there is between the cession of Cyprus to us and the cession of other portions of the Ottoman dominions to Russia; they both seem to me to stand very much upon the same footing. Looking at the nature of the transfer of the administration from the Porte to the British Government, it is a transfer for a time, and the cession is limited in point of time, no doubt; but it is not limited, so far as I understand, in point of character. It is an absolute transfer of the administration to the British Government; and there is no reservation in the transfer by the Porte to the British Government of any rights that have been granted in Capitulations with other nations. As between the Porte and the British Government the Porte was the guardian of these Treaties and Capitulations. So far as I am concerned, I do not think we have any right to look behind the arrangements that we have made, or to say what rights that have been given are binding upon us. At the present moment we are in a state of transition, and an Ordinance, which has been already described, has been prepared, and will shortly be promulgated. It seems to me that this is a state of things which is very clear and intelligible. Whether questions may arise hereafter upon this point I cannot undertake to say, because there is no saying what question the ingenuity of lawyers may not suggest. But it is curious that these suggestions come from hon. Gentlemen in this House, rather than from those affected by the matter; and I think we had better wait until we see whether any nation does complain of the loss, or puts in a claim for the restoration of its Consular jurisdiction, and is not satisfied with the system offered by our Ordinance, before we discuss these abstract questions. I feel that I ought to offer an apology to the House for venturing to trespass upon this delicate ground, as I am not learned in the law; but I cannot help being 1582 struck by the vague nature of the argument that has taken place this evening-I do not mean to say that many questions that have been put, especially some of those in the beginning of the evening by the hon. Baronet who opened the discussion, have not been questions of a thoroughly practical character; but certainly a great deal of the talk that we have heard this evening has seemed to me to be very vague. We have heard a good deal of the old questions which we have discussed over and over again— such as, "Why is it that we thought it necessary or desirable to enter into this Convention at all, and to occupy Cyprus?" A great many suggestions have been made, and we have had quotations from works of fiction, and quotations from what I may almost call fictitious reports of speeches stated to have been made in the course of the Recess. All sorts of suggestions have been made, and the result upon my mind is that so many excellent reasons have been suggested for the occupation of Cyprus that it ceases to be a wonder that Cyprus has been occupied. I wish to take notice of some observations that I am said to have made to the effect that we took Cyprus in order that it might be a sort of model farm under our management, a sort of model for the administration of the Asiatic dominions of Turkey generally I am convinced that I never said that was the reason we were occupying Cyprus. What I said was that it was one great advantage that we derived from the occupation of Cyprus that it enabled us to study the race, and to present to others a solution of problems of a most difficult character. But it is not right to look for the reason of our occupation of Cyprus to such utterances as that. If hon. Members will look at the charter of our occupation of Cyprus—namely, the Anglo-Turkish Convention of last year—they will see that it states the reasons why Her Majesty's Government are to have the Island assigned to them. It was to enable us to carry into effect certain engagements then made; and, undoubtedly, one of those engagements was that we should guarantee the dominions of the Sultan in Asia from attack by Russia; another of those considerations was that Turkey, on her side, should agree with Her Majesty's Government as to the reforms she was to make in her Asiatic dominions. Anyone 1583 who has studied Turkey knows that the reform of the Asiatic dominions of the Porte is no slight work. That work, even when undertaken in the best possible spirit, and with all sincerity, and with ample opportunities and means for the reform of a system which has been so greatly abused, is indeed a task of the very greatest difficulty. That reform cannot be brought about by merely taking some Utopian Constitution out of the works of Plato or of Sir Thomas More, or even by taking the British Constitution as a model, or the Constitution of one of our Colonies. We have to deal with existing facts—with an existing body of facts—we have to deal with these facts, and with the populations living under the system, and who have grown up under it. How you are to reform it with the least possible disturbance and bring about, not a perfect system, but an Imperial and improved system, is the great object. During the Recess I said—and I say again in this House— that it is a great advantage to us who have to give advice with regard to Turkish affairs that we should be able to study the system on a small scale, and under circumstances which enable us to realize the difficulties which the Turks themselves have to contend against. We are trying ourselves on a small scale how these difficulties are to be met, and it will enable us to give advice of a more practical character than any we could evolve from our inner consciousness. This is the spirit in which we have acted; but we are met with criticism, because there are still a great many evils existing in Cyprus. Everybody knows that, and undoubtedly we have not removed them all in six or nine months. It is because we have to act cautiously, and be careful not to root up the wheat with the tares, that much time must necessarily be expended in the work which we have undertaken. It is very easy to tell us that there are still evils which we have not yet succeeded in rooting up. Perhaps these are questions which ought to be brought before the House, and to which our attention should be drawn; and it is quite right that they should be discussed, in order that we may make the explanations that are necessary. But there are two opposite senses in which these criticisms may be made, and the two poles of criticism have been shown us to-night by 1584 the speakers on the other side of the House. The hon. Member for Frome (Mr. H. Samuelson), says that he has a good many points upon which we may be attacked, and that he will take care that we shall hear enough about them. But there is another spirit of criticism which has been very well exemplified by the hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. T. Brassey), who read to us an expression of Colonel Warren's opinion that we should have good speed in our work. That is the manner in which hon. Members might make mischievous criticism really useful; for, although they may differ from us in many points, yet they must agree with us in their hearts in the desire that we should do our work well and creditably, and for the benefit of the people of Cyprus. If there has been one generous and general feeling of acknowledgment, it has been to Sir Garnet Wolseley and those who have assisted him in performing his work. There is but one opinion as to his being the man who will do the work. No doubt, he and his colleagues are obliged to exercise some severity in putting down abuses, and it is probable that some little severity is exercised, for when persons who have felt that they are privileged to trample upon the laws are suddenly pulled up and sent to prison they naturally raise a great cry. It is an old saying that one cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs, and, no doubt, there have been eggs broken in the making of a dish which I trust will turn out most satisfactorily in the end. I will not occupy the attention of the House further by going over the ground already so well traversed by my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State, who is so well informed upon the points which he has touched upon. I will only express my opinion that the position of the Government in Cyprus should be met in a friendly spirit, and in a legitimate endeavour to discover the means by which improvement in the administration can take place, and should not be met, as some observations made in the House to-night have shown, in a spirit of carping criticism.
§ MR. HERSCHELL
said, it appeared to him that the people who lived on the Island of Cyprus, now under our administration, should know distinctly under what law they were to be governed. He could not, however, but feel, after hear- 1585 ing what had been stated by the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and the replies of the Attorney General and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the matter was still left in doubt as to whether French, Italian, and other foreign subjects dwelling in Cyprus were to be governed by their own laws, or those enacted for British subjects. This question was by no means one of mere curiosity and speculation, for the reason that before long it would infallibly present itself; and it therefore seemed to him that it would be far better to have the matter determined before any difficulty arose with foreign Governments, than to place themselves in the false position of insisting upon the enaction of laws for the subjects of foreign nations, and afterwards retreating from the position taken up. The criticisms which had been offered upon that subject could not be described as unfair, but were intended to direct the attention of the Government to possible and probable difficulties ahead, which, if the right steps were taken at the present time, might be avoided. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that the reason had altogether ceased why the Treaties of foreign nations with the Porte should be insisted upon; but he (Mr. Herschell) replied that it did not at all follow that it should, therefore, be insisted that Treaties were at an end. The various nations concerned therein might take a view of the case entirely different to that. But if the Government view of the matter was well founded, there could be no difficulty whatever in getting the nations interested to assent to the abrogation of the Treaties, which, if it were obtained, would put an end to all difficulty. Again, if that view were correct—and it would be seen that it was the basis of the arguments stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—surely common sense would suggest, that it was better to deal first with foreign nations concerned before any difficulty arose and come to a clear understanding with them, that, with the conditions at present existing in Cyprus, the Capitulations should not be enforced.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir HARDINGE GIFFARD)
urged that the Porte had, in the completest manner, given over the entire occupation of the Island, and all power of making laws for its government and of judicial ad- 1586 ministration. The Capitulations were personal, and were made between foreign Powers and the Sultan, who retained merely Sovereignty, but no legislative or judicial powers; and who had, therefore, entirely transferred the power of exercising jurisdiction in the Courts of Justice to Her Majesty. The Capitulations seemed to him to be necessarily dependent upon the continued power of the Porte to legislate and administer law; and the moment the Porte parted with the power to legislate or administer justice the power to enforce them ceased, and the Capitulations themselves came to an end.
§ MR. COURTNEY
wished to put the argument of the Solicitor General to a practical test. He had said that the Porte was under certain obligations to foreign Powers with regard to Cyprus; that Cyprus was, practically, assigned to us for an unlimited term; that we took the Island upon a kind of lease; and that there was also an agreement on the part of the Porte which ceded to us the right of legislating with regard to it; and that, as a consequence of this grant of legislative powers, the obligations of the Porte towards independent foreign Powers had ceased and determined. He (Mr. Courtney), in order to test the soundness of the Solicitor General's argument, wished to ask one question. The Viceroy of Egypt had the independent power of legislation for that country—his position as a feudatory of the Porte, paying a tribute or rent, being somewhat analogous to our position with respect to Cyprus. If, as he understood the Solicitor General to affirm, the obligations of the Porte towards foreigners in respect of Cyprus had ceased and determined, was it in the power of the Viceroy of Egypt also to abrogate the Capitulations existing in that country with respect to foreign subjects resident therein? If so, the Viceroy had singularly neglected his power in that respect; for he had never claimed such a right, although he had long been negotiating with France and England and the other Powers to enter on an agreement superseding the continuance of the Capitulations. He had never claimed this supposed right, and if he had, the Western Powers would certainly have never allowed the claim.
§ MR. DILLWYN
appealed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to state 1587 whether it was his intention to take a Vote in Supply at that time of the night? He supposed the Government required the money asked for; and he certainly did not wish to put any obstruction in the way of Business. Considering the way in which the Estimates were generally dealt with, and the sums voted on account, they would be probably asked for another Vote before the end of June, and the old story would be repeated of pushing off Supply until the last week of the Session. The system of giving so large a sum as three months' Supply on account had always appeared to him objectionable, inasmuch as it gave facilities to the Government for pursuing the un-Parliamentary course which they had adopted of late years. He was well aware that, by the present system of keeping the Government Accounts, which required that any unspent balances should be handed over to the Treasury, Her Majesty's Government could not apply any one balance to purposes other than those for which it was intended. That, of course, necessitated their coming to the House for Votes on Account. He had no doubt that money was wanted for the Civil Service; but could not help saying that he should have been better pleased had the Government limited themselves to a two months' Supply. He would, therefore, appeal to Her Majesty's Government to adjourn the debate. If the Government would consent to take two months' Supply, he should have no further objection to offer. He moved that the debate be now adjourned.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned." —(Mr. Dillwyn.)
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
inquired whether the Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) would follow the course pursued last year, and make a general Statement in explanation of the Civil Service Estimates upon going into Committee of Supply? He pointed out to the House that, by going into Supply at that moment, they would shut out all the remaining Motions on the Paper. He ventured to suggest that the proposal of the hon. Member for Swansea, for taking two months' Supply, should be adopted, and that Her Majesty's Government should put down Supply for Thursday, in order 1588 that the Motions standing in the names of hon. Members should have a chance of being discussed.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
said, the Government were aware of the difficulty pointed out by the hon. Member for Reading, with regard to the Motions remaining on the Paper; but it was one that would not be allowed to arise, as it was their intention to take Supply on Thursday. With regard to the other point raised by the hon. Member, he would remind him that last year no such Statement with regard to the Civil Service Estimates was made, as he appeared to think. What the hon. Member referred to was probably a Statement by the First Lord of the Admiralty, made when he was in charge of the Estimates; but it was not considered that sufficient interest attached to such Statement, and it was, consequently, not intended to be made this year. With regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn), he pointed out that his object was to get a proper discussion upon the Estimates; and it was because he regretted their postponement to the end of the Session that the Vote on Account was asked for. Two Votes were taken on Account last year, he (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) having been obliged to come down to the House for another two months' Vote on Account, because it was found to be impossible to push on the Civil Service Estimates with sufficient rapidity to enable them to deal with the different branches of the Service. A three months' Supply would, practically, enable them to avoid a second Vote for the present year. His object had been to avoid Votes on Account, which were, in his opinion, as much disliked by the Committee as by himself. For that reason, he ventured to propose to the House to give a Vote for three months' Supply, in the hope that the necessity for further Votes on Account would be prevented. He trusted that they would hereafter be in a position to require only one Vote in the course of the year.
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be perfectly successful in avoiding Votes on Account. The House would recollect that it was at a very late period that the Civil Service Estimates were commenced last year, during which there were two 1589 Votes on Account which amounted only to £5,000,000. It appeared to him to be perfectly unnecessary to ask for a three months' Supply; and he could but repeat the suggestion of the hon. Member for Swansea that two months' Supply would be quite ample.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, that as a consequence of Votes on Account being constantly taken, the discussion upon the Estimates had been driven off to the end of the Session, when, in fact, there could be no real discussion upon them. This year, however, the Government had introduced certain new Rules, in the discussion of which four days had been consumed. One of those Rules had been broken that evening, and was about to be broken again, for the Chancellor of the Exchequer was obliged to put down Supply as a second Order of the Day. If the four days consumed in discussing the new Rules had been employed upon the Estimates, both the House and the country would have been satisfied. But as it appeared that Supply was not to be the first Order of the Day on Monday, it was clear that the time had been wasted on a perfectly useless work. The Secretary to the Treasury now proposed to take more than double the amount of money taken last year. At 1 o'clock in the morning it was not right to be taking Supply at all; and there were, besides, certain items in the Vote now asked for which related to Ireland, and to which he (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had a great objection. He quite admitted the cleverness of the Government tactics in not asking for any Vote on Account of the Queen's Colleges in Ireland, which it was, no doubt, thought would disarm the resentment of Irish Members and prevent their entering into the debate. But he doubted whether many hon. Members would support the action of the Government in that matter; for it would result that when any Vote was asked for on account of the Queen's Colleges, there could be no discussion upon important points upon which Irish Members were required to legislate. The Vote would be put off until the end of the Session, when the Government would have a big majority about them; the Irish Members would make their objections, and after occupying the House of Commons for a reasonable number of hours the Government would get their money. He inquired whether the Vote for the 1590 Queen's Colleges was to be passed for ever, for the purpose of giving the Irish people a form of education which they did not want, and which they did not like? Under the circumstances, he did not think that the suggestion of the hon. Member for Swansea was a reasonable one, and trusted that Supply would not be taken that evening.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
replied that there was no absolute necessity for taking the Vote for the Queen's Colleges, Ireland, early in the year.
§ MR. RYLANDS
reminded the Secretary to the Treasury, that he had not responded to the compromise suggested by the hon. Member for Swansea. He wished to be informed whether the Government were determined to adhere to their proposal to ask for rather more than three months' Supply? The Government invariably told the House that if a Vote on Account were granted they hoped to be able to take the Civil Service Estimates earlier in the year, and that it should not be driven to the end of the Session. Yet, on every occasion on which that promise had been given, the expectation had been disappointed. Hope told a nattering tale, and the Government at the commencement of the Session imagined they would have facility for getting money which they did not really possess. As a fact, legislative measures were allowed to thrust Supply on one side; and, unless they were forced thereto by absolute necessity, the Government would not come to the House for money until the last thing. If the Secretary to the Treasury did not see his way to accept the modified proposal of his hon. Friend the Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn), he must appeal to the House to adjourn this debate, as it was a matter of public disadvantage that the speeches now being made could not be reported. The statement made by the Secretary to the Treasury was most important, and it ought to be known to all Members of the House, and not merely to those in the House, that the Government had undertaken, if they got into Supply, that nothing should stand in the way of the privilege of Members on the next occasion upon which it was put down. Taking the late hour of the night and other circumstances into consideration, it would be only reasonable to adjourn the Vote to another occasion.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
remarked that no one had objected to the length of the discussion that evening, looking at the interest of the subjects raised. Yet it was just possible that if this discussion had been based on an Irish subject and conducted by Irish Members, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have made his appearance at an earlier period of the evening, and would have protested against that debate as an interference with the progress of Public Business. There had been no such interference that night, for, probably, the Government was anxious to arouse and excite the country, by one distinguished officer giving one view and another distinguished officer another view on the same question. But these Estimates were really of the most debate able kind; and the question of Votes on Account required looking into. Since their attention had been attracted to the fact that mixed education did not exist in Scotland, and that Scotch education was settled according to the Westminster Confession of Faith, they had determined to go into the matter most thoroughly. Then, again, there were a number of Votes which had been increased, while others had been diminished. They had had no opportunity of learning the reason of all this by passing Votes on Account. Then, again, there was the Vote for Secret Service, to which many Members had a very strong objection indeed. The Irish Members knew the misery and demoralization which had spread and resulted from the expenditure of the Secret Service money; and, therefore, they had a special objection to it. Then there was also the question of the Fishery Board for Scotland. Last year, they had an instructive and interesting debate on the subject, and a full consideration of the reasons why Scotland should be indulged in a Fishery Board, in order that its herrings might sell better than Irish herrings in foreign countries. Among other subjects were the new Office of Public Works, the pay of the Constabulary—especially after some of their recent exhibitions— the Reformatory and Industrial Schools, the Endowed Schools Commissioners and their policy in Ireland, the Grants in aid of the Colonies, and so forth, all of which were of the utmost importance. Indeed, topics of the first importance literally bristled upon these Votes. Yet they 1592 were asked to give up all their rights of criticism in order to allow the Government to get money. Were they entitled, by their past performances and by the way in which they had carried out their promises in past years, to such an indulgence? He was inclined very strongly to support the hon. Gentleman the Member for Gal way (Mr. Mitchell Henry) in any opposition to this proposal of the Government. It was all very well for the Government to say they would give them ample opportunity for discussing their grievances. What they might consider to be a sufficient opportunity, and what hon. Members might consider sufficient, would probably by no means amount to the same thing. On the whole, therefore, he thought it was far better that private Members should take care of their own interests, and see that they had proper opportunities for bringing forward their Motions, rather than trust to the promises of the Government, who had so often shown that it was unable, he would not say unwilling, to keep them.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I do not think the House has a right to complain of the Government for not endeavouring to fulfil any obligation into which we may have entered with regard to the Votes of Supply. Last year, for instance, we made engagements to bring forward the Civil Service Estimates, and we kept those engagements; but, owing to the action of certain hon. Members, who always moved Amendments whenever Supply was put down, we were sometimes unable to bring on the Votes, though they were on the Paper. This year, however, by the arrangements to which the House has already agreed, we shall be in a very different position, and it will be much easier for us now to undertake to bring forward Votes on Supply on given days and to insure a discussion. With regard to the particular Votes referred to by the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) and the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell), we will undertake, on some given day, to bring forward the Vote for Irish Education at such a time and in such a manner as to give full opportunity for discussion. We have intentionally not taken any Vote for the Queen's College or University College, so as not to raise inconvenient discussion. As, however, 1593 we have not a Vote on Account, we must come somewhat earlier for this Vote than we shall have to do for other Votes in the list. I may add that we are prepared to adopt the suggestion of the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn), and to reduce the Vote to two-thirds, taking it for two months instead of three. The Vote on the Paper, therefore, will be only for two-thirds of the amount, and all the items will be adjusted accordingly. Under these circumstances, I hope hon. Members will allow us to take a Vote tonight.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.