§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
, in rising to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer the following Question:—Whether, inasmuch as some years ago, in the interests of humanity, the Government of the day took steps to mitigate the horrors of the State prosecutions of the Neapolitan Government, Her Majesty's present Government propose to take any steps, in the interests of humanity, towards mitigating the severities of the State prosecutions now being carried on, under the state of siege, in Russia, said: I beg leave, with your permission, Sir, and the kind indulgence of the House, to be allowed to say a few words of personal explanation, and also in reference to and in explanation of the Question which appears in my name upon the Paper. Since my arrival, two minutes ago, from the country, I have received a communication from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, couched in the most courteous terms; and I venture to assure the right hon. Gentleman that I never for one moment intended to hint or insinuate that his absence from his place last Wednesday was intentional. I know the occupations of the right hon. Gentleman, and but for another incident, when I saw he was not in his place, I should have withdrawn the Question of which I had given Notice, without one word of comment, until such a time as would have been convenient to the right hon. Gentleman. I will go further, and say that, so far from wishing to make any reflection upon the right hon. Gentleman, I maintain that, which every person in this House will reciprocate—namely, that the well-known courtesy of the right hon. 1585 Gentleman, his good temper, and the patient forbearance which has characterized him in the discharge of his arduous duties as Leader of this House, have insured to him—and most justly insured to him—the esteem, respect, and consideration of every Member of this House. Now, Sir, I wish, with the permission of the House—and I do so most anxiously—to refer to the other incident to which I have alluded. I gave on Tuesday last public Notice of a Question, and I came down hero on Wednesday morning to put that Question. I sat in the House for some time on Tuesday afternoon in order to listen to the speech—I always listen to him with admiration—of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen), and not one word was said to me in reference to my Question. But when I came down hero on Wednesday morning I saw a Notice of a Question in my name which omitted altogether a reference which I desired to make, and which made it appear that I sympathized with a Nihilist conspiracy in Russia. Now, of course, nothing could be further from, my intention than that, and I declined to put the Question. The Question which I put upon the Paper—of course, I bow with all respect and reverence to the decision of the Chair; I do not wish to contest the decision of the Chair for one moment—but I did introduce the name in my Question—I believe perfectly in accordance with precedent—of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, and I referred to the noble appeals that he made in 1851 and 1852 with reference to the state of things in Naples, for the purpose of giving weight to the Question I was about to put; and the name of the right hon. Gentleman was omitted from the Question which was put upon the Paper in my name. I will not say another word about this; but I wished to refer to the name and appeals of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich for this reason:—The right hon. Gentleman and many others—myself among the number—frequently drew the attention of Parliament in 1851 and 1852 to the state of things in Naples, not because we expected a satisfactory answer in this House, but in order to excite the attention of the House, and to strike a chord of sympathy in this country for those who were suffering in Italy.
§ MR. SPEAKER
When putting a Question, every Member of this House is entitled to make such explanation as may be necessary to make his Question plain to the House; but I am bound to say that the right hon. Baronet seems to me to be passing beyond the bounds of an explanation of that kind, and that he is out of Order.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
Then, Sir, I will merely say that I had introduced a reference to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich in my Question, for the purpose of adding weight to that Question. That has been omitted from the Question which is now upon the Paper, and to which I beg to ask from the Government a reply. I say that, of course, I do not expect to get a very satisfactory reply; but I put it for the purpose of exciting attention, and touching a chord in the country.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
In answering the Question of my right hon. Friend I wish, in the first place, to express to him and to the House my regret that I was not present on Wednesday, as I should undoubtedly have been had I known that he wished to put a Question to me. In saying this, let me add that I feel very much indebted to him for the very kind language which he has used towards me, but which is more than I deserve. As far as the Question of my right hon. Friend is concerned, I can only say that the Government have not received any communication on the subject of the prosecutions now being carried on in Russia, and it would not be consistent with their duty to interfere with the internal affairs of that country. My right hon. Friend, when giving Notice of his Question, reminded the House, as a ground for his Question, that stops were taken some years ago with reference to State prosecutions in Naples; and he referred to some very remarkable pamphlets which were published at the time by my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich—pamphlets which received, as they deserved, great attention. What took place in regard to those pamphlets I believe was this—that they were sent by our Foreign Office to the Representatives of this Government at all the Courts of Europe, to be communicated to the foreign Ministers of those Courts, except the Court of Naples itself. That did 1587 not seem to have led to any direct advantage at the Court of Naples, though at a later period some unofficial communications were made to the Neapolitan Government; but the more important representations that were afterwards made to that Government were made in consequence of the Proctocols of the Treaty of Paris of 1856. Upon those Protocols, no doubt, representations were made by the Governments of Prance and of England to the Government of Naples, and, those not being favourably received, ultimately the Ministers of the two countries were withdrawn from the Court of Naples. I do not think that the experience then gained was of a character to encourage us to repeat any proceedings of that sort, even if we had the same grounds to go upon as the very remarkable pamphlets which on that occasion were placed in the hands of the Government by a gentleman of high authority, and were founded upon his own personal experience and observation.
§ MAJOR O'GORMAN
I beg, Sir, to move that this House do now adjourn. I do so for the purpose of putting myself in Order with reference to the Question put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer by the right hon. Baronet opposite. I must say that I regard the conduct of Her Majesty's Government with respect to foreign Governments at this moment as something like that pursued by the young nobles of ancient Rome when they were in their cups. When they left their clubs and walked down the streets of Rome they insulted and abused every poor and unprotected person whom they met on the way; but it was very strange, Sir, that when they encountered the Ædile of the City they did not appear to be under the influence of drink at all. They were in a moment perfectly sober; they knew how to conduct themselves then. It is the same case with Her Majesty's Government now. Her Majesty's Government can insult the Afghans, the Zulus—["Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is not entitled to apply language of that kind to any body of Members in this House; and I must, therefore, call upon him to withdraw the terms in which he speaks of Her Majesty's Government.
§ MAJOR O'GORMAN
I bow to your decision, and withdraw the expression 1588 "insult;" but I say that they trample them under foot. They trample the Afghans under foot—they have declared war against Afghanistan for no reason whatever, and contrary to solemn promises and Treaties. They have acted similarly with regard to Zululand. They have waged war through a new King that they have erected—Sir Bartle Frere the First, the Audacious. They have actually sent out a letter censuring him, and now they stand by him and declare he may proceed in murdering the Zulus. It is nothing else, Sir—nothing else whatever. Sir, the Government of this day are intoxicated with their immense majorities and with the enormous sums of money they have drained from the taxpayers of this country, and these are the reasons, I say, why they feel disposed to trample upon the liberties of peoples. The Ædile to them at the present moment, Sir, is—who? The Emperor of Russia. They dare not declare war upon him; they know that he is backed by upwards of 1,000,000 soldiers, and 1,000,000 Germans besides. He, therefore, is the Ædile; and although the Government are intoxicated with everything that is fortunate, they well know how to behave themselves when they encounter the Ædile. We all know—anyone can see it in the papers by reference—that many years ago armed bands of Volunteers marched through the streets of Liverpool with colours flying, music playing, and bayonets fixed, for the purpose of going out to fight the King of Naples, who was our friend, with whom we were not at war, but at perfect peace. That was done some years ago, and the Government of the day never took the slightest notice of it. General Garibaldi came over here, and was fêted by Dukes, Marquesses, and Earls. Everyone must have known that he was the greatest Revolutionist in Europe, who fought against Kings, and was assisted by us, in order that they should be dethroned by him. He made one tremendous mistake, however. He went down to the Crystal Palace, and, addressing the working men there, said—But for the assistance I obtained from the British Admiral Mundy, I never could have crossed the Straits of Messina.Nor could he! But Admiral Mundy would never have assisted him without 1589 directions. Who gave those directions? It must have been Lord Palmerston, as the head of the Government of that day. And why did he do it? Because he knew that the King of Naples was a weak Monarch. If it had been the Emperor of Russia, he never would have sent such instructions to Admiral Mundy. He dared not attack the strong Power. The Government of to-day are doing the same thing. They are asked by the right hon. Baronet whether they will, in the interests of humanity, endeavour to put an end to this dreadful ukase which was issued the other day by the Czar. I know they will not do it; he is too strong for them. He is the Ædile.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Major O'Gorman.)