§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
rose to move—That this House, before sanctioning the Appropriation of Supplies for the year, requests an, assurance from Her Majesty's Government 1930 that they will take immediate steps to ascertain from the 'de facto' Egyptian Military Authorities, whether they will lay down their arms on being guaranteed the right of voting their own Budget, which they demanded last January.The hon. Gentleman said, he might be told that it was now too late to interfere with the policy of Government in regard to Egypt; but it was never too late to discuss a policy of which they did not approve. Only on Friday last, Lord Kimberley said, regarding a policy which had been reversed, that it was a misfortune that a policy should be reversed, but it would be a greater misfortune not to reverse a policy which had been discovered to be wrong. That was his excuse for bringing forward this Amendment. He thought if he could not induce the Government to reverse their policy, he could, at all events, point out a way by which they might at least save the lives of their soldiers. They were now engaged in what everyone admitted to be a very important military expedition, and which might prove to be a very expensive one. He wanted to know what they had to do with Egypt? If they were to ask 100 different people whom they happened to meet this question, they would get 100 different answers. When the Vote of Credit was proposed, he had an opportunity of voting against the Government on the subject; but now he only wanted to see whether anything could be done in the future to improve matters. The right hon. Gentleman before the war began explained in a sentence the reasons why they interfered, and said that the object of this country was the maintenance of all established rights in Egypt—whether those of the Sultan, the Khedive, the people of Egypt, or the foreign bondholders—and that the provision of guarantees for those rights was the policy by which the Government was directed. Well, now, it could hardly be said that they were fighting for the Sultan, because it appeared that the great object of the Government, at present, was to keep the Sultan out of Egypt, or to prevent him doing that which he wished to do. A sort of Navarino was again threatened. The Prime Minister had said that they were not making war against the people of Egypt, but that the Government were determined to put down those who were the oppressors of the people of Egypt. 1931 He confessed that a declaration of that kind caused him to entertain some suspicion, for similar statements were made in the ease of the Zulu War, when it was said that they were fighting with Cetewayo, and not with his people; and in the case of the Afghan War, when it was also said that they were fighting with Shere Ali, and not with the people of the country. He should like to know, if they were really fighting to prevent the oppression of the Egyptian people, why they were so especially interested in Egypt? He supposed the people of Russia suffered under oppression, and certainly the Turkish people suffered under great oppression. He thought it was possible that the people of Egypt thought that they were less likely to be oppressed under what was called the National Party, against which we were fighting, than under Europeans. He did not propose to defend Arabi Pasha—he supposed it would be something like high treason to do so; but it must be remembered that he had no special correspondent to write home and say what he had done and not done. The special correspondents were all in our interest, and gave us only our side of the question. Although he would not defend Arabi, he would say that Arabi ought not to be attacked without good grounds. Even the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who was usually very courteous, insinuated that Arabi Pasha had been party to the Alexandria riot.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
I promised that Papers on the subject would be laid before Parliament, and they are preparing at this moment.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
Exactly. The Under Secretary of State made the statement before he had the Papers. It was not the rule of the House for a Minister to refer to Papers unless the documents were before him on the Table. ["Oh, oh!"] He believed that was the custom, if not the rule. It was stated, in order to damage the cause of Arabi, that he had threatened to kill the Khedive. When the bombardment took place, they had a Report from the Admiral, and not a word of that was mentioned. It was said that he set free 1932 the convicts to put the town on fire. There was not a word of evidence of that. The Prime Minister had said that there was not a rag or shred of evidence to prove that the Military Party in Egypt was a National Party. But the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, who was not at all likely to be in favour of Arabi, said that he found that Arabi's party was "actually the entire nation." The Cairo meeting, where all the principal people of that part of the world backed him up, certainly seemed to show that he was representing the National feeling. He knew the answer to this—"Oh! those people only held that meeting with a pistol at their head." Very likely; but that was their own pistol. The Army was their own, and it was representative of the people to a large extent. If there was not a rag or shred of evidence to show that Arabi represented the people, he thought, with all respect, that neither was there a rag or shred of evidence to show that the Khedive represented the people any more than Arabi did. Coming now to the bondholders, he could not help thinking that there would have been no war in Egypt if there had been no bondholders; and that brought him to the backbone of his case, if there was any backbone in it. How, he asked, did the present complications really arise? The National Party desired to vote those parts of the Budget which were unassigned to the payment of Foreign Debt. It was thought by some people that if they were allowed to do so the payment of that part of the Budget which was assigned to the payment of the Debt would be rendered uncertain, and accordingly our authorities determined that the Egyptian people should not be allowed to vote their own Budget. To prove that he had correctly stated the case he would refer to one or two official documents. On January 11, 1882, Sir Edward Malet wrote to Earl Granville—It must be borne in mind that the Egyptians have distinctly, for good or for evil, entered on a Constitutional path: that the Organic Law of the Chamber is their charter of liberties.…. The Chamber exists, and will continue to do so unless it is forcibly suppressed, which can only be done by intervention; and this is a last resource.On January 20 he again wrote—Armed intervention will become a necessity if we adhere to the refusal to allow the Budget to be voted by the Chamber, and we cannot do 1933 otherwise, as it forms only part of a complete scheme of revolution.…. I think that the Chamber would listen to reason if the Great Powers were to refuse to consent to the transfer of power to the Chamber, but to state that, while otherwise maintaining the status quo, they will guarantee a Constitution compatible with international engagements, and will take steps to come to an agreement on the subject. I think that this is the only way out of a situation which is rapidly leading both us and the Egyptians to extremities.On January 16 Sir Edward Malet wrote—I said to the President of the Chambers yesterday that the demand of the Chamber to vote the Budget infringes international engagements, &c. He asked me to endeavour to find a compromise, but I did not give him encouragement.Sir Edward Malet added—Sultan Pasha requested that I would use my good offices with Cherif Pasha to bring about a compromise; but I gave him no encouragement that a compromise would he possible. I pointed out to him (Sultan Pasha) that if, as I foresaw would be the case, Cherif Pasha refused to accede to the demands of the Chamber, the only way of obtaining compliance with these demands would be by force, and the consequence of resorting to such means had been clearly stated by the Governments of England and France.On February 6 the Controllers wrote—The fact must not be lost sight of that Cherif Pasha's Ministry fell only because it would not disregard the opposition of the English and French Governments to the pretension put forward by the Chamber to vote the Budget.He contended that the despatches from which he had quoted amply proved that our refusal to allow the Egyptian Chamber to vote their own Budget was the commencement of the troubles in which we were now involved. He disputed that there was any international engagement with Egypt, although there was one between the Powers themselves; but even supposing there was an international engagement with Egypt, surely international engagements were not to be eternal if they were wrong. Surely they could take steps for breaking off these engagements. Surely, if there was an international engagement to prevent the Egyptian people having powers of self-government, it would have been right to have got rid of that engagement, and not gone against the freedom of self-government of the Egyptian people. The Prime Minister, during his long and brilliant career, had 1934 distinguished himself perhaps more than in any other way by his sympathy with oppressed nationalities, and for freedom, autonomy, and self-government for suffering races. That was probably the reason why, at this moment, he was the most popular Minister that the country had ever seen. Why, therefore, should, these oppressed Egyptians be an exception to the general rule? Why should they carry all the horrors of war amongst them because they did not want them to govern their country in the way that they desired to govern it? It appeared to him that they were fighting, not to prevent the oppression of a peaceful and orderly people, but to promote the interests of those who, as Mr. Stephen Cave expressed it, lived there with no idea but to get what they could out of the general plunder. He appealed to the Prime Minister to give any other reason why they were there. We were engaging in a struggle most unworthy of a great, powerful, and free nation. Hon. Members to-morrow or the next day would leave that House and return to their homes. What news would be awaiting them? From day to day they would be expecting some horrible news of how many hundreds of our soldiers, and probably thousands of Egyptians, had been slain. Could any Englishman read these accounts with any pride or satisfaction? He thought not. All he asked was that an attempt should be made on the part of Her Majesty's Government to avert the carnage and bloodshed which now seemed imminent. If the military authorities in Egypt declined to lay down their arms on the conditions he suggested, the cause of Her Majesty's Government would be not weakened, but strengthened, by those people having in effect declared themselves to be mere self-seeking military adventurers. If, on the other hand, they should lay down their arms, there would be an end to all this trouble and expense, and an escape from all the sorrow and suffering which such a war must involve. The Prime Minister, in Mid Lothian, said—A long experience of life leads me to a deeper and deeper conviction of the enormous mischief of war, even in the best and most favourable circumstances, and of the mischief, indescribable and unredeemable, of causeless and unnecessary war.He thought this war was a manifest violation of International and Foreign 1935 Law. It was, in plain English, a sin against God and man; and it was because he believed so that he had ventured to make this protest, even at the eleventh hour, against proceeding in a cause utterly opposed to the peace, the honour, and the true interests of this country. The hon. Baronet concluded by moving his Resolution.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he desired to second the appeal made by his hon. Friend. He would not say whether he agreed or did not agree with his hon. Friend in the opinions he had expressed as to the past; but he did wish to express his strong hope that Her Majesty's Government might see their way to some equitable compromise in this matter before embarking in the great bloodshed which he was afraid must take place. He thought the appeal of his hon. Friend must go to the heart and kind feelings of the Prime Minister. Not only had they almost a certainty of considerable bloodshed, but a very great risk for the future. It had seemed to be the necessity of the case that they must in this matter co-operate with the Turkish Government, and that Government might not only break faith, but it was their interest to do so. They had the risk also of very great complications with the Arab population, not only the comparatively mild Arab population in Egypt, but the much more warlike Arab population in Syria and Arabia. They were assured that at this moment the European Powers were very friendly to them; but he had very great doubts if they got into serious troubles they would find any of those Powers very ready to assist them, and here again they ran enormous political risks. Then there was the question of cost and taxation involved in this country. He thought that the Secretary of State for War was somewhat rash when he said, in the very decided manner which he did the other night, that England was to pay four-fifths of the cost, and the Indian Expedition was to cost only one-fifth of the whole. The Prime Minister had had a good deal of experience of the false Estimates of war expenditure made by other people, and he only trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would not find difficulties of that kind himself. The great confidence of the country in the Prime Minister was shown by the way in which the increase of Income 1936 Tax was accepted by the country. If the Estimates were very largely exceeded, if the cost was somewhat on the scale of the Abyssinian Expedition, and if the financial lash had to be laid on a good deal heavier, still he was not quite sure that the country would bear it, even at the hands of the right hon. Gentleman. Therefore, from a financial point of view, he thought it was very desirable that this question should be settled, if it was possible to do so. It seemed to him that they would be surrounded with dangers after they had conquered the Egyptians. The right hon. Gentleman had pledged himself that other nations were to share with us in the result of the conquest. He (Sir George Campbell) had no doubt the result would be shared with others. But this would happen—while we shared the result of the conquest with other nations we should continue to be the most hated people in Egypt, and instead of our influence being predominant there, France and the other Europeans would be comparatively popular. Her Majesty's Government were in a manner pledged to provide enormous compensation for the burning of Alexandria. They had requested the people of Alexandria to register their claims for compensation, and no doubt they would register a pretty heavy figure. The Turks also would have to be provided with compensation for their expedition. He did not know where the money was to come from, unless, as Lord Salisbury had suggested, from the bondholders. They must either put an additional screw on the unfortunate people they were fighting with, or get it out of the bondholders. The latter seemed to him the more equitable process; but he doubted whether it was one that could be followed. Unless the Egyptian people agreed to the settlement we might make, it seemed to him that we should then have to maintain a settlement by force. There really was a strong feeling in Egypt against what had been called European domination. He agreed with the statement that these Egyptian troops were not Prætorian Guards, but were fellaheen turned into soldiers. What could have been more scandalous than to turn off the Egyptian soldiers without their pay? That was done on account of the claims of the bondholders. As to the position of the Military Party, he would read some 1937 passages from a remarkable letter written by Sir Edward Malet. It was dated the 15th of June, 1882, and was to be found in No. 11 of the printed Correspondence. That letter was written four days after the so-called Massacre of Alexandria. Sir Edward Malet said—The situation here is so strained that it is absolutely necessary that something should be done. … In this state of things I have ventured to suggest to the Khedive this morning that His Highness should convoke the Chamber of Notables, and ask for an expression of the wishes of the country, with the view of laying them before the Conference. The Chamber would probably in that case submit a draft Constitution to the Khedive; and I think that the prospect of attaining a Constitution would bring about a union between the Notables and the Military Party, and at the same time lead to an apparent reconciliation with the Khedive. While the Constitution is being considered by the Conference all would be quiet; and, considering the extreme complexity of the situation, some such rallying-point as a Constitution would be of great service. The watchwords of the Military Chiefs are 'patriotism' and 'law;' and although they do not seem to understand the real meaning of these words, I believe that they might he induced to retire if a Constitution were granted by the Khedive. His Highness was not unfavourable to the idea; but it could not be carried out until the Conference has been formally convened.It was undoubtedly the fact that the Government summarily suppressed that proposal by Sir Edward Malet. [Mr. Gladstone dissented.] He had read the Papers very carefully, and to the best of his belief, though at the present moment he was unable to put his ringer on the passage, the Government did suppress Sir Edward Malet's proposal. That proposal was exactly what the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle and he himself wished to submit to the Government; and he hoped the Government would take into consideration the opinion of Sir Edward Malet that if the Chamber of Notables were convoked and a Constitution proposed peace and quiet might be established. The letter he had referred to was, the House would observe, after and not before the 11th of June. The matter was, therefore, one worthy of the consideration of the Government. He had felt regret at the tone of the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in doing all that was possible—if he might so express it—to blacken the character of Arabi, and the Egyptian leaders, and make it impossible that we should come to terms with them. It was very unfortunate that so many 1938 weeks had been allowed to pass without the production of the evidence, which the hon. Gentleman had promised, of Arabi's complicity in the massacre, for now the House would have no opportunity of discussing it. That evidence must be of the strangest character, for it was in direct contradiction to the evidence that already lay before the House in the official statements made at the time and several days afterwards. The Government had refused to take part in an international inquiry into the matter, and the evidence must be, in the nature of things, one-sided in its character. But he begged to warn the Government against the acceptance of all the statements that might be laid before them. From his past experience, during the Indian Mutiny, he knew what wonderful stories could be promulgated by Europeans—stories related, no doubt, in perfect good faith, but really the offspring of a heated imagination. He was very apprehensive that the Foreign Secretary might be led to believe the one-sided stories of European residents in Egypt. If ever there was a race struggle, this was one. It was a question between European dominators and those who professed to represent the Egyptian people, and, at all events, did represent the mass of the Egyptian people; and, therefore, he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would be careful before he accepted the stories that might come under his notice. It had been said that Tewfik was inclined to favour the pretensions of Arabi and his followers; but, at the present moment, he did not think that Tewfik was a friend of Arabi, and that was because the higher classes in Egypt were friendly to Arabi. As to the practical question whether the Government should act on the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), it seemed to him that one reason which it might be quite proper to do so was that Tewfik might not be indisposed to accept an arrangement of that kind. He believed Tewfik to be a very sensible person, for he understood he had been brought up by a Scotch nurse. He had reason to believe that he would make a good Constitutional Sovereign, and that if left alone he would come to terms with Arabi; but he was afraid that at present he was too much under the influence of the English Government to do so. It was a great mis- 1939 take on his part to have received the Circassian officers back again. Nothing had been more irritating than the return of the officers, for the insurrection in Egypt was in reality a rising of the people against the domination of the Turks. Then it was stated in that morning's paper that Nubar Pasha was coming back again. That would be a great misfortune. The fact was that the Khedive took a most suicidal step in agreeing to the International Tribunals. When Nubar Pasha's return was originally proposed, Tewfik at first resolutely refused to have him back. He hoped the Government would not lend their influence in favour of his return. He would rather have refrained from trespassing on the indulgence of the House in regard to this matter; but now that an appeal had been made to the Government in regard to the future, he thought he should fall short of his duty if he did not express his concurrence in the views which had been so ably expressed by his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle. With the assistance of his hon. Friend, he was now able to substantiate the statement he made just now, to the effect that the Government had summarily suppressed Sir Edward Malet's proposal that the Chamber of Notables should be convoked, for it appeared from No. 11 of the Correspondence on Egypt that Earl Granville, on the 16th of June, replied to Sir Edward Malet as follows:—I have instructed you to abstain from recommending the convocation of the Chamber in the present conjuncture.[Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] All that he and his hon. Friend submitted was that the Government should reconsider their determination, and follow out the plan suggested by Sir Edward Malet in his letter of the 15th of June last.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House, before sanctioning the Appropriation of the Supplies for the year, requests an assurance from Her Majesty's Government that they will take immediate steps to ascertain from the 'de facto' Egyptian Military Authorities, whether they will lay down their arms on being guaranteed the right of voting their own Budget, which they demanded last January,"—(Sir Wilfrid Lawson,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
Sir, when I saw on the Paper the Notice given by my hon. Friend, I was under the impression that a very limited reference was about to be made to me, as defined by that Notice. There was in it no indication given at all of a disposition to go over the Egyptian Question generally; and, considering that a few weeks ago we had a regular, full, and formal debate, which lasted for four nights; and considering that, since that time and before that time, the question has been repeatedly raised on several occasions, I was in hopes that it was the intention of my hon. Friend to confine the present discussion to the Notice which had been put upon the Paper; because, Sir, I cannot say that these discussions are, in my opinion, advantageous. It is eminently to be desired that, when the Egyptian Question is to be discussed, it should be discussed fully. Now, the points opened by my hon. Friend are points which, to be dealt with fully, would require a reply of several hours, and for the House to discuss them, would require several days. My hon. Friend who moved this Motion went back freely upon the past, and raised the whole question of the causes and circumstances of the war. My hon. Friend who seconded the Motion began by assuring us that, as the Mover had gone back upon the past, he should not do so, and consequently he entered upon a full and very free and large speculation as to the future; but when he had traversed the whole of the field to his heart's content, he found that the past likewise was so tempting that he could not but forget the positive pledge he had given at the commencement of his speech, and he also went back, not upon a full and comprehensive discussion of the past, but into a selection of points upon which he greatly dwelt, and from which he drew his conclusions. Now, Sir, I wish just to point out to the House what I consider the uselessness of these discussions when they are not thorough. My hon. Friend the Seconder of the Motion has found a very strong support, as he thinks, for his view of the case, in showing that these military gentlemen in Egypt, with Arabi at their head, are, 1941 after all, the most reasonable people in the world; that they have nothing in view but Constitutional freedom; that their resort to arms has been the result of an extreme necessity to resist a foreign oppression, for, says he, so late as the 15th of June, when Sir Edward Malet, whom we were bound to consult—and, Sir, in that, at any rate, I concur—strongly recommended to us the convocation of the Chamber of Notables, with a view to lay a Constitution before them, we, instead of giving any encouragement to that view of our own confidential Representative, met it with a summary suppression. That is the statement of my hon. Friend. Now, I am not able to give—I could not, Sir, without detaining the House for hours—go over the multitude of points that have been opened; but I will just take one or two, and I will take this one to begin with, in order to show what is the value of those partial and arbitrary references, even when they come from Gentlemen so competent as my two hon. Friends the Mover and the Seconder of this Motion. Here is the despatch of Sir Edward Malet, dated the 15th of June, in -which he expresses his desire that there could be a convocation of the Chamber of Notables, and a submission to them of a Constitution, which, he says, he had ventured to suggest to the Khedive; and how does he end this very despatch with regard to which my hon. Friend says we summarily suppressed the proposition that was made? He ends it, Sir, in these words—"His Highness was not unfavourable to the idea." Then he adds words of his own—"But it could not be carried out until the Conference had been formally convened." Well, Sir, if Sir Edward Malet himself said it could not be carried out until the Conference had been formally convened, why is it necessary to say that it was summarily suppressed by us? My hon. Friend has not the slightest shadow of evidence in support of that contention. Does my hon. Friend remember that at this very time, as the best security for the peaceful settlement of the affairs of Egypt, we had invited a reference to a Conference; that the Conference at this moment was about to meet; that it was impossible to exclude from the purview of the Conference the question of the Constitution; and now I ask my hon. Friend, could there have been anything 1942 more absurd or preposterous than if Lord Granville, writing to-day to urge the assembling of the Conference in order to consider the condition of Egypt, and the political necessities of Egypt, had on the next day invited the Khedive to convoke the Chamber of Notables, and to refer to them the question of a Constitution? Of course Lord Granville, concurring in the view of the Khedive, observed to Sir Edward Malet, in his reply, that it would be impossible to open at that time and in that place the question of a Constitution, which would form the main and most important subject of the deliberations of the Conference. Sir, I would beg, therefore, to observe to my hon. Friend that even in his case the reference which he made could lead to nothing but an inference entirely false and baseless. This proceeding was on the 15th of June. On the 23rd of June the Conference met, and even that was a postponement, for it was on the 20th of June they were expected to meet, at the time when Earl Granville said to Sir Edward Malet—Of course, you must not think of opening in Egypt at this moment for practical discussion the question which is to he dealt with by the Conference in the course of a few days.That is one point; and I will take another. My hon. Friend who made this Motion began by saying he was anxious to know what were the objects for which we had gone to Egypt; and so, in order to find out these objects—it being a favourite purpose for him to show that we went to war in the interests of the bondholders—he quoted a speech of mine, of which I do not think he mentioned the exact date, but which I believe was made several months ago; and he said that I described the purposes we had in view, including among them the satisfaction of the claims of the bondholders. [Sir WILFRID LAWSON: It was on the 16th of June.] I have no doubt that, so long as there were negotiations of a diplomatic character to be carried on by pen with the Chamber, the interests of the bondholders were a subsidiary and secondary part, but undoubtedly were included in those purposes. And why? Because the interests of the bondholders happened to be, in this particular case, a part of the arrangements sanctioned by International Law, and the maintenance of international obligations affecting Egypt has 1943 been all along a necessary and essential part of our policy. Well, Sir, that is the way in which the interests of the bondholders stand related to the policy of Her Majesty's Government. With them, as such, we have no more to do than we have in the case of any other bondholders; but we had more to do with them in this particular case; because, as has been conclusively shown by my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on a former occasion, the law of liquidation under which the bondholders are secured in the receipt of all the composition for their original claims is a law of liquidation established under the highest and the widest international sanction, which we have no right, even if we had any disposition, to overlook; and even if we had any disposition to overlook it we have no power. No military operation and no diplomatic action of England in Egypt can have the smallest effect upon the Turkish bondholders under that law of liquidation, sanctioned by so many of the Powers of Europe. Therefore, Sir, I do not think it is necessary for me to refer to the multitude of other points, incidental and collateral, that have been raised by my two hon. Friends in regard to the bondholders and in regard to summary suppression; but I enter a general protest against hasty conclusions to be drawn from partial references and partial discussions of this kind, in which it is impossible to enter thoroughly upon the whole matter, and to go to the root of it. My hon. Friend the Mover of the Motion made a proposition which was, I admit, in the nature of a general introduction to the Notice he has given, and which was a matter of the greatest importance. He says—Go now and ask the Military Party, ask certain persons—I will comment on his description of them presently—whether, if you are ready to give to the Egyptian people the right to vote their own Budget, they will lay down their arms? And in order to supply a warrant for that recommendation he goes back upon the past, and attempts to show that the supposed refusal by Her Majesty's Government of the demands of certain parties in Egypt to vote the Egyptian Budget has been the cause and the root of all the present troubles. That is mainly the intention of my hon. Friend. Now, I do not think that my hon. Friend takes into 1944 view the whole elements of the case; and, that being so, he is naturally, as it appears to me, involved in grave and fundamental error when he comes to his conclusion. The demand was made, no doubt, by the Chamber of Notables to vote the Egyptian Budget. There the right to vote implies a right to withhold the vote, and the right to withhold the vote implies a right to withhold the fulfilment of international engagements. [Sir GEORGE CAMPBELL: No.] The original demand and the demand refused was a demand to vote the Egyptian Budget. Now, Sir, it was impossible for us to be parties to a demand or to accede to a demand of that kind, which would have involved us in a responsibility for that very thing which We were bound to avoid—namely, any disparagement of the existing international engagements respecting Egypt. It is true also that Sir Edward Malet declared that he was not prepared to enter upon the suggestion of a compromise, and that would seem to me to be the most formidable part of the proposition of my hon. Friend; and why was he not prepared to enter on the suggestion? The hon. Members have spoken as if, in this great and complicated case, we had been acting all along upon our own responsibility and power alone, and they have kept out of view the fact that at every step we were bound to another party — the Government of France—and that all along our option lay between either coming to an arrangement with the Government of France or quarrelling with France. You cannot put on the Government the responsibility of sole action where it is bound to joint action. It was bound to joint action—[Sir GEORGE CAMPBELL: The Controllers.]—the withdrawing of the Control was at a later period than that of which I am speaking, and it was not a question of the Controllers alone. In this House, in presence of the Leaders of the Opposition, I stated that they knew perfectly well that we were bound—I use the word advisedly—to a political co-operation with France in Egypt, and, consequently, we were bound to enter into common counsels with France; and if France was not prepared to suggest a compromise about the Chamber of Notables and the voting of the Budget, I ask, how could we do it? How was it possible for us to do it? It was not 1945 possible except at the risk of a rupture with France. [Mr. O'DONNELL: Hear, hear!] The hon. Gentleman the Member for Dungarvan, who, of course, is ready with his interruption on every occasion, I suppose would have been perfectly ready to say that at any moment—it was a matter of no consequence at all—there might be a resolution adopted to break with France on the ground of Egypt. That may be the policy of the hon. Gentleman; it was a policy we were determined to avoid, and we were determined to avoid it because, in our opinion, of all the dangers that overhung this question, the most serious would have been a rupture with the other Great Power we were bound to act and co-operate with. Had we been so rash as to act upon the views of the hon. Gentleman opposite, I believe that, instead of standing as we do now, being, in a certain sense the Ministers of European Law to establish right and order in Egypt, with the goodwill of all Europe, you would have seen Europe itself in conflict with itself, and the Powers of Europe divided, and, possibly, a quarrel arising which would have been by no means limited to the geographical confines of Egypt. If that were so, then my hon. Friend must bear in mind that, just as we could not follow our own views without qualification in regard to the Sultan of Turkey, it was just as true that we could not follow our own views without limitation in regard to the people of Egypt and the Chamber of Notables, in consequence of the engagements in which we found ourselves—engagements of which my hon. Friends are not fully and absolutely cognizant—engagements which bound us to the Government of France, and bound us to pursue a course in common with France. I only have stated thus much in order to bring me back to this point—that the Government of France and the Government of England having conducted a long and complicated negotiation in common—having by no means held exactly the same views at every point—did, nevertheless, happily arrive, as matters approached a crisis, at a great unity of view. As it appeared to us, the conciliatory spirit on the part of the French Government—answering to a conciliatory spirit which we had previously endeavoured to show—induced them so far to concur in our general 1946 view as to the management of the question, that even when we reached the point at which France was not prepared, from a regard to the state of public feeling in the country, to accompany us in active measures, yet, notwithstanding, as it were, parted company in perfect and absolute goodwill, and with a harmony of feeling entirely unbroken. That was, in our opinion, the avoidance of the greatest of all the dangers that hung around the subject. For obtaining that advantage, no doubt we had a price to pay, and the price was the necessity—founded on honourable, and not upon unworthy motives—of considering the wishes and ideas of the other partner in the partnership in which we found ourselves involved. So I think I may now come to the question immediately raised by the Motion of my hon. Friend, and on that I shall only refer to two points. The first is this. My hon. Friend asks for assurances that we shall ascertain from the de facto Egyptian military authorities whether they will lay down their arms on being guaranteed the right of voting their own Budget, which they demanded last January. This short Motion is, in my opinion, if I may say so without disrespect, characterized in a notable degree by a confusion of ideas if not of language. It seems it was the de facto military authorities who demanded last January to be granted the voting of their own Budget. This gives a new form to the question. I thought the demand to vote the Budget was a demand on the part of the Chamber of Notables; that the Chamber of Notables had refused to act with Arabi and the "de facto military authorities;" and that, upon their refusing to act with them, these men determined to act without them, and place themselves in opposition alike to the Chamber of Notables and their lawful Ruler, the Khedive. Well, Sir, but who are these de facto military authorities? Now, I affirm that there are no de facto military authorities at all in Egypt. There are persons in possession of military power; but that they are authorities in Egypt I entirely deny. When we speak of authorities in a country, we mean those possessed of some title in the nature of right—at any rate, some colourable right, some partial right. Men may have disputed in the time of the Great Rebellion in England whether they were right to serve 1947 the King at York or the King at Oxford, or whether they were right to serve the King in this House. These were colourable authorities on both sides, and there was a conflict between the two. But here there is no such conflict. If there ever was a pure rebellion in the world, it is that which now prevails in Egypt. But it is a rebellion having certain peculiar characteristics. One of them is, that it is a rebellion of a military class. I admit that it is supported by a certain element of strength in the religious fanaticism of the professional clergy, so to call them, of that country; and I admit also that it is supported by the influence and power of what may be called something of the old land-holding class, who were responsible for all the old oppressions, abuses, and cruelties in Egypt. But it is a rebellion nevertheless. A rebellion is a rising of unlawful powers against a lawful Government. The Government of the Khedive is a lawful Government, if there is one in the world. It derives its sanction from the Sultan, and is a Government to be exercised under certain rules. The Khedive has conformed to these rules. So far as I know, no Ruler has ever more faithfully, honourably, and punctually performed his obligations to the law and the people of his country than the Khedive has, and it is against him that Arabi and his friends are in arms. Perhaps the hon. Member may come back upon me and charge me with a little inconsistency in the phrase I have used. I did speak, I believe, of the de facto authorities in Egypt. But that was at a time preceding the bombardment. Then I spoke correctly, because at that time the Khedive was in the possession of those persons of whom I have just spoken, and gave colour to their acts. They were the de facto Government of Egypt at the time of the bombardment, responsible for the state and condition of Alexandria; but when the Khedive was separated from them, and when he came to exist in a position independent of them, they then assumed their natural and proper position as rebels against his authority. I am sorry to say that there is another point in which this rebellion is peculiar, and that is that it has every presumption of being tainted with very grave crime. My hon. Friend who moved the Motion has assailed my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for having de- 1948 clared upon a former occasion that in his view Arabi Pasha and his co-adjutors were reasonably suspected of complicity in the massacre of the 11th of June. Now, I agree with my hon. Friend who seconded the Motion that we ought to exercise very great caution in accepting and dealing with charges of this kind. It may be that the reasonable suspicion entertained by my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State may be dissipated by the production of fuller evidence, or it may be that it will be supported by fuller evidence. I will not give any opinion on the matter further than to say that I think my hon. Friend was perfectly warranted in speaking of that reasonable suspicion of the complicity of those persons in that massacre. But, of course, it must be borne in mind that in this case common-sense and absolute necessity compel, perhaps, Members of Parliament, and certainly Members of the Government, whose business it is to assume the Executive direction of the affairs of the country, to form provisionally many judgments upon probable evidence to which they must adhere for practical purposes; but, at the same time, they do not in their own minds so treat them as to hold them absolute truths. For example, I do not hesitate to say at this moment that presumably the rebels in Egypt are tainted with grievous crime. But, far be it from me to say that, because we have that opinion, therefore these rebels, if they were in our power, ought to be punished. Certainly not. Their case ought to be tried and examined, and put under judicial investigation. They ought to have a fair trial—not by persons of a foreign tongue, by an alien Power, but a great trial according to law by a tribunal in which they ought reasonably to be enabled to place confidence; but apart from that, looking at the facts so far as known to us, I am sorry to say that that presumption of crime is grievous. And if there be reasonable suspicion in regard to the 11th of June, I am sorry to say there is something more than reasonable suspicion—though I will not say even now there is absolute demonstration—with regard to the 12th of July. Remember the flag of truce! Who sent that flag of truce? Was it an unauthorized act? Will anyone tell me that it is rational to believe that act was otherwise than the 1949 act of persons in power—namely, Arabi and his coadjutors? How were the hours employed which were basely gained by the abuse of that flag of truce? They were employed in letting loose anarchy and conflagration upon Alexandria, and these are most serious matters. I admit that even now we are not to form positively irreversible conclusions even in our own minds on matters which apparently raise the gravest charges against those who are engaged in the conduct of this military rebellion in Egypt. Well, Sir, my hon. Friend has referred to an expression of mine to the effect that there was not a rag or a shred of proof that Arabi Pasha and his friends represented the National Party in Egypt; and he quotes a statement he has seen in The Daily Telegraph, in the same columns where we all of us read a fiction, one of the most degrading and one of the most painful ever palmed on a people—of the cowardice and flight of a company of the 60th Rifles—and some statement from the same source he requires me, I understand, to admit as a fact. I will not quarrel with him upon the question of that statement; but I will remind my hon. Friend that the men, in my opinion, who in connection with Egyptian policy have earned character in Europe, and have been responsible to Europe in relation to Egyptian policy, such as Cherif Pasha, the head of the last legitimate, lawful Administration; Riaz Pasha, who preceded him; Sultan Pasha, the head of the Chamber of Notables, and one of the best in authority in Egypt; and Nubar Pasha—every one of these men, who are bound up with Egyptian feeling, tradition, interest, and happiness, is opposed to the views of the Military Party. With regard to Nubar Pasha, the Seconder of the Motion was not quite just to him, because he said that it was under Nubar Pasha that the International Courts were arranged, and that those most singular rights were brought into that particular shape in which the foreign creditors of the Khedive could sue him in those Courts, and virtually make the Egyptian Government liable for their claims. That may be true, as far as it goes; but it must be borne in mind that the International Courts and those rights so granted under Nubar Pasha to foreigners were not new rights, nor in extension of rights which previously existed, but were intended to 1950 meet, as far as could be done, the wishes of every patriotic Egyptian, because they were the substitute for the much larger rights and for the independent position enjoyed by every foreign Power in Egypt in the form of ex-territoriality. My hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle asks us to take immediate steps to ascertain from the de facto Egyptian military authorities whether they will lay down their arms on being guaranteed the right of voting their own Budget. Now, it sounds very reasonable that a people should ask to vote their own Budget; but we must in this case consider, after all, from whom, and under what circumstances, this demand is made. My hon. Friend has referred to me as the great encourager of oppressed populations abroad. Well, Sir, in any encouragement I have ever dared to give to oppressed populations abroad, I have endeavoured, above all things—this I will say for myself—to avoid putting forward abstract political theories. Now, that is exactly what is done here. The Egyptians have not for many centuries been in the condition of a nation; they are not actually a nation; they have neither the power of a nation nor the liabilities of a nation. They have been a Province—the Province of a great though ill-compacted Empire; and you might just as well say of the Bulgarians that they are a nation as say of the Egyptians that they are a nation. I never said to the Bulgarians at the time of the Bulgarian events that they had the right to vote their own Budget. That was not the question at all. They might have had as good a claim to be considered a nation as the Egyptians. They have really been a nation since the Egyptians; but they have ceased to a nation, and have become a Province. They have submitted to oppression, and those who submit to oppression, though you may feel bound to do the best you can for them, yet they must stand the consequences of that submission. It is only men like the heroes of Montenegro, who never submit, but made war for 400 years from among their rocks and mountains—these are the only men who are in a condition to claim at once the full and unlimited privileges of national freedom. All that can be done for people like the Egyptians, who have submitted to lose their independence, is to restore them by degrees, and by judi- 1951 cious and considerate measures, to the enjoyment of the privileges of self-government and freedom, as far as they can be granted. That is what we desire to do. But as to those abstract doctrines about the indefeasible right of some portion of an oppressed people to exercise all the full-blown privileges of a high Constitution at a moment's notice, I disclaim this abstract proposition. Mr. Burke, among the ten thousand things he said which should be eternally remembered, said that "in politics the space afforded to abstract reasoning is extremely limited." We must learn to look at the facts as they are; and, looking at them as they are, I say the duty of a Government situated as we are is to decline assenting to this abstract and unlimited demand which proceeds in contempt of all existing and prior circumstances; but, on the other hand, never forgetting the genuine interests of practical freedom, and using every legitimate and fair opportunity of bringing the people forward so far as they are fit for it, and so far as the circumstances permit to the enjoyment of its privileges. Now, I join hands with my hon. Friend, and I rejoice to believe that there has been the dawn of a better day, and that there is the promise in Egypt of some not inconsiderable capacity for gradually arriving at the exercise of those privileges. It will be one of the most sacred duties of the Government to use whatever influence they may possess in the Councils of Europe for the purpose of promoting those interests; and I rejoice to think that when we again enter the Councils of Europe with regard to Egyptian affairs, we shall enter them fortified by the moral claim which, I trust, we shall have derived from a vigorous and effectual, but at the same time from an honourable and disinterested action; and, undoubtedly, we shall enter them free from many of the conventional restraints which have hung heavily upon us in connection with the Conference. I trust when we enter those Councils we shall be able to do so in the spirit and with the feeling of Englishmen, and that the course we may be permitted to take will not be unworthy of the fame of a liberty-loving people.
§ MR. VILLIERS-STUART
said, he thought the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) would be the last to advocate an oligarchy as a 1952 desirable form of government for any country, yet, were his suggestions carried out successfully, Egypt would be delivered into the power of an oligarchy, and that in the worst form—namely, the military oligarchy. The voting of the Budget was coveted by Arabi, that he might increase the Army and tighten its grip upon the throat of Egypt; it was also sought by the Notables, in order that they might recover the power of the bastinado, and restore the old corrupt administration which they had wielded, and which had been taken from them by the Control. He (Mr. Villiers-Stuart) could not imagine a worse form of tyranny. If the hon. Baronet, who was an advocate for freedom and the enemy of slavery, knew Egypt as well as he (Mr. Villiers-Stuart) did, the hon. Baronet would see that he could not consistently support the proceedings that had taken place in that country, for he would be helping to thrust back the people into the cruel bondage from which they were just beginning to emerge; he would be supporting the establishment of that which was more abhorrent to his principles—a military despotism. The fact was that Arabi, under the guise of patriotism, was really the champion of Turkish domination. Had any doubt existed of that before the Sultan's order, the friendly intimacy of the Sultan's delegate, and the delay in the Proclamation would have withdrawn the veil. Neither were the Notables trustworthy representatives of the Egyptian people. His (Mr. Villiers-Stuart's) sympathies were with the small farmers and the labouring classes of Egypt; and it was indignation at the cruel oppression of these classes which he witnessed, and despair of any other remedy, that made him an advocate for European intervention. He first visited Egypt in 1850, in the time of Abbas Pasha, and he was shocked by the cruelty and oppression which then prevailed. Scarcely a day passed that he did not see men flogged, in the majority of instances, to extort taxes. The amount of revenue that in those days reached the Egyptian Treasury was less than half what it is now; but twice the amount nominally due was extorted, the surplus being appropriated by corrupt officials. The principle upon which taxes were assessed was most wasteful, for the crops were valued standing, and might not be 1953 cut till valued. Now, in a parching climate like Egypt corn began to shed as soon as ripe; but the officials only attended when it suited their convenience, and that was when a sufficient bribe was offered. The result was that those who bribed highest were visited first, and not till after that ceremony had they the privilege of harvesting their own crops. He had seen the ground covered with corn shed and lost in consequence of these practices, and the amount thus wasted exceeded in value the amount of the tax. Another impolitic impost was that on water-wheels for irrigation purposes. These were so heavily taxed at the time of which he was speaking as to be very generally abandoned. Another cruel and wasteful impost, which was also terribly abused, was the system of forced labour. Under that system, he had seen men torn away by hundreds from their farms at the most critical season and driven in herds, like cattle, with sticks and whips, to work for some Pasha, or official, or for the State. In the latter case, the funds for their food were embezzled, and the poor creatures, ill-fed and maltreated, died off like flies. The history of the Mahmoudieh Canal, where 20,000 men perished, was well known, and a repetition of this horror in the case of the Suez Canal was only prevented by European intervention. Contrasting with the state of things which he had thus sketched was the fact that last winter, when making another visit to the country, he did not witness a single flogging or a single act of oppression; but was struck with the marked improvement in the prosperity, contentment, and generally prosperous condition of the people; and they themselves attributed the happy change to the European Administration. No doubt, the taxation was nominally more than double what it was before the creation of the National Debt; but the taxation was really much lighter, owing to less oppressive, wasteful, and dishonest methods of levying it. It was a mistake to suppose that the Khedive was a mere greedy speculator, bent on filling his Treasury. His ambition was to reform and advance Egypt, to carry out great public works and undertakings; but he had no prudence, and wished to do everything at once; to construct railways, to suppress slavery, to make canals and harbours, fleets, bridges, factories, 1954 palaces, universities, schools, and all with borrowed money, and, what was worse, money borrowed at 15 to 20 per cent from local banks, which were presently paid off with European loans. Thus, the country was soon on the verge of bankruptcy. But the Control saved credit, raised Four per Cent Stock to 82, abolished the stick, reformed the administration of justice, and developod a degree of prosperity never before known. He was not concerned to become the apologist of the financiers who negotiated the Khedive's loans; but he wished to make a remark as to one statement of the hon. Baronet. It was true that the loan of 1873 of £32,000,000 only realized £20,000,000 cash; but that was because it was not placed except to that extent; and it must be remembered that they both cut down the interest from 7 per cent to 4 per cent, and cut down the par capital at which they were to be repaid from 100 to 80, and that this prudent management raised Egyptian Four per Cents from 28 to 82. If he believed that the acceptance of the proposal of the hon. Baronet would result in anything like the emancipation of the Egyptian people, it would have his most cordial support; but it was because he was convinced that it would rather rivet the fetters upon the people of Egypt and consign them to renewed slavery that he should vote against it.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, that as to the boasted efficacy of the so-called European Concert, where was it? He had always doubted it, and experience had proved that it always broke down in the hour of need; and he considered it an advantage that we had been enabled to go single-handed into Egypt. If we were hampered by engagements with France or any other Power, we should be, perhaps, forced to act for interests other than our own or those of Egypt. Recent events must have convinced of their mistake those who were disposed, from the action of Great Britain for some years, to designate this country as a geographical expression. One thing, at least, had been made manifest—namely, that in the determination to advance the honour of the country and to preserve its Imperial interests, no Party in the State possessed a monopoly. We had at present in Alexandria, as far as its material went, and speaking without reference to its numbers, a splendid Army, and the 1955 fear which pressed upon him was that we might be led to employ it for the purpose of a mere military display. He was not prepared to support the Motion of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), because, if carried, it would involve total and complete submission to a man whom the Egyptian and our own Government united in terming a rebel. He wished to impress upon the Government that there was a very strong feeling in the country that we ought not, from any desire to obtain military glory, unnecessarily to press to extremities our military action in the East, and that we should not, because atrocities had been committed by fanatics in moments of fanatical enthusiasm, forget that we were a Christian nation and wreak unnecessary vengeance. As we were powerful, so we should be generous. He thought if we were to maintain our relations with Egypt in the future, it must be by conciliating the people, making ourselves popular, and doing justice to all classes of the population. Nothing would be more likely than unnecessary bloodshed to prevent so desirable a result; and he gave expression to the opinion of many when he said there existed the greatest anxiety, now that we had displayed, in the face of Europe and the East, our determination to assert ourselves in what we considered to be a just cause, that we should not be led to exhibit our might in any way except what was strictly required by the necessities of the case.
§ SIR EDWARD REED
said, it was very difficult for hon. Members to make sympathetic and emotional speeches without making statements which they were afterwards very much startled to see. Although prepared to give the hon. Baronet who was responsible for the Motion (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) credit for the best and most benevolent motives, yet he (Sir Edward Reed) was at a loss to understand why that benevolence should be carried to the length, at a moment like the present, when Parliament was about to separate, of casting discredit upon one's Government and country, and of seeking to bring the whole action of the State into disrepute. He took exception to some words which had fallen from the Mover and the Seconder of the Resolution on the ground that they were extremely unfair to the Prime Minister, the Under Secretary of State 1956 for Foreign Affairs, and the country at large; and, so far as he could see, there never was a more impracticable and extraordinary proposition put before any body of Gentlemen than that of the hon. Member for Carlisle. Was it conceivable, he asked, that the British Government, in the present conjuncture of affairs in Egypt, should go to Arabi Pasha, as the hon. Baronet proposed, and ask him to lay down his arms on the understanding that the Chamber would be allowed to vote the Budget in the future? That we should go and kneel at the feet of Arabi, a man who, to say the least, had been strongly suspected of the greatest cruelties and wrongs, and make terms with him, as if he alone represented Egypt, was so preposterous a proposition that it could not for one moment be seriously entertained. But what he wished to complain of was the reflection that had been cast upon the conduct of the Government by the hon. Member for Carlisle and the hon. Member for the Kirkcaldy Burghs (Sir George Campbell). He was bound to say that he had carefully noted the opinions formed on the subject, both at home and in America; and he believed he was expressing the general sentiment of the world when he said that the conduct of the English Government in reference to the Egyptian Question had been most cautious and scrupulous, and animated by a strong desire not to resort to any extreme or isolated measure, if it were possible to avoid it. But the hon. Member for Carlisle asked the House and the country to believe that we were going to carry this war among the Egyptian people for the purpose of preventing their obtaining self-government, and also for the interest of money, and money only. These two propositions were entirely irreconcilable. But he did not know that financial interests were to be despised or treated with contempt. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy, however, said that the hon. Baronet the Member for North Durham (Sir George Elliot) had considerable financial interests in Egypt, but that in spite of those financial interests he was an honest man; so that it would appear, therefore, that the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy entertained the extraordinary belief that any man who possessed financial interests in Egypt might be presumed to be a dishonest man. He should like to know 1957 what sort of proposition that was to put before this great financial country. It indicated a very crooked condition of mind in which to argue a great question. These hon. Members were doing their best before the country and the world to inflict upon this country a source of weakness in connection with great and solid undertakings by saying that we were going into war for mercenary and low purposes. Did the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy attempt to maintain that the present Prime Minister was conducting a policy for the purpose of depriving the people of Egypt of self-government, or for a mere monetary interest? He protested in the name of the great number of English people against these miserable imputations against the Government and the people of this country in connection with this war. There were vast numbers of people here who deplored the necessity of this war. Hon. Members had attempted to protect Arabi Pasha against improper imputations, and he did not object to that; but he wished to know whether the character of our own Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was not also to be protected? Were they to be told by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy that the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had done his best to blacken the character of Arabi Pasha, and was the hon. Baronet to have the miserable motive attributed to him of having done so for the purpose of setting up a state of irreconcilability between Arabi Pasha and our Government? He could not imagine any graver accusation against a public man. He repudiated in the strongest manner available to him in Parliament these wretched imputations upon Ministers and upon the country at large. There could not be a doubt that the Prime Minister and the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the House were entering upon this war with the greatest possible regret that the necessity for it should have arisen, but; with the conviction that it was, under the circumstances of the case, unavoidable, and a matter of public duty; and he believed, if they took the opinion of the people of the country, there would scarcely be one man in a million who would assent to the miserable and wretched imputations which had been made against the country, the Ministers, and the national honour.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he supposed he ought to congratulate the Ministry, the bondholders, and the country on the certificate of character so kindly vouchsafed to all, and to each individually, by the hon. Member who had just sat down (Sir Edward Reed). He was also struck with the remarks of the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Villiers Stuart), who appeared to have as much sympathy with the Egyptian Nationality as he had with the Irish Nationality. The Prime Minister gave reasons for the opposition of the Government to an Assembly of Notables in Egypt, and for their opposition to any terms of accommodation with the de facto military authorities in Egypt. As to the Government's opposition to a convocation of Notables, the Prime Minister gave two reasons. The first was respect for France, and the second respect for the Conference. The right hon. Gentleman assumed that if England had assented to an Assembly of Notables there would have been a rupture with France. With great deference, he (Mr. O'Donnell) begged altogether to differ from the right hon. Gentleman. Whatever might be the particular view of M. Gambetta, the public opinion of France was never opposed to the meeting of a National Assembly in Egypt. In fact, M. Gambetta caused a sensation of horror when he said, in the French Chamber, that Egypt was one of those countries that required to be governed by the lash. As to the second reason—respect for the Conference—in view of numerous recent events, one could hardly yield that assent to it which the Premier expected. It was a convenient cloak, which the Prime Minister put on and took off at his convenience. It had, however, been worn threadbare by constant use, and the allegation of the Prime Minister that he was hindered by the Conference might be placed in the same category with many other Ministerial allegations. For the just consideration of the question, it must be recognized that Arabi Pasha and the Egyptian Army were from the beginning standing in the attitude of self-defence, and he (Mr. O'Donnell) insisted that the fate of Egyptian reformers on previous occasions justified their suspicion and alarm. We knew that when Her Majesty's Government attacked Egypt and bombarded Alexandria, Arabi Pasha was the regularly constituted War Minister of Egypt, 1959 the recognized Minister of his Sovereign the Khedive, and that the Sultan approved his acting in that capacity. It was not, then, for Arabi Pasha to defend himself against the accusation of the Premier, hut for the Premier to state on what ground he opened war on the fortifications of a friendly Power. He strongly advocated an inquiry into the fate of those men, who were victims of the cupidity of European money-lending interlopers, for there had never been an independent Commission of Inquiry into the financial affairs of Egypt for the last 10 years. He asked for such an inquiry, and that in that Commission there should be representatives of the sentiments entertained on this question by the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) and the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell).
§ MR. MOLLOY
asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to state what were the international engagements to which the Prime Minister had referred as being those on which the war was based?
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
, in reply, said, that the war had not been based on international engagements, but upon reasons which had been fully given in a former debate in answer to the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell). The international engagements to which the Prime Minister referred were those with regard to the Law of Liquidation.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question again proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."