§ (In the Committee.)
I rise, Sir, for the purpose of submitting a Motion that a Vote of Credit be granted by this House for the sum required beyond the ordinary grants of Parliament towards defraying the expense that may be incurred during the year ending March 31st, 1883, in strengthening Her Majesty's Forces in the Mediterranean. I believe it has been already stated to the House that the Vote of Credit which we propose amounts to £2,300,000, and that it is divided between the Army and the Navy in the proportion of £1,400,000 to the Navy and £900,000 to the Army. But it is well to observe that of that £1,400,000 for the Navy by far the larger part, not very far from the whole, I think, or about £1,200,000, is for Army Service, and consists simply of the estimated amount that will be necessary to meet the charges incurred by the hire of transports to carry Her Majesty's troops from this country to the Mediterranean, and the point to which they may ultimately be destined. As regards the force which this Vote of Credit will enable us to send to the Mediterranean, I may state it roughly in these terms—Of Cavalry there will be 2,400; Infantry, 13,400; Horse and Field Artillery, 1,700; making in all 17,500; but, besides these, there will be garrison Artillery, Engineers, Commissariat Corps, Hospital Corps, and the like, amounting to 3,700 men; and there will be a reserve of about 3,100, to sail at a 1575 later date. Perhaps it may be convenient—for I have not to trouble the Committee with many details of fact—that I should at once mention to the Committee that we intend to move that a provision nearly equal to this sum, and ultimately exceeding it, be made by introducing a proper clause into the Tax Bill of the present year. The sum immediately to be met is, as I have stated, £2,300,000, and it is our intention to provide for it in the manner which has teen adopted on several occasions when the House has found cause to add to the burdens of the country at a time considerably after the commencement of the financial year—that is to say, by making an addition to the Income Tax, which will be charged upon the latter half of the year at double the rate at which it would apply for the whole year. In the present instance, we propose to make an addition of 3d. to the second half-year of the Income Tax of 1882–3, which would be equal to an addition of 1½d. for the tax of the whole year, making the tax of the whole year 6½d. The Committee is aware, of course, that not the whole of the Income Tax can be raised within the year under the present arrangements, greatly improved as they have been since the time when the present Income Tax was first proposed, and when scarcely half the tax, if half, was received in the financial year in and for which it was proposed. I ought to say that the sum intended to be the produce of the financial year of the imposition to which I have referred would be £2,262,000; but that sum is very moderately and safely estimated, and over and above that sum there will be between £500,000 and £600,000, which will not be received until after the present financial year. The Committee will, therefore, observe that the entire financial provision I ask Parliament to make will considerably exceed the charge we ask them to incur. With regard to the general state of the Revenue, I may say that I am not in a condition to submit any alteration of the Estimate to the Committee; but I am in a condition to say that some gain has been made upon the Estimates as far as our experience down to the present date is available, and in these circumstances I shall find myself able to make the grant promised for certain purposes in connection with highways, without asking the House to 1576 disturb the present law as to the tax upon carriages. An imposition of that kind, which must, of course, have some effect in disturbing trade, need not be made at a period when we are asking the House to make a much more considerable and a much more direct addition to the taxation of the country. Having stated so much simply for the sake of clearness, I now must go on to say that, in proposing the Vote of Credit to-night, we look, as the next stage of the proceedings, to bring down a Message from Her Majesty, declaring emergency to exist to-morrow, in order to form the foundation on which we should ask the House to make an addition to the present Vote of men which would be necessary in order to enable us to send a force to the Mediterranean such as I have recently described. In due time, in this series of measures, my noble Friend the Secretary of State for India will also ask the House to give its consent to the action of Indian troops in conformity with the Act of Parliament, and then what will remain for us will be to ask the House to go into Committee on the Tax Bill for the purpose of making the pecuniary provision. That will be the series of steps we shall have to take in order to give effect to the resolution at which Her Majesty's Government have arrived. And now it is necessary to consider what is the state of things in Egypt which this provision is designed to meet. It is a state of things which we must describe, except in the City of Alexandria, as one of lawless military violence. And I am sorry to say that state of military violence is apparently aggravated by cruel and wanton crime. It is not for me to assume the ultimate state of the facts as they may appear when we have before us more full and detailed information; but we have before us certain facts which are as significant as they are happily rare in previous history and experience. That the fortifications of a town should be bombarded is of itself a very grave fact, sure to be attended with serious damage; but that that town itself should, not by the bombardment, but by the action, entirely apart from the bombardment, of those who are in positive possession of the reins of Government, and in the exercise of the powers of Government—that a conflagration should be brought into that town upon the re- 1577 tirement of an army which must have known itself perfectly able to hold the town—nay, must have known that for a time, at least, it could hold that town without risk of attack, and that, with that conflagration, there should be let loose on the town those who were to sack and pillage it—these, I say, are dreadful facts which, if they be made good, and we have no reason at present to doubt they are such as I have described—deserve the appellation of cruel and wanton crime. And now, Sir, we have advanced one step further. The Committee is probably aware that the great town of Alexandria is dependent for its supply of water upon the great work called the Mahmoudieh Canal. The water of that Canal is a matter of almost entire insignificance as far as Her Majesty's Forces are concerned. They are possessed of scientific means and machinery by which their wants can, as we are informed, be adequately and amply supplied. The measures, therefore, that have been taken—some say for contaminating it with salt water, but of that there is some uncertainty—but for cutting off the supply of water, are measures directed not against the comfort only, but also against the very lives of the mass of the population of Alexandria, whose offence can amount to nothing but this—that they are not offering an armed resistance to the forces of the English, and the authority of their lawful Ruler the Khedive. Until within the last few weeks, we looked on those who have established the reign of military violence in Egypt as misguided and ambitious men who had broken the law necessary to bind political society together. More grave charges now come up, and it will be for those who have hereafter to consider what course shall be taken to determine, upon careful investigation, whether we can or cannot pronounce to be mitigated the appearances, now too conclusive of barbarous and brutal conduct, directed to objects at variance with the first impulses of humanity. This being the case, as far as Alexandria is concerned, over the rest of Egypt, the same Military Party is acting in violent opposition to the authority of the lawful Ruler. I am not aware that any charge has ever been made against him. We have never learnt that he has in any way abused his trust so as to deserve to forfeit his 1578 position. We have not the smallest reason to believe that the popular feeling of Egypt is adverse to the continuance of his rule. What we know, so far as our knowledge goes, is that this same rule of violence is put in force, as far as the power of the Military Chiefs can do it, in every part of the country. The Governors in three out of five Provinces have been dismissed because they were not willing to become the tools of the Military Party. It is, in fact, a case in which we see established the essence of civil strife in its most intense and highest form—the lawful Ruler shut up in Alexandria, where he receives, we believe, the willing obedience of the people; but the bulk of the country, for the present in the possession of the Egyptian Army—that Army, whether a willing or unwilling instrument, directed by its ambitious commander for the purpose of achieving the ultimate fruits of rebellion, and apparently for the purpose of setting up some military dictator. It is not within a circle of associations like these that liberty can grow. There have been periods in this history at which it has been charitably believed, even in this country, that the Military Party was the popular Party, and was struggling for the liberties of Egypt. There is not the smallest rag or shred of evidence to support that contention. In truth, military violence and the régime established by military violence, are absolutely incompatible with the growth and the existence of freedom. The Reign of Cromwell was a great Reign; but it did nothing for English freedom, because it was the rule of military force, and it has not left on the Statute Book the record of such triumphs as were achieved by peaceful action under the, in many respects, base and infamous Reign which followed it—the Reign of Charles II. The Reign of Napoleon was a splendid Reign; but, being a reign founded on military power, it did nothing for freedom in France, but tended rather to increase the embarrassments which have continually clogged the succeeding history of a great and noble nation. But, if that be the state of the facts, the question may be asked—"What have we to do with it? Why do we not leave the strong to exercise the rule of strength until in the course of nature, from within the circle of the country itself, and by its own resources, 1579 a just retribution is inflicted?" Well, Sir, that is a question fair and right to answer, because, undoubtedly, the fact that you have great interests in a foreign country, and that those interests are seriously suffering in consequence of its civil war or its anarchy, does not of itself suffice to establish the theory of the right of a stranger to enter into that country by force and undertake to find a solution for its political difficulties. Let me, then, Sir, proceed to answer the question—"What have we to do with the solution of this great difficulty in Egypt?" The Egyptian Question, under its present conditions, lies entirely outside the general question of non-intervention. Circumstances have happened from the direct consequences of which we cannot escape, which we are bound to take into account, and which the present Government have found to be imperatively regulative of their conduct. The question, "What have we to do with the internal concerns of Egypt," if it were to be asked at all, ought to have been asked earlier. We admit that we have undertaken some of the most important functions of government in Egypt by international engagements; and it is not free to you with honour, after once entering into such relations, to say that you will regard those engagements as if they had never been contracted, and will fall back upon your own doctrine that non-intervention in the internal affairs of a foreign country is in general to be approved. [Mr. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT made an observation which did not reach the Gallery.] I wish the hon. Gentleman would contain himself for one moment. It was some years ago that this question was really decided, and the groundwork was laid upon which the action now proposed is founded. It was not difficult to foresee that embarrassments and complications such as are now before us would probably arise from undertaking engagements such as wore formed in Egypt some years ago. I have no doubt that many foresaw them. It is in my own recollection—and I will venture to trouble the Committee by quoting myself—that I did not fail to deliver a warning on the subject. On the 6th of March, 1876, when it was proposed to send a Commissioner to Egypt for the sake of assuming some powers not very fully and clearly defined over Egyptian finances, I said— 1580I should, therefore, wish to know whether, if the proposition for the appointment of such a Commissioner he entertained, the right hon. gentleman means the appointment of a Commissioner who would really have such an effective control over all arrangements and the mode of accounting for these revenues that he could guarantee to us the receipt of the whole that it might he applied to the purpose in view? If this is what it does mean, it appears to me that we are only shifting the difficulty one step further; because in that case our Commissioner is to take into his hands the administration of a very important portion of the government of Egypt; so that the measures which we may think necessary as a matter of prudence to cover the proposal which we are to consider may entail upon us still greater difficulties and mix us up still further with a heavier responsibility for a portion of the internal government of Egypt. (Hear, hear.) When we have begun with one portion of the internal government of Egypt, we may pass on to another. We may come to occupy the entire ground by a series of degrees not difficult to contemplate."—[3 Hansard, ccxxvii., 1426.]Well, Sir, nothing was done at that period to bring about the realization of such anticipations. But, in the year 1879, decisions were taken which supply the real starting-point of the whole of the recent political Correspondence. In 1879 a change was effected in the Supreme Ruler—at least, in the legally Supreme Ruler—of the country at our instance, or nearly at our instance, and the present Ruler, Tewfik Pasha, succeeded one who was compelled to withdraw. Even by the fact of that succession we incurred a great responsibility to the person thus elevated. The Committee will see that unless the person so chosen and so preferred failed in his duty, it became more our duty, and no small amount of obligation, to support him in the exercise of the rule to which we have had a large share in preferring him. But that was not all; because Controllers were appointed by the positive action of the English and French Governments, who became members of a Council in Egypt corresponding with the Cabinet in this country, or, rather, exercising a much larger and wider power than the Cabinet of this country, and invested with a real and substantial control, extending directly to a great part of the Egyptian finances, and virtually, perhaps, extending to the whole of it. Under these circumstances, it was impossible for any Government of England or France to decline advising the Council in the internal affairs of Egypt. You could not say to the Ruler, when he asked your 1581 help and assistance—"It is no affair of ours." You could, but give him the best advice of which the circumstances admitted; and it is by giving that advice, time by time and step by step, that we have arrived at the present position. We have arrived at it by a series of steps which form a chain that cannot be broken. I am not going now to pronounce an opinion as to the wisdom of the original proceeding. After having read to the Committee the sentiments I have myself declared, it will not be supposed I was prejudiced in favour of that policy. I have never been called upon to approve or condemn it. We found it existed as a fact, and we recognized frankly the claims of honour and duty which it appeared to us to impose. And thus we have arrived at the point where we now stand. It is fair to say, however much—and I think it is greatly open to question—we may question on grounds of policy and prudence whether the present embarrassments ought not to have been foreseen, and whether the course taken in 1879 was wise—it is but fair to say—I add my own testimony to the many testimonies forthcoming—that no inconsiderable benefits have been conferred by what was done upon the people of Egypt. It may be that, in certain respects and within very narrow limits, new abuses may have grown up; but it is a fact of a hundred times greater importance that the condition of the cultivator of the soil, which in Egypt was miserable almost beyond belief, has been greatly reformed with the limits—I think it may generally be said, capable of proof—within the limits of something like regular law and order. That being the state of the case which we have had to meet, I will now explain the manner in which we have arrived at our present position. It is not necessary for me to go into the details of that position, for they have been set forth fully in the Papers that are now upon the Table of the House, and, perhaps, with adequate fulness, in a consecutive manner, in the lengthened despatch from Lord Granville, dated July 11th. But the point which I conceive to have been the turning point in this series of transactions was when the long festering military discontent, that had already broken out into occasional acts of aggression and violence, at length reached such a height that in the first place, the military dic- 1582 tators thought fit to summon the Notables, without the consent of the Ruler of the country and in defiance of the law, and then when those Notables, highly to their own honour and with conduct that really gives better promise than any other single occurrence in the whole series of circumstances before us—when those Notables declined to be parties to these proceedings; when those military dictators persevered in the course on which they had entered, and, casting off the mask, determined to govern the country without the consent of the Notables, as well as without the consent of the Khedive. The condition of thorough and violent illegality, hopeless for the people of Egypt, having thus been achieved, and we, feeling ourselves under an obligation to recognize it as a state of things for which it was our duty at least to take part in devising a remedy, it is time that I should endeavour to state to the Committee what the general view we have taken is of the mode in which that remedy ought to be applied. We had to take into account the Sovereignty of the Sultan in Egypt. We had no desire to impart a shock to the fabric of the Ottoman Empire. Some Members of this House appear to think that a general crusade against the Ottoman Empire had been taught by this Government or by some Members of it. Probably where that idea prevails there is hardly anyone who is more in the view of those who entertain it than myself. But I have never taught a crusade of that kind. I have always held, in language perfectly unvarying, that we ought to insist upon the duty of making some acknowledgments with respect to the condition of the subject races in Turkey—of making those acknowledgments in more than mere words when opportunity offers. But I have never ceased steadily to maintain that we were the best friends of Turkey; and if, on a certain occasion, which was the very highest climax to which I ever ascended, I did contemplate the removal of Turkish power from one Province—the Province of Bulgaria—I said then what has proved to be true—namely, that those who then professed themselves the friends of Turkey would lead her to the loss of that Province, and of a good many more also. Well, such has been the teaching of history in this matter; and we have approached the question of the Turkish Sovereignty in Egypt with 1583 this same feeling, that we were earnestly desirous to maintain that Sovereignty within the limits of lawful right. We, therefore, looked first of all to the Turkish Power as the quarter from which intervention would be most desirable, when once the point had been reached which made the intervention of force absolutely necessary. We did all we could to soothe the susceptibilities of the Sultan. We received from him, over and over again, the most gratifying assurances. We cherished, as long as we could, the expectation that to him we might look for the restoration of order in Egypt. We invariably held out to him the Firmans given by himself and his Predecessors as supplying the political basis on which we desired that the Constitution of Egypt should stand. We endeavoured to remove from the minds of himself and his counsellors every trace or shadow of suspicion as to the views and intentions with which we ourselves had entered upon the consideration of the matter; and even so long as up to the day of the bombardment we held firmly by the idea that if the Sultan had recognized the opportunity he had then, possessing, as he did, the knowledge that we and the other Powers of Europe were prepared to give him every countenance and assistance, he had then an opportunity, easier and more effective than ever, of restoring tranquillity to Egypt by the exercise of his authority and the use of his Military Forces. I have no right and no disposition to judge the policy which has been pursued by the Sultan; but, in our opinion, that opportunity appears to have passed away. We are no longer able, viewing the actual condition of Egypt, viewing the confusion and disorder, viewing the continual reports that reach us of pillage and murder in parts of the country where the affording of help is totally impossible—we are no longer able to hope that a remedy for that state of things can be or will be applied by the use of the military power of the Sultan. He has had the case before him, not for weeks only, but for months. There is no reason that I know now why he should arrive at a resolution to which he has been so long and so earnestly pressed and urged, but which he has, up to the present, declined to take; and we are, therefore, reluctantly, but decisively, compelled to turn our view towards other courses. 1584 Sir, next to our desire that the Sovereign of the Ottoman Empire should discharge the first duty of Sovereignty, by bringing about a restoration of order and tranquillity in Egypt, was our desire to make an appeal to the common authority of Europe, and to avoid, above all things, the exhibition of a disposition to a line of isolated action, on grounds which it is needless to question at length—grounds alike of policy and of principle—on the ground of policy, because in that way we felt that we were taking the wisest course for the purpose of avoiding future and entangling complications; and, on the ground of principle, because I believe that it is the just opinion of reflecting men that there is nothing more important for the future of civilization than to make free resort, wherever it can be done, to that authority of united Europe which, when it does speak, does really speak with a weight which causes it to be felt that it has a real title to be heard. It is certainly very difficult to bring that authority to bear, and the history of endeavours to make use of it is a history of partial successes and of partial failures. There was a partial failure to bring it to bear in 1853–4, before the Crimean War, and yet there was also a partial success. There was also another interesting instance that happened many years before, in the case of Greece, when it was impossible to move either Prussia or Austria; but when France, Russia, and England formed a combination, which combination, casting aside every selfish view which any of the Powers singly-might have been tempted to entertain, brought about by a shorter course than might have been expected the establishment of a free Greek Kingdom. Well, for these reasons we laboured hard to bring together the Conference which has been sitting, and is still sitting, at Constantinople; and important good, undoubtedly, we have obtained from that Conference, because we have obtained a solemn appeal to the Sultan to take into his own hands, under conditions approved by civilized Europe, the settlement of the Egyptian Question. But we have obtained more than that. We have obtained the negative result that the Powers themselves are not willing, as a body, to be directly parties either to military action in Europe or to granting a Commission, or, as it is sometimes 1585 termed, a Mandate, to certain of their number to exercise that military action. But we have obtained, I think, to our entire satisfaction, the moral support and concurrence of Europe in the policy which we are pursuing. There has been a universal recognition that a case has arisen where, in the interests of humanity and of the future, force should be employed to put down the military dictatorship in Egypt, and a recognition that, although it unfortunately be true that Turkey has not been found ready to take into her own hands the discharge of the duty appertaining to Sovereignty in that respect, yet that it was a duty which ought to be performed. Of that we have had full and adequate assurance, and it forms an important part of the case on which we stand. On this matter, of course, we have looked in a very special degree to our great neighbour France, not only on account of her power and influence, but because of the close and direct relations in which we were placed with her under the arrangements of 1879. And here the principle of concurrence has obtained something more than moral assent, because as to one important part, at least, of the Egyptian Question—namely, that which concerns the free passage of the Suez Canal—we have succeeded in obtaining the direct and active concurrence of France. France, I believe, so far as the French Government is concerned, holds herself now prepared, along with ourselves, to guarantee the safety and the free use of that great maritime highway. We have no present reason to suppose that France will go further. It is not for me to predict what she will do, or what she may not be prepared to do, in the exercise of her undoubted right; but I should be deceiving the Committee if I held out to them the expectation that we were entitled to look for her naval or military concurrence in operations in Egypt further than with respect to the security and defence of the Suez Canal. Well, now, the defence of the Suez Canal does not, in our view, meet the necessities of the case, or the obligations under which we are bound to the present Khedive of Egypt, or the international arrangements that have been in force now for several years. Perhaps I may, in one single sentence, say with regard to the Khedive that undoubtedly the circumstances of 1586 his accession to power gave him a right to much consideration at our hands, the circumstances of his conduct during the last three or four months of difficulty never surpassed, and of danger to his life most formidable and alarming. His conduct, I think, has been without a single step in deviation from the one direct line of honour and of duty, and has greatly enhanced his claims upon us. But the insecurity of the Canal, it is plain, does not exhibit to us the seat of the disease. The insecurity of the Canal is a symptom only, and the seat of the disease is in the interior of Egypt, in its disturbed and its anarchical condition. We do not feel able to be satisfied that we should fully have discharged our duty without endeavouring to bring to bear adequate means of converting the present interior state of Egypt from anarchy and conflict to a state of peace and order. During the time that yet remains to us we shall still look to the co-operation of the Powers of civilized Europe; if it be in any case open to us. It is with us a policy, and it is with us a duty, to hail such co-operation, not merely as lightening our burden, but as strengthening our title, and as divesting it of an aggressive character. If, therefore, it be available we are prepared and desirous to hail it. If, after having exhausted all chances; if, after having failed with Turkey, and not having succeeded, at any rate, in bringing the full authority and force of the Powers represented at the Conference to bear upon this question—if every other chance is exhausted, we shall not, Sir, shrink from undertaking the duty by the single power of this country. It is, no doubt, a serious charge; but it is a charge which seems to devolve upon us from our duty, and which we believe to be within our means. We believe that it will have the full sanction of all those who are observers of our policy, and we are convinced that we shall be performing a great service to Europe and the world. Well, now, Sir, let me say a few words on the subject of what our action thus far has been. We sent ships to Alexandria in pursuance of a practice well established—that, when there is serious danger to our fellow-subjects—to the subjects of the Government in a foreign country—to endeavour to afford them, at least, the means of refuge through its Naval Force, and that was the main 1587 and the justifying cause why our ships were first sent to Alexandria. The danger increased; the number of those ships was not adequate to that augmented danger, and it was enlarged. I do not suppose the contention will be raised in this House, or, at least, I do not believe it will be widely supported, that these ships ought to have been withdrawn from Egypt. There were practical questions to be considered which would not have permitted us to entertain such a view; but I will not enter into argument until I find we are challenged upon that point of our policy. We believed that our ships were lawfully and rightfully in Alexandrian waters, and, feeling so, that it was our duty to take whatever measure might properly be taken, and might imperatively be called for in the interest of self-defence. With a view to the security of that Fleet, authority was given to interfere with the persistent endeavour to extend and to strengthen the fortifications of Alexandria; and those who have observed what was done on the 11th July may be apt to believe that had the process been allowed to continue for a much longer time, I will not say that it would have been fatal to the British Fleet, but I will say the consequences might have been much more serious. We justify the act of bombardment simply, strictly, and exclusively as an act of self-defence. Such was our object; but the question is raised—What ought to have been our conduct? And the answer given by some is that we ought to have sent with the Fleet a sufficient force for the purpose of preventing conflagration and pillage. I shall be very curious to hear that matter argued out. I should like to know what is meant by a sufficient force. A sufficient force, in the first place, must have been a force adequate, not only to meet in the field, but to drive out of every street and lane in a great city an Egyptian Army which was reported to us, according to the best accounts, to be between 10,000 and 15,000 strong. What would that sufficient force have been? I do not think I overstate it if I put it, for the sake of hypothesis, at 10,000 men; and I want to know in what way the sending of a sufficient force could by any possibility have been made to cohere—even decently to cohere—with our profession that our Fleet was in Alexandrian waters without the 1588 intention of offence, except what might be necessary for its own security. It would have been absolutely to belie our professions if we had sent such a force. It would have meant an invasion of that country; and an assumption of authority to determine the Egyptian Question by our sole action would not only have utterly belied our whole action in reference to the title and object with which we sent our Fleet—not only would it have belied our professions as regards the Power reigning in Egypt, but it would have been grossly disloyal in the face of Europe and of the Conference we had brought together. I want to point out what is the real charge against us, and let us be challenged on that charge if it is thought fit. We had brought together, with great pains and difficulty, the Powers of Europe, the aid of whose endeavours we had invoked to bring Turkey into the field. We had warned the Conference that if they failed to bring Turkey into the field we should still urge on it the consideration of other and effectual measures. Was it possible for men to go further than we had gone? We invest that Conference with a title to our forbearance, at least, from anything that might be in conflict with the policy which had met with the approval of what is undeniably, after all, the highest authority known in the civilized world. To have sent an invading Army to Egypt when the Conference had but recently met, and when it had not been able even to make its application to the Sultan, would, in our opinion, have disentitled us to every claim to respect in the eyes of the Powers of Europe, and it would, in truth, have been a flagrant contradiction to all of our professions. But I am bound to say I go a little further still. I want to know what force of 10,000 men, or of any number of thousands of men, could by any possibility have prevented an army in the occupation of a town from setting fire to it before leaving it? There is no force that could have done it. We should have been acting disloyally towards Europe; and, in addition, I believe it would have been impossible for us, by landing forces after the bombardment, to prevent the deplorable occurrences which took place in Alexandria through the wanton and gratuitous excesses of the Egyptian Army. There are many bombardments known to history; but I doubt very much 1589 if you will find a case in which an army possessed of the town of which the fortifications had been bombarded has retired from that town, setting fire to it in many places, and exposing vast portions of its population—not Englishmen, for they were all gone; not Europeans, for the population was not confined to them; not Christians, because it was not confined to them, but the general population of the town—to all the horrors of sack and pillage. So much, then, as to what we have done. And now I have a word to say about what we intend to do. I only speak of the object with which we shall move. As to the instruments with which we move, I have already said that we look to co-operation as long as a likelihood and prospect of co-operation remain; but the spirit of our action, with co-operation or without co-operation, will be this. We hope to put down that tyranny which now reigns in Egypt, and when that preliminary step may have been achieved—and God grant it may be soon—we hope to promote a settlement of Egyptian affairs, based upon the maintenance of international right, based upon the avoidance of every selfish purpose and design. We shall desire to strengthen the Throne worthily occupied by the present Khedive, if we have reason to believe—and I feel confident we shall have every reason to believe—in the continuance of that worthiness. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) has more than once put upon the Paper, within the last few weeks, a sympathetic Question addressed to me, and evidently intended to convoy the suggestion and the hope that in any measures which we might take or share in for the settlement of Egyptian affairs we should not forgot the liberties of the Egyptian people. Sir, I requested the hon. Gentleman to withdraw that Question for the time, and I did so because I was of opinion that to raise any particular question in respect to any particular right or object which it might be proper to hold in view when we come to a settlement might possibly arouse susceptibilities, and give rise to misconstruction. I have to thank the hon. Gentleman for not having put that Question to me at a time when it seemed unreasonable. I can assure the hon. Gentleman it will be a sacred part of our duty to favour equal laws in Egypt, 1590 and, within the limits of reason, to favour popular liberty. We must not be too hasty in our favourable assumptions; yet I, for one, do certainly believe that Egypt is a country which has, not economically, but socially and politically, made great progress; and there is reason to hope that when the incubus which now afflicts her is removed, and a reign of law is substituted for that of military violence, something may be founded there which may give hope for the future—something which may tend to show that the desire for free institutions is not wholly confined to Christian races, but that even in a Mahomedan people, whose circumstances are certainly less favourable to the development of free institutions, a noble thirst may arise for the attainment of those blessings of civilized life which they see have been achieved in so many countries in Europe. Sir, these will be the purposes with which we shall move. It will be premature now to enter into details as to a general re-establishment of the status quo. It is impossible, for example, to form at this time any judgment with reference to maintaining or changing what is called the Control in Egypt; but what I do wish to convey is this—that whether we go to Egypt alone or in partnership we shall not go for selfish objects. Even if it happen that our action be isolated, except for the happy conjunction with France I have already noticed with respect to the Suez Canal—and I venture to think that conjunction may be considered assured—if our action should be isolated, not isolated will be our purpose. Our purpose will be to put down tyranny and to favour law and freedom; and we shall cherish something of the hope that it may yet be given to Egypt, with all her resources, and with the many excellent qualities of her peaceful and peace-loving and laborious people, to achieve in the future, less, perhaps, of glory, but yet possibly more happiness than she did once achieve when, in a far-off and almost forgotten time, she was the wonder of the ancient world.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £2,300,000, be granted to Her Majesty, beyond the ordinary Grants of Parliament, towards defraying the Expenses which may be incurred during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1883, in strengthening Her Majesty's Forces in the Mediterranean."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
Sir, I must say it has never been my lot to have listened to a speech in this House which has given me more grave reason for consideration than that which we have just heard. I do not for a moment yield to the right hon. Gentleman in my conviction that if England sets herself to work in her single strength to accomplish the objects which, so far as we can understand, the Government are setting before themselves, she will show that she is competent to discharge that duty, and to accomplish the end desired. Of this, at least, I am certain—that if England undertakes that task it will be in the full strength of her sons of all shades of opinion. But I feel that this is a moment at which we require further explanation and fuller consideration than it is possible for us to exercise at the first blush of the statement to which we have just listened. There is much in that statement which has both surprised and, I think, disappointed the House. We find that we are no longer to look for aid either from the Porte—the legitimate Sovereign of Egypt, charged, as the right hon. Gentleman says it should have been, with the execution of the duty of maintaining peace within its own Dominions—nor are we to look for the assistance of any of the Powers of Europe, except in a limited degree. [Mr. GLADSTONE made a gesture of dissent.] Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will explain.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
The "hopes and chances of co-operation are not exhausted!" Well, are we to live upon hopes? It seems to me that in those two words we have a clue to a great deal of what has been done. We can now understand that for 12 months, or nearly 12 months, it has been upon hopes and chances that the Government have been proceeding; and I am bound to say that, looking to the position of affairs as it is now represented to us, looking to the conditions under which we are to engage in this enterprize, looking to the enterprize itself, so mistily shadowed forth to us, and looking, at the same time, to the attitude of the other Powers, we require some little consideration before we commit ourselves to a support of the Government in this mat- 1592 ter. I am, and always have been, one of the very last in England to embarrass and weaken the hands of the Executive in a policy of a character involving military operations. If we are persuaded that military operations ought to be undertaken, and will be undertaken, we ought to give the Government our support and strength; but we ought to expect, and we have a right to expect, and it is our duty to demand from the Government, full explanations both as to the grounds on which they are proceeding, the object at which they aim, and, in such degree as is compatible with proper military considerations, full explanation as to the means by which they expect to attain the object in view. But what have been the statements of the right hon. Gentleman? He began by endeavouring, as far as possible, to throw the responsibility for the present state of things in Egypt from himself and his Government upon the Government which preceded him. If I thought I should not weary the Committee I should now be prepared to contend very warmly against the description which the right hon. Gentleman has given of this matter. I contend he has given an entirely erroneous description of the proceedings at the time of the Mission of Sir Stephen Cave.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
Yes. To whom was the right hon. Gentleman referring when he told us that the groundwork of these proceedings was laid some years ago—in 1876?
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I entirely dispute the accuracy of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, and if the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to finish my sentence he will find I am prepared to make good what I state. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the groundwork of these proceedings was laid some years ago; and then he referred to a speech of his made in the year 1876, upon the occasion of Sir Stephen Cave being sent out, as the right hon. Gentleman described it, as a Commissioner with very considerable powers. He then went on to say that nothing serious came of that, and what he was ready to point to was rather the 1593 decisions arrived at in 1879. I entirely dispute that the right hon. Gentleman's description is anything like an abstract of the proceedings of the late Government. I say that Sir Stephen Cave's Mission was one which was of a purely inquiring character; it was to enable us to obtain certain information; and the Control to which the right hon. Gentleman refers was not only originated in 1879, but it was entirely independent of the action of the Government—in fact, it was originally instituted upon the action of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) and his Colleagues. When we come to 1879, I wish to point this out to the right hon. Gentleman, if he will give me his attention for a moment—that the decree that was put out in 1879 greatly limited and reduced the powers given to the Controllers by the previous decree, which was the work of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) and his Colleagues. They were expressly excluded from the exercise of administrative functions previously given to them, and entirely removed from such a position as the right hon. Gentleman ascribes to them. They were told they were given a consultative voice and powers of investigation, but not such powers as belong to the Cabinet of which the right hon. Gentleman is the head. I am prepared, on the proper occasion, to enter at length into an explanation and defence of the proceedings of the late Government; but I maintain that on the present occasion I ought not to be called upon to do that, because it would be evading altogether the question really at issue. Whether the conduct of the late Government was or was not open to the remarks the right hon. Gentleman has now made, this certainly is to be said—that by his own admission, not only now on the floor of the House, both by himself and of his Colleagues, in State despatches and otherwise, the work we did was good work, that produced a state of things greatly for the benefit of Egypt, and greatly for the advancement of the prosperity of the people of that country. That being so, we have a right to come forward, having left things in that position, and say—"Why, if it was unsatisfactory, did you not alter or reverse it? If, on the other hand, it was satisfactory, why have you made this piece of work out of that which we 1594 left in your hands?" I contend that it will be found, when we come closely to examine these matters, that, to a great extent, the miserable condition to which things have been brought is due, not to the action of the late Government, but rather to the action, if we can call it action, of the present Government. I maintain that, from the beginning of the disturbances occasioned by the Military Party—of whom the right hon. Gentleman has spoken in terms of just indignation—from the beginning of those disturbances the conduct of the Government has been such as not to meet the emergencies of the case, but, on the contrary, to cut away and to embarrass the means of resisting it in the hands of the Khedive. With whom were we to have acted? When the late Government had to deal with a position of considerable difficulty in reference to the change in the position of the late Khedive, his deposition, or rather his forced resignation, at that time the Government of the day acted in cordial co-operation and concert with the Porte, as the Sovereign of the Khedive. But what has been the conduct of the present Government in regard to their relations with the Porte? They tell us they have looked to and desired that the Porte should exercise its Sovereign rights, in order to preserve peace in the Principality of Egypt. But how has the Porte been able to do it? The Government have hung upon its arm continually; they told the Porte that it was bound to exercise its functions; but they embarrassed it by sending troops there, and by taking other measures for the exertion of force. How have they acted in relation with France? I think, if we look at the relations with France, and read the whole story of the negotiations, we shall see that there has been an entire case of the want of a real and effective understanding between them. That is one of the points we put before them. They profess that we are in cordial co-operation with France. But when we ask—"What are you doing here—here is a difficult state of things growing up; what are you going to do?" The Government say—"Do not inquire; we are in cordial co-operation with France; we agree to act together; but, at the same time, we hold ourselves free with regard to any particular action that may be taken." I do not believe that, from first to last, 1595 there was anything that really could have been called an effective understanding with France, or that there was anything like an effective understanding between the two Powers. It was the sort of understanding that existed between the right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright) and his Colleagues. They agreed to hold together; but they were not agreed upon any effective action. At the date when it was necessary that something should be done they fell apart in toto. I am sorry as to the manner in which the Government have acted throughout this matter. They have, as it seems to me, taken exactly the most foolish and unwise course they could have taken, because they have fallen into the error of dawdling and endeavouring to succeed by their demonstrations. A policy of demonstration and dawdling is a most dangerous one. It may succeed, but it must be judged by results, and when we see what the result in this case has been, I am bound to say that we cannot form the best opinion either as to the wisdom or diplomacy of the Government. I am sorry that I have been forced to explain so much on account of the unnecessary attack which was made by the right hon. Gentleman upon his Predecessors. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] I see that the right hon. Gentleman shakes his head; but he said something which was understood as an attack—and which we understood to be an endeavour to shift on to the Government which preceded him the exclusive responsibility for the position into which things have got. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman in the appreciation which he has expressed of the great importance of putting down the military tyranny to which Egypt is subjected; and I am prepared to say with him that the general course, not only of the late Government, but of any Government in this country for a considerable time, has been such as to make it impossible for us to look with indifference on such a state of things. The proceedings with regard to the Control are, after all, but an incident in the general history of our dealings with Egypt. If we look back to the days of the old Capitulations, and the substitution of judicial reform, even down to the time preceding Sir Stephen Cave's Mission, we shall see how the complications 1596 arose in connection with the obligations of Egypt to this country. Our claims on the tribute, for instance, were assigned, not under the late Government, but under a Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a Member. It was assigned as a security for the debt which was created in 1850 and 1858. When we look at the other interests which England has in Egypt, independent of her great interest in the maintenance of the Suez Canal, we shall see how important it was that Egypt should prosper and be peaceful; that she should be contented and happy. I may say that I think the action which each successive Government has taken with regard to Egypt has been both justifiable and beneficial, and has entailed on us the obligations to which the right hon. Gentleman has adverted. And now I want to ask one or two questions about the present state of things. We have been told that the object of our joint mission is to put down tyranny and reestablish good government in Egypt. All that may be very excellent. But we want to know, as far as it is possible to tell us, what are the steps by which we are about to proceed? We are about to go alone, with, as the right hon. Gentleman says, the sympathy and moral support, at all events, of every Power in Europe, and the aid of France to a limited extent. I think we ought to be told what is the attitude of other Governments, and we ought to have some assurance with regard to France, and as to the extent of the moral support and sympathy which are said to exist. When we see that we are going into an enter-prize of such magnitude and importance, and when we are told that no other nation but one is going to stand by our side, and that one only to a limited extent, we ought to have some evidence to show that we are not acting alone without the assent of these Powers, but that we are acting as a mandatory of them. We are forced to ask these questions, because the Government have not been very ready to tell us all that is going on. And I must say that with reference to the negotiations with the European Powers, and the representations of the Conference, we are left, at a moment like this, in a condition of darkness, which I hope the Government will very speedily terminate. We also want to know, if we are to go alone, 1597 what force is going to be employed, and if any contingent, and if so, what contingent is coming from any other part of the Empire? Are there to be any Indian troops? We have not heard one word about them from the right hon. Gentleman; but the noble Lord the Secretary of State for India, in the early part of the evening, gave Notice of a Motion to show that it is intended to use Her Majesty's Forces, and that some part of the expense is proposed to be charged upon India. I hope we shall be informed with regard to that matter, and how far it is their intention to draw upon the resources of that part of the Empire. I hope that an answer will be given to the Question suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow)—namely, whether it is intended to charge the expenses of the employment of these troops on the Indian or the British Exchequer? These are all points on which we desire to have information. I do not, at the present moment, desire to express any final opinion on the proposal made to us by the right hon. Gentleman. I think we have a right to ask for a short time to consider the proposal. I hope the right hon. Gentleman does not intend to press us to give a Vote tonight. I am quite sure that whenever we get an explanation such as we want, and have a right to ask for, the House of Commons will approach the question in a spirit worthy of Englishmen, and that there will be no unnecessary delay or embarrassment when we are satisfied that we are right in the course we are pursuing. Before I sit down I should like to ask whether there is any truth in the report which has reached this country that the Conference is already dissolved?
I have not heard, Sir, that there is any truth in that report. I was surprised when I found that the right hon. Gentleman meant to ask for time, because the right hon. Gentleman has already proceeded to make a partial reply to my speech. He entirely misunderstood what I said about Sir Stephen Cave. I quoted my own words, and those words had no reference to Sir Stephen Cave, but to a scheme which was not his, but one which the late Government aired at one time, but which they did not act upon so long as Lord Derby remained at the Foreign Office. I never said or implied that the 1598 functions of the Control were extended. The difference was this. The Control was established upon the authority of the English and French Governments, and, being so established, the Controllers were not dismissable by the Egyptian Rulers without the consent of England and France. A more extraordinary interference with the affairs of a foreign country cannot be conceived. I have made no attempt to exempt the present Government from responsibility for each and every step they have taken, and I defended them upon all the points on which I thought their policy has been challenged. But, I say, follow up those points; try them one by one, and if you follow them up, you will then, in my opinion, come to a certain epoch, which is the true origin of all that has since happened. That is, I apprehend, a perfectly fair method of proceeding. The right hon. Gentleman went so far as to say I made an attack upon the late Government, when I said expressly I was called upon neither to approve nor condemn, and I went out of my way to say that the Control had done good to the people of Egypt, and that is the reward which I receive for such an acknowledgment. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman has taken that course; but if he desires that time should be taken, I shall not resist his proposal, and therefore I will not oppose the Motion to report Progress.
If such a Motion is made I shall not resist it. [An hon. MEMBER: The Indian troops.] The explanation which I have given to-night is a strictly limited one. The proper time for explanations in regard to Indian troops will be when my noble Friend makes his Motion. My explanations tonight have been limited, and I do not attempt to describe the whole of our course on this subject.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he had one question to put to the right hon. Gentleman. Was the Vote of Credit now proposed to be strictly limited to the expenses of the troops to be sent from this country? Did it include anything for the expenses of the troops to be sent from India?
In no sense whatever. I stated that in my statement as 1599 clearly as I could. It is entirely for the troops to be sent from this country.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, there was one more question he should like to ask. For what period had the expenses been calculated which they were now asked to vote? They were told that it was to be a largo expedition; that 20,000 or 23,000 men were to be sent out to Egypt. It must be borne in mind that they were being sent to a very expensive part of the world; and it might be fairly assumed that the sum of £2,300,000, now asked for for military operations in Africa, would not last very long. He should, therefore, be glad to be told for what period the Vote was calculated. It would be a great satisfaction to find that the expedition could be conducted without a further appeal to the Exchequer.
§ MR. CHILDERS
Perhaps I had better answer the question of the hon. Gentleman. The amount required to be taken for the Army—and I have no means at present of checking the details—has been caleulated for the period which those who advise the Government in military matters consider would be sufficient to complete operations. It is designed to cover a period of three months.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, he was not going to enter into any open question, or to follow the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. All he desired was to ask for information on one point. The right hon. Gentleman, in vindicating the course of action of the Government up to the present time, had made a statement to the effect that the terrible state of things in Alexandria was owing to action entirely apart from that of Her Majesty's Navy. Now, was it not the fact that the Government had received a distinct warning from various sources as to the unavoidable result of that course of action? It was not denied that Major Tulloch sent home distinct information to the Government to this effect. Now, who was Major Tulloch? He was a gentleman of unquestionable ability and of great experience, who had lived in Alexandria for a considerable time, and who was sent out by the Government for the purpose of collecting information. Major Tulloch did send home detailed information to the Government on the subject, upon which 1600 the Government might have acted, and by means of which some of the horrible consequences which had ensued might have been avoided. He wanted to know if that was the fact or not; and, if it was the fact, whether the Government would not lay on the Table of the House of Commons whatever information, if there was any, that had been forwarded to them by Major Tulloch? In the despatches which had been laid upon the Table there was information to show that most unquestionably did the British residents in Alexandria call on Her Majesty's Government to provide sufficient means for the protection of life and property. It was also stated that the bombardment of the forts would, in all probability, result in serious danger to the European population, and in regard to which the Government ought to have been prepared. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Will the hon. Gentleman read the despatch?] In one of the despatches it was stated that there was every reason to fear a recurrence of the horrors which had taken place; that the Europeans in Alexandria were absolutely defenceless, and that they had not the means of retiring, as in order to reach the harbour they would have to run the gauntlet of the guns through the streets. The despatch added that when the forts were disabled there would commence a great danger for Europeans. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would order the rest of the despatch to be given. He was sorry to find that the right hon. Gentleman had left the House, because this was a despatch which he understood the right hon. Gentleman to desire him to read, and he wished the right hon. Gentleman to hear the rest of the despatch. The despatch went on to say—Then would commence a period of great danger for Europeans, who would be at the mercy of the soldiers, exasperated by defeat, while the British Admiral could not risk his men ashore, because his whole available force for landing purposes did not exceed 300 men.He (Mr. Chaplin) was bound to say, quite apart from the information which might or might not have been supplied by Major Tulloch to the Government—and he hoped the Committee would be distinctly told to-night that the information which had been supplied would be laid on the Table—he was bound to say that, quite apart from that information, 1601 there was contained in the despatch he had read sufficient to induce him to believe that the Government had ample warning of the fearful consequences likely to ensue from the bombardment, which fearful consequences actually did ensue, and which Her Majesty's Government took no sufficient moans to prevent. These were points upon which he hoped the Government would give the Committee distinct information and full explanation before the debate was closed that night.
§ MR. CHILDERS
I thought I had answered the Question put to me by the hon. Member in reference to Major Tulloch the other day. What I said then was, that Major Tulloch was neither the agent nor the adviser of the Government in any sense. Major Tulloch was an officer on the Staff at Portsmouth, and, having a considerable local knowledge of Alexandria and the neighbourhood, he was sent by me to Sir Beau-champ Seymour to give him information about Alexandria and its vicinity. He was simply attached to Sir Beauchamp Seymour for that purpose before the bombardment commenced. He was not sent as the agent of the Government, nor as their adviser, to Sir Beauchamp Seymour; but it was felt that his local knowledge might be useful to the Admiral. I have already made that statement. Whatever information Major Tulloch possessed in regard to the neighbourhood of Alexandria he gave to Sir Beauchamp Seymour, but he was never asked to advise Her Majesty's Government on naval or military operations. Therefore it is not my duty, audit would be establishing an extraordinary precedent if, having appointed an officer for that purpose, I was to allow myself to be catechized about his personal opinions on subjects which were altogether beyond the sphere of his duty.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, that was not the question. He had not asked for what purpose Major Tulloch had been appointed, or to whom he was credited, or what special powers he might have at this moment. What he did ask was, whether Major Tulloch did not send home information to the Government that probably a bombardment, unsupported by troops, would result in the horrible state of things which had since been witnessed at Alexandria? He had further asked whether, if Major Tulloch did send home information to that effect, 1602 the Government would lay it on the Table?
§ MR. CHILDERS
That was not the subject of Major Tulloch's employment. He might send over his opinion as to the politics of the Cabinet; but that would have nothing to do with the purpose for which he was sent out. He was sent to Alexandria for a specific purpose—namely, to give Sir Beauchamp Seymour local information—information in regard to Alexandria and the neighbourhood. Beyond that, he had no other duties to perform, and I can certainly give no other answer than that which I have already given.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he thought there ought to be an understanding whether the debate was to be continued, or Progress was to be reported. The questions involved were of great importance, and a desultory discussion of this nature would only prejudice them. Either the debate should proceed regularly, if that was the general feeling, or it should be brought to a close. He felt very strongly the disadvantageous character of a desultory discussion of this kind.
said, he had understood the Prime Minister to say that be would not be indisposed, if there was a general desire on the part of the Committee, to consent to an adjournment of the discussion. He thought the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Goschen) only expressed the feeling of a great many Members on both sides of the House. The statement which had been made by the Prime Minister was one of such extreme importance, and was made under such circumstances, that it was most desirable the House should have time to consider all the various and important issues which were involved; and he had, therefore, ventured to rise for the purpose of asking the Government until what day it would be convenient to adjourn the debate?
I propose to take it to-morrow; but, perhaps, the best course would be for me to withdraw the Motion I have made.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
asked if it was proposed that the House should meet to-morrow, at 2 o'clock?
§ MR. ONSLOW
said, he hoped the Government would tell the Committee exactly the number of troops it was pro- 1603 posed to bring from India, and the estimated cost.
§ MR. ONSLOW
said, the question would not come on to-morrow; the noble Marquess the Secretary for India (the Marquess of Hartington) had given Notice that he would not move his Resolution until after the present debate had closed. He thought the House and the country ought to know as soon as possible what the precise number of troops was that Her Majesty's Government intended to send to Egypt, not only from this country, but from India, and the estimated cost of the expedition. It was a matter of the highest importance that this information should be given.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I do not think it is desirable that the House should ask at the present moment for exact information as to the number of the troops. The exact composition of the force to come from India is still under the consideration of the War Office. I may state, however, that, as the hon. Member is aware, tolerably accurate information has been given in the newspapers. A force—I think it is called a division—amounting to between 7,000 and 10,000 men, has been warned for service in India, and the Government of India are prepared at short notice to supplement it if necessary. I am afraid I shall not be able even to-morrow to state the exact cost; but any information which I may be able to give will be most appropriately given when I move the Vote.
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
said, that as a great deal had been said about a Question which he had asked the other day, he thought it only fair to say that he got no answer from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War. He had drawn the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to a passage in The Times. It was not necessary for him to read the passage; but the Secretary for War, in answer to the Question, simply stated, as far as he (Lord Eustace Cecil) understood him, that there was no accredited agent of the Government whatever in Egypt, and that he did not in any way consider Major Tulloch an accredited military agent. But there were official agents and non-official agents. They had had instances on more than one occasion of unofficial agents being employed by the Government. There was the case of the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. 1604 Errington), who was not long ago employed as an unofficial agent at Rome. There were also the cases of Sir William Gregory and Mr. Wilfrid Blunt, who had been unofficial agents in Egypt; and now they were told that Major Tulloch was an unofficial agent. He had no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman was right in saying that Major Tulloch was an unofficial agent; but he had not asked exactly what the opinions of Major Tulloch were, but whether the whole story, as it appeared in The Times, was true or not? He wished to remind the right hon. Gentleman of the last portion of the story as it appeared in the letter of The Times' Correspondent. The Times' Correspondent related the whole of his conversation with Major Tulloch, in order to show that the Government themselves had received from their own trusted agent recommendations of a course of action which would have saved the whole of Alexandria. "Why," asked The Times' Correspondent, "have they failed to adopt it?" That was the point of his (Lord Eustace Cecil's) Question. He wished to show that the Government had received such information as they were stated in The Times newspaper to have received. But he got no answer to that Question. He did not care whether it was from Major Tulloch, or from anyone else, that the Government received the information. The material point was, whether they did receive such information. If the Government were really warned, as he was informed, several weeks before, that it would be a very improper thing to attempt to bombard the forts of Alexandria without being prepared to land a force on those shores, he asserted, advisedly, that the Government were most culpable in not paying attention to that advice. His Question did not turn upon the fact that Major Tulloch was or was not an accredited officer; but whether the Government did or did not receive the information contained in the statement in The Times? And to that Question he received no answer. They had had on that side of the House, on more than one occasion, to complain of the manner in which Questions had been answered by Members of the Government. A Question was put to the Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) the other day by his right hon. and gallant Friend (Sir John Hay) as to what had happened to the guns of the 1605 Alexandra during the bombardment. His right hon. and gallant Friend was naturally very much interested in that Question, and he (Lord Eustace Cecil) could not, for his own part, see that it was at all an improper Question to put. Negotiations were going on in Europe, and any facts of this kind could not long be concealed. But the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty refused to answer the Question; and yet to-day he found a full statement of the damage done to the guns in the newspapers. He held in his hand an extract showing exactly what had happened, from which it appeared that in one case one of the tubes had burst, and that neither of the accidents was very serious. In point of fact, one of the guns was perfectly serviceable shortly after the accident. He merely mentioned this to show that the Secretary to the Admiralty could have given an answer if he had chosen without any detriment whatever to the Public Service. It was only fair and right that such information, if it could be supplied, should be given. He hoped that when Questions of this kind were asked, the occupants of the Front Bench would treat hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House with the same consideration and courtesy with which the Opposition treated them three or four years ago. At that time a great many Questions were put to the late Administration—Questions of a grave character which it was sometimes difficult to answer without injury to the Public Service; Questions which did not always display a great amount of discretion on the part of those who put them; but he challenged any hon. Gentleman to show that they were not invariably answered with perfect frankness. On two or three occasions the Opposition had a right to complain of the manner in which certain Members of the Government answered Questions, and especially on the occasion to which reference had been made in the course of the present debate.
§ MR. CHILDERS
I answered the Questions put to me by the noble Lord categorically, and if my manner was not courteous I am very sorry for it. The first Question was—"Had the Govern- 1606 ment an accredited military agent at Alexandria?" I said, "No; not until Sir Archibald Alison arrived." When he arrived he was, of course, the agent of the Government. I was then asked if Major Tulloch was an agent for the Government? and I stated "No;" that he was neither the agent nor the adviser of the Government, but a subordinate officer on the Staff at Portsmouth who knew Alexandria, and was sent out to give local information to Sir Beauchamp Seymour as to the geographical features of Alexandria and the neighbourhood.
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me to correct him? I only asked if any communication had been received from an agent of the Government, and, if so, what was the date of it? I never said a word about Major Tulloch.
§ MR. CHILDERS
Quite so; but the noble Lord referred to the paragraph in The Times in which Major Tulloch's name was mentioned.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, that what the House had a right to complain of was, that information was given to the newspapers before it was given to the House, and apparently by Members of the Government. Indeed, information had been given to the newspapers which had been refused to the House—such as the information alluded to by his noble Friend (Lord Eustace Cecil) with reference to the Question he (Sir John Hay) had put to the Secretary to the Admiralty as to the guns reported to have burst on board the Alexandra. If the guns were inefficient, there could have been no harm in saying so; if they were not inefficient, it would be satisfactory to the country to know the fact. At the present moment the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty had a large Vote of £350,000 for new guns in connection with the Naval Ordnance, and it was only right and proper that the House should know how the ordnance at present in the possession of the Navy stood its work at the bombardment. The hon. Gentleman, however, snubbed him, and said it was a Question he had no right to ask, and that it would be disadvantageous to the Public Service to give a reply. He was bound to say that he had always received the greatest possible courtesy from the right hon. Gentleman now Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. 1607 Trevelyan) when he filled the Office of Secretary to the Admiralty. He had questioned the right hon Gentleman frequently upon naval matters, and was always treated with courtesy. Indeed, the replies of the right hon Gentleman were always given in a candid manner, respectful to the House, and were of the greatest advantage to the Service. He trusted that the hon. Gentleman the present Secretary would, in future, follow the same course; and that when a naval officer—there were not many in the House at the present moment—put a Question in regard to a matter upon which he was competent to form an opinion, the hon. Gentleman would at least reply in a courteous manner to the appeal made to him. He (Sir John Hay) was sure the Committee would see that when a sum of £350,000 was about to be voted for the purpose of providing Naval Ordnance, they ought to know whether the existing Naval Ordnance was of a character the public could rely upon. With all courtesy and kindness towards his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty, he wished to say that the House had a perfect right to receive information on subjects of that character. He would only add, in reference to the Notice he had given to delay the Vote for Naval Ordnance, that he should not put the Committee to the trouble of discussing it.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, the right hon. and gallant Baronet had said a great deal about a want of courtesy shown him. He should be the last person in the House to wish to have discourtesy attributed to him. If he had ever said anything in the nature of what had been called a "snub," he should be ready to apologize; but it was never his intention to say it. There was a distinction between answering Questions put from one Member to another in the House, and anything relating to the public interest. The Government had had a great many Questions addressed to them since he had the honour of filling his present Office—Questions, addressed to the transactions at Alexandria, and in reference to the presence of the Fleet in Egyptians waters, which appeared to himself and those with whom he consulted it would be injurious to the public interest to answer. Statements had appeared in the newspapers, perhaps rather tending to throw discredit on the Service, and these, on many 1608 occasions, had been immediately embodied in a Question, and the Government were asked whether or not such statements were true. He quite admitted that in some of the operations in which they were engaged there might, in some instances, be little danger in communicating information; but he would ask the House whether it was a good precedent that, being engaged in active operations of war, or in immediate preparations for such operations, any sort of Question a Member might choose to ask must be at once answered by the Government under penalty of being accused of a want of courtesy? He could only say to his right hon. and gallant Friend that he had no intention of behaving discourteously to him, or to anyone. Now, with regard to the two guns mentioned. As a matter of fact, he believed there were three guns injured on board the Alexandra; and why, it was asked, was not full information given of the amount of damage, and how the guns stood the work? The first reason was that the Government did not know, and that was a substantial reason in itself. And how could it be expected they should know two days after an engagement? Of the manner, the nature, and the effect of the injury, the Government were not yet in possession of the information, and therefore he might be excused, he thought, from attempting to give a hypothetical answer. And he would submit to the House, with the greatest deference, even if the Government had known, it was undesirable immediately to make public, and without full inquiry, damages of this sort. He thought he was justified, in the circumstances, even if he had full information, in declining to give an answer.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, he accepted the hon. Gentleman's statement, and thanked him for the expressions he had used. He supposed he might gather from the statement that the apparently communicative paragraph in The Times did not come from the Admiralty?
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, no communicative paragraph had been sent from the Admiralty. Nothing would be communicated to the newspapers by the Admiralty that would not be stated in the House.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, this desultory discussion was scarcely worthy of the gravity of the subject. It ought to be announced whether the debate was 1609 to proceed or not. If the Government really wished to adjourn it, they should do so.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, then that should be done. These comparatively insignificant and not particularly relevant topics were unfitted to the gravity of the subject and the dignity of the House.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
said, he desired to say a word on the question of the payment of the Indian Forces out of the Indian Revenue. That question had been alluded to by the right hon. Baronet (Sir Stafford Northcote) and others. He was sorry not to see the Postmaster General in his place at the moment, and he hoped that there would be a full discussion of this subject. It seemed to him that this question was decidedly an Imperial question, and that they were not justified in taxing the already overtaxed people of India for the payment of Imperial expenses. He was glad his hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow) had given a Notice on the subject.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
said, the point had been alluded to by others, and he only wished to say that when the question arose, he should give his cordial support to the Motion of his hon. Friend.
asked if the Government had received any recent telegrams from Egypt which they could communicate to the House?
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, he desired to refer for a moment to the statement in The Times, and the answer in reference to it given to the noble Lord the Member for West Essex (Lord Eustace Cecil). That reply was a remarkable instance of the Minister for War's answers, and he took notice at the time of the words used. The right hon. Gentleman stated that a distinguished and experienced officer was specially sent by the Minister for War to Alexandria and the seat of operations to advise the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Beauchamp Seymour, with regard to the condition of Alexandria, and, of course, in regard to the events happening or 1610 likely to happen, and yet in the same breath he stated that this distinguished officer was not an agent of the Government, not an accredited official agent. He also declined to state whether the War Office had received, directly or indirectly, through Sir Beauchamp Seymour or through Major Tulloch, that information which every Member of the House was morally certain they did receive—namely, that to undertake the bombardment of Alexandria without a landing force to cut off the retreat of the enemy, would necessarily doom the city to destruction. The country would form its own opinion of the motives that made the right hon. Gentleman unwilling to commit the Government to an admission that they had received the information. They must have received such information not only from Major Tulloch, but from Mr. Cookson, the acting Consul, and probably from Sir Edward Malet, and they certainly knew it from communications from the leading British inhabitants of Alexandria. For days, for weeks, before, they had been told that that would happen which had happened. They were told so by inhabitants who had been in Alexandria for decades, and who knew perfectly well what would be the course of events. Then the Prime Minister had asked, how was it possible to adopt any other course than the bombardment, and how, in loyalty to the Powers, could a force be landed? But how, then, was it not disloyal now? If it was disloyal to the Powers, to the Conference, to the Porte, to send a force on the 11th of July, how was it legitimate or loyal to land a force a few days later? Last Thursday it was stated there were 6,000 or 7,000 troops in Alexandria. What was the object of this force? Was it with the vain and hopeless attempt to make the hand-to-mouth, drifting policy of the Government consistent with their statements in the House, that their policy was to protect life and property? The argument of the Prime Minister failed, because if such action was disloyal on July 11th, when it would have been effective, it was no less disloyal now. He hoped the hon. Members who had taken up the question as to Major Tulloch' s statement would press for an answer, which the House had a right to demand.
§ MR. GOURLEY
said, he would now ask the Secretary to the Admiralty a 1611 Question which he had down for that evening, but which, in deference to the wishes of the Prime Minister, he did not put before. He wished to inquire if the Secretary to the Admiralty could inform the House what vessels had been told off for the purpose of convoying our merchant ships through the Suez Canal, and also what vessels had been told off for the same duty by other Powers? Last week the hon. Gentleman stated, in answer to his Question, that an Italian man-of-war had acted as convoy. He would like to ascertain exactly what was being done in protecting the vast amount of commerce which this country had passing through the Canal. The Prime Minister had said that something would probably be done for the protection of the Canal; but what he was anxious to know was, what the English Government were really doing at the present moment for the purpose of convoying our commerce? Rumours had arisen of attacks by Arabs, and the Government had not stated what precautions had been taken to prevent such. The Question was one which, in the interests of commerce, demanded a specific statement on the part of the Government.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, he must pursue his rôle of reticence and decline to tell his hon. Friend all the particulars for which he asked. He could perfectly understand his anxiety and that of others interested in the enormous amount of commerce passing through the Canal; but he could only say that from all he could hear there had been no danger of disturbance of the traffic yet, and the authorities on the spot considered the arrangements made and the force they possessed sufficient for purposes of protection. He could not give particulars of the British or other vessels there. It would not be desirable to give such information.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, so far as he could gather from the explanation of the Secretary for War of the reasons why the Government did not listen to the warnings of Major Tulloch, it was one of the most singular defences of a Government policy it had ever been his fate to hear. If he was not mistaken, the defence of the Government for not listening to the warnings of Major Tulloch was that Major Tulloch was sent out to Egypt in a totally different position; and when Major Tulloch warned the Government of the probable 1612 consequences of their policy and the imminent danger to life and property in Alexandria from the absence of a landing force, he was performing no business of his. These were the words of the right hon. Gentleman—it was no business of Major Tulloch's to warn the Government of the consequences of the bombardment. It was the most singular application of Spanish etiquette to this country he had come in contact with. A Spanish King was once unpleasantly near a blazing fire; but because the proper official was not present to put up a screen, His Majesty was allowed to roast. In a similar manner it seemed not to have been Major Tulloch's position to put up the screen at Alexandria, and the Government considered that Major Tulloch's presumption in trying to do that which was no business of his justified the Government in taking no notice of Major Tulloch's warning. This was the logical position assumed by the Government. For his own part, he entered his protest against the theory which had been enforced in the House, that the Arabs or the Egyptian Army set fire to Alexandria. He had no doubt whatever that, in the despair and exasperation of the moment, the work of conflagration was probably extended by the desperate Arab population; but he was perfectly certain of this, that the shells from the English Fleet originally set fire to Alexandria before a single incendiary extended the conflagration. [Cries of "No, no!"] The declarations of hon. Members opposite, some of whom had not taken the trouble to make certain of the facts, would not move him from his assertion that the shells from the English guns set fire to Alexandria hours before any incendiary assisted the work. When the manner in which the Fleet fought the fortifications was considered it would be seen how, without attributing any blame to the action of the Fleet, it occurred. The Inflexible fired on the forts from a distance of from 3,000 to 5,000 yards, and the slightest possible change in the elevation would be equal to a very wide deviation from the mark and would be sufficient to hurl the 1,700-lb. shells right into the centre of the town—if they missed the forts at the water's edge they must inevitably go into the town. The manager of the Anglo-Egyptian Bank, with 60 or 70 other Europeans, were witnesses of the fact that the shells of the 1613 Fleet in several cases fell into, and in a large number of cases went over, the town. Denials of this were of no use, because he knew that reports on the subject had been sent in from foreign officers who were witnesses of the bombardment, and these reports were in the possession of all the Governments of Europe; so if Her Majesty's Government wished to escape the blame of setting fire to Alexandria in a time of peace, they must choose some other line of argument than that their shells did not hit the town. They did strike the General Hospital, where the Geneva flag was flying—unintentionally he had no doubt—they did strike the English church; they struck the Arab quarter.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
rose to Order. Had these remarks any connection with the Question before the Committee?
The Vote is not yet withdrawn, and the hon. Member is in Order if he persists, though the right hon. Gentleman wishes to withdraw the Vote.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, this interruption did more credit to the worthy Alderman's patriotism than to his knowledge of the Rules of the House. He could understand the natural desire of every Englishman to throw a cloak over the black deeds of the 11th July. He would not dwell upon it, for it would be fully examined in the further progress of discussion. But he was struck by the statement of the Premier, in which he laid severe stress on the calling together of the Chamber of Egyptian Notables without the previous consent of Tewfik Pasha. On that he would remind the Committee it was a question with which Turkish allegiance and Mohammedan law had a great deal to do. The previous conduct and actions of Tewfik in authorizing the despatch of a foreign Fleet, with possibly hostile motives, to Alexandria, and his conduct in accepting a menacing declaration from England and France ordering him, under penalty of force majeure, to dismiss certain officers and Egyptian Ministers, made Tewfik de facto a traitor to the Sovereign of Turkey. That was a fact that created a powerful effect in Constantinople—that, before Arabi took any steps to oppose the authority of the Khedive, the Khedive had violated his allegiance both as a Mussulman and a Civil servant of the Sultan of Turkey. One reason why the Government could not get the Sultan to 1614 act decisively was because the Sultan was convinced that, before Arabi took any steps to defend Egyptian nationality against foreign invasion, the Khedive had violated his allegiance and become an ally of the enemies of Islam and Turkey. He also observed a strong statement in the Premier's speech to the effect that it was only in default of Turkish intervention that Her Majesty's Government determined on the course they had taken. But he was unable to see any signs of urging upon the Turkish Government to intervene, except under conditions that Her Majesty's Government ought to have known it was impossible the Caliph Sultan could satisfy. So far from the Sultan being opposed to intervention in Egypt, his interest as Suzerain would have prompted it. So far from Her Majesty's Government trying to counteract his disinclination to intervene, in the accounts and the despatches the House had before it the Government opposed to the utmost of their ability any design of the Sultan to intervene in Egypt, except under conditions that the Sultan Caliph could not accept. So late as the 18th May, Lord Dufferin reported, in his despatch to Lord Granville, that he had taken advantage of a visit paid to him by the Turkish Foreign Minister to do what? To recommend the Sultan to intervene? No; but to remonstrate against the alleged preparations for a Turkish expedition to Egypt. So that, when Her Majesty's Government tried to allege Turkish inaction as an excuse for their action, they were met by the fact that their statement was contradicted by their own official papers. Her Majesty's Government must have known, if they had any knowledge of Eastern Courts, that it was absolutely impossible for the Sultan to intervene in one of his own Provinces as the mere mandatory of the infidel Powers of Europe. At this present moment, in consequence of the action of the Government, the Mussulman feeling at the back of Arabi was very strong, as strong, perhaps, as that at the back of the Sultan himself. He could not accept it, in the slightest degree, as a defence or explanation that a number of European Powers favoured or supported the action of the Government. The interests of foreign Powers were not the interests of England in the East. It was part of their policy to see England impose conditions upon the Sultan. 1615 He knew how useless it was for him to make this protest. He had addressed the House in protest against former measures under the present and the former Government. Only two days ago, Her Majesty's Government decided that the South African Act was to be allowed to lapse; and he remembered, when he opposed that Act, he was treated with scorn, and his opposition was regarded as wilful, idle Obstruction, though it so happened that he was well acquainted with South African affairs. Two months ago, he had, in the course of debate, ventured to warn the Government that the course taken was calculated to imperil matters, and he was left to the suave assurances of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs that his forebodings were unfounded; but now it appeared that what were called "gloomy forebodings" were true, and the optimist assurances of the Under Secretary turned out to be unfounded. He had failed to find any justification for the statement that the riot at Alexandria on June 11 was anything but what he had repeatedly stated it to be—the outcome of a desperate riot between Arabs, Greeks, and Maltese, in which European roughs were aggressors, and in which four Arab lives were taken for every one European. A foreign writer acquainted with the facts estimated the number of Arabs killed as 600 or 700. No misconception of facts could get over this—that wherever a force of troops was under Arabi's command, and he was allowed to control matters, there European life was safe. So long as Arabi and his troops ruled in any part of Egypt, previous to the aggressions of Her Majesty's Government, there European life and property were safe; the anarchy in Egypt was the direct result of the intervention of Her Majesty's Government. The Government were now entering on a course of aggression in Egypt, and he had very little doubt that Her Majesty's Forces would be quite successful in scattering the forces of Arabi; and he had no doubt that Her Majesty's Forces would in time, perhaps in a short time, reduce the whole of Egypt to obedience to such order as reigned in Warsaw. But after Arabi was driven from the field, and after the Egyptian forces were scattered, the whole of the problem in reality remained to be solved, and the whole Eastern Mussulman world would be enlisted in hatred of the English pirates. 1616 Wherever the name of Allah was invoked curses would be rained on the heads of Englishmen. Not long ago there was a solemn consultation among Mussulmans in India as to whether Mahommedans were bound in true allegiance to the English Sovereign of Hindostan, and Mussulman Doctors being consulted came to the resolution that so friendly and impartial had been the action of England towards Mahommedans, so just had been their conduct and friendly their relations with the Padishah, that Mussulmans, without any violence to their religious principles, could, and ought to, yield loyal, law-abiding allegiance to the English Sovereign. That binding consultation of the Doctors of Islam, which ranged the forces of Islam on the side of English rule in India, had been dissipated for ever by the shells of the Inflexible that burst over Alexandria. In reply to a Question of his, the Government denied that the shells had done any damage to the town of Alexandria; and he was tempted to inquire what was the amount of destruction which was likely, in the views of artilleryists, to be caused by the explosion of a 1,700-lb. shell amidst the houses of an Oriental town. But even though it was assumed that these 1,700-lb. shells had no influence in creating the conflagration, they had, at any rate, destroyed for ever the alliance which had lasted now for nearly a century between the Mohammedan Power in the East and the more or less Christian Power of the West. After Egypt had been occupied, after Arabi had been conquered and, if British chivalry had its way, had been hanged—for British chivalry had a peculiar way of exhibiting itself under some circumstances—after all that had been done, a greater difficulty remained before the Government. Never did an English Minister make a greater mistake if he fancied that Europe meant more than to further complications for English policy, and to further embarrass England's position, by egging England on to the work she was now undertaking in Egypt. At this moment it was said that questions about the future position of Holland and Luxembourg towards the German Empire were among the little matters with which Prince Bismarck would approach England as a quid pro quo, and as determining his attitude towards proceedings in the East. Austria would make her claim—
The hon. Member is going very far from the Question; he must not discuss other matters than those connected with the Vote.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he intended to say but a few words to show that the policy of the Government was not a solution of the difficulty, but was the beginning of evils. He felt the same confidence with which he predicted, five years ago, that the South African Act would not be a solution but a beginning of difficulties in South Africa—that the policy in Egypt was the beginning of difficulties in Europe.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, he would appeal to the Committee to do one thing or the other. It was not the wish or desire of the Government that the debate should be postponed—the desire of the Government was that the debate should go on that night; but, in answer to an appeal from the other side, the Prime Minister felt that there were reasonable grounds for the appeal, and he had, therefore, decided to give way, and had asked leave to withdraw the Vote until to-morrow. That being so, it was rather unfair for hon. Members to address the Committee—many of whom had left the House—and to carry on the discussion partly by a desultory conversation upon minor topics, and partly by speeches going over the whole ground, like that to which they had just listened. He would not attempt to follow the hon. Member in his speech; but there was one point in reference to a question of fact that he would notice. The hon. Member said that the events of the 11th of June arose out of a quarrel between Arabs and Europeans, in which the latter were the aggressors. Now, the information he had in the Papers before him left no doubt that such was not the case. He had not only read the depositions taken before the Commission at Alexandria, so far as they went—for the Commission broke up upon the withdrawal of the Consular Agents—but he had spoken with the British Commissioner and with American missionaries and others from Egypt, and the evidence thus obtained placed it beyond doubt. There could be no doubt left on the mind of anyone that the first accounts received of the massacre were accounts of a very imperfect kind; and there could be no doubt now that the massacre of June 11 was premeditated, and that arrangements were made beforehand for carrying it out.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, with regard to preparations among the Arabs, to which, probably, the hon. Baronet referred, no doubt there were such; but the hon. Baronet omitted to state that there were previous proposals for brigading the European inhabitants into a regular armed force; and though this was rejected by Her Majesty's Government, the knowledge of the fact came to the ears of the general population of Alexandria, and the consequence of this proposal for arming 3,000 or 4,000 able-bodied Europeans in Alexandria was to spread a feeling that the authorities in Alexandria were engaged in a plot to form, in fact, an advance guard of an army of occupation. The Under Secretary could not deny that proposals wore laid before Sir Beauchamp Seymour, previous to the riot, for forming the European inhabitants of Alexandria into an armed force, ostensibly for purposes of self-defence; and the Committee would at once see the influence such a proposal had on the minds of the Arab population. But the riot itself arose out of a quarrel commenced by Greeks and maltese
§ SIR ANDREW LUSK
said, that, impressed by the importance of the subject to the shipping interest, he desired to follow up the Question put by the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Gourley). He would not ask for any particulars in the answer; but he hoped the Government would try to give some assurance in reference to the protection of the trade and commerce in the Suez Canal. It was a very serious thing for the mercantile community, and "a fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind." Seven-eighths of the trade was British, and they were in a great state of anxiety and perplexity to know what to do. One of the chief uses of a Navy was to protect our trade; and they ought to have some confidence that the Canal trade would be protected. Would the Government, then, speak out at the present time? He did not want particulars; but let the Government give an assurance that the shipping would be protected, and be allowed to proceed on its way; and, seeing that we had so many ships to do the work, it was fair to ask the Government to say that the shipping interest should be looked after.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, the hon. Member asked for a positive declaration; and if that declaration had not 1619 been already made—and he thought it had by the Secretary to the Admiralty—he could assure his hon. Friend that the Government intended to give every protection.
§ MR. THOMAS COLLINS
hoped the Committee would have clear information at what hour the House would meet to-morrow.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.