HC Deb 15 February 1883 vol 276 cc90-154

Sir, in rising to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for Her most gracious Speech, I have first to ask the House to exercise towards me that generous indulgence which has uniformly been most kindly shown towards those who, under similar circumstances, have risen, Sir, to address you nearly for the first time. I also beg to be allowed to express, on the part of the constituency which I have the honour to represent, their thorough appreciation of the distinction conferred upon them. And in order to secure to myself, as far as I can, the indulgence I have asked for, I will do my best to avoid needlessly raising any such points as would be likely to arouse any great differences of opinion, on an occasion upon which the desire of all is that an unanimous expression should be given to the respectful gratitude to Her Majesty, which there is no one in this House who would be willing to disavow.

But before entering upon any of the various and important topics brought before us in the Speech from the Throne, there are two different feelings which I am convinced are prevalent in this House, to which I think, Sir, I shall not be deemed to be trespassing on the forbearance of the House, if I venture to endeavour to give expression. The first is that of regret that we do not see in his accustomed place one who, after half-a-century of strenuous activity in the service of his Queen and country, has gained an ascendancy in this House, and a hold on the affections of the people, which I shall hardly be criticized if I say it has not been equalled by any of his Predecessors. And we have the more cause to regret his absence now that those Rules of Procedure, in the elaboration of which he took so earnest a part, are, for the first time, to come generally into operation. The other feeling is a pleasanter one to express; it is that of congratulation to my right hon. Friend the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford North cote) on his return to his post. His absence during the closing days of last Session was regretted on this side of the House as much as on the other, and he is now welcomed by all sections of the House with the hope that the labours of this Session, which are likely to be as arduous as that of the last, though not, we may hope, so protracted, and yet not less important in their legislative results, may not injuriously affect him.

Sir, the leading paragraphs of Her Majesty's most gracious Speech have reference to the occurrences in Egypt of last autumn, on the successful termination of which, so far as their immediate object was concerned, this House has already been congratulated. That object was the suppression of a revolt caused by military ambition, faction, and fanaticism. There are those who have estimated that movement as a patriotic effort, led by a national deliverer. But, although a natural jealousy of prosperous Europeans on the part of Natives may have contributed to the popularity of Arabi, there is no act of his which can be brought forward as conducive to the welfare of his country. There are those who believe, or who at any rate say, that prompter action on the part of Her Majesty's Government might have prevented disaster. To them it may be pleaded in reply that, at any rate, the results of the more deliberate course adopted have been to avoid giving offence to other European Powers, and to secure their appreciation of the rectitude and single-minded character of the purposes entertained by this country. Whatever may now be said of the past, it will, at any rate, be admitted by all that after the complete destruction of the Egyptian military organization, and the result on that country generally, England could not then, with any self-respect, leave the Egyptians to find their own way out of their confusion. She was bound to provide for the re-organization of a small, but adequate and effi- cient defensive force. She was bound to endeavour to secure the stability of the Throne of the recognized Ruler of the country, in whose support she had, in conformity with her engagements, originally interfered; and in accordance with her own traditions, not to say in the furtherance of her own interests, she was bound to endeavour to create and to foster the growth of institutions of a popular kind, designed to secure representation of the wants and wishes of the people, and to show like the Pyramids, by their permanence and stability, the industry and ingenuity', as well as the patient power of that race. It must also be a source of satisfaction to the House to learn that Her Majesty's troops will not be detained in Egypt for any lengthened period, but will be withdrawn as soon as possible, consistently with the objects which Her Majesty's Government are bound to provide for. It will also be felt that the provision of effectual safeguards for the security of the Suez Canal will entitle Her Majesty to the gratitude of all those countries to which that waterway is of the greatest value; and that for the purpose of maintaining that security with the least possible risk to the peace of Europe, a settlement likely to give peace, prosperity, and contentment to the people of Egypt, is an indispensable requisite.

I think, Sir, that this country may be congratulated on the fact that of all that Greater Britain—the rapidity of the growth of which I think there are but few who completely realize—there is but one spot on which events have lately happened which call for remark in Her Majesty's Speech. I allude to the restoration of Cetewayo. That eminent but despotic Ruler, whose name will be inscribed on the history of this country, has returned to be restored to his Throne among his people, with a slight diminution, it is true, of his territory; but only such as is necessary to secure, as far as it lay in the power of England to secure, without annexation, peace in his dominions. It will be remembered that, by the arrangement made by the present Lord Wolseley, 13 co-ordinate Chiefs were appointed to rule without a supreme head over Zulu territory; and it is hoped, and there is indeed good reason to believe, that the modifications of the previous arrangement, the conditions imposed on Cetewayo, and the present re-settlement will prove in the end thoroughly satisfactory, not only to the Zulus, but to their neighbours in Natal and in the Transvaal.

But, Sir, if the rate of the development, and if the surrounding circumstances of the more distant of Her Majesty's Dominions from time to time give us cause for anxiety or congratulation, there is a part of her Dominions which we call our Sister Island, of which recently it has been more rarely true that she has not occupied our thoughts, not to say filled us with deep sorrow, sympathy and anxiety. Sir, the affairs of Ireland have occupied the time of this House too long of late to make it necessary for me to say much on that subject; but I am happy to have some matters of congratulation to bring before the notice of the House. There is no need to remind the House of the tales of woe, of the cowardly assassinations, not only of men eminent and beloved, holding high position, but of innocent men who were the bread-winners of poor families, and even of women and children. Nor can we leave unnoticed the efforts made by Her Majesty's Government and by this House to prove to Ireland that the English people wish to do justice to the Irish people, wish to convince them that as England is their nearest, strongest, and most natural protector, so she will be, if only she may, her best and truest friend, and that we wish to help Ireland to make efforts in her own behalf. Nor have we forgotten the strenuous and persistent efforts made to prevent the Irish people from perceiving that this is the truth, and that their truest wisdom is to act upon it. Sir, I do not dare to ask the House to say now whether it is on account of, or notwithstanding the efforts made by Her Majesty's Government or by Parliament, or, more than all, the splendid vigour, decision, judgment, firmness, tact, and courtesy of Lord Spencer and the Chief Secretary for Ireland, that I am able to make the request I do make; but I do dare to ask every section of the House to join with me in congratulating Her Majesty that in that part of her Dominions the honest man can now pay his just debts without fear—witnesses of crime dare now to speak the truth—the cowardly murderer is no longer now regarded as a hero or a patriot, and the recent general sympathy with crime has notably diminished, and has given way to a desire for law and order. For these things, at least, Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Irishmen alike may be grateful. If there be one inference more than any other which it would gratify the people of this country to be able to draw from the apparent improvement in the social condition of Ireland it would be this—that the time was drawing near when we might, with due regard to the safety of life—to say nothing of property—in Ireland, with the same regard for full personal liberty, the same desire to develop local energy and local independence which has been the mainspring of our English legislation, in trust to Irishmen the same measures of local self-government in local matters as we hope soon may be extended to rural districts in England. But, alas! it sometimes seems as though Irish loyalty and English liberty were moving on those lines we hear of in higher mathematics, which are ever approaching each other, but which never meet.

I come now, Sir, to the paragraphs of Her Majesty's Speech which present to us the Bills which the Government propose to lay before the House, and I feel confident the House will forgive me if, in order to avoid loss of time and waste of words, I confine myself to those measures which either are chiefly of interest to rural constituencies, or are of such general interest as to call for remark from myself, as well as from the hon. Member who will follow me. In the first group of Bills it will be observed that there is one which is, I fear, of very wide interest—that one, namely, which will deal with the Law of Bankruptcy. No words are needed from me, Sir, to convince Members of each Party in this House that the present unsatisfactory state of the law on this subject should divest this Bill of any Party character, and render it easy, without serious delay, to pass a measure to provide for public inquiry into all failures, publicity in the manner of disposing of the bankrupt's estates, the employment of responsible persons as public officers for those purposes, and the protection of those whose failure is due not to culpable recklessness, but to inevitable misfortune. In the same group there is another Bill mentioned, which will, I believe, have, when it becomes law, a very wide scope, which will, I may almost say, affect every Member of this House, and every constituency. Not that I would be taken to imply that all or any of the Members of this House have been guilty of corrupt practices; but all Members are more or less at the mercy of their more ardent and reckless supporters in this respect, and I can only hope that the universal feeling of condemnation and disgust for the disgraceful disclosures which have recently been made may steel the hearts and brace the nerves of the most tenderhearted Members of the House, so that, without Party acrimony, this much-needed measure may speedily become law.

With regard to the subjects which are next alluded to in Her Majesty Speech—those affecting local government—I have already expressed a hope that when England and Scotland come to be dealt with in this matter, it may be possible also to deal with Ireland on similar principles and without delay. It will be observed that this year the proposal to deal with Metropolitan local government precedes those which will touch other districts; and if this should cause any temporary disappointment among those who are mainly affected by the administration of rates, and who have to wait one year more for representation, I trust that when it is remembered that for 35 years this great subject has been from time to time before the House, and at no long intervals, there may be some satisfaction in the reflection that now that its solution appears to be approaching, the discussion of the measures as affecting the Metropolis may bring to the surface suggestions and ideas which may throw additional light on the best method of solving the vast and important questions involved, when the whole of the unreformed districts come before us. I will only ask those who may be inclined to think with regret that the ancient glory of the City of London will have departed to remember that it is not until the real vigour and life of a tree have begun to abate that the ivy clinging round it is regarded as adorning it, and that when this is the case the best way of saving the tree is to attack the ivy.

I may, perhaps, be permitted to express the regret which will be felt by some, that there is but a poor prospect of reaching the great subject of County Government this Session; not even of advancing far enough to touch what lies at the fringe of the question—the simplification of areas. But, considering the enormous complexity of the subject, considering its indissoluble connection with the assimilation of the county and borough franchise, I think the House will agree that the Government do wisely in deferring it until it can be treated as a whole, and each division can be considered in the relation it bears to the others and to the whole.

Sir, in approaching the next subject, I know that I can speak with certainty when I say that in the sight of a very important class of Her Majesty's English subjects, this Bill will, in its importance, outshine all others, and throw everything else in Her Majesty's Speech into the shade. The subject of agricultural compensation has been before Parliament for one whole generation; but there is no doubt whatever that the long and rapid and unbroken succession of bad seasons have inflicted on the agricultural community very severe losses, and to this only too efficient cause we may attribute the fact that the points at which the shoe pinches the tenant farmer are much more keenly painful than heretofore. And undoubtedly, also, it is true that the insecurity of capital invested in the cultivation of the land has been hitherto, oven in spite of recent legislation, much greater than it need be. Absolutely secure, it can no more be made than any capital invested in any other profitable way; but, at least, this much may be achieved. If the landlord and tenant fail to come to terms more suited to their special circumstances than any general legislation can lay down for them, a minimum may be laid down which may at once encourage tenants to invest their capital in the highest cultivation of which their farms will profitably admit, and also induce the landlord to afford them further encouragement, by investing his capital in permanent improvements, or arranging with the tenants that they shall do so, by giving to them the utmost freedom of cultivation consistent with the good of the soil, and the interests of the succeeding occupier. There are other details which I will not refer to; but I will merely express an earnest hope that every section of each Party in this House will remember that there are small as well as large owners and occupiers in this country, and that legislation is more necessary for protecting the smaller ones than for the sake of the larger; further, that any measure that presses hardly on the larger class will press ruinously on the smaller, whether the interest be permanent or transitory.

Another very important Bill which should have wide effect throughout the Kingdom is that of Rivers Conservancy and Prevention of Floods. The interests which will be affected will be numerous and important, and I fear that the much vexed question as to whether and in what proportion those whose uplands benefit by drainage should assist those whose lowlands are injured by floods may give rise to animated discussions; but, this being in no sense a Party measure, I trust that the necessity for it, which must have been evident to hon. Members as they assembled from their distant homes, will enable them to come to a speedy and beneficial conclusion.

Those hon. Members in this House who are specially interested in the Principality of Wales will, I believe, see with pleasure a proposal to complete, as far as possible, the much needed provision for higher education which has, to some extent, been promised to that country. The circumstances of that country, where endowments are scarce, and where the religious requirements of the people have been chiefly supplied by themselves, have rendered it necessary to devise some means by which, out of public funds, some provision shall be made to enable the poorer classes to obtain for themselves an education higher than elementary. In a Committee presided over by Lord Aberdare in 1881, various recommendations were made with this object, and I will not detain the House further than to say that I gather that the Bill to be submitted to us embodies, to some extent, their recommendations.

It will be observed that the concluding paragraph of Her Majesty's most gracious Speech contains a reference to the claims of general legislation as compared with the claims of further legislation for the Sister Island. May I venture to appeal to the generosity of those who represent the smallest of the Three Kingdoms, but who have had generous measure of our time given to them for some years, and to ask them not to think this House inconsiderate of the claims of Ireland, or selfishly confining itself to its own interests, if precedence, at least, be given to subjects affecting the whole of Great Britain? May I venture, with all humility, to suggest to them that if Ireland were left free for a few months from agitation there might at length be no crime to prevent? May I ask them to take as an earnest of the intentions of this people the very large and far-reaching measures already passed? If they are waiting for local self-government, so are we; and not only for local self-government, but for an extension of the county franchise, and for many other things to which to-day I have not had occasion to refer.

In conclusion, Sir, I venture to ask the House to join with me in saying that whatever be the form which may be ultimately given to the Address when presented to Her Majesty, we trust that she will accept it as that which it will be intended to be—the expression, through this House, to a beloved Sovereign of the heartfelt gratitude of a faithful, united, and devoted people. I have the honour, Sir, to move— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to thank Her Majesty for the Most Gracious Speech which Her Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament: Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that Her Majesty has the satisfaction of maintaining with all Foreign Powers relations of friendship and good-will: To thank Her Majesty for informing us that, since the close of the last Session, tranquillity has been restored to Egypt, clemency has been shown by its Ruler to the leaders of the Rebel-lion, and that the withdrawal of the British Troops is proceeding as expeditiously as a prudent consideration of the circumstances will admit: Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that the reconstitution of the Government of Egypt and the reorganisation of its affairs under the authority of the Khedive have in part been accomplished, and will continue to receive Her Majesty's earnest attention; and that it will be Her Majesty's endeavour to secure that full provision shall be made for the exigencies of order, for a just representation of the wants and wishes of the population, and for the observance of international obligations: To thank Her Majesty for informing us that Her Majesty has already been able to fulfil the promise made to the Sultan and to the Great Powers of Europe to submit to their friendly consideration the arrangements which appeared to Her Majesty to be the best fitted to insure the stability of the Khedive's Government, the prosperity and happiness of the Egyptian people, the security of the Suez Canal, and the peace of Europe in the East; that to those objects Her Majesty's policy has been directed in the past and will be addressed in the future; and that Her Majesty continues to rely with confidence on its just appreciation by other Countries: To assure Her Majesty that we learn with satisfaction that a Conference of the Great Powers has assembled in London to consider measures for better securing the freedom of Navigation on the Danube: Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that with a view to the preservation of peace and order in Zululand, Her Majesty has caused the former Ruler of that Country to be replaced in possession of the greater part of the Territories held by him before the War; and that we join with Her Majesty in earnestly hoping that this step may lead to the establishment of a more stable Government, and to the maintenance of good Relations between the Zulu Nation and the adjoining Colony of Natal: To thank Her Majesty for informing us that Papers on these subjects will be presented to us: Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that the Estimates for the Services of the coming year are in a forward state of preparation, and that they will be speedily laid before us: To assure Her Majesty that we rejoice to learn that the improvement in the social condition of Ireland, to which Her Majesty referred in December, continues; that agrarian crime has sensibly diminished; and that the Law has been everywhere upheld, although the existence of dangerous Secret Societies in Dublin and other parts of the Country calls for unremitting energy and vigilance on the part of the Executive: Humbly to assure Her Majesty that our careful consideration shall be given to the Measures which may be submitted to us; and that we earnestly trust that the blessing of Almighty God may attend our labours.


in rising to second the Motion, said: Mr. Speaker, I would join my hon. Friend (Mr. Acland) in his felicitations on the return to this House, in renewed health and vigour, of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, whom we all esteem; and I would join him, too, in his regrets of the absence, the conspicuous absence, of the Leader of the House, the Prime Minister. I would look upon it as a recognition by Mr. Gladstone of the necessity of his sparing himself for the sake of the future service of the State, in which we hope he has many years yet before him. And we shall welcome him back all the more cordially because we have been made conscious of the blank that his absence causes.

I heartily endorse the words of satisfaction already used at the restoration of peace. We are all proud of the brilliant success of Her Majesty's Forces by sea and land in the Egyptian Campaign. And I may be permitted, as a Scotch Member, to allude with particular interest to the distinguished part played by the Highland Brigade. But, convinced though we were of the necessity of warlike operations, we are glad that they are over, and that they have been got quickly over. The generous but unfounded dread which was felt in some quarters, lest, when repressing military violence, we might be extinguishing the germs of national life, will best be shown to have been unfounded by a political reconstruction of that country, such as is indicated in Her Majesty's Speech, which will secure to its inhabitants a Government that will be strong and stable, that will protect life and property, that will fearlessly administer justice, and withal will be a national and independent Government, affording scope for the development of free institutions emancipated from the Suzerainty, the Protectorate, or the annexation of any Foreign Power. We are all anxious that the efforts we have made, the lives we have lost, should not be in vain. But I feel confident that, with the highway to India secured, not for ourselves only, but for all the world, and with, as its best security, an independent and prosperous Egypt, we shall all un-feignedly rejoice when we are enabled to withdraw our troops from the Valley of the Nile, and so escape at once from all temptation to annexation, as well as from the danger of disagreement with the other Powers of Europe. That danger cannot but be an ever-present probability, so long as our military occupation continues. We rejoice at the harmony that has been maintained with the Great Powers all through these difficult negotiations; we cheerfully acknowledge the diplomatic skill of our Ministers and Representatives, and we feel that it has been due to the directness and the straightforward nature of our action that our policy has been, and will continue to be, appreciated by the European Powers.

The conspicuous diminution of agrarian crime in Ireland affords gratifying evidence of the beneficial effects of the agrarian legislation of last Session. Crime—not agrarian—has also diminished with the better enforcement of the law, at which we all rejoice. But we are still face to face with a fell conspiracy, which aims equally at all who help in the enforcement of law and order; at the highest official in the capital, and at the lowliest peasant in his squalid cabin. I feel sure that the House will cordially testify its regard for the devotion of those who, in whatever sphere of life, from the Lord Lieutenant and my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Trevelyan) to the juryman and the policeman, in spite of the ever-present terror of the assassin, fearlessly perform their often thankless duty. There is no mention of exceptional legislation for Ireland of any magnitude during the ensuing Session, and we must be glad of it. At the same time, she will enjoy the benefits of such measures as embrace the whole country in their scope, and she will herself be able to further, by her own Representatives, many useful reforms.

Turning to home affairs, we must all rejoice that Her Majesty's Government affords us the prospect of much useful legislation during the coming Session. Speaking as the Representative, not only of a large urban constituency, but of the ancient and historic capital of the Sister Kingdom, I gladly welcome the proposal of the Government to give free municipal institutions to united London. London now is little more than a geographical expression. The London of the future will be not only a marvel for its vast extent, its wealth, and its population, but united under Mayor and Council, freely elected by its million inhabitants, it will be the most signal monument of the age of the triumph of the representative principle. London municipal reform has been a question before Parliament for half-a-century. Commissions many have inquired into it, and Bills many have been introduced upon the subject. There is a general consensus of opinion that it is of such vast dimensions that Government alone can adequately deal with it. Government attempted it under Sir George Grey 25 years ago, and again under Sir Cornewall Lewis. Opinion has ripened, and the demand has strengthened since then. Without pretending to forecast the nature of the Bill, I sincerely trust that it will be one that will really be for the unity of London, and not for disintegration; that, taking advantage of the ancient Corporation, with its venerable dignity and its great traditions, it will expand that Corporation to be conterminous with the Metropolitan area, and the Council of London will be directly elected by, and directly representative of, the people of London. A federation of municipalities, a carving out of new areas that have no unity except on the map, and that can only be galvanized into a corporate life, would be a retrograde step. If hon. Gentlemen wish to realize the difficulty that would be entailed by such a course, they have only to consult my hon. Friends the Members for Glasgow, as to the consequences of one city being made up of half-a-dozen municipalities. Primarily, London government interests London, and it may be described as in a sense a local Bill. But we have been legislating for the past two years for the locality of Ireland, with its 5,000,000 inhabitants. London with its 4,000,000, Scotland with an equal amount, also deserve some legislative attention. Local it is, however, in another sense; but we shall hope it will be the last of the local London Bills that occupy the public time of the Imperial Parliament; and as a measure for economizing public time, and so facilitating Public Business, the whole community have an immediate interest in it. The other cities and boroughs throughout the country will fitly celebrate the jubilee of the Municipal Corporations Act, from which they have derived such unmixed benefits, by rejoicing that its 50th anniversary will have seen the conferring of a like boon of liberty upon our fellow-countrymen the citizens of the capital.

As regards the Corrupt Practices and Ballot Bills I would only add to what has been said by my hon. Friend the expression of a hope that the whole system of Parliamentary Election procedure will be dealt with; and, above all, that the present cumbersome system of registration will be made as simple as electoral registration is for purposes other than Parliamentary.

I would cordially join with him in his regrets that franchise reform does not occupy a place in Her Majesty's Speech, but would fain trust that, as London municipal reform is but an instalment of the general re-organization of local government throughout the country, so these proposals for a thorough overhauling of our modes of election are but a prelude to that extension of the franchise and that amendment in the representation which this Parliament is bound in honour to carry out.

The Bankruptcy Bill, the codification of the Criminal Law, and the reform of the Patent Laws are Bills of great practical value, and they are of a non-contentious character, and of great interest, especially to the commercial and artizan classes. These subjects have been often discussed in this House, and the lines upon which new legislation will proceed are sufficiently well known to excuse my referring in detail to them. They will have a special interest, as they are to be referred to those Grand Committees, the institution of which was one of the most important results of the reform of Parliamentary Procedure on which we were engaged during the Autumn Session.

The only other measures which I should care to speak upon are those which affect my own country of Scotland; and the first measure noticed in Her Majesty's Speech is forgiving compensation for improvements effected by agricultural tenants. That measure, I am sure, will be most warmly welcomed by the enterprizing agricultural tenants of Scotland. Security is to be given them—absolute security, I hope—for the capital they invest in the soil. With this security granted, and with the unfortunate ambiguity removed from the Ground Game Act of 1880, I feel sure most of their grievances will be removed as far as they are removable by legislation. Though this boon has been long deferred, I am sure it will be none the less welcome, and it will be nonetheless welcome as coming from Her Majesty's Ministers, who have shown themselves to be in reality, and not merely in profession, farmers' friends. The Police Bill for Scotland will be a valuable reform. Edinburgh and Glasgow, and other Scottish municipalities, have ever been in the van with regard to police and sanitary organization, and I hope advantage will be taken of the lessons which have been derived from those experimental local Acts to make them available in a general Statute for the whole country. I hope it will also confer the further advantage of introducing greater uniformity into the police and sanitary organization of the burghs of Scotland. The other Scottish measure—the issuing of an Executive University Commission for the Scottish Universities—is a measure which has been annually expected, and more than once promised, ever since the Inquiry Commission reported a few years ago. We are all satisfied, I think, that many of the recommendations of that Inquiry Commission would tend to increase the usefulness of our Universities in Scotland; and I am sure that, with a good and carefully-chosen Commission, that measure would be of great importance to Scotland. I hope it may be taken up at an early date, and the Commission shortly appointed; and I would venture, if I might do so, to express the hope that not only that, but other measures relating to Scotland, will be taken up at a somewhat earlier date than Scottish Governmental measures are in the habit of being taken up, and not deferred until the Saturdays in July, which are perilously near the Greek Kalends. There is another matter referring to Scotland in regard to which I would express the hope that, before the Session closes, the Government may be able to give us some intimation of their intention to put Scottish Parliamentary Business and Scottish Departmental administration on a permanent and satisfactory footing, with a responsible Minister at its head—a reform that has been demanded with considerable unanimity throughout the country.

In conclusion, Sir, I wish to express my deep sense of the honour conferred upon me by Her Majesty's Government in asking me to discharge to-day, however imperfectly, this honourable duty. The compliment, I am well aware, is meant, not for myself, but for the re- nowned constituency which I represent—the City of Edinburgh—and, I would fain think, for the electors, too, of the county of Edinburgh, and for the Prime Minister's most faithful followers, the Liberals of Scotland. I beg, Sir, to second the Motion of my hon. Friend.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That, &c."—[See page 98.]


said, with reference to the measure dealing with the Corporation of London, that though the Government would, no doubt, succeed in forcing it through the House, yet they would do so in opposition, as he believed, to the feelings of the vast mass of the inhabitants of the Metropolis. He believed the agitation was promoted by a single hon. Member and two or three outside people connected with him. He (Mr. B. N. Fowler) wished, however, to refer more particularly to the paragraph in Her Majesty's gracious Speech which had reference to South Africa. He had been in favour of the policy of restoring Cetewayo to his Kingdom, believing that it was in accord with the feelings of the Zulu people, and that the settlement brought about by Lord Wolseley was a mistake; but the policy of restoration which he had favoured had not been carried out to its full extent, the King getting back only a portion, and that the poorest portion, of his dominions. He (Mr. B. N. Fowler) would be glad of any information which his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies could give as to the affairs of Zululand, though he apprehended the time had not yet arrived when the subject would be ripe for discussion. At any rate, the House was not in possession of full enough information on the subject. He regretted that nothing was said in the Queen's Speech about the Transvaal State, which, he believed, was violating the Treaty entered into with Her Majesty's Government in regard to its dealings with the Border Chiefs. As regarded the state of affairs in the Transvaal, he hoped the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies would afford the House some explanation. Reports had reached this country of horrible cruelties practised by the Boers upon those Natives who had assisted the British in the late War. He wished to point out that the Imperial Government were the authors of the Convention of Pretoria; and that the policy of the Government in treating with the Boers imposed on this country the heavy responsibility of enforcing the rights and safety of the Natives. It was a disgrace that those who had stood by us in our trouble should be subjected to the atrocities to which he had referred. The Government should use their utmost endeavours to put a stop to these atrocities, and to persuade the Boers to govern the country properly. Government had trusted these people implicitly, and he would urge upon Ministers the propriety and necessity of protecting the Natives who were placed at their mercy. He had always maintained that no dependence could be placed upon either the good faith, justice, or humanity of the Boers.


said, he deprecated the House's entering at this moment into a discussion of the two topics introduced by the last speaker. With regard to the settlement of Zulu-land, it was entirely impossible for the House intelligently to discuss that question until they were in possession of the Papers which he had laid on the Table that evening, and which contained everything that was necessary for the proper understanding of the subject. A discussion on imperfect information might have a very bad effect in Zululand. He wished, however, to say that John Dunn had not been left in the position of an appointed Chief. Like the other 12 persons, he was removed from that position; he was simply an inhabitant of the Native reserve; he was not left in the possession of any official position or of any of the official property that was conferred on him as an appointed Chief.


said, he was certainly left in possession of considerable property.


said, no doubt that was so; he had a great deal of private property, but he was not in the position of an independent Chief. He might also say that the settlement of Zululand, including the reservation of the territory, was deliberately come to by Her Majesty's Government, and it was communicated to Cetewayo before he left this country, that certain territory would be reserved, and he acquiesced in that reservation. He would also warn hon. Gentlemen not to be taken in by the telegrams they saw constantly coming from that part of the world, but to wait until they had the Papers before them, which would enable them to judge of the action of the Government. "With regard to the Transvaal, it was even more important that they should not have a partial discussion on that subject. The right hon. Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) had given Notice of his intention to bring before the House the whole question of the Convention entered into with the Boers by Her Majesty's Government. The question was one that might well be discussed, but it would be a great evil to have a half discussion upon it before the House was in possession of the Papers. He regretted, however, that it was not in his power to contradict the general statement of his hon. Friend opposite as to the violation by the Boers of parts of the Convention. As to the atrocities alleged, he could not even say that the hon. Member's statements were exaggerated. The general effect produced on anybody's mind by the information received in this country was that atrocities which were a scandal to humanity were going on; but in the absence of the necessary Papers he hoped there might be no discussion on a subject of so much importance.


Sir, there is always something interesting, and occasionally there is a good deal of profit, in the discussions which take place on the first night of the Session and on the reading of the Queen's Speech and the Address which is moved in answer to it. We always have the advantage of a kind of overture to the Business of the Session in such terms as the Government may think it wise and prudent to communicate their intentions to us; and we are almost always sure of having the Address moved by Gentlemen who interest the House, and who frequently give us great promise of the part they may hereafter take in our proceedings. I am quite sure I take with me the sense of the House when I say we have every reason to speak highly of the manner in which the Mover and Seconder of the Address discharged their functions. Nothing could, I venture to say, have been in better taste or could have been more able than the manner in which the Address was moved by the hon. Member for East Cornwall (Mr. Acland), and seconded by the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan); and I should certainly be wanting in the expression of my own feelings if I did not take this opportunity of returning to them and to other Members of this House my thanks for their kind words of courtesy towards myself. And I wish also to take this opportunity of echoing the words of extreme regret at the enforced absence of the Prime Minister on this occasion. All of us who know the enormous amount of labour east upon him during the last two years, and especially in the Autumn Session, must feel that there is nothing to be surprised at that he should be obliged to take a holiday}. We all hope that he may be able to return before long, re-invigorated and able to resume the place which he so signally fills in the councils of this House. I said there was always something interesting in the discussion of the Queen's Speech, because you first have what the Ministry choose to give as the programme of the Session and also the views of the Mover and Seconder of the Address, who are not entirely in the secrets of the Government, and who generally approach the question from a peculiar point of view. There is a certain freshness and simplicity about the speeches of the Mover and Seconder which must have struck the House. They appear to think that all the evils of the time are to be met by legislation, and that all the legislation that is necessary to meet them is sure to be contained in embryo in the Speech from the Throne. And although the Speech may to others be deficient in some respects, and vague where we should much like to have precision, to them it appears differently, and they are able to give us a reading of it which is truly delightful. But what is practical comes afterwards, when we have to ask the responsible Ministers of the Crown to give their reading of the points to which they have thought it right to call attention, and I am sure we shall listen with great interest and profit to the noble Lord, who, I hope, will soon give us a full and clear explanation on those matters on which our curiosity is raised by the Speech, and some of which have not been alluded to by the Mover and Seconder of the Address. There are several things in the Speech which call for notice; and there are also some other matters not in the Speech as to which we should like to know what the Government have to say. And I must say there is one remark which almost forces itself on anybody on the present occasion, and that is the very peculiar way in which the House was brought together this evening, with great preparations, constabulary lining the approaches, great crowds in the streets, great excitement, great agitation, many Members coming up who would hardly have thought it necessary otherwise to do so, from the belief that a great struggle was intended. Then, at the last moment, an apparently pre-arranged Question passed between the Bench below the Gangway and the Front Bench opposite; and, lo and behold, everything goes off in the smoothest possible way. I want to know what all this means—whether there was really an intention that the House should be left in the dark as to what was to be done, and whether there was to be a Question put by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), and answered by the noble Marquess, which was to smooth all the anticipated struggle? I must say I do not think that such methods of proceeding conduce to the dignity of this House. I cannot but think that this great question—for it is a great question—of the Oath or Affirmation which Members are to take—I cannot but think that it is neither consistent with the dignity of this House, nor with the feelings of the great body of the people of this country, that such a question should be treated in so loose and uncertain a manner. We have had enough in the last three or four years, since this Parliament met—we have had scene after scene—none of which reflected any great credit on those to whom the conduct and management of this House was in trusted, and who ought to be responsible for the conduct of affairs. And now they have culminated this evening in a transaction which, to my mind, does not enhance, in any degree, our confidence in Her Majesty's Government. If such a measure as this, which is to change the principle on which Gentlemen are to be admitted to this House, was really contemplated by the Government, they ought to have let us know beforehand; for it was a matter which might have been very well embodied either in the Gracious Speech from the Throne, or announced in some other way short of that adopted by the actual rising of the hon. Member for Northampton after the letter addressed to you, Sir, by his hon. Colleague was read. I will pass from that subject by saying that when the Bill comes forward it will demand the most careful consideration; but its principles are such as I and many sitting on this side shall feel it our duty strongly and strictly to criticize and probably oppose. And now, coming to the Speech itself, I will first allude to the usual sentences with regard to our relations with all Foreign Powers, in which there is a special reference to the condition and circumstances of Egypt. Really with regard to these paragraphs I think the House ought now to ask for some distinct statement and full explanation on the part of the Government as to what their policy with regard to Egypt is. We were stopped, and necessarily stopped, no doubt, in taking this course last Session by first of all being told that it was better not to interpose in a matter in which the English and French Governments were in perfect accord. We were lulled with the hope that the relations between those Governments in regard to that matter were of the most satisfactory character. And it seems that it even swayed some Members of the Cabinet itself—for instance, the great and intelligent mind of the late Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He believed, no doubt, that everything was going smoothly and peacefully, and that there would be no warlike proceedings, until we were suddenly aroused by the tiring of cannon and other warlike actions. Under those circumstances we felt it difficult to criticize or interpose, because we did not wish to weaken or embarrass any action which the Government might be taking. But now really we have come to a time when a settlement is in progress, in regard to which foreign nations have apparently been communicated with and received, a great deal of information. That being so, I think we have a right to claim, nay, we are bound to claim, on behalf of the British Parliament, as full an explanation and understanding as have been vouchsafed to foreign nations. In the gracious Speech delivered from the Throne there are also other expressions on which we should like some further information; for instance, in the third paragraph where Her Majesty says that at the close of last Session— She had to express her gratitude to her forces for suppressing with rapidity and completeness a formidable rebellion in Egypt. We never clearly understood what those forces were employed for. But we now understand that it was to suppress this formidable rebellion. We should like to know whether, whenever there is a I formidable rebellion there, Her Majesty's Forces are to be used to suppress I it? According to the newspapers at the present moment there seems to be something like one now in Egypt, and it may easily assume proportions which would endanger and shake the governing body of that country and the Throne of the Khedive. I do not know whether we should regard that as a case in which our land and sea forces ought to be employed. We should like some information as to the nature and extent of the obligations which we consider we have assumed towards the people and Government of Egypt. We have to consider the matter as affecting the Government of Egypt, our relations with foreign Powers, and also this country, for if we have assumed such relations as involve us in dealing with her rebellious subjects whenever they become formidable, I am bound to say that the prospect is one not likely to be of a very satisfactory character to the people of this country. I should therefore like to know what is the exact anticipation in which these paragraphs are written. As to that one in which the House is informed that— The withdrawal of the British Troops is proceeding as expeditiously as a prudent consideration of the circumstances will admit, we were told that as soon as we had shown our face and fired a few cannon shots the military adventurer who was causing all the difficulty and trouble in Egypt would collapse, that the military revolt would be at an end, and that we should have nothing then to do but to make our bow, and leave the country as rapidly as possible in the hands of a friendly Sovereign, who would then, no doubt, administer the affairs in a proper spirit, and with due reference to international relations. But when we hear such words as these, we should like to know what kind of circumstances, what amount of prudence, is involved in those expressions. Do they hold forth the prospect of withdrawing the forces in six months or in half-a-century?—for really the words would cover one quite as well as the other. I hope when the noble Lord addresses us that he will give us some information on that and also with regard to the reconstruction and reconstitution of the Government, of Egypt and the re-organization of its affairs under the authority of the Khedive. We hope that the affairs of Egypt may take such a course as may be both beneficial to the people of that country and consistent with the great interests we have there. We know quite well that the interests which we have in the peace, prosperity, and independence of Egypt from the control of any Foreign Power are of great importance, and that we attach great value to them—and we are glad to see that Her Majesty's Government attach value to them—but in all these matters we want to know what the view of the Government really is, and how far we may consider ourselves to be committed, and we do not desire to be put off with vague sentences such as we had in the course of last year. As to the paragraph which follows those relating to Egypt, the hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. E. N. Fowler) made some observations which have been noticed by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies; but we had better wait until the discussion takes place which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) proposes to raise. The matter is one of the highest importance, and affects not only the conditions of the particular Colony of Natal, but I venture to say that it affects largely the whole of our Colonial system. The questions which are raised by the proceedings in South Africa and with reference to our relations with the Natives are questions which must be solved upon some principle which will affect very largely the interests of a great class of British Colonists. I observed with some amusement that the old ground which was taken by many of the supporters of the Government, and I think by the Government themselves, with regard to the relations of King Cetewayo with his former dominions has been in a great measure abandoned, and that their view appears to be changed. What we formerly heard was that it was an act of justice; that he had been unjustly turned out of his dominions, and that we had nothing to do but to restore him. But now it appears that it is not upon this high ground of justice and right that he is restored, but upon the ground that this is the best way to promote peace and order, and that it is a matter of policy and expediency. We shall be glad to know the grounds upon which the Government proceeded, and the relations which they hope to establish between the Native Powers and the British Colonies in that part of the world. We shall be also extremely glad to have some information as to the condition of the Transvaal, which is omitted altogether from the Speech. My hon. Friend the Mover of the Address seemed to think that one might take it for granted that everything was satisfactory that was not mentioned. I hope we may be able to do so; but I am afraid that my hon. Friend is a little sanguine. There is also no reference to India. I am sure that every man in this House and country hopes that the condition of India is prosperous; but it would have been satisfactory had we had some reference to the great changes which we are told are in progress or in contemplation in that country. I hope the noble Lord, when he addresses us, will refer to that subject, for it is one which will largely affect the condition of that great Dependency. There was also no reference to revenue, trade, or agriculture. I hope that is so because the condition of things is satisfactory. But, at the same time, we should like to know whether the Government think that that is the case, because some of us, speaking from our limited experience, are inclined to think that there is a good deal of distress at present, and that trade and agriculture are not quite in a satisfactory condition. We feel that, under the circumstances, something at least might have been said on these subjects. There is a great deal which many of the industrial classes of this country are now going through on which a word of sympathy might properly have been said, and with regard to which I am not at all sure some satisfactory promise of measures might not have been appreciated. As regards the question of Irish distress, I do not intend to enter upon it. I have no doubt that Gentlemen sitting below the Gangway on this side will, before the debate closes, have something to say on that subject. For my own part, I am very unwilling to urge any exaggerated view or adopt any exceptional measure with regard to questions of temporary distress; but, at the same time, the Government should show us they have not overlooked the matter, that whatever is necessary is being done; and they should give us to understand on what ground it is they do not think it requisite to make any further proposal. I am quite sure that whatever they might have told us would have been received both with interest and attention. Now, I think that the paragraph which the Government have put into the mouth of Her Majesty is rather beyond what the actual facts justify. Her Majesty states that— The improvement in the social condition of Ireland, to which I referred in December, continues. Agrarian crime has sensibly diminished, and the Law has been every where upheld. At the same time, the existence of dangerous Secret Societies in Dublin and other parts of the Country calls for unremitting energy and vigilance on the part of the Executive. I scarcely think that such a state of things ought to be described as an improvement. We are very glad that a certain class of agrarian crime and certain particular acts of violence have diminished, and we are quite ready to give every credit for this to the Irish Government for their firmness and energy. But, at the same time, so long as organized conspiracy and organized assassination exist in a largo part of the country, and in the very Metropolis of the country, I cannot but think we should rather avoid any expressions of congratulation. But, while we thoroughly appreciate the conduct of Lord Spencer and the Irish Government for the energy with which they have dealt with crime of late, and while we rejoice to think that Parliament has given them the means of breaking down so much of these secret societies as to enable them to get access to information which discloses the persons principally concerned in these atrocious crimes, we cannot but feel that the root of the matter has not been reached, that there is much yet behind which we are anxious should be thoroughly probed. We shall not be satisfied with, merely striking at active perpetrators in crime; we shall not be satisfied until the Government have directed their attention to the organization which supports them and the power which is behind them; and I trust the Government will not rest until they have got to the bottom of the evil, and it will be the duty of the House to do all in their power to strengthen the hands of the Government. I do not now enter into the question of how far this might have been avoided or remedied by more energetic measures some time ago, although I wish it to be understood that I retain the opinions which I have always expressed—that there was a great want of energy and foresight, and great error in principle in the early dealings of the Government, I now merely urge them to act with vigour and wisdom, and endeavour to seek out and crush the formidable conspiracy with which they have to deal. I would wish to point out that it is not only necessary that there should be a firm and vigorous administration of justice; but it is also desirable that the Government should not, at the same moment, be exciting false hopes in the Irish people of something more to come. There is one paragraph in this Speech which I have read with the very greatest regret, and it is that in which reference is made to some probable dealing with the further legislative wants of Ireland. If there is anything else, for Heaven's sake let the Government tell us what it is. Do not let them be using language which is so vague and misleading as that which stands in this paragraph, and which is all the more misleading because of the comments that are made outside, either by Members of the Government, or supporters of the Government, inducing a belief that the Government has some further measures of a subversive or revolutionary character in store which are to be the panacea for the ills of Ireland. If the Government are of opinion that the condition of Ireland is such that they may safely leave it now for a year or more without any further legislation, by all means let them arrange their business accordingly, and let them quietly proceed to the consideration of measures affecting the interests of other parts of the Kingdom. Why should they consider it necessary, in the first place, to taunt Ireland with having taken up a considerable portion of time, and to tell Ireland that the claims of the rest of the Kingdom are paramount, and then later on to put in these words, which are calculated to scatter the whole of their schemes to the winds? I earnestly hope that the language which the noble Marquess will use will be of a character to avert the danger to which I have alluded. It is not my wish to detain the House at the present time; but there is one other subject on which I must say a few words. I must say a few words on the paragraphs that relate to the reform of local government in the different parts of the United Kingdom. My hon. Friend told us that the discussion on the proposals with regard to the Metropolis might bring to light some ideas and suggestions with regard to the rest of the country. I dare say it may; but if a Bill dealing with the Metropolis is to be made a kind of fishing Bill for the rest of the country, I am afraid we are yet a good way from the solution of this question of the reform of local government. If the Government are going to make any proposals on this subject, it would be well that they should bring them forward upon some well-considered basis, applicable to the parts of the Kingdom to which they are to be applied, and not that they should take up the question of the administration of the Metropolis, and then to adapt a few ideas from that to the Local Government of England Bill. If you are going to change the Government of England, you should make it rest upon two things—First, whether the existing system is deficient; and, secondly, what is necessary to supply those deficiencies. The local government of this country is of ancient growth. It contains, no doubt, somewhat anomalous elements—many things which are hard to justify in logic, but which work admirably in practice; and before you alter those things you ought to be prepared to say what the defects are, and to assure yourselves that your measures of reform will make things better. I doubt very much whether any scheme will entirely fulfil those conditions; but I am quite sure that a Bill founded upon a sort of refuse of a Government of London Bill will be one of the greatest failures ever proposed to Parliament. It is important that the question should be faced by the Government. There is much that is against British agriculture, and many difficulties against which it has to struggle; and there is, no doubt, a disposition in one direction or another to seek for remedies which are rather plausible than likely to be effective; and, certainly, one of the questions which we should have to deal with, for endeavouring to afford relief to those engaged in the cultivation of the land, is that of local burdens and local taxation. That is a question which has been repeatedly brought forward and pressed upon the notice of successive Governments and successive Parliaments. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have said that it is of no use to attempt to deal with local burdens until you have a good system of local government. If that is the doctrine which we are going to act upon, I am bound to say that the prospect which is held out to those who are interested in the cultivation of the land is by no moans a cheerful one; because these reforms are to arise out of suggestions and ideas which are to be brought forward in the course of discussion upon a Bill relating to the Government of the Metropolis, which Bill has not yet had a day fixed for bringing it forward. That is cold comfort to give to the unfortunate persons who have been suffering from the inclemency of the seasons to which our agriculture has been exposed. I hope that upon this and other matters the performances of the Government will be better than their promises. We are not altogether in the happy position in which we despise the help which legislation might give. If the legislation is wrongly directed, it is likely to increase our troubles, and not diminish them. We are anxious that legislation should not be of an ill-considered character. The present Government have always appeared to me to be too anxious to put forward fine and well-sounding phrases, and to endeavour to maintain a character for consistency in their professions, even when their acts are inconsistent. We have seen a great many changes, both in their personnel and in their policy since their advent to Office. Notwithstanding this, we are told by their supporters that they are stronger than they ever were—that is to say, that, after getting rid of something like a fourth, of their number, and a good deal more than a fourth of their principles, they are in a better position. If that is so, I will leave hon. Gentlemen to the enjoyment of what satisfaction it may afford them. For my own part, I think it would be better that the Government should not be too anxious to endeavour to show that they have been consistent from first to last. They have attained in some respect to a position which is better than that in which they were; but they have attained to it at a great price. Do not let them jeopardize it. Do not let them ignore altogether the value of the unexhausted improvements which they inherited from their Predecessors, but for which they give us no compensation. If I might, I would venture to conclude by reminding them of a saying which was celebrated for some time in this House, when the late Sir James Graham was taunted with an alteration of his views and the inconsistency of the line which he was taking from that which he had previously adopted. He did not attempt to deny that he had been inconsistent. He simply said—"I changed my mind; and there is an end of it." Let the Government make the same admission with regard to some of the questions which have been in controversy between us.


Sir, before I attempt to make any observations upon the speech which has just been delivered by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, I must be allowed to add the expression of my own satisfaction to that of my hon. Friend the Mover of the Address at seeing the right hon. Gentleman again occupying that position the duties of which he has now for so many years so admirably discharged, in apparently the possession of fully-restored health; and I think, if we may judge from the speech which he has just delivered, also in the possession of excellent spirits. And, Sir, I should like also to take this opportunity of thanking the right hon. Gentleman for the expression which, I am informed, fell from him before I was in my place, as to his feeling of regret and that of the hon. Gentlemen who act with him at the enforced absence from our deliberations of the Prime Minister. I desire to offer to the right hon. Gentleman on behalf of those who sit on this side of the House our most cordial thanks, and I am sure it will give satisfaction to the whole House to know that the absence of my right hon. Friend is, although highly desirable in the interests of his health and strength, one which is not absolutely at the present moment enforced, and that if occasion should arise when his presence here should be also- lutely necessary, there is nothing in the state of the health of my right hon. Friend which would prevent his being among us. It is only at the urgent request of his friends and Colleagues that he has consented to prolong for even a short time that rest which the arduous labours of the Autumn Session rendered necessary; and I believe that although his absence on the first night of the Session, when the general policy of the Government is being discussed, is, of course, inconvenient, still, if we can got through the first few days, the Business which the House will have to do up to Easter is not such as to imperatively require the presence of the Prime Minister, and that he may be permitted to enjoy some greater amount of rest abroad. I wish to discharge one more agreeable duty, which is to express my thanks, and I am sure those of my Colleagues, to my hon. Friends the Members for East Cornwall and the City of Edinburgh for the very able manner in which they discharged the duties intrusted to them. I listened to both those speeches with great interest and great satisfaction; and I think that the only regret that any of us could have felt with regard to either of them, and especially with regard to the Seconder, was that he condensed his remarks somewhat more than the House would have been disposed to desire. I come now to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The complaint which he has made was upon the omission of one topic from the Speech from the Throne. He said that he and his Friends had some reason to complain of the course which had been taken with regard to the seat of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), and with regard to the Bill which was going to be introduced by the Government. I cannot say that I entirely gathered from the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the exact ground of his complaint. I recollect that during the extremely painful discussion upon this subject, some two or three years ago, the right hon. Gentleman recommended the Government to proceed by way of legislation, and said that this matter could only be settled by legislation. We are going to legislate; yet the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends are not satisfied. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton Cross) rose and said that on the second reading of the Bill he would give it his most strenuous opposition; and the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Stafford North cote) has informed us that he, on his part, will meet it with criticism, and he thinks opposition. [Sir STAFFORD NORTHCOTE: Oh, no; I said "and opposition."] But the right hon. Gentleman does not object to the decision at which we have arrived to legislate. He says that we ought to have let him and his Friends know our intention beforehand, or that the announcement ought to have been placed in the Queen's Speech; but it is always a matter of discretion with the Government what measures ought to be named in the Speech from the Throne. It is not usual to include measures which are not considered to be of general or great importance; and this Bill is certainly one which we do not consider to be of great importance, or worthy to find a place among the measures usually enumerated in the Queen's Speech. As to letting the House know beforehand our intentions, I do not exactly understand what course the right hon. Gentleman expected us to take. Letting the public know our intentions beforehand would have exposed us to the criticism of the right hon. Gentleman. If some means had been taken to announce beforehand that we contemplated proposing legislation, I can imagine the imputation being made that we had taken unusual means to make that announcement in order to prevent the steps being taken which Mr. Bradlaugh and his friends had announced their intention of taking. What we did was to announce on the first opportunity what way we intended to proceed upon a question which has given the House so much trouble during the last few Sessions. The Cabinet came to the conclusion that the best way would be to legislate, and they did not consider it necessary to take in this case any means of making those intentions known which are not usually adopted with regard to other measures. The right hon. Gentleman also made some observations regarding the condition of Egypt. I have listened to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman upon that subject with a great deal of interest, not only on account of their intrinsic importance, but also because I endeavoured during his speech to obtain an answer to a ques- tion of great interest to the Government, and likewise, I think, to the House, in relation to the progress of its Business. I was extremely anxious to gather from the right hon. Gentleman's observations some idea as to whether it is now intended to reduce to any definite form the continued criticism which was initiated in the early part of the late Session, and which has been continued without intermission during the Recess. I am extremely anxious to know whether the policy of the Government, which it has been sometimes said led to unnecessary war, is now to be formally challenged or not, or whether these "necessary criticisms" are to be renewed without any definite Resolutions being presented to us? I have not the slightest complaint to make of the course hitherto taken by the Opposition. I am not prepared to say that the constant fire of Questions and of desultory criticisms which continued during almost the whole of the critical negotiations with regard to Egypt was not sometimes productive of embarrassment to the Government, and sometimes prejudicial to the Public Service. I can perfectly well understand that an Opposition does not like to take the responsibility of what might appear to be an unpatriotic line of conduct by moving a Vote of Censure upon, or Want of Confidence in, a Government which may be either at war or on the brink of war; but, nevertheless, it does not choose to divest itself of the functions of inquiry and criticism, and I have no doubt that in any debate raised by the Opposition during the most critical period of the transactions of last year they were not actuated consciously by a desire to embarrass the Government, certainly not to the prejudice of the Public Service, but with a desire to discharge what they considered to be their duty. If also on public platforms they thought they could damage their political opponents, or weaken the confidence of the country in the Government, by references to our Egyptian policy, by assertions that the war was unnecessary and might have been avoided; and if they think they can obtain any political advantage from discussion, however desultory, of the whole of that policy, I have not the slightest objection to their taking that course, and I should not complain of any advantage they might reap from it. But what I desire to point out now is, that when the House has reassembled for the transaction of Public Business, when the information which is available on the subject is fully before them, and when all the proceedings and all the Correspondence, describing every phase of the events and circumstances that led to the war, are before it, then I say that the time has come when the Opposition at large ought to be able to make up its mind, and either bring this criticism into the form of some definite Motion, challenging the opinion of the House and the country, or else make use of all the influence they possess to prevent the time of the House from being wasted in a continuation of desultory discussion, which can prove and settle nothing, because there is no definite issue placed before us. Well, I put that question; but the right hon. Gentleman evaded almost any criticism of the policy of the Government so far as regarded Egypt; and I may, therefore, assume that he and his Friends have now come to the conclusion that it is not desirable to make good the assertions he made in a speech in the country, to the effect that the war was unnecessary, and therefore unjustifiable; and I must condole with my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) that he has not been able to get his allies on this subject to come up to the mark. The right hon. Gentleman has asked for full information respecting what is going on in regard to the re-organization of the Forces of Egypt. He also states that he thinks the House is entitled to have as much information given to it as to Foreign Powers. Certainly, I fully agree in that proposition, and I go beyond it, and may say that the desire of the right hon. Gentleman has been anticipated by the Government. Every word of the information which has been communicated to Foreign Powers, and a great deal more, has been to-night laid upon the Table of the House in the form of Papers, and everything which can possibly up to the present time be produced has been given. That will place the House in the full possession of all the steps which have been taken, and are being taken, and in which considerable progress has been made, as to the re-organization of the Government, of the Army, and of the Police Force of Egypt. I do not think, Sir, it would be convenient for me to give a verbal description of the measures being taken by the Government. The right hon. Gentleman knows the lines on which we are proceeding; and I do not think that I should anticipate now the information which will be shortly given fully to the House in the Papers to be presented. The right hon. Gentleman asks what is the moaning of the phrase in the Queen's Speech that the withdrawal of British troops is proceeding as expeditiously as a prudent consideration of the circumstances will permit, and whether that time pointed to a period of half-a-year or half-a-century? I would say, without venturing to speak with absolute assurance, that the right hon. Gentleman in the first period of time he suggested has stated with probable accuracy the length of time that it may be necessary to keep our troops in Egypt. I do not think it very extraordinary that, after the whole of the Egyptian Forces have been disbanded and scattered to the wind, it should be considered necessary that a British force should be maintained there for a time during the re-organization of a military force, new gendarmerie, and a police force. That organization is proceeding with great expedition under the guidance of Sir Evelyn Wood, Baker Pasha, and other British officers. The Army is, to a certain extent, already organized, and in a short time there will be a force in Egypt which will be amply sufficient for the protection of the country and for the preservation of order. It will then be possible for us to relieve ourselves of a burden, and also the Egyptian Government of considerable expense, caused by the maintenance of our troops in the country. The British occupation is simply for the purpose of assuring the tranquillity of the country during a time, which we trust will not be prolonged, when there is absolutely no organized force in the country itself. The right hon. Gentleman also asks whether there is not rebellion of a serious kind still going on in Egypt? It is true that from, time to time information of an alarming character does arrive from the Province of Soudan; and it is not impossible that the troubles there may cause difficulties in Lower Egypt. But we should bear in mind that that Province is almost totally detached from Egypt. It is a recent acquisition by the Government of Egypt, and has almost always been administered as entirely separate. Troubles may arise from time to time in the Soudan, but it is not certain that they will cause disturbances in the Provinces of Lower Egypt; still, circumstances may arise to cause anxiety, and, at all events, to call for the attention of the Government and of the House; and as soon as the Government is put in possession of accurate information on the subject it will be conveyed to the House. But it would be utterly impossible and useless for mo to attempt to give to the House any accurate account of what is the condition of affairs in the Soudan. The right hon. Gentleman has prudently delayed criticism on the steps taken by the Government in the re-organization of the affairs of Egypt until the whole of the Papers are before him. I will only now say that, though, no doubt, there may be considerable difficulties attending that policy, there is no ground whatever for the hopeless despair with which some writers regard the prospects of the government of Egypt. The recent history of Egypt certainly does not justify the gloomy anticipations which seem to be popular in some quarters. The Khedive and his Ministers have shown many of the qualities of Constitutional Rulers and Constitutional statesmen; and the Chamber of Notables, until it fell under the domination of an unscrupulous military tyranny, has shown that it is not incapable of representing the wants, wishes, and needs of the population. As to what has been said in respect to the influence which the Financial Adviser will exercise over the government of Egypt, all the experience we have at present shows that the Rulers of Egypt are ready and willing to receive and to be influenced by European advice; and that the weakness and failure of the Dual Control, so far as it was a failure, was due, not to the unwillingness or to the incapacity of the Egyptian Rulers to accept such advice, but to the unavoidable inconveniences attaching to the dual nature of the Control, and to the fact that an Army was kept on foot which was too large for its purpose and was disorganized, and which was, therefore, a prey to ambition and to fanatical influences. Of course, it is impossible to say that there may not be difficulties in the way of the course which the Government are recommending shall be taken with regard to Egyptian affairs; but we do say that there is no reason to fear for the result, but, on the contrary, we believe—and that belief is fortified by the assent and approval of every Power in Europe—that the experiments we are now trying will be tried with every chance of success. When I refer to the opinion of the Powers, perhaps I used a somewhat too strong term. The right hon. Gentleman has asked what is the position of Great Britain with regard to Foreign Powers with reference to the Circular which was issued at the beginning of last month? I may state, in reply, that with regard to that Circular, we have received favourable assurances from Turkey. The Turkish Government has not yet expressed an opinion upon the whole of the proposals which the Circular contains; but favourable assurances have been given to our Ambassador at Constantinople, to the effect that the Turkish Government approve of the abolition of the Dual Control.


Has a formal intimation yet been received from any Government in reference to that Circular?


No formal intimation has yet been received from any of the Powers; but verbal assurances have been received from the Governments of Germany, Austria, and Italy, to the effect that they are all favourable to our proposals. In fact, the French Government is almost the only one from which we have not received any opinion upon the Circular.


Has any reply been received from Russia?


Russia is also stated not to be unfavourable to the general plan proposed by Her Majesty's Government, although there may be one or two points in it to which it is possible that the Russian Government may take exception. The communications on this subject are not included in the Papers which have as yet been laid upon the Table of the House. The right hon. Gentleman made a few observations upon the Government Bill for the better government of the Metropolis, the introduction of which is announced in Her Majesty's Speech. I think that the right hon. Gentleman must have somewhat misunderstood the remarks, in reference to that measure, which were made by my hon. Friend the Member for East Cornwall (Mr. Acland), who asserted, with great truth, that the principles that must come under discussion in the consideration of the Government of London Bill would probably be of general application, and that those principles would be of considerable importance when we came to consider the question of county and local government in the Provinces generally. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to have drawn the conclusion from that observation that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to determine certain principles which shall be applicable to local government throughout the country in the course of the discussion on the Metropolitan Government Bill, and that, in fact, the latter measure will be of a fishing nature. I, however, have some reason to believe that the scheme which will be presented to the House by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department will be of an extremely definite character, and will not partake in any way of a fishing nature.


I said that the Local Government Bill would depend upon the discussion of the Bill for the Government of the Metropolis.


That does not seem to be altogether a misfortune. If principles of this nature are very fully discussed in the London Bill, and the opinion of Parliament pronounced upon them, I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman should object to the country generally having the benefit of those discussions. It does not follow, of course, that everything that may be inserted in the Government of London Bill can be applied precisely to the local government of all other communities throughout the country, which may be very differently situated in every respect. Primâ facie, however, one would suppose that what is good in one case would be good in another. In the course of the discussion on the one measure, however, some progress must necessarily be made towards arriving at a conclusion in reference to the other. There is, at all events, this advantage in the course which the Government propose to take in reference to this subject. We believe that it is possible and desirable to attempt to deal with the whole question of the government of the Metropolis in one measure, while the whole question of county and local government is too large and too complicated a subject to be dealt with in one measure. We shall, however, in this case be able to deal with almost every principle which can arise in the consideration of the question of local government anywhere. We think it is desirable to attempt to deal with the local government of London, as it will raise the whole question of those points before attempting to proceed with the reform of local government and taxation in the country at large. The right hon. Gentleman put in a claim for the relief of local taxation before any attempt was made to deal with the question of the reform of the local government of counties. I think that everyone who has looked into this subject will be inclined to think that while the reform of local government is desirable—as it is admitted by hon. Members on both sides of the House it is—the mere remission of local taxation would be of very little advantage. The right hon. Gentleman has, I regret to say, given a very unfavourable account of the position, hopes, and prospects of those engaged in agriculture, and I should be glad if I were able to say that the view taken by the right hon. Gentleman was too gloomy; but this condition of things has come to pass in the face of the very considerable remission of local taxation which was made by the late Government. I should think, on the whole, that it would be a very difficult thing for the farmer to say how much benefit he had derived from that remission of local taxation. The fact is that it is now generally admitted that until greater simplicity, greater directness, and better organization are introduced into the whole of our local government—I do not refer to the question of county rates only, but also to the expenditure of our minor local bodies—whatever we may give from public sources in relief of local taxation will be absorbed in the vortex of bad administration, and that the ratepayers will not benefit permanently by it. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the paragraph in the Queen's Speech which related to Ireland, and spoke in terms of approbation of the present policy which is being pursued by Lord Spencer and the Irish Government. I am entirely prepared to endorse the observation of the right hon. Gentleman, and also to go beyond everything which he said in praise of Lord Spencer and of the Irish Government. It is not necessary nor desirable for me to enter into a panegyric of the Irish Administration; but, the Irish Government being, to a certain extent, carried on independently and apart from that which is conducted, here, I think that I am justified in saying that we are prepared to defend every act of that Administration. We have approved every part of the policy of the Irish Government and of their administration of Ireland under the Prevention of Crimes Act. I understand that the administration of that Act is to form the subject of an Amendment to the Motion for an Address, and that the conduct of the Irish Government in relation to it is to be challenged in this House. I fully admit that some of the measures taken under it are fair subjects for discussion, and I can understand that the measures that have been taken for the prevention and the punishment of crime and for the repression of agitation in the country may very strictly be brought under the notice of Parliament, although, in the absence of our Colleagues in Ireland, we are perfectly prepared to defend their acts. As to the investigations that are now being conducted in Dublin, with the object, if possible, of unveiling and unmasking the perpetrators of a series of most atrocious crimes, I do not wish to say one word that may prejudice the case of those who are now accused in Dublin; but I am satisfied that there is only one hope in the minds of every section in this House and throughout the country, and that is that this investigation may lead to the discovery and the conviction, not only of the actual perpetrators, but of the instigators, of these crimes which have brought such sorrow and such disgrace upon Ireland, and which every Member of the House must feel are well calculated to bring disgrace upon even the noblest of the land. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that there is some inconsistency between the congratulations which we have inserted in the Queen's Speech upon the general condition of Ireland and the reference to the con- tinued existence of a dangerous conspiracy. I maintain, however, that there is no inconsistency between the two paragraphs. The general condition which was referred to in a Speech in December certainly continues, and agrarian outrages, as my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in addressing the House, said, have enormously decreased; and it is also a fact, speaking generally, that throughout the country the process of law is now submitted to and the law is upheld. At the same time, we are perfectly aware that dangerous secret societies in Dublin and elsewhere still exist; but the feature of the case which the right hon. Gentleman seems to have omitted from his consideration, and which we say is a subject of congratulation, is that, although those secret societies do still continue to exist, the law of the land, the power of the Government, is at last able to hold its own to some extent against them, and that there is a hope and prospect of tracing them to their sources and breaking up these nefarious combinations. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the fact that no reference is made in Her Majesty's Speech to the existence of considerable distress in Ireland. But a very short time ago, in the Speech delivered from the Throne at the close of last Session, special reference was made to the distress which was said to prevail, and the opinion of the Irish Government was expressed that by moans of the ordinary law, and by the application of the local resources at the disposal of the Guardians, the distress could be adequately coped with. The Irish Government have hitherto continued to act on that principle, and they believe that, however severe distress has been in some districts, the policy they are pursuing is the soundest, and sufficient for the emergency that exists at the present moment. It would therefore have been impossible to insert any paragraph on this subject at the opening of the present Session which would not have been a simple repetition of the paragraph read to the House two months ago. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that he had read with considerable regret and suspicion the concluding paragraph of the Speech, in which reference is made to the possibility of further Irish legislation. He seems to think that that paragraph contains some reference to measures which he describes as revolutionary and subversive. Now, I think I can re-assure the right hon. Gentleman. I do not admit that any of the measures of the Government, even in relation to Ireland, can properly be described as revolutionary; at all events, I suppose he only applied this term to the Land Act, the Arrears Act, or other measures of considerable importance of that character. The legislative intentions of the Government, so far as they can be formed at the present time, and so far as we have been able to make an estimate of the time of the House available, are mentioned in Her Majesty's Speech, and we do not think it at all probable that any measure that we should describe as of considerable importance, of first-rate importance, or, as the right hon. Gentleman says, of a revolutionary or subversive character, will be presented to Parliament at the present stage. But while there are no measures of importance we contemplate with relation to Ireland, there are several measures which are of such a character that they might not occupy a great deal of time, but still are measures of great importance, and which we hope we may be able to find time to consider. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary will probably have to address the House himself before the close of this debate, and I will leave to him the explanation of the measures with regard to which we indulge in that hope. I believe I have now referred to the principal points dwelt upon by the right hon. Gentleman. I have no desire to prolong the observations I have been permitted to make. I have no doubt that the legislation which we desire to further will fail to satisfy many of our friends, and will disappoint some of our most strenuous opponents, who would doubtless have preferred to see "revolutionary and subversive" measures on which they might have expended their patriotic indignation. But, while our measures are not of a very exciting character, they represent a good deal of work left over from past Sessions, work which has been left undone from various causes, some springing within this House, and some outside it. There is a considerable amount that is needful, useful, and necessary. I trust the House will be able—strengthened, as I believe it to have been, by the adoption of those re- forms to which we devoted so much time a few months ago, and in no degree hampered and restricted in its freedom by them—to devote itself to the consideration of those measures in a practical, business-like, and patriotic spirit.


said, he gathered from the speech of the noble Marquess that he was very much annoyed and vexed, and generally put out and upset, because no Vote of Censure had been proposed. To tell the real truth, so was he; for he was of opinion that a healthy and not exaggerated recurrence to Votes of Censure stimulated the circulation of political life. But, while he agreed with the noble Lord that they had not had enough of that kind of discussion lately, he could not join in the taunts with which he had assailed the Leader of the Opposition in connection with this question. On the contrary, he must condole with the noble Lord on the unfortunate shortness of his political memory. He (Lord Randolph Churchill) did not think he should be contradicted when he reminded the noble Marquess that no less than two abortive attempts were made last Session, with the approval of the Leader of the Opposition, to bring forward a Vote of Censure on the Egyptian policy of the Government, and that the Prime Minister resorted to all the arts of Parliamentary strategy in order to prevent the discussion of any such Vote. That was nothing more nor less than historical fact, and he would leave that part of the subject with the expression of a hope that if the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition should think it wise and prudent and desirable in the course of the Session to bring the foreign policy of the Government under a hostile Resolution, the noble Marquess would, instead of resorting to the dilatory arts which signalized the conduct of the Government last Session, advance to the Table and without any loss of time fix a day for its discussion. He did not suppose that this Speech from the Throne would give rise to any protracted debate. He would not say that it was uninteresting, because that would be a disrespectful way of alluding to it; but he would say that it was unemotional. Again, he would not describe it as delusive, because that epithet might also he objected to; but he would say that it was singularly in- complete. He did not wish to refer at any length to the measures of domestic legislation shadowed forth in the Speech. They were nearly all old friends, and were not such as could excite any great Party animosity. The only Bill which appeared to him to call for any criticism was that relating to the reform of the government of London. He had gathered from the observations of the noble Lord that the value of that measure did not lie so much in the benefit which it would confer upon the Metropolis as in the fact that it would elicit the opinions of the House of Commons on the question of local government. Her Majesty's Ministers evidently acted with reference to the Corporation of the great City of London on the principle—fiat experimentum in corpore vili. As this Bill, according to the noble Marquess, was to settle for a long time hence, and "everywhere," the principles which were to guide the House in legislating on the subject of local government, he should like to ask whether the police in London were to be governed on the same principle as that which regulated the government of the police in the country, and whether the police in Dublin, Cork, and Belfast were to be governed as the police were governed in London, or as they were governed in the country? He hoped that as some time must elapse before the Bill was introduced public curiosity would be set at rest by some statement on the point. He had alluded to the Queen's Speech as being, though not what might be called delusive, yet incomplete, for this reason—that there was no allusion in it to four questions of the greatest national importance. There was the omission of any reference to the failure of the Revenue, which was now no longer a controversial point; and whilst he congratulated the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Childers) upon his reappearance in the House, he must offer his condolences upon the very mournful and melancholy prospect which the right hon. Gentleman had before him. He regretted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not in the Queen's Speech prepared the House for the revelations he would have to make on the introduction of the Budget. Another subject closely connected with that to which the Queen's Speech did not draw their attention was the marked, continued, and apparently hopeless depres- sion of the trade of the country as manifested, in spite of the President of the Board of Trade, by the recent Board of Trade Returns. There was also another more extraordinary omission—the absolute ignoring by the Advisers of the Crown of the great and widespread ruin now impending over the agricultural interest, Not a word of any sort or kind was said in this unemotional document which could give the House the faintest idea that the agricultural interest was in anything but the most extraordinarily prosperous condition. In addition to the omissions he had mentioned, the failure of the Revenue, the depression of trade, and the ruin of agriculture, there was another most important point upon which the Queen's Speech was silent—namely, the impossibility of effecting any economy in the enormous annual expenditure incurred by reason of the unheard-of liability which we had taken upon ourselves by the annexation of Egypt. He could not understand this subject not having been considered of sufficient importance to be mentioned to the House; he could not suppose that the Government were ignorant of these questions; he could only think that they were so unwise as to think it prudent, or so infatuated as to suppose it possible, to conceal them from public notice. In the Royal Speech he observed another of those allusions to the military glories of the present Government, which he always thought, coming from the present Government, were so unfortunate, not to say indecent. There could be no doubt whatever that fate had been very cruel to Her Majesty's Government. The Ministry had had it all their own way for two or three years. They had had to encounter a more or less apathetic Opposition and a subservient House of Lords. Yet in spite of those two advantages, which no Tory Government he was aware of had ever enjoyed, the Government had contrived somehow to tread under foot all their promises, and to violate their most cherished principles, and in no respect more decidedly than with regard to these military glories. In hearing the Prime Minister, last Session, move the Vote of Thanks to the Army and Navy, the thought occurred to him that the fact illustrated, in a remarkable manner, the vanity of human expectations and the shortsightedness of mortal minds. Who would have thought, two years ago, that the present Prime Minister—whose absence from the House on the present occasion they all regretted—would, in so short a time, have been transformed into the panegyrist of Admirals and Generals, of bloody battles and adventurous campaigns? Who would have thought to have witnessed this peace-loving, almost Apostolic Government, experience, in the short space of three years, all the sorrows and all the joys of every species of military vicissitude? He passed from those general reflections with this one observation—that he gathered from the Royal Speech that the Advisers of the Crown were endeavouring to effect that which no other Government before them had ever yet been able to effect, in Ireland and Egypt, two important portions of the British Empire at the present moment—to sit down upon bayonets. So far as he could make out with regard to Ireland, the only feather in the cap of the Government, and their only title to the confidence of the country, was that they had at last been able, in various parts of the country, to hang up on the gallows six or seven miserable wretches; and they euphoniously expressed the result by congratulating the House that the law had been everywhere "upheld." There were two special remarks which he should like to make. The first referred to Egypt, and he wished to call the attention of the Government to this matter. He had said that the Royal Speech was incomplete, and it was so with regard to Egypt, for it gave no information whatever as to the appointment of Sir Auckland Colvin. The appointment of Sir Auckland Colvin by the Egyptian Government, on the recommendation of the English Government, was the one cardinal feature of the last few months with regard to the affairs of Egypt. He turned with interest to the speech of the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War, at some place in Lancashire, with which the public were not generally acquainted, on the 22nd or 23rd of January last. Speaking at Over Darwen, the noble Lord said— For political influence in Egypt—the political influence we ought to exercise—we intend to rely upon the position we have acquired there, and upon the policy and authority of our Diplomatic Representative, the Financial Adviser whom we intend to recommend the Egyptian Government to appoint. That was the authoritative statement of the present policy of the Government by the noble Lord. With that statement before him, he turned back to the despatch of Lord Granville on November 4, 1881—the Magna Charta of the Government policy in Egypt. In that despatch Lord Granville said— It cannot be too clearly understood that England desires no partizan Ministry in Egypt. In the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, a partizan Ministry, founded on the support of a Foreign Power, or upon the personal influence of a foreign Diplomatic Agent, is neither calculated to be of service to the country it administers, nor to that in whose interest it is supposed to be maintained. It can only tend to alienate the population from their true allegiance to their Sovereign, and to give rise to counter intrigues which are detrimental to the welfare of the State. In the whole history of the foreign policy of this country he did not think that they could find another instance of a Foreign Secretary laying down principles so decided and so defined as those laid down by Lord Granville; and yet within the year they found those principles absolutely denied by the policy of the same Government that enunciated them. He invited the noble Marquess to afford some explanation of those contradictory statements, as he would probably have an opportunity of doing if an Amendment were moved, as he believed it would be, with regard to the affairs of Egypt. The Foreign Secretary, after having stated that he would not rely on a foreign Diplomatic Agent, had announced that the Government had appointed a foreign Diplomatic Agent on whom they could rely. Passing from Egypt, he would now make one more remark on Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, after a most successful time in Ireland, had the imprudence to visit his constituents the other day, and make a speech. Now, had he (Lord Randolph Churchill) been consulted on the subject, he would have told the right hon. Gentleman he could not have done anything more suicidal than to make a speech to his constituents just before the meeting of Parliament. Certainly, that speech had proved the opportunity of the Opposition, because in that speech the right hon. Gentleman was so extremely anxious to glorify himself that he politically assassinated his Colleagues. He would read two remarkable passages from that speech. It was a most excellent speech from beginning to end, and he had nothing to say against it; but he would ask for an explanation of certain passages in it. In one of these passages the right hon. Gentleman said this— My answer to the critics of the Irish Government is that I do not read like them the duties of Liberal Ministers in Ireland. That duty consists, first, in showing that life is safe and order secure under a Liberal Government. He would then read another passage— When we went to Ireland in May last we found society profoundly disorganized; we found the best elements in it depressed, and the worst elements triumphant: and how should it be otherwise when, instead of the law being a terror to evil-doers, evil-doers were a terror to the law-abiding and the industrious? The right hon. Gentleman forgot to add that—"When we went to Ireland in May last" Her Majesty's Liberal Government had been two years in Office, and that Lord Spencer, who was included in the "we," was one of those Ministers who not only advised Parliament not to revive the Peace Preservation Act, but refused to give the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) the powers he so persistently asked for, to enable him to deal with disorder and crime, and who, for all they knew, carried on the intrigue that ejected the right hon. Gentleman from Office. He thought the Chief Secretary had given himself a wide latitude when he thus glorified himself at the expense of his Colleagues. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the duty of the Government "consisted, first, in showing that life was safe, and order secure;" he should prefer to put it into plainer language, and to say that the first duty of a Government was to govern, and that duty the Government had for two years shamefully neglected. Would society have been "profoundly disorganized" if that first duty of a Government had been carried out even in the most elementary manner? He would invite the attention of the Chief Secretary, and of the noble Lord who had resumed his able Leadership of the House, to the serious charge that had been brought by the Chief Secretary against the Government. He had heard accusations against Lord Salisbury, Lord Cranbrook, and other Members of the Conservative Party, of having made violent speeches against the Government; but there was not a Member of the Conservative Party, high or low, that ever approached the violence of the denunciation of the Chief Secretary, which he had just quoted—"When we went to Ireland in May last we found society profoundly disorganized." Let it be recollected that Earl Spencer, in 1880, directly contradicted the statement of the late Lord Lieutenant as to the condition of Ireland, and that the Prime Minister had declared about the same time that Ireland had never been in a state of such tranquillity and contentment. It was quite unnecessary, after that statement of the Chief Secretary, for the Opposition to make the slightest attack on the Government from their own original resources. They had only to rely on his speech for the condemnation of his own Colleagues. What had been going on "when we went to Ireland in May last?" Why, the Prime Minister had let out of prison on this disorganized society, in order that he might further depress the best elements in it and elevate the worst of it, a man whom he thus described in his speech at Leeds— A man who had gone forth upon a mission to demoralize a people by teaching them to make the property of their neighbours the object of their covetous desires. And in his speech at the Guildhall as— A man who has made himself, beyond all others, prominent in the attempt to destroy the authority of the law, and to substitute anarchical oppression exercised upon the people of Ireland. And that was what was going on over there "when we went to Ireland in May last." He did not quarrel with the statement as a statement of the Chief Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman took to the examination of Irish matters the wisdom of the philosopher and the learning of the historian. He allowed some months to go by before he made his report on what he saw there; and now that he had made his report they might depend upon it his words would sink deep in the minds of those who heard it and those who read it. The judge that went to Ireland to report had pronounced his verdict on his own Colleagues in terms unmistakably severe; and they might rest perfectly convinced that the people of England, as a supreme tribunal, would, at the proper time, award the proper penalty.


said, he did not propose to follow the discursive example of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), for he should touch only on one point. He had had no intention on coming down to the House to take any part in the debate; but he could not sit quiet under the remarks of the noble Marquess the present Leader of the House on the question of the Egyptian policy of the Government. The House would remember that he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) had done his best during the Autumn Session to get a fair, straightforward debate upon the conduct of the Government. He had been unable to do so because the Government, having control of the time of the House, had taken good care such discussion should not take place. The reason he brought it on now at the first opportunity was that otherwise he would not again have a chance during the Session. The more he thought of that policy, and the more he read about it, the more convinced he was that we had made a great and fatal mistake in invading that country; and what the noble Marquess had stated that night made the prospect still more alarming. It was bad enough to invade Egypt to put down a rebellion, but there was justification for the question of the Leader of the Opposition when he asked whether we were not bound now to put down the rebellion in the Soudan. If course, if the principle was right to put down the first rebellion, the Government was bound to employ the men and treasure of this country to put down the other, and we should yet hear of battles with the False Prophet, of victories over him, and of officers being made Lords in consequence. He objected to this interference in toto. The policy of the Government had been summed up by Lord Derby, who said their policy in Egypt was to keep the Khedive on his legs. Imagine the policy of this country being to keep an Oriental despot on his legs against the wishes of the people The noble Lord said the Government went to war to put down an unscrupulous military tyranny, but he did not advance a single particle of proof that this tyranny had not the support of the great body of the people. What was to be done with regard to this war policy? When anyone asked a Question on the subject in the House he was told he must not do that because he would be interfering with negotiations that were going on. When the battles were fought, Lords were made, and their pensions voted—["No!"]—well, the pensions would very soon be voted. It was then said—"It is too late to bring the matter before the House; it is all over; you are only pouring water on a drowned rat." They were all very glad to see the Leader of the Opposition back again; but he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would now do better than he did before he went away. Last summer the right hon. Gentleman and his leading friends attended a grand meeting held at Willis's Rooms, and presided over by the Chairman of the Council of Bondholders, and there, from all he knew, Jingo songs were sung. Certainly a warlike policy was urged upon the Government at that meeting. The Government then went into that war. Lord Beaconsfield once said that a Government should never take the advice of its enemies; but the present Government had done that, otherwise they would not have got into that misfortune. The right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote) had told the people of Glasgow that that war was unnecessary and, therefore, unjustifiable. He had, therefore, hoped that the matter would be brought to a fair issue in the House of Commons, and that the Tory Leader would be true to his principles, and attack the Government for going into that unjustifiable war. Nothing, however, was done; and it only remained for an unfortunate wretch like himself to impeach that evil policy. The noble Marquess had told them that the House had all the Papers and all the information on the subject which the Government could give; and that made it absolutely necessary for him to move an Amendment in reference to that war. The Amendment he wished to move was to this effect— But this House humbly expresses its opinion that no sufficient reason has been shown for the employment of British Forces in reconstituting the Government of Egypt and reorganizing its affairs under the authority of the Khedive. That embodied sound principles—or, at any rate, sound Liberal principles—for it could not be a Liberal policy to force any sort of government on a nation which objected to have that government. He should be told that the people of Egypt were in favour of the Khedive; but The Standard's correspondent—who ought to have weight, at least, with hon. Gentlemen opposite—said that Arabi's supporters were thousands and the supporters of the Khedive were merely units. The Khedive's party consisted of the six footmen at the Palace. They had accounts showing that the Government of Egypt was now more cruel and oppressive than it was before. True, they had got a Financial Adviser; but did that make any difference? The President of the Local Government Board, in 1877, said that the unfortunate Fellaheen were beaten by the Khedive's officers to enforce illegal exactions, and that afterwards they were beaten for the same purpose by the same officers in the name of Mr. Goschen. They were now beaten in the name of that great Financial Adviser, who, as the noble Lord had explained, was entirely under the Khedive's Government. Why were we to be the supporters of that vile system of oppression in Egypt which had gone on from generation to generation? For no other reason, apparently, except because they had begun to do so. They had done wrong last year, and now they must go on with it to the bitter end. He was quite sure that there were many Gentlemen sitting behind him who did not like that war at all in their hearts. He had studied the speeches they had made in the Recess, and what was the gist of them? Why, first, that the Government knew about it much better than they did, which was, perhaps, true in some cases; and their second and greater argument was that they had had a glorious success, having killed more people in a shorter time, and done it cheaper than the Tories would have done. Indeed, the Vice President of the Council had told the Liberals of Sheffield he was sorry it had been done so cheaply; and he rather agreed with him, because when people went in for such things it was only right that they should pay well for them. Therefore, he now protested against that atrocious: policy, and must divide against it. He supposed they had all read the recent speech of the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney). [An hon. MEMBER: No.] Then they ought to have read it; for he could not have made a better speech himself. That speech was the best condemnation of the Government policy he had read. The hon. Gentleman said that he hoped there were a few left who were still in favour of the old Liberal policy of non-intervention. He hoped that there were, and that they would vote for his Amendment that night. He felt sure that unless some check were put on that meddling, muddling, and interfering with peoples with whom we had no concern a great injury would be done in the future both to the peace and prosperity of this country. That being so, he begged to move the Amendment he had read.


in seconding the Amendment, said, he was glad that those who did not entirely agree with the Government as to what was going on in Egypt would have an opportunity of registering their opinion by their votes. Although the noble Marquess now leading the House said we went to Egypt to put down an unscrupulous military tyranny, it was certain that Arabi Pasha was supported by the entire Egyptian nation. The noble Marquess seemed to be under the impression that the Government policy must be a good one if the official Opposition did not ask the House to vote against it; but that seemed to him one of the main reasons why the policy of the Liberal Leaders was erroneous. He could quite understand why the Opposition did not challenge the policy of the Government. The Government were practically dragged into the war by the acts of the Opposition when they were in power. ["Oh!"] Anyone who read the Blue Books must see that. A great many Liberals and all the Radicals in the country regretted the Government plunging into the war. There could be no doubt that it was entered into for the sake of the bondholders and for that reason only. But the war had been entered upon and carried through, and the question now was, What was to be done in the present position? He was sorry to hear the speech of the Secretary of State for War, because he did not think that the scheme proposed to be adopted by the Government was likely to mend matters. We were going to place the Egyptian Army under an English General, and a financier by the side of the Khedive, and then tell Europe that the Khedive was an independent Ruler, and that we had nothing to do with the government of Egypt. Why were we there? For the single object of collecting the debts of the bondholders. In the Speech from the Throne reference was made to international obligations, but he absolutely denied that there were any international obligations involved in the matter. The debt was in reality the debt of Ismail, and not that of the people at all; indeed, their own loan of £17,000,C00 had not even been treated in the same manner as the rest of the debt. The noble Marquess had stated that the object in view was the establishment of good government in Egypt; but if we really wished to establish any sound government in that country, we must recognize the two great principles which, in the opinion of most Englishmen, were at the bottom of all sound government—namely, Ministerial responsibility and control of the people over the purse. The plan of Lord Dufferin, so far as it had yet been explained, was a perfect sham. It did not give the Egyptians any species of Constitutional or representative Government. The only plan was to advocate a policy of non-intervention, and the best way to do that was not by precept but by example; and, therefore, he supported the suggestion that we should withdraw from Egypt as speedily as possible. The House had been told that Russia, Germany, and Austria were satisfied with the Egyptian policy of Her Majesty's Government; but the majority of the English people were not satisfied, and they at least ought to have a voice in the matter. They could not suppose that they had gained many Conservative votes, they had spent £4,500,000, and unless a Government on really Constitutional principles was established in the country, leaving to the Egyptians themselves to decide whether they would pay their debts to the bondholders—and he would certainly advise them not to pay—they would find they had lost the confidence of many of their own supporters.

Amendment proposed, At the end of the third paragraph, to insert the words "but this House humbly expresses its opinion that no sufficient reason has been shown for the employment of British Forces in reconstituting the Government of Egypt and reorganising its affairs under the authority of the Khedive."—(Sir Wilfrid Lawson.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


There will, no doubt, be many further opportunities, if it is desired by any hon. Member, in the course of the next few days, or at any time during the Session, to discuss Egyptian affairs; but, nevertheless, I feel that Her Majesty's Govornment—and especially those Members of Her Majesty's Government who more particularly represent the Department connected with Foreign Affairs—have no right to complain if, on the very first day of the Session, some notice is taken of this most important subject. Indeed, Sir, if the House had insisted upon a long and a large discussion, it would have been, no doubt, the duty of Her Majesty's Government to have accepted such a discussion at once and without demur. Nor, if it is necessary, will Her Majesty's Government shrink from a discussion as full as the House may desire. But I am bound to say this—that, after listening to the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Stafford Northcote) and the noble Lord the Leader of what is called "the Fourth Party" (Lord Randolph Churchill), and also of my two hon. Friends who have just sat down (Sir Wilfrid Lawson and Mr. Labouchere), it did not appear to me as if there is any great or burning desire on the part of the House to have a very long or full discussion; and, that being so, I have ventured to trespass thus early in the debate upon the attention of the House, in order that I may, as briefly as I can, respond to some of those more or less modified challenges which have been addressed to us from one part of the House or the other. I will not attempt to take up time by considering what might happen if, at some future date, my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) became the Representative of an Egyptian constituency, a subject to which he has himself alluded. No doubt, the Members for Northampton have strange political fortunes at times; but, nevertheless, I hope it may be our good fortune to maintain the sitting Member as Representative for Northampton rather than as Member for an Egyptian constituency on the banks of the Nile. My hon. Friend showed his usual appreciation of the facts of the case when he said that a great deal of this Egyptian matter, as far as the events of last year are concerned, is already becoming almost ancient history; and I had rather hoped, if that were his opinion, that he might have spared the House the retrospect into which he immediately plunged. My hon. Friend asserted, what we have hoard before, that this has been a bondholders' war, and that the view which has been so often put forward by the Prime Minister and others in regard to the character and position of Arabi Pasha is a mistaken view. But I am bound to say that he confined himself to assertions. He said—"All these things are in the Papers." Now, what Papers does he allude to? There are a certain number of Papers already in the hands of hon. Members, and I say most distinctly that the proof of that assertion is not in those Papers, nor did my hon. Friend attempt to produce his proof to the House. I will go further, and say that when hon. Members have road the Papers which I have had the honour to lay upon the Table this evening, they will also find in them no proof of these assertions. At the same time, I think it would be better, speaking with fall respect for the opinions of my hon. Friend, if he had in any case waited until he had read the Papers before anticipating the discussion upon the question, because it is almost impossible to form an opinion upon many of the points on which he has touched until these Papers were in his hands, and in the hands of the House, and of the public. Nevertheless, there are certain points which it is not and cannot be premature to touch upon; and that is, what is the general view and policy of Her Majesty's Government? Now, the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), and the noble Lord opposite (Lord Randolph Churchill), and some one or two of his immediate Friends who cheer his observations, and who cheered the observations of the hon. Member for Northampton, declared that this was a bondholders' war, and that it was solely for that reason that we went to war. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: The Prime Minister said so.] Well, I do not quite agree with the noble Lord; but he will have full opportunity of proving his assertion that the Prime Minister said this was a bondholders' war. He will, no doubt, take some opportunity of proving that. I find a particularly fair description of what were the reasons which led Her Majesty's Go- vernment most unwillingly, and wholly under the stress of dire necessity, to depart from that which was the just and cherished tradition and principle of the Liberal Party—namely, the great principle of non-intervention. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite laugh; but I think they will find we have been unanimous in asserting that the great principle of non-intervention is the principle of the Liberal Party. What was it that on the 4th of November, 1881, Lord Granville said, in a despatch to Sir Edward Malet? He described, in that despatch, the general policy of Her Majesty's Government in Egypt, and he said— The Government of England would run counter to the most cherished traditions of national history were it to entertain a desire to diminish that liberty, or to tamper with the institutions to which it has given birth. And then he goes on to use these words—and these words are the charter of the policy of the Liberal Government throughout all these events— The only circumstance which could force us to depart from the course of conduct which I have above indicated would be the occurrence in Egypt of a state of anarchy. We look to the Khedive, and to Cherif Pasha, and to the good sense of the Egyptian people, to prevent such a catastrophe; and they on their part may rest assured that, so long as Egypt continues in the path of tranquil and legitimate progress, it will be the earnest desire of Her Majesty's Government to contribute to so happy a result. Now, Sir, I venture to assert that neither the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), nor any other hon. Member of this House, has shown that Her Majesty's Government have deviated from these principles. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: Oh!] That may not be the opinion of the noble Lord; but, without any necessity for these somewhat frequent interruptions, the noble Lord will have full opportunity of proving by-and-bye the accuracy of his views. If it is the opinion of the noble Lord, or of anybody else, that Her Majesty's Government have departed from the position they have laid down, let him or them prove it. It was the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, at a date subsequent to this despatch, that the condition of things which the despatch contemplated as possible, but hoped would not arise, did actually arise—that a condition of anarchy did exist in Egypt; that that condition of anarchy was dangerous to important and cherished English interests; and that it became their duty to intervene, acting, if possible, in concert with the other Powers of Europe, and more especially with those who, like themselves, were principally interested in the matter; but on the failure or refusal of those Powers to co-operate with them, they felt it was their duty not to shrink from acting alone. And act alone Her Majesty's Government did, and with results which it is notorious were universally recognized throughout the country—[Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: No!]—as reflecting the highest honour on the skill of those to whom the operations were referred. But, Sir, what strikes me as a matter of importance is this—on what line are we really to be attacked? I notice that there is one line of attack opposite, and another on this side of the House; and the only agreement is this—that although the two lines of attack are almost entirely opposite, nevertheless, hon. Members opposite, and those who act with the hon. Member for Northampton, at least agree in cheering one another, and in criticizing Her Majesty's Government. I might almost be satisfied with leaving the case there, because nearly every argument adduced against Her Majesty's Government from Conservative sources is perfectly inconsistent with those adduced by the hon. Member for Northampton and his immediate Friends. I have no wish, on this occasion, to enter into any long discussion upon these various points. As I have indicated to the House, the case of Her Majesty's Government from the beginning has been that a condition of anarchy existed that was dangerous to Egyptian interests, and more especially to the great commercial interests of England, bound up with the maintenance of the Suez Canal. We may be told that Arabi and the Military Party did not actually interfere with the Suez Canal. My answer to that is a plain and simple one. When a house is on fire next door, it would not be wise for you to wait until the fire got hold of your house. When, therefore, at the end of May and beginning of June we saw the whole of Egypt getting into a condition of anarchy, it became the duty of Her Majesty's Government to recognize the fact that that condition of anarchy was not one under which we could feel sure that both the great military and commercial and political interests of England, bound up with the interests of our Indian Empire, could be safely left at the mercy of a military dictator. From that point of view we have never shrunk; and I shall be obliged, in any debate on the Egyptian War that may take place this Session, to decline to follow the hon. Member for Northampton or any other hon. Member into a discussion upon the various and complicated interests of the bondholders. I would thereby be pleading guilty to every charge which the hon. Member wishes to bring against Her Majesty's Government, and would consent to acknowledge that this was a bondholders' war. I am not here to defend the interests of the Egyptian bondholders; I am in no way charged on behalf of Her Majesty's Government to enter into every complicated question of finance that may be raised. On the contrary, I wish to point out that the Financial Advisers' of Egypt are not appointed by Her Majesty's Government. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock complains that the appointment of these Financial Advisers is not mentioned in the Queen's Speech. Why should Her Majesty's Speech mention the appointment of Financial Advisers? It is not at all a matter which calls for mention in the Queen's Speech. If it had been mentioned in the Speech, we know perfectly well what would have happened. The noble Lord would have sprung to his feet at once and have said—"Here you are, establishing a financial Protectorship and Control." If we had allowed ourselves thus to be tempted upon the rocks at the moment the ship was going down, we should have been greeted with immoderate laughter by the noble Lord and his Friends. The noble Lord says that my noble Friend who is at present leading this House, in the absence of the Prime Minister, and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs have already contradicted their former declarations, because they had said, at one time, that Her Majesty's Government would, under no circumstances, be parties to appointing in Egypt a partizan Minister or a foreign political Agent to guide and direct the country, and yet that they have now done these very things. Here, again, my answer is the same, and it is a plain and simple one. Sir Auckland Colvin is not appointed by Her Majesty's Government, and it is not upon the appointment of Sir Auckland Colvin that I desire to dwell as being the main safeguard for that English influence which I, for one, am quite willing to grant is the natural result of recent events—not merely the events of last year, but the action of many preceding Governments—and an influence which I, for one, am wholly prepared to defend and support. I wish to ask hon. Members opposite, who cheered the sentiments of the hon. Member for Northampton, when he said we ought to leave the country at once, and that we ought to have no influence there at all, whether the House is to accept that as their opinion? [Cries of"No!"] Then on which leg are they standing? What are really their opinions? Is it their desire simply to criticize and simply to attack? If only to criticize, let them come forward boldly and make their criticisms. Let them not indulge, as on other occasions, in small and petty attacks, but let them follow the example of the hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), who has the courage of his convictions, and challenges us to a distinct issue. It is my misfortune occasionally to differ from my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle, but I am bound at least to recognize that he never shrinks from giving full expression to his opinions. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock, with that accuracy which always distinguishes him, during the short Session of Parliament which took place in the autumn, in answer to my noble Friend, said that the Opposition—he was claiming to speak for the Opposition—had repeatedly asked for a day on which to challenge the whole conduct and policy of the Government—[Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: Hear, hear!]—and that Her Majesty's Government had done everything in their power to avoid and shirk that discussion. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: Hear, hear!] I can only regret that the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock has not brought back from the shores of the Mediterranean, from which I, for one, am glad to seek him back in full health and vigour, a greater amount and store of accuracy, for he is quite wrong and inaccurate in the view he has put forward. There were two attempts made, in the short Session of Parliament to which the noble Lord alluded, to challenge the policy and conduct of the Government by what may be called criticism, but not at all in the manner to which the noble Lord has alluded. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: What was asked for was a clear issue.] On the 6th of November, 1882, the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Stafford Northcote) rose in his place, and said— I beg to give Notice that, on as early a day as I can obtain, I shall call attention to the present employment of a portion of Her Majesty's Forces in Egypt, and move 'That this House is entitled to a fuller explanation of the nature and duration of the employment of Her Majesty's Forces in Egypt, and of the estimated cost thereof, than it has yet received.' I shall also take an early opportunity of asking the Prime Minister whether he can afford a day for the discussion of that Motion."—[3 Hansard, [274] 842.] I do not think that anybody conversant with the forms of Votes of Censure in this House will call that very mild and innocuous Notice a Vote of Censure. I find that a few days afterwards the hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle, who does deal with Amendments and Votes of Censure, and who has the courage of his convictions, was evidently under the impression that the right hon. Gentleman opposite was not going to lay bare the sore, and he therefore asked the Leader of the Opposition— Whether he propose" to bring forward any Motion condemning the military position in Egypt, which in the country he declared to be unjustifiable and unnecessary? "—[Ibid. 866.] The right hon. Gentleman opposite replied as follows:— I do not know whether I may be allowed to ask, as a matter of courtesy, whether the hon. Member received a note from me last week, in which I stated that I presumed I would not be allowed to answer the Question, but telling him what my answer would be, and that I would do nothing to compromise my freedom in the matter. I hare already to-night given a Notice in reference to this question. And then the hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) said— I should not have asked the Question if the right hon. Gentleman had given any Notice concerning the war; but the Motion of which he has given Notice concerns the future policy of the Government."—[Ibid. 867.] It is, therefore, quite clear that the hon. Member for Carlisle perfectly understood the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and that the Motion of which he had given Notice was not a condemnation of the Government for what they had done in the past, but rather a Motion intended to elicit from them a declaration as to their policy in the future. So much for the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I come now to the only other Motion I can find, and it is one given by the former Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the Government of Lord Beaconsfield (Mr. Bourke). I find that my right hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn wished to bring forward a Motion in regard to certain points connected with the trial of Arabi Pasha. [Mr. BOURKE: No!] I should be sorry if I were to misunderstand my right hon. Friend; but he asked if the Government would give a day for a Motion condemning the Government for the surrender of Arabi. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: Hear, hear!] That is exactly what I said. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: No!] And the right hon. Gentleman further asked—"Whether the First Lord of the Treasury had any statement to make with respect to the trial of Arabi? "What I wish to point out is this—it is not my desire to dwell on any distinction between the surrender and trial of Arabi Pasha, but to show that the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock was perfectly inaccurate when he said that the right hon. Member for King's Lynn (Mr. Bourke), who was Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the Government of Lord Beaconsfield, had wished to bring forward any Motion censuring the Government in regard to their Egyptian policy, but that, on the contrary, my right hon. Friend simply desired to bring forward a certain point in regard to the surrender and trial of Arabi Pasha, and the Prime Minister refused, on account of the state of Public Business, to give him a day merely for the discussion of a small fragment of the question. There was no question of bringing forward anything which could be described as a Vote of Censure; and it was perfectly clear, as I pointed out just now, from the observations which fell from the hon. Member for Carlisle, that he felt that the right hon. Gentleman opposite, having used strong language in the country on the subject of the war, when it came to a question of justifying it in the House, shrank from justifying it. That is the Parliamentary history of what happened during the short Session of last year. There are, no doubt, other points on which I might dwell; but, at this late hour of the night, it is my wish only to answer those points which have been raised by those who immediately preceded me in the debate. When the House is in possession of all the Papers I have placed on the Table to-night, and when hon. Members will have read also some further Papers which I hope it will soon be in my power to produce—among them a despatch of great importance from Lord Dufferin—I believe the House will then be able to appreciate the policy of Her Majesty's Government in a fuller manner than is possible from the Papers already published. They will be able to recognize the great pains, the skill, and the indomitable industry of Lord Dufferin, and to agree with Her Majesty's Government that in that land, where English interests are most undoubtedly, in the opinion, I believe, of the vast majority of the inhabitants of the country, bound up in a manner far beyond the mere interests of commercial or financial matters—that in that land Her Majesty's Government have succeeded, through Lord Dufferin, in showing the same administrative and diplomatic skill which, through their Admirals and Generals, they have succeeded in showing in their naval and military operations. The House will also find that the institutions which we have succeeded in giving to the Egyptian people will be institutions of a strong and durable character, which may not merely secure them from anarchy, which, as I have pointed out, is the great object of Her Majesty's Government, but may also give to them no small share, not only of commercial and industrial prosperity, but also of freedom, practical liberty, and political advancement.


said, that as a rather important debate had been initiated by the hon. Member opposite (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), and as that was the first night of the Session, he presumed the Government would have no objection to the adjournment of the debate. He therefore begged to make that Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)


said, that the Motion for the adjournment of the debate had been moved at a somewhat earlier hour than usual. If, however, the debate on the Amendment to the Address was likely to be protracted, and if hon. Gentlemen opposite desired to take part in it, he did not think it would be worth while to offer any opposition to the Motion. At the same time, he thought, before the House agreed to it, they should have some information as to the number of hon. Gentlemen who desired to take part in that debate. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Stafford Northcote) had not challenged the policy of the Government so far as it had succeeded—the military operations—and he (the Marquess of Hartington) did not know yet whether the right hon. Gentleman wished to take part in the debate upon a Motion which had been made in another part of the House. Of course, if hon. Gentlemen opposite intended to avail themselves of the opportunity of entering into a discussion upon the events of the war, it would take a longer time than they had at their disposal that evening, and he would offer no objection to the Motion for the adjournment of the debate. But if it was only the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) who intended to address the House on the subject, he thought they might ask the hon. Member, even at that late hour, to continue his observations.


said, the matter was one of very great importance. He should not himself—as, in fact, was obvious from the time he had taken in the observations he had made—have selected this as the occasion for raising any question as to the policy of the Government in regard to Egypt; but, as the question had been raised by the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), it was absolutely necessary for himself and others sitting near him that they should express their views upon the matter, which it was impossible to do conveniently at that hour of the night. He therefore hoped that the debate might be adjourned. He confessed he should have preferred that the discussion should not have come on at a time when they had not the whole of the Papers before them; but, inconvenient as it might be, he thought the inconvenience would be less than that of coming to a hurried vote upon so important a question.


said, he was sorry he could not afford information as to the number of persons likely to take part in the debate. Perhaps, under the New Rules, it would be competent to ask them to stand up in their places. Personally, he had made no arrangement with anyone for carrying on the debate, and he only desired to make one remark in regard to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Stafford Northcote) in reference to waiting for further Papers. The reason he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) had risen to move the Amendment was because the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) had stated distinctly that the House had all the information and Papers in the possession of the Government before them, and that they would enable them to judge of the action of the Government. Therefore, it was unfair to charge him with having acted prematurely or precipitately.


said, he thought that sufficient attention had not been given to an observation which had fallen from the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington). The noble Marquess began by asking if a number of hon. Members proposed to take part in the debate, and he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) understood that the noble Marquess's agreement to the adjournment of the debate was to depend upon the number of persons who desired to take part in it. He gathered from that remark that the noble Marquess, in a certain state of circumstances, seriously proposed to put into effect the New Rules for closing a debate. He thought the proper answer to the noble Marquess would be that as many Members would take part in the debate as had such a course commended to them by their own judgment.


said, it was important to know when the despatch recently received from Lord Dufferin would be in the hands of hon. Members. Could the noble Marquess, or the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, give the House any information as to when the despatch would be laid on the Table?


in reply, said, that all the Papers would be produced as soon as possible. He could not state exactly the day; but the Papers already produced gave very full information, and the rest might be issued to-morrow.


said, it was to be regretted that the noble Marquess the provisional Leader of the House (the Marquess of Hartington) was not in possession of the information which had just been communicated to the House by his Colleague the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, because he (Mr. O'Donnell) was sure that if the noble Marquess had had the slightest idea that complete information was so near at hand as to-morrow morning, he would not have proposed to have a vote taken just now. He could not possibly suppose that the noble Marquess was anxious to take a vote before the Papers were communicated.


asked whether, among the Papers to be communicated tomorrow, there would be any in regard to the trial of Arabi Pasha? because he believed that the whole point of the case was that it was perfectly impossible for the House to come to a decision with regard to the causes of the war without being put in possession of information as to what had taken place at the trial of Arabi. He wished, therefore, to know if they were to have any record of that trial, or any information from Sir Charles Rivers Wilson or Lord Dufferin as to finance?


in reply, said, that among the Papers which would be in the hands of hon. Members to-morrow, or the day after, there were documents which would give very full information in regard to the trial.

Question put, and agreed to.

Debate adjourned till To-morrow.

House adjourned at five minutes after Twelve o'clock.