HC Deb 01 March 1883 vol 276 cc1227-47

Report of Address brought up, and read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said Address be now read a second time."—(The Marquess of Hartington.)


said, it was with the greatest reluctance that he ventured to occupy the attention of the House for a short time on that occasion. It had not been his intention to have spoken at all on Egyptian affairs that evening, but for the very extraordinary answer which had been given to the very simple and obvious Question which he had addressed to the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) early that evening. No one recognized more than himself the arduous nature of the duties which the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who sat in that House, had to perform; and nothing could be more repugnant to him (Mr. Bourke) than to press the Under Secretary of State with Questions which were un-Parliamentary or unfair. But when a Question was put by the Opposition in fair and Parliamentary language a satisfactory answer should be given, more particularly as, under the New Rules of Procedure, it was not possible for those who were dissatisfied with an answer to move the adjournment of the House, and that, therefore, those who put such Questions were entirely at the mercy of the Go- vernment. In these circumstances, those who occupied official positions should be doubly careful to make their answers clear, distinct, and courteous. It was neither his province nor his desire to give advice to the noble Lord—indeed, it would be extremely impertinent for him to do so—particularly when he was quite sure that the noble Lord must fully understand that if the character of the answer to which he had referred were to be often repeated, it would be so much the better for the Opposition, because it was the Government, and not the Opposition, that would suffer by it. But although he would not give advice to the noble Lord, he would, if he were allowed to do so, advise his hon. Friends both above and below the Gangway, some of whom might one day be placed in Office, in a similar position to that of the noble Lord, to the effect that they should not copy his style; and that their answers, instead of being flippant in manner and shallow in substance, should be serious and courteous. How did the case stand with regard to the despatch about which he had asked the Question? That despatch of Lord Dufferin had been received a short time ago, and had been mentioned in debate by the noble Lord, and, if his (Mr. Bourke's) memory served him right, by the noble Marquess who now led the House of Commons. They were told that that despatch would be very soon in the hands of hon. Members, and that it would give all the information with regard to the various topics on which Questions had been asked. And not only that, but the noble Lord had told him to mark, read, and inwardly digest a certain other despatch of Lord Dufferin. He was afraid that he had read that despatch more often than any other Member of the House. One paragraph in it, as he remembered, stated that in regard to the vital question of the future re-organization of Egypt, Reports were to follow which would give the Government all the information they desired upon the subject. The despatch, therefore, which he was told to read, mark, and inwardly digest, led up directly to the despatch which he had ventured to ask for information upon. Those were the Reports which he had humbly ventered to ask for. The noble Lord the Under Secretary of State had stated that it was the invariable rule of the Foreign Office, that all despatches, before they went into print, and before presentation to Parliament, were sent back to the individual who wrote them, in order that he might see whether there was anything in them which he desired to alter. It was very difficult, when such a statement as that was made, to say that it was not accurate, because it was not easy to prove a negative. He readily admitted that before despatches went into print they were sometimes, where practicable, referred back to the writers; but it was by no means the invariable practice. There were notable exceptions to the rule. It very often happened that when a despatch was received the fact became known, and the House became impatient for its production, and Ministers produced it if they could do so without detriment to the Public Service. To show that it was not the invariable practice to do what the noble Lord said, it would be sufficient to refer to one case. A very important despatch was written by Lord Salisbury from Berlin, in connection with the Berlin Treaty, in which the policy of the Government was fully set forth. It was dated Berlin, July 13, and was received on the 15th of July at the Foreign Office; it was presented to the House by himself (Mr. Bourke) the same evening, and was printed the next day. With regard to Lord Dufferin's despatch, there were ample reasons for publishing it a fortnight ago, and it consequently should be produced at once. If there were anything in the despatch to which Lord Dufferin might object, his Lordship could have been consulted by telegraph as to its publication. In the same way, he might have been communicated with, if the Government desired to make any erasures in it. He, therefore, hoped that the Government would see their way to produce the despatch in the next two or three days. He was not anxious just now to go into Egyptian questions. They were too important to be frittered away on an occasion of this kind; and, though they had great reason to complain of the course the Government had taken, he did not think, either for the convenience of the House, or having regard to the questions themselves, it advisable to go into them in detail. He told the House the other day that he believed they had been entirely misled as to the causes of the war in Egypt, and he did not wish to be misled as to the future of that country. They required information on many points; and, until they had the particulars as to the trial and release of Arabi, until they knew the exact relations between the Khedivial Government and the Leaders of the National Party, it would not be possible for them to arrive at any just conclusion with regard to the future government of Egypt. Although the result of the policy of Her Majesty's Government in Egypt had been extremely deplorable, he would readily admit they must look to the future rather than the past. That policy had resulted in £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 being spent, and thousands of unfortunate people killed who never did any harm to this country. Alexandria was in ruins, and something like £7,000,000 or £8,000,000 would probably be added to the burdens of the Egyptian people in respect of indemnity for property lost. With regard to the question of the Soudan, it seemed to be a matter to which the Government attached very little importance. He, however, did not agree with them, and he believed that the question must force itself into notice. It was perfectly impossible to suppose that with the Soudan in revolt Egypt could be in safety. Respecting the Slave Trade, when the late Government was in Office, they did a great deal for its abolition. The greatest blow that could be struck at the suppression of that trade was the revolt of the Soudan from the Egyptian Government. Indeed, he had no doubt Gordon Pasha, if consulted on this question, would express his opinion that it was impossible to hope for the suppression of the Slave Trade so long as that revolt continued. The future Government of Egypt was a gigantic question. He failed to see in the existing state of things, brought about by the policy of Her Majesty's Government, any element for the formation of a Constitutional Government in Egypt at the present time; and, therefore, he maintained that the Government had condemned themselves to remain in Egypt. He did not believe Lord Dufferin shared—and he (Mr. Bourke) himself could not share—the view of the noble Marquess that in six months it would be possible to withdraw the troops from Egypt. If they were assured that the National Party had any vitality, and could take their share in forming a Constitutional Government, they might understand such a thing to be possible; but it should be borne in mind that the Leaders of the National Party were banished, and that the Government had to deal with the Khedive and his Party, who made Constitutional government a farce. What was the opinion of Lord Dufferin as to the action which the National Party took during the rebellion? It should be remembered that the massacre of June 11 and the arming of the forts were said to have been the two real causes of the war. But it had been proved in published despatches that Arabi and his followers had nothing to do with the massacre. Last year the country was told that Arabi's friends were mere military adventurers, and that the troubles were caused by a military revolt. Now, however, they knew that that was not the case. There never had been a movement having more complete support from the people. He (Mr. Bourke) would admit that he had himself been misled, and that he told the Government that they were justified in ordering the bombardment of the forts. Yes; but since the publication of the first Papers they had learnt a great deal, and the trials that had taken place at Cairo had thrown a new light upon the question. While wishing to abstain from asking the Government any really embarrassing questions, he desired very much to have answers to those which he had addressed to the noble Lord. He would be glad if, without inconvenience, they could give some opinion as to the attitude of the Foreign Powers on this important question.


said, that, in the first place, he must thank his right hon. Friend (Mr. Bourke) for the very kindly tone which had prevailed in his remarks. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman—with regard to what had fallen from him in the course of his speech—that he should be extremely sorry for him to think, for an instant, that he had said anything at Question time which could at all be complained of by one for whose political and personal friendship he had a great desire. But he must say that after listening, as he had with great attention, to the observations of his right hon. Friend, his mind had been considerably relieved. He had been afraid that, perhaps, through his inexperience—which he readily admitted—he had made some observations which deserved the description—which he thought was rather a hard one to come from his right hon. Friend—"un-Parliamentary." But he had gathered, in the course of his right hon. Friend's observations, that he thought he (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) ought not to have used one phrase which he had used—namely, "read and inwardly digest." Well, perhaps it would have been better if that phrase had never been used in regard to the Question put by his right hon. Friend; but, nevertheless, he did not think that those phrases were such as could be described as very seriously objectionable. They were phrases of accuracy and, he might add, orthodoxy; and if he had said nothing worse, all he could say was that he had very great pleasure in withdrawing the objectionable expression. He could only hope that, even under the influence of Question time, he might never say anything in the House of which his right hon. Friend would have more serious cause to complain. And now he passed to what, after all, was a far more interesting question and a far more important one—namely, the observations of his right hon. Friend in regard to the course taken by Her Majesty's Government in reference to Lord Dufferin's despatch. Now, in his very first sentence, his right hon. Friend had fallen into a slight inaccuracy as to time. He had said that they in the Foreign Office had been in possession of this despatch a fortnight. They had not been in possession of it a fortnight. They had had it for nearly a fortnight; but, in this matter, days were of importance. The reason why he dwelt upon that point was, that he knew perfectly well there was an impression abroad that they had had the despatch a far longer time than they had really been in possession of it, and there was a very natural explanation of that. It it was due to the fact that—as many hon. Members were aware—an account of this despatch had appeared in one of the public prints. It was not for him to speculate upon how that came about, nor was it for him to criticize the great ability and energy shown by the Press in obtaining information as to the contents of the despatch; but, as a, matter of fact, the House would be in error in supposing that the Foreign Office was in possession of the despatch at the moment that an account appeared of it in the public print to which he had referred. As a matter of fact, they had only had possession of the despatch a very short time; and he could say this, and assure the House of it, that he had only one wish in the matter, and that was that it should appear as soon as possible—as soon as ever the interests of the Public Service permitted. His own feeling was this—that no time whatever had been lost. He had taken every step in his power to push on the printing, so as to make the time which must elapse before it could come back from Lord Dufferin revised as short as possible. And here he wished to join issue with his right hon. Friend. The right hon. Gentleman had taken exception to what he (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) had said in regard to the rule at the Foreign Office; and, having started by taking exception to what he had said, he then proceeded to admit the justice of his (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice's) description of the rule at the Foreign Office. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the rule was as had been described, but that there were exceptions to it. Now, that was exactly what he (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) had said. He had admitted that there were exceptions, but had unhesitatingly affirmed that this was not one of them; and it would be most unfair to Lord Dufferin to allow a despatch of this length and importance to appear without his having had the usual opportunity that was accorded to every diplomatist—if it could possibly be afforded to him—of seeing the document in print as well as in writing. His right hon. Friend had cited an exception—that of the celebrated despatch of Lord Salisbury, written from Berlin, and communicated to the House without having been submitted to Lord Salisbury for revision. That might have been an exception; but he (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) would reply that the two cases were not on all-fours. The despatch of Lord Salisbury, able and important as it was, was an exception upon which it was unfair to argue, being a despatch written by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs himself, and, without doubt, previously submitted to the Prime Minister. He had described the rule of the Foreign Office, and described it correctly. The right hon. Gentleman had said that he had learnt the rule, perhaps only a day or two ago, from some clerk in the Foreign Office. Well, he admitted that he sometimes did acquire information as to the procedure of the Department from clerks in the Foreign Office. He had held his present post a very short time, and it would be absurd for him to attempt to pose as learned in the practice of the Office. Like his right hon. Friend, he had had to learn from the permanent officials, and he did not know where else he could have learnt all it was essential for him to know. But, as he had already intimated, this despatch of Lord Dufferin was one of great and unusual length, and of very great national importance, as it dealt with specific points in the current negotiations. This despatch dealt, as his right hon. Friend had pointed out, with the Government of Egypt in every Department, and with various other important collateral questions; and he believed he was right in saying that it covered, not the three pages of the despatch of Lord Salisbury—which his right hon. Friend had quoted, and which he (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) had referred to in the Library—but of upwards of 50 pages. Now, he asked, would it be a fair thing to Lord Dufferin, able and ready as they all knew was the pen he held, to present such a despatch as this to Parliament, without giving to him that opportunity of revision afforded by the ordinary practice of diplomacy? He left the House to judge; but let him remind his right hon. Friend—and he hoped he might do so without appearing to attach too much weight to his own experience—that he had had the honour of serving Her Majesty's Government for a short time in a diplomatic capacity, as Commissioner in Eastern Roumelia; and he should have considered it a most extraordinary thing, quite apart from any information he might have received from the Foreign Office, a despatch from him had been presented to the House, without his first having had an opportunity of revising it. Well, he had gone over the chief points of his right hon. Friend's speech, so far as it related to Lord Dufferin's despatch, and he must leave the House to judge whether he had erred in the matter. He felt that when, his right hon. Friend passed from Lord Dufferin's despatch to the other topics to which he had alluded, he must have experienced that he was under considerable disadvantage, owing to the late hour of the evening. He was himself at a similar disadvantage. He had been bound to touch upon the topics to which his right hon. Friend had referred very briefly; and he (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice), too, owing to the same reason, was obliged to be very brief. His right hon. Friend, in giving Notice of his intended speech earlier in the evening, had courteously informed him that he intended to touch on the question of the indemnity claims. This he had done so very briefly that he (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) felt it very difficult indeed to reply to him on that topic that evening. His right hon. Friend had only indicated in a most general way his desire for information. He (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice), as every hon. Member of the House who had looked into Egyptian financial questions must be, was aware of the grave question of claims raised before the Indemnity Commission in their bearing upon the future finance of Egypt; and all he could do that evening was to assure the House that Her Majesty's Government were fully sensible of the importance of the question, and that they believed that before long they would be able to show the House, when the question was more fully raised, as it no doubt would be, that they had found a solution which would command the confidence of the House, and of all who were conversant with Egyptian affairs. His right hon. Friend had then touched, also briefly, on the question of the Slave Trade, and, passing over that, upon a question closely allied with it—namely, that of the Soudan. Some observations were made by his right hon. Friend the other evening with regard to the Soudan. He had pointed out that its position had always been looked upon as a separate question from that of Egypt. It was a recent Egyptian acquisition, and stood in a totally different position from the other Egyptian Provinces; and he thought it desirable to put on record, in connection with this question of the Soudan, that the English officers who were serving there—some of whose names had recently appeared in the newspapers—were in no way serving the English Government, nor were they officers on active service. They were serving in the Khedive's Army—they were appointed by him, and there was no desire on the part of Her Majesty's Government to widen the sufficiently extended sphere of the responsibilities of this country in Egypt by interfering in any unbecoming manner with the great question of the Soudan. Her Majesty's Government would rather have it believed that the future of the Soudan depended on the strength in the Province of the great influences of civilization and on the stamping out of the Slave Trade, the revival of which was, no doubt, one of the melancholy causes of the movement there. And he might say that, in any steps which Her Majesty's Government might be able to take, by diplomatic or other means, in advancing the cause of the abolition of slavery in one of its most malignant shapes in the Soudan, they would receive the undivided support of both sides of the House. They also trusted to more extended railway communication to free the districts which were now at the mercy of slave traders and jobbers, and to bring them within the pale of civilization. It was a well known fact, and he had no doubt his right hon. Friend was aware of it, that nothing on the West Coast of Africa did more to stamp out the Slave Trade, than to bring the place in which the traffic existed within the reach of communication with civilized countries. The parties engaged in the Slave Trade were afraid of nothing so much as the arrival of a ship, which might give information of their evil doings; and it was a fact that, in some places, the establishment of a mail service and the plying of the steamers had done quite as much to stamp out the horrible trade as Her Majesty's cruisers. His right hon. Friend, towards the end of his observations, passed on to that larger question of the government of Egypt—and here he might be allowed to dwell once more, for a single instant, on the despatch of Lord Dufferin, because he thought the right hon. Gentleman, and some hon. Members who sat near him, appeared to misapprehend his statement about the two despatches which, he had said, had been already presented, and to which it would be well for hon. Members to devote some amount of time and attention. It was his decided opinion that the amount of discussion which had taken place upon the despatch of Lord Dufferin which had not appeared had, unfortunately, diverted attention from the two despatches which had appeared. These despatches covered six or seven close pages of print, and they dealt with some of those important questions upon which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite requested information, more especially the questions of the Army, the gendarmerie, and the representative institutions of Egypt. He might mention that he had been un-wearying in his efforts to get these two despatches ready for Parliament. He had worked to the best of his ability, so as to get them distributed to hon. Members on the first day of the Session; but he had observed, both in conversations he had had with hon. Members in that House and in the public prints, that the amount of expectation which had been excited by the despatch which had not appeared had, in a most unfortunate manner, diverted attention from the opinions and recommendations contained in the other despatches; therefore, he could assure his right hon. Friend that when he had said he hoped he (Mr. Bourke) had turned his attention to those two despatches, he had said it in no flippant or un-Parliamentary spirit, but in all sober seriousness. Those two despatches were of great importance; and if hon. Members wished to make themselves familiar with all the points which were mentioned in the third despatch, and which in that despatch were treated in great detail, they should study the documents to which he had drawn attention. There were other despatches also in the Blue Book—"Egyptian Re-organization"—which had been presented on the 16th February. To-day was the 1st of March, the Papers were presented on the 16th February, so that the House would see that a very long period had not elapsed. He was doing everything he could to push on the printing, and he thought that when hon. Members realized that he had presented since the House met a second set of Papers in regard to the employment of Europeans in the service of the Egyptian Government, the whole of the Papers relating to the claims, and a tolerably bulky volume concerning the trial of Arabi Pasha and the general affairs of Egypt, they would see there was little cause to complain of the activity of the Foreign Office on the subject of printing and presenting Papers—more especially when he informed the House that there were at that moment a great number of other Papers which had to be prepared, several of which he hoped very shortly to be able to present to the House. They were concerned in the Foreign Office at the present moment with the negotiations which were going on on the subject of the Danube. These matters were straining their resources very much at that time. He had gone thus fully into these questions, because he did not wish the House to suppose that he was so foolish as to herald his accession to Office by an attempt to keep back information from the House. He had only one wish as to Lord Dufferin's despatch and the Egyptian Papers generally—namely, that the House should become familiar with them as soon as possible, and that there should be full, fair, and free discussion upon them. He felt certain that whenever these questions were gone into, and whenever—which he hoped to do shortly—he was able to present Lord Dufferin's despatch, it would be shown that whatever fears had existed were, as he had said the other evening, fears that had not been justified by results, that the Government had done their best to steer between the Scylla of annexation in Egypt and the Charybdis of leaving the country to anarchy, and that they were leaving to Egypt the inestimable advantages of a considerable measure of Constitutional and political freedom.


said, that, after what had fallen from the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice), he desired to say a few words. In the first place, he was glad to think there would remain no feeling of unpleasantness between the noble Lord and his right hon. Friend (Mr. Bourke) in regard to any expression which might have been used at the beginning of the evening. His own impression had been that the noble Lord, on being put through his catechism, had slipped into his collect. But he would wish to impress on the noble Lord that that question of the settlement of the organization of Egypt was one which seemed to him of the greatest delicacy, and certainly of the utmost importance. It was of the greatest importance that the House should be put in possession as early as possible of the information at the command of Her Majesty's Government, and of the views formed by them. The Opposition had been told last year, with reference to this and other questions, that they had allowed matters to go too far without interposing or expressing any opinion upon them; and that, in consequence, the Government had been left without guidance by the expression of opinion of the House. Now, they were anxious to avoid that fault. They were anxious, as soon as possible, to be put in possession of the views of such a remarkable Representative in such a remarkable position as Lord Dufferin. The despatches of November 19th were not long, and, though they were extremely interesting, they did not take long to master. They were of a very important character, it was true; but they made them hunger for more. They were told that the other despatch was a full one, enlarging the views contained in the first two, and giving information on which those views rested; and the Opposition were anxious, and naturally and properly so, to see the despatch as soon as it could be given. He (Sir Stafford Northcote) would not dispute the noble Lord's statement that it might have been very proper to send the despatch to Lord Dufferin to have it revised before being finally printed; but he would ask whether proper instructions had been given to Lord Dufferin, and steps taken to got his assent to the publication as quickly as possible? Had the telegraph been put in force, or would it be?


Yes; every effort has been made to obtain Lord Dufferin's assent to the publication of the despatch. I believe he has been telegraphed to on the subject. If, to-morrow, I find that he has not, I pledge myself to communicate with him at once.


said, that was quite satisfactory so far; but he would urge the Government not to neglect the matter. He felt with the noble Lord that at that hour it was too late to enter into anything like a full discussion of this largo question, even if they had before them the despatch to which so much reference had been made. He did not think—and his right hon. Friend (Mr. Bourke) would agree with him—that this was an occasion for rais- ing the whole of this question, and probably it might have been avoided. He would not now say anything more than that he did earnestly trust that the Government, having taken the very important steps they had taken, and acquired the very important position they had acquired in Egypt, and having incurred the great responsibilities they had incurred, would not allow themselves to lose the advantages of their position, or allow those advantages to be frittered away and lost by any unfortunate or careless dealing with them. He only hoped that they might soon have full information, and that after they got it they might on some future occasion be enabled to discuss the matter as it deserved to be discussed.


said, he wished to point out that really this question of presenting Papers was assuming a very serious aspect, because the Government were thing to wriggle out of the presentation of them as much as they could. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) had promised certain Papers about India; but that night they were told that the noble Marquess had changed his mind. They had also been promised Papers about the Cuban refugees; but they were told that the consent of the Spanish Government had not yet been received. They could not have Lord Dufferin's despatches, because that noble Lord had to approve of them, and now they were told that they could not have Papers relating to the Cuban refugees until the consent of the Spanish Government had been obtained. [Lord EDMOND FITZ-MAURICE: I stated that they were to be given.] The promise was made quite regardless of the Spanish Government. The Papers had not been presented, although they-had been promised now for a long time. There was a general impression abroad that Lord Dufferin's despatch was withheld until the Prime Minister came to terms with the French Government at Paris. [A laugh.] Hon. Members might laugh; but they had seen to-day that the Prime Minister was colloguing with the French Government, and if the right hon. Gentleman's opinions differed from Lord Dufferin's, it was probable that the noble Lord's despatch would be very much altered before the House saw it. He trusted that the Papers relating to the Govern- ment of Egypt and the evacuation of that country would soon be presented. He would now ask a question in regard to General Maceo, who had been delivered up to the Spanish authorities by the Gibraltar authorities under very doubtful circumstances, and in consequence of which some unfortunate official in Gibraltar had been dismissed. His own belief was that the surrender of these refugees at Gibraltar to Spain was in consequence of some former policy of Earl Granville as to Cuban refugees in the Bahamas. He was not going fully into the question; but he saw from a Report on the matter that the surrender of the Cuban refugees was not owing entirely to the misconduct of the Gibraltar authorities, but to misrepresentations on the part of the Spanish Consul. Had this been brought before the Spanish Government? General Maceo had been turned out of Gibraltar with his wife and other refugees in a most brutal manner. They had been surrendered by the Gibraltar authorities; and, so far as we were concerned, Her Majesty's Government were making representations to the Government of Spain with a view to obtaining their release; but, in the meantime, the Government of Spain, instead of taking the least notice of our representations, were treating them in a most rigorous and harsh manner. A letter had been written by the wife of General Maceo to a person in Gibraltar, in which she stated that her husband was still in prison at the signal station, kept in solitary confinement, without a soul to attend to him should he be taken ill at night. It was plain that the Spanish Government were not paying the slightest attention or regard to the representations of Her Majesty's Government, and if this were a solitary instance he should not have complained; but on every possible occasion—in their harbours amongst the British shipping especially—the Spaniards were showing the greatest ill-will to this country. In Cuba, and in every part where English merchants and English shipping came into contact with Spanish authorities and merchants, they were subjected to the most unjust treatment. He, therefore, asked the noble Lord whether the harsh treatment to which General Maceo was being subjected was to be allowed to continue in face of the representations Her Majesty's Government were making, or whether they would take steps to obtain redress for the great outrage which had occurred in the surrender of refugees upon the misrepresentations of the Spanish Consul, or, at any rate, to see that these people were treated in a manner more consistent with humanity than was at present the case?


said, that, considering the hour of the night and the length to which these discussions had been carried, he would not detain the House with the Motion of which he had given Notice. The time of the House had been so much taken up with postmortem examinations that there was really no time to consider the affairs of the living. He would take the earliest opportunity that offered to bring forward the matter.


said, he wished to refer, in a few sentences, to a paragraph in Her Majesty's most gracious Speech, which was of special interest to those whom he represented in that House—he alluded to that paragraph in which there was the promise of a Bill to deal with the Universities of Scotland. Legislation on that subject had been anxiously expected for some time past. A Royal Commission had reported on the Universities five years ago; and in their Report they recommended certain changes for which legislation was required, and pointed out several defects in the Universities which could only be satisfactorily supplied by the action of Parliament. It had been hoped that the Report of the Commissioners would have shortly been followed by a Bill on the part of the Government. He would not say there were not sufficient reasons for the delay which had occurred. There had been, no doubt, the pressure of other Business; and it was, besides, natural to suppose that some time was necessary for the purpose of ascertaining how far the recommendations of the Commissioners met generally with the approval of the Universities and of the public; but he thought he was right in saying that it was the general impression that the main cause of the delay which had arisen was due to the fact that legislation on the subject would imply a certain draft on the public Exchequer, and there had been other claims upon the public funds which had interfered with the claims of the Universities He hoped, however, that the promise they had now received on the subject might be taken to mean that Her Majesty's Government saw their way to propose for the Scotch Universities such substantial assistance as the Commissioners had recommended. It was with regret, however, that he had gathered from the remarks of the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan), in the course of his speech in seconding the Address to Her Majesty, that the Government intended to deal with the matter by the employment of an Executive Commission. When a similar intention was announced last Session by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate, he (Mr. Campbell) felt it his duty to give Notice of his intention to move an Amendment to the effect that in order to carry out the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners it was neither necessary nor expedient to employ an Executive Commission. He would not, in view of the fact that an opportunity would be presented for the expression of his views on this point when the Bill came before the House, detain the House any longer on that occasion by further reference to the subject. At the same time, the exception he was inclined to take to the proposal of the Government on that particular point did not preclude him from being grateful to them for the promise to bring the claims of the Scotch Universities before the House during the present Session; and, therefore, as the Representative of two of the Universities, he begged to thank Her Majesty's Government for the intimation they had given.


said, he wished to take the present opportunity of entering a protest against the publication in the Press of the despatch of Lord Dufferin, as well as other documents of importance, before they were laid upon the Table of the House. It was then about a month since he had read in the public newspapers the gist of Lord Dufferin's despatch, and he certainly thought there ought to be some moans of keeping despatches from the public. They had heard from the noble Lord (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) that the despatch had not been communicated to the Press by the Foreign Office, and the only conclusion they could arrive at in consequence was that it had been communicated from Lord Dufferin. What was the intention in so doing he had no wish to suppose. But he regarded it as a most inconvenient course that the despatch should not be in the hands of hon. Members, although its substance was to be read in the newspapers before they had any real information as to what the despatch contained. It was only the other day that the provisions of the Bill relating to the municipal government of London was published in a similar manner; while it was well known that other important Papers had been produced in the Press before hon. Members had an opportunity of seeing them. Under the circumstances, and in view of the fact that two or three years ago protests had been made against this practice, he thought that they were entitled to some security that important public documents should not be produced in an unofficial manner.


said, he desired to make a final appeal to the noble Marquess the late Secretary of State for India (the Marquess of Hartington). He had never pressed for any Papers which it might be considered detrimental to the Public Service to produce; but he believed that, in the present instance, hon. Members on both sides of the House would agree that he had an exceedingly strong case. The employment of the Indian Contingent in Egypt was a subject in which he was taking a great deal of interest; and he had, on several occasions, addressed Questions to the noble Marquess with regard to the payment of the Indian troops during their employment in that country. On the 31st of July last, the noble Marquess stated that he had received a telegram from the Government of India, and that a reply had been sent; and he added, at the same time, that he should not be dealing frankly with the House if he did not state that the Indian Government had informed him that they objected to India bearing the cost of the Contingent, and that they were sending home a despatch. He waited until the 26th of October, and then put to the noble Marquess another Question on the same subject. On every occasion the noble Marquess had stated, in the most explicit manner, that Papers would be introduced; and his reply at that time was that Papers would certainly be presented, but as the Correspondence with the Indian Government with regard to the employment of the Indian Contingent was at the moment incomplete, he did not think it necessary then to produce them. He (Mr. Onslow) agreed that if the Papers were incomplete it was not desirable to produce them, and he said he had no wish to have them in an imperfect state. Afterwards, in reply to another Question, the noble Marquess said the Papers would be given to the House as fully as possible; that they would give the House as full an idea as possible of what had taken place. Again, on a subsequent occasion, he (Mr. Onslow) had addressed a Question to the Prime Minister, with regard to the payment by India of these Indian troops, and the right hon. Gentleman had given the same explanation as the noble Marquess, and also furnished an estimate. He then asked the right hon. Gentleman a further Question, with reference to the production of the Papers, to which he replied that the Question was one which the noble Marquess alone could answer. The noble Marquess having given the answers he (Mr. Onslow) had just cited the Question was not then pressed, he therefore thought he had a strong case for the consideration of the noble Marquess on account of pledges given, not to himself privately, but in the face of the House, that these Papers would be prodcued. Since he had held a seat in that House, he had never known of a responsible Minister of the Crown, who, after he had more than once officially stated that certain Papers would be produced, coming down at the eleventh hour, before a Vote with which they were connected was to be proposed, and telling the House that they would not be produced. He could only say that in the minds of many hon. Members there existed a feeling that something had been taking place all along, the exact nature of which the Government did not like to state. It was monstrous that a responsible Minister of the Crown should now refuse to give the Papers which he had over and over again said he would lay upon the Table of the House. He trusted the noble Marquess would reconsider the matter, of which, in the event of the Papers not being produced, he (Mr. Onslow) could assure him that he had not heard the last.


said, he would reply to the questions put by the hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir H. Drummond Wolff), as his noble Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was debarred from speaking again. With regard to those questions the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir E. Assheton Cross) had given Notice of his intention to bring the matter before the House, and upon that occasion it would be fully discussed. The Foreign Office would, in the meantime, wish to give him any information which they possessed with regard to the maltreatment of the prisoners. With regard to what fell from the hon. Member for Wareham (Mr. Guest), concerning the publication in newspapers of official documents, that matter had engaged the attention not only of the present Government, but their Predecessors. But the two examples produced by his hon. Friend were not striking illustrations of the practice of which he had complained in general terms. The account of the Government of London Bill, to which reference had been made, was, to his (Sir Charles W.Dilke's) knowledge, inaccurate in large and important particulars, as the House would see when the measure came before them. Again, with regard to the despatch of Lord Dufferin, the analysis which appeared in the newspapers occupied but one half-column, whereas the document itself was of great length, and extended to 278 closely written pages of manuscript, or about 50 pages of print. The publication, however, undoubtedly showed that the person by whom the analysis was written had received some idea of what was in the despatch. The matter had been the subject of inquiry, and it was thought possible that some of the contents of the despatch, although only a small portion of its essence, got out in conversation at Cairo, as would be seen from the brevity of the published analysis, as compared with the extraordinary length of the document. With regard to the remarks of the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow), he might say that having given Notice of a Motion for Papers the hon. Member would have an opportunity of repeating the arguments he had made use of that evening.

Question put, and agreed to.

Address to be presented by Privy Councillors.

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