HC Deb 19 February 1884 vol 284 cc1353-462


Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [12th February], That this House, having read and considered the Correspondence relating to Egypt, laid upon the Table by Her Majesty's Command, is of opinion that the recent lamentable events in the Soudan are due, in a great measure, to the vacillating and inconsistent policy pursued by Her Majesty's Government."—(Sir Stafford Northcote.)

And which Amendment was, To leave out from the word "House" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "whilst declining at present to express an opinion on the Egyptian policy which Her Majesty's Government have pursued during the last two years, with the support of the House, trusts that in future British Forces may not be employed for the purpose of interfering with the Egyptian people in the selection of their own Government,"—(Sir Wilfrid Lawson,)

—instead thereof.

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

Debate resumed.


said, that the veil of sophistry with which the Government now endeavoured to obscure the subject and to conceal the results of their policy was being gradually removed, and the country was fast discovering what were the real results of their policy. It was becoming generally recognized that they were, as they had been described, such as must necessarily flow from vacillation, the shirking of responsibility, and a total want of moral courage. It was impossible to open a foreign newspaper without finding in it a vehement and contemptuous condemnation of the conduct of Her Majesty's Government in dealing with Egypt. He could not better describe the effects of the abandonment of the Soudan than in the words used that morning by the Journal des Debats:As the principal benefit to Egypt, to Europe, and to civilization from the conquest of Egypt by England, we have the abandonment to African barbarism of those immense territories which have been snatched from it by 60 years' effort. To this he would add that the policy of the Government had alienated our old Ally the Sultan, the Sovereign of Egypt, and had brought upon us the contempt of France. He asked, how would it be possible to hand over the Soudan to the small Sultans who had in former days ruled over it with any hope of their being able to hold their own against the fanatical and slave-holding barbarian who was now overrunning the Soudan Provinces. Nothing could, in his view, be more discreditable than the policy which had been announced as that of the Government by General Gordon. There might be some excuse for what General Gordon had done, acting as he had under the pressure of circumstances; but there could be no excuse for Her Majesty's Government in forcing that policy upon General Gordon against his will. The Government had been in possession of Egypt for 18 months, with the result that the people of that country were suffering more grievously than ever before. Their finances were in a worse position, and already no less than 15,000 wretched fellaheen had been butchered in the Soudan, which, it now seemed, was to be abandoned to the savage fanatics who carried the sword in one hand and the Koran in the other. He held that Her Majesty's Govern- ment were distinctly responsible for the present state of Egypt and the Soudan. As far as Egypt was concerned, it was obvious that their blunders had caused the Egyptian War, of which, without going into the question at length, he would point out the main causes. The policy of Her Majesty's Government in Egypt had been founded, first, upon a contempt of the rights of the Sovereign; secondly, upon a contempt for the rights of the people of Egypt; thirdly, upon an unfortunate subservience to French polities; and, fourthly, upon the inveterate vice of delay which aggravated all their other faults. The Government now professed to repudiate all responsibility for what had occured in the Soudan, but in their despatches they had fully acknowledged that responsibility. How could they now shirk, their responsibility, when they had threatened the Egyptian Ministry with dismissal if they did not carry out their orders? Now it pleased them to attribute the rise and success of the Mahdi to the Dual Control; but it would be just as reasonable to attribute it to the fact that some years ago the Prime Minister wrote an ultra-orthodox pamphlet on Church and State. The Government passed lightly over the fact that they were in Office for 18 months before Arabi's revolt came to a head, during which period they might, had they thought fit to do so, have put an end to that Dual Control. Her Majesty's Government had been parties to the Joint Note of January, 1882, which was the strongest and most direct form of political intervention that could be devised. It must be remembered that Lord Beaconsfield never allowed the Dual Control to interfere with the rights either of the Sovereign or of the Egyptian people. The truth, however, was that a policy which was successful in the hands of a statesman might produce nothing but mischief if directed by vacillating incompetence. The Prime Minister had referred to the great advantages which had been conferred upon Egypt by the establishment of the new Judicial Tribunals and by the constitution of a Legislature. He, however, should like to know what the Tribunals had effected, and what had become of the Legislature? The Prime Minister had included among the advantages resulting from our influence the formation of the Army and of the gendarmerie. But the Army had never been allowed to do anything, while the gendarmerie had lately shown the material of which it was composed. The men had thrown themselves upon the ground and screamed until they were despatched by an inferior enemy. The Prime Minister had further contended that from Lord Dufferin to General Gordon the best men had been sent out to Egypt. It was the fact, however, that the Government had taken Lord Dufferin from Egypt as quickly as possible, because they were afraid of his advice, and they had sent General Gordon out to that country as late as possible, because they were afraid of the Radical Press. It was the fact that the Government had removed all their best men from Egypt at the very moment when their advice would have been of the greatest value. In place of them they had sent out Sir Evelyn Baring, whose official career had most certainly not been marked by success. The advice which Sir Evelyn Baring had given the Government had been, to say the least of it, unfortunate. He had come fresh from India, where he had been one of the strongest advocates for the abandonment of Candahar and for the fatuous Ilbert Bill, and in Egypt he had recommended the evacuation of Cairo. Her Majesty's Government now sought to shelter themselves behind General Gordon, of whose services they had refused to take advantage until the last moment, when his mission appeared almost certain to fail by reason of its being determined upon too late. He should have been sent long ago when Sir Charles Rivers Wilson advised it in 1882, or, at the latest, after the news had been received of the destruction of Hicks Pasha and his army. Her Majesty's Government had all along tried to repudiate all responsibility for the policy pursued by the Egyptian Government in the Soudan. The Opposition had never alleged that Her Majesty's Government had acknowledge their responsibility for that policy. Her Majesty's Government, up to January 4th of this year, had, like the gendarmerie, thrown themselves on their knees and screamed out "We are not responsible" so long as they could. Now, however, the Government had accepted a responsibility which had rested with them from the first. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the Op- position had known what the Ministerial policy was with regard to the Soudan during the whole of last Session, and had not raised any objection to it. That was not a fair argument, because at that time the Conservatives did not know, as the Government knew, that General Hicks had declared that his expedition was hopeless and must result in disaster, and had asked to be relieved from his command. The question he would ask the Government was this—When they were in occupation of Egypt, when their Agents were supreme at Cairo, why did they refrain from advising against General Hicks being sent on his disastrous and hopeless mission? The Government were directly responsible for the failure of General Hicks and for the disastrous effects to civilizatation and to the Soudan which that failure caused. Then, again, when General Hicks's army had been annihiliated, why were eight long weeks allowed to go by before the Government took any steps to promote the safety of the garrisons in the Soudan, or to direct the timely evacuation of the Soudan? Why, when the Government knew of the terrible condition of the garrisons of Sinkat and Tokar, was another fortnight allowed to go by without anything being done for their relief? There was no possible answer on the part of the Government to these questions—there could be no satisfactory answer to them. The Government had shattered the Egyptian Army, exiled its leaders, weakened the Central Government by their intervention, and caused administrative anarchy; and they were completely responsible for every act taken in Egypt and her territories by the Egyptian Government. A mere verbal disclaimer of responsibility in the Soudan would avail them nothing in face of their knowledge that General Hicks was sent by our puppet—the Khedive—on a hopeless expedition. A great deal had been said about the impossibility of relieving Tokar. The President of the Local Government Board (Sir Charles W. Dilke)—who was not distinguished for the accuracy of his facts in regard to foreign affairs, and whose statements would give the historian of the future some trouble to reconcile with the ampler knowledge which the course of time disclosed—had told them that immediately after the defeat of Baker Pasha, Her Ma- jesty's Government telegraphed orders for the relief of Tokar. But that was not the fact. The Government took no measures for the relief of Tokar until the 11th of February. If orders had been sent to Cairo on the night of the 5th, 2,000 British forces could have been employed to relieve Sinkat and Tokar, and these could have been landed at Suakim on the night of the 9th, or the morning of the 10th. As the garrison of Sinkat did not perish until noon on the 11th, their lives might thus have been saved. Another matter upon which stress had been laid was the condition of Baker's force. The Government had done all they could to prove that Baker was in possession of a sufficient force to relieve those garrisons; but in view of the facts that had been adduced, he need not go into that question. The evidence of competent newspaper correspondents and Admiral Hewett's statement in the Blue Book that the force at Suakim was "obviously unable to fight and did not obey orders" was conclusive. The Government could not pretend that they thought Baker had a sufficient force. He had listened with regret to the slur which the Prime Minister had cast upon General Baker. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that he went without any necessity or mandate. He went, as a matter of fact, by command of the Khedive, in whose service he was. He went like a gallant soldier to do the best he could, at the risk of his own life and with the display of great gallantry. The blame rested, not with Baker, but with Her Majesty's Government, who refused him the force he demanded, for he (MR. Ashmead-Bartlett) had reason to know that Baker asked over and over again to be allowed 2,000 good Turkish or Indian troops—if there was any objection to his having British troops—with which to effect the relief of the garrisons of Sinkat and Tokar; yet these were refused. As to the abandonment of the Soudan, there had been an endeavour by the Government to cloak their policy under the guise of restoring to the people of that country their own freedom and right to do as they pleased. But he denied that the movement of the Madhi, and of the Arabs who supported him, was an effort in the direction of freedom and civilization. These slave-dealing Arabs were not the indigenous portion of the population of the Soudan—they were simply a dominant and ascendant race, who maintained their power by the sword. The Government were going to abandon the Soudan to slavery, to give up the commerce which was being steadily developed, and to run the risk of the fanatical movement of the Madhi spreading throughout Arabia, Syria, and Northern Africa. This last danger would, probably, be the beginning of the breaking up of the Ottoman Empire—an event which every philanthropist and statesman must regard with grave apprehension. The Ottoman Power could not be destroyed without a repetition of the horrors of the late Russian crusade upon a wider and more terrible scale. It was said that there was no alternative between Egyptian oppression and the abandonment of the Soudan. This he denied. By the appointment of an able European Governor General, like General Gordon or Sir Samuel Baker, law and order in the Soudan would be maintained and the cause of humanity and civilization would be secured. Darf our and the Equatorial Provinces were now well and peacefully governed by two European officials, both of whom were in the service of the Khedive. It was not a worthy policy to abandon those countries to chronic warfare, barbarism, and slavery, which would be the undoubted result of the present policy of Her Majesty's Government. He ventured humbly to suggest an alternative policy. In the first place, beheld that the Mahdimust be overthrown; the power of that fanatical barbarian, which was a great danger to the countries he was overrunning and to neighbouring countries, must be broken, although not necessarily by British troops. If that were not done, the difficulties of the task they would have to undertake, and its ultimate cost, would be enormously increased. In the next place, they should carry out their policy in Egypt by a friendly understanding with the Ottoman Government and the Government of Egypt. That was important, because they would be bound to look to Turkey and her people by-and-bye in the coming struggle with Russia; and if the Ottoman Empire should hereafter break up, our position in Egypt would be rendered legally unassailable. In the third place, it was absolutely necessary that they should base their European policy on a German, and not on a French alliance. In fact, nearly all the misfortunes of the Government in Egypt were due to their foolish subserviency to France. Lastly, the administrative policy of the Government had inflicted great sufferings upon the people. They had meddled in the affairs of Egypt just sufficient to muddle them, and not enough to cure. He advocated a more complete and close administration of Egypt by British officials under the supervision of the British Government. That administration should be undertaken by the consent of the Sovereign Power, without the farce of an Egyptian Ministry, for a definite period, say, 10 years. He would not call it a Protectorate. Such a policy would at once have the effect of settling all uncertainty, all intrigues, all opposition in that country. There would no longer be difficulties from Turkey, or from France, and we should not have one Power pulling us one way and another pulling us another. We should see that the finances, the tribunals, and other institutions of Egypt were put upon a thoroughly sound and just footing; and thus we should settle the Egyptian Question to the advantage alike of British interests and of the people of Egypt.


Sir, I should not have ventured to take part in this debate, and I had not intended to do so, had I not been made aware of the very deep and increasing interest which is felt on this subject by the constituency which I have the honour to represent. I must ask, and I trust I may count upon, the kind indulgence and forbearance of the House, speaking as I do for the first time so shortly after my entrance, while I endeavour, very imperfectly, I fear, to express the sentiments and opinions entertained on this important question by, I believe, a majority of the people of Lancashire, including, of course, some, perhaps many, belonging to the Party opposite. The great issue which is before the House, and before the country, I take to be this—that lamentable events have occurred in Egypt, and more especially in that portion of Egypt which is called the Soudan, and that for those lamentable occurrences Her Majesty's Government is responsible. I am quite sure I need not occupy the House by endeavouring to prove that lamentable, most lamentable, events have occurred in Egypt and in the Soudan. If I did so I should have to take the House back to the bombardment of Alexandria—to what I may almost call "ancient history; "but I would venture for one moment to take them back to that event, because I want to remind the House and the country—for I think it has been forgotten—that whatever view we may take with regard to that event, I believe there is only one opinion—that the massacres, the tumults, the riots, and the pillage which succeeded the bombardment were entirely due to the want of foresight on the part of Her Majesty's Government in not having troops ready at hand to throw into that city; in the first place, to follow up the bombardment, and, secondly, to supply the place of the troops of Arabi Pasha, who, before the bombardment, were the guardians of law and order in the country. But I come to the events which more particularly are before the House at the present moment, and I will only venture to name them. There is, first of all, the defeat and annihilation of Hicks Pasha's Army. There is, secondly, the massacre of the garrison of Sinkat, and not only the massacre of fighting men, but the massacre of helpless women and children. There is, in the next place, the sufferings which the garrisons throughout the Soudan are at present undergoing, more especially the garrisons of Tokar and of Khartoum; and there is, finally, the last lamentable event I would mention—one which, I believe, affects this country very painfully indeed—the anarchy which is widespread throughout the whole of the Soudan, and which, if rumour be correct, is spreading into Egypt by the unopposed rising of the Mahdi and his followers. The question for this House, and the question which is interesting to the country at the present moment, is—" Who is responsible for all these events?" The Prime Minister told us on the first night of this debate that it was all owing to the establishment of the Dual Control, at least he gave the House to understand that he considered the responsibility which attached to Her Majesty's Government in relation to these events was due to the Dual Control, and he argued in order to shift the burden of responsibility, which I venture to say rests upon him and his Government, to the Party opposite who introduced that Control. I ask whether this argument can be sustained by fact? I am aware that an incoming Government is bound, to a certain degree, and for a certain time, to the acts of its Predecessors, unless, of course, in cases where the act is final, such as the destruction of the Irish Church. But the obligation only applies to cases where there is finality in the act; and we have numerous instances in the history of Her Majesty's Government of their being able to extricate themselves from the obligations which have been placed upon them by their Predecessors. I will not trouble the House by referring to the obligations and to the arrangements made in Afghanistan, which were very soon got rid of by Her Majesty's Government. There is a stronger case in that of the Transvaal. There was a Province annexed to Her Majesty's Empire in the most solemn manner, where obligations were undertaken by this country with regard to Native tribes, and promises made to them. From all these obligations Her Majesty's Government found themselves able to retire, and they got quit of them. Allow me for one moment to point out to the House what the condition of Egypt was in 1880. I will not go into any sort of detail; but I think it is desirable, when we hear so much of the Dual Control, to see what the facts of the case are. The Dual Control was, in my opinion, working out very satisfactorily, and with benefit to Egypt. I will only trouble the House with one extract from the despatch of Sir Edward Malet, in 1880, just at the time that the Government of Lord Beaconsfield went out of Office. That despatch expressed the hope that the condition of the fellah had at last permanently changed for the better, and that the misgovernment to which be had been subject had passed away. It went on to say that there was a good deal to be done before Egypt could be said to be well governed, but the result of the last six months gave a hope for the future. The Reports of six or seven Consuls throughout Egypt all told the same story—namely, that the general condition of the agricultural population had considerably improved during the previous year. The manner in which taxes were collected had increased confidence; land had increased, in some districts, as much as 50 per cent in value; and during the last year of Lord Beacons-field's Government, when the Dual Control was in operation, the coupons on the bonds had all been paid, and £5,000,000 of the Debt had been extinguished. Such was the condition of Egypt, and such was the growing prosperity of Egypt under the Dual Control; but the Prime Minister tells us—and I think some other Members of the Government said the same thing—that they foresaw the troubles which would arise out of the Dual Control. The question I want to ask the House is this—If the Government did see objections to the Dual Control, if they believed in their own prophecies, I want to know why they did not put an end to it when they came into Office? The Prime Minister answers that certain obligations were incurred. I think that with Afghanistan and the Transvaal before me that answer is insufficient; and, more than that, the Blue Books satisfy me that so far from Her Majesty's Government having any objection to the Dual Control, they entirely and cordially supported it. I believe they did so for the benefit, as they thought, of Egypt, and also as a defence for our highway to our Indian Possessions. The reading of the Blue Books proves this—that it was not until action was required on the part of Her Majesty's Government, not until the fear of their Radical Supporters presented itself to them that there was any want of cordial support to the Dual Control. In 1881 there was a change in the Ministry in Egypt. I will only just state the fact that England and France took a very prominent part in arranging the now Ministry. I can find no change of policy on the part of Her Majesty's Government in November, 1881–18 months after they had been in power; and, surely, by that time if they had wished to change the Dual Control they could have done so. On that date, Lord Granville wrote and confirmed the Dual Control in the strongest language. He says— It would be easy for the two countries—France and England—acting in concert, and with no selfish object, to assist materially in improving the political and financial position of Egypt; and so long as the good of that country is the only object in view, there should be no difficulty in prosecuting it with the greatest success. He indicates that if there should be an outbreak of anarchy in Egypt, the tie between the Porte and Egypt would not be considered, but that England and France under the Dual Control would interfere, and put an end to it; and he finally says that— The Khedive and his Ministers may feel secure that the British Government has no intention of deviating from the paths traced by themselves"— namely, to maintain the Dual Control over affairs in Egypt. What I am now endeavouring to prove to the House is that there were ample opportunities for the Government to escape from the Dual Control, which they now say is the cause of all their trouble, if they had wished to do so. But this they did not do; on the contrary, they confirmed and adopted it. Further on, in 1882, when Arabi Pasha had issued his Manifesto, the English and French Governments write to the Khedive in an Identic Note— You have already been instructed on several occasions to inform the Khedive and his Government of the determination of England and France to afford them support against the difficulties of various kinds which might interfere with the course of public affairs in Egypt. I have accordingly to instruct you (it was to our Representative there) to declare to the Khedive that the English and French Governments consider the maintenance of His Highness on the Throne on the terms laid down by the Sultan's Firmans and officially recognized by the two Governments as alone able to guarantee for the present and future the good order and the development of general prosperity in Egypt, in which France and Great Britain are equally interested. The two Governments being closely associated in the resolve to guard by their united efforts against all cause of complication, internal or external, which might menace the order of things established in Egypt, do not doubt that the assurance publicly given of their formal intentions in this respect will tend to avert the dangers to which the Government of the Khedive might he exposed, and which would certainly find England and France united to oppose them. They are convinced that His Highness will draw from this assurance the confidence and strength which he requires to direct the destinies of Egypt and its people. It thus appeared to me the Government did everything they possibly could to make the Dual Control more binding and more permanent, and they cannot now make their Predecessors responsible for the events which have since happened. My argument is that the Government had ample time to withdraw from the Dual Control if they had wanted to do so. But they did nothing of the sort. They declared their intention to maintain it. The fact was, they did not dare to alter the Dual Control in the face of the opinion of this country. This country knew the position Egypt occupied; the Government knew the value the people of this country set upon it; and it is too late now for them to charge their Predecessors with the consequences of a position they themselves adopted and made their own, and which, in my opinion, was perfectly safe if it had been held with ordinary courage, foresight, and resolution. I will only venture in one word to speak of the two great disasters which we are at present lamenting. One is Hicks Pasha's Expedition. The House will remember that at that time Her Majesty's Government were masters of the situation. The Dual Control was entirely broken. Whether the English Government could find a method of forcing their way out of it I do not know, but France found a way to get out of it. When the Expedition was projected, there were two alternatives before Her Majesty's Government. The one was to state boldly what they have stated since—that they considered the Soudan no part of Egypt; and if that was the case, they should have prevented Hicks Pasha from carrying out his Expedition. The other was to take the full responsibility of it, and support Hicks Pasha. The Government did neither one thing nor the other. The Expedition, if successful, would redound to the credit of Her Majesty's Government; and if it failed, as it did fail, they would have no responsibility. The same remark may be made with regard to the Baker Pasha incident. This, it seems to me, is far less creditable to the Government. It was not a question of reconquering the Soudan. Humanity was calling out loudly—women and children were starving, and hundreds were being massacred. It was not till then—till they had been massacred—it was not till the catastrophe came, that the Government did their duty—did what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (MR. W. E. Forster) said the other day they might have done a fortnight before. Sir, in my opinion, the real origin and spring of the difficult position Her Majesty's Government is in in Egypt is not the Dual Control. It is their fear of intervening. It is the shrinking from intervention on the part of Her Majesty's Government that appears to me to be their error. The policy of non-intervention is at the bottom of the whole of the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government, and I venture to say that it vitiates it, that it poisons it, and utterly and entirely emasculates it. The policy of non-intervention, so far as England is concerned, cannot be consistently maintained; Her Majesty's Government, although they are loudly proclaiming it, cannot consistently maintain it. What is worse, they proclaim it ostentatiously. If they would adopt the principle of non-intervention, and say nothing about it, there would be less harm; but I suppose it is in order to satisfy Gentlemen below the Gangway that they are always ostentatiously proclaiming this principle of non-intervention. It cuts at the root of anything like a true or successful foreign policy. Lancashire is very much interested in this Egyptian Question. It is interested in it because the Lancashire people are Englishmen. They have also a material interest in it. They draw a large proportion of the raw material that is used in their industry from Egypt, and they look forward to Egypt and to other parts of Africa as a future market for their goods. The Lancashire people, I venture to say in this House, know that England's position in the world—that her commerce, her civilization, and her Christianity—do not permit of a policy of non-intervention. The true policy of this country is to intervene—wisely and prudently—above all, to intervene in time—always for the benefit of humanity, and never unless she is prepared and resolved to intervene with determination, perseverance, and effect.


Sir, I am going in the Lobby against the Government for totally different reasons from those given by the hon. Member who has just sat down. This debate has in one respect been one of the most remarkable that has ever taken place in this House. It is practically a debate of one speech—for one speech has decided its result and has shaped its whole course. Nothing can have been more remarkable to the Parliamentary observer than to compare the appearance of this House, and especially of the Liberal Benches, at the period before, and that which followed, the speech of the Prime Minister on Tuesday night. The chorus of condemnation against Her Majesty's Government—a chorus in which Radical and Humanitarian journalists, and the fanatical Gladstonian Provincial Press joined as heartily and as loudly as the most faithful organ of the Conservative Party—that chorus, Sir, found an unwilling but still a full echo in the hearts of the majority of the Liberal Party. The temper of Parliament, as anybody who has observed it must have been seen, exhibits itself in the demeanour of its Members, and I think I am within the knowledge of the House when I say that up to last Tuesday night the Liberal Members of this House were broken in spirits, dejected in appearance, and moodily silent when even their most favourite idols appealed for their approval. I can remember few more painful sights in the history of this Parliament than that of the Prime Minister on the Monday night before his speech. Not merely for moments but for hours he was subjected to the most pitiful hailstone storm of interrogation. He was hackled, cross-examined, badgered; and yet the Liberal Party had fallen into a state of dejection so abysmal that there came not from its Benches one strongly-approving cheer or one loudly-uttered protest. Liberals, like other people, love to worship the rising, not the setting sun. Well, Sir, we all know the transformation which came upon the House after the Prime Minister's address. The Liberals were once more loud in exultation, Radicalism almost burst its husky throat in renewed protests of idolatry, and ever since that period the conclusion of the debate has become so palpably foregone that there has not been one spark of vitality or reality in the whole discussion. Well, Sir, I think the Prime Minister may justly claim from these circumstances that his speech of Tuesday night is one of those which mark an historical epoch, and that, judged by its effect, it was one of the most potent ever delivered in a Legislative Assembly. Yet, Sir, I must avow myself as one of those whom it did not convert. To me the policy of the Government still appears to have been unjust, and even wicked, from the beginning, and not to have had even consistency in its badness. The House has escaped from the glamour of the Prime Minister's speech, and we begin to see strange results as a consequence. Every single Liberal who rises contradicts his predecessor, and every Minister who speaks propounds a different policy. We have the hon. Member for Manchester (MR. Slagg), who represents the cotton Jingoism of Lancashire, regretting that the Government had been seduced by the hon. Member for Newcastle (MR. John Morley) into promising the early evacuation of Egypt; and then we have the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh (MR. Waddy), who may be taken to represent the slushy philanthropy of the country, dropping a tear even over the relief of Tokar, and declaring we only went to Sinkat from motives of humanity, and not because we were under any responsibility to go. The ex-Chief Secretary for Ireland (MR. W. E. Forster) is scheming in favour of the relief of the garrisons. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (MR. Bryce) thinks it makes no difference whether the troops of Osman Digna are slaughtered or the garrison of Sinkat, forgetting that the one are all armed men and the other consists largely of women and children. But curious is as this disagreement, there is a much more important divergence between persons no less eminent than the Members of the Cabinet itself. It was a subject of common and palpable observation that there was no speech delivered throughout the whole of this prolonged debate which excited so much the attention or received so palpably the assent of the Prime Minister as the speech of the hon. Member for Newcastle. Well, but what did that speech say? It was a plea—a most able and eloquent plea—in favour of reducing the responsibilities of England for the government of Egypt within the narrowest possible limits, and for the evacuation of Egypt at the very earliest hour. The hon. Member pleaded—I may say passionately pleaded—that England should not take upon herself the establishment of representative institutions in Egypt, and should not keep her Army in Egpyt one hour longer than was proved necessary for the preservation of order; and when the hon. Gentleman demanded if these views did not represent the views of the Prime Minister, the right hon. Gentleman signified his visible assent. I turn to a like encounter between another private Member on the Liberal Benches, and another Cabinet Minister. The hon. Member for Waterford (MR. Villiers Stuart) delivered on Thursday night last a speech which was afterwards complimented, and justly complimented, for its grasp of the whole Egyptian Question; and what was the policy put forward in that speech? The hon. Member was delighted with the change which had come over the policy of the Government. Like most of the Members who have spoken from these Benches, he was going to vote for the Government against an Amendment charging them with vacillation and inconsistency because they had vacillated and had been inconsistent; but the hon. Member was delighted with the change which had come over the policy of the Government, and this was how the change was described— The time, said the hon. Member for Water-ford, had manifestly come for adopting a different treatment, and for assuming temporary, not a half-and-half Protectorate, but a complete one for a limited period. And, again, the hon. Gentleman defends the change of the situation by this picturesque metaphor— Now that this country has learned to conjugate the imperative mood, there was a good prospect that it might succeed in achieving a period of honest administration which should fit the Egyptian people for representative rights. There is just one other point on which the hon. Member touched. It will be in the recollection of the whole House that the hon. Member for Newcastle protested most strongly against the employment of MR. Clifford Lloyd and Anglo-Indian officials, while the hon. Member for Waterford declares that what England wants in Egypt are Indian Civil servants experienced in Oriental castes and language. The hon. Member for Newcastle spoke with horror of letting loose those officials on the Egyptian people. Not so the hon. Member for Waterford— They wanted men on the spot, travelling Commissioners, who would pass from Province to Province, and see that the reforms designed were carried out. The House will at once perceive the vast difference between the whole tone and tendency of these two speeches. The man who admired the one could not admire the other, and yet what took place? Speaking on that same evening, the President of the Local Government Board used these words— We have had a fiery speech from the hon. Member for Thirsk (Colonel Dawnay), and a very able speech from the hon. Member for Watorford (MR. Villiers Stuart), a speech which I regret was delivered to an almost empty House. I differ from almost every word that the former Member said; I am disposed to agree with almost the whole of what was said by my hon. Friend behind me. This, Sir, is only one of the many palpable and visible proofs of the yawning differences of opinion amongst the different Members of the same Cabinet; and, indeed, Sir, without such incontestible proof of these differences, those who, like myself, have a high personal admiration and regard for Members of the Cabinet individually, would be driven to acknowledge the existence of such divisions as the kindest and most courteous explanation of their strangely wayward course, for there are two alternative explanations of their conduct—the irresolution of abject imbecility, and as they are all able men, that explanation must be dismissed; or the irresolution which comes from hopelessly divided councils. I come now, Sir, to the action of the Government in reference to the Expedition of Hicks Pasha, The Government base their defence on two policies-First, that they are not responsible; secondly, that there was reasonable ground for anticipating the success of the Expedition. Here, Sir, I must comment on a very curious feature in the whole defence of the Government. They actually elevate their faults into virtues. For months they pursued the policy of non-intervention in Egyptian administration, and then one fine day they took the whole government of the country into their hands. They expect that the Expedition of Hicks Pasha will succeed, and it ends in hideous failure. Their whole defence, as I will presently show, for the abandonment of Sinkat rests on their faith in the victory of Baker Pasha and his Expedition, which also eventuated in disastrous discomfiture; and they blame their opponents for calling their policy vacillating and weak. They are to be called consistent because they have been inconsistent; firm, because they have vacillated; accurate, because they confess to the grossest miscalculation. The Government denies the responsibility for the Expedition of Hicks Pasha; but the denial will not bear investigation. The helpless recruits for that Expedition were collected after what is called "a man hunt," were brought to the railway stations bound with chains, not only their limbs and arms, but their necks; were bundled in to the trucks like so many sheep sent to the slaughter. These—and here comes the shame and chief wickedness of the whole transaction—these atrocities were committed under the very eyes, nay, under the commands, of English officers, the agents of the present just, humane, and Christian Administration. The Prime Minister boasts of the able officers he sent out to Egypt. Did he send them to be slave-drivers? The responsibility of the Government for Hicks Pasha's Expedition is, in my opinion, clearly proved. Sir, I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (MR. Goschen) in his place. I will give him some food for meditation before I sit down. A good deal has been said about the Dual Control established by Lord Salisbury. The Prime Minister declared that in order to properly appreciate the circumstances of to-day it was necessary to go to the root of the situation. Hon. Members on this side of the House murmured, and the complaint has been made by them in speech after speech that the history of the Prime Minister was too ancient. My complaint is of a different character. I complain that the history of the right hon. Gentleman is not ancient enough. The Dual Control established by Lord Salisbury was of a political character, and was not the first Dual Control. The second Dual Control would not have existed without the first, and the first Dual Control was of a financial character, and owes its malevolent birth to no less a parent than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon, in conjunction with Joubert. If the Prime Minister be just in the contention that much of the evil of the present situation is due to the Dual Control for which Lord Salisbury is sponsor, I am justified in making an assertion that a heavier debt for the responsibility of the present situation must be laid at the door of the original Dual Control, without which Lord Salisbury's would never have been called into existence. Now let me tell the House what is the real position of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon with regard to this question. The evils of the present situation are mainly due to the reckless extravagance, the hideous extortion, the shameless tyranny of Ismail Pasha. And who is responsible for Ismail Pasha? Boundless as may have been his desires, they could never have been gratified if it had not been for the assistance and patronage of European finance. Now, Sir, there are three agents to these financial transactions. First, there is the financial agent by whom money was raised; then there is the Khedive, by whom the money was spent; and, thirdly, there is the fellah, by whom the money was paid. The social structure begins with the poor overtaxed, half-starved, tortured fellah, and gradually rises to the gilded pinnacle of the financial agent. Let me begin, then, with the fellah. Sir, his story has recently been told in the pages of MR. Mackenzie Wallace. It is very hard indeed to find a more piteous tale in even the mighty annals of peasant sorrow. You are told by MR. Wallace how the household of the fellah consisted some years ago of four hoths, with a farm of 25 acres, and plenty of stock; but the taxes are increased by Ismail Pasha in one year and their stock have to go, then there is another increase and part of the land has to go, a further increase and the family break up. Then comes the news that the Khedive has insisted on the payment of two years' taxation in advance, and after the poor remaining fellah has been unmercifully beaten with the kourbash on the back and the bastinado on the feet, he has to sell his standing crops at two-thirds their real value to the Greek gombeenman, and at the end of it all he is homeless and landless, starving, bankrupt, bruised. And how is this money spent? The Viceroy builds a new palace or an opera house, constructs a mill that will not work and trains that never run, adds a slave to his harem, and introduces what the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken would call English civilization, in the shape of a ballet girl. And now to complete the picture, let me describe the operations of the financial agent. Sir, the first Egyptian loan floated on the European market was in 1862. The nominal amount was £3,292,000; the actual sum received by the Egyptian Government was £2,500,000. The second loan was in 1864; nominal amount, £5,704,000; actual sum received by the Egyptian Government, £2,500,000. The third loan was in 1868; nominal amount, £3,000,000; actual sum received by the Egyptian Government, £2,640,000. With such a style of business it is not surprising to find that though the nominal sum of the Egyptian loans was £75,870,000, the actual sum received but £35,000,000; and though the Egyptian Government have paid £29,570,994, they still remain indebted to the amount of £46,734,000. And now, Sir, I have this important fact to add, that the first of these loans—the first Egyptian loan ever floated on a European market—was bought out by the financial house with which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (MR. Goschen) was connected. I should state, Sir, that I have borrowed those figures from a speech made by the hon. Member for Wicklow (MR. M'Coan), who when he made it was still wandering in the Alsatia of Parnellism, and had not yet been gathered to the wide fold of the Liberal Party. The right hon. Gentleman has never satisfactorily answered these statements of the hon. Member for the County Wicklow. He has treated them with that scornful silence which is assumed alike by the heroes of transpontine dramas, the editors of Provincial newspapers, and the adroit Parliamentary evaders of unanswerable accusations. And recollect this, for it is the basis of the whole position, that it is the poor, tortured, overburdened, starved, beaten slave who supplied at once his slave to the harem of the Khedive and the dividends to the financiers like the right hon. Gentleman. I pass on, Sir, from this point to Sinkat. After a very careful consideration of the facts, I have arrived at a conclusion entirely different from that of Her Majesty's Government. The defence of the Government consists of three pleas—first, that they were not responsible for the expedition; that they had reasonable ground for supposing that the expedition would be successful; and, thirdly, that when they made up their minds for taking action it was too late. Now, Sir, I traverse every single one of these pleas. First, as to the responsibility of the Government. It is not denied that the Government objected to the appointment of Zebehr Pasha, and it is equally undeniable that Zebehr Pasha was the only leader which one of the most important sections of the army of Baker Pasha was disposed to follow. We have been given a description in the newspapers of the manner in which the Black troops were compelled to leave Cairo without Zebehr Pasha. We have had picturesque descriptions of how they were completely surrounded by the soldiers, and at the point of the bayonet hunted into the railway trucks, like so many cattle sent to the slaughter-house. I think I am justified in laying down this proposition—that the success of an army is largely influenced by its feelings towards its leader, and if an army be deprived of its leader whom it trusts, and if that army be defeated, the power that takes away the leader is largely responsible for the defeat; in fact, when the Government deprived the Pasha of his command they laid the foundation stone of the ultimate story of disaster. As far as the friendly tribes are concerned, it seems clear from the telegrams which have been addressed to various newspapers, that those tribes had been estranged from the policy of Her Majesty's Government by the news which had reached them of an intention to evacuate the Soudan. Further, I traverse the plea that the Government had just ground for believing in the success of Baker Pasha. Owing to the ability of the Special Correspondents of the London Press, there was not a single day upon which the public of England were not informed by competent observers that all the probabiltiies pointed to disaster as the result of Baker Pasha's Expedition. Communications of Baker Pasha have been alluded to. It is very unlikely that that officer was going to decry the courage of his own Army and the chances of his own Expedition; but the fact remains, no matter what Baker Pasha said, that there was an overwhelming consensus of opinion, and palpable to every observer, that Baker Pasha's Expedition was foredoomed to failure, and all the London papers united in prophesying disaster. The Special Correspondent of The Daily News, which, so far as he knew, was not a Conservative organ, telegraphed on February 1st, that— Baker Pasha's force is unequal to the task of the relief of Sinkat, and if the troops whose Chiefs have visited our camp prove faithless, Sinkat will be lost. Again, the Special Correspondent of The Daily News said— The Native officers are most despicable, cowardly, and inefficient. The Standard Correspondent sent telegrams to the same effect. The St. James's Gazette—["Oh, oh!"]—I expected those demonstrations; it was, to quote the Prime Minister, one of my "decoys"—had declared a day or two before the Expedition that there was a very bad chance for Baker Pasha; and The Spectator, which bowed before the Prime Minister with a fervency of adulation not to be exceeded by the humblest suppliant at the Throne of the Grand Lama of Thibet, had put the chances of disaster at three to one. I could give extracts from The Pall Mall Gazette and other papers, and I maintain that Suakim opinion, Cairo opinion, London opinion, and the opinion of experts were absolutely unanimous that the Expedition was foredoomed. And in the face of all this, with fatuous stubbornness, the Government went on hoping in the success of the Expedition. The probability is that Baker Pasha went into the business against his own better judgment, but prepared to risk his all upon the remote chances of success, hampered as he was by the officials—some Egyptians and others English—with whom he had to deal in Cairo. I cannot help thinking that the disaster at Teb must have inspired some strange reflections to the mind of the Premier when he read the graphic but painful account of those poor wretches throwing themselves on their faces screaming for mercy, then butchered like so many sheep. Did not the reflection rise in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman that those soldiers were composed of exactly the same material as the soldiers that fell before the charge of the British Cavalry and Infantry at Tel-el-Kebir? Will he deny that the soldiers that were brought there to meet the disciplined Forces of this mighty Empire were miserable, half-starved fellaheen—many of them boys and many of them grey beards, who were dragged from their poor little farms, their weeping wives, and their helpless children by the joint persuasion of the lash and the chain? Will anybody deny that at Tel-el-Kebir as well as at Teb the majority of the so-called soldiers threw themselves down and bawled for mercy? I say the reflection of the Prime Minister must be very sombre indeed when he recalls that 2,000 of those unhappy creatures were despatched, I do not employ, I think, an improper phrase when I say were butchered at this so-called victory. There was some excuse for the Prime Minister in the attitude of his Supporters. What splendid homilies could be preached to this House on the beauties of peace and the sublimities of justice from the election harangues of Gentlemen on the Radical Benches, and yet the moment the Prime Minister declared war upon Egypt there was never a Tory throat that shouted more loudly the evangel of Jingoism than some of the Radical Members. Why, you could see the change of their feelings in their attitude, and even in their physical demeanour; and I think I am within the memory of the Members of this House when I say that their air became brisk and bellicose, and that a figure so portly as that of the hon. Member for Rochdale (MR. Potter), Chairman of the "Peace-at-any-Price" Club, skipped about the Lobby for days with something of the briskness which we associate with the bellicose bird of France. I remember, Sir, that one of the most striking speeches I ever heard in this House, delivered even by the Prime Minister, was the speech which he pronounced on a Motion in favour of disarmament by the hon. Member for Merthyr-Tydvil (MR. Richard), who will now follow into the Lobby a Government of war, and his example will be imitated by the right hon. Gentleman the ex-Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (MR. John Bright). Would the hon. Member dare to bring forward such a Motion now? In the course of the debate on that Motion, the Prime Minister had said that, while he sympathized with the object of the Motion, he found himself unable to accept it, because he did not see how we could go to the Courts of Europe and ask them to disarm while we ourselves were not free from blame and had blood upon our own hands, and this striking statement was accentuated with all those vast resources of voice and gesture and look which are at the command of the right hon. Gentleman. The denuncia- tions he hurled then at the Conservative Government can be retorted with at least equal truth upon himself. What has he and his Government done for Egypt? They went there for the purpose of establishing a Government. Have they done so? They went there under the pretence of relieving the finances of the country. Have they done so? And they went there to improve the condition of the people. Have they done so? What they have done is this. They have added £3,000,000 to the National Debt of the country; they have bombarded their towns, and incurred two bloody defeats and two massacres; they have succeeded in destroying the Egyptian Army; they have added to the burdens of the people, and they have introduced anarchy into the country where they had promised to restore order; they have abandoned their principles, they have violated their pledges, they have been guilty of every political weakness, they have brought sorrow and humiliation upon England, and they have brought confusion, disaster, and sorrow upon Egypt.


Sir, I am sorry to interpose between the House and the number of hon. Members who wish to speak, but I hold strong views on the subject. I have made the Eastern Question a study for the greater part of my life, and I will condense what I have to say into the fewest possible sentences. A graver issue, I maintain, is raised by this Resolution than the reputation or even the fate of a Cabinet. It not only involves our honour as a nation, but the highest interests of humanity and civilization. It is too serious for recrimination; and, if the disturbing news received within the last 12 hours is reliable, it is too urgent for expatiatory disquisition. No sophistry can reconcile the professions of Liberals when in Opposition, with their practice when in Office, on this and kindred questions. The subtle art of Parliamentary manœuvring furnishes few more flagrant instances of political tergiversation than the invasion of Egypt, at the instance of men who, four years ago, cried themselves hoarse in denouncing the sin of national acquisitiveness, and the danger of military adventure. But putting in juxtaposition the profuse contradictions of Ministers—although a tempting theme for partizan combatants—will serve no useful end. Ministers are assured, in advance, of absolution for any offence against consistency, either past or prospective. Anti-aggressionists and quondam peace men will support them, whether they order an expedition to Gondokoro, or to Greenland—to the regions of everlasting snow, or the regions of everlasting sand. The Government turned their backs on their election speeches when they went to Egypt; and they can just as easily, and with equal immunity, turn their backs on any subsequent pledges. They need have no scruple on this head. Party injury there would be none, whatever course they adopt. Speakers on this side of the House have assured us that Ministers want to leave Egypt. No one doubts it. The desire has been made plain in interminable speeches and by copious Correspondence. The complaint is not that they wish to leave, but that they think it is possible to do so. It is their judgment, not their sincerity, that is impeached. They never tire of telling us that unexpected events have delayed their departure. But these events were inevitable. They were the pre-ordained outcome of their policy. They were foreseen by everyone except the Ministry and their unreflecting friends. Any man with the most rudimentary knowledge of Eastern affairs ought to have known that the mongrel administrative machine we have stuck up at Cairo would not work. It required no political prescience to foretell that. We once tried a ricketty apparatus of a like kind in India, under more promising conditions, and with abler men. The French, too, tried one in Algiers. But they both failed; and from their very nature all such nondescript contrivances must fail. You cannot have a Government in which Eastern and Western ideas and influences have equal authority. Such a combination never was and never will be successful, unless the two races are radically changed. Wherever they meet, one must be master. Ministers have attempted an impossibility. They are very clever, but they are not wizards. They cannot overturn the institutions of a country one week, and by a wave of the hand or a shake of General Gordon's cane recreate them the next. They cannot in a decade, much less in a day, develop amongst an ignorant and long- enslaved population the political wisdom requisite to cope with the gravest difficulties. There will be disorganization: there must be delay. They should have calculated on this, and have prepared for it. Ministers went to Egypt to overthrow a military despotism. They remained there to re-establish order. That is their own version of the enterprize. They are as much masters there as they are in India or in Ireland—in some respects even more so. The Soudan was in revolt. They think its retention a source of weakness and danger rather than strength to Egypt. Yet they acquiesced in Hicks Pasha's effort to reconquer it. When he was slain and his soldiers were slaughtered they forbade further warfare. They possessed the same power before as they did after he was killed. They should either have prevented the expedition or seen that it was prosecuted with some prospect of success. They did neither. If they had interfered they would have saved 11,000 lives and probably a million of money. They permitted the expedition; they would have shared its glory if it had been successful, and they must share in the humiliation of its defeat. They allowed Baker Pasha's little Army to be cut to pieces within sight of our ships, within sound of our guns. Not a shot was fired, not a man was landed. But after the rout we hurried forward Marines to Suakim—too late to help, too few to act independently. Can any word-spinning free us from responsibility for such callous and culpable neutrality? After the massacre of Kashgil, we counselled a resort to negotiations with the rebellious tribes. While the purchasing process was proceeding, we proclaimed our resolve to leave the Soudan to the slaveholders and the Mahdi. Was ever folly more wanton? Was ever blabbing more cruel? Arab Chiefs, like more pretentious persons elsewhere, side with the strongest. This announcement blasted any chance General Baker ever had of buying them off. Notwithstanding their verbal repudiation of liability for the Soudan, they sent a British officer to organize the surrender of the Equatorial and Western Provinces. No Government can abandon 1,000,000 square miles of territory and 10,000,000 people unless it is Sovereign of the country relinquished. And yet, in face of this self-evident fact, Ministers have the hardihood to insist on their unaccountability. The Government could have prevented, and ought to have prevented, the carnage before Sinkat. Where was the frothy sympathy that bubbled up over the Bulgarian insurrection, when the trusty Tewfik and his famishing comrades fought for freedom, home, and duty? Where was the redundant rhetoric that descanted on Turkish horrors, where was the fiery grandeur of generous minds, when every wind that blew wafted across the saddening plain the piteous wail of women and children who were perishing for their fathers' and husbands' fidelity to us, or to the cause we had made our own? Where were the masters of England's puissant legions when the intrepid garrison—their last hope gone—spiked their guns, blew up their fortifications, and sallied forth to desperate death? Where? Waiting—nervelessly waiting—for a needless telegram from Berber, or, huckster-like, counting the cost. There are crises in which vacillation is an offence and hesitation an atrocity. Revolving years will bring the day when murmuring discontent will demand reparation for interests endangered, honour tarnished, and humanity sacrificed. The same course of shuffle and pretence is held in Egypt Proper as in the Soudan. To cover the fiction of a Native Government—for it is but a fiction—we have doubled every post in the Administration. At a cost of £1,5,000 a-year, we maintain a group of dummy Ministers, while we pay half as much more to supply these dummies with English Under Secretaries who do the work—the dummies meanwhile intriguing against England and her agents. The public Debt is administered by a Board which entails an annual expense of £11,000. This Board is merely a device for finding places for hungry European officials. Any banker would keep the accounts for nothing. In the same way the railways have a Board whose members absorb between them nearly 1 per cent of the net receipts. We have killed some thousands of the Egyptians, thrown their affairs into inextricable confusion, and immensely increased the cost of Government; yet we required payment, with usurious exactness, of £250,000 a-year for the Army of Occupation. To meet the financial pressure, the Khedive and some of his Ministers have made creditable sacrifices in their salaries. Humbler employés, legally entitled to pensions, have been dismissed without them. But we stick to the letter of our bond, and money borrowed at 3 per cent we require 5 per cent for—the interest being wrung from the hard earnings of a wretched peasantry. We acquiesced in the abolition of the Capitulations in Tunis by France, which have for this country existed for centuries; but more recent and much less defensible concessions in Egypt we allow to continue. We have not courage to touch the liquidation scheme, although it is impossible to conceive anything more absurd, almost ludicrous, than the maintenance of a Sinking Fund for the repayment of an old loan, when we are helping the country to contract new ones, and when, upon a portion of the Floating Debt, compound interest is accumulating. There never can be contentment in Egypt so long as the richest section of the population remains unamenable to the law of the land. There never can be prosperity as long as the choicest soil is worked at a ruinous loss under the terms of a Convention which, if not projected, is protected by us. Historians for ages have dwelt with sympathetic eloquence on the sufferings of the fellaheen; but never in all the dreary record of their wrongs have they been more shamefully oppressed, plundered, and misgoverned than by the hybrid despotism we have placed over them. The Government have told us of many beneficent changes that are intended. But these as yet exist only or mainly on paper. They are not realities. Justice is still bought and sold; corruption is still rampant; the finances are in chaos; trade is paralyzed; the population is sulky, turbulent, or despondent; and the whole country is distracted by the distrust and uncertainty which our vacillation has produced. The Government should have realized their responsibilities, and, if they were frightened at them, should not have undertaken them. It is mean and cowardly to trot out once more the stale excuse of "a Tory legacy." That convenient legacy! It is as inexhaustible as a conjuror's bottle. The Members of the Government live upon legacies. They come from all countries, and are of all kinds—Irish, Egyptian, Afghan, African. What would Ministerial speakers have done without them? But mark how plain a tale will put this one down. France was more than our Ally—she was our partner—in Egypt. She was equally with us responsible for the Control. She protested against Arabi's action, but she was wise enough not to fight. If our Government disliked military intervention so much, why did they not follow France's example? Why? Was it because they expected to reap a little cheap glory all to themselves? Whether it was so or not, they got it. We beat the trembling feeble rustics at Tel-el-Kebir. We are now paying for that easy-got victory. It is pusillanimous of Ministers to cry like timid schoolboys to their opponents—"You did it." No, Sir, (pointing to the Opposition Bench), you did not do it. They (pointing to the Treasury Bench)—they did it. And let them stand like men to the consequences of their acts. It is just as unworthy for them to shelter themselves behind the shivering Khedive. He is a poor protection. The only initiative we have left him is power to stagger into a mess and to drag his country after him. Limited intervention anywhere or at any time is difficult. In Egypt it is an impossibility. The Government have been busy with an elaborate system of self-deception for months past. From the day the Prime Minister declared that the bombardment of Alexandria was not war, to the day when the Cabinet despatched an English officer first to rule, and then to surrender a country they ostentatiously proclaimed their irresponsibility for, they have been playing with words. Let us be done with this puerile pedantry. It deceives no one but those who practice it. The whole world sees through the flimsy subterfuge, and laughs at it. We must either rule Egypt openly and effectively, or leave it. We cannot, in my judgment, leave it. Interest, honour, humanity, forbid us. We carried all the horrors of war into their country, upset the Government, and destroyed the Army. Mankind would execrate us if—having reduced the people to helplessness and stripped them of their means of defence—we left them a prey to ruthless invasion from without and remorseless robbery and tyranny within. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (MR. W. E. Forster), my hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire (MR. Cartwright), and others, have made speeches in favour of the Resolution; but they all closed with the impotent and contradictory intimation that they would not support it. I have not yet mastered the subtle political ethics which enable a man to think one way and act another, so I mean to sustain my opinions by my vote.


said, he had followed the Egyptian Question with great attention, and he had attributed the mistakes of the Government to the want of frankness in adopting and avowing a definite policy. A good deal had been said about assuming and repudiating responsibility, but he maintained that it could be neither assumed nor repudiated. Responsibility was a matter of fact; it came home to us every day in respect of everything we did, or left undone, or empowered others to do. He held that the power of the Government was absolute and uncontrolled, and that responsibility by a moral law, which was as inexorable as a law of nature, attached to the possession of power. Although a Government might delegate its powers, it could not delegate its responsibility. He was taking the situation as it was made by the battle of Tel-el-Kebir. By the operations in the war we destroyed the Egyptian Army and the Government of the Khedive, and that Government had ever since only subsisted in virtue of our support. Everything done by that Government was done only by the permission and support of the English Government. He did not mean to discuss the question of responsibility, which had already been disposed of, but the manner in which Her Majesty's Government had used their powers. The Government had said that they wished to maintain the authority of the Khedive. Now, there was only one rational way of maintaining the Khedive's Government, and that was to place our troops at the disposal of the Khedive as so many Janissaries to execute his will and to put down opposition. No English Government could possibly do that. But we had set up a policy which was not the policy of Egypt or of any Oriental Power, and which was supported by Her Majesty's Government, and them alone. An instance of that policy was afforded by the circumstances which at- tended the trial of Arabi Pasha. They all knew what an Oriental Government would have done. But our Government interfered and imposed on the trial of that man conditions which would have been fulfilled at an English trial, but would certainly not ordinarily have been fulfilled by an Eastern Government. But the Government thereby entirely destroyed all the moral force of the Khedive's Government. His objection to the policy of the Government was not so much on account of what they had done, as that they had not clearly and plainly taken up the position which they really held in the country. They had introduced sundry reforms which were right and useful in themselves; they had dealt with some of the material drawbacks from which Egypt suffered. They had attempted to remedy great abuses which it was our duty to put an end to. But the notion that men in the lower classes of society had rights had never entered the Oriental mind, and certainly would never have practical effect given to it by Orientals. They had also established Courts of Justice. But all those reforms had been hampered, because, instead of being openly and effectively carried out under English influence and by English officers, they had to pass through Egyptian Ministries which were essentially hostile and indisposed to carry them out. Those Egyptian officials had been brought up all their lives in an atmosphere totally foreign from that which they were desired to introduce into the country. It was impossible to effect reforms by such instruments. The people saw that the ruling power had not the courage to say—" We are the ruling power, and these people are only our servants." They looked rather to what would happen if our hold were relaxed, and they perceived that the ostensible rulers were not the real rulers. Another question as to which the policy of the Government had been mistaken was that of the abuses arising from the conduct and privileges of foreigners. Those privileges had arisen from the weakness of Oriental Governments. When Her Majesty's Government dealt with this question, under the pretence that it was not they, but the Oriental Government, who were dealing with it, they were met with an infinity of difficulties which a firm declaration of their own position and policy would obviate. There had been difficulties of every kind. A reform so necessary, so obvious and just in itself, if it had been presented by the authority of the British Government, might probably have obtained the support of the various nations of Europe. But we had announced that we were not anxious to remain in the country, and were preparing the people for another Government. The fact was, that before we abandoned Egypt we ought to establish in the minds of the people a system which had been hitherto foreign to their habits. So long as that system was under the control of the Khedive's Government, it would not be believed in. Foreign nations would not believe in it, and in the absence of such belief in their reality, the progress and success of such reforms were hopeless. There was no difficulty in making Ordinances. The difficulty lay in their application. A strong Oriental Government, although arbitrary, might be a tolerable and even good Government. But a weak Oriental Government could do nothing; it did not command its own materials, and the people suffered accordingly. That was the system which we were setting up in Egypt. Our Government found that the Egyptian Government had met with disasters. It immediately proposed a Reform Bill, which, of course, was carried with the greatest ease. There was no obstruction, no long discussions, because nobody paid the slightest attention to it. The lower classes had, through so many generations, become accustomed to their position that they could not realize or understand the rights conferred on them. The result was that there was no belief in the reality or stability of the reforms which we were introducing. The one thing wanted was justice; to make the fellah believe that he had rights, and that those rights could be asserted against those who were stronger than he; and that could only be done under the direct influence and control of this country. Then our occupation of the country had not been productive of good commercial results. There were more distrust, less willingness to invest capital in that country, fewer attempts to develop its industrial resources. It was not merely traders and speculators who suffered by that state of things. It meant also that the people generally were in a state of greater misery and destitution than usual, and that the new arrangements had not given them justice or stability, or effected any material improvements. That, in fact, was the most serious feature of the problem before us. This want of confidence arose entirely from the declarations of the Government. It was quite true, as the Prime Minister had said, that we ought to remain in Egypt so long as her interests required. But what were those interests? If the right hon. Gentleman meant that we were to remain only until a certain number of laws had been passed, the time would not be long, as both the people and the Government would readily pass any number of such laws. Or did the Prime Minister mean that there was to be a strong administration of Egypt which would exist until those reforms and laws bad taken root in the population, and that we might then have some chance of their being able to support and maintain them? The cause of the uncertainty in the public mind in this and in other countries that had done more than anything else to stop the progress of Egypt had arisen from the deficiency of those declarations. Other Members of the Government and other Members of the right hon. Gentleman's Party had made statements which had shaken all confidence. Those declarations, which were so uncertain and contradictory, and in many instances so thoughtless, had produced irreparable mischief in stopping the progress and prosperity of Egypt. A great misconception had existed and a great mistake had been made with reference to the constitution of the Army. Her Majesty's Government had undertaken a task which he believed to be utterly hopeless. They had attempted to make an Army purely Egyptian which would be sufficient to defend the country. It was true that they had added English officers. We were told that they were going to stiffen the Egyptian Army by the addition of non-commissioned officers and men, but in so far as they had stiffened it by these means they had made it cease to be an Egyptian Army. At no period in modern times had Egypt been a self-defending country. The Egyptians were not a martial people, they had been kept in a state of slavery for many years, and if they ever had any spirit it had entirely gone out of them. Victories had, in- deed, been won by Egyptian Armies in our own days, but those Armies were composed of Turks, Circassians, and others. Her Majesty's Government, however, had attempted to make an Egyptian Army, stiffened by English officers, though they had studiously excluded those races in the East which were the only races that could fight at all. On the other hand, if they introduced the Turks and men of that description, they would reproduce in time the old system of Mamelukes—unless they maintained a firm hold on them—so that, instead of being a support to the Egyptian Government, the Army would very soon become its master. If by the constitution of this Army Her Majesty's Government expected to be able to make Egypt a self-sustaining Power, that attempt was, in his opinion, entirely hopeless, and the only effect of it would be to give an appearance of stability that did not exist. This was a very serious question, because the whole idea of our abandoning Egypt rested upon the supposition that the Egyptians could defend themselves. He believed they could not defend themselves without the addition of other elements which would overpower the Native Egyptian element. If we intended to maintain Egypt we must do so by our own strength, at least for a great number of years. He thought now, as he had always thought, that the annexation of Egypt to this country would be a misfortune; but we were there, and the question was how we could arrange matters so as ultimately to get out of the country. The only way, in his judgment, was by at once taking a decided and unhesitating line with regard to the government of that country. We had the reputation of honesty. If, therefore, we established reforms in Egypt they would be believed in; whereas, if they were established by an Egyptian Ministry, they would not. It was possible that, under a just and firm Government such as we could give them, the Egyptians might in time become what they had never been yet, and might have some inclination and some power to defend themselves. He admitted that the abandonment of the Soudan was an undertaking of extreme difficulty. He had always held that the great difficulty of the annexation of Egypt was the Soudan. Egypt extended from the Mediterranean to the Equator, and this was the cause of the difficulty. There were two courses which Her Majesty's Government might have taken; but, unfortunately, they discovered a third course, which combined the disadvantages of the two others. It was possible to retain the Soudan, although he quite admitted the difficulty of establishing a firm Administration in that country. He also admitted that if the Government had at first taken a resolution to abandon the Soudan, a great deal might have been said for it. Still, there were strong reasons why the Soudan should not have been abandoned. As long as the Egyptian Government held the Soudan we urged them to suppress slavery. Now, the slave dealers were the backbone of the rebellion, and if the Egyptian Government had consented to wink at the Slave Trade, this rebellion would not have broken out. If we abandoned the policy of putting down the Slave Trade, that abandonment would not redound to our credit. Then there was another difficulty about abandoning the Soudan. Egypt was a very long and narrow country, flanked on both sides by deserts which Regular troops could not cross, but which could be crossed by the Arab Tribes. We should find an enormous, undefended frontier which we should have to guard. The effect of the abandonment of the Soudan would be to bring the savage tribes into immediate contact with the Egyptian Frontier, and to thus largely increase our difficulties. He would not go again over all the circumstances of our operations in the Soudan; but he might point out that the action taken by the Government was neither to abandon the Soudan nor to keep it. It was to let the Egyptians lose it. Had the Government decided to abandon the Soudan there would have been ample opportunity for the Egyptian garrisons to make an orderly retreat, and these Desert troops would not have obtained those successes over Egyptian forces, which, by the impression they were likely to create, might lead to serious consequences. What those consequences might be it was at present impossible to say. At the time of Tel-el-Kebir there was a report circulating through Syria to the effect that the Duke of Connaught had fallen into the hands of Arabi, and that the Queen of England had consented to ransom him by marrying Arabi Pasha. These successes would be regarded by these Arab troops as a proof of their superiority, and greater efforts on the part of the British Government would, therefore, be necessary to quell them. There was another matter that should not be overlooked. Were they to leave altogether unconsidered the feelings of the Egyptians themselves? The Egyptians knew that their men, with their wives and children, in the Soudan garrisons were exposed to horrible deaths, and when they saw English soldiers in Egypt walking in the streets doing nothing, would they not say to themselves that these troops had been used fast enough to crush them, and why should there now be any hesitation to use these troops to save the Egyptians in the Soudan garrisons? And when it was remembered that within five days' sail there was a force against which these revolted Arabs would have been powerless, the Egyptians would probably make no very pleasant reflections on the nature of British friendship.


said, it was not his purpose to repeat any of the reproaches that had been addressed to Her Majesty's Government, although he believed that most of them had been justly spoken; but he thought a great deal of the discussion in the later stages of that debate had scarcely been directed to the subject-matter before the House. The speech of the right hon. Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote) was characterized by the greatest moderation and reasonableness of tone, and he was not one of those who thought it deficient in point of force. On the contrary, the greatest proof of its force was to be found in the fact that the substantial indictment preferred against the Government in that speech had never yet been answered. The inconsistencies and the vacillation which had caused the recent deplorable events in Egypt were patent to the world. Her Majesty's Government had set up in that country an Administration resting on no authority but their own, and they had allowed their puppets to play at conscription in Egypt and war in the Soudan. However much they might seek to clear themselves from responsibility in regard to proceedings in the Soudan, they were, at least, responsible for the conscription carried out, with all its horrors, in Egypt Proper; indeed, they had all along known that conscription to be a necessary accompaniment of the operations which they had permitted to be carried on in the Soudan. They allowed the Egyptian Government to engage in hazardous attempts at conquest and to court disastrous defeat, and yet afterwards intervened to forbid the exercise of Egyptian authority in the Soudan when they thought fit to do so. That must be held to be a proof of their conscious right to intervene at any time when that course was advantageous to the interests of Egypt. They had intervened to prevent Zebehr Pasha from being placed in command of the troops which he had raised. Could there be any clearer proof than that of their right to interfere with the affairs of the Soudan? Yet they would not intervene to save the beleaguered garrison of Sinkat; but they watched with what had been well termed philosophic calm the long suspense of the unfortunate men, women, and children who perished there. If these things were not evidence of vacillation and inconsistency, words could have no meaning. The House was, however, considering no mere verbal quibble, but an important question—namely, whether these lamentable events were attributable to the conduct of the Government, and whether they might not have been averted by a more statesmanlike estimate of the task they had undertaken in Egypt, and of the duties which it imposed on them? It was argued that, convinced of their past errors, the Government were now acting rightly at last; but he had listened with attention to the marvellous oratory of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government on the first night of that debate, and throughout that speech there was not the slightest indication that the right hon. Gentleman believed that he or his Colleagues had made a mistake in any part of those transactions. The Prime Minister's speech was—if he might use the term in a political sense—an absolutely impenitent speech; and it was impossible for those who believed that the Government had been in error in their past course to gain confidence from that speech that they would, in any future exigencies which might arise, adopt a different or a wiser line of action. The recent change in the policy of the Government was no result of a conviction of previous errors on their part, but had been forced upon them by the unmistakable feeling of the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the Opposition had, last Session, condoned the policy of the Government by their silence; but there had been no possibility of obtaining an opportunity of discussing the question fully. On the 9th of August the House was naturally in a languid condition after a laborious Session, and the discussion had been to no purpose. Their judgment of the policy of the Government could in no case have depended upon the success or non-success of Hicks Pasha's expedition. That argument was beside the mark. Speaking for himself and the majority of those who sat on the same side of the House, they had not said, and did not say, that the Government should undertake the reconquest of the Soudan. Still less did they say that English troops or money should be used for that purpose. But they did say that whatever was now right to be insisted upon in regard to the Soudan should have been insisted on by the Government at the time they assumed the responsibility of administration in Egypt. Their responsibility for doing so was no greater now than it was then. He was not one of those who had ever advocated the annexation of Egypt; but what he insisted upon was that the Government, being in Egypt and lying under a responsibility that could not be exaggerated, had from the first been bound to adopt a policy which should abolish the causes of weakness and disquiet there, and enable England to leave Egypt in peace and tranquillity that promised to be stable and permanent. And the greatest cause of weakness and disquiet had, from the first, been the question of the Soudan. It was not correct to say that no warning had ever come from the Opposition; even at the time of Tel-el-Kebir they had tried to impress upon the Government a sense of proper responsibility with regard to Egypt. Of course, they did not foretell exactly the kind of disasters which would occur, but they did warn the Government that anything short of a frank and full recognition of their responsibility was sure to bring disaster in its train. The country would not soon forget or forgive the frightful consequences of the proceedings of the Government. It had been endeavoured on the side of the Government to narrow down the indictment to two points—first, their having permitted Hicks Pasha's expedition; and, secondly, their having failed to relieve Sinkat and Tokar. But the indictment could not be narrowed down to those two points; the heaviest charge of all was that the Government, even in January, 1884, had utterly failed to acknowledge the full measure of the responsibility they had taken upon themselves. The hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh (MR. Waddy), amongst many other things totally beside the mark, had said that Her Majesty's troops had nothing more to do with the relief of the garrisons than had the Czar of Russia; but such words were mere echoes of the Prime Minister's arguments. The so-called Egyptian Government could not have stood a week without the sustaining hand of the English Government, who allowed them to prosecute these adventures, and then said that they themselves had nothing to do with it. The Government had tried to dazzle this country by military operations, and at the same time to pacify their Radical supporters, by holding out hopes of an early withdrawal. If the Government had really undertaken to deliver Egypt from anarchy, surely they ought at the beginning to have settled its proper boundaries, established military and financial affairs on a sound footing, abolished the conscription, and introduced internal reforms; but all this they had shirked. Was there no inconsistency in laying all the power of Egypt prostrate at their feet, and then doing nothing to settle such vital questions as the policy of Egypt in the Soudan, upon which hung both the conscription and the safety of the finances? The very essence of the inconsistency and weakness of the Government during the last 18 months was that they had resolved to exclude the whole question of the Soudan from consideration. That question had been as vital and pressing then as now, and General Gordon's advice upon it as important then as now. The Government should have stepped in and forbidden the horrors of the conscription, which had been the cause of great and serious internal difficulties; England would thus have saved Egypt £1,000,000 sterling, and would have prevented great misery and consequent discontent amongst the fellaheen He was struck by the careful restraint of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote), which was strictly confined to the subject-matter of his Motion. The example of the Leader of the Opposition was not followed by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister gave the House a picture of the internal reforms attempted in Egypt, which were never called in question, and a very great part of his speech simply tended to distract the attention of the House from the indictment actually preferred. He had already detained the House too long; but he had two reasons for addressing it—first, because he thought the discussion had wandered somewhat from the clear issue presented to the House; and, secondly, because the constituency he represented took an extremely strong interest in the question. That constituency could not afford to be sentimental; it was composed of those who toiled hard for their daily bread; but they could see clearly—and that view was not confined within the strict limits of Party—that the Government had drifted into war, and into perplexities of which no solution was visible; and were the Government to make an appeal to the working population of the country, and particularly those of the county to which he belonged, the answer would be unfavourable to the present Administration. [MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD: No, no!] They on that side of the House said it would, and they courted an immediate appeal to the constituencies upon this very important subject. They desired, above all things, such a direct appeal to popular opinion, and he felt confident the result would be as he had said; and, greatly as the people were interested in industrial and commercial prosperity, they would not put even those interests before the cause of humanity and justice. The whole of the disasters which they so much deplored had followed from the mistaken policy so persistently pursued by the Government. But, further, that mistaken and short-sighted policy had seriously injured the interests of trade and commerce, by creating an uncertainty and excitement in the Mohammedan world which it would take a very long time to allay. He asserted that their trade in the Levant had suffered a considerable paralysis in consequence of the proceedings of the Government, and he believed the scarcity of work which the operatives in Lancashire were suffering from was, in no small degree, a direct consequence of their want of foresight and firmness. He was quite sure that that opinion, which was widely entertained, would not be soon dispelled; and although it was probable that in the Division about to be taken there might be an acquittal of the Government by the majority of votes in that House, they might depend upon it there would be no acquittal of the Government by the country.


said, that, in his great speech the other night, the Prime Minister had invited them to go back to 1879, and to the Dual Control then established for a discovery of the commencement of the present troubles; but he would ask the House to carry its recollection 17 or 18 years still further back. The real crux of the present situation lay in the finances, rather than in the politics of Egypt, and it was now not five, but nearly 22 years since what had proved to be the ruinous embarrassment of these began, he regretted that the right hon. Member for Ripon (MR. Goschen) was not in his place; but he should feel compelled all the same to say in his absence what he should not have hesitated to say in his presence. In the year 1862 Said Pasha contracted a small loan; but the bulk of the indebtedness of Egypt arose in the time of Ismail Pasha, and the credit or the discredit of commencing this system of loan-mongering, which afterwards proved so disastrous, was due to the firm of Frühling and Göschen. They undertook the issue of three of these Egyptian loans, the sum total of which, during Ismail's time, rose to £77,004,000, and the three to which he had referred, amounting to £11,000,000, were raised by Messrs. Frühling and Göschen. Of the others, the Rothschilds negotiated one, the Anglo-Egyptian Bank one, the Imperial Ottoman Bank one, Messrs. Oppenheim two, and Messrs. Bisckoffsheim one—nearly the whole, it will thus be seen, having been Semitic in their origin. But of this total of £77,004,000, only £50,580,000 reached the Egyptian Treasury, while of the remaining£27,000,000, £13,000,000 stuck to the hands of those who negotiated the various loans. The interest charged also was very heavy, far more than the country could bear, and the culmination of the resultant difficulties led to the mission of MR. Cave. A year later, the bondholders, fearing that bankruptcy was impending, sent Messrs. Goschen and Joubert to effect a settlement if they could; and on that mission these gentlemen, though nominally the delegates of the bondholders, were in reality the "officious" agents of their respective Governments. The settlement effected by them was enormously favourable to the French bondholders especially, and its breakdown a couple or three years later led to the quarrel with the Khedive which resulted in his deposition, and the establishment of the second Dual Control. It might, therefore, be quite fairly said that the chief blame for the present situation lay at the door of the late Government, for they it was who helped to impose impossible terms on the late Khedive, and so contributed to the collapse of which the present difficulties were the outcome. The men, too, who had built up their fortunes by pandering to the extravagance of the late Khedive, had since become "statesmen," "bankers," and what not else, and now posed as the severest critics of his follies. The blame of the present Government lay in the fact that they had adopted the policy of their Predecessors, and had supported the officials who were carrying it out. Then came the Arabi movement, which in its inception was solely a military revolt.


rose to Order. He wished to draw attention to the fact that the hon. Gentleman was not dealing in the slightest degree with the Motion before the House.


I have myself failed to see the connection between the hon. Member's observations and the Question before the House. He must confine himself strictly to the Question before the House.


said, he would endeavour to do so. His object was to show that the Gentlemen who proposed this Vote of Censure were at least as much to blame as were the present Government for what had happened in Egypt; they did not come into court with clean hands, and they were, therefore, not entitled to a verdict. Instead of accepting the Dual Control, with its mischievous consequences, the Government should have got rid of it as soon as they could. They knew that they were absolute masters of the country, and that the responsibility for its good government lay with them. But they did not recognize the responsibility which this fact carried with it, and essayed to act merely as the Advisers of the Egyptian Government. They had, however, all the same assumed the dominant power; but, instead of frankly taking the administration of the country into their own hands, they had chosen falling back upon the poor material which Egypt herself supplied. Thus, they first employed Riaz Pasha, who, at all events, gave proof of being an honest man by being a poor one. But he was not an Egyptian, but was a Jew; and on his failure they next employed Cherif Pasha, who also was not an Egyptian; but he, again, failed, and then, perforce, they fell back upon the very worst man to be found in Egypt—Nubar Pasha. He had known Nubar Pasha for many years, and did not hesitate to call him the greatest impostor in Europe. ["Oh!"] Twenty years ago, Nubar Pasha was not worth £100 a-year, yet he was now a millionaire. He had been mixed up in every loan transaction in Egypt; and, in the outlay of large sums in bribes for the late Khedive, he was greatly wronged in Egypt if much of the money so alleged to have been spent had not stuck to his own fingers in the operation. Certainly, he was the most unpopular man in Egypt, and it was notorious that, whatever he might now pretend, his sympathies inclined much more to France than to England. This was the man who was proving the third failure of the English government of Egypt. He (MR. M'Coan) adopted almost entirely the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (MR. W. E. Forster), and endorsed almost every sentiment it contained. He hoped the Government would now at last recognize the fact that events had been too strong for them, and that the only sound solution of the Egyptian problem was a Protectorate pure and simple; indeed, he would go further, and vote for the annexation of the country in the interest of the Egyptian people themselves, as well as of civilization throughout the East. There was only one alternative—the restoration of Ismail Pasha, who, whatever might have been his faults—and public opinion was now beginning to admit that they had been fewer and lighter than had been represented—had ruled Egypt better, and done more to promote its material prosperity, than anyone since Mehemet Ali. For what were the economical facts? In 1862 the Revenue of Egypt was £4,929,000; in 1879, when Ismail was deposed, it had risen to £10,000,000. In 1862 there were only 200 miles of railway open in the country; but in 1879 there were 1,200 miles in full operation. It had been calculated that the earth excavated during his Reign in the formation of canals exceeded by 65 per cent the whole of that excavated in the formation of the Suez Canal. He had also made the great harbour at Alexandria, at a cost of £2,000,000, and that at Suez at a cost of £1,500,000, besides building innumerable bridges and making other public improvements, including, amongst others, the laying of 8,600 miles of telegraph wire. In fact, the aggregate of the money expended upon public works during Ismail Pasha's Reign exceeded the net total of his foreign loans. In the same time the trade of the country had proportionately developed, exports and imports having increased from £6,500,000 to above £20,000,000. In his (MR. M'Coan's) opinion, therefore, the best thing that could happen for Egypt was that we should send Ismail Pasha back with a British Resident to keep him straight. However, inasmuch as the Opposition had brought forward no better nor more definite policy, and although he disapproved of much that Her Majesty's Government had done in this Egyptian business, he should vote against this Motion.


said, that the interest in this debate was rapidly becoming centred within very narrow limits; he would not, therefore, detain the House at any length of time with the observations he intended to make before they went to a Division. He knew nothing whatever of the many millions which the hon. Member who had just sat down stated had stuck to the fingers of several firms, nor did he see what that had to do with the question before the House. What the country chiefly cared for at the present time, he was convinced, was to know what was to be the policy of England in Egypt in the future. Before, however, he proceeded to discuss that part of the question, he desired, in the first place, to notice two things in particular which appeared to him to be re- markable in the course of the debate. One of them was the attempt—the curious attempt—which had been made, both by the Prime Minister and more than one of his Colleagues, to saddle all the present position of danger, and even of disgrace, to England in Egypt upon the establishment of the Dual Control by Lord Salisbury. The other was the denial by the Government of any inconsistency on their part. Something had been said already by speakers on his side of the House in reply to the first of these two statements; but he desired to add something more, for a more preposterous assertion never was made by responsible Ministers in that House. He was able to dispose of it in a sentence; and, moreover, in a sentence from the lips of a trusty Friend and Colleague of the Prime Minister, and one who, on subjects of this nature, ought at least to be as high an authority as himself, and that was Lord Granville, the Foreign Secretary at the present time. Lord Granville said, on February 7, 1882, and his words were quoted in Hansard, in reference to this Control— This was the system which we found in force in 1880. We did not think it necessary to examine too closely the merits of the arrangement. It had, undoubtedly, worked admirably for the finances and administration of Egypt."— (3 Mansard, [266] 33.) That was the statement of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs two years after he came into Office; and if, after two years' experience of that Control, he was able to speak of it in such terms, what became, he wished to know, of the Ministerial assertions which were as ridiculous and absurd as he had shown from the mouth of their own Colleague that they were utterly fallacious and untrue? He need waste no further time, which was so precious to the House, upon what he must be pardoned for describing as rubbish of this nature, and which only showed the extremity of the straits to which the Government were reduced. Their denial of inconsistency might be disposed of almost as completely. This Government ostentatiously proclaimed almost from the very outset that affairs in the Soudan were entirely beyond the sphere of their political operations, and that they would have nothing to do with them whatsoever. And the charge of inconsistency was conclusively proved against them to his mind from this fact—that they assumed the immense responsibilities which they deliberately took upon themselves with regard to Egypt; and avowedly, be it remembered, in the interests of Egypt they declined altogether to exercise their responsibility in regard to matters in that part of his dominion which were absolutely vital to the interest of the Khedive and of Egypt, and which could not be disassociated from them. And what was their excuse? They said—" We had no commission from the Powers. When we received our commission from the Powers of Europe with regard to affairs in Egypt we received no such commission with regard to affairs in the Soudan." That was the statement of the Prime Minister, and he (MR. Chaplin) took it upon himself to deny it altogether. He doubted very much if the Government ever really had any commission from the Powers at all; and his strong impression was that we were in Egypt at the present time, not in virtue of any commission from the Powers, but by the sufferance of the Powers, and by that alone. But of this he was quite certain—that there was no commission upon record conferring upon the Government powers with regard to affairs in Egypt from which the Soudan was excluded. Where was it? The excuses of the Government were absolutely idle, and, in point of fact, he believed they had no existence at all; and the assumption by Her Majesty's Ministers of immense responsibilities in Egypt, in the interests of Egypt on the one hand, and the refusal to exorcise that responsibility with regard to Egyptian policy in the Soudan on the other hand, presented a whole chapter of inconsistency which was unrivalled in the history of English Governments. If further proof were wanting, where could it be found greater than in the fact that the Government knew the forces of the Mahdi, they knew, or ought to have known, the hazardous nature of the enterprize, and the uncertainty of the success of the expedition; and yet they ordered the whole of the English troops to withdraw from Cairo, because, forsooth, they had no commission from the Powers with regard to the Soudan, and had no responsibility with regard to it; and then they suddenly counter-ordered them to remain solely because Hicks Pasha was defeated in the very country with regard to which they had all along declared that it was entirely beyond the sphere of their operations. The blood of these brave men cried out for vengeance upon the Government who refused that gallant General the succour and assistance he so piteously implored. [A laugh.] He did not see what merriment there could be upon a subject of this kind. It showed but little taste, and less feeling, on the part of hon. Members opposite to indulge in laughter when he spoke of the destruction of that gallant General and his Army. Had hon. Members opposite read the heartrending telegrams he sent for assistance? True, there were Egyptian troops enough in Cairo to support him; but Cairo could not be left defenceless, which would have been the case if they had responded to his appeal. Why was help withheld? It was simply and solely for the miserable reason that the English Minister might be able to make smooth speeches at the Guildhall banquet—might tell of the withdrawal of the British troops from Cairo, and quiet and soothe the rebellious feeling that was rife among his most extreme and Radical supporters. So Hicks Pasha had to meet his doom, deserted by the English Government, deserted by his country, like the hero, the Englishman, and the gentleman that he was, thanks, and thanks alone, to the cowardly policy of the present Prime Minister of England. All the present difficulties of the Government had arisen from their fatal inconsistency, and from their absurd attempt to divest themselves of all responsibility for affairs in the Soudan, which everyone in Egypt knew was impossible from the first, so long as they remained responsible for the government of Egypt at all. He was not saying then what their policy ought to have been at that time, or what it ought to be now. That was another matter altogether. But he did say most undoubtedly that obviously they ought to have done one thing or the other. Either they ought to have prevented Hicks Pasha's expedition altogether; or, if they permitted it, they should have done their utmost to make it a success. But they had deliberately preferred to stand aside, with all the miserable results they now had before them. At that time it seemed the Government had no policy at all—that they were unable to devise one. Now, by force of circumstances, they were com- pelled to have a policy at last. At the eleventh hour they had sent General Gordon to Khartoum. But why did they wait to formulate that policy till they had sacrificed the lives of Hicks Pasha and 10,000 of his followers? And why did they not send General Gordon to Khartoum at least 12 months before? Their excuses were the merest and veriest of subterfuges. They talked of the dignity of the Khedive; but the position of the Khedive was just the same then, so far as the English Government were concerned, as now, and they had as much right to dictate a policy then as they had to-day. And, now they had decided on a policy at last, many would like to know much more clearly what they had decided on. They said they were going to evacuate the Soudan. But what did they mean by the Soudan? Did they mean the whole of the Soudan, or part of the Soudan; and if part of the Soudan, what part did they intend to keep? Above all, had they definitely decided to evacuate Khartoum? If so, he wanted to ask one or two questions with regard to it. Had they obtained the authority of the Sultan to alienate so large a portion of his Dominions; and if not, by what authority were they going to give away the Provinces and Possessions of a friendly Power, who was also an Ally of England? In making that concession, too, was it true that they were deliberately handing back again to slavery a tract of country which they had themselves described as larger than France, Germany, Spain, and Austria put together? If that was their final resolution, he could only say he deplored it on many grounds. He spoke with great diffidence in the face of such an authority as General Gordon, although he was bound to say that he was unable to gather very clearly what were the views of General Gordon with reference to the abandonment of Khartoum. But he knew that such a policy was opposed to the views of many of the ablest men in Egypt, and many in England who were best informed on the subject, and he believed it was difficult and most dangerous to accomplish. If that were so, and General Gordon should find that it was impracticable, and that he was surrounded by the forces of the Mahdi, had the Government made, or were they making, any preparations to assist and to support him, or were they going to stand aside and see Gordon and his followers massacred, as they had stood aside at Sinkat, and in the case of General Hicks? Those were questions to which he felt entitled to an answer, and he hoped a clear and definite answer would be given to them before the debate concluded; for the Government would be held accountable by the English people for every hair in Gordon's head. As to the general policy of England in Egypt, they had before them four policies. First, they had the policy of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill). He had advocated the expulsion of the Khedive Tewfik, with all his Pashas and Ministers, from Egypt, the recall of Arabi and his friends from Ceylon, and the resuscitation of his Party; in fact, to undo almost everything that was accomplished by the war. No one who had heard or read the speeches of the noble Lord upon that question could have failed to be impressed with his evidently deep and passionate convictions of the justice and wisdom of that policy; but the Tory Party did not share his views, and he (MR. Chaplin) doubted if they had any material support either in Parliament or the country. He need not, therefore, dwell upon them further. Then they had the policy of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Law-son)—a policy, at all costs, of immediate retreat from Egypt; and that received, as far as he could judge, but little more support in England than the views of the noble Lord. Thirdly, they had the policy of the Government, and the policy of the Government was also a policy of retreat, which varied only in degree from the policy of the hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson). His policy was a policy of immediate retreat; while theirs was one of retreat as soon as possible. That was the only difference which he could see between them. Lastly, there was the policy which he should venture to describe as the policy which England, as a whole, approved—namely, the policy of remaining in Egypt without a thought or notion of retiring until her work was accomplished. That was a policy by which we should adopt and openly avow before the world the position which we had already in reality assumed—namely, complete responsibility, undivided and entire, for the government of Egypt, coupled with, an intimation that it was our settled intention to remain there until the object of our policy was finally attained. Now, thanks to the vacillating conduct of the Government, it might take us many years to attain that object, far more probably than would have been required if a firmer attitude had been adopted from the first. But we had put our hands to the plough, and it was not for England to turn back again until the good work was accomplished—until peace, prosperity, and good government were established in Egypt on a firm and enduring basis for all classes. The Opposition had no dream of conquest or reconquest. They had not the least ambition to increase the cares, already well-nigh overwhelming, of the Empire of the Queen; but after all that had occurred the people of this country would expect the Government to fulfil the duties which he had described. It was impossible to over-estimate the mischief which the Government had done in Egypt by perpetually proclaiming their intention to retreat. That announcement unsettled everything, made confidence impossible, and indefinitely postponed security for peace and for permanent quiet in any part of the country. The noble Lord the Secretary of State for War had been one of the chief offenders on the part of the Government. Parliament had hardly met last year when the noble Lord thought it necessary to proclaim that we should probably evacuate the country within six months from that time, and he and his Colleagues had been harping on the same tune ever since. Not long ago, in Lancashire, the noble Lord asked—" Are the Opposition for a Protectorate, or are they for annexation, or for what? "as if it was the duty of the Opposition to formulate a policy for the Government. Addressing another Lancashire audience very shortly afterwards, he (MR. Chaplin) expressed the opinion that, under the circumstances of the case, a Protectorate in Egypt for an indefinite period of time was an absolute necessity of the situation. A Protectorate was still more necessary now than it was three months ago, and would, he believed, be approved by the majority of the people of this country and by the Tory Party as well. Whatever might be the policy of the Government in the future, nothing could atone for their crimes and iniquities in Egypt in the past. He doubted very greatly whether any former English Government could be charged justly with more blood-guiltiness; and in making that charge he did not limit it to Africa alone. The Government had sacrificed out there whole hecatombs of victims to their insensate, un-English, and cowardly desire to evade the just and proud responsibilities of an Empire, of which, unhappily, they had still the charge. Sooner or later would be read in every English home how a piteous appeal was made by gallant soldiers and a still more gallant Chief on behalf of starving, helpless women, and poor, unoffending little children to the most powerful of Ministers, perhaps, that England had ever known. Sooner or later it would be told how he trusted their salvation to an impotent and helpless rabble of Egyptian soldiers, whose defeat was foreshadowed and was certain from the first, and how this Minister of England, with all the might and power and majesty of England at his back, who, by the lifting of his little finger, could so easily have saved them, left these wretched people, within five days of an English Army, undefended and uncared for, to their awful doom. Then, too, would be learnt, how this Minister himself had supplied his own condemnation by the despatch of English forces, and by acknowledging the obligations and the duties which all along were his, but which he neglected till it was too late, and till the dread work had been done. At first all this would be heard with amazement and incredulity. The people would say—" It is impossible; we cannot believe it of this man, whose professions on behalf of suffering humanity recently resounded through the world." But when the horrible conviction should have been brought home to them a change would rapidly come over the mind and mood of the English people, and at last they would recognize the heartlessness and cruelty of the Minister who could abandon these wretched beings to slavery, outrage, famine, and death; and the insincerity—he was almost tempted to say the hypocrisy—which dictated that Minister's crusade against Lord Beacons-field at the time of the Bulgarian horrors, which Lord Beaconsfield could not by any human possibility have prevented. When the English people realized the truth, they would rise throughout the length and breadth of the land, and with one accord declare that no longer would they tolerate as their rulers men who had been false to the interests, aspirations, and traditions of their race, and by whom, in the sight of Christendom and the world, the honour and good name of England had been humbled to the very dust.


Sir, I trust that the House will excuse me if I do not attempt to follow the flights of rhetoric of the hon. Member who has just sat down. This side of the House has been occasionally taunted with the statement that some Members sitting here are going to vote in favour of the Government, though their speeches were opposed to them. But the hon. Member (MR. Chaplin) is going to vote with the Opposition, though he agrees with the present policy of Her Majesty's Government, for he put into neater and better form than most of us could expect to do, what is really, as I understand it, the policy of the Government—namely, that they are going to remain in Egypt until they have done the work for which they went there. After the hon. Gentleman had rejected the various policies put forward from other quarters on his own side, that was the policy to which he deliberately adhered. I agree, Sir, with the remark made in the course of this debate, that this Vote of Censure is not simply before us as a declaration of abstract opinion, which may be equally well discussed by an irresponsible debating society. The question submitted to our judgment is this—Do we take such a view of the conduct of the Government in its Egyptian policy as to make us wish to turn them out in order to make room for other men whom we expect to do better? On that practical question we may further admit that we have to look, not only to the past, but to the present and the future, and every man has a right to ask himself what would be the effect upon the policy with regard to Egypt, which he himself approves, of a change of Government. Let me put a case. Suppose there were a Member of this House, who considered that as regards General Hicks, for instance, he could not agree with Her Majesty's Government; suppose that he dissented from them on other points, but he saw that the course of events had so changed the situation that au energetic policy, without ambiguity or reserve, was absolutely forced upon them. Suppose, further, that the pledges which the English Government had given to Europe—pledges which are no longer the pledges of the Government of England, but of England herself——["No!"] An hon. Member says "No!" but that is the reason why the present Government is maintained in Office, to keep those pledges to which the country is committed. Suppose this hypothetical Member thought that the present Government was more likely to keep those pledges and be faithful to them. [MR. CHAPLIN: What are they?] You shall know them by-and-bye. Suppose he thought that the men who had given the pledges were more likely to keep them faithfully than the Party who had objected to them from the beginning, what would be the duty of such a hypothetical Member? It is clear that if he was satisfied as to the present policy of the Government, and believed they would keep the pledges they had made, he would be bound to support and vote in favour of that policy. I do not pretend to deny—it is patent to everyone—that the present policy of Her Majesty's Government is, must be, will be, different from that which it has been in the past. I will not say that the Government have learnt a lesson, though the events of the last few days might possibly be calculated to teach them a lesson if it were needed. But I would rather say this—that unforeseen events have forced the hand of Her Majesty's Government, and that Her Majesty's Government have frankly and fully accepted the situation. We see now that hesitation is discarded, and that energetic action has taken its place. We know that the despatch of the 4th of January has been written, and that action has been taken upon it. But while I admit that it is present circumstances, present policy, present considerations, which ought to determine the action of the English Parliament, we must remember that we have been invited in this debate to discuss the past, not only by the Leader of the Opposition, but even in wider terms by my right hon. Friend the First Minister of the Crown. And those who are well disposed to Her Majesty's Government will evidently wish to dwell on the past, with its painful incidents, only so far as it may throw light upon the I dangers and difficulties which beset the Government, and upon any warnings which may arise from the past as to the spirit and the tone with which present difficulties ought to he on-countered. I do not think that sufficient account has been taken of the stupendous difficulties which have lain in the path of Her Majesty's Government. Her Majesty's Government have, I think, not chosen to dwell upon those difficulties because they did not wish to take an apologetic tone, and Opposition speakers have not cared to dwell upon them because it is not their business to make apologies for political opponents. But it is right that the country should know those difficulties, and that they should never be forgotten. And these are difficulties which belonged not only to the past, and have handicapped the Government hitherto, but they are a presage of other difficulties, many of which will continue in the future. Let me allude to one of them. It is one which has made a great impression upon myself. I have now been 20 years in this House, and I never remember till within the last few years that the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government has been made the subject of daily interpellation and cross-examination to the extent which now prevails. [Ministerial cheers, and cries of "Oh, oh!" and "No, no!"] I repeat, I never remember such cross-examination as now takes place daily in this House. There are entangling questions and there are entrapping questions, there are a thousand questions; but they are questions which are not intended to elicit information, but are intended to set up a case against the Government for the future. On the most delicate subjects, on the most intricate subjects, the Government are pushed from stop to step until they give pledges—sometimes imprudent pledges—which you yourselves have tried to force from their lips. Hon. Members opposite try to force those questions. [Cries of " Prove!"] Hon. Members may easily remember them; and I confess I do not wish to be hurried into any Party recrimination on this subject. This cross-examination on foreign policy is not a matter which will be damaging only to Her Majesty's present Ministers. It is a matter of great import for the conduct of the general business of this country. It is a matter equally interesting to both sides of the House, and I should not have alluded to it if I had not a very strong feeling on the subject. Hon. Members continually object to Her Majesty's Government that they have pledged themselves prematurely on many subjects; but are they not daily attempting even now to pin the Government to various matters connected with General Gordon? In October and November, 1882, this practice was pursued as regards the Soudan, and from day to day questions were asked by hon. Members opposite endeavouring to pin the Government to something with regard to the Soudan, and I am sorry to say that in the end that policy succeeded, and the Prime Minister, after this had been going on for some weeks, at last declared, in answer to a question about the Soudan— It has been a recent conquest, and has been held in political and military connection with Egypt; but I cannot undertake to declare whether it is an integral part of the country or not. It has not fallen within the sphere of the military or political operations undertaken by Her Majesty's Government."—(3 Hansard, [274] 1550.) There is the declaration of the Prime Minister, and afterwards attempts are made to show that the Government have made premature declarations and committed themselves! I am not sure that there was not much mischief done by eliciting such answers from the Primo Minister. There it was in Hansard, and the declaration had to be acted up to. There it appeared from his answer that the Soudan was beyond the range of our political and military operations. Circumstances changed; but the declarations obtained by cross-examination remained, and so I say it is one of the difficulties of Her Majesty's Government that they have to conduct their operations under a constant cross-examination generally intended to commit them to premature pledges. There are other questions asked by hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House of a totally different character, which, everyone must admit, add to the difficulties of Her Majesty's Government. I must call them the "philanthropic questions." In those questions there are two different currents. One of these currents means this: while you English are in Egypt you are bound to put down all the abuses which are reported to you by newspaper correspondents. You are responsible for the abuses, and you ought to put them down. The Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs replies that he will telegraph to Sir Evelyn Baring, and he gets an answer. This means that in the judgment of the quarter from whence these questions come the English Government is to make itself responsible for that particular branch of the administration in regard to which the question is put. Sir Evelyn Baring acknowledges that the abuses exist, and then the question is, how are they to be remedied? The answer is, put another Englishman into office; Egyptian officials will never understand the policy of the House of Commons. And from these very questions, which are put with the very best intention, arises the subject of another set of questions, namely—why so many Englishmen are put into office in Egypt. I think it will be admitted that this is also a difficulty with which Her Majesty's Government have to deal. But then there is a deeper difficulty. It is the difficulty that we are engaged in Egypt in the task of governing a people in partnership with another governing force. We and the Turk, or the Turk and we, are engaged in the task of governing the fellaheen of Egypt, and from this arise countless difficulties, because the fellaheen agree with one governing force in race, in religion, in domestic habits, in national customs, and they agree with the other governing force as to justice and pure administration. And for us and the Turks together to remove abuses and to introduce reform is a stupendously difficult task. I do not think this is irrelevant to the situation, because it is a difficulty that continues, and I would like to know with what possible nation we could go into partnership to govern subject races? We cannot do it with France, for that country takes such a totally different view from ourselves of the relations of the governing power to the subject races as to render it totally impossible. Could we govern in partnership with Austria? Our modes of dealing with subject races are entirely different from those of Austria. There is no race with which we can govern in such a partnership. We do not even trust our own countrymen abroad to be able to govern subject races. That heightens the diffi- cuty of the task, for in Egypt we have to act neither with French, nor Austrians, nor any English community, but with the Turks. We have now for some years past been trying the experiment as to how far the views of Western civilization could be introduced into the minds of Eastern people. The policy of associating Englishmen with Mussulmans has been tried, but I cannot see that much progress has been made either in Egypt or in Constantinople, or any other place where there are Mussulman races. It is important to fix our minds upon this fact, because it is one of the factors in this terrible problem. We have tried to induce the Turks at Constantinople to accept some views of Western reform. My noble Friend the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs has worked as many nights in his endeavour to secure reforms which the Turks would accept in European Turkey, as I have spent nights in endeavouring to secure reform in Armenia. We have had English military Vice Consuls, and tons upon tons of Blue Books have been sent in; but the whole results, I am sorry to say, I believe to be absolutely nil, and we have not made one inch of progress in infusing Western ideas into Mussulman minds since we first began the experiment and since promises were made at the Congress of Berlin. These are difficulties, not of the creation of the Government, with which they have to deal; but their difficulties do not end here. They have to conduct their experiment at Cairo in the face of 14 Foreign Powers who have each a distinct legal locus standi in the country. In the speeches of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) and some others, it is always assumed that if we were but to retire from Egypt, all would be well, or that at least it would not be worse than that the Egyptians should "stew in their own juice." But they would have no such pleasant prospect; they would be cooked and eaten by some other Foreign Power. It is most important that the English public should thoroughly understand that the withdrawal of England does not mean carte blanche to the Egyptian National Party. There are agreements, decrees, and contracts which have given Foreign Powers a locus standi in Egypt. In the first place, there are the international tribunals, and justice is in the hands of representatives of these 14 Foreign Powers. But there are not only the international tribunals. Allusion has been made to the Control of 1876, but that Control, which was established after my own mission, was not the first step which introduced the foreign element, nor did it give any governing or administrative position to the representatives of the creditors in Egypt. Before November, 1876—in May, 1876—decrees had been passed by the late Viceroy giving to France, Austria, and Italy the locus standi of having three representatives of the creditors designated by their Governments nominated as trustees for foreign creditors, but there was no English official representative among them. These trustees had the enormous power to cite before the foreign tribunals the Minister of Finance, if he did not keep the bargain which he had made with the bondholders. This began the system which terminated in the Law of Liquidation. Then came the Control of 1876. And here let me deal with some gross exaggerations which have been made in this debate. Statements have been made about the contrast between the nominal and the real amount of Egyptian loans. The mistake has been made of assuming that the nominal amount was supposed to go into the Treasury of the borrowing Power, and that the difference between the nominal and the real amount is so much the profit of the banker who contracts the loan. But no one with any knowledge whatever of such matters would make the mistake. Let me give an illustration. The Portuguese Government make a practice of borrowing by the issue of a 3 per cent stock. This stock they issue at 50 per cent. If they wanted £3,000,000, they would issue a loan at 3 per cent of a nominal amount of £6,000,000, which would actually give them the £3,000,000 they required, less the commission. Then imagine that, after 10 or 15 years had elapsed, it was assumed that the difference between the £3,000,000 and the £6,000,000 had gone into the pockets of the contractors for the loan. That would be an illustration of a mistake constantly made with regard to Egyptian loans. Again, suppose a man has lent money, and is repaid not in money but in stock. The stock has a nominal value higher than its price in the market, and when the stock is sold, that nominal value disappears. But some hon. Members seem to regard the difference as a bonus to the man who originally lent the money. I do not think the House considers it necessary that I should go further into this matter, and I will, therefore, deal with another and more political phase of the question. The first Control, established in 1876, differed, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said truly, from the Control established in 1879. An hon. Member, speaking to-night, has said that under the old Control it was no part of the duty of the Controllers to think for a moment of the taxpayers. Where the hon. Member gained that opinion I do not know. He certainly did not get it from the Decrees themselves. Original documents are seldom consulted upon these occasions, but statements are made from pamphlets, which are more easily accessible. That Decree of 1876 contains paragraphs which distinctly provide that the fellaheen should be protected against that which was one of the gravest abuses before—namely, the double and treble exaction of taxes. I have before spoken of the grounds on which I undertook the Mission of 1876; but as the hon. Member for Wicklow (MR. M'Coan) has to-night stated that I was actuated by private as well as public motives, I must repeat that it was solely on public grounds that I—perhaps foolishly—undertook the Mission. The hon. Member seemed to think that the firm to which I had belonged 10 years before might be interested. That firm did make a protest against the Decrees of May; not, as has been represented, against the reduction of interest, but simply against the securities being swept away from one party of creditors in order to be transferred to another, which had no right to them. It was no private interest, only their bounden duty, acting as agents for others, to enter a formal protest. I apologize to the House for having had to turn for even a brief period from the general course of my observations. The Control which was established in 1876 was superseded when MR. Rivers Wilson and Nubar Pasha came into office. This new Control differed essentially from the old one, in that the Controllers under it were appointed or nominated by their respective Governments, and, therefore, assumed a sort of political character, whereas under the old Control they had simply been the representatives of the bondholders. But this Control ceased before long, and as the one Control was superseded by the other, so the financial arrangement of 1876 was superseded by the Law of Liquidation agreed to in 1880, which is so important a factor at the present moment that I would call attention for one moment to it. In 1876 it was practically a voluntary composition which had to be made; but in 1880 the act of bankruptcy, as it were, was performed, and the Powers took the matter entirely out of the hands of the creditors or bondholders, and the Law of Liquidation was made without, I believe, the bondholders having been heard as to their rights—the view being that as Egypt was bankrupt the necessary sacrifices must be exacted. To this Law of Liquidation the 14 Powers which had locus standi in the tribunals were invited to adhere. On this point, I think, in justice to right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and in justice to the reputation of English Governments generally, I ought to allude to what Lord Salisbury wrote with regard to the Law of Liquidation when it was being proposed, because it will tend to re-assure many hon. Members with regard to what they consider to be undue anxiety on the part of the English Government to protect the financial interests involved. Lord Salisbury said there were three conditions on which he thought the success of the Commission on Liquidation would depend. In the first place, it must have the power of dealing with all contracts entered into subsequently to the Control of 1876; secondly, its decision must he taken as final and without appeal; thirdly, it should commence its operations by ascertaining and laying down the sum which on a liberal calculation is necessary for efficiently carrying on the government of the country, and the rights of the creditors must be held only to apply to the residue which remains after this first obligation shall have been satisfied. I wish hon. Members to understand that the Law of Liquidation was not a greedy arrangement made by the bondholders, but one based on the distinct principle that the claims of the country should come before those of the bondholders. This was embodied in the Decree itself, the first article of which was as follows:— The Commission shall determine the resources which it will be possible to place at the disposal of the holders of consolidated or floating debt, but it shall take account before all (en premier lieu), with the consent of the Council of Ministers and of the Controllers, of the necessity of reserving to the Government free disposition of such means as are indispensable to the regular work of the public service. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: What is the date?] Early in 1880—March or April, I believe. Such were the instructions given by Lord Salisbury, and that was the Decree appointing the Commission of Liquidation. It was upon these instructions that they proceeded, and upon these instructions, if they did their duty, that they founded the results at which they arrived. And these results having been arrived at, the first two years showed a surplus in the Budget. But what I wish the House to understand, when so much has been said with regard to the condition of the bondholders, is that the Law of Liquidation is not their act. It is the act of a certain number of Governments, which saw that Egypt was bankrupt and could not pay, and which said that in the interests of order it was necessary that an arrangement should take place; and it was the duty of the Commissioners to see that so much should be reserved that the regular march of government could go on. This Act of Liquidation was assented to in the end, I presume, by the 14 Powers. But now let us go to the real point of the matter. [Ironical cheers.] I do not think what I have said has been irrelevant. It has been dull, but important, and I wish to clear even the right hon. Gentlemen opposite from the imputation that it was simply the interests of bondholders which they kept before them. It is a charge made against both Governments. In this Law of Liquidation, which governs the existing situation, we see that the first consideration was to be the regular march of government. Now, all these 14 Governments have a locus standi in Egypt. I do not go into the legal question. That is difficult to deal with, seeing the number of persons who have been parties to the law having been passed and having been tied on to the mixed tribunals. Thus you have justice in the hands of 14 Powers, and you have finance in the hands of 14 Powers. These 14 Powers have tied up finance, while justice is also in their hands. Now, let me re- capitulate the difficulties of the Government. Under the cross-fire of interpellation and interrogation in this House, and with three conflicting waves of sentiment breaking against their policy—namely, the sentiment of Imperialism, the sentiment of nationality, and the sentiment of philanthropy—they had to conduct in Egypt the government of a subject race in partnership with another Power, and that in a country which is under the Suzerainty of a third European Power, and with 14 Powers installed on the spot, and with a hold on justice and finance. Sir, that is the point to which I wish to draw the particular attention of the House—how the Government is tied up and fettered in the business of governing Egypt, I am not prepared to say that in the past the Government may not have complicated the difficulties of the situation by some acts for which they were themselves responsible. Did they not sometimes attempt to hurry too much a work which would not bear hurrying? Did they sufficiently consider up to what point they would exert the power which they undoubtedly had? Did they consider sufficiently whether the forms under which they were working, whether the means they were employing, were likely to promote the objects which they had in view? I am inclined to believe that a more distinct avowal of responsibility at an earlier date would have saved much trouble. But now we have distinct declarations. ["Oh!"] Yes; we have distinct declarations. Here is one of them. The Prime Minister said in the clearest possible manner that substantially we have the whole responsibility for General Gordon. You on the other side of the House tried to minimize it. But the words were as clear and distinct as possible, that Government undertook the whole substantial responsibility for General Gordon. I admit that there has been a time during which there have been too many polite fictions. One of the difficulties has been that the Government fastened their minds too much upon what they called the beginnings of good government. This is how the Prime Minister expresses himself— Our obligation in honour to support the Khedive bound us to supply him with some primary means of good government. I think there is also another passage in which the Prime Minister spoke of the beginnings of good government. Now, there is a kind of double meaning in this. What do we want? I wish to call the attention of the House to this. Do we want as the beginnings of good government quotable results, the kind of results which can be enumerated in a speech, or do we want to see the beginnings of a system which is to be fairly permanent and will outlive us when we are gone? That is a point which we must clear up; and I fancy from the utterances of the Prime Minister that the Government have thought too much of what has actually been done and not enough of the means. Have we secured these reforms simply by putting pressure on the Egyptians through English officials such as MR. Clifford Lloyd, or have we really established the beginnings of good government? Lord Dufferin says we must not leave the fabric to crumble to dust; we must not withdraw our sustaining hand until the structure is strong enough to stand by itself. And, again, he speaks of consolidating the work upon which we are engaged. Now, how far have we succeeded in consolidating the work? I mean this—is there already a beginning of good government? If we hear that MR. Clifford Lloyd has cleared the gaols, have we any security whatever that they will not be filled again if he is withdrawn? Are the local authorities to be simply coerced into virtue by MR. Clifford Lloyd, orimbued by his example, so that we may know that they will, when he is gone, act as he does now? Have we such a good result as that a Report can be made that the kourbash has been finally stopped; or have we a suspicion that the kourbash is merely hung up behind the door until we retire from the country? I wish to know what is the real object? Are we to secure so many reforms and say—"Now it is time for us to go?" Or are we to wait till we are confident that our partners in this enterprize will continue our work? Are we to be secured that the reforms effected by MR. Clifford Lloyd will go on working when he is gone? These are the questions to which we must address ourselves, and we must also consider how far we can escape from the fictions with which we have hitherto been obliged to deal. When we wanted anything done at Cairo, I am not sure that on many occasions it has not been necessary to go through a sevenfold process. The Government at home wish something done. They telegraph to Sir Evelyn Baring on a financial question, we will say. Sir Evelyn Baring communicates with MR. Vincent, MR. Vincent communicates with the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Finance communicates with the Khedive, the Khedive then communicates with the Minister of Finance, then that is reported to Sir Evelyn Baring, and comes back to Downing Street as the action of the Egyptian Government. Much of the mischief which we have had to deplore comes from this—that it was impossible to know whether we had given advice, and to what extent that advice was insisted on, while an immense deal depends on the tone of voice in which Sir Evelyn Baring speaks, and, unfortunately, that tone of voice cannot be conveyed in a Blue Book. Therefore, it has been—but I am sure it will no longer be so—it has been impossible to ascertain where responsibility really rested, and the result has been that English officials have been held responsible for Eastern abuses, that Eastern officials have been accused of courting Western interference, and that all the authorities have been involved, more or less, in unpopularity. This was a system which I think it is clear could not stand any severe strain, and when a severe strain was applied to it the system broke down. It broke down at the time of the cholera. We were called upon to assume responsibility, and we assumed it. We were again called upon to assume responsibilities after the Mahdi's successes, and we declined to assume those responsibilities. So much has been said with regard to General Hicks that I shall not detain the House upon the matter; but I will simply say this—that I cannot accept the argument of Her Majesty's Government that he was a victorious General who could not be stopped from going where he intended to go. That victorious General was complaining of mutiny among his troops, while the troops were complaining that they were not paid, and I cannot conceive why the advice could not have been given at that time which was given before in April by Lord Dufferin—namely, that they should confine themselves to a certain part of the Sou- dan. We are told that Her Majesty's Government could not give such advice, because that would have been to guarantee the possession of the remainder of the Soudan. But Lord Dufferin gave advice that they should confine themselves to Sennaar, and Lord Granville approved that advice. Nor can I feel entirely satisfied with the view which was put forward by my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government with regard to the crime which it would have been, and which it is now, on the part of this country if the Soudan should be retained under the Egyptian yoke. I entirely agree with the policy of Her Majesty's Government that they ought to retire from the Soudan, leaving the question of Khartoum, leaving the question of the littoral; but I do not like—I think the phrase has been used—the ex post facto discovery of moral guilt such as was pointed out by the Prime Minister, because it makes it difficult for his followers and his Party to know at an early stage enough, in what direction their sympathies ought to go. Sir, we may tremble to think what would have happened if General Hicks had been successful. If General Hicks had been successful, this country would have been involved at this moment in the moral guilt of fastening on the local tribes of the Soudan the yoke of "Turks, Circassians, and Anatolians." We were told that it is dangerous to shatter the authority of the Egyptian Government; but I am bound to say I think that such strong phrases with regard to the Turks in the Soudan may as effectually shatter Egyptian authority and may cause us almost as much trouble at Cairo, and even at Constantinople, as the use of more firm language with respect to the Expedition of General Hicks. However, I will say no more upon that subject. I hope I have done full justice to the difficulties under which Her Majesty's Government laboured. But upon this I differ from them. I cannot agree with their argument that they would have had to guarantee the remaining part of the Soudan, if they had given advice that the Egyptians were not to go beyond a certain point. They have not acted on that principle at a later moment. When General Hicks had been defeated, and when in December they had given their orders and instructions, and when they had told the Egyptian Government that they must leave Khartoum, at that moment they had said what the Egyptian Government ought to do, and, upon their own theory, this involved a guarantee of that which they intended Egpyt to keep. Did they intend them to keep the littoral of the Bed Sea or not? If they did intend them to keep the littoral, it would have been their duty at a much earlier stage to have supported more effectually General Baker. I must say—I hope I shall give no offence in saying it—that I did regret to hear my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government express a doubt as to whether General Baker ought or ought not to have gone. He said that it was open to the gallant General, and that he had not been enlisted for the purpose. But if General Baker did not go, who was to go to the relief of the garrison of Tokar? [MR. WILLIS: NO one.] The hon. and learned Member says "No one." Well, that is a policy which is not the policy of Her Majesty's Government. It is not the policy of those who say that they must guarantee the remainder of the Soudan if they give advice that a portion of it should be surrendered. I return to the case of General Baker. I am bound to say that the gallant General, under the circumstances, was bound to proceed with such material as he could find, and I am bound further to say that I think he ought to have sent as cheery telegrams under the circumstances as he could conscientiously send. You do not expect Generals, before going into action, to send telegrams with doubts as to their success. General Baker's most cheery telegram did not come early. It came after the skirmishes in which he was successful. At Suakim we have seen the four stages which illustrate the words which I used when I said that the Government's hands had been forced step by step. We began by firing a few shells in support of General Baker. The next step was taken when we landed Marines; the third when Admiral Hewett was put in charge; and the fourth when we sent out an expedition. And so we go on from step to step, and fictions are discarded, and now we are responsible for Admiral Hewett at Suakim, for General Gordon at Khartoum, and for Sir Evelyn Baring at Cairo. Upon this new footing we ought to proceed, and I am quite clear, from the language of the President of the Local Government Board, that it is upon these lines we shall proceed, and that, in the language of the hon. Member who spoke before me, we shall not leave Egypt until the duties we have undertaken shall be discharged. But we shall not be able to continue the system of keeping our eye upon the clock except when we are keeping it on the door by which we wish to go out. It is to me a matter of satisfaction that most of the nations of Europe know that they have to deal with a Government whose pledge of disinterestedness they can rely on, and that they view our action in Egypt with no unfriendly eye. An hon. Member, in the course of this debate, has referred to foreign newspapers. These are not abusing us for doing too much.[Ironical opposition cheers.] I wish to put it to hon. Members who cheer, that the most dangerous position for a country engaged in the task and under the difficulties which I have attempted to describe would be to have Europe not wishing us to go forward as it is doing now, but intriguing against us because it thought we were going too far. Europe asks for stability in Egypt, and is asking us to perform the task. It looks upon us as defending Western civilization. Spain even has her eyes upon us, fearing that in Morocco the Mussulman feeling might develop to a dangerous point should we fail to establish order in Egypt. France is passionately anxious in regard to Algeria and Tunis. The European Powers know that we can preserve the peace of the East if we are firm, steadfast, and disinterested. I believe that the Government never could be in a better position to deal with the European Powers than now, when they are asking us to go forward, and no one suspects us or asks us to go back. I am asked to have the courage of my opinions and vote tonight against Her Majesty's Government because I do not agree with them on some points. I have the courage of my opinions, but I have not the temerity to give a political blank cheque to Lord Salisbury. For the first time for many years—for generations—there is a Government which has declared a policy which is disinterested, and Europe believes it. You do not wish to believe it, and it is for that reason that it would be impossible for me to support any Motion coming from your side of the House. It would be a calamity now, after what has taken place, that the present Government should be replaced by another not bound by those pledges to Europe which I have described. Europe blames Her Majesty's Government because they are not doing enough, and I say better a thousand times it should be so than that when we are engaged in this fearfully complicated task three or four European countries should intrigue against us for trying to establish a Protectorate over Egypt. I care as much as any man that this country should maintain its reputation for courage, strength, resolution, and power; but I care no less that we should maintain our reputation for good faith and for abiding by pledges, and that neither the hope of profit nor the fear of difficulties should persuade us to abandon those pledges. By those pledges Her Majesty's Government will stand, and I shall stand by Her Majesty's Government.


Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (MR. Goschen) has made a very interesting and remarkable speech. I have to congratulate Her Majesty's Government on getting his vote; I also congratulate the country on the reasons he has given against it. I never in my life heard a more remarkable speech and a more astounding conclusion, except, indeed, it was the example of the right hon. Gentleman who sits immediately in front of him (MR. W. E. Forster). The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has intimated with unanswerable force that Her Majesty's Government have been wrong and blundering in the past, and therefore he will support them in the future. He has pointed out that they have been the victims of difficulties, and that their difficulties have been largely of their own creation. He has admitted that they have complicated those difficulties, that they would have escaped condemnation by a frank avowal of their responsibilities, and that if they would have got rid of what he termed "polite fictions" they would have got on a great deal better. The moral I draw from his speech is that he feels that the country, whatever the vote of the House of Commons may be, supports the Motion of my right hon. Friend, and he feels that on this, the fifth night of the debate, in every essential particular, the broad lines of the attack of my right hon. Friend upon Her Majesty's Government remain absolutely unshaken and uncontroverted. Every one has praised that remarkable oration of the Prime Minister; but we have had time to free ourselves from the influence of his tone and action, and of the cheers which were sometimes won by the right hon. Gentleman under false pretences. We have seen, largely assisted by the last speech to which we have listened, what a hollow sham of an excuse is the suggestion of the Dual Control; while we were never deceived by the paper reforms that were to induce us to forget what was going on in Egypt. There are two facts which are plain and patent. This fact stands out after the right hon. Gentleman's speech, that the reality of our position in Egypt has now at last been recognized, whether the Government like it or not. We are now the Government there, and we must now assume the reality of our obligations which we have hitherto omitted to recognize. Compare the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer last night with that of the Prime Minister a few nights ago, and again with the utterance of six months ago by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for War, and you will readily find that, halting and uncertain as were the tones of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, they were strong and vigorous when contrasted with the earlier statement of his Colleagues. Even in reference to the case of that unfortunate man, Hicks Pasha, the Government, although they may have the vote, cannot rely on the argument of the right hon. Member for Ripon (MR. Goschen), for he condemned here, as at every point of the indictment with unmistakable clearness, the action of Her Majesty's Government. I will not go further into that matter because I think the House has had quite enough of that wretched story to realize its full significance. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the Opposition had the means of knowing something of the Soudan operations last year. Yes; but we could not know that the Government would depart from the policy laid down by Lord Dufferin, their own Colleague. We could not anticipate what would be the despatches of Hicks Pasha, and how they would be received. When Hicks Pasha, in the extremity of his position, asked for advice, for assistance, for one plain word of warning, not one solitary syllable was vouchsafed to him, although the Prime Minister, in the course of his speech, used these remarkable words—" The Government of England were bound to support the Khedive by counsel." Why, then, did they leave the Government of the Khedive absolutely unsupported in every particular, and retire behind that unfortunate Khedive as a kind of puppet, leaving Hicks Pasha to proceed on his doomed march to death? On the 4th of January, at least, the Government openly assumed the responsibility the reality of which had all the time rested on them. On their own showing, they were distinctly answerable for everything that happened after that date, and nothing after the 4th of January, except want of information, can excuse them, if they did not take vigorous and resolute action. Now, take the case of Sinkat. Did not the Government receive information as to that place over and over again? Moncrieff told them months before that a little exertion would make the garrisons absolutely safe, whatever might happen. On the 8th of December, Admiral Hewett told them there were 1,000 women and children there, that it would be a lasting disgrace to the Egyptian Army if it fell, and that they could only hold out a few days longer. The knowledge of Her Majesty's Government, therefore, was abundant and overwhelming; and what were the efforts made by the Government? They had assumed the full responsibility; they saw the critical position of the garrisons; and what efforts did they make? I will only take the case of Baker Pasha's army. The House will remember the facts of the case. Baker Pasha's wretched, half-trained Egyptian policemen, who, Sir Evelyn Baring pointed out to them, would, when put face to face with the enemy, throw down their arms and run away, was the only force you sent out there. On the 9th of January, Sir Evelyn Wood mentioned that the character and strength of that force might not enable Baker Pasha to attack, and that, if reliance was to be placed on it alone, they must contemplate the fall of Sinkat, and the enforced submission of the garrison. The hon. Member for Galway (MR. T. P. O'Connor'), in the able and powerful speech he has delivered tonight, has accumulated with conclusive force a mass of evidence showing that in London and in Cairo everybody who wished to know could not have been ignorant that the men under Baker Pasha could not be regarded as soldiers, and must fail if they were tried in action. How, then, can Her Majesty's Government disclaim their responsibility if they had full knowledge of everything? With full knowledge of the strength of the garrison at Sinkat, and of the insufficiency of the force sent for its relief, the Government allowed these poor miserable Egyptian policemen literally to go to the shambles to be slaughtered. I could understand the boldness of the courage that would relieve, I could understand the candour of the cowardice that would desert the garrisons; but I cannot understand the miserable half policy which could send 2,000 men to be slaughtered in an ineffectual attempt to afford relief, which everyone must have known would not succeed. Let me say a word or two here as to the final period—a period of time every hour and minute of which were vital, but which was full of anxiety and disgrace to the country. Baker Pasha failed on the 5th of February. I will ask the House to remember that date. On the 11th Sinkat fell. The six days that intervened were vital days; and what was done by the Government under these circumstances in that interval? The Prime Minister was absolutely contradictory in what he said on the 11th and 12th of this month. On the Motion for Adjournment moved by the hon. Member for Lincolnshire (MR. Chaplin), the right hon. Gentleman said they awaited further information; that it would be premature then to say what they would do; and on the very next day he said that they had information which was so complete that it enabled them to say it was too late to attempt to save the unfortunate garrison at Sinkat. The course pursued by Her Majesty's Government will not stand the test of examination for a single moment. They were either entirely ignorant of the plain facts of the case, or they were guilty of conduct which I would not like to indicate by any elaborate form of expression. What is the meaning of "too late?" If it was too late to save Sinkat after Baker Pasha's defeat, why on the 11th February did you send a telegram to Admiral Hewett asking what steps could be taken to save Sinkat? What was the meaning of that telegram if you thought it too late? Now I turn to those miserable telegrams—absolutely unexplainable—that were sent to General Gordon. To my mind they are documents open to as grave and severe criticism as any that have ever been submitted to the consideration of Parliament. No man can read them without a blush; they cannot be described within the limits of terms that would be sanctioned by Parliamentary usage. In my opinion they are discreditable beyond the limits of description. They were framed to shift responsibility from the Government themselves, and to try and induce General Gordon to accept it, and to answer them in a particular way. The first condition in asking General Gordon to assume responsibility should have been a frank statement of facts upon two points—first, that General Baker had failed; and, secondly, that we were anxious to relieve the garrisons, and desired General Gordon to try and relieve them, unless he objected. If these facts had been presented to General Gordon in that naked form, he would have resented the suggestion made to him as an unworthy scandal upon a British officer. But the telegrams were not framed so as to tell General Gordon the terrible responsibility he was asked to assume, for they were framed so as not to tell him these essential facts, and make him return an answer asking the Government to leave the whole matter to him. I listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, and I have read it twice over since, and I recognize, as everyone in the country must recognize, that in putting a gloss upon an inconvenient matter the Prime Minister stands absolutely unrivalled; but, even under these conditions, even in the Prime Minister's mouth the telegram had an ugly look that at once arouses suspicion. I will not go into the telegrams in detail. My right non. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) was able to comment upon them the other night. I have read the whole of them, and I hold Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 in my hand. I will not, however, weary the House by reading them. I say that these telegrams are certainly misleading, and that they do not tell General Gordon the true position of affairs, that they do not tell him in the way any intelligent man could realize or understand what was the responsibility he was to assume. Let me take the first one which has been relied upon in support of the Government. It must be remembered that Baker Pasha failed on February 5th. According to Her Majesty's Government, the last and only hope of this garrison of heroes had failed; nothing whatever was done on the 6th; and not until late at night on the 7th was this damning telegram sent to General Gordon— If possible, ask Gordon whether change of circumstances affects his judgment as regards Khartoum, and whether he has any suggestions to make."—[Egypt, No. 8 (1884), p. 2.] Can this be said, that a telegram telling General Gordon that Baker Pasha had failed, and that the Government were willing to send relief, were waiting to do so unless forbidden? Is it suggested that that telegram has anything whatever to say about Sinkat? I say, then, that that telegram, and the other three as well, are all open to the charge I have made against Her Majesty's Government. Can there be any doubt upon the matter? If there was, it must have been removed by one circumstance admitted by the noble Lord the Secretary for War (the Marquess of Hartington) in reply to a Question put to him by me. The Government should have been prepared for the contingency of General Gordon's saying—" I do not desire to prevent you saving these garrisons," and should have been ready to summon troops from Cairo, and to send a staff from England. Some preparations might have been made; and yet it cannot be gainsaid that not one solitary, single preparation had they made until my right hon. Friend, by his Resolution, and the opinion in the country, compelled them to take action. If Tokar is saved, in my opinion it will absolutely have been accomplished by the action of my right hon. Friend's Motion, and the voice which the country has expressed upon that Motion. If real pluck had been shown, and relief sent to Sinkat, it would have been, or, at all events, might have been, saved. That, I think, is about as painful and as grave a reflection as can be expressed in regard to any Government whatever. I do not discuss General Gordon's Mission; we all hope that it will be successful, though he was sent there in a panic. I do not go into a discussion of his Proclamation about slavery, although it certainly calls for explanation; but I say the Government cannot maintain that they are consistent when they are proclaiming the Mahdi in one part of the Soudan and fighting him in another. They can hardly claim to be acquitted of the charge of inconsistency when they have ships in the Bed Sea to prevent slavery, and, at the same time, their Representative in Khartoum is distinctly proclaiming and defending it. Her Majesty's Government have adopted from the hon. Baronet the Member for Car-lisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) the motto of "rescue and retire." I believe they are adepts at retiring; but they have still to show their skill in rescuing. They have already allowed one garrison to be massacred, and the other is in deadly peril of its life. In South Africa the Government did not gain renown—their motto was "retreat and defeat;" and in connection with the Soudan we might speak of something like "sham and shame." The Ministry have now, no doubt, some good intentions. I hope they will realize some of them after their vacillation and inconsistency; but we have no guarantee that it will be so. Under these circumstances, even if the Ministry do now realize their position, to my mind that is no reason why this House, as representing the voice of the country, should not manfully and steadfastly declare by its vote, what every man must acknowledge to be the reality of the case, that the present disasters in the Soudan are largely, and, as I venture to think, almost entirely due to the conduct of Her Majesty's Government.


Sir, I think I have some right to complain—I do not know whether the House has not also some right to complain—of the course the debate has taken tonight. Some of the best and ablest debaters have reserved themselves for tonight. I may mention the hon. Member for Galway (MR. T. P. O'Connor), the hon. Member for Newcastle (MR. J. Cowen), and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (MR. Gibson), as among the ablest debaters we have; and the complaint I have to make is this—that these hon. Members have reserved themselves until the present time. This discussion has now gone on for five nights, the case of the Government has been ably stated by the Prime Minister, the President of the Local Government Board, the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but scarcely any reference has been made in the speeches of to-night to the defence and answer made on the part of the Government. Indeed, the greater part of the speeches we have heard to-night, of great ability and eloquence no doubt, are speeches which might just as well have been made on the first night of the debate, except that they have been amplified and embellished by some ideas picked up in the progress of the debate. They are, however, almost wholly destitute of reference to the answer which has been put forward by the Government. Well, Sir, I feel, under these circumstances, that the attack on the Government having been repeated tonight, and the defence of the Government having been ignored, it may seem to be incumbent on me to attempt a reply in detail to the eloquent speeches that have been made this evening. I feel, however, that it would be impossible for me to do that, unless I were to endeavour feebly to repeat all the arguments and all the facts on behalf of the Government which have already been put forward by my Friends to whom I have already adverted. Looking, therefore, at the hour of the evening at which we have arrived, and to the desire which no doubt the House feels that this debate should not be further protracted, I think I shall best consult the convenience of the House in not attempting to answer, in any detail, or at any length, the speeches made tonight, but by attempting to state as shortly as I can a few points which I think the House ought to bear in mind before it proceeds to a Division on the question. I think I may assume, both from the terms of the Motion, and also from the tenour of the speeches delivered in support of it, that that part of the charge against the Government which was brought forward by the Opposition at the beginning of the Session—that the greater part of that charge has been found untenable. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for King's Lynn (MR. Bourke), before he had read the Papers, thought he was in a position to impugn the whole policy of the Government in respect to Egypt. But after the Members of the Opposition had read the Papers, they considered it more discreet to abandon the general portion of their charge and limit it to the transactions in the Soudan. They have dwelt very little, in the course of this debate, upon the alleged failure of our policy generally, or upon the alleged failure of our reforms in the administration of Egypt; and I think I may assume that they altogether dispensed with all those portions of the impeachment which dealt with our alleged failure to conduct the affairs of Egypt, to reconstitute the Government, or to deal with the reorganization of the administration of justice and the satisfactory adjustment of its finances. Upon that subject, I am sure, I correctly understand the right hon. Gentleman who has lately spoken. I understood the right hon. Member for Ripon (MR. Goschen) to suggest a doubt as to the success of the reforms undertaken there. I understood him to explain the enormous difficulties of instituting and establishing such reforms in Oriental countries under the circumstances in which we are placed in Egypt; but I hope I did not correctly understand him to cast a doubt upon the reality and importance of much that has already been effected, and much which is in process of being effected by our able and energetic servants in Egypt. No one who reads the Papers presented to the House, or who listened to the speech of the President of the Local Government Board, or the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, could help feeling that with regard to the internal administration of Egypt much has been already accomplished, and much more is in process of being accomplished. I will now go directly to the charge made by the right hon. Gentleman as to our policy in the Soudan. And, first, I must say that no answer has yet been given to the countercharge made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, who rose immediately after the right hon. Gentleman. He pointed out that, while the Motion impugned the vacillating and inconsistent policy of the Government, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman bad been entirely directed to an endeavour to prove that the policy of the Go- vernment had been consistently wrong. No answer has been given to that allegation; and the point is not merely a point of debate, but it is a vital and important point, because it raises a question whether the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends have themselves any policy to propose with regard to the affairs in the Soudan, and with regard to affairs in Egypt generally, or whether they are content simply to attack the policy we have adopted, and to attempt to displace us, without having themselves anything to propose in place of our policy. And, certainly, Sir, if they have a policy, the Motion before the House is not so framed as to convey the slightest idea of what that policy is. But, Sir, I will endeavour to meet directly the charge of the right hon. Gentleman that the policy we have adopted in the Soudan has been wrong from the beginning, and I am prepared to maintain that the policy of non-interference in the Soudan was, in the first place, a policy which, during the whole of last Session, was known to and acquiesced in by Parliament, including the Opposition, and that it was regarded as a right policy. Now, Sir, I am not going to make many quotations; but I must call the attention of the House to a passage in the celebrated Report of Lord Dufferin, a Report which has been read, perhaps, more universally than any Parliamentary Paper of recent times, and which deals in a very few brief, but clear and pithy, sentences with the question of the Soudan. I should be tempted to say, if it were possible that a man so amiable as Lord Dufferin could be cynical, that he had in that Report described the condition of the Soudan, and the prospects of the Soudan, and the policy of Her Majesty's Government in terms that are almost cynical. Lord Dufferin says that some persons had recommended the abandonment of the Soudan, but to that he could not altogether assent; and he goes on to describe the condition of the Soudan, and says that, unhappily, Egyptian administration had been almost uniformly unfortunate, and that the success of the Mahdi and his followers was a sufficient proof of the Government's inability either to reconcile the inhabitants or to maintain order, and that the consequences had been disastrous within the last year. Then, as to the garrisons, Lord Dufferin says that reinforcements of the extent of another 10,000 men had been despatched to Khartoum, but they seemed to be raw, undisciplined and disheartened. Then he describes the condition of the garrisons, which now, after the lapse of a year, seems to have produced so lively and tender an emotion in the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite. As to them, Lord Dufferin says— The Egyptian garrisons in Darfour and Kordofan are cut off from the communications "with the base. And then he proceeds to describe the position of General Hicks and the other European officers in that Army. He says— General Hicks, a distinguished retired Indian officer, has been engaged by the Egyptian Government to join the Soudan Army as Chief of the Staff. A few European officers accompany him, who, perhaps, will be able to inspire the troops with confidence. But both General Hicks and those who accompany him, have entered the Egyptian Service entirely on their own responsibility, and neither Sir Evelyn Baring nor myself have been concerned in this arrangement. Is not that description of the state of things in the Soudan, given by Lord Dufferin in that despatch, an accurate, full, fair, and frank description of almost everything that we have known since? Has the state of things materially altered from that? And did not Lord Dufferin describe, and the Government acknowledge, when they laid that despatch upon the Table, the position of non-interference they had taken up in respect to the Soudan? My right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (MR. W. E. Forster) asked how could the Government suppose that, having the power in Egypt, they could divest themselves of the responsibility? And he said that he could not conceive what they were thinking about. But I, on the other hand, may ask what the right hon. Gentleman and what the Opposition were thinking about that when there was laid upon the Table that despatch which proclaimed in terms, as I have said, so clear as to be almost cynical, that the Government, being aware of the terrible state of affairs in the Soudan, yet proposed to take no responsibility upon themselves, they themselves took no action in the matter? The right hon. Gentleman may, perhaps, say that he took no action in the matter because he did not desire to embarrass a Government to which he was friendly, at a critical moment; and I would be willing to accept that explanation of his conduct, although I cannot help remembering that my right hon. Friend showed himself sometimes last Session not altogether averse to raising questions somewhat inconvenient to the Government with regard to affairs in other parts of Africa. But, at all events, the Opposition cannot shelter themselves under that plea. The Opposition did think it both expedient and necessary to criticize the policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the most minute details of the internal administration of Egypt, and to hold us responsible for every detail of that administration. But while they took that course, and never thought it either expedient or necessary to refer to the Soudan at all, it was not possible for the Egyptian Government to try or sentence and execute a convicted malefactor like Sulieman Sami without their action being criticized by the Opposition, who brought every other detail, as I have said, of the Egyptian administration nightly on the floor of this House. I can only say that if they did not think it right or necessary to criticize our policy with regard to the state of things in the Soudan, it must have been because they acquiesced in the expediency of the policy which Her Majesty's Government were pursuing. The only hint or suggestion that we received on the point from the Opposition was one almost in the sense of the non-intervention policy which was being pursued by the Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has already referred to the discussion which took place last year upon the Address, and to the criticism of the terms in which Parliament was informed that the troops of Her Majesty had been ordered to Egypt for the purpose of suppressing a military revolt that had broken out in that country; and we were asked, in a tone somewhat incredulous, whether it was to be understood that Her Majesty's troops were to be employed in Egypt whenever a rebellion broke out in that country? Sir, that was not a suggestion in favour of our taking upon ourselves any engagement or responsibility for the affairs of the Soudan. It was a suggestion in an opposite sense. I quite admit, however, that this acquiesence on the part of the Opposition and of the whole of Parliament, which I hold to be completely established, is not a sufficient excuse for us if our policy is wrong. I have been long enough in this House to know the rules of the political game which is played on the floor of this House; and I know that by the rules of that game the Government of the day is held to be responsible for every mistake, every failure, and every mishap that may occur; but that the Opposition may commit any blunders, and be guilty of any negligence, of any remissness, or any dereliction of duty, and that it is held to be entirely irresponsible. But, Sir, I am prepared to maintain that the policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the Soudan is a right policy. I hold that our policy of non-interference in the affairs of the Soudan is a right policy. In the first place, because we were not bound, under the circumstances in which we went to Egypt, by any obligation to interfere with the affairs of the Soudan. We went to Egypt, because we had engagements with respect to Egypt which had been entered into by other Governments, and which had been recognized by the present Government; we went to Egypt because we had interests there which we were bound to defend; and we went to Egypt, above all, because Egypt was on our road to India, and we could not tolerate a state of anarchy such as was very likely to follow the insurrection of Arabi Pasha to exist upon that road; we went to Egypt with the consent and with the assent of the European Powers, and we went there for objects which had been stated, which were discussed and which were clearly defined. But we never went there, and no one ever dreamed or suggested that we went there, for the purpose either of establishing or restoring order throughout the whole of the Dominions which have ever been annexed by the Egyptian Government, or to re-establish order and good government in the whole North-Eastern Africa from the Mediterranean to the Equator. By our intervention in Egypt we had incurred certain obligations to the people of that country. We had to put down the insurrection of Arabi, who had, at all events, promised them some improvements in their condition; and having been the means of keeping the Khedive on his Throne and maintaining his government, we were bound to make an effort, at all events, to make that government a tolerable government; and being aware that Europe would not permit, even if we were willing to permit, the repudiation by Egypt of its financial obligations, we were bound to make some effort before we left the country to place its finances on a more satisfactory footing. But I say that at that time, whilst our obligations were fully acknowledged and admitted, no one ever dreamed or suggested that those obligations extended to the people who inhabited the different Provinces of the Soudan. Sir, we have no British interests in the Soudan; there are no European interests in the Soudan, at least no adequate British or European interests, which would justify the employment of British Forces or the expenditure of British resources in an expedition to restore Egyptian authority over that part of Africa. It is now contended that we have assumed unlimited responsibilities, not only for the administration of Egypt and the government of Egypt, but also of her Equatorial Provinces. But I ask how much sincerity is there in that allegation? If nearly two years ago we were, as has been stated, hesitating and delaying too long our intervention in Egypt, and we had as a reason for our hesitation or inaction that we were unwilling to assume the enormous responsibilities which would follow an intervention extending to the Equatorial Provinces, should we not have been told with justice, as we may answer with justice now, that intervention in Egypt for clearly-defined purposes in recognition of clearly-defined obligations carried with it no such indefinite and far-reaching obligations, and that we could not escape from, or shirk, clear and recognized duties by considerations so remote and so entirely distinct from the cause for which we were called upon to interfere in Egypt? Sir, I maintain also that intervention, at that time, in the affairs of the Soudan would have been unwise, in that it would have involved one of two things. Either it would have involved the advice to retain the Soudan or some part of it, and with that advice the rendering of some assistance to carry it into effect, which was certainly and clearly beyond our duty or the necessity of English interests; or it would have involved the advice to abandon the Soudan, and with that advice the abandonment of all hope of estab- lishing a Native Egyptian Administration in Egypt. I maintain that no Egyptian Government could, before the defeat of Hicks Pasha, have been a party to the abandonment of the greater portion of the Soudan, any more than any British Government could be a party, in any circumstances, to abandonment of our Indian Empire. We know the reluctance with which the Egyptian Government assented to that policy, even when it was forced upon them by the disastrous defeat of Hicks Pasha; and, I think, we may assume that no Egyptian statesman worthy of the name, or worthy of our support, could have been found before that event to assent to such a policy. I think, Sir, I may refer to what seems to me to be the fundamental difference of opinion which exists between Her Majesty's Government and hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House in our explanation of what our Egyptian policy ought to be. It has been said on the opposite side of the House, and it has also been said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (MR. W. E. Forster), that we have failed to recognize the responsibility which devolved upon us through the battle of Tel-el-Kebir. Sir, we may have failed to realize adequately those responsibilities, but we have our conception of them. "We hold them to be to reform the Native Government of Egypt, and to retain our garrisons and our military forces in Egypt until those reforms have been so far accomplished, and until that Government is so far secured that our military support can be safely with drawn. That is the form of government which we wish to establish as a Native Government, aided, no doubt, as it is at present, and probably will be for a long time, possibly permanently aided, by the assistance of Englishmen, both military and civil, but still a Government not by itself British, nor yet rendered by its alien character incapable of existence except with the assistance of foreign military support. This, in a very few words, is our conception of the policy which we ought to follow. The policy of the Opposition appears to be the substitution for the Dual Control of a single British Control, for which permanent military support would be necessary. Their plan is the administration of all departments of importance by Englishmen; and this not as a temporary expe- ledient, but as a permanent arrangement. Their system would make English control, English authority, and English administration the foundation of the system of Egyptian Government; it would exclude Native statesmen from all positions of responsibility; it would build up nothing; it would prepare nothing in view of the time when we might leave; and, therefore, when, at any time, however distant, this British foundation upon which that system of government would be built, and our military support upon which it rested, and was so essential to it, was withdrawn, that system must necessarily fall. That view was strongly put forward and ably supported this evening by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (MR. J. Cowen), who said—" We must leave Egypt, or we must rule it." I think, however, he scarcely stated fully his own proposition. I think he should have said—" We must either leave Egypt at once, or rule that country permanently;" and I want to know whether hon. Gentlemen opposite, who so loudly cheered the statement of the hon. Member for Newcastle, are willing to accept either of the alternatives which he put before them? Are they prepared to leave Egypt? Are they prepared to rule that country permanently? Many hon. Members have put forward a proposal which amounts, certainly, to a policy of temporary rule; but are they prepared to go further, and make that rule permanent? And after what I have said as to the foundation upon which the system of government would rest, I ask them how do they propose that our occupation and our rule in Egypt should not be permanent if the government of Egypt is to be conducted on a proper basis? Well, Sir, our conception of Egyptian policy may be a good or a bad one; but there is in it, at all events, no shrinking from responsibility and no failure to recognize the responsibilities arising out of Tel-el-Kebir. It may be, and I think it probably is, a policy, at the present time, more difficult of execution than the simpler one of annexation or of the establishment of a Protectorate, which would amount to annexation. But, I believe, that in no very distant future the people of this country would be sick and tired of the responsibilities and difficulties and, perhaps, the expenditure entailed upon us by our administration of Egyptian affairs. In my opinion, the system we have in view affords a better guarantee for the maintenance of the various interests of England in Egypt than the alternative which has been put forward for our acceptance. Sir, I hold that the policy of non-interference in the Soudan before the period of the defeat of General Hicks was a sound policy, and one which was known to, and acquiesced in, both by Parliament and the country. After that defeat the position was greatly changed. The relation of the affairs of the Soudan to the affairs of Egypt Proper became more distinctly marked; the contingency which I had attempted to indicate in my speech on the Address in February last year became possible. I said, in reply to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman to which I have already referred, that our information about the Soudan at that time was extremely limited, and I did not deny that the affairs of the Soudan might become a source of danger and trouble in Egypt; but I distinctly limited my remarks to the influence which the Soudon affairs might have in Egypt Proper. After the defeat of General Hicks it became extremely probable that the position of affairs in the Soudan would have an effect upon the condition of Egypt; some people supposed that it was not improbable that the Mahdi would lead his victorious army to the invasion of Egypt itself. I never believed in the probability of such invasion; but what seemed to me probable was that the fanatical spirit aroused by the successful revolt which took place in the Soudan might cause excitement and disturbance in Egypt, and it also seemed probable that the desert tribes on the confines of Egypt Proper might be induced to create disturbances in, and possibly to invade some portion of, Egypt Proper. Again, the finances of Egypt were also involved in an attempt to organize an expedition on a scale of sufficient magnitude to reconquer the Soudan or any part of it. The interests of Egypt Proper, were, therefore, directly involved in the events which happened in the Soudan, and, above all, it became possible then for the first time for the Native Government to accept the consequences of defeat, and to contemplate and adopt the policy of retirement from the Soudan. Well, Sir, influenced by these considerations, we acted, and acted without delay. We immediately suspended the withdrawal of the troops which was then in progress; we undertook, at the same time, the protection by our Naval Forces of the ports on the Red Sea; we imposed a veto upon any attempt to reconquer the Soudan; and when the Ministry of Cherif Pasha, after a period of hesitation, appeared disposed to adopt half-measures—that is to say, whilst admitting that the reconquest of the whole of the Soudan was impossible, it wished to retain a portion of it, which we advised them was far beyond their power—we imposed a veto upon that policy, and we informed the Government that the point was, in our opinion, vital in the interests of Egypt, and that a Government of Egypt which relied upon our support must, in questions which we considered vital, accept our advice or forfeit our support. Sir, I do not deny that, in giving that advice, and in insisting upon it, we took upon ourselves great responsibility. If it could be shown that the occupation of the Soudan by Egypt had ever conferred, either upon the people of the Soudan or upon the people of Egypt, any benefits adequate to the great sacrifices and the great misery it entailed; if it could be shown that the benefits that that occupation conferred atoned for the misery caused by the forced conscription and the forced removal from their homes of Egyptian peasantry to fight races more warlike than themselves, or to perish by disease in the sterile districts of the Soudan; if it could be shown that the Egyptian occupation had ever really done anything to repress slavery or the Slave Trade, or the horrors of those slave hunts by which the Slave Trade is supported, then the advice which we have given, and which we have insisted on, may be wrong. But it cannot be proved to be wrong. General Gordon has told us, Colonel Stewart has told us, almost every authority, I think, who has written on the Soudan has told us that the Egyptian domination in the Soudan Provinces has never brought anything but misery and disorder, and that the revolt of the Mahdi and the tribes who have adhered to him was justified by the oppression which they had suffered from Egyptian officials—was justified by the corruption and misgovernment of Egyptian officials and by the oppression of Egyptian troops. I do not say that the misgovernment of the Soudan by the Egyptian Government was wilful or intended; but I say that the government by the Egyptian officials was incurably weak, corrupt, and inefficient. General Gordon has told us also that the Khedive was absolutely powerless to restrict, or control, or to mitigate the horrors of the Slave Trade. General Gordon was, at one time, almost absolute in the Soudan, and yet he himself was unable to deal with that enormous and that terrible evil. The Egyptian officials, however, had neither the desire, nor the will, nor the power to deal with the evil, and no one could prove and no one could show that the Egyptian domination in the Soudan had ever done anything to mitigate the evil. Sir, if these things are so we were not only justified, but we were compelled to give the advice we gave, and to insist upon it being adopted. We were shocked—the country was shocked by the bloodshed and the suffering of which we have heard; by the loss of life in the defeat of Hicks Pasha, by the loss of life in the defeat of Baker Pasha, and by the massacre of the garrison of Sinkat; but I believe, Sir, that by the advice which we have given, and insisted upon, to the Egyptian Government—by the policy which has now, by our advice and by the force of events, been forced on the Egyptian Government—a greater amount of annual suffering has been saved to the people of Egypt and to the people of the Soudan than any that has been caused by those massacres. We have also taken upon ourselves great responsibility in sending out General Gordon. We were told, I think it was by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton Cross), that in sending out General Gordon, unsupported by any military force, we had taken upon ourselves a responsibility greater than any Government had a right to take. But, Sir, in my opinion, when we had given advice to the Khedive and insisted upon its adoption, when a Native Government had been formed which adopted that advice, and when, subsequently, they asked for the assistance of a British officer to conduct the operation of the evacuation of the Soudan, we were bound to render them that assistance, and we were no more justified in hesitating than General Gordon himself hesitated, in offering the services of that well-qualified officer to conduct the operation—which he himself approved of, and of which he had great hope of success. General Gordon, no doubt, undertook a mission of great danger; but he undertook it with confidence—confidence in the goodness of the cause, confidence in the reputation which he had left behind him amongst the people of the Soudan; confidence in the Divine strength which he believed would attend his mission. Sir, I will not enter tonight into the discussion which has been raised upon the proceedings of General Gordon at Khartoum. I hope the House and the country will suspend their judgment, not only till they receive the text of the Proclamation in full, but until they receive a full account of the reasons which had prompted the action of General Gordon. In such a country, where the greater part of the population are slaves, the abolition of slavery by any sudden message is absolutely impossible. If by the Slave Trade is meant the transfer of slaves from one owner to another, that is simply an incident of slavery, and an attempt to interfere with it would be equivalent to an attempt to abolish the institution itself. That General Gordon has issued some Proclamation disclaiming any intention of immediately and forcibly interfering with the institution of slavery as it exists in those Provinces I have not the least doubt; but I do not for one moment believe that General Gordon has signed his name to any document or assented to any policy which can in the slightest or the remotest degree have any effect in encouraging those slave hunts and slave raids which he has described as the curse of the country, or in encouraging that hateful system of the exportation of slaves to Egypt, to Arabia, and to Turkey which it has been the object of his life to put a stop to. Well, Sir, before I conclude I should like to say a few words upon the subject of Sinkat and Tokar, of which we have heard so much in the course of this debate. Sir, the language which has been used in respect of those unfortunate garrisons, is language which might have been more properly applied to those garrisons if they had been British garrisons. I want to know what there is in the circumstances of Sinkat and Tokar which, in the opinion of hon. Gentlemen opposite, seems to make it the imperative duty of the English Government to rescue those places. They have looked on for nearly a year with perfect equanimity at the condition of many of the garrisons in the Soudan which were described by Lord Dufferin as garrisons much larger and more numerous, and which, for anything we know, have undergone suffering much greater than that undergone by the garrisons of Sinkat and Tokar. Sir, is it possible that the only difference in the opinion of hon. Gentlemen opposite in regard to those garrisons is caused simply by the fact that an English expedition of no great size or no great difficulty might have saved those garrisons, whereas an expedition to relieve the larger garrisons in the interior of the Soudan would have cost more men and more money? I scarcely think that this country desires that its humanity should be measured by the precise amount of ease with which the operations of humanity can be carried out. I contend that we are not responsible for the rescue or relief of the garrisons either in the Western, or the Southern, or the Eastern Soudan. The Egyptian Government took the responsibility of attempting to retain the Soudan, and with that responsibility it took upon itself the responsibility of the safety of the garrisons which it sent there. I know very well hon. Gentlemen opposite deny the existence of an Egyptian Government which can assume any responsibility whatever. No doubt, if they had their own way, there would not now be, and there never would be, an Egyptian Government which ever would be able to assume any responsibility for the government either of its own subjects or of any other part of Africa. But, Sir, I have attempted to show that is not our conception of Egyptian policy. We hope and believe still in the possibility—perhaps a more distant one than we expected—of the establishment of a Native Government, which shall be responsible for the government of its own country and its own subjects. Well, as to the measures which have been taken. The statement as to the possibility of Baker's force rescuing the garrisons is received with ridicule and incredulity; but was it so improbable? It was quite true that several Egyptian forces had already been defeated and destroyed, but those expeditions had not only been extremely small in point of numbers, but they were composed of bad materials, as no doubt Baker's expedition was, and they were badly commanded by inefficient officers. In one of the Reports before the House it is alleged that one Egyptian force was defeated owing to eight Arabs breaking one side of a square. Was it very improbable, when a force on a much, larger scale had been organized and commanded by brave and experienced British officers, that Baker Pasha himself should believe his chances were not altogether hopeless? Why, Sir, when General Gordon left England, his first idea was not to proceed to Cairo at all or by the Valley of the Nile—his intention was to proceed direct to Suakim, and then to make his way to Berber. He believed he would be able to perform that operation without the necessity of fighting at all; he believed he would be able by his influence with the tribes to secure a passage; and he expressly said, if there was any fighting to be done, he would much rather it should not be done by himself—he would much rather Baker Pasha should do what fighting was to be done, rather than that he should have to fight against his old friends in that part of the world. When General Gordon arrived in Egypt, he saw reason to alter his plan of operations. He was informed that General Baker was doing all that could be done by negotiation, by the use of money and by the use of military, and General Gordon left in the full belief that the matter could not be in better hands than it was in. Certainly, so far as I am aware, General Gordon never suggested to anyone before he left England that the relief of the garrisons of the Eastern Soudan should be attempted by British forces. Well, Sir, if there did not appear to be any sufficient cause for the employment of British troops, or any sufficient reason why Baker Pasha's mission should fail, I ask the House to consider whether there were not strong, almost overwhelming, reasons against taking the commission out of the hands of Baker Pasha? It is argued now that it would have been very easy for a British force of moderate size to have relieved Sinkat; but it would have been extremely diffi- cult to have employed a British force in such a limited operation. The commission of General Baker was not, in the first instance, designed for the relief of garrisons; it had a much larger scope. The expedition was intended to open up the Suakim and Berber routes. If British troops had been employed, and had taken the work out of the hands of Baker, it would have been very difficult indeed for the British Government to have accepted a part of his task and to have refused to complete it. I do not say that the relief of the garrisons of the Soudan was a task that ought not to be undertaken, but it was very doubtful whether it ought to have been undertaken by British troops. In the first place, it is not certain that it was a task that could have been performed even by British troops. It would have been impossible;' it would have been too great a risk to have ventured a very small British force amongst the rebellious tribes of that part of the Soudan in the face of the opposition which would certainly have been created. A large British force could not have operated on the last portion of the route to Berber on account of its absolute insufficiency of water; it is, therefore, more than doubtful whether it would have been in the power of a British force, in the face of the opposition which certainly would have been created by the employment of a Christian force against the fanatical Arabs, to have accomplished the commission that Baker Pasha at first had. And supposing it had? Supposing a British force had successfully arrived and opened up the road from Suakim to Berber, could it have stopped there, within easy reach of Khartoum? Supposing Khartoum had still been in danger, would the public opinion of this country have allowed a British force to he still at Berber? If not, the British forces and people would have been saddled with a task far beyond the necessities of the case, far beyond any responsibility which could justly be thrown upon them—namely, the relief of Khartoum, and the other garrisons scattered over the Soudan. Well, Sir, I hold that the Government were justified in refraining from making an earlier attempt to relieve the garrisons before the defeat of Baker Pasha. I come now to that event. The news of that event was received on the 5th of February. We at once took every step that it was possible for a Government to take for the defence of Suakim—and possibly for the relief of the garrisons of Sinkat and Tokar—short of issuing orders to the troops in Egypt. We stopped the Orontes, which was in the Canal, and which was bringing home Marines and seamen from the Eastern Fleet. We stopped the Jumna at Aden in bringing home the 18th Hussars and a battalion of Infantry. The Mediterranean Fleet was ordered to protect Alexandria in the event of its garrison being moved to Cairo. The Marines of the Mediterranean Fleet were reinforced from home. Every step was taken except ordering: up the troops which were already in Egypt. I maintain there was sufficient reason for that exception. At that time General Gordon was on his road to accomplish a much larger and more important object—to attempt the rescue of the 28,000 men contained in Khartoum and the other portions of the Soudan, and not only rescue those garrisons, but, if possible, to make some arrangement for the better government of those Provinces. General Gordon was at that time in the most critical portion of his route—he was about to arrive at Berber. Upon the manner in which he was received at Berber by the tribes and Chiefs he might meet there depended the whole success or failure of his mission. General Gordon, it was well known, was coming on an essentially pacific mission. It was perfectly well known that the British troops had, up to that time, never been engaged with the Arab tribes of the Soudan. Do not let hon. Gentlemen suppose that the Arabs are unable to distinguish between Egyptian and English troops. The Arabs were aware that they had never come into collision with the armed forces of England. If, on the other hand, the British forces had moved to attack the forces under the command of Osman Digma, it was probable that General Gordon would have been received not as the bearer of the pacific mission with which he was charged, not as the one who was coming to realize their own wishes and their own desires, and who was coming not to impose the Egyptian Government upon them, but to relieve them of the Egyptian Government; but he might be, and probably would have been, regarded as the advance guard of the British force, which was already in collision with the Arab tribes of the Eastern Soudan. Does the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Stafford Northcote) mean to say that there was no risk in such a contingency, and that it would have been fair to General Gordon and to the success of his mission to have endangered that mission before we knew not only what his opinions were, but also what reception he had met with at Berber, the first point to which he had come in his mission? Our consultation with General Gordon has been spoken of as if we had put the question to the gallant officer whether, in the interest of his life and safety, and in the interest of the garrisons, an attempt ought or ought not to be made to relieve those garrisons. That would imply a doubt, and no doubt of that kind crossed our minds. What we were thinking of was, whether it would interfere with the success of the mission which General Gordon had at heart far more than any question as to his own safety. Well, Sir, I trust I need not detain the House much longer, but before I conclude I should like to remind the House that this Resolution is avowedly brought forward as a Vote of Want of Confidence in Her Majesty's Government, with the object of displacing us, and placing hon. Gentlemen opposite in power. Sir, I think that before the House agrees to such a Motion it would desire to know something of the policy which is to be the result of the change of Government. I will not go into the discussion which has been so often raised in this House, as to how far it is the duty or the obligation of an Opposition to formulate a policy. I think I recollect, however, that Lord Beacons-field, on some similar occasion, said it was impossible for an Opposition to formulate a policy, because they were not aware of the contents of all the Papers and diplomatic despatches that had passed; and until they were in possession of that information they could not say what policy they would pursue. With regard to the present case, however, I think I may say that, as far as the documents and despatches are concerned, right hon. Gentlemen opposite will not, if they take our places, find in the Foreign Office much information which they are not already in possession of. I do not say that they are bound to declare their policy; but I do say the House would be more ready and more likely to adopt this Resolution if it had some clear and distinct idea as to what that policy was likely to be, and if they thought it was such as would command the approval of the country. We ought to have had, in the course of this debate, some indication of the policy of the Opposition; and I confess it has been somewhat difficult to extract it from the speeches which have been delivered. We had last night a speech from the noble Lord the Member for North Leicestershire (Lord John Manners) who gave us an extremely accurate and precise definition of Opposition policy. He told us that those who supported this Vote would be bound to avoid vacillation and inconsistency. And when we were somewhat amused by that vague definition of policy he proceeded to explain. He said— England, having now openly assumed the full and undivided responsibility for the reorganization and protection of Egypt, shall no longer palter with any dangers that may menace her externally or internally. That is a proposition which, I think, I and my right hon. Friends are perfectly ready to accept. He further said— Her Majesty's Ministers, be they who they may, shall maintain a severe and statesmanlike silence as to the time of possible retirement. That also, I think, we are ready to accept; and if it was intended, as it probably was, as a sneer at a declaration or speech of mine made last year, I should like to remind the noble Lord that that declaration was not one deliberately made, or which was placed before Parliament after full consideration. It was in answer to a question put in debate by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The right hon. Gentleman had asked what we meant by an occupation which he described as "temporary," and whether "temporary" meant six months or six years? I explained that our intention was to prolong the occupation until order had been restored, and until the beginning of good government had been assured. I said in reply to the right hon. Gentleman that I thought six months a very likely term—certainly much more likely than six years. I am not particularly careful to stand up for the absolute wisdom or prudence of everything which may have ever fallen from me in debate in this House, and I am perfectly free to admit that if I had had more time for consideration, and had not followed the right hon. Gentleman almost at a few minutes' interval, I should probably have made the declaration as to the time of our occupation of Egypt in terms more guarded. But when the whole responsibility for that declaration is imposed on me, I think I may ask the noble Lord to suggest to his right hon. Friend, who sits near him, that if the answer was so evidently indiscreet, perhaps there was some indiscretion in the question itself. Finally, the noble Lord said— They shall not permit any fancy sentimentalism nor Party expediency to shorten by one single hour the term of England's occupation, and of England's control of Egypt and Egyptian affiairs. That, again, is a proposition we are perfectly ready to accept; and, having adopted the noble Lord's proposition, I think we are entitled to claim the noble Lord's vote in the Division that is about to take place. But, Sir, some of his Colleagues have made propositions somewhat more definite than this. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton Cross) has said we do not realize that we are the rulers of Egypt, and that its rulers we must remain, and that we ought to let Egypt and the world know this. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) said— The maintenance of our position in Egypt must be normal, and we must not quit the country until an Administration is set up which we can confidently leave in our place—if we made the announcement that English policy was to rule in Egypt, and that English policy was to be administered by English hands, something might be done. "Well, I want to know what these declarations about ruling Egypt, and ruling it by English hands mean, except the practical annexation of the country? They think it desirable and expedient to put in something about leaving behind at some future time something which may take our place; but what do these declarations about ruling Egypt by English hands mean, except the present and immediate annexation of the country? We are told there are differences of opinion on this side of the House, and that divided councils are the cause of our vacillation in Egypt. Are there no divided councils on the other side? The hon. Member for Hertford (MR. A. J. Balfour)—a Gentleman of great ability—who will probably in the future take a leading part in the councils of the Party opposite—the; chosen candidate of the Party opposite for one of the great constituencies of England—said the other day, as I; understand him, referring to the speech of the hon. Member for Newcastle (MR. J. Morley), that that hon. Member had pointed out the dangers attending annexation; but he asked what Party in the House desired annexation? He went on to say— If my hon. Friend thinks it dangerous that we should take on ourselves absolute power in Egypt, I would remind him that Her Majesty's Government have done that already. If he deprecates further action in that direction, then the reply is that no Party in this House proposes to take it. But what do hon. Gentlemen opposite propose to do when they talk about our rule in Egypt, and our letting Egypt and Europe know that we are the rulers of that country? But is this the only evidence of divided councils amongst the Party opposite? Not very long ago the noble Lord the Leader of the Party in "another place" said—and I think he will be prepared to stand by that declaration—that we were bound by every consideration of honour and expediency to support the Khedive of Egypt. That is a sentiment not altogether shared in by all the Members of the Party opposite. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), another influential Member of the Party opposite, who was also going to put up for a great constituency, advocated, a short time ago, his plans for the government of Egypt. He advocated the expulsion from Egypt, bag and baggage, of Tewfik Pasha and all his Turkish Pashas, his Circassians, his Zaptiehs, and Mudirs, and he advocated the recall of the exiles from Ceylon and the formation of a genuine popular Government, at the head of which should be placed a Prince, Native or European, who would inaugurate a rule at once Constitutional, enlightened, and just. Well, Sir, I want to know how the Conservative Government of the future is going to reconcile these conflicting declarations of policy on the part of its Members? If divided councils have led, as you say, to vacillation and inconsistency in, our policy, here are divided councils; and they will lead in the future, as you say they have in the past, to vacillation and inconsistency. Before you seek to displace us, I think it would be better, or, at all events, would inspire the country with confidence, if you would produce a policy, conceived by your Leaders, which your Party would adopt and carry out. In my opinion you have none. You have no definite aim; you have no definite conception of the means by which such aims as you have are to be carried out, and very few of you are agreed even on the objects you have in view. That which is clear is that, although you have no definite conception of Egypt, or of the Soudan, or of an Egyptian policy, you are as willing as you have ever been to pledge the country to vague, undefined, and vast engagements, and to risk the resources of the country in unnecessary enterprizes. You are, to all appearance, as ready now as ever you were to undertake engagements of the nature and character of the Anglo-Turkish Convention, and you are as ready as ever to involve the resources of the country in the prosecution of a war as unnecessary, if not as unjust, as the Afghan War. I believe that the people of this country are not prepared to remove their confidence from Her Majesty's Government. I believe their confidence will not be moved by temporary difficulties, or by temporary discouragement, but that they will continue to place confidence in those who, at least, know the objects at which they aim, and who seek and strive to limit and not extend the engagements, duties, and sacrifices, which have been imposed on the people of this country.


Sir, I must apologize to the House for intruding, even for a short time, at this very advanced hour; but the House will, I am sure, see that it is quite impossible for me to allow this debate to close without addressing to them a few concluding observations. The noble Lord who has just sat down opened his speech by a reference to the remarkable speeches which he said—and said truly—had been made in the course of this evening, and by a just presentment he included, among those speeches, the speech of the Secretary of State for War himself. Having listened to the speech of the noble Lord, I must say that of all the remarkable speeches which have been delivered this evening, that speech bears away the palm. The noble Lord has opened up a new chapter in the history of the present Government, of which he is so leading and so important a Member. The noble Lord, in the latter part of his speech, has told us a great deal which we have been very slow indeed to learn from the speeches of his Colleagues who have preceded him in this debate. He has told us a good deal about the policy of his own Government, and a good deal about the policy of the Opposition. ["No, no!"] But the noble Lord has. What was one part of his speech? He gave us his views as to what the Government hoped to see established; how there was to be a Native Government in Egypt, and how it was to be aided, and possibly permanently aided, by England; and then he went on to contrast with that scheme our plan which he said we had in opposition to it. Now, where he got our plan I do not know.


I do not wish to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman; but I am sure he would not wish to misrepresent what I said. I said that a Native Government in Egypt might require to be aided for a long time by Englishmen.


I understand that; but the noble Lord went on to say that there was a counter-scheme on the part of the Opposition, which was to throw everything into the hands of England. I am in the recollection of the House, but I will not be severe with the noble Lord, and if he says I misunderstood him, of course I accept the correction. But the noble Lord's summary of his speech appears to have been this—that we have challenged the Government, and we have asked the House to pass a Vote of Censure on the Government, for having adopted a policy which we have described as a vacillating and inconsistent policy. They may use any other epithets they like. They may call it a statesmanlike policy, or anything else they please; but these are the epithets I venture to apply to their policy. But, if they will accept my substantives, I will let them choose their own adjectives. I say we charge the Government with having by their policy largely contributed to the unfortunate state of things now existing in the Soudan and in the outlying portions of Egypt; and we, having charged them with that, have pointed out in detail the steps by which we make out that charge against them. Having pointed out that we complain of them because they kept everybody uncertain as to the actual amount of their responsibility, and as to the length of time during which they propose to give the Egyptian Government the force and benefit of their support; having pointed out all the faults of their policy, the noble Lord comes forward, confesses to a great many faults, and says the Government mean to do better in the future, and then gives us a policy entirely different from that which we accuse them of having pursued. Having taken that line, and having put himself in an entirely different position from that occupied by the Leader of the House, he has the coolness—I was going to call it the courage—to come forward and say—"Now, we having got this excellent policy, you must find some other, please, and tell us what it is." I do not think that the language used by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite with regard to the policy of the Opposition as respects the affairs of Egypt is language, under the circumstances, the most extraordinary I ever heard. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, in reply, the other day, to that which is the immediate subject of our discussion—though we do not appear to attend very much to it—namely, the Amendment of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), took notice of an expression used by the hon. Baronet—that our policy should be "to rescue and retire." The right hon. Gentleman said— If you only put the proper definition on the word 'rescue,' you will express as nearly as possible the policy of the Government; and then he went on to say, using his own definition of "rescue"— If you mean by 'rescue' the attainment of the objects to attain which we went to Egypt, we shall not object. Now, that throws us back to the whole policy which has been pursued with regard to Egypt, and I want to know whose policy it has been. You yourselves are forward enough—if you think you can make it the means of laying a charge against us—to say that the policy in any part you dislike was the invention of your Predecessors, and that you found it and did not make it. Be so good, if that is the case, as to adopt as our policy that which we have all along declared to be our policy. How was it, and why was it, that we went to Egypt and mingled in the concerns of Egypt? What were our objects? I have explained them in this House, or rather in the last House of Parliament, standing on that side of the Table, dozens-of times, on the part of the Government of which I had the honour to be a Member, and the explanation I have given on those occasions is the explanation I give now. What did we always say our interest was in Egypt? Not to expand our territory, not to annex that which does not belong to us, not to extend the boundaries of our Empire. Our object—and this was the keynote of all the policy that we pursued while we held Office—was to do what we could to secure for Egypt a good and efficient Administration, and one which would enable it to maintain itself in credit and independence, and at the same time would secure to us our road to India, and diminish or do away with all danger of interference of other Foreign Powers in that direction. That was the policy we pursued, and as the right hon. Member for Ripon (MR. Goschen), who knows much of the history of our dealings with Egypt, bore testimony to-night, our policy was not a policy for the benefit of a number of creditors or bondholders, or whatever you call them, but it was a policy of an Imperial character, and with the minimum of interference to maintain the position of that important country, so important in the chain of our communications. And as long as the Government of Lord Beaconsfield were in power we pursued that policy, and pursued it, on the whole, with success. We pursued it under difficulties; but the difficulties were overcome, and when the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues acceded to power they were ready enough to admit that, though there had been some points upon which they might have formed differences of opinion, yet they were content to accept the position of affairs in Egypt. They were ready to come forward and bear their testimony before the whole world as to the efficiency and good operation of the scheme which we had founded. Well, Sir, there is our policy. There is the policy which we were pursuing; but when it gets into the hands of Gentlemen opposite they spoil it. What had we to do with your bombardments and your battles, and all those steps which you have taken by which you have destroyed and shattered the Government of the Khedive, and have increased tenfold the difficulties in which the country has been placed? We come forward in order to challenge a particular part of your conduct. The noble Lord says that by taking that line—"You acknowledge, as it were, that the original challenge which you were disposed to offer through the right hon. Gentleman the Member for King's Lynn (MR. Bourke) is a challenge you are now ashamed, and are not prepared, to take up again. When you saw the Papers you dropped all the other parts of our administration, and you confine your attack to particular parts." Yes; we confess that we confine our attention in this Motion to a particular part, not because we think the rest is unimportant, but because that part of your policy, when we come to see the Papers and to study the history of the case from beginning to end, turns out to be so much worse and so much more open to objection than we could have conceived possible, that we found it our duty to call the attention of the House specifically to it. We called the attention of the House specifically to it, and we have received no answer to our challenge. We have had a very eloquent and able speech, to which reference has often been made, and to which reference may be made as often as you please. There has been a most able and eloquent speech, carrying the question of right far beyond the bounds of this paltry Motion, which is beneath the notice of the right hon. Gentleman. There was a good deal about the Dual Control and the sins of the late Government, and a good deal about the policy which was to be pursued in some imaginary campaign which the right hon. Gentleman had been good enough to lay out for us for the reconquest of the Soudan—a thing about which we never breathed a word. There was a great deal about that matter, and a great deal of very interesting oratory; but there was no answer to the specific charge we made, which was with regard to the share which the Government, by what we call their vacillating and inconsistent conduct, had had in bringing about the destruction of General Hicks's Army, and the other misfortunes which had fallen, upon Egypt. Even in the speech, of the noble Lord to-night, he has not attempted to meet the charge I made. The charge I have made has been that throughout the whole of the proceedings of General Hicks's Army, and the proceedings in the Soudan, our Representatives were cognizant of what was going on. Not only were they cognizant of what was going on, but the Egyptian authorities knew that they were cognizant of it. General Hicks knew they were cognizant of it, and he was in constant communication with Lord Dufferin and Sir Evelyn Baring, or Sir Edward Malet, and others of our Representatives, and that through them, all that he was doing was reported—and by the desire of the British Government—to Lord Granville at home. With all that information in their possession, when General Hicks fell into difficulties, and found himself in such a position that he was obliged to press the Egyptian Government not to force him upon an enterprize for which he was not properly provided, and when he again and again entreated the British authorities to do him the favour of repeating this to the Egyptian Government, he got simply the cold answer that they had no responsibility, and that the Government had directed their agents to offer him no advice. I say there is vacillation and inconsistency in your policy with regard to that matter. Where was the consistency between the advice which you allowed Lord Dufferin to give to the Egyptian Government, and your throwing everything over at the time when difficulties arose? Where was the consistency in employing Colonel Stewart to make an excellent Report on the state of the Soudan for your information, and then treating the territory as a matter over which we had no control? Where was the consistency in your pleading that it was impossible for you to employ General Gordon, because he was a Christian, and his employment would give offence to the people, and then overruling all the objections that were made afterwards by the Egyptian Government, and ordering them to accept your rule, and to agree to General Gordon being sent out? And let me further ask the noble Lord where was the consistency in being so exceedingly tender of the prejudices and views of the Egyptian Government, and of the dignity of the Khedive at one time, that you could not recommend them to follow the advice of their own Generals, and stop the operations of General Hicks, while you were ready to come down with that great blow which has shattered the Egyptian Ministry and the Constitution you were attempting to set up in Egypt? We are asked how far the Constitution you had set up in Egypt has answered? Our answer is that two, if not three, of the reforms you have introduced have already been put to the test, and have failed. You have established an Army system, and it has failed; you have established a system of what you may call responsible, or Parliamentary Government, or whatever you like to call it, and that also has failed; and you it is who yourselves have struck the blow in both cases to break up your own system. I do not like to read anything at this late hour of the night; but as what I am going to read are words of Lord Granville, I am sure they will be listened to attentively. These are the words of Lord Granville, contained in his despatch of the 4th of November, 1881. He says— You inform me that there was a general impression that Riaz received the general support of England. It cannot he 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 is not calculated to be of service to the country. Let me contrast with this these few words contained in the despatch of the 4th January, 1884— It should be made clear to the Egyptian Ministers and Governors of Provinces that the responsibility which for the time rests on England obliges Her Majesty's Government to insist on the adoption of the policy which they recommend, and that it will be necessary that those Ministers and Governors who do not follow this course should cease to hold their offices."—[Egypt, No. 1 (1884), p. 176.] And yet we are told there is no vacillation and no inconsistency. I leave that for the House to judge. The noble Lord made some remarks, which I confess I was sorry to hear, with regard to General Baker's force—remarks which, I think, might have been coupled with an expression of some sympathy and sorrow for the unmerited misfortune which has befallen so gallant an officer. I say unmerited, because General Baker never had a fair chance; and I venture to say that the reason why he never had a fair chance was because Her Majesty's Government did not do that which they might and ought to have done when they took the direction of Egyptian affairs into their own hands—that is, press the Egyptian Government to make proper provision for the purposes of the expedition by forwarding proper supplies and forces to General Baker. I have in my hand a letter which I should like to read to the House. It is from an officer who is well known in this House, and I am at liberty to give his name—I mean Colonel Burnaby. [Cries of "Oh!"] I know that this House, at such an hour as this (1.45 A.M.), when it is in such a state of excitement, is very apt to be roused by a name. I give the name because it identifies the source from which the information comes. Colonel Burnaby says— General Baker received positive instructions from the Egyptian Government on December 16 not to move to the relief of the besieged garrisons in Sinkat and Tokar until the arrival of Zebehr's black troops. These were promised to him by the beginning of January, and were reviewed by the Khedive in Cairo in December. Baker was next officially informed by a letter sent by the Egyptian Minister of War that the troops would leave for Suakim on January 5, but they were not sent. Baker was then informed on January 9 by Sir Evelyn Wood that the troops would leave immediately. The first battalion, however, did not reach Baker until January 26. He had no time to drill the troops, as he started for Trinkitat on the 27th. Had the troops been sent as promised at first, Sinkat as well as Tokar might have been relieved. Baker has asked for arms twice, and been officially refused by Sir Evelyn Wood, and a detachment of men have reached him unarmed. Such is the statement of the condition of affairs in Egypt under a system of administration you have done so much to constitute, and for which you have assumed the responsibility. I regret very much to detain the House. I have now brought before the House the principal points which I was most anxious to impress upon hon. Members, and I will not detain them by going further into the matter. What I would say, in conclusion, is this. The charge that we are bringing against the Government is a charge of vacillation and inconsistency in respect of the policy which they have pursued in connection with this Soudan War. I have supported that charge by a reference to the nature of our position after we had destroyed the Egyptian system by the battle of Tel-el-Kebir, and when we had the whole country at our feet, and were prepared to take on ourselves the task of re-establishing order. I have shown what was the position in which you were placed, and how you were absolutely responsible for the use which you made of it. It is no answer to that to say that the Government disclaimed all responsibility. They could not disclaim their responsibility. It is no answer to say that their opponents took no notice of that at the time we ought to have done. Perhaps we may have been wrong in not taking notice of it. But that has nothing to do with the matter. The responsibility of the Government was the same whether we did our duty or not. But I would point out that the greater portion of the events bearing upon the important parts of the case took place in August and November, after Parliament had risen, and we had no information upon them. We had no means of judging until the House assembled again. By doing what we have done, we have incurred a great responsibility to the people of Egypt, a great responsibility to the people of this country, and a great responsibility in the eyes of foreign nations. We have been allowed to take upon ourselves the settlement of the affairs of Egypt. Foreign nations, we are told, are looking with complacency and satisfaction on our having undertaken the task. If that be so, it is because they believe we shall effect it. They do not believe that we shall destroy that which we have undertaken to restore and put to rights. If we do, it will not be we who shall be allowed to carry out the future of the Government of Egypt. Egypt will not be left vacant by our coming away. Sir, I can only rejoice in this debate—first, because whatever may be the actual majority in the House, which goes as a matter of course in support of Her Majesty's Government, in that majority I am certain there will be a very large number of Gentlemen here, and I believe there is a still larger number in the country, who are themselves shaken in their confidence in the proceedings of Her Majesty's Government. I believe that the result of this Division and of this debate will not be lost upon the country at large, and that the country will watch with care and with vigilance the future course of Her Majesty's Government. Everything will be ended by the Division which will take place to-night. We shall have other opportunities, if we think it necessary, to call attention to the further proceedings, or lack of procedure, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, and I await with confidence the verdict of the country.


As I have no wish to compel the House to take two Divisions, and as, after what the Prime Minister said the other day, I and my Friends are much encouraged by his declaration of policy, I will, with the permission of the House, withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 262; Noes 311: Majority 49.

Alexander, Major-Gen. Castlereagh, Viscount
Allsopp, C. Cecil, Lord E. H. G. B.
Amherst, W. A. T. Chaine, J.
Archdale, W. H. Chaplin, H.
Ashmead-Bartlett, E. Christie, W. L.
Bailey, Sir J. R Churchill, Lord R.
Balfour, A. J. Clarke, E.
Barne, F. St. J. N. Clive, Col. hon. G. W.
Barry, J. Coddington, W.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Cole, Viscount
Bateson, Sir T. Collins, T.
Beach, right hon. Sir M. E. Hicks- Compton, F.
Coope, O. E.
Beach, W. W. B. Corbet, W. J.
Bective, Earl of Corry, J. P.
Bellingham, A. H. Cotton, W. J. R.
Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C. Cowen, J.
Beresford, G. De la P. Cross, rt. hon. Sir R. A.
Biddell, W. Cubitt, right hon. G.
Biggar, J. G. Curzon, Major hon. M.
Birkbeck, E. Dalrymple, C.
Blackburne, Col. J. I. Davenport, H. T.
Boord, T. W. Davenport, W. B.
Bourke, right hon. R. Dawnay, Col. hon. L. P.
Broadley, W. H. H. Dawnay, hon. G. C.
Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. E. Dawson, C.
De Worms, Baron H.
Brooke, Lord Dickson, Major A. G
Brooks, W. C. Digby, Colonel hon. E.
Bruce, Sir H. H. Dixon Hartland, F. D.
Bruce, hon. T. C. Donaldson-Hudson, C.
Brymer, W. E. Douglas, A. Akers-
Bulwer, J. R. Dyke, rt. rt. Sir W. H.
Burghley, Lord Eaton, H. W.
Burrell, Sir W. W. Ecroyd, W. F.
Buxton, Sir R. J. Egerton, hon. A. de T.
Cameron, D. Egerton, hon. A. F.
Campbell, J. A. Elcho, Lord
Carden, Sir R. W. Elliot, Sir G.
Elliot, G. W. Legh, W. J.
Elton, C. I. Leigh, R.
Emlyn, Viscount Leighton, Sir B.
Ennis, Sir J. Leighton, S.
Estcourt, G. S. Lennox, right hn. Lord H. G. C. G.
Ewart, W.
Ewing, A. O. Lever, J. O.
Feilden, Lieut.-General R. J. Levett, T. J.
Lewis, C. E.
Fellowes, W. H. Lewisham, Viscount
Finch, G. H. Loder, R.
Fitzwilliam, hon. C. W. Long, W. H.
Fletcher, Sir H. Lopes, Sir M.
Floyer, J. Lowther, rt. hon. J.
Folkestone, Viscount Lowther, hon. W.
Forester, C. T. W. Lowther, J. W.
Foster, W. H. Lynch, N.
Fowler, R. N. Macartney, J. W. E.
Fremantle, hon. T. F. Mac Iver, D.
Freshfield, C. K. Macnaghten, E.
Galway, Viscount M'Carthy, J.
Gardner, R. Richardson- M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J.
Garnier, J. C. M'Kenna, Sir J. N.
Gibson, right hon. E. M'Mahon, E.
Giffard, Sir H. S. Makins, Colonel W. T
Giles, A. Manners, rt. hon. Lord J. J. R.
Goldney, Sir G.
Gooch, Sir D. March, Earl of
Gore-Langton, W. S. Marriott, W. T.
Grantham, W Marum, E. M.
Gray, E. D. Master, T. W. C.
Greene, E. Maxwell, Sir H. E.
Greer, T. Mayne, T.
Gregory, G. B. Miles, Sir P. J. W.
Guest, M. J. Miles, C. W.
Halsey, T. F. Mills, Sir C. H.
Hamilton, Lord C. J. Milner, Sir F.
Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. Molloy, B. C.
Monckton, F.
Hamilton, I. T. Morgan, hon. F.
Harrington, T. Moss, R.
Harvey, Sir R. B. Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J. R.
Hay, rt. hon. Admiral Sir J. C. D.
Newdegate, C. N.
Healy, T. M. Newport, Viscount
Herbert, hon. S. Nicholson, W. N.
Hicks, E. North, Colonel J. S.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.
Hill, Lord A. W.
Hill, A. S. Northcote, H. S.
Hinchingbrook, Visc. O'Brien, W.
Holland, Sir H. T. O'Connor, A.
Home, Lt.-Col. D. M. O'Connor, T. P.
Hope, right hon. A. J. B. B. O'Donnell, F. H
Onslow, D. R.
Houldsworth, W. H. O'Sullivan, W. H.
Hubbard, right hon. J. G. Paget, R. H.
Parnell, C. S.
Jackson, W. L. Patrick, R. W. Cochran-
Johnstone, Sir F. Peek, Sir H. W.
Kennard, Col. E. H. Pell, A.
Kennard, C. J. Pemberton, E. L.
Kennaway, Sir J. H. Percy, right hon. Earl
Kenny, M. J. Percy, Lord A.
King-Harman, Colonel E. R. Phipps, C. N. P.
Phipps, P.
Knight, F. W. Plunket, rt. hon. D. R
Knightley, Sir R. Power, R.
Lawrance, J. C. Price, Captain G. E.
Lawrence, Sir T. Puleston, J. H.
Leahy, J. Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.
Leamy, E. Rankin, J.
Lechmere, Sir E. A. H. Rendlesham, Lord
Repton, G. W. Synan, E. J.
Ridley, Sir M. W. Talbot, J. G.
Ritchie, C. T. Thomson, H.
Rolls, J. A. Thornhill, T.
Ross, A. H. Thynne, Lord H. F.
Ross, C. C. Tollemache, hn. W. F.
Round, J. Tollemache, H. J.
St. Aubyn, W. M. Tomlinson, W. E. M.
Salt, T. Tottenham, A. L.
Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G. Tyler, Sir H. W.
Scott, Lord H. Wallace, Sir R.
Scott, M. D. Walrond, Col. W. H.
Selwin - Ibbetson, Sir H. J. Warburton, P. E.
Warton, C. N.
Severne, J. E. Watney, J.
Sexton, T. Welby-Gregory, Sir W.
Sheil, E. Whitley, E.
Small, J. F. Wilmot, Sir. H.
Smith, A. Wolff, Sir H. D.
Smith, rt. hon. W. H. Wortley, C. B. Stuart.
Smith wick, J. F. Wroughton, P.
Stanhope, hon. E. Wyndham, hon. P.
Stanley, rt. hon. Col. F. Yorke, J. R.
Stanley, E. J.
Storer, G. TELLERS.
Strutt, hon. C. H. Crichton, Viscount
Sullivan, T. D. Winn, R.
Sykes, C.
Acland, Sir T. D. Burt, T.
Acland, C. T. D. Buszard, M. C.
Agnew, W. Buxton, F. W.
Ainsworth, D. Buxton, S. C.
Allen, W. S. Caine, W. S.
Amory, Sir J. H. Cameron, C.
Anderson, G. Campbell, Lord C.
Armitage, B. Campbell, Sir G.
Armitstead, G. Campbell, R. F. F.
Arnold, A. Campbell-Bannerman, H.
Asher, A.
Ashley, hon. E. M. Carbutt, E. H.
Baldwin, E. Carington, hon. R.
Balfour, Sir G. Cartwright, W. C.
Balfour, rt. hon. J. B. Causton, R. K.
Barclay, J. W. Cavendish, Lord E.
Baring, Viscount Chamberlain, rt. hn. J.
Barnes, A. Chambers, Sir T.
Barran, J. Cheetham, J. F.
Bass, Sir A. Childers, rt. hn. H. C. E.
Bass, H. Clark, S.
Baxter, rt. hon. W. E. Clarke, J. C.
Beaumont, W. B. Clifford, C. C.
Biddulph, M. Cohen, A.
Blennerhassett, Sir R. Collings, J.
Blennerhassett, R. P. Collins, E.
Bolton, J. C. Colman, J. J.
Borlase, W. C. Colthurst, Colonel
Brand, H. R. Corbett, J.
Brassey, Sir T. Cotes, C. C.
Brassey, H. A. Courtauld, G.
Brett, R. B. Courtney, L. H.
Briggs, W. E. Craig, W. Y.
Bright, right hon. J. Creyke, R.
Bright, J. Cropper, J.
Brinton, J. Cross, J. K.
Broadhurst, H. Crum, A.
Brogden, A. Cunliffe, Sir R. A.
Brooks, M. Currie, Sir D.
Brown, A. H. Davey, H.
Bruce, rt. hon. Lord C. Davies, D.
Bryce, J. Davies, R.
Davies, W. Howard, E. S.
De Ferrières, Baron Howard, G. J.
Dickson, J. Howard, J.
Dickson, T. A. Illingworth, A.
Dilke, rt. hn. Sir C. W. Ince, H. B.
Dillwyn, L. L. Inderwick, F. A.
Dodds, J. James, Sir H.
Dodson, rt. hon. J. G. James, C.
Duckham, T. James, W. H.
Duff, R. W. Jardine, R.
Dundas, hon. J. C. Jenkins, Sir J. J.
Earp, T. Jenkins, D. J.
Ebrington, Viscount Jerningham, H. E. H.
Edwards, H. Johnson, E.
Edwards, P. Jones-Parry, L.
Egerton, Admiral hon. F. Kingscote, Col. E. N. F.
Kinnear, J.
Elliot, hon. A. R. D. Laing, S.
Errington, G. Lambton, hon. F. W.
Evans, T. W. Lawrence, W.
Fairbairn, Sir A. Lawson, Sir W.
Farquharson, Dr. R. Lea, T.
Fawcett, rt. hon. H. Leake, R.
Fay, C. J. Leatham, E. A.
Ferguson, R. Lee, H.
Ffolkes, Sir W. H. B. Lefevre, rt. hn. G. J. S.
Findlater, W. Leigh, hon. G. H. C.
Firth, J. F. B. Lloyd, M.
Fitzmaurice, Lord E. Lubbock, Sir J.
Fitzwilliam, hn. H. W. Lusk, Sir A.
Flower, C. Lymington, Viscount
Foljambe, C. G. S. Lyons, R. D.
Foljambe, F. J. S. Mackie, R. B.
Forster, Sir C. Mackintosh, C. F.
Forster, rt. hn. W. E. Macliver, P. S.
Fort, R. M'Arthur, Sir W.
Fowler, H. H. M'Arthur, A.
Fowler, W. M'Clure, Sir T.
Fry, L. M'Coan, J. G.
Fry, T. M'Intyre, Æneas J.
Gabbett, D. F. M'Lagan, P.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. M'Laren, C. B. B.
Gladstone, H. J. Magniac, C.
Gladstone, W. H. Maitland, W. F.
Gordon, Lord D. Mappin, F. T.
Gordon, Sir A. Marjoribanks, E.
Goschen, rt. hon. G. J. Martin, P.
Gourley, E. T. Martin, R. B.
Gower, hon. E. F. L. Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story-
Grafton, F. W.
Grant, Sir G. M. Matheson, Sir A.
Grant, A. Maxwell-Heron, J.
Grant, D. Meldon, C. H.
Grey, A. H. G. Mellor, J. W.
Gurdon, R. T. Milbank, Sir F. A.
Hamilton, J. G. C. Monk, C. J.
Harcourt, rt. hn. Sir W. G. V. V. Moore, A.
Moreton, Lord
Hardcastle, J. A. Morgan, rt. hon. G. O.
Hartington, Marq. of Morley, A.
Hastings, G. W. Morley, J.
Hayter, Sir A. D. Mundella, rt. hn. A. J.
Henderson, F. Noel, E.
Heneage, E. Norwood, G. M.
Henry, M. O'Beirne, Colonel F.
Herschell, Sir F. O'Brien, Sir P.
Hibbert, J. T. O'Donoghue, The
Hill, T. R. Paget, T. T.
Holden, I. Palmer, C. M.
Holland, S. Palmer, G.
Hollond, J. R. Palmer, J. H.
Holms, J. Parker, C. S.
Hopwood, C. H. Pease, Sir J. W.
Pease, A. Spencer, hon. C. R.
Peddie, J. D. Stanley, hon. E. L.
Pender, J. Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
Pennington, F. Stanton, W. J.
Philips, R. N. Stevenson, J. C.
Playfair, rt. hn. Sir L. Stuart, H. V.
Portman, hn. W. H. B. Summers, W.
Potter, T. B. Talbot, G. R. M.
Powell, W. R. H. Tavistock, Marquess of
Power, J. O' C. Taylor, P. A.
Price, Sir R. G. Tennant, C.
Pulley, J. Thomasson, J. P.
Ralli, P. Thompson, T. C.
Ramsay, J. Tillett, J. H.
Ramsden, Sir J. Trevelyan, rt. hn. G. O.
Rathbone, W. Verney, Sir H.
Reed, Sir E. J. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Reid, R. T. Vivian, Sir H. H.
Rendel, S. Vivian, A. P.
Richard, H. Waddy, S. D.
Richardson, T. Walker, S.
Roberts, J. Walter, J.
Robertson, H. Warterlow, Sir S.
Roe, T. Waugh, E.
Rogers, J. E. T. Webster, J.
Rothschild, Sir N. M. de West, H. W.
Roundell, G. S. Whitbread, S.
Russell, Lord A. Whitworth, B.
Russell, C. Wiggin, H.
Russell, G. W. E. Williams, S. C. E.
Rylands, P. Williamson, S.
Samuelson, B. Willis, W.
Samuelson, H. Wills, W. H.
Seely, C. (Lincoln) Willyams, E. W. B.
Seely, C. (Nottingham) Wilson, Sir M.
Sellar, A. G. Wilson, C. H.
Shaw, T. Wilson, I.
Shaw, W. Wodehouse, E. R.
Sheridan, H. B. Woodall, W.
Shield, H. Woolf, S.
Simon, Serjeant J.
Sinclair, Sir J. G. T. TELLERS.
Slagg, J. Grosvenor, right hon. Lord R.
Smith, Lieut.-Col. G.
Smith, S. Kensington, rt. hn. Lord
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