HC Deb 14 May 1884 vol 288 cc307-82

Order for Second Reading read.


, in rising to move that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that in doing so he intended to make as few observations as possible, because he was aware that there was a measure following this that excited considerable interest, and he would not say anything that was likely to delay or interfere with the consideration of that measure. The Bill before the House, although in the nature of a Private Bill, was really a great national measure. It involved one of those great questions which justified the House in asking the Government what their policy was. He was quite aware that the policy of the Government was a mystery upon many questions; and it seemed to him that in regard to this question of a Channel Tunnel it was specially mysterious. What he wanted to know was, whether the policy of the Government was one of peace with all nations, or one of the separation of this country from the outer world — whether they were in favour of a cordial and intimate alliance with France, or whether they preferred a policy of isolation and separation, the logical end of which must be strained relations, and probably war? Then he wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister still retained his opinion in favour of the connection between England and France by a Tunnel which he had expressed in times gone by? Other great statesmen had expressed similar views. In addition to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Hicks) had originally placed a Notice on the Paper, which was now taken up by the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Northcote), of his intention to move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months. He would ask those two hon. Gentlemen kindly to cogitate, before they spoke, as to the facts which he proposed to lay before them. They must remember that there existed in the house of business of the Rothschilds in the City a letter from the late Lord Derby to the then Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Disraeli), afterwards Lord Beaconsfield, in which the Tunnel was spoken of as a great national work, which ought not to be opposed, but assisted by the moral approval of Government; and in that letter it was stated that all the dangers and difficulties with regard to facilities for invasion by the construction of a Channel Tunnel were hardly worth discussion. On many occasions he had tried to get the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade to lay before the House a copy of the letter. He was quite sure the hon. Baronet the Member for Aylesbury (Sir Nathaniel Rothschild) would be glad to produce it; but there were other letters that could be seen. The next matter he wished to bring before the attention of the two hon. Gentlemen was that in pre-historic times, according to all the teaching of geology, England and France were, practically, one country. He would ask them then, in the first place, whether they considered themselves more sagacious than the great Leaders of their Party; and next, whether they thought Providence had made an accidental mistake in originally annexing England and France as one Continent? It was just as well that they should see exactly where they were. On this side of the Channel, according to the testimony of Colonel Yolland, there was a gallery under the sea of 2,000 and some odd hundred yards in length stretching towards the Coast of France; and on the other side of the Channel there was a similar gallery projecting in the direction of England. He knew the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade might tell them that, inasmuch as the Channel Tunnel works in France had been suspended, it was not necessary to trouble themselves further in regard to the Bill before the House; but with the permission of the House he would like to state, from official authority, what was exactly the position of the French Channel Tunnel works. This was an official account of the experiments on the Coast of Franco— Having been after our experimental heading at Escalles (S.W. of Sangatte) perfectly satisfied with the nature, soundness, and sufficient dryness of the chalk beds, and also with the merits of Colonel Beaumont's boring machine, we have stopped the work in that quarter, as it would have been for the present a useless expense, and it may at any time easily be resumed by again putting the machinery in working order, and after a few days pumping. Since then we hare made three new borings, Nos. 3, 4, 5, to ascertain the exact depth at which gray chalk is to be met with at various places between Sangatte and Calais. The borings, Nos. 3, 4, have already been finished for a good while; No. 5 is about to be concluded. The results and practical knowledge derived from these borings are all of a most encouraging character. With the data so obtained we are pursuing proper studies for the further establishment of the deepest shafts, by means of which the central part of the Channel Tunnel is to be excavated, and finally drained and ventilated, after being opened for the traffic of goods and passengers. By these preliminary operations we intend making ourselves ready to begin at once the works on a large scale, as soon as an understanding has been come to between the English and French Governments. As to our legal situation in France, it is now perfectly sound and clear. We have fulfilled all our engagements, and have become, by our declaration of the 26th July, 1883, definite concessionaries of the French part of the Channel Tunnel. We have agreed with our Government that delays, after the time at which we are bound by the Act of Concession to have completed the works and opened the submarine railway to traffic, are to be counted from the date of the diplomatic arrangement, which must, of course, take place between both nations on the subject. Inclosed you will find a copy of our correspondence with the Ministre de Travaux Publique, by whom things have been settled as exposed. We anxiously await such an arrangement, as we suffer from the present delays, together with corresponding losses of interest on about £100,000, which we have spent on the faith of previous understandings, already realized on several occasions, as to the utility and feasibility of the general scheme—between the English and French Governments. As we declared, at the conclusion of the last meeting of our Association, we are heartily confident that the great and noble English nation will know how to secure her safety without depriving her country of a new way of communication, which would afford such new and immense facilities to her trade, and increase meanwhile her political power itself. That was the present position of the matter. He might state that the powers of the Bill divided themselves into three heads. There was, first of all, a power to continue to completion the experimental work of the Tunnel. It was true that those who had been engaged on the work were convinced that the piercing of the Tunnel was perfectly practicable and comparatively easy; but it was thought, and he concurred in that opinion, that until a gallery was pierced through the whole length of the bed of the Channel, the public mind would not be entirely convinced that the scheme was altogether feasible. Last year he had the honour of addressing the Prime Minister on the subject, and he had then represented that not only would this work be advantageous in a scientific point of view—not only would it finally settle the question of practicability—but that there were political reasons why it was desirable that England, when nobody objected, but on the contrary assented, should take possession of her half of the Tunnel under the Channel; because they had it on the highest legal authority that if by any operation the people of France projected their Tunnel close to the English Coast, it would constitute an extension of French territory, and under French law would be controlled in accordance with French interests. Therefore, he thought, apart from the question of Tunnel or no Tunnel, it was extremely desirable that England should, by undertaking experimental works, take possession of her half of the bed of the Channel. In regard to the experimental works themselves, he would ask who was to be damaged? Who would be injured? Not the taxpayers of England, for they were not asked to take on themselves the completion of a scientific experiment. To science, on the contrary, it would bring about excellent results. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade knew very well that among other eminent men the late President of the Royal Society (Mr. Spottiswoode), the late President of the Society of Arts (Sir William Siemens), Professors from Oxford and elsewhere, and the Geological Society, had all, for scientific reasons, apart from reasons connected with the Tunnel itself, urged upon the Government that this experiment should be allowed to proceed. Geologists, also, believed that there was underlying a large portion of the Channel a great coal bed which might be utilized for the good of mankind. That was only a theoretical opinion; but one of the things which it was proposed to do before the President of the Board of Trade, as he (Sir Edward Watkin) thought arbitrarily, by injunction stopped the experimental works, was to make borings, in order to test the truth of this great problem of mineral deposits under the bed of the Channel. Therefore, on the ground of international law; on the ground of scientific interest, he hoped that nobody, not even the President of the Board of Trade, would oppose that part of the Bill, at all events, which involved the completion of the scientific experiments. He (Sir Edward Watkin) had never heard of any Government in any country who had hitherto stopped any experiment whatever calculated to elucidate great problems affecting the national progress. The next portion of the Bill related to the construction of land railways, which, of course, would have to be made if the Tunnel were built, in order to connect the railway systems with the Tunnel. It was proposed that these railways should be made according to the recommendations of the Military Commission which the Government had appointed to consider the question. He did not mean to say that they were laid out in the Bill as they might be best laid out for commercial purposes; but the Bill complied implicitly with the conditions laid down by the Commission. The third part of the Bill enabled the permanent works from the English Coast to be carried out in accordance with those of the French Channel Tunnel. In regard to that point, he wished to state that those who promoted the Bill had never sought in any sense whatever to obtain anything in the nature of a monopoly. There were only two railways which at present had termini in the Channel in the direction of Dover and Folkestone—namely, the South Eastern and the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway Companies. So far as the South Eastern Company was concerned, they had always declared that in a great international work of this kind, to carry out a connection between the railways of England and those of the Continent, there could be nothing in the nature of a monopoly; but that the whole railway system should have free access to this great means of communication between the English railways and the railways of the Continent. Therefore, the House might dismiss from its mind any suspicion of there having been a desire in any sense whatever to make this a monopoly. The House would remember that this was no new question to the Government or to the Opposition; and the Prime Minister had expressed himself in time gone by enthusiastically in favour of this Tunnel. The right hon. Gentleman might have altered his mind; his opinions did sometimes very seriously change; but the Government of the day, Lord Granville being Prime Minister, undoubtedly sanctioned the principle of a Tunnel; and the Government of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite—the Government of Lord Beaconsfield—had, through Lord Derby, distinctly sanctioned it also. Then, again, Parliament had, in two or three Bills, given implied adherence to the principle. In 1874 it permitted the South Eastern Railway Company to lay out money in making experiments, and the South Eastern Company had done so. In 1875 it authorized the Company, of which the noble Lord the Member for Flintshire (Lord Richard Grosvenor) was the presiding genius, also to make experiments, and the noble Lord and his friends had possessed the powers, but had not made the experiments. Since then, as late as 1881, Parliament had permitted the South Eastern Rail way Company and others to purchase land on the margin of the Tunnel, with a view, also avowedly specified in the Act of Parliament, of enabling further experiments to be made in connection with this Tunnel. Therefore, it was not a new question; and what he wished to know from the Government, and also what he would venture to ask from the Opposition, was, what was the reason those great Parties in the State had changed their mind on so important a question? He had said in the beginning that he wished to know from the Government if they were in favour of a policy of peace and union, and increased facilities for intercommunication between England and France, or whether they were in favour of a policy of isolation and separation? At this moment, undoubtedly, the position of our relations with a neighbouring nation across the Channel were somewhat strained; and he asked the House generally to consider what might have been the position if England and France, combined in union in face of all the world, were, at this moment, constructing this noble work, which must for ever attach this country to France and to the Continent? He ventured to think that our relations would have been of a totally different character. Unhappily, mole-hills had been magnified into mountains, where the two nations might have gone on hand-in-hand together, without allowing petty difficulties or jealousies in any way to interfere. He did not wish to mention great names in connection with the matter; but he must remind the House that one of the most sagacious men who had ever lived in our times—the late Prince Consort— was an earnest and enthusiastic advocate of the Channel Tunnel. His mind told him that unless some communication of the sort between England and the Continent were provided, England would become, as time went on, commercially isolated. The Continent being held together by a continuous system of railways, the commercial entrepôt, which England had hitherto been, and English commercial supremacy, would be seriously endangered by the construction of deep water harbours and the employment of quick steamers. He knew that there were some hon. Gentlemen— the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Hicks) among others—who thought that if there wag to be a Tunnel at all it ought not to be a question of private enterprise. He agreed with the hon. Member; and when the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade rose to move that the Bill be consigned to the limbo of six months hence, he would ask him to tell the House how frequently and how earnestly he (Sir Edward Watkin) had pleaded with him for more than two or three years that while private enterprize ought to complete the experiment whether a Tunnel under the Channel could be made with cheapness, facility, and certainty; and that while private enterprize alone should be employed in connecting the English railway system with that of the Continent, the undersea portion of the Tunnel itself should be made by the nation, should become the property of the nation, should be controlled by the nation, and ought not to be in any sense the property of private speculators, who might be Englishmen today, Frenchmen, tomorrow, Americans some other day, or anybody else. Therefore, there was no intention on the part of the promoters of the Bill either to set up a monopoly, or in any way to interfere with what they believed to be the proper patriotic action of the Government. On the other hand, works had been carried out entirely on the faith, of previous discussions in that House, and on the previous action of the Government representing both the great Parties of the State. The letter he had read just now clearly showed that if it had not been for the Correspondence and the Convention between the Governments of England and France the £100,000 which French gentlemen had laid out in experimental works would never have been expended. They might tell this country, when the proper time came, and the Government had interfered to stop the progress of the present Bill, that they would go on with their works in spite of Her Majesty's Government. What would the Government do then? Would they follow the idea that, the French people having crossed the dividing line in the centre of the Channel between England on the one side and France on the other, we ought to go to war with the Republic of France in consequence? That was a question well worthy of consideration. He would take it in another way. Did the Government consider that the Tunnel ought to be made by anybody at any time and under any circumstances? Because that was the real question. Would the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade get up and say that, in the opinion of the Government, of the collective Cabinet, the construction of a Tunnel under the Channel to connect England and France would be so totally opposed to British liberty, to civilization, and to common sense, and everything else, that under no circumstances, or at any time, under no set of men, ought it ever to be made? If they were prepared to do that, he would at once sit down. The Government either did not agree with the views of the Prince Consort, Lord Beaconsfield, Lord Derby, Mr. Cobden, Lord Clarendon, and most men who had expressed themselves upon the subject, or, if they did believe in those views, what was the cause of their action that day? They either believed that this was a great work of civilization, or they did not. If they did, why were they going to oppose the Bill that day'? What was their peculiar position with reference to the noble Lord the Member for Flintshire (Lord Richard Grosvenor), the President of the Channel Tunnel Company, which had done nothing? The noble Lord represented the Government—one of the most important among them all, the Government Whip—the man, in fact, who kept them in Office —as he had done last night. The noble Lord represented the Tunnel idea, as Chairman of the Board of one of those Companies; and yet the Government, of which the noble Lord was a Member, were coming there that day to assert, he supposed, that no Tunnel ought ever to be made. He wanted a distinct and deliberate answer to his question; and he hoped it would not be shirked or evaded in any way. He would repeat the question again. Did the Government think a Tunnel under the Channel ought never to be made, under any conceivable circumstances, to connect England and France? Because if that was their contention he had nothing more to say. They had a majority. It might have dwindled; but there it was. It was not merely a question of the Tunnel; but what were to be the future relations between England and France? Should they annex that part of the Continent generally for the intercommunication of commerce, or should they not? The Government ought to give some information to the House upon that question; and he respectfully entreated the Prime Minister or the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade to tell them what the real views of the Government were. When a deputation of English workpeople went to France last year they had an interview with the President of the French Republic. And what did the President tell them? He told them they ought to go back and speak to their own Government. He said— If the English Government are for a policy of isolation and separation I should deplore and regret it; but I cannot help it. We are all of one mind on this side of the Channel. We believe that this is a great work of civilization which ought to be accomplished, and we are ready to assist in its accomplishment. The President of the French Republic added— Go, then, and speak to your own Government. He (Sir Edward Watkin) wanted an answer from Her Majesty's Government. He believed honestly that if the question were submitted to the great communities of the country it would certainty be very easily settled. Where was the whole difficulty? It was not for him to explain the curious changes of opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade. Anyone who would open the Blue Books would see that at the beginning the right hon. Gentleman had communicated the distinct assent of the Government to the principle of the construction of the Tunnel. It was quite fair and just to the right hon. Gentleman to say that in further communications he very properly spoke of precautions and other matters that would have to be attended to; but, undoubtedly, two or three years ago the right hon. Gentleman led him to believe that the Government were in favour of the construction of a Tunnel, provided they were not asked to contribute anything towards it. What had happened to bring about a change of opinion? Perhaps he was only anticipating what the right hon. Gentleman would say. In the month of July, two years ago, there appeared in a French newspaper a letter dated from the War Office, and signed by Sir Garnet Wolseley; and that letter for the first time raised a distinct military alarm in regard to the Tunnel. He might say, in a parenthesis, that if he wanted an answer to what Sir Garnet Wolseley said he might appeal to a soldier of as high distinction as Sir Garnet himself— namely, Sir John Adye, who gave his opinion without the use of any high-sounding phrases, or any large amount of bad quotation from Shakespeare. He thought it would be seen that what Sir John Adye said undoubtedly answered the letter of Sir Garnet Wolseley. He had referred to the fact that the letter of Sir Garnet Wolseley was dated from the War Office; and he would like to ask the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War, presuming him to be present, whether, as a matter of discipline, any officer connected with the Army was allowed to write a letter affecting the policy of the country, contradicting and denouncing the action of Governments of both Parties in past times— denouncing that policy in a way that was likely to breed international suspicion, and then to date his letter from the War Office—without reprimand? He thought this military correspondence was a most dangerous thing. Soldiers had no right to interfere with the policy of the country, and it was a matter for the Executive Government to consider. All the mischief began, and had been continued, from the time of that letter, which convinced him, as a plain man, that there was a military authority cropping up in this country which might some day become dangerous. If peaceful men could not be allowed to promote communication between nations without letters being written and dated from the War Office by high military authorities, it was quite time that Parliament began to consider the relative positions of the civilian and military classes in the country. This, as far as he knew, constituted the whole difficulty. To sum up—the question came to this—the Government of the Liberal Party, and the Government of the Conservative Party, in past times had consented deliberately to the principle of the construction of the Tunnel. The Conservative Government then in power agreed to a Convention drawn up by three Commissioners on the part of England and three on the part of France, to provide and consider all the details in reference to this important question. Communications had been made between the two countries since. Large sums of money had been laid out on both sides of the Channel, and the matter had been practically settled. What the House was now asked to do, and what the two political Parties in the State were asked to do, was to be logical and consistent—first of all, to permit the completion of the experiments; and then, by the legislation asked for, to enable this great work to be accomplished by private enterprize. He begged to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir Edward Watkin.)


The hon. Baronet said, at the commencement of his observations, that he hoped the Government would make a clear statement as to their policy in reference to this matter, and he professed to discover some mystery in reference to their opinions. I can assure him that that mystery is entirely a figment of his own imagination — [Mr. WARTON: Hear, hear!]—for the policy of the Government is perfectly clear, as I hope the House will agree when I have concluded the very few remarks I think it necessary to offer at this stage of the proceedings. The hon. Baronet referred several times in the course of his speech to the opinions of distinguished individuals, who have been Members of former Governments, and of others in favour of this project. I think he somewhat exaggerated the tone of those communications. For instance, I am not myself aware of any published document in which the Prime Minister has expressed an enthusiastic opinion with respect to this project; but it is certainly true that a good many years ago the private secretary of Mr. Gladstone, who was then Prime Minister of the last Liberal Government, did express the general concurrence of the right hon. Gentleman with a similar project. In a communication to the Board of Trade, the right hon. Gentleman stated that, in principle, he saw no objection to the construction of a Tunnel. I do not know what advantage may be derived from an admission that various distinguished persons in former times saw no objection to this project. As a matter of fact, the same view was stated by Lord Granville on behalf of the former Government of the Prime Minister, and by Lord Derby and by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) on behalf of the Government of Mr. Disraeli. But all this has nothing to do with the question at present before the House, which is that there is a general opinion entertained by the Members of this House that this project, if carried out, would seriously interfere with the security of the country. Under such circumstances, hon. Members are bound, if they are not mad or wicked, to put aside any number of favourable opinions by any number of men in order to put a stop to a project which, in their opinion, would entail such consequences and not allow it to proceed. I am not able to explain how it came about—that when this matter was originally proposed no military authority appears to have been struck with the danger its execution might possibly inflict upon the country; and accordingly the early discussions in reference to the matter were all connected with the question of monopoly, and the international arrangements it might be necessary to make for the security and convenience of the traffic. Accordingly, when the matter came before me a few years ago, looking back only to this correspondence, I thought it my duty, on behalf of what is really the Ministry of Commerce connected with the Government, to make an examination into the question from a commercial point of view; and I appointed a Departmental Committee—on which Sir Thomas Farrer, the Permanent Secretary of the Board of Trade, was assisted by a Representative from the Board of Admiralty and a Representative from the War Office—to consider under what conditions this project might be allowed to be proceeded with, if it was allowed to proceed at all. It was in the course of that inquiry that the Committee became acquainted with the opinion of Lord Wolseley, to which the hon. Baronet has referred. They also received an opinion to the same effect from Sir Cooper Key. I am informed that other distinguished officers were anxious to give evidence of a similar character. Under the circumstances, the Committee reported to me that this question, which was unexpected at the time the Committee was appointed, had arisen. I saw at once that a matter so tremendous in a national point of view could not be left to a Departmental Committee appointed for a different purpose. I, therefore, relieved the Departmental Committee of its duties, and I consulted at once my Colleagues in the Government. A proposal was then made by the then Secretary of State for War, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Childers), that a Committee of Experts should be appointed, and the decision of the Cabinet was in favour of that proposal. Accordingly a scientific Committee was appointed, and instructed to report by what means the Tunnel, if constructed, might be rendered absolutely useless to an enemy in a time of war, or of threatened war. That Committee took evidence and made an elaborate Report; and I must say that their Report was the death-warrant of this scheme; because, while the Committee did report that, in their opinion, the Tunnel might be rendered absolutely useless to an enemy under the circumstances stated in the Reference, yet they accompanied that opinion by a statement that it was, of course, impossible that any human foresight could be entirely relied upon in every conceivable case. They made recommendations for the security of the Tunnel of a nature so complicated, so numerous, and so costly, that if they were carried into effect, it would be impossible that any Tunnel could be a commercial success. What did the Committee recommend? They recommended that the end of the Tunnel which was in this country should come out in view of a first-class fortress, which first-class fortress, I suppose, would have to be provided at the cost of the hon. Baronet and his shareholders. It was proposed that the Tunnel should have appliances by means of a portcullis, by which it could be closed on any occasion that might be necessary; further, that there should be means for filling the Tunnel with, irrespirable gases, and by which shingle might be let into the Tunnel if occasion required; and, lastly, it was proposed that there should be means for blowing up the Tunnel and flooding it temporarily, and permanently, if necessary; and also that these appliances should be provided not only in the fortress but in various other centres in the country. Well, Sir, I say that if such precautions were necessary, it appears to me that it was not surprising that many people should think it would be better not to carry forward a project with reference to which such extreme precautions were necessary. On the receipt of this Report, the Government at once moved for the appointment of a Joint Committee of both Houses to consider not only the Report, but also all the information that could be obtained upon the subject, and also to take evidence. The Committee held a great number of meetings, and most carefully considered the subject. They were unable to agree upon a unanimous Report as to details; but they did agree by a majority that, in their opinion, it was undesirable the Tunnel should be further proceeded with. Under the circumstances disclosed by the Report and by the evidence taken by the various Committees, the Government decided to adopt the decision of that Committees; and in answer to the hon. Baronet's Question, I have to say that that is the policy of Her Majesty's Government. In pursuance of that decision, I last year moved that the Order for the Second Reading of both of the Bills should be discharged. The hon. Baronet now asks the House to reconsider that decision. Has anything happened in the time which has elapsed to lead us to set aside the Report of the Joint Committee, and to allow these works to go on? The hon. Baronet comes down to the House and poses as a great civilizing influence, and asks the leave of the House to continue experiments in order to discover whether or not there is a coal-bed under the Channel. We might be disposed to allow the hon. Baronet to continue experiments if we could have entire confidence in his proceedings. What is the history of this matter? I am obliged to remind the House of what took place very early in these proceedings. The question of the rights of the Crown arose. The Board of Trade, representing the Crown, claimed the foreshore where the hon. Gentleman was making his works. That claim was disputed, and was likely to become the subject of an action. But while that claim was disputed, nobody, I believe, disputed the rights of the Crown to the solum of the sea within the three-mile territorial limit; and it was thought sufficient to give notice to the hon. Baronet that as soon as he went beyond the limit of the foreshore, the Board of Trade reserved to themselves the right of interfering in such manner as was considered most expedient in the public interest. About the end of March, 1882, I received information to the effect that the borings had then proceeded almost to the limit of the foreshore. I at once gave notice to the hon. Baronet that he was to stop his works; and I received, in the first in- stance, from the secretary of the Company a positive assurance that the works had been stopped. I also received from the hon. Baronet a personal assurance that the works would be stopped, and a letter from him at the same time begging permission to continue the works, so far as they were necessary to secure the lives and health of those who had been employed in the workings, and in keeping the drainage right. He informed me that the responsibility for the death or any danger to the men would rest upon my head unless the required permission was given. Of course, I knew nothing of the facts; but I gave the permission asked conditionally— that such works only should be carried out as were absolutely necessary to secure the health and lives of the men employed, and at the same time I asked for an immediate inspection of the Works on behalf of the Board of Trade. That was on the 10th of April; on the 11th of April I informed the hon. Baronet that Colonel Yolland would inspect the works on the 12th. On the same day I received a letter from the hon. Baronet informing me that it was impossible for an inspection to take place on that day, but that he would arrange for it to take place on an early day. The inspection was afterwards fixed for the 6th of May; but again the hon. Baronet informed me that it was equally impossible for it to take place on that day, but that he would arrange for it on the 12th of May. I tried to get an earlier day; but the correspondence still went on until the 18th of May, when the hon. Baronet, after further excuses, suggested the 26th or 27th. The Board of Trade accepted the appointment for the 26th; but on the 25th a letter was received from the hon. Baronet regretting that it was impossible for the inspection to take place on that day, because the winding apparatus required repairs, but promising that everything should be ready by June 10. The Board of Trade accepted June 10; but on the 7th the hon. Baronet put me off again; and on the 9th I wrote to the hon. Baronet stating that the Board of Trade must insist on a day being fixed, in order that they might enforce the rights of the Crown. I asked for an appointment on June 19, and the hon. Baronet said he would do the best he could in the rough. On June 22 the hon. Baronet again sent an excuse and postponed the inspection. On June 23 the Board of Trade consulted its legal advisers, and on July 5, after further excuses and correspondence, I applied to the Court, which made an Order that the works should be stopped, except with the consent of the Board of Trade, and that the Board of Trade should be at liberty, at all reasonable times, to inspect the works.


I rise to Order. I do not wish to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman in his statement, but I do think he ought to read these letters. He is giving merely a caricature of what took place. Nor is he reading the Order of the Court, and I wish him to do so.


That is no question of Order.


I rise to Order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to ask whether all these documents are not on the Table of the House?


Certainly they are. All the documents are printed in the Blue Book, and I do not suppose the House wishes me to read them. I can give the House my assurance that I have correctly stated what took place— and I will continue my account of the course of events. The Court made that Order on July 5, and on July 6 I arranged for an appointment on July 8, when Colonel Yolland was to visit the works. Therefore, from April I to July 6, I was engaged in correspondence with the hon. Baronet, in which I was continually pressing for an immediate inspection, and in which the hon. Baronet was continually putting me off. And why did he put me off? I do not know whether Colonel Yolland's Report gives any explanation of the mystery. Colonel Yolland having visited the works on July 15th, he reported that the Tunnel had been carried more than 600 yards beyond the line of the foreshore; and, further, that not one additional inch of the Tunnel was necessary, and that not one inch of the cutting had been necessary, to secure the health of the men employed, and that the ventilation would be much better attained if the cutting machine were entirely removed. On August 6 further inspection was made, when Colonel Yolland found that a further 70 yards of the Tunnel had been cut since the Order of the Court was obtained. On August 16 I took proceedings against the Company for sequestration for contempt of Court, and the Court ordered that the boring machine should not make further progress; and since then the works have been stopped. I, therefore, leave it to the House to judge whether it is likely that I, as the Representative of the Government, can have any confidence in the assurances of the hon. Baronet that if he be allowed to make experiments for scientific purposes, they may not be carried altogether beyond the intentions of the Government, and contrary to the wishes of Parliament. I think, under these circumstances, the House will feel with me that it is unnecessary to discuss the matter at further length, and that no reasons have been shown why the decision that the House came to on a previous occasion should be changed. I think the best and kindest thing to do for the hon. Baronet himself—though he will not thank us for it—and also for the shareholders, would be to give this matter its coup de grâce. I accordingly move that the Bill be read a second time this day six months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Chamberlain.)

Question proposed, "That the word now stand part of the Question."


said, that as one of the Members of the Joint Committee of Lords and Commons who had sat to consider this question last year, he wished to make a few observations to the House. In the first place, he wished to urge upon all Members of the House who were interested in the matter, that they should suspend their final judgment till they had carefully perused the masterly draft Report of Lord Lansdowne, the Chairman of the Committee. The document was of first-rate importance, and was one which he believed would be consulted with interest and with pleasure long after the fears now entertained had been forgotten. He had not gathered from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade whether he and Her Majesty's Government really believed that all those fortresses and all that vast expenditure were required in order to protect the English end of the Tunnel. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Chamberlain) had been carefully vague on that point; but this he would say—that to his own mind and that of Mr. Speaker —to whose assistance in their investigations the Committee were much indebted —it was perfectly obvious that the great bulk of evidence showed that the opinion of Sir John Adye, the highest authority on a subject of this kind in the Kingdom, was quite correct. When speaking of the military dangers apprehended from the Tunnel, he emphatically said that with the commonest precautions he could not perceive them. Many years ago, when they were considering a railway from Southampton to London, military witnesses said that such a railway would bring England dangerously near to France. One portion of the evidence had struck him very forcibly; that was where several witnesses told them that they were rather ashamed to mention the project on the Continent, as foreigners could not help laughing at the chimera that had taken possession of so many honest British minds. He was not talking of Frenchmen, who might be supposed to be interested parties, anxious for an opportunity to invade, attack, and plunder this undefended, miserable Island of ours; but he was speaking of people outside— namely, Italians, Germans, Americans, and other foreigners, from whom we had nothing to fear. These people could not understand this periodic alarm of ours. He was not going to enter into the personal controversy between the President of the Board of Trade and the supporters of the Bill; that was a matter with which the House had nothing whatever to do; but he wished the House of Commons, and all hon. Gentlemen interested in this matter, to study it a little more deeply before they committed themselves to an opinion against the project for making a Tunnel between this country and France. The discussion of this matter had reminded him very forcibly of a memorable scene in that House some 26 years ago, when a Resolution was passed by a majority of 5 to I against the Suez Canal—a Resolution which, allow him to say, had made them the laughing-stock of Europe, and which, having thrown the Suez undertaking into French hands, had been the fountain-head and origin of all our troubles in Egypt. On that memorable occasion he voted in the minority, and he did so with a feeling of mixed humiliation and indignation to think that the statesmen of England and English engineers should have adopted the line of argument that they did. And on this project, also, if the House wont to a Division, he should vote with the minority, in the firm belief that the Tunnel was perfectly certain to be made, and that it would confer immense benefit on the trade and commerce of the country. At the same time, he thought it was for the hon. Baronet behind him to consider whether it would be wise on this occasion to go to a Division. The hon. Baronet knew perfectly well, and they all knew, that in the present extraordinary state of public feeling on this matter it was quite impossible to go on with the project. He would advise the hon. Baronet to wait for two or three years, when he believed that a process of conversion would take place, and the people of this country would take a very different view of the matter. He attached no importance to this discussion that day. They all knew that the Bill could not pass; and he therefore thought the hon. Baronet would be wise by refraining from going to a Division. He would entreat the House of Commons not to pledge itself by any Resolution against the project.


said, that, after the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, he did not propose to kill over again this dead project; but he would point out what they had got to deal with. He would point out that they had not to consider the opinions of a generation which was dead and gone— the opinions quoted by the hon. Baronet —but that they had to deal with the minds and feelings and desires of the present generation. If the hon. Baronet could show that it was the desire of the people of the country at the present moment that the Tunnel should be made, no doubt he would obtain permission to make it; but it must be remembered that he had quoted a limited authority in favour of his scheme. Most of the authorities referred to as being in favour of the project could not be said to be interested in the question, and why? Because they were all dead and buried. They who were alive were really inte- rested in it, and they were opposed to it. Then, again, the hon. Baronet proposed that this project was to be carried out for the benefit of future generations; and, in answer to that, he (Mr. Macfarlane) would observe that it would be time enough to make the Tunnel when future generations came into existence. Let future generations decide the question for themselves. No Government should undertake to legislate in the fashion proposed for generations to come. The hon. Baronet had descanted upon the peacemaking capacities of this Tunnel, believing that, if it were made, there would be no difficulty in settling the Touquin, the Soudan, and all other disputes; but he (Mr. Macfarlane) did not believe that the lion and the lamb were going to lay down together in the Tunnel. He did not profess to know much about the military part of the question; but he was perfectly certain, judging from the present state of feeling of the country, that if the Tunnel were made they would have periodic panics, which would cost them, the price of the Tunnel almost every year. If the hon. Baronet, therefore, went to a Division, he should vote against him.


said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) had suggested that they should consider the Marquess of Lansdowne's Report before they came to a decision on this question. Well, he (Mr. Muntz) had done that, and more than that, for he had read the whole of the evidence, and he was bound to say that it was most extraordinary evidence from beginning to end. He would not go into the military question; but with regard to the traffic which was expected to pass through a Tunnel between England and France, the most amazing statements were made. Knowing the condition of trade between the two countries, he was convinced that the estimates put forward as to the amount of traffic were most extravagant and preposterous, and that the equitation which arrived at them was only equalled by that which brought some people to the expectation of the enormous number of passengers who would be conveyed by the proposed Tunnel. They had a statement in the Blue Book —and he hoped it was a misprint— that, in the opinion of the hon. Baronet (Sir Edward Watkin), some 30,000,000 of people would go through the Tunnel annually, or half the population of France and the United Kingdom. France was not an island, and we were at her Western side. We knew what her traffic was on the Eastern side, and that she had routes of communication with the rest of the Continent far superior to any Tunnel which could be made. Well, take the means of communication between France and Italy. Notwithstanding the perfection they had attained, although the population of Italy was 27,000,000, and that of France 34,000,000, the Mont Cenis Tunnel did not carry more than 1,000 passengers a-day; in fact, nothing like what we were sending across the Channel, which was put down in the Blue Book at 478,000 annually. But was it not worthy of consideration in this matter whether the amount of goods and passenger traffic which would be carried through the Tunnel, however great it might be, would be equal to the possible risk? The risk was laughed at by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Baxter); but hon. Members who took an interest in this matter must remember the French Expedition of 1849. In that year an Expedition was sent out, from Toulon or Marseilles, with sealed orders from Paris. It sailed without anyone knowing where it was going, and landed at Civita Vecchia in 24 hours. If the Tunnel were constructed the same thing might be done in the case of England; an Expedition might be concentrated in England in 24 hours. If such an Expedition were sent over under existing circumstances, what would be the result? Why, we would drive it away. We could drive away any Force which could be easily landed; but if the Tunnel were made, and the French got possession of this end of it, what should we be able to do? He agreed with the military evidence in that respect, that in such a case an enemy having possession of the English end of the Tunnel would be able to invade England; and in addition to that, the construction of the Tunnel would subject us to the annoyance of a constant scare of what might happen. He had no doubt that if such a misfortune were to happen to this country as the construction of a Channel Tunnel, even if such a thing were possible, the military scare would be such that conscription would be demanded, and within 20 years this country would be cursed with what was already the curse of the rest of Europe. He did not wish to bring down that curse upon the land; and for that reason he should vote with the President of the Board of Trade, who had moved the rejection of the Bill.


said, he thought it was matter for congratulation that this very grave and important subject was being discussed entirely irrespective of Party considerations. Having had the honour of sitting upon the Committee, he did not hesitate to say that he had taken part in the deliberations with an unprejudiced and disinterested mind; and having heard the evidence and the arguments submitted, he had no doubt as to the vote he should give upon a scheme for the construction of a Tunnel. In the Committee there was no organized opposition to the Bill, and no adverse criticism of the principle, except so far as it came from voluntary evidence; and, therefore, those in favour of the Tunnel had a great advantage. These three questions came before them—and grave doubts were expressed with regard to them. One was as to the practicability of the scheme; another was the question of cost; and the third, which was a very important one, was the question of ventilation. The question of cost came before them in this way—there were two rival Companies, who were proposing to construct a Tunnel, and one of them gave the estimated cost at £3,000,000, while the other gave it at £8,000,000. As to the question of ventilation, though they did not go very far into it, they were told by General Hutchinson, one of the Inspectors of the Board of Trade, that there would be great danger in that respect. The only evidence brought before them favourable to the Tunnel had to admit that though, so far as the light goods traffic and perishable articles were concerned, they might all go by the Tunnel, yet heavy goods would always be likely to be carried by sea. The estimates given to the Committee as to the probable number of passengers really seemed quite chimerical, because it was assumed that every passenger who wanted to cross from France to England, or from England to France, would use the Tunnel and not the steamer; and that, certainly, did not seem to be very rational or reasonable. The advantages of the Tunnel put before the Committee were commercial and social; but they were quite hypothetical and speculative, and not supported by facts or figures. Then there was no strong public feeling in favour of the Tunnel shown to the Committee. There were no representatives brought before them—there was no evidence from representatives of Chambers of Commerce, or bodies of that kind. The disadvantages were admitted to be these—that the Tunnel would create new risk; that it would be a. great element and source of danger; that we should have to construct new fortifications, which would entail increased military expenditure; that it would tend to create jealousies and political combinations on the Continent; and that if our relations were at any time strained with France, if there were any attempt to obstruct the Tunnel, it would tend rather to bring about war than to allay it. It was admitted, even by those who gave evidence in favour of the Tunnel, that the greatest factor in the success of the undertaking would be the question of rates. Those who strongly advocated it said that unless they were able to convey their goods by it cheaper than they did by sea they would not make use of it. It was found, also, that the Tunnel would belong to a great Cosmopolitan Company, and that was considered a difficulty. The authority would be a divided one, and difficulties might arise between Frenchmen and Englishmen as to who should have control. Those who were favourable to the project answered that argument by pointing to the amicability of the managers of the railways under the Alps; but he did not think that contention was a valid one, for there had always been a land passage between France and Italy, whilst there never had been—and he hoped there never would be—a road across the Channel other than a road for ships. The military, naval, and scientific evidence was to the effect that the most elaborate scheme of defence would never give us immunity from danger. He thought it was summed up in that way. The Committee had another project brought before them which, he believed, influenced their decision in some respect, and that was the proposal which was made some years ago by the eminent Engineer, Mr. Fowler, and passed by the House—namely, a proposal for the employment of ferry steamers. They had it in evidence that it was quite possible to carry, without transfer of passengers or goods, trains across the Channel; and it was also shown how much the harbour accommodation at Dover and Boulogne had been improved, and how greatly it would aid this project. The Committee also had it impressed upon them that our great defence was certainly our Channel—the water between our Coast and that of France. It was said we were going to do away with what Providence had given us—what, after all, was our best arm of defence against foreign nations. But he thought he might say that, after what they had heard from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, it was almost futile to go into further argument. He did not hesitate to say that the weight of evidence was most decidedly against the construction of the Tunnel; and that it was proved to the satisfaction of the Committee that the national advantages of the Tunnel would never compensate for its national mischief.


said, he did not wish to take up the time of the House, or to go into the question in any detail; but, as a Member of the Committee, he desired to say a word or two. The details were capable of being gone into at great length. He would undertake to talk the Bill out without difficulty if he attempted to go into details; but he did not wish to do either the one thing or the other, and, like the hon. Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes), only rose to speak because he had been a Member of the Committee. He had no doubt that those who had listened to the bon. Baronet the Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin) must have been struck, as he (Sir Vivian Hussey) had been, not only on that occasion, but also when the hon. Baronet gave his evidence before the Committee, by the absence of any statement showing that there was a general desire on the part of the commercial interests of the country to have the Tunnel made. The Committee invited the Chambers of Commerce to appear before them and state what their opinion was; and they received from the Chairman of the Associated Chambers of Commerce a reply that it was not their desire to take any part whatever in the matter, or to offer any evidence. Now, it was inconceivable that if this question were one which really affected the trade of the country that the Chambers of Commerce representing that trade would not have came before the Committee to give evidence upon it. They had evidence from Manchester that opinion there was very much divided, and that, certainly, the commercial interests of that place were not, on the whole, in favour of the construction of a Tunnel. There was much evidence to show that heavy goods would not go by the Tunnel; that although in certain instances possibly fragile and perishable goods might go by the Tunnel, it was not in the slightest degree essential, from a commercial point of view, that the Tunnel should be made. He contended that in a national question of this grave character, in which the national safety was believed, at all events by many, to be involved, a very strong case ought to be made out before the Tunnel was sanctioned. The right hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) had alluded to the opinion of General Adye; but the Committee had had before them 10 military and three naval witnesses. They were selected as leading authorities upon this matter; and out of that number only one was in favour of the Tunnel. Only one military man was in favour of the construction of the Tunnel; and he stated that he believed it could be constructed without serious danger to this country. He would not trouble the House by reading the very strong statements made by any of the most able authorities who were examined. He did not know whether hon. Members had read the Blue Book; but if they or any unprejudiced men would do so, they would come to the conclusion that serious danger would accrue to this country if the Tunnel was made; and he would tell the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), as he believed he had heard the hon. Gentleman cheer in favour of the Tunnel, that if he desired the Standing Army to be increased to 1,000,000, and to see the conscription introduced into this country, he ought to vote for the scheme. When once the frontier which Nature had given them was destroyed, this country would be placed in the position of Continental Powers; and that being so, they would have to do what every Continental Power had had to do —namely, to create a Standing Army at least as large as those of their neighbours. If this scheme was sanctioned he was certain they would be driven from panic to panic, and would end by the creation of a great Standing Army which would be their only security. He was not prepared to say that if they had a Standing Army of 1,000,000 men he would not permit the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin) to make this Tunnel; but until they had such an Army the Tunnel would be a source of considerable danger to this country. It was all very well to ignore the authority of their greatest military and naval men; but was that wise? When they consulted a doctor or any other expert, did they always say he was an old woman if he did not agree with them? It seemed to him that they must either place confidence in their experts, who knew perfectly well what this all meant, or they had better not have them at all. The House might be certain that if a scheme of this kind was passed, they would have perpetually recurring panics; and in the end they would have to increase their Army to an extent which would prevent the possibility of an invasion of this country. It was a very serious question, and what the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz) had said was perfectly true. If the Channel Tunnel was made, it would probably be one of the conditions of peace, if they sustained reverse in a war, that the Tunnel should be permanently in the hands of the enemy. If he could see any advantage in the Tunnel from a commercial point of view he might, perhaps, support the scheme; but he could see nothing whatever of the kind. While, on the one hand, the risk was enormous, on the other hand, the probable gain was very small; and, therefore, he hoped the House would reject the Bill, and that the House might no longer be troubled with this scheme.


said, he thought that, after the admirable speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, it was not necessary that this debate should be much prolonged; at all events, the question laid in a nutshell. It had been clearly put by the President of the Board of Trade. It was not so much a question whether now or hereafter this Channel Tunnel should be made; but it was one of those questions which were constantly coming before the House— namely, a question of confidence or no confidence in the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin). That was the real point at issue; and the President of the Board of Trade had shown most clearly that the hon. Baronet was a man in whom the House could place no confidence whatever in regard to this proposition. He had read a statement of the shifting allegations of which the hon. Baronet had been guilty in regard to the works; and after that statement the House must concur in the view that this matter ought to be in the hands, not of a private Company, but of the Government. The greatest interests were involved in this matter. The hon. Baronet asked the House whether they wished to be at peace with other nations, or to be in a state of isolation? He said the legal aspect of the question was in an entirely satisfactory condition, and that as a great scientific experiment the matter had been decided entirely in his favour; and he then went on to ask whether the noble English nation would still oppose his action in trying to push forward this great work? Now, he must say he was sure the House of Commons, with regard to anything in which the noble Lord the Member for Flintshire (Lord Eichard Grosvenor) was interested, would be anxious to promote it; for he agreed in what had been said in this discussion—that no man was entitled to greater consideration than the noble Lord for his exertions to save the Government in times of difficulty. The noble Lord was concerned with the hon. Baronet in the progress of these works; but with all his sympathy for the noble Lord, he could not give him his support on this occasion. The right hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) had recommended the House to pause before they came to a decision on this subject; and he had entreated them to carefully read the evidence given before the Committee. He could not see why they should pause about the matter; they had had the question before them two or three times, and he thought the House ought not to be constantly pestered with this scheme by the hon. Baronet. The hon. Baronet knew perfectly well that the House would reject schemes put forward and endorsed by him on a great national subject. Then an hon. Member had recommended the hon. Baronet not to divide on this occasion. He greatly respected that hon. Member; and he would advise the hon. Baronet to follow that hon. Member's advice and that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter), and not divide, but let the matter drop. At all events, it was quite certain, after the speech of the President of the Board of Trade—and looking at the subject from the national point of view, and looking at the dangers which, according to the great military authorities, would arise to this country—there could not be a shadow of doubt that it would be most impolitic to allow this measure to proceed, or, at all events, to entrust it, not to the Government of this great Empire, but to the hon. Baronet who proposed it.


said, he was entirely in favour of a Channel Tunnel being made; but he should vote against the proposal of the hon. Baronet. Several hon. Members had got up and given reasons why this Tunnel should not be made; but those reasons seemed to him to be futile. He had had put into his hands a pamphlet, by which a friend seemed to think he could convert him to his view against the Channel Tunnel, and some of its reasons were not worse than those put forward by hon. Members. It was a pamphlet addressed by the Rev. Thomas Burnley to the Eight Hon. William Ewart Gladstone, M.P., and it stated that the application of brandy and common salt to the top of the head, and a small quantity taken internally, was an effectual preventive of sea sickness. That was on a par with some of the reasons given against this Tunnel. Although he was in favour of a Channel Tunnel, he intended to vote against this particular Bill. He had always regarded the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe as an exceedingly practical gentleman; but he was a practical gentleman who sought to hide his light under a bushel. He seemed to imagine that the House of Commons was composed of the sort of persons who were Railway Directors, and he addressed them as a philanthropic Chairman of a Railroad. He did not want to make money for himself or for his shareholders. He was a philanthropist, and wanted to do good to his fellow-men. His first idea with regard to the Tunnel was that it would be a benefit to the whole human race, and especially to those members of the human race inhabiting France and England. That was the only motive that actuated him; but now he had come forward not only as a philanthropist, but as a man of science. It had occurred to him that he could benefit the country in another way, by searching for coal-mines under the Channel; but the President of the Board of Trade, after his experience of the hon. Baronet, was not to be caught by that port of chaff. He did not believe in coal-mines under the Channel, and he fancied the right hon. Gentlemen did not believe in the philanthropy of the hon. Baronet. He would give one or two reasons why even those who were in favour of a Channel Tunnel should vote against this proposal. As the House was aware, last Session there were two Bills brought before the House on this subject—namely, the proposal of the noble Lord the Member for Flintshire (Lord Richard Grosvenor) and the proposal of the hon. Baronet. They were both referred to a Select Committee, and several witnesses were examined. That Committee seriously considered the matter, and came to the conclusion to throw out both Bills. He wished to say, as the question was always raised as to a Member's position with regard to these matters, that he had no financial interest in the scheme of the noble Lord the Member for Flintshire, and he was merely stating the facts as to what occurred. The noble Lord and his Friends had considered whether or not they should bring their Bill forward again; but they had come to the conclusion that they had no right to waste the time of the House of Commons upon a matter upon which the House had already come to a decision. They did not bring it forward, because they knew the House would reject it, following in the lines of the Committee of last year. It would be unfair, therefore, that because the hon. Baronet had chosen to take a different liue, and had chosen to call upon the House to reverse the decision of last year, the noble Lord and his Friends should be prejudiced in this matter. The hon. Baronet seemed to think he was the Lesseps of England, and that he alone had the right to have anything to do with the Channel Tunnel— why, he did not know; but when the hon. Baronet talked of this as an independent scheme, everyone knew that it was a scheme, vamped up by the Railway Company of which the hon. Baronet was Chairman. It was a scheme promoted by the South-Eastern Railway Company, with the money of the South-Eastern Railway Company; and the hon. Baronet, when he came forward as Chairman of this scheme, simply wanted to get into the hands of the South-Eastern Railway Company the communications across the Channel. The hon. Baronet told the House that he dirt not want a monopoly; but, as the Committee of last year showed, if the House now reversed their decision, enormous fortifications would be necessary where the Tunnel opened on the English side of the Channel, and consequently the South-Eastern Railway Company would, in the nature of things, have a monopoly. The right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Robert Peel) had put the matter very clearly. Last night there was a Vote of Want of Confidence in the Government proposed, and the hon. Baronet on this side voted against it. He regarded this question as a vote of confidence or no confidence in the hon. Baronet; and as he had no confidence in the hon. Baronet, he should most assuredly vote against him.


said, that if he thought that this was a question of confidence in the Mover of the Motion, he should not address the House; nor if he thought the matter was contained in a nutshell. But this was a matter of great public interest; and in the few observations he should address to the House he wished to call attention to two or three matters upon which Members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons Committee were agreed, and particularly to the Report, in which the hon. Baronet the Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes) acquiesced. It was important that the House should know that. The passages in that Report to which he should refer were substantially the same as the passages in the minority Report. Nine Members of the Committee practically reported these two results—first, that the feasibility of constructing the Tunnel need not be doubted —that was an important conclusion— and, secondly— That should the Tunnel be constructed, it would give to commerce and to the general interests of civilization a large and growing development. That paragraph was not in the Report drafted by the hon. Baronet; but the hon. Baronet voted for the draft Report of Viscount Barrington, which contained both the passages he had read, and that Report was supported by Lord Aberdare and the right hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter); while Mr. Speaker supported the Marquess of Lansdowne's Report, which contained passages more explicit than Viscount Barrington's Report. He was justified in saying that nine Members of the Committee arrived at these two conclusions; while against the feasibility of constructing the Tunnel, and against a scheme which would be in the general interest of civilization, there was only the opinion of military men. He was astonished that the hon. Member for Glamorganshire (Sir Hussey Vivian) should have given weight to what he did not hesitate to say, having regard to the polity of nations and their intercourse, were the most discreditable opinions ever pronounced by military men. If it were a question of moving a particular body of troops, or conducting an operation in the field, he should acquiesce in the view of the military men, from the Duke of Cambridge downwards, and should never think of criticizing their view; but they had been at peace with France for 70 years, and a character of permancy had been given to our peaceful relations with that country; and it was discreditable to say that the French would act like corsairs and bandits, and would land men on English shores and seize the Tunnel. If those opinions were not correct, then there was nothing to place against the Resolution of the nine illustrious men who formed that Committee. Whenever there was a question of the interests of civilization, so far as they were involved in the intercourse of nations and the maintenance of friendship, military men were always on the wrong side. He was old enough to remember that when steam was first employed for maritime warfare, it was said that troops would be landed by Prance, without notice, upon our shores at different points; and he would like to take this opportunity of saying that no man had rendered such service in endeavouring to maintain friendly relations with France as the late Lord Beaconsfield. The Duke of Cambridge did not think there was any fear of troops passing through the Channel and seizing the end of it; but that the only danger was that troops would be landed from vessels at a moment's notice. The very same thing was suggested 30 years ago, but, thank goodness, the opinions of military men were overcome in the interests of civilization. On that occasion the President of the Board of Control, speaking on the relations between France and England, said— I do not think there will be a regular war with the French; but I will tell you what you will have. You will have a body of men constantly thrown upon your coasts. How would you like that? How would you like your wives and daughters to be subject to that? Then, on the same subject, Mr. Disraeli said— I say that the men who conceive this to be possible must imagine the bravest and the most polished people to be no better than corsairs of Tunis and Morocco. He repelled that opinion of military men, which has found a revival in the person of the Duke of Cambridge, and in the acceptance of the hon. Baronet. The Duke of Cambridge said they were to have fortresses as large as those of Metz and Strasburg at Dover, and 10,000 men there in time of peace, and 15,000 or 20,000 in time of war. To prevent what? The landing without notice or warning, and in spite of all our intelligence and strength, a body of pirates—which the people of France have never been, nor likely to become. The Duke of Cambridge actually said that such a thing was possible. That any man in his senses could say such a thing was astonishing. Did the Duke of Cambridge think that the peace which had lasted 70 years would not stand the construction of one Tunnel, or of three, or four, or five Tunnels, but would end in a war which would be the scandal of the civilized peoples who constructed them, and the lasting disgrace of the people who could undertake it? Considering these things, he should support the Motion of the hon. Baronet. He cared not about the South-Eastern Railway Company, nor whether the hon. Baronet had betrayed the President of the Board of Trade; but if the President of the Board of Trade were not seated where he now was, the right hon. Gentleman would never have listened to the opinions of the military men—opinions which, if followed in past years, would have given them fortifications on the South Coast, an entrenched camp at Croydon, and fortifications at London. These opinions were discreditable to those who made them, and it was shameful that they should be accepted by public-minded men; and he protested against a work which, in the language of Viscount Barrington, would promote the interest of civilization, being prevented by opinions that ought to be relegated to a barbarous past, and not uttered at a time when Christian doctrines were mitigating and softening the hearts of men.


said, the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Willis) had thought it right to attribute to members of the Military and Naval Professions who gave evidence before the Committee discreditable motives. The hon. and learned Gentleman had shown himself most profoundly ignorant of the matter in debate; and he was inclined to ask if the opinion of the hon. and learned Gentleman was to be taken on a question of this kind in preference to that of Lord Wolseley, Sir Lintorn Simmons, Admiral Sir Cooper Key, and Admiral Rice? To these gentlemen was confided the arrangements for the defence of the country; and the defence of the country, he supposed, was dear to the House of Commons. He had read all the evidence given before the Committee; he had read the various Reports which were laid before the Committee; and he confessed he was surprised that the noble Chairman (the Marquess of Lansdowne) came to a conclusion different to that which the majority of the Committee arrived at in their Report. After the careful investigation which that Report received, he (Sir John Hay) was astonished that the hon. and learned Gentleman, who knew nothing of military or naval matters, should come down to the House and discredit not only the Commander-in-Chief, but all the most distinguished officers in the Service, including Lord Wolseley and Sir Lintorn Simmons, besides his (Sir John Hay's) friends—two most able naval officers—Sir Cooper Key and Admiral Rice. True, the opinion of Sir John Adye, for which he had the greatest possible respect, was in favour of the construction of the Tunnel; but he was the only military authority who held that opinion. The hon. and learned Gentleman had just told the House that a surprise in war was never to be expected. But surprises were possible; and he, as a naval officer—it was not for him to speak of the Military Force—could tell the hon. and learned Gentleman that if the end of the Tunnel were seized by any Continental Power the defence of the country by the Navy would be utterly impossible. If a hostile Force were landed in the country, under the present circumstances, it must be supplied; and if its supplies were to be sent across the Channel it was quite possible for the Navy to cut them off. If there was a Tunnel under the Channel, however, the Navy could be of no use whatever. Once let the ends of the Channel be seized, and men and supplies could be poured into the country with the greatest ease. When the hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of surprises not to be expected, he quite forgot that Home had been seized very lately— within the last 30 years — by the French. If the French were at war with us, they would be unjust to their country if they did not attempt, by every means in their power, by surprise, by every strategy which could be conceived, to bring destruction upon us and success to themselves. He assured the House that if this Tunnel were made—not six tunnels, but only one— this country could not be defended as it now could be defended by its present Naval Force. The Committee came to a conclusion which had been supported by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade; and he (Sir John Hay) trusted that the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Willis), who had just now told the House what he thought was necessary for the military defence of the country, would learn the A B C of the case before he addressed the House again on the subject.


wished to disassociate himself from the purely personal view which had been taken of the matter under consideration. He desired that some such project as the Channel Tunnel should be carried out, and he cared not who promoted it. The right hon. and gallant Admiral (Sir John Hay) was very indignant with the hon. and learned Member for Colchester (Mr. Willis); but he thought that right hon. and gallant Gentleman had misunderstood the hon. and learned Member. No one could have admitted more generously or more fully than the hon. and learned Gentleman had done that if this were a mere military question—a question of the conduct of some military expedition, for instance—he would defer to the judgment of military men. He (Mr. Hopwood) held strongly that the House never should be governed by the mere opinions of any Profession— whether legal, medical, or military; or if it came to a narrow view of a trading matter, of commercial men. The House had now to deal with a matter of policy; indeed, they were to decide what the policy of the country was to be. The right hon. and gallant Admiral (Sir John Hay) inferred that the desirability or otherwise of constructing a Tunnel under the Channel was a matter in which military and naval men were best able to judge. He seemed to say the French would be justified if they attacked us by surprise. A more glaring act of treachery could not be conceived; and if the right hon. and gallant Admiral represented the naval and military authorities of the country in expressing that opinion, it would be justifiable to use the phrase of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Willis)—namely, that it was a most discreditable opinion. He (Mr. Hopwood) submitted there was no fear of their being surprised. He adopted the words of Lord Beaconsfield quoted by his hon. and learned Friend; and he thought every right-minded man who gave the French credit for all those generous qualities which we attributed to them, and which we expected them to attribute to us, would adopt those words. Did we not live in the midst of alarms now? The right hon and gallant Admiral said we were defenceless as it was; that we were open to attack. Surely this small perforation under the sea would not add greatly to our danger in that respect. The hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin) had defended the view of those who proposed this measure; and he had undertaken to prophecy what would be the development of trade if the Tunnel were made. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) reminded the House of the denunciations which fol- lowed the proposal to construct the Suez Canal, and of the fears which were expressed that it would interfere with our hold upon India. From a commercial point of view, too, it was argued that the Canal never could prove to be a profitable undertaking on the part of those who constructed it. Of the passages of English history, with regard to which they had to feel ashamed of the want of discrimination, and foresight on the part of their statesmen, the Suez Canal stood a memorable monument. The real question at issue in this matter was whether it was our policy to live on such terms of trust with our neighbours as to show that we desired their friendship; that we honoured it; that we honoured their qualities; and that we placed our entire trust in their plighted word to us. If it was not our policy to live on such terms with France, every Treaty we had with that country was not worth the paper it was written on. In the future, it would be a matter of pride for some of them to look back and think that they had recorded their vote in favour of the construction of this Tunnel. He shared the regret of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Willis) that his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade should have been placed by the irony of fate in such a position that it was his duty to oppose this measure. He had not the slightest doubt that were the right hon. Gentleman free, he would be found favourable to the construction of the Tunnel; he would rise superior to these small prejudices and those petty military fears; and he would feel he was furthering the permanency of that friendship with France, which it ought to be their highest aim to support.


said, he had listened in vain to hear something as to the apprehensions of France with regard to the construction of a Tunnel under the Channel. It seemed to him that this great nation was quivering in its shoes at the thought of the existence of a work which would equally affect another great nation. Did they hear that France was paralyzed with fear lest this nation should go over and invade her? How changed was history. It was not long ago that England was wanting to make France fear her; but now England was cowering at the idea that the prowess of France should be made apparent to the world. He was surprised to hear not only those who knew not war, but those who were skilled in war, confess that this country was so weak, miserable, and fearful in this matter. He had heard nothing as yet to prevent the carrying out of this great social and international project; indeed, he thought a complete answer to the opponents of this scheme had been afforded by the illustration of that great work of science and civilization —the Suez Canal—against which this House rammed its head for many a day. This country stood in fearful opposition to the advance of science, lest it might open ways to other nations to compete with her monopoly. How long was this opposition to the evidence of science, this opposition to the progress of civilization, to last? How long were these fearful prejudices to prevail when any great scientific work was proposed, or any great scientific discovery was made? This country opposed the introduction of the New Calendar, simply because it sprang from the Roman Pontiff—from the Court of Rome. How long was this country going on in its old ways? It must abandon them in the end in favour of that new progress, in the pursuit of which this Tunnel should be made. He did not mean to say that he supported the particular Bill before the House, because it might have its faults. He was sorry to hear from the lips of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, whom he had always regarded as the personification of everything that flavoured of progress, so retrogressive and so cowardly a policy as he had that afternoon enunciated. He was very much afraid that when men ascended to the Treasury Bench they threw off whatever was free, and independent, and progressive, and they became shackled as with adamantine chains. He believed that eventually, when the fears of hon. and gallant Gentlemen should have been assuaged, this Tunnel would be made; and then they who had advocated this great scientific, social, and international work would have the satisfaction of recollecting that they, at any rate, had had the courage and manliness to recommend its adoption.


said, he would not examine what might have been the adamantine chains which had bound the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade upon this question since his assumption of Office, nor did he wish to follow, at any length, the hon. Member (Mr. Dawson) into his terrible denunciations of England for not imitating the silent resignation of the French nation in this matter. As he understood, the gist of the argument that had been used against the Bill was that their country, being differently situated and differently constituted to France, saw in this Tunnel a possibly threatened danger from a powerful nation, and saw, as a result of that possible danger, a dread of a large Standing Army being required in this country, and of conscription following in its track. Happily, up to the present time, owing to their insular position, they had been preserved from the necessity of competing with foreign nations in the art of war; and he confessed that he believed that was one of the strongest reasons which had influenced not only the Committee who investigated the matter, but the nation, which he was persuaded was opposed to the scheme. The nation believed that the danger was a real one; and that, as a result of that real danger, they might see themselves driven into a position from which up to this they had been happily preserved. He would like to make one remark, and he did it with the greatest possible hesitation, about what fell from the lips of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Colchester (Mr. Willis). The hon. and learned Gentleman was so much respected for his vast and varied attainments, that he (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) paused when the hon. and learned Gentleman told them that the military authorities were not to be listened to in this matter; and he was almost inclined to believe that the hon. and learned Gentleman's universal knowledge had probably convinced him that those military men knew nothing of their business, and that he himself was the sole repository of military knowledge.


denied that he had said the military authorities knew nothing of their business.


said, that on a question of this sort military evidence was sought in order to arrive at a knowledge of the future military position and safety of the country; and humble and ignorant people like himself (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) believed that those men, whose whole lives had been devoted to a study of these subjects, were as equally capable as the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Colchester to give valuable information upon the points raised by the scheme under consideration. On one point the hon. and learned Gentleman had shown that he suffered from want of knowledge, and that point was the practice of the House. He laid great stress upon the fact that the hon. Baronet the Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes) voted as one of nine opposed to two clauses of the Report which he mentioned. If the hon. and learned Gentleman had had the misfortune to serve on as many Committees as he (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) had done, he would, perhaps, have learnt that in a case in which every Member of the Committee presented a separate draft Report, the draft Reports were read a second time, in most instances, by the assent of certain Members, who wished them discussed as to their details, and who wished to support some of those details without pledging themselves to the whole Report. If the hon. and learned Gentleman had been as often on Committees as he had in Courts he would have known that the mere fact of a Member recording his vote for the second reading of a Report did not pledge him in any way to all the proposals contained in that Report. As a matter of fact, the hon. Baronet (Sir Massey Lopes) meant to support certain details of the draft Report; but he was not in favour of the two clauses which the hon. and learned Gentleman had cited; therefore, the attempt to enlist the hon. Baronet as a supporter of the Tunnel had absolutely failed. To his (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson's) mind the dangers to the country which might result if the proposed Tunnel were constructed completely outweighed any commercial advantages—he was not prepared to admit there would be any— that might accrue. It had been said that, recollecting what took place in the case of the Suez Canal, the House ought to hesitate before it refused its sanction to the scheme now submitted to their consideration. Home influences had nothing to do with the Suez Canal; it was a mere question of commerce that was at issue. He remembered something of what took place at the time, be- cause he had some share in the work. He went out with M de Lesseps to survey the Isthmus, The English engineers opposed the construction of the Canal purely from an engineering point of view; but the opposition of the Government of Lord Palmerston was based on a belief in the dangers which might result to their Indian Empire. But the dangers to their Indian Empire from the construction of the Suez Canal were far more removed from that Empire than the dangers to their own country were by the construction of the Channel Tunnel. It was said that wars were not made without notice. Was that so? Did not the history of the world show that there had been many instances of wars being made and begun without notice? He did not care to dwell upon the point; but he thought that the action of their great Neighbour of late, in Madagascar and other places, pointed to a possibility of attack without any great amount of notice being given. As a Representative of the people in the House of Commons, he was not prepared to sanction for a moment what he believed would be a great danger to the country. He should, therefore, vote against the Motion which had been made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin).


said, the feeling of the country upon this question had been referred to. He did not pretend to understand what the feeling of the country on the subject was; but he thought he did understand the feeling of the borough he represented (Stafford), and in which a considerable trade was carried on with the Continent. The question had been discussed in that borough very thoroughly; and he found that the people there were quite in favour of the Bill, which they believed would be of benefit to the ordinary business of the place. He was sure, therefore, they would read the report of the remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade with great regret. He could hardly conceive anything more unfortunate than to find a Minister of Trade and Commerce getting up in that House and using his officical and moral influence in opposition to a scheme calculated to prove so highly beneficial to the country as the proposal contained in this Bill. They who were engaged in industries that would be advantaged by the carrying out of such an enterprize had a strong feeling on the matter, and considered that, in the present depressed condition of trade, anything that would tend to put British commerce on a better footing as compared with their foreign neighbours, would be of great benefit to the country. But the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, instead of reciprocating these views, got up in his place in that House and seriously advanced reasons against the Bill—reasons which he (Mr. M'Laren) regarded as being as ridiculous as they were unfair. The right hon. Gentleman had failed to put forward a single argument that would convince any mercantile man. The observations of the right hon. Gentleman had been directed to a point on which he was in harmony with the opinions entertained by most of those who had spoken from the Opposition Benches, and especially from the Front Bench. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Huntingdon (Sir Robert Peel) had put the matter on the right footing when he stated that the House had been discussing, not the Channel Tunnel, but the question of a vote of confidence in the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin). It was hardly-indicative of a good case that the President of the Board of Trade should endeavour to relieve himself of a difficult task by attacking another Member of that House in anything but an indirect manner, for there could be no question that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman had been levelled, not against the Bill before the House, but against the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe, who had had the misfortune to offend Her Majesty's Government by several independent votes on recent occasions. He should have thought Her Majesty's Government would have given their opinions on the merits of the Bill, rather than endeavour to meet the case offered by its promoters by strong accusations against the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe. The right hon. Gentlemen the President of the Board of Trade had quoted from the correspondence that had gone on between himself and the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe, and he had done this in such a way as to leave wholly out of view one side of the question, the extracts he had read being only such as suited his own purpose. He (Mr. M'Laren) had no doubt whatever that if hon. Members would go through that correspondence they would find there was another side to the question; and that if the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe were afforded the opportunity, he would doubtless be able to disprove the allegations and inferences of the President of the Board of Trade. He (Mr. M'Laren) had risen for the purpose of supporting the measure; and in doing so he had felt bound to enter his strenuous protest against the course pursued by the President of the Board of Trade.


said, as he had been somewhat pointedly alluded to in reference to the course he had taken on this subject last year, he trusted the House would pardon him if he took up a few minutes of its time by offering an explanation of the occasion referred to. In the belief, at the beginnig of last Session, when this Bill, or one with a similar object, was first placed on the Order Book, that the evidence in favour of the scheme, although then somewhat meagre in its character, pointed to the creation of a great national danger if the Bill should be permitted to pass, and being also under the belief, from all he could gather, both in private and in public, that there was a growing feeling among the people of this country that they ought not to be called upon, merely on the ground of a small commercial advantage, to surrender the great national benefits England had so long enjoyed as the consequence of her insular position, he had taken it upon himself—no Member of Her Majesty's Government, and no hon. Member of longer standing in that House than himself having undertaken to do so—to block the second reading of the Bill, in order to enable Her Majesty's Government, as well as that House and the country at large, more thoroughly and minutely to examine the subject and to consider all the important questions it involved. He thought he was quite justified if, at the present moment, he experienced a feeling of satisfaction at the result of the action he then thought fit to take. Since then they had had a Joint Committee, appointed at the instance of Her Majesty's Government, and they had also had the Report of that Committee, and the evidence it had taken, laid before them. That Report showed that the most eminent of the naval and military authorities, with one single exception, were of opinion that the proposed Tunnel could not be made without very great danger to the interests of the people of this country. The hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe had asked the House whether it was not the fact that this country and France were not, at one period, joined together, and whether anybody would say that Providence was wrong in having so joined the two countries? Whether they had ever been joined together or not, he (Mr. Hicks) did not know; but, taking the facts as they were at the present day, he should like to turn the question back on the hon. Baronet, and ask him whether the country was not justified in feeling content and grateful that it had pleased an all-wise Providence to divide the two countries? For hundreds of years they had prided themselves on their insular position, and had been thankful for the peace they had enjoyed for so long a time. He felt sure the country was thankful for the appointment of the Committee which sat last year for the purpose of investigating this subject, and which had been the means of saving it from a danger that had been impending over it as the consequence of passing such a measure as that now before the House. The hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe had asked the House whether it wished, by continuing in its present state of isolation and separation from the Continent, to run the risk of a war with France? He was sorry to hear the hon. Baronet make that remark. For his own part, he could not conceive the possibility of a war, or anything at all resembling a warlike state of feeling, as likely to arise out of this question. At any rate, if war was to be brought about between France and this country on this or any other question, he would much rather that it should take place before the Tunnel was made than afterwards. The hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Dawson) had asked the House why did they feel the anxiety that had been expressed in many quarters, when no such anxiety was entertained on the other side of the Channel? The proper answer to this question had been given by the hon. Baronet the Member for Glamorganshire (Sir Hussey Vivian), who had remined the House that while they were in their present insular position, and only connected with the mainland by the sea, they were only put to the expense of maintaining a small Army; but if they were to be brought into immediate contact with foreign nations, through the medium of the proposed Tunnel, they might find themselves called upon to follow their system, and maintain an Army in which thousands of men would represent the hundreds that were now deemed sufficient, while it might also be found necessary to resort to the objectionable Continental system of conscription. That was the answer to be given to the sneer of the hon. Member for Carlow. The reason this country did not think it advisable to construct a Tunnel between it and France was, not because the English people were more fearful of the consequences than the French, but because they in England knew that at the present moment they were not in such a condition of defence, with respect to their Standing Army, as their neighbours were, and because they did not wish to be put to the expense and inconvenience which a large Standing Army, levied by means of a conscription, would inevitably entail. He should like, also, to say a few words with reference to the remarks that had fallen from the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. M'Laren). That hon. Member had spoken of the bad state of trade in this country. There could be no doubt that trade was bad at the present moment, and that it had been in that condition for a considerable length of time; and he (MR. Hicks) was afraid that if they were to persist in their present system of commercial policy, it would go on from bad to worse. But the hon. Member for Stafford recommended, if he had understood the hon. Gentleman rightly, that the sole remedy for the existing distress was to be found in a greater amount of competition. He should like to know whether the shoemakers of (Stafford would thank the hon. Gentleman for bringing French shoes into their town, supposing that should be the effect of this proposal? [Laughter.] Hon. Members on the other side of the House laughed at this remark; but he asked them whether that was not, in reality, what the argument of the hon. Member for Stafford really amounted to? The hon. Member's idea was that the House should pass this Bill for the purpose of supporting the trade of Stafford by affording the means of competition with the French manufacturers of boots and shoes. That, at any rate, was what he understood to be the argument of the hon. Gentleman; and if he had misstated it, the hon. Gentleman would probably correct him. In maintaining these views, he (Mr. Hicks) was glad to see the position Her Majesty's Government had taken with reference to this Bill, and he trusted that the overwhelming majority they would have on this question, when they came to a Division upon it, would at least have the effect of setting it at rest, not only during the existence of the present Parliament, but also during that of the present generation.


said, this Bill had been supported on the ground that it was in furtherance of the spread of civilization. When he heard the word "civilization" mentioned, in the course of this debate, he was reminded of the frequency with which the same word had been used in the House of Commons; but he had never yet been able to arrive at its true meaning from the mode in which hon. Members were in the habit of applying it. What, he asked the House, was meant by that word? It appeared to him that, if it meant anything at all, it meant money. But whether it was applied to the endeavour to push the interests of commerce, or to any other effort in a similar direction, it certainly never meant the bringing about of a state of things that would be more conducive to peace than to war; and for this reason he regarded with aversion the arguments of hon. Members who brought this measure forward as likely to increase the chances of peace. He must say that a more unfortunate time for bringing forward any argument founded on the supposed analogy of the Suez Canal could not have been chosen, because it was a time when the convictions of Lord Palmerston on that subject were shown to have been most fully justified. That statesman entertained the view that if the Suez Canal were made it would be necessary that England should become master of the land as well as of the sea in that quarter of the globe, and that she would also be liable to the involvements of war. He would, however, put this part of the subject on one side for a moment. As things now stood in the political world, they were obliged to accept everything that had been done, and to say they liked it. If they were to have manhood suffrage imposed upon them to-morrow, every Member of that House would have to tell his constituents that he thought it the best thing in the world. They were similarly obliged to say they thought the Suez Canal the best thing in the world. For his own part, however, he doubted this assertion. He was more inclined to regard that undertaking as being a great curse to this country and to Egypt as well. It had done as much harm to Egypt as another route did to the Republic of Venice; for it had acted as a scare to her trade, instead if as a feeder. Before the Suez Canal was made, the Egyptians derived advantages from the large amount of commerce which passed through their country, but which now went from one side to the other by means of that water way without their being able to obtain any benefit from it. If it had not been for the Suez Canal they would not have had the late discussion on the Vote of Censure; and had England been content with her old sea route to the East, she would never have had the present Prime Minister, as the historic successor of Caliph Omar, burning and bombarding the town of Alexandria; nor would she have had the Soudan crisis at the present moment. An allusion had been made to the principle applicable to declarations of war—a principle which he was inclined to treat with the greatest respect; but he would remark upon this point that the principle which formerly governed such declarations had long since been renounced all over Europe as well as by the rest of the world. There was no declaration of war when the French took Tunis, nor when they commenced their operations in Tonquin. Neither was there any declaration of war when the present Liberal Ministry bombarded Alexandria. They had all listened with great pleasure to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Colchester (Mr. Willis); but he (Mr. Percy Wyndham) could not accept the opinion of that hon. and learned Gentleman on military affairs. He believed the hon. Member was once a distinguished Nonconformist divine. [Mr. WILLIS: No.] He would prefer to take the opinion of Lord Wolseley on the doctrine of final perseverance, rather than that of the hon. and learned Member for Colchester on military questions. There was this difference between the position of England and France in regard to the making of a Tunnel between the two countries—that, whereas England was now cut off from France by the Channel, there was in France not only a large standing Army, but behind France there were the Armies of the whole of Continental Europe; and it was not improbable that if we were to go on as we had been doing—indeed, it was very probable, that one day we might have the whole of Europe against us. Therefore, the difference between having a Tunnel made and doing without it was this— that if there were no Tunnel, and a hostile force should land upon our coast and make its way to London, it might be able to exact hard terms from us before we got rid of it; but it would very likely be unable to insist on their fulfilment, as it might find great difficulty in getting back again. As long as we retained possession of the sea and had no Tunnel we should be comparatively safe; but if an invading force had the power of calling in reinforcements we must accept any terms it chose to dictate before we could hope to be again at peace.


was of opinion that the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin) would be well advised if he went to a Division on this Bill. No doubt, there was a great mountain of prejudice existing in this country upon the subject under discussion. In respect to the Tunnel enterprize, he knew of no method which would be more likely effectually to remove that mountain of prejudice than debates of this character. Doubtless, the hon. Baronet would not have a very large number of followers into the Lobby. It was very possible that there might be some individual prejudice in regard to this particular measure; and, for his own part, he was not enamoured with the method by which the hon. Baronet had dealt with the question in relation to the President of the Board of Trade. He desired to dissociate himself altogether from some of the preliminary proceedings on this matter, and to look at the question on broader and more public grounds. He ventured, notwithstanding the severe reprimand that had been administered from the other side of the House to hon. Members on that (the Ministerial) side, to distrust altogether the opinions and testimony of military and naval men on questions of this kind. He could not profess that which he did not feel, and that was, unhesitating confidence in these military gentlemen, even when the question at issue was a purely scientific one affecting their own Profession. He thought he could point out numberless mistakes which those military and scientific men had made in the past in regard to their own Profession when advising this country as to the expenditure of public money on naval and military matters. But this was not wholly a question of defence. When Parliament had resolved that, in the interests of this country and of the world at large, the Channel Tunnel might be made, the time would then come when the military opinion might be asked as to the best way of defending our end of it; but he did not think the virility of the country was so emasculated that people were inclined to view with any great amount of apprehension, or with any thought of real danger, the prospect of such an enterprize. It was customary to assume that any real advantage to this country was only to be obtained by the interchange of goods traffic; but this was only the fringe of the question. It should be remembered that not only France, but the whole Continent of Europe, was open to all the Eastern hemisphere, without the trouble and danger and annoyances of a sea voyage, while the people of England were in a much worse position in this respect than the hundreds of millions who travelled on the Continent. The advantages to be derived by this country would be immensely greater if we had the same facilities for communication as they had on the Continent. The number of persons coming to this country and spending their money, and thereby improving their acquaintance with the English people, would be greatly increased if they had the facilities that would be afforded by the proposed Tunnel, instead of having to undergo a disagreeable, though short, sea passage. But as it was we had no other way of escaping from our Island; while, as between Continental countries, it was very different. The desire to come here was, in a great degree, neutralized by the fact that there was this very disagreeable sea voyage; and it was highly desirable that those who lived on the Continent, and were not accustomed to the painful experiences of a sea passage, should have the advantage of the scheme offered by this Bill. And then there came the question of whether this scheme could be made a paying enterprize? But, surely, the House of Commons must leave this matter to the promoters, and should follow the course it was accustomed to take in regard to all other Bills of a commercial character, and allow it to go to a Committee upstairs. He ventured to say that the time would come, and was not so far distant as some hon. Members imagined, when they would be ashamed of the attitude they were taking up on this question. He could only wonder, from the course taken by the hon. Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin), that he was not a more enthusiastic friend and advocate of the introduction of working-men Representatives into that House, and of a broader suffrage. It was the misfortune of that House that it was made up of a few interests—that it was not made up of the full and free representation of the nation; but was crowded by the Representatives of the prejudices of a small and special class. He anticipated a near future when questions of this character would not be considered in accordance with the miserable opinions of men who only looked at these questions from the point of a narrow prejudice. Therefore, he rose at this stage to support the second reading of the Bill. He could not concur in the course that had been taken on this measure by the President of the Board of Trade; but he rejoiced to see that there were so many young Members of the Government upon the Treasury Bench; and he thought he might congratulate them on the fact that they would probably not reach the period of middle life before they found themselves enabled to give their support to this project.


said, his name was on the back of this Bill, and as he was the only other Member who was associated with the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe in bringing it forward, he hoped he might be allowed to say a few words in support of the vote he was about to give. He desired to say at once that he should not be tempted into any discussion upon the observations of the last speaker, except to say that he disagreed with what the hon. Gentleman had just said. The hon. Member seemed to contemplate this question as if the views of the whole House ought to be expressed by one class. But, passing from that, he desired to say that he could not agree with his hon. Friend the Member for Hythe, as to the great results that would follow from the passing of this Bill, in the direction of establishing an amicable understanding between ourselves and France. He did not anticipate any such consequences in that direction; because he believed there always had been great jealousy of this country on the part of those who lived on the other side of the Channel. They were jealous of us in all matters, and always had been so for generations, and probably would continue to be so in the future. He did not consider that any such undertaking as the construction of a Tunnel between the two countries would make any great alteration in the feelings of the French people in this respect. But while he did not agree with his hon. Friend in the views he had expressed on this point, he could not concur in the views that had been expressed by hon. Members on that—the Opposition—side of the House. There was, no doubt, a strong opinion entertained by military and naval authorities that certain consequences inimical to the safety of this country would follow the construction of the proposed Tunnel. But, in the same way, it was said, a great many years ago, that when steam came into general use the effect of its introduction would be to do away with the protection hitherto afforded by the "wooden walls" of old England, and to render it an easy matter for foreign nations, by means of steam vessels, to land troops at the most vulnerable points on our coasts. These results, however, had not happened; and he believed that the construction of a Channel Tunnel would not endanger our national safety any more than it had been jeopardized by the introduction of steam vessels. It was not, however, on this point that he desired to address the House; but rather on the question whether this Bill ought to be read a second time, in order that the House might have the advantage of sending it for the consideration of a Committee upstairs. He regretted to see the condition of the Treasury Bench at that moment. There was no responsible Minister upon it who would be likely to take into consideration what he was about to say; because at the time he was speaking Her Majesty's Government were represented by one unpaid Lord of the Treasury. He must, therefore, content himself with addressing the Treasury Bench through the Speaker. He wished to say that ever since he had been a Member of that House he had always understood that they could only refuse the consideration of a Bill by a Committee upstairs on one of three grounds—either that the matter had been considered before by a Committee, or that it involved a proposal which was entirely contrary to public policy, or that it was a subject on which the House had already pronounced a decided opinion. He maintained that all those throe elements were wanting on this occasion. It was clear that the Bill was not against public policy, because the proposal to connect France and England by a Channel Tunnel had already been virtually approved by Her Majesty's Government in the year 1872, and again in the year 1874; therefore, it could not be said that any previous Government had considered the scheme as being against public policy. Again, there was not the objection that there had been any Resolution of that House against the project, so that that ground for refusal was wanting in regard to this Bill. When they came to the question as to whether or no the question had been already adequately considered and disposed of by a Committee upstairs, he would point not only to the Report of the Committee of investigation, in which a great divergence of opinion was manifested, but also to the speech made by the right hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) —and a very able speech it was—in support of the Bill, as well as to the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for South Devonshire (Sir Massey Lopes), who sat on that Committee, and who had spoken in that debate against the Bill. When they looked at the military opinions which had been expressed on the matter, he put it to the House whether it would be possible to find a greater divergence than in the views pronounced for and against the scheme? On these grounds he asserted that the Bill ought to Lave a fair and impartial consideration before a Select Committee of that House, in pursuance of the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Hythe that the Bill be read a second time. He had altogether failed to gather from the speeches made by hon. Members who had opposed the Bill any valid reason why the House should not agree to this proposal; and, therefore, he should confidently give his vote in favour of the second reading of the Bill. If it had not been for the objections urged by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, who, he regretted to find, was so neglectful of his duty as not to be in his place at that moment, he should not trouble the House with any farther remarks. The House would be aware that when the right hon. Gentleman answered the speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe, and moved the rejection of the Bill, he did nothing more nor less than make a series of imputations against the Directors of the Company who were the promoters of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had in his hand a manuscript, and he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) was not surprised that he should have quoted from that manuscript. He had risen to ask, as a point of Order, whether the paper from which the right hon. Gentleman was reading had been laid on the Table of the House, and the right hon. Gentleman had referred him to the Blue Book—or rather what had been a Blue Book—which he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) then held in his hand. He was in the recollection of those who had heard the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman when he said the President of the Board of Trade had spoken of the time an arrangement was being made for his paying a visit to the works then in progress for the construction of the Channel Tunnel, and that the tone in which he had spoken could only be construed in the way he had mentioned. Being acquainted with the circumstances referred to, he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) desired to give to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the strongest contradiction one Member of Parliament could give to another; and in support of this Contradiction he would refer to the Correspondence to be found in the Blue Book. That Correspondence was too voluminous to be read at length at the present moment; but he was pre- pared to say, without the least hesitation, that it fully bore out the contradiction he had given to the right hon. Gentleman. There was, however, one point which he hoped the House would allow him to refer to—one of the documents contained in the Correspondence. One of the letters had this passage— I say, on the part of the Channel Tunnel Direction, that these postponements had nothing whatever to do with any intention to deprive him (the President of the Board of Trade) of the opportunity of seeing the Tunnel. But what, to his mind, was more remarkable was what was stated in a letter dated the 29th of June, 1882, and addressed by the Secretary of the Channel Tunnel Company to the Board of Trade—namely— If the President of the Board of Trade, who several times has been invited to visit the works, and who three times agreed to do so, but in no case joined the special trains provided for him, had inspected the works personally, as the Prime Minister and the Minister of War did, it is believed that no difficulty of any kind would have arisen, always assuming that the President is in favour of the construction of the Tunnel and not opposed to it. He (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) remembered that once, when the right hon. Gentleman was expected to join the special train, an excuse was sent down at the last moment to the manager's office to the effect that he had been kept up all night in the House of Commons by the Irish Members, and consequently could not get down to the train. Without going further into the Correspondence he might say that it was impossible on a perusal of it to arrive at any other conclusion than that the charge which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade was absolutely unfounded. The right hon. Gentleman had held in his hand a manuscript, the effect of his reference to which was to make the House suppose that the Channel Tunnel Company had been guilty of some mala fides. As to Colonel Yolland, it was clear that he had made a great mistake in his affidavit, as was acknowledged in one of his own letters; for in that affidavit he had stated that the Tunnel had been lengthened by about 70 yards beyond the distance agreed upon; but he was afterwards obliged to write a letter in which he said that he was entirely mistaken when he made that statement. He (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade why it was that when he referred to this matter and to the affidavit of Colonel Yolland, he did not tell the House at the same time that there was that letter in which Colonel Yolland contradicted that which he had previously sworn?


The right hon. and learned Gentleman has misunderstood the charge which I make against the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe. That charge is, that in the beginning of April he gave me a personal pledge that the work should not be continued further than was absolutely necessary for the safety of the men engaged upon them; and on July 8 and 15, when the first inspection was made, I found that in spite of that pledge the works had been carried not 70 but 600 yards further than they were at the time the pledge was given. Then I stated that subsequently to the order of the Court, which required the further prosecution of the works to be restrained, there was a further progress made to the extent of 70 yards. I did forget to mention that there was sometrifling error in the second survey taken by Colonel Yolland which he afterwards endeavoured to correct; it was a matter of some 30 yards; but that in no way affected the accuracy of the statement or the force of the charge that I have brought that the works were carried very much further than they ought to have been.


remarked, that this was the point on which he and the right hon. Gentleman were at issue; and if the matter were gone into it would be found that the facts did not justify the statement which the right hon. Gentleman had made. That was one reason why the Bill should be sent before a Select Committee, and that was a tribunal which could fairly decide the question. Colonel Yolland swore that the Channel Tunnel had been carried 70 yards further than the limit agreed to, and yet afterwards he wrote contradicting that—it was in the Blue Book—and admitting that he was mistaken as to half the distance. The only difference which had been made in carrying on the works was exactly the difference which was required to be made for the safety of the people who were engaged in the construction of the Tunnel. He (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) made this statement in the presence of the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe, believing it to be an altogether accurate statement, and one which would meet with the hon. Baronet's approbation. He merely referred to this matter to show how very undesirable it was that there should be a contest and controversy over the question. It would be far better that the whole subject should be examined by a competent tribunal. He thought that as the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had made these imputations against the promoters of the Tunnel, that formed a very strong reason why the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee, by whom it could be properly investigated. As he had already said, all the conditions which would justify the rejection of the Bill were wanting in this case. The measure was not against the public policy, nor was it against any Resolution of the House; and for these reasons he supported the Motion for the second reading of the Bill, and asked the House to reject the Amendment which had been proposed to destroy it.


apprehended that the question now under consideration was not the conduct of the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe, or the dispute between him and the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade. The real question was a very much larger and more important one, and one which concerned the serious interests of the country. That question was, in his opinion, whether, for purposes of trade or commerce, they were to abandon the natural frontier of the country. They could not conceal from themselves that many of the arguments, both for and against the Bill, partook to a certain extent of a conjectural and inferential character; and it might be desirable to separate the elements of certainty in the case from those which were purely conjectural. On the one hand, it was stated that there would be a material increase in their trade with France and other countries in consequence of this improvement in their communications. But that was an argument which was of a conjectural character. They possessed, at the present moment, great facilities for carrying on a very considerable trade. Folkestone was not the only port from which they traded with France and the Continent; but there were Southampton, Newhaven, the mouth of the Thames, and London itself. All these were ports of the country through which a great trade was carried on with the Continent; and it did not follow that if the Tunnel were made, all the trade would be concentrated in it, or that it would always flow in that direction. So, again, the various military considerations were matters of opinion among military men, who differed materially upon them; but there was a consensus of opinion to this extent—that if the Tunnel were made it would be absolutely necessary to increase their military defences in respect of the Tunnel; and, of course, that would involve additional armaments and an increase in their military expenditure. These were, more or less, the conjectural elements. The increase of trade was altogether inferential, and was not directly ascertained; and the military arguments also possessed some elements of uncertainty. But, on the other hand, it was a fact that they had a natural frontier provided for them on which they could rely with great success and security. In times past that frontier had placed them in a safe and independent position in respect to their intercourse with the Continent; and they had been able to hold a high position in Europe in consequence of that fact. They had perfect security so long as that frontier remained, and our maritime supremacy was maintained. Again, they had this fact pretty well ascertained—that the intercourse between this country and France would be materially facilitated even under present conditions. There were harbours on both sides of the water which would, with certain improvements which were being carried out, accommodate much larger vessels, and by those larger vessels much of the discomfort of the present passage would be obviated. He would ask anyone who went from Holyhead to Dublin in one of those splendid steamers which now run between those ports, whether they would suffer much inconvenience if steamers of the same class and kind were run across the English Channel? Where would be the elements of inconvenience or discomfort in a passage on board such vessels? The harbours on both sides were being improved, and larger vessels were being made, and before long they would have between England and France a satisfactory service, like that which they had between England and Ireland. Under these circumstances, he thought that the case for the Bill was to a great degree disposed of, and such an amount of convenience and comfort would be secured by the present service, when improved in the way he had mentioned, as would render such an increased national expenditure as the Bill would entail altogether unnecessary. He did not think the Suez Canal had been an unmitigated boon to this country. He had an opportunity recently of having some communications on this subject with some of the leading merchants and manufacturers in the City of London, and they told him that the effect of the Suez Canal had been to divert a considerable amount of trade from this Metropolis, and to carry it directly to Genoa and the Mediterranean ports, instead of letting it go through London and the other ports of this country as it used formerly to do, so that they had, been to a great extent, losers by the opening of the Canal. He did not refer to the political arguments on the subject—they opened a much wider field—but he could not help thinking that, having regard to the communications which existed at present, to the prospect of their improvement, and to the serious expense, not to say danger, which the completion of the Tunnel would involve, and having regard also to the inferential and conjectural nature of the advantages which the Tunnel would create, the Bill before the House was not one which ought to receive the sanction of Parliament.


said, that, like many of his fellow-countrymen and countrywomen, he had very painful recollections of the horrors of the Channel passage; and when this scheme was first proposed he certainly looked upon it with very great pleasure, and it had his warm and most hearty approval. Up to the time that the naval and military authorities published their opinions he was strongly in favour of the scheme promoted by the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe; because he looked forward to, and would have supported with pleasure, any scheme which would increase the facilities for bringing together the people of Great Britain, and the Continent; but after the express opinions given by the naval and military authorities, who declared that the making of this Tunnel would increase the facilities for the invasion of this country, and would impose on us an enormous outlay in the erection of fortifications and increasing our military power, he felt that such a scheme would necessarily tend to increase the taxation of this country, and, therefore, he should certainly oppose it. On that ground, and notwithstanding the fact that he had hitherto supported the Bill, he should vote against it now.


said, he had seen with regret that a great deal of personal matter had been introduced into this discussion. He had heard, and he might say with pain, the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Sir Robert Peel), who had stated that this was a personal matter between the House and the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe. In reality, it was nothing of the sort—it was a great national question, which ought to be approached from &, national point of view. His hon. Friend the Member for Glamorganshire (Sir Hussey Vivian) had stated that the Chambers of Commerce were invited to attend before the Joint Committee last year, and give evidence upon this subject. The hon. Gentleman certainly spoke to him (Mr. Monk) personally, and asked him whether he would, as the President of the Associated Chambers of Commerce, give evidence, and express the views of the Chambers. But his reply naturally was, that as this matter had not been specifically considered by the Associated Chambers, he did not feel that he was in a position to state their views. He (Mr. Monk) did, however, request his hon. Friend to invite the separate Chambers to send witnesses before the Committee, and he believed that in several instances that was done. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had said if hon. Members were satisfied that the formation of a Channel Tunnel would be adverse to the security of this country, they must be mad or wicked to support the Bill of the hon. Member for Hythe; but it was because they were satisfied that this scheme for a Channel Tunnel did not militate against the safety of this country that they were prepared to support the Bill. Speaking personally, he believed, from a commer- cial point of view, that the creation of a Channel Tunnel would be a vast advantage to the commerce of this country, and it would tend to promote goodwill between ourselves and Continental countries. There had been an immense amount of prejudice introduced into this question; and that prejudice, no doubt, was mainly created by the opinions of a certain number of military gentlemen who gave evidence before the Committee last year. But the House had before it a most able Report by the present Governor General of Canada—a Report warmly acquiesced in by four Members of that Committee—and that Report he commended most heartily to the perusal of all hon. Members who had not read it. Of the majority of that Committee who opposed Lord Lansdowne's Report no two Members could agree to any other Report; and that fact was, primâ facie, condemnatory of their own opinions. They did not seem to know their own minds; all that they were agreed upon was to reject that Report of Lord Lansdowne. It was because he believed in that Report, and in the conclusions which were arrived by the minority, of whom the right hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) was one, that he should now give his hearty support to the second reading of the Bill.


said, he was somewhat surprised at the statement of his right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck), that those who adopted the views expressed by military authorities were actuated by feelings of panic. To his mind, anything less like panic in the matter could hardly be imagined. The majority of Englishmen entertained a strong opinion that the defences of their country must not be weakened, and on such a matter were willing to be guided by the experience of military officers. On that understanding, and with that view, they cheerfully acquiesced in the appointment of that carefully selected Committee which sat on the Bill last year. That Committee obtained the best possible evidence that could be obtained, and the opinion of the highest military and naval authorities; but that military opinion did not rest quite alone, for it was perfectly well known that not only the military authorities here, but those in other countries, supported the opinion that the defences of the country would be seriously weakened by the construction of the Tunnel. Now, they were told that the Members of last year's Committee could not agree to an unanimous expression of opinion. That was quite true; but, at all events, the majority of the Committee considered that the military question was the paramount one to guide their conclusions; and he thought that the fact of the Committee not being able to agree on the question left it more incumbent upon Members of Parliament, whose paramount duty it was to take into consideration all matters connected with the defence of the Empire, to consider for themselves the weight of the evidence given before the Committee. They could not doubt in the slightest degree that the weight of military evidence was against the proposal for a Tunnel; and, that being the case, he thought the course taken by the hon. Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin), and those who supported him, was a very extraordinary one. The least that any military authority suggested was that if the Channel Tunnel was constructed some kind of military defences of an important character should be carried out. It might be supposed that persons in the position of the hon. Member and his friends, coming forward with a scheme of this kind in another year, would have put before Parliament some method of meeting this strong opinion; but here was found the same Channel Tunnel scheme projected, and no provision made to meet the strong expression of opinion by military authorities. He thought it was incumbent on the House to ask, after the careful consideration given to the subject last year, on a Bill which was thought so important that it was sent to a special Committee, why the Bill should now be referred to a Committee appointed in the usual way for ordinary Bills? He really thought the House would not be doing justice to the subject if it now committed itself to the second reading. He would not sit down without a remark upon the sort of notion people had of the condition of the defences of the country. The hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) spoke of the "virility of the men of England" not being "emasculated." Surely they had not, most of them, been left in entire ignorance of what was passing around them, and that a nation which was not prepared to meet with disciplined force, the force another nation brought against it would not be protected by the "virility" of a mere mob. His hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Hopwood) spoke about Switzerland. Had he ever been in a Swiss town and observed the Swiss children as they left school? Had he seen boys from the earliest years put into training, that they might be prepared to take their share in the defence of their country, taught to carry knapsacks, and the semblance of those arms they would afterwards have to bear? His hon. and learned Friend, if he reflected upon the past history of Switzerland, and went back less than a century, would find a time when that country was the theatre of a portion of the bloody and devastating wars that then desolated Europe. And he must also know that if Switzerland was now an independent Power it was more from the fact that it was not the interest of other Powers to disturb her, than from the power of Switzerland to resist invasion. He felt no doubt that, under all the circumstances, the House would refuse to read the Bill a second time; and he hoped that would be the last they would hear of the project during the present Parliament.


said, there had been much personality introduced into the discussion; but he would not on that occasion give a silent vote. He intended to vote in favour of the Bill, and in doing so was sorry to find himself in opposition to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade. He was sorry to hoar the latter refer to the question which had arisen between himself and the hon. Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin), for it seemed a very small matter whether the cutting had been made a few yards more or less under the bed of the sea; there would be no harm if it were made for two miles under the sea. It became not a national question whether the Chairman of the Railway Company stopped the operations a day earlier or later. What the House had to consider was whether England should have this Channel Tunnel to connect them with France. His own feeling was that the more they could get people to communicate, the more intimately they became known to each other, the more likely they were to be friends; and he believed that if this Channel Tunnel were made it would add materially to friendly intercourse, and to the keeping of peace in future generations. Before the age of railways there was that feeling among the ignorant inhabitants of a place to "fling half-a-brick" at the head of a stranger. Railways opening the means of constant intercourse did away with that feeling; and with a railway by which they could visit France, and Frenchmen could visit England, they would entirely get rid of that antagonistic feeling which the right hon. and learned Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) spoke of as always existing between the two countries. He was sorry the right hon. and learned Gentleman made a sort of attack upon the junior Member for Leeds (Mr. Herbert Gladstone), as an unpaid Member of the Government and sole occupant of the Treasury Bench. Of course, everyone knew that Members of the Government had other work to do, and could not be present the whole day. His main reason for supporting the Bill was not entirely from considerations of trade, though he believed it would work wonders in that direction. Military men, if called upon, could find means to properly protect the Tunnel entrance. As the senior Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz) said, they must be a nation of idiots if they could not protect a rabbit hole like this Tunnel. If they trusted entirely to military theories they would be often led astray. If they had listened to military opinion they would have continued the construction of all those circular forts around the coast which they now knew would be of no avail. He hoped the Bill would be read a second time and sent to a Committee; and he felt that the more the subject was ventilated the more the feeling of the country would support it, and in a few years this Channel Tunnel would be an accomplished fact.


rejoiced that the President of the Board of Trade opposed the Bill. He thought the right hon. Gentleman was conscious that the interests of commerce had been promoted greatly at the expense of the National Exchequer, and greatly to the detriment of many other interests of the country, and, to the detriment of agriculture; and that it involved in its vicissitudes quite large enough a proportion of the population of this country, so far as related to their employment and maintenance. Now, what were they doing? They were providing great defences, not before great defences were eminently needed, for the safety of the country. And what was the House now asked to do? To sanction this project for a Tunnel under the Channel, which must involve a great increase of their great defences, for not a military or naval man had given evidence or spoken, who had not said that the mouth of this Tunnel where it debouched on this country must be surrounded by large works. If they had large works they must have large augmentation of expenditure; and though he would not go the length of saying that the accomplishment of this project would entail the necessity of conscription, he would say this—that the House could not pass the Bill without being prepared to provide for a large addition to their military defences. A right hon. and gallant Admiral, who spoke recently (Sir John Hay), said it would involve a large increase in naval expenditure, and this question of expense was subsidiary to the question of national safety. They had the highest authorities, military and naval, warning them that, take what precautions they might, the making of this Tunnel would be in itself a danger; and, if that was so, one circumstance which ought to be considered, not only from the the grandmotherly feeling, as it had been called, of national safety, for he would not believe that Englishmen could not make their hands keep their heads; still, they were bound to consider the effect of this project, if carried out on their national finances and on the national credit. Every circumstance that endangered this country damaged its credit; and he believed that the credit of the country had risen to the point at which it stood at present, and at which it had stood for years, mainly on account of the safety which she had enjoyed from her insular position. He believed that that circumstance had added to their credit; because it gave them an assurance of safety which the centre of such an empire as the British Empire ought to possess, looking at the variety of races over which Her Majesty had to rule.


said, his hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Carbutt), who had likened the proposed Channel Tunnel to a rabbit-warren, quoting the words of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham. (Mr. Muntz), had forgotten how dangerous such a rabbit-warren might be if both ends of it should ever come into the possession of a Power hostile to this country. It seemed to him (Mr. Mac Iver) that this was a question for the common sense of all Her Majesty's subjects rather than for military opinion. What did it mean? If the Tunnel were carried into effect they would have a means of communication then laid open which those who had been their antagonists in days of yore might make use of—a means of communication which they did not at present possess. Therefore, clearly he was not one of those who, as at present advised, were in favour of the construction of the proposed Tunnel. Still, he hoped he might be able to vote with the Ayes on the proposition to refer the measure to a Select Committee. He did not think that on the present occasion the House of Commons should decide this question; and he was influenced in voting for the second reading to let the Bill be committed to a Select Committee by the speech that the President of the Board of Trade had delivered against it; because he could not help feeling, from past experience, that however able and plausible the right hon. Gentleman might be when he was making his personal attack upon the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin), that the time would come when that hon. Baronet would have the right of reply, and would be able to answer the personalities made use of towards him better than anyone else. His (Mr. Mac Iver's) sympathies had been rather with the hon. Baronet than against him. He knew something of the Board of Trade; and he must say that it seemed to him monstrous that a great Department of the State like that should be concentrated into one individual like the right hon. Member for Birmingham, for he, undoubtedly, was the Board of Trade at that moment. There was much in that question that he might, if he desired, dilate upon; but he would not delay the House by going into it. He hoped to be able to go into it further on some future occasion. The scheme before the House had been compared with the question of the Suez Canal; and it had been pointed out how great English statesmen, when that project was advanced, had opposed it. For his own part, he could not help thinking that Lord Palmerston had been right in the discussion to which he referred; and that if he had been here to-day he would have opposed the proposition for the construction of a Tunnel under the Channel. He (Mr. Mac Iver) maintained that the construction of such a subway would be a misfortune to this country, as undoubtedly it had been a misfortune to them that the Suez Canal had been made. The question was, what would be the benefit or otherwise to this country of the construction of a Tunnel to France? Let hon. Members turn to their commercial relations with France—what were they worth? Their commercial relations with France were mainly relations of enjoyment—they were mostly relations affecting the rich. As to the working populations of this country, he did not believe that they were in the slightest degree improved by our trade with France. Supposing our commerce with our neighbour across the Channel were stopped to-morrow— what would it mean? It would mean that we should no longer import silk dresses, claret and other wines, and that we should no longer be able to bring into this country French sugar, which was at present introduced to the detriment of our manufacturers at home. The stopping of trade between this country and France would mean that we should no longer go to France for the purpose of breaking our own heads in regard to many of our industries. No doubt, if the Tunnel were made, we should trade with France as we had done in the past, and that the trade would increase; but what he wished to point out was, that at the present moment, and for years past, France had sent to this country, in the form of luxuries, a produce much greater in, value than anything we had sent to France of any sort or description; and yet the advantages put forward in favour of this Tunnel by the promoters of the Bill were all for us and nothing for France. Whilst wishing to support the hon. Baronet (Sir Edward Watkin), who, to his mind, had been unjustly attacked, and wishing to have the matter further considered, he should vote for the second reading; but if he were called upon to decide finally that day whether there should or should not be a Channel Tunnel, he should emphatically give his vote in opposition to the scheme.


said, he did not wish to occupy the time of the House for more than one moment; but he wished to point out that the observations of the hon. Member who had just sat down went in the direction of reversing all their preconceived ideas of trade. In this country they had become great, commercially and otherwise, because of increased railway facilities, because of their constant endeavours to increase and promote those facilities; and, at the present moment, there was a Committee of the House sitting upstairs to consider the question of the further development of railway communication in India. They knew that people could now go all the way from the North of France to Constantinople by railway without breaking the journey; but in this country anyone who wanted to go to the South of Europe had to suffer the horrors of a Channel passage. The hon. Gentleman who had just spoken depreciated their trade with France, and asked what loss it would be to us supposing that trade were put a stop to? In reply, he (Mr. Puleston) would ask the hon. Member, would it not be a gain if they very largely increased their trade with France? He did not, for his own part, believe that any hon. Member sitting on either side of the House would venture to say that the opening-up of a communication by means of a Tunnel with France would have any other effect commercially than of largely increasing their relations with France. It would, he believed, largely increase their national as well as their commercial relations with that country, and, he (Mr. Puleston) might add, their friendly relations; and not only with that country, but with other countries of Europe. The Tunnel would have the effect of opening a through line to countries far beyond France, and not oblige us, as now, to be handicapped by having first to go over to France before we could start anywhere. He was surprised to hear the hon. Member for East Sussex (Mr. Gregory) dilate on the question of improved cross-Channel accommodation, and say that all they needed was increased boat accommodation. He was surprised to hear him speak about the comfort of the boats between Dublin and England, and recommend the adoption of that class of vessel as a model for those which should convey passengers from England to France, and vice versâ. He (Mr. Puleston) must say that he should visit Ireland much oftener than he did if it were not for the sea passage and for those boats. He had only crossed on two occasions, and each time he had suffered martyrdom. In this he was not singular, for many people suffered as he did—many had never visited the Continent because they knew what to expect in crossing the Channel. He deplored the fact that this discussion had assumed such a personal shape. The technical questions which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had raised, as to whether the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin) had drilled one yard more or less under the sea, were really of no consequence to the House at the present moment. It was not for them to go into the minor and personal differences between the hon. Baronet and the President of the Board of Trade when discussing a question of national importance; and he trusted the time had not come when hon. Members would sit there, when important national questions were awaiting solution, discussing such narrow issues as those which had been brought before them on the present occasion. He would venture to say that any stranger sitting under the Gallery in the House, or in one of the Galleries upstairs, would, after listening to the debate that afternoon, go away and ask himself whether it really was a fact that they were living in the 19th century, if so much time could be occupied in considering such a simple question as whether they should or should not construct a Tunnel from this country to France. He could understand this stranger asking whether they were to stand still while other countries were making rapid advancement in every direction in the development of their resources—whether they were going to stand still, or to maintain the reputation they had earned, of being the foremost commercial nation in the world, and let other nationalities go a-head of them? It seemed to him that from a Tunnel between England and France the advantages would be incalculable. The opposition to it was particularly varied, coming from so many sources, and being founded upon so many different reasons; whilst those who approved the scheme did so on the one ground of the highest interests of the country.


said, the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Mac Iver), who had declared his intention of voting for the second reading of the Bill, had spoken in the strongest possible way against it, and had used all the arguments he could to induce other hon. Members to offer opposition. He should have thought the right hon. and learned Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck), in advocating the second reading, would have given them some evidence of the necessity for the Bill, and would also have said something in its favour. Nothing, however, of the sort. It had been left to the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) to say all that he could say in favour of it —namely, that it would improve the goodwill existing between this country and France. But what did that amount to? Why, it amounted to this—that France would flood this country with goods, and would send to them more loaf sugar, upon which she got a kind of bounty, than she was sending at the present time, to the detriment of our own refineries. France got a great deal more advantage from Free Trade with this country than we got from France; and if this Tunnel were made, and these commercial advantages were increased, it would still further enrich France, and still further impoverish us. A great deal had been said as to the military part of the question; and though he was not one of those who feared the construction of the Tunnel, or believed that it would endanger the security of this country, he was led to think that it would be much better for them to keep as they were, than to admit the element of danger which other people feared, however small it might be. If they were to be guided at all by men competent to guide them, who were there who would be more likely to give them sound advice in regard to this Tunnel than men who had made military tactics and the defence of their country their special study? He had heard exceptions taken to the engineering qualities of this scheme, of the engineering difficulties of it; and, on the other hand, he had heard gentlemen in favour of the project treating these suggestions quite lightly, and looking upon the practicability of constructing a Tunnel as a matter of course. Well, as an engineer, he was not one who wished to talk of impossibilities so long as they had unlimited means at their disposal to carry out their objects. But when they talked about a Tunnel nearly 30 miles long, under the sea, and through strata which could not be very well defined, they were subject to risks of such an enormous extent that they could hardly be calculated. They must bear in mind the tunnels that were already in construction. Let them look, for instance, at the Severn Tunnel, and the number of years that it had been in progress, and the unexpected difficulties that the projectors had had to encounter. Then, look at the Tunnel under the Mersey. These Tunnels were mere child's play compared with the proposed long Tunnel under the Channel. The material taken out of the Tunnel as the work progressed would have to be brought, as they approached the centre, 10 or 15 miles to either end. When they talked of those vast undertakings, he confessed he did not think any engineer could calculate the cost of such a work, or the time that it would occupy in completion. He was perfectly convinced that many hon. Members who advocated this work could never live to see it carried out, even under the most favourable circumstances. As to the cost, he believed the estimates ranged from something between £5,000,000 and £20,000,000. And there was another difficulty which had not been mentioned in the House, but which, to his mind, was a very serious one. How were they going to ventilate a Tunnel 30 miles long, rising towards the ends and dipping towards the centre. It could only be done by the use of very expensive mechanical appliances. They could not have blowholes in the Tunnel, as they had in the District Railway on the Thames Embankment. If they could have this means of admitting fresh air the ventilation would be easy enough; but the adoption of such means as these was impossible. As to the "horrors" of the passage from Dover to Calais which the hon. Member who had last spoken had referred to, he (Mr. Giles), for one, did not suffer at sea as some people did; but he would undertake to say that nine-tenths of the passengers who go between Eng- land and France would prefer, even on the roughest day, a Channel passage by steamer, to an underground railway journey of 30 miles in a stifling atmosphere. If there had been any commercial necessity shown for this great and difficult work, what was the next best thing to do? He would say, improve the harbours on this side, either at Dover or Folkestone, and improve the harbours on the other side, either at Calais, Boulogne, or some other convenient port. Make these harbours deep enough to admit such vessels as now ply between Kingstown and Holyhead. If they encouraged traffic by some such means as that, they would do away with the necessity for this Tunnel, and would, at the same time, increase the shipping industry of the country; for it must be borne in mind that if the Tunnel was to be of any substantial benefit to certain trades in the way of carrying articles of commerce, it would, in the same ratio, or nearly in the same ratio, destroy their shipping interest. Altogether, he ventured to hope that the House would not assent to the second reading of this Bill.


said, he he had no doubt that the House would like to go to a vote; but previous to its doing so he desired to be permitted to say a word or two with regard to the course of the debate. The hon. Member who had just sat down evidently had not studied the question very deeply when he spoke of the Tunnel being 30 miles long, because, as a matter of fact, it was not proposed to cut a Channel passage of more than 22 miles in length. He would not go into the engineering question at all; but would merely point out that the greatest strategist in the world— namely, Count Von Moltke, had declared that the idea of invading England through a Tunnel was ridiculous, and was almost like suggesting the invasion of Germany through his library door. All he (Sir Edward Watkin) asked, on behalf of the 600 subscribers to the cost of the experiments, was that there should be inquiry and further experiment. To his mind, there was no reason whatever why the question should not be inquired into; and the very differences of opinion which existed on the subject were the very best arguments for searching inquiry, in which counsel would be engaged, and witnesses would be cross-examined. It might be said— "You have had two or three Committees or Royal Commissions already to inquire into the matter; and you, therefore, can gain nothing in the way of information by further investigation." But it must be borne in mind that they had never hitherto had an inquiry when counsel could appear to advocate the scheme, and when it was possible to cross-examine persons who gave evidence against it. The President of the Board of Trade ought especially to assent to this form of inquiry; and if he did, he (Sir Edward Watkin) would take care that the right hon. Gentleman should be personally called as a witness on oath, and out of his own mouth he would make him retract every one of the charges he had made against him. It was not very usual for a Cabinet Minister, in objecting to a measure, to make a gross personal attack on an individual; but the right hon. Gentleman had done this. Knowing the facts as he did, the right hon. Gentleman must have been aware that he was acting towards him with the greatest injustice. The right hon. Gentleman, in answer to the right hon. and learned Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck), said that Colonel Yolland was merely in error in regard to levels, or something of that kind; but the right hon. Gentleman knew better, for he must be aware that Colonel Yolland, although he had sworn twice over that the experimental Tunnel had been extended 70 yards, and that the engineer of the Tunnel had sworn erroneously; had himself to admit, under pressure, to the Board of Trade, that he had made a mistake of one-half the distance — that the distance was only 35 or 36 yards. It had been admitted, in a letter written by this official, that he had made not a trifling mistake—a mistake of half the distance. The right hon. Gentleman did not deal fairly with that House in this as in other matters. As to the statements made by the right hon. Gentleman concerning himself (Sir Edward Watkin), he repudiated them; and the right hon. Gentleman would not dare to allow them to take the Bill before a Select Committee, because he knew perfectly well that if he did all these matters would be cleared up. They could be cleared up now; but to do so would take up too much of the time of the House. He did not wish to weary hon. Members, who had other things to consider that day. It was a matter of entire indifference to him what attack the right hon. Gentleman made upon him, for he could point to a record of a long life of hard work; and it could not be charged against him that he had risen to fortune by the grossest of monopolies, or that he had been blown into Office by the bad breath of the Caucus. He believed that if they had an inquiry, the House would be convinced that no possible harm would result from the construction of this Tunnel. It was supported by very eminent personages, including, he might mention, the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), who, if he had been here that day, no doubt would have entirely answered the arguments of his two Colleagues. Considering the number of wise men and great men who had advocated the idea of the construction of this Tunnel, he hoped the House, at all events, would not refuse inquiry; but that they would do that small amount of justice to individuals who had subscribed largely for the purpose of conducting these experiments—not for the gain of money, but for the good of mankind. He intended to divide the House.


protested against the present attempt, which was only a repetition of that which had taken place on previous occasions, to force a Division by jumping up to make a reply on the debate and to an Amendment, before those who wished to speak, and who had risen many times for the purpose of doing so, had had an opportunity of saying what their duty to their country required that they should say. He (Mr. Warton) had three times before this protested against the practice. This was now the fourth time; and he ventured to say that it would be his duty, whenever such an attempt was made, to condemn it. He should do it even though he had to repeat his observations again and again. No doubt, it was perfectly right and fair that the hon. Baronet (Sir Edward Watkin) should have an opportunity of replying, especially after the manner in which he had been attacked; but it was also fair that Members of the House should, in the undoubted exercise of their right and duty, be heard, if they wished to speak, before the reply was made. It would be better, also, that this should be done in the interests of the promoters of the Bill, because it might be that some arguments might be used, even by the humblest Member of the House, to which an answer ought to be given, but to which it would be impossible for an answer to be given after the reply had been made. The consequence of the course which the hon. Baronet had adopted might be that, a little later on, he might desire the opportunity of making a reply which he had been in too great a hurry to offer at an earlier period. He could not claim to have been a Member of the Committee, because, as a matter of fact, he had not been put upon it; but he could claim something which, perhaps, the majority of Members who had taken part in this debate could not claim— namely, that he had, as an Englishman, read the whole of the evidence taken by the Committee. How many could say they had discharged their duty so laboriously and carefully in the interests of their country as he had done? He had on many occasions read through Blue Books, in order to inform himself upon important questions under discussion before the House; and what he deprecated most was that, although such an amount of trouble was taken to inform one's self upon a subject like this, the President of the Board of Trade should, after opposing the measure, intimate his wish that a coup de grace should be given to the proposal at once, and that no further discussion should be had. Whether he was friendly to the Bill or not, he was, at any rate, in favour of free, fair, and full discussion; and he deprecated the idea that because the right hon. Gentleman had spoken there was an end of the question. It was like the old declaration—"Rome has spoken, and the cause is finished." He had not the same respect for the right hon. Gentleman that he had for the "grand old Church;" he would not compare the right hon. Gentleman with Rome; but he certainly did think it presumptuous in him to say that because he had spoken the matter was ended. Let the right hon. Gentleman remember what a coup de grace really was. It was a blow given to a craven knight—given to the van quished—as an act of mercy—


I must ask the hon. and learned Member to confine himself to the Question. I may have to call the attention of the House to the irrelevancy of the hon. and learned Member's remarks if he does not confine himself more closely to the Question.


said, he was trying to do so. A Paper had been put into hon. Members' hands containing certain arguments in favour of this Bill; and he thought he was entitled to refer to the reasons upon which the House was asked to support the Bill. On analyzing the Paper, he found that it contained two declarations—one by Lord Granville and one by Lord Derby; one made in 1873, and the other in 1874. He thought the very dates of these declarations—which he admitted were favourable to the scheme of 1873–4 —showed the importance of a full discussion of this question. The very fact that great statesmen on both sides had, to a considerable extent, changed their views showed how important it was to fully and fairly discuss the question. It was hardly right, on the present occasion, to bring forward the opinions even of such eminent statesmen as Lord Granville and Lord Derby, when those opinions were dated so far back as 1873–4. But there was a matter nearer than those in point of time. There was a Report of the minority of the Committee; and, with all respect to the minority, their Report seemed to him an eminently weak production, because, after all, it simply came to this— they expressed confidence that there would be an immense development of passenger traffic; that the goods traffic already existing would be expanded; and that, owing to its peculiar position, this country would gain more than other countries. All these grand phrases simply meant that there would be an expansion of traffic. Very likely there would be if the Tunnel was made; but when the minority spoke of the peculiar position of this country they should remember what that peculiar position was. It was the proud distinction of this country that it had that peculiar position. Its peculiarity consisted in its being surrounded by the sea. The sea was their great defence, and they might be proud of their insular position, cut off, as they were, from the intrigues and entanglements of the Continent. It was because this measure was an attempt to sacrifice that proud insular position that he was bitterly hostile to it. How did that scheme originate? In Mr. Cobden being subject to sea-sickness. The hon. Baronet had mentioned a name which everyone respected—namely, the name of the late Prince Consort. With every wish to speak with respect of the late Prince Consort, he thought he might say that, I like Mr. Cobden, the late Prince Consort had an idea in connection with the Exhibition of 1851, and many other movements of that sort, that they were to live under a different state of things, in which all the world would be at peace, and there would be no more wars. That was his impression; but his anticipations had not been realized. Human nature remained the same, and they were all likely to go to war. Going back to the paper he had mentioned, he found that 16 military and naval witnesses were called; but the opinion of one only was given—namely, Sir John Adye. Was that a fair way of treating the country? Was it fair to give the opinion of one, and not of all the rest? He sympathized with the hon. Baronet to some extent when he complained of the President of the Board of Trade for not stating the whole case; and he now sympathized with the House in being unfairly treated by having the opinion of only one witness put forward. The paper concluded with the opinion of five Frenchmen—four French statesmen, and M. de Lesseps. He did not wish to say anything harsh about France; but he must say deliberately that he had no confidence in the peace of 70 years with France. He believed their interests clashed with ours all over the world, and they were trying to extend their power in every way they could. He did not believe in an alliance with France; our position and interests for bade that; and we must not live in a Fool's Paradise, or cry "Peace, Peace!" where there was no peace. It was because we must resolutely maintain our insular superiority, and believe in ourselves and not in the smooth promises of French statesmen, that he should oppose this measure.

Question put.

The House divided: — Ayes 84; Noes 222: Majority 138.—(Div. List, No. 93.)