§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
said, he hoped that the House would allow him to say one word by way of a personal explanation. He thought that after what had fallen from the Prime Minister he would not be justified in raising a debate upon the Egyptian Question while negotiations were going on. At the same time, he thought that the Government had taken a great responsibility in the course which they had adopted. He would leave them with that responsibility, which he understood to be that they would not allow the scope of the Conference to be enlarged beyond the question of the financial position of Egypt, and that they would also lay any arrangement to which they might come with France on the Table of the House previously to going into the Conference at all. On that understanding he would not trouble the House by bringing on a debate.
I do not wish to limit the concession made by the hon. Member, but only to advert to what I think was not perfectly accurate in his statement. We have spoken, not of 1483 laying an arrangement with. France, but of laying an arrangement with the Powers, before the House at a date anterior to the meeting of the Conference.
MR. JOSEPH COWEN
asked the Prime Minister, whether any arrangement with France could be valid unless acquiesced in by the Powers?
I do not like to put it in the sense of making an arrangement which is not to be valid; but what we contemplate as the first stage is merely a preliminary arrangement which will naturally take the form of communications with France.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House, at its rising, do adjourn till Thursday the 5th of June."— (Mr. Gladstone.)
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I quite feel that the Prime Minister, in the statement he has made, has met this House in a very fair and open spirit; and if I may take this opportunity of making two or three observations, it will not be at all with a view of putting the Government to torture, or trying to extract information which cannot be given to the public without disadvantage, but because I think it important that before separating for the Holidays we should understand exactly how we stand with regard to Egypt, and that we should give full expression on this side of the House to our views. I believe that the Egyptian Question is at this moment in its most critical phase. The Prime Minister has told the House that he, on his responsibility, is prepared to assure us, when we have before us the whole Papers, that Parliament will have no reason to complain of the way the Government has treated it. I fully and absolutely accept that statement of the Prime Minister. I do not believe the Government contemplate in the least, directly or indirectly, doing anything which the House can regard as a breach of its Privileges. What I am concerned with, however, is not the Privilege of the House of Commons, but the position of this country in Egypt. I am utterly unable to understand how it is possible for us to enter into any arrangement, either with France alone, or with France and the other European Powers, which shall not have for one of its essential objects the limitation of the English control over Egyptian affairs. The powers of dip- 1484 lomacy do not exist which shall make arrangements which shall not have that effect. Even if the object of Europe were a purely financial one, even if we were to hand over to the Conference only the management of finance, we should be handing over to them a large measure of the control of the affairs of Egypt. My hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) will be able to tell us of his own experience in Roumelia, where he was the financial Representative of the Government in the matter of finance, that those who have the control of finance practically have control of the policy, and it is impossible it should be otherwise. Therefore, if the Government hands over to the European Powers the financial control of Egypt, they hand over the control of Egypt.
The Law of Liquidation is the limitation of the scope of the Conference. I do not say there may not be collateral questions that may arise; but that is the subject of the Conference.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
If nothing whatever is modified but the Law of Liquidation, the control of Europe will be very great; but there is something besides Europe—there is France. Now, the Prime Minister has told us that the Conference is confined to money matters; but his statement, on the face of it, implies that the negotiations with France deal with other matters. These other matters must have relation to the length of our stay in Egypt, and any arrangement must have the effect of limiting our freedom of action in that respect. I express for myself, and I repeat it for a large number of hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, the strong conviction that any limitation of our power in Egypt is a thing to be, at all hazards, avoided. After all, it is we who have fought in Egypt; it is we who have spent blood and treasure in Egypt; and it is intolerable that we should now be called upon to hand over the results of our sacrifices to others. Rut I do not wish to rest my case solely or chiefly on the interests of this country. I believe if we are to carry out the great duty we have taken upon ourselves in the face of Europe, and in the face of the Egyptian population, we can only do so with any hope of success if we do so absolutely uncontrolled. The Dual Control, in the 1485 opinion of the present Government, is altogether unworkable. A European Control would be ten times as unworkable. If they—the Government—cannot drive a coach and pair without coming to grief they certainly would very soon fall into the ditch if they tried to drive six-in-hand. I do not wish to press the Prime Minister with Questions; but I do wish to put on record my strong opinion that if the results of the present negotiations are either that our stay in Egypt is to be limited, or our remaining in Egypt is to depend on France; or on any other Power or combination of Powers, such a course would be deeply injurious to the interests of this country, and not less injurious to the interests of those whose welfare we have taken in charge. I think the Prime Minister has dealt openly with us; but I think it is only fair to the Government to explain to them, in return the feeling that we entertain with regard to the probable results of the pending negotiations with France.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, he had listened with great satisfaction to the replies of the Prime Minister to the many Questions which had been put to him, because he had in his recollection that they had had such things to deal with as secret Treaties which had been entered into by a Government of this country under conditions which necessarily hoodwinked the House of Commons and deceived the people. He was glad to think that, in regard to the present negotiations, Her Majesty's Government had not the slightest idea of taking any steps which would prevent the House of Commons from exercising a legitimate influence upon the position of the Government before it was finally determined by any actual arrangement on the part of the Powers of Europe. He ventured to say that if the result of any arrangement were to materially limit the administrative influence of England in Egypt, such arrangement would be very offensive to the public opinion of this country. He did not believe in the desirability of "scuttling out of Egypt." He entirely agreed that when they bombarded Alexandria, and crushed out the only possible Government in Egypt, and the only chance there seemed to be of any national movement or self-government, they took upon themselves a great responsibility to administer Egypt, and to 1486 bring it into a condition when it might be left to the safe and good government of the Egyptian authorities. That might be at a remote period; but he was satisfied that if, after all the sacrifices which this country had made, after all the blood that had been shed and all the property that had been destroyed, they were to give up in favour of some system that would lead to difficulty and disputes the fruits of their exertions and sacrifices, it would meet with condemnation in the public mind of the country. He did not say this from any want of confidence in Her Majesty's Government. He had not the slightest reason to believe that they were going to take the course which he ventured to protest against. But he felt very strongly that if we were brought into complicated partnership with other Powers, it might well happen that, arising out of that complicated partnership, we might have disputes and misunderstandings, and, possibly, war. He did not wish the Government to say one word beyond what the Prime Minister had already said. He believed they would strictly avoid the precedent set by the former Government, and would not involve the country in obligations of which the country was not aware, and which would lead to a large amount of difficulty, and, perhaps, of disaster.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, it was quite delightful to hear that veteran of philanthropy and economy, the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands), coming out as a real, rampant, roystering Jingo. The hon. Member spoke of British sacrifices in Egypt. What were they? England had destroyed the principal cities of Egypt, and made Egypt pay for the destruction. It had slain Egyptians by the thousands at the loss of only dozens or scores of its own men. He was afraid that on the present occasion the silence of Her Majesty's Opposition boded no good for the Egyptian people; and he was afraid, further, that there were only too many Members of the Liberal Party prepared to make common cause with the Gentlemen who presided over bondholders' meetings and demanded that strong measures should be adopted in regard to the people of Egypt. The hon. Member also observed that on both sides of the House there was the greatest amount of indignation at the suggestion of Europe being al- 1487 lowed to interfere in the affairs of Egypt. So far as he (Mr. O'Donnell) had been able to discover, the mind of Europe was pretty well made tap on the matter; and he found a general concurrence and determination that France, Germany, and Russia should have a very effective voice in the settlement of the Egyptian Question. They were promised that the conclusions arrived at would be laid before the House previous to the meeting of the Conference; but could it be imagined for a moment that there was any pith and solidity in an assurance of that kind? Nothing could be more certain than that these communications would practically be final. The Prime Minister had said that the Government desired to enter into a European arrangement for the management of Egyptian affairs; but the right hon. Gentleman must not be surprised if it was found that Europe—using the word in its generally accepted sense—and not Great Britain would have the predominance in the Conference; and, in that case, he should like to know whether the Prime Minister would be prepared to go to war with the dissenting Powers? He should also like to know if it was true that the Government had engaged 15,000 Turks to pacify the Soudan; but it would be surprising to find the unspeakable Turk and the eloquent Premier going arm and arm to complete the work of Lord Wolseley. Another and very delicate question to be considered was the position which Russia would take in regard to the Conference. There could be no doubt that the suggestion of the Conference came from Russia; and France and Russia between them held the key of the Egyptian situation. They held this country in the jaws of a vice and on the horns of a dilemma—the one horn being France and the other Russia. It would be a matter of indifference to Russia whether she embarrassed England in Egypt, or whether she took advantage of our complications in Egypt to advance in Central Asia. He wished to impress upon the House his sense of the utter helplessness of the British Empire at the present juncture. Before many weeks they would be required to recognize that neither the bondholders represented by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote), nor those represented by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for 1488 Ripon (Mr. Goschen), but Europe at large, would decide upon the position of Egypt and the policy of this country.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he was not in the least surprised that the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) should urge the Government not to withdraw from Egypt; but he was surprised that he should be followed in the same strain by the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands), and that those two Jingoes almost shook hands over his head. What was the meaning of all that his hon. Friend the Member for Burnley had urged with regard to economy? How were they to expect reduction in the National Expenditure if his hon. Friend was to propose such a Jingo policy to Her Majesty's Government? His hon. Friend said that he spoke for a large number of Members on the Liberal side of the House. His hon. Friend spoke for himself certainly; but he did not know for whom else he spoke, except it was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), who, he observed, applauded him. Those two "corner men," as they were called, probably formed a Party of their own; but it would be an error to suppose that all on the Liberal side of the House agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Burnley in thinking that we had rights in Egypt. We acquired no rights by bombarding Alexandria or destroying Egyptians. What would the hon. Member for Burnley say if someone was to break into his house, slay the hon. Member, and then imagine that he had acquired a species of fee-simple and right to remain there? When this country went to Egypt, we had no rights. We went to Egypt, not in the interests of England, but of Europe. We had been urged to remain there in the interests of Egypt, and because we had assumed certain responsibilities towards Europe. However, now that it appeared that other Powers objected to our regarding Egypt as an integral part of the British Empire, we were told that we had acquired rights, and the argument of our responsibilities towards Europe disappeared. He hoped the Government would continue the policy they had adopted; and, as he understood it, that policy was to withdraw from Egypt as soon as it was possible to withdraw from it, and not to recognize any of those assertions of 1489 rights which were made by irresponsible Gentlemen like his hon. Friend the Member for Burnley and Members opposite. we had not acquired rights, and we had not the right to remain one day more in Egypt than was absolutely necessary.
§ MR. BOURKE
said, that it was very desirable to know whether the sentiments of the hon. Member were the sentiments of Her Majesty's Government; and if they could only get an answer to that question, it would clear up the subject very considerably. What they really wanted to know was, what would be the relations of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the administration of Egypt? If the sentiments just enunciated by the hon. Member were to be followed, then the sooner this country renounced all responsibility for the future the better. But the views of the hon. Member were not those which had hitherto been enunciated by Her Majesty's Government. They had from the first told this House that we had rights in regard to Egypt. Nearly two years ago the President of the Local Government Board admitted that when he said that we were in Egypt by reason of our position in respect to India, and for other reasons. An additional reason had now been afforded by the events of the last two years. One of the alarming considerations with respect to the negotiations that were now going on was that they might have been just as logically initiated a year and a-half ago as at the present time. Everyone who had watched events must come to the conclusion that had these negotiations been initiated 18 months ago this country would now be in a far better and more powerful position, because no one could conceal from himself that, whether negotiations were to be carried on by Diplomatic Correspondence or in a Congress, the weakness of the Government would be much greater than at the period to which he bad adverted. Of the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman he had very little complaint to make, because he had felt all along that with respect to the negotiations and the Conference the House must be at the mercy of the Government. It would be unreasonable to ask the Government, while negotiations were going on, to state from day to day what the results of these negotiations were. But that was no reason why they should not feel extremely 1490 uncomfortable about the matter, particularly when recollecting the exact state of things as presented to the House that day and on former occasions by the right hon. Gentleman. A disposition, had been shown in some quarters to mix up the questions of the Conference; and the negotiations; but nothing could I be more distinct. One of the strong points which the Government had relied upon when they had been attacked in. I connection with the Conference was that I it was limited to the consideration of the Law of Liquidation. That was a point which the House ought to bear in mind, and to which the Government ought to be held. But the right hon. Gentleman had stated that the negotiations that were going on did not relate to the same subject as that which was to be submitted to the Conference; and, therefore, it was clear, from what had been said that day, that the House I would find itself in this position—that these negotiations with France would go on, and that they would be submitted i diplomatically to the Powers of Europe before the Conference met. The result; was that far more important questions than any which could possibly be discussed in the Conference would be settled, with France in the first place, and then with Europe, without any knowledge on the part of that House of what was being done. He had understood the Prime Minister to say that when the negotiations were concluded; they would be submitted to Europe, and then possibly to the Conference.
§ MR. BOURKE
Well, the House would see that the hon. Member for Hertford spoke very truly when he said that a very critical point had been reached, because the result of the steps taken by the Government would be that while all questions relating to the future administration of Egypt might be submitted to France and to Europe, the House would know nothing of what was going on until the conclusion of the negotiations. The right hon. Gentleman said that he would take care that the rights and Privileges of the House should be regarded. He did not understand what, according to the right hon. Gentleman, those rights and Privileges were, because the other day the right hon. Gentleman seemed to say that the House 1491 would be consulted if any financial arrangements which would require the assent of the House were come to in connection with Egypt. It followed from that that all questions, with the exception of finance, might be discussed without any conclusive expression of opinion by that House.
§ MR. BOURKE
He was glad to hear it; but he certainly understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that when the negotiations were concluded the rights and privileges of the House would be respected. If that wore so, then all the important questions relating to the administration of Egypt could be settled before the House should have had au opportunity of expressing an opinion upon them. He believed that the Government were within their right in taking up that position; but that did not make the House and the country less nervous about the future. There was no question connected with the financial administration of Egypt that was not quasi-political. He could imagine no more prolific source of differences between England and other Powers than questions connected with the caisse de la dette. Other Powers might insist upon having Representatives upon the Board, and that might cause great difficulties. He trusted that the Government would not consent to any arrangement which could lessen our power in Egypt and the influence which we exercised upon the Government of that country. If the Government sincerely meant what they had always said—namely, that they bad gone to Egypt for the sake of good government—the sooner the control exercised in any Egyptian Department by other Powers than ourselves and Egypt came to an end the better. If, however, we were to go on being interfered with, not trusting to what we considered to be the best way of administering all Departments in Egypt, we could not leave that country too soon. He hoped that the Government would not forget during the negotiations that the House of Commons would never consent to an abdication of the position which we now occupied in Egypt. His object was not to embarrass the Government, but to increase their power; and he felt certain that if they would declare that they were deter- 1492 mined to maintain the interests which they had stated over and over again to be the interests of England, and to accomplish the object for which they went to Egypt—namely, the establishment of good government—and that they would allow nothing to interfere with them in carrying out that object, they would receive the support of the House of Commons and of the country.
MR. JOSEPH COWEN
said, the Prime Minister's statement, as far as it went, was satisfactory; but there was some ambiguity about it which he would like to have cleared up. He understood the matter to stand thus. The Government had invited the Powers to attend a Conference respecting the Egyptian Debt, and that Conference was to deal with nothing but the Debt. The Government, however, were also engaged in negotiations with France, who had, like England, special interests in Egypt. These negotiations might eventuate in an arrangement between the two countries; but this would not become operative without it had the sanction of the other Powers. The Prime Minister promised that their arrangement with France should be submitted to Parliament before it was shown to the other Powers. Thus far the matter was clear. But it was not clear whether the arrangement had to be submitted to Parliament before it was ratified. The Prime Minister said he would engage that the Privileges of Parliament should not be infringed by anything that was done. That was well enough, but the Privileges of Parliament were very elastic; and, as far as Treaties were concerned, all the privilege that Parliament had was to discuss them. The House of Commons could not make a Treaty. The making of it rested with the Sovereign, acting through Her Ministers. Members, however, could dismiss a Ministry that made a Treaty they disapproved of. Now, what he would like to have from the Government was a distinct statement that, before any engagement with France was made, Parliament should be consulted. It was the opinion of Gentlemen sitting near him that the Prime Minister had already given such an engagement; but he scarcely thought so. They seemed to think that the arrangement with France would require to be ratified in the same way as that about the Suez Canal. The Government made the latter bargain 1493 with the Suez Canal Company; but before it was completed the House of Commons expressed an adverse opinion, and the agreement was never carried out. Would the Ministers say that the same thing would be done with, respect to the arrangement with France about Egypt? They had not said so yet. He had no wish to continue the discussion; but, like the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour), he wished to put on record his opinion that the Government had not so far made such an arrangement with the House. One other remark he wished to make, and that was that if the Members of the Cabinet believed they could surrender the advantages that England had purchased in Egypt at such a sacrifice of life and treasure, either to France or any other country, they were greatly mistaken. The opinion of the English people on some points of the Egyptian Question might not have been very clearly expressed; but they would be unanimous in demanding that the Government should not throw away the position we had earned by our own sacrifices.
§ MR. RATHBONE
The question of Egypt involves matters of the most serious consequence. We have been told that we are not to abdicate the position which we hold in Egypt at present, and we were told by the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) that we were not to lose the fruits of the sacrifice we have made or the privileges which we were entitled to. I must say, Sir, that I do not see the fruits which we should be so anxious to monopolize, and I do not see the privileges which we are so entitled to. I confess I never felt more anxious as to the future of the country, and as to the position which we appear to be drifting into. When we see a Parliament returned with the almost distinct mission to put a stop to aggressive measures calculated to add to the great responsibilities and duties which this country has already undertaken—when we see, in spite of a Government, one of the most powerful we have over had, and headed by a Minister also the most powerful of this century, and known to be opposed to undertaking greater responsibilities than those which I venture to think this country already has the greatest difficulty adequately in fulfilling, unable to prevent such dangerous undertakings, I must say I do think that 1494 there is great danger that this country has reached the point which has been reached in other nations when they have undertaken difficulties and responsibilities beyond what it is in their power to perform, and thus begun the decline and fall of the Empire. And really it is very curious to notice either the want of knowledge or the want of candour with which some statesmen speak on this subject. They speak as if this country had peculiar interests in Egypt and the Suez Canal which were not possessed by the other Powers of Europe, whereas it is exactly the contrary. This country has only a common interest and a common right with the other Powers in Egypt and the Canal. That Canal inflicted the greatest blow upon the supremacy of England—especially its maritime supremacy—and are we then to take the whole burden and difficulty of this Egyptian Question upon our shoulders? I am not now speaking of those difficulties and responsibilities which we have undertaken towards the people of Egypt from what has already been done. That is a question so difficult that I do not venture to speak about it, but will prefer to leave it to those who are much wiser and more experienced than myself. But as a merchant and shipowner I can understand, and I do say, that the interest of the Mediterranean Powers in Egypt and the Suez Canal is in some respects special beyond that which we possess, and is in other respects the same as we possess, and that, therefore, we have no right or duty to claim the monopoly of this question of Egypt and the Suez Canal, and have no right to throw upon this country the enormous sacrifices which, if we insist on remaining permanently in Egypt, we must entail upon this country. I am speaking not of what is said in public, but of what is said in private. In private it is often said—"Oh, let us remain now that we are there;" but I venture to say that the people of this country will eventually not allow you to stay there. I venture to call the attention of the House to the fact that the most intelligent part of our working classes have become, or are becoming, more and more opposed to wars, especially wars of aggression. You may have the country with you for a time, and so long as everything goes on prosperously in a course of aggression, and they will naturally applaud the valour of our sol- 1495 diers; but when trouble comes, as trouble will in these things, you will find the Democratic feeling in this country will not support you, or carry you through the blunders in which you may be involved. And, therefore, after having entered into those great undertakings and pursued them, unwisely, you will have to abandon them with discredit and disgrace. I feel very strongly on this subject; but I do not say we ought to abandon at once the work we have undertaken in Egypt. But when we come to speak as if we were permanently: to demand and maintain the special and exclusive charge of Egypt and responsibility for it, then I say we are attempting to do what we are not able to do. We are adding another place to garrison and defend when we already have an; Empire sufficiently large for our resources. And remember this is not a financial question alone. If it were I should look upon it with much less anxiety. The question is the blood tax you are imposing upon this country. There is no natural boundary between Alexandria and Capetown; and if you remain in Egypt you will be led on step by step, as in India, to make still further encroachments, and get further responsibilities, until the blood tax will be too heavy for the nation to bear, and you will, as I have already said, have to retire with discredit and disgrace.
§ BARON HENRY DE WORMS
said, he thought the hon. Member's views were probably in harmony with those of the peace-at-any-price Party, and were more suitable for a Radical meeting than for discussion in the House. The hon. Member, however, did not realize that our obligations with regard to Egypt were daily increasing, and that the necessity of keeping the route to India in our own hands was becoming more and more imperative. The question was, whether the rights of this country regarding Egypt should be handed over to the arbitration of other Powers whose interests were not identical with our own, and whether the obligations of England should be submitted to the consideration of Parliament. However explicit the words of the Prime Minister appeared to have been, he ventured to think that on one point, at least, those explanations were not explicit enough. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the communications which might pass between this country and France prior 1496 to the Conference would be submitted to the House; and he went on to say that, as far as he could give any assurance, the question to be submitted to the Conference would be one of finance. The question which might be submitted to the Conference might be one of finance; but it did not follow that the question between France and England was one of finance. He had asked tins Prime Minister, supposing the control of Egypt was in future to be not a Dual Control, but a Multiple Control, whether that question would be submitted to the House, not after it had been discussed by France and England, and made the basis of negotiations which should be continued at the Conference table, but prior to any arrangement entered into between the Governments of the two countries? That question had not been answered by the Government. An hon. Member had referred to certain rumours as to the negotiations that had taken place between the Government and the Porte relative to a joint expedition of Turkish and English troops to the Soudan and Upper Egypt. He had intended asking the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs two Questions on this subject. He had given the noble Lord private Notice of the Questions; but he had received a note stating that in regard to Questions of this character longer Notice was necessary. It had been impossible for him, under the circumstances, to give longer Notice, and it had been equally impossible to postpone the Questions. Those Questions materially affected the negotiations which would take place at the Conference. They were so important that he maintained the House was entitled not only to an answer, but to an opportunity of considering them. It was alleged, and it had not yet been contradicted, that the Turkish Government had accepted the English invitation to the Conference on the condition that neither the annexation nor the Protectorate of Egypt should be discussed at the Conference, and that Turkey had further said that in the event of a question being raised as to the annexation or protection of Egypt the Turkish Representative at the Conference would leave the meeting. This, he submitted, was a question of the gravest importance. Considering the rights which England had acquired over Egypt by the expenditure of her blood and treasure, and 1497 by the obligations which she owed to her Indian Empire to preserve that road open, it was of the utmost importance that the House should be informed by the Government whether or not they went into that Conference cramped and confined by obligations entered into with the Turkish or any other Government. Again, the question had been raised by an hon. Member as to whether or not it was the fact that the Government had entered into negotiations with Turkey for the purpose of using Turkish troops in the Soudan and Upper Egypt. That question had not been denied. The Prime Minister had said that Notice must be given of it; but what did this mean? Surely the Foreign Office was in a position to say "Yes" or "No" as to whether this was really the case or not. This uncertainty, however, was another example of the dangers into which they were being driven. He urged upon the House that the Government were bound to consider the paramount duty imposed upon them, and not to try and escape from the responsibilities which their acts had driven them to incur. They were also bound to consider how they should best consolidate the power of the Empire which had been confided to them.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, great injustice had been done by the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) to the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands). He had listened to the speech of that hon. Member, and he was gratified to hear coming from him sentiments in harmony with the general feeling of the country. He had been denominated a Jingo; but he thought those persons who made this charge were guilty of a remarkable thinness of humour and paucity of intelligence. If Jingo had any meaning at all, it meant a Party that was fond of military adventures, and that involved the country in unnecessary wars. The history of the past four years showed that the Liberal Ministry had exceeded all other Governments in their useless and discreditable military operations. Hon. Members opposite would, he hoped, be a little more careful how they used these senseless epithets in the future. With regard to the question of the Conference, he thought it would be evident to the country that the Prime Minister had distinctly retrograded from the satisfactory statements he made a 1498 few days ago. Two points came out prominently from the discussion that afternoon—one that negotiations were going on with France, negotiations which were; to be submitted to the Powers, and which, if accepted by them, would form, a fresh basis for the Conference. ["No, no!"] If that was not the case, then what was the object of those negotiations? Were they being conducted as a blind to France? If those negotiations had any point whatever, their point was to widen and extend the scope of the Conference. If it was the case that this country, under any conditions, was going to submit its position in Egypt, its political influence in Egypt, and its paramount interests and supremacy in Egypt to France, or to the control of Europe, such a course would be highly dangerous and unsatisfactory. The policy of a Multiple Control was one utterly unsatisfactory, and would be, if persisted in, disastrous to the interests of the country. Turning next to the question of General Gordon at Khartoum, he asked the Prime Minister whether the Government were prepared to state to the House that some preparations had been made to organize an expedition for the relief of General Gordon? Ministers made statements on the 3rd of April which subsequent information had proved to be misleading and inaccurate, and now the Government took refuge in a policy of silence. But this much was known—that a Special Envoy of the Queen at Khartoum had; been for six or seven weeks cut off from; all communication with this country. They know he was hemmed in by savage and cruel fanatics; they knew that he was in danger from enemies without and from treachery within the town. Notwithstanding that all these facts had been for a long time in the possession of Her Majesty's Government, they were not even now in a position to make a statement on the subject, and to assure the country that steps were being taken to send out an expedition for the relief of that chivalrous man. Her Majesty's Government alleged military reasons as an excuse for not telling the country what they were doing; but the real fact was that they feared to commit themselves to any decided course of action. The Government were taking no steps to relieve General Gordon; and how was he to rescue the garrisons and accomplish the object of his mission except by mili- 1499 tary support? The heartless despatches which the Government had sent to that gallant man were positively worse than useless. Let the Government simply state to the House and the country that an expedition was now being actually prepared for the relief of General Gordon, and the mere announcement of the fact would effect wonders for his safety. He hoped, therefore, for the sake of General Gordon, if not for the satisfaction of the country, that Ministers would be able to make a definite statement that an expedition was in active preparation.