HC Deb 13 November 1884 vol 293 cc1705-7

(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £324,000, be granted to Her Majesty, for certain Navy Services, to meet Additional Expenditure arising out of the Military Operations in Egypt, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1885.


said, he thought that this Vote needed some explanation. The Committee had already passed one Vote on account of the operations on the Nile; but he believed that a very considerable portion of the sum now asked for was for the operations at Suakin. He trusted the Secretary to the Admiralty would be good enough to say how much of this money was on account of Suakin?


said, he was unable to state precisely how much of this Vote was to be placed to the Suakin operations, but it provided for the whole body of Marines employed in Egypt. He believed the total amount of extra pay was £1,500.


asked if he was correct in saying that the whole of this money was expended on extraordinary expenses owing to the Expedition to Egypt?


said, the charge for medical service embraced a considerable amount of expenditure for Suakin.


said, in that case the Committee ought to have some further information. They were called upon to pay a large sum of money for no one knew what or why, and they were right in calling upon the Government for an explanation. Some months ago, the country had undertaken, for reasons best known to the Government, the defence of the Port of Suakin, and a large number of persons had been murdered in the neighbourhood, whom they chose to qualify as rebels. But surely the Government had discovered in the quarrels in South Africa and on the Nile a reason for not persisting in the utter folly of retaining Suakin. He wanted to know what possible object there could be in defending that place against Osman Digna and the tribes around it? They chose to say that they held Suakin for the Egyptian Government, and as there was no reason why they should do so, it was for the Egyptian Government to meet these expenses, and no one else. Perhaps someone would tell the Committee what object there was in holding Suakin, which was a miserable place? The harbour was very bad, and he believed that the men there had to be put on board ship and brought back again to Suakin, where those who remained were attacked every night by the Arabs; there was also a great deal of mortality at the place. They had been told that one object was the prevention of slavery in the Soudan; but he did not believe that that doctrine would be held now, because it was well known that the slaves were brought down to the little creeks along the coast and not to Suakin. They could be brought down in one night to these places, whence signals were made, and the cargoes then landed. Therefore, he said that neither they nor the Egyptians had anything to gain by the occupation of Suakin. This senseless policy had already led to the expenditure of £300,000, and now they were called upon to expend more money. Were they, every time that Parliament met, to be asked for money to defend this place? Unless these questions were answered very clearly, he thought the Committee ought to divide against the Vote.


said, the question of the occupation of Suakin was fully discussed last Session, when, he believed, no exception was taken to it.


said, he had taken exception to the occupation, last Session.


said, the question as to the permanent occupation of the seaport was a very fair one, and was a matter for the Government further to consider. Whatever might be the ultimate opinion of the House as to the permanent occupa- tion of the port, the garrison there could not be withdrawn at the present time.


asked if the Marines at Suakin, being British troops on Egyptian territory, the Government received the Capitation Grant from the Khedive's Government?


said, the Marines at Suakin were not on the same footing as those employed in Egypt.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 66; Noes 26: Majority 40.—(Div. List, No. 16.)

(4.) £50,000, for Additional Expenditure arising out of the Operations in Bechuanaland.

First and Third Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.

Second and Fourth Resolutions to be reported upon Thursday next.

Committee to sit again To-morrow.