§ Resolutions [29th July] reported.
§ Resolution 1.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, that before this Estimate was adopted by the House he 528 wished to declare emphatically that in his opinion, and in the opinion of those who from their election were concerned in the affairs of Ireland, the Department of National Education did not merit the confidence reposed in it, and did not use the power in its hands, either intelligently in furtherance of public education, or fairly in the interests of the teachers themselves. They had good and sufficient reasons for entertaining this opinion, some of which were stated yesterday. There were others which could not be outlined within the compass of an ordinary debate. The Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant had yesterday excused himself from expressing an opinion on the subject, as he had not had time to examine into the question. He would, however, ask the Head of the Government what they were going to do during the Recess? He would ask them, would they specially investigate the constitution, rights, and methods of the Department in Ireland? He would inform them that one of the first claims of the Irish Party was a demand for the abolition of this Department, and the establishment in its place of some Board more reasonable in its constitution and more satisfactory in its effects. In order that the Government should be in the position next year to deal with the subject from information obtained during the coming winter, he believed that a thorough investigation should be made into the working of the present Board of Education; and he would undertake to transmit to the Government a Memorandum setting forth the grounds upon which he and his Friends held that that Department, as now constituted, ought not to be invested with the great trust involved in the primary education of the country.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, he wished to draw attention to one point upon which he claimed that they were entitled to the consideration of the Government—namely, the grievance of Irish National School teachers. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had hold them very fairly that he was not very well acquainted with the subject; but it was one with which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was acquainted. In Committee the previous day there had been nobody on the Front Opposition Bench to speak on the subject on behalf of the late Government, as all its Mem- 529 bers were conspicuous by their absence. He believed that it was admitted by all sections of the House that the Irish schoolmasters were wretchedly paid, as were also the schoolmistresses; and he believed that he was justified in asking the Government to provide some remedy for them in the next Parliament.
§ MR. LEWIS
said, that the opinions as to the inadequacy of the pay of the teachers were not confined by any means to the Benches opposite. In Committee in this House, and otherwise, Members sitting on his side of the House, over and over again, had stated their belief that the condition of these poor teachers was pitiable in the extreme. The subject was one which, as a matter of common justice, demanded the earnest attention of the Government.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, that before the right hon. Gentleman replied he wished to say a very few words. The hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), in his remarks with regard to the Education Department, voiced the opinions of every single Member from Ireland. It would be rather too much for them to have to state all the causes of complaint which they had against that Department. It was a Department which had distinguished itself by two leading characteristics—secrecy and despotism. There was one point upon which he believed they would have to ask either the Chief Secretary or the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give them an immediate assurance. The inspectorships of schools in Ireland had been one of the highest and most valuable prizes which were open to the teachers under the competitive system. He had received recently a letter informing him that the Board of Education proposed to abolish the competitive system for those valuable appointments, and to substitute a system of nomination, thereby doing a great and flagrant injustice to the great mass of the Irish teachers. He believed that such a step should, before being carried into effect, be submitted to the judgment of the House. He would warn the Government that were such a retrograde and revolutionary change made it would, on very many occasions, form the subject of discussion in the House.
§ MR. DAWSON
said, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when Chief Secretary for Ireland, had known something of the subject of education in Ireland, 530 and he regretted that he had not held the Office for a greater length of time, as he believed that if he had he would have modified a great blot which was presented in the case of the National system of education in Ireland. These schools cost the country £36,000 a-year, and out of this only £3,000 was devoted to the benefit of the students. He also complained that some of the schools in Ireland which were intended for poor children were entirely occupied by the children of the upper classes, who sometimes drove to and from the schools in carriages. He believed that the funds devoted to the National Schools should be used for the purpose of converting them into Technical Schools, for the purpose of teaching the children how to be able to engage in various industries.
§ MR. BERESFORD
said, he had received deputations on many different occasions from the teachers complaining of the smallness of their pay. He hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be able to see his way to making some improvement in their position.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
said, there was a consensus of opinion in favour of a now Irish law with respect to the Model Schools and of the subject of education in Ireland.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, I think there is no disposition on the part of the House to resume at any great length the debate of yesterday. I can only express my regret that as the Government are not now in a position to deal with the question of Irish education, I am not able to make any very definite reply to hon. Members; but I can thoroughly endorse the speech of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary yesterday. Though, as a matter of fact, we are perfectly aware of the inadequacy of the pay of the National teachers, I would remind the House that there are other points to be considered beyond increasing the pay of the teachers. There is the question where the money is to come from, and the further question whether, if we increase their pay, we ought not also to take some security that they shall be better able to perform their duties. These matters, as 531 hon. Members must admit, require very careful consideration by the Government and the House of Commons. A Bill was introduced this year by the late Government which dealt to some extent with these matters; and I can only repeat that the whole question, and not only the teachers' remuneration, will receive the most serious consideration of the Government, and we shall endeavour to make some proposal in regard to it in the next Session of Parliament. If the Memorandum mentioned by the hon. Member for Sligo, with regard to the manner in which the National Board of Education performed its duty, should be received by my right hon. Friend, that Memorandum will also receive our most careful attention.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
asked for an answer to his question with regard to the subject of Inspectorships.
§ [No reply.]
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ Resolution 2.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies (Colonel Stanley) had given the House some information on this subject yesterday; but he hoped the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would give them much more before the House rose. The action of the Boers in the defence of their country, which led to the fight at Majuba Hill, would go down to posterity as a great action; but he hoped that action would not prejudicially influence Her Majesty's Government. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman had praised both Sir Charles Warren and Sir Hercules Robinson; but he (Sir George Campbell) held it was totally impossible for the Government to approve of the course pursued by both, for nothing could be more diametrically opposed than the opinions of Sir Charles Warren and Sir Hercules Robinson. For his own part, he thought that Sir Hercules Robinson could be relied upon as a "canny" administrator, whereas Sir Charles Warren had been guilty of great indiscretion. Passing, however, from that matter, it was his opinion that after the Government of this country had taken on themselves so much responsibility in regard to the affairs of Zululand, and wrought so much evil there, they ought now to do 532 some good, and for that purpose should take Zululand under our own protection. There was also a good deal to be said in favour of establishing a great South African Dominion, if the taxpayers of this country were willing to find the men and money required for the purpose. Such a scheme, if put forward by any Government, would deserve every attention. He could see no signs of any settled policy in South Africa having been adopted either by the late or the present Government. They had simply drifted along, though no doubt the present Government were right in interfering as little as possible until they had laid down the lines of a firm and settled policy. If the Government were prepared to act in accordance with the recommendations of Sir Charles Warren a great deal of good night be effected, but much expenditure would be incurred. The Government must seriously consider whether they were prepared to establish a great Dominion in Central Africa. Whatever their determination might be he trusted that they would adhere to a settled policy, and would discontinue the practice of temporizing.
§ MR. WODEHOUSE
said, that at that late period of the Session every minute of time was precious, and he would not detain the House for many moments; but seeing that the discussion of yesterday in Committee upon this Vote was confined within very narrow limits of time, and that the subject was a very important one, he hoped he might now be allowed to make a few observations, especially with reference to what was the main question for the moment—namely, whether the administration of the Bechuanaland Protectorate should be transferred to the Cape Colony, or be retained by the Imperial Government. Hon. Members had expressed alarm and dissatisfaction at this extension of Imperial responsibilities; and he did not pretend to think that a Protectorate in the heart of South Africa, far away from the coast, was a light matter. He admitted it to be a very serious undertaking; but the thing was done now, and it was too late to draw back. To recede now, to abandon Natives whose claims to our protection had been formally recognized, to suffer extensive territories to relapse into the anarchy and bloodshed from which Sir Charles Warren was sent to extricate them, to 533 waste all the fruits of his Expedition, to repeat, in short, on a smaller scale, the tragic fiascos of the Soudan, would not only cover us with the merited scorn and derision of the world, but would also add another instance—perhaps the most flagrant on record—to that long series of vacillations and contradictions of Imperial policy which all knew and confessed to have been the direct curse of South Africa. He would remind hon. Members who objected to this Protectorate that it had been founded, so to speak, under the auspices of a Prime Minister than whom no statesman had ever been more keenly sensible of the burden of Empire, and of a Secretary of State for the Colonies, who, of all the men that ever presided over that Office, was probably the most averse to accept fresh responsibilities, and the least impulsive or adventurous. Surely, then, there must have been reasons of extreme cogency for its establishment. He might, however, be told that it was the wish of Her Majesty's late Government that the Cape Colony should undertake the management of the Protectorate without delay; and that, undoubtedly, was their wish on the 28th of May last, as was evident from Lord Derby's despatch of that date. But if that were the wish and aim of the late Government throughout their Bechuanaland proceedings, they certainly made a most singular selection of officers when they sent out, first Mr. Mackenzie, and then Sir Charles Warren; singular, because both those gentlemen were known to hold definite and decided opinions about the proper methods of administering Native territories. Seven or eight years ago they were in Bechuanaland together; they had exchanged ideas, and worked out schemes of administration, and the vital essence of their schemes was Imperial, rather than Colonial, control. Moreover, both those gentlemen had submitted their schemes to the Colonial Office before they left England; and seeing that Lord Derby had approved the policy distinctly sketched in Sir Charles Warren's Memorandum of the 29th of October last—a policy whose foundation stone was Imperial control—it would be no surprise to him (Mr. Wodehouse) to learn that Sir Charles Warren had been a good deal disappointed by Lord Derby's subsequent action. If Lord Derby dis- 534 sented from the policy indicated in the Memorandum, why did he not say so at the time, rather than let Sir Charles Warren go out to South Africa with misconceptions in his mind? And he (Mr. Wodehouse) could not but think that the unhappy differences which had arisen between Sir Charles Warren and Sir Hercules Robinson were, in large measure, due to the ambiguous attitude of the late Secretary of State upon the fundamental question of Imperial or Colonial control. He hoped that the present Secretary of State would take warning, and make up his mind on this point with as little delay as possible, because until it was settled nothing would go right. For his own part, he had not the slightest faith in the capacity of the Cape Colony—even if it had the will, which he greatly doubted—to govern the Protectorate properly. The Colony had failed miserably in the far easier task of governing Basutoland. While under the Imperial Government the Basutos had not cost us a penny of money, nor an hour of anxiety and trouble. They were the best tribe in South Africa, the most peaceable and the most susceptible of civilization; but a few short years of Colonial management had half ruined and wholly demoralized them by drink and fighting; and in that condition they were handed back to the Imperial Government. When, therefore, thousands of Bechuanas and other Natives had actually been invited by Imperial officers to invoke the Queen's protection, he would strongly deprecate a transfer and delegation of responsibility which might prepare for them the fate of the Basutos, or something worse. Besides, he very much doubted whether these Natives would have anything to do with the Protectorate when they were told that they would pass under the control of the Colonial Government. Did anyone suppose that Montsioa and the other Chiefs in his neighbourhood had already forgotten the civilities exchanged at Rooi Grond, in November last, between the Cape Ministers, Mr. Upington and Mr. Sprigg, and the freebooters, including, perhaps, the murderers of Mr. Bethell? He (Mr. Wodehouse) believed that the Chiefs would reject the Protectorate if it were transferred to the Colony; and then, with a bankrupt Transvaal, chaos would reign again in those regions. If 535 the management of the Protectorate were undertaken by the Colony, the very magnitude of the task, and the very weakness of the Colony to execute it, would drive Colonial Ministers into such a Native policy as would shock enlightened opinion at home, and then it would be impossible to resist a demand for the renewed intervention of the Imperial Government. What, for example, was the cardinal point, the sine quâ non condition of the settlement of Bechuanaland which the Cape Ministers had proposed to Her Majesty's Government? It was the recognition by Her Majesty's Government of the validity of those Treaties which the freebooters forced on Mankoroane and Montsioa in July and October, 1882. In other words, the Cape Ministers insisted that Her Majesty's Government should formally recognize and sanction the system of filibustering in South Africa. He did not at all undervalue Colonial co-operation; but he believed that all that was best and most enlightened in Colonial opinion, whether it were English or Dutch, would deprecate the transfer of the Protectorate to the Colony, and would be glad to see it administered by the Imperial Government in a spirit of liberality towards White settlers, but with every safeguard for the territorial and other rights of the Native Tribes. It would be a mistake to suppose that all the Dutch farmers were in active sympathy with the freebooters, or actively hostile to the Imperial Government. A certain proportion, no doubt, of the Boers were men of extreme opinion and violent feeling, and these men were wont to come to the front in times of agitation and disturbance; but the majority of the Boers were quiet people, who cared above all things for peace on the Frontier—peace to cultivate their farms and sell their produce. And under a Government that gave them tranquillity to make money they would be loyal and contended. He must now refer to a very important consideration, which probably had more than anything else to do with the establishment of the new Protectorate; he alluded to the German appropriation of Angra Pequena and the adjoining coast. He would not dwell upon the humiliating incidents of the story of Angra Pequena; but whatever wounds had been inflicted on National pride, and whatever detri- 536 ment had been done to National interests in those transactions by procrastination and reluctance to face responsibility, we had at least secured command of the trade routes which met near the capital of the Chief Khame, and we had placed ourselves between the German and the Transvaal Boer. So far, so good; but if the Protectorate were handed over to the Cape Colony, the Frontier relations between Great Britain and Germany in South Africa would virtually be left in charge of a Colonial Ministry, and he (Mr. Wodehouse) would regard that as a most hazardous experiment. A quarrel might arise any day on a question of Customs Duties, or the importation of arms and ammunition, or on the treatment of a roving German trader; and when the quarrel had arisen it would not be open to Her Majesty's Government to shelter themselves behind the Colonial Government. In one of those speeches which Prince Bismarck made last year, and which attracted so much attention, he drew a distinction between the Imperial Government of Great Britain and her Colonial Governments, and it was of the action of the latter that he especially complained; but he added, and rightly added, that it was to the Imperial Government alone that he could look for explanations and redress. He (Mr. Wodehouse) would, therefore, absolutely decline to provide the Colonial Government with opportunities for quarrelling with Prince Bismarck. And now he had one entreaty to address to Her Majesty's Government—namely, to entreat them to take care that the Residents or other officers stationed in the Protectorate should have at their disposal sufficient mounted police or other armed force to insure obedience, and make their authority respected within the limits, and especially on the borders of their jurisdiction. He urged this point, because he knew not how many pages of our South African experiences teemed with warnings of the risks and mischiefs of leaving our officers in helpless positions, when they were inadequately equipped with executive resources. He should have liked, had there been more time, to speak of Zululand; but he would not abuse the patience of the House. He would content himself with saying that the spirit of the observations which he had ventured to make 537 with regard to Bechuanaland was equally applicable to Zululand; and that he, for one, should rejoice if, by a fuller recognition of Imperial responsibilities in that quarter also, Her Majesty's Government were able to bring about a more satisfactory state of affairs among a people to whom we had meted very hard measure, and whose present condition was a blot on the name and fame of England.
§ SIR ROBERT FOWLER (LORD MAYOR)
said, that the hon. Member who had just sat down had expressed most forcibly the arguments in favour of making Bechuanaland a Crown Colony. It had been said that too much prejudice had been shown against the Boers; but he had said before, and he still felt, that if any war waged by this country was a just and righteous war it was that carried on against the Boers. If this country gave up the Cape Colony it would be a great blow to the position of the Colonial Empire; and, therefore, it seemed to him that we must not be too much afraid of being involved in a certain amount of expense, and he thought that money spent there would be very well spent. Of course, if, as had been done in the case of the Cape, one policy were initiated to-day and another tomorrow it must lead the way to great expense, and therefore one policy ought to be settled on and adhered to. At the same time, he thought his right hon. and gallant Friend, having so lately come into Office, had acted very wisely in reserving those questions for his own consideration; but he did hope that the decision he would arrive at would be the course recommended by the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Wodehouse) both with regard to Zululand and Bechuanaland. They not only had to look on this question as an Imperial question, but also as a question of humanity; and he hoped the country would not consent to abandon these unfortunate Natives to the tender mercies of their enemies.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, he would warn the Government not to hurry into an annexation of territory from which the more prominent force of national opinion might compel them to withdraw. The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Wodehouse) always spoke on these subjects with knowledge and experience; but, at the game time, he must dissent from the 538 policy the hon. Member had put forward. The late Government did not adopt this Protectorate over Bechuanaland in the absolute sense that had been inferred. It was quite true they adopted the Protectorate, but it was not done with a view to the assumption of the control of Bechuanaland by the Government of this country, but by the Government of the Cape Colony. That was the policy recorded in the last despatch of Lord Derby, and the question before the present Government was whether they intended to maintain that attitude, or whether they would resolve to maintain the Protectorate in their own hands. He believed that the force of circumstances would sooner or later compel this country to abandon the policy of extending its responsibility with regard to the government of these territories. It was impossible to draw a line beyond which the force of circumstances would not compel them to go. Wherever the line was drawn, there were outside it the same elements of disorder, and a further advance would be necessary, and the prospect of a continuous advance was one of the greatest arguments against an advance at all. A good deal had been said about Sir Charles Warren, and free reference had been made to his differences with Sir Hercules Robinson. Whatever might be said of his success, he declined altogether to recognize his immense virtue in restoring peace in Bechuanaland. Any man could govern in a state of siege. Sir Charles Warren had a large armed force at his command, and he proclaimed something very like martial law. Under those circumstances it was not surprising that he did restore peace; but in restoring it he had irritated the opinion of Cape Colony. In his (Mr. Courtney's) opinion, if the present Government were not prepared to assume the Protectorate of Bechuanaland they would find it necessary to send out someone with a more statesmanlike appreciation of the situation than Sir Charles Warren. The whole of our recent difficulties had been aggravated, if not entirely caused, by the intervention of the Home Government. This had done all the mischief. It had been said that the Cape Government were responsible for the Basuto troubles; but these were really due to the action of Sir Bartle Frere, who forced the Cape Government to carry out a policy which 539 was popular at home, though unpopular at the Cape. The same might be said of our difficulties in Zululand. There never would have been a war, the scheme of government which had been successfully maintained would not have been broken up, and the attempt to set up 13 princelings would never have been made, but for the pressure from home and the advice dictated from home. We were betrayed into errors by want of knowledge of the actual facts, which could only be obtained on the spot. The object which the Lord Mayor had so much at heart—namely, the welfare of the Natives—would be far better secured if intrusted to the heads of the local Government. No doubt there was a higher morality at home in regard to the Natives than there at present existed at the Cape; but we at home were without adequate information and knowledge, and were, as a consequence, constantly led into errors which inflicted on the Natives far greater evils than if matters were left to the control of the local authority. For instance, our action towards Montsioa, however well-intentioned, had produced adversity for him and the Natives on the borders of the Transvaal far greater than if we had never interfered at all. If the present Government were to adopt the policy of their Predecessors and establish a Protectorate over Bechuanaland, they would, in the present state of public opinion, possibly meet with approval. That, however, would not last long, the Cape Government would soon re-assert its claims, and the confusion that would attend on our rule would compel us to withdraw from Bechuanaland. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian had said, we had been lying uneasily on one side, and then turning uneasily on to the other. For many years a policy of increasing our responsibility had prevailed. It was reversed in 1876, but was again revived. In 1880 the issue before the country was that of withdrawal from responsibility, and that withdrawal from responsibility was approved by public opinion. He was not sure that that issue would be determined in the same way now if placed before the country; but he believed that in the long run the balance of public opinion would be definitely against the increase of responsibility. In a recent despatch the Secretary of State stated 540 that public opinion approved of the course pursued by Sir Charles Warren. Those who sat on the Treasury Bench and the Front Opposition Bench should consider what public opinion was. Public opinion was a great force to which it was necessary to bow, although it seemed to hurry us now in one direction and then in another; perhaps on many subjects it might be necessary to let it flow over us; but there were questions as to which it ought to be the ambition of the right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Front Ministerial and Front Opposition Benches to create a public opinion—for public opinion on these subjects depended upon what they said and what they did—and to maintain it in its proper course, instead of giving way to that which so constantly caused our humiliation. In the present case, public opinion seemed to be evidenced by the fact that some hysterical newspaper screamed out that Sir Charles Warren was the saviour of the world. He hoped that an attempt would be made to guide public opinion rightly on the subject of South Africa, and to follow the course which that correct public opinion pointed out.
§ SIR ARTHUR HAYTER
said, he did not desire to enter into the general subject raised by this Vote; but he wished to express his gratification at the statement made by the Colonial Secretary that the Estimate made by the late Government of £675,000 for the Bechuanaland Expedition was not likely to be exceeded. He was sure the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would bear him out in saying that there was no country in regard to which it was more difficult to make an accurate Estimate of the probable expense of an Expedition. He had been told that in regard to the Zulu War, when the present Secretary for the Colonies was Secretary for War, it was found almost impossible to gauge beforehand the expenditure, owing to the distances and the wildness of the country. He was very gratified to hear that the recent Expedition had been successful, and that its cost would be covered by the Estimate that had been made by the late Government in November last. With regard to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman that the military force should be replaced by armed police, he could certainly assure the right hon. Gentleman that he would find abundant facilities in 541 this country for recruiting such a force. At the time it was proposed to send out the Expedition those who were charged with the duty of raising it were literally besieged by men who were anxious to join, and there were also numbers of officers who were desirous to be of service to their country in the matter. He considered that the policy which had been indicated of reducing the force at present under Sir Charles Warren and substituting for it a kind of Frontier Police Force was a right policy to pursue.
§ MR. RATHBONE,
in contradiction of what had been said by the Lord Mayor, said, that he had had occasion to meet an officer who was in charge of the Natives during the Transvaal and Zulu War. He had been told by that officer in the strongest terms that our interference between the Boers and the Natives had been productive of much misery to the latter, and that, if we had but left them alone, they would have taken better care of themselves than we took of them, and would have settled many of their quarrels among themselves.
said, he believed that if we had left the Zulus to themselves they would have gone to war with the Boers, and would have shown themselves the stronger party of the two. This country went to war with them, and conquered them; and now they were in a defenceless state, and in a much worse position than when we found them. The Boers violated every Treaty into which they entered, and no confidence could be placed in any Treaty which they made. The most terrible cruelties had been committed by the Boers on the Natives, and some of the atrocities which had been perpetrated were so great that it was almost impossible that they could have been committed by such a partially civilized race. He believed, however, that both parties had made a mistake with regard to the Transvaal. When the Transvaal was annexed, he believed that the state of things existing was very bad indeed. The Transvaal Government was known to be almost insolvent, and at the present time it was well known that the Government had become bankrupt. The greatest dissatisfaction existed at that time, and the people of the Transvaal were in favour of their country being 542 annexed by England. Opinions differed I in regard to the propriety of annexing the Transvaal. At the time when the subject was under discussion, he consulted a man who knew more of the condition of South Africa than, perhaps, any man then living—he referred to the late Dr. Moffat. The rev. gentleman told him of the terrible atrocities which he had seen in that country, and he stated that it was impossible for him to describe the pleasure he felt when he heard that the Government were about to annex the Transvaal. Another mistake which had been made had consisted in the patching up of a peace. He believed that tin's country did it from the best of motives, and in the anxiety to avoid the shedding of blood. What had been the result? To this day the people of the Transvaal believed that they had defeated the British Army, and that they could do so again. A good deal had been said with regard to the extension of our territory in this region. Although he was averse from the extension of territory if the desire was simply to extend our Dominions, he believed it was a commendable proceeding if such extension of territory was taken in defence of our own interests, and in defence of our position in the country. He was glad that the trade route had been secured; the loss of it would have been a great calamity not only to the interests of South Africa, but to our own. He did not believe that the annexation of those territories, although at the outset costing a good deal of money, would become a permanent source of expense to the ratepayers of this country—on the contrary, he believed it would conduce to the greater development of the trade of this country. We had incurred responsibilities in South Africa, and we had given pledges to the people which, he believed, we were in duty and in honour bound to fulfil. He trusted that the Government would not allow themselves to be influenced by motives and arguments brought forward with the intention of lessening their responsibilities in this respect. He hoped we would be prudent and circumspect, and he believed that justice and humanity and every right feeling induced us not to violate the pledges we had given, but that they induced us to do our best to carry them out,
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Colonel STANLEY)
said, the hon. Member for Carnarvonshire (Mr. Rathbone) had spoken of the Natives and the Boers, and he recommended a policy that they should have been allowed to fight out the question between themselves. Without wholly agreeing with the remarks of the hon. Member, he should be incurring some blame if he did not at this stage make some comments on the subject before them. He must, however, ask the House to allow him to limit himself to that which the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) had rightly called a negative statement. At this period of the negotiations, at the time when the Expedition in South Africa had, to a certain extent, terminated its primary duties, when there were other important matters on which negotiations were going on, and when important information reached them from day to day, he hoped that it was making no undue demand on the patience of the House to ask that they might be allowed time to consider the general aspect of affairs in South Africa, and to endeavour to arrive at that calm and dispassionate view of the situation, which would enable them, if possible, to mark out some line of procedure which would afford some guarantee that their future proceedings there, by whomsoever conducted, should not be characterized by that vacillation which had been found fault with by so many hon. Members. He did not desire now to go into the past, nor, for obvious reasons, would he enter on the field to which he had been invited, and discuss how far the various acts of the late Government, as connected with South Africa, were entirely consistent with themselves, or even with the statements of some of their principal Members. As to that he thought it bettor to "let the dead past bury its dead." He now desired to look forward and to view the situation as it lay in front of them, and to endeavour, further, to take such a course as might, on the one hand, allow them to afford all due protection to those who were subject to their dominion, and, on the other hand, as might leave to be determined, under convenient circumstances, those other details of administration and government upon which, at the present moment, he felt himself unable to pronounce an opinion. 544 In regard to not going back upon the past, he would make one exception in consequence of a remark that fell from the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney). The hon. Member spoke of Zululand, and he charged a good deal of that which happened to the Home Government. So far from its having been the case that the Home Government was answerable for what took place in the Zulu War, he wished distinctly to enter his protest against any such statement, and to say that, as far as he was aware, not only was that not the case, but that diametrically the opposite was the fact; for the Home Government being opposed to any advance into Zululand, that advance was made before they knew it was intended.
§ MR. COURTNEY
explained that he did not attribute it to the direct action of the Home Government, but to the emissaries they sent out. ["No, no!"]
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Colonel STANLEY)
said, he accepted the correction of the hon. Gentleman; but he had not understood him in that sense, nor did it appear that the House had. The hon. Member had told them further about the vacillation that had existed, of the desire for the extension of territory shown at one time, and the desire for retrenchment and economy evinced at another; and, although the country in 1880 pronounced against the extension of their responsibilities, yet the very Government which strongly denounced that policy of the extension of their responsibilities incurred at a later period larger responsibilities than any that they had undertaken before. Now, he ventured to claim, not on behalf of the Government, but on behalf of the country, time for the Government to consider carefully those great problems. They had undertaken the maintenance of order and of safety among the subjects of the Queen. They did not share the view of the hon. Member for Liskeard, who thought that Montsioa would perhaps have been able to conduct his own affairs, and that if no interference had taken place on his part and on that of the other Chiefs by the Government, he would have been in a better position. Well, he supposed that the hon. Member must have forgotten a good deal that appeared in the Blue Books. For himself he thought it was more than 545 open to doubt whether, if that course had been taken, Montsioa would even have been in existence at present. That was a policy the advocacy of which was left almost exclusively to the hon. Member for Liskeard, who, however, had the courage of his opinions, and was always ready to express them. In conclusion, he did not know that he had any further remarks to make on the subject, except to say that if hon. Gentlemen speaking in many cases with further knowledge than he could pretend to possess so disagreed on all questions as they had done in that debate, surely there was much to be said in favour of the course which the Government intended to pursue—namely, to examine carefully into those great questions, to obtain the best information they could, and to act on it, he hoped, without fear on the one hand and without prejudice on the other; and acting in that spirit they hoped to fulfil the duties which they owed to the country in respect both to the Colonial Government and to those with whom the Colonial Government was concerned.
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ Resolution 3.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he desired to call the attention of the Postmaster General again to the condition of the mail service between Dublin and the West of Ireland. That service was conducted at only about one-half the speed which was attained over the general mail service in every part of England and Scotland—in fact, it was the worst in the Kingdom, and the reason was that the Midland Great Western Railway Company, which carried the mails, only received half the remuneration given to the other Railway Companies in Ireland for carrying the mails. The reason given for refusing to place this Company in the same position as the other Companies was that the returns for the service were not sufficient to warrant the increase; but the Province of Con-naught was the object of special legislation for the relief of distress there, and he thought it was plain from that that, in this important matter of the transmission of the mails, its very poverty ought to be an additional reason why the public Revenue should be applied to give it a helping hand. Somebody must lose, and he did not think it was fair to ask the Railway Company to lose. The 546 Railway Company were willing to give an improved service at the lowest rate that would not involve loss to the shareholders; and he did not see why, under those circumstances, such a Department as the Post Office, which made an immense profit, should not give an efficient service without expecting the Railway Company to lose by it. Would it be believed that the whole question in dispute in this important matter was a small sum of £3,000 a-year, and because of the refusal of the Post Office authorities to spend that sum, the people of the West of Ireland were left with a mail service which was a scandal to modern times. Only the other Session the Government agreed to a mail contract for the West Indies which would involve a loss of £49,000 a-year, and he did not see why such a sum should be spent on a distant Dependency whilst the claims of 1,000,000 of people in a Province of what was called the Sister Country were disregarded. He appealed to the noble Lord to do the Province of Connaught justice in this matter. If the present Government hesitated to give a pledge on this subject, Irish Members, who next year would be much stronger in the House, would make it their business to retaliate upon the Department, to prove that this gross disregard of the interests of a whole Province would no longer be tolerated.
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
said, he wished to call the attention of the Postmaster General to the danger to which the public in the Metropolis was exposed by the Parcel Post vans and the mail carts being unprovided with lamps at night. Several accidents had already occurred.
§ MR. WARTON
said, he wished to enter his protest against the continued use of the plural number in the title of the "Parcels Post," pointing out that in the case of the book post such an inaccuracy, as he regarded it, was not committed. He also thought that some alteration of the scale for the Parcel Post was desirable, the unit of 1 lb. being very inconvenient. As it was, 1 lb. or more of any article would just weigh over the scale by reason of the package in which it was wrapped. He would further suggest the desirability of a system of insurance for small parcels.
§ MR. J. G. HUBBARD
desired to call attention to a grievance increased of late by the introduction of official Post 547 Parcel carts. In these carts the drivers were often seated under a hood or cover, so that they could only see straight forward; and he suggested that provision should be made for so seating the drivers that they could see freely to the right and left, and avoid the danger of coming unawares with other vehicles, or driving over pedestrians at the crossings of the streets.
THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (Lord JOHN MANNERSS)
said, he had really nothing to say against the statement made by the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton). He believed it was a statement of facts; but whether he could say that he agreed with the conclusion drawn from these facts was a matter which he thought, perhaps, had bettor stand over for the present. When he came into Office, he found that his Predecessor had gone closely and impartially into the question, feeling honestly anxious to do what he could for the Province of Connaught in the matter; and he himself since did not see his way to go beyond the offer which his Predecessor had made. The hon. Member for Sligo now, however, pointed out that Connaught was a neglected Province; that the Legislature, recognizing this view, had given relief and assistance to the Province; and that the present Government, recognizing these facts, might apply to Connaught a more generous and liberal rule than usually enforced by the Post Office. He was sure the hon. Gentleman would not expect him suddenly to give any answer upon that question as now raised; but he would say this to the hon. Gentleman, that he would promise carefully to reconsider the whole question, and see whether terms and arrangements might not be come to between the Railway Company and the Post Office. Beyond that he did not think it would be right for him to go now; but he would promise the hon. Gentleman that at least he would do that. With regard to the question of giving lights to the mail carts, he would, now that his attention had been drawn to the matter, see whether an alteration could be made in the desired direction; and with reference to the suggestion that the limit of weight in the Parcels Post system should be raised, the matter was under consideration, and he hoped that ere long the grievance complained of would be remedied.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, he thought the answer of the Postmaster General was satisfactory as far as it went. He did not speak there on behalf of the Railway Company. He spoke in the interests of his constituents, who did not care about the railway, and on whom the present mail service pressed very hardly. He wished to inform the noble Lord that before the Session closed the hon. Member for Sligo would put a a Question on this matter, and he trusted by that time he would have made up his mind upon it.
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ Resolution 4.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. PLUNKET)
Sir, as the Committee last night were good enough to allow me to take this Vote without discussion, I then promised I would explain it at this stage. I will endeavour to do so as briefly as possible. This is a Vote for £500, part of a sum of £4,000, to defray the expense of erecting a statue at Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, to the memory of the late General Gordon. The House will remember that about a fortnight ago a Question was asked in this House by the Lord Mayor of London as to whether it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to propose a Vote for this purpose? My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer replied that the Government believed that it would be in accordance with a very general feeling, both in this House and in the country, that such a memorial should be raised to General Gordon, and that, when there had been time to consider the question of the position and the precise character of the memorial, he should be prepared to propose the necessary Vote to the House, and my right hon. Friend immediately directed me, as Chief Commissioner of Works, to inquire into the subject. I have lost no time in doing so, and I have been favoured with many valuable and interesting suggestions from various quarters, for which I desire to take this opportunity of expressing my thanks; but I feel I am especially indebted to the kindness of three of our most distinguished living artists—Sir Frederick Leighton, Sir John Millais, and Mr. Watts—whom I particularly consulted. I hope to be able to take advantage on almost every point of the most valuable 549 advice which they were good enough to give me; but there is one respect in which I am sorry that I am not able to give effect to their opinion, but to which I desire for one moment to refer. These three distinguished artists were unanimously of opinion that this memorial should take the form of an allegorical group of sculpture rather than of a simple statue, and, no doubt, there is much to be said in favour of that suggestion; but, on the whole, after careful consideration and consultation with many persons whose opinions on such subjects are entitled to great weight, I have come to the conclusion that it is a statue reproducing as nearly as may be the man—General Gordon—that the people of this country at the present time, and for all time to come, will most desire to have among them. Perhaps, however, I may be allowed in one sentence to express my own entire concurrence in the opinion of the three eminent artists to whom I have referred, that this great and wealthy Metropolis is lamentably deficient in works of Art sculpture, except so far as regards statues, and I am afraid some of them are not very good. There is enough of young and rising talent, as they assure me, in the Art of sculpture in this City well able to adorn our public places with worthy works of genius of the kind that they suggested should be produced on the present occasion. I must, however, speaking for Her Majesty's Office of Works, say that, in view of the many demands that we are obliged to make upon the Treasury for public buildings and other expenses, we really could not have the face to apply to the Treasury to give us anything for these groups of sculpture for the purpose of generally beautifying this City; and I may add that I have not a doubt, if we did make such an appeal, what the nature of the answer would be. But I fully recognize how great would be the improvement which a few really well-executed groups of statuary would be to London; and, if I may venture to say so, I think London is rich enough to indulge itself with such a luxury. At any rate, I throw out the suggestion for consideration merely on my own responsibility as a Member of this House; and I have only to add that if the public wishes for it, and will spontaneously find the money for such a purpose, I should be delighted to undertake to find ad- 550 mirable sites; and if they wish it, and will trust me with the choice. I will find, besides, artists to whom I believe can be safely confided such a high and noble task. And now, as to the statue of Gordon, for which I am asking this Vote, it is not necessary, nor would time permit me, to speak at any length. Certainly, I shall not say one word that can awaken oven an echo of the stormy controversies which have lately raged over the romantic adventures and melancholy death of the late General Gordon; for I hope, and I feel sure, that the Vote I am now asking for will be given with absolute unanimity. Whatever any of us may think of his views upon political and other public questions, there can be no doubt that the character and career of General Gordon had seized on the imagination not only of his own countrymen, but also of foreign nations, as practically illustrating many of the greatest and noblest qualities of Englishmen—of the kind of Englishmen who have made England what she is. His fame is the common property of all English-speaking people, and must for ever remain their proud inheritance. It is impossible for us at this time to say what kind of reward General Gordon himself would wish to have desired. Modest as he was brave, gentle as he was gallant, probably he cared as little as any man for the ordinary houours and the usual rewards which even brave and distinguished soldiers are proud to wear upon their breasts. Although we know that during the siege of Khartoum he endeavoured to encourage his followers through the dangerous vigils and the terrible monotony of that long trial by distributing among them such decorations as it was possible for them in their straitened circumstances to produce, still I do not think that he himself was a man who set much store by that kind of distinction. But no one can now doubt that all through the immortal siege his own mind ever and again went back to his own country beyond the desert and beyond the seas, and that his thoughts were constantly at home while "the last sad hours of valour's task moved slowly by." All that is over now—The soldier's hope, the patriot's zeal,For ever gone, for ever crost.Oh! who shall say what heroes feelWhen all but life and honour's lost?Gordon has lost his life, but his honour 551 shall remain bright for ever in the minds of his countrymen. His fame shall be set among many proud and melancholy memories, adorned by the noblest of all decorations—the simple dignity of self-devotion. But we think it is right—and I am sure all will agree with us—that here in the centre of the Metropolis of this great Empire, close to the Memorials of Nelson, of Napier, and of Havelock, should be placed the statue of another great Englishman, who in the fulness of his fame, in the prime of his manhood, gave up his life freely at the call of duty, and in what he believed to be the service of his country.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, that the House of Commons, in encouraging English sculptors, had a right to expect the fullest benefit from the money expended. While agreeing with the idea of a statue to General Gordon, he must say he had never heard of such a sum as £4,000 being taken without one word being said to the House as to the form the memorial should take. The work of erecting this statue was no ordinary matter; and he therefore thought that some right hon. Gentleman upon the opposite Bench ought to give the House some information as to the intentions of the Government as to the site in the first instance, the material, and the mode in which they hoped to obtain the best work of Art under the circumstances. If it were simply to be left to the Board of Works as a matter of taste, he should protest against the Vote. In any case, he trusted the work would be given to a native artist.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
said, he did not rise for the purpose of depreciating General Gordon's character, for they all knew he was one of the bravest of men, and that also he had absolutely no fear of death. What he wanted to ask the House was, what great services to the State or to the world had General Gordon done that should make the House of Commons vote money for a statue of him, for he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) supposed that statues were not voted to men simply because they were good and honourable? It was true that General Gordon had heroic qualities; but he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) himself did not think that General Gordon did any good to the State while at Khartoum. ["Oh!"] In the first place, when he was sent out to the Soudan his orders were to set the 552 Natives free; he was ordered to come away from Khartoum, but he disobeyed orders and remained, and instead of setting them free he spent his time in fighting against and trying to coerce the Soudanese, a people described by the late Prime Minister as rightly struggling to be free. Then, again, General Gordon had at one time destroyed the irrigation works on the river, an act of war which would not have been permitted by a Mahommedan Power. He did not think Gordon's actions were creditable to this country; and we had got not honour, but disgrace, from this Khartoum business. General Gordon, in his opinion, cost this country millions of money, and he believed if Gordon were alive now he would be the first person to object to money being spent for this purpose.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he entirely agreed with what the hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) had said. He (Mr. Labouchere) thought when they were asked to vote money for a statue to General Gordon, they ought to have some more distinct statement from the Government as to why they should pass the Vote. It must be remembered that General Gordon came before them as one who went to Khartoum for the specific purpose of making peace. No doubt he fought very gallantly; but he fought in a cause which, in the opinion of some hon. Members, was a wrong one. In that manner he did not carry out the instructions or intentions of those who sent him out. ["Oh!"] Hon. Members said "Oh, oh!" but if they looked at Gordon's diaries they would find that he railed against his Government, and the instructions they gave him. As he understood, they were asked to vote this money on account of what Gordon did at Khartoum. Well, he objected to what Gordon did at Khartoum, and, therefore, he was opposed to the granting of this money.
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
said, that if the two hon. Gentlemen who had just spoken (Sir Wilfrid Lawson and Mr. Labouchere) divided the House on the question, they might possibly find a brace of Tellers; but they would find no one else to follow them into the Lobby. He (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) wanted to know why they were asked to vote £500? His right hon. Friend had not stated what he was going to do with that particular sum. General Gordon was essentially a British hero. He went to Khar- 553 toum and Egypt, and sacrificed his life to British interests; and, therefore, he hoped his right hon. Friend would select a British sculptor to carry out the work of his statue. No doubt General Gordon was also a great hero; but they ought to know how this £4,000 was to be expended. In that country, as well as in any other, he contended that where public works had to be carried out, British artists should be employed in preference to foreigners; for there was no doubt whatever that they would prove themselves worthy of the patronage bestowed upon them. He hoped his observations would receive the consideration of his right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works. He objected to trusting this matter to the Board of Works, which, in many ways, had shown its incapacity for dealing with questions of Art. Let them look, for instance, at Hyde Park Corner, where the Board had removed the Triumphal Arch, and set it in a hole where it now stood, on an inclined plane, a disgrace to the Department and to the Metropolis.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, he could not fail to enter his protest against the manner in which Ministers came to the House, asking for a specific sum for some public work, and, without affording the House any particulars of the object for which the Vote was required, expecting the House to grant it without demur.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. PLUNKET)
said, that the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Mitchell Henry) would perceive, on looking at the Estimates which were laid upon the Table yesterday, that the particulars of the Vote for providing a statue to General Gordon at Charing Cross were duly given. This Vote of £500 was merely asked for as a preliminary step, so as to obtain the sanction of the House to the proposed statue, and so as to enable him to enter into negotiations with regard to it, so far as related to the selection of an able sculptor to carry it out. It was not usual to state the names before the negotiations were actually commenced, and, indeed, he could not now state who the artist would be; but he could say that the statue would be of bronze, and would be placed at Charing Cross.
§ Resolution agreed to.