HC Deb 11 May 1885 vol 298 cc166-278

Order for Second Reading read.


I wish to say a few words in moving the second reading of this Bill. This is a Bill to give effect to the decision of the House to vote a sum of money amounting to £ 11,000,000 on the request of the Government. The decision which the House came to became complete for all practical purposes when that sum had been voted in Committee and had been reported to the House. The question of the time for proceeding with the several stages of the Bill then became a question of secondary importance; because it was within the power of the Government, with perfect regularity and conformity to practice, to do whatever under their responsibility might seem to them to be necessary in the way of military preparations or of meeting charges which had been already incurred. But I wish to observe to-night that the position of affairs has been changed, and has been changed in a manner which I do not altogether understand. We unfortunately had several divisions in the House in the beginning of last week on the subject of proceeding with the Report of the Vote of Credit on a particular evening. I felt at that time that the effect of those divisions could not but be mischievous abroad. I stated that feeling, and I do not now mean to beg the question in any way as to who was responsible for these consequences. But in order that they might not be enlarged, we suggested a mode of proceeding which was generally acceptable to the House. That mode was that we should postpone the stage of the second reading of the Bill in order to give an opportunity to those Gentlemen who desired to express their views to enter on an expression of them with greater facility and convenience than they could by prolonging the debate that evening. The only point in this matter that I now feel anxious about is that our proceedings should be so regulated that they should not be misunderstood. It will be generally felt that it is more or less to be regretted that we should have had occasion to divide several times upon the Report of the Resolution to the House. It will further be regretted, I think, if we are to have differences of opinion, debate, and division to-night upon another matter that is not a matter of reality and substance. Now, I am entirely at a loss to know what point there is at issue at the present moment between the Government and the Opposition. When the arrangement was made last week for the purpose of postponing the Bill to a convenient opportunity, I stated that I understood that you did not oppose the proposal to vote the money. Nothing could be more distinct than the indications of assent that were given me from the opposite Bench. I admit that a voice from below the Gangway cried "No," and indicated contradiction; but as regards the indications given by Gentlemen opposite they were as clear as possible, and we were under the impression that the proceedings were governed by Gentlemen on the opposite Bench, and not by a voice below the Gangway. We, I think, on Monday last virtually, and on Thursday last finally, appointed this day for proceeding with the second reading of this Bill, and we did so in the full belief that while Gentlemen were to raise any question with regard to further information, or, if they thought fit, with reference to the conduct of the Government upon the Bill, yet that the Bill was not to be contested. [Mr. CHAPLIN: No.] Again, a voice from below the Gangway says "No." [Mr. CHAPLIN: I do not sit below the Gangway.] Now, Sir, in dealing with this question I have contended that the usual practice of the House of Commons, except when a distinct issue of policy was raised, is to pass Votes of Credit demanded under military necessity, and to take other opportunities for questioning the proceedings of the Government with regard to those Votes. I still wish to raise my voice in behalf of that old Parliamentary practice. If at this moment there is a disposition to make a Motion to the effect that this country ought to conquer and occupy the Soudan, or that an expedition to Khartoum ought to go forward, provided that the military necessities of the Empire elsewhere will permit it, I perfectly admit it is within the competence of Gentlemen opposite to make such a Motion. But we have no Motion of policy raised. We have a Motion of opposition raised to the progress of the Bill, in the form of the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex. But what is that Motion? It is to the effect that this House, while perfectly willing to grant such Supplies as may be required for the defence of the Empire, is of opinion that, before proceeding with this Bill, it is entitled to receive adequate information as to the present policy of Her Majesty's Government in respect of the purposes to which the money granted by the recent Vote of Credit is to be applied. There is nothing that we contest in that. We have never said that it was essential to our views to proceed with this Bill to-night. The Bill was fixed for to-night, in order to meet the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and to give them an opportunity of delivering their sentiments upon it as far as they thought fit. It was never fixed by us; as we said upon the Report, we are determined to join issue with you; and, whether you wish it or not, we have determined to challenge the judgment of the House in immediately pressing this Bill. We say that it is most inexpedient and injurious to the public interest to mix up the two questions—one of them the goodness or badness of the proceedings of Her Majesty's Government, the other the willingness of the House of Commons to vote Supply. It is inexpedient to mix up these two questions; but I have this feeling also. Hon. Gentlemen have demanded information. I contend that the House of Commons was proceeding liberally in passing the Vote of Credit without demanding information; but, at the same time, while I think that to be a wise and salutary practice on the part of Parliament, I must say that it is a question upon which I am very loth to join issue with hon. Gentlemen opposite. It is our duty as a Government to avoid any issues except the real issues, and I am aware of no real issue which is before us at this time. As to information, the Papers with respect to Russia and the Afghan Frontier will raise matters of the utmost importance and delicacy, and it will be the duty of the House to exercise a free and unbiassed judgment upon the conduct of the Government. The same thing is to be said with regard to the Soudan; and why in the world are we to have this Bill put into conflict with an Amendment which has, in the first place, an appearance of indicating opposition on the part of a portion of the House of Commons to Supplies demanded by the Government for military necessities, and which, in the second place, does not raise any proposition which we are in the slightest degree obliged to contest? I move the second reading of this Bill in fulfilment of the pledge I gave last week to hon. Gentlemen opposite, and not because I have the slightest disposition to force upon them the progress of the Committee stage, or even the progress of the present stage of the Bill. If they desire that it should be postponed until the Afghan and Russian Papers are in their hands, let that be perfectly understood, because upon it appears to me depend the question whether the House of Commons is, during the course of this evening, to exhibit itself in a reasonable or an unreasonable attitude. I hope I have spoken with perfect clearness. If not, I beg that Gentlemen will signify any feeling they may still have as to a lack of clearness on my part. My object is that we should not raise any false or unreal issue. We cannot tell you what we do not know ourselves; but what we do know in respect of the policy in the Soudan and the measures to be taken as to the Soudan has been told you by my noble Friend. What we have to say with respect to Russia I have given very inadequately, I quite admit, in the few words I have said to-night. But we are placing the information as rapidly as we can in your hands for your consideration. It is part of the same group of considerations which have led us to postpone the Budget. The Budget contains important financial proposals; but what we feel is, that it is hardly fair to ask the House to commit itself upon those proposals until we are further advanced in the knowledge of affairs now rapidly progressing, which will enable the House to form a far better judgment than at present. We shall, as rapidly as we can, clear the situation, and bring matters before you in a state in which, without being embarrassed as to the method in which the Vote of Credit has been drawn, or in any other way, you may raise any question you like of policy or of censure, each of which undoubtedly affords to the House of Commons ample cause for the exercise of its high Constitutional jurisdiction. That being so, I shall move the second reading of the Bill without troubling the House further, except with one word as to what was mentioned in regard to the amount for which we asked. In our opinion, on the one hand, the Forms of the House will not permit any question of that kind to be raised with perfect advantage on the present stage of the Bill; but, on the other hand, before we go to the Committee stage, and with regard to the time of taking that stage, we are disposed to enter into a friendly consideration with various portions of the House. Before the time of taking the Committee we will endeavour to give the best view we can of the degree and extent to which the credit of the Government and the country are already committed under the Vote of Credit. I now move the second reading of the Bill, and if matters of contest should arise, of course we shall be permitted to have the opportunity of saying something upon the Amendment; but I have endeavoured to keep clear of polemical matters, because I wish that our proceedings should be conducted with reference to sound general rules.

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


in rising to move the following Amendment:— That this House, having shown its readiness to grant such supplies as may be required for the defence of the Empire, is of opinion that, before proceeding with this Bill, it is entitled to receive adequate information as to the present policy of Her Majesty's Government in respect of the purposes to which the money granted by the recent Vote of Credit is to be applied, said: Of course, in any question of procedure in this House the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister is a very great authority; but if the House will consider for a moment the alternative course which the right hon. Gentleman proposes, they will at once perceive that it will in no sense whatever meet the objections which the Prime Minister himself states. He says that it is an inconvenient practice to mix up a question of public policy with the discussion of a more Money Bill; and he proposes, in order to get over that difficulty, that this discussion should practically be postponed for a week, to a subsequent stage of this Bill, in which case exactly the same difficulty will arise with which we are now confronted. If it is unwise to raise a question of policy on the second reading of the Bill, it would be equally unwise to do so on the Committee stage.


That is not my proposal. My proposal is to leave Gentlemen opposite their liberty of choice, when they have all the facts before them, as to raising the question of the policy of the Government.


I quite admit that would be a convenient course if we were dealing with an ordinary Government. But the Prime Minister asks us to wait until we are in possession of all the facts. When will that be? We have had three distinct policies enunciated in this House on the last three successive Mondays. The Prime Minister made a bellicose speech a fortnight ago, and swallowed the whole of it on the next Monday. Tonight the noble Marquess gets up and makes the most extraordinary statement which, I will undertake to say, ever fell from the mouth of any English. Minister. I quite agree that it is inconvenient to raise this question of policy on a Money Bill; but we have no alternative. We do not wish to refuse any Supplies which may be necessary for the defence of the Empire. But we accompany that with the expression of our opinion that no Supplies which this House can vote will be sufficient for the defence of the Empire so long as the present Government have the handling of its affairs. The Prime Minister thinks the Resolution is not strong enough. I agree with him. I say that no Resolution is strong enough to censure the conduct of the Government during the last five months. ["Oh!"] Hon. Members who interrupt me may, perhaps, forget what occurred during the last three months. There was a Vote of Censure moved in this House some two months and a-half ago. In order to secure a victory, and to pander to the belligerent feeling of a certain section of the Liberal Party, the Prime Minister got up and announced the intention of the Government to take Khartoum and smash the Mahdi. You got a majority of 14; it has served its purpose; and to-night, because there was a Vote on the Paper which you might interpret, if you chose, as a Vote of Censure, you retract that policy, and announce the intention of withdrawing those troops and abandoning that enter-prize. In the meantime, you have murdered some 6,000 or 10,000 men by the British soldiers under your orders. Now that sufficient people have been killed to give a little reality to the fancy policy you announce, you withdraw your troops, and expect us to acquiesce in silence. It is quite true that we are now in a great maze of difficulty and danger; but in our humble judgment the greatest danger to this country is the incompetence of the men who happen to be in Office. The Prime Minister says there is no point of controversy between us; but I think there is a strong point of controversy. Nobody could have anticipated the startling and astonishing statement which the noble Marquess made. If we could have anticipated such a statement we should have put stronger language into the Resolution. But you know perfectly well the purpose for which it is moved. We want information from you because we cannot trust you. You have given us full but very unsatisfactory information with regard to the Soudan; you have given us the most inadequate information as regards the Central Asian question; and that being so, it seems to me we have no alternative but to proceed with the Motion that stands in my name, with a view, if possible, of pressing and extracting from the Government some further information with reference to the objects of the policy on behalf of which this money is wanted. Now, Sir, the expenditure which we are asked to sanction is the largest expenditure which has ever yet been asked by any Government from any House of Commons; it amounts to upwards of £101,000,000 sterling; it is an expenditure many millions in excess of that required in the worst days of the Crimean War, and it is an expenditure asked for at the commencement of a financial year. The expenditure at the close of a financial year is very usually much in excess of that estimated for at the commencement. For what purpose is this money now wanted? So far as we can understand, you are facilitating the transfer of territory, which our officers say belongs to our Afghan allies, to the Russian Government. So far as the Soudan is concerned, you admit yourselves that every single farthing you have spent there has been utterly wasted, and you have in addition sown there a crop of hatred to the English name, which for generations will bear evil fruit. As I said before, we have had a succession of policies from Her Majesty's Government. We had the great speech of a fortnight back from the Prime Minister, and since then we have had the statement of the Agreement which has been entered into between Russia and this country. We have since had the advantage of studying the opinion of the Press on the Agreement, and of studying the Agreement itself so far as we can get at it. The closer we study that Agreement the clearer it becomes that the Government have surrendered every single one of the questions that were in dispute between them and Russia, and that the Prime Minister has altogether abandoned the attitude by which alone this Vote of £11,000,000 was obtained. And not only have they abandoned all the questions at issue, but they have practically withdrawn from their protest against the so-called unprovoked aggression of which they believed the Russian Generals to have been guilty. I want the House to understand what will be the effect of that withdrawal. I will ask the House to consider what we believe must be the consequence of ignoring the infraction of the solemn covenant entered into between this country and Russia, in order that Her Majesty's Government may enter into a new and fresh arrangement with Russia, any infraction of which means war. Why, it means surrounding the new arrangement with conditions which are a positive encouragement to any adventurous Russian General hereafter to treat the arrangement about to be entered into as the previous solemn covenant baa been treated. So far from the arrangement which the Government are making tending, in our opinion, in any way to produce a durable and peaceable settlement of this question, it militates very much against the chances of a peaceable solution hereafter being possible. When the Prime Minister made his great speech a fortnight back there were certain things which he brought out very clearly. He will, perhaps, allow me to say that of living Parliamentary speakers there is no man who has to a like extent the same power of speech. There is no man who can state facts so lucidly when he wishes to do so as the Prime Minister; there is no man who can clothe the course of action he proposes to take with an appearance of such moral motives; there is no man who can appeal with such a strident voice to the conscience of the world. In all these ways the Prime Minister excelled himself the other night. He made it as clear as daylight to the whole world that there was a covenant of the simplest and most unmistakable character entered into between England and Russia, and that there had been a gross infraction of that covenant; and he demanded in the name of the English nation reparation for the infraction of that covenant. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] If ho did not demand repara- tion tbere was no meaning in the greater part of his speech. It appears now that the Prime Minister has altogether abandoned that position, for that is the agreement when stripped of the pretentious verbiage in which it is wrapped up—it means a sham arbitration. Every Russian newspaper and the official record of the Russian Government give that account of the arbitration. What is the question to be referred to arbitration? Whether the agreement that was entered into between the English and the Russian Governments that the troops of both were not to advance means that the Russians were to advance. That is the question which the Prime Minister proposes to refer to the arbitration of a friendly Sovereign. The point subjected to arbitration is as clear as daylight, though the Government have deliberately wrapped up the reference in as ambiguous language as possible. The probable result will be that that reference will be the subject of numerous diplomatic notes and probably misapprehension, with the ultimate consequence that the decision will be given after so long a time that we shall be told it is no good taking any further notice of the matter. I ask the Prime Minister whether the course he proposes to take will not do what he said we could not do—close the book? If he says it does not, I shall be obliged if any Member of the Government will explain in what sense it does not. The Prime Minister has made a point of the fact that no officers on either side are to be placed on their trial. Let us consider what that means. There are two sets of officers in Central Asia. One set are alleged to have committed a violation of a solemn understanding, and the other set have reported the offence. The officers who committed the offence remain victorious and decorated, while the officers who reported the offence are recalled. The Prime Minister positively made a point of the fact that the Russian Government had not asked that Sir Peter Lumsden should be put on his trial for reporting the misconduct of the Russian General. What can be the effect of the recall of General Lumsden on the susceptible and quick-witted populations of Central Asia? All they know is that one officer has been recalled and the other promoted and decorated by his superiors. To-night the Prime Minister made one statement which is of some little importance. He stated that the Russian Ambassador and M. Lessar had met Lord Kimberley and Lord Granville, and they had arrived at a satisfactory conclusion. We should like to know whether the conclusion is in accordance with M. Lessar's suggestions, or with those of the officers of our Mission? M. Lessar is at present the only man in this country who possesses the necessary topographical knowledge of the country where the do-limitation is to take place. Sir Peter Lumsden and his suite had information of the same character, yet the Prime Minister has agreed to settle this question before our officers who have the necessary local knowledge can come home, while the Russian Ambassador has with him the only man at present in this country who, so far as we know, has full knowledge of the country. There had been a long struggle between the English and Russian Governments as to where the delimitation was to take place, whether in London or on the spot. Now, the English Government have agreed that the delimitation should take place in London. In fact, every single point at issue between the Russian and the English Governments has been con-coded by the English Government. No doubt it may be well for a strong nation sometimes to make concessions; but it is different when experience shows that you are now entering into a fresh Treaty or arrangement exactly on the same conditions as you entered into the Treaty with the Boers. There is an extraordinary analogy between the two. On both occasions the Government have made great military preparations, and on both occasions they stopped their military preparations, stating that they had gained all they wanted. The President of the Board of Trade and other Members of the Government maintained that the Convention made with the Boers secured for this country and for the Natives everything the Government wished to secure; but every single detail of that Convention has been broken. The Natives have been pillaged and maltreated; and when the attention of the British Government was called to the infraction of the Treaty, Lord Derby's reply was that the land of the people who were being despoiled was so poor that the fee simple of it would not pay the costs of an expedition. You are now entering into negotiations under conditions which make it almost certain that the terms which will be the result of those negotiations will not be kept. My noble Friend the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) the other night did great service by citing all the different occasions on which the Russian Government had given assurances. No firm reliance can be placed upon any engagement or promise made by the Russian Government. But has any assurance been given on the present occasion '? The reason is pretty obvious. The Emperor of Russia, autocrat as he is, is entirely dependent on the goodwill of the Services. There is no real public opinion in Russia, and if it is a tradition of those Services that they were to advance, there is nothing to oppose to that tradition, except the personal will of the Sovereign, who, I believe, is not a very strong man. Russia cannot be stopped by natural boundaries, for she has surmounted them all She has passed the mountains of the Caucasus, she has traversed the Caspian, and she has passed over the deserts between the Caspian and Afghanistan. Lord Lawrence always held that the Russian advance could only be stopped by negotiations, or by war. I believe that a threat of war in the hands of a resolute man is the most effective means of maintaining peace with Russia; but the Prime Minister, by using a weapon which he does not understand, has blunted its edge for future use. Any Prime Minister, speaking in earnest, and saying "We shall go to war," will not for many years to come be believed in consequence of the events of the last fortnight. In dealing with the Russian Government, the one thing essential for an English Minister is to make people believe that ho means what he says. But the present Prime Minister never means what he says, and ho can always explain afterwards that ho did not exactly intend what was the natural inference from his language. ["Hear!" and murmurs on the Ministerial side.] Can hon. Members opposite tell me of one single question of policy on which the Prime Minister's action has in any way been in accord with his election speeches? [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] The Prime Minister cheers. The right hon. Gentleman has had so long an experience of swallowing his own words that he positively cheers me when I remind him of that fact. As long as he thus acts on questions affecting merely internal affairs he can, comparatively, do little harm; but when he appeals, in the name of the English people, to the civilized world, and makes use of language which leads everybody to think he meant war, and when, a week afterwards, he recants his views, he does irreparable harm to the national character for integrity of speech and the national honour. [Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT: Hear, hear!] Honesty of speech may be a matter which has no fascination for the Home Secretary—[Cries of "Order!" and "Withdraw!"]—but it is a natural heritage of his countrymen. Hitherto it has been supposed that, in dealing with foreign nations, although sometimes slow to act, we carried out our announced intentions. As I perceive that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade is going to answer me, I wish to ask him one or two questions. If our position is to be retrieved, and if we are to obtain a peaceable settlement, one thing is essential. We must have some guarantee from the Russian Government that they mean to respect the territory left to the Ameer. Can any Member of the Government say that Russia has given any indication whatever of her willingness so to bind herself? And not only will it be necessary to obtain such an announcement from Russia, but it will also be necessary to take other measures of precaution. What is going to be done with all this money? The Government have already made two railways in Africa, which they admit to be perfectly useless. They are to be worked as commercial enterprizes. All the inhabitants in the neighbourhood are to be driven away by our troops, and then some enterprizing speculator is to be found who will take these railways off the hands of Her Majesty's Government. There was one railway which the Government spent money to destroy—I mean the railway towards Quetta. Are the Government going to apply any money to the reconstruction of the railway to Quetta, or, if necessary, to Candahar? The Prime Minister says that this money is to be devoted to warlike preparations, and he is quite right; but he formerly insisted on the railway being included in the Afghan War Charges.


I am not aware of it.


When the right hon. Gentleman was Chancellor of the Exchequer he, in an interesting speech, included in the expenses of the Afghan War all the money which had been applied to the railways. What I want to know is, whether any portion of this money is to be applied to the more rapid extension of those railways? Perhaps it might be found necessary to go further, and to extend the railway to the fortifications of the Helmund. Unless we now back up our intentions by resolute action, war will ensue in a short time. I daresay I shall be told that in making observations such as these we show that we are in favour of war. ["Hear, hear!"] The Home Secretary says "Hear, hear!" but I do not know from what source the right hon. Gentleman derived his information. If any man supplied the right hon. Gentleman with that information, he supplied him with an unadulterated falsehood.


The noble Lord has himself supplied the information.


The right hon. Gentleman used to write under the name of "Historicus;" and I shall be glad to know whether he can give us one single instance in the history of this country where a plain speech has produced war between England and Russia? Twice only in the last 30 years have the relations between the two countries been seriously strained—in 1854 and in 1878. In the latter year Lord Beaconsfield secured "peace with honour," and every single act of precaution by means of which he secured peace was opposed by the Peace Party in this House. In 1854 we drifted into war, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite was most responsible for that. Every pacific speech and Motion which landed us in war at that time was supported by the Peace Party in this House. I sympathize very much with the objects which the Peace Party have in view; but it seems that they do not quite understand the character of the nation with which we have to deal. There is a War Party in Russia and there is a Peace Party. The object of those persons in this country who desire to prevent war ought to be to strengthen the hands of the Peace Party in Russia. But the Radical Party here always use language and take action so as to render the Peace Party in Russia powerless for good and the Military Party omnipotent, by removing from the latter the only restraint upon them—namely, a fear of the consequences. I believe there is no political Party in the state which can suffer so much from war as the Conservative Party. The Radical is discontented with the existing state of things, while the Conservative is a man who is more or less contented with things as they are. The Conservative is never so strong as when the country is prosperous, while the Radical is never so weak as when the country is at rest. War must necessarily produce much depression of trade and much distress, which strikes at the very foundation of that prosperity which is the basis on which the Conservative Party rests. I must apologize for having used strong language towards the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary; but he will excuse my saying that it is a little annoying to be constantly interrupted when speaking, and that I think I have given the House good reason to show that I am not actuated by any factious motives, or by any desire to stop Supplies. On the contrary, I am ready to grant any Supplies that may be necessary for the purposes of the Empire; but I have no confidence in the policy of Her Majesty's Government as to the manner in which they will be applied. Just let me say a word with regard to our action in the Soudan. Is there anyone in this House who is not ashamed of our policy in the Soudan? The Prime Minister is very fond of resorting to arbitration when he gets into difficulties with a strong Foreign Power; but I ask him whether he would like the question between the Soudanese and ourselves to be referred to arbitration? In such a case, what could the Soudanese not say for themselves? They could point out that the Prime Minister had deliberately allowed his Representative, General Gordon, to be besieged in Khartoum, and, in spite of the most earnest protests from all parts of the House, had delayed to send out an Expedition for his relief until it was too late. To allay the feeling of indignation produced by that line of conduct the Prime Minister came down to this House and made such a speech as that which he made a fortnight ago, announcing his intention to take Khartoum and to demolish the prestige of the Mahdi; while only a few days before that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, speaking at Liverpool, said that having drawn the sword we could not put up with failure. What I protest against is the new principle which the Prime Minister has introduced into the English Constitution for the regulation of our wars. Wars are not now regulated by the national exigencies, but simply by the vagaries of cliques of hon. Members in this House. If it is necessary to purchase the Whig vote, then a forward policy is announced; while if it is necessary to purchase the Radical vote the orders are countermanded and the troops are withdrawn. And what is the result? The result is that all confidence in our policy has gone, because these wretched Natives find that the only result of being friendly to the English Government and of assisting us is that their homos are burnt and that their children and wives are massacred. War is a brutal pastime. One of the greatest of our English Kings, on being reproached with the brutality with which he made war, said that war had throe handmaids ever waiting upon her—fire, famine, and the sword, but that he only used the least terrible of those three. I charge the Prime Minister, however, with having let loose all three of these calamities. Well, we are now going to retire from the Soudan, and what is to happen to our friendlies? They, in their turn, will be subjected to fire, famine, and the sword. The fact is that this wretched, impotent Egyptian Government in its very worst days could do what we cannot do—namely, march any number of men they chose from Suakin to Berber, because the people knew that if they helped them the Egyptian Government would stand by them, while they know that the English Government will not. Another great objection which I feel to the policy of the Prime Minister is that from the day he assumed Office until now he has shown a disposition to sacrifice everybody and everything to save himself. I say that such a policy to us, who have a great Colonial and Indian Empire, means ruin. It does not matter whether it is a Colleague that is to be thrown over, like the right hon. Gentleman the Mem- ber for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), or a great soldier to be betrayed, like General Gordon, or a Commissioner to be recalled, like Sir Peter Lumsden, or a distinguished General, like General Wolseley, who is to swallow the promises that he has been induced to make, and on the faith of which we secured the co-operation of the friendly Natives in the Soudan. Each and all have been thrown over by the Prime Minister. This action of the Government has been followed, not only with regard to individuals, but also with regard to communities. The Native tribes of Bechuana-land, those poor friendlies in the Soudan, and the unfortunate Egyptian garrisons have been mercilessly left to be massacred, and the Afghans—each and all in their turn have been thrown over by the Prime Minister. The Liberal Party are quite as responsible as the Prime Minister for this general abandonment of Allies. Speaking at Manchester in August, 1879, the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War then the Leader of the Opposition, said that the Liberal Party of the present time had much to gain and nothing to lose; and he pointed out the great differences of opinion which existed in the Party, but said that any hon. Member would show a want of patriotism if he shut his eyes to the serious and injurious consequences to the country which must result from him allowing his personal opinion to prevail over his Party allegiance. It is a matter of notoriety that in the past Liberals have acted upon that principle, and have time after time voted contrary to their consciences, and that they have suppressed speeches which they would have made for fear of giving offence to the Prime Minister. ["Hear, hear!" and cries of "Oh!"] Can hon. Members opposite deny the truth of that statement? Why, one of the most capable Members of the Government, the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), after resigning Office, described the Liberal Party as sitting like dumb dogs, and doing nothing but respond to the whip that was applied to them. Now, does anybody suppose that if the different sections of the Liberal Party had freely expressed their opinion, not only in reference to the Soudan, but other questions, there would have been this enormous amount of expenditure and bloodshed—that so many thousands of these Natives would have been massacred in the Soudan—that thousands of English soldiers would have died or returned home wounded or sick—that £10,000,000 would have been swallowed up—or that the honour of England might not have been saved? All this might have been stopped if the Liberal Party had had the courage of their opinions, and not allowed themselves to be overruled by the Prime Minister. This is a policy the strain of which the resources of the country cannot possibly stand. The result of the Government policy is that in every trumpery frontier war English soldiers have to do the whole of the work themselves; and they find that the Natives, who would otherwise have been disposed to assist them, are opposed to them. In Egypt the population is the most easily governed people on the face of the earth; but you have not a single friend in the country, and you know that if you withdraw the 30,000 English troops any Government you may set up would tumble to pieces in a moment. And in India, if you adopted the Prime Minister's policy, how many hundred thousands of soldiers would be necessary? My noble Friend, I think, has done great service in calling attention to the nature of our tenure of India, and showing how frail it is on the one hand and how strong it is on the other. I believe that the interior difficulties of India have been increased by the policy of Her Majesty's Government. I believe that no internal policy, however sound, can retain for us India, unless it is accompanied by an external policy which conveys to the Natives that we are capable of protecting them against Russian aggression. A great change is now about to take place between the relations of this House and the Government of India. The Government of India is probably the most complicated piece of political mechanism which was ever devised, because we have established on Acts of Parliament an Empire at the other end of the world every iota of authority over which in the Viceroy and Government is derived from an English Act of Parliament. From the necessity of the conditions surrounding the House of Commons this Assembly must necessarily be affected by every change and gust of public feeling. It is as unstable in its opinions as the sands of the sea. On the other hand, you wish to infuse into the Indian policy all that is stable and durable. It has been a task of great difficulty to reconcile those two conflicting elements, and by consent the House has always treated Indian questions as beyond Party. Owing to the advance of Russia in Central Asia the whole control of the foreign relations of India must necessarily be transferred from the Indian Foreign Office to the English Foreign Office, and they must form part of the policy of the Government of the day, subject to all the currents and eddies to which any question of Party is liable. It is a great misfortune that on the very eve of this great change in the relations between this House and India the Government should have adopted a policy which unquestionably seems to be regulated more with a view to the General Election than to the interests of India. If the Government were, in the first instance, of opinion that the points at issue between them and the Russian Government were minor matters upon which it was not necessary to do more than protest, the Prime Minister ought never to have made the speech he did make on this day fortnight. It is because he has abandoned that position that he has struck a blow at the foundation upon which our dominion in India rests. It is awkward, no doubt, that my Resolution is not couched in stronger words; but that is not my fault. I could not anticipate that we should have had the astounding statement of to-day. We did not expect such a declaration of policy, or unquestionably we would have adapted our Resolution to meet it. If we postponed that to this day week we should still be in the same, position. I would ask hon. Gentlemen opposite whether they are satisfied with the results of the foreign policy of the last four years? Have the Government in one instance fulfilled the expectations on which alone they received the assent of the House? Has it brought about peace? Has it brought about honour? Has it not promoted dishonour? Has it not been murderous in its operation—merciless to the weak and cowardly to the strong? Is it not a policy which has readily consigned our Native Allies and their families to massacre and their homos to pillage; and has it not squandered the vital resources of this country in useless enterprizes? It is a policy which has alienated from us every single Ally in Europe—a policy which in Africa has produced, anarchy, chaos, and hatred of the English name. And now for the first time this hateful system is to be transferred to the neighbouring Continent of Asia, where it will find a fifty-fold larger field for its baneful operations, and where its withering influences will be applied to our myriad interests, and where it will sap the source of our strength and dry up the origin of our great Indian Empire. An appeal to the country must take place within a few months. I believe if there is one spark of manhood in the people, one glimmer of a sense of justice left, they will put a summary end to this shameful condition of things. But pending that, during the interval irreparable harm may be done; and it is because we are conscious of the imminence, as well as of the magnitude, of the danger which now awaits us, that we ask the House of Commons to intervene before it is too late.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House, having shown its readiness to grant such supplies as may he required for the defence of the Empire, is of opinion that, before proceeding with this Bill, it is entitled to receive adequate information as to the present policy of Her Majesty's Government in respect of the purposes to which the money granted by the recent Vote of Credit is to he applied,"—(Lord George Hamilton,) —instead thereof.

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


I think the House will agree that, at all events, the speech we have just listened to is an extremely characteristic one. It has been full of very violent language; but it has not always been so easy to gather from it any intelligible conclusion. In the course of the earlier remarks which the noble Lord made, he used an expression towards the Prime Minister which I think was hardly in accordance with the ordinary courtesy which Members of this House, and especially Members young in age, are wont to treat the Prime Minister of this country. The noble Lord said the Prime Minister never means what he says. Well, I confess that not only do I object to that expression as applied to the Prime Minister, but I object to it as coming from the noble Lord. He, at all events, is the last person to twit us with not meaning what we say, and not knowing how to say what we mean. I should like to call the attention of the House to the Amendment of the noble Lord, of which we have heard nothing whatever. In the course of the speech which he has delivered with so much vehemence and with such admirably simulated indignation the noble Lord says that he cannot find words strong enough to condemn the policy of the Government. He is burning with indignation, and his indignation finds expression in a mild and moderate demand for information. And from whom does he ask this information? He says the Government is absolutely incompetent, and, moreover, that it is absolutely untrustworthy. Then, why do you not treat us as incompetent and untrustworthy? Why do you ask an untrustworthy Government to give you information which you would not believe if you received it because you cannot place any faith in us? Why, if you think us incompetent, do you not refuse the Supplies? That would be consistent. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: We are going to.] Not a bit of it. The noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton) does not intend to refuse Supplies; he said so again and again. He made a speech which, from beginning to end, goes to show that the Government are totally unworthy to get Supplies; but he dare not put on the Paper a Motion for refusing Supplies, because, forsooth, while he taunts us with making our policy to catch votes, the noble Lord makes his Motion and speech to the electors in order to catch votes at the General Election. The noble Lord does not like to go before the country refusing Supplies to the Government when engaged in serious negotiations; but he does not mind embarrassing the Government, although he knows that the Government is engaged in critical negotiations, and that serious evil to the public interest may result from any attempt to discredit it at this moment. He has been challenged by the Prime Minister if he has any definite issue to bring it to book in this House, and he and his Friends have been asked if they have no such issue or purpose to postpone it in the meantime, not to discredit the Government by showing division in the presence of the complications which have recently arisen. All that the noble Lord puts aside and takes us to task. He is mild in his Resolution, but he takes it out in his speech; and in the course of his réchauffé he has gone over every Vote of Censure that has been moved; he goes from the retirement from the Transvaal and brings up the Boers and our conduct towards them and from Bechuanaland he travels to Afghanistan, and from Egypt back to South Africa—he has recapitulated every grievance which he could rake up against the Government. It would be all very well if this were a Vote of Censure. Then, indeed, he would be justified in the course he has pursued. But Pleased with the sound, the King grew vain, Fought all his battles o'er again; And thrice he routed all his foes, And thrice he slew the slain. That is a line of conduct of which we make absolutely no complaint in its proper place. All we say is that it is not in its place when, as a result of condemning the Government root and branch, and smiting them hip and thigh, you only ask in conclusion for adequate information. The noble Lord went on to deal with the policy of the Government at considerable length—the policy of the Government in connection with Russia. Let me point out in what position it places the House and the Government. The Papers are not yet presented; but they are promised in four or five days. We cannot anticipate what you will find in these Papers. The noble Lord proceeds to construct out of his imagination a series of incidents and circumstances of which I venture to say generally he will find a complete contradiction when the Papers come out, but to which it is impossible that the Government should reply at the present time. The noble Lord complained in particular of the change of policy on the part of the Government with regard to Russia, and especially on the part of the Prime Minister, who, he says, made a very bellicose speech this day fortnight, and subsequently came to the House and swallowed every word he had said. Let us see how far that is the case. What was the central point of my right hon. Friend's speech this day fortnight? It was that a point of honour of great importance and delicacy had arisen between two great countries, and that until that point of honour was settled, it was impossible that we should continue the negotiations which had already been commenced with regard to the delimitation of the frontier, and that in our view what had occurred required explanation, and that the book could not be closed. These were the words of the Prime Minister. The noble Lord most—I was going to say most grossly, but perhaps that is too strong a word—but greatly misrepresented my right hon. Friend. The noble Lord said that the Prime Minister had declared that we should require reparation. There was no such word in my right hon. Friend's speech from beginning to end; and it was a monstrous thing of the noble Lord, who had every opportunity of preparing his speech and for making his attack upon the Government, to make a charge of that character, for which there is no foundation. My right hon. Friend distinctly said that, considering what was then in the knowledge of the Government, he would not pronounce one way or the other. We thought we had a case which required explanation. We had demanded explanation; but we did not presume to say what the result of that explanation would be. I go further, and say the central point of my right hon. Friend's speech was that "the book could not be closed." Has the book been closed—[Cries of "Yes!" and "No!"]—by a referen to arbitration? Suppose, when the Papers come out, you find that at that moment the offer of arbitration had been made, and we were waiting for the reply, and had reason to fear that the reply would be unsatisfactory? Was not that a state of things which justified us in saying that the book would, not be closed? and does it not justify us now if it be concluded, as we hope it may be, by a reference to a great and friendly Power as to what should be done in the matter? And then the book will not have been closed without a satisfactory explanation by which we shall have obtained all that one great country has a right to demand from another. But then the noble Lord says—"Oh, but the arbitration which you refer to is a sham arbitration." How does he know that? Is it a creditable thing to the Opposition—which, after all, ought to have some sense of responsibility as well as the Government—that he should prejudice the matter and declare this to be a sham arbitration before he knows what it is? Let me ask the noble Lord, when he next speaks, to give some consideration to this point. If it be a sham arbitration, if it be such a triumph for Russia, if everything has been conceded by this country, why does he suppose that so long a time has been allowed to pass, that there has been so much hesitation on the part of those with whom we had to deal? At all events, it was an open question on both sides. There was a concession, if you like the term, on both sides when the settlement was finally made. Then the noble Lord complains that since the prospect of a settlement has improved, the Government have recalled—as he prefers to put it—Sir Peter Lumsden. Now, as has been already stated by my noble Friend the Secretary of State for War, it is not a recall in any sense injurious to the reputation of Sir Peter Lumsden. But we have thought that the object of his Mission has been, to a considerable extent, accomplished—[Opposition laughter]—has been, I say, to a considerable extent accomplished, in the sense that no further advantage can be derived from his continued presence on the spot. The House, perhaps, does not know that when this difficult question was first raised the amount of information in possession of the Government, or of the Departments of the Government, was, unfortunately, very small indeed. I doubt if anyone, either in England or Russia, until within the last few months, knew anything about the country in which we have undertaken to find a frontier. I doubt whether the Afghans themselves knew anything more than the English or Russian Governments. It was an unknown country until M. Lessar, on the part of the Russian Government, and Sir Peter Lumsden, on the part of this country, were sent to survey it. But since Sir Peter Lumsden has been there we have received the very fullest information about the country, its geographical features, its strategical features—all information which has come into our possession recently, and which alone, in my opinion, would justify the Mission of which Sir Peter Lumsden has been the head. But now, having obtained that information, and in the present position of the negotiations, it is desirable that the settlement should be sought for rather in London than on the spot, because Sir Peter Lumsden, after all, has only the information which he has himself obtained, and we have not merely that information, but the criticism furnished us by the Indian Government to check it after the information which has been communicated to it by the Ameer. We are, therefore, in a better position than Sir Peter Lumsden even when he was on the spot, not to speak of the fact that in the position which the matter is now assuming important political considerations can only be weighed by the responsible Members of the two Governments, or by their Representatives, and not by an agent, who, with all respect to Sir Peter Lumsden, is a subordinate. I would first call the attention of the noble Lord in reference to this matter to an observation which I read recently in that very interesting article of Sir Lepel Griffin in The Fortnightly Review. I quote him because everyone knows that he does not belong to the backward school of Indian politics. But in this article he argues and urges that Sir Peter Lumsden should now be brought home, as in present circumstances it is quite impossible that his presence on the spot could do anything to secure the solution of the question. I want to ask the House not to be led away by the noble Lord into any unfavourable anticipation as to the final result of the negotiation. It is not for Ministers, until the negotiations are actually completed, to lay before the House any final and detailed information. But I would put the question, what would you have thought if at the outset, before any of the complications which have subsequently arisen had taken place, if at the moment the difference arose between the Russian Government and ourselves on the question, we had come to the House and said—"The policy of England is this—this is a matter of life and death to us, and we intend to stand or fall by it. The frontier conceded by Russia to our demands must be a frontier thoroughly satisfactory to the Indian Government and to the Ameer of Afghanistan—our ally." If we had done that, and had said that that conclusion we were prepared to support by the whole strength of the Empire, I do not believe there is a single man on either side of the House who would not have thought that that was a tremendous and probably even an unwarrantable declaration for us to make. But if, when the Papers come into your hands, you find that the declaration might have been safely made, and that the result I have indicated has been obtained, then I think that neither the House nor the country will have any cause to consider that we have lost anything, either in honour or in interest, in the course of the difficult negotiations which we have been carrying on. I have asked myself, during the whole of the noble Lord's speech, what policy would you have pursued? We, forsooth, have humbled and humiliated you! There never was a Party in this world so ready to be humiliated as the present Conservative Opposition. You say we have humiliated the country. Well, what would you have done? The noble Lord does not say what he would have done; he says he is a friend of peace. We have an indication in the language which he has uttered to-night of what he and his Friends would have done in our place. He repeats again the old story of the conduct of Russia in times past. He leads us to infer that, in his opinion, at all events, Russia is a Power with which no trustworthy agreement can be made. [Lord GEORGE HAMILTON: Hear, hear!] "Hear, hear!" says the noble Lord. Very well. Then, what is the good of making Treaties and Conventions? What is the good of negotiating with a Power of which the noble Lord says in advance you can have no faith, and that it is entirely untrustworthy?


As regards its advance in Central Asia.


We are only talking about Central Asia. Whenever there is any question between Russia and this country do not treat with her, do not negotiate with her, do not make any Convention with her; but withdraw your Ambassador and go to war. I defy the noble Lord to point to any other alternative. He has spoken in the plainest terms. I am glad to have elicited this from him. He looks upon Russia as a Power in whom no trust is to be reposed. In these circumstances, what is the use of talking about negotiations? The only alternative is to formulate your demands and at once go to war. That is a policy which I am glad to find that the noble Lord advo- cates in this House. I hope we shall understand how far it is the policy of the Opposition, so that when we go to the General Election, of which the noble Lord reminded us, we may remind him and his Friends of the statements which he has made to-night. We shall see whether the country, as the noble Lord says, has become tired of our foreign policy, which has, at all events, managed, so far as this greatest and latest difficulty is concerned, to preserve the peace—we shall see whether the noble Lord will be able to recommend a policy which would bring war all over the world. The noble Lord said very little with reference to the Egyptian part of the Vote; but he, in pathetic language, compassionated these poor Soudanese, whom, according to him, the British soldiers have been murdering in the Egyptian deserts. I do not quite understand this newfangled compassion of the noble Lord. Here, again, I ask myself, what is the policy he would have the House of Commons to substitute? As to that, fortunately, we have the most definite information. A Motion was made by the right hon. Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote) on the 23rd of February this year, in which he called upon the House to declare that the course pursued in the Soudan— Has rendered it imperatively necessary, in the interests of the British Empire and of the Egyptian people, that Her Majesty's Government should distinctly recognize, and take decided measures to fulfil, the special responsibility now incumbent on them to assure a good and stable Government to Egypt and to those portions of the Soudan which are necessary to its security. [Opposition cheers.] I am glad to find that the Opposition have not changed their policy in the Soudan; it is to occupy it permanently, and to insure a steady and stable Government. In order to do so, I fancy they must slaughter a still greater number of those poor Natives for whom the noble Lord has suddenly developed so great a compassion. How does he suppose a stable Government is to be assured in the Soudan? Is it to be done without fighting?

Does he think that an Expedition to Khartoum, which we have abandoned, and a railway to Berber, which we have abandoned, can be carried through without an expenditure of blood and treasure to which the expenditure which has hitherto taken place would be as nothing? If he does not, what does he mean by talking about sparing the effusion of blood? The policy ho proposes is one that would lead to an infinitely greater offusion of blood than any we have hitherto had. The noble Lord went on to say that the policy of the Government had been changed, and he was kind enough to add that it was changed in order to purchase votes. He said the declaration that we were going to Khartoum was made in order to secure the majority of 14 on the occasion of one of the numerous Votes of Censure that have proceeded from the Front Bench opposite. But the noble Lord was as inaccurate as usual, which is saying a good deal; because, as a matter of fact, the declaration of the policy of the Government with regard to Khartoum had been made a long time before any Vote of Censure was contemplated, and was made without the slightest reference to the debate in this House to which the noble Lord refers. Let the House consider the circumstances under which it was made. Khartoum had just fallen, and a great blow had been struck, as we thought, at English prestige in Egypt. It was feared at that time by all authorities on the subject that the Mahdi, flushed with his success, would be almost certain to make a movement towards Lower Egypt, which we had undertaken to defend. It was impossible to put any limit at that time upon the extent to which the insurrection or movement of the Mahdi might spread. At the same time, there was reason to believe that anything like a sudden or abrupt retirement of the British troops might be attended with great military difficulty, perhaps even with danger. ["No!"] I say yes. There was great reason at that time to anticipate such a result; and it would have been running a most improper risk if the Government had at once declared their intention of abandoning their Expedition to Khartoum. What we did was that, in the light of the circumstances as we then knew them, we said it would be necessary to go to Khartoum, and to destroy the authority of the Mahdi. At that time it was not clear to us that what we proposed to do might not be done immediately. There was no certainty at that time that Lord Wolseloy would be unable, with the troops at his disposal, to carry out the Expedition successfully. Now, consider what has happened since then. Every day that has passed has impressed upon us an increasing sense of the magnitude of the Expedition. It has become at last a perfectly gigantic task—a task, indeed, to be undertaken by the country for a sufficient reason; but not to be contemplated for a moment unless we can come to the House with an absolutely clear and convincing statement of the advantages to be obtained by it. Not only has the magnitude of the task increased upon us, but the necessity for undertaking it at all has, at any rate for a time, disappeared. The Mahdi, whom we had expected to be coming down the Nile and to be a danger to Lower Egypt, has had enough to do to take care of himself. He is no longer at Khartoum. We can, if we choose, still continue to carry through the Expedition; but we cannot destroy the authority of the Mahdi at Khartoum, because we should not find him there. Where he is we do not know. He is somewhere in the recesses of the Kordofan, where no man in his senses has proposed that a British Army should follow him. Not only so, but the difficulty contemplated in the withdrawal of the Army has entirely disappeared. It has been brought so near as to be entirely under control, and there is not the least ground for saying that any danger attends its further withdrawal. You accuse us of changing our policy. I admit it; but I say the circumstances have changed first. The change in the circumstances justifies the change in the policy. No Government would escape censure—and, indeed, it would properly deserve blame—if it was to carry through obstinately a policy which circumstances had shown to be entirely inappropriate. The noble Lord made a great point of our supposed intention to abandon the friendly Natives. I do not know whether he is quite clear in his mind as to who the friendly Natives are. There is a good deal of obscurity on that point. I think, in the peroration of his speech, he declared we had no friends anywhere; and, so far as the Egyptian Desert is concerned, I am not certain that he is not quite right. But, at all events, while we are willing to make every arrangement for the withdrawal of any Egyptian soldiers or officers who may wish to come away, and who would be in danger if they were left, I do not think we are bound to maintain an expenditure both of blood and treasure, which would be called for by a great Expedition, merely in order that we may find somewhere or other friendly Natives whose friendship has not hitherto been of any particular advantage to us. I ask, in conclusion, what do you say is wrong? What is it you wish the House to condemn? In effect, if not in form, this is another Vote of Censure. Do you condemn what we are doing, or the method in which we have done it? If you condemn the method in which we have done it, I admit that is a fair subject for argument, on which we are perfectly prepared to meet you, but which, after all, is not a matter of great interest to the country. What the country really wishes to know is whether what we are doing now is right or wrong; and I do not think the noble Lord will find that the country will care very much for the kind of recrimination in which it is his pleasure to engage us. I ask the noble Lord if he thinks our present policy is wrong? Will he tell us what it is he would do? Is his alternative policy now the policy of his Party in February, 1885? Is he prepared—if we give place to right hon. Gentlemen opposite—are they prepared to continue an Expedition to Khartoum? It is fair to ask the question of the noble Lord.


I never was in favour of going.


The noble Lord says he was never in favour of going; but he and his Friends have never been sparing of Votes of Censure; and why did he not propose a Vote of Censure when we declared our intention of going? The moment, however, we declare our intention of going away, the noble Lord is ready with a Vote of Censure in his pocket. The only point upon which right hon. Gentlemen opposite did differ from us was as to the length of our stay when we got there; and the noble Lord now complains of us that we are coming away again without establishing some elaborate form of Government at Khartoum. The noble Lord cannot have the advantage of blowing hot and cold in this way. He must stand or fall by his Party. As a Party, the only alternative they propose is that they are either going to censure us for something which they really in their hearts approve of, or else in their hearts they believe that the right policy would be to continue the Expedition to Khartoum—a policy about which I will only say I am quite convinced the noble Lord will not find it a very popular one at the General Election, to which he has invited our early consideration.


said, he thought that no one could have listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain) without being thoroughly impressed, first of all with the difficulty of the task which he had undertaken, and, secondly, by the unreality of the defence which he was prepared to offer on the part of Her Majesty's Government. He had listened very attentively to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman; and he was of opinion that they might be summed up in two phrases—a suggestion that the Papers to be produced at some future date would satisfy hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House, and that hon. Members should put implicit trust in Her Majesty's Government. The right hon. Gentleman began his observations by expressing his astonishment that the noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton) should ask an untrustworthy Government for information. The answer to that remark, he thought, was a simple one—namely, that the noble Lord asked the only Government which existed, a Government, in the opinion of those who sat on the Opposition side of the House, which was untrustworthy. The right hon. Gentleman went on to deduce from that argument that because the Government, in their opinion, was an untrustworthy one, therefore it was extremely illogical on their part to frame a Resolution asking them for information and for a definition of their policy, because he argued if the Opposition did not believe in the Government, what was the use of asking them to define their policy? That argument might have sounded extremely well on a platform—and he thought it was successful in eliciting a feeble cheer from the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings)—but he did not think it was sufficiently cogent or logical to commend itself to the more critical common sense of the House of Commons. It was because they did not trust the Government, and because they had every reason to distrust it, that the Opposition were exercising their privilege of demanding, before they ratified this large and important Vote, that they should be satisfied, at all events, on some points of the Government policy for which this Vote was intended. He thought that that was a very logical and fair question to put before the House. The right hon. Gentleman had said that this was a Vote of Censure. He differed in that respect; it was not a Vote of Censure, it was a Vote of Want of Confidence. They did not censure the policy of the Government, because up to the present time the Government had had no policy to censure; but they did express a Vote of Want of Confidence, because up to the present time the Government had not vouchsafed any statement to the House. They were inclined to disbelieve the empty promises which were from time to time made by the Government; and, therefore, they had come to the conclusion that the Government had no policy before them. The right hon. Gentleman then said that it was extremely difficult for the House of Commons to form an opinion without being in possession of the Papers. No one, he imagined, was prepared to dispute that proposition; but it seemed to him that the Government took advantage, at every possible turn, of the fact that the House had not those Papers before it. Was the House, therefore, not entitled to ask by whose fault it was they had not those Papers before them? He maintained that it was simply the fault of the Government themselves; and the House ought to refuse to be blinded by simple protests that those Papers, when hon. Members saw them, would contain such an admirable account of the excellent policy of the Government that they would no longer censure, but praise the policy which the Government had pursued. The right hon. Gentleman went on to defend the policy of the Prime Minister. He must say, however, that if the Prime Minister had been present he would have been inclined to say—"Save me from my friends;" because it appeared to him that the argument which the right hon. Gentleman used in defence of the Prime Minister presented, in every sense of the word, the strongest condemnation of the Prime Minister's conduct. He said that the Prime Minister's words were—"A point of honour had arisen, and until that point of honour was settled he could not continue the negotiations." He asked the House whether, as a matter of fact, that point of honour had been settled, and, if it had not been settled, whether it was not a fact that the negotiations had been continued? It appeared to him that the point of honour which the Prime Minister was so jealous of had not been settled, or, if settled at all, it had been given against this country, and in favour of Russia; and, notwithstanding that this point of honour had been so settled, the negotiations were still going on. It appeared to him, therefore, that the argument of the right hon. Gentleman was a particularly unfortunate one to bring forward in defence of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister said that "the book was not yet closed." What interpretation was to be put on that? Was it that while the Prime Minister was anxious to protect the honour of the country the hand of peace was still being held out to Russia; or was it that the Russian Government was willing not to proceed to extremities if England was willing to give up every point? The latter interpretation was, undoubtedly, that one which tallied with the recent action of the Government. The Prime Minister also stated that the recall of Sir Peter Lumsden ought not to be considered in the light of a recall in the ordinary sense of the word, and that he had only been invited to repair to the Metropolis. But the presence of Sir Peter Lumsden in London could only be desired for the purpose of his assisting in the delimitation negotiations; and, as the Prime Minister had told them that those were already substantially settled, there would be nothing for Sir Peter Lumsden to do when he got here. The same observation applied to the recall of Mr. Condie Stephen, who had been directed to come to London with certain maps, but who would arrive long after the negotiations with regard to the frontier were at an end. It was a remarkable coincidence that the arbitration scheme was agreed to by Russia on the 3rd of May, and that Sir Peter Lumsden was recalled on the 4th. He was inclined to think that the common sense of the country would believe that the recall of Sir Peter Lumsden was a condition precedent to the Russian acquiescence to the arbitration scheme. The Opposition had been taunted with not really meaning this Resolution, and not wishing to convey a Vote of Censure on the Government. But, supposing that to be the case, it was the duty of the Opposition to lay before the country the faults and mistakes of the Government. It was all very well for the Prime Minister to say that it was unpatriotic to stop Supply. The Opposition were not doing that. When the Prime Minister a fortnight ago, in eloquent terms, urged the House to present the spectacle of an united Assembly, there was not a sound of controversy heard, and the £11,000,000 were voted with unanimity. But that was because, for once, the whole House believed in the reality of the Prime Minister's words. The right hon. Gentleman was deeply offended because the noble Lord to-night said that he never meant what he said. But, contrasting his speech of a fortnight ago with that of to-night, that was the natural inference to be drawn. The right hon. Gentleman, on a former occasion, spoke of the unprovoked attack of the Russians; but he now endeavoured to whittle away what he then said. Russia hesitated a short time ago, because she believed that England was in earnest; but that belief had been completely modified, and every point for which Russia struggled had been conceded. Peace had, no doubt, been brought about; but it was a peace with dishonour, a peace with disgrace, a peace at any price, which would inevitably bring about the results of a policy of vacillation and of cowardice. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) showed the other night how the diplomacy of Russia for the past 20 years had been mainly made up of duplicity; and it was to be regretted that Her Majesty's Government should not have been able to draw the inference from the past and from the present conduct of Russia that they were being deceived, as they had been deceived in the past, and would be deceived in the future. In 1881 many Members on that side of the House put Questions to the then Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, now the President of the Local Government Board (Sir Charles W. Dilke), in regard to Merv, and some of the answers which he gave were strikingly dis- proved by subsequent events. To a Question on the 8th of February, put by himself, the right hon. Baronet said— It is not a 'fact that Russia has declined to give any positive assurance that she will not advance to Merv.' We have reason to think that it is not her intention to do so."—(3 Hansard, [258] 343.) And on the 21st of February the right hon. Baronet practically repeated that answer. Were they to blame the Government now for its crass ignorance shown in those answers, or for not having more carefully looked into the facts before coming to these erroneous conclusions? These Questions were based on facts which were at the time denied by the Government; but the Russians went to Merv, and step by step they had followed up their encroachments, until at the present moment they found themselves at Penjdeh. The Prime Minister was asked whether any representations were made to the Russian Government relative to the advance of troops to Sarakhs: and he answered that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had made a demand for the withdrawal of the troops, upon which a correspondence ensued, and the Russian Government declined to withdraw their troops, founding their refusal upon the belief which they entertained that the territory was theirs. The Prime Minister added that the demand was made on the supposition that the territory occupied was Afghan territory. The right hon. Gentleman was then asked further, by the Leader of the Opposition, whether that demand was withdrawn, to which the Prime Minister replied that the demand was made in the belief that the territory was Afghan territory, but that the Government found that was a matter of contest, which he hoped might be decided on friendly inquiry. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that there was no formal withdrawal of the demand; but it was substantially withdrawn. He never knew before that there was a Statute of Limitations in politics; but that claim appeared to have lapsed. But the question was, what was the result of all this? Did the Russians stay at Sarakhs? No; it was the starting-point from which they advanced to the positions which they now occupied; and it appeared to him that if the Mi- nisters of the Crown had exerted a little more energy and firmness, and had shown a little less trust in the protests of the civilizing influence of Holy Russia, it was probable that the crisis of the last two weeks might have been avoided, and they might have been nearer a pacific solution of the Afghan Question. But this same policy had been repeated over and over again. Step by step the Russians had advanced. The protests of the Government amounted to nothing; and their inroads were fraught with the greatest possible danger to the Indian Empire. Was it possible to believe that the Russians entered Penjdeh simply for the purpose of acquiring a few hundred miles of sandy soil? He was sure that if there wore one man on the Treasury Bench who believed that, ho was not fit to sit there. The object of the Russian advance was to come within measurable distance of India, and to impress the Afghans with a sense of the power of the great White Czar. The speech of the Viceroy at Rawul Pindi was hardly printed before the news of the Russian defeat of the Afghans was spread all over Afghanistan and India. Naturally the Afghans thought that the great civilizing Power which was governing India would come to their rescue; but nothing of the sort. A great speech, an empty protest, a Vote of £11,000,000, and a disgraceful surrender. If such a policy only reflected disgrace on the Treasury Bench he would care nothing about it; but the impression it would produce in India was a fatal one. He did not wish to excite angry feelings, for he was not any more in favour of war than any hon. Member who sat on the opposite side of the House; but he was in favour of an honourable and lasting peace, and not a disgraceful peace, which, when the time came, and the strife arrived, would place the country in a very dangerous and critical position. He was not against arbitration, which should submit to some friendly Power the whole case; but ho declared that the arbitration in the present case was a mockery and a sham. It meant simply nothing. There was no reality in it, and it was simply an excuse to save the honour of General Komaroff by sacrificing the reputation of General Lumsden. That was the position the Government asked the House of Commons to accept, and for that reason he conceived this Motion was particularly opportune. The object of the Motion was not to refuse the Vote of Credit, though, over and over again, that was thrown in the teeth of the Opposition. No case could be cited of a Conservative Opposition refusing a Vote of Credit for patriotic purposes. He wished he could say the same of hon. Gentlemen opposite. They attacked the Vote of Credit of 1878 on all sides, though that was a real and genuine Vote of Credit. The Government had only asked the House for this Vote of £11,000,000 in order to give the Prime Minister an opportunity of making a speech full of empty bluster, and of taking up a position which he had almost immediately abandoned. He considered the Amendment of the noble Lord singularly appropriate to the occasion, and he should, therefore, feel great pleasure in supporting it.


said, that he would heartily support the Government. As to Afghanistan, he trusted that its boundary would be carefully settled and properly guarded when fixed. Of the policy announced that evening with reference to the Soudan he cordially approved. He had on former occasions voted with his hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr John Morley) against the Government. Now that the Soudan was to be evacuated he could vote with him. It had been said that operations ought to be continued in order that the Slave Trade might be put a stop to. To mitigate the evils of that dreadful trade was a most noble object; but it was scarcely the duty of this nation to undertake hostile operations, which must involve great sacrifices in men and money, in order to prosecute even so honourable an object as that in a foreign country. He hoped that every Englishman at present in the Soudan would be withdrawn. Ho did not approve the suggestion of establishing a Government at Dongola; but if such a Government were established, he trusted that its only connection with this country would be the receipt of a grant of money. No Native Government in any part of the Soudan ought to receive either moral or material support from Her Majesty's Government; for they could not be responsible for the conduct of the unruly people who inhabited that region of the world.


said, he thought that upon the question of the Soudan they had had that evening ample information, and information of a character as startling as it was unexpected. In fact, they had information which that side of the House, at any rate, might have been spared to their entire satisfaction; and if he might venture with great humility to give a little advice to the Conservative Front Bench, he would say that he hoped they would not be afraid on any occasion of making their Resolution too strong, because they might be certain that in the interval which would necessarily elapse after they gave Notice of their Amendment before the time of discussion arrived the Government would have amply succeeded in levelling up their folly to any language which might be used. In reply to the noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton) the President of the Board of Trade had used language of a somewhat familiar kind. He asked what would have been the policy of the noble Lord in regard to the Soudan? He seemed to think that the whole matter was disposed of when he asked the noble Lord whether he would have gone to Khartoum, whether he would or would not have decided to withdraw from the Soudan? But he must take the matter further back. If the Opposition had undertaken the government of Egypt they would have fulfilled their obligations. If they had thought it necessary to withdraw the Egyptian garrisons from the Soudan they would have taken pains not to have proclaimed it to the whole world beforehand. If they had sent General Gordon, they would have supported him before it was too late, and they would not have had to choose at the last moment between forcing on an Expedition, the object of which had been practically sacrificed by the Government, or of withdrawing, at an enormous sacrifice of money and the blood of hundreds and thousands of men, from an Expedition which never ought to have been undertaken. That disposed of the somewhat stale argument of the President of the Board of Trade. But to pass from the question of the Soudan to that which was really occupying the attention of both sides of the House—namely, the crucial point of the stage at which their negotiations had now arrived with Russia. The justification for the Amendment of the noble Lord was, he thought, to be found in the simple fact that there was, rightly or wrongly, not only in the House, but throughout the country and the civilized world, a feeling that the interests of England had been in some way or other betrayed in their negotiations. It was felt that there had been a distinct departure in point of public policy between the course now pursued by the Government and that laid down by the Prime Minister a fortnight ago. The unanimity with which the House of Commons at once, and without a word of contrariety, voted the £11,000,000 for the Public Service was due to the conviction, which forced itself upon the minds of all who listened to the First Lord of the Treasury, that the Government really meant to make a stand. The President of the Board of Trade fell foul of his noble Friend because ho used the word "reparation;" but if the concluding words of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman a fortnight ago meant anything they meant reparation. His concluding words were that it was a very solemn covenant, and those who had caused such a covenant to fail ought to be known to their own Government, and he added—"We cannot close this book and say we will look no more into it." If that did not mean reparation it meant nothing at all. If the right hon. Gentleman, as was shrewdly believed in India and in this country, knew when he made the statement that the incident in question was to be withdrawn from arbitration altogether, then the £11,000,000 which were granted were obtained by a gross breach of faith. But what was the real point at issue? It was whether in this matter they were to have a real arbitration or a sham one; whether the arbitration was to go over the whole historical field, or merely to deal with trivial matters about which neither country eared anything. But, as the right hon. Gentleman has changed his attitude, so the Opposition might be said to have changed theirs, in the same way as a house might be said to have changed its attitude with respect to the weathercock. It was not the house that changed, but the weathercock. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had endeavoured to pin his noble Friend to the statement that no reliance must be placed on the good faith of Russia. But what his noble Friend had done was this—he had pointed out that circumstances might be too strong for Russia, and that it was unsafe to rely upon a Minister or a Czar. The change of attitude on the part of the Goverment amply jusfied the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex in bringing forward the Amendment. The Government asked for £11,000,000, and received them by an almost unanimous vote; but it did not follow that the Opposition were to honour the cheque which they gave them under circumstances which were now entirely changed. Now, on the matter of the Soudan the House had more information than it bargained for, and certainly a great deal more than it liked; yet upon the great point at issue, whether, as stated by the right hon. Gentleman, the honour of the country was to be safely maintained in the negotiations, they had no information whatever. The speech of the Prime Minister a fortnight ago was a memorable one; because then they had the right hon. Gentleman, for the first time, defending the cause of his own country, instead of the cause of another country. The right hon. Gentleman seemed at the time to be galvanized into a spirit of patriotic fervour. It also seemed as if the spirit of Viscount Palmerston had visited the opposite Benches; but, after the change of attitude of Her Majesty's Government, he thought it would be a long time before that spirit revisited them again. The Opposition had a plain duty to perform. As long as they wore satisfied that the honour of England was safe in the hands of Her Majesty's Government, it was their duty to deny no Vote, however largo, no Supplies, however enormous; but the moment they saw the compass deviating from the true north then it was time for their suspicions to be aroused. They had a right to ask whether the Government were going to demand any substantial guarantee that Herat should not pass into the hands of Russia, and that if Russia took it the Government should make it a casus belli. They had voted £11,000,000 to the Government at a time when the individual taxpayer could ill afford it. Were the Government going to obtain a solitary advantage for the country in return for that money?


said, that if he could look at the great question involved in the debate of that evening simply from the standpoint of a political partizan, he should rejoice in the speeches of the Opposition, who had unconsciously made themselves the mouthpiece of those noisy and not uninfluential persons to whom brightening hopes of the maintenance of peace had brought trouble and disappointment. Those persons were not Englishmen only, they were of every nation under Heaven, including Russians. They were persons who fed, some upon the glory and the honours, others upon the losses, the fears, the corruptions, the extravagance of war. On every Exchange in Europe there were men smarting with the bitterness of failure. They had been led to expect war, and now what would they not give for one more day of panic, one more day of gain, at the cost of the timid, the needy, and the improvident. He thought he heard their cries passing through the unsuspicious mouths of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. Terrible was the rage of the Army contractors of St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Odessa. Bitter was the complaint of the brave officers who longed to earn fresh distinction at the cannon's mouth. It appeared to him that there was a certain identity of sentiment, a sameness of origin, in the telegrams and speeches he had lately read as coming from St. Petersburg and India, and as made in London. He was sure that if the expression of opinion were as free in St. Petersburg as it was here, the Czar and M. de Giers would be roundly abused for their pusillanimity in consenting to admit a doubt as to the propriety of any military action of Russia. In England, as in Russia, the great mass of the people were inarticulate. Of both countries ho knew something, and he was confident that in both those telegrams and speeches of exasperation found no echo in the hearts and minds of the people at large. He wished they knew a little more of the manufacturers of those taunts and reproaches, gibes, and incitements. When time should have placed recent events in a light undisturbed by the envy of rival politicians, by the cries of gentlemen of the Bourse, of disappointed contractors, and of ambitious soldiers, then would be duly appreciated the firmness of the great Minister who had declined to overlook the action of the Russian General, and the firmness of the powerful Sovereign who, in an Empire of force and of feeble civilization, consented upon the demand of England to acknowledge that the conduct of his Imperial Government should be a question open to the arbitrament of a third Power. He congratulated the Prime Minister and the Russian Government upon that concession. It was pregnant with a promise extending far beyond the limits of the present question. It was a signal triumph for the principle of arbitration gained in a quarter where allegiance to that policy was most difficult. As to the defence of India, they did not differ in that House. If the safety of India were in question, he believed that all sections of the House would vie with each other only in the vigour of defence. They were at one in policy; they differed only as to the place at which resistance was to be offered. He marked, however, a notable increase in the sense of responsibility. Translations of Persian poetry, such as Professor Vambéry had given, were no longer accepted as matter of fact. The Missionary efforts of that single-minded gentleman had fallen very flat. The common sense of the people had taught them that now they wore at close quarters with Russia, they must look, not at Persian poetry, but upon the real intrinsic value of what they were called upon to fight for. As to Afghanistan, there had been errors undoubtedly. In entering Central Asia Russia advanced into an unknown and ill-defined land. Afghanistan had never in our time had a fixed boundary between the Oxus and Persia. When Russia obtained by conquest the country of the Turkomans—and he, for one, agreed with Mr. Disraeli, who did "not see why Russia should not conquer Tartary, as England had India"—no one know its limits. They were, in fact, as variable as the ebb and flow of the tide. He read with amusement the other day that the policy of the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) was to drive Russia to the Caspian. He should not envy the Minister who was committed to such a rash undertaking. If it could be done it would not be worth doing, for Russia would assuredly return to be the near neighbour of British power in India. The presence of Russia on the other side of Afghanistan was one of the most immovable of political facts. Earl Gran- ville was standing that day upon the policy which he urged in 1874, in stating that— The independence of Afghanistan is regarded by Her Majesty's Government as matter of great importance to the welfare and security of British India, and to the tranquillity of Asia. Recent errors had been due in great part to the fact that two European Powers had been dealing with the rights of semi-barbarian peoples in an unknown quarter of the world. The Czar had the case of the Turkomans, we that of the Afghans, in hand. If both had known all that they knew now, each would have acted more wisely. We should not have wished to press the Afghan boundary into the Turkoman country, for nothing could be so much opposed to our interests as to fix a quarrelsome frontier; and, on the other hand, M. de Giers, if ho had known all that we now knew of the views of the Ameer of Afghanistan, would not have suggested, as he did in April, 1882, that the boundary of Afghanistan passed from Khoja Salah to the Persian Frontier near Sarakhs. He regretted that the meeting between the Viceroy and the Ameer did not take place a year ago, so that when the Boundary Commission set out they might have known more of the Ameer's views as to his claim to the north of Herat. That want of foreknowledge had obscured the policy of the Government. He did not regret that the Vote of Credit was presented in one sum, because there was a natural connection between the policy in the Soudan and the naval and military preparations. When Khartoum fell into the hands of the Mahdi, and the Government received Lord Wolseley's most admirable despatch of February 9, declaring the impossibility of a siege of Khartoum, with the force then under his command, it could not be supposed that Ministers of so much sagacity, experience, and common sense as those who composed the present Administration could have felt any real hesitation as to the course which ought to be pursued. They had before them their own resolve, and the advice on which it was founded, to abandon the Soudan; they had Gordon's opinion that the Soudan was, and would ever be, a worthless possession; more than that, they had his last reported words of the 14th of December advising that if the town foil it would not be worth while to continue the Expedition. They must have known that if it should be necessary for the security of Egypt to overthrow the power of the Mahdi—and he had never been able to agree with those who declared that, under no circumstances, could it be needful—the operation would be much more easily performed in the neighbourhood of the Egyptian Frontier than at Khartoum. It was, he thought, impossible to suppose in February that Her Majesty's Ministers were resolved to go in quest of the Mahdi at Khartoum; and ho felt, no doubt, that their military decision was made and communicated to Lord Wolseley in deference to public opinion at home, and perhaps in some degree to incitement by Lord Wolseley himself, who might well feel moved by his great disappointment to urge the Government to undertake another autumn campaign under conditions which would not admit of failure. He believed that the present policy of the Government was entirely in accord with the present public opinion of the country. By that policy he understood one which was prepared to overthrow the power of the Mahdi if it should threaten the safety of Egypt, and which would relax no efforts to establish the security and the solvency of Egypt. That was the policy due to their engagements and to their interests. He believed it to have been throughout the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and that it was abandoned in the instructions to Lord Wolseley in obedience to a more powerful but less well-informed opinion, which would probably at the time have governed a heterogeneous majority in that House. He bad made those remarks because he thought it was well to bear in mind that the gusty sentiment which dictated the military decision of the Cabinet in February had involved the waste of nearly £2,000,000. It was, however, likely that the pledge as to Khartoum was a valuable aid to Lord Wolseley's retirement, and it might be that a display of force at Suakin was useful in the same direction. But lie declined to believe that the unnecessary pledge to go to Khartoum was the independent judgment of the Government; because such a belief would too severely strain his confidence in Her Majesty's Ministers, who in all their great difficulties as to Egypt had had nothing to complain of from the popular quarter of the House in which he sat, where there had been a handful of Members possessing very high abilities who had consistently—for the last two years, at all events—advocated the policy of an absolute non-intervention in Egypt. Their action must have been of great assistance to the Government, because it had aided by its talents and by the rejection it had met with to display by how great a majority the country desired a firm and vigorous policy in Egypt. He trusted that they had now done with what he might call adventure in Egypt. They had paid £5,000,000 as an ineffectual ransom for General Gordon, whose deathless greatness had been secured by his own noble character, by their efforts, and by their failure. The policy now adopted was just as surely that of common sense in February as it was in April. They had only, it seemed to him, to occupy the strongest position, and to wait. If the Mahdi continued his career as a Mahdi he must advance upon Egypt; if not, he might possibly become the acceptable Chief of some independent Government at Khartoum. He dared say, if they continued in that rational path, that the time was not very far distant when the passage to Khartoum might be, in Gordon's phrase, a "picnic." He should be very glad, indeed, to see a railway made from Suakin to Berber. Ho had no doubt of its civilizing and commercial advantages. But he was not prepared to advocate the construction as a commercial undertaking, nor did he wish to carry it through a hostile population by military force. Some day, he could not doubt, that railway would be made with the cheerful aid of Native labour; but the trade and traffic to and from Central Africa would then be very different from that of the present time. In passing away from the question of the Soudan and of Khartoum, he wished respectfully to warn their masters, the present and the new electors, against giving way to their impulses. Was it not likely that, if this matter had been left to the calm judgment of the Ministers, they would have saved £2,000,000—say, 1d. of the Income Tax—or more than enough to construct the Suakin-Berber Railroad? That gush of sentiment which, on the fall of Khartoum, wished to carry their victorious arms thither with no definite ulterior object was an impulse which must now stand charged with a sad waste of wealth.


said, he must congratulate the hon. Member who had just sat down on his allegiance to the Government; because he gathered from it that whether the Government smashed the Mahdi, or whether they did not, nothing would induce him to swerve from supporting them. The President of the Board of Trade complained of the demand made for information; but if ever information was needed it was now, when they learned that the negotiations relative to the Afghan Frontier were to be conducted, not on the spot and by experts, but in London, and by Earl Granville, the very last man, as he thought, to whom this country should delegate such a power. But they found a further right to information in the dicta of the Prime Minister in Mid Lothian, whoso speeches he had studied with great interest, as they furnished the House with a complete manual of denunciation against himself. In those speeches the right hon. Gentleman had charged the Earl of Beaconsfield's Government with keeping back intelligence from Parliament. In his 18th Mid Lothian speech the Prime Minister had used these words— Now I have charged at various times what I think an essential count in this indictment—that intelligence had been kept back from Parliament. Intelligence necessary to full understanding and to competent discussion has been withheld from Parliament at the very time of that discussion. I have shown various instances; I might show more. But I will name now only very briefly that remarkable case of the Afghan War. We were carried into that war, gentlemen, as you will recollect, without any previous notice or preparation. No Papers had been laid upon the Table to enable us to judge of the state of our relations with Afghanistan. He would now ask the Prime Minister whether he was not falling into the same fault as that with which he had charged the Earl of Beaconsfield's Government? When they had asked for time in order that they might have information the right hon. Gentleman had divided against them again and again, and had insisted that they should go to that Vote without having the information for which they asked. The same reticence had marked the conduct of the Government at every step; they had taken the same course with regard to the bombardment of Alexandria and to affairs in the Soudan, and they were doing it at the present moment with respect to the negotiations which were going on as to the Suez Canal. They were much in the same position as they had been in at the end of 1868. They were again on the eve of an arbitration. In 1868 there had been an arbitration which had cost them £3,500,000 and the Island of San Juan, and now they were being hurried into the same diplomatic process—an arbitration the result of which no man could foresee. What he had to complain of was the diplomatic failure which had marked Her Majesty's Government ever since they had come into Office. The first thing that the Prime Minister had done on coming into Office was to show to Russia how entirely he meant to give in to what she asked. What had happened? The whole dramatis personæ of the Alabama Convention had been arrayed to combat Russia. Earl Granville, an unsuccessful Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the Marquess of Ripon, who was sent out to India to pull up the rails of the Quetta Railway, and Sir Edward Thornton, who had not been engaged in diplomatic business in Europe for 40 years, were the three gentlemen selected by the Prime Minister to cope with the astute diplomatists of Russia. What had Russia done in the meanwhile? She had shown every desire to prepare herself in the Caucasus so as to be a standing menace in Central Asia to us as well as to our old Ally, Turkey. We had withdrawn our Representative from Tiflis, while Russia had sent Prince Dondoukoff-Korsakoff, who, while in Eastern Roumelia, had continually occupied himself in thwarting all efforts towards a peaceful settlement, and in endeavouring to counteract the efforts of the Earl of Beaconsfield, and had continually disobeyed the orders of his own Government, until at last he had been dismissed and replaced by General Todleben. When the right hon. Gentleman had come into Office, he had had that dangerous and ridiculous naval demonstration, which had been the foundation, not only of coolness between this country and Turkey, but of bad blood throughout Eastern Europe. When Mr. Goschen had been accredited as Ambassador to Turkey it was done in a most offensive manner by an open telegram, not in cipher, which stated that he had been accredited as Ambassador to the Porte. The Porte was nothing; it was the Sultan who was everything. Then, they had given Mr. Goschen a speech to deliver, which the Sultan had declined to receive, and which placed him on bad terms with that Sovereign. Next, the Earl of Dufforin was sent to Constantinople. A Conference was held, and in the middle of it the Earl of Dufferin had been called away to deal with matters in Egypt, without taking Turkey, the Suzerain Power, into consultation. Recently, again, when the Porte had been reluctant to sign the Convention with regard to Egypt, in doing which the Sultan was only following out the recommendations of Her Majesty's Government at the most critical moment, when the friendship of Turkey was of the utmost importance to this country, Earl Granville had told Musurus Pasha and Hassan Fehmy Pasha that if they did not sign it within 48 hours he would send them their passports. What was their position with regard to other European Powers? Russia saw with joy that we had offended nearly all, and that there was hardly any one of them which would assist us. The Prime Minister gave great offence to Austria, and one of his first official acts was to make a most humble apology to her. We had betrayed Germany at the Conference on Egypt, and since then Earl Granville had further offended Germany by refusing her a place on the Conseil de la Caisse, at Cairo. We had also excited the jealousy of France, and had again made a degrading apology to that Power. The only Ally we possessed was Italy, whose alliance we had gained by our disinterested conduct in conferring upon her a slice of Turkish territory. In consequence of the proceedings of the Government the alliance of the three Emperors had been resumed, and one of the greatest difficulties of an invasion of Russia on our part would be that Austria and Germany had pressed so strongly on the Porte the necessity of neutrality. How did those difficulties between this country and Russia arise? Who proposed the Boundary Commission, and why was the insult placed upon a Representative of this country, having to beat about from pillar to post as Sir Peter Lumsden had been compelled to do? The recent proceedings of Her Majesty's Government had read some severe lessons to the public servants of the country. They had seen in the case of General Gordon that fidelity to his trust meant his death; and they now found in Sir Peter Lumsden that obedience to his instructions meant dishonour. Ho wished to know whether it was a fact that when the Government sent Sir Peter Lumsden to delimitate the frontiers of Afghanistan they did not know the wishes of the Ameer on the point? He believed that they did not know the Ameer's views until after the Conference at Rawul Pindi, an event which the Russians had resented by the incident of Penjdeh. It was then found we had been claiming frontier the Ameer did not want, and that the Ameer did not care for certain points upon which we had insisted. The boasted friendship of the Ameer was such that ho would not allow British troops to enter his territory? For what purpose did the Government now require the Vote of £11,000,000? It was not required for arbitration; but was it wanted because it had been spent without the authority of Parliament? Who was going to be the arbitrator? Was the Prince of Monaco intended to be named as the arbitrator? But even if the arbitration were carried out, how could they depend on Russia observing the new frontier any more than she had observed her previous engagements with regard to Central Asia? A new frontier delimitated by the Prince of Monaco would have no value whatever; its value would depend entirely on the good faith of the parties, and everyone knew the value of Russia's good faith. A new frontier settled in this way would be entirely different to a frontier arrived at by a Congress of Europe, and dependent on International Law. What further-steps did the Government intend to take in India? Would they fortify the frontier? They knew that Russia was close upon them, and that at any moment she might persuade the Afghans to take part against us. Were the Government going to spend the money in making impregnable the frontiers of India? Her Majesty's Government, no doubt, now heartily wished for the scientific frontier they so much derided and laughed at some years ago—they doubtless regretted having abandoned Candahar in such haste, and wished that they had not taken up the rails to Quetta, selling; them I for old iron. In 1875 the Prime Minister wrote a letter to Earl Granville, in which he said— I see no public advantage in my continuing to act as the Leader of the Liberal Party, as at the age of 65, and after 42 years of a laborious public life, I think myself entitled to retire on the present opportunity. This retirement is dictated to me by my personal views as to the best method of spending the closing years of my life. He would like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman thought he had added to the public welfare, or to his own credit, by not adhering to the determination he then expressed? Of the 10 years that had passed since that declaration the right hon. Gentleman had spent five years in agitation, and five in endeavouring to upset the policy of the Earl of Beaconsfield; and he would ask whether now, at the end of that period, there was less anxiety, less bloodshed, less responsibility, less expenditure, less outrage, or less coercion than there was before he commenced? Was there more tranquillity now than then, more active trade, greater alliances with Foreign Powers, more prosperity, or more peace; or was it not a fact that Ireland was at this time coerced more than ever, was not the question of Ireland seriously dividing the councils of the Government; and did not the Members of the Government come down to that House looking pleasant or melancholy, according as the one section of the Cabinet prevailed or found themselves in a minority? Was it not a fact that we now found foreign countries alienated, our defences weakened, our taxation enormously increased, our trade prostrate, and war imminent? Under those circumstances, he thought they were entitled to ask for some information and some explanation from Her Majesty's Government before they parted with control over this money.


The hon. Member (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) will hardly expect anyone on this side of the House to follow him in the miscellaneous observations with which he has concluded, or to take much notice of the very unworthy remarks that he has thought proper to make on the Prime Minister. For my own part, I have never been an adulator of the Prime Minister. But I must say that I believe there has never been a time in his career when the country was better pleased to see him in control of our affairs than it is at this moment. The hon. Member talks about the right hon. Gentleman beginning his reign with an apology. I should like to ask him whether his own Leader, if he came into power to-morrow, would not have to begin with an apology to Russia? ["No!"] What, do you think it possible that a statesman could be entrusted with the reins of Office who has just given to a great Power the alternative choice between being a swindler and a bankrupt? My hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold) has told us to-night that some of us who sit near him have seen our policy rejected.


said, that he stated that the policy of non-intervention in Egypt was rejected.


Why, Sir, if there ever was a time when those sitting in this part of the House had a right to congratulate themselves on the line which we adopted, it is to-night. We have to-night heard Ministers using the self-same arguments for abandoning a policy, which we pressed on them two months ago against ever taking that policy up. We have constantly been taunted with the twofold course that we have taken; with protesting against the action of Ministers while refusing to displace them. We have been reproached, in the phrase of the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. E. Clarke), with giving one vote for conscience and another for Party. I submit that events have amply justified us. If we look back on the line that we followed when we gave one vote as a protest against the Soudan policy and another against turning out the Minister, we must come to the conclusion that we pursued the only course open to men of sense and judgment. Infallibility is not the secret of any Ministry. It is not even the gift of all Oppositions. But the present Government, though they are fallible, have, at any rate, the grace not to be impenitent. I am bound to say that I much more admire the moral courage with which the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War has to-day admitted that the policy the Government had hitherto pursued in the Soudan was not wise, than I appreciate what I must call the moral cowardice of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton), who got up and said that he had never been in favour of going to Khartoum. That statement filled me with amazement. On the occasion of the last Vote of Censure, a humble individual sitting in this region made a Motion condemnatory of the policy of going to Khartoum. That Motion was opposed, and by whom was the opposition to the Motion led? Why, by the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex. It was an Amendment moved by the noble Lord that caused my proposition to be rejected. ["No!"] Yes, Sir; I am speaking of the Vote of Censure at the end of February, on which occasion 455 Gentlemen went into the Lobby on the proposition of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex and defeated our Motion against going to Khartoum. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), a few night ago, made a very statesmanlike speech in favour of giving up the Soudan policy. But then, while the noble Lord was absent, his vicegerents on the Front Bench had usurped full powers. The right hon. Baronet the Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) made a very definite statement of policy, which, I think, we must assume to be the policy of the Tory Party. What did the right hon. Baronet say? I will take the liberty of reading his words— I think it will now be admitted that if we gave up the Soudan to the Mahdi, either anarchy or a slave-trading despotism would he the future of the country; and I do not think the people of England will agree to that…; You must retain the control of the Nile Valley, as far south as Khartoum; and you must see that there is established at Khartoum a Government, subject to your influence, in close connection with the Government of Egypt.… That appears to me a policy which is at least definite, and, if followed, would not impose on this country any such terrible burden as appears to be supposed."—(3 Hansard, [294] 1637.)

That, I say, was and is the policy of the Conservative Party, and it is impossible to reconcile the speech of the noble Lord with the declarations made by the Leaders of his Party during his absence. The only misgiving that I feel myself, after what the Government has said tonight, is that they do not go quite so far as I could wish. A year ago I said that if yon hold Suakin then you are committed to hold the entire Soudan. It is extremely difficult to hold that place without making a railway, or pushing forward in some way. If you made a railway 10 or 20 miles long, it would only be a railway into the desert, producing nothing and developing nothing. It could not stop there. If you have your little finger in Suakin, you will inevitably be tempted some day or other to push the railway on to Berber. Making the railway to Berber is all very well; but it means a Government at Berber—an English or a European Government. I deprecate anything like any entanglement of that sort. What I should wish, therefore, is that the Government would announce their intention of giving up Suakin, as well as the rest of the Soudan. I regret that the Government should suppose that the time has not yet come for an announcement of that kind; because a year ago, on the 6th of March, 1884, the Prime Minister said that they would have to consider what would be the best form of providing ultimately for the security of Suakin on the withdrawal of the British Forces, "which was an object they desired and would use every possible endeavour speedily to attain." No doubt the Secretary of State gave two reasons why we should retain Suakin. One was that we should stop one of the great vents of the Slave Trade. If we may trust the Reports of official agents, I believe that we have every possible reason to doubt any such statement. It is clear that the Slave Trade is carried on by dhows, which can run up at any point on the shore. Possession of one particular port would, therefore, be of uncommonly little use in stopping the Slave Trade. The other argument used by the noble Marquess in defending the retention of Suakin was that it was of importance to us that no other European Power should have a hold on the Bed Sea. At the time I thought this was a good argument, and that there would be many inconveniences in having another European Power between the Suez Canal and our Indian Possessions. But we now understand that a European Power is already placed in a port on the Bed Sea—that the Italians are at Massowah, I presume with the acquiescence and approval of Her Majesty's Government. This particular argument, therefore, has now lost all its force. Next, it was urged that we should remain at Suakin in order to exercise a civilizing influence, and so forth. I regret, by the way, that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) is not in his place; I should like to have heard his views on the new policy of Her Majesty's Government in the Soudan, where he was so anxious that we should exercise our civilizing influence, even at the risk of indefinite extension of risks and responsibilities. Well, we have loft Khartoum, on the ground, or with the excuse, as the Prime Minister expressly said, that the government at Khartoum was not any worse than it was four or five years ago. Might not exactly as much be said of Suakin? If we leave Suakin, like Khartoum, it would be no worse than it was four or five years ago. I will say no more on the one point on which I differ from the Government. I feel too strongly how much cause for congratulation we have, and the country has, that the Government, having recognized that they have taken a false step, has had the courage to retrace it. I will not trespass on the time of the House by speaking of the affairs of Afghanistan. I believe that the constituencies, and especially the new constituencies, would not readily have forgiven Her Majesty's Government if they had committed us to so tremendous an undertaking as a war with Russia for so infinitesimal a point as that for which we were contending. I do not mean to say that the question of our Indian Frontier, and the ultimate settlement of that frontier with Russia, is a small question. On the contrary, I believe that it is one of the most important questions of the time, and will pretty certainly engage the attention of both political Parties for the next 10 or 15 years to come. But what I will say is this—that the war, which hon. Gentlemen opposite seem so anxious to precipitate, would not have advanced the settlement of that question in the smallest degree. If we had any chance of reducing Russia to the position of a third or fourth-rate Power, then I could have understood how, by the war, we should have attained our end. But there is no one who believes, or makes a pretence of believing, that such a feat is within our power. We know that we have to deal with Russia, and if any Gentleman can point out to me how a war with Russia, waged, as it would now have to be, under the most difficult circumstances, is to be won, I will admit that the policy of the Government in seeking peace under the present circumstances is an unwise policy. I feel that until the Papers which have been promised have been laid upon the Table the House will not be in a position to form a ripened judgment upon this subject. I feel, too, that the announcement that has been made to-night of the intention of the Government to retire from that miserable scene, the Soudan, will be received with satisfaction throughout the country; while the pacification with Russia, even though it should prove to be merely a temporary pacification, which has been the result of the diplomacy of Her Majesty's Government, is an object of which the great bulk of the people of this nation will most heartily approve.


Sir, the hon. Member opposite has again imputed to Gentlemen on this side of the House a charge that he brought against the Opposition on a former occasion—namely, that we are anxious to bring about a war between this country and Russia. ["Hear, hear!"] As hon. Gentlemen opposite cheer that insinuation, I must once again repudiate the charge with all the force and energy in my power. I will, however, go as far with the hon. Member as this—that I am not ashamed to admit that, in my opinion, a just and an honourable war is infinitely to be preferred to a sham and a dishonourable peace, and a peace, moreover, which would only leave the situation of affairs in this position—that war, in all probability, sooner or later, would be inevitable; and a war to be waged under such circumstances would be infinitely more disadvantageous to this country than it would be at the present moment. Passing, however, for a moment, from the insinuation of the hon. Member, although I shall have to make some further observations upon his speech before I conclude my own, and before I address myself to the question immediately before us, and the previous speeches which have been delivered in the course of this debate, I desire, so far as I am concerned, to clear up the position in which the House is placed with regard to the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton). I understood the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister to say, at the commencement of these proceedings, that he was under the impression that a distinct understanding existed not to contest the second reading of this Bill. I desire to gnard myself most distinctly against any adhesion—against the slightest adhesion whatsoever—to that proposition on the part of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman, indeed, admitted that a voice from below the Gangway was heard in which the assertion was repudiated; and he was kind enough to tell me this afternoon, when I interjected an observation across the floor of the House, that I had taken no part in the proceedings on the previous occasion when this subject was under discussion. As a matter of fact, the part I took in that proceeding was to move the adjournment of the debate—a Motion which has led, as far as I can see, to the present proceedings; and I wish to say distinctly that I regard the debate to-night as nothing more nor less than the continuation of the debate on the Vote of Credit the other night, and as an occasion which affords us an opportunity, if we think it right and desirable to do so, after all we have heard and shall hear, I presume, from the Government to-night, of giving a hostile vote against this Bill, in order to refuse the Supplies which have been demanded by the Government. What else could be the object of our proceeding the other night? We held then that there was not sufficient information to justify us in coming to a conclusion on the questions submitted to us by the Government, and precisely because we required further information we took the course I have described. The right hon. Gentleman also took exception to the Amendment, and to the proceedings of the Opposition, on the ground that they are inconvenient as a matter of procedure. Now, I do not regard them by any means as a matter of procedure only, and I confess that I rejoiced greatly when I heard the Amendment read the other night by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition on the part of the noble Lord, and my views on that occasion have been confirmed by the proceedings of this evening, because it appeared to me then, and it appears to me still more now, that the Opposition had no alternative except to take the course which they have taken on this occasion, without being liable to the charge of a most distinct failure of duty. What is it that we have heard to-night? The hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) has congratulated Her Majesty's Government upon a magnificent exhibition of moral courage upon this occasion. He regards the attitude of Her Majesty's Government, and the policy they have pursued, as an exhibition of moral courage. Well, Sir, I take rather a different view of their proceedings. I have not been an excessive number of years in the House myself; but I question very much whether the oldest Member of the House of Commons ever heard a statement from a Minister of the Crown in this House which enveloped his Colleagues and himself in a blacker pall of shame, discredit, and disgrace, of imbecility, of ignominy, and I am afraid that I must add of infamy as well, than that which fell upon them here to-night, as he unfolded step by step his piteous avowal of their latest inconsistency in regard to the Soudan—with all its vast expenditure of men and money, blood and lives, for no purpose whatever—with all this cruel and this useless slaughter, these hecatombs of victims. The homes almost without number—the countless homes ruined and destroyed in the Soudan; and all for no object and no purpose whatsoever under the sun, except to save the seats of an imbecile and incapable Government. I venture to claim that the question of their Soudan policy is a subject which in itself deserves and merits a Vote of Censure on the part of the House of Commons, if it stood alone. But there are some other questions in connection with the Soudan policy to which I should like, for a moment, to direct the attention of the House. The hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) just now asked this question of the Government. He said—"I am pretty well satisfied with your proceedings on the whole; but I feel that I should have liked you to have gone further. Why do not you give up Suakin altogether?" I am, of course, only speaking of the proceedings of tonight, because we know that the hon. Member has throughout objected to the policy of the Government in the Soudan. To-night, however, pleased with their policy of retirement, he says—"Why not go a little further and give up Suakin altogether?" I think I can supply the hon. Member with an an- swer out of the lips of the Prime Minister himself. Not long ago—on the 19th of February last—the Prime Minister made use of these words. He said—"A contrary decision would have at once involved the abandonment of these all-important objects:—Firstly, the rescue of General Gordon's friends at Khartoum; secondly, the establishment of a stable Government there; thirdly, the checking of the Slave Trade; and, fourthly, the rescue of the garrisons." Now, this statement on the part of the Prime Minister was some answer, I admit, to the inquiry of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) as to why he does not go further and give up Suakin; but it entails this upon the Government—that it is absolutely necessary for some Minister to rise in his place to-night and reconcile the statement of the Prime Minister on the 19th of February with the announcement we heard from the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War at the commencement of the evening. Well, Sir, the Prime Minister said something more, because, on the 23rd of February, he made this assertion. He said— The representation of the necessity of an Expedition to Suakin, and of making from Suakin provision that the route to Berber shall be rendered safe against Osman Digna and his Forces—that demand, that necessity, does not depend upon our adoption of the policy of destroying the Mahdi's power at Khartoum, but is inherent in the nature of the case as it stands."—(3 Hansard, [294] 1099.) If that policy did not depend on the necessity of destroying the Mahdi's power at Khartoum, in Heaven's name what did it depend upon? Will the Government be good enough to give us an explanation in the course of the debate this evening? The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade complained of my noble Friend—and the complaint was in the nature of a retort—that he did not say what he meant because of the form of the Amendment. He said we only ask for information. Well, we did begin by asking for information. That is quite true. We have been desirous of information all through; but we have not got it; and, as far as I can see, we never shall get it. As we do not get the information, we have only one resource to fall back upon, and it is to refuse the Supplies asked for by Her Majesty's Government. I doubt very much if ever there was a precedent in the annals of Parliament before for the position in which the Opposition have been placed by Her Majesty's Government. The Government have come forward and made enormous demands on the House of Commons. At the same time, they have laid no Papers upon the Table of the House with regard to the frontier of India, and for months and months we have had no information whatsoever, or hardly any, from the Government. I will not say that we have had none; but certainly it has been the most meagre information possible. The right hon. Gentleman the other night, in a moment of great candour, bluntly blurted this out to the. House—that the Government had never presented their policy to the House at all, and that, too, although he must have known that his noble Friend and Colleague sitting by his side—the Secretary of State for War—had laid it down as a high and cardinal principle, when he was Leader of the Opposition and placed in almost similar circumstances, that Votes of Credit and Supplies beyond the ordinary Estimates of the year ought not to be granted except on questions of policy which had been distinctly formed and publicly declared. I need not say that this has been an almost intolerable tax upon the patience of the House—a severe trial of endurance to hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House. We have gone on in this way for many months, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister that many of us on this side have had grave doubts how far we were justified in continuing to maintain this attitude of silence and reserve. [A laugh.] I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman opposite should laugh. If the Home Secretary is able to extend his recollection back a little longer than 48 hours he must remember that it is not many days since the right hon. Gentleman his Leader—the Prime Minister—paid the Opposition a most unwonted, but a most marked, compliment, for the attitude they had observed throughout these proceedings. What I was saying when the hilarity of the right hon. Gentleman interrupted me was this—that we put aside all these considerations, that we shrunk from anything and everything that could, by any human probability, have embarrassed the action of the Government, we granted you the Vote of Credit without a word and without a syllable, although we were opposed in principle to your policy, and to all your foreign policy in particular. And why did we do this? Why, Sir, we did it because we hoped and honestly believed, after the speech of the Prime Minister in moving for the Vote of Credit, that the spirit, even of this Government, had been roused at last, and that they were determined it should be used in order to maintain the dignity and the safety of the Empire and the honour of our name. Well, Sir, I contend that we had good grounds for that opinion. I will tell the House two or three of them. It is quite true that Gentlemen sitting opposite on that Bench have earned for themselves, and fitly earned, I think, the title of the Cabinet of Recantation and Surrender, in almost all parts of the world. But here we had not only the speech of the Prime Minister to which I have alluded, but the statements and recorded opinions of many of his Colleagues besides. And what did those statements come to? In the first place, I suppose no Gentleman opposite will deny—for it is universally admitted—that we are pledged to the Ameer to resist and repel all foreign interference in his Dominions. There is no doubt, I presume, and no question on that point. Well, what do those Dominions include? On the 3rd of March the Secretary of State for India, in "another place," and on the same day the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in the House of Commons, declared, on the part of the Government, that in their opinion the positions of Zulficar and Penjdeh were distinctly within the Dominions of the Ameer. That being so, what is it that we have seen? Surely these things must, in common fairness, by hon. Gentlemen opposite be held to account for some change of attitude on our part. They have never been explained, and we are totally in ignorance of the negotiations of the Government with regard to them. That being so, and this being the declaration of the Government, what is it that we have seen? The positions named have been taken by a Foreign Power. They are occupied at this moment by a Foreign Power, with the acquiescence, as far as we know—at all events, the Government have not insisted on the withdrawal of that Foreign Power—and therefore, as far as we know, with the complete acquiescence of Her Majesty's Government. What is the next point? On the 1st of April—and I must say a very appropriate day I think it was under all the circumstances—the Earl of Rosebery, the latest ornament of the Cabinet, whoso addition to that Body was publicly welcomed as the herald of a new and a more courageous and a more thorough English policy on the part of the Government, delivered a speech at Manchester. What did he say there? Why, he ridiculed the idea of arbitration, on the ground that any arbitration in this case would be a foregone conclusion, and because all arbitrations of this nature had invariably been given against us. Thirdly, there were the statements deliberately made by the Prime Minister on the 9th, of April in this House, and by the Earl of Dufferin, the Viceroy of India, at Lahore, on the 15th of April. The latter statement may not be absolutely without qualification, as the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister pointed out to-night; but I do not accept the accuracy of his description of the Earl of Dufferin's words, because I have read them from another source myself, and what the Earl of Dufferin said was this, as far as my information goes—that the aggression was unprovoked upon the Ameer's Dominions as far as he had been able to ascertain. I certainly imagine that the sources of information open to the Viceroy of India must be pretty good, and that he would not have made so grave a statement, coming fresh, as he did, from a conference with the Ameer, unless he had been pretty well satisfied of the facts. Yet he stated that the Dominions of the Ameer had been the scene of an unprovoked aggression by a Foreign Power. Sir, I say that was a statement the gravity of which it is impossible to over-estimate. When an English Minister comes down to the House of Commons, addresses us in measured tones, and tells us that an unprovoked aggression has been committed by a Foreign Power either upon ourselves or upon one of our Allies in a quarter which is vital to the interests of England, the least that the English Parliament and the least that the English people expect is that reparation and a full explanation shall be made by that Foreign Power, and made without de- lay. What has happened in this case? Has Her Majesty's Government asked for reparation? The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, to-night, as far as I understood him, said that they have not. I do not care whether you have or not; but what is the position in which you are placed? If there has been unprovoked aggression, and if you have asked for reparation, your demand has been contemptuously refused. If there has not, and if you have not done so, then you are even more guilty than I thought you were; because you had no business to come down to this House and make a statement such as this. "Well, have you asked for explanation? You have, I believe, asked for explanation; and what is the result? Why, the result is this—that in spite of the forecasts of your own Colleague, the latest addition to the Cabinet, you have deliberately relegated this question of unprovoked aggression to what, in all the circumstances, I am bound, to believe, on the Earl of Rosebery's authority, can lead to nothing but a humiliating and a foregone conclusion. You have relegated that question not in reality, but, in my opinion, only in form. Why do I say this? I say it because, while you have recalled Sir Peter Lumsden, the conduct of the only person—General Komaroff—besides Sir Peter Lumsden who can really be responsible for that unprovoked aggression is excluded altogether from the arbitration. Now, I should like to ask a question upon that point, and it is a question, I think, which the Government ought to answer. I do not wish to impute anything to them until I know how the position stands. What I want to ask is this. Has that recall of Sir Peter Lumsden, or his direction to repair to the Metropolis—whatever you please to call it—been demanded, or has it been made, either directly or indirectly, a condition of arbitration, by Russia? The Government must pardon me for even asking of an English Government a question of that nature; but they must remember that in the official and semi-official organs in Russia the recall of Sir Peter Lumsden has been clamoured for for some considerable time; and when I remember how Her Majesty's Government sacrificed the life and how they betrayed General Gordon at Khartoum, how they refused to send an expedition to save him in time for fear of their Radical supporters below the Gangway, they must forgive me if I am not very confident of the chivalry they are likely to show towards other English officers who are in their employ. All these matters to which I have referred unquestionably indicate, in my opinion, a marked change in the attitude of the Government since the Prime Minister came down to the House of Commons and made his celebrated speech. And that change of attitude it is which, in my opinion, not only justifies but absolutely calls for and demands the course which is being pursued by the Opposition this evening. We are bound to consider—it is one of the most important points the Government and Parliament should have in view—the effect of all this in India upon the subjects of the Queen in that country. Taken in connection with another point, when you demanded of the Russian Government that their Forces should be recalled from Sarakhs months ago, and on their flat refusal to do anything of the kind you allowed your demand to lapse—all these things, taken together, must have a most injurious effect on the people of India and upon that loyalty which they have been so ready to show when the Empire appeared, not long ago, to be in danger. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade took great credit to the Government for having, at all events, whatever else they might have done, succeeded in preserving peace. I want to know what are your guarantees that you have preserved peace, and for how long you are going to preserve it? You tell us something about a Convention about to be made with Russia. We have heard of Conventions made with Russia before; and I want to know what reliance is to be placed on this Convention? The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) the other night gave us a history of the advances of Russia towards the frontier of India. Not one single Gentleman on that side of the House attempted for one moment to impugn that history. If the statement is true—and, as far as I know, it is true—it is a grave statement in all respects. Then what possible reliance can be placed in future upon any Convention we can make with Russia? Then we want to know, and we must know, unless we are to refuse this Bill to-night, what is to be your policy in India in future. Have you made up your own minds about it? Will the Government tell us, at all events, what are their views about Herat? Surely upon that point the Government might condescend to give some information to the House of Commons. Among many of the great military experts Herat has been regarded for years, and by some is still regarded, as what is called the key of India. I should like to know if the Government consider that the retention of Herat within the Dominions of the Ameer is essential to the safety of India and part of their policy, or do they not? Have you got any guarantee with regard to Herat? The Government must remember this—that all the present difficulty has arisen from the policy they pursued immediately after the overthrow of the Earl of Beaconsfield's Government. In abandoning Candahar they reversed his policy and broke up his railway, which we are now told they are beginning to make afresh. And what have we heard to-night? Not very long ago we began another railway. It was only a month ago that we began the railway from Suakin to Berber, and that railway, we are told to-night, will not be required, and there is no disposition to push it on for any military purpose. When the Government were asking for Supplementary Estimates about six weeks ago they told us that this railway was absolutely essential to the safety of the Forces of Lord Wolseley and the policy of Her Majesty's Government. All past experience, therefore, teaches us that in all human probability, if they get their Bill and Vote to-night, they will come down in six weeks' time and tell us with regard to the railway to Candahar, as they did with regard to the railway to Berber, that it is not required and that there is no intention of pushing it on for any military purpose. That is precisely the reason why the Opposition have taken this course, and why they have moved the Amendment of which the Government have so much complained to-night. It is because it is impossible for us to rely upon the policy of the Government from one month to another. What is it that w were asked by the President of the Board of Trade? He asked us what it is that we condemn? I will tell the right hon. Gentleman in a single sen- tence. We condemn the whole policy of the Government from first to last. He complains of the form of the Amendment moved by the noble Lord. He says—"The Amendment means one thing, but your speeches mean another." I think he will find they both mean the same. I care nothing for the form of an Amendment, so long as the result is the same; and, unless I am mistaken, the result of this Amendment, if it be carried, will be the overthrow and downfall of Her Majesty's Government. Sir, I hope that may be its result; for, in my opinion, every hour which prolongs the rule-of the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues in this country is an hour of added danger and peril to the fortunes of the Empire. I shall give my vote in hearty support of the Amendment, because I am persuaded that neither contentment nor prosperity at home, nor peace or tranquillity abroad, is possible until this Government, with its evil records and ill-aimed policy in all parts of the world, shall have perished and been, swept away.


said, he hoped the House would indulge him for a few moments while he explained his views upon this matter. At any rate, he could claim to be impartial, because, when he had disapproved of the policy of Her Majesty's Government in reference to Egypt, he had not hesitated to express his disapproval I both by his speech and by his vote. As, however, in the present instance he approved the policy of the Government, he thought it could not be said that he was animated by any other motive than an honest desire to give expression to sentiments that were genuinely entertained, and a desire to do the best he could in the interests of the country in a grave crisis like this. He was far from saying that, if this were a mere question of retrospective criticism, he could approve all the steps which had led to the present difficulty. But he felt that the position in which the House was now placed was one which was far too grave for retrospective criticism. They must look the facts in the face, and take them as they were. What was the real meaning of this Amendment? The meaning of it was to turn out the present Government, and to install in their places a Government that would go to war with Russia. It was all very well for the hon. Mem,- ber for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) to make a strong disclaimer about wishing to go to war with Russia; but it was impossible for any man of common sense to arrive at any other conclusion after hearing the speech of the hon. Gentleman. In the event of the Amendment being carried, and a new Ministry being placed in power, they would have at the head of the Government a noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury), who the other day delivered a speech which most of them had read with deep regret to find that anybody pretending to the position of an English statesman could use such language. The noble Marquess went so far as to speak of the Russian Government as bankrupts and swindlers. In the House of Commons the real Leader of the Opposition—because he who led the Leaders was himself the Leader—the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) spoke of peace with Russia as "terrible news." Moreover, the present Amendment had been made by the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord Goorge Hamilton) in a speech which breathed fire and fury against Russia in every sentence, and which expressed indignation at the prospect of peace. He, therefore, doubted whether the policy inaugurated by the Amendment was either a sound, a right, or a moral policy, or whether it would be a reasonable and practicable one. So far as the morality of that policy was concerned, what did it really amount to? It meant that Russia was the one Power in Europe from whom they had anything to fear, and that accordingly it ought to be their business to thwart and oppose her in every part of the globe. So far as Central Asia was concerned, it was contended that they ought to maintain as large an extent of desert between them and Russia as was possible—a tract of desert and sterile land as large as France or Germany; once the site of populous cities, but now the abode of the wild boar and the wild ass. And why was it a desert? He would not quote from any Russian authority, but from one of our own English newspaper correspondents. According to Mr. O'Donovan, whose journey to Merv was well known, and according to other newspaper correspondents who had been with Sir Peter Lumsden's Mission, the sole reason why this was an extensive desert was that it had been so overrun by slave-hunting Turcomans that it had been found impossible for peaceable citizens to live in it. It had once been populous and prosperous; but when the people were called upon to cultivate their fields they found themselves compelled to hold the plough in one hand and the musket in the other, and they could not venture outside the walls of the towns lest they should be pounced upon and carried off to slavery. The consequence was that the land had been allowed to become sterile and unprofitable, and virtually a desert. Was it to remain a desert, because they were afraid of Russia? Why were they afraid of Russia? What was their natural frontier in India? He asked the House to consider that question for a moment. What was their natural frontier on the North-West of India? It was, thank Providence, one of the strongest frontiers in the whole world. Two sides of their Indian Empire were surrounded by an ocean which was impregnable so long as they commanded the sea. A third portion of it was protected by an impassable desert and the River Indus, and it was only in the North-West, or on what was called the North-Western Frontier, that India could by any possibility be subjected to invasion. And what was that North-West Frontier? It consisted of a great wall of mountains, high and rugged, accessible only by passes, of which they held the mouths; and beyond that rugged mountain chain for 700 or 800 miles, stood Afghanistan—a country inhabited by tribes accustomed to fight for their independence, very much in the condition of the Highlands of Scotland a century or two ago; united, however, by a common religion and a strong feeling of nationality. Whoever cared to thrust his hand into that hornet's nest would be perfectly certain to get the worst of it. What was the opinion of some of their greatest authorities? The Duke of Wellington said of Afghanistan, that in it a small army would be cut off, and a large army must starve. It would be well if some Members of the Opposition would study the opinions of their greatest Indian statesmen—Lord Dalhousie, Lord Canning, and Lord Lawrence, especially the latter, who was one of the highest authorities they could have upon everything connected with their Indian Em- pire. Before Lord Lawrence became Governor General of India he was Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab, a Province in close contact with Afghanistan. He (Mr. Laing) would strongly recommend hon. Members opposite, who were crying out so loudly that their Indian Empire was about to be lost because the Russian outposts were advancing a few miles nearer to Afghanistan, to make a critical investigation of the memoirs of Lord Lawrence, and see what it was that that noble Lord said. Lord Lawrence always steadily urged that they ought to rely upon their natural frontier. This advice was overruled twice—once by Lord Auckland, and again by Lord Lytton, who was the Viceroy of a Government who wished for a spirited foreign policy. Nor must it be forgotten that Lord Auckland, when Governor General of India, sent out an expedition to Afghanistan to counteract the designs of Russia, from which only one solitary survivor returned. Was it contended that they ought to undertake a similar expedition now? As he had pointed out, the country beyond its natural frontier was simply a nest of hornets, and if they thrust their hand into it they would only be too glad to draw it back again, swollen by the stings it would have received. With the position which they occupied on their side of the North-Western Frontier, Russia would never commit the stupidity of marching across Afghanistan, some 700 or 800 miles from her own base of operations, in order to invade their possessions. It would require very little to make the frontier of Afghanistan absolutely impregnable. They had in India already about 00,000 European troops upon the regular establishment, and about double that number of Native troops. Of that Force, in the event of war, they might readily place 30,000 European troops and 50,000 or 60,000 Native troops upon the North-Western Frontier. Even if that were not enough, there ought always to be some 25,000 or 30,000 more available in this country which, at very short notice, would be rendered fit for service in India, or in whatever other part they might be required. With a Corps d' Armée of 25,000 men, ready to be shipped to India at a month's notice, with adequate Field Artillery, he ventured to maintain that the North-West- ern Frontier could be rendered absolutely impregnable, and that no attack could possibly be made upon their position. There were, however, two or three points which ought to be considered. For instance, they ought to convert Quetta and Peshawur into strong camps sufficient to protect a considerable number of men. There ought to be a military railway running from Quetta to Peshawur, so that they might be able, with the greatest rapidity, to concentrate a Force at Quetta, or at some other point in that direction. With such precautions, it would be a very easy task to make their frontier in India as nearly impregnable as, humanly speaking, was possible. Of course, India could not stand the strain of the additional burdens that would be entailed, and it would be necessary for this country to provide for the cost; but he did not think the entire expenditure would involve an addition of more than 1d. in the pound to the Income Tax. The contention of hon. Members opposite was that in order to save the possible addition of 1d. to the Income Tax it was necessary to keep a great part of Asia a perpetual desert. Personally, he was not prepared to say that the advance of Russia in Central Asia had not been of considerable advantage to the cause of humanity. In the first place, they had broken up the great Slave Mart at Khiva, and had rescued thousands of unhappy Persians, who had been kidnapped by the Turcomans and sold into slavery. In this respect they had followed the example of Admiral Blake, who was said, by his operations in the North of Africa, to have very signally succeeded in singeing the whiskers of the Bey of Algeria. He failed to see that it was necessary to maintain a perpetual desert between Afghanistan and the possessions of Russia in order to guard them against the constant apprehension of danger. No doubt, that had been their policy from time immemorial; but it had altogether failed to stop the advance of Russia. If there was a further advance, or even an aggressive act on the part of Russia, how did they propose to stop it? What could they do in Central Asia, if that was made the base of their operations? Could they send a large army 800 miles across Afghanistan to fight Russia, with the absolute certainty that if they met with the slightest check or mishap, the Afghans themselves would turn upon them and cut off their retreat? If they desired to defend Herat, the only way in which it could be done was to have a clear, intelligible, and defensible frontier, and let Russia know that if she came nearer the walls of Herat with a view of attacking that city, it would mean war with England. No doubt, if Russia did attempt to march through Afghanistan in order to attack Herat, the question would become a very different one. But how many miles north of the natural boundary, supplied by a rugged chain of mountains, was the boundary line of their North-Western Frontier to be drawn? He maintained that they could defend Herat in one way, and in one way only; and it was not by sending an army upon a wild-goose chase across Afghanistan, but by engaging in war with Russia, with all the resources of the country, and with the inevitable result of Russia having in the end to sue for peace, and to give up everything. Was it likely that Russia would attack Herat and invade India? He was not in the secrets of Russian statesmen; but he thought such a proceeding extremely unlikely, because Russia could not un-take an invasion of India without first conquering Afghanistan, and not only conquering, but also assimilating it to its own territory, and making railways through that most difficult country. That was a task which would ruin the finances of Russia, and would necessitate the imposition of a taxation so oppressive as to make the enterprize extremely burdensome to her people. It must also so lock her up in the East, that she would lose all chance of maintaining her influence nearer home in regard to matters which touched her more closely. Roumania, Servia, Bulgaria, and the Christian populations in Turkey, would then look to Austria and not to Russia as their protector, and, in fact, Russia would place herself at the mercy of Austria. Would any Russian statesman consent to sacrifice the influence of Russia in the East, and possibly in Constantinople itself, for the chance of gaining Afghanistan? Perhaps he might be allowed to explain the frontier line. [Cries of "Time!" and interruption.] Probably some hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House did not like to hear these things: but they could not deny that he was able to speak with some knowledge of the subject. The line of frontier, which it was understood had now been settled, was a vastly better frontier than the one would have been which extended considerably beyond that mountain range, which they could not possibly have defended, which they would have had to evacuate at the first shot fired in a war with Russia, and which would yet have involved them in constant disputes with that Power, and would have given her a plausible excuse for at any time picking a quarrel with them. The Ameer of Afghanistan was, it appeared to him, the person who, in all these transactions, had shown the most common sense. He knew very well that there could not be war between England and Russia without his country being occupied by the Armies of one or of both of those Powers, and he would not have either of them, because he was aware that if they once got into the country, it would not be easy to get them out again. He was satisfied that the only way in which this country could carry out their policy as to Russia with advantage was by maintaining the frontier he had pointed out. A war with Russia at that moment could not be too strongly deprecated. Not only were we without Allies, but other European Powers were watching us like a cat watched a mouse in order to put forward their own demands as soon as they found we were engaged in hostilities.


I am rather sorry that the House was unable to pay more close attention to the remarks which have fallen from the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, because he is the first hon. Gentleman in the course of this evening who has risen to give a warmhearted and intelligent defence of the policy of Her Majesty's Government. I wish Her Majesty's Government joy of their solitary supporter, because I am quite unable to arrive at a conclusion as to which was more confusing, more bewildering, or more chaotic—the geography or the strategy of the Chairman of the Brighton Railway. There were one or two remarks, however, which the hon. Member made which enable me, more or less, to bring back the attention of the House to the Question immediately before it. The hon. Member said that he was going to support the Government, and he declared his intention to support the Government because the meaning of the Amendment was to turn out the Government and to go to war with Russia. I have only to remark on the singular discrepancy between Her Majesty's Government and their one isolated supporter, because the Government declared that the Amendment had no meaning whatever, while the hon. Member for Orkney (Mr. Laing) has placed about as strong a construction on it as any Amendment can bear. The hon. Member is partly right and partly wrong. Undoubtedly, the object of the Amendment is to enable right hon. Gentlemen opposite to vacate their seats with a certain amount of grace and dignity; but the meaning of the Amendment is not that; on the contrary, my firm belief is that if the result of the Amendment was to produce a change in the position of both Parties, that would undoubtedly mean peace with Russia. I know that hon. Members opposite have very freely accused us on this, as on other occasions, of being the War Party; but in this they are really allowing themselves to be carried away by an unhappy and unfortunate amount of violent and blinded partizan prejudice. Observe how they totally misconstrue every expression which falls from Members on this side of the House. The hon. Member for the Islands of Orkney (Mr. Laing) and the Chairman of the Brighton Eailway—["Order!"]—well, he is the Chairman of the Brighton Eailway—the hon. Member has stated that I said the other night that the announcement of peace with Russia was "terrible news." I never said anything of the kind. If the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had come down to the House and announced what was likely to be a lasting and durable peace, I should have hailed it with satisfaction, and should have regarded it as joyful news. What I did say was "terrible news" was the surrender to Russia. That is a totally different tiling, and I said it was "terrible news" because I knew that surrender to Russia was the worst possible means of securing a permanent and a durable peace. That, at any rate, was an intelligible and moderate view to take, and it does not justify the accusation so freely hurled against us that because we do not believe in the policy of Her Majesty's Government we are necessarily the War Party in this country. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman will receive any remarks that fall from me without incredulity; but I may say that if I thought the policy of the Government, and the step they announced, were likely to produce a permanent and durable peace with Russia, while securing the safety and prosperity of our Indian Empire, no power on earth would induce me to vote against any step they might have taken. It is really amusing that when we come to mere controversial argument hon. Members opposite accuse us, and the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary never omits an occasion if he can fling in the accusation, of being the War Party. It is absurd to style us the War Party in this country. Who is the war Party in this country? Is not the War Party he who comes down to the House of Commons and makes a speech that resounds from one end of Europe to the other, and is reechoed from Kamshatcka to Constantinople, and after that bellicose speech demands a Vote of Credit for £11,000,000? This is the War Party in this country. What is the position of the Conservative Party? We are opposing the Vote of Credit. We say that your policy and your credit together, your vacillation and your speeches—saying one thing one day and another thing another—will load to the waste of the pecuniary and military resources of the Empire, and that there is only one inevitable result, and that is war with Russia. We who oppose all that say that if the Government were changed, then, undoubtedly, there might be some chance of peace. We are the real Peace Party in this country, and I am not at all sure that that argument, whether it is good enough for the House of Commons or not, will not be good enough for the constituencies throughout the country. The Prime Minister, in the course of the remarks which he made—I was not, I greatly regret, present myself, but my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) has informed me—was very severe upon the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and his Colleagues who sit near him, because they have listened to what he styled "Voices below the Gangway." Has the right hon. Gentleman himself never listened to voices below the Gang- way? Whose voice are the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for War listening to now? Is it the voice of those hon. Members who sit behind him, or the voice of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), who spoke so eloquently to-night? Is that not a voice from below the Gangway, and what is it to determine? It is to determine the utter waste of about £6,000,000 of British capital. I do not know in the least whether the Leaders of the Opposition have listened to voices below the Gangway; but even if they did, it does not lie in the mouth of the Prime Minister to cast taunts against them on that account. I should like to make one or two remarks on the singular speech we have heard to-night from the President of the Board of Trade. The right hon. Gentleman has, I imagine, rather misconceived the nature of Parliamentary debate. He has brought into the House a new notion of Parliamentary debate. I always thought that Parliamentary debate was an affair of argument—one side bringing forward arguments, and the other side meeting them with counter-arguments. But the speech of the President of the Board of Trade, like most of the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman, was made up entirely of reckless assertions, fierce contradictions, and violent denunciations. I listened to the right hon. Gentleman, as I always do, with the utmost attention, and I thought him at times extremely ingenious, and at others forcible and eloquent; but I did not hear one single sentence of solid or valuable argument from the beginning to the end of his speech. The right hon. Gentleman spent an immense amount of time, like the Prime Minister, in criticizing the Resolution of the noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton), on which the House will shortly divide. It is very difficult for an Opposition to frame Resolutions of this kind in such a way as to please the Government of the day. We have a Prime Minister who has had unparalleled experience of Parliamentary life, and who is without doubt the greatest authority on Parliamentary practice of any man who lives, and with confidence I ask the Prime Minister whether, with all his experience, he has ever known the case of a Resolution which, if carried, would turn out the Government, the wording of which, the phrases of which, and the sense of which were agreeable to the Government? The Prime Minister is exceedingly contemptuous as to the wording of this Resolution, and so is the President of the Board of Trade, and so is The Times newspaper, and other ignorant persons. The critics of this Resolution apparently do not seem to understand or know the difference that exists between a Vote of Want of Confidence and a Vote of Censure. A Vote of Censure, which the Government are so dreadfully disappointed at not seeing moved, is a Vote which expresses disapproval of the past conduct of the Government. A Vote of Censure is moved upon Papers when the House is in full possession of everything done by the Government of the day, and everything that is going to be done in the immediate future—in full possession of everything upon which they can formulate a conclusion to be put before the House. The Opposition has not been in a position to bring forward such a Motion. That never has been the position of the Opposition, for the Government, from the day they came into Office, have studiously prevented the Opposition from acquiring at a vital moment that amount of official information which it was absolutely their duty to afford. The Government have continued that process for the five years they have been in Office until we have got tired of it, and therefore we fall back upon an equally Constitutional and an equally Parliamentary method, which is in the nature of a Vote of want of Confidence. Remembering, therefore, all that has passed—not only the past career of the Government since they have been in Office, but in connection with the Russian negotiations—I do not wonder that the noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton), and those with whom he consults and those who support him, have come to the conclusion that the only course open to them, under the present circumstances, was to move a Vote of absolute Want of Confidence in Her Majesty's Government, and that Motion, I venture to say, conveys an expression of want of confidence in the plainest and most contemptuous language. Poritsaysthis—thatuntilHerMa-jesty's Government lay before the House every step which they have taken, up to now, with regard to the negotiations with Russia, in full detail, and every step which they contemplate taking in the negotiations now on foot, those on this side of the House, as far the noble Lord and those who support him are concerned, utterly refuse to grant them one 6d. of the public money. That is as plain, as clear, as simple, and as decisive in its language and result as it is possible to imagine. Well, now, Sir, what does the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade say? He says how monstrous—that was his word—how monstrous is the attitude of the Opposition. "Here you have a Government," he said, "engaged in the most delicate and critical negotiations, and what are you endeavouring to do? You are endeavouring to discredit and weaken that Government." That was the accusation of the right hon. Gentleman; but I thought—"Good Heavens! he is the very last man in all England who should bring such an accusation against the Opposition." I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman what was his political attitude in the year 187G and in the year 1878? What did the right hon. Gentleman or the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Hartington), who will, no doubt, take part in this debate, say when the Government of that day were engaged in negotiations equally or even more critical? The negotiations now going on might result in a war between Russia and England as to Central Asia; but the negotiations the late Government were carrying on at the time I refer to might have involved a European War. May I ask what their attitude was at that time when we were engaged in critical and delicate negotiations? What was the attitude of the Prime Minister himself? Did he not stump England from end to end? Did he not endeavour—and with much success—to raise the whole country and weaken and embarrass the Government of the Queen at a moment of the utmost delicacy? Heaven forbid that I should blame the right hon. Gentleman, or pass any criticism upon him for the course he then pursued. What was he aiming at? He said he was aiming at freedom and liberty and civilization all over the world: and will you not give us credit for sincerity if we are prepared to give you credit for the sincerity of your proceedings in 1870 and in 1878? Will you not give us credit for our attempts to do a great work in India, and for our dread of the immeasurable peril to which that great work is now being exposed by the policy you are now pursuing and the pusillanimous surrender to Russia which marks your daily life? Surely there should be a reciprocity in these matters. I say it is not fair for the Prime Minister and the President of the Board of Trade to denounce the Opposition now, because, after having borne a great deal more than right hon. Gentlemen opposite bore when in the same position, they say—"We have no longer any confidence whatever in you, and utterly refuse to grant you Supplies in Parliament." I remember that great speech of the Prime Minister in the Corn Exchange, at Oxford, in which he said he had rested neither night nor day, but had worked for one purpose, and one purpose only, and that was to thwart the policy of his rivals. I confess, openly, the object of this Motion. We do not conceal it, although I do not suppose we are likely to convince the stolid minds of hon. Members opposite; but although we are not likely to get a majority, there is no concealment about it whatever. The object of the Motion is to take the conduct of those delicate and critical negotiations altogether out of the hands of the Prime Minister and the present Advisers of the Crown. There was something extraordinary in the anxiety displayed by the Prime Minister to postpone the debate. I was never more struck with anything in my life. I suppose there is nobody who has a more profound knowledge of, Parliamentary tactics than the Prime Minister, or who has better information, from hour to hour, of the state of the mind of the House. Now, what could be more alluring, more satisfactory, and more strengthening to the right hon. Gentleman than that he should gain a great Party victory in the House of Commons at the present moment? Why, it would give the Government enormous additional strength in their negotiations with Russia, to show that they had the confidence of the House of Commons, and it would strengthen them greatly in the country. But what was the condition of the Prime Minister at that Table? He got up in the most meek and mild manner, and appealed to the Opposition, for Heaven's sake! not to continue this debate to-night. He asked us not to do so in our own interests. "The result," he said, "will be disastrous to yourselves, and I earnestly advise you to postpone this discussion to a more convenient season." I am ready to swallow a great deal; but I really cannot believe in the sincerity of the Prime Minister's affection for Her Majesty's Opposition. I cannot help thinking that if the right hon. Gentleman was going to be supported to-night by an overwhelming majority, such as housed to command in the early days of this Administration, he would not be so anxious that we should abandon our position. ["Divide!"] I am not going to detain the House. I feel that the House has often shown me the greatest possible kindness and indulgence, and I will endeavour not to trespass upon that indulgence. But the Prime Minister said, in his opening remarks—"Why should the Opposition continue to go on tonight with this Vote?" He said—"There is absolutely no difference between us." I thought that was the most courageous of all the Prime Minister's assertions. Every single point of difference which any man, with the utmost ingenuity, can imagine to exist between two persons or two Parties exists between ourselves and the Government. We have had occasion, at several separate times during this Parliament, to move Votes of Censure, and although, in no instance, has a Vote of Censure been passed, they have all of them been supported by a very large number of the Members of the House of Commons. They have not been frivolous Votes, repudiated by the general sense of the House. On the contrary, the majorities of the Government against such Motions have steadily decreased, while the minorities in support of them have steadily increased—so much so, that whereas the majority for the Government on the occasion of the Vote of Censure in regard to the evacuation of Candahar was no less than 120, the Ministerial majority on the occasion of the Vote of Censure, after the fall of Khartoum, had sunk to no more than 14. This is a very encouraging history of Votes of Censure, and I think that every such Vote that has been moved in this House has carried with it a very large body of public opinion. Therefore, when the Prime Minister gets up and says that there is no point of difference between us on this side of the House and Her Majesty's Government, I think he altogether forgets that an enormous difference has been regularly displayed, not only in the House but in the Lobby. I could not help being amused when I heard of the proposed evacuation of the Soudan today. Never, in the whole history of Parliament, did a Minister in the position of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) make a statement about public policy which excited so much derision in this House. The noble Marquess was, as he always is, dignified and deliberate; but all his dignity and deliberation did not prevent a ripple of laughter from running through the House from end to end. The most remarkable feature of the statement, to my mind, was that the noble Marquess was able to keep his countenance while he made it. However, I thought I might congratulate the Government upon the evacuation of the Soudan, because that was the policy which I endeavoured, in my humble way, to recommend a short time ago. Curiously enough, this morning I was reading a review in The Times of the Home Letters of the Earl of Beaconsfield, and what fell from the noble Marquess this evening reminded me marvellously of what I read in that review. The Prime Minister has evacuated the Soudan, and I and the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) and some others congratulated him upon it. The Earl of Beaconsfield, it appears, went many years ago to Constantinople, and he has written a description in one of these letters of an interview he had with a very celebrated Minister—Eeschid Pasha. There had recently been a great insurrection in Albania which had been put down by the Turks. This is the Earl of Beacons-field's account of the interview— I bowed with all the nonchalance of St. James's Street to a little, ferocious-looking, shrivelled, careworn man, plainly dressed, with a brow covered with wrinkles and a countenance clouded with anxiety and thought. I seated myself on the divan of the Grand Vizier ('who,' the Austrian Consul observed, 'had destroyed in the course of the last three months in war upwards of 4,000 of my acquaintances ') with the self-possession of a morning call. Our conversation I need not repeat. We congratulated him on the pacification of Albania. He rejoined that the peace of the world was his only object, and the happiness of mankind his only wish. I thought to myself when I read those words—" There, on the Treasury Bench, in the person of the First Minister of the Crown sits the resuscitated Reschid Pasha." The House will gather from the few remarks which I have ventured to address to it that it is my intention to vote in support of the noble Lord's Re-solution. In conclusion, I will give some reasons why I support that Resolution; and in order that these reasons may be weighty, conclusive, and overpowering with hon. Gentlemen opposite, I will proceed to give them in the words of a great contemporary statesman who went down to Glasgow in 1880 and addressed an enormous audience in the Free Trade Hall on the then state of the country. The right hon. Gentleman to whom I allude said— What is the general upshot? Let us look at it together. I will use the fewest words. We have finance in confusion; we have legislation in intolerable arrear; we have public distress, aggravated by the destruction of confidence; we have Russia aggrandized, and yet estranged; we have Turkey befriended as we say, but mutilated and sinking every day; we have Europe restless and disturbed, agitated from end to end with rumours and alarms; we have the invasion of a free people in the Transvaal; we have, I fear, in one quarter or another, prospects of further disturbance and shedding of blood. We have Afghanistan ruined; we have India not advanced but thrown back in government, subjected to heavy and unjust charges; and with all this we have at home the law broken and the rights of Parliament invaded. Well, Sir, then the right hon. Gentleman, who I now inform the House was the First Minister of the Crown, went on to say in most beautiful language— Is this the way or is it not the way in which a free nation wishes to be governed? Will the people in a few months hence ratify the deeds that have been done and assume upon themselves that tremendous responsibility? I cherish the hope that I may be able to bear home with me at least this consolation that I have spared no effort to mark the points at which the roads divide—the one path which plunges into suffering, discredit, and dishonour; the other which slowly, perhaps, but surely, leads a free and a high-minded people towards the blessed ends of prosperity and justice, of liberty and peace. Now, that was at the time a statement of fact. It was more than a statement of fact—anyone can make a statement of fact. It was a prophesy I venture to say exceeding in miraculousness anything which can be found in Holy Writ. It describes, word for word, not a syllable of which can you shake, the political position of our country at the present day, and it is in testimony of my admiration for the prophetical powers of the First Minister of the Crown that I shall support the noble Lord.


Mr. Speaker—Sir, the speech of the noble Lord reminds us that although there are at the present time subjects for anxiety and great public care, there was a period not very long ago when, according to the noble Lord, the state of public affairs was accurately described by the words of the very competent authority he has cited; and, Sir, when the noble Lord appeals to the judgment which was then, and will now shortly be, passed by the country upon the condition of public affairs and the policy which led to that condition, we shall be content, as we were at that time, to accept the judgment of the people, believing that the judgment will ratify and approve the conduct of this Administration as effectually as it then condemned the conduct of our Predecessors. The noble Lord said at the beginning of his speech that he intended to bring the attention of the House to the Question which is immediately before it. Sir, I felt great satisfaction in listening to that announcement of the noble Lord, because I confess I have failed in the course of the debate in discovering precisely what is the question presented to us in the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) on which we are asked to vote. But I am not certain that the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), in the course of his interesting observations, has contributed very much to the object which he said he had in view. The noble Lord said that the result of carrying this Amendment would be, not war with Russia, but the establishment of peace with Russia. But the noble Lord was absolutely silent upon the means which were to be adopted by himself and his Friends for the accomplishment of that important result. When the noble Lord proved or attempted to prove, as he did the other night, that there was no confidence to be placed in any assurance made by the Russian Government, that there is no use in coming to any agreement with Russia or in making any Convention with Russia; and when the noble Marquess the Leader of the Op- position in "another place" gives to the Russian Government the alternative of being considered swindlers or bankrupts—when this sort of language is applied to the policy of the Russian Government and the policy of Her Majesty's Government, then, Sir, I say that it requires something more than the bare assertion of the noble Lord and his Friends to show that the adoption of this Motion and the placing of their Party in power is an infallible means of securing peace. The noble Lord has told us that this is not a Vote of Censure, but a Vote of Want of Confidence, and he says that the Vote of Want of Confidence is eminently justified by the refusal which upon this and other occasions Her Majesty's Government have made to grant to the House adequate or, indeed, any information. The noble Lord says Her Majesty's Government have studiously, during the past five years, abstained from giving to this House at critical moments information to which it was entitled, and that a Vote of Censure can only be pronounced upon information in the possession of the House. But the noble Lord will admit that it is a most remarkable circumstance that, notwithstanding that absence of information, and notwithstanding that state of ignorance and darkness in which the noble Lord says that he and his Friends are kept, they have not abstained from moving Votes of Censure. They have moved no less than seven Votes of Censure during the present Parliament on the conduct of Her Majesty's Government. Well, Sir, I find it rather hard to reconcile the complaint of the noble Lord that the Opposition had suffered from want of information with their conduct in this matter. The noble Lord has compared the conduct of those who were in Opposition in 1878 with the conduct of the present Opposition. Sir, in my opinion, there is a radical difference between the position occupied by the Opposition in 1878 and that in which we now stand. In 1878 we complained of the absence of sufficient information; but we knew enough, or thought we knew enough, to form an opinion entirely adverse to the action of Her Majesty's Government at the time. We did not complain that they wore pursuing ends of which we approved by a course which we thought was wrong; but we took issue, both on the ends they were pursuing and on the course they were following in order to attain those ends; and, therefore, we endeavoured and had no alternative but to withhold the means by which alone that policy could be carried into effect. But what is the position taken by the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex when he objects to the policy of Her Majesty's Government? The noble Lord does not disapprove the evacuation of the Soudan; he does not, I imagine, disapprove the endeavour to establish in a more secure and firm manner than has hitherto been possible the definition of the frontiers of Afghanistan that we are bound to respect, and I do not think that he and his Friends disapprove the method by which we are endeavouring-to carry out the operation. But I admit that this does not constitute approval of that policy; in my opinion, it constitutes neither approval nor disapproval on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite. But the disapproval of these methods cannot be fairly and intelligibly brought forward until the noble Lord and his Friends have before them the materials on which to form a judgment and frame a case for the refusal of Supplies for the purpose of carrying out the policy of Her Majesty's Government. Well, Sir, I think we are entitled, before this debate closes, to know what is the actual meaning and object of the Amendment which has been moved by the noble Lord on the Front Opposition Bench. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock has acknowledged that in his opinion it means a direct refusal of Supplies. I doubt very much whether the right hon. Baronet the Leader of the Opposition, who may perhaps take part in this debate, will support that statement; but certainly, if that be the intention of the Amendment, it is drawn in a most remarkable manner, because it takes particular pains to recite that the House and the Opposition has already shown its willingness to grant Supplies, and that appears to me to be totally inconsistent with the assertion of the noble Lord that it is the intention—that it is the duty—of the Opposition to refuse Supplies to Her Majesty's Government until they have received more adequate information, or as long as Her Majesty's present Advisers remain in power. I think it is perfectly clear, from the views which the noble Lord has advocated to-night and advocated before, that it is his intention to withhold Supplies. Although he has not seen the Papers, and has not information enough to enable him to form an opinion that Her Majesty's Government have made what he calls a surrender to Russia, on that ground he is prepared to withhold all confidence from the Government, and, if he deems it necessary, to refuse all means for carrying on the Government at all. But I can conceive that right hon. Gentlemen opposite who are more prudent or less bold than the noble Lord are not prepared to commit themselves to the opinion that Her Majesty's Government have made a surrender to Russia, at all events, until they have gone through the form of examining the Papers that will in a few days be presented to Parliament in relation to the question between the two Governments. The noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton), who moved this Amendment, gave us an opportunity of testing the value of his criticisms on our conduct. The noble Lord said that he had himself always opposed the policy of advancing to Khartoum. But immediately after he sat down he was reminded by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade that he had had an opportunity, not long ago, of giving effect to those opinions, when the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) brought forward his Amendment which was directed against the policy of the advance on Khartoum. Did the noble Lord support that Amendment? No; he voted directly against it; and more than that, ho voted for an Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman who sits beside him, which stated that it was the duty of Her Majesty's Government not only to advance on Khartoum, but to establish a stable Government in Egypt, and in such portions of the Soudan as were necessary for the security of Egypt. Is the noble Lord going to say that that Amendment did not mean that we were to establish a stable Government in Khartoum? I ask him to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman sitting near him. The right hon. Baronet the Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) distinctly said, on that occasion, that we ought to hold the Nile at least as far as Khartoum, establish a stable Government there, and put a stop to the Slave Trade. Well, Sir, that was the policy which the noble Lord voted for only a few weeks ago, and now the noble Lord comes forward and says that he never approved the policy of going to Khartoum.


I moved an Amendment.


But the noble Lord voted against the Amendment of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley).


The Government insisted on having the Question put. I had an Amendment on the Paper which gave expression not only to the views of hon. Members on this side of the House, but to those of some hon. Members opposite, and I could not move that Amendment in the circumstances. I voted with the Government in order that I might propose my own.


I sympathize with the noble Lord in the position in which he finds himself. It is really extremely unfortunate that he was prevented by the Forms of the House from giving his vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Newcastle, with whom he agreed, and that, by the exigency of those Forms, he was obliged to vote directly against it. But I do not suppose that the noble Lord will deny that he voted for the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devon shire (Sir Stafford North cote) for the establishment of a settled Government in Egypt, and such part of the Soudan as might be necessary for the security of Egypt. Then I think we are entitled to ask the noble Lord, and as many as share that opinion with him, what Her Majesty's Government are to be censured for so far as that policy is concerned, and why the confidence of Parliament is to be withdrawn from us? Is it because we were going to Khartoum, or because of our reversing that policy? We have not yet been told by any hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench opposite—or, indeed, by any hon. Member—whether the ground on which the confidence of Parliament is to be withdrawn from us is the original intention, or the abandonment of that intention. If it is on the first ground, then I submit that the Opposition is equally responsible with us. All the Motions of right hon. Gentlemen opposite pledged us to do what we proposed to do, or something more. If the confidence of Parliament is to be withdrawn from us for reversing that policy, then we wait to hear whether the Opposition is in favour of continuing that policy, and what arguments they have to put forward in support of that view. The noble Lord made some observations upon the announcement of our intention to "smash up the Mahdi," and lie spoke of our having murdered 10,000 men. Sir, I deny that that is a fair description, or an accurate description, of the military operations which have taken place up to the present time. The greater part of the fighting which has taken place, and which has been referred to by the noble Lord, has been fighting in the neighbourhood of Suakin. However much we may regret the loss of life, both with regard to our own troops and our gallant enemy, the fighting was altogether justified, irrespective of any intention on our part to advance to Khartoum. We said, at the time of the recent debate on the Vote of Want of Confidence, that Lord Wolseley told us—and surely we ought to have been guided by his opinion—that whether we advanced on Khartoum, or decided that our troops should be concentrated on the Nile, it was necessary for the security of our Army that an Expedition should be sent to Suakin, and that the power of Osman Digna should be broken. Surely it was a justifiable object, and was not to be designated as murder, to undertake military operations which we are told by the General in command he considers to be essential for the safety of our own Force. More than that, I endeavoured to show this afternoon that the operations in the neighbourhood of Suakin were not wholly of an offensive character, but that they were operations necessary from a defensive point of view. Hon. Members may question, if they like, the policy of the retention of Suakin at all; but I have not heard anyone do that except the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley). Hon. Members opposite do not tell us that we ought to abandon Suakin. If we are to remain at Suakin, surely it is not an indefensible operation to shoot our enemy when he attacks us, and to issue forth to destroy his power of concentration and of attacking us again. I maintain that, however much these operations are to be regretted, and however painful may be some of the incidents by which they have been accompanied, they were defensible from a military point of view, altogether irrespective of any intention formed and subsequently relinquished on the part of the Government to advance on Khartoum and destroy the power of the Mahdi there. The noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton) said the declaration I had to make this afternoon was the most astounding declaration he had ever heard from this Bench. I cannot imagine what the noble Lord can have found astounding in it, after the declaration which was made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on the 21st of April. On the 21st of April it was announced, apparently with general acquiescence on the part of the House, that the Vote of Credit which was then laid on the Table did not provide for any immediate advance on Khartoum, or for the undertaking of further offensive operations. That declaration has certainly not been much criticized by Members of the Opposition. Do hon. Members think that that was a reasonable and natural declaration of policy to make? Do they think it an astounding declaration that the Government do not mean to keep 9,000 of our soldiers in scattered positions extending for 600 miles on the River Nile? It seems to me that when the House accepted quietly the declaration of my right hon. Friend, there was nothing astounding in the announcement I had to make to-day. Well, the noble Lord wound up his indictment of the Government by telling us it was on account of the imminence and magnitude of the danger which threatened the interests of this country that he moved the Resolution—that he moved this Resolution in order to resist a fatal step on the part of the Government. Is he going to do that by a Resolution which merely asks for information? We are entitled to ask what is the real meaning of his Resolution. Is it, as bas been said by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), the expression of an intention to refuse Supplies under any circumstances to this Government; or is it what it professes to be—merely a demand for information, reciting at the same time the willingness of the Opposition, as already displayed, to provide the necessary Supplies? The House will, perhaps, let me say one or two words in explanation of the change of policy in the Soudan which has recently been adopted by Her Majesty's Government. The House will recollect that when the announcement was made of the intention to provide means for our troops to advance to Khartoum, and smash the power of the Mahdi there, it was said that that resolution had been come to upon the certain state of facts that were then before us. But I venture to submit to the House that the state of facts that then existed is totally different from the present state of facts. We know that Khartoum had then just fallen, and in the opinion of almost everyone an enormous impulse had been given to the power of the Mahdi. It was believed by many—I think by almost all—that the power of the Mahdi, which he had always asserted to be an aggressive power, for he had over and over again expressed the intention of overrunning Egypt, would be enormously strengthened by the success he had achieved at Khartoum. We had reason to believe that the position of a portion of Lord Wolseley's Army was by no means secure, and as has been already explained by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Trevelyan), we believed that we were bound to place means at Lord Wolseley's disposal which would enable him to take a vigorous offensive position. That decision, as was stated by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Trevelyan), was due to military rather than to political considerations. At that time Lord wolseley required to know from us—as he had a perfect right to know—what our plans with regard to the Soudan were; and the (question he put to us was whether our intentions were such as to justify him in taking up a vigorous offensive position of advance, or in taking up a position of retreat. Well, Sir, upon the state of facts then before us, it appeared to us that the best policy was to tell Lord Wolseley he was justified in taking those measures of advance which he might think necessary. But what happened? At the time it was Lord Wolseley's intention to retain in its position at Gubat his advanced guard, that another column—that which started out under Gen eralEarle—should advance by the Nile River, and that the two forces should co-operate for the capture of Berber. For a considerable time after the fall of Khartoum Lord Wolseley believed it would be in his power, in the course of the present spring, to take Berber, and that it would be from Berber that the advance on Khartoum would be made. But for reasons into which I need not now go—for purely military reasons, reasons connected with the difficulty of obtaining supplies, the difficulty of obtaining transport across the desert—theseopera-tions were found by Lord Wolseley to be impracticable. Notwithstanding the freedom of action which we gave him, he was compelled—I do not blame Lord Wolseley in the slightest degree, for I have no doubt the measures he took were necessary measures, and did not reflect the slightest discredit either upon himself or those under his command—acting upon his own discretion, and not upon compulsion from us, Lord Wolseley was compelled to abandon the execution of those projects which he had intended to carry out when he asked for our authority; and he was obliged to take up a defensive position, a still more defensive position than that which he had contemplated. Well, Sir, is there no difference in the circumstances of an advance being made from Korti, or from Berber, and an advance which would now have to be made from Dongola? And then, Sir, what has recently taken place has thrown great light upon the necessity for any advance upon Khartoum. At the time to which I refer we had every reason to suppose that the fall of Khartoum would be followed by an advance in force of the Mahdi—an advance on Egypt itself. It has been attended with no such result. The Mahdi has shown no disposition to attack the retreating Forces of Lord Wolseley. Ho has shown no disposition to advance on Egypt. On the contrary, the fact that he is no longer opposed by a foreign enemy does not seem to have given him additional strength: he appears to be in considerable difficulties, and it is perfectly possible that his power has of late greatly diminished. The Government were very properly induced to reconsider the decision which was arrived at under totally different circumstances, and altogether irrespective of those considerations which a few weeks ago made it only too probable that the whole of our troops would be required for service in other parts of the world. Was there nothing in those considerations themselves to induce us to reconsider the determination at which we had arrived with regard to the Soudan? I admit that there were other considerations which weighed with us. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devon shire (Sir Stafford North-cote), in his speech in the debate upon the Vote of Censure, pressed upon us very strongly the im policy of going to Khartoum unless we saw our way to establish a settled government there as a result of the advance. We are not altogether indifferent to this fact; and further consideration and further experience does not strengthen the belief that an advance upon Khartoum would be attended by the establishment of any settled or permanent government in that place. Well, Sir, we have now been for some time in the occupation of the Valley of the Nile and the Province of Dongola, or what is called the Province of Dongola; and after the experience we have had, I am not aware that we could maintain any permanent or settled government even there unless we supported it by a large British Force. I shall not detain the House by any further observations on the policy of the Government in the Soudan, neither will I detain the House by a discussion of our policy in Afghanistan; there would be no advantage in doing so, because I feel that this debate will settle nothing, and will conclude nothing, but will only be renewed when the House is in possession of more complete and full information. The noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) spoke with considerable inaccuracy of a demand which we had made to the Russian Government for reparation. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister never, as far as I am aware, used the word "reparation." He said over and over again that, in his opinion, there was cause for preparation. The noble Lord, with his usual accuracy, has mistaken the word "preparation" for a demand for reparation. The noble Lord says this is to be a sham arbitration. How is it possible for the noble Lord or his Friends, with any show of common fairness or a judicial spirit, to pronounce an opinion as to the character of the arbitration before they see what the negotiations are which have taken place on the subject, or for what object the arbitration has been proposed? The noble Lord speaks of the inequality of the treatment of General Komaroff and General Lumsden. Does the noble Lord wish it to be believed that General Komaroff and General Lumsden were in similar positions? Does the noble Lord think that there was no difference between the position of General Komaroff, in command of a large Russian Force, and of General Lumsden, who was employed on a purely Civil Mission? The attempt to establish a similarity of positions between General Komaroff and General Lumsden is an attempt to place the latter in a position which he never held, and which it would be extremely wrong to induce anyone to suppose ho ever did hold. General Lumsden was not in command of the Afghans who were defeated. General Lumsden was not directing the movements of Afghan troops; and, therefore, the attempt to establish any similarity between hi3 position and General Komaroff's is an attempt to establish a comparison which is perfectly fallacious and misleading. An hon. Member—I think it was the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin)—inquired this evening if General Lumsden's recall was made at the request of the Government of Russia. Sir, I cannot allow one moment to pass without saying that neither directly nor indirectly has any demand or any suggestion been made for the recall, if you like to call it so, of Sir Peter Lumsden by the Russian Government. The noble Lord asks what guarantees we have obtained from Russia that she will not advance upon Herat. How is it possible that we can discuss with any advantage to the public, or any completeness, questions such as that when the Papers are not before us? Sir, the anxiety of the Opposition to discuss these questions, and to endeavour to get a decision upon them when they have no information before them, when they know they will have full information before them in a very few days, is somewhat remarkable, and somewhat calculated to lead one to suppose that they are thinking more of obtaining a Party advantage over the Government than of getting at the facts of the case.

It is said that we have gained nothing in the negotiations that have taken place with Russia. It is impossible that the House can form an opinion on that subject also until they see what has been the course of the negotiations, and what has been the result. If we have succeeded in establishing a settled and definite frontier of the dominions of our Ally, the Ameer, whom we are pledged to defend, instead of having, as we have had up to the present time, an indefinite and unknown frontier, I think we have done something. The hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) taunted us by saying we had an Ally in the Ameer of Afghanistan who would not allow us to march through his dominions. Well, Sir, if a result of these negotiations and transactions should be that the first act of the Ameer, on his return to Cabul, was to send an invitation to British officers to visit Herat and put that place in a state of defence, I think that will be something gained, and will show that our relations with the Ameer are improved by these proceedings.


Is that in the official Papers?


Perhaps the noble Lord will wait and see. I say that this Amendment, moved by the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton), is a vague and indefinite one. It is one which cannot by any possibility do any good. It may be that the Amendment is moved with the object of overthrowing the Government, but the noble Lord knows very well that that is not a likely result. If it has not that result it can settle nothing. It can only give an appearance of dissension all over the world; it can only proclaim to the world, what I am afraid is the fact, that even in a time of crisis, through which we have not yet altogether passed, there exists here a Party that prefers the prospect of damaging and injuring the Government, even in the absence of full information, to presenting to the world at large a firm and united front.


At this hour I will not detain the House more than a few minutes; but it is necessary for me to take notice of the observations of the noble Marquess and others who have spoken in this debate with regard to the Amendment put down by my noble Friend the Member for Mid- dlesex (Lord George Hamilton). We have been asked what is the meaning and nature of the Amendment which we have heard spoken of as a Vote of Censure, and we have heard described as a Vote of Want of Confidence. We have also heard it pointed out, very truly, that if such a Motion were carried it might have a peculiar effect upon the existence of Her Majesty's Government. But the particular object with which this Motion was put on the Paper is to be found in the terms of the Motion itself—upon the face of the Motion. It is a demand that before we proceed further in granting Supplies of an extraordinary character we shall have adequate information of the present policy of the Government. I lay stress upon the "present" policy, because it is upon that that the whole matter turns. The Government have so many policies, and the position they are taking up now is so different from that of a week or a fortnight ago, that it is incumbent upon us to demand from them an adequate definition of their policy. I can congratulate my noble Friend on having at least attained this object—that he has drawn forth from the Government promises of the production of Papers, and of some statement with regard to certain points of detail, at an earlier period than we had any reason to anticipate. I appeal to the memory of hon. Members whether we have not found the Government exceedingly reticent in regard to information on this subject; and, therefore, I hope there will be an early production of information. If it were a question of our wanting information with a view of founding on it some charge or censure upon Her Majesty's Government—if that had been all we were looking to—our conduct might have been open to some of the remarks which have been made upon it; but that is not the main object, or certainly not the only object, which we have in view in making this demand. We feel that we are in a position of such importance and of such a peculiar character that it is incumbent upon us, before it is too late, to ascertain what are the motives, the feelings, and the intentions of the Government with regard to the two very important questions which are connected together in this Vote they ask the House to pass. We have been asked to do that which it is a very common thing to do—we have been asked at the beginning of the financial year, when the natural Estimates ought to be framed with a view to the probable expectation and needs of the year, to come forward and vote a large sum as a Vote of Credit to the Government with respect to certain preparations for certain services which they have in view. We were asked to vote a sum of unparalleled size for that purpose. But that is not by any means the most remarkable part of the transaction. We were asked to give that large Vote—I may almost say without any explanation, at all events with a very meagre explanation, of the circumstances in which it was required, and with an observation of the most remarkable character—namely, that there were bound together in one Vote two services which appeared to be entirely distinct. We were asked to give that Vote not only for services in the Soudan, but also in respect of events that were likely to arise on the borders of Afghanistan and in connection with Central Asia. Why these two services were put together might not at first sight appear to be very obvious; but when we came to consider the matter we saw that they were, and are, very closely connected together—that they are closely connected with what I may call the most vital of all foreign questions for this country—I mean the protection of our Indian Empire. One of those Votes was asked with reference to what seemed the possibility of a direct attack upon that Empire, and the other Vote was asked with reference to services undertaken in Egypt which had for their object the protection of the communications with our Indian Dominions. When the two were put together, they were put together in a most remarkable manner. We were asked to supply large sums of money for special preparations; but we were told also that it was important, with regard to the Vote for the Soudan—and this was really the key to the Resolution that was proposed—that the troops and the forces of the Empire, wherever they might be, and especially those which were in Egypt, might be held available for service wherever they were required. And it was quite clear at the time that the speech of the Prime Minister, to which reference has so often been made, was delivered, that the point which he was anxious to press upon the House was this—that whatever may be the re- quirements of our Forces in the Soudan, however important may be the services for the defence of Egypt, there are other matters of such vital importance which may lead to transactions of such magnitude that you must be prepared to set aside what you may be called upon to do in Egypt, and to subordinate it to what you may be called upon to do elsewhere. And it was in consequence of that appeal and of the remarkable manner in which it was put forward, and in consequence also of the solemn and very marked tone in which we were invited to make this Vote, that the House at once, unanimously, and without a single word of objection, voted this large sum. Well, but very shortly after we had done that we began to hear that there were changes in the situation, and after a time we were told that the immediate pressure upon us in regard to the special preparations is somewhat relaxed, and that there is a hope and probability of that sum not being needed altogether for the purposes which at first were indicated. But then arises the point, what is to be done in regard to the other part of the question? We were told a good deal of what was the policy of the Government in the Soudan in the early part of the Session. A fortnight ago we were asked to lay that matter aside for a time and to regard it as an entirely subordinate matter, and to substitute for it a policy that would put all the Forces at the disposal of Her Majesty's Government to be used wherever they are required. When that need seemed to have passed away we were anxious to know, and it was right that we should know, what the policy of the Government was with regard to their peculiar conduct of affairs in the Soudan; and it became necessary for us to press for information on that subject, because we cannot but say that the conduct and the course pursued by the Government have been open to the greatest objection on account of their uncertainty. The noble Marquess who has just sat down made some remarks about what he thought was the inconsistency of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) in respect of the vote which he gave in February last, and in respect of the language which he used to-night. There is no inconsistency in the result at all. The noble Marquess opposite takes up a point which will not bear examination when he says that my noble Friend voted against the Motion of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley). He did so for the purpose of clearing the way, and of enabling himself to propose another Resolution which was a direct Vote of Want of Confidence in the Government. But, however that may be, whatever may be the inconsistency charged against my noble Friend, it is as nothing compared with the inconsistencies of the Government with regard to this question of going to Khartoum. "What is the policy of Her Majesty's Government? A year ago, when discussing the question of the Vote of Censure with regard to the Soudan policy of the Government, the right hon. Baronet the President of the Local Government Board (Sir Charles W. Dilke), who then took a leading part in the discussion, referred to General Gordon's opinion that it was necessary to smash up the power of the Mahdi, and he referred to it for the purpose of saying that he entirely dissented from that opinion, and that it would be madness to adopt it. But a few months after that time the Prime Minister came forward and said that that policy which his Colleagues had denounced as madness to adopt was the policy which the Government were going to pursue—that was the policy which ho told us in February last the Government had adopted, and according to which they desired Lord Wolseley should frame his proceedings. Now, again, we find that the Government have taken another turn round, and adopted a wholly different view with regard to the policy of advancing on Khartoum. But they do not give us all the information we want. We want to know how far they have a decided policy with regard to Egypt and the Soudan? They do not tell us. The noble Marquess has been good enough to give us some general information to-night. He has told the House of some general views they have with regard the Suakin Railway, the Nile Railway, what is to be the position of the troops for a certain time, and that in some indefinite future Suakin is to be handed over to some other civilized Power; and he has told us something about making commercial railways in Egypt should they bethought desirable. Now, I would ask hon. Gen- tlemen whether, after listening to the statement of the noble Marquess, they can feel the slightest confidence as to what is going to happen in the Soudan? It is over and over again the same story. The Government make certain declarations; then those declarations lead to acts which take them on and on, and you do not know when and where they are to be brought to an end. The policy of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley)is simple and plain enough. We may not approve of it, but we understand it. We understand that he desires to withdraw from Suakin and from the Soudan. That, however, is not the policy of the Government. The policy they adopt is a sort of stop-gap policy, and which, in consequence of a fresh movement of the Mahdi or of Osman Digna, may have to be changed and altogether upset. We complain that we are not furnished with sufficient information, and when we are asked to vote no less a sum than £4,500,000 we have a right—and should have exercised it under ordinary circumstances—to obtain a full account of what the Government are going to do with it. It is no answer to say—"What do you think we ought to do?" They are the responsible Ministers; they have all the information and knowledge of the circumstances; and they ought, at least, to give us an intelligible and definite policy, and one which they are prepared to justify and support. That is, I think, an important consideration, which operates as a full justification, for the Motion which my noble Friend has placed on the Paper. But it is a consideration, after all, that pales in importance when compared with another. It is all very well to say}', as the hon. Member for Orkney (Mr. Laing) told us just now, that the policy of the Opposition is to get into Office and declare war against Russia. Nothing could be more absurd than such a view as that. It would be the policy of the Opposition to endeavour to bring about such a settlement of the question of our North-Western Frontier as would reduce to a minimum and put, if possible, altogether out of sight, all chance of war with Russia. But what we say and what we complain of is that if you leave things as they now stand you run the danger of finding yourself—as we did the other day, according to the declaration of the Prime Minister—

within measurable distance of being engaged in hostilities with Russia—and engaged in hostilities with Russia in the most inconvenient form that can be imagined. We have heard what was said and thought by great men in past times under very different circumstances, when there was a distance of 1,000 miles or 2,000 miles between the Frontier of Afghanistan and the nearest Russian Possessions, and it was reasonable enough to suppose that the advance of the Russians would stop short of the frontier. But the Russians are now on the frontier, and you are in the position of being under obligations to the Ameer, some more or less definite, which may render it necessary for you to take part, at a most inconvenient time, in a quarrel between the Ameer and the Government of Russia. What do we hear is taking place? We are told that negotiations are going on which have nearly arrived at a satisfactory result, which will enable us to settle all important questions between us and Russia. That may be so; but there has of late been a habit on the part of the Government of taking up some minute and isolated points, and, when these have been settled, to treat everything as settled. The right hon. Gentleman laid enormous stress on the Penjdeh incident, and he seemed to think that the whole question at issue was whether there had been a misunderstanding on the part of one Power or the other which had led to that incident. He appeared to think that the whole question turned on this, and when a mode of arranging that point was arrived at—namely, by arbitration—he treated the entire matter as settled, and as if we had only to consider the delimitation of the frontier. But there is a great deal more beyond this. We have to get into proper relations with the Ameer. I remember so long ago as 1872, when we had a discussion in this House in regard to the proposal of a neutral zone, and I remember expressing the opinion that it would be a great danger to have to maintain a buffer State between such great Powers as England and Russia. What I argued then, as I argue now, is that you place yourselves in a most dangerous position if you place a buffer State, as it is called, between such great Powers as England and Russia. Therefore, what I say is this. There are three things you want.

In the first place—and in this I think every hon. Member will agree with me—you want to strengthen your position in India and to improve your means of communication with your own frontier; secondly, you want to have a proper and clear arrangement with the Ameer of Afghanistan, which will not bind you in any inconvenient way to support him when it is impossible to do so, but which will enable you to give him proper assistance in the way of arms and ammunition and money, or in whatever else he may be in want, on condition that he gives you, in return, certain facilities of access to important points in case of necessity; and, thirdly, you ought to have a clear agreement—a clear Treaty with Russia, in which it should be laid down, in the most unmistakable manner, where the points are to which Russia may come, and beyond which she cannot be permitted to come, and that any advance by her beyond those points shall be considered by you as a casus belli. A system founded on these three principles, with a reasonable administration, ought to preserve you from any dangers in that quarter. There is no doubt that the circumstances of India are greatly affected by these last advances of the Russians. The great "silver streak" of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke has been swept away, and you have been brought almost in conterminous lines with another great Power, and when you are brought in conterminous lines no doubt heavy claims may be made upon you. We are most anxious with regard to these three points, and we feel that it is absolutely necessary that they should be pressed upon Her Majesty's Government while there is yet time, and that Her Majesty's Government should endeavour to make arrangements which will secure the objects which we have in view. Now, Sir, I do not think the discussion of such a subject, in this House, is one of a factious character, or one that ought to be repudiated with contempt or indignation. It is a contribution, on our part, to the great question of the protection of our Indian Possessions and Empire; and what I say is that if we can bring about any settlement of the question that would impart confidence, and if the Government could establish a system such as I have pointed out, which would show that we are prepared for any eventuality, they would do more than by any amount of expenditure of troops or money. What is so mischievous is the constant apprehension, the constant rumours, the constant uncertainties and alarms that are spread about, sometimes from high quarters, sometimes from commercial centres, sometimes from bazaars, sometimes from we know not where—rumours of a disturbing character, and of an alarmist character—which are calculated to disturb and alarm the people. And I venture to say that some of the language used by the Prime Minister himself has had somewhat too much of that alarmist character. I think that that speech he made to us, under ail the circumstances, considering what we now know, when he moved the Vote of Credit, was of an unnecessarily alarmist character. It was one of those speeches which throw a great halo round the speaker at the moment; but it was calculated to disturb and alarm. Whom? Not Russia, but our own people. It was calculated to disturb the people of this country, and, what is still more important, it was calculated to disturb and alarm our Indian fellow-subjects, who hear all these things and do not understand them. I trust and hope that the Government will make a change in the manner in which they deal with these questions, always putting forward some small matter as the first point, until they reach a point that must land us in all these difficulties. What are they doing now in reference to the Soudan? They are trying to put matters in such a position that if we have to do certain things we must do them in self-defence. Why, that was exactly what they said on the occasion of the bombardment of Alexandria. It was in self-defence that we had to bombard it. It is also in self-defence that we have to make these incursions against Osman Digna. Having shown that it is not from want of the will to make great sacrifices for a great public and Imperial object, having shown that we are ready to furnish men and money to enable the Government to carry on the war, provided that a necessity is shown for it, we do insist upon having a clear, distinct, and unmistakable declaration of policy. We have an entire want of confidence in the explanation and declaration already made. They altogether miss the point, and, as far as I can understand, they put us in all the dangers we wish to avoid, while providing no such means of safety as we desire. It is said that we ought to wait until the Papers are produced. We know what that means. At the end of the week we should be told that they have not left the printers' hands; that you are not responsible for the delay, and then some hitch wall come which renders it necessary to put them off for some time longer. Then Whitsuntide is upon us, and we come back after Whitsuntide and find there are other pressing matters which require our attention. It is really one of those cases in which, if we mean to speak at all, we must speak at once. We have challenged the position of the Government, and I hope the House will show, by the votes recorded tonight, that it looks upon the information already given as altogether insufficient.


I am sorry to find myself under the necessity, at this late hour, of making a few remarks upon the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. In the first instance, I must observe that the right hon. Gentleman has entirely repudiated the ground upon which this Motion has been proposed and recommended by all its principal supporters. By the noble Lord who moved the Motion (Lord George Hamilton) it was declared to be a Vote having for its purpose to stop all proceedings of the Government by ejecting them from Office. By the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) and the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) the issue was the same. It was simply a Motion for stopping the Supplies. The right hon. Gentleman carefully disavows that interpretation. [Sir STAFFORD NORTHCOTE: No.] Then, is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to say, as his supporters have said, and as his confidential Friend sitting by him (Lord George Hamilton) has said—"I will withhold everything from you until I displace the Government from Office?" The right hon. Gentleman has totally avoided saying anything of the kind, and he declares that it is the insufficiency of information—and the insufficiency of information alone—upon which he founds his support of the Vote. That is a glaring contradiction indicating the community of sentiment which prevails between the right hon. Gentleman and those with whom he acts. [Laughter, and "Oh, oh!"] The right hon. Gentleman may laugh or sneer if he likes; but the remarks I am making upon the right hon. Gentleman are not at all calculated to excite any display of feeling from him. It is in his power, of course, to explain what he pleases; but this is my contention—namely, that the support which the right hon. Gentleman gives to this Motion, on the ground that it is a Motion complaining of defective information, is totally at variance with the support given to it by his leading Friends on that side of the House, who support it as a Motion which aims at the assertion of the principle that no Supplies should be granted to Her Majesty's present Government for the purposes contemplated in the Vote of Credit. [Sir STAFFORD NORTHCOTE: Without information.] They did not say anything of the kind. The right hon. Gentleman has interpolated that most needful commentary upon the speeches of his Friends which entirely changes their character, and with which interpolation his ground is totally different from theirs. Pray recollect what happened last week. If there be want of information now, much more was there want of information then. My noble Friend (the Marquess of Hartington) had not made his statement; we were not in a position to say when the Russian Papers would be laid upon the Table; and yet, what said the right hon. Gentleman at that time? He absolutely disclaimed, in the strongest manner, on Monday last, with all his Friends around him, all idea of interposing the slightest obstacle in the way of the Vote we had then proposed. Such is the history of the question as far as regards the terms of this very remarkable Motion. And now, Sir, it has been said that in the time of the late Government their hands were weakened by hostile attacks and criticisms upon their policy. All that is perfectly true. It was a necessity lamented at the time—["Oh!"]—lamented at the time. ["Oh!"] It seems to me not an unfair claim that I shall be allowed to finish my sentence. Lamented at the time not in our interior minds, but in debate in this House, and I challenge contradiction. Sir, it is a very great evil when such a thing is done; but to this I claim the assent of hon. Gentlemen opposite—that when we challenged, in the time of the late Government, the proceedings which they took, upon no occasion did we shelter ourselves behind the plea that an Opposition was not bound to find a policy. Upon every occasion we set forth distinctly what were the principles to which we objected, and what were the principles which we wished to substitute. ["Never!"] I wish the hon. Member who says "Never!" would be good enough to verify his assertion in a legitimate manner. Now, what is the present position? The present position is this—there are two questions before us. The first question relates to India, to Afghanistan, and to Russia. We have told you that we can now see our way to lay the Papers, so that they shall be in your hands, we are assured by the Foreign Department, at the end of the week. Under these circumstances, you choose to bring forward a Motion which the right hon. Gentleman, at any rate, recognizes as a Motion which, if carried, must displace the Government, without those Papers in your hands. And how do you supply the defect? You supply it by putting forward a series of suppositions, every one of which, so far as you are able to show, is absolutely baseless. You say that everything has been surrendered to Russia in what you term a lamentable fiasco. Of that you know nothing whatever. You say it is a base surrender to Russia to carry on negotiations in London instead of on the Afghan Frontier. [Interruption.] Those hon. Members who assume to themselves such an amount of licence are not likely to listen to anything I may have to say, and therefore I will speak to the House generally. You say it is a base surrender to Russia. What if, when the Papers are produced, you find that Sir Peter Lumsden was himself averse, under the circumstances, to carrying on the negotiations on the Afghan Frontier? If it is so, how can you say that the transfer to London is a base surrender to Russia? How can that be a base surrender to Russia, which is the opinion and conviction of your own Government, and which I shall be ready to argue at the proper time—when the gentleman in whom you place confidence—Sir Peter Lumsden—may have desired, for all you know, that the transactions on the Afghan Frontier shall cease, and that the arrangement shall be made elsewhere? [An hon. MEMBER: Why?] That is not the point. The point is the authority of Sir Peter Lumsden, in whom you profess to place confidence, but with whom you are ready and willing to part company when you have some reason to suppose that he does not agree with you. You speak of the recall of Sir Peter Lumsden. Suppose you find that he has not been recalled, but that his return to this country is in full conformity with his own views? You say that everything has been surrendered, with respect to the frontier line. Suppose you find that, on the contrary, a frontier line has been drawn which, supported by conclusive authority, has the thorough adhesion of the whole Indian Government, and which is completely conformable to the views of the Ameer of Afghanistan? You say that a speech was made on a Monday, of which the noble Lord said, with exultation, "every man who heard that speech throughout the land believed that it meant war," and therefore the satisfaction with which he says it was received. But on the Monday following a speech was made in a totally different tone, and it was clear, the noble Lord says, that everything had been surrendered to Russia. Suppose that when the Papers are discovered, which you are to have within the week, and for which you cannot wait—suppose that when those Papers are brought to light, you find, on the contrary, that the speech, indicating somewhat dark and gloomy views, was made when we were contending for objects which we hardly hoped to gain, and that the speech in the more sanguine tone on the following Monday was made when those objects had been gained. It is under these circumstances that the Opposition are so oppressed with their conscientious sense of public duty, and with regard to a Vote and a Bill which on Monday last they entirely disclaimed any notion of opposing, they now meet it with a Motion of which they candidly admit that its carrying would displace the Government, and with respect to which the noble Lord opposite and his principal supporters, excepting the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote), do not scruple to declare that its meaning is the refusal of Supplies and the refusal to give to the Executive the means necessary for meeting the demands of the present condition of affairs. I contend that it is a practice entirely opposed to the traditions of Parliament to attempt to obtain, under cover of a call for information, or in any other shape, a condemnation of the Government under circumstances which compel you to admit that you have hardly any particular knowledge of the course that they have been pursuing in these delicate and difficult negotiations, and when you know that this knowledge is to be in your hands in the course of a few days. The right hon. Gentleman, indeed, has supplied to-night what he calls a contribution to the settlement of this question, in dilating largely and putting force and weight upon matters concerning our relations with the Ameer. But these are not the matters which have been at issue. They may be matters very proper for the consideration of this House; but they have really been just as well open for its consideration at any time during the existence of the present Government. There has been no pressure or difficulty, and no danger with respect to that—no greater harmony has ever prevailed between the Ameer of Afghanistan and the Government of this country than that which prevails at the present time; and it is little short of ludicrous to urge on the House considerations such as that, as a reason for forcing a decision with reference to the Ameer of Afghanistan, when the House is without any proper moans of forming a judgment on the conduct of the Government. So much as to the Russian part of the case. You have not got in your hands the evidence; but, notwithstanding that, you are determined to go on. Well, Sir, with regard to the other part of the case, the right hon. Baronet says he has got very insufficient information about the Soudan. Does the right hon. Baronet think that it would be possible for my noble Friend to say more than he has said? What did my noble Friend leave undefined? He left undefined the nature of the measures which it might be necessary to take with respect to the making of the railways. Does the right hon. Gentleman really think that it would be in the power of the Government, or of any Government, to give a final and conclusive answer upon that subject, and to describe now the precise steps which may be taken, if they happily find the door open towards converting these military lines for the purposes of peace and civilization? I can hardly think that this is a serious demand. Well, the right hon. Baronet says that my noble Friend has not told the House whether we should withdraw from Suakin. But how does he think himself that it is in the nature of things possible or compatible with common cense for us to say at this moment whether we shall leave Suakin or not? The right hon. Gentleman has not ventured to give that information to the House. Sir, the real question here is the question of Khartoum; and I am bound to admit, although the Opposition have no knowledge or policy with regard to Russia or Afghanistan, that with regard to Khartoum the evidence is clear enough. With respect to Khartoum, does the right hon. Gentleman deny that this is the main matter—the centre and the heart of the whole? Why, Sir, it was the Expedition to Khartoum, it was the existence of the Army in the Nile Valley that required us to undertake, as my noble Friend has shown, Tinder the demand of Lord Wolseley, the new Expedition to Suakin. It is upon Khartoum, and the arrangements connected with Khartoum, that all the rest hangs. Here is a certain light and clear issue shown. The noble Lord says he has never been in favour of an advance on Khartoum, although he has stoutly voted for it. [Lord GEORGE HAMILTON: When?] In the House of Commons on the 27th of February, 1885, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devon moved a Motion which closed with the words that the conduct of the Government, and so forth— Has rendered it imperatively necessary in the interests of the British Empire, and of the Egyptian people, that Her Majesty's Government should distinctly recognize, and take decided measures to fulfil, the special responsibility now incumbent on them to assure a good and stable Government in Egypt, and to those portions of the Soudan which are necessary to its security. What portions of the Soudan are necessary to the security of Egypt? There was a meaning, I presume, in those emphatic words. What was the meaning? Sir, it was perfectly plain that there were two points of main action. One was the Valley of the Nile, and the other was Suakin. It was not Suakin that you described as necessary for the security of Egypt; it was Khartoum that you meant to describe, and the advance upon Khartoum is the policy for not adopting which we are now to be condemned. That was the policy affirmed by the Opposition in the month of February last; it is not now disavowed. Sir, there is only one other point I may mention. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has abandoned as desperate all attempts to defend the language either of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) with respect to Russia, or of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton), or of the Marquess of Salisbury, who pointed out that the choice for Russia was between owning to the character of a swindler and owning to the character of a bankrupt. What do hon. Gentlemen mean when they say they are not friends of war, when, at the same time, they indulge in this most unwise and most unjustifiable language? If we are to have a frontier to Afghanistan—that is, a frontier between Afghanistan and Russia, are we, or are we not, to have an engagement with Russia with respect to it? [An hon. MEMBER: How long will she keep it?] Are we so devoid of sense as to think that we can make that engagement, and at the same time to cast in the teeth of Russia the reproach that no engagement she may make will be respected? We must recollect that this language is used by men who are the Leaders of a Party seeking avowedly for immediate possession of Office, and that in the midst of a great controversy, which, according to their views, it would devolve upon them to close. I must say it was a matter of great satisfaction to me that at the time when we were in difficulty and doubt, and the chance of an unfavourable solution appeared greatly to preponderate, the House came forward and supported with wonderful unanimity the demand which we made. It is not alone with grief that I witness the change which has taken place in the attitude of Gentlemen opposite since the heavens have cleared, and since the blessed prospect of peace has returned. As long as we were taking measures, as long as we were holding language that could be interpreted in the direction of war—and too good grounds there were, in our mind and view, for taking such measures and using such language—so long we experienced at your hands forbearance and consideration. The change which took place was a change at the prospect of peace, and that was the only change that occurred in the interval. There was not an act done by us in the interval which could have been made by you the subject of hostile comment. You might, or may have, disapproved of what we have done before; but for the change in your attitude there is no cause to be found in any act of ours which you can trace to that period. But the profound and deep mortification which was manifested upon that change, and upon the prospect of a settlement to be effected by our hands, were as painful to us as the generous and confiding support which we had previously received was pleasurable. I wish that these facts could be concealed. There is no doubt at all of your change of attitude, and it will lie with you to show that that change of attitude has reference to something done by us, or to some discovery made by you in the interval. But you cannot show it. We are in hopes—we continue to be in hopes—of a peaceable settlement to be effected by honourable means, and tending to the establishment of solid relations with a great Empire, to be at war with which would be a calamity to Russia, a calamity to Great Britain, a calamity to civilized mankind, and a calamity to the world at large. If you find fault with our proposal with reference to arbitration, why do you not embody your views in a Motion which we will meet, and upon which we will take the judgment of the House? When we turn to the Soudan, what I say is that we have adopted a policy which apparently you are glad to assail by indirect or circuitous means, and which I greatly doubt you will ever dare to challenge in an open manner. The House of Commons and the country understand our position with reference to this great question; let them understand your position. Give construction, if you can, to the Motion you yourselves propose against us; and depend upon it that if you are ready to assume the Government of the country, you will not be able to cloak yourselves and escape a great issue by vague and general declamation. Our policy is the abandonment of the Expedition to Khartoum. What your policy is it will be incumbent on you to declare.

Question put.

The House divided: 260: Majority 30.

Acland,rt.hn.SirT. D. Courtauld, G.
Agnew, W. Courtney, L. H.
Ainsworth, D. Cowper, hon. H. F.
Allen, H. G. Craig, W. Y.
Allen, W. S. Creyke, R.
Amory, Sir J. H. Cropper, J.
Armitage, B. Cross, J. K.
Armitstead, G. Crum, A.
Arnold, A. Cunliffe, Sir R. A.
Asher, A. Currie, Sir D.
Ashley, hon. E. M. Davey, H.
Baldwin, E. Davies, D.
Balfour, Sir G. Davies, R.
Balfour, rt. hon. J. B. Davies, W.
Balfour, J. S. De Ferriéres, Baron
Barclay, J. W. Dickson, T. A.
Baring, Viscount Dilke, rt.hn. Sir C. W.
Barnes, A. Dillwyn, L. L.
Barran, J. Dodds, J.
Bass, Sir A. Duckham, T.
Bass, H. Duff, R. W.
Baxter, rt. hon. W. E. Earp, T.
Beaumont, W. B. Edwards, H.
Biddulph, M. Edwards, P.
Blennerhassett, Sir R. Egerton, Adm. hon. F.
Blennerhassett, R. P. Elliot, hon. A. R. D.
Bolton, J. C. Evans, T. W.
Borlase, W. C. Fairbairn, Sir A.
Brand, hon. H. R. Farquharson, Dr. R.
Brassey, Sir T. Fay, C. J.
Brassey, H. A. Ferguson, R.
Brett, R. B. Ferguson,R. C. Munro-
Bright, J. Ffolkes, Sir W. H. B.
Brogden, A. Findlater, W.
Brooks, M. Firth, J. F. B.
Brown, A. H. Fitzmaurice, Lord E.
Bruce, rt. hon. Lord C. Fitzwilliam, hon.C. W.
Bruce, hon. R. P. Flower, C.
Bryce, J. Foljambe, F. J. S.
Buchanan, T. R. Forster, Sir C.
Burt, T. Forster, rt. hon. W. E.
Buszard, M. C. Fort. R.
Buxton, F. W. Fowler, H. H.
Buxton, S. C. Fowler, W.
Caine, W. S. Fry, L.
Cameron, C. Fry, T.
Camphell, Lord C. Gabbett, D. F.
Campbell, Sir G. Gladstone, rt. hn.W. E.
Campbell, R. F. F. Gladstone, H. J.
Campbell- Bannerman, right hon. H. Gladstone, W. H.
Glyn, hon. S. C.
Carbutt, E. H. Gordon, Lord D.
Carington, hon. R. Gordon, Sir A.
Cartwright, W. C. Gourley, E. T.
Causton, R. K. Grafton, F. W.
Cavendish, Lord E. Grant, Sir G. M.
Chamberlain, rt. hn. J. Grant, A.
Chambers, Sir T. Grant D.
Cheetham, J. F. Guest, M. J.
Clarke, S. Gurdon, R. T.
Clifford, C. C. Hamilton, J. G. C.
Cohen, A. Harcourt, rt. hn. Sir W. G. V. V.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E.
Collings, J. Hardcastle, J. A.
Collins, E. Hartington, Marq. of
Colman, J. J. Hastings, G. W.
Hayter, Sir A. D. Paget, T. T.
Henderson, F. Palmer, C. M.
Heneage, E. Palmer, G.
Henry, M. Parker, C. S.
Herschell, Sir F. Pease, Sir J. W.
Hibbert, J. T. Pease, A.
Hill, T. E. Peddie, J. D.
Holden, I. Pender, J.
Holland, S. Pennington, F.
Hollond, J. E. Philips, R. N.
Holms, J. Picton, J. A.
Hopwood, C. H. Playfair, rt. hon. Sir L.
Howard, G. J. Portman, hon. W.H.B.
Illingworth, A. Potter, T. B.
Ince, H. B. Powell, W. R. H.
Inderwick, F. A. Power, J. O'C.
James, Sir H. Pulley, J.
James, hon. W. H. Ralli, P.
James, C. H. Ramsden, Sir J.
Jardine, E. Rathbone, W.
Jenkins, Sir J. J. Reed, Sir E. J.
Jenkins, D. J. Reid, R. T.
Johnson, E. Rendel, S.
Jones-Parry, L. Richard, H.
Kinnear, J. Richardson, T.
Labouchere, H. Roberts, J.
Laing, S. Roe, T.
Lambton, hon. F. W. Rogers, C. C.
Lawrence, Sir J, C. Rogers, J. E. T.
Lawrence, W. Rothschild,SirN.M.de
Lea, T. Roundell, C. S.
Leake, R. Russell, Lord A.
Leatham, E. A. Russell, C.
Leatham, W. H. Russell, G. W. E.
Lee, H. Russell, T.
Lefevre,rt. hn. G. J. S. Ruston, J.
Lloyd, M. Rylands, P.
Lubbock, Sir J. St. Aubyn, Sir J.
Lusk, Sir A. Samuelson, Sir B.
Lyons, E. D. Seely, C. (Nottingham)
Macfarlane, D. H. Sellar, A. C.
Mackie, R. B. Shaw, T.
Mackintosh, C. F. Sheridan, H. B.
Macliver, P. S. Shield, H.
M'Arthur, Sir W. Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.
M'Arthur, A. Slagg, J.
M'Clure, Sir T. Smith, E.
M'Coan, J. C. Smith, Lieut.-Col. G.
M'Lagan, P. Smith, S.
M'Laren, C. B. B. Stafford, Marquess of
M'Minnies, J. G. Stanley, hon. E. L.
Maitland, W. F. Stanton, W. J.
Mappin, F. T. Steble, Lieu-Col. R.F.
Marjoribanks, hon. E. Stevenson, J. C.
Martin, P. Storey, S.
Martin, R. B. Stuart, H. V.
Mason, H. Stuart, J.
Maxwell-Heron, Capt. J. M. Summers, W.
Sutherland, T.
Mellor, J. W. Talbot, C. R. M.
Monk, C. J. Tavistock, Marquess of
Moreton, Lord Tennant, C.
Morgan, rt. hon. G. O. Thomasson, J. P.
Morley, A. Thompson, T. C.
Morley, J. Torrens, W. T. M.
Morley, S. Tracy, hon. F. S. A.Hanbury-
Mundeila, rt. hn. A. J.
Noel, E. Trevelyan, rt. hn. G.O.
Norwood, C. M. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
O'Beirne, Colonel Vivian, A. P.
O'Brien, Sir P. Waddy, S. D.
O'Shea, W. H. Walker, S.
Otway, Sir A. J. Walter, J.
Waterlow, Sir S. Wilson, Sir M,
Waugh, E. Wilson, C. H.
Webster, J. Wilson, I.
West, H. W. Wodebouse, E. R.
Whitbread, S. Woodall, W.
Whitworth, B.
Wiggin, H. TELLERS.
Williamson, S. Grosvenor, right hon. Lord R.
Willis, W.
Wills, W. H. Kensington, right hon. Lord
Willyams, E. W. B.
Ackers, B. St. J. Dawnay, hon. G. C.
Alexander, Gen. C. Dawson, C.
Amherst, W. A. T. De Worms, Baron H.
Ashmead-Bartlett, E. Dickson, Major A. G.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Digby, J. K. D. W.
Balfour, A. J. Dixon-Hartland, F. D.
Barne, F. St. J. N. Douglas, A. Akers-
Barry, J. Dyke.rt. hn.SirW. H.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Eaton, H. W.
Bateson, Sir T. Eckersley, N.
Beach, rt. hon. Sir M. E. Hicks- Ecroyd, W. F.
Egerton, hon. A. de T.
Beach, W. W. B. Egerton, hon. A. F.
Bective, Earl of Elcho, Lord
Bellingham, A. H. Elliot, Sir G.
Bentinck, rt. hon. G. C. Elliot, G. W.
Beresford, G. De la P. Ellis, Sir J. W.
Biddell, W. Elton, C. I.
Biggar, J. G. Estcourt, G. S.
Birkbeck, E. Ewart, W.
Blackburne, Col. J. I. Ewing, A. O.
Boord, T. W. Fielden, Lt.-Gen. R. J.
Bourke, rt. hon. R. Fellowes, W. H.
Broadley, W. H. H. Finch, G. H.
Brodrick, hon. W. St. J.F. Finch-Hatton, hon. M. E. G.
Brooke, Lord Fitz-Wygram, Sir F.
Brooks, W. C. Fletcher, Sir H.
Bruce, Sir H. H. Floyer, J.
Bruce, hon. T. Folkestone, Viscount
Brymer, W. E. Forester, C. T. W.
Bulwer, J. R. Foster, W. H.
Burghley, Lord Fowler, rt. hn. R. N.
Buxton, Sir R. J. Fremantle, hon. T. F.
Callan, P. French-Brewster, R.A.B.
Cameron, D.
Campbell, J. A. Freshfield, C. K.
Carden, Sir R. W. Galway, Viscount
Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G. Gardner, E. Richardson
Chaplin, H.
Christie, W. L. Gathorne-Hardy, hon.J. S.
Churchill, Lord R. S.
Clarke, E. G. Gibson, right hon. E.
Clive, Col. hon. G. W. Giffard, Sir H. S.
Close, M. C. Giles, A.
Coddington, W. Goldney, Sir G.
Cole, Viscount Gorst, J. E.
Compton, F. Grantham, W.
Coope, O. E. Gray, E. D.
Corbet, W. J. Greene, E.
Corry, J. P. Greer, T.
Cotton, W. J. R. Gregory, G. B.
Crichton, Viscount Gunter, Colonel E.
Cross, rt. hon. Sir R. A. Halsey, T. F.
Cubitt, right hon. G. Hamilton, rt.hn. Ld.G.
Curzon, Major hon. M. Hamilton, Lord C. J.
Dalrymple, C. Hamilton, I. T.
Davenport, H. T. Harrington, T.
Dawnay, Col. hon. L. P. Harris, W. J.
Harvey, Sir R. B. Newdegate, C. N.
Hay, rt. hon. Admiral Sir J. G. D. Newport, Viscount
Nicholson, W. N.
Healy, T. M. Nolan, Colonel J. P.
Herbert, hon. S. Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.
Hicks, E.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Northcote, H. S.
Hill, Lord A. W. O'Brien W.
Hill, A. S. O'Connor, A.
Holland, Sir H. T. O'Connor, J.
Home, Lt.-Col. D. M. O'Connor, T. P.
Hope, right hon. A. J. B. B. O'Gorman Mahon, Col. The
Houldsworth, W. H. O'Kelly, J.
Jackson, W. L. Onslow, D.
Johnstone, Sir F. O'Sullivan, W. H.
Kennard, Col. E. H. Paget, R. H.
Kennard, C. J. Patrick,R.W.Cochran-
Kennaway, Sir J. H. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Kenny, M. J. Pell, A.
Ker, R. W. B. Pemberton, E. L.
King-Harman, Col. E. R. Percy, rt. hon. Earl
Percy, Lord A.
Knight, F. W. Phipps, C. N. P.
Knightley, Sir R. Phipps, P.
Lalor, R. Plunket, rt. hon. D. R.
Lawrance, J. C. Power, P. J.
Lawrence, Sir T. Power, R.
Leahy, J. Puleston, J. H.
Leamy, E. Raikos, rt. hon. H. C.
Lechmere, Sir E. A. H. Rankin, J.
Leigh, R. Redmond, J. E.
Leighton, Sir B. Redmond, W. H. K.
Leighton, S. Rendlesham, Lord
Lever, J. O. Repton, G. W.
Levett, T. J. Ridley, Sir M. W.
Lewis, C. E. Ritchie, C. T.
Lewisham, Viscount Rolls, J. A.
Lindsay, Sir R. L. Ross, A. H.
Lloyd, S. S. Ross, C. C.
Loder, R. Round, J.
Long, W. H. Salt, T.
Lopes, Sir M. Sclater-Booth,rt.hn.G.
Lowther, rt. hon. J. Scott, M. D.
Lowther, hon. W. Selwin - Ibbetson, Sir H.J.
Lowther, J. W.
Lynch, N. Severne, J. E.
Macartney, J. W. E. Sexton, T.
Mac Iver, D. Sheil, E.
Macnaghten, E. Small, J. F.
M'Carthy, J. Smith, A.
M'Carthy, J. H. Smith, rt. hon. W. H.
M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J. Smithwick, J. F.
M'Kenna, Sir J. N. Stanhope, hon. E.
M'Mahon, E. Stanley, rt. hon. Col. F.
Makins, Colonel W. T. Stanley, E. J.
March, Earl of Storer, G.
Marriott, W. T. Strutt, hon. C. H.
Marum, E. M. Sullivan, T. D.
Master, T. W. C. Sykes, C.
Maxwell, Sir H. E. Talbot, J. G.
Mayne, T. Thornhill, A. J.
Meagher, W. Thynne, Lord H. F.
Miles, Sir P. J. W. Tollemache, hon. W.
Mills, Sir C. H. Tollemache, H. J.
Milner, Sir F. Tomlinson, W. E. M.
Molloy, B. C. Tottenham, A. L.
Morgan, hon. F. Tremayne, J.
Moss, R. Wallace, Sir R.
Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J. R. Walrond, Col. W. H.
Warburton, P. E.
Mulholland, J. Warton, C. N.
Muntz, P. A. Watney, J.
Whitley, E. Wroughton, P.
Williams, General O. Wyndham, hon. P
Wilmot, Sir H. Yorke, J. R.
Wilmot, Sir J. E. TELLERS.
Wolff, Sir H. D. Thornhill, T.
Wortley, C. B. Stuart- Winn, R.

Main Question put, and agreed to.