§ MR. SAMUEL SMITH
I rise to move the Amendment to the Address 798 which stands in my name. I must apologize for raising anew a question that was disposed of in the last Parliament; but circumstances have altered considerably since then. The war in Upper Burmah, instead of being a military promenade, costing £300,000, has developed into a national uprising, involving much bloodshed and expenditure. Our forces are to be raised to nearly 30,000 men this coming winter, and no one can tell how long it will take to trample out the resistance of an entire nation. It seems certain that, instead of costing £300,000, it is likely to cost several millions; and I wish this House to consider afresh whether it is fair to throw upon the overburdened Exchequer of India so heavy an additional burden. Then we have further information, since last January, of the increased embarrassment of the finances of India, owing to the heavy fall of silver and exchange; the last Budget presented in June showed a deficit for last year of £2,800,000, and the coming year only showed an equilibrium by taking the exchange at 1s. 6d.; but exchange has fallen since then to 1s. 4¼d. at ½d., which will cause a deficit of £1,500,000; and if we add to this probably £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 for the expenses of the war in Burmah, the Indian Exchequer will show the alarming deficit of £4,000,000 next year. These facts were not known, or very imperfectly known, last January or February; and I trust that the new House of Commons will look into these matters fairly and fully, and resolve to relieve India, in whole or in part, of a war which was entered upon contrary to the wishes of her people, and in the supposed interests of England, not of India. My Amendment expresses regret at the continuance and extension of the war; but I might have gone further, and condemned the policy that has led to it. It is true that King Theebaw was a bad Ruler, and that he gave considerable cause of offence to the Government of Lower Burmah, and a plausible excuse might be given for temporary intervention; but I hold that no excuse can be given for annexation. It has violated the deep national convictions of the Burmese, and has led to a war which places us in the most odious light. We have been the cause of the destruction of the capital, Mandalay, and have carried fire and sword all over the country. The 799 prisoners that fall into our hands under the name of dacoits are executed. These men are simply carrying on a guerilla warfare in the manner customary to their country, and we are resorting to measures to crush them that will make us detested by the whole population. We are just doing in Upper Burmah what we condemned the French for doing in Tonquin and Madagascar, and are acting the part of Pharisees when we say we are going there to civilize the people and develop the country. We have caused more misery and loss of life in the last six months than Theebaw did in the six years of his reign, and no end of it can yet be seen. I trust that even yet it is not too late to retire from our false position, just as we have had to do in the Transvaal and Afghanistan. It would be a humiliating thing to do, but better than to lay waste the country with years of internecine warfare. But the main point to which I wish to call the attention of the House is the unfairness of charging the whole cost of the war to India. It was made in defiance of the unanimous Native opinion of India. I can testify, from my observations made when travelling through the country soon after the annexation was proclaimed, that not a Native voice was raised in favour of it; it was universally regarded as purely a British affair, in which India had no interest; the Indian people believed it was made in the interests of British trade, and I think they were not far wrong. Those addresses from the Chambers of Commerce reveal the cloven foot pretty clearly. Let me read to the House the Resolution passed at the National Indian Congress held last year—That this Congress deprecates the annexation of Upper Burmah, and considers that if the Government unfortunately decide on annexation, the entire country of Burmah should be separated from the Indian Viceroyalty, and constituted a Crown Colony, as distinct in all matters from the Government of this country as is Ceylon.This Congress was truly representative of the best Native opinion in India; it consisted of the ablest Natives from all parts of India; many of the number were highly cultivated gentlemen, and its opinion ought to have weight with the Government of this country. The Burmese are, in all respects, distinct from the people of India; ethnologically, they are a different race; they are of a different religion, being Buddhists, and 800 have far more affinity with the Chinese than with the Hindoos. It seems to me a mere pretext to say that such a war was necessary for the safety of India; but it may be said that India derives a large surplus revenue from Lower Burmah. I suppose it remits a sum of somewhere between £500,000 and £1,000,000 to the Indian Treasury; but the war by which we acquired Lower Burmah cost, I understand, £15,000,000 sterling, so that this so-called surplus revenue only defrays the charge of the Debt it imposed on India. I would be fairly satisfied, however, if the House decided to limit the charge on India to the surplus revenue from Lower Burmah, and place the remainder on England. I have dealt so far mainly with the question of justice; but I wish also to appeal to the sentiment of mercy. India is a desperately poor country; it is far below the poverty of any country that we hear of in Europe. I must say to the House that I was startled at the results of my inquiries as to the social condition of the people. I am sure, if the House and the people of this country realized the condition of the masses of the Indian people, they would not permit heavy burdens to be thrown upon them with the haste which is too often done. I hope the House will allow me to read a short extract from the Budget speech of Sir Evelyn Baring, when Finance Minister of India, 18th March, 1882—It has been calculated that the average income per head of population in India is not more than 27 rupees a-year; and, though I am not prepared to pledge myself to the absolute accuracy of a calculation of this sort, it is sufficiently accurate to justify the conclusion that the taxpaying community is exceedingly poor. To derive any very large increase of revenue from so poor a population as this is obviously impossible, and, if it were possible, would be unjustifiable.Again, in the discussion on the same Budget, he said, after repeating the above statement of 27 rupees per head per annum—…But he thought it was quite sufficient to show the extreme poverty of the mass of the people. In England the average income per head of population was £33 per head; in France it was £23; in Turkey, which was the poorest country in Europe, it was £4 per head. He would ask hon. Members to think what 21 rupees per annum was to support a person, and then he would ask whether a few annas was nothing to such a poor people?801 I am bound to say that most of the good authorities I met with in India considered Sir Evelyn Baring's estimate as too high; and, certainly, I should not put the average income at over £2 per head, which would give £400,000,000 for British India; whereas the best statists put the aggregate income of the United Kingdom at £1,250,000,000 reckoned in the same manner. But let us take another test—the income tax. It is levied on all incomes of £50 per annum and above; whereas, in England, it begins at £150; but there are some large classes of exemptions in India, so that, on the whole, a fair comparison can be made as to taxpaying power. Now, 1d. in the income tax here realizes about £2,000,000—in India, a little over £200,000; so that, speaking roughly, the ability of India to pay income tax is only 1-10th what it is in this country, though the population is six times as large. That is, on a given area of population in India there is only 1-60th part of the taxable wealth there is in this country. I may add that only one person in 700 is liable to income tax—that is, has an income of £50 per annum—allowing for the limited class of exemptions already referred to. As another proof of the poverty of India, I may add that the best authorities have calculated that 50,000,000 of the population only eat one meal a day, and that of the coarsest food. In years of scarcity vast masses of the population are on the verge of famine, and would die of starvation unless fed by the Government; and, in spite of a very large expenditure on relief works, it is computed that 10,000,000 of people died of famine in the decade ending 1880. India is a country almost entirely of poor peasantry, the bulk of whom are hopelessly in debt to the money-lenders. I was assured that as many as 9–10ths of the ryots were in debt; but authorities like Sir James Caird put the number at 3–4ths; and so small are their holdings that in Bengal, out of 10,000,000 of holdings, it is computed that 6,000,000 do not pay a rent of more than 5 rupees each. Compare that with Ireland, where it is considered a proof of extreme poverty that 100,000 or 150,000 holdings are under £5 each. The fact is, the mass of the Indian peasantry are below the level of the peasantry of Connaught. It is impossible to screw more taxes out 802 of the people without oppressing or demoralizing them. You cannot add to the income tax, which is hated in India on account of its inquisitorial character, and the great amount of black-mail which it leads to among the subordinate officials. It would be cruel to add to the salt tax, which is enormously high already, and is a first necessity of life in India. The Government is already demoralizing the people, by forcing on them liquor shops for the sake of revenue; are they to be forced still further in this direction? You cannot screw more revenue out of India, unless you re-impose Customs duties—the only tax which India would willingly pay, but which British selfishness forbids. I protest against any further burdens being placed on the poor, afflicted people of India. I do not believe that the British democracy would willingly be a party to such cruelty. If you relieve India of the cost of the Burmese War, she will still have a deficit in the coming year of £1,000,000 or £2,000,000, owing to the further fall of silver and exchange. Her financiers are at their wits' end with this tremendous difficulty; they are appealing to the Home Government to help them in their difficulties, and, so far, they have appealed in vain; but I am glad to think that the present Administration is prepared to help them so far as to grant a Royal Commission of Inquiry on the subject. I will not enlarge on this, as it would take me outside the limits of my Amendment; but before sitting down I would call the attention of the House to the rapid growth of an educated Native opinion in India, which judges us by the same political standards we ourselves apply. Nothing struck me more in India, than the rapid growth of political intelligence. We cannot afford to treat India any longer as a nation of children. The debates in this House are carefully perused by thousands of the Natives; the principles of the "Mid Lothian speeches" are applied to themselves; and I am sorry to have to say that the general judgment of India is that we do not hold the scales fairly. They resent the charge to India of any of the cost of the wars in Egypt or Abyssinia. They were indignant at the waste of their resources in Afghanistan; and if several millions are added to their Debt on account of Upper Burmah, their 803 loyalty to this country will be severely strained. The universal complaint in India is the excessive costliness of our Government. The expenditure has grown enormously of late years; it is entirely outstepping the resources of the country. The Budget of £75,000,000 last year would have made old Indian Administrators, like Lord Lawrence, stand aghast; but next year it will be nearly £80,000,000 if the cost of this unjust Burmese War be thrown upon India. I ask you to agree to this Amendment on the broad ground of justice, because this is rather a British than an Indian war. I ask you to do so on the ground of mercy, because India is a very poor and heavily-taxed country; and, lastly, on the ground of policy, because it will strengthen loyalty among our Indian subjects, and show them that, though not represented here, the British Parliament will not spurn their mute appeal.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
, in rising to second the Motion, said, he thought it could be justified on Constitutional grounds. Since the discussion on this subject in February last the war in Burmah had developed to a degree which was not anticipated then; and results had arisen, which were not foreseen at the time, which must be very long continued in their action. They were justified, he thought, on the ground of Parliamentary precedent, in bringing forward this Motion, and getting a final decision as to who should pay the expenses of the war. Resolutions similar to that passed in February had been passed without prejudice in relation to the Egyptian and Afghan Wars, in respect of which contributions were afterwards made by England to the Indian Exchequer. The Motion was justified on another ground—that the House had not yet been put in possession of Lord Dufferin's views as to what he considered the best treatment of the Burmese Question. So far as he was aware, they had no justification from those in responsible positions in India for the annexation of Upper Burmah. Nay, further, it was clear that the annexation was carried out by the noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill) without consulting the Indian Council. That was only made known to the House on February 25 last, and confirmed by the Under Secretary tonight. He did not say the noble Lord, 804 in so acting, was doing an unconstitutional thing; but that fact was not in possession of the House during the discussion in January or February last. He hoped the House would consider the information which it had on this subject. In February last they had very little information, and now they had little more. Beyond the despatch of December 31, with which the Blue Book concluded, very little further information had been vouchsafed to the House; and the final and definite proposals which were then promised, and on which the policy of annexation was based—a policy which the Liberal Government accepted—had not yet been laid upon the Table of the House. They had not only no information in regard to the conduct of affairs in Burmah; they had no justification of those responsible in India for the annexation and the great development which had taken place in the war. There was a great deal more information one would like to hear in connection with the conduct of the war, and the administration of the country since last February; for it was impossible—although one did not like to impute blame in the absence of information—to come to any other conclusion than that there had been in some quarters very grave miscarriage and bungling to bring about the existing state of affairs in that country. The decision which the House came to in February last with reference to the expenses of the Expedition should not bind it irrevocably under the altered circumstances of the case. In February it was thought the annexation of Burmah would be little more than a great triumphal march; but all that had been changed, and they were in November next to have over 30,000 troops in Burmah. There had been no fresh or definite information supplied to the House on the question of the expenses of the annexation. The future expenditure was put down in March in Sir Auckland Colvin's Financial Statement at 30 lacs of rupees, and the Under Secretary a few nights ago gave them no further information; but, seeing that the warlike forces in Burmah had increased fivefold since then, the estimate was absolutely valueless, and the figures given could not be accepted as giving a full and complete account of what the expenditure might be. He did 805 not like to prophesy what the expense would be; but it would be very heavy. He was afraid the House and the country must now abandon all those rose-coloured pictures about the people of Upper Burmah desiring the establishment of British rule in that country. We might call the opposition that of dacoits and robbers; but we were really face to face with a national resistance of the population of Upper Burmah. That general resistance did not take place till the annexation was finally decided upon. The people were quite ready to get rid of Theebaw; but they wanted to see established some kind of Native Government, perhaps under British control. Another important point was our relations with China in consequence of the annexation, on which the House ought to have more information. A great point had been made in connection with the annexation as to the extension of British trade that would result, especially with China. So far as he could make out, the terms of the Treaty, announced by the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs the other night, practically gave China everything she wanted, and the prospect of opening up a profitable trade between India and China viâ Burmah was not very greatly facilitated by the course that had been taken. There was to be a Boundary Commission and a Frontier Trade Commission, and anything or everything might be ceded under either Commission. If they were going to throw all the expense of these operations on the Indian Exchequer they ought to be able to show a stronger case as to this being an exclusively Indian war. The closest precedents were the Persian War of 1856 and the Afghan War. The Afghan War, for example, was undertaken to remedy what was believed to be a state of insecurity on the frontier, and it was originally proposed and resolved to throw the whole expense of the Expedition on the Indian Exchequer. The question was subsequently reconsidered, and the ultimate conclusion arrived at was that the Home Government agreed to pay £5,000,000, or about one-fourth out of £20,000,000, which was the cost of the war. It was contended in favour of that course that unless the war could be shown to be an exclusively Indian war the expense ought not to be put exclusively on the Indian Exche- 806 quer. In this case he did not think that the House was prepared to admit that the Burmese War was in any sense exclusively an Indian war, and one in which Imperial interests had no part. The hon. Gentleman concluded by seconding the Amendment.
To add, at the end of the Question, the words,—"And this House humbly expresses its regret at the continuance of the War in Upper Burmah, and the great extension of Military operations occasioned thereby; and humbly represents to Her Majesty that the expenses of the said War should not be borne exclusively by India."—(Mr. Samuel Smith.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
, in rising to move, as an Amendment to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Flintshire (Mr. Samuel Smith) to the Address, to leave out all the words after "Burmah, and" to the end of the proposed Amendment, in order to add the words—At learning that the Government have resolved to persevere in their policy of annexation, especially as the Native population have, by their active hostility and armed resistance to the invading forces, shown that they have no desire to live under British rule,said, he desired to refer at the outset to the attempts which had been made on his own side of the House to frame an Amendment to the Address regarding this question which should clearly embody their opinions, and which should prevent complications arising when the division was announced. These attempts had not been successful; and it was because the Amendment of the hon. Member (Mr. Samuel Smith) did not raise the question into the higher regions to which he thought it ought to be raised, and did not condemn the character of the war, nor express an opinion as to whether it was righteous or not in its commencement and in its continuance, that he felt compelled to bring forward his Amendment. He regretted that it had been said in a Liberal organ that whether the war was just or unjust, now we were in for it we must, for the honour of the country, fight it out. In the last Parliament he listened attentively to the debates dealing with the question of Burmah in the hope that he would learn the real reasons for the war, but in vain. The noble Lord the Chancellor of the 807 Exchequer approached the consideration of the question on that occasion with a light heart, and openly exulted in the part that he had played in connection with promoting that war. He said that he was proud in belonging to a Government that had added to the Dominions of the Crown and the enterprise of British commerce, and to civilization and progress, so vast and valuable a possession. It seemed to him (Mr. Cremer), however, that the noble Lord on that occasion was premature in announcing that Upper Burmah as a valuable possession had been added to the Dominions of the Crown. He (Mr. Cremer) contended that no valid reason was given at the time for the war in Burmah. The real cause of the war was given by the then Secretary of State for India, who said that the Viceroy thought that the war must be undertaken for the safety and protection of British Burmah and of Her Majesty's Dominions in other parts of the world; and he estimated that the cost of the Expedition would probably not exceed £300,000. It was also alleged that it was necessary, for the protection and safety of British Burmah, to depose King Theebaw; but the feeble resistance of Theebaw proved that the fears entertained by the Government as to the dangers to be apprehended from that Monarch were absolutely groundless. If the real object of the war had been to depose this wicked Monarch, King Theebaw, as they had been told, why should they not have set up another in his place? Lord Harris said that there were no less than 70 surviving Members of the Royal Family to choose from, and surely some one of the number might have been found to occupy the Throne of King Theebaw. It was quite clear such was not the intention of the Government neither in the first nor in the last instance, and that they had other objects in view. He had often observed that for months before a warlike expedition was set on foot the Press were very busy circulating reports with regard to the mischief going on from the action of somebody somewhere, and so paving the way for an Ultimatum or Expedition. In the same way, for several months before action was taken by the Government, the Press of this country were continually telling the world that King Theebaw was a wicked Monarch, and constantly breaking his word. Why, they 808 had Monarchs nearer home who had been guilty of offences of that kind. Recently there was a question of the violation by a Monarch of a Treaty or obligation which he was said to have come under with this and other countries; but there had been no words about an Ultimatum or Expedition to chastise the Ruler in question or depose him from his Throne. We reserved our wrath, indignation, and chastisement for weak rather than strong Monarchs. Then it was said that King Theebaw had been very cruel to his subjects. Some could recollect the horrors perpetrated by Napoleon III. on December 2 upon his subjects; but we caressed him as our good and faithful ally. As in the case of Egypt, so with regard to Burmah, one of the reasons given out for the Expedition was that the French would have gone there if we had not. All he (Mr. Cremer) could say was that if we made the same muddle and created the same disturbances in Burmah as the result of our interference as we had effected in Egypt, it would have been much better that we should have left King Theebaw and his subjects to settle their relations and differences by themselves, and without our interference; and it was an unfortunate thing, both for Burmah and for the British people, that we had gone there. We had now 30,000 soldiers and police in Upper Burmah, and reinforcements were on their way; and yet it was said that our hold upon that country was not increasing; but anarchy and confusion were increasing in British Burmah; and we held our position in Mandalay with difficulty. Unhappily, the remarkable letters of the Rangoon Correspondent of The Times showed that we were in a fair way of already producing similar disastrous results. He wanted to know who were the wire-pullers who brought about all these little wars? He entirely repudiated the doctrine that this country was justified in invading and annexing other countries for the sake of extending British commerce or extending the Dominions of the Crown. He believed that the Government, Parliament, and the nation had been deceived by the Indian officials with reference to the real condition of affairs in Upper Burmah, and that the people of that country had shown by their protracted resistance that they had no desire for British rule. He had brought for- 809 ward his Amendment because he believed that by our conduct there we had violated the Proclamation in which was solemnly stated that Her Majesty's Government did not desire any further extension of Her Majesty's Dominions in India. The people of Upper Burmah were now only doing that which we had been taught was the sacred duty of all good citizens—namely, to repel by every means in their power the invaders of their country. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice.
Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment,
To leave out all the words after the words "Burmah, and" to the end of the proposed Amendment, in order to add the words "at learning that the Government have resolved to persevere in their policy of annexation, especially as the Native population have, by their active hostility and armed resistance to the invading forces, shown that they have no desire to live under British rule,"—(Mr. Cremer,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Sir JOHN GORST) (Chatham)
said, he understood the hon. Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) to complain that the House was obliged to discuss this difficult question without the Papers being before it. His noble Friend the Secretary of State for India (Viscount Cross), the moment he took Office, did his utmost to provide the House with adequate information on the subject. He (Sir John Gorst) desired to express his regret that the Blue Book, containing all information with regard to Burmah—and which had been promised by the noble Viscount—was not yet in the hands of hon. Members. It was prepared, and was now in the hands of the printer, and he expected every day it would be distributed to hon. Members. It appeared to him that the Amendments which had been moved raised considerations for the House of Commons upon three points—First, whether the Government was to blame for the prolongation of the war in Upper Burmah, for, of course, every hon. Member in that House must feel regret for that prolongation; secondly, whether the expenses of that war should be borne 810 exclusively by the Revenues of India; and, thirdly, whether Her Majesty's Government should persevere in the attempt to make Upper Burmah a part of the British Dominions, or whether they ought to hand back the country to some Native Potentate under some conditions not specified in the Amendment which had just been moved? Upon these three points he would endeavour to give the House the most frank and ample information. In the course of the speeches which had been delivered that evening reference had been made to one point which was quite outside the scope of the Amendments, and that was with reference to the negotiations that had recently taken place with regard to Upper Burmah between the Government of India and that of the Empire of China. On this point it would be sufficient for him to repeat the language of his right hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Sir James Fergusson), to the effect that a Convention satisfactory to all parties had been arrived at between the two Governments, and which gave great advantages to this country. He might further say upon this point that the action of the Chinese Government throughout the negotiations which had resulted in this Convention being agreed upon had been of the most friendly character. If hon. Members were dissatisfied with the course which had been pursued in this matter they ought to have brought it before the House in the shape of a definite Motion, and not in the form of an Amendment to the Address. He did not think that by either of the Amendments which had been moved the question of the justice of the original invasion of Upper Burmah had been distinctly raised, although undoubtedly the hon. Member for Shore-ditch (Mr. Cremer) had in the course of his speech asserted that that war was unnecessary and unrighteous in its inception. If hon. Members held such an opinion it was their duty to have challenged the policy and the justice of the war by some direct Motion; and if they declined to take that course they ought to refrain from making statements which were derogatory to the honour and the humanity of this country. The question of the justice and necessity of the original war in Upper Burmah was not in any sense a Party one. The initiative in the matter was due to Lord Dufferin as Go- 811 vernor General of India, and the proposal for the invasion of Upper Burmah was only made after long years of resistance of the idea on the part of the Indian Government. The opinion of Lord Dufferin having been communicated to the noble Lord the present Chancellor of the Exchequer (Lord Randolph Churchill), when Secretary of State for India, he and his Colleagues gave the policy proposed by Lord Dufferin their full sanction. Subsequently it became the duty of the late Government to review the action of Lord Dufferin and of their Predecessors in making this war, and they came to the conclusion that the war was not a trade war in any sense, but had been undertaken for the protection and safety of British Burmah and of our Indian Dominions in general. In the debate on the 22nd February the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) said—The Mover of the Amendment says that Indian funds should be expended in Indian interests. Most certainly; and it is upon the grounds of Indian interests, if at all, that this war and this annexation are to be justified.In a later portion of his speech the right hon. Gentleman went on to say—It was not to extend trade, to gratify passion or ambition, but because a door was threatened to be opened through which would have been brought into India danger, insecurity, loss of happiness, and prosperity. The mass of people depend entirely on our sovereign rule in that country; and it was to defend them, and not for the purpose of giving effect to any idle dreams, that this war was believed to be necessary. ….I do believe that it has been in reality, and certainly in intention, a defensive war. I do not believe, for a moment, that the late Government would have taken up this question in a spirit of aggression."—(3 Hansard,  967–8–9.)After that admission on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian as to the policy of the Burmese War, he was justified in asking hon. Members who had insinuated that the war was unjust to take the proper Constitutional course of inviting the opinion of the House of Commons upon it. The extract he had quoted seemed to him to dispose of the question whether the expenses of the war should be thrown upon the Revenues of India. No reason whatever had been adduced why, if this were defensible in Indian interests, the ordinary rule as to placing such a charge upon the Revenues of India should not prevail. The precedent quoted did not 812 apply in the present case. The Persian War was made upon a Power entirely external to India. The Egyptian War was still more remote, and entirely different in character from the Burmese War. He (Sir John Gorst) would say, without fear of contradiction, that no precedent could be produced, and no reason given, why the ordinary rule as to India paying the cost of this Expedition should not apply. A great part of the speech of the hon. Member for Flint-shire (Mr. Samuel Smith) was taken up by an appeal to the House on the ground of the extreme poverty of the Natives of India. No doubt the possibility of increased taxation in India was a very serious question to contemplate; but although the poverty of the Natives of India might be a strong ground for retrenchment in the general expenditure of India, it was not a ground for placing upon the taxpayers of the United Kingdom, who after all were, the majority of them, not very rich people, an expenditure which did not properly belong to them. To go to the original Burmese War, some critics had alleged that if it had been prosecuted with more vigour, and more violent measures at first, possibly resistance to our arms might never have made its appearance. The instructions given to Sir Harry Prendergast were that, as the people with whom he was to fight were not hostile, but were a nation identical in race, religion, and interests with our own people in British Burmah, they were not to be treated as a hostile people. The invasion was carried out in accordance with these instructions, little loss of life occurred, and very trifling conflict took place. Hon. Members ought to rejoice that an Expedition of this magnitude was carried out with so very trifling a loss of life as the Burmese Expedition was. What had been the effect of the principle kept in view in invading Burmah? The result had been that the village population was almost entirely friendly to us. Although our troops had been quartered in Mandalay and other towns, and had mixed freely with the people, there had been no murders, and no crimes of violence. That did not look as if the people of Burmah were so rancorously hostile to us as the hon. Member for Shoreditch supposed. It was also the fact that, when parties of our troops went into the country villages, the villagers always spontaneously sup- 813 plied them with water and other necessaries. Then they were told that the country was overrun by bands of dacoits, and by insurgent Princes. Newspaper correspondents wrote very graphically for the amusement of their readers, and, no doubt, made the country they described appear somewhat worse than it was. But, however bad Burmah might be at the present time, and assuming all that the Rangoon Correspondent of The Times said to be correct, yet it was no worse than before our invasion of the country. People spoke as if we had overturned some quiet and settled Government in Burmah, and had produced anarchy. What we had really done was, to step into the shoes of the old Government, and, having done so, we found how much there was to be done before the country could be brought to that satisfactory state in which a country under the protection of our rule ought to be. If the House would permit him, he would read an extract from a Report made by the Viceroy (Lord Dufferin) which induced the late Government to approve the policy of annexing Burmah. The Report was made on the 17th of February of the present year, when the Viceroy was at Mandalay. He said—It is only by annexation, and the establishment of British administration, that we can hope to rescue Upper Burmah from the state of lawlessness and anarchy in which so many parts are plunged.He might state that the extract he was reading would appear in Papers to be presented to the House. Lord Dufferin proceeded—The country has at all times, and even under its best Princes, suffered from the depredations of gang robbers or dacoits, recruited not only from among the bad characters of the towns and villages of Burmah proper, but from the Shans and other hill tribes of the surrounding mountain tracts. Under Theebaw's maladministration, these chronic outbreaks were greatly intensified and extended, and the ill-directed efforts of his Ministers have failed to suppress them, even in the neighbourhood of the capital. Indeed, it is universally believed that the relations of more than one of the Hloot-daw with dacoits were friendly and mutually profitable. Nor can it be denied that recent events, the disbandment of the late King's troops, and the confusion and uncertainty which the overthrow of the Native Government must for the time engender, have supplied them with additional recruits and a fresh stimulus. There is, indeed, a curious element of restlessness in the Burmese character which gives a great deal of trouble in Lower Burmah, and invariably develops into crime 814 under the influence of popular excitement or of any inviting opportunity. Nothing is more common than for a young man who was yesterday tilling his fields, to all appearance a respectable and well-disposed cultivator, suddenly to disappear from his home and attach himself for a time to a gang of professional dacoits in order to taste the novelty and delight of an adventurous onslaught upon villages in another neighbourhood. When men of settled occupation can thus behave, it is, of course, quite natural that the unemployed or idle members of the community—and in Burmah the industry of the women supports a large idle class—should join such gangs where dacoity is rife. The people generally, while light-hearted and engaging in many ways, have a strain of savagery and cruelty in their disposition which breaks out at times into wanton exercise, and can only be suppressed by firm and even severe handling. It is a mistake to suppose that the dacoits, who are now disturbing the peace of many districts in Upper Burmah, and whose incursions into Lower Burmah caused for a time so much anxiety to the local officers, are chiefly bands of patriots or partizan warriors, opposing the invasion of their country by a Foreign Power. Their object, for the most part, is plunder, and their attacks are principally directed, not against our parties or posts, as the fact of only seven British rank and file having fallen during the whole campaign sufficiently proves, but against the defenceless villages of their own countrymen, who apply for and welcome our patrols and columns as their only defence against their inroads. It is true that larger bodies, recruited from the disbanded soldiery and the more necessitous and adventurous portion of the population, may occasionally gather to a head under the standard of some Prince, and in right of their numbers be entitled to claim a more honourable designation than the bands of pillagers technically known as 'dacoits;' but it must be remembered that even these Princes are fighting each for his own hand and his own personal ascendancy, and are not banded in a common cause against us. Whether, however, we call them dacoits, robbers, partizans, insurgents, rebels, or patriots, it is equally certain that in the interests of the community at large they must be summarily put down, though the execution of this task should be conducted in as humane, forbearing, and considerate a manner as possible.What has since happened was contemplated by Lord Dufferin. Writing on the 17th of February last his Lordship said—It would be a work consequently of time, as we know from experience in Lower Burmah, to convince the disorderly and ill-disposed that we intend them to receive us as their rulers, and to respect our standard of civic discipline and political morality. The situation, moreover, is undoubtedly complicated by the fact of any Alompra Prince, under the Native Government, having been always able to obtain some sort of following whenever he attempted to raise his flag and strike a blow for the Throne. Hence the jealousy with which the reigning Monarch kept his near relatives shut up within the 815 Palace, and hence the terrible massacres of the Royal kind which from time to time took place in Mandalay. Hence, also, the close seclusion of the King himself within his Palace, as any excursion outside exposed him to the risk of attack from some one or other of his relatives who might have gathered round him a band of followers. On one of the rare occasions when Theebaw's father, who was undoubtedly a respectable Ruler, had proceeded to a summer-house at no great distance from the city, he was attacked by his own son, the Myngoon Prince, to whom I have already referred. The Heir Apparent was killed, and the King barely escaped with his life by the back door of the summer-house in which he was sleeping. The Monarchy not being strictly hereditary, every Prince was a possible King, and never abandoned the hope of being able some day to secure the Throne. There are now wandering about the jungle not less than five of these Princes, to say nothing of pretenders, each with his small party of followers. But the objects and procedure of these bands differ little from those of ordinary dacoits. The Princes themselves are men of no importance or influence apart from the accident of their birth, and when the ammunition of their followers fails, their adherents will probably disperse of their own accord, if they are not sooner broken up by our troops. In a year or two, however, we ought to have the whole country reasonably quiet. When we remember how long dacoity lasted after our occupation of Bengal; that 30 years ago the neighbourhood of Calcutta was rendered unsafe by gangs of dacoits; that within a still more recent period it was impossible to wander three or four miles out of Poonah without a guard, and that there is at the present moment a dacoit leader at large in the Central Provinces who has for years defied all the efforts to capture him put forth by our own police and by those of several Native States, there is no reason to be dissatisfied with the prospect before us or impatient at the progress already made.Assuming that the worst accounts were accurate, the despatches in the Blue Book conclusively showed that the state of the country was no worse than it was in the time of King Theebaw. In fact, at that time the country was infested by bands of dacoits, who roamed about without check, creating disturbances. The great town of Bhamo about two years ago was seized by a band of filibusters, who could not be displaced by the Mandalay Government. So far from a dislike of British rule being the cause of Princes and pretenders roaming about the country, that had been the chronic state of Burmah for many years past. As he had given the opinion and statement of the Viceroy, he did not think he should be justified in asking the House to listen to a number of extracts from the Blue Books. What he had said disposed, he thought, of any blame 816 which some hon. Members might feel inclined to cast upon the Executive Government for the prolongation, as they called it, of the Burmese War. But the hon. Member for Shoreditch said—"Oh, but you ought not to have annexed Burmah. You ought to have turned it into a protected State. You ought to have placed a Burmese Prince on the Throne, and in that way you would have avoided all this national resistance." In answer to that he could say that undoubtedly the question was one of difficulty; that it was carefully considered by the late Government and the Government which preceded it; and that the two Governments in India and the two Governments in the United Kingdom came to the conclusion that the safest course, after all, was to annex Burmah to the British Dominions. The final decision was arrived at on the 16th of February by the late Government upon receipt of a telegram of the 13th of February from the Viceroy, which summarized the Memorandum to which he (Sir John Gorst) had already called the attention of the House. If hon. Members would study the Memorandum and the views of the Viceroy, which were adopted by both Governments, they would find that there were serious objections to the plan, which looked primâ facie a very plausible one, of turning Burmah into a protected State. The hon. Member's idea was originally the idea of Lord Dufferin. All his Lordship's prejudices were in favour of turning Burmah into a protected State, and it was the force of logic and the irresistible facts brought to bear at Mandalay that induced him to change his mind and come to the conclusion that annexation was the best and the safest course. There is a great deal of difference between the Princes of a country like Burmah and the Native Sovereigns of India. The Indian Princes were more civilized; they were all of them friendly to us, and most of them desired to assimilate the administration of their government to the administration of the Provinces of British India, by which they were surrounded. But the Burmese Princes belonged to a wholly different order. They had ideas on the subject of government which were wholly incomprehensible to us, and no doubt some of our ideas on the subject were wholly incomprehensible to them. They had an idea that they were 817 superior to all other created beings. Then it must be remembered that the Burmese dignitaries who surrounded the Throne, and who exercised a very large share of power, did not want to have any real Sovereign. They wanted to have a puppet Sovereign who would act according to their wishes. These persons were implicated in the massacres which had occurred at various periods of King Theebaw's reign. The hon. Member for Shoreditch said—"Surely among 70 you could find one Prince who was suitable." But there was not one who could reasonably and with any prospect of ultimate advantage be placed upon the Throne; and, therefore, the Viceroy and the late Government and the former Government were driven to the conclusion at which they arrived, much as they disliked any extension of the British Dominions. When hon. Members should have seen the Papers which were to be presented to Parliament they would, he felt sure, ascribe none but the most patriotic motives to the present Government and their Predecessors. He would now tell the House what was the military position. There were not 30,000 troops in Upper Burmah, as some hon. Members stated, but between 15,000 and 16,000, posted at Mandalay, Bhamo, and in some 30 or 40 places stationed along the banks in the valleys of the two chief rivers of the country—the Irrawaddy and the Kyen-duenrhe Rivers. The troops would make no general movement at present against the insurgent Princes or large bands of dacoits, because the season of the year was not favourable to operations of that kind. They were, for the most part, confining themselves to giving protection to the villagers against the dacoits, who did not attack our position, but did attack their own countrymen. As soon as the cold season should begin it was the intention of the Government to amass in Upper Burmah such a force as would put down all armed resistance to our rule. Nobody could regret more than he did any necessity for an increase of the military expenditure in Burmah; but it was better and more economical to send such a number of troops to that country as would put down all armed resistance once for all than to keep sending insufficient forces, the effect of which must be to prolong operations for an indefinite period. The Government had 818 thereupon determined to increase the Forces now in Burmah in the cold season, when they would number 30,000 men of all arms, under the command of General Sir Herbert Macpherson, Commander-in-Chief in Madras. In addition on the rivers there would be an armed flotilla consisting of three armed war steamers, three armed tenders, and two armed launches, all having 12-pounders and machine-guns on board. These, it was hoped, would render the river communication perfectly secure, and would assist the troops in subduing and clearing the country. If time permitted, other steamers of light draught, &c. would also be despatched. With regard to civil government, it was a great mistake to suppose that Upper Burmah was now under Military Law; the whole of the country was under civil authority. It had been divided into 20 districts, over each of which an efficient European officer had been placed. These gentlemen had been chiefly drawn from the officials of Lower Burmah, and, to some extent, from civilians in that country who were able to speak Burmese, for it was absolutely necessary that every man appointed to this delicate and difficult position should be a master of the Native language. The country had been provided with a suitable code of law, enacted partly by an Indian Statute Law and partly by Proclamation under English law, with such amendments as were suitable to the unsettled condition of the country. There were no such things as military executions now going on there, and while the administration of the law would be firm and resolute, the Viceroy had every intention to make it as humane and merciful as possible. And now as to finance. Though the question of finance was, he was bound to say, unsatisfactory, it was really not so bad as the hon. Member for Flintshire seemed to suppose. There was spent on the war in the past quarter a sum of 30 lacs of rupees. The hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) asked for the actual figure of the Revised Estimate; but that had not yet been received in this country. What was called the Revised Estimate consisted of the actual expenditure for nine months up to the end of last year, and an estimated expenditure for the remaining three months up to the 31st March last, and it was accurate to within a very small amount; but the Budget 819 Estimate for the present year, which was only 30 lacs of rupees, was certainly very largely exceeded. He was not able to state the exact figure by which it was exceeded; but no doubt it would be very much more than 30 lacs. he thought, however, he might almost promise that what the hon. Member for Flintshire said he would be contented with would be carried out in the present year—namely, that the extra expenditure beyond the revenue from Upper Burmah would not exceed the surplus which was paid into the Indian Revenue from Lower Burmah. Last year there was paid into the Indian Exchequer from Lower Burmah a surplus of 100 lacs of rupees; and he thought he might almost promise, unless something very unforeseen took place, that the expenditure on Upper Burmah would, at all events, not be so great as to swallow up this surplus from Lower Burmah. There was also every reason to hope, when the country was settled and the Government established in the way in which he believed it would be established, that very soon the Revenues of Upper Burmah would be sufficient to meet the expenses of its administration. He did not know that a very large surplus could be expected or ought to be drawn from a country like Burmah and paid into the Exchequer of another country; but he believed there was no reason to suppose that Upper Burmah would be any permanent burden on the Revenues of India, or that the state of things in the former country would aggravate that expenditure which the hon. Member for Flintshire so much regretted. In conclusion, he assured the House that the Government would be the last to complain of hon. Members who asked for information upon a subject of such importance as that now under discussion. He hoped the explanation he had given would to some extent re-assure and satisfy hon. Members; and that they would believe Her Majesty's Government was fully alive to the difficulties of the situation and the responsibilities they had incurred, and were animated by a sincere desire to do that which was for the real welfare of the people of Upper Burmah, and likely to insure the safety, security, and tranquillity of those enormous populations in India for which we had made ourselves responsible.
SIR, GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
admitted that there was a great deal of truth in the contention of the hon. Member for Flintshire that the people of India had but little interest in the war in Burmah. At the same time it would, in his opinion, be very hard upon the British taxpayer if he were compelled to pay for all the mistakes that might be committed by the numberless Governors and Administrators of our vast Empire. The annexation of Burmah, he feared, might prove to have been a mistake, and he confessed he was not at all re-assured by the couleur de rose statement of the Under Secretary of State for India. He was afraid that the dacoity now prevailing was really very much in the nature of a popular resistance to our rule. What alarmed him was that the disturbances were not confined to Upper Burmah, but existed also in Lower Burmah; and if that were so in a country which we had possessed for so many years, it augured ill for an early settlement of our troubles and difficulties in our new acquisition. The dacoity of which Calcutta was formerly the scene was not analogous, as Lord Dufferin maintained in his Report. As to the Revenue of Lower Burmah, he denied that there was a surplus of £1,000,000. That could not be so if the share which it had to contribute towards the expenses of the general government of India were reckoned. He admitted that when the war broke out, not knowing much of the country, he refrained from committing himself to any opinion against it; but he now saw very good reason to doubt whether the annexation would turn out a good one, and he was not now convinced by what had been said by the Under Secretary. It seemed to him that Her Majesty's Government had taken a great responsibility upon themselves in this annexation, apart from any action of the late Administration, and if it turned out well they would be entitled to be acquitted of blame, but if it turned out ill the blame would rest upon them. As to the conduct of the campaign, he hoped that it would be found that the Madras Army had been able to do good service in Burmah; but he was not satisfied that the military affairs in Burmah had been conducted with that care, judiciousness, and mercy which ought to have characterized them.
821 An officer, who had lately returned from Burmah, had told him things about the action of the military which had made his hair stand on end. It seemed to him that the moral of the whole of this Burmese War was to avoid French scares; that in that respect he thought we should look to the beam in our own eye before we sought to take the mote out of our neighbour's eye. We stole sheep all over the world, but went into transports of pious horror whenever the French stole a lamb. He believed the French people were, in the main, opposed to foreign annexation, aggression, and war. He thought that this country ought not to be led into aggression of this sort in order, as he had said, to meet French scares. It was true that the late Government had also been guilty of wars of a similar kind. He would ask Her Majesty's Ministers to take warning by the fate of the late Prime Minister, who sacrificed his policy, his Government, and the respect of Parliament, because he was led into wars of annexation.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said, he rose only to refer to a point which he thought had been somewhat irregularly raised by the hon. Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan). That hon. Member alluded to the recently concluded Convention between this country and the Government of China, and made some remarks upon it which he should be sorry to allow to pass without notice; because in that case the House might suppose that the late Government, in whose time the Convention was concluded, admitted the justice of the reflection which the hon. Member seemed to wish to cast upon the Convention. He would, however, since the subject did not properly arise in the present debate, be content with asking the House not to assume the correctness of the statement which his hon. Friend had made, but to reserve its judgment. The Convention was made on the 24th of July. It had not yet been presented to the House. It was therefore, in his opinion, premature to discuss it at the present time. It would be presented to the House, and it would then be possible for the hon. Member, if he did not think the Convention satisfactory, to raise the question by Motion in that House. He believed that when the time arrived, and the Convention was fully debated, it 822 would be felt and believed by the House to have been a very satisfactory arrangement of a most difficult and intricate question made with that great Power in Eastern Asia with which it was desirable, above all other Asiatic Powers, that this country should be on friendly and honourable relations. The hon. Member had referred to the question of trade in Thibet and on the frontier between Yunnan and Burmah, as well as to that of the claims of China. He would not follow the hon. Member into those matters; but he would say that when the time came when this Convention became a matter of discussion the late Government would be able to show that on all these, as on other points, the Convention was honourable and satisfactory to this country; that it did not recognize any suzerainty of China over Burmah; that it contained no suggestion whatever of the cession of Bhamo; that it opened up excellent prospects of improved trade between China and Burmah, and settled questions which might have been a source of great trouble, and even danger, to our Indian Dominions. It was, he believed, a Convention which that House might properly be asked to receive, and would receive, when its details were known with cordial approval.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
(who rose amid cries of "Divide!" from the Ministerial Benches) said, he quite understood the desire of hon. Members opposite to close the debate; but he and others near him contemplated taking part in it. The Secretary of State for the Colonies seemed to think they should not oppose the annexation because it had not been opposed by the late Liberal Government. But they were in no way responsible for what the Liberal Government did in the matter, for the annexation had been the result of the action of the noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill) when Secretary of State for India; and though it was all very well to talk about the beauty of continuity of policy, he trusted that whatever Government was in power there would always be plenty of Members of that House ready to oppose these schemes of annexation. He could understand a war being necessary if a British subject were maltreated; but an annexation was a very different thing. When European nations went to war the victor was rewarded by an indemnity, and, perhaps, a portion of 823 territory; but nobody ever heard of them quietly annexing the whole country. Such a thing would be considered monstrous if it were done in Europe; why, then, should it be done in Asia? He thought that Viceroys, even when they went out to India with the best intentions, were always in favour of annexation. The great Military and Civil Services by whom they were surrounded were always in favour of it, because it led in both cases to promotion. We heard a great deal about rebels; but against whom were these people rebels? They were a people struggling to be free. King Theebaw might not have been the best of Rulers; but, for his own part, it seemed to him that the rule of King Theebaw was infinitely preferable to ours, because, though he might have executed a few of his courtiers, he had not interfered with the feelings and prejudices of the people. Our conduct in that country had not been such as to be likely to win over the people. In consequence of it the country was now open to rapine on the part of Native robbers, while our soldiers were sent from village to village to punish the inhabitants by killing them and burning their villages. The only thing that would give us a right thus to annex a country would be the desire of the inhabitants of that country that we should do so. He knew of no other right, and he hoped the House would insist, notwithstanding the assurances of the Under Secretary of State for India, that before it was decided that Burmah should form part of the British Possessions of India we should in some sort of way consult the inhabitants, and arrive at a decision according to their wishes.
§ MR. A. BLANE (Armagh, S.)
contended that we were sending an Army and a host of officials to Burmah not for the better government of the Burmese, because the Burmese were able to govern themselves better than we could do, but to devour the substance of the people. He protested against any taxpayers being burdened with the expenses of an annexation for which he maintained there was no justification. In 1852, at the siege of Rangoon, our soldiers stabbed the wounded just as they did the other day in Egypt. Once more we heard of the Burmese wounded being stabbed whilst lying on the ground by direction of the superior officers of our 824 Army. How long was such a scandal to continue? When conquered you intend to tax the blood of these people by an impost on chloride of sodium—common salt. In a vegetarian country good health could not be kept without salt. Hence the British Government taxed their salt, and consequently their blood. But what matter? Sure we hand those poor Burmese a Bible! It were laughable if not so sad.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
said, he thought the terms of the Amendment inconclusive. If they were to continue the annexation the war must be continued. They were brought into contact with an ugly difficulty, and he rejoiced that he was in no way responsible for the annexation. He believed that if the country had foreseen the expenditure of blood and treasure in Upper Burmah now going on it would not have assented to the annexation. They entered into these great transactions with too light hearts. The ruling motives for the annexation were of the most meagre and mean character. It could not be that the British people were not beginning to realize that the present responsibilities of India were most severe, and for this country cavalierly to enter upon increased responsibilities was unjustifiable, and must lead to increased financial difficulties. There were in India already sources of the greatest possible danger to this Empire. It was proposed to burden India with increased taxation; yet those who took any trouble to inquire into the condition of India financially and industrially were bound to admit that India was really the poorest country in the world. These annexations were of no value to the people of India. They were not called for by the people of India, and he held it was unjust and cruel in the last degree that additional taxation, however light it might be, should be placed upon the people of India. Our policy in Afghanistan had been, defended on the ground that it was necessary to have a "buffer State" on the North-Western Frontier of India between ourselves and Russia. But in this case we seemed to be deliberately abandoning the policy of the "buffer State" and bringing ourselves into immediate touch with China. The House had been told by the late Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Bryce) that in the Convention which 825 had been concluded with China many difficult questions had been settled. That was all very well for the moment; but, at the same time, Russia had found in dealing with China how much better it would have been to have had a "buffer State" intervening. There remained the miserable motive—he could characterize it in no other way—of getting increased trade with Burmah after we had subjugated it. He was disposed to look with the greatest jealousy upon increase of trade which was brought about through the instrumentality of military force. Taking it on the very lowest ground, we had 10 years before us to be employed in the subjugation of Burmah. He did not hesitate to say that for a great many years after the subjugation was complete, the interest on the money expended in the process would swallow up a good deal more than the profits which would arise. In view of this annexation he desired to know what position we were to take with regard to other nations whom we undertook to criticize and rebuke when they acted as we were now doing ourselves, on motives of self-interest, without any regard to morality? He proposed to support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Cremer) rather than that of the hon. Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith), because it more clearly indicated his view as to the unjustifiable character of the annexation of Burmah.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
said, Her Majesty's Government, when last in power, took action, which led to the present deplorable state of affairs in Upper Burmah; and having brought about the present disorganized condition of the people, they were going into action, like a certain colonel who commanded a certain regiment of "peacemakers," under a blank flag. The noble Lord the present Chancellor of the Exchequer was responsible for the Burmese policy; it was he who insisted upon annexing the country against the wishes and the aspirations of the Burmese nation, and the result had been a state of anxiety and confusion utterly hostile to the interests of the people of Burmah. Therefore, he argued that it was the duty of Her Majesty's Government, before going further and sending a large Army into the unhealthy swamps of Burmah, to make careful inquiries 826 into the origin of the Burmese difficulty. He would ask, if the proposed war was to be carried on, who was to pay the piper? Was it proposed to make India pay? Why, the annexation was carried out in opposition to the wishes and interests of India. For his part, he did not take any very great interest in these foreign affairs, nor did the majority of the Party with whom he acted; but when he saw Her Majesty's Government going in for a system of gigantic land-grabbing in any part of the world, he considered it to be his duty, and the duty of his Party—whose existence was a continual protest against land-grabbing in their own country—to raise their voices, and to use all the power which they possessed against such a nefarious policy. He asked the Government to consider well before they took any further steps in this matter to enter upon a policy of examination and inquiry with regard to Burmah, so that they might discover some means of allowing these unfortunate people to govern themselves. The system of land-grabbing was the bane of English policy. Only the other day the English officials seized an island on which lived a lot of savages, because they were afraid Germany should be beforehand with them. For his part, he did not see why England, who was the greatest land-grabbing nation in the world, should be jealous of Germany. It was a policy of hypocrisy and murder—hypocrisy first, murder afterwards. Inquiry would show that this Burmese difficulty, like too many of our troubles, was largely due to the overbearing intolerance of English officials. The captains of Irrawaddy steamers, according to statements in French newspapers, dealt arbitrarily with Burmese passengers, and then the Burmese authorities naturally retaliated. The English treated every people with whom they came into contact with contumely and insult. The Japanese, the Hindoos, the Burmese, all civilized peoples, they called niggers, and they treated them as niggers. Was it, then, to be wondered at that these people hated us, and when opportunity offered tried to retaliate? This policy of subterfuge and hypocrisy and insult caused the English people to be hated all over the world; and he suggested to Her Majesty's Government whether it was not time to turn over a new leaf? If they inquired into this 827 Burmese Question, they would find there were two sides to it. The French, newspapers were not always friendly to this country; but, at the same time, there was often very useful information for Englishmen to be found in foreign organs of public opinion. Anglo-Indian rule had been forced on the Burmese against their will; and, therefore, he asked the House, was it unreasonable to suppose that they would battle against the invader to the end? It was very easy to say that 30,000 troops would be sent to put those people down; but if they retreated to their hills and mountain fastnesses how could they be reached? The country was, at the present time, flooded; and after the floods, when the strong glare of the sun came out where the water had previously lain, the condition of the atmosphere would be highly unsanitary and dangerous to our troops.
§ MR. SPEAKER
rose to Order, and said that the hon. Member was not speaking relevantly to either Amendment.
§ DR. TANNER
, in continuation, said, it was a comprehensive assertion for any Member of Her Majesty's Government to make that, because we had gone in for the annexation of a country that did not care for us, and for which nine out of every 10 Englishmen would tell us he did not care a rap about, that all the expenditure was to fall upon India. Let England pay for it, because they were very fond, when they could, of trying to get up some petty war, or annex some State, be it large or small, to show that their foreign policy was so fine and great, and that they were carrying out the great foreign policy inaugurated at Berlin—the policy of peace with honour. If Her Majesty's Government insisted upon annexing Burmah this country should pay for the policy of annexation; and if they insisted on carrying on war in Burmah—and he supposed, if necessary, of exterminating the Burmese—they should make this country pay for their doing so; and then, when they came to deal with the people of this country, and put this foreign policy before them, they might, perhaps, be sorry. They had better pause in time. We heard a great deal about the dacoits. Who were the dacoits? It was understood that they were tribes of robbers infesting Burmah and the North-West of India; and when we looked into the question it was found that though they 828 had existed in the North-West of India for a long time, they had never existed to the same degree as they did at the present time. Instead of these men being robbers, they were found to be practically the farmers and the country people of the district, up in arms, fighting for their faith, against a foreign country. Nobody in the world could say anything against them for so doing. One noteworthy fact struck him about the matter. Why was Burmah annexed? Was it because we particularly wanted to have Burmah? It was not. It was annexed shortly after the Franco-Burmese Agreement was under consideration. When the Burmese agents were in Paris for the purpose of concluding the Treaty, the Government received a whole shoal of official communications between Lord Lyons, Lord Granville, and the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, dealing with the Franco-Burmese difficulty. Then why was the country annexed? Simply and solely because the Gentlemen who were at the head of the Government at the time began to get afraid lest France might get the upper hand of them in Burmah. In one of those letters, which he saw not long ago, from Lord Lyons to Lord Granville, the former made use of the remark that he had an interview with M. Jules Ferry, and had said to M. Ferry that it was all important for England to keep up good communications with Burmah—if necessary to annex Burmah—whereas it was only of secondary importance to France. The islands to which he referred were annexed the other day because Her Majesty's Government was afraid of Germany; and in the same way Burmah was annexed because they were afraid of France. This policy of fear always brought a policy of catastrophe in its train. As this policy of fear had brought all the disasters in Burmah in its train, so would just retribution bring about the punishment of the devisers of such an unhappy policy.
§ MR. ALLISON (Cumberland, Eskdale)
said, he thought the House should be obliged to the hon. Members who had brought these questions forward. He confessed he was in favour of both Amendments. He held the opinion that the annexation of Burmah ought not to have taken place at all; but, having taken place, that a portion of the charge ought to be borne by the British tax- 829 payer. It was true that he was opposed in that opinion by both the Front Benches; but that was a very good reason for thinking that he might be right on that occasion. The annexation formed an admirable and complete example of the delusive promises and foolish anticipations by which these filibustering expeditions were palmed off on the British public, and it was in the hope that they might be wiser in the future that attention should be called to this most gross example. The annexation, instead of being followed by an increased trade, had been followed by stagnation of the ordinary trade of the country. Just before Parliament met six months ago, they had a long Memorandum from Colonel Sladen to the Indian Government, in which it was represented that "the general interests of humanity were infringed by the continued excesses of a barbarous and despotic Ruler." He was afraid "the general interests of humanity" had been infringed since then by others than a despotic and barbarous Euler. The Natives who "gladly hailed our advent" had required 16,000 troops to enable them to express their feelings, and these now required to be increased to 35,000. It was abundantly clear that this question was not favoured by the Native people of India. It was admitted by Lord Dufferin himself, in his address to the Indian Government, that the Natives were hostile to the annexation. His Lordship added that they were imperfectly informed; but possibly their information was as good as his. Under such circumstances, it was unfair that the people of India should be saddled with the whole cost. The great argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman on the Front Bench (Sir John Gorst) was that the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian had laid it down that the cost ought to be borne by the Indian people. The hon. and learned Gentleman was under a delusion, however, if he supposed that all the Members on that side of the House were the blind followers of the late Prime Minister. Occasionally they did think for themselves; and for himself, when this question was last before the House, he never gave a vote with greater pleasure than when he voted in the opposite Lobby to the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian on the question of the expenses of the annexation. While, how- 830 ever, the Natives were absolutely opposed, there were some bodies of people in this country absolutely in favour of the policy. Chambers of Commerce in the large commercial centres had taken a deep interest in it, and he thought that those commercial centres who highly approved of the policy of annexation ought to put their hands in their pockets to assist the Native people of India to pay for the policy of which they so approved. The final momentum having been given from this country, he submitted on this ground alone that this country ought to find some portion of the charge, and not fasten the whole on the unfortunate Natives, who were not represented in the House of Commons. The principle of no taxation without representation ought to be followed in the case of India; and when wars of this kind were initiated by our statesmen their cost should be defrayed by those who were represented in that House.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
said, he would like to call attention to the extraordinary fact that, though this question of a war in Burmah, involving the expenditure of possibly millions of money and the lives of a large number of men, was in debate, not a single Member of the late Government had spoken in regard to it, and the House had not heard one single word of justification from those who, until very recently, were entirely responsible for the conduct of affairs in that country. He entirely agreed with the remark of the Under Secretary for India that this was not a Party question, because, in his opinion, both Parties were equally responsible for the atrocities that had been committed all round our Indian Frontier, and nowhere more than in and around Burmah. He believed that policy had been adopted for greedy objects, at the instigation of the military ring which had involved India in so many wars. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer really anticipated that we should have great trouble in Upper Burmah, why did he estimate the expense of the war at the ridiculously low figure of £380,000?
SIR UGHTRED KAY-SHUTTLE-WORTH (Lancashire, Clitheroe)
said, he thought that, whatever views hon. Members might take respecting this debate, they might join in congratulating the House upon the attendance during 831 the discussion of an Indian question, especially at that season of the year, and of the evidence afforded of a growing interest in the House on subjects affecting the happiness of the people of India. The hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) had expressed surprise that no Member of the late Government had risen to express their view of the points raised by the Amendments. If he had waited a little longer, the hon. Member's desire for such a statement would have been satisfied. It was impossible for him (Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth) not to feel a great deal of sympathy with much that had fallen from his hon. Friends on that side of the House; with the hon. Member for Flint-shire's (Mr. S. Smith's) pleas for mercy to the people of India, because of their poverty; with the love of the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Cremer) of a policy of peace; and with the hon. Member for West Bradford's (Mr. Illing-worth's) objections to annexation. He was afraid that in the past there had been much too ready a tendency to fly to annexation as the solution of difficulties, when, perhaps, a better mode of solving them might have been found. He was not sure, however, that the mode in which his hon. Friends proposed to apply these principles to the present question would commend itself to the House. His hon. Friend the Member for Flint-shire had spoken of the annexation of Upper Burmah, quoting from The Voice of India, as if it had been the policy of his right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). But this policy had been adopted, and the "permanent incorporation of the Kingdom of Ava in the Empire" had been announced in the Queen's Speech, before his right hon. Friend and the late Government took Office. And if any credit or responsibility attached to the initiation of that policy, it rested not with the Government of his right hon. Friend, but with their Predecessors. But the late Government deliberately decided that they would maintain that policy and take the necessary consequential measures. He had already justified this decision of the late Government, and he was ready to defend it again. His hon. Friend the Member for West Bradford had said that he had searched for the ruling motives which had led the Government to interfere, and that they 832 were of the "meanest character;" and doubtless, he alluded to the "commercial reasons" which the hon. Member for Flintshire said had actuated their policy. He (Sir Ughtred Kay - Shuttleworth) entirely agreed with the Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst), who had said that this was not a trade war, but an Expedition for the protection of the Eastern Frontier of India. It was from that point of view that it was of real value to the peace and security of the Natives of India, including Lower Burmah; and that was why, in the opinion of the late as well as the present Government, it was right that the taxpayers of India should pay the cost. The Under Secretary of State had referred to a speech made by his right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian on his (Sir Ughtred Kay - Shuttleworth's) Motion last Session. In that speech would be found the real reasons, distinctly stated, why the late Government decided upon maintaining the policy of their Predecessors. A good deal had been said about the possibility of setting up a Native Prince. There was no doubt that if Lord Dufferin could have seen his way to setting up any Member of the Royal Family of Burmah he would have been extremely glad to adopt that course. Lord Dufferin discussed that question with the Government at home, and they had before them a list of the only possible Members of that Family; but against each of them there was some conclusive reason which rendered his adoption quite impossible. Lord Dufferin went to Mandalay with a perfectly open mind; and, although the permanent incorporation of the Kingdom of Ava had been announced by Lord Salisbury's Government in the Speech from the Throne, the Viceroy considered very carefully, at Mandalay, whether some course short of absolute annexation was desirable; but he was convinced by inquiry into the facts of the case on the spot, and recommended annexation as the only policy the Government could adopt under all the circumstances. The hon. Member for Flintshire said that the Indian people felt that if England chose to make war on Burmah, England should treat Burmah as a separate Dependency or Colony. That had been carefully considered. But his hon. Friend had entirely overlooked the fact that, for years past, a considerable surplus income had been 833 derived by India from Lower Burmah, and that it was only fair that India should take her share of the burden also. His hon. Friend the Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) argued that the question whether India should pay the costs of this Expedition was not prejudged by the Resolution adopted by Parliament in February last. He could not agree to that view; because he had clearly stated, in moving the Resolution, that the late Government meant that India should bear the expense, and that they did regard it as a proper charge on the Indian taxes. He had not put it in any saving words, like those his hon. Friend had quoted, as having been used by his noble Friend the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) on a previous occasion, when moving, as Secretary of State for India, a similar Resolution. He thought that the decision of last Session was conclusive, and that the House of Commons did recognize that the charge should be laid on India. It was, therefore, impossible for him and the Members of the late Government to support the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Flintshire. Coming to the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Cremer), he was equally unable to support it. He Hoped that the account given of the state of Burmah in past and present times by the Under Secretary of State for India would be considered by hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Benches, and that they would not rashly commit themselves to the statement that the Native population of Upper Burmah had shown that they had no desire to live under British rule. He believed that there was a great deal of evidence to the contrary, and he would particularly refer to the way in which our troops had been received by the villagers and peaceful population of Burmah. The Viceroy had in no way stinted the civil and military authorities in Burmah; they had had everything they required; and vigorous measures would, no doubt, be taken to suppress disorders which had become chronic during King Theebaw's reign. In the interest of the peace of Burmah, and in the true interests of its population, he believed that it was the duty of England to go through with the policy adopted by successive Governments, to pacify the 834 country as speedily as possible, and to bring it into such a state that the Burmese people might go about their business without fear of those bands of dacoits.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT (Sussex, North - West)
said, that the question now before the House should be dealt with by itself. The hon. Gentlemen who had moved the Amendments before the House were Gentlemen for whom he had a great respect. They had brought forward Amendments very carefully worded in a courteous and business like manner; and the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith) had been disposed of by the Under Secretary of State and the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken; but the question raised by the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Cremer) came under a totally different category. Under certain circumstances it might be wise, prudent, and right that this country should contribute certain expenses with regard to India. No doubt, if the Burmese War was an Imperial question, if it was for the great interests of the country, we should pay a certain portion of the expenditure; but if it was for the benefit of India alone, we should not do so. The present and the late Under Secretaries of State had disposed of that; but they had hardly dealt closely enough with the speech of the hon. Member for Shoreditch. That hon. Member felt, as did many others, that we should never go to war if we could possibly avoid it. He quite agreed with that; but there were times when we must go to war, and when it was fatal to the interests of the country not to persevere in a war which we had once undertaken. The hon. Member had talked disparagingly of prestige; but was prestige nothing in dealing with Eastern nations, or even with others? Should we not have been in a better position if we had not surrendered the Transvaal? He ventured to say there was no man who knew the position which we occupied amongst the nations of the earth who would not say that it was an unwise thing to surrender the Transvaal. If, having put our hands to the plough, we had turned back from this Burmese War, our prestige would have been greatly injured, and the interests of the country would have suffered in proportion. But he had risen, not so much to discuss the policy of this war as to say a few words 835 upon the position of the Army in respect to it, and upon the manner in which the Army had been, and was being, dealt with. He would venture to say, and he believed that he was right in saying, as he did with great confidence, that the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer was most anxious that a large and thoroughly efficient Force should be sent to Burmah in the first instance. But what did we do? What, in fact, did we generally do when we had to deal with such an undertaking as this Burmese War? We generally began by sending out a most inadequate Force when we had an undertaking of this or a similar kind to carry out, and what was the consequence of this method of proceeding? Why, the consequence was that we inflicted on the Army which was sent out in the first instance a series of heavy losses, almost amounting to disasters. We lost, at the outset, a large number of gallant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men, who were ready to do, and who did do, their utmost to promote and maintain the best interests of their country, and the honour of the Army to which they belonged. Their efforts were, through no fault of their own, only partially successful; and then the survivors of them were most unjustly passed by, and left out in the shade and in the cold. Was it not so? Was it not true that when our first efforts were not attended with success—men who had done their duty under most trying and difficult circumstances—many poor fellows had lost their lives, and those who had survived had no notice taken of what they had done and suffered? Then we awoke to a sense of our error, and the inadequacy of the effort we had made in the first instance. A large Army was sent out at last; and then this large Army and its Commander received all the reward and all the honour of success, while the men who had borne all the heat and burden of the day, and had struggled vainly against the difficulties with which they had to contend, in consequence of the smallness of the Force to which they belonged, were treated with indifference, and often did not receive all that they deserved. Thus it had been in the case of this Army sent against Burmah. It had been broken up into detachments, which had been posted here and there, and sent to different 836 parts of the country in such a manner that it could attempt nothing effective against the enemy, and could with difficulty hold its own. Through no fault of its own it had failed to perform the task we had set it to do—through our underrating the strength of the enemy, as it was our continual habit to do. Now, we were going to send out a larger Army, and one which he hoped would be adequate to the duty which we expected it to discharge. But he maintained that we ought always, in the first instance, to send out an Army which was able to cope with the difficulties it might be expected to encounter. He ventured to say that if we had carefully considered what we should have been called upon to do we should have dealt with this Burmese War in a very different manner from that in which we had done. Everyone must wish that an affair of this kind should be settled off-hand; nor could there be any reason to doubt that this war would now cost a great deal more than it would have cost had it been dealt with efficiently in the first instance. We should have best consulted both the interest of India and of England, and it would at the same time have been the most humane and merciful course, if we had, in the first instance, sent a thoroughly efficient Army. In that case, we should have had none of the heart-burning to which this war had given rise, nor should we have had to deplore the loss of so many gallant officers and men. He thought it right to say this much on the part of the Army, which had never disgraced itself or its country, but, whatever others might have done, had always, and under all circumstances, done its duty, and steadfastly maintained the honour of the British name.
§ MR. SUMMERS (Huddersfield)
said, he agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Cremer) in regarding the Burmese War as an unjust and unnecessary war, and in holding that we ought with all possible despatch to extricate ourselves from an untenable position. The arguments in favour of this Expedition might be divided into two classes. There were, in the first place, the arguments of the Gentlemen who had been described as the mercantile Jingoes. He did not mean to say that the Members of the late or the present Government would rightly be described by that phrase; but, on the 837 other hand, he could not admit that commercial considerations had nothing whatever to do with the Expedition. The immediate cause of the Expedition was, undoubtedly, the dispute with the Bombay-Burmah Company, which came to a head in August last. We were sometimes told that King Theebaw put himself distinctly in the wrong by refusing arbitration; but what was the nature of the arbitration that was offered to him? It was an arbitration in which the Viceroy, who was practically one of the parties to the suit, was himself to appoint the arbitrator. On the admission of the Members of the present Government, who were mainly responsible for the war, commercial considerations had a great deal to do with their policy. The noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) said, on the 31st of December last, that if the Government of India had delayed action a situation would have been created in Upper Burmah most prejudicial to the commercial and political interests of the Empire; and the then Under Secretary of State for India (Lord Harris) stated in "another place" that the expedition and annexation were not undertaken solely with the idea of extending our mercantile enterprize. Therefore, it was clear that commercial considerations had a good deal to do with the course of our policy. Now, the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), speaking in that House last February, expressed his opinion that no man of weight and experience would deliberately contend that we should be justified in making any war whatever for the sake of trade. They were told, however, that this was not a trade war, and, consequently, some other pretext for it must be advanced. The pretext was the intriguing of the French in Upper Burmah. The unpardonable crime which King Theebaw committed was that he endeavoured to enter into trade relations with Italy and France. It was monstrous to enter upon a war for such a flimsy purpose as that of preventing an independent Sovereign from entering into trade relations with friendly European Powers. It appeared to him that this war was entered upon with a light heart. At the time when it was undertaken it was not anticipated that it would turn out to be so formidable an enterprize as now we knew 838 it to be. The noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill) now said he never expected it would be an easy matter; he never imagined that Burmah would be reduced to order except after a considerable period. That was the language now used by the noble Lord; but, in his despatch of December 31, he wrote—The arrogance and barbarity of a Native Court, the oppression of British subjects, the hindrance to British commerce, the intrigues of foreign nations, are for ever terminated in Upper Burmah.The noble Lord was precipitate in his language and also in his action. He behaved like a "young man in a hurry" on that occasion. Parliament was to meet on the 12th of January; but the noble Lord did not wait for the assembling of Parliament. He issued a Proclamation on the 31st December, and he seemed to imagine that merely by the issue of a paper Proclamation the whole of the difficulties by which we were confronted would disappear. Well, they had not disappeared. Even if the military operations were justified, it did not at all follow that we should do wisely in annexing the country. Opinions had been adduced in favour of the annexation policy; but he would refer to the argument of the Marquess of Ripon. The noble Marquess denounced the idea of annexation, and argued in favour of the establishment of a Native Prince. Whilst he (Mr. Summers) agreed with the Amendment of the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Cremer), he likewise agreed with the latter portion of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith). He did not think that India ought to bear the whole cost of this war. Native opinion, as expounded in the Native Press, was decidedly against the enterprize. The war was undertaken for the purpose of promoting British trade and for the purpose of putting an end to the intrigues of a European Power. As his hon. Friend had argued, India was an extremely poor country, while we were one of the richest countries in the world. No doubt, the original estimate of the cost of the Expedition was £300,000; but the House knew how original estimates were accustomed to be multiplied in course of time. This war having been undertaken in part, at all events, for British and Imperial purposes, we 839 ought to bear at least a portion of the charge. He would only add that he intended to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Shoreditch, and, if that were defeated, for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Flintshire.
§ MR. BURT (Morpeth)
said, he was glad that the hon. Member for Flintshire had afforded the House an opportunity of discussing this important subject. In the course of the debate it had been said that the hon. Member for Shore-ditch (Mr. Cremer) was one of those who believed that we should not go to war if we could possibly avoid it. He (Mr. Burt) quite agreed with that sentiment. He did not think that was a very extravagant proposition; and the war in Burmah was just one of those wars which might have been avoided. The annexation of Burmah illustrated very well the small power that the House of Commons and the constituencies had in the declaration of war and the annexation of foreign countries. At the end of the Session of 1885 they scarcely heard a whisper that anything unusual was taking place in Burmah; and yet when the new Parliament met they found it declared in the Queen's Speech that an immense territory as large as France had been added to the Dominions of the Queen. During the interval the country was in the throes of a General Election. The people of this country were preoccupied with their own local affairs, and they therefore had no opportunity of giving the attention which was necessary to this very important matter. Now, if the law was not violated by this annexation, it was very considerably strained. There were various pretexts offered. It was said, for instance, that a secret Treaty had been entered into between Burmah and the French Government. That, however, was entirely cleared up. Sir John Walsham, in a despatch addressed to the Marquess of Salisbury, declared that the Prime Minister of France had said that not only was the statement incorrect, but there was not a single word of truth in it. Other pretexts had been found; but the whole subject illustrated the fable of the wolf and the lamb. It seemed to him that if we made up our minds to annex a country we were sure to find some reasons sufficient for ourselves why the annexation should take place. What was the present condition of Burmah? Upon 840 that point the hon. Member for Shore-ditch read some very startling statements from The Times newspaper. The Times was not very squeamish with regard to annexation, and it was not at all likely to misrepresent anything that might be done in the name of the British Government. The Times had stated that, including the military police, we had in Burmah at the present time no fewer than 30,000 soldiers, so that it was quite evident the undertaking was likely to be much more serious than was anticipated in February, when the question was discussed by the House of Commons. What were the prospects? They found that the leading authorities differed as to what our prospects were. The Prime Minister declared in "another place" that the difficulty was likely soon to be settled; but the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer hinted in his speech the other day that 10 years might elapse before the pacification of Upper Burmah was accomplished. However that might be, it was quite evident that the position was a very serious one for the taxpayers of India, and even for the people of the United Kingdom. It had been said that some of the statements put forward in The Times with regard to the anarchy prevailing in Burmah were very much exaggerated. It was also said that affairs were now being properly administered in Burmah; but The Times correspondent stated that the administrative staff in the country was supplemented by officers drawn from the police force, telegraph, public works, and other offices, and that these gentlemen possessed little or no training or experience; and, furthermore, that the discontent occasioned by our presence in the country was prevalent among all classes. Now with regard to the question—a very important one, but still, in his opinion, a subordinate one—who was to pay for these military operations? He thought it would be very unjust to put the cost of the war upon the half-naked and half-starved peasantry of India. So far as could be judged from the Native Press, the Indian Native population were not favourable, but entirely adverse, to this war. Indeed, it was evident from the Blue Books that it was the Chambers of Commerce and the leading merchants of Liverpool, London, and elsewhere, who hounded on the Government in this policy of annexation. There was an old 841 song to the effect that those who made the quarrels should be the only men to fight. He would like to see that principle adopted in practical politics. Those who made quarrels ought also to be made to pay for them. If a distinction could be made, Parliament ought, as far as possible, to throw the burden of the cost of this war upon the merchants of this country and those who took the initiative in encouraging the Government to pursue the policy of annexation in Burmah. He did not regard this question as a Party one. He opposed the Egyptian policy of the late Government. He was one of those who believed that even the late Prime Minister was not always right, though he thought he was more frequently so than any other political Leader. He regretted the right hon. Gentleman's attitude upon this particular question; but whatever might be the view of officials and ex-officials, he (Mr. Burt) was of opinion that the feeling of the masses of the country was against these perpetual aggressions and annexations. The hon. Member for Flintshire expressed some hopes as to the views of the men who had been recently enfranchised. He said they were honourable and conscientious and just. He (Mr. Burt) believed they were. He believed they possessed all the qualities attributed to them by his hon. Friend; but, unfortunately, they were preoccupied with their own struggle for existence, and could not give the attention which it was desirable they should to foreign affairs. They were sound at heart upon this and other matters; and he believed that with their increasing power and their increasing intelligence it would become more and more difficult for any Government, whether Whig, Radical, or Conservative, to pursue a policy such as had been pursued in Burmah and elsewhere. He believed that the newly enfranchised would do all they possibly could to prevent a repetition of unjust and unnecessary wars.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
Perhaps there are not many Members of the House who were in Burmah during the last Burmese War. I had the good fortune, or the bad fortune, to be engaged in that country at that time. A more iniquitous war was never brought about, and it cost this country many millions of money, 842 and the lives of many thousands of British soldiers. The hon. and gallant Member for Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) talks about the prestige which these wars gave to us. Now, the Burmese were a hard-working and industrious people at that time, and we have now brought them comfort and civilization in the shape of opium. We ask the people of India to pay for this Burmese War—a war brought on because we were jealous of a European nation making friendly Treaties with a friendly nation. What would right hon. Members on the Front Bench opposite say, or what would the English Press say, if Russia were to annex Persia? Yet the right of Russia to annex that country, in order to obtain a seaboard, is quite as good as our right to annex Upper Burmah. It was a pure trade question, and one of jealousy of the influence of other European nations. We were jealous of France and jealous of Italy—jealous of their entering into Treaties with Burmah, and in order to prevent them from doing so we annexed that great country against the will of her people. Some hon. Members talk about our prestige. The hon. and gallant Baronet opposite (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) has referred to the course we took in reference to the Transvaal War; but nothing has tended more to increase our power over the whole of Africa than the policy we pursued on that occasion. [A laugh.] Hon. and right hon. Members opposite may laugh; but I can tell them these things are discussed from one end of Africa to the other—from Algoa Bay in the South to Alexandria in the far North. The general belief that we will rule the country with justice and not by brute force, in my humble opinion, is diametrically opposed to the contention of the hon. and gallant Baronet (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) that we lost prestige when we restored the Transvaal to the Boers. Now, I maintain that there was no glory to be won by retaining it. A great country like this could well afford to restore territory to a people whom we might have crushed like an egg-shell, within three months. The Boers were without troops and without guns; and in giving them back their own country, nothing conferred upon Great Britain greater power and prestige throughout the whole of Africa, Central, North, and South. There is a sort of telephone running among 843 these semi-civilized nations, and our actions are flashed from tribe to tribe, so that every Native State is soon made aware of what has happened. In regard to the cost of the present Burmese War, it is preposterous to ask India to pay for it. Unfortunately, India, as a whole, has no Representative Government. Do you think that if India had a Parliament in Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras, it would propose to expend millions of the hard-earned money of a people, at present most heavily taxed, for the prosecution of a war in Burmah? That their taxation is excessive without any further addition to it, is shown by the fact that taxes are imposed not upon luxuries alone, but upon articles of necessity, such as salt. I would ask right hon. Gentlemen on both of the Front Benches, whether they think that if the people of India had a truly Representative Government they would have voted the money for this war? Having undertaken the war, the least we can do is to call upon the British taxpayer to contribute the greater portion of the cost. In my opinion, that is the only way to prevent these iniquitous wars of annexation. In that case, when this House is called upon to vote the money, every taxpayer in Great Britain and Ireland will know that he is paying the cost, out of his own pocket, of wars which can only be characterized as iniquitous and totally unnecessary—wars which are calculated to do us much more mischief among Asiatic nations than any loss of so-called prestige. I wish hon. Members could have heard, as I have, semi-civilized nations discussing what we call prestige. They say—"You call yourselves Christians, and you come among us with fire and sword, with friendly proclamations and loud assertions that your only desire is to protect us, and then you kill our people and burn our villages about our heads." Many years ago—in 1852—I was in Burmah, and I saw whole towns and villages all along the river-side burnt to ashes. Rangoon itself took three days to burn down, and the banks of the river were strewed with dead, and with the wounded who had been left to die. I regret to say that I saw with my own eyes, wounded men slashed about by our men before they were actually dead. The only way to prevent such wars in 844 future is, to require the expediency of an aggressive policy to be discussed, in the first instance, by the House of Commons before the money is voted. If the policy of an aggressive war is not approved of, the money would not be voted, and the war itself would consequently be repudiated. Any Minister who involved the country in war without the sanction of the House of Commons should at once be superseded. When the Marquess of Ripon was Governor General of India, he did not advocate the annexation of Burmah; but, on the contrary, he has told us that he considered it entirely unnecessary. ["Divide!"] Hon. Members opposite are growing impatient; but I wish they could have had a little experience of these things—not merely an experience acquired through holding some office in a bureau in London, but a practical experience which is only to be gained by mixing among the masses of the Oriental people and hearing what the opinions of these so-called semi-civilized Natives are. In that case, it would be impossible for them to run away with the idea that these are matters of indifference which the Natives neither understand nor appreciate. For my own part, I believe that the only way in which we can maintain our rule in India is by impressing upon the Native population that we are animated by a deep sense of justice in our dealings with them.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
I should not be a Radical, and I should be unworthy of the name of an Englishman, and I should certainly not be a true Representative of the Radicals of Camborne, if I did not enter my protest in this debate against the annexation of Burmah. I have the more satisfaction in entering a protest against the course which has been taken by this country, because I regard the war as iniquitous and immoral—iniquitous, in taking away the liberties of the people, and massacring them after we have done so; and immoral, because we propose to charge the cost of this iniquitous war upon the innocent masses of India. I have, therefore, great pleasure in entering the strongest protest in my power against the war, and I am in a position, further, to protest against the action of right hon. Gentlemen sitting on both of the Front Benches of this House. The electors of this country 845 have discovered more than once that there is very little difference between Whigs and Tories; but there is one difference, at any rate, I am glad to say, between right hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House and those who sit on the other—namely, that when the horrible atrocities of which we have been guilty in Burmah were detailed to the House by an eye-witness, I did not observe that right hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House received the statements made to them with a laugh and a giggle. Unhappily, Sir, whether we described the starving condition of the Irish people, or the mutilated remains of those who have been tortured and massacred in Burmah and in other parts of the world, I always observe that smiles of self-complacency, and even loud shouts of laughter, emanate from the Benches opposite. [Ministerial cries of "Divide!"] Now, Sir, we have a feeble expostulation in reference to the proceedings of the late Government. [Interruption.] I am here in the execution of my duty just as much as hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, and if they choose to enter into a conspiracy of silence on this subject, I can assure them I shall not follow their example. I was about to say that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Clitheroe (Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth) has offered a feeble expostulation for the misdeeds of the late Government. He began by describing the necessity which was felt in India for our proceedings, and for the trouble and anxiety which had been inflicted upon the Government. I always observe that those who have filled official positions never get much further than sympathy, but that when the time for action arrives, their courage, like that of "Bob Acres," oozes out at their fingers' ends. We have been told that the war has not been entered into for the furtherance of our trade and commerce; but when it was commenced, it was asserted over and over again that it was for the protection of our traders in Burmah. We have been told that the Earl of Dufferin went to Mandalay with an open mind; but, if so, he certainly did not keep it open loug—on the contrary, he declared that annexation was the only course that could be adopted. The noble Earl, by the Proclamation he issued by telegraph before Christmas, made any other course than annexation 846 impossible. It is because of those irreversible and irrevocable decisions which hon. Gentlemen on the Front Benches are so often talking about, and which are undertaken without the knowledge and sanction of the Legislature of this country, or without the people of India being able to utter one word in opposition, that we are determined to drag into light the evil deeds which have been perpetrated. We are told that the burden entailed by the war is not a large one, and that it is comparatively a mere fleabite. It is said that the cost will be some £300,000, and yet we are told that 35,000 troops are to be drafted to Burmah. Leaving out of account the horrible butchery which is likely to take place, the cost, instead of being £300,000, will, with far greater probability, reach £3,000,000. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Clitheroe said there was strong evidence to show that the Burmese loved us and desired our rule; but the right hon. Gentleman refrained from telling us what the evidence is upon which he bases that assertion. We have heard of an old play called A New Way to Pay Old Debts, and it appears to me that this massacre of the Burmese might, in the same way, be called "An Old Way to Make New Friends;" and I should like to remind the right hon. Member for Clitheroe of the words used by him on the 22nd of February in this House, when he moved that the expenses of the Burmese War should be paid by India. On the 11th of November, 1885, the Tory Government had ordered a Military Expedition to Upper Burmah, and the right hon. Gentleman went on to express a hope—That a system of administration might be introduced suitable to the peculiarities of the country and the people of Upper Burmah, and not burdensome in cost."—(3 Hansard, [302 941.)If that could have been done, it might have been all very well; but we know perfectly well that it is the old story. The officials of this country always talk of introducing a better system of administration, although, in most instances, the Native administration is much more suitable than our own. It is perfectly well known that the people of the Native territories are rising against us in every direction, and that they have not the least desire for our rule. [Cries of "Divide!" and interruption.] Hon. Gen- 847 tleman opposite are, no doubt, very anxious to get away for the grouse shooting. I think it would be more advantageous to them if they crossed over to Ireland and studied some of the evictions now going on in Kerry. [Cries of "Question!"]
§ MR. GENT-DAVIS (Lambeth, Kennington)
I rise to Order. I wish to know if the hon. Gentleman is confining himself to the terms of the Amendment?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman has been subjected to much interruption. I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman will confine himself strictly to the terms of the Amendment.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I was about to draw the attention of the House to a point which has not yet been touched upon, and which I consider it my duty to call attention to. I desire to draw the attention of hon. Members to some of the opinions which have been uttered by the Native Press upon this subject. Much has been stated about the interests of Burmah, and of India, and I wish to give actual evidence from Indian newspapers to show what the people over there themselves think about it. I propose to quote a few passages which will amply corroborate alllsay—namely, that the annexation of Burmah has been undertaken against the wishes of our Indian fellow-subjects; that the taxation which the war will involve is regarded as a grievous burden to them; and that it is contrary both to the interests of this country and to India that the war should have been undertaken at all. The first quotation I propose to make is taken from a letter in reference to the attitude and policy of the Earl of Dufferin, which appeared in The Indian Spectator of August 8th, and is written by a Hindoo gentleman known to be an ornament to the Native Press of Bombay. He writes—There is no doubt that the present opinion of the Native public about Lord Dufferin is unfavourable. He is generally believed to be a mere diplomat, and no statesman, much less a great one; and it is felt that while he has been trying to amuse the Indians with sweet words, he has been assidiously respecting the susceptibilities, if not advancing the interests, of the Anglo-Indians at the expense of the Indians.That is what is said with respect to the present Viceroy of India. As to the evidence which I propose to lay before the House upon the general question— 848 namely, whether Indian opinion is in favour of this and similar wars of annexation, I may say that the evidence I am able to give is not that only of the Native papers, written in the vernacular, but also of English newspapers, and, therefore, in quoting these extracts I cannot be accused of quoting simply the seditious utterances of Native writers. If I quote expressions of opinion from cultivated English journals circulating in all parts of India, I think I may claim to have made out a very strong case against the policy of the Government. The Scinde Times, an English bi-weekly paper published at Karachi, stated on the 17th of February—That Theebaw was a bloodthirsty tyrant no one has ever felt inclined to dispute. But he was never accorded a hearing. What little he has been allowed to say, and what little has reached the public, contrasts strangely with the Blue Book estimates of his character. We are never tired of talking of the massacres of Theebaw; but can any statistics be found of the number of dacoits shot and otherwise sent to their last account since the British entered Mandalay on their mission of peace? The conquest and annexation of Burmah have been very easy; but neither its retention nor pacification can be quite so easy.The Bengalee, an English weekly newspaper published at Calcutta, stated on the 20th of February—Theebaw had every right to enter into negotiations with a Foreign Government. He was an independent Prince, under no Treaty obligations with the British Government to refrain from entering into such negotiations. In seeking the friendship of France he might have given cause of offence to the British Government; but even the British Government must admit that he was acting perfectly within his own right. … It is, indeed, a dangerous precedent to create, as was publicly asserted by Mr. Gladstone from his place in the House of Commons, to go to war upon the refusal of an offer for arbitration to bring about the peaceful settlement of a difference. Would England have gone to war, under such circumstances, with Russia or France? Probably not. The truth is the war against Theebaw was utterly without any justification.The Mahratta, an English weekly paper published at Poona, contained the following passage on the 21st of February:—Neither the dethronement and transportation of the King, nor the deportation of the Tinedah, neither the cruel and indiscriminate shooting, nor the visit of the Viceroy, has served to allay the fears of the Burmans or to restore peace to their minds.So much for the talk about our soldiers being welcomed by them! 849And the opposition of the so-called dacoits has assumed such dimensions that it has been found necessary to continue military rule for about a year more.And probably for years longer! The Indian Chronicle, an English weekly paper published at Baukipur, of February 22, says—Whether we consider the alleged atrocities and cruelties of King Theebaw, or the alleged loss of British commercial interest, we fail to discover any reason for the violent seizure of the territory.The Behan Herald, an English weekly paper published at Baukipur, said on February the 23rd—The recently published Papers fully justify the deposition of Theebaw; but they do not satisfy us that any action short of annexation would not have met the requirements of the case. The oppression of British subjects, the hindrance to British commerce, and intrigues of foreign nations, could have been effectually prevented by the establishment of a Protectorate.The Indian Mirror, an English daily paper published at Calcutta, on February 26, said—The Burmese Kingdom, though it may not have been a friendly or agreeable neighbour, had never given us any trouble which a small Military Expedition could not easily have put down. It was not required to strengthen our South-Eastern frontier, or to contribute to our material development.Perhaps the House will now allow me to quote Native opinion. The Anglo-Mahrathi of February 28, a weekly paper published in Bombay, says—The thing which strikes us as very strange is that the Liberal Ministry of Mr. Gladstone has consented to this act of spoliation.The Indian Mirror of March 1, an English weekly paper published at Allahabad, says—Yet the Government of India went out of its way to make the quarrel of a private trading Company with the Burmese King its own.The Yezdan Parast-Gujarati of March 14, a weekly paper published in Bombay, says—The resolution to incorporate Burmah with the Indian Empire will be very unwelcome to the Native public.The Subasuchaka, of Satara, a Mahrathi weekly paper, of February 26, sees nothing but injustice in the Expedition to Burmah. This shows that Indian newspapers, with a prescience I do not 850 see reproduced on the Opposition Benches, have all along argued in favour of Burmah being treated as a Crown Colony, like Ceylon, and have strongly protested against its being incorporated with India. Of course, these are mere questions of opinion, and it may be said that Native opinion is worth no more than our own; but, at any rate, what I insist upon is that these expressions of opinion should be taken into account in this House. Unfortunately, we have no Indian Representative here. When hon. Members, like my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Sir John Swinburne), get up and speak of what they have seen and know, they only get laughed at for their trouble. As to the question of cost, I think I shall be able to show that the burden of taxation in India is already felt to an alarming extent, and that old prejudices are being aroused among the people against the imposition of this fresh burden. In The Aftal-e-Panjaub of March 10, an Urdu weekly paper published at Lahore, there is the following passage:—What can India expect from the Indian Finance Committee? From one side famine is hanging over India, and, on the other hand, our Secretary of State is going to load tax-ridden India with 50 lakhs of rupees on account of the expenses in Burmah.The Indian Courier of March 6, an English weekly paper published in Benares, says—It seems, after all, that India must suffer. Manchester must be propitiated, the British Empire in the world must be enlarged and extended, markets for British Commerce must be found. And all these and more at the sacrifice of India.And then, in reference to the question of cost—[Cries of "Divide!" and "Order!"]—I will only remind hon. Members opposite that they are setting a very dangerous precedent. With reference to the question of cost, because that is the principal question, The Jam - e - Jawshed- Gujariti of February 24, a daily paper published at Bombay, said—The Resolution for throwing the expenses of the Burmah Expedition on India was passed without a division in the Lords! Being noblemen, these Members think the sum of 30 lakhs of rupees a mere bagatelle.The paper might with truth have added that they are noblemen living in 851 luxurious and idle ease upon the labour of their poorer fellow-citizens. This goes directly to the root of the whole question as to the amount of taxation per head upon the people of India, and whether it is fair to heap further burdens upon them. How many hon. Members in this House can stand up and say exactly what is the actual taxation and annual charge per head upon the people of India? [Cries of "Divide!" and interruption.] I think I have a right to claim a hearing when I am endeavouring to fulfil my duty by placing before the House not mere rhetorical devices, but actual facts. The Hitechhee-Gujarati, a weekly paper published at Ahmedabad, stated, on the 4th of March that the average daily income in India is six pice.[A laugh.] I wonder whether the noble Lord opposite who sits for one of the Divisions of Lancashire (Viscount Cranborne) is able to tell me that six pice represent one-thirtieth of 2s.; and yet, although that average daily income per head is miserable enough, in all goodness, according to this paper—The Indian pays 17 per cent of his income to the Government, besides meeting other calls on his purse in the shape of municipal, local funds, and other taxes, so that, on an average, a man has to pay to Government in India nearly 20 per cent of his income. Out of the annual average income per head of population, four rupees have to be paid to Government, and the remainder barely suffices for his wants. England increases the burden on such a poor country by needless expenditure.The Nyaya Darshak- Gujarati, a weekly paper published at Ahmedabad, on the 8th of March says—India can only bear her troubles like a patient beast of burden, and beg for her bread like a beggar.And when a few of us do venture to get up in this House in order to call attention to the position in which the Natives of India are placed, an attempt is made to howl us down by inarticulate ejaculations. Is such conduct worthy of Englishmen? I only ask hon. Members to listen to the facts which I am placing before them. Another paper, The Kesori, a Poona Mahrathi weekly paper, of February 23 says—The expenses of the Burmah War cannot justifiably be thrown upon India. India's interests never demanded such a measure, and, as it was undertaken for British commerce, why should India be made to pay for it? Such an 852 unjust procedure will create general discontent and disappointment. The leaders of public opinion should direct their efforts to carry the universal protest to the doors of Parliament, and try to resist such an unfair measure.["Cries of "Divide!" and interruption.] I would ask whether hon. Members really believe that when the report goes forth to India that when a few friends of that country in this House attempted to make the voice of India heard, they were met by such a childish manifestation of impatience? Recollect that India has no direct Representative in this country or in this House; and do you suppose that the discontent of the people of India will be one whit less because you refuse to listen to the facts of the case, or that you will better secure the loyalty of our Indian fellow-subjects? I am afraid that such conduct will one of these days meet with dire retribution, and that the day will come when, if we do not relieve the burden of the overtaxed people of India, there will be such a conflagration as the world has never witnessed. Passing, however, from that, for I have no desire to trespass unduly upon the attention of the House, and I feel great regret that I been compelled to detain it so long, I have one question to ask in reference to what was said by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Sir John Gorst) as to the future of Burmah. He has taken a very rosy view of the situation, and he says he has no fear of the ultimate result. He added, that as soon as the country is settled and a British Government is established, Burmah will be remunerative and will pay its way. I remember that precisely the same sort of thing was said about Cyprus; but it does not appear to me that hitherto Cyprus has paid its way, or proved in the slightest degree remunerative to this country. On the contrary, it has so far been a burden to this country, and a burden it is likely to remain. The same rosy view was taken of Egypt, and we all know with what result. It is all very well to talk of what may happen, and how remunerative Burmah may be when the slaughter of its inhabitants is at an end; but if we are to succeed in establishing a vasta Romana in Burmah, it can only be after we have reduced it to the condition of a vasta solitudo. Our proceedings in this matter, not only in respect of Burmah, but of other unfor- 853 tunate but weak populations, have invariably been the same?—we first massacre the best part of them, and then make drunkards of the rest. The true reason why the annexation of Burmah was undertaken, was not so much because Her Majesty's Government were afraid of the French, or had any sympathy for the oppression under which the unfortunate Natives had been groaning under the rule of King Theebaw, but because Manchester, Liverpool, and other places required new markets; because the spirit merchants of this country wanted more people to whom they could sell their fire water, and because the very promising young scions of our Nobility wanted additional openings for their appointment as Civil servants. Now, Sir, we in this part of the House venture to enter a strong protest against these proceedings. We have been reminded by the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) of the prestige which we have to maintain. Hon. Members opposite always talk about our prestige; but I always observe that the people who talk most about prestige are those who say very little about morality. We are asked what is the use of raking up these matters now; that the thing is done, and that it is irrevocable, irreversible, and final. Unfortunately, that is true; but if I am forced to ask the question cui bono? the answer is plain and simple. So long as we are content to allow matters of this kind to go unchallenged, so long as we choose to allow hon. and right hon. Members below us to expostulate in a feeble manner against the proceedings of the Government, so long as we refuse to oppose actively the conspiracy of silence which prevails on the Benches opposite, so long will similar proceedings take place in other instances, which can end only in the disgrace of this country. It is not because we can reverse the decision that has been arrived at in this matter, but because we feel bound to do all that we can to awaken the conscience of the country, that we have been induced to discuss the question. It is because we believe that none but a Radical Government will ever succeed in putting a stop to these aggressive Expeditions—it is because we believe that it will not be until the Democracy of this country take the reins of Government into their own 854 hands and dislodge both Whigs and Tories alike, and that that will be the only means of bringing home closely and pointedly to the British taxpayer the folly and cost of this policy of annexation, that we feel called upon to support the Amendment. Above all, we feel it is our duty to repudiate in the strongest terms what we regard as a deep stain upon the escutcheon of this country.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
Sir, as a new Member of this House I throw myself upon its indulgence. [A laugh.] If hon. Members opposite are not willing to give me that indulgence which is usually accorded to a new Member I am prepared to make my remarks without it. I have certainly risen with a considerable amount of feeling to take part in the debate, because I consider that the Under Secretary of State for India has made a most alarming announcement this evening towards the conclusion of his speech. I have the deepest sympathy with the Amendment of the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. S. Smith), and I am still more strongly in favour of the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Cremer). I listened with the most careful attention to the speech of the Under Secretary of State for India in order to see if I could find in it anything like a justification of the policy of the Government with regard to Burmah. What was the purport of that speech? It was the same old story that we have heard over and over again. First of all, that we were going there to secure the better administration of the country, and next, that the people were willing and anxious to receive us. In point of fact, we have been told that they were almost waiting with open arms to receive us; but it seems to take a long period before we are able to bring them to realize the value of our civilizing influences. We have been for a considerable number of years endeavouring to teach Native troops, not only in India, but elsewhere, the great advantages of our form of government; and what is the present condition of Burmah after the effort we have made to introduce into it European civilization? The hon. and learned Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India has admitted, among other things, that at the present moment there are five Native Princes wandering about the 855 jungle of Burmah, each with a small following, in open hostility to British rule, to say nothing about pretenders. On behalf of the dacoits, it cannot be denied that they represent the feeling of a large part of the country; and, at any rate, it cannot be said that they represent the people who are prepared to receive us with open arms. If I am not misquoting the hon. and learned Gentleman, he stated that no Government would be willing to add more territory to the enormous Dominions we possess already. If that be so, the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government is a most peculiar way of endeavouring to prove their anxiety not to acquire extra territory. It seems to me that there is scarcely a Government that comes into power, representing either of the political Parties in this country, that does not annex some portion of the globe to our already enormous territory. I am one of those who believe that we have such enormous territories already, that all the energy and ability we may possess should be devoted to the development of their interests instead of neglecting them in order to look after other people in other parts of the world. We were told, of course, that this war with Burmah was to be a very little affair—a small Military Expedition that would soon be settled. Nevertheless, the war is still going on, and has been in progress for some months. A large amount of money has already been spent, and my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Cremer) told us that something like 30,000 troops, according to the authority of The Times, were already in Burmah. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Under Seretary of State for India tells us that there are not 30,000 troops there now, but only some 15,000 or 16,000; but the hon. and learned Gentleman said nothing of the military constabulary to which my hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Mr. Burt) referred. Although the hon. and learned Member did not admit that there are 30,000 troops there now at the present moment, he did inform us, before he resumed his seat, that as soon as the cold weather sets in, if the Government had not 30,000 troops there now, they were prepared to send 30,000, or even more, if required. Are these proceedings that a Government is 856 expected to take towards the people who are longing for them to come and deliver them from the tyranny to which they have been subjected in the past? But this is not all. The hon. and learned Gentleman told us that besides 30,000 troops there is a flotilla of boats, and a fleet to take them down to Mandalay. The hon. and learned Gentleman even told us the number of boats that compose the flotilla; and certainly it gave us the impression that it did not look very much like a small Expedition to suppress a few robbers who are wandering in the forests of Burmah, but that it is rather a gigantic preparation for war in which we expect to meet a people who are determined to make a great struggle to be free. With such a prospect before us we have a right to feel some little alarm. He who has raised the alarm is the hon. and learned Gentleman the Under Secretary of State himself in the speech which he has just delivered. After that speech, we are fairly entitled to say—"When is this war in Burmah going to end, and what is it to cost the people of this country?" I quite agree with the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. S. Smith) that we should be prepared to pay our share of the cost. I do not think it is right that the unrepresented millions of India should have to bear all the cost, and, at the same time, I do not consider that I am bound by the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), much as I respect that right hon. Gentleman. Nor is this the only instance in which I have objected to his policy, for although not then a Member of this House, I felt bound to oppose his Egyptian policy outside Parliament. My hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Cremer) and myself have been consistent in the policy we have adopted, and we adopted it against the Leaders of our own Party. Where, I ask, is this policy of aggressive warfare to terminate? No one can look with satisfaction at the prospect of placing additional burdens upon the already overtaxed people of India, or at the prospect of increasing the charges upon the people of England; and with the knowledge I possess of the condition of the working classes, both in the agricultural districts and in the towns, I feel convinced that, instead of imposing 857 additional burdens upon them, something should be done to relieve them of some of the burdens which they bear already. I represent an industrial population, and I know what they had to suffer in the past winter, and what they may have to fear in the winter which is approaching. Whatever may be the case with the hon. Members opposite, they will find it impossible to smile when they realize the prospect before them if this Expedition is to go on, and this enormous cost is to be incurred. Whatever theories may be entertained here, we shall be bound to relieve the people of India of a portion of the charge, because it will be found far too heavy for them to bear alone. We have heard and read much of Expeditions to civilize other people throughout the world. It is a peculiar thing that, whether it is England or any other Power who think that some other portion of the world requires to be civilized, they usually try the experiment on some nation not quite so strong as themselves, and who are less proficient in armaments and in the arts of warfare. A short time ago we had to go outside the Himalaya mountains in order to civilize certain people. Fortunately we had got away from that difficulty now; but not many years before we had set ourselves the task of civilizing the tribes on the other side of the Himalayas. And so we go on. What I want to see is a stop put to this policy of annexation, and I shall have great satisfaction, therefore, in voting to-night for the Amendment. Whatever may happen in the future, my conscience will be clear, because I shall have raised my humble voice by way of protest against the continuance of this policy of annexation, no matter what Ministry may be in power.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL) (Paddington, S.)
Before the House goes to a division it may be convenient that I should just state the way in which the Government will treat these two Amendments, because sometimes where there is an Amendment upon an Amendment it becomes a little confusing to the general body of Members to know the exact way in which they ought to vote. The Government will vote "aye" on the first division, the effect of which will be, if the majority be "ayes," to negative the Amendment of the hon. 858 Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Cremer). Then the Government will vote "no" in the second division, the effect of which will be, if the majority be "noes," to negative the Amendment of the hon. Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith).
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 201; Noes 125: Majority 76.—(Div. List, No. 4.)
That the words 'This House humbly expresses its regret at the continuance of the War in Upper Burmah, and the great extension of Military operations occasioned thereby; and humbly represents to Her Majesty that the expenses of the said War should not be borne exclusively by India' be added to the Main Question.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 125; Noes 199: Majority 74.860
|Abraham, W. (Limerick, W.)||Gourley, E. T.|
|Gray, E. D.|
|Allison, R. A.||Gully, W. C.|
|Anderson, C. H.||Harrington, E.|
|Asquith, H. H.||Harris, M.|
|Balfour, Sir G.||Hayden, L. P.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Havne, C. Seale-|
|Blake, T.||Healy, M.|
|Blane, A.||Holden, I.|
|Bradlaugh, C.||Hooper, J.|
|Bright, W. L.||Hunter, W. A|
|Broadhurst, H.||Illingworth, A.|
|Burt, T.||Jacoby, J. A.|
|Caine, W. S.||Jordan, J.|
|Cameron, J. M.||Kelly, B.|
|Campbell, H.||Kenny, M. J.|
|Carew, J. L.||Lacaita, C. C.|
|Chamberlain, R.||Lalor, R.|
|Channing, F. A.||Lane, W. J.|
|Clancy, J. J.||Lawson, H. L. W.|
|Clark, Dr. G. B.||Leamy, E.|
|Coghill, D. H.||MacInnes, M.|
|Condon, T. J.||M'Cartan, M.|
|Connolly L.||M'Donald, P.|
|Conway, M.||M'Donald, W. A.|
|Conybeare, C. A. V.||M'Kenna, Sir J. N.|
|Cox, J. R.||M'Laren, W. S. B.|
|Craig, J.||Mahony, P.|
|Crawford, D.||Mason, S.|
|Cremer, W. R.||Molloy, B. C.|
|Crilly, D.||Montagu, S.|
|Dillon, J.||Morgan, O. V.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Murphy, W. M.|
|Ellis, T. E.||Nolan, J.|
|Esmonde, Sir T. H. G.||O'Brien, P.|
|Esslemont, P.||O'Brien, P. J.|
|Fenwick, C.||O'Connor, A.|
|Finucane, J.||O'Connor, J.(Tippry.)|
|Flynn, J. C.||O'Connor, T. P.|
|Foley, P. J.||O'Doherty, J. E.|
|Fox, Dr. J. F.||O'Hanlon, T.|
|Fuller, G. P.||O'Hea, P.|
|Gilhooly, J.||O'Kelly, J.|
|Gill, H. J.||Parker, C. S.|
|Goldsmid, Sir J.||Pickersgill, E. H.|
|Picton, J. A.||Stack, J.|
|Pinkerton, J.||Stanhope, hon. P.|
|Plowden, Sir W. C.||Stuart, J.|
|Power, P. J.||Sullivan, D.|
|Provand, A. D.||Sullivan, T. D.|
|Quilter, W. C.||Summers, W.|
|Quinn, T.||Sutherland, A.|
|Redmond, W. H. K.||Swinburne, Sir J.|
|Reid, R. T.||Tanner, C. K.|
|Reynolds, W. J.||Tuite, J.|
|Rowlands, J.||Warmington, C. M.|
|Rountree, J.||Watson, T.|
|Russell, E. R.||Watt, H.|
|Russell, T. W.||Will, J. S.|
|Schwann, C. E.||Wilson, H. J.|
|Sexton, T.||Wright, C.|
|Sheehan, J. D.||TELLERS.|
|Sheehy, D.||Buchanan, T. R.|
|Shirley, W. S.||Smith, S.|
|Sinclair, W. P.|
|Addison, J. E. W.||De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P.|
|Agg-Gardner, J. T.|
|Ainslie, W. G.||De Worms, Baron H.|
|Ambrose, W.||Dimsdale, Baron R.|
|Amherst, W. A. T.||Dorington, Sir J. E.|
|Anstruther, Colonel R. H. L.||Duncan, Colonel F.|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Dyke, rt. hn. Sir W. H.|
|Asher, A.||Edwards-Moss, T. C.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Egerton, hn. A. J. F.|
|Baden-Powell, G. S.||Egerton, hon. A. de T.|
|Baird, J. G. A.||Ellis, Sir J. W.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. A. J.||Elton, C. I.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. J. B.||Evelyn, W. J.|
|Balfour, G. W.||Ewart, W.|
|Banes, Major G. E.||Eyre, Colonel H.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Feilden, Lt-Gen. R. J.|
|Baumann, A. A.||Fergusson, right hon. Sir J.|
|Beadel, W. J.|
|Bentinck, Lord H. C.||Field, Admiral E.|
|Bentinck, W. G. C.||Fielden, T.|
|Beresford, Lord G. W. Do la Poer||Finch, G. H.|
|Fisher, W. H.|
|Blundell, Col. H. B. H.||Fitzgerald, R. U. P.|
|Bonsor, H. C. O.||Fitz-Wygram, Sir F.|
|Bristowe, T. L.||Fletcher, Sir H.|
|Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.||Folkestone, right hon. Viscount|
|Brookfield, Col. A. M.||Forwood, A. B.|
|Burdett-Coutts, W. L. Ash.-B.||Fulton, J. F.|
|Burghley, Lord||Gathorne-Hardy, hon. A. E.|
|Caldwell, J.||Gedge, S.|
|Campbell, J. A.||Gent-Davis, R.|
|Churchill, rt. hn. Lord R. H. S.||Gibson, J. G.|
|Clarke, Sir E. G.||Giles, A.|
|Coddington, W.||Gilliat, J. S.|
|Cohen, L. L.||Godson, A. F.|
|Commerell, Adml. Sir J. E.||Goldaworthy, Major-General W. T.|
|Corbett, J.||Gorst, Sir J. E.|
|Corry, Sir J. P.||Gray, C. W.|
|Cotton, Capt. E. T. D.||Grimston, Viscount|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Grotrian, F. B.|
|Cross, H. S.||Halsey, T. F.|
|Crossman, Gen. Sir W.||Hambro, Col. C. J. T.|
|Curzon, Viscount||Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.|
|Curzon, hon. G. N.||Hamilton, Col. C. E.|
|Davenport, W. B.||Hamley, Gen. Sir E.B.|
|Dawnay, Col. hn. L.P.||Heath, A. R.|
|Heathcote, Capt. J. H. Edwards-||Mowbray R.G.C.|
|Mulholland, H. L.|
|Heaton, J. H.||Murdoch, C. T.|
|Herbert, hon. S.||Noble, W.|
|Hill, right hon. Lord A. W.||Northcote, hon. H. S.|
|Paget, Sir R. H.|
|Hill, Colonel E. S.||Parker, hon. F.|
|Holland, rt. hon. Sir H. T.||Pelly, Sir L.|
|Penton, Captain F. T.|
|Holloway, G.||Percy, Lord A. M.|
|Holmes, rt. hon. H.||Plunket, right hon. D. R.|
|Hornby, W. H.|
|Howard, J.||Plunkett, hon. J. W.|
|Howorth, H. H.||Powell, F. S.|
|Hozier, J. H. C.||Puleston, J. H.|
|Hubbard, E.||Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.|
|Hughes, Colonel E.||Rankin, J.|
|Hughes - Hallett, Col. F. C.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Ritchie, rt. hon. C. T.|
|Hunt, F. S.||Robertson, J. P. B.|
|Hunter, Sir G.||Robinson, B.|
|Isaacs, L. H.||Rollit, Sir A. K.|
|Isaacson, F. W.||Ross, A. H.|
|Jackson, W. L.||Russell, Sir G.|
|Jarvis, A. W.||Salt, T.|
|Jennings, L. J.||Sandys, Lieut-Col. T. M.|
|Kay-Shuttleworth, rt. hon. Sir U. J.||Saunderson, Col. E. J.|
|Kelly, J. R.||Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.|
|Kenyon, hon. G. T.||Sellar, A. C.|
|Kenyon - Slaney, Col. W.||Selwyn, Capt. C. W.|
|Kerans, F. H.||Shaw-Stewart, M. H.|
|Kimber, H.||Sidebotham, J. W.|
|King, H. S.||Smith, rt. hon. W. H.|
|King-Harman, Colonel E. R.||Smith, A.|
|Knowles, L.||Smith, D.|
|Lafone, A.||Smith-Barry, A. H.|
|Lambert. I. C.||Spencer, J. E.|
|Lawrance, J. C.||Stanhope, rt. hon. E.|
|Lees, E.||Taplin, T. K.|
|Lowisham, right hon. Viscount||Taylor, F.|
|Llewellyn, E. H.||Temple, Sir R.|
|Long, W. H.||Tollemache, H. J.|
|Low, M.||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|Lowther, J. W.||Townsend, G. F.|
|Macartney, W. G. E.||Walsh, hon. A. H. J.|
|Macdonald, right hon. J. H. A.||Waring, Colonel T.|
|Maclean, J. M.||Webster, Sir. R. E.|
|Maclure, J. W.||Webster, R. G.|
|M'Arthur, W. A.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Mallock, R.||White, J. B.|
|Marjoribanks, rt. hon. E.||Whitmore, C. A.|
|Marriott, rt. hn. W. T.||Wilson, Sir S.|
|Matthews, rt. hon. H.||Wodehouse, E. R.|
|Maxwell, Sir H. E.||Wood, N.|
|Mount, W. G.||Wortley, C. B. Stuart-|
|Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J.R.||Wright, H. S.|
|Young, C. E. B.|
|Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Walrond, Col. W. H.|
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Dr. Clark.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL) (Paddington, S.)
I do not think that 861 hon. Members can suppose for a moment that the Government can consent to the adjournment of the debate on the Address in answer to the Speech from the Throne at so early an hour as 12 o'clock. I cannot conceal my own opinion, and I do not think I should be right if I were to conceal my opinion from the House, that the proceedings this evening, so far as they have been shared in by hon. Gentlemen opposite, have not been conceived with a view to the public advantage. [Loud cries of "Oh!" "Withdraw!" and "Shame!"]
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
Mr. Speaker, I rise to Order. The noble Lord has just stated that the proceedings this evening have not been conducted with a view to the public advantage. That, Mr. Speaker—[Several hon. MEMBERS: Conceived!] Well, "conceived with a view to the public advantage." I do not think it makes much difference. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that that expresses on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer an imputation of motives to hon. Members on this side of the House—namely, that they are inspired by motives not to the public advantage, and that, Sir, I submit to you, is a breach of Order.
§ MR. SPEAKER
There has been no breach of Order. The expressions of the noble Lord were couched in Parliamentary form, and I can take no exception to them.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
I say, Sir, have not been conceived with a view to the public advantage, or with a view to the despatch of the Business I of the House of Commons. Her Majesty's Government can take no responsibility for these proceedings on the part of hon. Members opposite. On the contrary, they deem it to be their duty, by their action with regard to them, to draw public attention to those proceedings in a marked manner; and certainly, if anything would intensify the character of these proceedings, it would be a Motion for the adjournment of the debate at so early an hour of the evening. Under these circumstances, Sir, I have, in reply to the hon. Member (Dr. Clark), to say that the Government strenuously resist that Motion.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
As one of those who have taken 862 some humble part in the discussion this evening on the very important question of the war in Burmah, I wish to repel with the greatest plainness the imputation which the noble Lord has hurled at this side of the House. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says the proceedings have been conceived in opposition to the interests of Public Business. All I can say is I am delighted that the noble Lord is appealing to public opinions outside this House. Whatever may have been the verdict of the country on one question, I am quite satisfied that the majority of the people of this country are not favourable to the views of the noble Lord. But for the noble Lord to undertake to flagellate this side of the House for the course we have felt bound to take from as pure a sense of duty as anything the noble Lord ever attempted wherever he happened to sit in this House, seems to me very like a case of Satan correcting sin. ["Oh, oh!" and cries of "Order!"] The noble Lord himself has set the most extraordinary examples of using the Forms of this House, and even abusing them, for delaying the Business of the House on numberless occasions, and at times, too, when he was not able to carry with him more than three or four of his personal Friends. I repel, again, with all necessary warmth, the imputation of the noble Lord.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
I think it is fair to remark that the noble Lord is in the habit of treating this House with contempt. I can only say upon that that we return the compliment. I wish to ask, Sir, whether it is not the fact that the noble Lord or one of his Colleagues, at the commencement of the Business of the evening, stated that the Government were desirous to proceed with the Bill in connection with the disturbances at Belfast, provided the debate on the Amendment to the Address were concluded in time; whether a Blocking Notice has not been placed against that Bill, whereby it cannot be taken after half-past 12; and whether, if this discussion lasts another 25 minutes, it will not be impossible to go on with the Bill? I ask, Sir, whether, in view of these facts, we are open to the imputation which has been cast upon us by the noble Lord, and whether there is just ground for saying that an attempt 863 has been made to bring about the adjournment of the debate on the Address at too early a period of the evening?
§ MR. LIONEL COHEN (Paddington, N.)
I hope I may be permitted to say one or two words from the Back Benches on this (the Ministerial) side on this question. We have been told by hon. Gentlemen opposite that it is too much in the fashion of the Front Benches to settle these questions amongst themselves. I hope some consideration may be given to the opinions of hon. Members on the Back Benches on both sides of the House; and, speaking for my hon. Friends around me, I have to say that we have been accustomed to stay here till 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, and that we shall have the greatest pleasure in doing so again, if by that means we can expedite the Business which the House was called together to transact. I hope the noble Lord will remain firm in his resolution, and I am sure he will have the support of the majority of the House in getting through the Business we were called together this evening to dispose of.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
This is not the first time we have witnessed scenes something like the present; and on many previous occasions it has been my lot to act in co-operation with the noble Lord, when the Benches opposite were occupied by the Liberal Party. But, Sir, I must say I witnessed with perfect astonishment the performance of the noble Lord this evening. He certainly gave us to understand that the Government expected to reach such a stage in public proceedings to-night as would have admitted a certain Bill being taken which they know to be blocked, and which, therefore, they know must, to enable it to be proceeded with in its present stage, be reached before half-past 12 o'clock. I have been remaining here in the House mainly because I wished to hear the speech of the Member of the Government introducing that Bill. I wished to learn something of the scope and character of the Commission which it is proposed to appoint. But the noble Lord made use of language with regard to the proceedings of this evening which I, as one who ventured to take a small part in them, am inclined to resent. He said our proceedings were not conceived in the interest of Public Business or for the public advantage. He washed his 864 hands and the Government washed their hands of all responsibility. Well, naturally the responsibility did not rest with, the Government. It rested with those who initiated a discussion they thought it their duty to initiate. A disclaimer was not needed at the hands of the noble Lord; but, Sir, with regard to the question of adjournment, is it not perfectly plain that it would be only reasonable to adjourn now, because the hon. Gentleman who moved the Motion for Adjournment is in charge of an Amendment of much importance—one that any Member who has at all watched the progress of the Crofter Question must be anxious to listen to, and one which the hon. Member cannot be expected to bring on at this hour of the night, for it would not be possible to conclude the discussion on it to-night? If the Amendment were now moved before very long the debate would have to be adjourned, and it would necessarily have to be adjourned. It would be much wiser to let the hon. Gentleman bring on his Amendment as other hon. Members have been allowed to do after Question time at an ordinary Sitting of the House. But it is perfectly impossible for the debate on the Address to conclude to-night; because after the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman who has moved the adjournment is disposed of there is another Amendment to be discussed. It is evident that nothing like a satisfactory conclusion to the Address can possibly be effected at this Sitting. There must be an adjournment, and I appeal to the experience of the noble Lord whether the Government, recognizing that there is a considerable section of the House who are distinctly of opinion that the Motion for Adjournment ought to be acceded to, do not think it would be better in the interest of the dignity of the Government itself to concede at once that which they will have to concede in the long run—whether it would not be better to commence the Session, so far as this debate on the Address is concerned, with something like friendly feeling, and not exasperate such Party feelings as may have already been aroused? The noble Lord knows as well as I do that if there are 70 Members in the House who mean to have an adjournment no Government can prevent them from effecting their purpose. I do trust the noble Lord will withdraw his opposition and allow the 865 debate on the Address to be adjourned until to-morrow.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I venture to hope that not only will the noble Lord withdraw his opposition to the Motion for Adjournment, but that he will see some reason to modify the language he has used. I cannot think that even hon. Gentlemen opposite will deem one night's discussion too much on a question affecting not merely the happiness of the people of the Kingdom of Burmah, not simply the great outlay which will have to be defrayed out of the Revenues of India, but huge responsibilities possibly in connection with this country. I cannot think that any reasonable man can hold that one night's debate has been too much for that, nor do I think that the people of India, weighing his words, will think it fair of the Leader of this House to put it that these grave matters should not occupy a few hours of our attention.
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
As a Scotch Member, I wish to say one or two words before we proceed to a division, if a division should be necessary, on this subject. I would call attention to the fact that the Amendment to be proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) raises the question that the administration of the law in a certain part of Scotland does not possess the confidence of the people. I should like to know how it is possible to raise a more serious or a more important issue before the House than that of the confidence of the people in the administration of the law; and yet, according to the doctrine laid down by the noble Lord, at a quarter-past 12 at night, when it is utterly impossible for the Scotch papers to report the proceedings, and for the people of Scotland to be made acquainted with the proceedings of the House, my hon. Friend is asked to commence that which must necessarily prove a long discussion. Sir, the people of Scotland will take note of the interest which the noble Lord takes in Scotch matters. I regard the opposition offered to the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate as nothing short of an insult to the people of Scotland.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
I hope, Sir, that the noble Lord will not press the argument that he has recently used in favour of resisting the adjournment. I will make a 866 suggestion to the noble Lord. The second Order of the Day is the Government Bill to empower the Commissioners who are to inquire into the Belfast disturbances to take evidence on oath. Now, if the noble Lord perseveres in the course he has now entered upon, it is quite clear that that Bill cannot be reached to-night. If, however, the noble Lord will give way, and will allow us to adjourn the debate on the Address, we shall be able to take the Bill in question and make progress with it. If the noble Lord does not give way, it is perfectly clear that nothing will be gained by the Government.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)
Mr. Speaker, I think it must be obvious to the House that our first Business is to make progress with the debate on the Address. We have now reached the eighth day of the debate; and I do not think that in any House of Parliament it would be considered unreasonable, when a Member rises at 12 o'clock at night to move the adjournment of the debate, that he should be expected to make his speech. I do not think the hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) has anything to complain of in that respect. He has less reason to complain than anybody else, because his Amendment was first on the Paper, and he might have taken advantage of his position and brought forward that Amendment long ago if he had pleased. But, having lost that position, I do not think he or anyone can complain if he is called on, on the eighth night of the debate, to introduce his Amendment at 12 o'clock at night.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W., and Sligo, S.)
I think, Sir, though I cannot object to all that has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House, that there is no great force in his argument. My hon. Friend the Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) has lately been absent from the House. I see no point in the observation that because he could have moved his Amendment long ago he should be compelled to do so now. The tone adopted by the right hon. Gentleman was certainly to be preferred to that of the noble Lord who would, I think, have done more wisely—[Cries of "Question!"] When hon. Members who are 867 interrupting me have been as long in the House as I have they will know I am speaking to the Question—I say the noble Lord would have done more wisely if, instead of opposing the adjournment, he had confined his attention to the despatch of Business, and had not taken it upon himself to attribute equivocal or blameworthy motives. Hon. Members on this side of the House do not come here to earn the approval of the noble Lord; they do not expect to receive it, and when they receive it it affords them no pleasure. I must say I am surprised at the course taken by the Government. The second Order on the Paper is their Bill dealing with the Belfast riots, and I certainly regard that measure as one of urgency. I inquired at Question time whether they intended to proceed with it? I thought that if the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) did not make his Motion the Government would take the second Order.
§ MR. BIGGAR (Cavan, W.)
I think, Sir, that the Government would have acted in a more sensible way if they had agreed to the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate. I believe that the opinion of the Earl of Beaconsfield was that when there was a minority of 50 or 60 in favour of an adjournment it was useless for the Government to resist the Motion. In the present case there are, at least, 100 Members in favour of the adjournment of the debate; and I would point out that the Government may find themselves engaged in a lengthy wrangle, and in the end have to give way. The argument put forward by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. E. Stanhope) is that the desire of Her Majesty's Government is to force on the debate on the Address; but does he imagine that the cutting short of the debate on the Address will really close the mouth of the hon. Member for Caithness, or of my hon. Friend near me, or that they will be prevented thereby from bringing forward these matters at a later stage? I am quite sure that my hon. Friends would not be satisfied with saying a few words only with regard to their Motions on the present occasion; and I think the Government are taking a very unpolitic step in trying to force them into that position. If the noble Lord is going to remain the Leader of the House he will 868 require to be on decent terms with as many hon. Members as possible; and it will, therefore, be detrimental to his political interests to get into a squabble with a large number at the commencement of the Session.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's County, Birr)
I have on so many occasions helped the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Motions for Adjournment that I will recall to his mind—
§ MR. MOLLOY
Sir, I will not pursue that subject. My only intention was to point out to the noble Lord that it is useless to get into a wrangle to night. The intention of my hon. Friend (Dr. Clark) is to move an Amendment to the Address having reference to the state of affairs in parts of Scotland; and, as has been pointed out, to compel him to bring forward his Motion at a time when the arguments and remarks upon the question cannot be conveyed to the people of Scotland through the Press would be very hard. Now, as a matter of common fairness, I think the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate ought to be agreed to by the Government. We have had a little show of discussion on Ireland, and a short discussion this evening on Burmah. I came down to the House to-night ready to speak on the latter question, and have spent a considerable time in studying in Hansard the debates which have taken place with reference to it. I gave way, however, and did not speak; and, therefore, when the noble Lord charges us with obstruction, I think I have said enough to show that he is in error. Seeing that the affairs of Ireland and Burmah have been discussed, I do not think it fair that Scotland should not have an innings. The noble Lord has often appealed to the Government on former occasions to yield with a good grace; and, with his great experience of past Governments, I ask him whether it is worth while to persist in his opposition to-night? The Government have their second Order to go on with, and they have yet three minutes left to decide in. I shall only occupy one of them. I have been in so many of these wrangles that I have come to look upon them with horror and detestation; and, although I am ready to fight the Government in every way and on every 869 point when necessary, I think it better to do so on friendly terms, and therefore I appeal to the noble Lord to withdraw his opposition to the Motion of the hon. Member for Caithness, and allow us to go Home to bed.
§ MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
I wish to point out in reply to the statement of the noble Lord that, together with Friends who promised to support my Amendment, I endeavoured to induce the hon. Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith) to give way, or to come to an arrangement by which one Amendment only should be moved in order that the time of the House might not be unduly taken up by having two divisions. You, Mr. Speaker, will bear me out in saying that I consulted with you as to making the two Amendments into one. That being so, I think we stand acquitted of the charge which the noble Lord has brought against us of having wasted the time of the House.
§ MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)
I was myself desirous that the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) should bring on his Motion to-night, and should not have said one word now were it not for the language of the noble Lord. I have spoken with several Members interested in the discussion with regard to Burmah, and I cannot conceive anything more unnecessary than the charge that those Members were engaged in a way that was not conducive to the public advantage.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must point out to the hon. Member that he is not confining his remarks to the Question of Adjournment.
§ MR. ESSLEMONT
Of course, Sir, I bow to your ruling, and have only to say that it is not in our power to give way on the Question of Adjournment, after the manner in which the noble Lord has characterized the action of those Members who have taken part in the discussion.
§ MR. O'HEA (Donegal, W.)
I am not one of those against whom the imputation of the noble Lord is levelled, because, although I intended to take part in the debate, there were so many speeches addressed to the Chair that I considered that my quota could be dispensed with. I think that the noble Lord, in referring to the Motion next to come forward, used an argument that tells somewhat against himself; because 870 it will be in the recollection of the House that a few evenings since the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), having moved the adjournment of the debate, was not in his place when the debate was resumed; and at a late hour, when several hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House were prepared to speak, the right hon. Gentleman was called for vociferously by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not confining his remarks to the Question before the House. I must ask the hon. Member to address himself to the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate.
§ MR. O'HEA
I shall certainly obey your ruling, Sir. It is most unreasonable that a discussion, which will be a protracted one, should take place at this hour—a discussion which, perhaps, would not be concluded before 6 o'clock in the morning. The people of Scotland are interested in the Motion of the hon. Member for Caithness; the question involved comes home to them, and it is one which this House cannot possibly lose sight of; and any attempt to hurry on the discussion would not be regarded favourably by the people of Scotland. Therefore, I trust that the request urged upon the Government will be yielded to, and that the House will be spared the long discussion which must otherwise ensue.
§ MR. O'HANLON (Cavan, E.)
With regard to the language of the noble Lord, I say that, coming from one lately sitting on this side of the House, it was very surprising. I have remained in the House all the evening while the noble Lord was outside.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 122; Noes 197: Majority 75.—(Div. List, No. 6.)
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
Mr. Speaker, unless my ears have very greatly deceived me, the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer complains of Members on this side of the House having wasted the time of the House. Is the noble Lord not aware that in the Parliament before last debates on the Address lasted very much longer than the present debate?
§ MR. PICTON
I wish to say that the noble Lord should bear in mind that it is not only the Business of this night or this morning that is concerned, but that of other days to come. The proceedings of an Assembly like this are very greatly facilitated by a little courtesy; and I can assure the noble Lord that his manner of dealing with us this evening is scarcely calculated to promote Public Business. I earnestly hope that the Government will consent finally to the adjournment of the proceedings in one shape or the other. If we cannot have the adjournment of the debate, I beg to move the adjournment of the House.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr Picton.)
§ MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries, &c.)
I speak upon this Question with great reluctance, because I have never yet spoken on the Question of the Adjournment of the House or of the Debate, and I am as much opposed to obstruction in this House as anyone can possibly be. In the capacity of a Scottish Member I make an appeal to the noble Lord, who must be very much changed if he is not amenable to a reasonable proposition that is put before him in a matter of this kind. Is it wise to press the resistance of the House upon a question affecting Scotch Members and Scotland when it is well known that Scotch Members never obstruct the Business of the House, and always try to discuss temperately and fairly the matters that come before us affecting our country? I would not say one word in reference to the recriminatory matter that has been introduced into this question. I appeal to the noble Lord on the ground that I believe he is amenable to reasonable proposals; and I ask him whether it is not better to accede to the request of the Scotch Mem- 872 bers in reference to a matter deeply affecting Scotland, and so much thought of in that country, and whether he does not think it would be consistent with progress of Business, and with the dignity of his own position and the side of the House he represents, to listen to our request, and give us a chance of reasonably and shortly discussing matters affecting Scotch interests at some more convenient hour than 10 minutes to 1 in the morning?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL) (Paddington, S.)
The hon. Member could hardly have made the appeal to me in the terms which he has if he had been present throughout the whole of the evening. [Mr. E. T. REID: I have been.] I thought I was justified in assuming that he had not. I also will appeal to the hon. Member, who was in the Parliament from 1880 to 1885, whether he recollects a single case of the Government agreeing to an adjournment on an important debate when the adjournment is moved at 12 o'clock? I know of none departing from that matter. I cannot at all resist the seductive appeal of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton). I greatly grieve that he should have thought that in the performance of what I believe to be my duty I was wanting in courtesy either to him or any other hon. Member. But this I would say. During my Parliamentary experience I have never known an insinuation of dilatory action on the part of a certain section of the House urged in gentler terms than those which I studiously employed; and I challenge any hon. Member below the Gangway, knowing, as I well do, their ingenuity, to find a more ingenious euphemism for anything that may be supposed to insinuate that dilatoriness rather than expedition was aimed at than that—I doubted whether the proceedings this evening had been conceived with a view to the public advantage.Having said this much in my own defence, I will add that I am perfectly aware of the rights of the minority and of the power of the minority, and it certainly would not be my intention to deny the one, or unnecessarily to defy the other. That being so, and the Government having made what they consider to be an absolutely necessary protest in the interests of Public Business, 873 they will not consider it necessary or desirable to oppose the Motion for Adjournment further.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Mr. A. Sutherland,)—put, and agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I desire to ask the Secretary to the Treasury if he can inform the House in what order he proposes to proceed with the Estimates?
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
I will endeavour to answer the Question to-morrow if repeated.