HC Deb 01 March 1886 vol 302 cc1550-631

(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £25,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1886, for the Expenses of Her Majesty's Embassies and Missions Abroad.


In moving to reduce this Supplementary Vote of £25,000 by the sum of £12,500, I shall confine myself to such part of the Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff as relates to Constantinople, because it is only on that part that Papers are in the hands of Members. It is possible that, to some extent, I may misrepresent some of the facts, because I see that, having regard to the amounts spent in telegrams at Constantinople, it is quite evident that only part of the telegrams which passed between Sir H. Drummond Wolff and the late Government have been communicated to the House. My first point is, that Sir H. Drummond Wolff ought not to have been appointed to this Mission at all, and that, if he was appointed, a new Writ should have been at once issued in compliance with the VI. Anne, c. 8, s. 26, which provides that in the case of any person, after having been chosen a Member of the House of Commons, accepting any office of profit under the Crown, his election shall be declared void, and a new Writ issued as if such person wore naturally dead. I contend that, in this case, Her Majesty's Government have been guilty of a clear breach of duty in not having at once moved for a new Writ directly they appointed Sir H. Drummond Wolff to this Mission. But I see, from the Convention set out on page 37 of the Papers, Egypt, No. I., that as late as the month of October Sir H. Drummond Wolff continued to describe himself as "Membre du Parlement." I maintain that he ceased to be a Member in the month of August, and I submit to the Committee that the Government ought not to have allowed the law to be violated. I further maintain that if it was intended that this Mission should have a good effect at Constantinople and Cairo, the choice of Sir H. Drummond Wolff was a most unhappy one, unless the happiness of the choice may be illustrated by the need that was found to appoint to some places of profit the whole of the Members of the Fourth Party, which determined the policy of the Conservative Party. Sir H. Drummond Wolff, while in this House, supported the express declarations of the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill). That noble Lord declared that the Egyptian Government—I am now quoting the language of the noble Lord, endorsed as late as October, 1885, from an authorized version of his speeches—was a bad Government; that no worse Government existed on the face of the earth; and that Tewfik and the Turk ought to be compelled to take their departure bag and baggage out of Egypt. It is right to add that the noble Lord has since changed his views on these points, and the same authorized expression of his opinion explains why he has changed them. He says that since 1880 there have been many sudden political changes in this country, and that no fair-minded person would expect any politician to maintain anything like an approach to rigid consistency in political utterances. It may be thought that views so vigorously expressed, and still entertained, would not be calculated to aid any Mission from that quarter, and I think the Committee will see from the Blue Book that on every single point on which Sir H. Drummond Wolff received instructions he failed. Every point in turn was insisted upon and abandoned, and the total result of the Mission may be summed up in the word nil, except so far as it was a visit of pleasure, which we may all hope Sir H. Drummond Wolff enjoyed, but for which a sum of £25,000 is a little too much to ask this country to pay. I do not propose to reject the whole of the £25,000. My Motion is only to reduce the Vote by the sum of £12,500. There seems to be a wide margin in the charge for telegrams to cover many contingencies. If the Committee will refer to the instructions contained in the Papers, Egypt No. I., page 1, they will find that Sir H. Drummond Wolff was specifically charged to obtain a military co-operation on the part of the Sultan in sending out troops to the Soudan. But the Sultan would not give a single man. The demand was insisted upon, and again refused, and ultimately abandoned. In the next place, the Sultan, after having refused to send troops, was asked to allow recruiting. That was insisted upon; but the Sultan's Advisers would do nothing of the kind, and that demand, too, was abandoned in turn. At last words were introduced into the Convention which were known to mean nothing, but which enabled the late Government, in a critical time, to announce to the country the great success of Sir H. Drummond Wolff's Mission, when they knew, and had the means of knowing, that not only had that Mission been attended with no success, but that there was no shadow of justification for sending it out. In the next place, Sir H. Drummond Wolff was told to ask that some stipulation in reference to the Slave Trade should be made. It is well known on both sides of the House that there are kind-hearted and philanthropic Gentlemen who would be induced to vote a good deal of money if they were told something about its being necessary for the abolition of the Slave Trade. But Sir H. Drummond Wolff yielded even upon that point. It did not mean much; but the Sultan refused to comply with the wishes of the late Government. The Marquess of Salisbury telegraphed that it must be insisted upon; but the Sultan still remained obdurate and firm, and said—"I have kept all your Conventions. If anyone has broken the Convention by dealing with slaves, it is you; and you did it by the hands of General Gordon." Finally, this point, having been strenuously insisted upon at first, was also abandoned. It would not be fair if I did not deal with the one point of success, and that one point of success I would commend to the attention of hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, in view of many of the Election speeches which they have recently made. The one success is that the Sultan is recognized as Caliph of his religion and as spiritual Chief. [An hon. MEMBER: No.] I am sorry to disagree with the hon. Member who interrupts mo; but if he will refer to No. 66 on page 39 of the Papers relating to this matter, he will see that I am guilty of no misrepresentation. It will be found that if there is any misrepresentation, it rests with Sir H. Drummond Wolff and not with me, because in this Paper, carefully prepared and intended to be pressed upon the notice of the English public, Sir H. Drummond Wolff says that Her Majesty's Government recognizes that the Sultan is Sovereign of Egypt and Caliph of his religion. Sir H. Drummond Wolff is very likely wrong—for he is wrong in so many things, and it is just possible that he may be wrong in this— but, at any rate, that is what he says. Now, I submit that it is no part of the duty of this country to pay £12,500 for the services of a Gentleman, however able—and in this case I admit the ability—to go to Constantinople in order that the Sultan should be recognized as Caliph of his religion. It is true that a Special Commissioner was sent by Turkey to Egypt, and the circumstances attending that appointment deserve notice when yon consider the bold way in which hon. Gentlemen opposite, in their Election speeches, asserted the supremacy of England abroad. In the Convention it was agreed that the Turkish Commissioner and the Commissioner of the Viceroy of Egypt were to settle everything by themselves, and then to communicate the result to the High Commissioner of England after an agreement had been come to, but not before. Thus, for £12,500, all you get is the right to be told what has been arranged, and of assenting to it if you like; but you have no power of dissenting from it if you do not like it. I submit to the Committee that the Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff has been a lamentable failure, and that this Vote is one which the Committee ought not not to pay. I beg, therefore, to move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £12,500.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £12,500, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1886, for the Expenses of Her Majesty's Embassies and Missions Abroad."— (Mr. Bradlaugh.)


In 1879 I ventured to call the attention of the House to the policy adopted by the then Conservative Government in regard to Egypt, when the late Khedive of Egypt was deposed. I pointed out that that policy was entirely opposed to the policy which had always been followed by Lord Palmerston and the Earl of Clarendon. Lord Palmerston always tried to limit, as far as possible, the power exercised by Turkey over Egypt. There are numerous despatches of Lord Palmerston in existence which prove that abundantly; but the then Conservative Government, instead of following that example, increased the power of Turkey by going with France to demand of the Porto the deposition of Ismail Pasha the late Viceroy of Egypt. That question is a large one, and I will not go into it now; but hero, again, we have been endeavouring to enlarge the power of the Sultan by asking the Porte to send Turkish troops to the Soudan, and to interfere in the internal affairs of Egypt. Now, interference such as that contemplated in the internal affairs of Egypt is specially objectionable. Look at the despatches of 1869, when the Earl of Clarendon pointed out that the Egypt of that day was not the Egypt of 1841, and that since that date the Porte had made concessions to the Khedive, among which the one relating to hereditary succession must be considered the most effective. The Earl of Clarendon added that Her Majesty's Government would deeply regret if the Porte were to overstrain its legitimate prerogative and rights in regard to Egypt. Now, what I say is this, that in the present instance the late Government, through Sir H. Drummond Wolff's action, has again induced the Porte to overstrain its powers. It was expressly laid down that the Porte should not interfere with the internal affairs of Egypt; but the very object with which Sir H. Drummond Wolff went to Constantinople was to induce the Porte to interfere not only with the internal administration of the affairs of Egypt, but by sending Turkish troops to the Soudan, and possibly to Egypt, a thing which had not been done for many years—since the time of Mehemet Ali. Why was this course taken? I think the reason is perfectly clear. It is not desirable for us to-day to go into all questions connected with Egypt. I shall only go into them as far as Sir H. Drummond Wolff's Mission applies to them; but I think it is clear that, as has been suggested by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), there was a desire on the part of the Government to provide for Gentlemen of the Fourth Party, who had been extremely useful to them in this House. Therefore it was necessary to find places for them. First of all, there was the noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill), who led the Party with great ability. He was made a Cabinet Minister. Next, there was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Manchester (Mr. A. J. Balfour). He was made President of the Local Government Board. And my pugnacious Friend the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Sir John Gorst) was made Solicitor General. But for the life of them they did not know what to do with Sir H. Drummond Wolff, until a brilliant idea suggested itself to someone. There had been several Special Missions to Egypt—Sir Stephen Cave and Mr. Goschen and Lord Northbrook had been there—why not, then, have a fourth or fifth Mission, and send out Sir H. Drummond Wolff to complete the work? That was seized upon as a splendid idea, and Sir H. Drummond Wolff was sent to Constantinople, first to negotiate affairs there, and then to go on to Egypt, in order to do what he could there to improve the condition of the country. I do not think it is desirable to go into the whole question of the condition of Egypt; but I think it is desirable to see exactly why we are asked to vote a sum of money for the salary of Sir H. Drummond Wolff and the heavy expense of his Mission. No doubt, there has been extravagance in the expenditure upon telegrams; but that is a very small matter in comparison with the great principle which is here at stake. In regard to one point which has been raised by the hon. Member for Northampton, it seems that when Sir H. Drummond Wolff accepted his appointment to this Mission, he ought to have vacated his seat, and a new Writ ought to have been issued. But the House of Commons was not sitting at the time, nor did the same Parliament re-assemble, and practically no serious damage was done, and the principle of vacating a seat on appointment to Office under the Crown was not infringed. But it is a far more serious thing that a Special Mission should be created in order to find a post for a Gentleman, whose services were not required in England, to satisfy the desires of his Friends, when the Mission itself was not likely to accomplish any useful results. So far as Sir H. Drummond Wolff is concerned, he must have known that he was despatched upon a Mission which was empty and illusory, and doomed to be a failure from the first. I have looked back to some observations made by Sir H. Drummond Wolff in this House in 1879. The hon. Member who was then Member for Staffordshire (Mr. Hanbury) made a Motion in reference to Egypt, which was seconded by Sir H. Drummond Wolff, who stated on that occasion— For his own part—speaking with a strong sense of responsibility, and being desirous of maintaining the Turkish Empire—he felt convinced that that Empire could only be maintained by a complete system of decentralization. The state of Constantinople was something perfectly appalling, and the scarcely liked to tell of all the instances of corruption that had come under his notice."—(3 Hansard, [248] 1059.) In the year 1879, therefore, Sir H. Drummond Wolff thought the state of Constantinople and of the Turkish Government not only bad, but full of corruption. In 1886, I suppose, he thinks that such a great improvement has taken place that he was justified in going out on behalf of his Government in order to induce the Turks to send troops to Egypt, and to appoint a Minister to interfere in the internal affairs of that country. Now, the Convention yields very little. Only one thing—namely, that two Commissioners—the Turkish Commissioner and a Commissioner appointed by the English Government— wore to discuss the various questions, and lay their conclusions before the Government of the Khedive. And when they agreed, the matter waste be brought before the English Government. But surely that could have been done without the assistance of a Turkish or English Special Minister. I do not see that anything was gained at all by the Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff, beyond the fact that that Gentleman had three months' employment at a very satisfactory salary. I believe it is a fact that our public men are far too badly paid. Thus, for example, I do not think that the mere salary alone would ever have induced the Prime Minister to go through the work which naturally falls to him; but in this case I must confess that I fail to see what good work was done for the salary; in fact, the total result of what was done has been the making of an illusory Convention with the Porte, by which they have agreed to send a Commissioner to Cairo, which admits a principle to which I, for one, am entirely opposed. If you will look to every Paper written by every Minister of either political Party during the last 20, 30, or 40 years, you will find, that every one of them strongly insists on the view of the Earl of Clarendon—that the Egypt of to-day is not the Egypt of 30 or 40 years ago, and that although the Sultan of Turkey is the nominal Suzerain, nevertheless the power and authority of the Sovereign of Turkey can never be exorcised in that country. In this case we see the late Government departing from that ancient principle, proposing that Turkish troops should be employed in Egypt, and proposing, further, that a Turkish Commissioner should be appointed to interfere in the internal administration of Egyptian affairs. Sir H. Drummond Wolff, in adopting that principle, rendered bad service to the country. I do not, however, find fault with him, but with the late Government, which wanted to make a new departure, and did not care what it was so long as it was a policy which differed from that of their Liberal Predecessors. I do not say that the Liberal Government made no mistakes with regard to Egypt; but, while I admit that they did, I maintain that, on the other hand, the Conservative Government commenced on this occasion by committing a great blunder. If you will look at Lord Palmerston's despatches in regard to Egypt, you will see how he always vindicated the right of according to Egypt sole control over its internal administration. Therefore, the departure of the late Government was one of a very serious nature, and they ought to give some reason for having departed from the traditional policy of the country. I suppose that they had some reason, and probably a strong reason. Did they imagine that this Special Mission was so likely to prove successful that they were justified in entering upon a new path? Were their experiences of the Conventions with Constantinople so favourable that they thought the same principle ought to be encouraged and further extended? Had they forgotten the Treaty of Berlin, to which they themselves were parties, and in which they had insisted upon the separation of the two Roumelias? Were they not aware of what the result of that separation had been; that it had only lasted for a period of seven years, and that they themselves had been the very persons who had been obliged to admit that the Treaty of 1879 had entirely failed? Were they encouraged by the result of that Treaty to believe that they would be more successful in entering into any Convention with Turkey? I set out with a passage in a speech delivered by Sir H. Drummond Wolff in this House in 1879, in which he stated that so much corruption existed in Turkey that he did not believe in the possibility of forming a good Government there. If there was no possibility of our securing good government in Turkey, did he imagine that the Turkish Government were likely to improve the condition of affairs in Egypt? I remember, in 1879, pointing out, when it was proposed that the Turkish authorities should call Egypt to account for its Debt, that the person who was to call her to account was a person who had got into debt himself. Probably it was on the principle of setting a thief to catch a thief. Turkey had never shown by its own work in the past any capacity for performing the task she had undertaken. I submit that it was a mistake to employ Sir H. Drummond Wolff in the first instance, and that it was a still greater mistake to give him the instructions which are to be found in these Papers; and I contend that Her Majesty's late Government are responsible for departing from that policy which had for a long series of years been successfully pursued by successive Ministers—Viscount Palmerston, the Earl of Clarendon, the Earl of Derby, the Earl of Malmesbury, and others. I trust that the Committee will have a complete explanation in justification of this Vote from some Member of Her Majesty's late Government.


I cannot altogether agree with my hon. Friend who has just spoken. I do not think that Sir H. Drummond Wolff's Mission may not be productive of some useful result. I confess that I was myself somewhat alarmed at expressions which fell from Her Majesty's late Government in regard to that Mission. I certainly supposed from what they stated that they had in their minds some idea of making over Egypt to the rule of Turkey; but when I came to look at the Papers, I found that that was not so. I find that the object of Sir H. Drummond Wolff's Mission was not to make over Egypt to the Turks, but to get the Turks to assist us by taking over the management of the Soudan. Now, what is present to my mind is this—that whether we deal with Turkish or any other Oriental Government, we seem to treat them in a very foolish way, as if they were mere children who might be easily bamboozled. Now, why on earth should the Turks be such fools as to leave us in the possession of Egypt while they take up a position in the Soudan? Egypt is certainly the oyster, while the Soudan is only the shell. Therefore, the sending out of a man of high experience and knowledge to endeavour to induce the Turks to undertake this task was one which was not likely to be successful, and, therefore, so far as that part of Sir H. Drummond Wolff's Mission to Constantinople is concerned, I am not surprised at its failure. But when we come to the question of Egypt, our position there seems to me to have been so bad that it was not possible for a Gentleman of Sir H. Drummond Wolff's experience—although he was acting under what I admit to be vague, although reasonable, instructions on the part of the Marquess of Salisbury—it was impossible for him to make things worse, while, on the other hand, there was the possibility of making them better. So far as financial matters are concerned, the only result that I can see of recent transactions has been to add £9,000,000 to the Egyptian Debt, and to induce us to undertake a military occupation at an enormous expense to this country. I have tried to extract from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) some figures which might give us an approximate estimate of the cost to the people of this country of that military occupation. My right hon. Friend very cautiously told us that he could not undertake to estimate the total cost, and he could not even tell us what Egypt would repay. Now, what is the cost of the military defence of Egypt to this country? It seems to me that this expense is so enormous that the cost of Sir H. Drummond Wolff's Mission, large as it is, is a mere bagatelle if there is the least hope that, by any arrangement Sir H. Drummond Wolff may make, this country will be able to get rid of that expense, and come away from Egypt altogether. I believe I am not guilty of exaggeration when I say that the arrangements for the military defence of Egypt are costing the taxpayers of this country at this moment something over £4,000,000 per annum. Mr. Giffen, in an article which he published the the other day, calculated that the cost of a British soldier, combatant and non-combatant, effective and non-effective, is about £150 per annum. Now, I did succeed in extracting one piece of information from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, and it was that, all told, there are at this moment in Egypt, employed in the defence of that country, 17,600 British troops, 2,900 Indian troops—and we have the authority of the late Under Secretary of State for India (Mr. Cross) for saying that the Indian troops cost just as much as British troops—and 4,000 others employed in transport and such work. Adding those together, we have a total number of 24,500. We are told that the average cost of a British soldier, including non-combatants, comes to something like £150 per annum. But we must add to that the extraordinary expenditure occurring in Egypt—the transport expense, and the large additional expense for the non-effective force; and I believe it will be found, after making allowance for these additional expenses, that the minimum cost of every man now employed in the defence of Egypt is at least £200 per annum. Then, if you multiply £200 by 24,500, you will find that the defence of Egypt is costing this country at the present moment upwards of £4,500,000 per annum, of which but a small sum will be repaid by Egypt. I know that I may be told that, if the troops are not employed in Egypt, they will be employed somewhere else. Now, I deny that altogether, notwithstanding the increase in the strength of the British Army. I take it, from a speech delivered not long ago by Lord Wolseley, that we are at this moment short of soldiers for our own Imperial purposes. We have, therefore, no troops to spare for other purposes, and every soldier employed in Egypt is a deduction from the proper strength of our Army, in addition to which he remains as a burden, and a heavy burden, too, upon the taxpayers. Sir, if there is the least chance of Sir H. Drummond "Wolff doing anything to relieve us from that burden, I think his Mission will have been a very cheap one. I must say that, in my opinion, the instructions of the Marquess of Salisbury, although vague and indefinite, are in the main good as regards Egypt, and we may hope that Sir H. Drummond Wolff may do something of advantage, both to the interests of this country and of Egypt, before he leaves Cairo. I confess that I was somewhat disappointed that in proposing this Vote the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs did not make some statement as to the instructions which Her Majesty's Government proposed to give to Sir H. Drummond Wolff. Be that as it may, I suppose they will not materially differ from those which the Marquess of Salisbury gave, and I am bound to say that, considering the state in which Egypt is now placed, I am not able to oppose the Vote. I think it is yet possible for competent men to do something towards putting the internal affairs of Egypt in a more satisfactory condition than they have occupied for a good many years, and to rid us of the enormous expenditure of upwards of £4,000,000 per annum, in retaining in Egypt a British Army of Occupation. I hope that the Committee is alive to what has been going on in Egypt, and that it will realize what all this expenditure means. For this sum of £4,000,000 what might we not be able to do in regard to our own country? For a sum of £4,000,000 expended in this country, we might have free education, or we might be able to free Ireland from the domination of the landlords. There are many other things which are most desirable, which a sum like that would enable us to carry out. I do trust that, if Sir H. Drummond Wolff is to remain in Egypt, he will make his Mission as effective as possible, and that he will prepare the way, at any rate, for relieving this country of the burden which it is now called upon to bear. I am very much afraid that things are still in such a state that although many Missions have been sent to Egypt, altogether there is ample room for another, if it is to be a real and effective Mission. I am certainly unable to see what steps we are taking in the direction of securing a settlement of the financial difficulty in the interests not only of this country, but of Egypt itself. Our Representatives have hitherto tried to show the necessity for the reduction of taxation; but now they are afraid that this and other matters must bring about an European inquiry in the course of next year. We know that the finances of Egypt are incapable of making both, ends meet; but those who are responsible for the finances of Egypt, endeavour to get rid of the difficulty by throwing on the taxpayers of this country the burden of the military defence of Egypt. That is a question which requires a great deal more attention than it has yet received. I hope, that when my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State rises, he will be able to tell us something with regard to the proposals of Her Majesty's Government as to this Mission. What were the end of the instructions of the Marquess of Salisbury? They aim at the establishment of that Millennium which successive Governments have been anxious to bring about—namely, the securing of that good and stable and debt-paying Government in Egypt, which has often been stated in this House; and I say again, that if we have to stay in Egypt until we have established all these things, we shall have to stay there until the end of time. There must be found a way of dealing with Egypt much shorter than that, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will tell us what the lines are of the policy they intend to pursue.


Allusion has been made to the fact that Sir H. Drummond Wolff was a Member of the House at the time he accepted this appointment. But, within my own experience of the House, I can remember at least three similar cases in which Missions of the same character as this have been undertaken by Members of the House. In the first instance, there was the Mission of Sir Stephen Cave; and then there was the Mission of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen); and the case of Sir H. Drummond Wolff himself, when he was sent out as a Member of the Roumelian Mission. [An hon. MEMBER: He had no salary.] I have yet to learn that this salary commenced before Sir H. Drummond Wolff ceased to be a Member, and that is an important point upon which I should like to have information. There is another point which I ought to mention—Sir H. Drummond Wolff acted on this Mission with very peculiar advantages. He was well acquainted with the East and with Egypt before he went on this Mission. He had acted with men like Hussei Pasha as a personal friend, and, therefore, was likely to conduct a Mission of this kind with amicable and friendly relations. I regret to see that Sir H. Drummond Wolff is no longer a Member of this House, and I attribute that fact to a great extent to the circumstance that he was not able to be present at Ports mouth during his candidature. Then, again, we are told that Sir H. Drummond Wolff must be a bad Commissioner to have sent out, because he had made certain remarks of a somewhat strong character in regard to the Khedive. But anyone who has studied these Papers must see that, in the eyes of the Sultan, that was a recommendation rather than the reverse. In reading these despatches, it is most remarkable to notice the extreme jealousy with which the Sultan regards everything the Khedive may do in Egypt. Therefore, so far from Sir H. Drummond Wolff's remarks having been of disadvantage to his Mission, they seem to me to have had the opposite effect. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) makes a charge, which is a curious one, coming from that side of the House. He charges Sir H. Drummond Wolff with having used words in the Convention which mean nothing. Now, if there is one charge which is made at the present day, it is that, in regard to our foreign relations, there has been too great a habit on both sides of the House of using words that mean nothing. One of the most serious charges which the Conservative Party have made against the Leader of the House is, that they never know exactly what he means. Then, again, with regard to the Slave Trade, the hon. Member for Northampton points to the fact that any provisions in regard to the Slave Trade are left out of the Convention. If the hon. Member knew the facts as well as I do, he would know that the Sultan was perfectly justified in the course he took. There have been Conventions and Treaties one upon the top of another, and it has been by no means the fault of the Sultan that they have not been carried into effect. The fault has to a considerable extent rested with our own Government. We have never sent out a sufficient number of ships to see that the Slave Trade was suppressed, and the failure of our efforts to suppress the Slave Trade are due, not to the Porte, but to the false economy of our own Government. Then the hon. Member for Northampton complains that the late Government reestablished the authority of the Sultan as Caliph in Egypt. If the hon. Member knows anything, he must know that it was to our interest, as a great Mahommedan Power, to recognize that, and to be on amicable terms with the Sultan. It is a matter of the greatest importance, and one which has to be carefully guarded by our Foreign Minister, that the interests of India— the greatest Mahommedan country in the world—are dealt with in concert with the Sultan of Turkey. I agree with the hon. Member for Northampton, to a certain extent, in the remarks he has made as to the employment of Turkish troops in Egypt, or in any other part of Arabia, because the Arabs have very little love for them; and even greater danger must arise from employing them among an Arab population than among Christians, for this reason—that when they are employed among a Christian population, there are European Ambassadors and Consuls, who keep a careful watch over their proceedings, and see that no ill-treatment of the population on their part takes place. But when they are sent among Mahommedan races, they act without the slightest restraint, and their cruelty and arbitrary conduct becomes intolerable. We are told that no result followed from the Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff. Now, it seems to me that very great results have followed, because what was wanted was to get from Egypt something like guarantees for the future, which would be wiser and better than bombarding Alexandria and shooting down the Sou- danese by tens of thousands. A question has been raised in regard to the legality of our presence in Egypt. No doubt, our presence there before the Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff was entirely illegal; but by the Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff we made a great stop in advance, and secured legality for that which was before absolutely illegal; and we are now remaining in Egypt in order to re-establish that order which we so miserably upset. We remain there, not only with the sanction of Europe, but of the Sultan, who is the Sovereign of the country. Another result has been achieved which is of the greatest importance. There was always a fear that when we left Egypt, sooner or later, France might go there for purposes of her own. It is satisfactory to find, from the declaration of M. Waddington, that when the English troops leave Egypt there is no fear of French troops taking their place. I regret, Sir, that the hon. Member for Northampton has made a personal attack upon Sir H. Drummond Wolff, and that he has imported a Party character into the debate. We are all, I think, of one mind on both sides of the House that in this Egyptian Question, as well as in some others, there is a great deal on which moderate men on both sides of the House are agreed. This Egyptian Question is really such a national matter that I do hope we shall try to work together in order to secure some good result for that unfortunate country, entirely independent of old Party lines. It must be borne in mind that the policy of the late Government, as is always the case in a change of Ministry, has been thrown overboard, as it were, by the appointment of a new Foreign Secretary. Under these circumstances, I think a little fair play ought to be shown. I entertain some hope that this Egyptian Question will be treated without reference to Party lines, and that this country will recollect, apart from mere Party considerations, that we have many duties to perform in Egypt, and that we cannot scuttle out of them without dishonour to ourselves.


I shall certainly support the Motion of my hon. Friend and Colleague (Mr. Bradlaugh); but not, as the hon. Member who has just spoken seems to think, from any personal feeling against Sir H. Drum- mond Wolff. Undoubtedly, the expenditure upon these Special Missions is very large; and I think upon all of them the expenditure is much too large. At the same time, I do not think that Sir H. Drummond Wolff is to blame for that. He was to receive a salary, and to include certain expenditure which in the case of our Ambassadors is always very high. In this case the sum of money for which we are asked is very considerable, amounting to £12,500, inclusive of the pay of Sir H. Drummond Wolff. But if we take other Special Missions, and reckon up the items which generally accrue from Special Missions abroad, it will certainly amount to something enormous. I regard hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite as entirely responsible for the expenditure incurred in connection with Sir H. Drummond Wolff; and I hope we shall have as few of these costly Missions as possible. At the same time, I am not desirous of throwing a stone against any Gentleman in accepting a Special Mission as it is generally understood. I not only say this of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but of right hon. Gentlemen who now sit on the Treasury Bench. The hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) does not seem to me to have defended Sir H, Drummond Wolff's Mission wisely. He says that we ought to be exceedingly thankful to him for going out, and be ready to pay any amount of money that is asked for, because, if Sir H. Drummond Wolff had not gone out, he would have been Member for Portsmouth at this moment. But we ought to recollect that there "was another Member for Portsmouth (Mr. Bruce) who, on personal grounds, was as good a candidate for the borough of Portsmouth as could have been found. But Mr. Bruce was defeated, as well as Sir H. Drummond Wolff. He was not absent; and if it is supposed that Sir H. Drummond Wolff, if he could have been there, would have been returned, how was it that Mr. Bruce was defeated? The hon. Gentleman tells us that a special recommendation in sending out Sir H. Drummond Wolff was that he was a Gentleman who had condemned the Government of the Khedive, and suggested that it should be put an end to. This was done to please the Sultan. But where is Sir H. Drummond Wolff now? He is with the Khedive, and not with the Sultan. He took Constantinople on his way; but his Mission was to the Khedive. In my opinion, the Khedive is an unfit person to reign in Egypt. We have really had too many Missions to Egypt. We have had the Mission of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen), of Sir Stephen Cave, of the Earl of Dufferin, and of the Earl of Northbrook. We have the statement of the Prime Minister that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen) did not go out in a public capacity; but I think that he assumed a public capacity. The right hon. Gentleman went out because the house with which he is connected was interested in some Egyptian Loans; and when he was out there he wrote despatches to the then Government, which despatches have been frequently alluded to since. But, putting aside the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen), I think we have had a great deal too many Missions to Egypt, each proposing different plans for reforming Egypt. We have not adopted any of those plans. We received the Report of Sir Stephen Cave's Mission, and we set it aside. The Earl of Dufferin has since been sent out, and his recommendations have been set aside. I remember that the Earl of Northbrook sent in a Report; but although there has been a good deal of conversation about it, we have never seen it—at any rate, no Report from him has ever been published. Sir H. Drummond Wolff has sent many despatches, but he has not yet sent a Report; and I am inclined to think that when he does it will not be adopted. Before the commencement of the last Parliament, the Prime Minister wrote an excellent essay in which he stated his views in regard to Egypt. He said that the less we meddled with Egypt the better, and that we should not remain there. In his address to his constituents in Mid Lothian, I think he said that he regretted not having acted upon the lines of the essay. [Mr. GLADSTONE: No, no!] Well, I am doubtles expressing the views of the right hon. Gentleman in a rude fashion; but the conviction on my mind is that that was the effect of the right hon. Gentleman's action. I have protested over and over again against the action of the right hon. Gentleman in Egypt, and I have seized every opportunity to vote against the cost which our Egyptian. policy has entailed upon the people of this country. I very much regret to see that the right hon. Gentleman has not recurred to the original views on which he based his action in the last Parliament. We are still there. Although everybody regrets that we are there, still there we are; and, as the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) says, we are spending the money of the English people at the rate of something like £4,000,000 per annum, in order to remain there. It is not suggested that a Turkish Army should be sent, and that we should come away. What I want to see is, not that this or any other man should be sent out upon a Mission to report upon the condition of Egypt; but I want no more troops to be sent there, and to secure that the troops which are there shall be sent back. As a humanitarian matter it is of the utmost indifference whether the Khedive or the Sultan is master in that country. That is a matter which concerns the Egyptians alone. What I object to, and what I have always always objected to, is that under any pretext whatever we should remain there, expending English blood and English treasure in a matter which does not concern us. I hope the present opportunity will be taken advantage of by the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, or the Prime Minister himself, to tell us what the intentions of the Government are in regard to the future. Let us begin well; let us have a statement that we are not only going to withdraw at some future day, but that steps have been taken to enable us entirely to withdraw from Egypt, and to put an end to this wasteful expenditure of public money.


As a new Member I must ask the pardon of the Committee for intruding myself in the debate; but an official despatch of my own has just been laid on the Table, and my experience of Egypt leads me to differ very much from what has fallen from some hon. Members. I would like the Committee to understand that my experience has not been gained from gossips or quasi-diplomats in Cairo or Alexandria, but from having lived much in the towns and villages of the country—from having mixed with the people and commanded them, and from having helped in carrying on their civil administration in Upper Egypt. I have mixed with all classes—men, women, and children, from Khartoum and Dongola; and having acquired a little knowledge of Arabic I have been able to form my own opinion of the people themselves. From all the conversations one hears in this country, and in much that one reads, it would be supposed that the last people to be thought about were the Egyptians themselves. Practically, we have ruled Egypt for the last three years as a Crown Colony. Egypt has no Representative in this House, and that is all the more reason why we should manifest great justice and generosity towards that unhappy people. I have no wish to speak with any Party spirit on this subject. I have recognized, from the first, the generous views of Her Majesty's Government when they went to Egypt first of all, and I entered heart and soul into the noble reforms which they initiated after the battle of Tel-el-Kebir. But the reason why I would urge the Committee to support the Vote for Sir H. Drummond Wolff's Mission is that I consider that that Mission is taking up the threads of the action of Her Majesty's Government when at their very best—namely, at the time the Earl of Dufferin left Egypt. The Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff seems to be a distinct continuance of the Earl of Dufferin's policy. All the nightmare of suffering, blunders, and bloodshed has taken place since the Earl of Dufferin left; and there is a great similarity between the two Missions. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) may sneer at the Sultan being recognized as a Caliph of his religion; but, from what I have myself seen, I affirm that never, even among the Hebrews in the days of King David, has religion entered more into the national and political life of the people than in the present history of Egypt. What we want is some assurance that the reforms which have been commenced with the approval of the Earl of Dufferin will be carried out. Sir H. Drummond Wolff coming from Constantinople, as the Earl of Dufferin also did, makes his Mission doubly strong; and it does not follow that because he came with the patronage of the Sultan of Turkey, it is therefore necessary to inflict upon the people of Egypt the rule of the Turks. I cannot say that I like the Turks; I think that Egypt is infinitely a better nation; and I think that among the Egyptian people may be found many who are perfectly capable of governing themselves. We may admire the Turk for his patience and courage. It is the ruling Turks who, though brave, and emphatically rulers, are often cruel and corrupt, and the less we have of them among the Arab people the better. What I ask is that we should do justice to Egypt through the Egyptians themselves. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), who spoke on the other side, made an allusion which it is impossible for me to pass by—namely, that it is not at all likely the Egyptians will ever be able to build up an army in Egypt sufficient for its own wants. Now, I take issue at once with the hon. Member there. I have lived in Egypt; I have commanded thousands of Egyptian soldiers; and I can speak with perfect confidence of the ability and courage of those men when properly treated. At the beginning of the reforms which were instituted some time ago, there were many who liked to decry the fellaheen soldiers; but these were the people who were interested in maintaining an English occupation. Those who, like myself, had to work with them gradually realized their good qualities. I do not believe in nations of slaves. I certainly believe that ill-treatment will weaken the manhood of any men; but there is nothing so elastic as courage and manhood, and under kindly treatment they will revive as surely as the sunflower turns to the sun. I see that steps have been taken to evacuate Suakin by our troops, and their place is to be supplied by Egyptian soldiers. During many weary days and nights at Suakin no troops were steadier than the Egyptian, and they will be quite fit to hold their own there. There may be a talk of our co-operating permanently with the Egyptians; but I maintain that there is no necessity for such co-operation. The time was when the annexation or permanent protectorate of Egypt might be discussed; but it has passed away. Let the dead past bury its dead. We have pledged our honour to leave the Egyptians to themselves as soon as possible; and we should meanwhile do all we can to encourage by this Mission the carrying out of reforms which will free the Egyptians from our presence, and make them a nation again. If we can get rid of them in that way, parting on friendly terms with them, we shall do them a greater kindness than if we remain there. Let our policy be—"Egypt for the Egyptians." The religious question has been much misunderstood at home, and most of our blunders between the time of the Earl of Dufferin leaving Egypt and the time of the Expedition up the Nile can be traced to it. The question of the Mahdi has been thoroughly misunderstood in this country. This was not the first Mahdi that Mussulman nations had known; nor is it only in Mussulman nations that a Mahdi, under some other name, is known. It seems to be thought that the Mahdi creates a crisis in the national history, whereas it is a crisis in the national history that produces the Mahdi. The Mahdi, as such, never lives longer than is necessary; sometimes, intoxicated with power, he becomes a despot; sometimes he is thrown aside by an ungrateful people; and sometimes—like Mohamed Achmet—he is so happy as to die in the zenith of his success, and to live consecrated in the hearts of the people ever after. The whole of the Soudan, after General Gordon ceased to be Governor General, was tyrannized over by men of the most cruel and despotic disposition. They did all they could to rob and murder; and in this state of things the bitter discontent and irritation of the people offered a platform from which the slave-owners and slave-hunters were able to work, and which they manipulated for their own ends. They called upon the Mahdi to place himself at their head, when, but for the crisis which existed, he would have been leading a simple life and studying his Koran. The position was forced upon him; and if, instead of Sir Evelyn Baring announcing, in the rude way he did, that we were going to compel Egyptians to withdraw from the Soudan, and to send General Gordon to assist in withdrawing them, the Government had sent General Gordon to introduce justice to the Soudanese—where his name was associated with justice—and if it had been made known that behind him stood the power of England, I believe that Gordon and Stewart alone could have taken the Soudan in hand, and turned it into a contented population. I will not quote the words vestigia nulla retrorsum, for these are more frequently the words of the bigot than of the reformer; but I do not suggest the reconquest of the Soudan. A further mistake we made was in the evacuation of Dongola. I would not send a single English soldier there; but I think, with the assistance of an Egyptian force alone, Dongola may be occupied again. I would not ask for one man from Her Majesty's Government, nor would I send a single regiment of British soldiers back; but let us put into Dongola, as is suggested by one of the telegrams to-day, such a man as the Mudir of Dongola—a man of whom nothing has been heard except holiness, courage, and ability. Let us advise Egypt to subsidize him as long as he keeps peace on the frontier. Looking to the future I would say— "Let us withdraw to Assouan, and garrison that place with Egyptian troops." I think that, by degrees, it would be found that the spirit of nationality which had been stamped out in Egypt would again appear, and such a course would give them much greater encouragement than the presence of our bayonets. We might then gradually retire to Cairo, and then to Alexandria. Thus we might leave the country with honour to ourselves, and with the friendship of the Egyptian people, instead of producing a sense of irritation. I have spoken at some length and with some warmth on this subject; but, Sir, I have lived among these people till I have learnt to love them; and I have desired that the first words I should offer in this House should be offered on behalf of the Egyptians, who possess many unsuspected virtues, who are entitled to our respect, and who, at all events, have a right to be constituted into a nation.


I do not propose to follow the hon. and gallant Member who has just addressed the Committee. I would rather recall the attention of the Committee to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), which is to reduce this Vote by the sum of £12,500. Now, I find that that sum is precisely the sum which is put down for the telegrams. My hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in reply to a Question addressed to him on Friday by the hon. Member for North- ampton, said that £3,964 had been expended upon telegrams; and before the Committee agrees to this Vote I should like to have some explanation of the difference between the sum of £3,964 and the £12,500 the Committee are now asked to vote. Of course, it was inevitable that whenever this Vote was brought forward there would be a discussion upon it; but I trust that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government will not be drawn into an immature declaration of Egyptian policy, unless he can do so in perfect consistency with the interests of the Public Service. I certainly hope that before we agree to the Vote we may have some further items, and some further reasons for expending what I am bound to say appears to mo to be a very large and extravagant sum.


I quite agree with my noble Friend that it is impossible to keep our minds directed to the Vote now before the Committee if we are to be drawn into a discussion as to our general policy in Egypt. The able speech which has been delivered by the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Colonel Duncan), and which has excited the interest of the Committee, is certainly calculated to draw the minds of Members from the particular points they have to discuss under this Vote. When I asked my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the other day a Question in connection with this Vote and the Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff, my hon. Friend said I should find full information in the Estimates. Now, I think that my hon. Friend was labouring under some mistake, because if he will look at the Estimates he will find that there is nothing whatever in reference to the salary, &c. attached to Sir H. Drummond Wolff's Mission. The only detail included in the Vote is "Sir H. Drummond Wolffs Special Mission to Constantinople and Egypt." Of course, this Estimate was laid on the Table by the late Government, and the present Government are in no way responsible for its preparation. I find that in the Estimate itself no sum is put down in the shape of salary, and I would ask the Government at what time it was decided that Sir H. Drummond Wolff should have a salary? It was generally understood in this House that Sir H. Drummond Wolff was to have no salary. It was understood that he was simply to go out as Special Ambassador, with certain allowances which, no doubt, would cover all his expenses upon a very handsome scale; but he was to have no salary. The probability that that was the case is, I think, shown by the fact that if he had had a salary it would have been necessary for him at once to vacate his seat. My hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) has suggested that Sir H. Drummond Wolff with a salary occupied precisely the same position as if he had gone out on this Mission without a salary. But the circumstances of the two cases are entirely different. No doubt, it may be said that Sir H. Drummond Wolff only received this appointment towards the close of the last Parliament, when it might be supposed unnecessary that he should be re-elected, or requirrd to vacate his seat; but if he had a salary I may mention that he was actually brought forward as a candidate for the borough of Portsmouth at the very time he was enjoying the appointment of a new Office under the Crown. Now, it is very clear that any Gentleman being a Member of Parliament is absolutely disqualified from taking a place of profit under the Crown without vacating his seat; and, therefore, I presume that while Sir H. Drummond Wolff was sitting for Portsmouth it was not understood that he should have a salary. I hope my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State will tell us something about that matter. I want to know if it was arranged from the first that Sir H. Drummond Wolff was to have a salary of £5,000 a-year? With regard to Sir H. Drummond Wolff himself, I have no complaint to make against the late Government for having sought to give him employment. I should have been glad indeed if the Government could have seen their way to placing him in some Office of responsibility, and of a permanent character. No one would have blamed them for placing him in a high position; and, on personal grounds, I have no complaint to make of Sir H. Drummond Wolff. I fully appreciate his great abilities; but I object to the course taken by the late Government, which appears to have arisen from the fact that they had no suitable permanent office in which to place Sir H. Drummond Wolff; and, therefore, they sent him out to Constantinople. I think that the appointment of Sir H. Drummond Wolff to Constantinople was especially unjustifiable. Already our expenditure in connection with the Embassy at Constantinople is of the most scandalous character; and I use the word advisedly. Our expenditure in Constantinople is far in excess of that for any other Embassy in the world. At the moment the late Government considered the propriety of sending out Sir H. Drummond Wolff to Constantinople we had a large staff there. We have an Ambassador at a salary of £8,000 a-year, supported by a large number of officials, so that the entire salaries paid for the Embassy amounted to more than £14,000 a-year. In addition to that, we have to defray the expense of keeping the Embassy houses in repair, and that cost more than £2,000. Further, our Ambassador at Constantinople has authority to expend money in what are called extraordinary expenses; and the sum of money so expended last year at Constantinople was far in excess of any similar expenditure in the world. It amounted to no less than £5,446, and the total sum of money up to the end of the last Estimate charged for the Embassy at Constantinople for the year amounted to £20,724, in addition to which we paid £5,800 for a Consular Establishment. I have stated that there was an item of £2,000 for the repairs of the Embassy buildings. Now, the Embassy house is a building which orginally cost between £100,000 and £200,000. It was, however, burnt down and rebuilt at a further expenditure of between £100,000 and £200,000. All these expenses, in addition to the sum of £25,000 now asked for, have to be defrayed in connection with our Embassy at Constantinople; and I would put it to the Committee whether it is decent or justifiable in any way that when we have an establishment of this kind, consisting of highly-paid officials—men well versed and experienced in diplomacy, and enjoying the highest character in connection with diplomatic negotiations—is it decent or justifiable that we should send out Sir H. Drummond Wolff at an additional expense of £5,000 a-year, with a large further expenditure for his maintenance, and that of his retinue? I am of opinion that, on that ground alone, considering the enormous sum expended upon our Em- bassy at Constantinople, the late Government were not justified in sending out another highly-paid officer in order that he might do the work which our Ambassador at Constantinople was quite competent to perform. In point of fact, if hon. Members will look at the Blue Book, they will see that in one of the last despatches of Sir H. Drummond Wolff he very properly acknowledges that he received from Sir William White the very greatest possible assistance. Sir H. Drummond Wolff says— It is impossible for me to leave Constantinople without placing on record the deep sense of gratitude I feel towards Sir William White for his personal kindness during my stay here, and the cordial manner in which he has given me every assistance in his power to further my Mission. His advice, experience, and practical knowledge arc of very great value, and of these he has constantly and ungrudgingly given me the full benefit in the course of my negotiations. My task would have been far more difficult, and at times almost impossible, without his kind encouragement and counsel. Here we have a Diplomatic Representative, with all this amount of ability, experience, and knowledge already at Constantinople; but, nevertheless, the late Government decide upon sending out another important official, to add very largely to the already enormous expenditure upon the Embassy at Constantinople. But I entirely agree with the remarks which have been made—that, as far as Sir H. Drummond Wolff's Mission to Constantinople is concerned, its success has been of a very slight character. The hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Duncan), who spoke so well from the opposite side, seems to think that the great advantage that would be derived from the Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff is that it may lead to the establishment of Egyptian National existence; and he said that he altogether objected to the rule of the Turks. I object also to the rule of the Turks in Egypt. I have always thought that the sending out of a number of Turkish troops to Egypt would load to disturbances of a most serious character; and if the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Duncan) is of the same opinion, why does he give his support to Sir H. Drummond Wolff's Mission, which was intended to bring the Turkish influence to bear upon Egypt? My hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) seems to fancy that it is possible for Sir H. Drummond Wolff to bring about an improved state of affairs in Egypt; and, therefore, he is disposed to let him stay there a little longer. But surely my hon. Friend does not suppose that any satisfactory reforms are likely to be carried out by sending Turkish soldiers? He must know perfectly well that any attempt to reform Egypt by the employment of Turkish soldiers would add ten-fold to the horrors of the situation. Therefore, when I see that Sir H. Drummond Wolff, on entering upon his Mission, was first of all to go to the Sultan, and to lead the Sultan to believe that England had repudiated all her old ideas, I fail to see how it could be expected that any considerable amount of success would attend his negotiations. Having satisfied the Sultan on that head, he was thon to obtain the services of a large body of Turkish soldiers in order to reconquer the Soudan—["No!"]—or, at all events, to protect Egypt Proper from any incursions which might be made by the Soudanese. The Sultan would not, and did not, adopt that suggestion, and the negotiations entered into appear to have been of the most unsatisfactory character. For my part, I desire to see no efficient aid from the Sultan which involves an interference with the internal affairs of Egypt. I should be very sorry to see the Soudan overrun with Turkish soldiers, and I hope that this country will not be carried away by any such proposal, so as to be induced to enter into any obligations and responsibilities. I certainly thought that we had determined to avoid all such obligations and responsibilities in future; and I hope, before the debate closes, to hoar from the Government how far they are prepared to accept the conditions of Sir H. Drummond Wolff's Mission, and how far they consider it prudent to continue the Mission of that Gentleman. Have they made any alterations, or are they going to act on the same lines as the late Government, which was, I believe, to suggest a policy, involving this country in further responsibilities? At all events, I shall vote against this large expenditure on two grounds. In the first place, that it is unnecessary, seeing that we are already spending large sums of money both in Constantinople and Egypt, and that we are well represented in both those diplomatic centres; and, in the second place, I object to this large expenditure, because I entertain grave doubts whether the policy of Sir H. Drummond Wolff is one which, if carried out, would promote the interests of Egypt.


I understood my hon. and gallant Friend who sits below the Gangway (Colonel Duncan) to say that this was a wise Mission, because it would lead to the English getting out of Egypt quicker than they otherwise would. Now, I have strong reasons for wishing to see the English out of Egypt. I think that the issue which is raised and the reason which is put forward for the presence of English troops in Egypt are altogether insufficient. It is said that we went to Egypt to insure the safety of the Suez Canal, which many people thought would be essential to this country in the event of our going to war. Now, as a seaman, I say that it would in reality be impossible to guard the Canal in such a contingency, and that it would require at least 50,000 men to guard it in a time of war. The Canal could easily be blocked by ourselves or an enemy in an afternoon watch. There are two places in the Canal in which a ship could be sunk, so as to render the Canal useless to you in the event of your being engaged in hostilities with another country. The other day a ship was sunk in the Canal, and it will be recollected by hon. Members that it was blocked for about four days; but that ship was sunk in a sandy part of the Canal, and not in a rocky part. There are two parts of the Canal which consist of excavations out of the rock, and if any ships were sunk there it would take six weeks or three months before the Canal could be cleared. It is a popular error to imagine that a ship in such a position could be easily blown up. You could blow the ship to pieces; but it would be necessary to employ divers to remove the various parts of it which had been dispersed. My particular reason for wishing to see the English out of Egypt is, because Egypt would be another vast place to defend, and so create another weak place in the large area of weak places to defend; and I really believe that that is the most humanitarian course which could be pursued. I agree with many of the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Finsbury (Colonel Duncan) in regard to the Egyptians, although I do not agree with him as to the zeal they are likely to display in instituting reforms. To a more or less extent they will always be slaves under the domination of some strong will; and what they really require is some strong and powerful leader to direct them in managing their own affairs. Referring back to the question of the Suez Canal, if ever we go to war I have no doubt that it will inevitably be blocked. Indeed, I will go so far as to say that if I were the Admiral out there I should block it myself, and report what I had done to the Government. I might be tried by court martial; but I should have saved the country an enormous expense and the employment of 50,000 men in guarding the Canal. I am in favour of using England's old highway round the Cape. That is a safe route which can never be blocked; and as long as we hold command of the sea we shall be able to fight the world. As to the question of giving up Egypt, some hon. Members say that if we withdraw our occupation the French will go there. I do not see why that should be so. At this moment the Debt of Egypt is guaranteed by six Powers; and why cannot those Powers guarantee that not one of them shall enter Egypt after our evacuation of that country? I imagine that an international guarantee of that description is all that is required. I feel very strongly upon this point. I should be very glad indeed to see the English leave Egypt as soon as possible, it being understood, of course, that the country must be left in such a state as England can leave her in with pride and satisfaction.


It has been a great advantage and a great pleasure to listen to the speeches of the noble Lord who has just sat down and of the hon. and gallant Member for the Holborn Division of Finsbury (Colonel Duncan), who has now left his place. They have made us aware of opinions entitled to the greatest respect and weight in consequence of the abilities that the respective speakers have developed in a practical form in the service of their Queen and country in Egypt itself. I have listened with particular satisfaction to the speech of the noble Lord, who said much that we should do well to take to heart. His speech, like that of the hon. and gallant Member who spoke near the Bar, has tended to elevate the Egyptian Question out of the region of the controversies of Party, and to enable all sides of the Committee to direct their mind to it with something, as I hope, of a common object. The hon. and gallant Gentleman and other speakers are very anxious that something like a continuous policy should be maintained in Egypt, and they anticipate great advantage from the adherence to a principle of that kind. Well, Members of the House of Commons and Ministers may have very good intentions, but, at the same time, may fail in giving effect to them; and that, in the opinion of some hon. Members opposite, was our case, because it was our extreme desire to support a continuous policy. I say this in the presence of my hon. Friend the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere); and it was our sense of the force of binding engagements that led us to do in Egypt what we should not have done in other circumstances, because it was opposed to our views and the opinions and convictions which some of us had given expression to in the country. Many hon. Members who look back find it quite easy to point out how all the evils we have incurred might have been avoided. And here I would make one criticism upon the speech of the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Duncan). The hon. and gallant Member thinks that all the miscarriages and all the errors connected with the Soudan would have been avoided—in fact, he is certain about it—and dismisses the subject by saying that it is of no use to cry over spilt milk. He says there would have been no difficulty if General Gordon had been sent to the Soudan, and if it had been made known at the same time that he had the British Army at his back. There would then, he says, have been no difficulty. But, Sir, is that clear? The first thing which naturally occurs to the mind is that when General Gordon went to the Soudan it was his most distinct and strong conviction, as it was the conviction of Her Majesty's Government, that the thing essential to be known was that the British Army was not at his back, and that he should have no British troops sent to him, and no Turkish soldiers. After ascribing as much as you please to gratuitous and unnecessary error, I am bound to say that, as to most of the difficulties which we have had to encounter, they were inseparable from the nature of the operations we undertook, and the engagements we had entered into; and that the attempt to govern a country so different in religion and race, so remote, and subject to such jealousies and such intrigues as a bye portion of a great Empire like this is will, and must, always lead to a great amount of miscarriage. There is, I am bound to say, one solitary topic which I cannot avoid to mention. It has been spoken of by my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), who said that the state of Egypt was so bad that it could not possibly be worse. Well, Sir, I have no doubt that when Sir H. Drummond Wolff reports upon the state of Egypt, as, I believe, he will in a few days, he will say that which Sir Evelyn Baring has already reported—about which I do not believe there has been the smallest doubt, and in regard to which the hon. and gallant Member for Finsbury (Colonel Duncan), who has now returned to his place, has supplied to-night one important item of evidence—namely, that immense practical improvements have been made in Egypt, whatever the burdens and suffering of the people have been, which improvements are intimately associated with the happiness and well-being of the people. About that there can be no doubt whatever, and I will just give the heads under which I will state those improvements. In the first place, then, the horrible condition of the prisons has undergone effectual and stringent reform—whether it is perfect now I will not undertake to say; but I will undertake to say that a vast improvement has been made. With respect to forced labour—one of the most cruel inflictions under which a people can suffer—an immense reform has taken place. With reference to taxation, and the enormous abuses which prevailed formerly in that country from the time of Mehemet Ali, I am inclined to think that, for many past years, the sufferings of the people in regard to the collection of the taxes were as great or greater than in any other portion of the Turkish Empire. Those abuses have undergone the most effectual retrenchment, at least, if not extirpation. With regard to public works, no one acquainted with the state of Egypt can fail to be aware that, under the able superintendence of Colonel Moncrieff, changes of the greatest importance and developments for good which had been previously initiated have taken place, and constitute an immense amelioration of the condition of the country. Well, Sir, the hon. and gallant Gentleman, speaking with undeniable authority, has told us that there has also been an improvement in that which at one time it was supposed was the greatest difficulty there was to contend with—namely, the Egyptian Army. We need not depend entirely upon the authority of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, great as it is, as, after all, his acknowledgments only brings us back to what was before the last few years well understood, and almost universally known. From the time of the Greek War of Independence it was well known how powerful was the assistance which the Ottoman Empire derived from its Egyptian troops. In the crisis of 1840 it was the formidable character of the Egyptian troops which constituted the great danger of the Turkish Empire which required the European intervention which it was believed at the time was necessary to save it. Again, at the time of the rebellion in Crete, about the year 1858, I think, it was the Egyptian troops mainly which enabled the Sultan to put it down, Turkish troops having long struggled against it in vain. All these, Sir, are points of the very greatest importance with regard to the future of Egypt; and although I do not say they can in all respects console us for what has taken place, yet they form something like a set off which ought not to be omitted from our calculations when we are speaking of the future of that country, and endeavouring to form an estimate of the condition of its inhabitants. Now, Sir, with respect to the Vote before us and the Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff, it is very natural, when a sum of this kind is proposed to be taken for that Mission, that the Committee should look, in the first place, for some fulness of financial details; and, in the second place, it is natural that they should be anxious for an exposition of Egyptian policy. Unfortunately, so far as the nature of this Vote is concerned, we are to a great extent in the hands of Gentlemen opposite, and are unable to say anything with regard to it either one way or the other. The attention of the present Foreign Secretary (the Earl of Rosebery) was drawn, immediately after his accession to Office, to what appeared to be the rather copious charges that had been made upon the people of England in connection with this Mission. My noble Friend at once took measures to impress that a considerable reduction should be made. Well, Sir, we have as yet no details; but we believe that before long, perhaps before many days are over, we shall be in possession of them. Still, it was not possible to keep this Vote hanging over when we had large Estimates and business of importance to deal with. But we have an assurance, on which, no doubt, we may rely, that from the 1st of January, which is a very recent date, there will be a large reduction of this expenditure. Into details, however, I cannot enter; but so much I say on the subject. With regard to the policy associated with this Mission, it is not in the power of Her Majesty's Government to give at present any conclusive reply. We are expecting to receive the Report of Sir H. Drummond Wolff, which will greatly improve our position in that respect. But hon. Gentlemen must not suppose that the Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff is a small matter in relation to the Egyptian Question. I can give no opinion of it whatsoever, either in its favour or otherwise, until I am in possession of much more information. I only say that our desire and disposition are, if we can, to do nothing to break the continuity of the proceedings in Egypt connected with the Mission. Such a break in continuity is an evil in itself, and unless it is found to be necessary to do so we shall use the best efforts in our power to avoid it. But do not let hon. Gentlemen admit into their minds any idea that the importance of the Mission must be measured by the sum upon the Estimates. What does that Mission involve? It involves, in the first place, an International engagement. Now that is a very important result. I do not recollect that any former Missions which have taken place to Egypt involved such a result. The Mission of Mr. Cave, the Earl of Dufferin—his was hardly a Mission; he was Ambassador to the Turkish Government—or that of the Earl of Northbrook, involved any International engagements. This is a matter of the greatest possible consequence. It may be, and no doubt will be, argued that it may have the effect of greatly enhancing the force of British influence with the Mahommedan population of that country and the Soudan, when the religious character of the Sultan's Office is taken into view, and when it is known that he is working in concert with the British Government. But whether what will naturally occur will apply in one direction or the other is a question which hon. Gentlemen will be entitled to say is one of great importance, and I will not attempt to appreciate it with precision at the present moment. On the other hand, it is quite plain, as has been stated by my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Bylands), that if the question of the admission of a High Commissioner from the Sultan into Egypt is to be discussed on a footing of parity and equal authority with that of the British Ambassador on the internal affairs of the country—if that be the true effect of the Mission, that, I admit, raises a very serious consideration which, the character of the Mission not being before us, I could not now attempt minutely or particularly to unfold. I reserve my judgment altogether on this subject, and only say that our desire will be to avail ourselves of all the capacities for good which this Mission may develop; and if there be any risk of opposite consequences to neutralize those consequences, but, as far as we are able, to maintain in all points to the utmost of our ability, where the interests and honour of the country admit, the continuity of our proceedings which, I am happy to think, with regard to other important matters of Eastern policy, have been materially recognized by the late Government and the present Government, and which I hope, under favourable circumstances, are destined to acquire solidity, that if it can be maintained will be highly beneficial both to the honour and best interests of the country. My view is that, where proposals of this kind are made to the House, it is right that we should give the Committee to understand in very few words what our position really is. The question as to the Vote is, in our opinion, secondary to the very important questions of policy which are involved in the Mission. We have not had time to obtain such information from Sir H. Drummond Wolff with respect to his Mission as will enable us fully to appreciate his position under the circumstances; and we could not possibly make any change on the suggestion that has been made as to introducing economy into the working of the Mission. We cannot possibly make any serious change, or do anything which will tend to unsettle the position of Sir H. Drummond Wolff, or the position of Her Majesty's Government with regard to this matter. This is our position, and this is my excuse for making a claim on the patience of the Committee; and trusting that hon. Members will wait until we are ourselves able fully to command a view of the situation in Egypt, which has certainly become less complicated since the appointment of Sir H. Drummond Wolff; seeing that Her Majesty's Government is in need of information which at present it does not possess, and without passing any judgment on any part of the transaction, it is our opinion, having regard to the interests of this country and of Egypt, that the Committee should at once proceed to pass this Vote.


Sir, I do not know whether the Committee will permit me to say very much after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister; at the same time, I do not think that the Committee will be satisfied if I were to allow this opportunity to pass by without saying something in connection with this subject. And it is also because I can assure the Committee and the right hon. Gentleman opposite that nothing is farther from the intentions of the Members of the late Government than to shirk in any way the responsibility justly attaching to us respecting the policy concerned in the Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff and the expenditure incurred in connection with it. We accept all the responsibility of the expenditure incurred. Now, Sir, one or two observations with reference to the remarks which foil from the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. I am very glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman intends that there should be a continuity of policy; because as we prepared that policy it is, of course, very satisfactory to find that there is to be no break in the chain. One of the principles involved in this Mission, and in the instructions given to Sir H. Drum- mond Wolff by the Marquess of Salis bury, was that the co-operation of the Sultan was desirable; and although I am glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that he does not consider that question at all important, yet he does not give any distinct opinion as to whether that co-operation is desirable or not—he wishes to see, before that admission is made, whether the cooperation of the Sultan is desirable or not for England. Well, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman made one observation at the commencement of his remarks with regard to the policy of the late Government with respect to Egypt. He said that the last Liberal Government took the course they did in consequence of a desire to continue the policy of their Predecessors. I do not wish to enter upon any controversial matter; but I think I should not be doing my duty if I were not to protest against the view that the policy of the last Government of the right hon. Gentleman was a continuation of the policy of their Predecessors, because nothing could be more different than the policy pursued by the Administration of the right hon. Gentleman four or five years ago than the policy of the Government which they succeeded. Sir, there was an observation of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) which I will take notice of. The hon. Member seemed to think that, according to precedent, Sir H. Drummond Wolff ought to have vacated his seat for the acceptance of Office. I was somewhat surprised, having regard to the industry and ability of the hon. Member, that he had not made himself acquainted with the law on this subject, because it has been well ascertained. It has been laid down over and over again by the highest authorities, and in a paragraph of Sir Erskine May's work on Parliamentary Practice, that — The acceptance of the Office of Ambassador Or other Foreign Minister does not disqualify, nor does its acceptance vacate the seat of a Member. Now, Sir H. Drummond Wolff was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary and Special Envoy. It has been hold in many cases—in the case of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, of Mr. Canning, and in the case of Sir Henry Bulwer, who sat throe or four years in this House while a salaried and paid officer in the Diplomatic Service, and also in the case of Mr. Sheil. The case of Mr. Sheil was one of the most remarkable cases which may be named, because with regard to it the point was raised in this House. Mr. Sheil was Member for Dungarvan when he was appointed Envoy Extraordinary to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and an hon. Member moved for a new "Writ under the impression that the seat was vacated; but next day, or a day or two afterwards the Mover of the Writ came down to the House and stated that he had moved the Writ under an erroneous impression, and that he found that the seat was not vacated; and in that case the House granted a supersedeas to the Writ for the election of a new Member. Thus it was decided that not only the acceptance of the Office of Minister Plenipotentiary or Special Envoy does not vacate the seat, but that all proceedings taken upon such acceptance of Office fall to the ground. With regard to another observation which fell from the hon. Member, I should like the Committee to recollect what was the position of affairs with regard to Egypt when the Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff was proposed. I think it will be admitted by all that Egyptian affairs were in a very abnormal condition at that time. The finances were in a very critical state; and, although I quite agree with the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister that a great deal of amelioration has taken place in many branches of the Administration, at the same time many branches of the Administration in Egypt were then in a state of very great disorder. The Daira and the Domain Administrations were and are, I am sorry to say, in a state of chronic deficit; the arrangements for the permanent establishment of the Egyptian Army are incomplete, and I may say inchoate; the condition of the Soudan, in a word, was a condition of armed hostility, and the armed hostility was rendered more formidable by the fact that after the capture of Khartoum there was an immense amount of guns and material in the hands of the rebels, and which I believe are in the hands of the rebels still. Then, the Province of Dongola was in a state of armed hostility also; and not only so, but all the inhabitants in that Province had joined the Mahdi's Force and were threatening Upper Egypt. Again, the Mussulman population of the whole Empire of Egypt was in a state of ferment; and the relations, moreover, between England and the Great Powers were in a very unsatisfactory state—in fact, I may say, Sir, that both internally and externally the condition of Egypt was one which gave Her Majesty's late Government very great anxiety; and they considered it incumbent upon them on entering Office to take some step which they thought might, at any rate, produce a better state of things in that country. Well, Sir, the first duty which they considered was incumbent upon them was to make an honest attempt to restore confidence to the Sultan, and to the other Powers in that respect; and there were two points on which it was thought absolutely necessary to arrive at a conclusion—one was the restoration of order in Egypt, and the other was an arrangement for the ultimate withdrawal of the British Forces from that country. Those, after all, were the two great points on which Her Majesty's Government decided to send this Special Mission to Egypt. They thought that if they could establish a cordial understanding with the Sultan which would in no way excite, nor, at the same time, ruffle the sensibilities of other Powers, it ought to be done; and, Sir, with that object in view, they determined to send a Special Envoy to Egypt, with the power, with the authority, and with the dignity of Minister Plenipotentiary, to carry out their views. Everything which has taken place since then, every telegram that has passed, not only from Sir H. Drummond Wolff himself, but from Foreign Powers and from our own Ministers abroad, have convinced Her Majesty's late Government that the selection which they made was a wise one, for no person could have performed the duty of his office with greater ability, dignity, tact, discretion, and patience than has Sir H. Drummond Wolff. Sir, some observations have been made by hon. Gentlemen in the course of this discussion upon the question as to whether any alteration has taken place in the relations between the Sultan and the Khedive, and that point has been alluded to by the Prime Minister. All I can say, Sir, is that the instructions to Sir H. Drummond Wolff were definite on that subject, and to the effect that the position of the Sultan as Sovereign of Egypt was to be recognized in its full signifi- cance. And, so far as anything which has taken place under those instructions, and so far as relations are concerned, there can be no intention whatever to alter in any way the relations which exist at the present time between the Sultan and the Khedive. Sir H. Drummond Wolff proceeded, in accordance with his instructions, to Constantinople, and he had not been there very long when he established the most cordial relations, not only with the Sultan and the Porte, but also with the whole Diplomatic Body in that Capital; and, Sir, anyone who is acquainted with the conduct of Eastern negotiations at Constantinople must know very well that it is not easy for any one Power to establish cordial relations with the Representatives of other Powers on any subject; and when we consider that in this case it was the burning question of Egypt, I think that so much the greater credit is due to Sir H. Drummond Wolff for the cordial co-operation which he was able to obtain from all Foreign Ambassadors to the Court of the Sultan. He was able to point out, both to the Sultan and the Representatives of the Powers, that the objects of Her Majesty's Government—namely, the restoration of order in Egypt and the making of arrangements for the withdrawal of our forces in that country, were in consonance with the views of the Porte and the other Powers of Europe—whoso confidence, I must say, for the past five years has been rudely shocked. Unless some arrangement had been come to for the bringing about of harmony with the Sultan and the other Powers, I very much doubt whether it would have been possible to have brought about a satisfactory state of things in Egypt. After Sir H. Drummond Wolff arrived in Constantinople a considerable amount of delay took place, and a great deal of the expense of the Mission was in consequence of that delay. Hon. Gentlemen who have watched the course of events in the East during the past five or six months will know that circumstances occurred to produce delay which were not Sir H. Drummond Wolff's fault. He had not been long in Constantinople when the revolution in Eastern Roumelia broke out, Servia and Bulgaria went to war, Greece began to arm, and Turkey prepared for war. All these circumstances prevented the Sultan giv- ing that attention which he wished to give to Sir H. Drummond Wolff's Mission when Sir Henry first arrived there. Notwithstanding these drawbacks, with a good deal of patience, tact, and good humour he went on pegging away—notwithstanding the great amount of business of an absorbing character that the Sultan had to do in connection with this and other subjects, Sir H. Drummond Wolff was able at last to get this Convention signed. Whether or not the Convention will be an ultimate success depends upon Her Majesty's present Advisers; but, so far as it has gone up to the present, I think I may claim for it that it has been an absolute and en-tire success. Let us see what are the objects to be gained by the Mission. Sir H. Drummond Wolff has himself described them, and described them in language which I think I cannot improve upon. He says— Perhaps your Lordship will allow me to recapitulate the various points on which, as far as I can judge, this Instrument may prove of advantage. In the first place, the conclusion of an arrangement of any kind has done much to allay the irritation that has existed for some time in the minds of the Turks towards England. In saying this, I do not wish in any way to criticize the past; hut it is beyond a doubt that the irritation has existed, and has done much to diminish the influence which Her Majesty's Government ought to exercise in the Dominions of the Sultan. Secondly, the appointment of English and Turkish Commissioners in Egypt for the objects proposed establishes in the most formal manner the existence of a good understanding between the two countries. Then he goes on to say that a position of legality should be established in Egypt, a position which had been sadly broken during the last five years. I recollect that one of the charges brought against the Earl of Beaconsfield's Administration was that he had broken the law of Europe. Why, the whole of our proceedings in Egypt during the past five years have been a flagrant breach of the law of Europe, and it has been to remedy that breach that this arrangement with the Sultan has been entered into. I will not weary the Committee by going at great length into this subject; but I think, before I sit down, the Committee will expect me to say a few words with regard to the question of expense. It was never the intention of Her Majesty's late Government that Sir H. Drummond Wolff's Mission should be equipped in total disregard of all those accessories which give effect to these Missions, and which make them, particularly in Eastern countries, much more effective than they would otherwise be without them. It is impossible to suppose that very large entertainments would not take place; and I must say that I do not think, considering everything that has been done by Sir H. Drummond Wolff in the way of entertainment and other necessary expenses, that the sum can be thought at all extravagant. Her Majesty's Government took very good care that they would appear before this House, at any rate, in a good position, for they attached an experienced public servant to the Mission, whose duty it is to prepare for transmission full accounts of every item of expenditure incurred in the usual manner. They did that in conformity with the Report of the Public Accounts Committee; and in doing so I think they took every precaution that this House could have expected them to take. I must say that those who know Sir H. Drummond Wolff will not accuse him of folly; and I am quite sure that a gentleman with his knowledge of the House of Commons would have shown an extraordinary amount of folly if he had incurred such a large amount of expenditure, which could, not be justified by the exigencies of the Public Service. I have no doubt that every particle of the expenditure incurred in this Mission has been incurred in consequence of Sir H. Drummond Wolff's devotion to the Public Service. As to telegrams, the point is one to which a great deal of attention has been paid. It is necessary to mention these subjects, as Sir H. Drummond Wolff is not here to defend himself with regard to them; and I think that as allegations against him have been made I should not be doing my duty if I were not to answer them. In the first place, I should like to mention, in justice to Sir H. Drummond Wolff, that some people have been of opinion that it would be possible to put down the expense of the telegrams from Sir H. Drummond Wolff under the head of "telegrams." Now, such a course as that would not only be improper, but it would be against the rule of the Foreign Office to do so; because it is a rule there—and I think it is a very good rule too —that all the expenses, including telegrams, of Special Missions, should be put under the head of "Foreign Missions," and not "telegrams." Therefore, we do not, under the head "telegrams," include telegraphic communications from Sir H. Drummond Wolff, but telegrams from all parts of the world, particularly from the East; because in consequence of the disturbed state of the East very long telegrams were sent to the Foreign Office from Vienna, Belgrade, Bucharest, Greece, Sofia, Montenegro, and other places, all of which are charged for under the head I mention. There are two remarks I would wish to make in reply to what has been said on this matter; and I would commend them to the equitable consideration of the Committee. When Sir H. Drummond Wolff arrived at Cairo, it will be in the recollection of the Committee that a rebellion broke out at Dongola. The consequence of that was that everyone in Egypt was thrown into a state almost of panic, because the people thought that the Mahdi's Forces were going to invade Upper Egypt; and no doubt they would have done so had it not been for the gallantry of the British and Egyptian Forces. That state of things produced great ferment in Egypt; and, as a consequence, Sir H. Drummond Wolff, though a Special Envoy sent there for another purpose, found that the bulk of his telegrams had to be devoted to the general condition of Egypt, and they were all charged for under the head of his Special Mission. There is another fact I should like to mention in justice to Sir H. Drummond Wolff. If the Committee will compare the expense of telegrams from Cairo for the quarter ending the 25th of March, 1885, and the quarter ending the 25th of June, 1885—with which Her Majesty's late Government had nothing to do—with the expense of telegrams from Cairo for the quarter ending the 25th of December, for which the late Government was responsible, they will find that the telegrams for those two previous quarters exceed by far the expense for the telegrams for the quarter ending the 25th of December, for which the late Government were responsible. These are two facts which, I think, ought to commend themselves to the consideration of the Committee. Well, Sir, I confess that when I saw the expenses that were being incurred in connection with this Mission I thought it very likely that some inquiry would be made in this House on the subject. I compared the expenses of Sir H. Drummond Wolff's Mission with those of many other Missions which preceded it. I will not weary the Committee by going through a list of these; but I will mention one, because it has been alluded to already—namely, that of the Earl of Dufferin, which is the nearest parallel to that of Sir H. Drummond Wolff. I will undertake to say that there is no more careful or conscientious public servant in the world than the Earl of Dufferin; and I can say this with regard to his salary and expenses during his Mission to Cairo—that if you compare them, month by month, with Sir H. Drummond Wolff's, I have reason to doubt whether those of the Earl of Dufferin will be exceeded by those of Sir H. Drummond Wolff. I do not mean for one moment to suggest that the Earl of Dufferin spent one farthing more than he ought to have done. I am certain, indeed, that he did not; but I hope the Committee will take this into consideration when sweeping charges of profuse expenditure are made against a public servant—I hope they will see that these charges cannot be justified by comparison with the expenditure of others in the same position. In justice to Sir H. Drummond Wolff, I am bound to say that there is a very great difference between his Mission and that of the Earl of Dufferin. His Mission was, in fact, two Missions—to Constantinople and to Cairo—and he was brought into contact with two different Governments, and two different sets of officials and Corps Diplomatiques, thereby calling for a much larger amount of entertainment than if he had been brought into communication with one set of officials only. Then, there is another item which, for the purpose of comparison, must be borne in mind, and that is that the Earl of Dufferin was provided at Cairo with a Palace by the Khedive; whereas Sir H. Drummond Wolff, both at Constantinople and at Cairo, has had to find hotel accommodation for himself, and the expense of that is included here. The right hon. Gentleman says he has reason to believe that Sir H. Drummond Wolff's expenses during January will be less than in the months pre- ceding. Of course, they will. All the great expenses of the Mission have now been incurred—I will not say all the great expenses; but I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman is right in saying that the expenses during the next weeks of Sir H. Drummond Wolff's Mission to Cairo will not be as great as they have been. I have no doubt of that; but it does not follow in the least from it that the expenses of the preceding weeks and months have been too great. I say, therefore, upon the ground of precedent there is nothing to complain of with respect to the expenses of this Mission. I shall be very glad indeed to assist the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) in reducing the expenses of the Missions to Constantinople and to other places; but it is not so easy to do, and I do not at present see any way in which these expenses can be curtailed. Now, I must say that, considering this was a peaceful Mission, that its object was a beneficent one, it is rather inconsistent in hon. Gentlemen opposite to taunt the late Government with either the policy or the expenses of the Mission. Considering the way in which they, for four or five years, voted millions and millions of money without any good object, and without a murmur, I must say I think it is a little inconsistent to cavil at these expenses. If they were 10, 15, 20, or 100 times greater than they are likely to be, they would only be a drop in the ocean compared with the millions of money that had been squandered in Egypt of late. Under these circumstances, I trust the Committee will assent to this Vote, not only on the ground that it is an economical Vote, but on the ground that it is an honest attempt to bring about a peaceful solution of a question which has been for many years a cause of the deepest anxiety to every Government.


For my part, there is an item I object to much more than that for the expenses of Sir H. Drummond Wolff's Mission, and that is the item for telegrams, which, I presume, we may take as covering the telegrams in this Book on the Affairs of Egypt—which, by the way, is not a Blue Book, but a White Book. If we may take this—as I presume we may—as a fair specimen of the value we get for this enormous outlay, I do think the Committee ought to administer a lesson to the Govern- ment in the only way that it is possible to do it for squandering money on such a monstrous monument of folly. If this debate had not already continued for a long time, I should have attempted to occupy the time of the Committee at length. If I did so now, I am afraid I should weary the patience of hon. Members and insure myself a bad hearing. But I do think I am justified in asking the Committee to listen to me for a short time, whilst I make a protest against this system of governing foreign countries by telegram. This question, it seems to me, has been debated too much on the personal merits of Sir H. Drummond Wolff. The question whether or not Sir H. Drummond Wolff gave too many expensive dinners is not the question raised by this Vote. The question raised is infinitely wider. We hear, for the first time since this miserable Egyptian business commenced, the doctrine of evacuation preached. The two Front Benches used to agree in the doctrine of putting off indefinitely the question of evacuation; but now we hear them saying that the sooner the British troops leave Egypt the better. We have learnt to be very sceptical about such statements, and we shall be so until we are informed that steps are being taken to put an end to this enormous expense and this monstrous system of governing Egypt by telegram. This House, I think, has a right to demand that the Government shall lay on the Table a full statement on the subject of their occupation of Egypt, of the administration of the country, and of how and by whom the expenses are paid. But, lest I should be out of Order if I pressed on that subject, I will for a few moments direct attention to some of the documents in this book of telegrams, the cost of which we are now asked to vote out of the National Exchequer. First of all, I would draw attention to certain telegrams dealing with an illustrious individual called the Sheikh el Morghani. He was sent, at the suggestion of Sir Evelyn Baring, from Cairo to Suakin, in the expectation that he would use his great influence with the Mahommedan tribes to induce them to abstain from attacks on Suakin. From certain telegrams sent home by Donald A. Cameron and Colonel Herbert Chermside, who represent the English Government at Suakin, it appears that they had the highest expectations of the result of the influence of this Sheikh el Morghani. One telegram says— Morghani in Cairo is very sanguine about being able to reconcile the tribes, but asks for time to effect it. The Sheikh went down to Suakin, and has, I am informed, remained there for a couple of months. It is stated, though I do not find it in these valuable telegrams, that the Sheikh was convinced that he could disarm the hostility of the tribes, but only on condition of the withdrawal of the British troops. I suppose these Blue Books are always edited; but after careful study of it I am not able to find out any reference to this opinion of the Sheikh el Morghani. On the contrary, Mr. Cameron, speaking of this Sheikh, who, in a previous telegram, was mentioned as a man of great influence with the Mahommedans in Egypt, but who, I am informed, subsequently declared that the Soudan could only be pacified on the withdrawal of the British troops, says— The Cairo Sheikh is revered by the Natives of Suakin; but his knowledge of local tribal politics is very limited. He does not appear to have made any progress in grasping the situation since last year. I have received private information which makes me think I can read between the lines, and makes it clear that this statement of Mr. Cameron as to the Sheikh Morghani failing to grasp the situation was prompted by Morghani's expression of opinion that the only way to get peace in the Soudan was to withdraw the British troops. Mr. Cameron goes on to say— I met the other Morghani a few days ago. And this man, it seems, from other telegrams, must have been largely bribed or paid by the Government to undertake certain negotiations with Has Alula, the General of the Abyssinian Forces. Mr. Cameron says, speaking of the other Morghani— A serious, quiet man, who realizes the difficulties of the whole problem of the Eastern Soudan, the Sheikh of Daggah looks upon the Hadendowas as quite irreconcilable. Nothing but starvation here, and total, defeat at the hands of the Abyssinians at Sanheit and Kassala will, he thinks, reduce them to submission. From that date the Sheikh Morghani of Cairo disappears from the despatches, and the Sheikh of Daggah— His cousin, a younger man, who has passed all his life in the Soudan, and who has had a large personal experience of the Hadendowas, appears as the trusted adviser of the British Forces. The Sheikh el Morghani was sent to Cairo, and the change of air seems to have injured his health, for the poor man died at the end of a month. As I have read, it is stated in this somewhat long telegram of Mr. Donald A. Cameron that nothing but starvation and the Abyssinians will reduce the Hadendowas to submission. Two English cruisers are then sent down to intercept the supply of grain and other provisions received by these unhappy Natives from the Red Sea—to carry out this policy of starvation and extermination here set forth. So far as I can gather, this policy is in force at the present moment, and the Committee will be asked to vote a further large sum of money for Abyssinia, to pay for the services of Ras Alula and his Forces, who are Christians, and therefore hateful to the Soudanese, who have been asked to come and destroy the Hadendowa Tribe. Is this diabolical system to be continued, when there is no object to be gained by it? Are these horrible assaults that have been going on against the Arabs round Suakin for so long to be continued in the face of the declaration of the Government that they desire to withdraw Her Majesty's troops from the Soudan? Is this system of starvation versus concession to be continued? Is every method that the ingenuity of man can devise to be resorted to for the purpose of starving out these Hadendowas, who have already suffered so much at the hands of the British? I think this opportunity should not be lost of asking the Government to give us a straightforward statement to the effect that pending the settlement of the Egyptian Question this wretched Arab Tribe shall not be pursued with a merciless fury for which no reason can be adduced. I had an opportunity recently of talking to a British officer who had had a conversation with this Sheikh Morghani, who was shipped off to Suakin by the British Government. This officer tells me that the Sheikh declares the Arabs put down their losses during the famous passage of the Egyptian troops round the wells and elsewhere at not less than 30,000 killed. These words are the words of the Sheikh Morghani of Cairo; but I have no doubt I should be under the mark if I said that the loss on the part of the Arabs in dead alone, since the British troops first set foot on Egyptian soil, has been nearer 150,000 than 100,000 men. How long is this to go on? Throughout these debates appeals have been made to the Government to say that pending the completion of their plans and until they are in a position to declare a rational and intelligible policy of evacuation in Egypt they shall put a stop to this slaughter. Will they consider the desirability of withdrawing their soldiers from Suakin, the climate of which place has the deadliest effect upon British troops? Our own men are experiencing the greatest torture in this unhealthy place; they are being decimated by sickness, and all for no earthly reason. Well, now, I want to say a few words upon another question which is raised by these telegrams, and that is the question of the so-called attempt to relieve the garrison of Kassala. The relief of Kassala is a question of some importance, and it bears closely upon the question whether we have got value for the £12,000 spent upon those telegrams. Many of the telegrams have reference to the arrangements which were being made, and the measures which were being taken by Colonel Chermside for the relief of Kassala. We have in the first part of the Blue Book the most confident telegrams from Colonel Chermside. He describes at great length the measures taken for the relief of the garrison, informs Her Majesty's Government that Osman Digna is dead, and that the army of Ras Alula is advancing on Kassala, and also states the large sums paid to Ras Alula—I suppose out of the English Treasury—for the most scandalous enterprize of relieving Kassala. Then, after some time, spies began to come in, and the truth began to leak out about the relief of Kassala. We find that, instead of Kassala being in a position to be relieved on the very date in July, 1885, when all these measures were being taken and large sums of money were being paid to Ras Alula, Osman Digna entered Kassala, and he and his friends were drinking and shaking hands with the Governor; that at the very hour Ras Alula was leaving Abyssinia Osman Digna was engaged in carrying from Kassala all the muni- tions of war that were there. While these events were transpiring the Government were receiving long telegrams from Colonel Chermside, informing them that he had the utmost confidence that the garrison would be relieved. Am I not justified in saying that a more scandalous waste of money was never sanctioned by this Parliament? Besides, these telegrams only hold out the British Government to ridicule over the whole world; and they do something worse than that—they show that we gave our sanction to the most horrible operations. What was the result? Ras Alula marched to the relief of Kassala; but before he got there he was met by an army which came out of Kassala to fight him. There was a bloody battle, of which various accounts were telegraphed, after which battle, both sides having lost very many men, Ras Alula marched back to Abyssinia with the English money in his pocket. Then the latest news we have reads like some extraordinary story out of. The Arabian Nights. After all the long telegrams of the various arrangements made, and all the trouble that had been gone to to relieve this desperate garrison, I will read in a few moments the last news we were given of the garrison of Kassala. But, first of all, I must direct the attention of the Committee to this one fact which is mentioned in a Report, forwarded by telegraph, of several eyewitnesses of the surrender of Kassala, related by Selim Agha. The Report was forwarded from Cairo to the Marquess of Salisbury by Mr. Egerton, and I think it is such as to make every Englishman thoroughly ashamed. These eye-witnesses say that— When plunder was going on in Kassala Osman Digna entered the town, before the relaters left it, and he did put a stop to misdeeds and plunder, for his word was law. This is the man on whose head an English General set a high price some time ago, and yet we find from the statement of eye-witnesses that— He put a stop to misdeeds and plunder, because his word was law. Now, the last news we have of Kassala is dated Cairo, December 21, 1885, and it is to this effect— An officer who has just arrived in Cairo with his company from Massowah brings the news that Osman Digna had ordered the assassination of the Mudir of Kassala and his ser- vant and two other Europeans. Osman Morghani, at Suakin, confirms this intelligence about the Mudir's death. The latest news from Kassala, brought by one Farag Agha Nini, who escaped with 59 men and three women, is to the effect that Osman Digna is still at Kassala, where he had established a reign of terror. I have just read a telegram which shows that the moment Osman Digna entered the town he put an end to the reign of terror. Anyone who studies these documents will find considerable difficulty in reconciling them, or in conceiving what earthly object can be gained by forwarding them by telegraph instead of sending them by the penny post, which, I think, is a means of transit quite rapid enough for such documents. There is just one other point to which I wish to direct the attention of the Government. In a telegram from Lieutenant Stuart-Wortley to Sir H. Drummond Wolff, dated Wady Haifa, December 12, 1885, it is said— Obstacles have boon found on the railway between Haifa and Gemai, placed there, undoubtedly, by the villagers. General Grenfell having issued a Proclamation warning the Sheikhs of all villages that they were responsible for the railway in their neighbourhoods, the Sheikh of Gemai was accordingly punished. I want to know what punishment was inflicted? There is not a single word in the telegram to indicate whether there was any evidence that the Sheikh of Gemai was cognizant of the obstruction placed on the railway. There is nothing to show that he was placed on trial, or that he got any kind of trial, and yet, under the orders of a British officer, he was punished. I think the Government ought to inform the Committee what punishment was inflicted on this Sheikh, by whose command he was punished, and whether he received any trial at all.

Question put.

The Committee divided: —Ayes 98; Noes 185: Majority 87.—(Div. List, No. 12.)

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £69,210, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1886, for certain Charges connected with the Orange River Territory, the Transvaal, Zululand, Bechuanaland, the Island of St. Helena, and the High Commissioner for South Africa.


This is a very large Vote, and I think it is due to the Committee that there should be some explanation of it. The Vote has reference to the affairs of Bechuanaland and Stellaland, and to the Angra Pequena Commission. The original Estimate of the cost of the administration of Bechuanaland was only £30,000; but, at the time that Estimate was formed, it was generally believed that Bechuanaland would be incorporated with the Cape Colony. The sum of £30,000, under these circumstances, was thought quite sufficient for the administration of the territory. The matter came before the responsible Advisers of Sir Hercules Robinson in July, 1885, and they offered to take over the territory upon terms which were practically prohibitory. It really came to this—that the Cape Colony declined to take over Bechuanaland, except upon the payment down by the Imperial Government of £50,000; and then they insisted that the safety of the country should be secured by means of mounted police, who should be under the control of the Cape Colony, but paid by the Imperial Government. The late Government declined those terms, and from the 1st of September last the territory of Bechuanaland had been administered by Sir Hercules Robinson, not as part of Cape Colony, but as a Crown Colony. Under these circumstances, it became necessary to provide for the security as well as for the administration of the territory; and for that purpose it was suggested by Sir Hercules Robinson that a mounted police force of about 500 men should be raised, and that the sum of £10,000 should be set apart for the civil administration of the Colony. The result was that a mounted police force of 500 men was raised, and a small civil establishment created; and the cost of these, together with certain other expenses incurred in the renewal of telegraph posts which had been set up by Sir Charles Warren, and the erection of public buildings, and the extension of the Land Commission, to which I referred the other day in answer to a Question put to me by the hon. Gentletleman the Member for the City of London (Sir Robert Fowler), brought the sum required to £75,000. If it is desired I can give the Committee the exact figures. For the mounted police and the civil establishment about £60,000 is required; for the renewal of the telegraph posts something like £7,000; for public buildings and gaols £6,000; for the Land Commission, which has been conducted under Mr. Justice Shepherd and two Assistant Commissioners, and which I am informed has worked exceedingly well, £2,000, making in all £75,000; but from that there is to be deducted £15,000, the saving on the original Estimate, thus reducing the total to £60,000, the sum now asked for in respect to Bechuanaland. It must be borne in mind, however, that the military operations in that territory, which have now ceased, would, if continued, have cost the country between £200,000 and £300,000 a-year. I believe it will be found that in time the expenses of the Colony, even supposing it remains a Crown Colony, and is not taken over by the Government of the Cape, will diminish, and we have reason to hope that certain assets will be found remunerative. Then, with regard to Stellaland. Stellaland, as the Committee knows, is the Southern portion of the territory of Bechuanaland; and the Boers, who established a sort of inchoate Government, therein incurred certain liabilities which our Government took over, consisting principally of salaries of members of the Bestoor, a sort of Executive Council, and "good fors," or promises to pay, which are roughly estimated at £8,000. But while it is necessary now to put down £8,000 in respect of Stellaland, I am in great hopes that the greater part of that sum will be repaid by means of assets, which we have also taken over, including, amongst other things, certain debts due from a large number of individuals. We hope that in time these assets will bring in something like £6,500, so that ultimately not more than £1,500 will have to be paid out of the Imperial Exchequer for Stellaland. So much for Bechuanaland and Stellaland. With regard to the third item, for the Angra Pequena Commission, the Committee knows how that liability has arisen. The German Government took over a very large tract of territory called Damaraland, on the South-West Coast of Africa. We have retained a small portion of this territory, and it became necessary to consider the claims of certain Germans and English subjects to the land thus dealt with. A Commission was appointed by the two Governments to ascertain how far the claims were valid. The expenses of the Commission have been divided between the two Governments, and we are called upon to pay the salary of the British Commissioner, and the moiety of certain other charges, amounting together to £1,210. It will be seen that all these items together make up the sum we now ask for—namely, £69,210.


Mr. Courtney, I venture to call the attention of this Committee to the affairs of Bechuanaland, for the reason that I have very recently been in Bechuanaland, and been in most parts of it. There is one other hon. Member of the House who has also recently been in Bechuanaland, and that is my hon. Friend the Member for the Holderness Division of the East Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. Bethell). If I may venture to do so, I would congratulate the Committee on the very brief and explicit statement the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Osborne Morgan) has made. But in spite of that statement I must ask for further information before I can conscientiously agree to this Vote. I desire further information, because, to my mind, this Vote, though it deals with Bechuanaland, involves the whole policy of Her Majesty's Government in South Africa. While I do not on this occasion call for a declaration of their policy in South Africa, I think it is right the Government should give us some distinct idea of the general course they intend to pursue. The question is one that is agitating a great many interests, not only in this country, but in South Africa. I have myself had letters from Natal and Cape Town asking what is to come of the change of Government in England? The merchants there are greatly interested in the markets in Bechuanaland; and I believe that the traders, no less than the Heads of the Government in the Transvaal, are equally interested in the same great question. I wish for further information on two specific points. One is in relation to the sum of £60,000. When the administration of Bechuanaland was placed on its present footing, I believe the proposal of Sir Hercules Robinson was that in the first year the Imperial Revenue should contribute £130,000; in the second year, £52,000; and in the third year, £25,000; so that, in passing this Vote, the Committee must remember that the Vote will be repeated next year and the year after, though to a smaller amount. Is this £60,000 to be considered as part of that scheme which Sir Hercules Robinson proposed, and which, I believe, Her Majesty's Government adopted in principle, if not in all its details? Secondly, I desire to know whether Her Majesty's Government have determined that this advance of money to pay the extra expenses in Bechuanaland is to come under any system whatever of repayment? In accordance with the advice or suggestion of Sir Charles Warren, who, I believe, had in view the repayment of these extra expenses from the resources of Bechuanaland when the country had been fully developed by the Imperial Administration. And, thirdly, I am desirous of ascertaining what are the assets of the late Government in Stellaland on which Her Majesty's Government rely to repay the advance of £8,000. In the next place, I hope the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Under Secretary will be able to inform the Committee that Her Majesty's Government have formulated some definite policy. It will be within the recollection of all hon. Members of the Committee that upwards of £20,000,000 of English money has been buried in South Africa since we took over the country. Her Majesty's Government are entirely responsible for the Expedition to Bechuanaland, for the declaration of the Protectorate over a great extent of the African interior, and also for the administration of that portion of Bechuanaland which is now somewhat in the position of a provisional Crown Colony. The cost of the Bechuanaland annexation will very closely approach £1,000,000 sterling, and will have to be paid out of the pockets of the English taxpayer, who, as I have already said, has already sunk £20,000,000 sterling in South Africa. I do not think this Committee is justified in allowing any more money to be spent in the country without being assured that those who are responsible for the appropriation of the money will declare they do not intend to sink this fresh money without obtaining some good, true, and adequate return. Referring to the Land Commission in Stellaland, the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Osborne Morgan) said he understood that the Commission was working very satisfactorily. I am very glad to hear this, because, through the newspapers and other sources, most sinister rumours have reached England about this Land Commission. We have heard that members of the Executive Council in Stellaland were imprisoned for contempt of the Land Commission, and we have also heard that the Secretary to the Land Commission, Lieutenant Hayes of the Royal Engineers, a most experienced, clear-headed, and independent man with whom I have worked, has resigned his office because he cannot approve of the dealings of the Commission. I hope both these rumours are not true, for otherwise the statement of the right hon. and learned Gentleman that the Land Commission is working very satisfactorily will be directly contradicted by facts. Now, I hope the Committee will remember that in dealing with Bechuanaland they arc dealing with a central district in South Africa, in which is involved the trade, prosperity, and the peace, not only of the Transvaal, but of Natal and of the Cape Colony; that English merchants are looking for new markets not only in Bechuanaland itself, where it is estimated that a market in British manufactured goods to the value of £1,000,000 sterling may exist; and that Bechuanaland is a high tableland running up the centre of Africa, forming a healthy trade route to the interior, and as such is a rival to the German and Portuguese routes, or even to that great enterprize Europe is now supporting, the formation of a State up the Congo River. Bechuanaland may also become—and I hope it may—the scene of some of those schemes of emigration to which so many in this city and in this country are looking to relieve the redundancy of the population. I therefore maintain that this question is of wider importance than it appears at first sight from the smallness of the sum involved. Before I sit down I may ask the Committee to bear with me while I point out that Bechuanaland was the scene of the great missionary efforts of that great missionary—Dr. Livingstone, and that it is inhabited by Native races who, for a long time, have been under the care of English humanity. I trust that in all our dealings with Bechuanaland we shall remember that we have a duty to perform to these Natives. Now, Sir, rumours have come to England that in several ways the interests of the Natives are not being cared for as they ought to be; I allude especially to the rumour that the garden lands belonging to the loyal tribe of Montsioa have been appropriated. I hope the rumour is not true. I trust, also, that it is not true that a canteen for the sale of liquor has been established. One of the most distinguishing features of the Chiefs in Bechuanaland is their great desire that the sale of liquor shall be prohibited in their dominions. We have practically made ourselves responsible for these great Native areas, and I hope it is not true that we have allowed the liquor traffic to be established upon them. I have endeavoured to show, from the point of view of our fellow-countrymen in South Africa, from the point of view of merchants in England, and in the interest of our duty to the Natives and to civilization, that we should be very careful what we do in Bechuanaland; that it is the duty of this House to watch carefully all expenditure, not, indeed, to curtail its amount, but to see it is applied in the interests of justice and progress.


I have listened with considerable interest to the able and interesting speech of the hon. Member for the Kirkdale Division of Liverpool (Mr. Baden-Powell), who is probably better acquainted with the Bechuanaland Question than any other person in England, and I will endeavour to reply to him. I do not think that a Vote of this kind affords a convenient opportunity for the discussion of the whole policy of the Government in regard to Bechuanaland; but I will endeavour to answer the questions which have been put as well as I can. With regard to the liquor traffic, I explained, in an answer which I gave to the hon. Member for the City of London (Sir Robert Fowler) the other day, that under the regulations for the government of Bechuanaland the sale of spirits and wines to Natives is strictly prohibited, and I believe that injunction is being acted upon. In regard to the land of the Natives, I mentioned also, on another occasion, that the instructions which were given by Sir Hercules Robinson to Mr. Shippard, the Chief of the Land Commission, were specially directed to make provision for guarding the land of the Natives. With reference to this sum of £60,000 that we now ask for in regard to Bechuanaland, the hon. Member asked whether it was part of the scheme proposed by Sir Hercules Robinson, and I would refer him to page 44 of the Blue Book, containing "Further Correspondence," published in August last. In a full and exhaustive despatch which will be found there, Sir Hercules Robinson stated exactly what the probable cost of the occupation of the country would be. Of course, it is a very difficult matter, and necessarily a speculative one, to ascertain the assets of a country like this. But Sir Hercules Robinson anticipates that by the end of the third or the fourth year the Expenditure will be greatly reduced and the Revenue increased; and we are in hopes that by that time we may get such an income as will render this Vote unnecessary. We hope, also, that some part of the advance to Stellaland will be recovered. The hon. Member put one or two questions with regard to the imprisonment of members of the Native tribes. Well, I believe the facts are these—that there had been some disturbances, and Mr. Shippard has acted, as far as I can learn, with the greatest possible justice and firmness; and I do not apprehend that the disturbances will culminate in anything serious. It appears to me that it is rather too much to call for a statement of the whole policy of the Government in this matter, seeing they have been in Office only a fortnight, and have only just had time to look around them. But I can say this generally—that we shall endeavour to maintain that continuity of policy between ourselves and our Predecessors which is so necessary in Colonial matters. In a word, we have got this country, and we must make the best of it, and I think that we are making the best of it. No doubt, the sum asked for is a large one; but, looking at the prospective advantages and the difficulties we were in, I hope it will not be regarded as excessive. Meantime, the Government will endeavour, as far as they can, to reduce the expenditure, and, at the same time, to conduct the government of the country in such a way as to protect the Natives, and also, as far as we can, to promote the general prosperity of the whole population.


I quite agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman that this is a very inconvenient occasion for the discussion of the affairs of South Africa; but, unfortunately, it is very likely that it will be the only occasion this Session. For several years past this subject has been discussed on the Supplementary Estimates, because they afford the opportunity for at least a conversation; but the main Vote for South Africa, on which this discussion ought to have been raised, is usually taken at the end of July or the beginning of August, when all the Members have gone out of town. Therefore, I think the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Baden-Powell) was quite justified in taking advantage of this occasion to state his views upon the subject. The discussion is made more inconvenient than it need have been, because the Committee are not in possession of recent Papers which were laid on the Table by the late Government, and which might have been distributed if a little expedition had been used in the printing office. The right hon. and learned Gentleman appears to have perused certain regulations for the government of this new Crown Colony, and I think that they might have been laid before the Committee. In regard to the sale of intoxicating liquors, I do hope that the Government will be very careful. I am not very much re-assured by the description of the regulations which the right hon. and learned Member has just given. I understand that the regulations admit of the free importation of intoxicating liquors, and only prohibit the sale of them to the Natives—they are only to be sold to White people. Everybody knows, however, how that regulation can be evaded. If you once let the liquors in, it is impossible to enforce a law to keep them away from the Natives, if the sale of them to the White man is permitted. In former days there was a law of that kind in New Zealand; and how was it evaded? When a Native wanted to get drunk he sent a low White man, who bought the liquor for him, and then got drunk upon it. It was not sold by the publicans to the Native, but reached him through the White man; and so the law was evaded. It would be useless to press the Government for a statement of policy; for here we are in the middle of an important debate, and, as usual, there is no Cabinet Minister present. I have noticed the same thing before, during the last Government but one. Whenever important questions came on during the dinner hour no Cabinet Minister was present to give information and guidance to the House. I should like to make one observation with regard to their policy, and that is that this cannot be a matter which is quite new to them. This formation of a Crown Colony was the policy of the former Liberal Government, and was begun in the early part of 1885, and was carried to a successful issue before the last Government came into Office, who only carried out the policy of their Predecessors. The present Government maintain the continuity of South African policy; and therefore it is not so unreasonable to ask for a declaration of their intentions. There is one fact, however, which is without doubt, and to which my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Baden-Powell) bears testimony, although it does not require even a knowledge of the internal affairs of Bechuanaland to appreciate it; and that is that nothing can be more important to the country than that there should be confidence in the fixity of the policy of the Government. If the Government is going to get tired of their experiment in six months' time, and abandon the country again to anarchy, people could not be expected to settle there. Nothing can portend more to the satisfactory settlement of all the difficulties of the place than a declaration that the Government mean to stay there. If such a policy is believed in by the people of the Cape Colony, by the inhabitants of Bechuanaland, and by the Boers of the Transvaal, the confidence which it will give will tend more than anything else to solve our difficulties. Hitherto the great difficulty has been that no one believed that we had any fixity of purpose—a policy has been begun one year and discontinued the next; but if the Government will only make up their minds to one continuous policy our difficulties in South Africa will rapidly disappear.


The Under Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Osborne Morgan) has been only a fortnight in Office; but he repre- sents the Government which sent the Expedition to Bechuanaland, and it is much to be regretted that he is not now in a position to give any indication of a policy. It may be right or wrong to establish a British Dominion in South Africa; but we should have some fixed policy, and not go on drifting as we have done from day to day, with nothing but a policy of the expediency of the moment. For myself, I have always inclined to maintain our dominion in South Africa; for I heartily agree in—and I have often expressed the same view—the opinion I was delighted to hear from the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone (Lord Charles Beresford), that in time of difficulties and trouble our true route to India is not by Egypt, but by way of the Cape of Good Hope. Therefore, I should have been very glad if the Government could have seen their way to say what are their intentions in South Africa. I want to learn why we have established this particular Dominion in South Africa, and to know what we really intend there? Is it for ourselves, or is it for the Natives, or is it to make it over to the Cape Colony? It has already cost us £1,000,000 or £1,200,000, and I naturally want to know what we are to get for our money? One thing I do protest against, and that is the practice which has been too often followed of allowing the Cape Colony to take what suits them, and cast upon us territory that is unprofitable, disagreeable, or difficult to be managed. We know that a main justification for this annexation is the so-called trade route to the interior of Africa. I have been pretty incredulous about that for some time; but this is certain—that if there is anything in it at all, it is for the benefit of the Cape Colony. As I understand, we are in this position, we are to pay the expense—to pay the piper—while the Cape Colony is to levy the Customs on this trade for their own benefit. While I have always rather favoured a British Crown Colony in Native territory in South Africa, I never could understand why we should neglect Zululand, and try to get rid of the great Native territory in Natal which, with the Transkei, would have made a great and beneficial Crown Colony within reach of the sea, and why we should go hunting in the interior of Africa for this Dominion of Bechuanaland, where we are out off from the sea by the Cape Colony, and are at their mercy both financially and politically. If there are reasons for taking Bechuanaland, let us, at least, have a settled plan. Let us look the matter in the face, and realize our responsibilities, not only for this great territory, not even for the existing Protectorate, but also for our relations with the great territories beyond, which are inextricably connected with Bechunaland. Then, if we are to take this territory, we must make up our minds really to protect the Natives, and not, as has so often been the case, to take territory on the pretext of protecting the Natives, and. then make them over to anyone who will take it. In that connection I would especially advert to the liquor traffic. I quite agree that it is a farce to prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquors to the Natives, if we still recognize the inalienable right of the White man and Christian to get drunk. If we would really protect the Native, we must screw up our courage for once to the sticking point of the prohibition which the Natives themselves desire. It is a miserable cowardice of successive Governments not to do so. In conclusion, I must express the belief that wherever we establish a great British Dominion in a territory thickly populated by Natives in South Africa we must do so on what I may call Indian principles—giving complete protection to the Natives, and only justice—not dominion—to the Whites.


I am sure that I shall express the sentiments of every Member on each side of the House who was a Member of the last Parliament, when I say that I deeply regret the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) on such an occasion as this. Every hon. Member who has been in the habit of taking part in debates upon South African matters in this House knows the eloquent address and knowledge which my right hon. Friend has contributed to these debates. My hon. and learned Friend the late Solicitor General (Sir John Gorst) alluded to the fact that the Front Bench opposite is not occupied by any Cabinet Minister; but I may say that when my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford was in this House, and it was known that he intended to speak upon South African matters, both Front Benches used to be well filled by those prepared to take part in the debate. For my own part, I think that with every word which has fallen from the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), as far as I have been able to gather, I am able to concur. I quite concur with him as to the great importance of our South African Colonies to this Empire. We must all see the importance and necessity of doing all in our power to bind together by every tie the different parts of Her Majesty's Dominions. The hon. Member has alluded to the question of the liquor traffic in Bechuanaland; and that is a question which applies also to other parts of our South African Possessions, and particularly to the district in regard to which we have had Papers laid upon the Table. I think my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Baden-Powell) was right in calling attention to this matter; and he certainly speaks with an experience which is unequalled by that of any other Member in this House. We must all feel that when drink is a curse to Europeans it must be a still greater curse to these Natives. I do hope that as regards the Cape Colonies Her Majesty's Government will use their influence with the Cape Legislature to put a stop to drunkenness, and that they will put their foot down in the matter in regard to all our Crown Colonies. There is no doubt that an impression became prevalent among the Natives in many parts that everything was not done to promote their well-being. I wish to call attention to the resignation of Lieutenant Hayes. Of course, my information is not official information; but it is this—that Lieutenant Hayes resigned his appointment because he considered that the Natives were unjustly treated, and because he would not see their garden plots taken away from them. That is the information that has come to me; but I hope that when the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Osborne Morgan) receives his official news he will be able to say that what I have stated is not correct. I think that Mr. Shippard is a most admirable public servant; but if my information is correct, it is a matter which deserves the very careful inquiry of Earl Granville. We must fool that it is important that those who go to this country must go there with a full desire to do justice to all classes of the population; and I deeply deplore that a gentleman who is anxious to do justice to the Natives, whether for the reasons I have mentioned or for any other reason, has thought it his duty to resign his position in the country. I will not detain the Committee; but I shall be glad to receive some satisfactory information on those points.


Sir, I do not intend to detain the Committee many minutes, because much that I felt disposed to say has been already said by hon. Members in the course of the discussion, especially with regard to continuity in our South African policy. I believe that from the time of the commencement of the Zulu War—which I believe to have been one of the most unjustifiable wars this country ever undertook—tho policy we have pursued with regard to South Africa has been injurious to the Natives of that country. In this respect I believe that both Parties have been to blame, and that had a different policy been followed much of the expense which has been incurred might have been avoided. I think, therefore, with regard to the future, that two or three points should be kept in view. In the first place, I hope that Bechuanaland will remain for a long time to come under the direct authority of the Crown, as I am of opinion that any change would be certain to unsettle the minds of the Natives, and make them distrustful of the intentions of their White neighbours. And, Sir, I would point out that this course is rendered necessary on the ground of good faith, because the cession of their country by the Natives was made, not to the Cape Colony, but to the Queen. I say it is impossible that the Natives of Bechuanaland, or their friends in this country, can have faith in the Administration of the Cape Colony, which has lately forced a considerable number of industrious Native cultivators out of the Grey Glen district, in which they had for years been peacefully settled, and also licensed the sale of liquors, in spite of earnest remonstrances to the contrary. I say that we cannot trust the Boors, after their treatment of Massowa and the inhumanity they have shown in the treat- ment of the Natives. I wish also to add a few words with regard to the trade route which has been alluded to. Doubtless, it would have been more satisfactory had this been entirely under our control, instead of under the control of the Cape Government; but we must bear in mind that the Cape is a British Colony; that we send large quantities of British goods there; and that we derive great advantage from that route. I fear that many persons in this country have but a small idea of the extent and value of our trade with the Cape and South Africa. I once heard that venerable missionary, Dr. Moffat, state, at a public meeting, that when he first went to Bechuanaland there was not £10 worth of British goods sold in the Colony; but that before he left hundreds of thousands of pounds' worth were sold. I regret to say that much of the civilizing and Christianizing good that was accomplished in the country has been injured or destroyed by the vacillating policy which we have pursued; and I sincerely hope that we shall now carry out a consistent policy with regard to it. I am glad to hear what has been said on the subject of restricting the sale of intoxicating liquors, although I agree with the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir Robert Fowler) that more should be done in that direction. I have heard, on good authority, of the injurious effects of drinking on many of the Native Chiefs, and that it rendered them quite unfit to discharge their duties. I also share in the regret which has been expressed that we have not established a Protectorate over Zululand. We have waged a most unjust and iniquitous war with the Zulus; we have disarmed them, broken up their country, and left them helpless. I will not, however, dwell longer on that question, as it would be out of Order to do so; but I again express a hope that we shall adopt and adhere to a decided policy with regard to South Africa.


Sir, every speaker in the discussion upon the Vote has congratulated the Government upon this land-grabbing in South Africa. Now, I am sorry to disturb this happy family; but I hold so strong a view upon this system we pursue in South Africa that I shall move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £68,000. We began this evening with a discussion about the con- tinuity of our policy. Well, Sir, what has been our policy and the continuity of our policy in South Africa? Why, everyone knows that, under one pretext or another, the Ministers of the day have always come into this House asking us to pay for some absurd war or for some ridiculous annexation. At one moment we are fighting for a country; at another moment we are fighting against it. At one moment we annex a country; and at another, feeling that we ought to be ashamed of ourselves for fighting, give back the country altogether. In all probability, when we have spent large sums of money on Bechuanaland and Stellaland, we shall give them back, too. But what have been alleged as the reasons that this annexation should be made? We are told about the advantages of trade. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. M'Arthur) said that a respectable missionary had stated that at the time when he first went out to the country there was not £10 worth of British goods sent there, but that now there are hundreds of thousands of pounds' worth imported. I asked the hon. Member how much, but be did not say how much; and my own belief is that the maximum value of British goods sent to Bechuanaland and Stellaland is no more than £2,000. I pity the unfortunate Natives, if out of such a trade as that the merchants are to make this £69,210 which we are now called upon to pay. Why, Sir, all these transactions in South Africa are a clear and absolute loss to us. We have already lost £1,000,000 in sending troops there; and now we are actually called on to pay £68,000 for administration besides; and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies says that he sincerely hopes that it will not be so much next year, although our experience makes us believe that it will probably be a great deal more. But, Sir, other reasons have been assigned for this annexation. The hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir Robert Fowler), I think, said that we had the greatest interest in the country, as being on the route to India. Why, Sir, how far is Bechuanaland from Cape Town? About 800 miles. We might as well talk of retaining Gibraltar by taking a town in the middle of France. Then it is said that by annexing it we are opening up the route into the in- terior of the country. Where is the route to go when it is opened? Into the bush, I suppose. And who will go by that route? I will tell the Committee. First, the missionary will go—by all means let him go—but who will follow? Why, an English Army will go by that route to protect the missionary; and this, Sir, is what you always have with these missionaries, meddling and muddling wherever they can, instead of preaching the mission of peace. We are told that one of the reasons why we should go there is because we ought to prevent these people from getting drunk. As I understand from this debate, there was very little drinking among the Natives before we went there; but since that time it appears that the Chiefs have got so drunk that they cannot attend to their affairs, and, no doubt, the rest of the people profited by their example. We are told that we ought to make an effort to surround the country with a cordon of troops to keep out liquor. Do hon. Gentlemen know that there is a certain amount of liquor sold in this country? Are hon. Gentlemen aware that in this Metropolis almost every tenth house is a public-house? If we are to look after people who get drunk, I do not see the necessity of going to the middle of Africa for the purpose, until, at any rate, we have endeavoured to put a stop to drunkenness here. How is the Revenue of this country largely raised but by the Government encouraging drinking and taxing drink? Sir, I think of all absurdities the philanthropic argument which has been raised by Gentlemen who have a little trade with the Cape is the most ridiculous of any that can be urged in favour of this annexation. We took the Transvaal, and we gave it back to the Boers. Well, this Bechuanaland is a Province of the Transvaal. ["No, no!"] I say it is. This is denied, I know; but it is regarded in South Africa as a Province of the Transvaal. ["No, no!"] Hon. Gentlemen say "No." Well, it shall not be a Province of the Transvaal. After we had given back the Transvaal, a number of European squatters, a detachment of the Cape Mounted Riflemen, and a number of deserters, went there and begun quarrelling and fighting; immediately we must interfere, and we went there. Why, I ask, did we go there? Was it for the squatters; was it to prevent the Natives getting drunk; was it for the route into the interior, or for the purpose of maintaining our sea route to India? Let us have one good valid reason, instead of all these hopes and rejoicings that come from hon. Gentlemen, and which amount to nothing. For my own part, I am sorry that I ever voted one single shilling to be spent in South Africa. We have been told by the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir Robert Fowler) that we should draw closer the bonds which unite us with our Colonies. But how? By establishing a new Colony in opposition to the Colony established at the Cape? Does anyone imagine that by such a course we shall draw the Cape Colony nearer to us? If the Cape Colony wants to annex Bechuanaland, let them do so by all means; but why we are called upon year after year to pay for this absurd, idle, and I must say wicked annexation, I cannot understand.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £1,210, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1886, for certain Charges connected with the Orange River Territory, the Transvaal, Zululand, Bechuanaland, the Island of St. Helena, and the High Commissioner for South Africa."—(Mr. Labouchere.)


Sir, the view of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), who assesses the value of our trade with the Colony at something like £2,000, savours to me very much of the doctrine, "Perish India, perish our Colonies." Being indirectly connected with South Africa, I am in a position to state that the trade done with the Colony is of immense value to us. When hon. Members talk of the route to India being through Bechuanaland, that, of course, is beside the question; but the trade route into the interior is through Bechuanaland, and experience has shown that the farther we got into the interior of South Africa the better is the country; and if we give up that route, we shall, in my opinion, sacrifice one of the greatest advantages of the country. Hon. Gentlemen will remember that not long ago there came from South Africa a large diamond, a diamond so rich and rare that it required a syndicate to purchase it; and I have the greatest hope, from my correspondence with the country of the successful development of gold fields. Are we going to throw away these chances for the purpose of saving £68,000? With regard to the liquor trade, I am able to say that this is a most iniquitous traffic, so far as the Natives are concerned, and the sooner it is stopped the better. It is to the interest of this country that we should have the command of this route into the interior as a means of improving our trade relations with Central Africa.


Sir, I should like to know how much the taxpayers of the country will profit by the large diamond which the hon. Member described as the fruit of this charge? I must say that the only time when I feel ashamed of the class to which I belong is when I hear these aggressions justified on the ground that they bring money into the pockets of traders. We have had one fallacy shown up to-day; we have heard that, after all this talk of going to Egypt in order to maintain the route to India, we have committed an immense blunder and an immense crime. And yet, Sir, it is actually proposed that we should take possession of Bechuanaland in order to obtain a route viâ the Cape to India. I do not wish to go into that subject; but just allow me to point out the absurdity of going into these annexations in order to improve the trade of the country. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. M'Arthur) said just now that we had sent hundreds of thousands of pounds' worth of goods to this place; but, Sir, we also heard the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. BadenPowell) state that it had cost £20,000,000 to the country to send that trade there. If, then, we look at the question from the point of view of trade, which I think never justifies war, we shall see that there has been a great balance against this country. But I look at this question in a far more serious light. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, when speaking on this question last year, gave us a strong warning against this constant process of annexation. I do not think he was alluding to this particular case, but to the wholesale way in which we annexed these places in South Africa; and he called attention to the fact that these rejoicings over annexations were always followed by a cold fit and discredit. And it is very likely they will be so now. It is not true that this part of our Possessions is about the most threatening and dangerous part of all our Dominions? It is a different state of things in South Africa to that which you have in any other Colonies. In our other Colonies you have a race of Natives who disappear before the advancement of civilization. It is to be regretted that it is so; but that fact has removed out of your way many dangers and expenses which those Colonies would otherwise have cost you. In India you have a population very different. India for centuries has been conquered and dominated by superior races. But what have you in South Africa? You have there to deal with two sorts of populations, one Native and the other White. Both these populations are vigorous and increasing in numbers. You have in the Dutch population a race as tenacious, and almost as pugnacious, as ourselves; they are more numerous, and your difficulties with them are constantly liable to increase rather than diminish. Then, Sir, you have in close connection with this population, not sickly Hottentots, but a race who have themselves been conquerors, and are people of a very vigorous character indeed; so that under our rule, instead of dying out, they are increasing more rapidly than we are, and than when they were allowed to fight it out among themselves. Therefore, you have constantly increasing difficulties, and you will find that as you go farther on your difficulties will not decrease; on the contrary, you will find that as you advance more and more into South Africa, the tax on the resources and on the blood of this country in your wars will constantly tend to increase. For these reasons, I cannot speak in the tone of joyfulness which has been so much used this evening. I believe, Sir, that this system constantly carried out of making further and further annexations will involve, as it has already done, great burdens on the taxpayers of the country—and, Sir, burdens which a Democracy will not endure; and I say, therefore, that, as a consequence of pursuing this policy, you are preparing for yourself a disgraceful surrender of what you have acquired in times past.


Sir, I think the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has forgotten that, with regard to Bechuanaland, it was not the desire of annexation, but the intolerable condition of affairs which had grown up there in contravention of the agreement between ourselves and another Power—a state of filibustering so disgraceful in itself to all the pledges we had given, and so prejudicial to the future of our Colonies in South Africa—that public feeling, not confined in its expression to our side of the House, dictated the course which the former Liberal Government took of sending the Expedition under Sir Charles Warren to South Africa. I am not going to dispute further with or folio w the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) into those speculative questions which he has put forward, because I prefer to address myself to the Vote actually before us. The question now is a Vote for the administration of Bechuanaland. Sir Charles Warren, as is well known, acquired the country without difficulty and without bloodshed. The question is, therefore, are you going to allow the country to relapse into the same state as it was in before? Why, Sir, the result of that will be that you will have to send out another Military Expedition to take the place of that which is withdrawn. We thought it not right to allow the country, which had been placed in a condition of tranquillity, to relapse into a state of disorder; and the only way in which that could be insured was by instituting an efficient police force to take the place, and discharge the military force which you withdrew. I must say that I think the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Baden-Powell), to whoso speech we listened this evening with pleasure, will be satisfied with the general result of the discussion which he has raised, for this has clearly come out—that Her Majesty's Government accept to the fullest extent the view which we took last year. They accept, as it were, the continuity of principle on which the territories in question were to be governed; they accept this to the fullest extent; and I gather, from what the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has told us, that they have also endorsed the measures by which we sought to carry out the object in view. An hon. Gentleman behind me (Mr. Baden-Powell) has asked a question which I am, perhaps, better able to answer than the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Osborne Morgan)—namely, as to whether, by the acceptance of the figures now given in the Estimate of this year, the Government would commit the country and the House to expenditure for other purposes in future years? Without going into the actual figures used by Sir Hercules Robinson, I think it certain that a wise and careful administration will result in the possibility of diminishing the expenditure under this Vote in connection with the police, and that it will also result in bringing in a contribution from the Colony—something in the shape of a capitation tax—which will very materially, or should very materially, diminish the amount of the Vote which the House would otherwise be asked for in future years. One of two things the Committee must do. Either we must be prepared to see the government carried on efficiently, under which circumstances a less amount cannot be charged; or, on the other hand, we must be prepared to see things drift on, with the inevitable result that in a few years' time another Military Expedition will have to be sent out to occupy the ground we now hold. I am not in any sense of the word an advocate for annexation; but when we have left to us the alternative of allowing a country to fall into a state of disorder, as Bechuanaland was sure to have done if we had withdrawn and had not sent out a Military Expedition, or doing what we have done, I think we have been right in accepting the responsibilities that circumstances have thrown upon us. I think we are justified in endeavouring to establish as efficient a Government as we can, never leaving out of sight the responsibilities we have incurred among the Natives. I think it will be found, when the Papers are presented, that from the earliest time the Home Government have pressed upon Sir Hercules Robinson, the High Commissioner, the importance of securing to the Natives, as far as possible, ample garden grounds and means of subsistence. I believe that the very case that was cited, where the garden grounds were, in the first instance, intended to be occupied otherwise, that the High Commissioner—so far as my memory serves me—was instructed to make other arrangements, and to endeavour, as far as possible, to carry out in its utmost spirit the assurance that he had given that the Natives should have these grounds. Before this House it is not necessary to enter into a long discussion of African policy. I would only say what I ventured from the other side of the House to urge upon hon. Members last year; and that is that in these matters there should be that continuity which has been advocated both on the one side of the House and the other. I am sure that a great deal of the money which has been spent in South Africa, and much of the precious blood which has been shed there, would have been saved if from the first this country had pursued a definite and continuous policy in this part of the world. The assumption, which I think is granted on all sides, that our maintenance of a route by the Cape is essential to the prosperity of the Empire, in itself entails, by a chain of reasoning not very difficult to follow, the necessity of maintaining our rights and our duties in the South African Colonies taken as a whole. We can never lay down—I do not think it possible to lay down—any detailed or hard-and-fast line in this matter; but I think the House can avoid errors in the future in this respect. It can avoid saying that we intend to assume the government of a country, or of a particular district, and the next moment being prepared to hand that country or district over it matters not to whom. In that respect it seems to mo the experience of many bitter lessons has brought homo to this country the necessity of abstaining from vacillation, and the necessity for keeping up continuity in such matters; and I think that my hon. Friend the Member for the Kirkdale Division of Liverpool (Mr. Baden-Powell), though he made other remarks that the Committee listened to with great pleasure, if he had done no more than draw out from the Government the statement we have heard of their views as to the policy which should be pursued in South Africa in the future, would have had reason to congratulate himself on the effect of his first speech in this House. I can only say that I can entirely support the statement of the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Osborne Morgan) that this Vote is in entire conformity with the interests of this country in this matter, and that the details have been looked into with every desire to promote proper economy. I trust the Committee will now pass the Vote.


I am sorry to have to take up the time of the Committee further on this subject; but there is one standpoint from which this subject has not yet been viewed. There is one fact which will affect hon. Members on this side of the House, and I should like to bring it before the Committee. It is that all hon. Gentlemen ask for they could have got without spending a single penny of Imperial funds. My hon. Friend the Prime Minister of Cape Colony and his Government offered to take over Be-chuanaland, and to put down all the anarchy—in fact, to annex the territory to Cape Colony—and to do it at the expense of that Colony. But, for some reason or other, Her Majesty's Government refused to accept this very good offer, and the result has been that we have already spent £1,000,000 in our operations in order to give these filibusters a start; and now we are asked to spend £69,000 more to aid this new Crown Colony which we did not want, which can be of no earthly use to us, and which by-and-bye will inevitably be annexed to the Capo. I protest against spending these enormous sums upon a district in which there are not 5,000 White men. We are spending £100,000 upon the place this year, which literally means giving these people £20 a-head. We are assisting men whose farms, two years ago, were not worth £1,000 apiece, though now, in consequence of what we have done, they will be worth at least £2,000 or £3,000. Why should we not place a tax at once upon the owners of these valuable farms; why not impose one also upon the Natives? These people are well off; they can find good work in the diamond fields and elsewhere, and have good markets for their produce. Why should we not make them pay? If the Colony requires money, I should not object to giving them a loan—even to these filibusters, deserters from Her Majesty's Forces, murderers and ruffians, as they have been designated; but, certainly, seeing that we have given them £1,000,000 already, I do not think it wise to go on throwing money away in the reckless manner now proposed, in order to maintain a Colony which, as I say, in the long run, will have to be handed over to the Cape. In the last Blue Book it is clearly laid down that we have absolutely been asking the Cape to take over this territory, and stating that we do not intend to keep it as a Crown Colony any more than we intended to keep Griqualand. We might have kept Griqualand, because it is a valuable possession, on account of its diamond fields; but there are no diamonds in Bechuanaland. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) is said to be wrong in his history; but I maintain that he is perfectly accurate. The district the hon. Member referred to was as much a district of the Transvaal as Kent is a portion of England. No doubt, when we contemplated taking over Griqualand, we might have taken over Bechuanaland at the same time; but we evidently did not think it worth annexing. Again, when we took over the Transvaal, in 1877, we took over Bechuanaland as a portion of it—our Administrator took it over as a portion of the Transvaal, and appointed officials and magistrates to that section of the Transvaal. When we gave the Transvaal back to the Boers, Bechuanaland was cut away from the Transvaal, and a period of anarchy ensued; these two Republics were formed after a long intertribal war; and it was agreed to give the Chiefs and their White followers all the land each had possession of in the territory and to stand by certain Treaties that were made. ["No, no!"] An hon. Member says "No, no!" The only question in dispute, so far as I can see, between the Cape Ministry and Her Majesty's Government was about Montsioa's farm. Perhaps hon. Gentlemen are not aware that Montsioa was sent there by the Boers. Before the Boers acquired the territory Montsioa was in the Free State, and he was taken to this new acquisition. The only question was whether a certain portion of land, not worth £5,000, should be given back to Montsioa, or whether that part should remain, as by Treaty, in the possession of the rival Chief, his opponent, and that Chief's White followers. Of all these Native Chiefs, Montsioa is the one that has least claim upon us. He is the most barbarous and the most cruel of all these people. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Chamberlain) is not present, because two years ago he gave the House an account of this old ruffian. He described to the House how Montsioa had made a night attack upon a village belonging to a Chief, his own equal; how he had burned the village, and skinned the men and women, and cut out their hearts. ["Oh, oh!"] Well, the right hon. Gentleman told the story, and it was this savage who did these things that we have spent £1,000,000 to protect, and for whose sake we now wish to spend £100,000 in order to protect him, and to prevent land which is scarcely worth anything from being taken from him. Messrs. Upington and Sprigg offered to take over Stellaland; but we refused the offer, and are content to pay money in connection with Stellaland for the advantage of the bandits who are there—to pay the expenses of all the bloody raids of which we have heard so much. It is hardly likely that we shall keep Bechuanaland a moment longer than we can help it. In fact, in course of time the population will want to be annexed to the Cape, as that of Griqualand has already done. I object, on the part of the ratepayers of this country, to handing over to these comparatively rich men in South Africa any more of the public funds. We have already given them £20,000,000, and the return they have made us has been to put heavy taxes upon our goods to keep them out as the other Colonies have done. No country in the world has ever behaved so generously to its Colonies as we have done, and I will undertake to say that no Colonies under the sun have ever behaved so badly to the Mother Country as ours have behaved to us. Give them this money as a loan if you like; but to give £20 a-head as a free gift to all the bandits in Bechuanaland is a proposition to which I emphatically object.


I should not have risen to take part in this debate had it not been for the observations of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. The hon. Member, who apparently entertains a great dislike for bandits and ruffians, holds the position—unless I am much mistaken—of Consul General to the Transvaal Republic. He may be regarded, therefore, as holding a brief for that Republic. Being in a certain sense its professional advocate here, it is only natural and proper that he should seize every opportunity of painting the adversaries of the Transvaal, such as Montsioa, in the blackest colours, and the Transvaal Boers in the rosiest and most attractive colours. I hope the Committee will always receive the representations he makes on behalf of the Transvaal Republic as its Consul General with the greatest possible respect; with respect, however, tempered by a very large admixture of caution and circumspection. The hon. Member told us that if we had accepted the proposals of the Cape Government there would have been no occasion for all this vast expenditure, and no need of Sir Charles Warren's Expedition. Well, with regard to that Expedition, the Transvaal Government certainly did its utmost to stop it; happily without success, because, in my opinion, that Expedition was the brightest and best feature of the whole South African policy of the last Liberal Government. Until that Expedition took place the shadow of that ill-omened mountain—Majuba Hill—rested upon every symbol of British Sovereignty in South Africa. But now, without the shedding of a single drop of blood, that shadow has been removed. The hon. Member found fault with the rejection by the Imperial Government of the offer of Messrs. Upington and Sprigg, the Cape Ministers, to pacify Stellaland and take it over; but why was the offer rejected? On this point I appeal to the testimony of Sir Hercules Robinson, who has been ready to act in accord with Messrs. Upington and Sprigg, and who has been in sharp antagonism with Sir Charles Warren. Nevertheless, in the judgment of Sir Hercules Robinson, the terms offered by the Cape Ministers with reference to the future position of the Native Chiefs were such as this country could not accept without discredit. Then the hon. Member says that he hopes that this new Crown Colony will be transferred to the Cape Colony. For my own part, I hope nothing of the sort will be done. We are all only too familiar with vacillations and reversals of Imperial policy in South Africa; but if there be any reversal of policy now in this matter of the Bechuanaland Protectorate—any attempt to hand it over to the Cape Colony—British authority and influence in South Africa will be shaken to its very centre. I must apologize to the Committee for detaining it by these few observations which have been drawn from me by the intervention of the hon. Member (Dr. Clark). I heard with the greatest satisfaction that Her Majesty's present Government intend to pay regard to continuity of policy. If I may be allowed to say so, I hope the Government will carefully forebear from raising at the present moment the question of the transfer of this Crown Colony and Protectorate to the Cape Colony. Declarations made by Her Majesty's Ministers, either in Parliament or in despatches—declarations of their ultimate intention or present desire to effect this transfer will travel far and wide through South Africa, perplexing and disquieting all the Natives. Rendered uneasy and uncertain of their future by such declarations, the Native Chiefs will become suspicious and hard to manage, and all the difficulties of administering this Protectorate will be aggravated ten-fold. A peaceful, settled, and prosperous territory the Colonial Government may some day take over; but a restless, disturbed, and, therefore, impoverished Protectorate, no Colonial Government will ever consent to take over, except on terms which are certain to be inadmissible by the Imperial Government—such terms, for example, as were offered by the Cape Ministry to the late Secretary of State for the Colonies, and properly rejected by him. I hope the Committee will pass this Vote by a large and decisive majority.


I should be sorry to sit in my place and hear the character of a man whom I know to be brave, and whom I believe to be honest, aspersed as a coward and cruel tyrant, without saying a word in his defence. The hon. Member for Dumfries (Dr. Clark) denounced in this way one whom I know personally myself from having had considerable communication with him. Though it may be said that the hon. Gentleman took a partial view of the question owing to the fact of his representing the Transvaal in the capacity of Consul General, it may be said that I take a partial view of my side of the question from the relationship that events have established between the man of whom he spoke and myself. But there is this difference between us. I have been to the Cape, and have made it my business to inquire as closely as possible into the character of this Chief, Montsioa. I did that; and I can absolutely say that of all the Chiefs in South Africa this man, Montsioa, bears unquestionably the highest and purest character. I venture to say that this is a great deal to be said for a man in his position. I cannot think that the hon. Member is correct in the account he gave of the history of the annexation of Bechuanaland to the Transvaal. I cannot admit that Bechuanaland was a Province of the Transvaal in the sense in which a Province is understood. Bechuanaland was a Province of the Transvaal only in the sense that any other part of Africa was a Province, where no boundaries had been placed to the Transvaal. No boundary had been placed round the territory; but as soon as we formulated a policy with regard to that part of South Africa we had to place a limit to the Transvaal, and in describing that limit we put Bechuanaland outside of it altogether. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) said that there had never been a clear and distinct policy in South Africa. I am very much of the hon. Member's opinion, that we have not regularly pursued a clear and distinct policy there; but I do maintain that for years and years, almost over since circumstances brought us into South Africa, there have been two distinct and clear lines of policy open, which we were compelled, whether we liked it or not, to pursue. It is perfectly true that from time to time the lines of these particular policies have been placed on one side. The Government from time to time, I am sorry to say, have neglected to carry out their self-undertaken duties. Sir, these two lines were policies which, I venture to think, on the whole, are essentially in accord with the political sentiments of Gentlemen who sit on the other side of the House. One of these is the protection of Natives from attack; and I would venture to point out to the Committee that this was exactly the same principle, only in a much more accentuated form, which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister laid down with regard to the protection of nationalities struggling for freedom in Europe. It is but a few years since the Prime Minister stirred up what I may call the humanitarian enthusiasm of England for a race to whom we are bound by no particular ties. Now, it is the very same thing in relation to these tribes in South Africa, except that we had given certain distinct undertakings in regard to them. We had entered into agreements which we were compelled to carry out. We were compelled to carry out our undertakings from the fact of the impossibility of assimilating the two European races in Africa—namely, the Dutch and the English. It was impossible for us, as the ruling Power in Africa, to admit the practical slavery which existed under the Dutch. We were compelled to put that down; and that is the reason why, whatever policy was pursued from time to time, we were bound to draw a distinct line requiring us to protect the Natives from the unjust assaults of what I may call the overflow rascality of the Transvaal. There is no doubt that for a certain number of years this policy was neglected; but the Bechuanaland Expedition was simply a vindication of our original line of policy. This sum of money now being discussed is simply the natural result and necessary sequel of the Bechuanaland Expedition. It is impossible to dissociate the one from the other; and I venture to think that if hon. Gentlemen will consider with some care the rather unusual and extraordinary position of Bechuanaland at the time we took it over they will be disposed to accept this Vote. The Vote, it is true, is a large one; but we must consider it in relation to the characteristics of the country we undertook to govern. Generally when we speak of a Protectorate we mean a case in which we undertake to look after the Native Tribes in a country where there is no internal administration; but here in Bechuanaland, not only were there Native Tribes, but also a so-called Republican Government—a Republican Government, I beg the Committee to remember—which came into existence simply through our own neglect. We were compelled to accept that Government, and take over its responsibilities; and it is now impossible for us to leave this country without seeing a proper and firm Government established there. Very much has been said to-night about trade advantages and so forth; and I am very much inclined to think that that is, after all, a very distinct second line of policy which keeps us in that part of Africa, The Prime Minister, speaking the other night with regard to Burmah, said that no person of any weight or intellect would ever for a moment advance the doctrine of making war for the sake of commerce; and I am only sorry he did not advance that principle beyond those who have weight and intellect, because I do not think anyone would support that doctrine. Nevertheless, I do think it is right that our countrymen who go as pioneers of civilization, and open up new routes and explore new countries, should have their rights respected and protected by the strength of the Empire. When we hear hon. Members say, as sometimes we do from the Benches opposite, that we ought not in any instance to support these semi-commercial wars, I am surprised, and very much surprised, because these are Gentlemen who arrogate to themselves the position of defenders of the working classes. I am bound to say that I think in one sense they are—in this sense—that they are like those who put their money in a box and bury it in the ground instead of putting it out at interest. I think there can be no doubt that this money we are asked to vote is a tax that, in all human probability, will be returned very many times by increased trade with the enormous centre of Africa. Perhaps I may say a few words with regard to the liquor traffic, about which so much has been said tonight. It so happens it is rather an honourable feature in the character of Montsioa, and of some other Chiefs, that on no conditions will they allow the liquor traffic to come into their country. That I think is a very satisfactory state of things. My hon. Friend the Member for the Kirkdale Division of Liverpool (Mr. Baden-Powell), expressed his fear that the garden plots about Mapehing were being appropriated, and that the Government were not taking sufficient precautions to guard against this being done. In the advices I have got recently from a correspondent out in Bechuanaland there is not a single word that in any way confirmed that report, and I cannot conceive how it is possible the report can be true, because one of the very objects of the recent Expenditure was the restoration of the garden grounds. I apologize to the Committee for having detained them so long; my excuse is that, having recently been in South Africa, I take a keen interest in the affairs of the country.

Question put.

The Committee divided;—Ayes 85; Noes 229: Majority 144.—(Div. List, No. 13.)

Original Question again proposed.


Mr. Courtney, I wish to raise a point of Order in connection with the division just taken. I should like to have your ruling as to the closing of the door when a division is called. On the occasion of the last division the door was shut, or rather the officer endeavoured to shut the door, when hon. Members were pressing in. I succeeded in struggling through—it was a short struggle, but a rather fierce one. I should like to know what is the Rule in the matter. My impression of the old Rule is that the door should not be shut while there is a Member in sight.


As far as my recollection goes—and it goes a long way back—the Rule is that as long as anybody is in sight the door shall not be closed. I was engaged in writing a letter when the division bell rang a few minutes ago; and I, like the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Nolan), experienced some difficulty in getting in the House.


I apprehend it is the duty of hon. Members to attend the Committee; but when a division is called a few minutes are allowed to enable hon. Members to take their places. The door is not usually shut while hon. Members are coming in; but a limit must be put to the time the Committee is waiting, otherwise the general body of Members will be put to great invonvenience.

Original Question put, and agreed to.