HC Deb 17 September 1886 vol 309 cc892-916

(13.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £62,010, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1887, for the Expenses of Her Majesty's Embassies and Missions abroad.

SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

I had meant, on an earlier occasion, to put a question to the Government as to who has control over the printing of despatches and Reports connected with this House. First one Minister and then another tells us that he has no control over the matter, and it almost invariably happens that the Papers we require are presented to us the day after we have had need of them. I must confess that I was greatly discouraged and disappointed at the answer given by the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the Question which was put to him with regard to the prolongation of the Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff. The noble Lord did not, as it is usual for Ministers to do on such occasions, say one word about entertaining any hopes as to its being possible soon to bring the Mission to an end. It would, therefore, seem that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to keep Sir H. Drummond Wolff in Egypt. I originally supported the Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff, because I considered it a temporary measure connected with the re-organization of the Egyptian Army, which re-organization was to have the effect of enabling us to withdraw our troops from that country. I did not even object to the appointment of Muhktar Pasha, a Turkish officer, to assist Sir H. Drummond Wolff in his undertaking. But, I always considered that Muhktar Pasha was a Turkish soldier. As regards the re-organization of the Egyptian Army, Police, and other matters, it really seems to me the time has come when a reasonable settlement might be made. We all understood that Sir H. Drummond Wolff's Mission and the co-operation of Muhktar Pasha were mainly to settle what the character of the future Egyptian Army should be, and that when that was settled, and the Egyptian Army properly established, our own troops in Egypt might be relieved. When we get beyond the question of the Army we deal with matters which one efficient officer could satisfactorily arrange, and which would not require the services of two high diplomatic functionaries to settle. If the question of the Army had been dealt with, what further necessity is there to keep both Sir H. Drummond Wolff and Sir Evelyn Baring in Egypt? I fail to see any earthly reason why these two diplomatic officials should be both kept in Egypt both doing the same work. I see no sign of the conclusion of that work. As regards Muhktar Pasha, it seems to me that the prolongation of his stay in Egypt means the prolongation of the meddling of Turkish officials with the affairs of Egypt; and that it is a point we may fairly ask Her Majesty's Government to decide whether or not they are determined that the power of Turkey shall be increased in Egypt? Our position in Egypt depends not upon the will of the Sultan of Turkey, but upon our obligations towards other European Powers. It is clear that no Mission of Muhktar Pasha can redeem the pledges which we have given to Europe, or can enable us to stay a day longer in that country than we are entitled to do under the undertakings we have entered into with Foreign Powers. I very much doubt whether Turkish interference in the affairs of Egypt can have any possible good result. A great deal has been said, and, I believe, falsely said, as to the influence of the Sultan in Egypt. I myself believe that Arabi Pasha's rebellion was directed more against the Turkish dominion than anything else, and it certainly appears to me that the presence of Turkish officials in Egypt is likely not to soothe the people of that country, but to irritate them. But, be that as it may, unless Her Majesty's Government wish to reinstate the dominion of the Sultan in Egypt, they should not allow Muhktar Pasha to remain there too long. So long as he does stay there, Cairo must remain the centre of intrigue. But what still more alarms me than the continuance of the Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff or of Muhktar Pasha, is that I do not see any signs of the British Army preparing to leave Egypt, or of any preparations being made to enable the Army to ultimately commence the evacuation. So far as I have jet been able to learn, I do not believe there has been any bonâ fide attempt to establish those autonomous institutions which it was said had to be established prior to our leaving. The automony which exists in Egypt is altogether a sham; and I do not think the slightest bonâ fide attempt is being made to make her a self-governing country. Neither in regard to the police, the judiciary, nor the prisons, have we had any success; and what I am afraid of is this—that there is a very large party in Egypt, official and non-official, who are procrastinating as to these reforms, who are trusting to the chapter of accidents, who are hoping against hope, and who believe that the chances are that we shall not leave Egypt at all, but shall end by annexing it, a step which they think will be a good thing for Egypt, but one which I believe would be the commencement of a very heavy burden upon this country. It is rumoured that Her Majesty's Government are preparing a grand coup, but I do not believe anything of the kind. I do not believe the right hon. Gentlemen opposite can for a moment contemplate the breaking of those solemn pledges which this country has given to the rest of Europe. But, at the same time, though I cannot believe that Her Majesty's Government contemplate remaining in Egypt, still, in Egypt we are. What is the result of it? Why, our troops are wasting away in Assouan, and other parts of that ter- rible country. The Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith), who himself not long since answered a Question on the subject, must have formed a good idea as to the terrible burden which our occupation of Egypt imposes upon the British arms. We have heard of frightful sufferings of our men from the right hon. Gentleman. We have heard that the temperature in the huts of our soldiers average from 110 to 122 degrees from April to June. It may be very true that there is not much definite disease there at present, and that there is not much excitement; but I maintain that that terrible heat, epecially when unaccompanied by excitement, must lead to the wasting away of the right hon. Gentleman's battalions. Whether the men die or not after being subjected for a few months to the torture of such a climate as this, the men must necessarily be rendered totally unfit for service. But in keeping your troops in Egypt, not only do you expend the lives and the energy of your soldiers, but you also very largely waste the money of the British taxpayer. You are swelling the ordinary Budget of the Secretary of State for War by millions of money, and I, therefore, say that both as regards the British soldier and the British taxpayer your occupation of Egypt is a very heavy burden. I am quite prepared to admit that if we could get rid of foreign obligations, and bondholders, and European pledges, we should, perhaps, find ourselves able to administer the government of Egypt in a very satisfactory manner. It would be a pleasant country enough if we could only keep out the speculator and the bondholder—if we could do that we might make a good deal of it; but the Government knows very well that under existing circumstances we cannot stay there and administer the country as a British Possession, and, therefore, it is that I think that Her Majesty's Government had better devote themselves to the attempt to get out of it as soon as they can. Not only is the administration of Egypt a great burden upon us, but, indirectly, it is a great burden to us all over the world. I have often quoted the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), who once said that the day we went to Egypt our friendship with France ceased; and it is the same all over the world, whether it be in the Pacific, in Asia, or in Africa—everywhere we have the same jealousies to encounter. In our present attitude towards Egypt we are unquestionably sacrificing the good feeling of France, the people of which country are entitled to expect that we shall act in good faith. I would ask Her Majesty's Government to say what they mean to do. Are they really trying to settle matters in Egypt so that they may be able to get out of it? As I said before, so I say again, that if you are to stay in that country until you establish a satisfactory form of government, there you will have to stay till the Millennium. I do hope that the Government will give us the assurance that the Government before them gave—namely, that they are doing their best to get out of Egypt. It is certain that with respect to this question of Egypt Her Majesty's late Advisers played the part of the son who said—"I go; but he went not." I have great confidence in the practical statesmanship of the Marquess of Salisbury, and I trust that the present Government will not follow that example, but rather will imitate the son who first refused to go, but afterwards repented and went. Yet the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when answering a Question put to him on this question, did not say a word about the withdrawal of Sir H. Drummond Wolff, but, on the contrary, seemed to speak with confidence of the decided intention of Government to detain that Gentleman there, as well as Muhktar Pasha. Under the circumstances, I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £4,000.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

I rise for the purpose of seconding the Motion for a reduction of this Vote, and I trust sincerely that the hon. Gentleman will go to a division on the question. It is a question which has been raised over and over again in this House, and I earnestly hope that so long as I am a Member of the House no Vote for Diplomatic and Consular Services in Egypt will ever be proposed to this Committee without a similar division being taken. If no one else will divide the Committee against such a Vote, I will do it myself. This system of devoting large sums of money to the payment of Agents in Egypt has continued for many years. Year after year we are told that the occupation of that country is drawing to a speedy termination; but as time goes on, instead of that occupation coming nearer to its end, it is manifestly receding farther and farther away from us. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes; I know hon. Gentlemen opposite delight in this course; but I am convinced that the majority of the people of England are not of their opinion. If the Government dare to go to the country, taking a General Election upon this issue, whether or not Egypt is to be permanently occupied by English troops, I undertake to say that the Government would find that there is an enormous majority against them. I protest against this large sum being voted—I protest against these preposterous salaries being paid to Agents who are sent out to Egypt who know no more about Egypt than do Members of this House.

An hon. MEMBER

We are not all Dillons.


I hear an hon. Member say "We are not all Dillons." The hon. Member may be very learned in these Egyptian questions; but I am quite prepared to admit that I am not. The point of difference between us is that I would not undertake to govern Egypt, and I am quite sure that the hon. Member would be prepared to do so to-morrow if you gave him £5,000 a-year. What I want to call attention to is this. You send out a man to govern Egypt at a large salary, and he makes a terrible muddle of it. What do you do? You do not recall him, but you send out another man to supersede him, and pay him £5,000. ["No, no!"] No! Then, what was Sir H. Drummond Wolff sent out for? Was he not put over the head of Sir Evelyn Baring? Why do you want two men to do the same thing—if Sir Evelyn Baring is doing his work well, why send out Sir H. Drummond Wolff? I think we are entitled to an explanation. The noble Lord opposite stated this very evening that Sir H. Drummond Wolff is about to lay important proposals before the Government. If that is so, I think we are entitled to appeal to the Government that they shall not bind the country to any now departure in Egypt until they have taken the opinion of the House of Commons upon it. The noble Lord, when questioned here to-night, gave an answer which conveyed to my mind that it is in the contemplation of the Government to commit this country to new obligations and to a new departure in Egypt without consulting the House of Commons. We know that that has been done over and over again. We know that Alexandria was bombarded without giving the House of Commons any opportunity of pronouncing upon it beforehand. In the case of the Soudan War, when the Government were questioned, over and over again their answer was that certain things had taken place, and that we were committed to certain proceedings and could not withdraw. Before the House has had an opportunity of arriving at a decision on these matters it has found the country committed to a definite course by the decisive action of the Government. There is one point I wish, especially, to put to the noble Lord. He stated the other day that Papers on the Egyptian Question would soon be laid before the House. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: No.] Well, some Member of the Government did—I think the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He stated that additional Papers would be issued, and I should like to know whether they will contain full information about the Daira Loan? There have been negotiations going on for some time with the object of consolidating that loan with the other public loans of Egypt; and, so far as I can understand the matter, no more scandalous swindle could be perpetrated than to throw the responsibility of that loan, which is a private loan contracted by the late Khedive on the mortgage of his own personal estates, upon the Egyptian taxpayers. This would be a most infamous swindle on the people of Egypt. God knows they have burdens enough on their shoulders at present; and if you are going to permit such a shameful transaction as this it will be, so far as I can understand the history of the matter, to add another to the many crimes which have been committed against the unfortunate people of Egypt. I am convinced that the majority of the people of England are opposed to this system of plundering the people of Egypt for the sake of the bondholders, and I do hope the Government will promise to lay full information on the subject before the country. I trust that before any undertaking is entered into which will have the effect of consolidating this Daira Loan with the other loans of Egypt, and making the taxpayers of that country responsible for it, the British House of Commons will have an opportunity of pronouncing an opinion upon the matter.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £58,010, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1887, for the Expenses of Her Majesty's Embassies and Missions Abroad."—(Sir George Campbell.)

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

How I regret that the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not sitting below the Gangway, because if he were, judging from the mode in which he has so often, from the very place which I am now occupying, protested against this bondholders' occupation of Egypt, against our war in Egypt, against the reckless expenditure in Egypt, I am sure that he would have supported me now in advocating the Motion which my hon. Friend has moved. When the noble Lord, in common with his Colleagues, came into Office last time we understood that Sir H. Drummond Wolff was sent out to Egypt with one object—namely, to come to some sort of agreement by which the views which the noble Lord had so ably and so often expressed should be carried out, and that we should leave Egypt. I, for my own part, voted for the payment of Sir H. Drummond Wolff's salary, believing that that was the object with which he was sent out to Egypt. But at present we are told that new propositions are going to be made, and we find that every time the Estimates are brought forward fresh sums of money are asked for from us in order that they may be expended in what is called "maintaining order" in Egypt—that is to say, for the securing of the interests of the bondholders. That is the real object of our remaining in Egypt. Now, I agree with my hon. Friends who have spoken that we ought to have some clear understanding from the Government that if these fresh propositions are going to be sent to the Government by Sir H. Drummond Wolff no sort of liability shall be incurred by us that may tend in any sort of way to extend our occupation of Egypt without the House having an opportunity of pronouncing upon it. The noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the commencement of the evening, said that Parliament had the control. Well, we know what that means. Parliament may refuse to vote the Estimates which are necessary to enable the Executive Government to carry out the arrangement. Practically, however, that is no control, seeing that the liability is incurred before Parliament is asked for the money. We ought to know what these propositions are; Parliament ought to have a voice in deciding whether it is desirable that these propositions should be agreed to or not. The obligations ought not to be entered into before Parliament is called upon to provide funds for them. Why, Sir, have we not seen all the newspapers—all the Conservative and Unionist organs of this Metropolis—denouncing what the Russians are doing in Bulgaria. But what have the Russians done in Bulgaria in comparison with what we have done in Egypt? We went there unjustly. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: Not this Government.] The noble Lord implies that we on this side did it—that is to say, the Liberal Party. But the noble Lord will bear me out that I always supported him when he protested against the action of the Liberal Government in regard to this matter. I know that the noble Lord does not approve of what was done in Egypt; that he always protested against it; and that no one took a stronger view than he in regard to the desirability of our leaving Egypt as soon as possible. The noble Lord is now a Minister of the Crown; he is now Leader of this House, and is responsible for what we are doing in Egypt. I can understand that it may be difficult for him to leave Egypt immediately; but is it the policy of Her Majesty's Government to remain in Egypt? ["Hear, hear!"] It may be the policy of some hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, judging from the cheers given just now. ["Hear, hear!" from the Ministerial side of the House.] There again! Clearly, then, it is their policy. We want to have it from Her Majesty's Government, however. I look upon ourselves as absolute marauders in Egypt. I say we have no right to be there, and I maintain that in the end, if we continue to remain, we shall get into conflict with the whole of Europe. We shall be called upon by Europe to leave the coun- try. It does seem to me to be desirable, for the dignity of England and in common honesty, that the noble Lord should now maintain the views when in power which he held when out of power, and that he should pronounce to the House that the policy of the Government is as soon as possible, in some reasonable time, to withdraw from Egypt.


I am sure the Committee will not think the acceptance of the Amendment consonant with our position in Egypt, and with our responsibility for the government of that country which we have been unwillingly compelled to assume. The Amendment is confined to a narrow limit—namely, the Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff to Egypt; but it is well understood that he means by that the desire that the Mission should come to a close. The object of the Amendment is directly to obtain an expression of the opinion of the Committee on the whole subject. It would be quite legitimate if I were to confine my remarks to the one point raised by the Amendment; but one or two things have been said which are not altogether to be passed by. I much regret that the Committee are not in possession of Nos. 4 and 5 of the Papers on Egypt, which I believe will be delivered to-morrow. ["Oh, oh!"] Well, I have done all in my power to insure their early delivery to Members. And let me remind hon. Members that if the Session had been closed at the ordinary time we should have been in Recess now, and it is quite certain that the Papers could not have been delivered before the close of the last Session. I can only assure the Committee that the present Government are not responsible for any delay. It is well known that there is a great demand for Papers of public interest; and I can only say that the production of the Papers in question has been pressed forward with as much speed as the capacity of the Printing Department admits of. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir George Campbell) is anxious to know when this Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff will come to an end. He says we have one well-paid Diplomatic Agent in Egypt, and that it is not reasonable that we should have two. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that nothing can be less desired by the Government than that we should spend more money than is necessary; but let me remind the Committee that in June last, on the Vote on Account for the Diplomatic Service, there was a full discussion of this matter, and the late Prime Minister pointed out that Sir H. Drummond Wolff must be maintained in Egypt until his Mission has been accomplished. The right hon. Gentleman pointed particularly to the Report Sir H. Drummond Wolff is drawing up; and, as the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already told the Committee, the Government must wait until that Report is in their hands. It is obvious that the Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff, which was to carry into Egypt the authority of the Sultan as our most legitimate ally, in putting that country into a better state of order, was a Mission of a very important character, and was not to be fulfilled in a day. In order to fulfil it, he had to take a comprehensive review of all the circumstances of the country; and the Government cannot be accused of want of expedition in framing their policy if they have waited until they received the comprehensive Report which was in preparation. I cannot think the Committee will refuse any portion of the salary necessary to maintain Sir H. Drummond Wolff in Egypt until his Mission is concluded. The Government are asked to say what is to be the duration of our stay in Egypt. The House of Commons has had a painful experience of too early prophecies and promises concerning our departure. I think it will be remembered that some of our greatest difficulties have arisen from too early declarations. If an impression prevails that we are to be "here to-day and gone to-morrow," we cannot expect confidence in our measures, nor the earnest co-operation of those whom we are seeking to help. It would be inexpedient, rash, and unpatriotic of the Government, for the sake of gaining temporary applause from any part of the House, to say that our stay in Egypt is on the point of coming to an end. We have a Mission to accomplish in Egypt. We ought not to pretend that we are going to leave until the reforms we have sought after, and some of which are already bearing fruit, have been fully accomplished. ["Oh!"] Well, it is not desirable at this hour to lengthen the remarks it is my duty to make; but I will remind the Committee that last Session the late Prime Minister bore testimony to the great improvement effected in Egyptian affairs. It would be out of place to go into details; but an immense improvement has been effected in the finances of the country, as will be shown by the Papers that will be in the hands of Members immediately. The finances of the country particularly are in a state which has not been known before in our time. Last year there was a surplus of nearly £500,000; and if the year's Expenditure does not exceed the Revenue—and I believe it will not—we believe we shall be able to pay off the demands upon the Coupons of 1885–6, upon which the payments were postponed by agreement as a temporary expedient. I trust that the House of Commons will not do anything to throw discredit on the good work that is being done. We are not always sure whether the remarks of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) should be taken seriously; but I am quite sure the hon. Member does not seriously suggest that the Government should state what proposals are to be made. Did the hon. Gentleman ever hear of any act of diplomacy being carried to a successful conclusion if we played with our cards on the table? I feel sure that the hon. Member has not made his proposal seriously, and I am sure, also, that the House will not support him. At this time, when the Government are charged with most anxious duties, I am sure that the House will not desire to weaken our hands by saying that we are not supported in a patriotic spirit. As to the rumours which have been referred to by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), I trust that the Committee will pay no attention to absurd stories in the Levantine and French papers, which may be intended to influence Stock Exchanges, but which are almost too childish even to have that effect. The hon. Member opposite (Mr. Dillon) has asked a question with reference to the Daira and Domain Loans. I assure the hon. Member that there is no intention nor thought of amalgamating those loans with the other Debts of Egypt. The difficulty about those loans is this—that the value of the security has fallen, and the land cannot be disposed of for the nominal amount of the Debt; but there is an earnest desire to use these estates in the most legitimate manner—namely, for the commutation of the pensions which operate as so severe a charge upon the Revenues of Egypt. The hon. Gentleman is right in saying that there is a grave suspicion of fraud in the management of these estates; but I will not now go into particulars on that matter. I fully admit it. But I may say with confidence that the frauds have been probed; that they will take place no more; and that the estates in future will be managed with economy. I hope the country will gradually emerge from its condition of degradation and distress, and that when our Mission is accomplished, which I hope will be soon, it will be universally acknowledged that our trusteeship of Egypt will redound to the credit of this country, and will be acknowledged to have been beneficial to Egypt.

MR. PICTON (Leicester)

I do not think the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Fergusson) has met the difficulty which many of us feel in this matter. So long as Votes are asked for for carrying on the occupation of Egypt by this country we shall feel it our duty to protest; and so long as Votes are asked for which seem to necessitate the continuance of that occupation we shall feel ourselves doubly bound to protest. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken about playing with our cards on the table; but we have flung our cards on the table long ago. At the very outset we proclaimed to Europe that our occupation of Egypt was only temporary, and that we proposed to get out of it as soon as we could; and yet we go on incurring various forms of expense, which looks to all the world as though it is our intention to remain in that country. It may be a humiliation to have again and again to repeat that we do not intend to remain in Egypt; but we can escape from that humiliation by keeping our pledges. I believe that we, who protest against this prolonged occupation of Egypt, have more at heart the honour of this country than any of those hon. Gentlemen who cry "Hear, hear!" when annexation is talked of. We have promised to Europe to retire from Egypt, and those who cry "Hear, hear!" when they hear annexation whispered seem to think that it would be an honourable thing on the part of this great Empire to break its word before the whole world. Against that notion I feel bound to protest, and I think this discussion should not be brought to a conclusion without a distinct intimation being given by the Government that this country distinctly holds to its promise of withdrawing from Egypt as soon as it possibly can.

MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)

I hope the hon. Member (Sir George Campbell) will divide the Committee on this Vote. I hold that the attitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite, whenever the question of annexation is mentioned, justifies the action we are now taking. Some of us are not afraid to admit that we are pledged against annexation. The Government, when they went to Egypt, distinctly declared that they would not annex that country. We are in a critical position, and everyone who has been watching the course of Egyptian affairs, whether inside the House or out of it, has been, for some time, looking for some indication that we are going to clear out of that country. It seems to everyone—especially as we unfortunately have not the Papers in our hands to instruct us to the contrary—that we are as far from clearing out of Egypt as we were when we went into it. Are we to have any clear indication as to what the policy of Her Majesty's present Government is to be in regard to retiring from Egypt? The right hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has said that, if it were not for the exceptional time of the year at which we are met, we could not have expected to have had any Papers submitted to us on this question. That is quite right; but seeing that an exceptional state of things has brought us together, and that an exceptional opportunity is afforded us for seeking information, I think we should have been allowed to have these Papers. When we once break up, it will be a long time before we shall have another opportunity of discussing our position in Egypt; and what is likely to take place there whilst we are not sitting? This is a very serious subject, and I earnestly hope that Ministers will be able to give us some intimation of the kind we ask for.


Notwithstanding the courteous and comprehensive manner in which the right hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has treated this matter, I feel bound to divide the Committee upon the Vote. I must say that I should have been extremely glad if the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose Radical opinions upon this subject the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) alluded to, could have said one or two words with regard to it, in addition to what we have heard from the Under Secretary of State, who is not so deeply pledged against this occupation of Egypt as is the noble Lord. What does the statement of the Under Secretary of State amount to? It amounts to this—that we cannot say we are going away from Egypt, because, if we did, the people of that country would have no confidence in us, and we should be unable to get them to work with us in the carrying out of necessary reforms. Well, the only construction which it is possible to put upon words like that is, that we wish everybody to believe that we are going to stay in Egypt. We have pledged ourselves to go, and directly we refuse to repeat that pledge the supposition must be that we are going to stop. With regard to the right hon. Baronet's allusion to the late Prime Minister's knowledge of Sir H. Drummond Wolff's Report I think there must be some mistake; but the point is not one which I will pursue. One statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State has alarmed me very much. It gives us an official confirmation of that popular rumour which we did not credit before—namely, that the 5 per cent is to be returned to the bondholders, that which was levied as a small contribution towards the expense of defending their interests. As to the surplus Revenue in Egypt for the present year which the right hon. Baronet has referred to, I think the Papers which we shall soon have in our possession will show that it has not been fairly obtained, and that it has only been arrived at by a process of cooking the accounts—namely, by applying a portion of the loan of £9,000,000 for the operations in the Soudan and other purposes, which ought to have been paid out of Revenue. I feel greatly grieved that it is intended to pay these sums to the bondholders out of the loan.


The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) seems to be preaching a most extraordinary doctrine. He does not seem to be aware that we are bound by Treaty and Convention to pay the bondholders in full.


Yes; but I object to cooking the accounts by paying the annual expenses of Egypt out of the loan, and in that way making an apparent surplus out of which to repay the loan.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 54; Noes 158: Majority 104.—(Div. List, No. 40.)

Original Question put, and agreed to,

(14.) £46,486, to complete the sum for Consular Services.

(15.) £4,160, to complete the sum for Slave Trade Services.

(16.) £2,005, to complete the sum for the Suez Canal (British Directors).

(17.) £13,116, to complete the sum for Colonies, Grants in Aid.

(18.) £69,637, to complete the sum for South Africa and St. Helena.

COMMANDER BETHELL (York E.R., Holderness)

May I ask the indulgence of the Committee while I make a few observations upon this Vote? I would not attempt to offer any remarks on this occasion, considering the lateness of the hour (1 o'clock), except that the matter to which I wish to refer has not been brought to the attention of Parliament for nearly two years, and there will be no opportunity of calling attention to it for some time to come. What I want to do is to direct the attention of Parliament to what has been occurring in Zululand during the last two years; and I should like, in some degree, to accentuate the cry against the policy which has been pursued in Zululand during these years. I think it is a policy which has led to great disaster to the Natives, and that it has not been extremely favourable to our own country. The Committee will remember that, in 1879, we did away with the then Government of Zululand, and made a completely different arrangement. What we really did was to take the controlling power away from Zululand, while we put nothing up in its place. The natural result was that all the antagonistic forces, which always exist in savage races, at once broke out, and resulted in warfare and the wasting of the country. That arrangement, in itself, had lasted only for a short time—for three years—and it had to be replaced by another. We claimed a Protectorate over nearly one-third of the country, and the remaining two-thirds were given over to certain Chiefs. I submit to the Committee that having conquered that country as we did, having deprived the people of that country of their natural Government, we had a moral right if we had a legal right, and that we ought to have exercised the moral right in insisting upon a proper Government being placed in the country. We declined to accept that responsibility. Ever since 1879 we have declined that responsibility, and the result has been terrible disaster to the unfortunate people of Zululand. Now, will the Committee consider for a moment what will be the effect of depriving the people of Zululand of a large portion of their country? [Interruption.] I submit that this is an extremely important question in South Africa; and, therefore, the Committee may very properly give it a few minutes' consideration. The Natives in the South-Eastern portion of South Africa are an increasing race. They are bound within narrow limits. There is, at present, no room for the natural expansion, of the Native tribes; and therefore, if we take away a large portion of Zululand, which is supposed to be reserved for the Native tribes, you accentuate the position, and render it more likely that disaster will be brought about. We have permitted the Boers of the Transvaal to take over very nearly five-sixths of the country that remained to the Zulus after the settlement of 1882. This proceeding of the Boers, into the merits of which I will not now enter, has, as I say, deprived the Zulus of a very large portion of their territory, and has had the effect of driving the Zulus upon the Reserve. The Reserve, when it was portioned off—[Cries of "Divide!"] Surely hon. Members will allow such an important subject as the government of South Africa to be considered by the Committee for a few minutes. I was endeavouring to point out, Sir, that the depriving the inhabitants of Zululand of a large portion of their territory has had the effect of driving the people back on that portion of the country which is called the Reserve, and which, when it was portioned off, was made as small as was consistent with the then needs of the country. Hon. Gentlemen will see from the despatches that there is a very grave question impending in the Reserve, and in the countries bordering upon Natal. The complaint I have to make is, that our Government has allowed these proceedings of the last two years without saying "they shall not be"—without, apparently, being able to make up their minds. In the middle of 1884 a new Republic, as it is called, was established in Zululand. From that day to this there has been no recognition, and no absolute denial, of this Republic; we have not assured the inhabitants that their rights will be secured to them. It appears that within the last two or three months negotiations have been entered into, apparently with the object of making up some of the ground we have lost within the last two years. I notice from an official account of an interview between Sir Arthur Havelock and certain officers of this new Republic that our Government are taking steps to secure some of the rights of the Zulus. I fear it will be impossible to replace the Zulus in their former position. It may be said there were difficulties in the way of our Government making up their minds as to the steps to be taken. But at the very time this new Republic was being formed we were sending troops from our shores, under Sir Charles Warren, to vindicate our power in Bechuanaland, under a precisely similar state of affairs. This is simply a recognition of what happened in Bechuanaland, and it is quite possible we may have to take some strong steps to vindicate our power in South Africa again. Whether that may be absolutely so or not I do not pretend to say; but I do maintain that, so long as we neglect the vindication of the rights of the unfortunate Zulus, we are behaving in a manner which is most disastrous to those people and most discreditable to ourselves. I assert most unhesitatingly that it is our moral duty, having deprived the Zulus of their natural Government, to see that another Government is set up which is capable of keeping them in control and free from those antagonistic forces which are ruining the country. We are now neglecting our duty in South Africa, as anyone who studies the history of South Africa ever since 1820 will see we have neglected it before. If we look back upon the history of South Africa, we can see what miserable results has followed upon our policy, and we can see that the same mistakes are being made now as were made in former years. [Cries of "Agreed!"] Sir, I said I would only touch upon this matter in outline, and that, I think, is all I have done. It is impossible in 10 minutes to present the matter to the Committee in the manner in which it ought to be presented. I feel sure the question is one in which, at another time, the majority of the Members of this House would be anxious to interest themselves. I beg the indulgence of the Committee for a few moments longer while I refer to the recent events in the Northern part of Bechuanaland. Those who have studied the most recent Blue Book will see that the opinion of all the officers and all the Missionaries, and of other people connected with South Africa, is in favour of the extension of our Protectorate towards the Zambesi. I am also very strongly favourable to the extension of our Protectorate, and I will, in a few words, give my reason. If we exercise a Protectorate over any large portion of South Africa, we are able to regulate the natural expansion of both Englishmen and Dutchmen in that country, and by regulating that natural expansion we should be able to prevent the recurrence of those events which, during the whole of this century, have proved so disastrous to the Native tribes. I maintain that that alone would be a sufficient reason for extending our Protectorate over that country. I strongly suspect that by neglecting to seize this opportunity we shall involve ourselves in fresh difficulties with the Native tribes. The Native Question is the question in South Africa; but we do not take any steps to educate and civilize the Natives. If we have any duty at all in South Africa, surely no small part of it is to dispense some of the benefits of civilization upon the people. I am sorry I have occupied the Committee so long; but I do not like, knowing, as I do, so much about South Africa, to let this Vote pass without expressing the hope that the Government of this country will do its duty by the Zulu people.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I heartily endorse what has been said by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Commander Bethell). The longer the Government delay the settlement of this intricate problem the more difficult will the settlement be. The sooner they fix upon and pursue some definite policy the better it will be for this country and for South Africa. There are one or two points upon which I think some information ought to be given. I should like to know, for instance, why we are still paying £200, as an allowance, in consequence of giving up the Orange River Territory? It is now 33 years since we gave up this territory. A generation has passed away, and yet we are paying money in respect of it. To whom is this money paid, and for what is it paid? Then I see that £400 is set down for a British Consular officer in the Transvaal, and that £100 was taken last year as an allowance for office rent, stationery, and incidental expenses. Nothing is taken this year in the shape of an allowance; indeed, I understand that at present there is no British Consul in the Transvaal. I should like to know why this is? During the last 18 months at least 2,000 British subjects have gone into the Transvaal. They want a British Consul. I know British subjects out there who, for the want of a Consul, are unable to get their claims settled, unable to get the property left them by their relatives. The sooner there is a British Consular officer in the Transvaal to look after the interests of British subjects the better. I am not prepared to say that we ought to go to the Zambesi, because that would mean another African war. We would have to break down the power of the Northern Zulus, and we would require a bigger Army, further away from the supplies, than we required to overcome Cetewayo. With regard to Bechuanaland I should like some further explanation. A Return has been presented from which I find that we spent £85,000 in certain expenses of troops going out there, and that we have only got back £13,000. The mules cost us £14,000, and all we obtained by the sale of them was £1,700. I should like to have some additional information regarding the expenses incurred in making this Expedition. It is very peculiar that we could pay £14,000 for animals, and yet only get £1,700 upon their re-sale. I suppose that is the reason why the Stellalanders liked us; they found they could get what they liked to charge, and buy the things back for a mere song. Altogether, we have spent over £1,000,000 sterling in Bechuanaland. Last year we spent £30,000 as a Grant in Aid of the expenses, other than military, of the Special Commissioner, or other officer, and his establishment; and of the maintenance of a Police Force in Bechuanaland, and this year we are to spend £100,000. The expense going on there is at the rate of £125,000 for Police and £10,000 for the Civil Establishment, and that against this expenditure there is a local Revenue of £7,500. The Civil Establishment cost £2,500 more than the entire Revenue, besides which there is an expenditure of £125,000 for Police. If there were any principle in the action of the Government, if they intended to proclaim a Protectorate over South Africa and carry it out properly, something might be said in favour of this policy of throwing away £1,000,000 sterling and giving £100,000 a-year to these vagabonds in the Transvaal, the Orange Free State, and the Cape. We are now paying the debts of the men we denounced—men who were at one time arrayed against our law, and against every civilized law in South Africa. We are spending £100,000 a-year, and will spend it, perhaps, for several years, and throw away money as long as we hold the territory. I am strongly of opinion that all further expeditions in South Africa ought to be made at the cost of the Cape Colony and Natal, and that this Government ought not to spend a single penny in South Africa. In New Zealand we found that as long as we paid the piper the Colonists would find plenty of opportunities for war. If the Colonists in South Africa have to bear the cost I do not think we shall have so many Kaffir wars. As far as Bechuanaland is concerned, the Cape Government were perfectly willing to take it over and bear the cost. Instead of allowing them to do that, we spent over £1,000,000 sterling, and now we are spending £100,000 a-year. I suppose that when any profit is to be got out of the country we shall allow the Cape to take it over. At present we are paying £100,000 a-year, and obtaining in return £7,500. It is quite necessary that we should spend a little time, even after 1 o'clock in the morning, in obtaining some information as to the policy the Government propose to pursue in South Africa. We are allowing the Cape to annex territory, and we are asked to extend ours. It is necessary the Government should say something as to their policy. They blow hot and cold, and meddle and muddle in South Africa, and spend a great deal of money, and all to no purpose. The House ought to insist upon some statement as to the policy the Government mean to adopt. We ought, for instance, to know whether it is true that more troops are to be sent out.


The hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) has put a number of questions to me in connection with this Vote, of which I will answer as many as I can. He has asked for an explanation of the item of £200 for allowance, in consequence of giving up the Orange River Territory. The explanation of that is, that there was an annuity granted to one of the ex-officials which we are still obliged to pay. Then he asks how it is that we have no Consular officer for the Transvaal. There have been, as hon. Members will be aware, various reasons why for a time we have had no Consular officer; but the Government are considering whether it would not be proper that one should be appointed. The hon. Member then draws attention to some of the items of expenditure with regard to Bechuanaland; but it seems to me that his remarks on the expenditure for police now going on in Bechuanaland convey a very strong censure on the action of the late Liberal Government. We succeeded to Office at a time when military operations were going on in Bechuanaland; but we were fortunate enough to be able to put an end to that state of affairs, and establish a police force to keep order there at a greatly reduced expense. In the Estimate we tell the House of Commons that the force will cost £100,000 for the present year; but we have reason to hope that next year the sum will be largely reduced. As regards the general position of affairs in Bechuanaland, I may say that we have every reason to believe that a very satisfactory state of things prevails in that coun- try. Montsoia states that he is very well satisfied with the position in which he is now placed. But when the hon. Member says he would like to cast off all Imperial responsibility for these countries I would ask him whether that is so easy a matter; because have we not incurred responsibility with regard to Bechuanaland and Zululand? Her Majesty's Government recognize that we have incurred great responsibility towards the people of those countries; and they do not think they would be doing their duty if they did not discharge the responsibility incurred towards them. With regard to Zululand, I should like to say that the negotiations which, as many hon. Members are aware, were going on with what is called the new Republic, have been suspended. I hope, however, that they will be shortly resumed. I have had a communication from a gentleman who represents and enjoys the confidence of the Republic; and I have every reason to hope that the negotiations which have been set on foot will be brought to a happy termination.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I agree that we have a responsibility with regard to Zululand. I agree that we broke down the Zulu power, and that we ought to step in and protect the people; but I do not admit that we have any responsibility with regard to Bechuanaland. I want to know what policy you are going to carry on there? With regard to the Zulu race, it is now very small indeed, owing to the Civil War; and if they are to be saved they require to be saved quickly.

Vote agreed to.

(19.) £13,050, to complete the sum for Subsidies to Telegraph Companies.

(20.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £1,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1887, as a Grant in Aid of the Revenue of the Island of Cyprus.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

This is another instance of the effect of taking Votes on Account. The amount of this Estimate is actually £20,000, of which you have had £19,000, and we are now called on to pay £1,000. I had an Amendment to reduce the Vote, which I find now I cannot move; and, therefore, I shall take a division on the whole Vote. My point is that in 1885–6 the Grant-in-Aid amounted to £15,000. We have been told persistently that the Revenues of Cyprus would increase, and that we should have to pay less and less in each year. First, there were considerable defalcations in the accounts of the island; then there was a re-organization in the island; and, again, we were told that we should soon have nothing to pay for Cyprus. The administration of the island is exceedingly bad and wasteful; and I will give one instance of it. An experienced officer went to report on the matter of the Revenue survey of the Island, and decided that it was not desirable that the survey should be made, because it had already been made by the Turks. Well, Sir, I would point out that, somehow or other, we are making that survey notwithstanding the advice of this experienced officer. There is one surveyor, and a draftsman 20 years old; and to look after them there is a Turk with a salary of £1,000 a-year, and an English clerk with a salary of £650, and you will find that one-third of the entire money voted for public works is expended in salaries for the officials. Under these circumstances, is it not surprising that the Revenues of Cyprus do not suffice for the expenses. The reason why these little islands like Cyprus do not pay is, that they are perfect nests of jobbery. I think the Government ought to look thoroughly into the matter; and in order to encourage them to do so, and lead to that desirable state of things in which we shall not be called upon to pay anything at all for the Island, I shall take a division on the Vote.


I do not think the hon. Gentleman can find any facts to support this charge of jobbery; on the contrary, I think there is every reason to believe that the administration of the island is exceedingly good. There have been one or two things, I admit, which might constitute a blot on the administration; but there is every reason to hope that they will not recur. I am told that there are some general symptoms of improvement throughout the island, which will, in time, render these Grants-in-Aid unnecessary. Certainly, I hope we shall not have to come upon the Treasury for a larger amount than in former years, and that, on the contrary, there will be a steady decrease.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 148; Noes 47: Majority 101.—(Div. List, No. 41.)