(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £16,785, 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 1887, for the Expenses of Her Majesty's Embassies and Missions abroad.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
We have already voted a sum, as you will see, of £12,000 for telegrams for the Diplomatic Services, and we are now called upon to Vote an additional sum of £7,800. I do not quite under stand how these Supplementary Estimates are arranged, because these charges are only, as hon. Gentlemen will see, no doubt, for the telegrams coming in from Foreign Legations and Missions abroad to this country, but for every telegram which comes in we may fairly suppose that another goes out. We did vote £12,000 last year, and, if I remember right, we voted some Supplementary sum. How is it that in the Supplementary Estimates in this House we are asked to vote £7,800, in addition to what we have already voted for the telegrams coming in, and nothing for the telegrams going out? If anyone looks through the recent Blue Books, especially that in regard to Bulgarian affairs, they will see that there has been a very vast number of telegrams from the different Ministers abroad. I presume, therefore, that, in point of fact, we shall have to pay at some time or other an additional sum of some £7,000 or £8,000 for telegrams from the Foreign Office to Missions abroad. Now, last year, when this question of telegrams was raised on the Estimates, there was an animated discussion, and my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce), who was then Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, admitted that reductions ought to be made in these Estimates. That was the feeling entirely in the House; but, instead of any reduction taking place in consequence of such a general expression of opinion, we find that there has been no reduction; and, indeed, we very often find that even when the House does express its opinion strongly upon excessive expenditure the amounts are the same, if not more. I am inclined to think that this Vote is rather more than the Vote submitted last year. Now, I do think that £12,000 is quite sufficient for telegrams to the Foreign Office with out the addition of £ 12,000 for telegrams from the Foreign Office. The system, at present, seems to be that every Minister of Foreign Affairs, and every man in the Foreign Office, and every Foreign 1459 Minister thinks that when he has got some very foolish information to transmit that he might very well send through the Post Office, he must send it in a cypher telegram, and telegrams in cypher cost more than ordinary telegrams. I think there ought to be a protest made against the cost of these telegrams. I do not think that the country gains any advantage by the spending of something like £30,000 per annum for telegrams from our Foreign Legations to the Foreign Office, and I wish to accentuate the view many hon. Members of the House entertain upon this point by moving the reduction of this Vote by the sum of £3,000, which I hope will bring home, not only to the Foreign Office, but also to Foreign Ministers, that they must do their best to send their communications through the post or by Queen's Messenger, except where it is absolutely necessary that they should be sent by telegraph. At present, Representatives abroad send many telegrams which they might very well send through the post or by Queen's Messenger. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £3,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Item of £7,800 (Telegrams), be reduced by the sum of £3,000."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir JAMES FERGUSSON) (Manchester, N.E.)
Mr. Chairman, I must, of course, give the Committee some explanation of the reason of this additional expenditure. The sum expended upon telegrams for the Diplomatic Services is about £19,800, and the main items are for telegrams in regard to Egypt, China, Japan, and Persia. For instance, the charge in respect of China and Japan is £7,765; the cost of telegrams from Cairo £4,200, and other places £7,835, making a total of upwards of £19,000. This is a very large sum, and all I can say is that great efforts have been made to induce Her Majesty's Representatives abroad to curtail their telegrams as much as possible. Within my knowledge exception has been taken to telegrams unnecessarily long, and a Circular has been addressed to Her Majesty's Representatives abroad calling upon them to use the greatest economy practicable in the 1460 writing of telegrams. But, Sir, it must be remembered, when important matters have to be brought to the notice of Her Majesty's Government, the Representatives naturally wish to be perfectly distinct, because a little undue shortening of a telegram may lead to serious misconception. The Government are well aware of the importance of not exceeding the Original Estimate in the matter of telegrams, as in everything else; but this Supplementary Estimate has been absolutely necessary. The only effect of the hon. Member's (Mr. Labouchere) Amendment would be to cause a certain amount of embarrassment, because if expenditure is incurred, it has to be paid. Therefore, I hope that the Committee will not consent to the proposed reduction.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
It appears to me, Mr. Courtney, that this is simply a matter of common sense. Practically speaking, when Her Majesty's Government get into a mess, as they appear to have got into a mess on the question which has necessitated this item being brought forward for our consideration, they at once take the most expensive mode, at the cost of the unfortunate taxpayer, of solving the question. Now, Sir, it is not for me at the present time to raise the point as to how this item was incurred. We all know very well how it was incurred—namely, in connection with Prince Alexander of Bulgaria—in trying to keep his Highness upon his Throne. We have got a sort of answer from the right hon. Gentleman (Sir James Fergusson), who adorns the post he now fills. But I think the right hon. Gentleman, taking into account that his words go before the country, and taking into account that the country carefully examine all these items of expenditure, will admit that at least an item of this character ought to be satisfactorily explained. Up to the present it has not been explained; and, therefore, as a Member occupying a seat in the quarter of the House I do, and regretting deeply that there is not more independence of spirit shown among Members on the Ministerial Benches—and there are many hon. Members in that quarter of the House who ought to know something, at any rate, about Eastern affairs—I desire to enter my protest against this expenditure, and to express the pleasure I shall 1461 have in going into the Lobby with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere).
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
Will the right hon. Gentleman say how much of this item is due to Egyptian telegrams?
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
In the year, the telegrams from the British Agency at Cairo will reach a sum of £4,200.
§ DR. TANNER
How much money was spent upon telegrams in connection with the Bulgarian business, directly or indirectly?
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
I am afraid I cannot tell the hon. Member. I really do not know how much was expended in this way.
§ DR. TANNER
How much was spent on telegrams to Constantinople? How much was spent on telegrams to Sofia?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
The right hon. Gentleman has only referred to telegrams in, and said nothing about telegrams out.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
I under stand there is no excess over the money taken for telegrams out; such telegrams are very much shorter than those which come in.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 91; Noes 140: Majority 49.—(Div. List, No. 43.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I believe that an Amendment is likely to be moved upon this Vote, and certainly it does seem to me to require some sort of supervision in order to justify this very large payment. I see my hon. Friend (Mr. Bradlaugh), who is going to move the Amendment, has just entered the House, so that I will resume my seat.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
In opposing this Vote for a Supplementary Grant to Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's Special Mission to Constantinople and Egypt, I would remind the Committee that when I opposed a similar Vote last year, I pointed out that then the first Mission to Constantinople had been utterly worthless, and that Sir Henry Drummond Wolff had failed in every respect upon which he had received instructions, and had only succeeded on the points on which his instructions dif- 1462 fered. I was then told that his success at Cairo would make up for what lie had not succeeded in at Constantinople. I, therefore, want, before the Committee pass this Vote, to have some information as to why this Supplementary Estimate is submitted to us at all. There have, no doubt, been special expenses in connection with the festive scenes which Sir Henry Drummond Wolff has held at Cairo, but which ought hardly to become a charge against the country; and I should like the Member of the Government answerable for this Vote to distinguish between the various branches of expenditure which make the excess now asked for as a Supplementary Vote. We have been told that telegrams from Cairo cost something like £4,200, and the absolute want of any kind of necessity for this Mission is shown when we come to explain what has happened at Cairo during the past year. This country has been well represented, both at Constantinople and at Cairo, by eminent gentlemen. One of these, occupying a high position in the Diplomatic Service, has been kept ignorant, as I will show from Blue Books, of negotiations which have made this country responsible for the payment of an exceedingly large sum of money. In the debate on the Address I put several Questions to the Government with reference to the charges put upon this country by the occupation of Suakin. Suakin being quitted by British troops, the Representative of England there made this country liable to pay a sum—I am not certain—but a sum, apparently, of £73,000 a-year; I do not know for how many years. I do not know for what term; but so long as it lasts a sum of about £73,000 a-year is to be paid to the Egyptian Government, for the government of a city with which we had no concern whatever, and for which the British taxpayer is to remain liable; and I shall be able to show that this was done without the knowledge of Sir Evelyn Baring, and that it was done on the suggestion of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff. This is shown by Papers No. 24 in the Book Egypt, No. 5, of last year. It is in these Papers that we find one of the earliest despatches from Lieutenant General Stephenson relating to the evacuation of Suakin, and there is a phrase in them which, by itself, would not be complete, where he speaks of what he is putting to 1463 the Government there as "suggested by Wolff." When I come to look at a later despatch, we find Sir Evelyn Baring sending home for instructions in solution of this matter, as one of which he is entirely ignorant, when it is communicated to him by Lieutenant General Stephenson. Now, at first, the government of Suakin is to cost England £40,940. The item keeps growing. Then there is to be £5,000 for some kind of equipment for the Egyptian troops. Why the British taxpayer should pay for the equipment of Egyptian troops is by no means clear to me, and I should like some information to be given to the Committee on that subject. But if we turn to a later Paper in the same Book—No. 6—we find Sir Evelyn Baring saying this—"General Stephenson informs me that the expenses of this Force "—that is, the Force which is to occupy Suakin after the British troops have quitted, the Egyptian Force—"to the extent of £56,440, are to be met by Her Majesty's Government." Why is the British, taxpayer to pay any of that charge, in addition to £5,000, for the first payment? Then Sir Evelyn Baring uses this remarkable language—I have received no instructions on this subject from your Lordship, and have ventured to telegraph to your Lordship for authority,That was a despatch to Lord Rosebery; but the previous despatch to which I have referred was a despatch to the right hon. Gentleman who is the present Leader of the House, but was at that time the Secretary of State for War. It is clear upon whom the responsibility for this transaction lies, and who is to blame, because Lieutenant General Stephenson's term, "suggested by Wolff," becomes quite clear by the light of the declaration of Sir Evelyn Baring, that he knew nothing of it, and that he was not acquainted with it by his colleagues. You have one official Representative of Great Britain negotiating one state of things, and you have another in another place negotiating another state of things, and you have the accord between the two so complete that they know nothing of what each other is doing. And we get a little worse as we go on. The money claimed by Egypt is constantly increasing. We find in that same Blue Book that the Egyptian demands keep increasing step by step, until at last we get the figures "£56,440, 1464 plus such portion of £16,640, now demanded by the Egyptian Government," of which, up to that moment, £11,000 was admitted by us. But that is not enough. The Egyptians not only want us to pay for their men, but they want us to furnish them with stores, and we absolutely give them two sets of stores, one £9,325, and another £6,078, and another untotaled lot with no price put to them, which may be larger or smaller; and we have a modest demand for new stores to be supplied by us to the Egyptian Government at a price of £14,660. I should like the Representative of the Government to say why £15,000 worth of property of the British taxpayer was handed over to the Egyptian Government without the Government being asked to pay for it. I want to know how much of this £14,660 has been granted. It is true that Sir Henry Drummond Wolff achieved some success. At first, he seems to have been the chief negotiator of that blockade which injured a lot of unfortunate people and did no good to anyone—a blockade which had ultimately to be abandoned under pressure from the German Government when it was found to interfere with German trade. Sir Henry Drummond Wolff paid no attention to the starving inhabitants of the Soudan; but the moment two German traders remonstrated against the unfairness of this blockade, then Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, who had insisted on the blockade in the first place, when it was suggested that it should be raised, thought that no great difficulties would result from its abandonment. I do not know that I have any right, in dealing with the salary of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, to refer to the efficient manner in which that blockade was carried out under his direction. We sent a steam cutter carrying a Gatling gun without the Gatling. We sent another whose guns were utterly untrustworthy, because they brought down the bow so much that they could not be used. That is part of the general efficiency of the whole of our dealings in this unfortunate country. What does Sir Henry Drummond Wolff do either in Cairo or in Constantinople for us? I can under stand what was done by the Government which sent him out, for him. I can understand that an efficient provision 1465 was made for every member of that gallant Army—not for the rank and tile, for there was no rank and file—but for the whole of the commanding officers who put the late Chancellor of the Exchequer into Office. But I ask this Committee not to be a party to voting away the money of the British taxpayer on any ground of that kind; and I want to know from the Government, if we are to accept a certain burden of £56,440 a-year for Suakin, are there any other places we are going to accept the same certain burden for? If not, Sir, why is an exception made in the case of Suakin? If there are other places, where are they? I ask whether it is not a monstrous thing to commit the country by way of a number of engagements with reference to the Government of Egypt carried on at a cost to the British taxpayer at home? If you are not going to do that, then the language of these despatches has no meaning at all. If it be taken from that language that, though the British Government say they are to undertake these expenses, you do not mean it, it is a pity you said it.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir JAMES FERGUSSON) (Manchester, N.E.)
For that particular year. There is no particular obligation on us this year in that respect.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
There is no limitation on you as to any year. The expression is "£56,440 per annum;" and there is another statement, either in this Book or in the Book which succeeded it, showing your obligations to pay. It is an extraordinary thing that, if it is a payment for that one year, there is nothing in the Book to show it. Where is the explanation of it? Why should the obligation be taken for that year at all?
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
I thought I had given the right hon. Gentleman the numbers of the despatches, but I shall have great pleasure in referring to them again. The case is sufficiently clear—unfortunately too clear—and there is, therefore, no reason why I should conceal any part of it. My first suggestion is that Paper No. 24 shows not an expenditure for one year, but an annual 1466 expenditure of £40,940. Now, "annual" does not mean a payment for one year, or a whole payment that is to terminate at the end of the year. The annual payment of £40,940 means a payment which is intended to go on for a much longer period; and I say, fur ther, that this Paper No. 24 shows that this was "suggested by Wolff." The curtness of that phrase is not mine. It is in the telegraphic enclosure. Then I say that the demand increased to a sum of £56,440, and that there is nothing in No. 60 which mentions the increase, limiting it to one year, and that Sir Evelyn Baring is certainly startled by the proposition to take on this country any such liability. He knew nothing of it, and he says, as I already read—I have received no instructions on this subject from your Lordship, and have ventured to telegraph to your Lordship for authority.There is nothing there which shows that the sum is limited to one year. Well, we go on still further, and we find that "the yearly liabilities incurred by Her Majesty's Government amount, there fore, to £56,440," plus such portion of the £16,640 now demanded. "Yearly liabilities" do not mean one year's liability, and nothing more. Yearly liabilities mean—that is, if diplomatic language has any meaning—yearly liabilities. I have learned from an hon. Gentleman occupying a diplomatic position, now on the same Bench with the right hon. Gentleman, that a march may be conducted without opposition when you kill the people who stand in your way. I am quite prepared, there fore, to learn that annual liabilities do not mean annual liabilities, but only mean one specific payment, made in full, of all liabilities. But if your contract with the Egyptian Government is to pay an annual sum of £56,440, and you have no document specially limiting it to one year, I am afraid we shall have the same demand on the British taxpayer for this money another year. I think the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has given the Committee the strongest reason for rejecting the Vote. He says our special Representative, whom we sent on a special mission, is absolutely ignorant of the English language. This gentleman is well versed in other languages. He can talk French and Italian to the 1467 representatives of those Nationalities with the greatest fluency; but when he comes to use his own language, and wishes to make a payment of £06,440 in full of everything, he agrees to pay it yearly. Now, I am not a house holder; I am only a lodger; but I dare say there are some Gentlemen on the Front Bench who take house property by the year, and I put it to them, if they agree to pay a yearly rent—unless the place be taken for one year alone—they will find themselves burdened with more than one year's liability. If the thing went on from year to year, it would be quite clear that they would have to pay yearly; and it is evident, from the language I have quoted, that this payment is to go on in that way. It says, "the yearly liabilities incurred by Her Majesty's Government;" and, adding the two sums referred to together—that is to say, the £56,440 and the £16,640—it amounts to£73,080. I admit part of this expenditure was not assented to by Her Majesty's Government. The English Government, at that time, only conceded the £56,000 and £11,000—that was £07,000; and I would ask now, where is the despatch limiting that payment to one year? Does it only exist in the hopes of the right hon. Baronet the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs? Is it what he thinks Sir Henry Drummond Wolff ought to have done? Is it what he thinks a wise man would have done? If the Representative of Her Majesty's Government has made this country responsible for a large sum of money per year, we ought to have further information in regard to it. I want to know why we take this obligation in regard to Suakin at all? What distinguishes Suakin that the English taxpayer should pay for its government? What has the English Government to do with it? Why should we relieve the Egyptian Government of this cost? Why, I repeat, should we find the Egyptian troops with ammunition and arms, and transfer stores to them? These things have been done by a courteous diplomatist to please the people with whom he is in contact, without the slightest regard to the taxpayer at home, whom he ought to have represented. I, therefore, hope we shall mark our sense of this outrageous Mission from beginning to end. It 1468 would be an impertinence to go over the ground that I went over last year; but anyone who refers to Hansard will see that I took, step by step, and item by item, the instructions given to Sir Henry Drummond Wolff; and I showed that he had succeeded in nothing except in inducing this country to recognize the Sultan of Turkey as the spiritual chief of the Mahommedans. I am sure I congratulate the Government on the proud successes achieved. What is our position in relation to this Mission now? How long is it to last, and what is Sir Henry Drummond Wolff there for? Is Sir Evelyn Baring incapable; or has Sir William White no ability? Does the Government trust them? Or is it necessary that a third person should go to these places for the purpose of making a job or providing a place for a devoted adherent of a Chief who, I am bound to say, took the highest pains to reward everyone who was faithful to him? I do not know that there has been anything much more monstrous, as far as modern politics are concerned, than this Mission of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff. What has he done with Moukhtar Pasha? What has he done with anybody else that gives him any sort of claim on this country? What advantage has he gained for us? What difficulty has he relieved? What Treaty has he made—what bargain—that advantages this country at all? It is easy to give away money and to give away stores. Any idiot could do that; and it would not be necessary for us to employ a skilled representative for that purpose. I trust that, without reference to politics, there will be found men on both sides of this House to record their votes against this allowance as a monstrous thing right through. I say Sir Henry Drummond Wolff has not represented the honour of England. I say, if you read the despatches with reference to the trade in the Soudan, you will find that delay took place in the settlement of the question because it did not suit Sir Henry Drummond Wolff to attend to it. He occupied himself with receiving and attending upon distinguished personages, when he ought to have been occupying himself with matters affecting the welfare of the poor and hungry Soudanese. He had no sort of consideration for the Soudanese; they were barbarians, of course; 1469 an inferior race to us. It was only when the Germans said "We won't have it "—when two German traders, backed up by the German representatives, remonstrated, and stated that the blockade was destroying their trade, that Sir Henry Drurnmond Wolff found it convenient to think that the opening up of trade would pacify the Soudanese. It would have been much better never to have closed the Soudan at all; never to have fought a battle in it; and never to have gone into it for the purposes for which we did go into it. That, however, is a much wider question than that we have tonight a right to deal with. The questions I want the right hon. Baronet to answer are these—and I want him to answer them from beginning to end, not in vague words, nor in hopes or expectations, but in plain words—What advantage has Sir Henry Drummond Wolff gained, either from the Sultan or the Viceroy of Egypt, in exchange for the money we have paid him? Explain the exact cost of the festivities and balls, and how much of it is to be borne by the British tax payer; say what is the real engagements with reference to Suakin, and where it will be found in black and white. Do not tell me that liabilities do not mean liabilities, and that "annual payments" mean one payment in one 12 months in full of everything. I shall be bound, even if you do tell me these things, to believe that the English language means what it says. I ask the Committee to vote against this Vote. I shall challenge a Division on it, trusting that Members on both sides of the House, remembering the misery that now prevails in the country and the pledges they gave to the working-class voters who returned them, will not permit themselves to be parties to this gross and wanton extra vagance.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Item of £7,000 (Special Missions and Services) be reduced by the sum of £6,190."—(Mr. Bradlaugh.)
MR. S.WILLIAMSON (Kilmarnock)
Mr. Courtney, I object to the continuation of this Mission, and so strong is the objection I have to it that I shall protest against this Vote on every occasion, in the House and out of the House, until the burden of cost on account of it is removed from the Estimates. A fort night ago I put a Question in the House 1470 with regard to this Mission, and I asked whether the Government would consider the propriety of bringing it to an end. The answer I received was not satisfactory. The First Lord of the Treasury, at any rate, gave me no reason to believe that the Government had any intention to bring the Mission to a close. The reason he did give was that Sir Henry Drummond Wolff was conducting very difficult and delicate negotiations. I find by the Blue Book, however, that, speaking figuratively, Sir Henry Drummond Wolff is doing very little of what is characterized by the First Lord of the Treasury as delicate and difficult. On the contrary, I find that he has been doing work which ought to have been done by Sir Evelyn Baring in Egypt and our Representative at Constantinople, and who are quite willing and qualified to do the work that is placed in their hands. Among other things, it would seem that he has been endeavouring to upset that which had been previously accomplished, and was recently exerting him self to procure the re-opening of the trade with the Soudan. I find an absurd mixing up in this Blue Book of the details of matters that ought to be dealt with by our Representatives in Egypt. I find that Sir Henry Drummond Wolff deals with military events, and with questions of trade; in short, I find nothing in this Blue Book which bears out the character given to the Mission by the First Lord of the Treasury. There has, on the other hand, been a supersession of our agents in Egypt; and I think it must be felt by them to be some thing like attaching a stigma upon them in the discharge of their duties. Coming to the work on which Sir Henry Drummond Wolff is at present engaged. What have we, to use the words of the First Lord of the Treasury, that is delicate and difficult in the negotiations at Constantinople? Is it not the fact that we have a most able Ambassador in the person of Sir William White? We know that we have in him an able man, and that he can accomplish those duties which you have sent out a second-rate man to discharge. The thing, to my mind, is perfectly monstrous, and I trust that the Mission of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff will be brought to an end without delay. When we find, even by the Conservative news- 1471 papers, that there is a suspicion of jobbery attached to the Mission of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, I think it is high time that Liberals and Radicals should lift up their voices to protest against its continuance. Any man who has to face his constituents and confess that he has recorded his vote in support of this monstrous and costly Mission of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff has, I think, an imminent chance of losing his seat. I am told that there are numbers of Tory Democrats among the working classes, and I appeal to every Member of the House to resist this Vote, which it is my intention to protest against until this iniquitous charge is removed from the taxpayers of the country.
§ MR. GOURLEY (Sunderland)
I think that the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) has been rather severe on Sir Henry Drummond Wolff. The policy of the present Government is not their policy alone; it was the policy of the late Government, who could, if they had chosen, supersede the Mission of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff. Her Majesty's Government are carving out what is called a continuous foreign policy, and they have continued the Mission of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff to Egypt and Constantinople; and I think, therefore, it is rather unfair to charge upon them all the delinquencies which are alleged to have occurred. It strikes me very forcibly that the charges alluded to by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Brad-laugh) as having been incurred at Suakin, and which we are now asked to approve of, are a legacy of the Liberal Party, of which I am myself a Member. My hon. Friend behind me who has just spoken rather threw out a threat with regard to the charge for Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's salary, because he said that Liberal and Radical Members who confessed to their constituents that they had voted for this Estimate would run the chance of losing their seats. But is it not a fact that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) was in the habit of sending mission after mission, at any amount of expense, to inquire into the state of affairs in Egypt? And is it not also a fact that, in season and out of season, the hon. Member (Mr. William son) always voted for the demands—right or wrong—of the right hon. Gentle- 1472 man the Member for Mid Lothian? He, therefore, should be the last man to taunt those who do not object to Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's trivial expenses. On one occasion he sent out Lord Northbrook; at another time he sent out the right hon. Gentleman who is now Chancellor of the Exchequer to Constantinople with regard to Egyptian affairs. He also sent Lord Dufferin to inquire into Egyptian affairs, and a Report was made, and, with regard to the necessity there was thought to be of acting on that Report, I may remark that it was allowed to remain for a considerable time in the pigeon-holes of the Foreign Office. Again, the Liberal Government sent out General Gordon. He sent home certain recommendations as to what he thought necessary for the government of the Soudan; but not one of those recommendations did the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian carry out. They neglected to carry out the recommendation which General Gordon gave with regard to Suakin; and instead thereof they sent fire and sword amongst the poor and innocent Arabs, or, as I should rather describe them in the words of the late Prime Minister, as a people struggling to be free. Again, the Government of Mr. Gladstone rejected his advice with regard to sending Zebehr Pasha for the purpose of putting an end to the rebellion in that country; and then, as the House is aware, although urged to send relief to save their own agent, they did so when too late. We find among the Members who supported the policy of the late Government my hon. Friend behind me, who gets up now and cavils at the money spent by the present Government on the mission of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff. The next question asked is whether Sir Henry Drummond Wolff has done anything at all? The hon. Member for Northampton has laid before the Committee evidence which, to his mind, shows that what has been done does not amount to very much. I find in the Blue Book that Sir Henry Drummond Wolff supplies the Government with a large amount of valuable information with regard to the position of Egypt, the financial position of the country, and that not only with regard to the condition of the Soudan provinces, and also the present Egyptian frontier. Having said thus much, I 1473 come to the Mission itself. I am bound to say that I do not agree with the policy of which he is the exponent at Constantinople on the part of our Government. The policy adopted by Her Majesty's Government has, to my mind, the appearance of establishing a dual control with Turkey on Egyptian affairs. Now, if that is the policy of Her Majesty's Government, it is entirely opposed to the policy folio wed by the Governments of the Great Powers for the last 40 years with regard to Turkey and Egypt, which has been to secure the autonomy of Egypt and lessen the power of Turkey, which, I believe, was also the policy of the late Lord Palmerston. I am of opinion that the adoption of this policy will, sooner or later, lead the country into difficulty. The dual control which existed between this country and France with regard to Egypt was terminated by the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party after the war, and yet we find a dual control being attempted to be set up again with regard to Egyptian affairs. What I would suggest to the Government is that, instead of carrying out a policy of dual control with Turkey in respect of Egypt, we should confer with France, not in order that there might be a dual control, but in order that she might have a voice with regard to her interests in Egypt, which are larger than our own. It was not England, but France, which constructed the Suez Canal; then, again, France has much more capital invested in manufactures in Egypt, and, in other respects, a larger pecuniary stake than we have in the country. France has, moreover, three times the number of her own people in Egypt than we have, and hence I think that the wisest policy for this country will be, in some measure, to confer with France with regard to the future of Egypt. When we had differences with the proprietors of the Suez Canal, and when the entire country rejected the arrangement between the two Governments, the French yielded to the susceptibilities of British opinion, and gave us almost every thing that wedemanded regarding its control. In a like spirit we ought, in place of playing with the Turk, to meet, as far as possible, the just susceptibilities of France with regard to the future of Egypt. When we went to Egypt, the plea on which we went there was that of the Suez Canal. I 1474 think it is now agreed that the Suez Canal is not the highway to India. I think it has been concluded that the defence of a line of 6,000 miles between this country and her Indian Possessions would, in case of war, be an act of lunacy. It was once contended that the high road to India was round the Golden Horn; but no one would now be so foolish as to say that. I hold that, in the event of war, the highway to India would not be through Egypt, but the old road round the Cape of Good Hope. Having said thus much, I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government a question with regard to the future of the Soudan. In my opinion, the present condition of the Soudan is a disgrace to any civilized Power. Judging from the Reports sent home by Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, whose information is based on the Reports procured by the Special Commissioners sent from Cairo; judging from those Reports, and the statements of General Stephenson, we find that the number of insurgents between Wady Halfa and Dongola amounts to 11,000 men, the majority of them being armed only with spears. General Stephenson states, so far as Wady Halfa is concerned, that the town is sufficiently strong to resist attack; but that the insurgents may pass along the left bank of Wady Halfa, in which event it would be necessary to send up a flying column to prevent them reaching Assouan. If there is any danger of this insurrection passing down from the Soudan to Wady Halfa, I think it would be a wiser and cheaper policy to stop it at Wady Halfa than to have to send a force from Assouan up the Nile.
I point out to the hon. Member that he is travelling somewhat widely from the Vote before the Committee.
§ MR. GOURLEY
I shall not pursue the subject, Mr. Courtney, further, but will content myself with expressing the hope that the Government will make clear to this House and the country what is the position of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff at the present moment, and what their policy. I hope they will state whether it is part of their policy or instructions that he should endeavour to bring about a new arrangement with regard to Egypt in the shape of an International neutral policy for the purpose of facilitating the return of the British troops which are in that country. 1475 I quite think that the time has come when decisive action ought to be taken by the Government with regard to the occupation of Egypt.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
An appeal was made to the First Lord of the Treasury last Session by several Members of this House to state why Sir Henry Drummond Wolff had been sent out to Egypt, what he had done there, and what he was expected to do there. To that Question the usual answer was received—that he was sent out on important and delicate business. Well, Sir, one important Question which was asked then has been asked again to night, in very forcible language, by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh). That Question was not answered then, it has not been answered to-night, and I venture to say that it cannot be answered. It is this:—Is Sir Evelyn Baring able to do his business or not? He receives a salary of £5,000 a-year; he is not there as the special Representative of Her Majesty's Government only, but is supposed to be an experienced and able diplomatist. I would, however, point out that General Gordon entertained a different idea of his ability in that respect. But, however that may be, Sir Evelyn Baring has resided in Egypt since the commencement of these negotiations, and if he is able to do the work at all he ought to be able to carry it out by this time. We are now building a palace for him, and notwithstanding the fact that we are called on to pay £5,000 a-year we are also called upon to send out this other diplomatist, and to pay for his maintenance in Egypt and Constantinople. No attempt has been made since Sir Henry Drummond Wolff was sent out to Egypt to reply to the question why both these gentlemen should be kept in Egypt at the same time. It seems to me to be perfectly plain that either Sir Henry Drummond Wolff or Sir Evelyn Baring should come back to this country. Which of them should return is a matter for the Government to decide, although I believe there are many men in this country, and probably a still greater number in Egypt, who think that both should come back. I only allude to Sir Evelyn Baring in connection with this question incidentally, and because I think the time has come when we should require that a distinct 1476 pledge should be given that either one or other of the salaries now being paid to these gentlemen should cease, and that one or the other of them should return to this country. We have asked over and over again the question—What is the Government doing in Egypt? It is very hard to find, after all the despatches which have been sent, what it is that Sir Henry Drummond Wolff is doing. It cannot be that he is in Egypt for the purpose of sending home information, because you have your Agents there al ready for that purpose. We are told that he is conducting delicate and difficult negotiations. What are those negotiations? It is stated in The Times to day in a telegram that the Porte has again urged on Sir Henry Drummond Wolff that a definite date should be fixed for the withdrawal of the English troops from Egypt. If that is true I am not surprised at it, in view of what has occurred during the last few years. I do not wonder that the Porte should be getting impatient with the continuance of English troops in Egypt. This question has been raised over and over again; and if the Government are prepared to say that their object in keeping Sir Henry Drummond Wolff in his present position, and in paying him on an exceedingly high scale in that position, is to bring about an arrangement that on a specified day which shall be named the British troops shall be withdrawn, I certainly should not vote against the payment of his salary. But when we look back on the history of this question I may be pardoned for asking that some specific statement should be made with regard to it. So long ago as February, 1883, the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) spoke in this House, in reply to a Question as to how long we were going to remain in the occupation of Egypt, to this effect—I would say, without venturing to speak with absolute assurance, that the right hon. Gentleman, in the first period of time he suggested, has stated with probable accuracy the length of time that it may be necessary to keep our troops in Egypt."—(3 Hansard,  123.)That period, as stated by the late Lord Iddesleigh, then Sir Stafford Northcote, was six months. That was the 15th of February, 1883. Since then four years have elapsed, and instead of getting nearer to the withdrawal of the British troops we are infinitely further away 1477 from that end than we were in the month of February, 1883. So far as anyone who has studied the history of these different transactions can arrive at a conclusion, our progress in the direction of that object, which, has been declared to be the aim of all Ministers, both Conservative and Liberal, when in Office—namely, to get the British troops out of Egypt as soon as possible, has been backward in stead of forward, and as time rolls by the accomplishment of that end appears to become more and more hopeless. On the 10th of August, 1883, a Question was put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) to the then First Lord of the Treasury, the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. John Morley) asked what chance there was that the Government would carry out the pledge given by the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) early in that Session, and the reply of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian extends over three pages of Hansard. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that their intention to evacuate Egypt in the autumn of 1883 was interrupted by the advent of cholera, which somewhat delayed the re-organization of the Egyptian Army. Well, the cholera came and went, and still the British Army remained there, and in that year the famous Mission of Lord Dufferin was sent out; and I was greatly surprised to hear an hon. Gentleman just now justifying the present Government in continuing to waste money on the Mission of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, on the ground that previous Governments have sent expensive Missions to report and give advice, and that they never acted on a particle of the advice given. It is a fact, Sir, that every single one of the Missions to Egypt have ended in smoke, and how that can justify this Government in continuing the present Mission I am at a loss to understand. Why, Sir, is not anyone, who has made a study of Egyptian affairs, perfectly aware of this—that Lord Dufferin went to Egypt and produced a most valuable and detailed Report as the result of Ms exertions, and that, no doubt, this Committee was called upon to vote large sums for his support? Not one single part of that Report has been acted upon. Lord 1478 Dufferin went and came, and when his Report was thrown into the waste-paper basket Lord Northbrook was sent to Egypt. I have studied his Report; it is a most interesting document; and if it had been acted upon it would have resulted, unquestionably, in great relief to the taxpayers of Egypt. Lord North-brook also had to be paid for; but not one single representation which he made has been acted upon. Are we to be told that, because money was wasted on Lord Dufferin's Mission, and money was wasted on Lord Northbrook's Mission, and money was wasted on the still more sad and fatal Mission of General Gordon, we are to waste money on a fourth Mission? If the Member of the Government who is to defend this Mission is able to stand up and say that the Mission will be of any good to Egypt or to England, there will be some ground for asking the Committee to adopt this Vote. Unless that can be done, it is a scandal and shame that the evils of your administration of Egypt, which are evils crying to Heaven for vengeance, can be hidden behind these Missions. We know what the object of sending Missions to Egypt is. It is that you are able to say that you cannot give Parliament any in formation about Egypt until such and such a Mission has come to a close. What about Lord Dufferin's Report; what about Lord Northbrook's Report; and what about General Gordon's Mission? The result of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's Mission will be just the same as that of the foregoing Missions. If he makes a single recommendation which is of benefit to the people, as soon as his Report is received you will send out another Commissioner. I cannot understand how the people of England submit to this kind of thing. So long as they do, the real and only true explanation of these Missions is to be found in the fact that this House undertakes to govern a country like Egypt, and will not take the trouble to study the question. Hon. Members support the Government in carrying on these operations in Egypt; but of all the Members of the House are there 10—well, perhaps, I exaggerate when I ask are there 10—are there 25—who have read the history of this Egyptian Question? How many have read Mr. Cave's Report; how many have studied the particulars of Mr. Goschen's Mission; 1479 how many know of the Convention which regulates Egyptian finance; how many know of the London Conference; how many have studied the long history of these transactions which have led up, step by step, to the ruin and bankruptcy of Egypt; and how many, having studied that history, have come to the conclusion that I have done, that special Missions to Egypt are neither more nor less than a convenient cloak for Ministers to protect themselves from criticism in this House? I maintain that if it were possible to get the people of England, or even the Members of this House, to study the Egyptian Question as they would study a question in which their own pockets were interested—and, indeed, their own pockets are affected in this Egyptian matter, if they could only realize it—they would not tolerate the present state of affairs for six months, or would not rest satisfied until the last British soldier had left Alexandria. Believe me, that when the last British soldier has left Alexandria the whole of this Egyptian business will be condemned on all sides, as the Zulu War was condemned. I re member the time when a man who condemned the Zulu Expedition was regarded as a traitor; but opinions have altered now. So it will be with respect to this Egyptian business. The interests of individuals are so great in Egypt that, as long as you continue to pay Ambassadors these enormous salaries, so long will excuse after excuse be found for postponing the evacuation of Egypt. There are some men who are deter mined that the British soldiers shall never evacuate Egypt, in order that these great interests shall be protected and these large salaries paid, and the hateful system maintained of governing a far-off country, whose affairs we cannot understand, and, therefore, must hand them over to men who may be honest or dishonest, but whom this House is utterly unable to control or to hold responsible for their actions.
§ COLONEL DUNCAN (Finsbury, Holborn)
I do not wish to intrude for more than one moment upon the attention of the Committee; but having supported this Vote in the last Parliament, and also in the first Session of the present Parliament, I desire to say that though I shall again support the Vote, because I think we must trust our Executive, 1480 whoever they are, still I do think the time has come when we might minimize our diplomatic powers in Egypt. I think that the retention of both Sir Evelyn Baring and of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff is a superfluous use of our power. It is immaterial to me which of these gentlemen is retained; but I presume that Sir Henry Drummond Wollf, of the two, has the greater knowledge of the East and is the better diplomatist. Sir Evelyn Baring is an eminent financier; but we have already a great financier in Egypt, whose name appears in connection with the recent arrangement of the financial affairs of Egypt—Mr. Edgar Vincent. Therefore, I think we might well leave Sir Henry Drummond Wolff alone, or Sir Evelyn Baring might receive instructions to devote his attention to the subjects which have hitherto occupied Sir Henry Drummond Wolff. I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) as to the result of the various Missions to Egypt, and I know of none more useful than that of Lord Dufferin. But, all the same, I do agree with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dillon) that the taxpayers of this country have paid quite enough for this sort of double Mission; and I hope Her Majesty's Government, in obtaining this Vote for Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, will give us some assurance as to when we shall reduce our diplomatic force in Egypt.
§ MR. ATKINSON (Boston)
As an independent Member of this House, I should like to point out that hon. Members opposite seem to assume that Sir Henry Drummond Wolff was sent out to Egypt without the knowledge of the House of Commons, or of Parliament generally, or of the country. Those who have watched the matter from the first know perfectly well that every Member of Parliament, both in this and the other House, approved of the sending out of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, and that if they disapproved of the Mission they did not raise their voices against it. Under such circumstances, it is very unseemly and quite out of date for hon. Members opposite to get up now and denounce Sir Henry Drummond Wolff. They should, as true Englishmen or Britons, having approved the Mission—the majority of them, at all events, and l9-20ths of the people of the country approved the Mission—they should 1481 pay the bill and be quite satisfied. Sir Henry Drummond Wolff does not require any words from me in vindication of his conduct; but I maintain that his conduct has been satisfactory from the first. It is only a little waste of time, or another mode of Obstruction for hon. Gentlemen—
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
I rise to Order. I desire to ask the Chairman whether the hon. Gentleman is right in terming the opposition I have offered to this Vote a mode of Obstruction?
§ MR. ATKINSON
I beg to say that I do not impute any motive, and I do not refer to the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) in any way whatever. I listened to the hon. Member's speech, and I was pleased with the manner in which it was delivered; but if I was pleased with the manner in which it was delivered, I disagreed entirely with the matter of the speech. As my opinions upon it have been challenged, I say—
§ MR. ATKINSON
Then, how is it possible to debate? I suppose I must throw myself upon the Committee, and say that, at all events, I have a right, as a taxpayer and as a Representative, to express on behalf of myself and my constituents thorough satisfaction with the work Sir Henry Drummond Wolff has done, and dissatisfaction at the criticisms which have been in such an un-English way directed against the Mission of that gentleman. I hope the Committee will vote in such an English way as will satisfy Sir Henry Drummond Wolff that there are plenty of us ready to defend him in his absence. I shall always be ready to do so.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
Mr. Chairman, there are some speeches which one always expects to finish with "Rule Britannia!" and to that class belongs the speech which we have just heard. The hon. Gentleman asks how we are to debate in this House. I will tell him. If he has nothing pertinent to say he had better not say anything.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Now, Sir, the hon. Gentleman's argument is that because there is no protest against Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's going out to Egypt, we ought consistently to pay a salary of £12,000 year after year to Sir Henry Drummond Wolff. Sir Henry Drummond "Wolff went out, as the hon. Member and all of us know, on a temporary Mission. It was fully understood in all parts of the House that it was a temporary Mission. At the same time, if I remember rightly, when Sir Henry Drummond Wolff did go out there was no Ambassador at Constantinople, but only a Chargéd'Affaires. We cannot extend a temporary Mission year after year at this very great cost to the country. I fully acknowledge that Sir Henry Drummond Wolff is a very able diplomatist, and I have no doubt that he will render good services; but surely, if the Government think that he is worthy of some thing being done for him, they ought not to allow him to go on in this way cadging on the Treasury, but appoint him to some permanent place abroad. I hope we shall have some distinct under standing that this temporary Mission will cease, because it is becoming a permanent one. We have an Ambassador at Constantinople, and a Consul General at Cairo. Both of these officials are very highly paid. Sir William White has the reputation of being a gentleman who thoroughly understands Eastern affairs, and Sir Evelyn Baring we have heard again and again praised in this House. It is clear that if we have Sir Evelyn Baring at Cairo, and we have Sir William White at Constantinople, we really do not want, notwithstanding his great abilities, Sir Henry Drummond Wolff gravitating from one to the other. There is no use crying over spilt milk. We shall divide as a protest. At the same time, we ought to have a clear understanding that this Mission will cease, and that Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, if the Government think it right that he should be provided for, shall be provided for by his appointment to some position which will be chargeable to the ordinary Estimates.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir JAMES FERGUSSON) (Manchester, W.E.)
Mr. Chairman, the discussion has travelled some way from the Supplementary Vote for Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's 1483 Mission At the same time, I certainly must recognize that there is hardly any part of the Egyptian Question which has arisen since this Mission which may not be in some way identified with Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's work. And if I am successful, as I hope I shall be, in satisfying the Committee that the time of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff has not been wasted, but occupied with really most important affairs which are likely to produce very valuable results, I think that neither the Committee nor Sir Henry Drummond Wolff himself will have any reason to complain of the discussion on this Vote having been some what extended. I think it due to the hon. Members who have spoken to notice the different points which they have taken up. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), who spoke first, asked why there are Supplementary Votes. In some cases Supplementary Votes are necessary, because unexpected circumstances have occurred; but in this case a Supplementary Vote is necessary, because the Mission has extended over a longer period than was provided for originally. We shall have presently to give some reasons why the Mission of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff has been extended beyond what was at first contemplated. It must be evident to the Committee that since the Mission has been extended, we are obliged to ask for more money in respect of it. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) asked a question of some importance, and one which he is thoroughly justified in asking, having regard to the Papers presented to Parliament upon the affairs of Egypt. The hon. Gentleman referred to some despatches in a Blue Book of last year which appeared to show that a further expenditure had been contemplated in connection with Suakin, and that this expenditure was expressly approved of by Sir Henry Drummond Wolff. It is true, Sir Frederick Stephenson contemplated the existence of a special force in defence of Suakin, and that the expenses connected with a part of that force were to be borne by Her Majesty's Government. It is also true that the then Secretary of State acknowledged the intention of undertaking that liability. That, of course, took place in a former Administration; but, at the same time, the position is quite plain. In the first 1484 place, at that time the frontiers of Fgypt required a much larger defensive force than at present; and it was absolutely necessary, inasmuch as Her Majesty's Government had undertaken the charge of the military operations in Egypt, that the expenses of the defence of the frontier should be incurred. There was no binding engagement on this country, for it was never communicated to the Government of Egypt.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
The right hon. Baronet is mistaken; the Representative of Egypt—Watson Pasha—announced the sum in Paper, No. 77.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
I am sure that it was never announced to the Government of Egypt that Her Majesty's Government would undertake a permanent charge of £56,000 for the defence of Suakin, and even if there was such an engagement we should not be called upon to fulfil it, because the charge will not amount this year to so large a sum. The efforts of Her Majesty's Government, which I hope are now accomplished, or are in course of early accomplishment, have been directed to the bringing of the military expenditure of Egypt within the means of the Government. I can assure the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bradlaugh) that, although it was contemplated by the General commanding in Egypt in 1886 that a portion of the expenses of the defence of Suakin should be undertaken by Her Majesty's Government, Her Majesty's Government are really under no obligation to undertake it. Then the hon. Member went on to speak of the stores which were supplied to the Government of Egypt by this country. Well, Sir, I must say that we are going into rather ancient history; but the fact is that it was necessary to assist the Government of Egypt in defending their frontier, and the result of our assistance was that we were able to put down the invasion of Egypt Proper, and that the country enjoys such tranquillity now. The alternative course would have been not to have given stores and not to have given troops, and, I suppose, to have allowed the tide of invasion to roll over the civilized part of Egypt. Her Majesty's Government of that day did not think that that would have been a justifiable course, or consistent with our Mission, in Egypt. The hon. Member asks, and several others have asked, why was Sir 1485 Henry Drummond Wolff sent to Egypt at all? Sir Henry Drummond Wolff was sent out originally to arrange a Convention with the Government of Turkey, in order that a Turkish Commissioner should be sent with him to Egypt with power to investigate the administration of the finances of that country, and to provide for the future of Egypt, and to take into consideration other matters mentioned in the Convention. Perhaps I may as well at this stage as at any other notice what the duties of the Commissioners were, and this will enable me to show the Committee that Sir Henry Drummond Wolff has been of some real service in Egypt, and has laid down the foundation of reform which I trust will bear abundant fruit. The 2nd Article of the Convention, which was concluded in October, 1885, provided that the High Commissioner of Turkey and the High Commissioner of England should deliberate upon the general settlement of Egyptian affairs. Egyptian affairs, as I could show the Committee, have been constantly the subject of discussion between the Khedive himself, Nubar Pasha, Moukhtar Pasha, and Sir Henry Drummond Wolff. One of the first things done in pursuing the inquiry which this Imperial Commission conducted was to send Shurdi Pasha to Wady Haifa, from which place he has sent most important representations upon the state of the country beyond Wady Halfa—Reports which have enabled the Government to place only that amount of force upon the frontier which was absolutely necessary. By the 3rd Article of the Convention, the two High Commissioners were to organize, in concert with His Highness the Khedive, the Egyptian Army. Well, we have already laid on the Table the Correspondence with Moukhtar Pasha on this subject. The cost of the Forces, Native and British, has been constantly under discussion, and are now about to be brought to a settlement. But the most important head under which the position of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff may be viewed is the 4th Article of the Convention, which provides that the two High Commissioners in concert with the Khedive, were to examine into all the branches of Egyptian Administration, and introduce in them the modifications which might be considered necessary. The time has come when 1486 I am able to present to Parliament some Papers with which Sir Henry Drummond Wolff has furnished Her Majesty's Government, and my conviction is that when these Papers have been read by hon. Members, some Gentlemen who have talked slightingly of his Mission, and have attached very little value to it, will be rather ashamed of what they have said. I am prepared to say that the skill, the research, the force manifested in these Papers by Sir Henry Drummond Wolff will impress everyone who reads them. In these Papers Sir Henry Drummond Wolff lays the foundations of reforms in the Government of Egypt, and follows up the labours of those who went before him, which show, in a comprehensive way, the evils which afflict the Government of Egypt, and the manifest remedies that ought to be applied. The Papers deal with various subjects. Sir Henry Drummond Wolff reports upon the working of the Capitulations, and in various respects. He deals with the question of the administration of justice; with the causes of losses on Customs. He deals with the Post Office, and also with the difficulties of administration by reason of the many function aries imposed upon it by foreign Powers. He goes on, in further Papers, to point out the grievous burden which the great number of foreign officials inflict upon the resources of Egypt likewise. He like wise points out the result of the legislative alterations which were instituted by Lord Dufferin, and which, though not carried out to the full, have produced valuable benefits. He calls attention to the enormous abuses of the existing systems of pensions, and shows how they might be commuted. He presents a picture of the terrible incidence of the Egyptian debts, and indicates the manner in which the burden may be lightened. In the very last month, on the eve of his departure for Constantinople, where he intended to report to Her Majesty's Government the result of his labours, he presented most important Papers relating to the condition of the Egyptian railways, which prove the manifest need of a different form of management. Had we not had so much before us to be done I am sure I could have interested the Committee very much by giving them some sketches from those Papers. On every one of 1487 these subjects I have named Sir Henry Drummond Wolff has brought to light the enormous evils I have referred to, and shown their ramifications through every department of the administration and government of Egypt.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
I stated that the Papers would be laid before Parliament. One of the Capitulations has existed during the past 700 years. The oldest of them is 700 years old. The English Capitulation is more than 300 years old, and so forth. There are 17 or 18 of them altogether, and their result is to interfere very much with the power of the Rulers of Egypt in almost every particular, crippling them to the utmost, and depriving them, I may say, of all respect in the eyes of their subjects. I will do no more than mention these subjects; but what I have stated to the Committee, as to the value of these documents, I state with the full consciousness of the responsibility I take upon myself, that I believe that my description of these Papers will be realized when hon. Members get them into their hands.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
As I stated to the Committee, they will be presented immediately. Then there are other matters. There is the question, for instance, of International and Consular Tribunals, which forms a subject of considerable difficulty and delicacy, and these and smaller measures require the exercise of great skill in dealing with them. Again, there is the Article relating to the withdrawal of the British troops from Egypt at a convenient period, which has to be arranged. Now, what I have to state is this—that the withdrawal of the British troops and the withdrawal of the British Government from Egypt depends entirely on the extent to which these reforms can be carried out, and by what time the Government of Egypt can be made self-sustaining and self-reliant. So long as Egypt has this grievous burden laid upon it by foreign expenditure, so long as it is unable to preserve order within its own boundaries, and to make foreigners who live in the country pay their full share of the taxes of the country; and so long as the just 1488 balance of Revenue and Expenditure are dependent on the resources of the country, and there are no means to develop those resources, so long would our departure be the signal for fresh disorders, and for the return either of ourselves or of some other Power to the country. I do not think Her Majesty's Government would be wise and loyal if they were to give a pledge to the House as to an early period of withdrawal with out having, in the first place, secured the means of carrying out the duties they have undertaken as to the Government of Egypt, and have enabled that Government to maintain itself satisfactorily. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) complained of delays in opening the Soudan trade. If he meant the words he used—if he spoke seriously when he referred to Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's neglecting this measure in consequence of being engaged with festivities, and not paying attention to it until urged thereto by the arrival of German traders, I must say that his observations are hardly worth noticing. In the last Blue Book there are, no doubt, contradictory recommendations. At one time Sir Henry Drummond Wolff is sanguine as to be able to open up trade with the Soudan at an early period. Then, at a later period—in August, 1886, I think—he says it will be premature to do so. Circumstances changed, and influenced his opinion. But the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. S. Williamson) referred to Colonel Grove's recommendation. He said that Colonel Grove was sent out to Egypt to inquire as to the prudence of re-opening trade with the Soudan, as if a Special Commissioner at Cairo and a Consul General were not sufficient to prosecute any such investigation. I think it was no wonder, looking at the divergent views expressed, that Her Majesty's Government—the Government of the day—sent out an officer in whom they had confidence to give an opinion on the matter; but I do not find that Colonel Grove recommended that the trade should be re-opened at once. He said—"It would, I think, be premature to raise the existing blockade at the present moment." He did not report in favour of the immediate re-opening of the trade with the Soudan; but this I will say—that since Lord Salisbury took Office in July last, Her Majesty's Government have been extremely desirous 1489 of re-opening this trade at the earliest possible moment; but the best advice showed that it would not be prudent to do so until the Nile had fallen, and there was no fear of an advance by the rebels. When we were satisfied that the rebels had lost heart and had fallen back, and when the opening of trade would not be attended with risk, but, on the contrary, with good encouragement to the tribes who were in rapid succession seeking to renew their intercourse with Egypt, then the trade was to be re-opened. Now, I am rather surprised at the line taken by the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Gourley), because one would have thought, from his statement, that every country that bad to do with Egypt was right but ourselves. The French, he said, had a much greater interest in Egypt than we had; and, there fore, we should not seek to manage that country, but should leave it to France.
§ MR. GOURLEY (Sunderland)
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I said we ought to consider the susceptibilities of France with regard to the future government of Egypt, rather than the opinions of the Turk, in the same way as France considered the susceptibilities of England during the Anglo-French negotiations for the commercial control of the Suez Canal.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
I hope Her Majesty's Government have considered, not only the susceptibilities, but the rights of the various Powers besides their own. There has been no desire on the part of England to gain any exclusive advantage over any other Power. We have recognized the susceptibilities of France; and if we could be at all successful in restoring Egypt to prosperity, and putting her in a position to exercise self-government, we shall hope that all nations will reap advantage as well as ourselves. But Sir Henry Drummond Wolff is not now in Egypt, but in Constantinople, where he is fulfilling part of the task submitted to him—namely, the negotiations with regard to what has been called the ulterior Convention. It was contemplated, under the 6th Article of the Convention of 1885, that as soon as an inquiry had been finished the Convention should be considered. That is the object of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's visit to Constantinople now. He is occupied in making a proposal to the Sublime Porte, 1490 with the knowledge of the Representatives of the other European Powers, in regard to measures which it may be hoped will greatly improve the condition of Egypt, and will remove many of the evils which he has done so much to expose, and which will enable Her Majesty's Government to bring to an end their occupation of Egypt in a manner which will not expose the country to renewed risks. But the Mission of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff has been, no doubt, more extended than was at first contemplated; but no one knows better than the hon. Member for Northampton that the affairs of the East are not conducted in a hurry. It is absolutely beyond dispute that if we were to leave Egypt in haste at the present moment we should go away without our work having been accomplished. I believe I may say that great advantage has been gained by the inquiry having been conducted by a person who had established personal relations with the Sultan's Ministers, and who has brought back to the Sultan the result of his negotiations in Egypt. Sir Henry Drummond Wolff possesses, I believe, the very highest qualifications for dealing with Orientals. He has patience, he has tact, and he has determination; and I think that when the House of Commons has seen the Reports he has sent from Egypt, hon. Members will recognize that he possesses talents of a very high order. But hon. Members may ask us, was it necessary to send Sir Henry Drummond Wolff to Egypt, when we were represented there by an able Minister, and when at the Porte we were represented by an able Ambassador? Well, Sir, both these officers have special duties to perform. The duties of Ambassador at the Porte, and the duties of Agent and Consul General in Egypt are very onerous, and are continuous. The Mission of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff was to aid in a special investigation; and though we sometimes send a Commissioner to inquire into the working of a great Department in this country, that does not supersede the necessity of having a Minister at the head of that Department. An investigation of this sort, to be valuable, must be done by someone outside the Executive; and Sir Evelyn Baring has been constantly and heavily weighted with the duty of advising the Government of Egypt. 1491 But, as I have said, the main advantage which has been gained by Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's Mission has been not only the conduct of that inquiry, but its representation of us at Constantinople. As to the duration of that Mission, I cannot fix a definite limit; but I should like to tell the House this—that the negotiations at Constantinople have now arrived at a stage which gives great promise of success. There have been rivalries and jealousies, as is natural between great Powers under circumstances like the present; but these rivalries and jealousies have never attained a force which threatened an interruption of friendly relations. The Powers have, with great generosity, refrained from pressing Her Majesty's Government on this matter; and now that Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's proposals have been presented to the Porte, and have been made known to the Representatives of the other Powers, I can say that no Powers have opposed, while some Powers have supported them, and that even those Powers which might have been expected not to accept the proposals so readily, have not only offered no active opposition, but have attached conditions to their acceptance which are by no means insuperable. I say that the result of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's negotiations gives good promise of success; but that if these negotiations were to be interrupted by the action of this House, or if it were shown that Sir Henry Drummond Wolff is not supported by a decisive majority of this House, so as to leave it in doubt whether or not he was supported by public opinion, it would be a great public misfortune. Let me remind the House of the manner in which this matter was left by the late Government. On the 6th of May, 1886, the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) said that—Matters connected with the missions and communications between Moukhtar Pasha and Sir Henry Wolff continue as before; but they have not yet reached a stage at which it would be possible with convenience to present them to Parliament."—(3 Hansard,  379.)Well, May, 1886, is not March, 1887, and I am not going to rely too much on that statement. The right hon. Gentleman recognized that though Sir Henry Drummond Wolff had been sent out by his Predecessors, the operations in which 1492 he was engaged were of so difficult a nature that it would be rash to disturb him. These negotiations have been carried on since, and I trust we may be allowed to bring them to a successful issue. I therefore hope I may appeal to the Committee not to grudge the money which is required to pay the expenses of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's Mission up to the close of the financial year.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
I think everyone in the House must feel that there was ample reason for bringing forward opposition to this Vote; and I think a great deal has been said in the course of the debate to show that on both sides of the House, though of course more palpably on this side, there exists great dissatisfaction with the present position of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's Mission. Something has been said as to the action of the late Government in not recalling Sir Henry Drummond Wolff when they came into Office. I admit that that is a fair remark to make; but the hon. Gentleman who made it must remember that when the late Government came into Office, a little more than a year ago, they were aware from the first that their tenure of Office was very uncertain, and that it was extremely doubtful that it would last for more than two or three months. In point of fact, it continued about six months, and some time was necessary to enable the Government to understand how things stood in regard to Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's Mission. When the requisite inquiries had been completed, and we were in a position to act, the General Election was so near that it scarcely seemed our duty—knowing that we were going to the country—to take the step of interrupting Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's negotiations. That is now more than eight months ago; and as the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down very properly said, May, 1886, is a very different thing to March, 1887. We did not contemplate, when we allowed Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's negotiations to go on, that his Mission would have lasted nearly so long as it has now lasted; and I gather from the conduct of the Government in not proposing this Vote in the Autumn Session for the whole current year that they did not intend that it should go on even up to now. If I am wrong I hope I shall be corrected; but 1493 I think that is a reasonable interpretation to put upon their conduct. The Mission, including Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's salary and all the incidental expenses, comes to more than £15,000 a-year, and the Mission has now lasted for about 19 months, a much longer period than any of those other Missions to which the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Gourley) referred. A good deal has been said as to the respective functions of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff and Sir Evelyn Baring. It is true—and it seems to me that that might have been stated more fully—that the distribution of duties between these two gentlemen has effected some economy of time and labour. No doubt it was better that Sir Evelyn Baring should under take the financial business and the direction, so far as it rested with our Representative, of the ordinary affairs of the country, while the diplomatic and military questions were dealt with by Sir Henry Drummond Wolff. To that extent there was, no doubt, a certain saving of time and labour; but, at the same time, it seems to me that the saving and economy has been very far from such as is represented by the sum of £15,000 a-year. The right hon. Gentleman opposite also refers to these Reports by Sir Henry Drummond Wolff that he proposes to lay on the Table. I have no doubt that these Reports will be very interesting, and will contain in a concise and summary form much of that information which the House now finds it so difficult to obtain from the scattered despatches and documents in the Blue Books. I have no doubt that a view of those questions ranging from the period which has elapsed since the time of the Sultan Saladin will be historically interesting; but I must take leave to doubt if the Reports that we are to enjoy the reading of will be fairly worth £15,000 a-year, and I think that the right hon. Gentleman opposite ought not to rest his case on that. It seems to me that it would be very easy to get admirable Reports as good as these from persons not occupying the highest posts in the Civil Service of this country at a very much smaller charge than is proposed in this Vote. I conclude, therefore, for all these reasons, that the right hon. Gentleman has given no sufficient justification for this Vote. 1494 I cannot find either that the work Sir Henry Drummond Wolff does or the Reports he writes the Government, giving him the utmost credit for his diplomatic skill, and for the amount of study he has bestowed upon the question, is an excuse for continuing to spend £15,000 a-year on his Mission. Has there been any reason shown by the right hon. Gentleman why this Vote should not be rejected? If the case stood merely as I have put it so far, I should find it quite impossible not to vote for a reduction; but the right hon. Gentleman, in the last few minutes of his speech, told us what I thought was a far more important thing than anything he had said in the earlier portion of it. He told us, with all the responsibility of a Member of the Executive Government, that the negotiations Sir Henry Drummond Wolff was conducting had reached a point at which the Government expected an immediate and important result from them. He said of the attitude of various Powers that even some of those Powers from which opposition might have been expected were not unfavourably disposed to the proposals which Sir Henry Drummond Wolff had been instructed to make, and that the Government had reason to believe that a successful end would soon be reached. I also under stood the right hon. Gentleman to say—and he will correct me if I misunderstood him—that Her Majesty's Government were directing their efforts entirely to wards the speedy evacuation of Egypt. I understood him to put his case thus: if we were to refuse the Vote it would have the effect of weakening the hands of Her Majesty's Government in endeavouring to bring about that object. I am aware that there were certain conditions which have not yet been fulfilled which are necessary in order to enable the evacuation to take place—that certain reforms have to be completed and certain arrangements to be made. But I understood him to repeat the assurance, given in debate three weeks ago, that the whole object of the Government is to effect these reforms, so as to enable this country to withdraw from Egypt as soon as we can possibly do so, with out endangering the prospects of the tranquillity of that country. If that is so, I am bound to say we are put in a very difficult position. When the Executive Government come to this 1495 House and, with their full responsibility, tell us that by weakening their hands at this moment we should inflict what the right hon. Gentleman calls a great public misfortune upon the country, I can not undertake the responsibility of weakening their hands in that way. I think it impossible, if the Executive Government tell us they have reasonable grounds for believing that they are within a short time of bringing their negotiations to a satisfactory close, and if they assure us that the objects of these negotiations are exactly what we ourselves desire them to be, I say it will be impossible, or at any rate difficult and inconsistent with established practice in regard to the management of foreign policy, to withdraw our confidence and support from them at the critical moment. But there is one point upon which I think they ought to have given us a more explicit assurance. On looking into the Estimates for next year we find an amount put down for Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's Mission. I have no Paper by me at this moment, but I believe it is £10,000—that is to say, £10,000 to commence on the 1st of April next. If that be so, and if my recollection is right, that is rather an important element in the Vote, because it seems to imply that Her Majesty's Government, in framing their Estimates for the coming year, contemplated a continuance of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff for at least a considerable part of the year. I do not think that sufficient reason has been given by the right hon. Gentleman to justify such a continuance. It is true that is not what we are called upon to vote upon on the present occasion; but I think that the right hon. Gentleman or some other Member of the Government should assure us that they intend to make the continuance of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's Mission rather an affair of weeks than of months. The Mission has extended already over a period of 19 months, and such a Mission to an Eastern Court is likely to go on indefinitely, unless there is some positive undertaking given as to when it may be expected to terminate. I therefore appeal to the Government to give us some information on that point. Are we to expect, if we do not now insist on the reduction of this Vote, that the Government will be encouraged to continue this Mission, 1496 or are we to have a pledge that the Government will bring it to an early close, and that they will relieve the country from this expenditure? However great Sir Henry Drummond Wolff's talents may be, and however important the end in view, I must repeat that the results of his Mission have not been, and have not seemed to us at all likely to be, commensurate with the heavy cost which that Mission throws upon the country.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
There is only one point upon which I wish further to trouble the Committee; but it is one on which I absolutely disagree with the right hon. Baronet who has addressed the Committee, and on which I think there should be some further explanation. The charge I made with reference to Suakin was a specific charge—namely, that the Government had pledged itself to a payment of £56,000, and to a payment besides that of £11,000. I under stand the right hon. Baronet to say that if there was a payment at all that payment was limited to one year.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
I said it was true that at the time it was contemplated by the Government that a payment might be necessary for a longer period, if the Egyptian Government could not afford to undertake it them selves. I said that for the defence of Egypt it was necessary that Her Majesty's Government should undertake it; but I said that I was sure that Her Majesty's Government had never come under an engagement to the Egyptian Government to continue it annually when the necessity for the payment being undertaken by us had gone by.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
I understand the right hon. Baronet to admit now that there was a specific engagement to pay for one year?
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
The Secretary of State for War undertook that responsibility to the General commanding in Egypt, who proposed that Her Majesty's Government should undertake the charge, and I believe there was no engagement given to the Egyptian Government to that effect.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
The right hon. Baronet is mistaken. It was not a proposition by General Stephenson to the English Government; but it was a clear direction by the Secretary of State for War for the time being to our Repre- 1497 sentative in Egypt. It was not any matter of the former Government—it was a matter in which the present Leader of the House gave specific directions in writing. He being then Secretary of State for War, expressly desired that a certain engagement should be carried out. Acting under this direction, General Stephenson tried to carry out the arrangements, and succeeded in carrying them out; and the details are given in Despatch No. 89, and in the enclosure to that Despatch. It is as follows:—With reference to Major Lennox's letter to you (that is to Sir Evelyn Baring) of the 24th December, 1885, I have to inform you that the Secretary of State for War was desirous that the Egyptian Government should raise two additional battalions to operate with the Egyptian Army, the charge for which would be borne by the British Government. I have to inform you that Her Majesty's Government has now authorized the following Egyptian troops for service at Suakin, the charge for which will also be borne by the British Government.The troops are then specified, and the despatch goes on to say that Her Majesty's Government undertakes to meet the annual cost of the above force to the extent of £56,440, in addition to the sum of £5,000 for first equipment. But the right hon. Baronet says that there was no communication to the Egyptian Government. Again the right hon. Baronet must be mistaken. If it were not communicated to the Egyptian Government, the Egyptian Government must have found it out without its being communicated to them. Because, although I admit there is no despatch laid before Parliament which shows that, yet it is true there is a despatch signed by Watson Pasha, acting on behalf of the Egyptian Government, which says that the garrison at Suakin has now to be paid for by the British Government. It is, I think, impossible that this should not have been communicated. On the contrary, the evidence is over whelming that it was communicated, and I will show you why. If the Egyptian Government did not know that we had agreed to pay £56,440 a-year, they could not have increased their demand by £11,000. But having made that demand the Government have increased the Estimate for this Service to the sum which is the subject of this discussion. Writing on the 12th of April General Stephenson said that the last demand of the Egyptian Government had been 1498 raised from £11,000 to £16,440. It is, therefore, simply impossible that the Egyptian Government should not have known of the engagement. The right hon. Baronet says that the sum has now been reduced to £35,000 a-year. Does he mean that this year we only pay £35,000? If he does mean that, his explanation lacked frankness; if he did not mean that, what can be the advantage of telling us that the £73,000 which we had agreed to pay is now to be reduced to £35,000? It is true that the right hon. Baronet says agreed does not mean agreed; that undertake does not mean undertake; and that it was only contemplated, not that the Government had said, that the engagement should be carried out. If the right hon. Baronet means only that the Government thought about this and were not going to do it, I submit that the language used by him may be characterized as trifling with this House.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Northampton should be so angry with me. I have endeavoured to explain the position as well as I could, having received no Notice of this matter.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
I beg the right hon. Baronet's pardon—I gave full Notice. I gave Notice on the Address, that I intended to raise this question, which Notice, probably, the Government treated with the contempt they thought it deserved.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
At all events there was no Notice on the Paper, and words dropped in debate are sometimes overlooked; but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that nothing was farther from my mind than to treat his Question with contempt. I have endeavoured to answer him as fully as I can on this point. Circumstances at all events have changed. At the time referred to there were 17,000 or 18,000 men in the Egyptian Army, and the number was far beyond what the Revenues of Egypt could bear. Her Majesty's Government offered to bear a certain proportion of the expense, particularly in connection with Suakin; but happily times have changed very much for the better. Consequently it is now unnecessary to retain that Force, or that Her Majesty's Government should under take to pay any portion of the cost of the Force at Suakin.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH)
I have stated in this House that Sir Henry Drummond Wolff is conducting negotiations which the hon. Member for Northampton himself has recognized as being of a difficult, if not of an important character. We have the greatest possible hope that these negotiations will be attended with the result which we desire and anticipate. The hon. Member asks the Government to specify a date within which these negotiations shall be concluded. My right hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has indicated sufficiently the character of these negotiations, and the result we hope to obtain by them; and I think the Committee will feel that it would be impossible for me or any Member of the Government to indicate at the present moment any period at which the negotiations will be terminated. Reference has been made to the Estimates of the coming year. With reference to those, I venture to say that we are actuated by the desire not to have a Supplementary Estimate under this head under any circumstances what ever. I am sure the Committee will feel why it is impossible for us to speak more confidently than we have upon this subject. Great progress has been made. We have indicated to the House more than once the conditions under which we felt we had duties to discharge in Egypt, and when those duties are discharged we shall retire with complete satisfaction at having carried out the work we undertook, and which I believe this House and the country have fully at heart.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
Mr. Courtney, I feel bound to protest against the policy which Her Majesty's Government intend to carry out in Egypt. The right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State (Sir James Fergusson) has told us that England does not wish to derive any special advantage to herself in Egypt; he tells us that we went to Egypt to restore order in the country. But the feeling which many people have is that, in order to restore order, we have laid down conditions which will keep us in Egypt until the Millennium; the policy of the Government seems to be one which will necessarily compel us to remain in Egypt as long as there is an Egypt. The first condition laid down 1500 by Her Majesty's Government is that all the foreign Governments agree to surrender the powers now given to them by the Capitulations. Does the right hon. Gentleman dream that the foreign Governments will ever surrender such powers? Would this country surrender its Capitulations if France or any other foreign Power were in the same position in Egypt that we occupy? Such a condition never can be complied with. Secondly, you want to set up a stable Native Government in Egypt. In the first place, you destroyed the old Chamber, and you have done nothing at all to bring into existence the Legislative Councils which Lord Dufferin advised should be formed. I doubt whether you can have a stable Government in Egypt as long as you keep Arabi Pasha and such men as he out of the country. It is because I think you are laying down conditions which never can be fulfilled, and that, in consequence, we shall always be kept in Egypt, that I shall vote against the allowance of this money.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 146; Noes 234: Majority 88.1503
|Acland, A. H. D||Cozens-Hardy, H. H.|
|Acland, C. T. D.||Craig, J.|
|Allison, R. A.||Craven, J.|
|Anderson, C. H.||Crawford, D.|
|Asher, A.||Cremer, W. E.|
|Asquith, H. H.||Dillon, J.|
|Austin, J.||Dillwyn, L. L.|
|Barbour, W. B.||Dodds, J.|
|Barry, J.||Elliot, hon. A. R. D.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Ellis, J. E.|
|Blake, T.||Esmonde, Sir T. H. G.|
|Blane, A.||Esalemont, P.|
|Bolton, J. C.||Fenwick, C.|
|Broadhurst, H.||Finucane, J.|
|Bruce, hon. E. P.||Flower, C.|
|Buchanan, T. R.||Flynn, J. C.|
|Buxton, S. C.||Fox, Dr. J. F.|
|Byrne, G. M.||Gardner, H.|
|Cameron, C.||Gilhooly, J|
|Campbell, H.||Gill, H. J.|
|Carew, J. L.||Gill, T. P.|
|Chance, P. A.||Gully, W. C.|
|Channing, F. A.||Haldane, K. B.|
|Clancy, J. J.||Harrington, E.|
|Clark, Dr. G. B.||Hayden, L. P.|
|Cobb, H. P.||Hayne, C. Seale-|
|Coghill, D. H.||Healy, T. M.|
|Cohen, A.||Hooper, J.|
|Coleridge, hon. B.||Hunter, W. A.|
|Connolly, L.||Illingworth, A,|
|Conway, M.||Jordan, J.|
|Conybeare, C. A. V.||Kay-Shuttleworth, rt. hon. Sir U. J.|
|Cossham, H.||Kennedy, E. J.|
|Cox, J. E.|
|Kenny, C. S.||Plowden, Sir W. C.|
|Kenny, M. J.||Powell, W. R. H.|
|Labouchere, H.||Power, P. J.|
|Lalor, E.||Price, T. P.|
|Lane, W. J.||Priestley, B.|
|Leahy, J.||Provand, A. D.|
|Leake, R.||Quinn, T.|
|Lefevre, right hon. G. J. S.||Redmond, J. E.|
|Lock wood, F.||Reid, R. T.|
|Lyell, L.||Rendel, S.|
|Maclean, F. W.||Roberts, J. B.|
|Mac Neill, J. G. S.||Robertson, E.|
|M'Arthur, A.||Robinson, T.|
|M'Cartan, M.||Rowlands, J.|
|M'Donald, P.||Rowntree, J.|
|M'Donald, Dr. R.||Russell, E. R.|
|M'Ewan, W.||Russell, T. W.|
|M'Lagan, P.||Sexton, T.|
|M'Laren, W. S. B.||Sheil, E.|
|Mappin, Sir F. T.||Shirley, W. S.|
|Molloy, B. C.||Sinclair, W. P.|
|Montagu, S.||Smith, S.|
|Morgan, O. V.||Stack, J.|
|Morley, rt. hon, J.||Stanhope, hon. P. J.|
|Mundella, right hon. A. J.||Stevenson, F. S.|
|Newnes, G.||Storey, S.|
|Nolan, Colonel J. P.||Sullivan, D.|
|Nolan, J.||Summers, W.|
|O'Brien, J. F. X.||Sutherland, A.|
|O'Brien, P.||Tanner, C. K.|
|O'Brien, P. J.||Tuite, J.|
|O'Connor, A.||Watt, H.|
|O'Connor, J. (Tippry.)||Wayman, T.|
|O'Connor, T. P.||Will, J. S.|
|O'Doherty, J. E.||Williams, A. J.|
|O'Hea, P.||Wilson, H. J.|
|O'Kelly, J.||Woodhead, J.|
|Pease, A. E.||Wright, C.|
|Pickersgill, E. H.||TELLERS.|
|Picton, J. A.||Bradlaugh, C.|
|Pitt-Lewis, G.||Williamson, S.|
|Addison, J. E. W.||Blundell, Col.H.B.H,|
|Agg-Gardner, J. T.||Bond, G. H.|
|Ainslie, W. G.||Bonsor, H. C. O.|
|Ambrose, W.||Boord, T. W.|
|Amherst, W. A. T.||Borthwick, Sir A.|
|Anstruther, Colonel R. H. L.||Bridgeman, Col. hon. F. C.|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Bristowe, T. L.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Brodrick, hon. W. St.|
|Atkinson, H. J.||J. F.|
|Baden-Powell, G. S.||Brooks, Sir W. C.|
|Baggallay, E.||Brown, A. H.|
|Baird, J. G. A.||Burdett-Coutts, W. L. Ash.-B.|
|Balfour, G. W.||Campbell, Sir A.|
|Barry, A. H. Smith-||Campbell, R. F. F.|
|Bartley, G. C. T.||Charrington, S.|
|Bates, Sir E.||Clarke, Sir E. G.|
|Baumann, A. A.||Cochrane-Baillie, hon. C. W. A. N.|
|Beadel, W. J.||Coddington, W.|
|Beckett, W.||Colomb, Capt. J. C. R.|
|Bentinck, Lord H. C.||Commerell, Adml. Sir J. E.|
|Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C.|
|Bentinck, W. G. C.|
|Corry, Sir J. P.|
|Beresford, Lord C. W. de la Poer||Cotton, Capt. E. T. D.|
|Bethell, Commander G.R.||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Birkbeck, Sir E.||Cross, H. S.|
|Currie, Sir D.||Holland, right hon. Sir H. T.|
|Davenport, H. T.||Holloway, G.|
|Davenport, W. B.||Holmes, right hon. H.|
|Dawnay, Colonel hon L. P.||Hornby, W. H.|
|De Cobain, E. S. W.||Houldsworth, W. H.|
|De Worms, Baron H.||Howorth, H. H.|
|Dimsdale, Baron R.||Hozior, J. H. C.|
|Dixon-Hartland,F. D.||Hughes, Colonel E.|
|Dorington, Sir J. E.||Hughes - Hallett, Col. F. C.|
|Dugdale, J. S.||Hunt, F. S.|
|Duncan, Colonel F.||Hunter, Sir W. G.|
|Duncombe, A.||Isaacs, L. H.|
|Dyke, right hon. Sir W. H.||Isaacson, F. W.|
|Edwards-Moss, T. C.||Jackson, W. L.|
|Elcho, Lord||James, rt. hon. Sir H.|
|Elliot, Sir G.||Jarvis, A. W.|
|Ellis, Sir J. W.||Jennings, L. J.|
|Elton, C. I.||Johnston, W.|
|Evelyn, W. J.||Kelly, J. R.|
|Ewart, W.||Kennaway, Sir J. H.|
|Feilden, Lieut.-Gen. R.J.||Kenyon, hon. G. T.|
|Ferguson,R. C. Munro-||Kerans, F. H.|
|Fergusson, right hon. Sir J.||Kimber, H.|
|Field, Admiral E.||King, H. S.|
|Finch, G. H.||Knatchbull -Hugessen, hon. H. T.|
|Fisher, W. H.||Knowles, L.|
|Fitzgerald, R. U. P.||Kynoch, G.|
|Fitz - Wygram, Gen. Sir F. W.||Lafone, A.|
|Lambert, I. C.|
|Folkestone, right hon. Viscount||Laurie, Colonel R. P.|
|Forwood, A. B.||Lawrance, J. C.|
|Fowler, Sir R. N.||Lawrence, Sir J. J. T.|
|Fraser, General C. C.||Lea, T.|
|Fulton, J. F.||Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.|
|Gardner, R. Richardson-||Leighton, S.|
|Lewisham, right hon. Viscount|
|Gathorne-Hardy, hon. A. E.||Llewellyn, E. H.|
|Gibson, J. G.||Long, W. H.|
|Giles, A.||Low, M.|
|Gilliat, J. S.||Lowther, J. W.|
|Godson, A. F.||Macartney, W. G. E.|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General W. T.||Macdonald, right hon. J. H. A.|
|Gorst,.Sir J. E.||Maclean, J. M.|
|Goschen, rt. hn. G. J.||Maclure, J. W.|
|Gray, C. W.||M'Calmont, Captain J.|
|Grimston, Viscount||Malcolm, Col. J. W.|
|Grotrian, F. B.||Mallock, R.|
|Gunter, Colonel R.||Manners, rt. hn. Lord J. J. R.|
|Hall, A. W.||Marriott, rt. hn. W. T.|
|Halsey, T. F.||Matthews, rt. hn. H.|
|Hambro, Col. C. J. T.||Maxwell, Sir H. E.|
|Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.||Mayne, Admiral R. C.|
|Hamilton, Lord E.||Mildmay, F. B.|
|Hardcastle, E.||Mills, hon. C. W.|
|Hardcastle, F.||Milvain, T.|
|Heath, A. R.||More, R. J.|
|Heathcote, Capt. J. H. Edwards-||Morgan, hon. F.|
|Heaton, J. H.||Mount, W. G.|
|Herbert, hon. S.||Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J. R.|
|Hermon-Hodge, R. T.||Mowbray, R. G. C.|
|Hervey, Lord F.||Mulholland, H. L.|
|Hill, right hon. Lord A. W.||Muncaster, Lord|
|Hill, A. S.||Murdoch, C. T.|
|Norris, E. S.|
|Northcote, hon. H. S.||Smith, A.|
|Norton, R.||Spencer, J. E.|
|O'Neill, hon. E. T.||Stanhope, rt. hon. E.|
|Parker, hon. P.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Pelly, Sir L.||Stewart, M.|
|Penton, Captain F. T,||Talbot, J. G.|
|Plunket, right hon. D. R.||Tapling, T. K.|
|Plunkett, hon. J. W.||Temple, Sir R.|
|Pomfret, W. P.||Thorburn, W.|
|Powell, F. S.||Tollemache, H. J.|
|Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|Rankin, J.||Tottenham, A. L.|
|Rasch, Major F. C.||Tyler, Sir H. W.|
|Reed, H. B.||Vernon, hon. G. R.|
|Ritohie, rt. hn. C. T.||Vincent, C. E. H.|
|Robertson, J. P. B.||Walsh, hon. A. H. J.|
|Rohertson, W. T.||Waring, Colonel T.|
|Robinson, B.||Watson, J.|
|Ross, A. H.||Webster, Sir R. E.|
|Russell, Sir G.||West, Colonel W. C.|
|Sandys, Lieut.-Col. T. M.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Saunderson, Col. E. J.||White, J. B.|
|Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.||Whitley, E.|
|Selwin - Ibbetson, rt. hon. Sir H. J.||Whitmore, C. A.|
|Selwyn, Capt. C. W.||Wood, N.|
|Seton-Karr, H.||Wortley, C. B. Stuart-|
|Shaw-Stewart, M. H.||Wright, H. S.|
|Sidebotham, J. W.||Wroughton, P.|
|Sidebottom, T. H.||Young, C. E. B.|
|Smith, rt. hn. W. H.||TELLERS.|
|Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Walrond, Col. W. H.|
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
There is another item in this Vote which ought not to be allowed to pass without comment, and that is the item of £810 for the Zanzibar Delimitation Commission. It is as well that the Committee should boar in mind for what purpose this Commission was issued. The Zanzibar Delimitation Commission was appointed in consequence of the Germans stepping in and succeeding, by their method of dealing with the Natives of Zanzibar, in ousting British trade. British Representatives had to step in and do their best to protect the interests of British traders in that part of the world from what they were pleased to term German aggression. What is the consequence? It is that there are no less than three editions of Blue Books dealing with the subject, and that the more we read about the matter, the more humiliating it is, or, at any rate, ought to be, to any of the British Representatives who are concerned in this item. The practical surrender which the Zanzibar Delimitation Commissioners made in the presence of Germany is something pitiable, humiliating, and ludicrous in the extreme. What is the good of all the talk we hear 1504 about patriotism? A great many hon. Members talk of patriotic pursuits; in my opinion, the most patriotic pursuit any Member can be associated with is that of saving the taxpayer's pocket. A considerable amount of money has already been paid in respect of the Zanzibar Commission, and now we are asked to pay £810 more. It is not a very large sum; but it is more than should be paid in connection with this humiliating surrender on the part of the British Representatives. Therefore, without any hesitation, I have to move that this Vote be reduced by the sum of £810, and I sincerely hope that we shall have an explicit explanation of the de tails of the Vote.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £15,975, be granted to Her Majesty for the said Service.—(Dr. Tanner.)
§ Dr. TANNER failed to nominate an hon. Member to tell with him, whereupon—
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
(4.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £9,050, 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 1887, for the Expenses of Various Ser vices (other than Consular) in connection with the Suppression of the Slave Trade, and the Expenses of the Liberated African Department.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Done gal, E.)
Mr. Chairman, there are in this Vote one or two items of a very extraordinary character. In the first place, the increase of the Vote is very heavy, the supplemental part being nearly double the original Estimate. The third item is one of £4,650—Compensation awarded to owners of American vessels detained in 1834, 1857, and 1860, on suspicion of being slavers.That there should have been pending for 33 years compensation to reputed owners of slavers is, to say the least, peculiar. Having regard to the explicit terms of the Slave Trade Act, this is something which requires very special explanation 1505 at the hands of the Government, which has, at last, resolved to pay this compensation. I presume from the nature of the third item it would be more convenient to treat it separately. Therefore I will not go into it. What I desire to do now is to ask the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) how it comes that in spite of the increase in the capture of the slavers, which are said to be more numerous than anticipated, there is nothing in the way of set-off on account of the value of the vessels seized? There is in the Act a special provision made for the realization of the value of the vessels, whether they be British or foreign, whether they are sold in the market, or whether they are taken into Her Majesty's service, or bought by any foreign Power for the use of the Admiralty of that foreign Power. There certainly ought to be an item to the credit of the Exchequer upon this Vote. The next thing I have to ask the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Jackson) is what the slave suppression authorities do with the slaves when they have seized the slavers. Is it a fact that they hand them over to certain persons who may or may not afterwards make profit out of them? Do these authorities, after having caught the slavers, allow the slaves to be directly or indirectly sold into slavery again? Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will answer these questions before I go into any other items of the Vote.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
Mr. Courtney, a considerable sum is voted every year for the suppression of the Slave Trade, and a large amount is allowed for the pay of the officers and men employed in the service. I should like to know whether other countries contribute anything towards the suppression of the slave traffic; are we the only country in the world who take active and expensive measures against the Slave Trade? I should also be obliged if the Government will say where these ships are employed—on the West Coast of Africa or in the Red Sea? I am very much afraid these items for the suppression of the Slave Trade are a sort of revivals which everyone expect. From our own commercial point of view it is of great importance that the Slave Trade should be put down, but I believe that in the suppression very large sums of money might be saved. I should like 1506 some explanation of the general policy of the Government upon this question, and I should also like to know in what part of the world the vessels are employed; whether the Government see any necessity in continuing this expenditure, and whether other nations contribute in like manner towards the suppression of the slave traffic. I should also like information as to the kind of slavery found in the Red Sea?
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
I am afraid I cannot afford much information as to the slavery carried on in the Red Sea, but I will give the Committee all the information I can. The hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Nolan) asks whether other countries contribute any thing towards the suppression of the Slave Trade, or whether the whole of the expense is borne by us. So far as I know other countries do not contribute in any form or shape, but the whole of the expense is borne by us. The system of payment is based either upon the tonnage, or upon the number of slaves captured: this House has consented to the payment of so much per ton upon the vessels seized, or so much per head of the slaves who were liberated. The hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) very properly remarks that the Vote is very heavy, but I think he will see that this is one of the Votes it is absolutely impossible to estimate a year beforehand with any degree of accuracy. We are hoping that the Vote will die out through the stoppage of the trade. So long, however, as the House and the country are determined to carry on the crusade against the traffic in slaves, the Committee will hardly refuse this payment. The payments, amounting to £1,900, under the sub-head H, "maintenance of liberated Africans," are payments which are made according to the number of slaves who are liberated. An arrangement has been made with the Church Missionary Society and other Societies in that part of the world—[An hon. MEMBER: What part?]—Zanzibar—and during the past year there has actually been handed over to the Church Missionary Society 453 slaves, and to other bodies 27. For these, £5 per head was paid, and for that payment the Societies have undertaken to be responsible for the education of the slaves and their subse- 1507 quent freedom. The arrangement was made after very careful consideration, and it is an arrangement which, so far as we are concerned, admirably accomplishes the object in view—namely, the freedom of the men. And this is done at the least possible expense to this country. As to the credits, I regret I am not in possession of detailed information. So far as the Treasury are concerned, we have no knowledge of these credits. If there are any credits arising from these vessels, I can only suppose that they are dealt with by the Admiralty.
§ MR. O'DOHERTY (Donegal, N.)
Mr. Courtney, it seems, therefore, that the entire expenses in connection with the suppression of the Slave Trade are not in the Vote before us, but that some of the expenses are to be found in the Naval Estimates. Disguise it as you may, this is to be considered a Supplementary Estimate towards the support of Her Majesty's Naval Services in the parts of the world in question. I understand that there are many vessels employed in this service. It is said that "the captures of slavers have been more numerous than was anticipated," and, therefore, an additional sum of £2,500 is required. The total for tonnage and slave bounties is thus brought up to £6,500. £3,726 is the sum required for the maintenance of liberated Africans. What I wish to call the attention of the Committee and of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Jackson) to is this, that, so far as the captures go, they are an index that the Slave Trade is increasing. Seeing that the payments are by results, it is evident that the more that is paid the more slaves are captured. If there had not been a large number of vessels plying in the regions in question, if there had not been a very large amount of Slave Trading going on, it is as clear as day that the captures would not have been more numerous than was anticipated. Now, what is evident to any person who considers the matter is this, that the operation of the Slave Trade Act, and the operation of our Fleet in the suppression of the traffic, results in these two things—in a trade at night or in risky weather, and the inhuman treatment of the slaves. What do I find in the Act of Parliament? That all vessels which are found to possess accommodation for the carrying of slaves in proper 1508 condition are to be seized and sold; that all vessels bearing the marks of the slaver are to be captured. Under ordinary circumstances, the Slave Trade is not carried on in vessels which possess accommodation for the humane treatment of the slaves, and it is pretty clear that any humanitarian views of the traders are completely frustrated by the arrangements which are made for the suppression of the traffic. Furthermore, I should like to know why we hand over the men, if they are liberated slaves, to the custody of other men. What property have we in the bodies of these men that we should hand them over to the missionaries of any Society? It is questionable whether it would not be better to attempt to regulate the traffic in insisting that the vessels used shall be such that no mischief shall be done to the men, rather than to take them to places in which, so far as my reading goes, their lot is very little improved. For these reasons, and without believing very much in the bona fides of some of the reports that I see, I have examined the Votes, and taken an interest in looking up the particulars that are mentioned in this Act. Dealing with the entire Vote, it strikes me, on looking at the Schedule which points out the marks which are to guide British officers in forming an opinion as to whether a vessel is a slaver, that the steps we take to put a stop to slavery by these means impose a great deal of misery upon the unfortunate victims of the traffic. For instance, in the Schedule of the guidance of Her Majesty's officers, it is declared that vessels are not to have hatchings or open gratings, and that they are not to have spare planks which are fit for being laid down as a second or a slave deck, and that they are not to have a large quantity of tanks, and so on. In fact, everything which would be provided by a humane master of a vessel for the comfort of the slaves must be put a stop to. In that way you inflict untold misery on these poor creatures, and I, therefore, contend that this expenditure of money is not only useless, but contributes vastly to the misery of the unfortunates the traffic in whom it is your object to put a stop to. What the fate of the miserable slave whom you may have succeeded in rescuing is, I do not know. When turned out at Zanzibar, or anywhere else, he has only main- 1509 tenance for one year, for I believe the sum you pay for him is only £5. How long that sum will keep a man I do not know; but I think hardly more than a year. How long would the missionaries keep him? I think the Committee would be well advised in reducing this Vote in such a way as to mark their sense of the want of the necessity for such a system.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I am entirely opposed to any Vote in the Estimates for the suppression of the Slave Trade. I am not opposed to it because I am in favour of the Slave Trade; and if it could be shown that during the long period of years, 40 or 50 perhaps, during which English cruisers have been engaged in the suppression of this trade, that any real results have been achieved for the money which has been expended, no one would support the Vote more warmly than I should myself. But hon. Gentlemen who read the accounts of travellers in Africa can hardly rejoice at the efforts which are taking place to suppress the Slave Trade. My view is that hon. Gentlemen who vote this money do it to save their consciences, thinking they have done a fine thing by spending money to put down the Slave Trade. They are content with that, and they do not go beyond it. They do not read the accounts the travellers give of the sufferings of the slaves. These accounts are to the effect that the sufferings of these unfortunate beings have been enormously increased through the operations of Her Majesty's cruisers in the Red Sea. In order to escape from these cruisers the slaves are battened down under closed hatches. Even that is a trifle compared with the enormous loss of life and horrible sufferings which the traffic entails upon many human beings through the closing of the Nile route. If the Committee take the trouble to read the descriptions of travellers on the Nile; if they will read that most delightful book of travel published by Dr. Schweinfurth, the great German traveller, they will see there a statement made with regard to the result which has attended the stoppage of the Nile passage through the influence brought to bear by the British Government upon the Khedive Ismail. Instead of taking the slaves comfortably down the Nile, as used to be the custom, the dealers now struck off from above where Bahr-el-Ghazal joins the Nile, and for 1,000 1510 miles the slaves, chained man to man, are marched through the desert. This traveller tells us that the bleached bones of thousands and thousands of these wretched slaves are to be seen along that desert track—and, of course, you have stopped the Nile route. Dr. Schweinfurth, as everyone knows, is one of the greatest opponents of the slave traffic; but he states that the result of our interference with the trade on the Nile has been to inflict enormous sufferings, and to bring about enormous sacrifice of life, and consequent increase in the capture of slaves by dealers. He says, that since the stoppage of the Nile route, for every 100 slaves that reach their destination 300 slaves start out. In the old days the slaves, instead of being driven to death in this way, were well treated. They were well fed and cared for, just as a man who deals in cattle takes care of his beasts, in order that they might fetch a good price in the market. The object, of course, always was to hand them over in good condition to the purchasers. But hon. Gentlemen, nevertheless, go on voting on sentiment, and will not inquire into the result of these operations. They will say anyone who votes against this item is in favour of the Slave Trade; but I deny it. I am not in favour of the Slave Trade; but I agree with General Gordon, that the only way to put down that trade is to strike it at the root. If you want to put a stop to the traffic, disperse the camps of the slave dealers. Is the English Government prepared to do that? General Gordon undertook to do that, and would have done it if you had furnished him with the means. I do not say whether he ought to have done it or not; but I say that carrying on the foolish system in which you are embarked, expecting thereby to put down the Slave Trade, only ends in inflicting great misery and injury upon thousands of people, and is the greatest folly. If you are not prepared to follow General Gordon's advice, you had better let the whole matter alone. These slaves are not badly treated in Arabia—at least, so Arabian travellers tell us. When the slaves reach Arabia they are treated as kindly as your household servants are treated. Read "Palgrave's Travels in Arabia," and you will there see that the slaves are not treated as they used to be in the Southern States of America, which 1511 you supported and endeavoured to maintain in their struggles with the Northern States. No, Sir; in Eastern countries slaves are treated as kindly as you treat your servants in London. Not infrequently they intermarry with the natives of the countries to which they are transported, and in many instances their children become recognized as citizens, and become owners of property. This is frequently found to be the ease in Arabia. Mr. Palgrave's statement in his book—which is, perhaps, the best description of Arabian travel that has ever been published—says that many of these slaves, when they reach Arabia, could not be induced to go back again to their own country even if they had permission to do so. I can perfectly well believe his description. But we are told that the proceedings on the part of the British Government, to which I take exception, are merely for the purpose of putting down slavery. I dare say some hon. Member will vote upon this question under that impression; but I have pointed out that the results are entirely in the opposite direction. By the measures you have taken you have not put down slavery, and you never will put down slavery. You send into the Red Sea a lot of old tubs—I have seen them at Malta, and I know exactly what they are—the refuse of the British Navy, to plough around and wear out your officers and men, doing a great deal of mischief, and not the slightest bit of good. This Vote is a declaration that the Government are anxious to put down slavery. Well, here in the Estimate we have compensation for three American slavers as long ago as 1854, 1857, and 1860. An American slaver was seized as long ago as 1860 to put down slavery! Surely, any British-born man ought to blush when he sees such a record as this in an official document. The seizure of a slaver carrying slaves is to cost us something like £4,000. I suppose there has been a lawsuit going on between the two countries ever since. You were maintaining our pledge with regard to the putting down of the Slave Trade by upholding the one great slave-holding portion of America. You were doing this whilst you were spending the money of the British taxpayer on sea and on land in the endeavour to put down slavery else where. Was your action consistent? You were doing all you could to thwart 1512 the Northern States in putting down slavery in the only way it was possible to put it down—
I must invite the hon. Gentleman to confine his remarks to the Vote before the Committee.
§ MR. DILLON
I am very sorry, Sir, if I have transgressed against the Order of the Committee; but I was led into this observation by one item of the Vote, which is the compensation for the seizure of American slavers. As I understand it they were seized by mistake. Is that not so? We are called upon to pay for the mistake that was made. The compensation which was paid to the American vessels was on account of these vessels having been seized on suspicion of being slavers. I suppose the assumption was that these vessels were bringing slaves to supply the wants of the Southern States of America. But as you, Sir, wish me not to pursue that line I will abandon it. I oppose this Vote, not because I am in favour of slavery, but because I think it is not a fact that they have put down slavery, and because I am convinced, from the reports of African travellers, that it results in increasing the sufferings of the slaves, and in a tremendous sacrifice of human life.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON (Essex, Epping)
I do not think the Committee should follow the advice of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) and strike out this Vote, the result of which would be to allow the revival of the Slave Trade. Practically, the whole argument of the hon. Gentleman has been that we ought not to interfere in this matter, and should refrain from our endeavours to suppress the Slave Trade. I do not wish to follow the hon. Gentleman into that argument, because I feel sure that the whole sense and feeling of the country will be against him on that point. But what I rose for was to ask a question with reference to the item the hon. Member referred to last. I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) if he can give the Committee some explanation of the delay which seems to have occurred in settling these claims, and why claims made so far back as 33 years ago are only now brought into the Supplementary Estimate? We have an item for vessels seized as far back as 1860. Why 1513 is it that the account is only presented in a Supplementary Estimate in 1887? There must be some reason for this, and I ask the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury to give it to us.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
I must admit that on the face of the account as it appears on the Vote, it does seem very strange that a sum should be charged for what occurred so many years ago. The simple explanation of it is that the item appears as soon as the money becomes payable. The item relates to three vessels. The first of these was detained 14 days, in 1854, on suspicion of being concerned in the Slave Trade, by the Collector of Customs at Bathurst, in Gambia. The second one, the Thomas Watson, was detained 24 days, under like circumstances, by Lieutenant Watson, of the Bloodhound, on the West Coast of Africa. The claims appear to have remained in abeyance for a long time. In 1866 they were again revived, and a claim at that time was made by the American Government for 233,000 dollars. The British Government accepted liability in principle and offered to refer the question to arbitration. Some delay occurred—nothing came of it at that time. The claim was again preferred in 1879, the amount demanded then being 250,000 dollars. In the negotiations which occurred, the British Government took up the position that they were willing to accept the liability in principle, and were willing to refer the matter to arbitration. Apparently no settlement was possible, and arrangements were made to have the case tried. The Government, on the recommendation of their advisers, decided that they would resist all claim to compensation on account of interest; and after some considerable negotiations the British Government offered in settlement of the claim a sum of 10,000 dollars. This amount was re fused by the American Government, but they made a counter off to accept 20,000 dollars, and the British Government, rather than proceed further with the case, accepted that as a compromise. Sir, that relates to two vessels, the Mary Farmer and the Thomas Watson. With regard to the other she was captured by one of Her Majesty's ships on January 12, 1860, under the belief that she was at the time in British waters, and was 1514 about to ship a cargo of slaves. It was afterwards found that this vessel was not at the time in British waters, nor was she within the limits of British jurisdiction. Her Majesty's Government when they had discovered these facts tendered an apology to the Ameri-Government, and nothing more was heard of the matter until October, 1880—more than 20 years after the occurrence, when a claim was presented for compensation amounting to nearly 30,000 dollars. In the opinion of the advisers of Her Majesty's Government this claim was a most exorbitant one and ought to be dismissed, and that reasonably and fairly nothing could be claimed beyond a claim which might be made for the demurrage of the vessel during the time she was detained. The matter was referred to arbitration; but in the preliminary discussion the principles of arbitration could not be agreed on, and again the matter remained in abeyance for some time. To settle the matter £500 was offered and accepted. I am not able to inform the Committee what the precise cause of the delay was. The Committee will, no doubt, remember that at about that time slavery was not very popular in the United States, and that may have had something to do with the postponement of the matter for so long. I have endeavoured to explain to the Committee why the Votes are now presented to the House. They are presented at the earliest moment they could have been presented. I think the Committee will agree with me that, under the circumstances I have narrated, the settlement was perhaps the best that could be come to; and that on such a matter it would have been a great misfortune that any interference with the cordial relations which exist—and which, I hope, will long continue to exist—between this country and the United States should have taken place.
§ MR. JORDAN (Clare, W.)
The manumission of the slaves in the West Indies is one of the fairest chapters in English history, and so strongly do I sympathize with the suppression of slavery that I hesitate to vote against this demand; but if slavery is to be effectually put down vessels of a different character and of much greater force should be used. I should like to be assured that the money expended under this Vote is honestly expended, 1515 and that it is true and real expenditure. I would like further to know whether the £5 per head that has been mentioned is a full and final grant or a yearly grant. If I am satisfied upon these points, so strongly do I sympathize with the suppression of slavery, I shall vote in support of the Vote.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £6,550, be granted to Her Majesty for the said Service."—(Mr. Dillon.)
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (5.) £1,500, Supplementary, Colonies, Grants in Aid.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
There is one item in this Vote that I should like some information about from the Government, and it is rather a curious item. The sum of £1,500 is asked for on account of the withdrawal of the gold and silver coins in Malta, and the issue of new ones, and I should like some explanation about this. First, I should like to know upon what principle the English taxpayer is called upon to pay for the re-coinage of the money of the Maltese people; and, secondly, how comes it that the re-coinage of so small an island as Malta—the entire population of which is but 200,000 persons, mostly poor people—amounts to the sum of £1,500. It seems to me a very extra ordinary sum to pay for the re-coinage and withdrawal of these coins when the nominal value of the gold coin is only £1,500 in all, and the nominal value of the silver coin £10,000. Upon an entire sum of £12,000 it has cost £3,000 to withdraw the coinage; therefore, I think the Committee is entitled to some explanation as to what system or method is adopted for withdrawing these coins; and why and upon what principle has this charge been placed upon the taxpayer of this country. I have been myself informed that what happened was this:—the Governor of Malta was under the impression that the amount of money in the island was small when he undertook to withdraw it from circulation; that, in fact, it would not be more than a tenth of the sum actually withdrawn; but that, when notice was given of the 1516 withdrawal, the Maltese dug up from various hiding places an amount of coin that no one had any idea was in existence upon the island—that bags of gold and silver coins were produced which dated back for hundreds of years. That may be all very well; but I do not see why the English people should have to pay for these extraordinary adventures. All I know is that, if these people were properly educated, they would be able to pay for their own coinage.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
The hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon) is under some misapprehension. I may say, in the first place, that a great many difficulties arose with regard to the coinage, and by an Order in Council it was established that, in Malta and its dependencies, British coins should be the only legal tender. The existing coins in circulation, as the hon. Member says, have risen above the amount anticipated to be withdrawn. It is also the fact that the substitution of British silver coin for that which was then cur rent in Malta has resulted, in so far as the British taxpayer is concerned, not only in no loss, but I believe I am justified in saying a great advantage. The hon. Member is perfectly aware that upon the coinage in silver we reap a large profit, and upon the distribution of our silver coin for that in circulation in Malta there has resulted a large profit. The total cost, as the hon. Member will see, was £3,000. An appeal was made to Her Majesty's Government to bear some portion of the cost of that, and, inasmuch as the facts are as I have stated, and it will leave no loss to the British taxpayer, Her Majesty's Government agreed to bear one-half.
§ DR. CLARk (Caithness)
The hon. Gentleman's education is still more puzzling. We are told the absolute value of the silver is greater than the nominal value of the coin, and that we gain by it; but how is it, then, that the cost is so great? I can understand the cost of the gold coins might have been very considerable; but there is only £1,500 altogether in gold, and the expense is £3,000. £3,000 of loss on coining £12,000 is something like 25 per cent, whereas there ought to be about 40 per cent gain. If we are really gaining upon the coinage, we ought to be able to show that from some other 1517 source; but it seems to be, as it stands, very extraordinary there should be 25 per cent loss. We still want further explanation of how it is—if we have gained so much—we have to pay this money; and, secondly, as to the principle upon which the matter is settled. We ought to object to it and vote against it on principle. The presumption is that the Colonists ought to defray all the expenses connected with the Colony. No country in the world, or in the history of the world, has ever treated their Colonies so well as we have done, and scarcely any Colony in the world, or in the history of the world, have behaved so badly to the Mother Country as ours have done. [Cries of "No, no! "] Hon. Gentlemen say "No, no!" but can they point out to me, except our own, any Colony that has put any special charges against the Mother Country, and given foreigners better relations than they gave to the Mother Country. As it stands at present, not on behalf of the English taxpayers, but on behalf of the British taxpayers—because we in Scotland are not Englishmen, though anyone would think that we in the North are the mere province of England, judging from the language of hon. Members, and upon this point I have to object to our Irish Friends, like the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon), using this objectionable phrase—I protest against this sum; and I say the Imperial British taxpayer ought not to pay a single farthing towards any expense incurred by the Colonies. Directly and indirectly we now pay a large sum; and, on these grounds, I object to the Imperial taxpayer paying anything more for any Colony.
§ Vote agreed to.