§ MR. A. M'ARTHUR (Leicester) ,
in rising to call attention to the evils of the liquor traffic among the Native races inhabiting the British Dependencies, or subject to the control or influence of the British Government; and to move—That this House, having regard to the disastrous physical and moral effects of the liquor traffic among uncivilized races, as well as the injury it inflicts on legitimate commerce, is of opinion that Her Majesty's Government should take steps to suppress the traffic with Natives in all Native Territories under its influence or control, and that whenever self-governing powers are granted to Crown Colonies, stipulations should be made for the effectual protection of the Natives against the sale of strong drink,said: I have been induced to direct attention to this question in consequence of numerous communications from various parts of Her Majesty's Dominions, and especially from the Islands of the Western Pacific, South and West Africa, and several of the Crown Colonies, complaining of the terrible injuries inflicted by the unrestricted traffic in spirituous liquors, and praying for some means to mitigate and, if possible, prevent them. We know something, though, perhaps, not as much as we should know, of the baneful effect 392 of intemperance in this country, and of the poverty, destitution, and misery which it occasions; how it greatly increases our rates and taxes by filling our workhouses, gaols, and lunatic asylums; how it greatly wrongs women and children, and consigns vast multitudes every year to premature and too often dishonourable graves. If we require proof of that, we have it in abundance. It is stated that 60,000 drunkards die every year. Many of our most eminent surgeons and physicians have used strong language respecting the injurious effects of spirituous liquors when too freely indulged in, and one of our Judges had described the crime of drunkenness as a crime leading to all other crimes—a crime which we might well say leads to 19–20ths of the crimes of this country. Bad as things are here, however, there is some protection afforded by the Adulteration Acts, which prohibit the addition of deleterious drugs to alcoholic drinks, and render them less pernicious than they would otherwise be. But in warm countries, inhabited by coloured and savage races unaccustomed to such liquors, the Natives seem to have, with the exception of Madagascar, no protection whatever, there is no supervision, no examination; and the consequence is that the drink sold to them is so horribly bad, so utterly ruinous to health, that it speedily demoralizes, degrades, and destroys those who indulge in it. Indeed, it is said to be so bad that Europeans will not drink it, and it has been called the "death drink" by the Natives in some places. The readiness with which Natives succumb to the influence of strong drink is well known, as well as the impossibility of expecting men in an uncivilized state to exercise self-control. Take, for example, the Native inhabitants of the Pacific Islands. They have adopted, to a great extent, the habits and customs of civilized life, and they consume large quantities of British-manufactured goods, which is, of course, a benefit to this country; but legitimate trade is being ruined, and we are told, in the admirable Report in the Blue Book upon the Western Pacific, presented to both Houses of Parliament in September last—That many traders minister to the basest passions of the Natives, and, instead of developing a useful trade in national products in ex- 393 change for useful merchandise, they, on account of the increased profit and more rapid gains, thrust guns, gunpowder, and alcohol upon the Natives, and bring about the wholesale murders that are monthly enacted in or upon the innumerable islands forming a continuous chain over 3,000 miles in length, and extending from Fiji to the Eastern shores of New Guinea.Again, it was pointed out that Commanders of Her Majesty's ships have repeatedly urged the prohibition of the drink traffic. Captain Maxwell, Commodore Wilson, Captain Bridge, and many others, all condemn it. We have also the high authority of Sir John Thurston, the present, and Sir William Des Vœux, the late, High Commissioner in the Western Pacific, who have stated that the sale of arms, ammunition, and alcoholic drink is demoralizing the Natives of the Pacific, and bringing about their rapid extinction. We might naturally suppose that civilized nations worthy of the name would cordially unite to stop this iniquitous traffic, and it is gratifying to know that this country has taken the initiative in an effort to try and induce the various Powers to agree to put an end to the sale of arms, ammunition, alcohol, and dynamite in the Islands. Acting upon the suggestion and advice of the High Commissioner referred to, Lord Granville in 1884 forwarded to the Great Powers and the United States an International Agreement to prevent the supply of arms, ammunition, dynamite, and alcohol to the Natives of the Pacific Islands. The Governments of France, Russia, and Austria sent favourable answers on certain conditions to Lord Granville's Circular. I am not certain whether Germany has yet given a definite reply, but it is understood that that Power is favourably disposed. The American Government, however, declined to enter into the proposed arrangement. But it is to be hoped that, as the facts of the case become better known, the people of the United States will bring such pressure to bear upon the Government as will compel them to join the other Powers in the proposed arrangement. If we turn to South Africa, we find the picture as dark as it is in the Pacific, and that in the Cape Colony the consumption of spirituous liquors by the Natives is increasing, and the consequences are most deplorable. A Proclamation was issued in 1885 by the Cape Government, authorizing the unrestricted 394 sale of liquor to Chiefs, petty Chiefs, and Councillors, and empowering magistrates to issue permits to Common Natives for the purchase of definite quantities of spirits in the Transkeian territories. The Natives held a public meeting at Butterworth, and made a solemn protest against the action of the Government in enforcing strong drink upon an unwilling people. I may also mention that at a numerously attended breakfast meeting, held a few weeks ago at the Westminster Palace Hotel, Lord Stanley of Alderley in the chair, Mr. Hutton, Member of the Legislative Assembly, and late Treasurer General of the Cape Colony, who has had upwards of 40 years' experience in South Africa, said that a Liquor Law was some years ago introduced by Sir Thomas Scanlan, which contained clauses known as "Local Option" clauses, and also empowered or authorized the Government to proclaim areas, wherever they thought proper, within which the sale of intoxicating liquor should be prohibited; and under that law many such areas were proclaimed, after the law had been some time in operation. It was, however, alleged that in some of those areas, especially in one or two near King Williamstown—liquors circulated more freely than ever, because, owing to the nearness of King Williamstown, the Natives resident in those areas go there and purchase brandy by the bottle, and that drunkenness was thereby increased instead of diminished. In consequence of those allegations—whether true or false—the prohibition as regards those areas has been withdrawn, and that first retrogressive stop is greatly to be deplored, as it is certain to be followed by still further withdrawals of similar prohibitions. A Native paper says the Natives ask that the sale of "firewater" shall be treated precisely in the same way as gunpowder, which they are not allowed to purchase, and they would not object to having the country from the Fish River to Umzanqulu proclaimed an area in which the liquid fire should not be sold to them. Surely that is not an unreasonable request, and we might suppose it would meet with the approval of those who desire to deal honestly and fairly with the Natives. But if we are rightly informed, not only has a deaf ear been turned to their appeal, but all the restrictions have been removed, and even the 395 Licence Duties have been repealed—involving a loss of revenue—and railway freights have been reduced to satisfy the demands of the winegrowers and distillers. I am also aware that the Cape Colony enjoys responsible local government, and it is questionable how far Her Majesty's Government may feel it right to interfere with their internal arrangements. But we may presume that the opinion of this House and of the country would have some influence with those who are at the helm of affairs in the Colony, and induce them to adopt such measures as may save and not destroy the Natives who are dependent upon them. There are, however, other portions of Africa over which we can have complete control, or can exert very powerful influence, and yet I regret to say that I fear things are almost as bad and disgraceful as in the Cape Colony. We have many sad proofs of death and disease occasioned by drink, of which I could give several personal instances of a deplorable character. We are told that it is difficult, if not impossible, to prevent the sale of alcoholic drinks to Native Tribes. I do not admit the correctness of the assertion, because we have satisfactory proof to the contrary. I have it upon the authority of a Member of this House who has been to Africa that when Sir Charles Warren was in command there he made a clean sweep of the ruffianly traders who were feeding upon the vitals of the unfortunate Natives, and cleared them out in a week or two. And that could be done again. It is stated that the curse of drink has been one of the greatest hindrances to civilization and the spread of Christianity in heathen lands. I believe we are morally bound to protect the Natives over whom we rule, and to promote their welfare by every means in our power. But I believe self-interest—even if we had no higher motive—should induce us to do so. We are a manufacturing and commercial country, and it is of the utmost importance to us that we should have wide fields and numerous customers for our goods. These Native Tribes and Nations, if properly cared for, would be valuable customers. I recollect hearing the late venerable Dr. Moffat, who laboured so long and so successfully in Africa, state on one occasion that when he first went to Bechuanaland there was not £5 worth of British 396 manufactured goods sold in that district; but, before he left, tens of thousands of pounds worth were sold annually. And this is the case wherever Christian civilization extends. It is, therefore, suicidal folly to allow the Native races to be exterminated. It is like killing the goose that, properly cared for, would lay many golden eggs. I am glad to find that the Royal Niger Company are alive to the importance of this fact, and that—influenced, I doubt not, by humane, Christian motives, but also by proper financial considerations—they have endeavoured to restrict the sale of liquor as much as practicable. There was a reduction of 25 per cent in 1885, whilst in 1886 the reduction was not less than half the import of 1884. In April, 1886, the Council prohibited by regulation the importation of spirituous liquors into certain regions forming about one-third of the Company's territories. I understand they are anxious to do the same with another third of the territory. On May 19 the Council made a further regulation imposing penalties on the payment of wages in spirits throughout the whole of these territories, and they point out that, in following that course, they have not been guided solely by administrative or humanitarian motives, but have acted in the true commercial interest of the shareholders, which accepts as an axiom that the permanent success of the Company's extensive operations in Central Africa depends upon general and progressive trade, and that cannot be built up on the liquor traffic. I may also point out, that whilst we incur the disgrace and bear the injury which results from encouraging this iniquitous traffic, other countries, and especially Germany, enjoy the lion's share of profit. I find that during 1885 more than 10,000,000 gallons of the cheapest and vilest spirit ever manufactured were sent to Africa, chiefly into the Congo Free State and the basin of the Niger. Of that quantity, England sent 311,384 gallons; Germany not less than 7,823,042 gallons; the Netherlands, 1,000,009 gallons; the United States, France, and Portugal in smaller quantities. I am well aware that this is a difficult question to deal with, as we shall probably be told by the Under Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs and the Colonies. I also know that we must take other countries into account, 397 and deal fairly with them; but I contend that we have no right to allow any country to poison and exterminate Her Majesty's subjects, or those placed under her protection, to serve their own sordid and selfish purposes. We boast that we have paid £20,000,000 sterling for the abolition of Slavery, and we still expend large sums in endeavouring to suppress that villainous traffic in other parts of the world. Is it not, therefore, highly inconsistent for us to encourage, or, at all events, permit, if we can prevent it, a trade which, we are told on high authority, is even more destructive than the Slave Trade? In the words of the late lamented Duke of Albany—"Drink is the only enemy England has to fear." It is equally true that it is by far the most deadly enemy the Native races have to fear. Sir, I think the facts I have brought before the House prove, beyond all doubt, the greatness of the evil and the necessity for prompt and energetic action to save the Native races from being exterminated, and to prevent the destruction of our commercial interests, which, as I have said, is of the utmost importance to us as a manufacturing country. I therefore appeal for help and sympathy on behalf of those who are, by means of this great evil, being destroyed and hurried to an early and ignominious grave; and I am happy to say that I appeal with confidence, because I believe the noble Lord who so ably discharges the duties of Secretary of State for the Colonies sympathizes with the views which I have endeavoured to express. I hope I may say the same respecting the Under Secretaries of State for Foreign and Colonial Affairs, and, indeed, of every Member of Her Hajesty's Government. I therefore appeal to them with confidence to do everything in their power to stem this torrent of iniquity, and to prevent the degradation, demoralization, and destruction of the Colonial races who are under our control and over whom we exert a powerful influence. I therefore move the Resolution standing in my name. SIR JOHN KENNAWAY (Devon, Honiton) said, that in attempting to show the extent of this evil in order that they might have the means of grappling with it, his hon. Friend had taken them over a large extent of the earth, inhabited by races which, although 398 savage, were possessed of noble qualities and great capabilities, so that if the influences of civilization and the teachings of Christianity were brought to bear upon them they would be well fitted to take their part in the great brotherhood of Nations. Englishmen had come in contact with these races, sent forth by the love of adventure, the desire of gain, the strong pressure exerted by a crowded population and the spirit of philanthropy, and we had succeeded in establishing an Empire such as the world had never seen, and placing ourselves high among nations mainly through our Colonies and our commerce. We were fond of talking about the beneficent mission of our commerce, the onward march of civilization, and of the glorious character of our missionary enterprize, and had persuaded ourselves that the contact between European and Native races must necessarily result in benefit to the latter. It ought to be so; and, if the right influences were brought to bear, it would be so. But we very often defeated our own objects by bringing upon these races that which was not for their good, but for their hurt. The African more especially had a tendency towards carousing; he was able to make large quantities of his favourite drink, called tembe, and from time to time to fall into intoxication. But the European merchant had done a great deal more than that for the Native by the importation of rum and gin, the taste for which generally grew upon him like wild-fire; he became careless of everything else, had no money to purchase goods from Manchester, and cared little for the arts of civilization, the result being that his last condition was worse than at first. Mr. James Thomson, in a lecture before the Manchester Geographical Society, said that he had travelled and suffered much for the negro race, with the idea of doing them good and opening up lines of commerce and civilization; but that when he had seen the results of these vast importations of liquor his satisfaction was blighted; he thought the little work that had been done had better have remained undone, and that Africa had better have continued a dark country, if the end of it was such as he had seen. Sir Richard Burton said that Africa had gone back to its old state under the Slave Trade; that he would rather see its people given up to slavery than given 399 to the habits to which he had seen the people given over. He (Sir John Kennaway) thought the hon. Members had very little idea of the extent to which the importation of spirits went on the West Coast of Africa. Mr. Irvine, in a letter to the Rev. Thomas Waller, said it was impossible to get at the actual shipments; but he did not over estimate them by saying that the importation to the Niger district was 60,000 hogsheads of 50 gallons each, and that there was the consumption on that 200 miles of coast of the cargoes of 20 ships. Another gentleman who had just returned, Mr. H. Allen, Vicar of Bermondsey, said that 60,000 cases of gin, besides an enormous quantity of rum, passed through the country. This country was only beginning to realize the extent of the evil, and what should be done to meet it. They admitted that there ere great difficulties in the way, but great difficulties had not stood in the way of Wilberforce when he attempted, with all his might, to overthrow the Slave Trade against the vast interests arrayed against him. Nor did difficulties appal Buxton, when he set himself to persuade this country that it was a crying sin that any country over which the flag of England waved should be held in slavery; and who had succeeded to the extent that the country made a sacrifice of £20,000,000 sterling to compensate for its abolition. We had to recognize that the traffic complained of was largely carried on by ourselves and in our Colonies over which we had no power; and it had been found, when it was sought to found an international agreement in regard to the importation duties to be levied on spirits, that the Cape Government were unwilling to enter into such agreement. The Colony of Natal, moreover, which stood out in contrast with other self-governed Colonies by its wise determination not to allow liquor to be supplied to the Natives, preferred to make its own arrangements. But though we had no power to force, yet he believed that the Colonies were so justly sensitive to the good opinion of England, that they could undoubtedly exercise an influence upon them for good. There were other difficulties with regard to the Crown Colonies. In the case of Sierra Leone, he found that half the revenue of the Colony was derived from the duty on spirits. All these facts had to be 400 looked in the face; nevertheless, he was satisfied that good in some way or other could be achieved, if the people of this country went to work with a determination to do that which was right. It did not, however, depend entirely upon our individual action. Great Britain did not hold a tenth of the coast line of Africa. There were German, French, and Portuguese settlements, and there were some parts of the coast altogether destitute of civilized Government. It was necessary that we should awaken the conscience of Europe, get them to realize the evil, and by uniting with England deal with this question in some way or other. But this was no easy matter. Foreign Governments had their own concerns to attend to. France, for instance, did not long retain its Colonial Ministers; her people were, besides, our rivals in commerce, and he did not think they had yet begun to be alive to the evil sought to be dealt with. An agreement had been arrived at with regard to the prevention of the liquor traffic with the inhabitants of the Islands in the West Pacific; but, for some reason or other, the United States had not favoured the agreement, and that which had been so well conceived and nearly so well carried out was utterly useless. Exactly the same thing had occurred in the case of Zanzibar, when England and Germany agreed for a duty of 20 per cent on spirits, and the French insisted on their privilege of having 5 per cent duty, the consequence being that the cargoes were at once transferred and imported under the French Flag. We had every reason to be proud of the effort made by our Envoy at Berlin in the Conference on the affairs of Central Africa held four years ago, when our Representative boldly put forward this question, and sought to obtain the sanction of the Conference to a proposal that the transit of spirituous liquors should be prohihibited along the Coast of the Niger; but there was one delegate who wished the initiative to be taken by the Local Governments; he objected to the matter being dealt with by the Conference, and they were obliged to be satisfied with the expression of a wish that an agreement could be established between the Governments to regulate the traffic in a manner which would reconcile the claims of humanity with the interests of commerce, 401 although he was afraid that that wish would not prevent the importation of liquor into the Colonies in question. There was, however, mention made of a further Convention and united action which he hoped the Government would not lose sight of. They had received great encouragement from a Conference held a little time ago with regard to the liquor traffic in the North Sea, when Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, Denmark, Prance, and Holland were able to come to au agreement, whereby an evil, great in itself, but not great in extent as compared with that to which they had been referring that evening, was put a stop to by the united action of those six Powers. There was a strong feeling upon the subject springing up in our Colonies. In South Africa the Party which represented that feeling was no doubt in a minority; but in Sierra Leone a very strong Committee had been formed, and at the inaugural meeting it was shown that the agents of the French, African, and Belgian Steamship Companies were in sympathy with the object of the Committee. He thought that the example of the Niger Company could not be too much made known, showing, as it did, that the result of their adoption of a policy of restriction was that the importation of spirits was reduced in that district 75 per cent in the last four years, and where it was possible the prohibition of the sale of drink to the Natives had been enforced. The Company had also put down their foot firmly against the payment of wages in spirituous liquor which was prevalent in the country, and was a most objectionable practice. They all thought that the Government was fully alive to the question, and the statement made in "another place" by the noble Lord the Colonial Secretary showed not only what they had done, but what they would do if they were able. He and his hon. Friends wanted by this debate to strengthen the hands of the Government, and to make them feel that they had public opinion behind them which would encourage them to persevere in the course they had begun. In Zululand, Bechuanaland, and Basutoland the most stringent rules had been made against the sale of liquor to the Natives, which rules had been very successfully enforced; so that, unless an importation of liquor should take place by railway 402 from the Transvaal, in a way which could not be controlled, a very great and excellent result had already been secured. This question was one which, now that public opinion had been aroused, would not be allowed to go to sleep. He hoped next year that they might have an humble Address to Her Majesty, if the Government had not already taken it in hand, praying that measures might be taken to call together a Convention which might succeed in obtaining the united action of the Powers of Europe in this matter. He ventured to second the Motion, as being one which was in accord with the highest commercial interests of the country, and for the honour of this nation as well as for the sake of humanity, He thought that it might not be out of place on that occasion also to urge upon the House the expediency of the proposal on behalf of the great Missionary Societies which had done so much in the cause of Christianity and civilization. The Church Missionary Society, with which he had the honour more especially to be connected, had always been in the fore front in dealing with Africa. It had spent there a large portion of its treasure; it had sent out the best and noblest of its sons, very many of whom, as real martyrs, had laid their bones in Africa, and it would be its honour for all time to have been the means of raising up many Native Churches. There was present that evening one who himself, once a slave, had been educated, ordained, and had finally become an honoured and trusted Bishop of the Church. The Church Missionary Society was only one amongst many which had come forward; there was the Propagation Society, the Universities Mission to Central Africa, the Scotch and Baptist Missions, and others, whose one object was to civilize and Christianize Africa. Amongst England's great men who lay under the shadow of Westminster Abbey there was David Livingstone, not the least of her heroes, and graven on the stones that covered him were the words—Pray that the nation's richest blessing may rest on him, be he English, be he American, or be he Turk, who shall do his best to remove this open sore of the world.They had in that drink traffic to deal with a sore as open as the Slave Trade, and their's might be the blessing invoked by David Livingstone, if by their 403 means the wound was staunched, and the sick man made whole. Motion made, and Question proposed,That this House, having regard to the disastrous physical and moral effects of the liquor traffic among uncivilized races, as well as the injury it inflicts on legitimate commerce, is of opinion that Her Majesty's Government should take steps to suppress the traffic with Natives in all Native Territories under its influence or control, and that whenever self-governing Dowers are granted to Crown Colonies, stipulations should be made for the effectual protection of the Natives against the sale of strong drink.—(Mr. Alexander M'Arthur.)
§ SIR GEORGE BADEN-POWELL (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
said, he wished to say a few words on this subject, because it was one with which he had had to deal practically. The wording of the Resolution implied that the Government had not as yet taken any steps to suppress the liquor traffic with Natives; but he was sure that his hon. Friend the Member for Leicester did not intend that that signification should be put upon the words of his Motion.
§ SIR GEORGE BADEN-POWELL
said, he was glad to hear that observation. The idea was largely prevalent among the public that our self-governing Colonies had not taken any steps to suppress the traffic. He had in his possession a Report of a Committee which met to settle this question, and he found that the Government were recommended to inquire specially concerning the liquor traffic with Natives in several countries under Colonial Governments. Among those countries he found Tasmania and Canada. He happened to be in Tasmania in 1870, immediately after the death of the last Native there, and yet in 1888 they were told that they were to inquire into the spread of the liquor traffic among the Natives. In Tasmania there were no Natives. That was another sign of the prevailing misapprehension. Then, again, anybody who had been in Canada would bear him out in saying that there never was so admirable a system inaugurated in any country as the system which was to be found in Canada for preventing the sale of liquor to the Natives. In Queensland and the other Colonies, with the exception of one, where there were Natives, the Colonial Governments had earnestly and energetically taken measures to prevent 404 the sale of intoxicating liquor to the Natives.
§ MR. A. M'ARTHUR
said, that he confined his remarks specially to the Western Pacific and to South and West Africa.
§ SIR GEORGE BADEN-POWELL
said, that he was coming to that point; but he wished to emphasize the fact that the Governments of self-governed Colonies were cordially assisting the Imperial Government in carrying out the policy which his hon. Friend supported. In the other Crown Colonies more immediately under the Colonial Office that policy was not so effectually carried out; but he knew that the authorities in Downing Street were certainly not behind any Members of that House in desiring to see a successful policy carried through in this matter. At the same time, he did say, having some personal knowledge of the subject, that in those countries, especially where we exercised influence, though not political control, there was very great room for improvement. When he was in Bechuanaland with Sir Charles Warren, they succeeded in turning out of that country all dealers in intoxicating liquors; but until they got rid of the system of dual control is Zululand, Bechuanaland, and Pondoland, they would not be able to control effectually those Native districts. His experience in Basutoland showed him how Imperial control undeterred could succeed in accomplishing the purpose which they had in view. When he was there in 1885 most of the chiefs were known to be habitual drunkards, and the people had suffered enormously from the drink traffic. But the very energetic Administrator there, who worked under the control of the Imperial Government, had by degrees brought about an enormous change in that country. He had done that, however, with the aid and assistance of the Natives themselves. The Natives, as he knew from personal experience, had set themselves against their chiefs on the question of the drink traffic, and they had made up their minds to make Basutoland a sober country. There were other districts which were outside the sphere of the actual political influence of this country, over which the Imperial Government should assume a more active control. As had been observed in the course of the debate, in 405 dealing with these districts the Government had to associate with foreign Powers, and it had been found that such association was not absolutely impossible—indeed, it had been successful. They had been told, for instance, that the arrangement made in the Pacific had been utterly useless. He traversed that statement, because he knew that the Germans in New Guinea had carried out their share in the guarantee. Then the great English Company on the Niger had certainly effectually checked the liquor traffic in that district. But he thought that there was a very grave and difficult task before them on the West and East Coasts of Africa. As to the effect which the drink traffic bad upon trade, he might say that the traders were in earnest in desiring to see it abolished. The traders desired a wholesome and remunerative traffic in ordinary goods, and they knew that that would be put an end to directly drink was admitted. He did not wish to move an Amendment to the Resolution of his hon. Friend, but he thought that a Motion in general terms, calling attention to the evil effects of the liquor traffic, and stating that the House would cordially support the Imperial and Colonial Governments in their endeavours to suppress it, would be more in accordance with the real facts of the case.
§ MR. WADDY (Lincolnshire, Brigg)
said, that appeared to be one of the debates which should not be prolonged, because they were all of one mind. Whether Liberal, Radical, Tory, or Conservative, they were all of opinion that some action of the nature of that proposed by his hon. Friend (Mr. A. M'Arthur) ought to be adopted. As a question of words, it might be the Government would find it desirable to alter the Resolution in some way or other. He hoped some Member of the Government would rise immediately to tell them what alteration the Government thought it desirable to make in the wording of the Resolution, and thus bring the matter to an end, and enable them to pass on to the next Business. They all recognized thoroughly the very grave difficulties which had been suggested. The hon. Baronet (Sir John Kennaway) who seconded the Resolution, said that, although we were the greatest colonizers in the world, we 406 could not compel other people to do what we wished. No; but we could do a great deal to bring about the improvement which was desired. We had sent out missionaries and introduced English customs and habits into many heathen countries, yet the wretched fact confronted us, that while we had been trying to do those countries good, people had been going side by side and almost in company with our missionaries, endeavouring to do harm. Those men, for the very worst reasons, had enticed and led the Natives into mischief, until really the poor creatures had died in large numbers, as though they were swept away with the breath of the destroying angel. The time bad come when something should be done. If it were worth while to prolong the discussion, he could not help thinking that a reference to the case of the Island of Fiji would show what good things could be done by proper attention to the very principle which was laid down in the Resolution. He was extremely anxious they should at once hear what was to be said on the subject by the Government, and for that reason he would curtail any remarks of his own.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Baron HENRY DE WORMS) (Liverpool, East Toxteth)
said, that that was not a question which was in any way within the range of Party polities, but it was one on which men on both sides of the House were agreed. As far as principle was concerned, Her Majesty's Government could accept the Resolution entirely. He also thought hon. Members would agree with him when he said that both the present Government and also the preceding Government had done their utmost, as far as laid in their power, to prevent extension of this pernicious and dangerous drink traffic among half-civilized or savage races. The hon. Member for the Kirkdale Division of Liverpool (Sir George Baden-Powell) had mentioned the cases of Chiefs who had sought protection against the inroads of traders bringing spirits into their territories. Such cases had come lately under the notice of the Secretary of State, and when they were submitted the Government took immediate steps to assist those Chiefs who were naturally and legitimately anxious to prevent the ruin of their 407 people by the introduction of drink. This question of the introduction of drink among Native races had occupied the attention of successive Governments for a long time. At the request of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. A. M'Arthur) a Circular was sent out in January last to all our Colonial Governments, asking them to send copies of laws and ordinances regulating the introduction of liquors into the Colonies and Native territories. The replies had not yet come to hand; when they were received the Government would be in a better position to form an opinion as to what steps should be taken to prevent the sale of intoxicants to Natives than it was at present. Meanwhile he might refer his hon. Friend the Member for Leicester to a speech which had been made by his noble Friend the Secretary of State on March 5 last, and, as regarded the Western Pacific, to a Parliamentary Paper issued in September last. In many cases the Government had gone further than the hon. Member for Leicester himself, for they had been anxious not only to prevent the sale of intoxicants, but also to prevent the sale of arms and ammunition. If they stopped one trade, they ought to endeavour to stop the other. While these endeavours had been to a certain extent successful, it could not be disguised that one great difficulty had been the absence of perfect co-operation on the part of foreign Governments, without which the restrictions of the British Government only hampered British enterprize without benefiting Natives. This was shown by a Report which had been received from Rear Admiral Tryon, dated the 21st of January last, in which he said—The action of the Pacific Islands Acts and the Memoranda and Regulations, framed as they were with the desire that their action should be beneficial to the Native race, have in far too many instances failed in their effect. To some degree, in a few places, they may have checked the supply of what is prohibited as an article of trade; but, on the whole, their action has only affected the sources of supply. All that is forbidden to be done is done with impunity by foreigners, or by unscrupulous Englishmen, who change their nationality to evade the law. Foreign agencies act as a police against Englishmen only, to enforce against them alone the Pacific Islands Acts. During this cruise a German, an American, and a Swede reported and obtained the punishment of their English rivals for doing that which, if done by themselves, would have been lawful, It appears to me that, however desirous we may be to secure 408 fair play for the Natives, the actual and unexpected result of what has so far been done is to drive the trade from the hands of the larger English firms, from those who naturally would be interested in the maintenance and increase of trade, and whose action could be easily supervised, and, moreover, whose local position favoured their trading operations; while, on the other hand, it favours foreigners and small traders, hailing from any where, and favours the adventurers and the unscrupulous who under our noses do what we do not permit those to do who retain the name of being Englishmen.In that extract were embodied the difficulties of the position. They could make regulations for themselves, and endeavour to see they were carried out, but they were altogether unable to prevent the action of unscrupulous foreigners without the co-operation of the other Powers by conventions. It had been mentioned what had been effected by a little co-operation with regard to the floating drink shops in the North Sea Fisheries. Their trade had been to a great extent suppressed, and he trusted it would be totally suppressed by a little co-operation between the Powers concerned. But so long as cooperation was lacking in the Colonies, and especially in the Western Pacific, so long would existing difficulties baffle our efforts. However, it was not because there were difficulties that nothing, should be done. On the contrary, the greater should be the energy displayed in the effort to overcome them. One Government which stood aloof from an international agreement was that of the United States. They had not yet seen their way to change the view expressed in a despatch from Mr. Bayard, received by Mr. Sackville West, our Representative at Washington, in April, 1885, in which Mr. Bayard said—While recognizing and highly approving the moral force and general propriety of the proposed regulations, and the responsibility of conducting such traffic under proper and careful restrictions, the Government of the United States does not feel entirely prepared to join in the international understanding proposed, and will, therefore, for the present restrain its action to the employment, in the direction outlined by the suggested arrangement, of a sound discretion in permitting traffic between its own citizens in the articles referred to and the Natives of the Western Pacific Islands.He (Baron Henry de Worms) much regretted the position thus taken by the United States in 1885; and the Government would be unceasing in their efforts to bring about, if it were possible, a 409 better understanding, and to induce the United States Government to adopt the views of Great Britain, and to enter into a Conference or Convention which should enable the two Governments to co-operate in stopping the liquor traffic in the Western Pacific. The late Government took those steps, and the present Government would continue in the same direction; and wherever the Government had been able to act independently of foreign Powers, they had invariably endeavoured to restrain the drink traffic. In Fiji stringent regulations had been enforced, and been found beneficial. With respect to New Guinea, the Queensland Act for its administration provides as follows:—Trading with the Natives in arms, ammunition, explosives, and intoxicants to be prohibited, except under ordinances reserved for Her Majesty's assent, and assented to by Her Majesty. The foregoing articles to he embodied in the Letters Patent as part of the Constitution of the territory.In Western Australia, in dealing with the question of responsible government, the Secretary of State had expressed his concurrence with the Governor in his opinion that some measure would be necessary for placing the aboriginal inhabitants of the Colony under the care of a body independent of the Parliament of the day. With respect to Africa, in 1886, upon representations by the London Chamber of Commerce, some correspondence took place as to regulating the importation of alcohol into South Africa by means of a uniform and high duty. The late Government, however, determined to wait for the result of the Western Pacific negotiations before taking further steps. In 1887, the opinion of the Colonial Governments in South and West Africa was invited. The views of the Cape and Natal were not favourable. They were briefly as follow:—The Cape Ministers pointed out that, an excise duty being placed on corn-made brandy and not on spirits produced from grapes, a higher import duty would only increase local manufacture. They were of opinion that the traffic should be regulated rather by internal regulations than by import duties, and they finally declined to take part in the proposed international agreement. The Natal Government stated that if the Cape and Portuguese Governments discontinued the facilities they now give for passing spirits beyond 410 their frontiers, they would impose higher transit duties and raise the import duties to the rate agreed upon by the others. But they pointed to the stringency of the law in Natal for preventing the sale of liquor to the Natives, and they considered that the question would best be solved by adopting similar arrangements elsewhere. By the Natal law the penalty for so supplying liquor was, for the first offence, a fine not exceeding £10, or three months' imprisonment; for the second, £15, or six months; for the third, £20, or nine months, with a provision for cancelling licences. In the territories immediately under British rule there were stringent regulations, as follow:—In Zululand a penalty was imposed, and in default of payment imprisonment, upon any one, licensed or unlicensed, who should sell, exchange, or, for any valuable consideration, give to or procure for any Native in Zululand any wine, or spirituous, or partly spirituous liquor in any quantity, unless it was proved that the liquor was supplied for medicinal purposes. Caffre beer might be sold by the Native producer thereof, but not mixed with wine or spirits. In Bechuanaland the same provisions were in force. In Basutoland the rule of 1877 prohibited absolutely the sale of wines, beer, and spirituous liquors, and the bringing into Basutoland of wine, beer, or spirituous liquors without permission in writing of the Governor, agent, or resident magistrate of the district. The last Report for the year ending June 30, 1887, was "The drink traffic has ceased to exist." As to West Africa, in 1887 the Royal Niger Company pressed on the Government the importance of checking importation, and suggested an arrangement with France and Germany to levy a uniform rate. An important communication lead been just received from the King of the Belgians, showing his desire to co-operate with Her Majesty's Government. By a decree of the Congo Free State of the 17th of December, 1887, every person trafficking in spirituous liquors with the Natives must be licensed and pay an annual licence fee of 2,000f. for each establishment, and 5,000f. for each boat used for the traffic. Stringent provisions to guard against abuse were also inserted in the licence, a disregard of which would be followed by forfeiture. The penalty for selling without a licence in a building 411 was 20,000f.; in a boat, 50,000f. The West African Colonies were also consulted, but only Lagos replied; but it was feared that the project was impracticable, as the coast line was not at present completely under the control of civilized Governments. Those were the details which he was at present able to give to the House; but when further Returns were received they would, of course, be presented to Parliament, and would contain a much more complete statement than he was able to give. He trusted that the hon. Member would be satisfied with the knowledge that the Government was doing its best to suppress the nefarious traffic; for while they might permit the use, they could not permit the abuse of the traffic with Native races. He, therefore, hoped the hon. Member would not press his Motion, as it would scarcely be accepted as it stood. But the Government were quite willing to accept it, and if the hon. Member in charge of it wanted something stronger, they would agree to substitute for the words after "commerce," the following words—Will cordially support the Imperial and Colonial Governments in their endeavours to suppress the traffic in spirituous liquors with Natives in all the Native territories under their influence and control.It was the duty of the Government, and a duty which they would certainly not neglect, to spread the benign influence of religion and civilization wherever British power or influence extended; and they were fully alive to the special duty which devolved upon them of protecting those who could not protect themselves, and of averting the terrible evils which, unfortunately, civilization too often brought in its train upon uncivilized races, and which so largely in this country did so much to swell the long roll of pauperism and crime. He would again assure the hon. Member that Her Majesty's Government would do their utmost to protect the Native races against that danger.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
said, he had listened with great interest and admiration to the concluding words of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Baron Henry de Worms). That hon. Gentleman had made a very excellent and satisfactory speech, but apparently he 412 had cut it short in one particular—he had not said what he was going to do in the way of compensation to these traders. He (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) was sure this was an oversight, because he knew the Government meant to deal fairly and impartially with all classes of traders, and he hoped that, before the termination of the discussion, the author of the Local Government Bill (Mr. Ritchie) would get up and say what compensation it was proposed to give to the unhappy dealers. Meanwhile, let him (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) congratulate the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. A. M'Arthur) on having found an opportunity for bringing this matter before the House, on having brought it before the House in such an able manner, and on having met with such a satisfactory greeting for it from the Government. He understood from the Government that they were all of one mind on this subject. Yes; all of one mind as to suppressing the liquor traffic—as to suppressing the liquor traffic everywhere except in England. That was, certainly, a most satisfactory state of things. Now, what was this Motion? It was one branch of the attack which was being made on alcohol and the great evil of intemperance, and he was glad that, in the course of the debate, they had heard nothing to the effect that it was adulteration, and not alcohol itself, which was pernicious and was doing all the harm. If they looked at the Returns bearing upon the subject in England, they would find that hardly anybody was convicted of adulteration. The fact was gradually being admitted, that it was alcohol, and alcohol alone, which was doing all the mischief. He would not go at length into all the horrors which this trade produced. He had been struck by what an hon. Member—he thought the hon. Baronet opposite—had stated as the declaration of a certain Native Chief with regard to the introduction of alcohol amongst the Natives—namely, that the traffic in it inflicted more harm upon them than slavery. A statement such as that should have gone to the heart of the Bishop of Peterborough, who had once said that "he would rather see England free than England sober." No one had understood what the right rev. Prelate meant, for no one knew of any divergence between insobriety and slavery; 413 but such were the words of that Bishop. How differently that Native Chief talked, and no wonder that the Bishop of Peterborough was regarded in some quarters as the patron saint of the publicans of England. He was glad his hon. Friend (Mr. M'Arthur) had quoted what he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) himself had quoted the other day—namely, the statement of Sir William Gull, that alcohol was the most destructive agent in England. Of course, it was the most destructive agent. It filled our gaols, our workhouses, and our lunatic asylums. It was king of the country. Drink was king of England, there was no doubt. As The Times said the other day, "Every other institution flounders in difficulty; the public-house alone holds its triumphant course in this country." The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie) knew that very well when he brought in his Bill with the Compensation Clauses. The question was, whether the Legislature of this country would not be justified, after due consideration, in placing the welfare of the people above the claims of the trade. That night they were deciding that the claims of Native populations should be put above those of the trade; but so far as our own country was concerned, they had not got so far as that. The hon. Baronet opposite had said—"Their duty was to awaken the conscience of Europe." Why not awaken their own consciences, he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) should like to know? Why should they be so benevolent and kind in this matter towards the people of Africa and of the Fiji Islands, and of all other parts of the world, and yet be without regard for the interests of their fellow-citizens at home? He should have thought they would have had some pity left for the unhappy Native races of these Northern seas, but that was evidently not the case. What did they do? Why, instead of making an attack upon the people who were carrying on this pernicious and dangerous trade, if they had carried it on sufficiently long, and the quantities of liquor they had sold were large enough, they made Peers of them. And they were now taking a new departure. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, not satisfied with making Peers of them, in cases where the quantity of liquor they sold became 414 smaller, proposed to give them pensions. And so they went on. But he hoped the people of the country would become like the Basutos, whom the House had heard about that night. Those people got wiser than their Chiefs, and he trusted that in the course of time the people of this country would get wiser than their pastors and their masters on the drink traffic question. He sincerely hoped they would. It was said that charity began at home, and he hoped that the people of this country would have regard to that proverb as respected the drink question. It would seem, however, that charity began in the Fiji Islands, and had not reached here yet. He was glad, however, to see that it had made a beginning anywhere. A great beginning had been made, and no doubt this debate would be road with delight by hundreds of thousands of people, who would see in it only a forecast of those declarations which would be made when Parliament had become more enlightened upon the question. For his own part, he pitied his fellow-countrymen in connection with this question as much as he did the Natives of Africa; and he failed to see why the interests of the inhabitants of the basin of the Thames should not be looked after quite as carefully as those of the inhabitants of the basin of the Congo. He believed the people at home were quite as worthy of our help and wise legislation as were the Natives of a savage State. What had Sir Charles Warren done; he who was one of the strongest opponents of the drink traffic, and had called it all sorts of bad names when speaking of its existence in foreign countries? But what had he done a few months ago? Why, the only way seemingly in which he could celebrate the Queen's Jubilee was by breaking the law, and keeping open the public-houses a few hours longer, the result being that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was enabled to congratulate the House upon the fact that we had made an additional £300,000 that year out of drink. He (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) was glad to see the Bishops were taking up the case of the Native races, and he wished them and his hon. Friend (Mr. M'Arthur) God's speed in their enterprize. It was time that something was done in the matter abroad, as well as at home. We read continually in the newspapers, and in the speeches of great statesmen, that 415 this country had the great mission to fulfil of promoting Christianity and civilization throughout the world. But how did the country promote Christianity and civilization throughout the world? Why, with three agencies—gunpowder, gin, and the gospel. It was by means of those three that we carried out civilization. First of all we introduced gunpowder. A General went out and shot large numbers of the Natives, and then, when he had killed a sufficient number, the gin merchant came in, who poisoned a large proportion of the survivors, and he was followed by the Minister, who converted those who were left. Civilization indeed! No wonder that the Irishman who, when thrown upon what he considered to be a desert island, exclaimed when he saw a man hanging upon a gibbet "Sure, this is a civilized country," and when a little further he met a drunken man he said "Faith, and a Christian one." He congratulated the House upon the work it was doing that night. It might be that it was intended to commit an enormous mistake later on by taking the hard earnings of the people of this country in order to subsidize persons who carried on this pernicious trade for any loss of income they might suffer through interference with their business; but, at any rate, they were now striking a blow for good. It was satisfactory to everyone that the blow should be struck against traders dealing with Native populations, because the traders who were stricken to-night did not possess votes at elections. It was safe, therefore, to strike at them boldly. However, it was a good thing to begin oven against them; because he was quite sure that what was done that night would not be forgotten. The hon. Gentleman who had last spoken (Baron Henry de Worms) would always be glad that he had spoken out so boldly upon this question. Why should they not join in this crusade against alcohol, wherever they found it existing. What did Sir Andrew Clarke say? Why, he uttered these words—When I think of the evil done by this alcohol, I feel disposed to give up my profession and everything, and go forth in the required crusade, preaching to all men the power of this enemy of our race.Well he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) had been engaged in that crusade for a good while, and he rejoiced that night to find 416 that his hon. Friend the Member for Leicester and many other hon. Gentlemen had joined him. They were a band of noble recruits, and he trusted they would go on until they had successfully carried, at any rate, one of the outposts of this great enemy of mankind.
§ SIR ROBERT FOWLER (London)
said, he was not going to follow the hon. Baronet who had just sat down (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) into the question of compensation to publicans for licences which might be withdrawn under the provisions of the Local Government Bill. He would simply say that he did not agree with the right hon. Baronet upon that point; but he did wish to congratu-gratulate the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. A. M'Arthur) on the great service he had done to mankind by the debate he had raised that night. He (Sir Robert Fowler) hoped, however, that the hon. Member would be satisfied with what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies (Baron Henry de Worms). The hon. Member the Under Secretary had spoken out most strongly about the evils which attended the system which had been brought under the notice of the House. Whatever hon. Members might think of the state of things in this country—which was not germane to the Motion before the House—there would be no doubt that in dealing with uncivilized races we found that spirits had a most prejudicial effect upon them. Although he did not agree with the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) in his theories in regard to the use of alcohol, he believed that the result of over indulgence, so far as Native races were concerned, was their destruction, mentally, morally, and physically. There could be no doubt, therefore, that it was the duty of the Government to do everything that lay in their power to put an end to the system which had been described, and that it had been fully recognized by the Under Secretary. That hon. Member had pointed out the great difficulty which the present Government and the late Government and successive Governments had had to contend with in consequence of the refusal of the United States of America to take action in this matter. He would draw the attention of his hon. Friends opposite the Members for Cumberland and Battersea (Sir Wilfrid Lawson and Mr. O. V. 417 Morgan), who were much respected in the United States, to that matter. He did not appeal to those Gentlemen as regarded the Government of America; but he knew that they had interest with people in that country, and he trusted that they would bring; the subject to the notice of their friends there. He would appeal to them to make known to their friends in America the course the Government was taking. It was to him a very surprising thing that in America, where teetotalism was more prevalent than perhaps in any other country, there should be so much opposition to the course Her Majesty's Government were taking on this important matter. He could not but hope that what had been stated in that House that night by various speakers would, by the favour of the Press, be read on the other side of the Atlantic, and that it would have some effect in inducing the American Government to take a different view of the subject when next their attention was called to it by Her Majesty's Government.
§ MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
said, he would ask the hon. Member who had brought forward the Motion (Mr. A. M'Arthur) to accept the Amending words suggested on the part of Her Majesty's Government by the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies. At the same time he thought he might congratulate his hon. Friend (Mr. A. M'Arthur) on the success which had attended his Motion. The hon. Gentleman had done good service by bringing the question before the House, and he trusted that he would not be content with the result of to-night's debate. The Under Secretary of State had given them an admirable promise for the future, and he (Mr. Mundella) believed that the hon. Member was quite in earnest in his desire to put an end or to mitigate as far as possible this most injurious traffic. But, after all, everything depended on the vigour, energy, and persistency with which the Government took the matter in hand. If the hon. Member (Baron Henry de Worms) would forgive him for saying so, he would observe that if he was as earnest in his endeavours to abolish the drink traffic amongst the Natives under our influence as he was in his efforts to abolish the sugar bounties, there could be no doubt that they might look for- 418 ward very shortly to a favourable result. But it was no use sending out circulars to Foreign Powers and to our Representatives abroad, unless we gave them to understand that we were in earnest in the matter, and unless there was someone at headquarters who was determined that the will of the Government should be enforced, and no one know that better than the Under Secretary of State himself. They heard a good deal about the difficulty of obtaining the assent of Foreign Powers. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Sir Robert Fowler) had spoken of the United States of America. No doubt, the United States were, with ourselves, sinners in this respect. He would not say who were the greatest sinners. But there was another Power which exercised a more detrimental influence in regard to this traffic than did the United States, and that was Germany. It was the enormous importation of cheap spirits of the very worst character throughout Southern and Western Africa that was one of the greatest sources of mischief amongst the Native races of that Continent. Well, we had had some experience of what could be done by the Germans. They were not impervious to public opinion. Reference had been made to the North Sea Convention, which he (Mr. Mundella) was very glad to have had an humble part in promoting. That Convention had been for the regulation of the supply of spirits to the fishermen in the North Sea, which was a curse to our marine, and a source of mutiny, bloodshed, poverty, robbery, and every kind of iniquity. There had been some difficulty in getting a number of Foreign Powers to come to a common and substantial agreement, but they had finally succeeded. It was only done, however, by the pressure, so to speak, of public opinion, England taking the lead in promoting that public opinion. Let England do the same with regard to this drink traffic amongst the Native races. Let her record be clear. Let us begin by cleaning our own doors. Let our record be clear in this matter as it was with respect to the Slave Trade, and then let us be resolved to put an end to the evil. It was no use talking about licensing dealers amongst foreign populations. The King of the Belgians might have thought he was doing a good thing in 419 that direction; but he (Mr. Mundella) had little faith in the resolution of his action. The only way in which Native races could be benefited was by prohibiting the drink traffic altogether. The Native races were free from all the evils attending intemperance until they came in contact with civilization—with the introduction of civilization, which brought drink in its train. Not only every kind of crime, but every kind of fraud was perpetrated upon them in the matter of land, and in the matter of buying and selling. Persons took advantage of them, by getting them under the influence of drink before making bargains. In this way this drink traffic was not only a curse to the Natives morally and physically, but it was also a curse to the commerce of this country. He thought the hon. Gentleman who represented the Colonies in this House had spoken of the suppression of drink and gunpowder as the things going together, but there was not so much danger in the supply of gunpowder and arms if the supply of drink were stopped. At any rate, if the supply of drink and gunpowder to the Natives were put an end to, much would be done in the way of promoting civilization. Every word which had fallen from the hon. Member for the Kirkdale Division of Liverpool confirmed the necessity for this Motion. They would admit the good service which the hon. Member himself had done, and with regard to Sir Charles Warren, it was impossible to speak too highly of his work. Sir Alexander Gordon also had shown them what work could be done in this direction in Fiji. That Gentleman had brought about the complete suppression of the traffic, and the action of no English ruler had ever been more beneficent than his. In conclusion, he (Mr. Mundella) could only say that the hon. Member for Leicester was to be congratulated on the work he had done that night. They must all feel that they owed a debt of gratitude to the hon. Member the Under Secretary of State for the sympathetic and courageous answer he had given to the Motion. He (Mr. Mundella) trusted the hon. Member would follow that answer up, and would not be content to leave what they had achieved alone—he trusted he and his Colleagues would follow it up time after time, until they 420 had impressed their views on all our Representatives abroad.
§ MR. MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbright)
said, he was glad to have heard the satisfactory statement made by the Government, and thanked them fur the honest and honourable way in which they had stated their views. But he would urge them not to be "weary in well-doing." It was one thing to make a declaration, and another to see that it was fulfilled; and he would impress upon them to carry their action to a successful issue. Many impediments would, no doubt, be placed in their way, and the greatest possible vigilance would be required. He thought, however, that the present debate would strengthen their hands.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy)
said, after the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies (Baron Henry de Worms), there could be no doubt of the sincerity of Her Majesty's Government, though their efforts to check the traffic had not always been successful. The House and the Government were under an obligation to the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. A. M'Arthur), for the Motion would strengthen the hands of the Government in their endeavours. The difficulties to contend with were great, and not the least was the difficulty of arriving at an arrangement by which the co-operation of Foreign Governments could be secured. But he (Sir George Campbell) desired to say a few words upon another practical difficulty. He observed that the Motion was directed to the disastrous effect of the traffic upon the uncivilized races, and, as the hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) said, we did not apply the same principle to our own people at home. But we drew yet another distinction, and acknowledged an inalienable right of Englishmen to consume liquor in any part of the world. Wherever, by ordinance or legislation, an attempt was made to restrain or prevent the use of liquor by the Natives, liquor shops and canteens were allowed, so that the English settler might still have his liquor, no matter how few the Whites might be in proportion to the Natives. In that there was a difficulty that prevented drink being kept from the Blacks altogether, for there would always be White men 421 willing to help the Native to indulge his propensity for drink. The only effectual way to prevent the disastrous physical and moral effect of drink on uncivilized races would be to suppress the liquor traffic altogether in all Native Territories under British influence, not scrupulously maintaining the trade for the White Christian and denying it to the Blacks. Ho did not think it was at all necessary that wherever a Christian went he should have his liquor. The Government should be prepared to face the question in that way, if they really meant to suppress the traffic; not showing the Natives that while the latter were put under restrictions, full liberty of indulgence was allowed to the Whites. One word on another point of the question. The House had been told that the Germans had scrupulously carried out the prohibition of the drink traffic in their portion of New Guinea; but the British Government had delegated all its responsibility in regard to New Guinea to the Government of Queensland—a Colony whose record was not clean. When New Guinea was made a British Possession, Her Majesty's Government were bound to see that our duty to the Natives was not neglected—we could not shuffle off our Imperial responsibility.
§ MR. A. M'ARTHUR
said, that after the debate they had had, he was quite willing to accept the Amendment proposed by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, and thanking him for the courteous manner in which lie had dealt with the subject, he might just say that he had no intention of accusing Her Majesty's Government of any neglect, nor of throwing blame upon the Australian Colonies. He confined his remarks specially to the West Pacific and South and West Africa. He was glad to know what other Colonies had done; he was aware that some of them had done a great deal towards stopping the traffic, and he hoped they would do more. In accepting the Amendment, he presumed that the proper course would be to withdraw his Resolution and move it in the amended form.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion made, and Question proposed,That this House, having regard to the disastrous physical and moral effects of the 422 liquor traffic among, uncivilized races, as well as the injury it inflicts on legitimate commerce, will cordially support the Imperial and Colonial Governments in their endeavours to suppress the traffic in spirituous liquors with Natives in all Native Territories under their influence and control."—(Mr. A. M'Arthur.)
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said, he wished, before the debate concluded, to make some remarks and to obtain some information from the Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst) on the subject of the traffic in spirituous liquors in one of the latest acquisitions of the Crown—namely, Upper Burmah, and especially as to the issue of spirit licences there. Under the former independent Sovereigns of Burmah, the consumption of opium and spirits by the Natives which was forbidden by the Buddhist religion, was strictly enforced by the civil power, though it was true that there were some Chinese in Upper Burmah who consumed a small quantity of opium, and that some of the wild tribes who were neither Burmans nor Buddhists used spirits. He understood that last April or May the Indian Government, finding itself in want of revenue in Burmah, had determined to issue licences for the sale of intoxicating liquors and opium. He was further informed that the officers in charge of the districts in Upper Burmah, with scarcely an exception, had reported against the introduction of intoxicating liquor as likely to cause great injury to the country, not only morally but in an economical point of view. The best part of the Native population was also strongly opposed to it. Apparently the Government was undeterred by these reports, as well as by the expressed opinion of the principal of the Burmese people, and a considerable number of licences were put up to auction and issued even for districts where the whole population was Burman, and therefore bound by religion and law not to drink intoxicating liquors. The sale of opium was similarly introduced where there was no Chinese population. In July last he had asked for information on the subject, which the India Office professed itself unable to give, and had carried an Address for Returns giving full particulars of the licences issued. Again in February he pressed the Under Secretary for information as to what was taking place and when the Returns would be laid on the Table, but he 423 received practically no information. By this time, he earnestly hoped that the hon. Gentleman would be in a position to state when the Returns would be ready. They ought, at any rate, to know when these Returns were likely to appear, but apparently the authorities in Burmah kept the India Office and the House equally in the dark, and treated with indifference akin to contempt the wishes here expressed. The matter was a rather serious one. We conquered the country with professions that it was for its own good, not only commercially, but as regarded the better moral and intellectual development of the people; yet it appeared that the first step we took towards the introduction of civilization was to introduce these very vices which already had wrought so much harm in other parts of our Indian Dominions. He could assure his hon. Friend that it was commonly believed in Burmah that the Government had issued these licences for the sake of revenue. This would probably be denied by the Government; but if revenue was not the object, what was? There was no need for more regulation, because there was nothing to show that unlicensed sale had begun to he, and in fact it was not, a practical evil. If the Government, when it took over the control of the affairs of Burmah, had continued the same severe discipline which was practised by the Native Kings, there would have been no need of the introduction of any licensing system. Nor was it necessary to introduce a licensing system for the Chinese in Burmah, for they were confined to a very few towns such as Mandalay and Bhamo. He would remind the House that they were not without some practical experience in this matter, seeing that exactly the same process had been gone through in Lower Burmah, where the sale of opium and spirits had increased under the British régime with a result deleterious to the country. He earnestly hoped that the Under Secretary would be able to announce that the Government of India had receded from its first intentions, or had checked what seemed to have been the first intentions and acts of the Local Authorities in Burmah. He believed that the expression of opinion which had made itself felt in this country had told upon the Government, and that if the Government did not 424 take some step in the matter the opinion of the House would be unmistakably expressed with a view to doing something to check the course upon which they were entering, and to show that those philanthropic expressions which always found utterance when this country made a fresh annexation were real and substantial.
THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Sir JOHN GORST) (Chatham)
said, before alluding to the specific subject which his hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Bryce) had brought forward, the House would forgive him if he said a few words on the general subject. In his humble opinion, nothing had been heard during the debate that was really new to the question. It was extremely easy for the House to pass unanimously abstract Resolutions; it was easy to frame Ordinances in Colonies and dependent States, and the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite seemed to think that if those Ordinances were made in the sense of absolute prohibition of the liquor traffic, there would be no difficulty at all in the matter. But he (Sir John Gorst) would venture to say that when the abstract Resolution was passed. in the House, and the Ordinances for the total prohibition of the traffic in the Colonies were framed, then the difficulties began. The difficulty was not to make laws, but to enforce them. This was, in his earlier days, forcibly brought to his own attention by the utter break down of an honest attempt to enforce total prohibition in the Waikato district of New Zealand. The district was in a state of semi-insurrection against British rule, and one of the bitterest complaints made by the Chiefs against our civilization was that their people were being utterly demoralized by the introduction of extremely bad rum into the district. The Imperial and Colonial Governments were quarrelling among themselves as to who was to be responsible for the management of Native affairs in New Zealand; but they combined to enact stringent regulations to prevent absolutely the introduction of all spirituous liquors into the district, except under special licence, and rendered persons who transported such liquor from one part of the country to another liable to punishment by fine and imprisonment, and enacted the confiscation of all liquor so transported. 425 He (Sir John Gorst) was a Commissioner charged with putting these enactments into force. In those days, he was young and enthusiastic, and he refused to issue any licences whatever, so that there was about as absolute a prohibition, even in the sense of the hon Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), as there could be, not only against Natives but Europeans also. After a trial of about a year, the attempt broke down. Liquor was smuggled into the country and concealed, and not all the vigilance of the Commissioner and the Native Chiefs could keep it out. He fined one or two of the offenders and confiscated a few kegs of spirits, and at last one of the Chiefs who had exerted himself greatly seized a large quantity of spirits—perfectly illegally—and kept the spirits in his own village. After the lapse of about a fortnight, he and his head men broached the spirits they had confiscated, and got so drunk upon them that they had to be summoned before the tribunal and fined. The example at once became contagious, and the attempt to suppress the traffic utterly broke down. He did not, as a moral to that, mean to say that the attempt should not be made. He would not despair, he would try again; all he wanted was that hon. Members should see the difficulties. One effect it had had upon him—to make him extremely charitable towards the unfortunate officials in India, who were so often accused of failing to suppress the traffic, because he had had personal experience of the difficulty of doing it. So long as the Government and officials were honest in their efforts to minimize as much as possible the evil that arose from drunkenness, he should be sorry to cast a stone at them; because the circumstances under which they were placed did not enable them to suppress the traffic altogether. From this digression he returned to the question in reference to Upper Burmah, and the last great Native population brought under British rule. There the principle of the Resolution was being carried out. He did not quite join in the picture the hon. Gentleman had drawn of the extraordinary virtue and sobriety of the Burmese under their Native Kings. It was true that the Buddhist religion, like every other religion, forbad drunkenness; but 426 it was equally true that adherents of that religion, as of many others, did not always practice what they preached. If this state of sobriety existed in Upper Burmah, its existence had escaped the notice of most authorities who had written about the country. The law was perfect in principle, no doubt; but, as in other places, obedience to it fell short. But he was willing to admit that, as a race, the Burmese were, and are still, a sober people, just as the Indians were, and are still, a sober race. When Upper Burmah was annexed, it was decided, in the first place, to refuse all licences for the sale of opium. That, of course, did not entirely stop the sale of opium; but no licences were granted, the prohibition of the sale of opium to Burmese was maintained, and the sale was strictly confined to a few Chinese who were addicted to the drug and could not do without it. Then liquor shops were licensed in a few exceptional towns, where there was a large non-Burman population. This state of things continued until June of last year, when the Chief Commissioner proposed to extend to Upper Burmah the liquor laws and excise laws that prevailed in Lower Burmah. So far from deserving the animadversions of the hon. Member for South Aberdeen, the liquor laws had been eminently successful there for the past six or seven years in reducing the consumption of liquor and improving the condition of Lower Burmah. He was surprised, as he listened to the hon. Member's speech, because he had a table before him, showing that although the population of Lower Burmah, during the last six or seven years, had increased by 28 per cent, the revenue from the sale of liquor had diminished, and that from the sale of opium only slightly increased.
SIR JOHN GORST
said, that might or might not be the case. Before the licensing system was introduced, there was no means of knowing what the consumption was; but, so far as the test of figures could be applied, the liquor law of Lower Burmah did not deserve the blame cast upon it, and the same might be said of India, and indeed other parts 427 of the British Empire. When the proposal was made to extend the liquor laws to Upper Burmah, it was at the same time proposed to abrogate the restriction of the sale of liquor to Burmese. This, however, was not for the purpose of revenue, but because it was pointed out to the Government that the law was practically a dead letter, and had not had the effect of preventing such sale. Letters from Commissioners, Sub-Commissioners and others, showed this was the case; one of those letters saying that the attempt by means of this law to prevent Burmese from using stimulating drinks was as ineffective as would be a law to prevent the Scotch from drinking whiskey by restricting the sale in Scotland to Englishmen and Irishmen. The fact was, prohibition or not, a Burman who could afford to buy liquor found no difficulty in inducing an Englishman, a Chinese, or a Coolie to procure it for him, and the prohibition was of no great value. Those proposals having been made—not for purposes of revenue, but to improve the excise system found useful in Lower Burmah—were investigated by the Government of India and the Secretary of State. To show the House the principle which the Burmese Government were instructed to follow in the arrangements for the sale of liquor, he quoted from a despatch written at Simla, November 5, 1887, from the Government of India to the Chief Commissioner in Burmah. Of course, he would lay the Paper on the Table if there was any wish for it. It was as follows:—Whatever arrangements are now introduced should be defensible as restrictive measures, and should be carefully guarded against any tendency to facilitate the sale of liquor. Special care is required that indulgence should not be allowed where such does not now exist, and that under the favor of a general excise system intoxicating liquors should not be introduced in places where innocent drinks only are now known. That is the only policy that commends itself to his Excellency in Council, and which, no doubt, you also have in view, but it is also that to which the Secretary of State has pledged the Government of India by answers to Questions asked in Parliament regarding the excise policy now being pursued in Upper Burmah.With that policy in view the arrangements were made as follows:—Licences were required for the importation of all foreign liquors into Upper Burmah. 428 Secondly, the sale of foreign and country-made liquors was allowed only in selected places, where foreigners were numerous. Thirdly, at each of these places, a distillery might be established, but, in some cases, one distillery might supply two or three places. Fourthly, all other distilleries but those were regarded as illicit, and the liquor made there contraband. Fifthly. licences for sale issued were to be strictly restrictive, the intention being that the present facilities for obtaining liquor should not be increased. The restrictions of sale to Burmese were to be maintained. The possession and transport of liquor were to be brought under regulation. Tari, procured from the palm, was to be brought under excise, and licences to be taken out for tapping every tree and for the sale of the liquor. He did not say that restrictions and regulations of that kind would necessarily be effective in preventing any drunkenness in Upper Burmah, but he did say that they were an honest attempt on the part of the Government of India to check any special prevalence of drunkenness there. Members of the House—who were always so ready to censure the administration of the Indian officials, as being animated only by the desire to raise revenue, and as allowing any degradation and corruption of the people under their charge, if only they could screw out a few more rupees for the revenue—should consider that, in a country where the juice from a tree, after standing for a few hours, became an intoxicating liquor, the difficulties in the way of checking the vice of drunkenness were extraordinarily great, and the efforts of the Government to check it deserved the support of the Parliament and people of this country. As an explanation of the delay in furnishing the Returns ordered, he might say that on receipt by the Government of India of the Secretary of State's despatch in December last, a circular was sent out by the Chief Commissioner of Burmah to all the Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners of Upper Burmah, asking for full information in the various districts as to the circumstances which ought to govern the administration in a final settlement of the excise system, and asking also for a very elaborate Return, which would include that asked for by the hon. Member. He confessed that the long delay in fur- 429 nishing the Return was unjustifiable, and as representing the Government of India, he sat in dust and ashes before the hon. Member; but the delay was accounted for by the fact that the Government of Burmah asked for extremely complicated information that had taken much time to collect. He thought it would have been better had the Government been content with supplying what was asked for, not attempting more; but an elaborate Return had been requested, which, though long in being procured, would, no doubt, be found extremely valuable. He hoped that the discussion of that night, and the unanimity that had prevailed in the House as to the principle that ought to govern their policy in the matter towards all Native races, would be productive of good effect throughout the Empire. But he warned hon. Members that, easy though it might be to propound a principle, and to embody it in ordinances and laws, there was great difficulty in enforcing actual practice, and those engaged in that extremely difficult work were deserving of generous consideration and charitable construction of their actions on the part of Parliament.
§ SIR RICHARD TEMPLE (Worcester, Evesham)
said, he felt bound, as the hon. Member for South Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce) had introduced the subject of Burmah, to offer a few observations in reply. The hon. Member, having become an apostle of the Temperance Party, had adopted the extreme views of that Party, and their version of facts. Everything that could possibly be said by that Party against Burmese administration found an echo in the hon. Gentleman's voice, and was translated into his eloquent language. He (Sir Richard Temple) thought that the House would agree with him that the facts had been exaggerated throughout. Of course, there was a certain substratum of truth in the remarks which had been made; but the truths which underlay them were strained to the extreme. He had never heard until that evening that the Burmese were free from intemperance prior to the British occupation of that country. He certainly believed that drinking existed under the Burmese rule—in a country where Nature supplied the materials abundantly for such consumption. There were, no doubt, prohibitions against 430 the importation of spirituous liquors; but no one who took a sober view of the facts believed that those prohibitions were ever effectual. No doubt, the Burmese, like all the Oriental nations, were not drunkards as a rule; but there was a certain amount of dram-consumption among them. He had been especially surprised to hear what had been said about Arracam To believe that the Arracanese were being demoralized under British rule was to believe in an incredible supposition. As to Upper Burmah, the House must recollect that the Burmese were not the only people there. There were also the Chinese, besides a considerable influx of Indian people. The principal stations of the country were occupied by Native Indian troops, the Burmese not being a race who entered into the Military Service. With the troops there were, of course, camp-followers, the non-combatants being, perhaps, three to one to the combatants. There was also a certain proportion of Europeans. All these people were in the habit of drinking in a moderate degree, and therefore there must be a moderate importation and a certain amount of manufacture of spirituous liquors. This being so, it was necessary to have either total prohibition of the traffic, or regulation of it. Total prohibition was impracticable. Prohibition might be enacted, but could not be carried out. The only alternative was regulation, and that alternative had been adopted in Burmah. His hon. Friend the Under Secretary for India (Sir John Gorst) had stated that in no part of the British Indian Empire was the regulation of the liquor traffic more effectually carried out than in Burmah. He hoped that the statement thus officially made would be accepted. From what he knew of officials who served their country in British Dependencies, he was sure that the officials in Burmah were doing what it behoved them to do for the protection of the Natives from the evil of intemperance as from all other evils. They wished to do their duty in this respect, and he felt confident that the House might safely trust them to exercise properly the powers which were placed in their hands. He quite believed, as the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce) supposed, that the Burmese in the interior of the 431 country, if left to themselves, were tolerably temperate. He admitted, therefore, that licensing should be so regulated that no unnecessary temptations to drink should be held out to the people. It was very important that there should be no encouragement of drinking among the people. It was said that wherever British rule extended these dangerous influences arose, and that if absolute prohibition were net introduced the whole country became demoralized. He contended that there could not be total prohibition, but that there must be regulation, and that with regulation there was no fear whatever of national demoralization. He felt sure the House would not think that improper influences had been permitted to arise in Burmah; that the people of Burmah would constantly improve under our rule; and that the introduction of civilization among them would prove to be, not a myth nor a shadow, but a constant and ever-growing reality.
Question put, and agreed to.Resolved, That this House, having regard to the disastrous physical and moral effects of the liquor traffic among uncivilized races, as well as the injury it inflicts on legitimate commerce, will cordially support the Imperial and Colonial Governments in their endeavours to suppress the traffic in spirituous liquors with Natives in all Native Territories under their influence and control.