Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £307,909, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1891, for the Expenses of Her Majesty's Embassies and Missions Abroad, and of the Consular Establishments Abroad and other Expenditure chargeable on the Consular Vote.
§ (4.2.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I think, Mr. Courtney, that as we have made great progress with the Estimates at this early period of the Session, it is obvious that we shall have more time for entering into this Vote than we have usually had. The First Lord of the Treasury has said that we shall have another opportunity of discussing these questions. I hope that we shall have many opportunities, because it is a Vote which requires careful looking into. I find that the first item of the Vote has reference to the Argentine Republic, and that the Legation and Consulate at Buenos Ayres cost £4,500 a year; but the Committee will be surprised to hear that the cost of a similar mission at Uruguay is something like £1,750 less. The cause of the difference is the tomfooleries in which we indulge at Buenos Ayres and abstain from indulging in at Monte Video. So far as 461 Europe is concerned, there may be some justification for having these Legations, but in South America there cannot be the slightest justification for them. In South America the people are practical people, and they do not understand the difference between a Consul General, an Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, and a Vice Consul. They go to the Consulate solely for the business purposes they have to transact. There are very few social duties involved, and if the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs will look into the matter he will find that the Argentine Republic is the sole Republic in South America which enjoys the presence of an Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary. As I find that if costs £2,750 more per annum than any other Mission in South America, I propose to move the reduction of the Vote by that sum, which will leave the expense of our representation in the Argentine Republic at the same figure as for Uruguay, and more than if is at some of the other Republics.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £305,159, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, etc.)
May I ask, as the general practice is to move the reduction of particular items in a Vote, whether, if the present Amendment is taken, it will be competent for an hon. Member to move a further reduction?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I do not think that the effect of my Amendment will be to prevent further discussion of the Vote or Motions for further reductions.
§ *(4.7.) THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir J. FERGUSSON,) Manchester, N. E.
The question which the hon. Member for Northampton has just raised is one which he raised two years ago, and I am afraid that I can only give him the answer which I gave then, and which is equally applicable now, namely, that the raising of the post of Her Majesty's representative at Buenos Ayres to the dignity 462 which now attaches to it was in conformity with the recommendation of the Consular Committee which sat in 1870. It is most necessary that Her Majesty's Government should be efficiently represented, and the expense which is entailed is by no means excessive. The hon. Member says that we should be as well represented by a Consular Officer as by a Diplomatic Minister, but that is not the opinion of foreign countries, and we should be placed in an inferior position to that which is occupied by Foreign Powers if we were not represented at the Argentine Republic in as dignified a manner as they are. In regard to the Argentine Republic there have been special reasons why we should have been led to increase our establishment there, owing to the great amount of emigration to that country from Ireland which has recently taken place, and, to which attention has been specially directed by hon. Members opposite. The complaint which has been made is that British and Irish interests have not been adequately safeguarded, and therefore Her Majesty's Government have slightly increased the establishment in order to meet the extra work. I trust that these will be considered sufficient reasons to justify this Vote, and that it will be agreed to without further discussion.
§ (4.12.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I do not think that we ought to be bound by the recommendation of a. Committee which sat in 1870. I have read the Report of that Committee, and I certainly do not think much of it. I must; say that I think the right hon. Gentleman is almost trifling with the House when he says that emigration from Ireland to Buenos Ayres really necessitates the continuance there of double the number of gentlemen to those who are required in Monte Video. Of course, it is possible to get hold of a gentleman who has been in the Diplomatic Service at Darmstadt or St. Petersburg, who has been mixing in courtly society there, and who probably has never seen South America in his life. If such a man is sent out he would probably ask to be surrounded by an expensive staff, and in this case I find that we have a Minister at £1,500 a year, a Secretary of Legation at £500 a, year, a second Secretary at £450, together with a clerk at £200, who 463 probably does more work than the Minister and the first and second Secretaries put together. That is not all. At Monte Video all the work is consular work, and so far as the emigration work at Buenos Ayres is concerned it is purely consular, and not diplomatic, work. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that we carry out the same principle all over South America? He knows that we do not. There are a considerable number of Republics in South America where France and other Powers retain Envoys Extraordinary and Ministers Plenipotentiary, but where we have simply Consular Agents; but it is a remarkable fact that when you once put up the salary and the position they always continue. There is really no reason why in the Argentine Republic, any more than in any other of the Republics of South America, we should have the expansive mechanism which is attached to the office of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary. I shall certainly divide the Committee upon the Amendment, in order to make it clear that we are not prepared, year after year, to vote for this useless and unnecessary expenditure, simply because a Committee which sat in 1870 thought it desirable.
*SIR J. FERGITSSON
In certain cases, as in Stuttgardt, where a Minister is no longer deemed necessary, the post has been done away with, and in others the office of Minister and Consul General has been united, but in the case of the Argentine Republic, the case is different, inasmuch as the increasing demands of British interests mate it necessary that this country should be adequately represented. There are, indeed, reasons connected with emigration which have rendered an increase in the Argentine establishment necessary, and under this head provision has been made in the Vote.
§ (4.17.) MR. W. REDMOND (Fermanagh, N.)
May I ask what has been and is being done by these gentlemen in the interests of Irish emigrants? What services do they perform to entitle them to the large sum we are asked to vote, and what are the qualifications they possess for the discharge of the duties? So far as I know, complaints are continually coming from the Argentine Republic, in spite of the 464 presence of our representative there, and I believe I am correct in saying that in Ireland the people at large have no knowledge of any special efforts which are being made to protect Irish interests, or of any Reports on the subject.
§ (4.20.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the Papers which were furnished on the subject last year. There is no ground for reproach or blame of the kind suggested, and Her Majesty's Representative is assiduous in attending to the interests of British and Irish immigrants, as well as to all the other duties of his post.
§ (4.22.) MR. W. REDMOND
That is not the complaint. What I contend is that officers could be found who would be quite as zealous and as determined to do their duty for a much less sum than we are asked to vote for these gentlemen. It is precisely because I think we were shown last year that there was something radically wrong in the management of the affairs of emigrants to the Argentine Republic arriving from Ireland, that I made up my mind to come here and repeat what I had said before. I think that the salaries should be cut down by at least one half, and I would certainly urge the hon. Member for Northampton to divide the Committee on the subject. It is simply monstrous that this country should be asked to pay £4,500 a year for a Mission to the Argentine Republic.
§ (4.25.) MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I do not think the Under Secretary has told the Committee the whole story in connection with the Consular Service-in the Argentine Republic. I believe our representative, Mr. Bridgett, was absent on leave for a considerable time in 1888, and that Mr. Ibbetson, who was appointed Acting Consul in his place, was subsequently sentenced to three months imprisonment for embezzling the consular fees. Another officer, Mr. W. G. Turner, who acted as clerk and pro-Consul, was also charged with embezzlement, and absconded. He was arrested in England and sentenced to a month's imprisonment for misbehaviour in office. Mr. Bridgett seems to have been absent from his duties from the early part of 1888 until a late period in the same year, and it is a matter of some interest to know how the affairs of the 465 Mission were conducted in his absence, and what is the exact condition of the Consulate at Buenos Ayres at the present moment. It would appear that at least £500 was embezzled by Mr. Bridgett's immediate or indirect official representative, and the whole of the Mission appears to have been in an exceedingly lax condition. In this case responsibility cannot be traced; an officer has been absent from an important post for six or eight months, Papers which ought to have been sent to the Foreign Office have not been sent and they have been called for in vain. Nevertheless, the Estimates are proposed to be increased in favour of a Mission of this kind. I think the Committee ought to receive some special information on the points I have indicated before they consent to pass the Vote.
§ *(4.27.) SIR. J. FERGUSSON
It frequently happens that Consular Officers require leave, in which case their places are filled by efficient substitutes.
§ *SIR J. FERGUSSON
The Consul is still responsible to Her Majesty's Government. As to the arrival of emigrants, unfortunately it occurred that after one ship arrived full of emigrants another arrived on the following day, when the barracks for emigrants were full. Immediate steps were, however, taken to afford accommodation.
§ (4.28.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
I must say that I think the right hon. Gentleman has failed to answer the extremely able speech of the hon. Member for Northampton. The hon. Member showed that he was more than justified in calling attention to the subject, for the debate has developed the fact that, both in regard to the Legation and the Consulate, the arrangements have led to embezzlement and to the discharge of the duties of the Mission in a manner which ought to receive the reprobation of this House. So far as the emigration to the Argentine Republic is concerned, I think-that those who intended to emigrate should have received information as to what the real condition of things was before they left Ireland, so that they might have decided upon not emigrating at all, or upon postponing their journey until a more convenient season. I can 466 only say that in the South of Ireland, from which a considerable amount of emigration took place, there has been a feeling of exasperation at the manner in which the emigrants have been treated. When people are proposing to leave their homes and their country, perhaps for ever, they ought to be informed what the actual condition of (he country in which they intend to take refuge is. The Under Secretary, unfortunately, has given no answer whatever to the complaints which have been made, but has rather confirmed the reprobation of my hon. Friends. It is quite true that the hon. Member for Northampton made these complaints two years ago, but although attention is called to the misdeeds of the Government year after year the officials have still no answer to give.
§ (4.30.) MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman can hold out any hope that the Emigration Information Office can cope with the questions which have arisen in reference to emigration to the Argentine Republic. It is clear that persons have been holding out to the world that they are authorised by the Government of the Argentine Republic to make premises, which are afterwards repudiated by that Government, and that, as a, result, persons who have gone out as emigrants have had difficulties of the most serious character in obtaining employment. I think a great deal of the distress that has occurred might have been prevented if proper information could have been furnished to emigrants with regard to the Argentine Republic.
§ *(4.32.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
I am very happy to be able to satisfy the hon. Member. There is no difficulty at all in procuring and circulating information about foreign countries in the way he mentions, and during the last year and a half I have been constantly sending to the Emigration Information Office information about the Argentine Republic and other countries. Circulars have been sent to all British representatives, asking them to furnish information that may be useful to persons purposing emigration, and I am sure the excellent office to which. I have referred does circulate the information with which we have furnished it about the Argentine 467 Republic. The emigration in question took place in spite of the standing advice given by the most influential people in Ireland, namely, Archbishop Croke and many of the Catholic clergy.
§ (4.33.) MR. BRADLAUGH
The Emigration Information Office issues very cheap sheets of information about several countries, but I do not know that they have issued any such sheet with reference to some countries with regard to which information might very well be given. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me that there is likely to be a larger tide of emigration from Italy to the Argentine Republic, and if some cheap sheets could be published, like hose issued with regard to our colonies, a great deal of misery might be prevented.
*(4.34.) SIR J. FERGUSSOH
I will make inquiries at the Emigration Office, and ascertain whether the hon. Member's suggestion can be carried out.
§ (4.34.) MR. W. REDMOND
The right hon. Gentleman has not told us how it is the Representatives of this country in the Argentine Republic have not warned Her Majesty's Government officially of the danger of large numbers of emigrants going there. Information ought to have been furnished as to the way in which emigrants get on in the Argentine Republic. We pay large sums of money to our Representatives, but we are unable to get from them the reliable information we need as to the characteristics of the country. We are obliged to depend upon the information furnished privately to Archbishop Croke and other gentlemen who take an interest in the welfare of emigrants abroad. If proper official information had been forthcoming people would not have gone to the Argentine Republic from Ireland in the numbers they did. If the right hon. Baronet can say that representations came from Her Majesty's Minister warning intending emigrants against the Argentine Republic, and hinting that they would have to face considerable difficulties if they went there, that Minister might be said to have earned the large sum of money he gets. But no such representations were made—or, if there were such, they did not reach the Irish people. What I say is that if we are to pay £4,000 a year to Repre- 468 sentatives of Her Majesty's Government in the Argentine Republic, let them, properly earn it, and do not let them leave it to Irish Archbishops to do their work.
§ *(4.42.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
Her Majesty's Representative in the Argentine Republic did exactly what the hon. Member says he should have done. As soon as he heard that large numbers of emigrants were being persuaded to go there, he, of his own accord, wrote home accounts of the country, which were disseminated. But it is a mistake to suppose that emigrants to the Argentine Republic, on the whole, do badly. What Her Majesty's Representative pointed out was that owing to the cost of living and to the different manner in which Southern races are fed emigrants leaving the United Kingdom for the Argentine Republic would not find themselves so well off on reaching there as they do on arriving at such places as Australia. Nevertheless, the emigrants in many parts of the Republic, where the climate is good, find themselves fairly well off. As I said last year when this question was raised, some of the emigrants went to places which were not suited to them, and some of them were thriftless and not industrious, and no credit to their own country.
§ (4.44.) MR. W. REDMOND
The right hon. Gentleman says that Her Majesty's Representative sent information to this country as soon as he heard that large numbers of emigrants were going to the Argentine Republic, and that that information was disseminated. I must take exception to that statement. These warnings did not reach the Irish Representatives—they were not circulated in Ireland. What we complain of is that Her Majesty's Representative in the Argentine Republic allowed unscrupulous emigration agents to come to Ireland, and by false pretences induce large numbers of people to emigrate. The right hon. Gentleman says that some of the emigrants were not good specimens of their race; but that is no reason why unscrupulous persons should have been allowed to induce them to emigrate, and why no adequate preparations should have been made to receive them in the Argentine Republic. So far as Ireland is concerned, I think we have been 469 badly represented in the Republic, and have every reason to complain of our treatment there. I trust the Amendment will be pushed to a Division.
§ *(4.46.) MR. WEBB (Waterford, W.)
I desire to know whether, when these gentlemen are appointed to represent this country abroad, care is taken that they have adequate knowledge of the language of the people amongst whom they have to live, so that they may not be at the mercy of the permanent local officials?
§ *(4.47.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
I am not able to say whether or not our Representative in the Argentine Republic can speak Spanish, but. I think it likely, and he is a very capable man.
§ (4.47.) MR. A. O'CONNOR
The answer the right hon. Gentleman gave me just now was not correct. Certain financial irregularities occurred at the particular place I mentioned. The Consul was absent for eight months at a stretch, and left no one responsible in his place. The man who acted for him was fraudulent. This Consul had had experience of embezzlements in previous years, and the person guilty had been punished and the amount of the embezzlements lost altogether. On the second occasion the Consul himself was made responsible, but only for a portion of the money, and the public, have to bear a loss of at least £500. I want to know why he is not required to pay the whole of the money lost through his own negligence? What attempt is being made to secure that the administration in this Consular Office will be better in the future than it has been in the past? The right hon. Gentleman ought to be able to give me a definite answer.
§ *SIR J. FERGUSSON
At any rate it is easy to see how one might be inaccurate in a singular particular. I was under the impression that the Consul had borne the whole of the loss. At all events, he has borne a considerable part of it, and I have no doubt that when the circumstances were considered by the Secretary of State and the Treasury it was held that he was not so blameable that he ought to be required to bear the 470 whole of the loss. Though a public servant, as a rule, is responsible for the robbery of a person he puts in his place, there may be circumstances under which the responsibility is diminished. I admit that at the present time I cannot give all the reasons which bear on the case, but it must be remembered that Consuls have not an extraordinary amount of leave, and that there has been no irregularity in the circumstance that a person not in the public service was temporarily charged with these duties.
§ (4.55.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 66; Noes 124.—(Div. List, No. 44.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (5.3.) MR. LABOUCHERE
The next item relates to Austria, and I find we maintain a chaplain to the Ambassador at Vienna, at a cost of £300 per annum. The law in regard to these chaplains is somewhat singular. Where there is a Consul the Foreign Office is permitted to give the equivalent of any amount which is subscribed by the British residents. The object of this was to enable chaplains to exist at ports. But it appears that now it is carried further, for we find occasionally that where there is a Legation or Embassy in a town in the interior, a salary is granted towards a chaplain. I do not gather whether this £300 is given to the chaplain because any amount is subscribed by the English residents at Vienna. There are exceedingly few English at Vienna, and I do not quite understand why we should have a chaplain there. There is not a chaplain in Paris or in Berlin. We know that Sir Henry Drummond Wolff was very strong in the House in his advocacy of Christianity, but now he is amongst the Mahomedans in Persia, yet he does not require a chaplain. Then why should a chaplain be required for the Ambassador in Austria? I presume the chaplain belongs to the Church of England, but we might send a Roman Catholic, or a Jew, or a Nonconformist to Vienna. Or it may be that some of the secretaries there are Jews or Nonconformists. Are they to have separate chaplains? The whole thing is nonsensical; it is contrary to the elementary principles of religious toleration. The Ambassador is highly paid, and if he wants a chaplain to conduct divine service for himself on Sundays, 471 lot him pay him out of his salary. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £300 in respect of the chaplain in Vienna.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum not exceeding £307,609 be granted for the said Services."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ *(5.6.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
The number of chaplains abroad is not as great as it formerly was; it has been reduced by a number of cases where there did not appear sufficient reason for the maintenance of chaplains. The particular chaplaincy to which the hon. Gentleman has called attention has existed since 1817, and the church in which the chaplain ministers was not erected at the cost of the British public, but of private subscriptions, and the Government undertook no responsibility in regard to its maintenance. The reason for appointing this chaplain in connection with the Vienna Embassy was the very strong desire on the part of the British subjects there for the ministrations of a clergyman of the National Church. [Hon. MEMBERS: "What Church?"] Well, the Church of the majority. [Hon. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!" and "Which majority?"] Of course, I do not wish to incite debate on such controversial points, but the reason for appointing a chaplain in connection with the Embassy was, and is, that there is an Austrian law which requires pastors of churches recognised by the State to be Austrian subjects. By this clergyman being attached to the Embassy he is exempted from the operation of that law. I hope that the existence of this chaplain is, on the whole, very beneficial to many who, though they do belong to the Anglican communion, may find comfort in attending to his services. The Committee are aware that at Alexandria a Scotch chaplain is retained, because we find that in the Consulate there are many Scotchmen. [Sir GEORGE CAMPBELL: No, English.] Well, perhaps, there is a sufficient number of Scotchmen to render them predominant. This is the only charge that is made in respect of this church and chaplain, and while we retain an Established Church I think I am not wrong in saying that the best way in which we can assist in provi- 472 ding religious services for our fellow-countrymen abroad is through the National Church.
§ (5.16.) SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
Though the right hon Gentleman did not distinctly say so, I gathered from his words that this clergyman at Vienna is a member of the Church of England. Certainly the right hon. Gentleman must have done immense violence to his own feelings; he must have let his official capacity overwhelm his private capacity when he talked of that as the National Church. If I am not mistaken the right hon. Gentleman is a distinguished member of the Scottish National Church, an elder of that Church—a representative elder, I think—and that he should speak of the Church of England as the National Church is very strange. I imagine his doctrine is that abroad the religion of the majority should prevail, and that we ought to maintain chaplains for that majority. We are told that at Alexandriar, which is, to a great extent, a Scotch colony, we retain a Scottish clergyman. Do we not maintain an English clergyman there? I should be very glad to know if that is the case. But as to the reason the right hon. Gentleman gave for maintaining an English clergyman at Vienna, I understand that the Austrian law is so illiberal that no one is to be allowed to officiate at religious services who is not an Austrian subject, unless he is a member of the Embassy.
§ *(5.12.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
No, I did not say that. I said that the Austrian law requires that the permanent pastors of the Churches recognised by the State shall be Austrian subjects.
§ (5.12.) SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
Surely there can be no difficulty whatever in this matter. I do not wish to be irreverent, but I must say that these British clergymen abroad are really almost nuisances. You are persecuted. You cannot go to any of these places abroad without being bothered and pestered to subscribe to British clergymen. We get enough of religious ministrations at home, and when we go abroad we go for pleasure. Under these circumstances I shall certainly vote with my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton.
§ *(5.13.) MR. WINTERBOTHAM (Gloucestershire, Cirencester)
If my hon. Friend goes to a Division I shall vote with him. I fail to see why we should help to support Protestant England services in Vienna any more than in the eight or 10 German towns where there is Church of England service, and where English residents and visitors (working with an Association at home established for the purpose) support the services they want. I was worshipping in this church in Vienna, not many months ago, and I do not know why I was called upon to hand round the plate, but the result was most unsatisfactory. I will not betray confidence by saying what a miserable collection was made from that very respectable congregation, including an hon. Member of Parliament, who happens to be sitting opposite. Put I feel strongly that people will not subscribe to religious ministrations when they find the State supplies it for them. There are Church of Eng- land churches on the Continent which are much more deserving of help, if you put the matter on that ground, than the church at Vienna, where there are plenty of people able, and who ought to be willing, to support it.
§ (5.l5.) MR. LABOUCHERE
We are to understand that the real reason why we have to pay this chaplain is that he was appointed in 1817, and that the payment has continued from year to year, apparently without any protest. The English chaplain in Greece receives £100, and the gentleman in Denmark £200, and £115 of the latter sum is subscribed by the residents. Therefore, if it is necessary to have a chaplain at Vienna, there is no reason why he should be paid £300 a year. The right hon. Gentleman has laid it down as a ground for our paving £300 to the chaplain in Vienna that the Church of England is in a majority in England. He is labouring under a mistake. The Church of England is not in a majority. The light hon. Gentleman says we ought to agree to this item of the Vote because we have an Established Church. I object entirely to an Established Church. I should like to see the Church disestablished and disendowed. I protest against this chaplaincy being maintained now because it has been maintained for a considerable number of years. Taking 474 the question on its merits, there is no earthly reason why we should pay for this chaplain.
§ (5.18.) DR. FITZGERALD (Longford, S.)
I do not think the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs has displayed very great knowledge of the state of religion in Vienna or at home. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that most English people, when they go abroad, go to mass? The fact is, there is no necessity at all for these English pastors abroad: and certainly we, the Irish representatives, can hardly see why the Irish taxpayers should be called upon, the Church in Ireland being disestablished, to contribute towards the salary of the minister of a Church in which they do not believe. I hope my hon. Friend will press his Motion to a Division.
§ (5.19) MR. P. STANHOPE (Wednesbury)
I think the right hon. Gentleman might give us the assurance that he will ascertain from Vicuna whether some private subscription might not be obtained for the payment of a salary to the minister of the church. The Ambassador at Vienna has not any greater duties to perform than other Ambassadors; and I am not aware that the existing Ambassador has been so extravagant in his hospitality to the English people in Vienna, that if is necessary for him to call on the country to pay for these exceptional services. If the right hon. Gentleman makes the inquiry I suggest we shall be able to judge next year whether there is any reason for a Vote for the maintenance of this chaplain. In the meantime, I entirely acquiesce in the views expressed by the hon. Member for Northampton.
§ *(5.20.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
The congregation maintains the church itself, though it does not pay the stipend, and it was for this reason that the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Winterbotham) performed the duties which he said were carried out by him so ineffectually.
§ (5.21.) The Committee divided; Ayes 69; Noes 134. (Div. List, No. 45.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (5.30.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
We have discussed the question of our Minister at one South American Republic, and I now turn to I he question of our representation in a larger and more important Republic in South America; I mean the Republic 475 of Brazil. A very largo establishment is maintained at Rio. Here is a Minister at £4,000 a year, and the rent of a house £500; a Secretary at £700; a Consul at £1,000, and a Vice-Consul at £4–50. It is a very large establishment indeed. I would take the opportunity to ask whether we have now settled down to ordinary diplomatic relations with the Brazilian Republic, whether all question of acknowledging the Republic has been sat at rest, and whether we are now on the same diplomatic footing with the de facto Government of Brazil as with any other country? Also, I should like to ask whether, now that a Republican form of Government is established in Brazil, it would not be possible to reduce the expenditure for our representation in that country to, at all events, the level of that which the Committee has sanctioned for the Argentine Republic? There is, no doubt, a considerable amount of show and ceremonial attending an Imperial Court, but that Court having ceased to exist in Brazil, no doubt the Ambassadorial expenses there will be considerably reduced. I know the country is large and important, but I do not know that our interests there are greater (ban in the Argentine Republic, and there is no great amount of British emigration to Brazil. I do not know what the Consul and Vice-Consul have to do in addition to what is done by the Minister, the Secretary, and the Under Secretary, but I think they must all have an easy time. It appears to me there is no necessity to keep up a Legation on such an extravagant scale, and I therefore move the reduction of the Vote by £1,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £306,909, be granted for the said Service."—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ *(5.35.) SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
The hon. Member is not quite correct in assuming that our relations with Brazil have been continued on the same footing as heretofore. The exact position is that until the provisional Government is ratified by the country, or, at all events, by a Representative Assembly, we, in common with other Bowers, only recognise it as the de facto Government. I think the Committee will see that it 476 would be an extremely invidious proceeding to alter the status and position of our Minister in Brazil, just because it has ceased to be an Empire, and has become a Republic. As to British interests in Brazil being small, I think it must be generally known that the reverse is the case, and an enormous amount of British capital has been invested in Brazil, and in a variety of ways our interests in that country are very large. I can assure the Committee that questions very frequently arise and call for the interposition of our Minister in Brazil, and these questions, require very careful handling indeed. Again, I must remind the Committee that these posts, and the pay attached, had the careful consideration of the Diplomatic and Consular Committee, and I do not think the Committee will consider the recommendations made are obsolete because the inquiry was made 19 years ago.
§ (5.39.) MR. W. REDMOND
It would be unfortunate, I think, if we, by any change in diplomatic representation, should seem to throw discredit on the present form of Government in Brazil, or to imply an opinion one way or the other upon the political change in Brazil. Among the items in respect to the Legation in Brazil I find £300 for the services of a translator, and we further find that this same gentleman holds the post of Vice Consul at Rio. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman what amount in addition to the £300 is paid for the Vice Consular duties? I presume that the translator is required to have a knowledge of the Spanish language; but would it not be perfectly possible to obtain a Secretary to the Legation with this knowledge, and so effect an economy of £300?
§ *(5.40.) MR. P. STANHOPE
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us some assurance that Her Majesty's Government, while recognising the de facto Government in Brazil, will insure the careful watching of British interests by our Minister there. Those interests are very considerable. It must be generally known that many English companies have invested large capital in railway and other works in Brazil, and with, I think, hopeful prospects in the future. I am anxious there should be no semblance of discredit cast upon the future of Brazil, and I trust that Her 477 Majesty's Government will urge upon the Government of Brazil the desirability of upholding public credit in the interest of the country, and of British subjects who have invested their capital there.
§ *(5.41.) SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
I am afraid I cannot, off-hand, tell the Committee the amount of the pay attached to the additional duties of the translator, but I will give the information on Report. I am sure the hon. Member will see it is not possible to anticipate all the questions that may be asked. As to the reason for the extra pay, I could recall many cases in which the translation and compilation of official papers in a foreign country require a knowledge that cannot be acquired in a short time, and indeed, knowledge of a technical character, and at certain posts it has been necessary, with every desire for economy, to retain the extra services of gentlemen as translators, for which they are paid in addition to the salary attaching to their ordinary duties. As to the question of the hon. Member for Wednesbury, undoubtedly Her Majesty's Representative in his informal relations with the de, facto Government of Brazil will continue to look after British interests as heretofore; and I am glad to say he is on good terms with the existing Government, and as in former times obtains satisfaction whenever it has been required. It would be most unfortunate if, for a single day, these relations should be suspended.
§ (5.43.) MR. W. REDMOND
I find here the information I sought, and it appears that this gentleman who gets £300 as translator receives also £450 as Vice Consul at Rio. This, I think, is an unsatisfactory way of distributing expenditure over the Estimates. Why not set down the payment in one item as £750? Anyone who did not take the trouble to examine the matter carefully would suppose that the payment is made to two men, whereas this official, in his double capacity, receives £50 a year more than the Secretary to the Legation. It seems to me to be an extravagant item. No doubt a translator must be thoroughly conversant with the Spanish language; but does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that in Brazil it is not possible to get the services of a gentleman thoroughly qualified for a salary of £500, and who would consider 478 himself well paid for his services as Vice Consul and translator? But I have a doubt if it is possible for one man to discharge the double duty. In any case, I think the right hon. Gentleman might promise to communicate with the Head of the Legation in Brazil with a view to effecting an economy in expenditure under this head.
§ (5.46.) SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
only wish to disclaim the idea, that a Republic requires an inferior representation to an Empire. All I suggested was that under a Republic there is less ceremonial, and Ambassadors have less expenses. We are represented by an Ambassador in the United States, and our relations with that Government are very important; but our Representative there receives less than do Ambassadors to France, Germany, Turkey, Russia, and other countries. The fact is, that under a Republic the habits of official life are simpler, and rightly so. My suggestion amounted to this: that as soon as matters are settled in Brazil the question of the salary for our Representative there should be re-considered.
§ (5.47.) MR. W. REDMOND
I do not wish to press the matter unduly; but can the right hon. Gentlemen tell us that the one official can discharge the duties of both translator and Vice Consul; why the two salaries should not be entered as one item; and can he hold out any hope of an economy in this particular?
§ *(5.48.) SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
The fact is, these salaries are continually being revised, and whenever a post falls vacant any economy that can be made is effected. Very often the new officer appointed receives less salary than his predecessor, and the Committee will observe that occasionally where the work does not seem to require an officer of so high a grade a transfer of that officer is made to a place where there is more work and greater responsibility. The Committee may be assured that these Estimates are year by year narrowly examined by the Treasury, and no opportunity for effecting an economy is lost. On Report I shall be able to give the hon. Member the reasons for the arrangement in the case he mentions, and it certainly was made because, after consideration, it appeared the most economical and suitable.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (5.53.) MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
There are one or two questions I should like to ask in regard to our relations with Foreign Powers upon matters connected with Africa. In this connection there have, of course, been difficulties which have prevented the right hon. Gentleman from answering questions, and though there was a short discussion during the debate upon the Address, I think we have shown every forbearance towards the Foreign Office and have given ample time for framing proposals for reasonable settlements of difficulties that have arisen on the Shiré River and in the Nyassa country. We anxiously look forward to a statement which will tell us how these difficulties have been met, and that some effectual form of Government has been established there. We also look forward to a settlement of the questions relating to the open navigation of the Zambesi. We are the more anxious for information in view of the alarming rumours from time to time published in the newspapers—I may instance the telegram from Zanzibar published this morning, which I hope has no foundation in fact. Then, further North on the African Continent, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman if he can make any statement that may tend to dispel disquieting rumours as to German movements and the conflict between the German and English companies on the South-East Coast? Only this day we have had rumours of a German offer to buy out the interest of the King of the Belgians on the Congo River. I would urge on Her Majesty's Government that they should as speedily as possible come to definite terms with the German Government as to spheres of influence and our mutual relations in South-East and Central Africa. It has been matter of interest and anxiety for a long time. In July, 1887, the German Association addressed a Petition to the Imperial Government expressing anxiety lest the expedition of Mr. Stanley should disturb their commercial interests. The German Government notified the complaint to Her Majesty's Government, and 480 Lord Salisbury said that Her Majesty's Government were prepared to disclaim all annexation within the sphere of German influence if the German Government would act similarly towards Great Britain. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether this understanding is intended to cover the claim put forward by Germany to the country lying between Lakes Tanganyika and Nyassa? I wish to urge upon the Government that there is a strong competition going on in that part of the world, and unless a clear decision is speedily arrived at with respect to the limitations of the influence of cither Power, there is a prospect of very serious disagreement in the future.
§ (6.4.) COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)
The fact is, that while Germany's sphere of influence is well marked to the North and South, it is very hazy to the West. I therefore join the hon. Member for Edinburgh in urging that steps should be taken at once to clear up the doubts which certainly exist, so that in the future no complications may arise between us and Germany. I should like to be informed whether the East Africa Company have absorbed the Lakes Company, as is reported. If it has, will the charter of the former company include the territory claimed by the latter? I am not favourable to these large companies. I view with considerable dislike the system of farming out the government of large tracts of territory to these companies, because it bristles with difficulties for the future.
§ *(6.8.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
It is necessary to be very reticent on questions of great national importance, and debates in the House on these tender questions might possibly complicate the negotiations in progress. It is desirable to avoid doing this. The hon. Member has asked me as to the relations between this country and Portugal in regard to South African affairs. As I stated to the House the other day there are some questions between Great Britain and Portugal which are as yet unsettled. For instance, Her Majesty's Government think Portugal has not fairly treated a British company in the seizure of the Delagoa Railway, and they expect that the company will receive just compensation, though the matter has not yet been 481 brought to a satisfactory conclusion. As to the rumours which have been current of the advance of Portuguese expeditions to the lakes, there is no reason to doubt the loyalty of the Portuguese Government to its engagements. With regard to the rumoured expedition to Mashonaland, the Portuguese Government have assured Her Majesty's Minister at Lisbon that they have no information whatever with regard to such an expedition. Telegrams received from Mozambique on the previous day made no mention of it. The Governor has, moreover, been instructed that the Portuguese Government will not sanction further operations in that region pending the negotiations now in progress. There is a report that a German expedition about to set out into Central Africa will affect British interests. I am, however, glad to state that the German Government have, unsolicited, assured Her Majesty's Government that the expedition under Emin Pasha is designed entirely to operate within the German sphere and will not at all prejudice British interests, as the German Government fully recognise the demarcation which has reserved to each Power a sphere of influence. Two Powers in such a position as Germany and Great Britain have lately occupied have never acted with more perfect loyalty to each other and with a greater absence of friction, and I am quite sure we may rely on it that the German Government will take no steps prejudicial to our interests. The region between Lakes Tanganyika and Nyassa is undoubtedly one in which Great Britain has great reason to take an interest, as it has been the scene of the enterprise of some very noble British subjects. No definite arrangement has been made with regard to that region, but I hope that the House will feel assured that British interests run no risk from the conduct of allies who have hitherto shown such perfect loyalty. I now think that I have answered all the questions which have been put to me.
§ (6.14.) MR. W. F. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)
What is the position of the negotiations with regard to the Oil Rivers, and what action have Her Majesty's Government taken in respect to that district?
§ *(6.14.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
I must first answer a question which I forgot to notice. The Government have no information about the absorption of the Lakes Company by the East Africa Company. It has been rumoured that this is to take place; but, so far as I am aware, no definite arrangement has been come to. No decision has yet been arrived at about the administration of the Oil Rivers. The House will, however, be made aware of the Government's intentions in time to allow of any objections being made before final steps are taken. I hope that it will not be long before a satisfactory arrangement is concluded.
§ (6.15.) COMMANDER BETHELL
We all know that prevention is better than cure; and I hold that, unless the respective spheres of influence are defined in the West, there will be trouble very soon. I do not care whether one company has been absorbed by the other or not; but it is desirable it should be known what is the policy of the Government towards the absorbing company, how far it can claim the benefit of the terms of the charter, and whether the powers given by the charter extend north of the Zambesi. I wish for an assurance that the terms of the charter do not extend to the region that has been more or less occupied by the African Lakes Company.
§ (6.17.) MR. BUCHANAN
I wish to know whether Her Majesty's Government have formulated any idea as to the future government of Nyassaland and the district of the Shire Highlands. I would earnestly urge upon the Foreign Office the extreme desirability—nay, even the absolute necessity—of coming to some definite arrangement with Germany at as early a date as possible with reference to the limits of the respective spheres of influence of the two countries. What one reads from day to day makes it quite clear that the seed is being sown of an endless crop of troubles. It does great credit to those who have had the conduct of delicate negotiations that so far there has been no serious disagreement between those who represent the two Governments; but as things are going on the future cannot be looked forward to with any confidence, and the sooner we come to a clear understanding 483 with Germany the better it will be for all concerned.
§ (6.19.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I think that the right hon. Gentleman ought now to give a clear explanation about the South Africa Company, as to which I have several times asked him questions. From the terms of the charter I have never been able to understand what are the powers of the company. It appears to have vague territorial rights over Matabeleland, Makolololand, and possibly the Shire Highlands; but what the rights of the company are I cannot discover. For example, I cannot tell whether it may exclude all other persons engaged in trade. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will explain this, and also what would happen in case Lobengula, King of Matabeleland——
§ (6.20.) MR. BAUMANN (Camberwell, Peckham)
I rise to a point of order. Can this matter be discussed on this Vote?
It certainly does come within the sphere of the Vote, but I think the discussion would be more appropriate on the South African Vote which follows.
§ (6.21.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
This ruling illustrates the extreme inconvenience of lumping a great number of subjects in. one Vote, and the framing of the Estimates makes it extremely difficult to discuss any particular point. Evidently a good deal of scrambling is going on for territory in Africa, and pre-cautions ought to be taken that the scramble does not provoke bad blood and difficulty. There is, I am convinced, extreme danger in letting loose companies with vague and indefinite powers, and care ought to be taken that they do not involve their respective Governments in serious misunderstandings. Where you have territorial companies you ought to define the territory within which each shall operate and not give them vague charters which enable them to assume all kinds of rights. I hope and trust, therefore, that the various spheres of influence will soon be clearly defined, and that thus future difficulties will be avoided. I do not sympathise much with the claims of Portugal, who has already got more territory than she can control; but we are bound by the Berlin Treaty to submit to arbitration the difficulty which has arisen with that country, 484 and we are taking a somewhat highhanded course in simply saying to Portugal, "Hands off! You shall not touch the territory in question." I trust that this difficulty will be settled in a manner creditable to our good name.
§ *(6.27.) GENERAL SIR LEWIS PELLY (Hackney, N.)
There is no doubt of the goodwill of the German Government towards Her Majesty's Government, but the time has arrived when some clear definition of our respective boundaries should be amicably arrived at. It is all very well to say that certain boundaries have been laid down, but in practice questions and disputes are constantly arising, and such disputes might easily produce great inconvenience. It is not very clear how far the sphere of British influence extends in different directions. It seems to me it might be arranged that representatives of the companies interested and Delegates of the respective Governments should meet amicably in conference and agree as to boundaries, and these might be laid down on maps, and copies given to all concerned.
§ (6.29.) MR. W. REDMOND
The Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs has several times spoken of "spheres of influence." I think it would be a satisfaction if we could hear once for all what we are to understand by a "sphere of influence." Does it mean a territory or a district which this country is bound to defend against any other? I hold that the dispute with Portugal arose out of the vagueness of the phrase "sphere of influence." If the right hon. Gentleman will give some explanation to the House on these points, he may be able to satisfy the minds of those who regard with some apprehension the present position of this country in regard to its African responsibilities.
COLONEL NOLAN (Galway)
I would point out that we had a lesson with regard to our relations with South Africa some 10 years ago. I refer to the fact that in consequence of the attempt of the Government, which was unfortunately successful, to stop discussion in regard to the Zulu War, we were led into a second war, and so had two wars instead of one. According to the speech made by the Prime Minister at the beginning of this year, the affairs of 485 Africa were interesting European Powers to such an extent that the African Question had become at that moment an European Question. Having studied this matter somewhat attentively I should like to hear the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs clear up the question as to the principle on which it is intended to settle the different spheres of influence of the European Powers. According to what has happened in the case of Portugal it would appear that the possession of the seaboard outside the sphere of Portuguese influence does not give the right to interference in regard to the interior; but, on the other hand, our whole case in regard to the question that has arisen with reference to Germany is that the possession of the seaboard does give a right of access to the interior territory. Thus it will be seen that we are conducting a diplomatic argument with two different Powers on what is practically the same point, but on absolutely opposite principles. I hope the right hon. Baronet will be able to tell us on what principle we are defining these different spheres of influence. Whether it is right or wrong that we should occupy certain portions of the interior of Africa is a matter of little consequence, as compared with the enormous dangers and expense that will be incurred by any Government that may hold such a position. As has already been pointed out, there is nothing so likely to prevent European Powers from being dragged into future wars in regard to the administration of African territory as the proper definition of the spheres of influence accorded to each Power. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs ought to take the House into his confidence and tell us something of the principles on which he is settling these questions. At present we have no quarrel with Germany, and we ought to get some information from the Government on this very important question.
§ DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College Division)
I should like to have some explanation from the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs as to the Nyassa district. It is stated that missionaries out there have recently been engaged in very warlike operations, in regard to which we should like to have some definite information from Her Majesty's 486 Government. We find that the Consul at Nyassa receives £500 a year, while there is also a Consul at Quillimane, who has been imprisoned for some contravention of the Portuguese law, and two Vice Consuls in the African mainlands serving with the army of the missionaries, who have been lighting against the Arabs. Now, we should like to know who these gentlemen are. Last year the position was this: Some of these missionaries and some military officers belonging to Her Majesty's Army were engaged in a filibustering war against the Arabs, for which I do not blame them; but I think I am entitled to press Her Majesty's Government to define what was their position in regard to this matter, and what they think are the actual rights and wrongs of the missionaries. It is stated that they commenced their operations in self-defence, that then they asked Her Majesty's Government for protection, and were told that if they protected themselves they would only be doing what men in such a situation had a right to do. The consequence was that they did protect themselves, with great valour and energy, as any other set of men would do who were fighting for their lives; but at this point a diplomatic dispute arose in connection with the Vice Consul at Quillimane. The Portuguese refused to permit the importation of arms and ammunition for their defence, and, while our Government were encouraging- them to defend themselves, the Portuguese Government—according to the Portuguese Report—had, at the instigation of Her Majesty's Government, laid down regulations forbidding the importation of gunpowder and weapons by way of Quillimane or other portions of the Portuguese territory. The consequence was that our own subjects were prevented from obtaining arms and ammunition, while it was alleged that the Portuguese were allowing arms and gunpowder to be sent in for the use of the Arabs to any extent they might require. It was because of the alleged improper importation of gunpowder and arms that our Vice Consul was imprisoned, and that imprisonment means a very long time, because the Vice Consul would have to appeal to the Lisbon Authorities to get his sentence reversed, or confirmed, as the case might 487 be, and await the result. I ask the right hon. Baronet to inform the Committee whether the Vice Consul at Quillimane has been got out of the mess into which he has been drawn, or whether he still remains with the legal sword of the Portuguese hanging over his head? The right hon. Baronet has told us that while British interests in that district are watched over by Her Majesty's Government we need have no anxiety; but I say that it is just when they are watched over by Her Majesty's Government that we have the greatest anxiety, and it is for this reason and because of the oracular and sphinx-like nature of the reply given to my hon. friend behind me that I venture to ask the right hon. Baronet for more definite information.
§ *SIR J. FERGUSSON
I am sure the hon. Gentleman has no wish that I should enter at length into matters that have been lately in dispute between Her Majesty's Government and that of Portugal, so as to run the risk of reviving the irritation which I trust is in the course of being allayed; but I should be sorry to be thought unduly reticent by withholding information which I am able to give in terms that I hope may be satisfactory to the House. I have been questioned as to the division of the territory in the neighbourhood of Nyassa, and the arrangement for the administration of the district. I have to say that I am not at present in a position to make a declaration on that subject. It is evident that the arrangement* for the administration of these regions must be a matter of very careful consideration; and I think hon. Gentlemen will see that I should be acting very improperly were I to make a premature declaration on this subject. It is a difficult subject, and of course it is dependent upon other negotiations which have not been brought to a conclusion. I think it would be extremely desirable that the spheres of influence of the various Powers in Africa should be defined, but obviously that is an object which cannot be accomplished in a short time. It is only lately that we have been able to effect limitations with the French in Western Africa, and we hope that result will be found extremely beneficial for the profitable exercise of our respective influences and 488 the avoidance of disputes. But it may be a long time before that will be brought about everywhere. It is not to be wondered at that, when various Powers are pushing their influence in regions never before reached, it should not be found possible at once to define the territories. The hon. Member for Fermanagh asked what is meant by "sphere of influence." A "sphere of influence," I take it, is founded upon an agreement made between the Powers concerned. For instance, there may be a declaration of a sphere of influence between two Powers which may not affect a third Power's influence, like the agreement made between the Portuguese and the Germans with respect to abstention from the exercise of their respective influence beyond a certain line. In that case it was a declaration of abstention as regards another Power. In the same way, the respective spheres of influence of Great Britain and of Germany are defined in North-Eastern Africa, so that our colonising and administrative operations and theirs may not clash one with the other. The object of declaring a "sphere of influence" is to avoid collision with other Powers, and I hope that, as far as the declaration of the spheres of influence have gone, they will prove profitable in that direction. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy has declared himself against entrusting companies with colonising-operations. Nothing I can say would alter his opinion upon that point, but it is a policy which was not adopted by Her Majesty's present Government. We have succeeded to arrangements made by our predecessors, and have ourselves made others of a similar kind. As I understand that policy, it is to regulate and control the settlement of our countrymen in uncivilised countries, so that they may avoid the errors which have often been committed in times past. Such powers may be exercised by the companies, whom we know and whom we can control. The Committee will remember that under the Royal Charters there can be no administration or question of settlement without the sanction or control of Her Majesty's Government. My hon. Friend asked a question with regard to the amalgamation of these two companies, and inquired what would be their rights under the Royal Charters. There has been hitherto no question of 489 granting any charter to these companies in the interior of Africa. These companies are voluntary associations at present; they assume and regulate their own responsibility. We have nothing to say to their amalgamation, because they are bodies over whom we have no control. If they amalgamate for their own purposes, and then approach Her Majesty's Government with the view of obtaining certain powers, then arises a question whether they ought to possess those powers. But that is a question which has not been considered.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL
Is it the case that the South African Company are not bounded on the North at all, and that it is provided in their charter that they may extend on the North?
§ *SIR J. FERGUSSON
I believe that is the case. Similarly there is no boundary line by which the East African Company are confined. But I would point out to the House that it is not desirable that these matters should be too closely discussed, for it is manifest that such discussions must touch the interests of other countries. It has been remarked that I have been very reticent in these matters, and I would observe that it is not unreasonable I should be so. The hon. Member for Northampton asked what are the rights of the South African Company. They are limited to the terms of the Charter, and they will be answerable to Her Majesty's Government for the way in which they exercise their powers. Judging by other companies' successes, I hope these Chartered Companies have a future before them, and that they will lead to an extension of British dominions and protection in the regions in which they operate. The hon. Member for Glasgow wished for an explanation of the presence of the Consul at Mozambique and in the neighbouring districts. One Consul was appointed in the Nyassa district; the other happened to be travelling in the country, and, with much courage and devotion, he rendered assistance to the handful of Europeans who were maintaining an unequal contest. It is true that a military officer took part, but I hardly think it worthy to call the strife in which they were engaged as a "filibustering expedition." The British, and the tribes friendly to them, were attacked by slave traders, who, with fire and sword, 490 spread desolation through those regions of Africa, and when they saw danger imminent, they were compelled to stand on their defence. With regard to the imprisonment of the Consul at Mozambique, I am happy to say that it was a mere trifling and ephemeral matter. He was a gentleman who acted for a time as unpaid Vice-Consul. We have a great many about the world who perform the necessary duties merely for the fees. This gentleman, in his private capacity, received the consignment of rockets for the service of the Lake Company. He made, as he thought, an honest declaration of the consignment to the Local Authorities. He was arrested, but before the day was over he was released, and there was an end of the incident. I think I have answered all the questions, and I hope the Committee will not consider it necessary to go further into matters which have lately caused some little difficulty between two countries so long friendly as Great Britain and Portugal, but leave the settlement of points which are still in question between us, without the risk of publicity, to be brought to a conclusion, which is not, I hope, far distant, and which may restore the friendly relations which I trust will always subsist between the two countries.
§ DR. CAMERON
I want to know something about the Nyassa District. When I used the word "filibustering" I thought it conveyed a much more definite idea than do the words "sphere of influence." "Filibustering" means the fighting of certain persons without their being commissioned by any recognised Government. That was the case with the fighting in Nyassaland. What I want to know is this: If you get these "spheres of influence" defined how are the people within them to be governed? By these Chartered Companies? If so, we should have some guarantee that they will be responsible to the Government of Great Britain. What I complain of is that at the present moment they are not in that position at all. The Consul or Representative of the Government has no power. He had no official position among these men who were fighting for their lives; he had no control over them; and the consequence was that these British subjects were engaged in what 491 was neither more nor less than filibustering. I must say it appears to me to be a matter deserving of some consideration that the right hon. Gentleman does not seem to be aware of the seriousness of such a state of matters. Only a few years back I had occasion to call attention to an occurrence in the same district, where some missionaries took extraordinary powers into their own hands, punishing natives most severely for certain offences against chastity. Because the natives had their own ideas as to what was right and wrong these missionaries inflicted on them most atrocious punishment, absolutely beating some of them to death. We were told that these matters brought them within the scope of our law, and that a Mission would go from Zanzibar to the scene of the disorder. However, the person charged with the Mission fell ill, and nothing was done. Having seen such things going on for a series of years, and having seen a prolonged system of fighting taking place for another series of years, knowing that this country takes a great interest in these people and will not see them abandoned, and knowing that these people are open to a recurrence of such dangers, I say that we ourselves may be landed in a mess unless we take the matter in hand and establish some permanent form of Government. The answer the right hon. Gentleman gives me is that nothing has been done, and that nothing is to be done. I say the Government have made Chartered Companies. These companies derive their rights from yon. Are you going to give them rights over the territory occupied by these missionaries and the population they have drawn up around them; are you going to leave these people governed by responsible companies able to defend them if attacked in the exercise of their legal powers; or do you intend to leave things to drift on as they have drifted for years past in a manner which, sooner or later, is sure to embroil the relations of this country with those of other countries who have interests in this part of the world?
§ (7.4.) MR. LABOUCHERE
A little time ago I made some observations as to the South African Companies, and you, Sir, quite rightly held that those observations were not in order, though I 492 should be able to make them when we got more to the Consular part of this Vote. But the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary has answered one or two of the observations I made, so I presume it will be convenient for me to refer to those matters now. The right hon. Gentleman put forward as an excuse that some of these charters were granted by previous Governments; but that is no answer to hon. Members sitting in this part of the House, who take up a perfectly independent attitude, and oppose such charters no matter by what Government granted. We have opposed them when Liberal Governments have been in power precisely as we oppose them when Conservative Governments are in power. I tried a short time back to discover how these charters are given. So far as I can see, they are granted in the loosest possible manner. Some gentleman, presumably with influence, goes to, I suppose, the Colonial Secretary and says, "We want a charter." There is no opposition. No one knows that the charter is being asked for until it is granted; and as those who ask for it are persons of some influence, it seems an almost necessary consequence of asking for a charter that it should be given. With respect to this South African Charter last Session, there were certain grants made by Lo-bengula, the chief King of Matabeleland, to Mr. Cecil Rhodes. I asked several questions about the matter——
(7.7.) THE CHAIRMAN
I pointed out before that the question of the sphere of action of these Chartered Companies would come more properly under a later Vote dealing with South Africa. It may be dealt with here in so far as the territory embraced in the charter touches territory also affected by the Consular Vote, but you cannot on this Vote discuss the policy of the original granting of a charter.
§ (7.8.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I understand, Sir. As to the matter before us, let us have some clear understanding as to how far the "sphere of influence," if you like to call it so, extends. What has been the answer of the Under Secretary? He says the House ought to be very reticent about these charters, as ill-advised publicity may get us into trouble with other nations. He seems to think that it is the Foreign Office and 493 not this House who has to settle these matters. It seems to me that both this House and Foreign Governments ought to know how far the sphere of influence of these companies extends. It should be specifically stated bow far the territorial authority of each company extends. I should like to ask the Under Secretary whether, in the case of this latest company, it is a fact that there is no specified line of delimitation—is the Zambesi the boundary, and, if not, what is the line of demarcation? It is most desirable to lay down definite frontier lines between the sphere of influence of each European country; or else, by the action of one of these companies, we may find ourselves involved in war with France, Germany, Portugal, or some other European nation.
§ *(7.10.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
I thought I had indicated what the answer is on this point. I thought I gave the Committee to understand that the interior frontier of this company has not been definitely limited; but let me say that the company working this Royal Charter will be closely watched and will not be allowed to commit any acts that might involve us with Foreign Powers. Any step which it might desire to take which would seriously endanger our relations with Foreign Powers would not receive the sanction of the Home Government, under whose control the company is.
§ (7.11.) DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
I should like to put a question about a matter which my hon. Friend the Member for the Market Harborough Division brought before the House last Session. I would ask whether there is any likelihood of a relaxation of the extremely inconvenient regulations restraining British medical men from practising in Switzerland?
§ *(7.12.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
I have heard several complaints on this head. It is, no doubt, a hardship on our fellow-countrymen in Switzerland that they cannot always avail themselves of the services of British medical men, but the medical profession is a close one in all European countries. In Switzerland Her Majesty's Government have been unable to come to satisfactory terms with the Swiss Authorities, mainly owing to there being no equivalent to be given to the Swiss in return for the relaxation 494 of the objectionable regulations. An arrangement has, however, been come to in favour of British medical men regularly living in Switzerland. I am afraid, however, that it is not possible to get rid of the main grievance the hon. Member refers to.
§ (7.14.) MR. DIXON-HARTLAND (Middlesex, Uxbridge)
I would point out that, according to my own knowledge, last year an English medical man was fined 500 francs for giving medical advice to a lady staying at the same hotel in the Engadine.
§ *SIR J. FERGUSSON
That medical gentleman was not one of those in whose favour the relaxation was made.
§ (7.16.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I think the Swiss Authorities are quite right. There are a lot of quacks in England, and precautions are taken in this country against their palming themselves off as fully-qualified medical men. How are the Swiss to know whether an alleged British, medical man is really qualified or not? Why should not an English doctor who goes abroad be required to show to some Authority there that he knows something of his profession? The examination English doctors are required to pass in Switzerland is a very simple one, and I am assured that only the greatest ignoramus would fail under it. I have seen a good deal of English doctors abroad. Generally speaking, they are little men who cannot get on at home. They call themselves "Dr.," get puffed by their friends, and secure a practice, and end by killing and destroying far more than the native doctors in their own country. I hope nothing will be done to urge Switzerland to do away with the excellent regulations she has laid down in this matter.
§ (7.17.) MR. P. STANHOPE
I must take exception to the items for clerk allowances in the case of Chili, Mexico, Peru, Roumania, Servia, and other places. In my opinion, Chili and Bulgaria would be excellent schools for some of the young attaches. We have 56 second and third secretaries, who seem to enjoy themselves in the larger capitals. In Paris there are five, in Vienna five, in Berlin five, and so on. Many of them I believe to be redundant. In Bulgaria Mr. O'Conor has done excellent service, and a young attaché would be greatly benefited by 495 being placed under a man of his experience. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by striking out £250 clerk allowance for Chili.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £307,359, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Philip Stanhope.)
*(7.20.) SIR J. PERGUSSON
I can only say that the junior members of the Service are sent where it is thought they can be most usefully employed. It would be a mistake to suppose that the attaches and junior secretaries at the Embassies are not sufficiently employed. I know that more than once during the last four years certain Ambassadors have had to ask for further assistance on account of the pressure of the work devolving on them. The Mission in Bulgaria is on a temporary footing, and we have not yet been able to enter into official relations with the Bulgarian Government under the present Prince.
§ (7.22.) MR. LEGH (Lancashire, S. W., Newton)
I should like to draw attention to the practice—which has now grown to considerable dimensions—of drafting into the Service men who have had no previous experience of it or connection with it. I desire to obtain some explanation of the fact that student interpreters in the Levant have been reduced in number. I should like to know whether the reduction has been made because the Government consider that the student interpreters have not been of any real assistance. I can only assure the Government that in the opinion of those best entitled to judge they have been found of great value.
*(7.24.) SIR J. PERGUSSON
I do not think it has yet been decided whether the number of student interpreters in the Levant shall be increased or not. At present, I believe, it is thought that there are enough of them for the Service.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (7.25.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I was about to move the reduction of the Vote for the Chargé d'Affaires at Darmstadt and also at Coburg. The right hon. Gentleman has anticipated me with 496 regard to Darmstadt, by saying that the position there was not to be filled up. I hope he will be able to make a similar statement with regard to Coburg.
§ *(7.26.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
was understood to say that there was only a subordinate agent at Coburg.
§ *SIR J. FERGUSSON
It is necessary to have an officer to attend to the interests of British subjects in certain places. There have been one or two cases in which I can assure the hon. Gentleman that people who came to me were very thankful, indeed, for the good offices which were performed.
§ (7.27.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I quite see that someone must look after British subjects, but usually that officer is designated a Consul.
*SIR J. PERGUSSON
Consuls are usually appointed only where there are sufficiently large commercial relations to make their services necessary. There are no Consuls at the minor German capitals.
§ (7.28.) MR. A. O'CONNOR
In this Vote by far the largest sum comes under the head of Turkey. It is, perhaps, necessary and proper that it is so, because the responsibility of this country with regard to Turkey is of a different, and in some respects a more important, character than with regard to any other European country. It is now 11 years since the late Lord Beaconsfield and the present Prime Minister arrived at Charing Cross and received a great ovation on their announcing that they brought back "peace with honour." I feel it rather difficult to reconcile that boast with the attitude which the Government have taken up with regard to a portion, at least, of the subjects of the Sultan.—I mean the inhabitants of Armenia. The Armenians were entitled, under the Treaty of 1856, to look to this country and other European Powers for a certain amount of intervention and protection against the barbarities and atrocities to which they had long been subject. At the time that Treaty was passed Greece, Crete, Herzegovina, and Bulgaria were in many respects on the same footing as Armenia; and with respect to every one of those Provinces of the Turkish Empire, the intervention of this country has 497 not been withheld. With regard, however, to Armenia, where the Christian subjects have probably suffered more than in any other portion of the territory of the Porte, this country has failed to do what appears to be its plain duty. By the Treaty of San Stefano, Russia undertook certain responsibilities with respect to the Christian subjects of the Porte in Asia. But that responsibility was set aside, and a new responsibility was adopted by the Great Powers which met at the Berlin Congress. By the 61st Article of the Berlin Treaty the Signatory Powers undertook not only to secure protection to the inhabitants of Armenia against the Circassians and the Kurds, but to obtain from the Porte guarantees in the shape of local reforms which were necessary for that purpose, and, at the instance of Lord Salisbury, there were specially added to the 61st Article words which threw on the Porte the obligation of furnishing the other Signatory Powers with Reports from time to time as to the measures to be taken in order to effect those objects. The Powers undertook by the same Treaty to supervise the application of the reforms. How has that engagement been carried out? It is impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to repudiate, as he has attempted to do, any special responsibility on the part of this country in respect of Turkey. The responsibility is concomitant with our authority and power, and must be measured by it. It is useless to pretend that the country does not practically guarantee the integrity of the Turkish Empire. If it were not for Great Britain, unquestionably the fabric of the Turkish Empire would have been, in the last 10 years, much more seriously broken than it has been, if not irretrievably ruined by forces which are only too well recognised. The Armenians have special claims upon this country, and upon Lord Salisbury, in this particular matter, because they received, at the time of the Congress of Berlin, special and direct acknowledgement from his Lordship, not only of the direct interest which the Government of Her Majesty took in their condition, but that his own personal efforts should not be wanting in order to secure the needed reforms. What has been done since? Absolutely nothing. Atrocities of the 498 most horrible description on men, women, and children, have been perpetrated without number. In Erzeroum, Van, and Mush, it is the ordinary every-day lot of the Christians not only to be assaulted and robbed by the Kurds, but to suffer every kind of exaction at the hands of the Turkish authorities. We have had furnished to us a Blue Book which contains, among other things, a long account of the trial of one of the greatest ruffians who ever disgraced Turkish annals—I mean Moussa Bey. That man has been acquitted of the charges brought against him and it is reported in the Blue Book that the trial was little better than a farce, and that the Procureur General, instead of being a prosecuting' officer, was practically an advocate for the accused, and bullied and brow-beat the witnesses against Moussa Bey, so that they were practically afraid to give evidence. We are told that our Ambassador will endeavour to procure a further trial, but we have heard nothing of any definite step being taken on the subject. We know that some of Moussa's associates and supporters in Armenia have been decorated, and that the very brother of this ruffian has been engaged in predatory attacks and outrages on the Christian population in the neighbourhood of Bitlis. The unfortunate people are driven by the inaction of Her Majesty's Government to cast their eyes in a totally different direction for protection—I mean in the direction of Russia. Russia has already absorbed a portion of that which was formerly Armenia, and the armed forces of Russia are looking over the walls, as it were, into the Armenian quarters. The Armenians have no desire to come under the authority or the rule of the Czar. They are perfectly willing to remain subjects of the Sultan. All they ask is that they should be allowed such local and domestic administration as shall protect them from the exactions of the Turkish officials and from the predatory attacks of the Kurds. They do not, unfortunately, perhaps, for themselves, do what the Bosnians or the Bulgarians or Herzegovenians did. They have not had recourse to insurrection. It is true there have been little local riots, but there has been nothing in the way of organised resistance. But the action of Her Majesty's Government practically 499 teaches them that if, like others, they will only resort to armed insurrection, they will attract the attention of Her Majesty's Government, and' possibly of other Powers, and secure that which their present attitude renders practically hopeless. If you do not interfere, how long do you expect the Government of the Czar to stand idly by? Surely it is high time the Government of the Queen brought some pressure on the Porte to secure not merely the punishment of isolated ruffians like Monssa Bey, but to secure some of those administrative reforms and guarantees which not only the Porte undertook to bring about, but which the Signatory Powers promised to see carried out. I do not want to move a reduction of the Vote, because I suppose it would only be a formality. Possibly the observations I have made will be sufficient to evoke from the right hon. Gentleman some-tiling definite in the way of a reply.
§ (7.44.) MR. LEVESON-GOWER (Stoke-on-Trent)
In reference to the question of the state of Armenia, I take leave to recall to the recollection of the right hon. Gentleman a statement as to the outrages and violations of women, and murders and robberies, which took place but a short time ago in the district mentioned by the hon. Member for East Donegal. When I asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he would give instructions for an inquiry to be made as to the truth or otherwise of the reports he said he could not undertake to make any inquiry upon third-hand rumours. The accounts had a very definite source. They were contained in a letter written by the chief Ecclesiastical Authority at Van to the Patriarch of Armenia, and by him transmitted to the Porte; and it seems to me that, under these circumstances, there are two courses open to Her Majesty's Government, either to direct Sir William White, at Constantinople, to go direct to the Porte and inquire into the truth of the statements, or else to direct the Consuls whose salaries are included in the Vote to make inquiries on the spot and report to Her Majesty's Government. I know the Government are fond of replying that they do not attach very much importance to newspaper reports, but let me remind the Committee that precisely the same answer was given when the 500 accounts of the outrages in Bulgaria first appeared in the Daily News. The hon. Member for East Donegal has shown with great clearness that Armenia has special claims on this country, in consequence not only of the Treaty of 1856, but of the arrangement of 1878. The Porte gave a distinct promise to Her Majesty's Government that they would institute certain reforms in the management of Armenia. How far those reforms have been carried out has been shown by the form of trial adopted in the case of Moussa Bey. Unless the right hon. Gentleman can give the Committee some assurance that some steps will be taken to inquire into the truth of the rumours, and that, if they are found to be true, some representation will be made to the Porte, with a view of preventing a recurrence of the outrages, I shall feel it my duty to move a reduction of the Vote by £500.
§ (7.48.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I never agree with the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce) in thinking that we ought to interfere in Armenia. I have not the slightest doubt there are great atrocities in Armenia, and that the Turkish Government is one of the vilest Governments that ever existed in the civilised world, but the difficulty is to know how we ought to interfere. My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke has just said we have the right of intervention by the Treaty of 1878. Yes, but that treaty was a reciprocal treaty. We obtained the right to interfere, that is to say, the Turks engaged that they would properly govern Asia Minor, and, on the other hand, we guaranteed to the Turks the whole of Asia Minor against the attacks of the whole world. I objected altogether to that treaty. I object to it now. I do not consider whether the Turks misgovern or govern well in Armenia, but I maintain that we ought in no sort of way to give them a territorial guarantee of their position in Asia Minor. That representations should be made to the Turkish Government to the effect that Europe is shocked at the treatment of the Armenians, I could well understand, but it seems to me we ought not to make the representation separately, and base our intervention on the Treaty of 1878. I think we ought, moreover, with the other European Powers, to tell the 501 Turkish Government that they have absolutely failed in properly governing Armenia, and that now and for henceforth we absolutely refrain from any species of guarantee or promise or hope that we will come to their aid if they are attacked by Russia. My hon. Friend (Mr. Leveson-Gower) says we ought to make a complaint. But suppose the Turks replied, "Whether we govern ill or well, it is not your affair," would my hon. Friend suggest that we should intervene? [Mr. LEVESON-GOWER: No.] Then what does my hon. Friend suggest? I do not see what would come of this intervention. That is why I think we ought to exercise the very greatest caution in making any isolated complaint to Turkey on the misgovernment of Armenia.
§ (7.52.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I think my hon. Friend does not take sufficient account of the moral responsibility placed on this country with regard to Armenia. As a matter of fact, the Armenians would have been properly protected by the Treaty of St. Stefano in its original form, but, owing to the intervention of Lord Beaconsfield and the Marquess of Salisbury, the protection given to those people was partially withdrawn. By the 61st Article of the Treaty of Berlin the Porte engaged to carry out, without any delay, the improvements and reforms which were demanded by the local needs in the provinces inhabited by the Armenians and to guarantee their security against the Circassians and the Kurds. And the Article went on to provide that the Porte would periodically publish the Reports of the measures taken for the information of the Powers who were to superintend the application of those measures. There is no doubt that we are one of the Powers entitled to receive Reports, and that, secondly, we are bound to superintend the application of those measures. The possession of Cyprus is, I think, sufficient ground for our insisting that Turkey shall carry out reforms in Armenia. Let me say I find nothing whatever in the Blue Book presented with reference to the trial of Moussa Bey in respect to which blame can be cast on the Marquess of Salisbury or Sir William White, for Sir William White has shown that he is earnestly desirous that the man should be properly tried, and he has shown sufficiently his 502 profound dissatisfaction with the manner in which that trial has been conducted. And the Marquess of Salisbury wrote to Sir William White:—Her Majesty's Government rely on your Excellency not to relax your endeavours to have justice done in this case. They leave it to your discretion to take every fitting opportunity to impress upon the Government of the Sultan the danger of allowing the continuance of such a state of things as has been shown to exist in the districts of Van, Bitlis, and Mush. All the Sultan's subjects, whether Christian or Mohammedan, have a right to be protected against outrage to their persons and property, and unless they can obtain proper remedy in the Courts of Justice the discontent caused by failure to get redress will constitute a serious danger to the Ottoman Empire.The Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the Under Secretary will really be acting in full accord with the excellent sentiment expressed in these sentences if they will intervene, as my hon. Friend advises them to do, in an effective manner in the gross ill-treatment to which the Armenians are constantly being subjected. I assume the Under Secretary agrees with the statements of Colonel Chermside. Colonel Chermside cannot he accused of unduly favouring the Armenians, because in some sentences are strong condemnations of the reports made by the Armenians as gross exaggerations. For instance, he denies that outrage exists to any very great extent; but, at the same time, he makes several statements which show that the security of the property and the person of the Armenians is very small indeed in the districts in question. One sentence fully sustains the contention of Lord Salisbury that the treatment of the unhappy Armenians is a very great danger, not only to the Turkish Empire, but to the peace of the whole world, because, unquestionably, if this kind of things goes on much longer you will have a spirit of sympathy amongst the Christians of Russia that will force the hands of the Government there, as it forced the hands of the Government previously in the case of Bulgaria. This is what Colonel Chermside says—As education develops, the Armenians, who look to the Western nations as their model, become more and more discontented with the Oriental civilisation in which they find themselves. The uneducated classes are merely loyal as far as influenced by the educated. The old race and religious antipathy to Kurd and Moslem exists. Their sympathies are with any Christian Power as 503 against the Turk. The educated, from their habits of intrigue and mutual jealousies, are as incompetent as ever to combine, and the poorer classes have no power, being rarely armed, and being surrounded by a majority of the hostile and dominant religion. The Turks, however, are quite correct, in my opinion, in considering them disaffected. The formation, a few years since, of Secret Societies and Committees near Erzeroum, and in other districts, the proposals and attempts to procure arms, the occurrences of recent years at and near Van, all indicate the true sentiments of disaffection. It would indeed be strange were it otherwise.I think the Under Secretary will agree that this Report of Colonel Chermside is dictated by a spirit of the greatest moderation and careful examination. The position is this: a population in a state of insecurity, irritation, and disaffection; a neighbouring nation Professing the same creed, and this nation every day excited by a course of ill treatment of their co-religionists; and we in this country have the power, voluntarily assumed, because the transformation of the Treaty of San Stefano was mainly the act of England, to interpose on behalf of the Armenians. It is our duty to check this mal-administration, and our responsibility is strong. I hope the matter will not be dismissed by a reference to want of authenticity in the reports. This is a tiling any Tory Minister should avoid. There is no more shocking example of such an error than the historic speech of Lord Beaconsfield in which he so dismissed the original reports of the Bulgarian atrocities. I hope the right hon. Gentleman's reply will show that the Government recognise their responsibility, and are willing to do their best to obtain something like justice and security for the long persecuted Christians in Armenia.
§ (8.0.) SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
I must say my view is very nearly that of the hon. Member for Northampton. I believe it is hopeless to expect good Turkish administration. The Turkish Empire is rotten, and the Sultan is an incapable ruler, who rejects all attempts to popularise government. We cannot expect good government in Turkey until it is purified by revolution. Inasmuch as the Porte has failed absolutely and entirely to fulfil its obligations under the Treaty of 1878, we are entirely absolved from any obligation we incurred under that Treaty; our hands are free, we are not bound to support that rotten Empire 504 when attacked. In Armenia it is not only the will but the power that is wanting to carry out promised reforms. Under the Treaty of 1878 the obligations of the Porto are clear, and it bound itself to give a Constitution similar to that of Crete and of the European provinces of Turkey. Bnt neither in Armenia or Macedonia have the obligations been fulfilled. In Macedonia the gravest abuses exist in direct opposition to Treaty obligations. As regards Armenia I admit extreme difficulty; the population is exceedingly mixed, and I do not think that in any of the districts the Armenians are a majority of the population. In Van, no doubt, the population ought to be protected, but we cannot protect all the world. It is better to say that the Turks having failed to fulfil their obligations, we are, on our part, relieved from the duties we conditionally undertook. There is one other matter I would mention. The practice has been a good deal followed of trying to cure these evils by blistering. It seems to me that in regard to Armenia and Khurdistan there has been an idea that blistering is the right course to pursue, and that the blister has been applied in the appointment of Mr. Clifford Lloyd, a gentleman who has succeeded in stirring up ill-feeling where-ever he has been. On the consular part of the Vote I propose to move a reduction, on the specific ground that there has been an abuse of the system of retirement and pension on medical certificate. I took occasion to ask if Mr. Clifford Lloyd's appointment was in order to promote conciliation and peace, and I was not surprised that the answer was "No." Mr. Clifford Lloyd is a firebrand. He retired from service in Ireland upon a medical certificate, and was sent to another part of the world. He again retired on a medical certificate, and we thought we had heard the last of him as a public servant. But where things are getting into a heated state, where strife is predominant, and there is mischief to be done, Mr. Clifford Lloyd reappears again, and I hope that some explanation of the appointment will be forthcoming.
*(8.10.) MR. CHANNNG (Northampton, E)
The denunciation of the Anglo-Turkish Convention, and of its possible results, by the hon. Member for 505 Northampton, and others, seem to me to be rather in the nature of an anachronism. It is rather like slaying the slain. Whatever faults I have to find with the Ministry I do consider them a sane Ministry, and whatever suggestions are offered them I do not suppose they will consider the Anglo Turkish Convention to be anything but what it was happily described to be some years ago, "An insane Convention that no practical body of men would carry into effect." That being so, I venture to say that suggestions that sometimes come from this side, from those, who, like myself, are interested in the fate of the Christian populations in the Turkish dominions, do not contemplate the carrying of British arms into the remote fastnesses of Armenia. We maintain that these discussions are of real value and of vital importance To the immediate future of these oppressed and unfortunate populations. They show that we are moved by the reports of their sufferings, which from time to time reach us, though any amount of dust is attempted to be thrown in our eyes by the Turkish Government and officials. I am glad to say that the conduct of Sir William White throughout the whole of the Moussa Bey affair deserves the warmest commendation. I have the more satisfaction in saying this because last year I ventured to pass certain strictures upon his conduct, which now I say is absolutely free from censure. These discussions are of real value, for they draw attention to the fact that these unfortunate people have friends in England who will ventilate their grievances, and set before the public opinion of Europe the story of their sufferings. The hon. Member for the Scotland division has referred to the important memorandum of Consul Chermside. Now, he is an official who is rather inclined to apologise for Turkish administration, rather inclined to receive Reports which favour their side of the question, and his contributions to the Blue Book are certainly less favourable to the Armenian population than are the Reports of Consul Devey, who is nearer the scene of the outrages. I only mention this to show the importance of Consul Chermside's admissions. If he does not quite apologise for Turkish administration he endeavours to represent that things 506 are not quite so bad as they have been. He admits the existence of outrages, but he says they are less frequent, and some of the statements, especially in reference to the ill-treatment of women, are grossly exaggerated. But, then, in another part of his Memorandum we find confirmation of the statement of the attacks to which the Christian population are subjected from the Kurdish tribes, and an admission that the area of these outrages has been widened. Consul Chermside says the Turkish Government have endeavoured to improve the Courts of Justice, and are endeavouring, he says, to carry out their obligations under the Treaty of Berlin by this means, but they have not the best material for carrying this out, and so their object is defeated. Then he goes on to say that the policy of the Government has been to develop Moslem self-reliance, and, side by side with this passage, he says the difference in status between Moslem and Christian populations is very marked. Is not this owing to the policy of developing Moslem self-reliance? Practically this and other passages in the Memorandum support the contention put forward by some of the friends of the Armenians that the policy of Turkish administration is to lower the position of the Christians, step by step, so leaving them more open to the outrages to which they have been subjected. I do not know whether any reference has yet been made to a very important memorial addressed by the Armenian Ecclesiastics and the Patriarch to the Turkish Government, which is important as showing the tendency of the Turkish policy in regard to the suppression of the rights of the Armenians. In this memorial from the priesthood complaint is made of the withdrawal from their Ecclesiastical Courts of Jurisdiction in certain classes of cases, and of the withdrawal of the right to publish their own historical, educational, and religious books, in violation of the direct engagement to protect the rights of the Christian population. This is a matter of the greatest possible importance, and I should like to hear if Her Majesty's Government have directed that any representation should be made to the Porte, through Sir William White, on the withdrawal of these rights. Obviously, these rights are of the greatest 507 importance, dealing, as they do, with questions of marriage and inheritance in a community situated among a polygamous race, and they are rights that have again and again been granted by Sultans of Turkey. These things are dangerously indicative of the real Turkish policy towards the Christian population, to degrade the Christians and encourage the Moslem population to ignore Christian rights. Anyone who reads the facts contained in the Blue Book will see that, in substance, the charges brought forward last year are more than substantiated. These discussions point to the fact that we are face to face with a dangerous policy of repression and misrepresentation and withdrawal of Christian rights, and I think the British Government have an ample right to declare that no means shall be left untried for putting legitimate diplomatic pressure upon the Porte to end this state of things. We have ample proof in the past that the desire of the Armenians is not to amalgamate themselves with Russia, but rather that they shall be a buffer between our interests and Russian aggrandisement. This tendency among other Christian populations was neglected in the past, until, driven to extremity, they had no refuge but in the arms of Russia. Before we come to that critical stage, which is fast approaching, I hope Her Majesty's Government will make a strong effort to obtain concerted diplomatic action among the Powers, not military, but diplomatic action, to represent to the Porte, and press upon it the absolute necessity of conceding reforms, and a modified form of autonomous government for Armenia, to end those troubles it is not only the right but the duty of England to bring forward.
§ *(8.20.) SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
I share a great many of the sentiments which have been given expression to by hon. Gentlemen with reference to the hardships suffered by some of the Christian population in Turkey, especially in the instances referred to, and regret that at this time of day such outrages should not have been dealt with in a firmer manner. It does not seem that we should be unduly sentimental to feel deep regret, if not something stronger, 508 that when at last a man who has been notorious for his crimes and his cruelties had been brought to trial before the eyes of Europe, his trial should have been conducted in a way so little calculated to inspire confidence in the course of justice, and to show so little regard for the public opinion of the world, which must, undoubtedly, condemn such evasions of justice. These are feelings we all must share, and I am glad that hon. Members have recognised in the Papers lately presented that, in regard to the trial of Moussa Bey, Her Majesty's Ambassador has fitly represented the opinion of this country. Her Majesty's Government have not been slow to press on the Porte that it is its duty and interest to bring this man to a just and fair trial. Hon. Members who have expressed approval of Sir William White's conduct have only confirmed that high praise which was accorded to him by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian on the first night of the Session. Our representative has not been lacking in anything that could bring the opinion and the influence of this country to bear on the position of the subject races, or in anything that could induce the Government of the country to deal adequately with gross offences when they wore brought to its knowledge. Hon. Members, however, must recognise that there is a point at which advice and solicitation from a foreigner might fail in their purpose. If the representatives of other Powers were not as energetic in representing the public opinion of Europe in such a matter, and Her Majesty's Ambassador, on the other hand, was constantly knocking at the doors of the Porte, and tendering advice as to the affairs of the country, I think it might rather tend to diminish British influence than secure the objects we have at heart. The hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. A. O'Connor) has referred to the treaty in which the Ottoman Government entered into engagements to improve the government of the provinces and the condition of the Christian population, and although a special Convention was entered into for the purpose of devising such measures, in concert with ourselves, for the better government of the Asiatic population, that Convention has practically been 509 non-effective. It has never been found possible to secure that concert between Her Majesty's Government and the Ottoman Government with regard to specific measures. Undoubtedly Her Majesty's Government, not alone the present Government, but they have acted in common with their predecessors, have urged upon the Ottoman Government, in its own interests, and in order that the public opinion of this country might not be alienated from a country which has been our ally, that it should not disregard all its promises by a continual failure to administer good government in those provinces. It is not, of course, possible for Her Majesty's Government to exercise material and substantial power in the Ottoman dominions. We can only bring to notice what is the sentiment of the people of this country, and point out how largely the policy of the Government is always influenced by public opinion here; and that if the Ottoman Government is deaf to such counsels, and so weak as to fail to carry out those reforms which seem to Her Majesty's Government to be urgently called for, then such a policy will certainly not be to its advantage, and must tend to the alienation of the feeling in this country. The Government of the Sultan, however, have very great difficulties to deal with. In particular provinces a fertile source of danger is the contending races and tribes, who are extremely difficult to control. Last year, when these matters were under discussion, I pointed out that the Porte had given proofs of a desire for the amelioration of the condition of the Christian provinces by the appointment of an official whose antecedents gave promise of good government, and I am very glad to be able to tell the Committee that very lately a despatch was received from Constantinople which contains a report from Bitlis, describing the good effect produced on the government of that province since Réouf Pacha assumed direction of affairs. This despatch will form part of the next Blue Book to be laid before the House. So far as Armenia is concerned, we know that the Governor General of the province is taking measures to restore order and repress disturbances. From the Blue Book, to which reference has been made, it will be recognised that 510 the Government have encouraged Her Majesty's officers to send full Reports of the state of affairs in that part of the world. Colonel Chermside's account is in some respects encouraging. I had the advantage of a good deal of conversation with him recently, and he assured me that, much as there is to regret and much as there is to be done for the good government of these provinces, there has been substantial improvement in the condition of the people there. I should do wrong if I were to promise the Committee that the Government can do much, but I can say with confidence that whatever is in the power of Her Majesty's Government to do for the amelioration of the condition of the people, and the removal of the grievances they endure, it will be the duty and interest of the Government to carry out in the cause of humanity and the peace of the world. (8.33.)
§ (9.5.) Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
The answer just given by the right hon. Baronet the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs is not so satisfactory as the Committee would desire. No doubt the Committee will appreciate the sympathetic tone of the hon. Baronet's remarks, but beyond this it will be impossible for them to go. The right hon. Baronet appeared to think that whatever might be the condition of the Christian subjects in Turkey it is impossible for Her Majesty's Government to move hand or foot in the matter for any practical purpose. If that is the conclusion to which the right hon. Gentleman has really come I venture to think he must have very strange ideas of our treaty obligations, because the terms of the Treaty of Berlin are so express and emphatic that those who are party to them must have intended to have laid down clear and specific obligations. It was there arranged that immediately, and without any delay, the Porte should undertake certain ameliorations in the condition of the inhabitants of Armenia, and the introduction of certain reforms. That was altogether apart from the question of the protection of the Christian inhabitants from the attacks and outrages of the Circas- 511 sians and the Kurds. With regard to the administrative reforms then promised, an undertaking was entered into by the Porte that, from time to time, Reports should be made to the other Signatory Powers of the reformatory steps that were taken. I should like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman what Reports have been received in carrying out this undertaking. I think we shall find they have amounted practically to nothing. If, however, any Reports have been received, I would ask what steps Her Majesty's Government have taken to impress upon the Porte the obligations under which it rests in consequence of the words which were added at the express wish of Lord Salisbury. The right hon. Gentleman has given us no information on this point. His remarks are almost entirely confined to the very notorious and extreme cases of crime and atrocity committed by one particular individual, but the individual atrocities are only a small portion of the case. At the time of the Berlin Conference, the Armenians who then addressed Lord Beaconsfield stated emphatically that however great the misconduct of the Kurds and Circassians might have been that of the Turks was still worse and more hateful, and it was in regard to these evils that the undertaking I have referred to was entered into by the Porte. The right hon. Gentleman has informed us that the condition of the country is better than it used to be, and he has referred us to the Report of Colonel Chermside. I also have before me the Report of Colonel Chermside. He says —The state of affairs which evokes so much sympathy for the lot of Turkish Armenians in Kurdistan always exists.Then again—The virtual inequality of Christian and Moslem, the want of efficient protection to the former, and of vindication of violence towards him exists as before; nor need I trouble your Excellency with a repetition of the many well-known shortcomings of Turkish administration.Further on he says—The contributions demanded by the Aghas are in no wise recognised by the Government, but the latter is, of course, perfectly aware of their existence.It should be known that those exactions here referred to are at least three times 512 the amount that can properly be imposed by law. On page 19 of his Report, Colonel Chermside says—Former Reports of Major Clayton and Colonel Everett describe the very abject condition of the inhabitants of many Christian hamlets and villages; this still exists.Further on he says—The great scourge of the settled population of the mountainous districts of Kurdistan, between Van and the Tigris, and South of the Eastern Euphrates, is the 'Kocher' or nomad Kurdish population. Since the removal of the Begs, the Kochers have invaded districts formerly free from them. It is freely asserted that since the Berlin Treaty, Turkey has done nothing to improve matters in her Asiatic provinces. The limiting of the power of the Executive, the introduction of the new system of Tribunals of Justice were very comprehensive and expensive measures. Their failure for want of good instruments for execution, and for other reasons, is notorious and fully dealt with in numerous Consular Reports. What is, perhaps, the crux of the question as regards the Armenians, is that efficient protection is not extended to individuals, neither are their rights vindicated, nor their equality anything but a name.Then again—The fostering of the exclusive spirit of Islam, combined with the great jealousy of Moslems at the material prosperity of such a large number of their Christian fellow subjects have stimulated that bitter feeling against Christians which so strongly pervades the Moslems throughout the Empire, more noticeably so, indeed, in other districts than Kurdistan. It is often asserted that, owing to the toleration of Turkey as regards language, religions, &c., the Armenians are by no means disaffected, and only anxious for security, tranquility, and the real recognition of their lights as citizens. This view is rather that of those educated Armenians, dwellers in towns, who are aware of the advantages which they enjoy in Turkey. As education develops, the Armenians who look to the Western nations as their model, become more and more discontented with the Oriental civilisation in which they find themselves. The uneducated classes are merely loyal as far as influenced by the educated. The old race and religious antipathy to Kurd and Moslem exists. Their sympathies are with any Christian Power as against the Turk. The educated from their habits of intrigue and mutual jealouses are as incompetent as ever to combine, and the poorer classes have no power, being rarely armed and being surrounded by a majority of the hostile and dominant religion. The Turks, however, are quite correct, in my opinion, in considering them disaffected. The formation a few years since of Secret Societies and Committees near Erzercum, and in other districts, the proposals and attempts to procure arms, the occurrences of recent years at and near Van, all indicate the true sentiments of disaffection. It would indeed be strange were it otherwise.513 On page 23 Colonel Chermside says—I have, however, the satisfaction to inform you that, through the strong and honest administration of Haji Hassan Bey, almost all the principal bad characters in the Diarbekir Vilayet have lately been arrested, and the prisons of Mardin and Diarbekir are full now. It is hoped that the province may be hereafter tranquilised, provided they receive their deserved punishment, and that depends upon the uprightness of the Criminal Courts, which the experience of past years does not lead us to hope for. It may, perhaps, be within the truth to state that the feelings of Mahommedans in general are not so friendly towards Armenians as some years ago, and they sometimes evince their dislike, but it is impossible to subdue such feelings by any but moral means.
§ *SIR J. FERGUSSON
If the hon. Member looks at the last paragraph of Colonel Chermside's Report he will see the grounds for the observations I have made.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
I am afraid I have somewhat mutilated my own copy, having taken out those parts which I thought would be material, and not having with me that part of the Report which the right hon. Gentleman refers to, but, having read the Report with great care, I have not been able to arrive at the conclusions which appear to be so satisfactory to the right hon. Baronet. The question has been raised as to the comparative populations of the districts of Armenia, and an hon. Baronet speaking from above the Gangway seemed to doubt whether the Armenians were in a majority in any part. The fact is that they are in a majority in the districts of the Van, Mush, Bitlis, and Erzeroum, where the total figures amount to 1,330,000 Armenians. The statistics are furnished by the Armenian Patriarch in Constantinople, and I offer them for what they are worth. I know of no better authority, and I think the Turkish Government could scarcely be better informed. In the central portion of major or greater Armenia, the Armenians are in overwhelming majority, yet I find they are subject to every kind of individual atrocity at the hands of the Kurds, and they look in vain for protection at the hands of the Government. This country has undertaken treaty obligations, and it is of no avail for the right hon. 514 Gentleman to say that the Cyprus Convention cannot be carried out. There is some thing anterior to, and more important than, the Cyprus Convention, and that is the Treaty of Berlin. If Her Majesty's Government cannot approach the Sultan alone, is there any chance of combined action on the part of the Signatory Powers? From a diplomatic point of view, I should have thought that would have been more acceptable to Her Majesty's Government, because I such a step could be taken without arousing the jealousy that would be awakened by isolated action. Has any attempt been made to secure unity of pressure at the hands of the Signatories to carry out these obligations with regard to the Christian populations?
§ *(9.17.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
I hoped I had satisfied the Committee and hon. Gentlemen who initiated this discussion. I am sorry that the hon. Member has not read the full text of the Report, or he would at once perceive the grounds on which I made the statement with respect to Colonel Chermside. In his Report, as well as in his conversation, he stated that there was a decided improvement, notwithstanding the many faults that remained. Colonel Chermside states, as the hon. Member will see on referring to the Blue Book, that progress has been made which, on the whole, is not discreditable. The hon. Member asks whether the Government intend to propose a Congress to consider how far the promises made at Berlin can be carried out.
§ *SIR J. FERGUSSON
No such action has been proposed by Her Majesty's present Government, or by any preceding Government. It is evident that the Powers would act with very various intentions, and that the power which took the initiative would not increase its influence at the Porte.
§ (9.20.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what are the functions of Mr. Clifford Lloyd and of Colonel Chermside?
§ *SIR. J. FERGUSSON
Colonel Chermside has been appointed military attaché to the Embassy at Constantinople, and Mr. Clifford Lloyd has been appointed in his place Consul at Erzeroum. There 515 is every confidence that he will satisfactorily discharge the duties.
§ (9.21.) MR. LEGH
These appointments are of a character which require special training, and they should only be bestowed on persons who are qualified by having received that training, and, should not be made in a casual way, and for reasons that do not apply to the particular position. On grounds of general fitness, I cannot say that this is altogether a justifiable appointment.
*(9.23.) SIR J. PEEGUSSON
Colonel Chermside and Mr. Clifford Lloyd appeared to the Secretary of State to be the fittest for the work that is to be done. In such places very special qualifications are required, and I must say, from the manner in which Colonel Chermside has performed his duties, that his appointment is fully justified.
§ (9.24.) MR. W. REDMOND
I think it would be satisfactory to Members on this Bench if the hon. Gentleman would give us a little more information with regard to the appointment of Mr. Clifford Lloyd to this extremely important position. I think there is a great deal of force in what has fallen from hon. Gentlemen opposite with regard to the advisability of the exercise of the greatest possible care and caution in appointments of this kind. I do not know exactly what the duties of Mr. Clifford Lloyd may be in the position which he occupies; but from our knowledge of his career in Ireland it is extremely probable that the people placed under his influence are suffering very greatly indeed. I would like to know exactly how much Mr. Clifford Lloyd is paid, and how it was he came to be selected when there are many men in this country so much better qualified for the position. I meant also to call attention to the practice of putting down different salaries to one official, and I would suggest that the total sum he receives should be put next his name, in order hon. Members may not be misled, and may know what amount he really receives, and for what he receives it. At the Spanish Embassy I find a clerk receives £300 a year, and a further salary of £250 a year as Consul in Madrid. I do not complain of the amount this gentleman receives, but I think it is extremely likely to mislead 516 hon. Members that the total amount he receives is not shown against his name. There are various examples of this practice. I should like to ask some questions with regard to the item of "Special Missions." There is a "Special Service" in Corea, £1,600; Special Service on the West Coast of Africa, £1,200; "Missions and Services, 1890–91, £11,450; 1889–90, £10,250." It is most undesirable that hon. Members should be asked to vote these sums of money without being told what they are going to be used for. Unforeseen Missions and Services £11,450! I cannot for a moment conceive that it would be likely that if any mission or service was shown to be necessary, the money would not be willingly and readily voted by the House; but it is hardly treating the Members of the House with confidence or courtesy to ask them to vote large sums of money without telling them what the money is for. I have not the least idea what the special service on the West Coast of Africa is. If an expedition is to be sent to the West Coast of Africa tell us so, and I have no doubt the Committee will be willing to vote any reasonable amount of money. But I protest in the strongest possible manner against this sort of repetition of the Secret Service Grant. Now, having heard the speech of the hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. A. O'Connor), I cannot but regard the action of the Government, in respect to Armenia, as most unsatisfactory. I consider the Government is bound to take every step to put an end to the atrocities which are from time to time committed on the Armenian people. There was a time when it might very well do for the Government to say that the rumours as to atrocities were not well-founded, but I do not think the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs will have the hardihood to get up now and say there is not good foundation for what is complained of in regard to Armenia. I am sorry to say that, in my opinion, there is not the same disposition on the part of the Government to denounce atrocities committed under the sanction and in the name of the Government of Turkey that there is to denounce cruelties and atrocities committed with the sanction of the Russian 517 Government. The right hon. Gentleman might give us a more satisfactory answer than refer us to the pages of the Report he has quoted. We know that since that Report was made there have been outrages committed, and that there have been appeals made to the people of this country on behalf of the Armenians. All we ask for is an assurance that Her Majesty's Government are determined to make representations to the Government of the Sultan, to let him know that his friendly relations with this country cannot continue if he persists in sanctioning the perpetration of outrages and atrocities which are simply terrifying to the mind of the average Englishman.
§ *(9.36.) MR. CHANNING
I do not rise to continue the discussion on the Armenian question, but simply to express my regret that the right hon. Gentleman was not in a position to state his authority for his statement with reference to Raouf Pasha. Last year I read a statement with regard to Raouf Pasha, which was taken from the French Le Temps, which is supposed to have the means of obtaining exceptionally good information. The statement was to the effect that Raouf Pasha, when in power at Beyrout, was an entire failure; that there were constant quarrels and murders between the Christians and the Mohammedans, and that it was incumbent on the Porte to remove him. That was the reason why he went to Armenia
§ (9.37.) MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
Last year I called the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the condition of the Consular Courts in Siam, and he promised then that the Minister would, on his arrival, take the matter into consideration. I should like to know what has been done.
§ *(9.38.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
The Consular Court at Bangkok has been brought under the Supreme Court at Singapore, by which any miscarriage of justice will be rectified. But I am not aware that anything has taken place to show that the Consular Court at Bangkok is not an efficient Court. The hon. Member for Fermanagh has expressed dissatisfaction with what I have said in reply to the hon. Member for the 518 Scotland Division, and others, as to Armenia. I rather despair of being able to satisfy the hon. Member upon the Armenian question, as I am not prepared to go further than I have already gone in the matter. Her Majesty's Government have done all that they could judiciously do; and though we regret that much has been left undone by Turkey, yet some progress has been made. With regard to the double office held by the clerk at the Madrid Embassy, it is felt that the gentleman is able to fill the two offices. The salary he receives is certainly not excessive. It is difficult to put down an account of "unforeseen Missions" which will take place next year, and it would be inconvenient to produce a special estimate to the House at various periods of the Session. A sum of £600 will be taken as extra expenses for the Danube Commission, and a sum will be taken for special Consular Service in China in connection with the opening of the ports on the Yenisi River, and in connection with Corea, as well as an item in connection with telegraphs. It is difficult to estimate exactly what will be required for unforeseen Missions, but the sum of £15,000 is what has been thought sufficient in previous years.
§ (9.47.) MR. W. REDMOND
What I complain of is that no account is given of the £11,450. The right hon. Gentleman says that if it is not used it will be returned to the Exchequer. Well, I want to know when the practice first came into existence of asking Parliament to vote a considerable sum of money when there is no present necessity for it merely on the supposition that something may arise to render it necessary. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks any of us can be persuaded that if there is no necessity for the expenditure of this money it will be returned to the Exchequer, he is of a very imaginative turn of mind indeed. I am of opinion that a Vote of this kind is an invitation to men in Africa and different parts of the world to spend the money. They will say, "If this money is not spent it will be returned to the Treasury; why should we not have a finger in the pie? It is quite as good for us to see the necessity of having it spent as to have it returned to the Treasury." I utterly 519 and completely object to vote and decline to vote money on the understanding that if it is not used it can be returned to the Treasury. I see that last year £1,200 was put down for services on the West Coast of Africa. This year that item is omitted, for purposes of economy, I suppose; but, strangely enough, exactly that amount is added to the item for unforeseen Missions. Last year the amount, for these Missions was £10,250, and this year it is £11,450. I would ask how long has the practice of taking this Vote been in existence, and does the right hon. Gentleman think it desirable to ask for this money? Why does he fix on £11,450? Africa is an immense place, and if Missions there are expected millions of money might be spent on them. Why does not the right hon. Gentleman ask for £50,000, or even £100,000? We have been told about complications likely to arise between Germany and this country, or Portugal and this country, in regard to these immense tracts of country known as "spheres of influence." Well, with the rumours afloat as to German Colonial policy and our quarrels in Portugal, there is no doubt we may be embroiled in serious difficulties, and in such event I am afraid that this £11,450 might not be enough for the extra Missions and Services this country might be called on to undertake. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman if he approves of this system, how much money was spent in this way last year, and whether he can give us any sort of dark hint as to what the unforeseen Missions and Services in Africa may be this year? It would be more than natural if hon. Members did not seek an explanation of these matters.
§ *(9.55.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
I am afraid I cannot satisfy the hon. Gentleman. There has been a Mission to the West Coast of Africa, a Conference at Brussels, a Mission to Rome, and two special Missions to Berlin. These are all the Missions which I can remember just now. As the hon. Member is aware, the sum of £15,000 has been voted for unforeseen Missions for the past four years, that amount being found to be sufficient to meet probable requirements. In addition to that amount, in 1885 we had 520 to ask for £12,500, in 1886–7 we spent £7,000, and in 1888 only £6,500. Last year we were within the Estimate, but we cannot hope that that will always be the case. The Committee knows the wide area over which the British Empire extends, and, therefore, over which the necessity for these special Missions extends. As in the Civil Service at home, there is a Vote for "Contingencies," so in the Foreign Service we have to ask for this sum for unforeseen Missions.
§ (9.57.) MR. W. REDMOND
Can the right hon. Gentleman give an instance of money being returned to the Treasury when voted for unforeseen Missions? I must say I feel inclined to congratulate myself on having got a good deal of satisfactory information from the right hon. Gentleman as to how the money was spent last year. He tells us they were arranging territorial lines with the French Government and that there was a Mission to Berlin and one to Rome. What an amount of time would be saved if the Government had the common sense to put the Missions on which the money was spent one year on the Votes of the year following! Can the right hon. Gentleman give us an instance of money being returned to the Treasury?
§ *(9.59.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
In the year 1887–8 £15,000 was voted and £6,500 spent. The surplus would be handed over to the Treasury or devoted to other purposes. It is, of course, impossible to say at the commencement of a year what the unforeseen contingencies for that year will be.
§ (10.0.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
This Vote must be strenuously resisted, seeing that it enables Her Majesty's Government to carry out such objectionable Missions as that to Rome last year without giving the House an opportunity of discussing them. There is nothing that involves the feelings of the people of this country more than a question of this kind, and I maintain that when the Government want to spend money in this way we should have Supplementary Estimates asked for. And now, to go alphabetically down the items of this Vote, I should like to say a word with regard to Egypt. I have made a great many speeches on the subject of Egypt, and the reason I have done so is because Her Majesty's 521 Government are still occupying that country. I should like to know what policy Her Majesty's Government intend to pursue in the matter of this occupation. The House has been told over and over again that our occupation of Egypt is to be only a temporary one, bur the longer we stay there the less the signs are of our coining away. It would seem at present as if we are to stop there permanently; and if the Government mean that, I think they should tell us so honestly. Her Majesty's Government will tell us that they must remain in Egypt until the country is tit to govern itself; but do they want it to be able to govern itself? Are they taking the necessary steps to render such a thing possible? They sent a very distinguished man—Lord Dufferin—to Egypt a short time ago to render the place capable of governing itself, and he laid down a certain line of policy with that object in view; but his plans have never been carried out. Lord Dufferin's Mission was a farce and a sham, as no attempt has ever been made to follow its conclusions. The financial administration of Egypt appears to be successful from the bondholders' point of view, but that success has only been secured at the expense of increasing the taxation of the country. There has not been the slightest real attempt made to make Egypt a self governing country, while the internal administration has been starved, the provision for education especially having been kept down to the lowest possible point. We have doubled the value of the bonds in Egypt no doubt, and the French and English bondholders have reason to praise us. But, again I ask, is that an advantage? We are often told that as long as we hold Egypt it will be an embarrassment to us in time of peace and an infinitely greater embarrassment in time of war. It involves jealousy and want of friendship on the part of the French, and what I should like to do is to patch up a decent Native Government, get together a good Native Army, and leave Egypt to take care of itself. I do not think the Prime Minister is right in saying that Orientals are not capable of carrying on a Constitutional Government. You have failed in Egypt because you have not tried, and in Turkey because the Turks 522 were not willing. But great aptitude for Constitutional government has been shown. I should like to ask what is the present state of the negotiations as regards the loans, whether the French have considered the question of conversion more favourably, and whether Her Majesty's Government have agreed to the request of the French to consent to a new loan? I should also like the right hon. Gentleman to give us some explanation of the state of things in the country about Suakin, and to say what is the policy of the Government with regard to Suakin.
§ (10.12.) MR. W. REDMOND
I should like to ask whether Her Majesty's Government have considered the advisableness of commuting, to some extent, the sentence passed on Arabi Pasha? It has been represented to me, I believe with justice, that he is suffering very severely indeed from the climate of Ceylon. The Government, when I brought the subject forward some time ago, did not hold out any hope that the sentence would be remitted. I think that at this time of day they might with great propriety consider the advisable-ness of remitting the sentence, or, at all events, of allowing him to be consulted as to whether he would like to go to some other part of the world.
§ (10.13) DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
There are three or four Votes other than those to which the attention of the Government has been directed and of which I think some notice ought to be taken. Over and over again we hear of the large salaries granted to German Princes who are brought over to obtain positions which they cannot possibly get at home. In these Votes we find large sums being paid to Ambassadors and Charges d'Affaires in petty little States in Germany. The miserable little German Principality of Coburg has a Charge d'Affaires who gets £500 a, year and £200 a year besides for the premises he occupies. In Darmstadt, another impotent, obscure, and very-small Principality, you have a Chargé' d'Affaires who gets a salary of £1,050 besides £200 for rent. Compare these with the Kingdom of Saxony—a larger portion of the German Empire—and you find that the Secretary of Legation gets £750 a year with the sum of £200 523 for his rent. I think we ought to have some explanation of this matter. This seems to be a means of providing for the scions of noble houses something to do in places where nothing can be done. I think, Sir, that while there is such trouble at home it is a great and crying injustice to grant these large sums of money in the hole-and corner way in which again and again it is sought to be done in the House of Commons. This Vote is put down for the first evening of the Session in the hope that Members would not attend. That is not the way in which the business of the House of Commons should be conducted, and I sincerely hope we shall have some explanation of the items I have referred to. There are so many blots in this Vote that it would take a very long time were we to go into them all. I pity Her Majesty's Government and the unfortunate Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, who has to assume all the responsibility with respect to these matters, knowing the miserable deficiencies and defects that are apparent in the Vote. I will, however, content myself with asking for an explanation of one other item. The British Medical Officer of Health at Constantinople gets £400 a year, and there is a note in the Estimates stating that that is merely an allowance made to the physician of the Embassy. I wish to know whether that position is open to competition, or is it in the gift of Members of the Government? To my mind, all these posts should be thrown open to competition, so that young men of merit may be able to reach the positions to which they are entitled by their worth.
Several subsequent questions have been addressed to the right hon. Gentleman, and he will be unable to answer them if the hon. Member moves the reduction of a specific item now.
§ *SIR J. FERGUSSON
I hope the hon. Member will not think it necessary to move the reduction. It is a fact that the burden of taxation in Egypt has been reduced and that the revenue has increased from natural causes. The doubt which the hon. Member has expressed on the 524 subject is the first suggestion I have heard for many weeks contrary to the general impression that there are indications of greatly increased prosperity among the people of Egypt. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), who recently returned from Egypt, has spoken of the indications of prosperity that he noticed, and surely his evidence may be accepted as that of a competent and impartial witness The best proofs are the increased comfort of the people, the increase of revenue from diminished taxes, and the improvement in the system of public works, which brings more land into cultivation and enables the people to bear either an abnormally high Nile or an abnormally low Nile without serious damage. In spite of the heavy expenditure last year, there is a surplus of revenue over expenditure. It is much to be regretted that the conversion proposal has not been carried out, because it would have lightened the burdens of the people very considerably; but I hope arrangements will be come to by negotiation whereby the end will be attained. As to the question of the hon. Member for Cork (Dr. Tanner), these discussions may be indefinitely prolonged if Members who have not been present early in the evening come in and ask questions that have been already answered.
§ DR. TANNER
Will the right hon. Gentleman pardon me for a moment? I heard only last night that this Vote was coming on to-day, and I travelled post haste from Cork in consequence.
§ *(10.29.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
Well, I have already stated that the Government, pursuant to a, pledge to reduce the small Missions in Germany, have not-filled up the post in Stuttgardt, and I think other positions when they become vacant will not be filled up. The doctor in Constantinople is undoubtedly not appointed by open competition. The medical officers are generally appointed in consultation with the Ambassador under whom they have to serve, and I think the Public Service does not suffer by the fact that these appointments are not put up to public competition.
§ (10.30.) DR. TANNER
I may explain that when I called attention to the medical member of the Legation I knew nothing whatever of the gentleman in 525 question, I thought it would be for the interest of the Service to apply the principle which has elsewhere been much followed, of submitting the claims of members of the medical profession to examination rather than leaving them to interest.
§ *(10.31.) SIR JULIAN GOLDSMID (St. Pancras, S.)
The hon. Gentleman near me (Sir G. Campbell) seems to have most strange information. The information I have received, and some of it from Egyptian sources, leaves no doubt that the condition of Egypt has improved immensely in the last few years; the income has increased by the natural increase of wealth and of population, and taxation has been remitted. If the French would agree upon the conversion which is proposed by Her Majesty's Government, still further benefits would accrue to the population of Egypt. I think that under these circumstances it is a little disappointing to find the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy making such statements as those we have just listened to.
§ (10.32.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I purposely avoided going into particulars. The habits and the condition of the people of Egypt are not to be appreciated by figures. I have formed my opinion upon careful study and personal observation, but I knew when I expressed that opinion that the only result would be expressions of opinion from this side or that. As regards the financial question, having spent a winter in Egypt lately, and having studied the question carefully from means of information kindly afforded me, I maintain most deliberately that the revenue has been increased, not by a natural rise, but by the imposition of increased taxation, although I admit that in some cases taxation has been remitted. Remissions have been on the smallest scale, while taxation has been imposed in direct contravention of the recommendations of the highest authorities. Lord Dufferin and Lord Northbrook recommended that the Land Tax should be remitted, and it was not remitted, and a Salt Tax and other taxes have been imposed. But I do not wish to detain the Committee with statistics. I maintain, however, that my opinion, arrived at after careful study of facts, cannot be contradicted by any expert. Additional burdens have been imposed 526 though I admit the result has proved— the revenue being obtained — that the people have been able for the time to bear these burdens. There was another point I referred to—the state of affairs near Suakin, but I will revert to that on the Consular Vote.
§ (10.35.) MR. WADDY (Lincolnshire, Brigg)
Until I heard the observations of the hon. Baronet the Member for South St. Pancras (Sir Julian Goldsmid), I was not disposed to quarrel with this item, but he makes clear a case against it; for if his information is correct—and I have no reason to doubt it- -and we have been doing so much good to Egypt, then the inference is that that country should bear this expense, and we are not required to extend our philanthropy and benevolence further, but this £5,000 should be struck out of the Estimate. It is among the largest items of its kind, coming third after France and Germany. When we look at Sub-note B we are told that there is a further allowance of £1,000, so that the British taxpayer is called on to pay £6,000 on this account, a claim which is no longer justified. Members have wandered up and down these items, so that I scarcely know exactly what point we have reached; but there is an item in the Turkish Vote, and I may take this as a cognate subject upon which I should like information. I wonder what sort of a thing is an archivist. What is he or it? Why does Turkey want one; and if the Turks want one, why is it that other people do not? Is it simply a means of giving money to some one not giving his name? Also more information is wanted as to the items for chaplains and physicians in some cases and not in others. There are matters also that require elucidation in relation to unforeseen Missions; but, for the present, confining myself to this Egyptian item, I ask why we should vote this £6,000 on behalf of a people who, it appears, are well able to take care of themselves?
§ (10.38.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I do not contest the fact that the Egyptians are better off now than under the late Khedive; they may be better off without being well off. But our system is to enforce the payment of taxation, not to be spent in the country, but for the benefit of the owners of Egyptian bonds, who 527 are practically all in Europe. A great deal too much is taken out of the country. It is not our business to look after the Egyptians or spend the money of the British taxpayer in order that they may be better off or well off. We went there many years ago under a specific pledge to Europe, and to France especially, that we did not go there to remain, but upon one excuse or another we have remained in absolute violation of our pledge. I have made continual complaints of this, and while the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was in power, I must have divided the House some 30 or 40 times on this question, so that in no sense is it a Party question. But I do really think we ought to declare when we intend to leave the country now that we are practically told that Egypt is prosperous. If that is so, then we have fulfilled our purpose in going into Egypt and ought to leave the country. We are in an utterly false position towards the other European Powers, and especially towards France, so long as we remain in Egypt. There can be no warm feeling between the Governments of England and France so long as we remain there in absolute violation of our pledges. Now the hon. Baronet (Sir Julian Goldsmid) said in effect Egypt is a flourishing garden, and everybody there is sharing in the wealth and riches. Well, but only this morning I received a document, and I daresay the hon. Baronet received one also, which somewhat conflicts with that view of things. It was a circular from the Consul at Alexandria, and he asks for money because, he says, there is so much poverty in Alexandria—such a vast number of poor people for whom no employment can be provided. This is certainly in conflict with the statement that Egypt is in a properous condition. Allusion has been made to the exiles from Egypt—Arabi and his friends in Ceylon. I have frequently received communications from them, and several of them are most anxious to leave Ceylon. They were turned out of Egypt, and there was some sort of pledge given at their trial that they should be treated as political exiles, but in some curious way they are detained as prisoners in Ceylon. They are not allowed to leave; they cannot leave, because the allowance they have from 528 the Egyptian Government would cease if they left Ceylon. Now, I do not think we ought to convert one of our Colonies into a gaol for the Egyptian Government. When we talk of the Egyptian Government, practically in a matter of this kind it does not exist. We know that practically it is only for the British Government to say the word and these people would be allowed to return to Egypt. It may be asked, why should the Egyptian Government make an allowance to these persons? The answer is because the Egyptian Government confiscated all their property under a system which in England is not recognised. These men have wives and children, and it is monstrous, because these men, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian would say, "rightly struggled to be free," that they, with their wives and families, should have their property confiscated and be deprived of the means of living. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will state that Her Majesty's Government will use their best offices to alleviate the fate of these unfortunate men. I received a letter from one of them only a week or two ago, in which he says they are suffering greatly from the climate, that his health is being injured, and that he is most anxious to be allowed, if not to go back to Egypt, to reside in some part of the dominions of the Sultan or in Cyprus, or, at any rate, to leave Ceylon. Will the right hon. Gentleman say that the best endeavours of Her Majesty's Government will be used to induce the Egyptian Government to agree cither that these men shall be allowed to come back to Egypt, and that their allowance shall be continued, or that they shall be allowed to proceed to any part of the Sultan's dominions?
(10.47.) COLONEL NOLAN
There is a not unimportant question I wish to ask, and that is, what is the exact position of an "Agent" in the Diplomatic Service? He is not an Ambassador or a Charge d'Affaires—these are well-known terms. But does he rank as a member of the Diplomatic Corps or as a Consul? I see also that our Representative in Bulgaria is also styled an Agent. It is a question of some importance, and upon the definition the 529 grayest complications might arise. Is the Agent an accredited member of the Diplomatic Corps, and entitled to all the privileges of such a position? We know that the French and German War was precipitated by a fancied slight offered to an Ambassador, which, if offered to a Consul, would not have provoked such resentment. It has been asserted also that the Abyssinian War arose out of King Theodore's want of appreciation of the distinction between the positions of a Consul and a Chargé d'Affaires. Also I wish to know if the military attaches are put down in the Military Votes, and, if so, why, in regard to Russia, the military attaché is included in the Diplomatic Vote?
§ *(10.50.) SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
Certainly our Agent in Egypt is classed among our Diplomatic Representatives. It will be observed that he is so described also in Bulgaria and in Zanzibar. There are other cases, including that of Egypt, where our Representative is styled "Agent." Of course, he is also Consul General, and undoubtedly in Egypt it is a diplomatic position of high importance, and hardly second to any Mission in Europe. The position of Sir Evelyn Baring is not only extremely important, but he has made it a position highly creditable to himself. Sir E. Baring is head of the Consular Staff as well as our Diplomatic Agent, and he has agents at Cairo, Alexandria, Suakin, the Soumali Coast, and other places; in fact, he holds the reins of our policy in Egypt in his hands. I am somewhat surprised that the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Waddy) should have raised the question as to the archivist. Of course, he is the officer who keeps the records of the Mission, who supplies precedents, makes researches into history whenever such are required for reference, and it is a duty of great importance. The question of chaplains was dealt with at an earlier period of the evening, and I need not refer to it again. The hon. Member for Northampton is perfectly consistent in his views with respect to Egypt. He saw that whatever might be the increased prosperity of the country too much is taken out of it, and undoubtedly it is a matter of great hindrance to the progress of that 530 country that about 40 or 42 per cent. of the public revenue should be devoted to the payment of bondholders, but if we consider that only four years ago the country was unable to pay any interest on the debt, and that within the last two years Egypt has been able to re-pay the coupons and to meet the current interest, and that the Government have more than a million in reserve and a surplus on the present year, then it is evident that in spite of the tremendous strain the resources of the country are increasing, and that the burden practically is becoming less and less every year. There is no use in discussing whether our stay in Egypt is an element of disturbance in our European relations. No doubt it is a troublesome duty, and it was accepted unwillingly on this side of the House as well as on the other; but it is a duty which is being fulfilled in a manner which has surpassed all possible expectations. As for the exiles, I fancy that it was a happy case for Arabi and the others, that the British Government stepped in to procure exile for them in exchange for the execution which would otherwise probably have been inflicted upon them. They fared better by their detention in Ceylon than some of their predecessors, who, being exiled, yet never reached their place of exile. It is not, in the view of the Egyptian Government, desirable that these men should return to Egypt at present. It is said that the Egyptian Government is practically the British Government, but the British Government interfere as little as possible with the Egyptian administration. It is highly to the credit of the Khedive and his Ministers that they have lent themselves to reform and have availed themselves of the advice of the British Government.
§ (10.58.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I must protest against the view of the right hon. Gentleman. He says it is extremely likely that these men will suffer perpetual exile.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Well, it has extended over 10 years, and still the British Government hold out no hope of its termination. The right hon. Gentleman thinks that these men are extremely fortunate, and that under a former 531 Government they would have been poisoned. According to the right hon. Gentleman, there are criminal conspirators in England and even in this House. Why not apply the same rule of mercy in Egypt as in this country? These men fought against a foreign enemy, and I regret exceedingly that Arabi was beaten in the battle. Arabi and his friends have been sent to Ceylon because they took one side in what was essentially an Egyptian question. The right hon. Gentleman says the Egyptian Government are not willing that they should return to Egypt, but does he mean to say the Egyptian Government would resist a view expressed by Her Majesty's Government that the exiles should be allowed to leave Ceylon and still retain their allowance? I do protest against turning an English colony into a perpetual political prison for men who have taken a certain side in Egyptian politics, and I think the right hon. Gentleman should undertake to use his best efforts to induce the Egyptian Government to grant the application of these exiles for permission to live elsewhere than in Ceylon. I think they should, if they removed, be allowed to retain their pensions. I ask now that an inquiry should be held as to whether these men wish to remain in Ceylon or whether they will give their parole not to return to Egypt if allowed to live elsewhere. I received a letter from one of them, the other day, stating that his health is endangered and that he is most anxious to be allowed to return to Egypt, or, at all events, to go into some part of the Sultan's dominions, still retaining his allowance.
§ *(11.3.) CAPTAIN VERNEY (Bucks, N.)
I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £300, the salary of the chaplain under the head of "Denmark." I think we should have further explanations on this Vote.
(11.3.) THE CHAIRMAN
Order, order! In consequence of the way in which the first reduction was moved it is not competent to the hon. Member to move to reduce the Vote by this particular item.
§ *(11.4.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
I may, perhaps, explain that the place where this chaplain is stationed is the resort of a large British seafaring population. The 532 salary is only £85 a year, but the chaplain also receives an equivalent to subscriptions from residents, so that the total payment is £200 a year.
§ *(11.5.) CAPTAIN VERNEY
That explanation does not touch the point I wish to impress on the Committee. Many of us largely represent Nonconformists, and our constituents want to know the reasons for making these appointments. I ask the question in no spirit of opposition, but I think the right hon. Gentleman will admit that there is an entire absence of fairness in the way in which chaplains are distributed. Some first-class Embassies have no chaplains at all. There may be reasons why Denmark should have a chaplain, but I think it more important that there should be a chaplain at Havre. Now, we have in these kingdoms two Established Churches—the Established Church of England and the Established Church of Scotland. A large number of our sailors are Presbyterians; yet we never hear of a Presbyterian minister being appointed. I submit that these foreign chaplaincies should be abolished altogether, for I am sure no reasonable explanation can be given of the manner in which these appointments are distributed.
§ (11.7.) MR. W. REDMOND
I did hope the right hon. Gentleman would have replied to the remarks of the hon. Member for Northampton, for he might, at any rate, have promised to make inquiry into the case of the Egyptian exiles in Ceylon, and have undertaken that doctors should investigate the complaint that their health is being injured by their enforced residence in the island. The right hon. Gentleman took great credit because these men were exiled instead of being killed, but if the climate is injurious to their health they will eventually be killed. I think the right hon. Gentleman was singularly unfortunate in the reasons he gave why we should be satisfied with the condition of Egyptian affairs. He told us the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had returned from Egypt satisfied with the condition of the country. If he has done so I cannot help at once jumping to the conclusion that something is radically wrong there. And it is not an unreason- 533 able thing to do, for the right hon. Gentleman went to America, and there altogether upset every chance of arriving at a satisfactory arrangement of the Fishery dispute. He brought back with him totally erroneous ideas of American polities, and he was presented with an address of congratulation before it was discovered that his ideas were all wrong.
§ (11.10.) MR. WADDY
I propose to move the reduction of the Vote by £1,000, in connection with the salary of the Agent for Egypt, and I do so for financial reasons. Looking down the list of salaries I see that £4,000 is the highest paid to an officer of this kind, and I think the sum paid to the agent for Egypt may reasonably be reduced from £5,000 to £4,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed' "That a sum, not exceeding £306,909' be granted for the said Service."—(Mr' Waddy.)
§ *(11.13.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
I can assure the hon. Member I have not intentionally abstained from answering any question put to me. Other opportunities will arise for discussing Egyptian affairs. With regard to the position of Arabi and the other exiles in Ceylon, if the hon. Member for Northampton will give me the name of the person in Ceylon suffering in health it shall be inquired into. As to the Motion of the hon. Member for the Brigg division of Lincolnshire, I cannot agree to it, as, from the important duties of the Agent and the eminent services he renders, the salary of £5,000 is not too high.
(11.15.) COLONEL NOLAN
I think the right hon. Gentleman has misconceived the intention of the hon. Member for Northampton. He has told us the Government have undertaken the responsibility of keeping Arabi Pasha and his colleagues in exile, but seeing that these men have been in exile so many years, surely the time has come when it is possible to accept their personal guarantee that they will not attempt to disturb the peace of Egypt.
§ (11.18.) The Committee divided: —Ayes 52; Noes 149.—(Div. List' No. 46.)
§ Original Question again proposed.534
§ *(11.33.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
After Egypt comes the Equator, and after the Equator comes Prance, and the question that has arisen with that country in regard to the Newfoundland Fisheries. This is a very important subject, on which I think the Committee are entitled to some explanation. I do not wish to cast any imputation on Her Majesty's Government, nor do I suspect them of any desire to see them make bad blood with Prance; on the contrary, I believe Her Majesty's Government are inclined to do their best to settle this question in an equitable manner. My only doubt is as to whether Her Majesty's Government have sufficient firmness to settle this matter in the way in which it ought to be settled. The best temporary arrangement that could have been made was that which was arranged under the modus vivendi; but as soon as that arrangement was known, the people of Newfoundland denounced it, and threatened all sorts of terrible things if the modus vivendi were enforced, which might lead to serious difficulties with Prance. There can be no doubt that this has become a very burning question, and it is exceedingly desirable and necessary to ensure a good understanding between this country and Prance, that the matter should be permanently settled. I hope not only that Her Majesty's Government will insist on the modus vivendi, and enforce it for the time being, but that steps may be taken for putting an end to the dispute for all time. I would submit to Her Majesty's Government that this is pre-eminently a question for judicial arbitration, especially as it is one which might be the means of plunging this country into war, as the consequence of an outburst of feeling on the part of the people of the different countries whose interests are affected. If it were brought before something like a Court of Arbitration, by which all parties would be bound, the question might admit of an easy and satisfactory solution, and I want to know from Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to adopt such a course? No doubt the French and English Governments may have come to an arrangement satisfactory to themselves, but that is not enough. They have also to deal with the Newfoundland 535 colony, and not only to carry the colony with them, but to satisfy the different sections of the colony, among whom violent prejudices exist in regard to what are claimed as French rights. The great advantage of arbitration would be that even it would satisfy all parties, we would be able to say, we have had a judicial decision, and the question has been settled fairly and with due reference to the interests of all parties. I was very pleased to see it stated in the Times news paper that the French minister had said the only way of settling this question was by arbitration. The right hon. Baronet the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs shakes his head; therefore I suppose that was a mistake; but at any rate we ought to hear from the Government whether they are prepared to accept the proposal to allow the matter to be settled by arbitration. We had a remarkable instance of the feeling which animated the Newfoundland people in regard to the bait question. The Legislature of Newfoundland insisted on passing a very unfriendly Act, by which the French fishermen were deprived of the facilities for buying bait. That bait question was one of the principal matters on which the late elections turned, and the result was that the promoters of the Bait Act were defeated, because the great majority of the poorer people of Newfoundland found the French very good customers, and were desirous of being enabled to sell bait to them. I have in my hand a letter in which the writer speaks of the dreadful things that will be done if the British Government does not uphold the rights of Newfoundland, but there are a great many people in Newfoundland who would rather have the French there. At any rate there are two sides to the question. I hope the Government will assure us that they are not only determined to enforce the modus vivendi but that they are prepared to make a good solid effort to settle this question for good, if possible, by arbitration, so that an equitable, reasonable, and judicial arrangement may be arrived at.
§ (11.45.) SIR J. FERGUSSON
The hon. Gentleman has in his speech pointed out some of the great difficulties which encompass this question, and which show the extreme necessity of caution in discussing this matter. I do 536 not think Her Majesty's Government require to be shown that the subject should be handled with the greatest caution, and that, if possible, it should be brought to an early conclusion. We have done all we possibly can to accomplish that object, permanently, if possible, if not, temporarily. As to the modus vivendi, which the hon. Gentleman says has excited very strong feeling in Newfoundland, we still hope that it may be found practicable. The hon. Gentleman says he has seen the statement in a telegram that Her Majesty's Government are averse to arbitration. I do not think that is the case, and having read the Report of what took place in the French Chamber, in extenso, I think what the French Minister said is the very reverse of what the hon. Gentleman has stated. The French Minister said that there were probably some questions to be brought forward "on which we might be averse to arbitration," but on that and another point the British Government were probably willing to take arbitration. I think we should be very careful of the feelings of the people of Newfoundland, and, by moderation in insisting on a settlement, show that we appreciate their strong feeling. Anything which interferes with their industry necessarily must be unpopular with them. At the same time we have obligations under treaty, and if doubt has arisen as to the interpretation of that treaty, it is most desirable that it should be settled without the slightest risk of quarrel between the two great nations. But there are some points which we cannot refer to arbitration—they are our natural rights. But there are subsidiary points which could not have been foreseen when the treaties were framed, and as to which I trust and believe Her Majesty's Government would not be averse to arbitration. But if such an arbitration is to be successful it is evident that, in the first place, there must be concurrence among all the parties, and there must be agreement also as to the order of preference. These things are not easily done, but I hope they will be accomplished, if not otherwise, by arbitration. Ever since the Government has been in office, no stone has been left unturned to bring about an amicable settlement of this long- 537 pending difference, and it is, at all events, a matter of great satisfaction to know that collisions have been avoided, the good feeling of the officers employed having mainly conduced to that result.
§ (11.50.) MR. W. REDMOND
I did not propose to intervene again, but I must be allowed to say that Her Majesty's Government did not properly or adequately consult the people of Newfoundland before they arrived at this modus vivendi, which has been condemned in the French Chamber and by public opinion, and about which there is a very strong feeling in Newfoundland. I could understand if Her Majesty's Government had been brought to this modus vivendi under pressure from France, their saying to the people of Newfoundland, "We have been obliged, through pressure of circumstances to concur with French opinions for the time being," and that would have been an argument in favour of the position of Her Majesty's Government with the people of Newfoundland. But the people of Newfoundland are able to say that Her Majesty's Government were not forced into this modus rivendi, which is distasteful to French opinion. They can say "French opinion is as much opposed to it as our own opinion here in Newfoundland." The whole difficulty lies in the fact that the people of Newfoundland were not consulted as to this modus vivendi, and I think it is the duty of Her Majesty's Government to invite representatives of the colony concerned to a discussion of the question. I am perfectly certain that had the people of Newfoundland been asked to send delegates to discuss the modus vivendi they would have sent representatives who would have been consulted by Her Majesty's Government, and who would have been thoroughly informed as to what was necessary for the time being. Had that been done, the feeling of the people of Newfoundland would not have been nearly so strong in the matter. It only remains for Her Majesty's Government to bring about a settlement of the question as speedily as possible, and that can only be done by a, formal invitation to the Government of Newfoundland to send delegates. I have asked that repeatedly of the right hon. Gentleman, and he has always replied, not that a formal invitation had 538 been sent, but that the Government would be very glad indeed to see representatives of Newfoundland.
§ *SIR J. FERGUSSON
May I remind the hon. Member that I stated the other night that we had formally and repeatedly requested the Premier of Newfoundland to come to this country, and that if he brought delegates with him we should be glad to receive them.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
I did not understand that to be the right hon. Gentleman's answer to the questions which I put, and it is not in accordance with my information. I only hope that when the Newfoundland delegates do arrive they will be thoroughly consulted; and I trust this will be a lesson to Her Majesty's Government not to enter into any engagement on behalf of responsible colonies of the Empire without first thoroughly, and in a satisfactory manner, consulting the chosen representatives of such colonies.
§ *(11.55.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I quite admit that it is necessary that the colony of Newfoundland should be consulted, but it seems to me that all parties might come to an arrangement by means of arbitration. What I do ask is that questions of interpretation of the treaty should be judicially decided by arbitration. Now, Sir, we have made considerable progress, and as there are numerous questions still remaining on this Vote, in regard to salaries and other matters for discussion, I move that you now report Progress and ask leave to sit again.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster
I am sorry I cannot consent to the proposal of the hon. Gentleman. We have been discussing this Vote for eight hours, and surely, if there is to be any regard for proportion, eight hours are sufficient for the consideration of the Vote. I move that the Question be now put.
§ DR. TANNER
I congratulate the Chairman on his acuteness of hearing. I decline to tell, Mr. Courtney.
If the hon. Member for Mid Cork says he did not challenge a Division, he is at liberty to decline to tell; but if, as I understand, he did challenge a Division, he is bound to tell.
§ (12.2.) The Committee divided: — Ayes 143; Noes 39.—(Div. List, No. 47.)
§ Question put, "That the Original Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 143, Noes 39.—(Div. List, No. 47.)
§ Question put accordingly, and agreed to.
§ It being after Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next.
§ Committee to sit again upon Wednesday.