HC Deb 07 August 1890 vol 348 cc169-208

9. Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £956, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1891, for Expenditure connected with the Colonisation of certain Crofters and Cottars of the Western Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

(9.42.) DR. CLARK

I do not know who is going to defend this Vote to- night, but I must say, to use a vulgar word, it will require a good deal of "cheek" for any Minister to get up and support this Vote after the disastrous failure of the scheme for emigrating the crofters. I think that in all the meddling and muddling and indefensible action that has ever characterised any Government, there has never been anything worse than the action of the present Government in regard to crofter emigration. The Government suddenly sprung on us a proposal to give £9,000 for the purpose of relieving the condition of the highlands by sending away a number of the highland people. They had everything their own way. They were in the position to get the money, they got it, and a number of people were sent out, and we knew nothing about it until we heard that the people sent out were destitute and starving, and that subscriptions were being raised for them in Canada. We asked questions of the Lord Advocate and got the usual denial of the facts, but some light was thrown on the matter owing to the fact that there was a Committee sitting on colonisation—of which the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was Chairman. That Committee had before them the Managing Director of the great Land Company on whose land these people were placed, and since then there has been a Report published and laid on the Table of the House, in which there is an attempt made to extenuate as far as possible this disagreeable and sad history. This Managing Director—Mr. Oliver—by way of explanation, said, "The crofters were sent out in a great hurry," and that "no preparations were made for their reception." But whose fault was that? Why were the crofters sent out in a hurry, and why were no preparations made for their reception? Why did you give £10,000 to people in Glasgow—land sharks as they are sometimes called—without seeing that the people were sent out under such conditions as would give them a fair chance? Mr. Oliver went on to say that the emigrants started too late in the year, and that the whole thing was bungled from beginning to end. There were Scotch Societies in Toronto, who appointed a committee to inquire into the matter, and the Report of that committee corroborated all that Mr. Oliver and the other witnesses stated before the committee. It was admitted that no preparations were made for the reception of the emigrants, that they arrived a couple of months too late, so that they lost a year, and that the poor people were left for some days in the railway cars which brought them, and that there were no sheds to receive them. The Secretary of the Canadian Colonisation Company—to whom you are voting this £900—recommends that big sheds shall be built, so that, when the second lot of crofters go out, they can live in them, and subsequently use the building materials for the purpose of constructing permanent houses. People were "settled" in places where there was no water—where wells were sunk 18 feet without finding water; and they have sown their potatoes and other seeds without getting as much return as will serve them again to put into the ground. And this is the panacea of the Government for the relief of the Highlands. They obtain Imperial money, and throw it away in this manner. It was an experiment—the first of a series which, if the Committee sitting upstairs reports upon favourably, will probably be repeated on a larger scale. I hold that we can have no confidence in those who manage this emigration, and that it would be the height of folly for Parliament to vote another penny to this administration, or to enable other crofters to be sent out. You ask for £336 for administration, and I can understand that; but why do you want £620 for colonisation? Are you going to send out more people? ["No."] Then what is the money for? After the way the money which was granted has been fooled away, those who had the spending of it should be ashamed to come and ask for more.


I must deprecate this discussion which has been introduced by the hon. Member for Caithness. I have been serving for the last two years on the Select Committee which is sitting to investigate this and cognate questions, and it is a matter of great regret to me that the Committee has not been able to bring its labours to a conclusion, during the present Session, but that is only because they did not wish to exclude any evidence which may throw light upon the subject. It is hardly fair of the hon. Member to bring forward one side of the evidence only, He knows perfectly well that the evidence from which he has quoted was not the only evidence and that there is evidence on the other side. I am not going to copy the example set by the hon. Member, for my mind is perfectly open, but if it should be the pleasure of the House to re-appoint the Committee next Session I shall, having utilised the holidays in mastering the evidence, be prepared to submit the conclusions of the Committee with a view to reporting to the House. Therefore, it would not be right for the Committee to draw any conclusion from the ex parte statement of the hon. Member. This money is asked for to meet expenses already incurred. The machinery to promote the experiment is here kept alive. I earnestly hope that the condition of these people is for the most part better than the hon.. Member has described, but I am anxious to draw no conclusion on that point, for it is a matter upon which I tope the Committee will next Session be prepared to submit an absolute conclusion. As this money has most of it been expended, and as some of it is now needed, the Committee will see it would be impossible to refuse the Vote, and I would ask hon. Members not to come to a premature conclusion on an ex parte statement.


The right hon. Gentleman says this money is being expended in relieving the congestion of certain parts of the Highlands. I ask the right hon. Gentleman and the Lord Advocate if they can point to any part of Scotland the congestion of which has been relieved out of this expenditure? Can they point to any portion of Lewis where the holdings have been increased by the expenditure of this money? There have been 465 human beings deported. I challenge the Government to show that any relief has been afforded to the congested population; although possibly the poor rates paid by the Highland landlords may have been reduced. We should be unfaithful to our constituents if we did not raise our voices against this Vote. Every means has been used, underhand and otherwise, to put the people out, so that wild animals might flourish where the people ought to be. I shall move a reduction in order that the Scotch Members may take a Division to mark their sense of the conduct of the Government in this matter. The scheme for the deportation of the people was signed by 24 of the largest landed proprietors in the North of Scotland. The £2,000 which is to be raised in addition to the £10,000 given by the Government would be only £83 from each of these territorial magnates, but instead of subscribing the money they have sent round the hat through the cities of Scotland, hoping that the wealthier Highlanders in the cities would raise it. I want to know whether the £2,000 has been made up? If not, it is a proof that the people of Scotland are opposed to this deportation. I move to reduce the Vote by £500.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £456, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Angus Sutherland.)

(10.1.) MR. PROVAND (Glasgow, Blackfriars)

I was one of those who foolishly, as I now know, subscribed towards the £2,000. I am certain that the whole of that money has been worse than wasted. Every account we have received from Canada shows that the money ought never to have been applied to such a purpose, while no appreciable benefit can be pointed to in any part of the Highlands. The people who were sent to Canada have suffered very seriously. Had they gone out assisted by their own friends they would not have been so neglected as they have been by the people for whom you now ask £336. It is said we ought not to accept the ex parte statement of the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark), and that other, evidence can be produced. Why is that other evidence not laid before us? The only evidence that has been made public is against the experiment it proves that the experiment has been a complete failure; any scheme of Government emigration connected with the Highlands of Scotland will be as great a failure as this. I, therefore, hope that no money will be voted by this Committee supplementary to the original £10,000.

(10.5.) THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN, St. George's Hanover Square)

I understand that the whole of the £2,000 has been subscribed.


The £10,000 was conditional on the £2,000.


The hon. Member, perhaps, did not catch the point raised by his colleague (Mr. A. Sutherland). That hon. Gentleman asked whether the £2,000 has been subscribed.


I have no means of knowing.


It has been subscribed.


Who made it up; persons in official positions?


I hardly thought we had come to this, that a stop is to be put to the charitable actions of persons in official positions. I have no knowledge that any particular official subscribed, but whatever was done by anybody was prompted by a desire to make this experiment succeed, and I think a more ungenerous suggestion than that of the hon. Member was never made. Then we are asked whether any other persons are to be sent out. No more persons are to be sent out, and the additional money is not to be voted for that purpose. But the experiment has shown the desirableness of continuous inspection being kept up for a certain portion of time, and this fact accounts for a certain portion of the money. I have looked very carefully into the matter from the Treasury point of view, and it has been found that in the case of certain large families, containing two or three strong men, an additional small grant will enable them to take so much more land as will spread the energies of the family, and insure the success of the experiment at a small additional cost. The money wanted is lent, and there is a fair prospect of its return; and the £600 has been sanctioned, after careful inquiry, in order to insure further progress in the prosperity of this most important colony. I have had the opportunity of conversing with persons who have seen these families in their new positions, and, while some of them indulged in the traditional privilege of grumbling, many of them express themselves as being perfectly satisfied. Though they have passed through some suffering, they see that their future prospects in their new homes are far superior to their prospects in the old country, and that a much brighter future lies before them than if they had remained in their old congested districts. The Government have been fully conscious of the great importance of this experiment. Mistakes have, of course, been made, but there is an anxious desire to make the experiment a thorough success. Not another shilling will be sent in extending the experiment until the Commissioners have reported, and until the House of Commons has discussed the whole question. I hope that hon. Members will not divide the Committee. It has been said this is not the only way of dealing with the Crofter Question. Have we not admitted that by appointing a Commission to inquire into the subject? The Report of the Commission will soon be in the hands of Members, and we hope to have an opportunity in a future Session of showing hon. Members that we have the interests of the crofters at heart. We shall look to the co-operation of hon. Members in several directions to extend the means of livelihood, and to improve the position of the people of that interesting portion of Her Majesty's dominions.

(10.14.) DR. CLARK

I shall not vote against the £620, if it is to relieve the suffering of the people who have been sent out to Canada, but I shall vote against the £336 for administration. If these pseudo philanthropists were at all decent they would pay the money out of their own pockets. There is no evidence in regard to this particular case contrary to the view I have expressed. The Secretary to the Commission went over to see the people, and, reading between the lines of his evidence, we find the failure of the experiment admitted when Mr. Rath bone asked him— Do you agree with Mr. Colmer, the Managing Director of the Land Company, in his statement that the whole thing was bungled from beginning to end? The Secretary replied— No; I do not agree to that. We did make mistakes. If there was any bungling, it was their own agent who bungled. I do not care whether they bungled by the agent of the Land Company or by Mr. Colmer and his paid agents. The experiment was tried under bad circumstances. The people were sent too late. They were thrown into the hands of this Land Company, whose land they had to buy. Let the Land Company pay this £336 for administration. I quite agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that when the people have got over all the difficulties they will be better off in Canada than on their crofts in Lewis or Skye. But we hope to make the people better off here as well as in Canada. I have been in Canada, and I know the people have got a very fair future before them; but what I object to is that you should delude these poor people; that you should send them away at the wrong time of the year, and without preparation. When the facts were first related we had the usual official denials. We can no more believe our Scotch officials than the Irish can believe the Irish officials. These persons were not even provided with sufficient clothing, and they suffered in consequence. I maintain that this Board have bungled so much that they ought not to come to us and ask for £336 for administration. They ought to go to the people who have made money by the transaction, and get the money from them. A fair chance was not given to the experiment, but, in consequence of the hurry which characterised the proceedings, destitution, disease, and death hive befallen the people who emigrated. Moreover, not a single acre of land has been added to a croft in the Highlands. If you are simply going to remove people from the Highlands in order to increase the deer forests and grazing lands, I do not think Parliament will vote any more money.

(10.20.) MR. J. M. MACLEAN (Oldham)

As a Member of the Colonisation Committee I should like to say that sufficient evidence was given before that Committee to throw doubt on the wisdom of the policy of this scheme of emigration, and of the way in which the experiment has been carried out. If this were a grant for the extension of this system of emigration, I should not be prepared to support it. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer has fully explained that the whole policy of this system is now under consideration. The question is in a state of suspense, and the money to which objection is taken is simply to maintain certain machinery of administration, so that the poor people who have gone out may be looked after a little better than otherwise they would be. If hon. Members vote against this proposal they will simply be anticipating the Report of the Committee shortly to be presented.

(10.23.) MR.CALDWELL

I would not have risen but for the remarks of the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the voluntary contribution of £2,000. The Government agreed to give the sum of £10,000 upon condition that Local Bodies subscribed £2,000. The object was to obtain some evidence of the desire of the people of Scotland to support a system of emigration. How was the money made up in Scotland? First the subscription fell flat, and the whole thing was likely to collapse. In order to get the scheme carried out, certain people, headed by Lord Lothian, subscribed the £2,000. The policy of emigration from the Highlands is disapproved of by the people of Scotland generally, and I venture to say you could not raise voluntarily from the Scottish people £2,000 in aid of a system of emigration.

(10.27.) MR. A. SUTHERLAND

I beg to substitute £336 for £500 in my Amendment. I am very glad to receive the assurance that no more public money will be spent in extending this scheme. No attempt has been made to meet the point that although these people 4iave been emigrated no relief has been afforded the people who have remained at home. We have often heard of the splendid future before the people who go out to Canada, but such stories will not delude the people of the Highlands. They know that what will most benefit them will be to have the land in their own hands, and they are determined that sooner or later they will have.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question again proposed:—

Whereupon Motion made, and Question put, "That a sum not exceeding £620, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Angus Sutherland.)

(10.30.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 63; Noes 116.—(Div. List, No. 241.)

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Resolutions to be reported.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum not exceeding £46,326 be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment daring the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1891, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

(10.40.) MR. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)

I rise to move the reduction of the Vote by £100, and to call the attention of the Committee to the inaction of the Foreign Office in reference to the condition of affairs in Armenia. I have no hesitation in bringing this matter forward, for the state of mis-government by the Turkish officials in Armenia has notoriously reached a crisis. I do not wish to embarrass the Government, but there is a general feeling that, in the answers given to many questions on the subject, the Government have not shown that sympathy with the oppressed Armenians, and have not pressed these matters on the attention of the Porte, as we desire they should. I think we deserve the gratitude of the Government for bringing this subject forward. It will give them the opportunity for making an explicit public statement, and the expression of public opinion evoked in discussion may help to avert the dangers, the possible massacres, that may arise in Armenia, and the re-opening of the whole Eastern question. The hon. Baronet who represents the Foreign Office in this House does not look with favour upon any statements with regard to foreign affairs that appear in the Daily News, and therefore I will quote faom the Times, although that journal is not always to be found on the side of the oppresssd. But, on this question of Armenia, I am glad to claim the Times as an ally. In an article on August 5th, the Times says— The Armenians happen to have presented to the CZAR a petition complaining that their Turkish kinsmen are oppressed and maltreated, and there are fresh rumours of cruelties in the province of Erzeroum. Why should there not be an appeal to the 61st Article of the Berlin Treaty, which entitles the Great Powers to watch over Armenian interests? It is significant that the PORTE has addressed a note to its representatives abroad, giving the official account of the riot in the Armenian Church at Koom Kapo, and exonerating the authorities from all blame. Such apologies will do little to efface the impression that the Armenians have grievances which have been cruelly neglected. Now, there is evidence to show that the Times' correspondents, although they are in the habit of giving the public the view that presents itself through the coloured spectacles furnished to them when they leave Printing House Square, and although they are apt to give the information required by their employers rather than actual facts, yet they have come to the conclusion that grievous cruelties and oppressions are inflicted on the Armenians. I quite agree that there should be an appeal to Article 61 of the Berlin Treaty, and that appeal should have been made long since. By that article of the Treaty the Porte undertook to institute administrative reforms in Armenia, and to guarantee the Armenians against cruelties and oppressions from the Circassians and Kurds. It does not require much knowledge to know that the declaration has never been acted upon. We know that the columns of the Press have been filled with telegraphic reports of outrages and cruelties practised upon the Armenians, the carrying off of Armenian women, and acts of robbery and violence, often accompanied by murder, perpetrated by bands of Kurds. Further, the Sublime Porte in that Treaty expressed its intention of maintaining in the province the principles of religious liberty, and declared that religion should be no bar to the discharge of civil functions, that Christians should have full liberty to give evidence before the tribunals, and that freedom to exercise all forms of religious worship should be extended to all the subjects of the Ottoman Empire. All the evidence we have shows that these engagements have never been fulfilled. It may be said that some of the accounts of outrages are of a fictitious character, bat I will point out one or two accounts of which this cannot be said. There are facts well known in connection with the search for arms in the church at Erzeroum and the riot which ensued between the 18th and 20th of June. I have it on the authority of the correspondent of the Vienna Presse, an independent journal, that anonymous communications were made to several officers at Erzeroum, indicating that certain documents of a treasonable character were to be found in a special church mentioned. At first no notice was taken of these communications, but one was finally sent to Constantinople, and at the instance, it is said, of the Sultan, the church was searched, to the great irritation of the Armenians, and caused an amount of ill-feeling which, increasing day by day, broke out into an émeute, on the 20th of June, when a barbarous scene was enacted, the Bashi-Bazouks and Gendarmerie shooting down and massacreing a great number of persons in the town of Erzeroum. Then we have various accounts of outrages committed upon Armenians at Alashguerd, early in May, and, in consequence, a number of Armenians, following the advice and leading of their bishop, determined to migrate over the Persian frontier. On their march the Armenians were followed by the Gendarmerie, forced to return, many were beaten, and the bishop was subjected to the greatest indignities and thrown into prison. Eventually he was sent to Constantinople, where I believe he is now in prison. Again, on June 15 (this account is from a correspondent of the Daily News), there is an account of how a band of Kurds plundered an Armenian village, at Julash in the province of Sivas, and carried off some sheep. A number of Armenians followed the thieves, a conflict ensued, in which one of the Armenians was killed, and the sheep were recovered. Subsequently, these Armenian peasants were again attacked, and one of them, Madiros Kricor, expired from the horrible mutilations to which he was subjected. Again, on August 2nd, in the Daily News, here is an account of an attempt made by a band of Kurds to carry off a newly married woman, and in the affray two Armenians and six Kurds were killed. That looks as if the Armenians in that instance were pretty well able to take care of themselves. But then the telegram goes on to state that a force of 200 or 300 military was sent to the village, and many Armenians were made prisoners. What the result will be it is not difficult to imagine. The Times now says, that there are "fresh rumours of cruelties" coming from Erzeroum, though that is a mild way of stating the case. I may refer to the case of Moussa Bey. As we all know, he was put upon his trial and acquitted, and it was only the strong representations made by the German Ambassador, and possibly the British Ambassador, prevented Moussa Bey's promotion to a higher office. Owing chiefly to the representations of the German Ambassador, Moussa Bey awaits a second trial, but it must not be imagined that, though a prisoner at Constantinople, he is in durance vile. A charming villa is at his disposal, on the Hellespont, and his solitude is cheered by the presence of the fair sex provided for that purpose. From all appearances Moussa Bey is treated more like an honoured guest at Constantinople than a man under a criminal charge. There can be no denial of these outrages, they are matters of history. The responsibility for much of what has occurred rests on the Great Powers, who have shown great supineness, and especially on Great Britain. We have a special Convention with the Turkish Government, the Cyprus Convention—and it is our special duty to protect and defend Armenia. Now the old practice was for the Turkish Government to enconrage the Kurds to come down from the mountain regions, and settle or squat on the lands of the Armenian Christians. Then, after a time, the Kurds made a claim to the land, they suborned witnesses, their evidence was accepted by the Courts, and gradually the Armenians sank into the condition of serfs. The present policy of the Turks seems to be to exterminate the Armenians entirely, and a recent telegram states that the Turkish Government have furnished Martini-Henry rifles to the Kurds in the Armenian districts. The House of Commons ought to insist upon having a very clear explanation of what steps have been taken to put pressure on the Porte. The émeute which recently occurred at the Armenian church of Koom Kapo in Constantinople shows that the Armenians are determined to protect their liberties to the last, and that they despair of obtaining redress by constitutional means. The present Armenian Patriarch seems to be somewhat of a pedant, and does not take that strong view his predecessor did as to his duty to protect not only the religious but the civil rights of his people. The Armenian race have a long history, and a strong feeling of nationality; but if they are treated in a reasonable manner by the Turks they will remain loyal subjects of the Sultan. The only result of our refusing to protect them will be to drive the people into the arms of Russia. The Russian domestic administration does not, perhaps, present a very high model for the Turks to follow, but there is no doubt that their treatment of border races is, in some respects, better even than our own. It arises, perhaps, from the fact that not being a very civilised race it is easy for them to correct the first faults of rising but semi-civilised nationalities. The Armenians at the present time furnish many officers and officials to the Turkish Government, including the Finance Minister and the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. A large number are also in the service of Russia. What is the reform the Armenians will be satisfied with? Because that is a question which the British Government ought to be able to insist upon. The existing laws, as far as they go, which guide the tribunals before which Christians should be brought, are borrowed, to a large extent, from the Code Napoleon. That is all very well, but it is well known that the Turks refuse to try Christians by the Code set apart for them, and will not receive the evidence of Christians. If a change could be made in the Governor of Armenia, if they could have Armenian Governors, they would be perfectly satisfied to have Turkish sub-Governors. Another useful reform would be the establishment of a local gendarmerie, raised among the sedentary Armenian population, which could be officered by soldiers from some neutral nation, say from Belgium or Switzerland. At any rate, I believe the interest and duty of this country is clear—namely, that we should do all in our power to bring about reform in the government of these provinces; and I hope the Committee will have a satisfactory explanation from the hon. Baronet as to the measures taken by Lord Salisbury's Government for the protection of the Armenians.

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That Item A, Salaries, be reduced by £100, part of the Salary of the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs."—(Mr. Schwann.)

(11.3.) MR. LEVESON-GOWER (Stoke-upon-Trent)

I rise to second the Motion for the reduction of the Vote. In the first place, I think some protest is necessary against the practice of putting off Estimates to so late a period of the Session. In the second place, I wish to emphasize the remarks of my hon. Friend with regard to the lamentable condition of the Christian population of these provinces which have the misfortune to be still under Turkish rule. I enter upon the discussion in no partisan spirit, for I know what delicacy is needed in carrying on diplomatic negotiations, and how much the plans of Ministers may be embarrassed by indiscreet pressure brought to bear upon them at critical times. I will go further, and say that I recognise on the part of the Government a desire for a better administration in the Asiatic provinces of Turkey. I am, however, doubtful whether that desire has been expressed strongly enough to convey to the mind of the Sublime Porte the feeling that Her Majesty's Government is in earnest in the matter, or whether their action has not been prompted by the consideration that it is better "to let sleeping dogs lie." It may be asked what measures I would advise to put a stop to the present state of things. In that connection I would point to the eminently satisfactory result of the Dulcigno demonstration during the second Administration of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, whereby many of the provisions of the Treaty of Berlin were enforced. In this case it would not be so difficult to carry out such a demonstration, because, instead of having six Powers to combine, a cordial understanding with Russia would be sufficient to bring the Turks to their senses, and to remedy the disastrous state of things in Turkey. I know the right hon. Baronet the Under Secretary is very unwilling to take evidence from the public Press. He generally tells us that he has had no information, or that he is unable to get satisfactory information as to the reports of atrocities published in the Press. I am afraid the hon. Baronet does not show sufficient anxiety to get information. I will not, however, trouble him with many quotations from the Press, but I will refer him to only one or two passages in the Blue Book 1 of 1890, and will merely draw attention to the fact that one among the many grievances of the Christian population is a change which has been made in the abolition of the protection formerly given them. Sometime ago they were living under the protection of the Beys of the country, in return for which protection certain dues and services were exacted from them. Since that feudal system was abolished they have been deprived of the protection of these Mussulmans, and exposed to the depredations of Kurds, Circassians, and other wild, nomadic tribes, but at the same time their old masters still exacted the contribution from them, so that they had to pay practically a double tax, and yet got no protection from either party. Another point mentioned in the Blue Book was the fear of the villagers to come forward and lay complaints before the local authorities, because they felt that they would not get justice and would lay themselves open to the speedy retribution of the Kurdish chieftains. As a remedy for that, and no doubt through the efforts of the representative of Her Majesty's Government, one of the chief offenders, Moussa Bey, a Kurdish chief, was nominally put on his trial at Constantinople. He was a Kurdish chief of great power and influence, and had previously been an official of the Turkish Government. There were 10 charges of the gravest character brought against him, including charges of violation, murder, arson, burglary, cattle lifting, robbery, and extorting money by violence. That would seem to be enough. There was a great parade made of the fairness with which the trial was to be conducted. They said they would pay the expenses of the Christian witnesses, and that in every respect the trial of Moussa Bey should be a fair and just trial. To obtain an idea of how this trial was condncted I will refer the Committee to a Despatch in the Blue Book of Sir William White to the Marquess of Salisbury in reference to it. At the conclusion of the trial Sir William pointed out to Lord Salisbury the irregularities that took place in the trial. He divided them into three heads. The first was, that during the proceedings Moussa Bey seemed to be most courteously treated, and to be received as a distinguished guest rather than a man accused of the gravest crimes, whilst the Armenian prosecutors and witnesses were treated with contumely. The second point was that, after Moussa Bey was committed, he was allowed to remain at liberty, instead of being placed under arrest; and the third point was that the position taken up by the public prosecutor savoured rather of that of a lawyer for the defence than a prosecutor on behalf of the Government. After that it is scarcely necessary to say anything more of the unfair and disgraceful character of this trial, which has now practically resulted in Moussa Bey's acquittal. Another trial was promised, but it has not yet taken place, and at the present time the man is at liberty in Constantinople. I only desire to say, in conclusion, that great hopes have been based by the right hon. Baronet some time ago on the appointment of Raouf Pasha to the government of Bitlis, but the massacre that has recently taken place at Erzeroum shows that the present state of things in the province is far from satisfactory. I venture very earnestly to urge on the Government the necessity and the policy of making strong representations to the Porte to the effect that, unless reforms such as those which have been indicated by the hon. Member for Manchester are granted and vigorously carried out, it would certainly receive no further countenance or support from them. We are bound, not only by the 61st Article of the Treaty of Berlin, but also by the Anglo-Turkish Convention, to watch over the safety and welfare of the Armenian subjects of the Porte. These people are losing faith in any prospect of redress at the hands of Europe, and if some action is not promptly taken they will either break out in a premature insurrection, to be quenched in torrents of blood, or they will invoke the assistance of the Russian troops which have been massed upon the frontier—a step that must cause much more extensive complications than any that could result from the interference of the English Foreign Office.

(11.25.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I think it is sufficiently plain that mis-government in Armenia is a necessary consequence of the Turkish rule, and that as long as the Turks are there there must be mis-government in that country. I would venture to point out to the House what the position in Armenia really is. The Kurds, who form the majority of the population in the province of Armenia, dwell in the mountains, whence they raid the peaceful Armenian villages in the plains. Generally speaking, the Armenians submit to this sort of thing and pay a sort of ransom to mitigate it. In fact, it is very much like what used to happen in the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland, when the Highland Clans made raids upon the Lowland cattle. When the oppression of the Kurds becomes too great to bear the Armenians rebel against it. The Kurds are Mahomedans, and the Armenians are Christians. Upon the Kurds the Turkish Government counts for the maintenance of its sway in the country, and as a consequence no Turkish Pasha could, oppose the Kurds. They are a body of irregular cavalry, very useful to the Turks when the Turks themselves are attacked. Therefore, as long as the Turkish Government is paramount in Armenia the Armenians will be oppressed by the Kurds. Representations of this country are of little use. They have been made again and again, with no satisfactory result. It is very desirable that the representations which have been made should be laid before the House and before the Governments of Europe. We have never had them; but I think we ought to have them. Let me ask, who is responsible for what takes place in Armenia I think that, to a certain extent, both sides of the House—the labe Liberal Government as well as the present Conservative Government—are responsible for the results of the Turkish sway in Armenia. But of late the Liberals have not taken so strong a view as the Conservatives, and unquestionably when Lord Salisbury was in power during the Turko-Russian War he, who was one of the prime movers in the San Stefano Treaty and in the occupation of Cyprus as a guarantee for Turkish rule in Asia Minor, was really responsible for what took place. What we ought to do is to declare openly that we can no longer adhere to the Cyprus Convention, and that we do not recognise any obligation to defend Asia Minor if it should be attacked. If Russia chooses to attack the country we should look on and let Turkey and Russia fight it out between themselves. The fact is that whenever you have a Christian population under the foot of the Turk that population has been, and will continue to be, oppressed. I think it would be useless to make any representation whatever to Turkey unless we clearly tell the Turks in plain and determined language that we will have nothing whatever to do with Asia Minor, but will leave the Russians and Turks to fight the matter out by themselves. I am no admirer of Russian rule; but I say that when we compare the Turkish rule in Armenia with Russian rule in Asia Minor the difference is as between civilisation and the absence of civilisation. Under the circumstances, I do hope that the only representation to the Turkish Government will be such as I have suggested.

(11.30.) MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)

I am rather inclined to agree with the hon. Member for Northampton. I had hoped that the Under Secretary would have risen at once to reply, for I have to touch on other subjects than Armenia. As regards that subject I think, considering the result of our remonstrances year after year, we ought to make it perfectly clear, as I believe it has been more or less indicated by the right hon. Gentleman, that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government not to consider themselves bound by the Anglo-Turkish Convention in regard to the defence of Armenia and Macedonia. This has been stated with some slight ambiguity, but I think it ought to be made quite clear. I should like to make a few other observations that arise out of other matters in connection with this Vote. The hon. Member for Stoke has alluded to the fact that we are imperfectly supplied with information, and that, I think, may be considered a general complaint in relation to foreign affairs.


An Amendment having been moved in relation to a specific subject it would be more convenient for the Committee to dispose of that branch of the question first.


Certainly, Sir. I only rose because nobody else did.

(11.32.) MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)

I hope that we shall have some definite statement from the righthon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and that there will be no trace, as there has been in his earlier utterances on this matter, of the suggestion that he is the official apologist for the Turkish administration. Certainly, many of his utterances in the past have been more like those of a Turkish official than of a British Minister. I trust we shall have an assurance that a definite proposal will be made to the Turkish Government with regard to the reforms suggested for Armenia. The hon. Member for Northampton has spoken of the relations of the Kurds and Armenians in the neighbourhood of Erzeroum, Van, and Tiflis, and seemed to suppose that wherever Christians come into contact with Moslems in these districts they must necessarily take the lower position and be the victims of Moslem oppression. But it has not always been so, and I think that if a settlement were instituted in Armenia, similar to that which has been so eminently successful in the Lebanon, there could be no question of a successful administration there also. It is true that the Armenians are oppressed by the Kurds, but the Armenians are among the best soldiery in the world, and there is no reason why they should submit to the atrocities of the Kurds. Many of the soldiers of Russia are Armenians, and I have been informed that, within 48 hours' march of the Turkish frontier, there are seven Russian divisions, largely composed of Armenians; and many officers of distinction and high rank in the Russian service are Armenians. The spiritual head of the Armenian Church is also a Russian subject, and he has recently sent an Archimandrite to St. Petersburg to invoke the protection of Russia. It is nonsense for the Government to shut their eyes to facts which are patent to everybody else. I do not agree that it is a matter of no importance to us whether the Russians go into Armenia or not. The presence of the Russian Forces on the upper waters of the Tigris and the Euphrates would have a considerable moral effect on India and other countries in the East. That is a subject which is worthy of the consideration of Her Majesty's Government. There is one proposal which might be made. Why should not the Government suggest to the Porte the appointment of a Vali, who would himself be an Armenian, for the Armenian districts? Such an officer should be left free to choose as his subordinate officers competent men determined to do their duty fairly and pro- tect their countrymen against the predatory incursions of the Kurds from the mountains. If nothing is done, the difficulty will go on increasing until Russia, with the consent of the whole of Christendom, will cross the frontier and do that which this country might do much more effectually and speedily, and which ought to be done by a country which is a signatory to the Treaty of Berlin. I hope that a definite proposal will be made by Her Majesty's Government to the Turkish Government, and that they will back that proposal up by such language and demeanour as will show to the Porte that the time has come for some definite steps to be taken.

(11.38.) SIR R. FOWLER (London)

I agree with very many of the observations which have been made, but we must consider what our position is at Constantinople. Formerly, in the days of Lord Palmerston and Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, we were prepared to fight for Turkey, but I apprehend that those days have gone by; in that I agree with hon. Gentlemen opposite. Therefore, the British Government stand in a different position at Constantinople from that in which they stood 30 years ago. The Turks know well enough that they are not likely to be backed up by England in a future war, and that being the case, I do not see how our Representative can put very much pressure on the Turks in a situation of this kind. I am sure that the Government and our distinguished Representative at Constantinople have done all that is in their power, but a country which is not prepared to go to war for another is in a very different position with regard to that country from that which it held in a time when it was prepared to make the greatest sacrifices for it. The House ought to bear in mind we are not in the position we formerly occupied, and it is, therefore, the duty of the British Government and of its Representatives to act with great caution.


I delayed rising to reply because my doing so would be of little use while several Members desired to address the Committee on the subjects embraced in my reply. The hon. Member for Stoke has referred to the late date at which the Vote comes on, suggesting that, on that account, important questions do not receive the attention they deserve; but it must be remembered that the discussion of foreign affairs is not confined to this Vote. Many hon. Members availed themselves of the opportunities afforded by the Diplomatic and Consular Vote, and also by the Vote on Account; and this is, therefore, neither the first nor the second occasion on which these questions have been discussed. Attention has now been called to incidents which have occurred in the provinces of the Turkish Empire. It is a most lamentable thing that at this day incidents should occur which have called forth expressions of sympathy and indignation throughout the civilised world. I altogether repudiate the imputations of indifference that have been made upon myself. I feel as keenly as any Member of the House when I read accounts of cruelty and wrong; but whilst I feel keenly it is quite another thing to adopt statements hastily and jump at conclusions, without independent and official confirmation, and to base upon them extreme conclusions, when international interests are at stake. The hon. Member for Stoke spoke of my being sceptical of newspaper accounts, and appearing to be indifferent because I possess no official information of occurrences reported in the papers. It is far from the fact that I have been indifferent. But over and over again hon. Members have asked me whether I had any information of events which were only just reported by telegraph in the newspapers as having occurred a day or two before. It is, of course, impossible that I could have received official information, because it is absolutely necessary that the representatives of the British Government should make careful inquiries into these rumours so as to make only authentic reports for the information of the Government, and not simply repeat bazaar rumours. Again and again statements have appeared in newspapers which have turned out on inquiry to be absolutely unfounded or grossly exaggerated. Not long ago there was a statement of an alleged massacre at a certain place, and that turned out to be altogether a mistake. There was a report of a sanguinary affray in Decem- ber last; it turned out to be a trifling disturbance arising out of the non-payment of taxes. Reference has just been made to a story that Kurds were being armed with martini rifles. The Vice-Consul on the spot was able to make inquiry, and has reported that the story is not only untrue but so absurd as to be received with ridicule. The hon. Member for Stoke takes an intelligent and hereditary interest in these subjects and said truly that they ought not to be discussed in a party spirit; and I am glad to bear my testimony to the disposition of hon. Members opposite to approach them in a non-party spirit. When it comes to the practical question of what measures ought to be adopted to bring about better government in the Turkish provinces, and when another Dulcigno demonstration is suggested, I must say I doubt very much the expediency of repeating such a demonstration. I think it would be very disturbing and impotent. Then the hon. Member said it would be well if the British Ambassador would join with the Ambassadors of other Powers in making representations to the Porte and endeavour to secure the institution of reforms. While the hon. Member was speaking my right hon. Friend near me (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) said he was special Ambassador at Constantinople at the time, and he remembered going in the same carriage with the Russian Ambassador to the Porte to make representations. The other day, after the occurrences at Erzeroum, the British Ambassador made representations at the Porte that certain measures ought to be adopted in order to save the inhabitants of Erzeroum; and his recommendations were immediately adopted. This action on his part is only an example of the course usually adopted whenever it is seen that representations are likely to be attended with good effect. As to Moussa Bey's trial, I make a present of it to the hon. Gentleman. Sir W. White has expressed his opinion in forcible terms of the plain injustice that took place in that trial, and the absence of vigour on the part of the Public Prosecutor, and the apparent passivity of still higher authorities; but what has been the result of the failure of justice in that case? One of the Ministers of the Porte was dismissed, the Minister of Justice, and another person appointed in his place. That, I think, will show that the action if our Ambassador has not been sluggish where representation or remonstrance seemed proper and might be made with effect. But, turning from those points, I must say some language has been used in the course of the speeches which, to say the least, is unfortunate. The hon. Member for North Manchester used language prompting subjects of the Porte to insurrection. That, I submit, is an incitement greatly to be deprecated. Hon. Members have expressed doubt and scepticism as to the efficiency of the action of certain officers of the Porte. I believe, on the contrary, there has been general desire on the part of the Porte to appoint efficient officers. It has been the constant advice of Her Majesty's representatives that honest administrators should be sent to those districts, as being the best way in an Asiatic country of doing away with disorder. I am glad to be able to refer with commendation to the work done by one of those officers—namely, Raouf Pasha. The despatches testify to his honest administration, one gentleman interested in the Armenian provinces of Turkey, writing to our Ambassador bears strong testimony to the firmness and justice of Raouf Pasha's administration, and says that whenever men charged with murder are brought to the Court, Raouf Pasha goes to the Court to see that justice is done. In other places in the despatches similar testimony is given, and I believe that in several districts there has been improved administration. But there is not the slightest doubt that in that country there is a great deal which is very unsatisfactory. Notwithstanding that there have been many examples made of those who committed raids on the innocent population, there have been many acts of brutal cruelty, and continual descents of the turbulent population of the mountains on that of the plains, and so it would be until adequate and disciplined forces are properly directed to punish speedily the aggressors. Still, it would be an injustice to say that the Porte and the officers of the Porte have not done much better than in former times; they have shown a desire to stand well before the world, and also a desire, which I honestly believe, is entertained by the Sultan and his Ministers, to prevent injustice and terminate disorder. The hon. Member for Donegal indicated a plan by which he thought better government could be established in that part of the world. There is this great difficulty in appointing an Armenian Governor to one of those provinces, and that is that the Christian population are generally in a minority, and certainly the Armenians are in a minority. It is hardly possible to conceive in a country where the Government is Mahomedan that they can put a Christian Governor in provinces in which the Mahomedans are really in a majority. That seems a suggestion which can hardly be made with a prospect of good result. But fair and honest men, such as are in my experience to be found among the Moslems, and who will punish injustice and outrage whenever it occurs, can do much to improve the conditions of the Armenians. As to the occurrences which have taken place at Erzeroum and Constantinople, I do not think the hon. Member for Manchester gave an accurate description of them. I do not quarrel with him on that score, because he is not in possession of official information, and the source he has quoted from was not correct.


It was the Times.


The Government have most careful and detailed accounts from the Consul at Erzeroum, who was himself an eye-witness of what occurred, and they know that the Governor did exert himself with praiseworthy energy to stop the riots, and that the troops exercised great self-control under considerable provocation. It was owing to the steps taken by the Governor that these disturbances were not very much worse. Here I must excuse myself for having spoken with some warmth in consequence of the somewhat incendiary language used by the hon. Member for Manchester with reference to risings, bloodshed, revolution, and so forth. Unfortunately, there are revolutionary movements in connection with these events, to which these disturbances were largely due. A document has lately been published in Constantinople, and many thousand copies have been circulated, urging Armenians to revolution and to rise and annihilate the persons opposed to the work of revolution. If that be the best advice the Armenian Committees can give to their fellow subjects, I am afraid we cannot approach the Porte with much hope of receiving concessions


I said distinctly that the Armenians would be a perfectly loyal people if measures were taken for heir protection.


I am in the recollection of the Committee, and I am afraid I cannot withdraw the charge I have made against the hon. Gentleman if using language calculated to incite to disturbance. He certainly pointed to bloodshed and violence as the too probable result of what was going on.


That is quite misstating what I said. I said the Armenians were perfectly determined to revolt if their reasonable requirements were not met. I said they would revolt, a crisis which I wished to avert. Those were my first remarks.


I should be sorry to misrepresent the hon. Member, but I venture to say that such expectations are not likely to be beneficial, and that the very worst service to the Armenians would be to induce the Turkish Government to think that revolutionary movements are likely to arise. It was such faults as that of the Armenian Committee of Constantinople which led to the search for arms in the church at Erzeroum, and was the beginning of all these disorders. Let us, by all means, do what we can as the friend and old ally of the Ottoman Government to urge on it the adoption of measures which will prevent these sad disorders, and induce greater confidence amongst its Christian subjects. I do not think we have gone to war from sentimental considerations. We have gone to war on behalf of British and European and world-wide interests——

An hon. MEMBER

The Crimean War.


Yes; I say so of the Crimean War. I venture to think that neither by using unmeasured language of reproof, nor by ignore- ing the great difficulties under which the Turkish Government lies, nor by refusing to recognise the efforts it has made towards reform of late years, shall we introduce that state of things which the Government are as desirous as any Members of the House shall be brought about.

(12.7.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

I think the tone adopted by the Under Secretary this evening is certainly more conciliatory, and in many respects more likely to bring about a general union of feeling on these subjects, than the tone he generally adopts, and I am, therefore, glad to see it. I think he cannot complain of what was said by the hon. Gentleman who preceded him, because it is in the recollection of the House that in the Debates we have had on this subject the right hon. Gentleman's attitude has almost always been apologetic, as if he always had in mind that his speech was going to be read in translation at Constantinople. He has talked in a better strain to-night. He admits that the condition of Constantinople is lamentable, though he lapses back. He talks of our "ancient ally," but we have had very little reason to be proud of the alliance of late years. Still, I think he has taken a line which we may look upon as an earnest of better things. As to the censure cast upon my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, I would say he expressed no approval of insurrection. He said that nothing but insurrection could be expected from the way in which the Porte has governed its subjects, and I think the same conclusion must have been come to by every one who has studied the history of events in Armenia and Bulgaria. I think the Committee has some reason to complain of the scanty information given by the right hon. Baronet. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think it his duty to keep the House in darkness. Very few Papers have been produced, and none covering the period from 1881 to 1888, and when we have endeavoured to elicit facts, the right hon. Gentleman has in many cases refused to make inquiry, and in others has confined himself to throwing doubt on the statements made. I should have thought that if the right hon. Gentleman and the Government were really anxious to make a proper impression on the mind of Turkey they would rather have dwelt on the strong language occasionally used in this House. They would have been able to say to Turkey, "You see the impression produced on the mind of Parliament and on Western Europe," and they would have been able to address to the Porte warnings far more emphatic than if the pressure of public opinion in England were not behind them. Everyone knows that the state of these provinces is one of continued oppression, and therefore I will not go over again what has been said by my two hon. Friends; but I must say a word about Erzeroum. The right hon. Baronet has quoted certain facts from a Report he has received, but he omitted to state the most material facts of the case. The riot at Erzeroum arose from a search by Turkish troops in an Armenian church. Such a thing has never been heard of in Armenia as the concealment of arms in a place of worship, because it is believed by the people that such an act would be a desecration of a sacred building. However, in consequence of some anonymous statements made in Constantinople an order for the search was made. The Turkish soldiers went into the church and took up the Communion vessels, and turned the chalice upside down; one of them, it is alleged, standing on the altar. That was an act which, in the minds not only of Eastern Christians but of all good Christians, amounted to a shocking profanation. These statements have been made to me on ample authority, and I think that these incidents ought to have been alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman and that he should have endeavoured to account for them. According to the accounts I have received, the reason why so much loss of life occurred was that the mob, chiefly composed of Turkish soldiers, fell upon the Christian quarter, robbed the shops, and murdered many Christians. That is a very different account to that the right hon. Gentleman has given. He says the Turks are showing signs of improvement. I am glad to hear that Raouf Pasha is a better Governor than most Turks would be, and it is some gain that he should be now in power at Tiflis, but there are many districts where no such improvement has been introduced, and the right hon. Gentleman will hardly deny that there has seldom been a moment in recent years when the condition of Armenia has been more dangerous and alarming than it is at the present moment. According to the accounts I have received, the state of the country is such that the people dare not go out to cultivate their fields for fear of the excited Mussulman population. If it is true that so much can be done by the appointment of better Governors, why is that remedy not more often put into force? A better illustration, however, of the want of good faith on the part of the Turkish Government could not be found than that which is afforded in the trial of Moussa Bey. The right hon. Gentleman said he would make a present of that case to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke. When he said that, did he reflect on the circumstances of that case? Here is a man who has been the scourge of the whole countryside for many years, every one of whose steps is marked by robbery, outrage, and murder, sometimes accompanied by hideous cruelty, by the carrying off of women, by cattle lifting, and by the burning of the peasants' houses. The Sultan summons him to Constantinople, and receives him with every honour. The right hon. Gentleman said the Public Prosecutor acted with plenty of vigour. He certainly did act with plenty of vigour, but all his vigour was employed on behalf of Moussa Bey, and it was owing to his exertions that Moussa Bey was acquitted. Sir William White, whose sympathies for the Christian population none will doubt, remonstrated against the failure of justice in the case, but nothing has been done from that time to this. Moussa Bey is allowed to go free about Constantinople, and the knowledge that he is free has, of course, permeated through to Armenia and has encouraged the participators in his crimes to perpetrate similar outrages. Therefore, an instance like this, where the sins of the offender are clear, and the offender is nevertheless allowed to go free, is not only evidence of what the sympathies of the Turkish Government are, but is also the strongest encouragement to other offenders of the same kind. I now desire to ask what is intended to be done? It is time we tried to give some practical character to these often repeated discussions. We first ought to ask the Government what they have done. It is not enough to give us vague assurances as to remonstrances having been addressed to the Turkish Government. We desire to know what is the language used in such remonstrances, so as to see whether it adequately represents the feelings of this country. I hope, therefore, Her Majesty's Government will produce not merely the Despatches of our Consul General and of Sir William White, but also the Despatches of Lord Salisbury to Sir William White, so that it may be seen whether the language used is of just and proper severity. There are two courses which may be suggested to the Government to take. One course would be to endeavour to get the Great Powers to join with this country in more effective remonstrances. Some attempt of this kind was, I believe, made by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer when at Constantinople some years ago. Since then ten years have elapsed. The condition of Armenia has grown worse, the danger to the Turkish Government has become more imminent. Ample opportunity for reform has been afforded, and it is a question whether the time has not now come when this country should make a solemn appeal to the Great Powers of Europe to join us in addressing an earnest remonstrance to Turkey. If the Great Powers refuse, our hands will at least be clean. It ought to be borne in mind that we are under solemn engagements in this matter. We have taken these Eastern Christians from the protection of Russia by the Treaty of San Stefano, and under these circumstances we ought to make a solemn appeal to the signatory Powers to put pressure on the Turkish Government in order to bring about a permanent improvement. The second course that may be adopted is to proceed under the Turkish Convention. The right hon. Gentleman in a Debate some time ago referred to it as a "lapsed Convention." I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have warned Turkey that they consider this Convention to be "lapsed," and that they consider the obligations of this country under that Convention are over, owing to the failure of Turkey to fulfil her part of the bargain. That is a method of putting pressure on the Turkish Government which ought to be tried. Her Majesty's Government may also point out to the Turkish Government the fatal policy it is pursuing. The Porte may fairly be reminded of the case of Bulgaria, which has since become independent, and be told that the insurrection and other events in that country are likely to repeat themselves in Armenia. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) said he wished Russia would take Armenia. Well, the Government of Russia is, in this matter at any rate, infinitely better than that of Turkey. Nothing that has occurred in the Caucasian provinces of Russia is comparable with the outrages of Moussa Bey and his confederates. Whether it would be dangerous to bring Russia into such close proximity with Palestine, what would be the effect on India, and other considerations of that kind, I will not now discuss. At any rate, Her Majesty's Government and their supporters would consider it a misfortune if Russia took Armenia, and, therefore, it is their duty to take steps by which such an event may be averted. These outrages are making the people of Armenia turn to Russia. They will, sooner or later, lead to an insurrection, and then to a Russian occupation. It is practically certain that within a few years Russia will occupy Armenia if efficient measures of reform are not adopted in the meanwhile. An hon. Member has referred to Macedonia. For the state of things there the Turkish Government are not so directly responsible, but it is scarcely less shocking. The condition of the prisons is a disgrace to humanity, and all life and property are insecure. We must all remember with what difficulty at more than one moment during the last five years peace has been preserved in Eastern Europe. Events in Armenia or Macedonia may lead to a general conflagration. Therefore, in the interests of peace and of humanity, find in the interest of the maintenance of the present equilibrium, I appeal to the Government to take some more decided step than they have yet taken, either by appealing to Europe, or by acting upon the Turkish Convention, with the object of remedying the evils which at present exist.

(12.31.) MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

The hon. Member for Aberdeen has appealed to the Government to take some action to secure a practical outcome of what would otherwise be a mere academic discussion. It is, however, open to question whether any amount of earnest appeal on the part of the Powers of Europe would have the least effect in changing the Turk. I do not myself believe there is any more probability of improving the morality of the Turk, as far as his treatment of Christian populations is concerned, than there is of changing the leopard's spots or washing the blackamoor white. I have the greatest contempt for all these diplomatic approaches to individuals of the type of the Sultan or his governors or advisers. As the hon. Member for Aberdeen has pointed out, in the notorious case of Moussa Bey the representations addressed to the Porte have been treated with the most sublime indifference, if not with contempt. Let us have done with all this humbug. After all the advice that has been given him the Turk is as bad now as he was a generation ago, and he will remain as bad till the end of time. In the Indian Empire the Moslem and Hindoo live together in perfect concord and amity, and, as far as I can see, the only reason why we cannot say the same of the people in Armenia is that in that country the population is controlled and governed by barbarians who have no idea of proper administration and no thought but to maintain the grossest injustice and tyranny at the expense of the unarmed Christian peasantry. In order to get rid of the source of all the friction and difficulty you must get rid of the barbarian Turk. The right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary has applied the usual amount of Ministerial whitewash to his old friends and allies the Turks. That is the usual course of right hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial Bench. It is what they are paid for.

Mr. KERANS rose in his place, and claimed to move "That the Question be now put;" but the CHAIRMAN withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.

Debate resumed.


We who are not in such a responsible position as that of the right hon. Gentleman may be permitted to have a freer range in dealing with these questions. The right hon. Gentleman was greatly concerned at our jeering about the Turks, and said he did not think we believed any good of anybody. That is quite true as far as Turks and Tories are concerned. We are not surprised that the Tories should do all they can to back up the enormities of the Turks. We are charged with inciting the Armenians to rebellion. That has always been the taunt levelled against those who venture to express sympathy with a down-trodden race. I am rebel enough by nature to be anxious to see every down-trodden population rebel against the tyrants who oppress them. But we say there is no occasion for us to incite the Armenians to rebellion any more than there was any necessity a short time ago to incite the Cretans to rebellion against the enormities of the Turks. The right hon. Gentleman cannot deny that constant cruelty and atrocity of every kind are being committed in Armenia by the representatives of the Porte, and if that is not sufficient to incite to rebellion I cannot understand what amount of encouragement from outside could induce the people to get up an insurrection. Then we have heard of the best means of curing these abuses. I look with interest to that Bench, who are responsible for the honest and firm administration in the shape of the Caddells and Clifford Lloyds and Plunketts, to know what kind of honest and firm administration they will propose for acceptance by the unspeakable Turk. I suggest to right hon. Gentlemen that they should look to their own house at home and clear out some of their own administrators, and then they may be in a position to press on the Turks some administrator who may do better than Moussa Bey. One would suppose, judging by the language of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, that the Pasha set over Armenia was a paragon of virtue; that Armenia was a perfect paradise, and that the people had nothing to complain of but their own evil passions. It is the old story. We are led to believe that all the reports in the Press are exaggerations, and that nothing but what finds its way into the Blue Books can be true. But I am inclined to believe the statements of impartial observers who describe in plain terms, without the official gloss which invariably finds its way into the Blue Books, the events which are taking place in that part of the world. I am not one of those who are in the least in favour of this country entering into rash participation in an interference with the difficulties which the Porte has got into with its subjects. I do not consider that this country is in the least degree under any obligation to intervene for the protection of the Armenians against their oppressors the Turks. We have got quite enough to do in Ireland, and in other parts of our own Empire. It is very possible certain obligations were entered into by a former Minister, who effected what he called Peace with Honour, under a certain Instrument called the Berlin Treaty, but I pay very little regard to those obligations. The best thing is to permit Russia to undertake the duty which she is quite capable of undertaking, namely, of freeing these Eastern populations from the outrages of the Turks. I observed that hon. gentlemen opposite resented the suggestion that Russian administration was in any degree better than the administration of the Turks. I do not pretend to have any personal experience, but I am informed by a gentleman who has travelled in those parts that while it is perfectly safe and comfortable to travel in Russian Armenia, it is absolutely unsafe to travel in that part of Armenia which is still under the heel of the Turk. The hon. Member for Aberdeen has pointed out that we took away from Russia the power of interference on behalf of the Armenians, and it is for that reason the hon. Member has appealed to the Government to make a solemn appeal to the great Powers to interfere on behalf of the Armenians. I should prefer to look upon it in this light. As we took away from the Armenians the only protector which was capable of standing up for them—Russia —it is our bounden duty now to remedy matters, and to get, or, at any rate, to do our best to get, the Great Powers to sanction such interference as Russia, if she still desires to do so, may be disposed to offer on behalf of the Christians of Armenia.

(12.48.) MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

I wish to ask, before the discussion terminates, a question on a special matter which has not been touched upon in this Debate The right hon. Gentleman will perhaps remember that when this subject was discussed earlier in the Session I drew attention to a Memorial which has been laid before the Porte on the part of the Patriarch of the Armenians and the Ecclesiastics of the Armenian Church. In that Memorial complaints were made as to the withdrawal of the privileges of the Ecclesiastical Courts in determining questions of inheritance, marriage, &c., and also as to the interference of the Porte through its officials with the publication and reprinting of various books for religious services, as well as historical and other books connected with the maintenance of their nationality and history. The question has recently been again brought before the Porte by the Patriarch of the Armenians, but the Grand Vizier, or other official concerned, has refused to remove the cause of complaint. The question I then put to the right hon. Gentleman was, whether the Government could, through their Representative at Constantinople, support the representations of the Armenian Church, but the right hon. Gentleman gave me no reply. I think it only right on this occasion, the last occasion of the Session, to press for some answer as to whether Her Majesty's Representative has supported the claim of the Armenians to a recognition of that part of their nationality which is the most endeared to them, and to which they cling most keenly, namely, the maintenance of their religious life, and historical traditions, and for the preservation of the books relating to them. I hope that strong representations have been made by Sir William White in support of the demand of the Armenians. I do not agree with an hon. Member who has said that the Armenians wish to be absorbed by Russia. What they want is to have an autonomous existence side by side with Turkey, but not to be separated from Turkey.

(12.54.) MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)

I should like to know whether, on the Amendment before the Committee, I can call attention to the case of Madagascar?


The specific Amendment under discussion must be disposed of first.


The Government might tell us what they propose to do. There are two important subjects to be discussed to-night, and it must be borne in mind that we have done considerable business to-day. I think it would be well to report Progress now.


It would be well to dispose of the Amendment before reporting Progress.


I am ready to withdraw my Amendment, but I really do not know that I ought to do so. The right hon. Gentleman made a severe attack upon me and threw doubt upon the motives by which I am actuated.


I will make inquiries into the question raised by the hon. Member for Northamptonshire with regard to the historical books of the Armenians. I have never before heard that the Armenians have reason to complain that they are interfered with in the exercise of their religion.


The American missionaries complain that their devotional books are sometimes confiscated by the Turkish censors.


That is a matter affecting the Americans rather than ourselves. Our Ambassador will, of course, be ready to give any assistance he can in the matter.


I am surprised the right hon. Gentleman is not personally acquainted with the facts relating to the Memorial to which I called attention. I really cannot pass from the question without some assurance that instructions will be given to Sir W. White to take action in regard to the subject.

(12.58.) DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)

I must confess I have never listened to anything more absurd than the humiliating apology of the right hon. Gentleman for the outrages and crimes perpetrated by Moussa Bey. The Ministry is a Ministry of bravado and bunkum. The right hon. Gentleman has shown up the value of the "Peace with Honour Treaty," a Treaty which shows that Conservativism really is bunkum and nothing else.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question again proposed.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. S. Smith.)


I am under an engagement not to go beyond 1 o'clock with this Vote if there is any objection to doing so, and I am, therefore, prepared to withdraw this Vote. I hope, however, that the House will make progress with other Votes which are not of the same contentious character. My only desire is to consult the convenience of the House, and I have no intention of pressing the matter if hon. Members object.


I understand that when the 12 o'clock Rule was suspended, the idea was that the Vote under discussion should not be interrupted at that hour. But now we are at 1 o'clock, and the right hon. Gentleman proposes to withdraw this Vote and bring forward others.


If the House desires it.


Well, I do not know in what sense that is meant. I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that if he thinks he is going to get Votes through by this means he is mistaken. Unquestionably, we have a right to discuss any Votes, though for convenience of the Government and yielding to their desire for a holiday, we do not insist on that right upon all the Votes. I can assure the First Lord of the Treasury there is not the slightest desire on the Opposition side, as far as I know, to prolong the Session unduly; but I would urge him not to push these Votes at this unearthly hour of night, 1 o'clock a.m., and not to hop from one Vote to another. Before we agree to the Motion to report Progress, I should like to gather what is the intention as to Votes to-morrow. I understood that Friday was to be given up to the Foreign Office Vote, and then it was suggested that it should be taken to-night, and we are anxious to meet the right hon. Gentleman in every sort of way. But it was understood, I think, that this discussion commenced to-night should go on tomorrow. But I do not quite understand now what the intention is. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to go on with the Vote on Saturday? I understand the right hon. Gentleman has intimated an intention to move the suspension of Rules. Does he mean to ask us to suspend the Rule that prevents our taking Report on the same day as the Vote is taken in Committee?


There is no intention to ask the House to suspend that Rule.


I am glad to hear that; and that, of course, makes a difference. But I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is not desirable to take this Vote to-morrow and finish it, as probably we should, about 8 or 9 o'clock? Then the right hon. Gentleman is under an engagement, I think, to bring on the Navy Votes to-morrow. As far as I can gather, the only gentleman who is anxious to have these Votes thoroughly discussed is my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), and I should presume that three hours might exhaust the interest of my right hon. Friend. The right hon. Gentleman will be making a mistake if he tries to take 50 or 60 Votes on Saturday.

(1.6.) MR. W. H. SMITH

The endeavour to meet the wishes of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen makes my position somewhat difficult. I had fixed Friday for this Vote, and then I was applied to by an hon. Gentleman opposite not to take from him the opportunity of making a speech he desired to make, and so I gave way in the hope that we might finish the Vote to day. In that hope I fixed the Navy Votes for Friday. Now, I desire to meet the convenience of Members. If it is desirable I will give an assurance that the Report of the Foreign Office Vote shall be taken on the day following the Vote itself, when hon. Members may make any further observations which they may desire to make. In that case I will consent to report Progress now, and this Vote will be taken at a reasonable hour to-morrow, and further discussion may take place on the Report. ["No!"] Then the Vote must stand behind the others.

(1.7.) MR. BRYCE

I do not think the right hon. Gentleman made any engagement that the Navy Votes should be first Order to-morrow. It is undesirable, I think, to break up the discussion on this Vote. We have had a useful discussion to-night, but there are one or two other points to be raised, and I think the discussion of the Vote might be concluded in good time to-morrow—say 7 or 8 o'clock—when the Navy Votes might be proceeded with.

(1.8.) MR. ASHER (Elgin, &c.)

I have given notice of a Motion for tonight, and; as the House is aware, the time within which I can do so is limited by Statute. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not carry on Committee and postpone my Motion to a still more unreasonable hour.

(1.9.) MR. S. SMITH

May I throw out the suggestion that we might dispose of the Madagascar question to-night? ["No, no!"]

Question put, and agreed to.

Committee report Progress.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Committee sit again tomorrow."


On this question may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to take the Vote first to-morrow, in order to dispose of points in relation to policy in Africa and matters which may not occupy more than a couple of hours or so?

(1.16.) MR. W. H. SMITH

There is an understanding that the Navy Votes shall come first, and I do not feel at liberty to alter the arrangement.

Question put, and agreed to.

Committee to sit again this day.