§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [12th February] — [see page 128.]
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. HOWORTH (Salford, S.)
I was born in Portugal, have close ties with that country, and I recently visited it for several weeks, during 212 which I witnessed a great deal which has interested public opinion here. In these circumstances, I feel that I am justified in wishing to address the House in this debate in the hope of being able to say something which may soften the acerbity of feeling which has arisen between two countries which have long been friends and allies, and to both of which I owe some loyalty. I need not emphasise the pain which I feel, and which I am sure that every Member of this House and every sensible Englishman must have felt, at the turn which events have taken. My right hon. Friend the leader of the House, in Sympathetic and appropriate terms, which were echoed by the leader of the Opposition in choice phraseology which those of us envy, most who find it most difficult to emulate it, stated this part of the case very completely. But I wish, from the peculiar position which I occupy in this matter, to press upon hon. Members of the House that, in any subsequent debate in which Portugal may come to the front, it would be advisable to be sparing of adjectives which may be misinterpreted, and to remember that in international quarrels unseemly and vituperative language is often much less easy to pardon than even overt acts which are treated as offences. Having said this, I should like to relate in the first instance what I myself saw in Lisbon, because I feel it necessary that some things which have appeared in print in this country should receive some antidote from someone who has been on the spot. The newspaper correspondents in Lisbon and Oporto seldom have an opportunity of reporting dramatic events. It is not therefore at all strange that they should have couched their des-patches in somewhat semi-tropical language, and should have abandoned sometimes the ordinary restrictions of English prose in describing commonplace events. That is what has happened in the case of Portugal. I was present during the whole of these disturbances. I saw one or two excited crowds of boys carrying the national flag and shouting, "Down with the King," "Down with the Government," and "Down with England." I also saw one or two Englishmen, who ventured to put themselves in the way 213 of the crowd, pushed about and hustled a little. I was in Lisbon when the crowd pulled down the armorial bearings over the door of the British Consulate. But these are incidents which have happened frequently in other places with very little comment; and they looked very small, when contrasted with riots in Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square, which soma of us remember. I feel bound to say this, because I think these reports ought to be corrected, and because I feel that the people among whom I was born have at least this virtue, that they are singularly courteous and chivalrous t wards strangers. No man who has lived among them as I have can come back to this country without feeling that in this respect they bear a favourable comparison with great many of the Continental nations: strangers, even Englishmen, may expect everywhere to meet with those marks of courtesy it is so pleasant to receive. I go further, and support my own experience with that of a friend resident in Portugal, from whom I received a letter yesterday, one who knows the Portuguese probably as well as any member of the English colony there. He refers to a paragraph which appeared in the newspapers a short time ago, headed "Destitute Englishmen in Portugal," and which stated that a number of English clerks in Lisbon had been discharged by their employers, and were on the point of starvation, and that there had been 40 applications from Englishmen to their Consul to be sent home, but that he had no funds available for the purpose. My friend writes:—I was astounded at reading this, and felt sure that it could not be true, for such a state of things could not exist without it being generally known I male inquiries of various friends, but no one knows an instance of an Englishman having been dismissed. I then went to Mr. Macdonald, the acting Consul, and he is not aware of any such discharges or applications for relief from distress. The statement that 40 English clerks applied to the Consul to be sent home is a pure fabrication.I think the facts should be made known by statements in some public place, for it seems to me that newspapers anxious for sensational items of news have done much to excite a serious quarrel between two peoples who ought never to have quarrelled at 214 all. I must say that at Oporto things are a little strained, and some of that strain is attributable to the indiscreet conduct of the English Consul there. He is a distinguished scholar, and he has written admirable books about Portugal, but I confess in this matter he has shown some lack of discretion by the use of expressions addressed to the students. In that country, as elsewhere, lads in excited times do not obey the restraints that men acknowledge, and for Portuguese lads to be told by a Consul that if they want to insult English people they should insult men and not women, seems to me rather like an invitation to these young students to display their feelings by some act of violence to Englishmen. From my experience in the country I can say that nothing has exasperated Portuguese feeling more than seeing reproductions of some of the comic cartoons from English papers, which, however we may laugh at them at the moment, are exceedingly bitter pills for a small and sensitive nation to swallow, especially when the people are led to believe that these pictures represent the real feeling in this country. By the distribution of these cartoons through every village in the country as a sample of what the English think of the Portuguese people, the feelings of exasperation, which no doubt exist, have been fostered and fomented. While there have been numerous exaggerations as to the treatment of Englishmen in Portugal, I do not disguise the fact that the feeling is widely spread there that this little country has been treated rather harshly by England—a strong Power, an old friend and ally. That feeling, rightly or wrongly, possesses the people of Portugal; I believe wrongly, but it is a feeling we cannot and ought not to despise: it is a feeling that distinctly is not ignoble. Contempt is a luxury of the strong, and becomes itself contemptible when at-tempted by those who are weak. A weak people cannot, therefore, meet such treatment with contempt; and it seems to me there is nothing ignoble in the weak resenting what they consider harsh treatment openly and even excitedly. Another feature in this unfortunate business is that the Portuguese in their quarrel have more or less the sympathy of the other smaller Powers 215 of Europe. It has not been pleasant to read in the press of Italy and Belgium, usually so tender towards English policy, the expression of an opinion that England had not treated Portugal as she would have treated a stronger Power, when at least she would have put a slipper on her broad foot instead of a strong boot. There are cynics who measure the value of political friends and the danger from political enemies entirely by the strength of material resources, but it seems to me, and I claim to speak as an old student of history, that England at all events has had enormous moral strength in her Continental struggles in the fact that she has had the sympathy of the smaller and weaker Powers, which are necessarily neutral. They have generally welcomed the advancement of England as the advancement of freedom everywhere. It is, therefore, a painful fact that in this quarrel we have had a more or less concurrence of opinion among the smaller Powers in favour of Portugal. If I am asked whether I think this feeling justified, I must say very positively no. I have read this Blue Book carefully, and I most emphatically say that I think that every consideration that it is possible for the responsible Government of a great nation like England to exercise towards a weaker nation like Portugal has been exercised, nor can I find, except in one despatch, which is not at all important, any trace of that sharply-pointed quill to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian paid tribute yesterday, as one of the high gifts of my noble Friend and leader the Prime Minister. On the contrary, I find everywhere in this book, and I feel sure every unbiassed man will agree with me, the greatest latitude, the greatest consideration shown to all the susceptibilities of the Portuguese nation. How comes it, then, that this feeling has arisen? It is an important and a proper matter for discussion. In the first place, this question in Portugal has not been treated as a question of foreign policy, but as a question of domestic policy. It is because it has been introduced into the faction fights of Portuguese political parties that it has become so important an element in Portuguese affairs. The Government in Portugal which had the conduct of the negotiations exists no longer; it has disappeared, utterly dis- 216 credited. It was a Government whose individual Members were open to charges of malversation of every sort, and it had lost all moral influence in the country. In this matter that Government did not scruple to use every kind of effort to exasperate the feeling of the Portuguese, not for patriotic reasons, but simply to further its own ends. You cannot read these Despatches of Senhor Barros Gomes without feeling that he was actuated by motives of the most sinister kind. Here we have from the very beginning a Minister writing in one sense to the English Government, while his officials in Africa are directly traversing the answer given to Lord Salisbury. When things have progressed somewhat, we find the Portuguese Government selecting as their agent in these African affairs a Portuguese traveller, one who has been a politician, and who has distinguished himself by vituperation of England, although England and the Geographical Society here treated him with honour and hospitality when the Portuguese Press denounced him as an imposter. This man, who afterwards used the position he gained to vilify England, was the instrument selected by Mr. Barros Gomes while he was writing his friendly Despatches, to go to Africa and take charge of a question full of tangled difficulties, and in which it was absolutely certain he would introduce himself as a firebrand, and would intensify, instead of quieting, the condition of things then existing. We are told this traveller was proceeding on a scientific expedition. But a scientific expedition does not need Gatling guns and hundreds of troops. I am not now speaking of the material issues between the two countries, but of the way in which the Portuguese Government conducted the controversy, a way in which, if these Blue Books are read, will reflect small credit on the late Government of Portugal. If this be so, how is it that this was not exposed long ago? How is it that some Portuguese politician did not expose all this tergiversation I Was there no Portuguese prototype of the hon. Member for Northampton, who from a neutral attitude could denounce the conduct of the Portuguese Government, whatever its political creed? The answer to these questions is to be found in the political conditions 217 in Portugal. The fact of the matter is, the Portuguese Government makes its own public opinion. It is never in a minority in the House of Representatives. It never appeals to the country until it has appointed all the Civil Governors in the various districts in Portugal, and these return the Representatives; therefore the Government always has a majority in the House of Representatives. It has absolute control over the publication of any document, and consequently, when a question arises, the documents which are absolutely essential for the understanding of the question, are hidden and withheld from the public, no one but a Member of the Government having access to them. When I was in Lisbon the other day, a White Book was published, giving Despatches up to January, 1889. Despatches of that date sire surely matters of ancient history. Few Portuguese outside the Government had any cognisance of the controversy, except of the concluding chapter, when the famous Despatch of Lord Salisbury was received and interpreted as an insult by the whole nation. The Press also is feeble and afraid of public opinion, mid will publish nothing. One of my distinguished friends there, a highly educated, chivalrous man, who has a high stake in Portugal, wrote a letter to the papers explaining the position of the English Government, but his letter was refused admission into the Portuguese papers. The only grievance among the English colony in Lisbon—and I confess it is not, perhaps, a substantial one—is that the English Minister should have failed to communicate to the Portuguese papers what was substantially the English case in this matter; and especially the despatch of Consul Churchill, showing that while despatches were being sent to Lord Salisbury the Governor of Mozambique had issued a Proclamation in the Official Journal ordering the disputed territory to be occupied, treating it, in fact, as Portuguese territory. This lack of knowledge is the main reason why the people have been so much misled in the controversy, and the reason why a feeling of exasperation against us has been excited. It seems to me it is a reason to which we ought to attack some value in measuring the situation. It will help us to discriminate between the doings of the Portuguese Government and the feel- 218 ings and attitude of the nation—To proceed, however. Why, it is asked, should Portugal covet these vast and valueless tracts of African territory? Here, again, we ought to measure the position of Portugal more equitably than we are apt to do. Portugal, like many other small Powers, lives on its traditions. Portugal has great traditions. Before Philip the Second of Spain conquered Portugal, and trod out all the seeds of national progress there, Portugal had created a very distinguished historic name. It was Prince Henry of Portugal, the navigator, who sent ships that discovered the whole seaboard of Africa, and all along the coast line you distinguish Portuguese names, from the extreme west, opposite the Canary Islands, to the north of Zanzibar. The Portuguese were the first to round the Cape of Good Hope, and the name of Vasco de Gama is used as a rhetorical flourish whenever Portuguese orators speak of the glorious days of Portugal. On the west coast, and on the east, they founded considerable settlements. It is perfectly true that the Portuguese are bad colonists; it is true they have no genuine colonisation. It is true Portuguese settlers are doing well in Brazil, and in the Sandwich Islands; but in their own colonies they have failed to make prosperous communities; and these African colonies, since the slave trade was destroyed, have shrunk and diminished, and are slowly drifting back to barbarism. This is as true as it is deplorable, but it hardly justifies some Pharasaic comments in this country. It is a point of rhetoric often to refer to the misdoings of Portugal, and we are told the Portuguese are slave dealers, and that wherever they set their feet nothing will grow, nothing will prosper, but we here at all events should be a little careful in making such charges. I have been lately amused, and a little ashamed, of seeing in the Portuguese papers these moral declamations as to Portuguese doings contrasted with English actions as lately as 1840; and it seems to me this Pecksniffian attitude is an unfortunate one for a great country like England to adopt when discussing a matter with a small country like Portugal. I admit, however, they are bad colonists. I admit that the steamers to South East Africa take many convicts, troops and officials, but 219 very few colonists. This being so, I also admit that it would be intolerable that Portugal should take a large continent like Africa and deliberately paint across the map in pink colour a huge stripe, claiming this tract as Portuguese simply because it connects one sat of settlements with another. All this is perfectly true, but, nevertheless, we must remember that the Portuguese people, many of whom are very ignorant, have been fed on this kind of romance for many years. In their school maps they have been taught to believe that the Portuguese flag flies over these vast tracts of African territory, and it is a little cruel and hard to be suddenly reminded that England, at all events, will not permit this stagnating influence to be exercised over such wide portions of Central Africa—that England, in fact, will not allow great stretches of territory to intervene between our settlements in South and Central Africa and involving the peculiar Portuguese régime, which means the closing of roads and the imposition of taxes at every point, and preventing that which we desire to see in Africa, the distribution of commerce and whatever advantages flow from trade. Of course it causes a painful revulsion of feeling to the Portuguese people when they suddenly find themselves reminded that at least it is an open question as to whom these territories belong, and we must attribute blame to the Portuguese Government, which ought to have instructed its people upon the merits of the question, and to have pointed out the nature of the English claim, a claim which we have made from the beginning, never having diverged from it from first to last. In conclusion, what is to be done to remove this feeling? For I take it there is no man but must regret its existence. We cannot help feeling a great deal of real affection for this little country, and more especially is that so with those who have studied its history. It was an English band of crusaders who originally founded Portugal; it was an English bishop who founded the first cathedral in Lisbon. English capital assisted Portugal all through the last century, and largely assisted that country in its revival from the terrible effects of the Portuguese earthquake. In the great French war we 220 stood side by side with Portugal; and although it is said that we went to Portugal to assist that country against Napoleon, we must remember there is another side to this history. We were fighting England's battles and not Portugal's battles, and when Wellington chose the strategical position at Torres Vedras he had to devastate a third of Portugal to make his policy at all practicable. We left the country free from the French invaders, and we left a certain number of individuals enriched by army contracts; but a great deal of suffering was the result to the people of Portugal from that war; and, though it was the scene of the strife, the fighting there was really for our own benefit, and it is not quite fair to put that as a substantial claim for gratitude from Portugal. These are facts that I think should be remembered. On the other hand, the Portuguese Royal Family was put on the throne by Englishmen; we are the fathers, in fact, of Constitutional Government in Portugal, and various periods of our history are entwined with that little country. It, therefore, makes it impossible for some of us to feel anything but sentiments of affection for it. Those who have lived there, and have travelled among the people, will bear me out when I say that personal intercourse with the Portuguese has always been of the most pleasant and gratifying character. The people are thrifty, prosperous, civil, and courteous to everybody; and in my travels in that country I have had reason to feel nothing but pride in my connection with it. If it were possible for the English Government in any way to meet the sentimental aspirations of the Portuguese without sacrificing English dignity or interest—if they could do anything to satisfy those romantic aspirations of Portugal—it would give a great deal of satisfaction, and go far to soften the asperities which the recent conflict has raised. I believe that the present Government of Portugal ought to have our strong sympathy and support. It is in marked contrast with the Government that has disappeared. The individual members of it have a high character in the country. Their policy and principles are admirable. There is, on the other hand, no doubt, a Republican agitation in the country. 221 Their old tie with South America has been broken by the revolution in Brazil, and if we do not take care I am afraid we shall give much impetus to the Republican Party in Portugal—a party which in name is Republican, but which is, in fact, anarchical. I hope every Englishman will exercise some restraint on the adjectives he uses, and that the Government will endeavour to find some way to meet the patriotic aspirations of these old friends of ours. While I feel that my duty as an English Member of Parliament compels me, in this controversy, to substantial agreement with the English Government and its policy, I cannot, at the same time, sit down without expressing in a Portuguese phrase from my place here what I feel about the country of my birth, and say, Viva Portugal.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I did not interrupt the hon. Member who has just sat down because he was not out of order in referring to Portugal in the general discussion on the Address; but I wish to point out the inconvenience which arises in the present case. There is an Amendment down on the Paper on the specific subject of Portugal. If there is to be a general preliminary discussion on Portugal, and then a subsequent discussion on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northampton, it illustrates the inconvenience of that course of proceeding. If the hon. Member for Northampton had risen and spoken he would not have been allowed to put his own Amendment. I hope the House will acquit me of any other desire than to promote the convenience and orderly character of our debates, and I would suggest very respectfully to the House that if a discussion on Portugal were to take place on the Amendment it would be more convenient, although I cannot say it is out of order on the general question.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I put down the Amendment in order to focus the discussion, and I confess I did not intend to ask the House to divide upon it. If you, Sir, will allow me to speak on the general question, I will do so without moving my Amendment; in fact, I will withdraw it. I rather agree with the hon. Gentleman with regard to the attitude to be assumed by the Government towards Portugal, but I confess I do so, not because I am in 222 any particular dread that if we maintain our present attitude Portugal will have a Republic instead of a Monarchy. That is a matter for the Portuguese; but I dare say they would get on just as well with a Republic as with a Monarchy. Before going into the question of Portugal, I will deal with another matter connected with foreign affairs. The House will remember that some time ago certain negotiations took place between Prince Bismarck and certain Foreign Powers with reference to the Triple Alliance, which was, practically, a Triple Alliance against France. In order to induce Italy to join that Alliance, we did in some sort of way interfere, and make some sort of communications to Italy, and Italy, in consequence of the communications we made, and probably because of some assurances we gave, did join the Triple Alliance. At that time I asked the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State whether he would communicate to the House what had taken place, and the right hon. Gentleman said he could not do so then. Since then I have frequently asked questions on the subject, and have received what I suppose I should call diplomatic answers; in fact, I have known nothing more after the answers about what has taken place than I knew before. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see the compliment I am paying him as Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. It is, I think, time the House should know what did take place. Are they ashamed of what occurred? Are they afraid that if they communicate the information to the House some Foreign Power will be displeased? I think Foreign Governments ought to know what assurances we have given Italy in regard to this matter. For my part, I hold that it is no part of the duty of an English Minister to aid and abet Prince Bismarck in inducing Italy to join in an Alliance against France. I should be sorry if there should be any European war; but if such a war should take place, and France should try to take back Alsace and Lorraine, my sympathies would be with France rather than with Germany. Italy has no concern with the quarrels of Germany and Austria; and if Italy joins those countries in attacks upon France, it is not for us to guarantee she shall suffer no penalty if 223 things go against the Triple Alliance. Still less is it our business to interfere. Our business in connection with a war between Foreign European Powers is to keep clear of the matter altogether. We ought to keep clear of every species of engagement and entanglement. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consent to lay on the table a Blue Book giving the despatches which passed between Sir E. Malet and Prince Bismarck, also the instructions sent to our Ambassadors, and, finally, I think we ought to have the despatch which, no doubt, Prince Bismarck sent to this Government thanking Lord Salisbury for dragging his chesnuts out of the fire. And now I come to the subject of my Amendment, which, however, I do not propose to move. I admit that the circumstances under which Lord Salisbury had to act were most difficult. That arose from the fact that all the great European Powers are struggling like a lot of Ahabs for what is looked upon as a huge Naboth's vineyard. All agree that it does not belong to Naboth, but all are fighting for it, and for the privilege of sending shoddy goods there. We call it civilisation, but give it what name you will, earth-hunger has, no doubt, much to do with it. Now, in the particular dispute which led to the crisis with Portugal no doubt we think ourselves in the right, but it is equally the fact that the Portuguese also think they are in the right. It is really very difficult for any one to be a judge in his own cause, and it is therefore impossible for either us or Portugal to say which is in the right. All I will point out is that both France and Spain, which are independent countries, and may be supposed to take an independent view, think we are entirely in the wrong and Portugal entirely in the right. It may be said there is ill-feeling on the part of France. Then let us put France aside and take Spain. There is certainly no love lost between Spain and Portugal, who may be said to be almost hereditary enemies. Yet the Spanish in this case think we are in the wrong. By the Berlin Convention it was sought to map out Africa in certain spheres of influence. But in that Convention the sphere of influence of Portugal was not mapped out. In 1886 Germany and France made Treaties with Portugal defining specifically what was the line of delimitation of their 224 respective influences and the sphere of influence of Portugal. I think it is a great pity that this country did not take part in that delimitation, because had we done so this present difficulty would not have occurred. I suppose that the House knows something of the Zambesi River. Below the Zambesi there is Matabeleland, which is admitted to be within our sphere of influence. But when we declared it to be within our sphere of influence we included Mashonaland, because it had been conquered by Lobengula, the Ruler of Matabeleland; and here we come into contact with Portugal, because Portugal does not make any claim to Matabeleland, but to certain districts which we assert are included in Mashonaland. I do not propose to deal with the question of Mashonaland and Matabeleland, because they are not the immediate cause of the crisis. There is only one point I wish to advert to. Last Session I called attention to a concession that had been given to a Mr. Rhodes of the whole of Matabeleland by Lobengula. I asked several questions regarding it, and was told by the Under Secretary for the Colonies that England could in no sort of way support any claims of Mr. Rhodes owing to this concession, but that we could not prevent Lobengula from giving a concession, because he was, as far as the interior of the country was concerned, an independent monarch. I observe in the Blue Book that on the 12th of June M. D'Antas wrote a despatch to Her Majesty's Government complaining that a charter was about to be given which would include the whole of Matabeleland and the whole of Mashonaland. I certainly did not know of this charter at that time, and I think that the House of Commons ought to have heard that such a charter was about to be granted. The charter was granted after the House of Commons had ceased to sit. I think that all these charters ought to be laid on the table of the House. There ought to be some kind of discussion on the subject before a charter of this kind is definitely given. I find from this charter that any person who enters the district conceded has to pay one-half of the profits of a certain kind, such as from mines. How far the charter extends in point of territory I do not know, and I should be glad if the Under Secre- 225 tary for the Colonies will explain. But who are the principal people to whom this charter was given? The Duke of Abercorn and the Duke of Fife. The charter was given to a company which had been formed, but in which there was no public allotment of shares. No doubt those noble Dukes have a good many shares in the company, and those shaves have risen to a premium. I thought that the House of Commons had made, in an indirect fashion, a handsome provision for the Duke of Fife. We know also that by Lord Ashbourne's Act we have made a handsome provision for the Duke of Abercorn; and I do not, therefore, understand why we should single out those noble Dukes, who are Liberal Unionists and everything respectable that can be imagined, in order to make them a present of a vast sum of money. It is a great advantage to these who got the charter, and I wish to know why the Duke of Fife should reap this advantage, while, for example, my hon. Friends around me are not to have a share in it? What right had we to interfere to give to the Duke of Fife and the Duke of Abercorn all that was worth having in the country of Lobengula; and why should I or anyone else who enters that territory to find or work a mine have to pay this huge rent to the Duke of Fife and the Duke of Abercorn and their confederates? We object to mining rents in England; why should we encourage them in Africa? I now propose to confine myself to what took place in the Shiré district. This comprises a vast tract of land, the north of which runs into Nyassaland, and is bounded by the River Rovuma. On the south there is the Zambesi, on the east the Portuguese coast, and on the west the Shirériver. The Portuguese have for a considerable number of years claimed the district as their own, owing to the rights of discovery. I do not attach much importance to those rights of discovery; but unquestionably our Consuls have asked on one particular occasion for the interference of the Portuguese authorities in the Shiré district, in order to prevent certain action being taken against British subjects, and this to a certain extent seems to me to be a recognition on the part of this country of the rights of the Portuguese in that country. In 1889 Mr. Consul 226 Johnston went to Lisbon, and proposed an arrangement by which the whole of this district from the Ruo River should be given up entirely to Portugal. This arrangement fell through because Lord Salisbury did not approve it. Still, it is important as showing that Consul Johnston was of opinion that the Portuguese had such a right to this district, and that we, in consideration for advantages elsewhere, should recognise the Portuguese as the full possessors of this territory in the sense of being under Portuguese influence. On the other hand, however, our contention is that we have a missionary colony at Blantyre, situated in this district, and that the Portuguese there are not in sufficient numbers to establish a right to the district. I imagine, however, that there are as many Portuguese in the interior of this district as there are Germans in that which we recognise to be under German influence, or as many as there are English in Pongoland. Therefore that argument cannot hold good. The coast-line is entirely in their hands, and this coast-line, generally in Africa, carries some portion of country behind it. In the midst of this No Man's Land there is a. large tract of land inhabited by the Makololo, whose system of government is tribal, and in the midst of the Makololo country are the Scottish missionaries at Blantyre. I wish to speak with the greatest respect of those missionaries. If I did not know that I should have the whole of Scotland up in arms against me. I have no doubt, also, that they are doing their duty their. No doubt they are respectable and estimable men and perform a, great deal of good work. Still, I cannot, help pointing out that if hon. Members look at the Blue Book they will find that about two-thirds of its contents contain Despatches from our Consuls to our Government, insisting that cartridges, powder, and guns should be sent up to those Scottish missionaries. This is a somewhat new phase of missionary labour, especially when it is borne in mind that this is the land of Livingstone. I never heard of Livingstone demanding guns and powder and cartridges. In 1888 the Portuguese sent an expedition through the Shiré direct to Nyassaland in order to establish some kind of fort on Lake Nyassa. Treaties were made with 227 some of the surrounding tribes. But when Consul Johnston's scheme fell through, the Portuguese sent up Major Serpa Pinto, as was then stated, with an expedition to survey the country for a railroad. It is asserted that that was not his real object. All I cm sty is that he says it was. It is said it could not have been because he went up with guns to protect him; but then people generally do travel with guns for purposes of protection when they are travelling in Africa. I have pointed out what the missionaries did, and how many guns they wanted, and I would also refer to the case of Mr. Stanley, according to whose own account there were plenty of guns for protection. It is not, therefore, proved that this was a hostile expedition because Major Serpa Pinto was accompanied by an armed force. I have no doubt he was not sorry to have that armed force, not merely for the immediate purposes of protection, but in order to shew the native tribes what a great Power that of Portugal was. Indeed, Major Serpa Pinto seems to have admitted, in a conversation he had with Consul Johnston, that he did intend to make treaties with the African tribes; so that his expedition could hardly be termed a mere railroad survey expedition. No doubt it was intended to have a railroad, and that was the reason why Major Serpa Pinto went there; but he thought he might kill two or three birds with one stone, and make any treaty he could with the native tribes in order to increase the influence of Portugal in that part of Africa. Well, Major Serpa Pinto started in June, and it was known that he was about to do so, because the fact was announced, both in the English and Portuguese newspapers, and in scientific circles a good deal was said about the scientific aspects of the expedition. On the 23rd of July, Mr. Johnston, having previously returned to Mozambique, where he was Consul, started for Nyassa in a steam launch, proceeding up the Zambesi and the ShiréRiver. Mr. Consul Johnston, as will be seen from the Blue Book, wrote some remarkable letters. He asked for letters from the Governor of Mozambique to the Portuguese Authorities, and letters were consequently given to him, recommending him to the Portuguese officials. If they had had the idea that Consul Johnston was going up the country to 228 annex large tracts of land to the British dominions, or to interfere in any way with Major Serpa Pinto, those letters would not have been given to him. Indeed, it seems to me to be very questionable whether it was proper for Mr. Johnston to have asked for, or to have accepted, these letters from the Governor of Mozambique. However, he got them, and he started on the 23rd of July. On the 8th. of August he came up with Major Serpa Pinto, who was slowly pursuing his way up the country towards Nyassa. Did he tell Major Serpa Pinto what his intention was? No; but his intention was obvious; it was to outrun Major Serpa Pinto, so as to get first into Makolololand, and prevent Major Serpa Pinto from getting into that territory. However, he told Major Serpa Pinto nothing of the sort. He said the Makololo would object to an armed force going there; but nothing whatever was said by him about any extension of territory; he merely told Major Serpa Pinto that under the circumstances it would be better for him to pursue another route. Well, Mr. Johnston pushed on, and when he got to the Makololo country he pulled out a number of flags which he had carried with him, and probably, a similar number of treaties. At any rate, he began making treaties with the Makololo tribe and gave them British flags, the acceptance of which was to be a recognition on their part of our influence, and a gage that that they would not make treaties with any other Power. There he met Mr. Acting Consul Buchanan. I have not been able to make out precisely where Mr. Buchanan is acting as Consul.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Well, the Portuguese themselves state, that they never recognised him, and from whom he obtained his exequatur I do not know. However, Mr. Acting Consul Buchanan and Mr. Consul Johnston, having made these treaties and given these flags to the natives, sent down to Major Serpa Pinto to tell him that he must not pass through the Makololo country, and on the 28th August, Major Serpa Pinto was at a place called M'patsa. That place is not in Makolololand proper, but in a district lying adjacent; probably inhabited by some tribe not absolutely recognised as belonging to the Makololo country, but at the same time, having' some connection 229 with the Makololo people. On the day named, the 28th August, Major Serpa Pinto was attacked by these people. He did not attack them; it was they who attacked him; this being admitted on both sides. The natives came forward waving the British flag, and, as far as I can ascertain, Major Serpa Pinto repelled the attack and took away the British flag. This is said to have been an insult to the British flag, but I should say that when a man comes with a British flag in one hand and a gun in the other, none of us would be inclined to say, "I respect the British, flag, and will allow myself to be shot." Well, after this, Mr. Buchanan, who was, as a matter of course, highly indignant, issued a Proclamation. Here it is: It is dated the 21st of Sept., and Mr. Buchanan says—I hereby declare that the Makololo, Yao and Machinga countries, within the limits cited below, are, with the consent and at the desire of their chiefs and people, placed under the protection of Her Most Gracious Majesty, the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India, Defender of the Faith, &c.This was sent to Major Serpa Pinto, who was informed that he was not to think of entering the territory that had been taken under British protection. Now, I ask, did any hon. Member of this House ever hear of any Consul acting in this way without first of all appealing to his particular Government? This was done while Major Serpa Pinto was proceeding up to that district, and it was done with the object of letting him know "This is part and parcel of the British territory; I therefore dare you to come on." I do not think that any one will assert that Proclamations of this kind, issued by such persons, can be regarded as valid, unless they have been confirmed by the Government at home. I was under the impression that such Proclamations had to be signed by Her Majesty herself; but, certainly by her responsible Minister or adviser. Well, let us just look at the position we are placed in if we are to allow any Consul in Africa to announce that he has annexed territory to the British Empire and that any one passing through it in a hostile fashion will be met by the whole might of the Empire. When he received that Proclamation Major Serpa Pinto was at M'patsa. The tribes were hostile and 230 threatened to attack him. He went down for reinforcements and came back with them to his fortified position. On the 8th of November he was again attacked by the native tribes. There is no question as to this, because Acting Consul Buchanan and Consul Johnston entered into lengthy explanations to show that they protested with the Makololo against these attacks, and that the Makololo made them against then advice. The difficulty with these Makololo seems to have had the effect of bringing them to the conclusion that it was the best game to be on the side of the Portuguese lather than on that of the English. Major Serpa Pinto declares that these unfortunate Makololo, who had been called British subjects, were received back into the Portuguese fold, and became Portuguese subjects; and that if they afterwards interfered with him they would be declared rebels. I think that that was wrong, considering the difficulties of the position; but, at the same time, Major Serpa Pinto did not do one whit more than Mr. Buchanan had done; indeed, he told the people that Mr. Buchanan had gone a step further, because he had suddenly taken the people into the British Empire and declared them to be British subjects. It can hardly be contended that Major Serpa Pinto engaged in hostilities; he merely defended himself. He had fortified himself at M'patsa, and before any account of the last attack on the 8th November reached Europe Lord Salisbury sent a categorical Note to Lisbon to the effect that Portugal should not interfere with British settlements in Shiré or Makolololand, or any other territory under British protection, and that they should withdraw their troops from Makolololand, Matebeleland, and Mashonaland. He proceeded on an assumption, which was an extraordinary one, namely, that a Consul has a perfect right to annex any portion of Africa to the British dominions if he thinks it right to do so. Then there was a second demand made in a very peremptory manner, and at the same time it was announced that our fleet was proceeding in the direction of Delagoa Bay. It was reported in Lisbon that armed cruisers were approaching the Tagus. I do not know whether they I were or not, but the sting was in the end of the second demand, which, was that 231 Mr. Petre was to withdraw. That was what was called the ultimatum. He was withdrawn. The Portuguese appealed to the Berlin Treaty, and they proposed arbitration. Lord Salisbury replied that they had no right to appeal to the 12th article of the Berlin Convention, because Free Trade does not exist in the Shirédistrict, and the Convention only applies to countries where Free Trade exists. I think that is a little like special pleading. But Lord Salisbury gave another reason. He said that this article in the Convention was in order to avoid any appeal to arms on the part of the contracting parties, or any hostile demonstrations towards the Africans. Then he pointed out to the Portuguese that Major Serpa Pinto had appealed to arms. I hardly think that is borne out by fact. Our present position is that we have got hold of the entire Shiré district: a very questionable step I am inclined to think. We have got hold of this Mashonaland, to which the Portuguese made certain claims. On the other hand, the Portuguese did retain the rights of the Shiré district: they had the Zambesi river, and they had a perfect right if they chose to forbid our using of them for a commercial purpose unless we pay dues. Portugal is undoubtedly a very old ally of ours—I believe the most ancent we have, but there is no doubt that at the present moment Portugal thinks she has been unfairly treated, and thinks that her rights have no been recognised. She has given in because we appealed not to argument but to force. I am not saying whether Portugal is right or wrong. Considering that we have practically obtained the Shirédistrict, I do think that we ought to refer this question to some sort of arbitration. For it seems to me that there never was a case in which it was more desirable than in this. We ought to show ourselves perfectly ready to meet Portugal in these matters, and have them fairly decided. Judging from the despatches of the Portuguese Minister, there would be some chance of success in applying to the Zambesi river the rule now applicable to almost any one of these great rivers, which pass from one country into another country. I am not one of those who say that in every single case that can possibly occur, arbitration is possible. If 232 the Germans came to England and captured Kent, we would not allow arbitration as to whether Kent belonged to Germany or not. But in Africa it is very difficult to say who is right or who is wrong. It was so fully recognised that the Great European Powers in the general scramble to get hold of bits of Africa might fall to loggerheads amongst themselves, that the Berlin Convention was held, and it was conceded by Germany and France that, with respect to Portugal, there should be special treaties, but unfortunately that was not done. In this country, especially among the artisan classes, there is a very strong feeling in favour of arbitration. I contend that we ought always, when it is proposed by any country with which we have a dispute, to accept it, if the country making it is a feeble country; and if it is a choice between arbitration and absolutely laying down the law ourselves, every time we do admit this principle we confirm it as an international mode; of settling disputes; and when we do not admit it we weaken the use of the principle of arbitration, and tend to perpetuate the use of arms by other countries, who will follow our example. I think the House will see that we have made no sort of attack upon Her Majesty's Government in this matter. I might, as was pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) have referred to the sarcastic language of Lord Salisbury's despatches. I think it is a pity that Lord Salisbury did not keep his sarcastic language for the House of Lords. We admire from a literary point of view Lord Salisbury's sarcastic powers. We have not the slightest objection to the sarcasms he levels at the heads of his opponents. But the Portuguese have not the advantage of knowing that sarcasm is the speciality of Lord Salisbury, and they were naturally some what put out by the sarcastic vein in which Lord Salisbury dealt with their claims. I think our Consul and agents were somewhat reckless, and I think there is uncommonly little to choose between acting-Consul Buchanan and Major Serpa Pinto. They appear to be very zealous and energetic gentlemen, but I think their zeal and their energy have rather outrun their discretion in these matters. I should be very sorry 233 to think that our relations with a country like Portugal should be in any way weakened by anything that was done either by Major Serpa Pinto, or acting-Consul Buchanan. No one can read the Blue Books without seeing that there was a good deal of sharp practice on both sides. They seem to have been like the two American gentlemen who were gamblers, and who played a game in which the advantage was on both sides. I should be sorry to say one is right or one is wrong; but I do urge that, assuming that Portugal may have been more in the wrong than we were, we should deal generously with that country, and do our best to have some sort of arbitration. We have large commercial connections with Portugal, and it is most desirable that this feeling of irritation should be allayed in Portugal. We are the stronger; it is for us at present to make the first advance. Portugal did ask for arbitration. She had to withdraw her troops, and recognise our claims. She was forced to do so. Surely now we should offer some fair mode of arbitration to decide what are our rights and what are Portuguese rights in Africa. I cannot see that we should lose anything by doing so. If we are right, arbitration should go in our favour; if we are wrong, we ought to recognise fully that we are wrong, and accept that view from the arbitration. We ought not to put ourselves in the position of saying, "Right or wrong, we are the strongest Power, and we will stick to what we have done," in regard to these very doubtful, very difficult, very questionable claims on the part of both countries to those great districts which are inhabited by people whose earnest wish, I have not the slightest doubt, is that neither Portuguese, French, nor British should go into their territory. As I said, I shall not move my Amendment, but I hope we shall have some declaration from the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that he will act upon the view which has been urged, not only on this, but on both sides of the House.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith)
A large proportion of the Speech is occupied by foreign affairs, but perhaps it might have gone further and been directed to the questions of the Newfoundland Fisheries and the Behring Sea. I have no inclination to enter into any 234 discussion of them, but I would point out that it would have been of greater interest to have had some declaration upon these points than a clause relating to the old theme of the Convention of Samoa, and the Extradition Treaty with the United States, which have been heralded so conspicuously as triumphs of Lord Salisbury. The Blue Book of last year was not calculated to shew that the Government exercised influence in the Pacific. The Samoa Convention might, very well be described as concluded between the United States of America and Germany, and acquiesced in by Her Majesty's Government. The situation was clearly put by the noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill) when he said:—That in Samoa we had to play the second fiddle, while the United States of America, in maintaining their interests in Samoa, had maintained ours.Then there is the well-known topic of the Extradition Treaty of America, which still awaits the ratification of the Senate. That Treaty is the same as that which was agreed upon during the last Administration, with the omission of the clause relating to explosives. The Convention was signed in London in June, 1886. I hope that, acting in conjunction with the President of the South African Republic, some further and fuller consideration will be given to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman (the Member for Mid Lothian), to the effect that the question of the status of British subjects entering into the Transvaal for the purpose of settling there is one upon which Her Majesty's Government will be able to make some representation. It is desirable that emigrants and settlers in these regions should be able to enjoy the rights of citizenship in the South African Republic. I must congratulate Her Majesty's Government on the protection they have been able to afford to British subjects settling in those territories within our sphere of influence lately in dispute with Portugal. I am not referring particularly to the territory of the South African Company. The policy of Her Majesty's Government in that part of the world, where Scottish missionaries and traders have done so much in rescuing the people from barbarism, is watched in Scotland with the closest interest. The hon. Member for Northampton will admit that if powder has 235 been wanted in Nyassaland, it has been wanted not for the natives, but for the Arabs, who have left their homes for the purpose of carrying on pursuits of a much more questionable character than those of the Scottish missionaries. I regret that definite action was so long delayed in the matter, and that the tone of at least one of our despatches on the Portuguese question left so much to be desired. If the Foreign Secretary had saved a little of the two years which are said to have been occupied in negotiations—and I must say I heard with surprise that the Government had held any definite policy with regard to these districts over so long a period—and if he had been able to economise his witticisms, it is possible that our relations with Portugal would not have been subjected to so great a strain, and that we should not have seen a section of the English press adopting the undignified and bullying tone towards our ancient ally, which has been so well commented on to-night by the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Howorth). The principle of arbitration has been raised. Those who support it are entitled, I think, to all our sympathy, but in putting that principle into practice, we must take care that the dice are not loaded. Although arbitration has been known as a substitute for war, a good deal, I am afraid, is likely to happen before that civilised method of settling disputes can become general. Those responsible for the external affairs of the country must be the best judges in cases of emergency as to whether the national interests can admit of such mediation. I trust that all trace of this quarrel with a friendly State will rapidly vanish, and that Portugal will again appreciate the unexhausted good-will borne towards her by this country, which so earnestly desires her continued welfare.
§ MR. F. S. STEVENSON (Suffolk, Eye)
I desire only to speak for a few moments in order to draw attention to an apparent omission from the Address, namely, the condition of the Christian subjects of the Porte in the Highlands of Armenia. The claims of this population upon the House and the country cannot be over-estimated. The published papers tend to confirm the reports which have been current of outrages and misrule among these people, and some mention ought to have been made in the Speech 236 from the Throne both of Crete and Armenia' especially as, with regard to the latter country, our own Government is under a double obligation. It cannot in the first place be forgotten that we are bound, m common with the other signatory Powers, by the 61st section of the Berlin Treaty, and even more stringently by the 1st Article of the Anglo-Turkish Convention. We are especially bound under the latter document to remonstrate with Turkey on the non-fulfilment of her undertaking to introduce reforms into the Administration of Armenia. Of course, if the representatives of this country know that the old system of oppression is being continued, and that reforms are not being carried out, it appears to me that the section of the Convention to to which I have referred will have disappeared. We are face to face with this alternative, either that the Anglo-Turkish Convention is in force, in which case Turkey is bound to carry out reforms in Armenia, or else, if the Porte does not carry out its part of the agreement, it is not necessary that our share of the agreement should be carried out. What is the state of affairs at the present I time? The attention of Europe has been called to the infamous trial at Constantinople of Moussa Bey, and no one can believe that that is to be the final phase of the action taken by Turkey in regard to the recent Armenian disturbances. There is no guarantee that the reign of plunder and outrage among the Armenians will not be renewed unless a conspicuous example is made. In No. 85 of the Papers on Armenia issued in August last a description will be found of the state of things in that unhappy country. There is, in fact, what may be termed an organised system of maladministration, supported by an organised system of plunder by Kurds and Circassians. It is not merely that the people have suffered grievous wrongs at the hands of Moussa Bey, but that all claims for redress are systematically ignored by the Porte. Commissions, no doubt, are appointed, but nothing is done, and the administration of justice is as bad as can possibly be imagined. The officials are in many cases in league with the Kurds and Circassians, and there is no sense of public security; and the exactions of the tithe farmers and of the nomadic tribes who come to inflict out 237 rages not only on the tithe paying cultivators of the soil, but to collect in some cases feudal dues to which they have no claim, are as monstrous as they were shown to be 15 years ago in the Balkan Peninsula, and as they are at the present time in Crete. A very serious element in the case is the impossibility of obtaining adequate information; the country is broken up into too many vilayets. If a number of vilayets could be merged into one, and greater uniformity introduced into the administration, improvement might be hoped for. I hold that we ought not to be content with making a mere academic protest against the state of things in Armenia. The relations between the Porte and the Porte's Christian subjects are critical, and in the in erests of the latter very great pressure ought to be brought to bear upon the Sultan, with a view to the introduction of beneficial reforms.
§ MR. BAUMANN (Camberwell, Peckham)
The hon. Member for Northampton must have been as well aware as any one in the House of the absurdity of describing the charter of the British South African Company as having been granted to the Duke of Fife and the Duke of Abercorn. The charter, as is well known, was granted to a powerful company possessing a large capital, and having as its master spirit Mr. Cecil Rhodes—the greatest South African statesman I believe living; and the career of the company, I do not doubt, will be as exciting, as lucrative, and I hope more honourable than that of the East India Company. The fact is the hon. Member for Northampton merely mentioned ad invidiam the names of those two dukes who happened to be on the board of directors. In my opinion, the Government have done well in granting this charter, and thus providing a new field for British enterprise in one of the richest parts of South Africa. Another branch of the South African question to which I wish to allude is the subject of Swaziland, with reference to which Sir Francis De Winton has just presented a report to Lord Knutsford. Two things appear to be perfectly clear in connection with the Swaziland difficulty; one is that the independence of Swaziland has been guaranteed by the Transvaal and ourselves in the Convention of London, and the other is that that independence can- 238 not now be preserved. These two things are clearer in this case than they are in connection with most other South African questions. The late King sold so many concessions to European adventurers that there is now in Swaziland, if not a large, at any rate an influential white population, and this makes the maintenance of a native Swazi Government practically impossible. Therefore either England or the Transvaal Government must take, over Swaziland. Now, there appear to be very grave objections to the assumption by England of the government of that territory. President Krüger has set his heart upon getting to the sea, and Swaziland lies between the sea and him. If England were to take over the government of Swaziland, we should rekindle the flames of Dutch animosity and revive the enmity which is just beginning to die out, and then we should only be able to reach our new possession through what would be the hostile territory of the Transvaal. Therefore, this new possession would be costly to our Treasury and dangerous to the peace of South Africa. If, on the other hand, we were to allow the Government of the Transvaal to take over Swaziland, we should secure the friendship of the Dutch race, with whom after all we have to live for better or worse in South Africa, and should provide an outlet for the Boer farmer from the pressure of English immigration. To surround the Transvaal with a ring fence of British Colonists, to say to the Dutch Government, "You shall neither go north, nor south, nor east, nor west," and then to pour over that ring fence a steady stream of young Englishmen, is a certain way to provoke war, a war in which the Dutch population of the Cape Colony would most likely take the side of the Dutch Government. I trust, therefore, that after the Colonial Secretary has considered Sir Francis De Winton's Report, the difficulty will be settled by allowing the Government of the Transvaal to take Swaziland. I regret greatly that no mention is made in the Speech from the Throne of the Labour Question, the question that is exciting the interest of the labouring classes all over the world. It appears from the answer given to me by the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs yesterday that the Swiss 239 Government, in postponing the Labour Conference until next May, have issued a fresh invitation to the European Powers. The Government have, therefore, an admirable opportunity of extricating themselves from the thoroughly false position in which they placed themselves last summer by sending our delegate to the Conference with his hands tied, and tied with respect to the discussion of the one question which, above all others, interests the working classes of all countries. I earnestly hope that the Prime Minister will allow the representative of England to enter the Conference in May with as full liberty to discuss any question relating to labour as will be possessed by the representatives of other European Powers. As a Metropolitan Member, I am sorry to see that the Speech from the Throne contains no reference to the "sweating" question. Bearing in mind the evidence given before the Select Committee of the House of Lords—evidence which has shocked and horrified the public of this country—I cannot but regret that no promise is given of legislation on this subject. Are we really to remain contented with a provision of only 55 Factory Inspectors in a population of 35 millions? Is no attempt to be made to bring the sweating dens of our large towns under the inspection of Her Majesty's officers? It has certainly been my hope that the Home Secretary would introduce a measure to amend the laws relating to factories and workshops. I can only express my earnest hope and wish that in the course of the coming Session, if the progress of public business should allow of it, the Government will introduce some measure both to increase the number of Inspectors and to rearrange their districts, and also to bring the sweating dens for sanitary purposes within the purview of Her Majesty's Inspectors.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
I need hardly say that we on this side of the House cordially agree with the hon. Gentleman in regretting that Her Majesty's Government do not, so far as we know, propose to take any action on labour questions this Session. Nor have they told us what they are going to do with reference to the Labour Conference at Berne. I think the debate which took place last 240 Session, both as to the Laws of Labour and the Wages of Labour, showed there was a strong desire on the part of all sections of the House that Her Majesty's representative at the Conference should go there untrammelled. But I wish in the few words I intend to address to the House to confine myself to one question, which has received mention in the Queen's Speech, but on which I should be glad if the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs would give us a little more information—I mean the question of the Conference which is now sitting at Brussels in reference to the Slave Trade. We must all feel that the Conference, if it is successful in its efforts, will bring great benefit to the unfortunate natives of Central, the West, and the East of Africa; but that if it is not successful in its efforts, if on any account the different Governments are unable to agree on really stringent measures for the suppression of the Slave Trade, the calling of the Conference will really have done more harm than good, because it will have shown there is great difference of opinion amongst the European nations, and the Arabs and Slave Traders will take advantage of the difference. Many of us are getting somewhat anxious with reference to the great delay which is taking place in regard to the Conference, and we are afraid that questions which ought to be the primary questions before the Conference, namely, those which directly affect the Slave Trade, are somewhat falling into the background, while matters of great importance, though not directly connected with the Slave Trade, are receiving a somewhat undue need of attention. The primary object of the Conference was to secure mutual rights of search, to declare the Slave Trade piracy, and if possible to abolish the status of slavery. But we are informed on many sides that the Conference, instead of discussing questions directly affecting the Slave Trade with the interest they ought to show, are discussing more at length such questions as the prohibition of the importation of arms into Africa, and the diminution or prohibition of the importation of intoxicating liquors into that country. No one will desire to palliate the evils arising from both the importation of arms and of intoxicating liquors, but I do not think they should be regarded as primary to the question of slavery. We 241 think that, at all events, the Liquor Trade ought not, until all the other questions have been settled, be brought up before the Conference. Broadly speaking, the question of the Liquor Trade is one affecting the West Coast of Africa, whereas the question of the Slave Trade is one affecting the East Coast. There is a wide geographical difference between the two; while the question, is one directly affecting the interests of different nations. All I want to ask the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs now, is whether he is able to give us some assurance that the primary object for which the Conference was appointed, namely, the direct suppression of the Slave Trade by sea, shall not be lost sight of. I think no one will regret the tone in which the question of the Portuguese difficulty has been discussed this afternoon. The discussion, which has been carried on without the use of those adjectives to which the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Howorth) referred, will do something to smooth the ruffled, and the justly ruffled, plumes of our Portuguese allies. As the hon. Member for Salford pointed out, however right Her Majesty's Government may have been in the matter the question came upon the Portuguese with the utmost possible surprise. All the information, as far as they were concerned, had been suppressed until the moment when it appeared their Government had been forced by the English Government to give way on what the Portuguese considered a vital point. Anything that can be done to reunite in a bond of friendship the two countries will be of the greatest service not only to us in Europe, but still more so in Africa, because in Africa, Portugal has a great opportunity either of co-operating in or of thwarting our good work.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
I recognise to the full the advantage of a continual bond of friendship with Portugal, but the affairs of Portugal and those of South Africa with which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. Buxton) has just alluded, important as they may be to this country, are in my judgment not nearly so overwhelming as the great social questions which are now before the country. I thoroughly agree, with my hon. Friend (Mr. Baumann) that it 242 would have been an advantage if some of these subjects had been mentioned in the Queen's Gracious Speech. A number of questions of great interest to the people at large are mentioned. There is the question of Savings Banks, which I naturally look to with great interest. I am extremely glad to hear that the labour of our Committee last year is to bear fruit, and that we are to have introduced a measure to put these most useful institutions on a better and safer basis. But the question which seems to me to overshadow nearly all others at the present time is the relation between capital and labour and the position of the country as a working country in connection therewith. No more beneficial work could be done by us this Session than to bring somehow or other these two great factors in the State into better unison than they are at present. We may safely and fairly say that during the last generation or two the great mass of the people have developed and have approached much nearer to one another. The increased educational facilities have brought the working classes much nearer to those who are better off than themselves. We have been levelling up the whole mass of the community in a manner which was never dreamt of a generation or two ago. This is a matter of great congratulation to the country, but what has been done does tend to awaken the agitator and the socialist to increase his efforts to make the people think it is possible by a very rapid and simple process to place them in a position of extraordinary comfort as to hours of work and so on. No account is taken of the consequences of too rapid a step in this direction upon the commerce and trade of the country at home and abroad. We, the Metropolitan Members, ought to distinctly state our views upon this great question which concerns us so closely. The question is the most important we can consider, not only for the sake of the welfare of the employer, but for the sake of the welfare of the working classes themselves. We know what has taken place during the last six months. Those of us who work amongst the people cannot help seeing the enormous growth of the population is tending to make people more and more exacting in the amount of work required in the Metropolis. No one grudges the wages 243 men receive, but the thing which must strike everybody is the growing difficulty of finding Sufficient employment for the ever increasing population of this great City. The difficulty is continually made more serious by the sending away of certain industries to other parts of the country. The other day I received a Report concerning the cost of unloading and the time of unloading a ship in London and in a port in the North of England. It was shown in the Report that in the North the ship was unloaded in four days at a cost of something like£220, while in London it was unloaded in 12 days at a cost of something like £400 or £500. I do not know whether the Report is absolutely true, but the fact remains that the cost of labour in London is growing, and that in itself is a very serious matter for consideration. It may be that the growth of cost is an advantage to the working man, and in the case I have referred to a great part of the extra cost goes to him, but if you increase the cost of work you will, at the same time, do away with a largo amount of work in London, and that is a serious matter for the working man himself. It is very desirable that we should, if we can by any means, increase the wages of the poor dock labourers and others like them, but we must realise the fact that unless we are extremely careful we shall drive the trade away from London, which can only end, not only to the loss and ruin to a great number of employers, but to the very extreme hardship of tens of thousands of our poorer brethren. This is a question which deals not only with the happiness and comfort of London, but with our very existence as a trading port. Some people hail with satisfaction the idea that the Emperor of Germany is about to take part in the solution of labour questions, but my view is that we can look to these matters ourselves better than foreigners. No arbitration or conciliation of the sort suggested is likely to lead to any good permanent result. The only proper course seems to me to make the interests of labour and capital more alike; that you should put the two, not in opposite camps, but induce all trades income way or other to adopt a system by which the labourer receives not only payment by way of wages, but some payment by way of the interest he has in 244 the concern itself. I think the South Metro-politan Gas Company have made a great step in the right direction. They have said to all the persons in their employ that in addition to the wages they receive they shall receive one per cent on their wages for every one penny per thousand feet of gas that the price can be reduced. This plan has been attacked by certain persons, but to my mind it does contain the germ of a solution of the labour difficulty. It has been adopted by many Co-operative Societies and other institutions, and amounts to this, that the labourer receives a certain payment as the result of his work, if that work is also successful to his employer. It would be most useful if during this Session we could have a Committee or Commission to inquire into the various ways in which labour and capital work together in this respect. We hear that the great cure of all our social evils is to be the federation of labour. I don't exactly know what federation of labour may be in the opinion of some persons, but I can judge from what happened during the Dock Strike, and from what I heard at a meeting in Hyde Park in connection with the Gas Strike. The federation of labour I there heard is a scheme by which the working classes of all nations should combine so that they can strike universally against any employers, and so secure the object desired. This must lead ultimately to the practical ruin of the working classes themselves. Supposing the gas stokers had succeeded in bringing out the coal porters. The result would have been that London would have had no coal, in addition to being in complete darkness during the winter nights. Although the loss to the employers of labour would have been enormous, the loss to the employed would have been absolutely ruinous. If we have universal strikes, in London alone tens of thousands of men, with their wives and children, will be put in the most extreme positions of privation and hardship, and therefore I think we are bound to do our utmost to bring about some scheme by which labour and capital should be federated and worked together. I am sure that some such scheme can be framed. The framing of such a scheme would be most useful work for this Session of Parliament. I feel convinced that the adoption of 245 such a scheme would be fraught with the happiest results. There is one obvious way in which the scheme I suggest can be commenced. The State is the largest employer of labour in the country: the State receives, by Local and Imperial taxation, something like 150 millions sterling a year: an enormous part of this is paid in wages: surely it would not be unreasonable that some effort should be made to give to the men employed by the State some interest in the work they have, in addition to the wages they receive, and that is to my mind the only way in which you cm possibly federate capital and labour. Many people may say that this is a Utopian idea, and that it has been tried over and over again and failed. Many things have been tried over and over again and ultimately succeeded. This system of combining the interests of labour and capital is certainly a thing which is not beneath the dignity of this House, and not beneath the importance of the country to consider, and I am sure that if we can only bring it about it will be the only permanent way of putting a stop to those great labour strikes which, if continued, will be the ruin of the country.
§ MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)
I will not detain the House more than a few minutes; indeed, I only wish to urge the Government to consider the very wise advice of the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Baumann) in regard to South African affairs. It seems to me that the mania for land-grabbing in Africa is one of the greatest dangers by which this country has ever been threatened. People often refer us to India and Australia, but they forget that the circumstances are entirely different. In India there is a population who hare been accustomed for centuries to be governed by others, and in Australia there is a population who die away before civilisation. You have just the opposite state of things to deal with in Africa. The Zulus and the Dutch are more numerous than your own people out there, and they increase much more rapidly than you. You have to deal with governing and conquering races, and when you talk about making another East India Company in Africa, I should like to know whether you find it very easy to fill the constant vacancies in your armies in India. Where are you 246 going to get the men necessary for the creation of an empire in Africa? You have a constantly-increasing danger of collision; and, while we have hitherto been unable to fulfil our duties and satisfy the responsibilities we have undertaken over large tracts of country we attempt to govern, we now attempt to widen the area of our influence, and, unless Governments exercise some control over this tendency, it will not be many years before we find that we have attempted more than we are able to perform, and are doing very badly that which we are really able to accomplish.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir JAMES FERGUSSON,) Manchester, N.E.
I think it will conduce to the convenience of the House and to the regularity of debate if I now rise to reply to the various remarks made upon foreign affairs before the debate travels into other branches of the discussion. First, I may say that I believe all will respond to the appeal made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid. Lothian yesterday when he spoke of the general reticence and caution which has been exercised by the Opposition, particularly in reference to foreign affairs. In the questions which the right hon. Gentleman addressed to the Government on particular points, he clearly asked for no more than it is the duty of the Government to give in order to justify their action. The right hon. Gentleman, in regard to the late unfortunate difference with the Portuguese Government, said that, as far as the circumstances were known to him, he had no exception to take to the acts of Her Majesty's Government. The hon. Member for Northampton has addressed himself tonight to the same question in terms of censure and complaint, and I think it is due to the right hon. Gentleman, to the hon. Member, and to the House, that I should say a few words as to the particular grounds upon which we rely as the basis of our declaration that we have given due warning to the Portuguese Government of our claim to certain districts, and our objection to the Portuguese occupying them. It is evident that if, as has been said outside the House, Her Majesty's Government has done the right thing in the wrong way, if they had kept the Portu- 247 guese Government at all in the dark as to their estimate of their rights and of the dangers that would result from, the advance of an armed force into that country, they would have exposed themselves to well-founded complaint, especially if we at the last moment had peremptorily demanded the retirement of the Portuguese troops from their advanced position; but I hope, without detaining the House long, and by reference to the Papers, I shall be able to show that it is absolutely without foundation to say that the Portuguese Government was not made fully aware of the views of Her Majesty's Government on this point. So long ago as August, 1887, as will be seen from page 7 of the Blue Book, a despatch was addressed to Mr. Petre, in which it was pointed out that in the district to which Portugal appeared to lay a preferential claim, as the result of negotiations carried on with Germany and France, and in which, except near the sea coast and on portions of the Zambesi river, there was not a sign of Portuguese jurisdiction or authority, "there are British settlements, and others in which Great Britain takes an exceptional interest," and that Her Majesty's subjects bad occupied this district for years past, and that any disturbance of their peaceful work could not be viewed by Her Majesty's Government with indifference. It was pointed out that the communications with the Governments of France and Germany only showed that the district was removed from the sphere of influence of these countries. On the 17th of May, 1888, I made in the House of Commons a positive declaration on the subject which attracted some notice in Portugal, and this declaration was the subject of some diplomatic correspondence, which will be found in the Blue Book. It will be observed that Lord Salisbury fully adopted the statement I made, which was that the Government did not recognise any unlimited claims of Portugal in the interior of Africa. The limitations of the spheres of influence of the respective European Powers were perfectly understood. That influence was not recognised except where settlements had taken place, and where a Power possessed the means of maintaining order, of protecting foreigners, and of 248 controlling natives. Portugal had made no advance in the settlement of the interior, and had obtained no position which rendered her capable of fulfilling international duties, and therefore we could not recognise any such material claim to territory as would entitle her to deny us the freedom of commerce; and, in particular, as I said, Her Majesty's Government could not for a moment admit her right to stop the free passage of the Zambesi. Through the enterprise of our countrymen considerable progress had been made, and it was a matter of regret if this commerce was hindered by heavy charges; but when no international obligations interposed it was in the power of Portugal to levy such as she might impose within her own territories. Then on July 24 of the same year it was distinctly notified that—Khama's country and Matabeleland are within the sphere of British influence.On the 8th of September in the same year Her Majesty's Government, in a Memorandum communicated to the Portuguese Government, said—Without going further into detail, they content themselves for the present by observing, with regard to the argument of prior discovery, that it is not improbable that the Portuguese subjects settled in the Colony of Mozambique had obtained some general information as to the neighbouring districts. The Memorandum of Senhor Barros Gomes, however, in their opinion, only confirms the fact that Dr. Livingstone was for all practical purposes the discoverer of Lake Nyassa, and that it was owing to him that the districts surrounding it were settled, and have since been continuously occupied exclusively by British subjects.Further, in the month of October we called the attention of the Portuguese Government to the fact that Her Majesty's Government had never admitted the claim of Portugal to Lake Nyassa. On the 5th of January, 1889, we complained of the advance of the Portuguese force as inimical to our trading interests, and likely to lead to disturbance. Questions were asked of the Portuguese Government as to their intentions, and in several following Despatches we maintained that Mashonaland was distinctly under British protection. The hon. Member for Northampton has spoken of the Portuguese force as a mere surveying expedition, but such an expedition does not generally march with thousands of men with repeating rifles, accompanied by machine 249 guns. I will only further refer to the despatch of November 21, in which Her Majesty's Government protested against the decrees including within the sphere of Portuguese influence, and indeed placing under Portuguese administration, a large territory in the interior of Africa to the north and south of the Zambesi river—a district which appeared to comprise a great part of Mashonaland and an immense tract to, the northward, approaching the frontiers of the Congo Free State and the watershed of Lake Nyassa, and including a part of the very district which had been proclaimed as within the British protectorate and within the sphere of British influence. It is scarcely necessary to go further to show that Her Majesty's Government fully warned the Portuguese Government against aggression in that region, and as to our interests there. But it has been said the ultimatum was premature, and that it was under the pressure of an English naval force that the Portuguese Government was induced to promise to withdraw from its advanced position. Well, in the correspondence which has been presented to Parliament I will venture to say there is almost to the last an entire absence of menace; and in the despatches to the Portuguese Government the only passage that can bear the description of "sarcasm," which has been complained of, is a, reply to what the Portuguese Government had said about "ancient monuments." The reply to that allusion is that, whatever antiquarian interest these ancient monuments might possess for the Portuguese, they could not be recognised as proofs of actual possesion. In all the other despatches there is not a single line that can be described as sarcastic. In Portugal there is certainly just now a strong national feeling, which we may admire, although we cannot agree that it is founded altogether on a sound judgment as to the rights of that country. While we sympathise with the feeling, we can well afford to abstain from using any language which may wound the susceptibilities of the people, and from anything which might wear the appearance of ridicule of a necessarily difficult position. I join with my hon. Friend (Mr. Howarth) in regret that some writers and limners in the public Press should have excited this 250 feeling of ridicule in criticizing the action of a spirited nation with which, for the first time in a long series of years, we have had the misfortune to have a difference. We can respect a nation with glorious traditions standing out for what it believes to be its rights; and I believe that when the papers which give our side of the question come to be studied in Portugal a different view will be taken by the Portuguese people of the conduct of Her Majesty's Government. I have been told by a Member of the House who has recently visited Portugal that he had not seen in a Portuguese newspaper a statement of the English case. If that be so, we need not wonder at the feeling which has been excited by this regrettable incident. We have no ground of complaint in respect of the efforts made by the Portuguese Government to protect British subjects, to whom I hope no serums harm has been done, and who have long lived on terms of friendship with the Portuguese people. It is to be regretted that they have received personal discourtesy, but they will know how to make allowance for the feelings of the people. The hon. Member for Northampton has referred to the recent practice of giving Charters to Mercantile Companies without the knowledge of Parliament. I have had the opportunity of defending that policy. It seems to mo Ave have to choose between, the old fashion of allowing our subjects to make their way without control in new countries far removed from English law and control, and where, perhaps, many unpleasant occurrences have taken place before English dominion was established, and the granting of Charters affording the protection of English Law to natives and neighbouring peoples, and placing control of the territory under regulation of a Department in this country. I think probably this last is the more wholesome way of extending the British dominions than the rough and ready method of times past which, though it often led to glorious results, yet not without passing through stages of great hardship to settlers and native populations. The hon. Member (Mr. Labouchere) went on to refer to Consul Johnston's visit to Portugal, and he alleges that Mr. Johnston had come to an arrangement with the Portuguese which would have prevented the recent differ- 251 ence if it had not been rejected by Her Majesty's Government. Now, this is not a correct statement of what happened. As a matter of fact, Mr. Johnston was allowed to visit Portugal and to have unofficial interviews with the authorities in the hope that some arrangement might be come to. But, as the proposals made to Mr. Johnston by the Portuguese Government clearly involved bringing British settlements at Nyassa and on the Shiréunder Portuguese authority, Her Majesty's Government could not accept them. The hon. Member spoke in a tone of what I may call faint praise of the missionaries at Blantyre. But it is not only the Scotch Missionary Settlement that is concerned; there are English Missionary Settlements scattered along the South-East of Lake Nyassa, and there are other stations on the Western side besides commercial companies which have for some time been trading there and doing very good work. In fact, British interests are of a far more extensive character, and are not confined to the Scotch missionaries settled at Blantyre. The hon. Member said that Mr. Johnston ought not to have asked for letters to pass him through Portuguese territory if his ultimate objects were such as the Portuguese Government would not approve; but I think, if only as a matter of courtesy, if a British official has in the discharge of his duty to pass through Portuguese territory he should ask permission from the authorities, and any attempt to pass surreptitiously would occasion suspicion. Mr. Johnston was quite right in taking the course he adopted, but there was no thought of asking Portuguese permission for what was to be done outside Portuguese territory. Then the hon. Member asks what was Mr. Buchanan's position. Mr. Buchanan held the position of Acting Consul in the Lake District, and it is usual to supply the place of an absent Consul by the temporary appointment of some resident. I believe that no more fitting substitute than Mr. Buchanan could have been found.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
Mr. Buchanan was not accredited to the Portuguese Government. He was a Consul in partibus. In an un 252 settled territory in which he exercised legal authority over the scattered British subjects it was no case for an exequatur from the Portuguese Government. But this is a small matter, and I pass from it to the hon. Member's remarks upon discredit to the English flag. I do not think we can afford to allow this discredit in any part of the world. In the case in question not only were British flags taken from native tribes, who had been told that they would be safe in the possession of them from aggression, but the commander of a British steamer was actually compelled to haul down the British flag on the Zambesi River, which Portugal herself, in 1885, declared should be free water. Her Majesty's Government would have incurred great responsibility and censure if they had submitted to such treatment. It is said that the Makololo were responsible for the collision with Major Serpa Pinto's force. They were the attacking party, but Pinto's force entered their dominions, and the commander had declared war on the tribe. The British Consuls did their best to persuade the chiefs not to come into collision with the Portuguese, but to fall back and leave it to Her Majesty's Government to vindicate the Protectorate declared by them over the country. Those who are responsible for the collision are those who invaded the territory of the Makololo. There are several contentions put forward that the territory in dispute is properly Portuguese, and that in any case arbitration should have been resorted to. But the Portuguese claims are either very remote or very recent. Nothing is more certain than that till after Livingstone's discoveries called attention to the opportunities for settlement in the region Portugal had not for centuries made any attempt to exercise acts of sovereignty or of protectorate over it. Its discovery and settlement are due entirely to British heroism and enterprise. I think we may claim Mr. Stanley as a son of our soil; and I do not think America will grudge us our share in his glory. There are some very remarkable proofs that Portugal has no claim to consider the territory as her own. One fact, very little mentioned, but not without its significance, is that, when in 1826 the Constitution of 253 Portugal was altered and the territories of His Most Christian Majesty were defined, the lands on the East and West Coast of Africa were clearly named, but no mention whatever was made of the interior of the country. Again, in the negotiations for the Congo Treaty with Portugal her representatives were willing to fix a boundary which would have been clear of the Shiré highlands. An appeal is made to the Act of Berlin, under which arbitration is to be resorted to in case of dispute between any of the signatory Powers as to territory within certain limits laid down in the 12th article of the Act of Berlin, the territory comprised within the Congo or Free Trade area. But Portugal had expressly objected to the territory now in question being included in the Free Trade area, and it is notorious that she has maintained a system of transit dues there, and latterly has imposed the full Mozambique tariff on all goods coming from the Lake District. Up to 1886, Portugal maintained a Custom House at the confluence of the Ruo and the Shire, which is a recognition that beyond that point Portuguese authority did not extend. On no ground of treaty or possession or prescription can the region be justly called Portuguese, while on the ground of settlement, of protectorate, and of discovery, Great Britain has claims to it. With regard to the territory south of the Zambesi, there can be no question of arbitration under the Act of Berlin, because it is outside the area defined by that Act. Now I come to the main contention of the hon. Member for Northampton—that as to dealing with this dispute by arbitration. He says that wherever it is possible arbitration should be accepted, and he adds that he thinks it ought to in this case. Lord Salisbury has already pointed out this was hardly a case for arbitration, because one of the parties has already taken the law into its own hands. I venture to think that arbitration is not a universal panacea, although it is a very good expedient in certain cases, as, for instance, when a difference arises as to the details of a Treaty. We sometimes find gentlemen going about praising a particular remedy for influenza, as if it must suit every case because it suited their own. Arbitration cannot be a remedy in every national difficulty, and 254 I submit to the House that it would not I be consistent with the traditions of our country or with our national honour if we referred to arbitration a case where a Power, large or small, has sent an armed force into regions in which it has been solemnly warned we could not be indifferent to the interests of our fellow-subjects. The hon. Member for Leeds says he would like to have heard something more in the Speech with reference to the Newfoundland Fisheries. I may at once say that we are conducting negotiations with the French Government with good hopes of success; and in the meantime we have good reason to believe that a temporary arrangement will be entered into under which there will be no risk of friction or dispute. We have had in times past reason to be sensible of the conciliatory spirit of the Governments interested in this question, and I hope that the question will soon be settled on an honourable and permanent basis. I have no objection to say, as regards the Behrings Sea question, Her Majesty's Government are conducting negotiations with the Government of the United States, and there is a friendly spirit on both sides, which I hope will result in a settlement. With regard to the Extradition Treaty, it is manifest that Papers cannot be laid on the Table, and that a statement cannot be made until the Treaty has been ratified by the United States Senate. My hon. Friend suggested that all the credit for this Treaty did not belong to the present Government. We have no objection to share with the Government which held office when the negotiations were entered into the credit and satisfaction which is felt at the satisfactory settlement come to, but I think we may congratulate ourselves on having brought the matter to a conclusion. The hon. Member for Eye has complained that there is no mention of Armenia in the Queen's Speech, and that we have not presented Papers on the subject. There is a Blue Book in course of preparation on the subject of Asiatic reforms which will give all information in the possession of Her Majesty's Government as to the state of things in Armenia and the occurrences at the trial of Moussa Bey. I have laid the Papers on the Table, and they will be distributed in about a week. With reference to our obligations in Armenia the hon. 255 Member has fallen into an error, which I think will be recognised by many hon. Gentleman on that side of the House, in regard to our having special duties and responsibilities in that country. It is true that by the Cyprus Convention of 1878 Her Majesty's Government undertook to protect the Sultan's dominions in Asia Minor, but the Porte and Her Majesty's Government were to concert measures with Foreign Governments for the reform of the internal government of the Turkish Empire. It is well known that the Government of the Sultan has been indisposed to carry out that part of the Convention, and, consequently, that provision of the instrument has never been fulfilled. It has been recognised by all our Ministers since that we have no special responsibility or right of interference with respect to Armenia or any other Turkish province. Nevertheless, from our ancient alliance with Turkey, and our desire, both for its own sake and on behalf of its populations, that the Government of the Empire should be good and successful, and that no part of the population should be discontented, Her Majesty's Government have, from time to time, endeavoured to procure the removal of abuses and the institution of reforms. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian yesterday paid a fitting tribute to the character and capacity of Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople. It is not for me to compliment the right hon. Gentleman on anything he said, but I am glad, in the interests of a great and useful public servant, that such a tribute has been paid to Sir W. White by a, statesman of the authority of the right hon. Gentleman. This I know, that no endeavour has been wanting on the part of our Ambassador to remove from the Turkish Government the reproach of indifference to the interests of its subjects in Asia Minor. It should, however, be remembered in the case of another Power that there is such a thing as pushing remonstrance to the verge of impertinence and of offending its dignity, and I cannot imagine anything less likely to produce a beneficial effect than strong language and drastic measures as to matters with which we have no concern. In regard to the trial of Moussa Bey, our Ambassador did exert himself in the manner best calculated to be effectual, 256 although, of course, not in a directly official manner, using all his influence in order to insure that Moussa Bey, who was accused of great outrages and cruelties to the Christian population in Asia. Minor, should be again brought to trial and judged according to his offences. There were incidents at the trial which were not satisfactory to our Ambassador. The Sultan and his Ministers are aware of that, and I am not without hope that this man will still be tried on some of the charges which have been brought against him, and that the country in which he has exercised such terrorism will in future be freed from his presence. But it must not be forgotten that we are dealing with the Sovereign and Ministers of a Great Power, who have the same pride as we ourselves have. The right hon. Member for Poplar has directed our attention to the Brussels Conference on the Slave Trade, with the miseries of which we are all acquainted. I think that Her Majesty's Government has shown their zeal and sincerity in the matter by readily joining the Conference, and they have done a great deal lately to put down the seaboard Slave Trade, and I hope we have terminated it at Zanzibar. Unfortunately a large region still remains with which we still have to solve the problem how to stop the progress of these miserable caravans over the Dark Continent, I hope that the European Powers in Africa by united action will be able to check this most wretched of all traffic. It would be impossible for me to satisfy the hon. Member as to any of the details of the present Conference. Measures are proposed by one Power; they are met by objections from others. I believe, however, that by a reasonable adjustment of objections there is a prospect of the Conference resulting in solid reform, and in the setting up of measures which will do much to check and extinguish that horrible traffic which has been well described as the running sore of Africa; but it is impossible for Her Majesty's Government to give any pledge to hon. Members that they will bring pressure to bear on the Conference to adopt either one or other of the expedients which have commended themselves to humane men as being the bounden duty of civilised nations to adopt. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian 257 pointedly asked me yesterday whether the Government have any intelligence with reference to some recent painful occurrences said to have taken place in Siberia. We have had no such information as would enable us from official information to confirm those reports. As the right hon. Gentleman recognised Her Majesty's Government would do wrong to concern themselves with the internal affairs of a foreign country, as we have no possible right of interference. That there were Home painful occurrences happened among a party of convicts on their way to a distant part of Siberia there appears, however, to be no doubt. Our interest in such a matter must be sentimental; but as it has been referred to, I will only remark that according to the statements which have been published, and which first came from some of the convicts or their friends, it seems that the convicts possessed themselves of arms, and that those arms were in some way used in the conflict. It cannot be doubted that with regard to events in the interior of a remote country there must be often great difficulty in obtaining important information, and I am not in a position, and if I were in a position I should not venture to express any opinion as to the nature and merits of the conflict. I have only one other subject to deal with before closing. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian referred to affairs in Crete, and it would be only respectful to him to give some reply to his observations on that subject. It is greatly to be regretted that the disturbances should have occurred in the Island, to which a most liberal constitution has been granted. It is true, as the right hon. Gentleman surmised, and as has been stated elsewhere, that the recent disturbances in that Island had their origin in Party disputes. Free as the Constitution of the Island is, it has elements in it which are not without danger, and among those the absolute power possessed by the majority cannot be without danger. The complaint made by the Christian minority was that the other section, having a large majority, and having in its hands the appointment of Judges and Magistrates, the minority were left without remedy or justice, all posts were given to the dominant party, from the highest to the lowest, and that the decisions of 258 the Courts of Law were entirely swayed by political considerations. In the conflict which broke out between the Christians and the Mahomedans there is no doubt that the religious element came into play; but I am bound to say that, according to the testimony of our officers, Chakir Pasha, the High Officer sent by the Sultan to restore order in that Island, endeavoured to do so with the greatest possible regard to justice and the most impartial treatment of offenders, to whatever side they belonged. Chakir Pasha encouraged the British Consul and the commander of one of Her Majesty's ships to visit every part of the Island, and bring to his knowledge any cases of oppression that came under their notice; and it is acknowledged by our officers that if any misdeeds were not punished it was because they were not brought to the notice of Chakir Pasha. The Island has been largely restored to a state of peace and order. Murders and outrages, it is true, take place in some parts, and there are cases of brigandage to a small extent, and it cannot be a matter of indifference that great numbers of persons have taken refuge in Greece, and are afraid to return to the Island. I hope that, by just administration and judicious modification of the recent firman, the fear of injury to any innocent person may be removed, and that the amnesty may be as far extended as possible. I hope, too, that the Island may not again be visited by those destructive occurrences which in times past have occasioned painful scenes, and that the free constitution which it undoubtedly enjoys may result in its prosperity and peace. I have to thank the House for the tone in which this part of Her Majesty's Speech has been treated. I am glad to think that hon. Members have not seen occasion either to censure or to cavil at in any serious manner the conduct of foreign affairs by Her Majesty's Government. We have, I trust, the signs and the prospect of a year of peace. The recent prosperity of trade has not been checked or endangered by rumours of war, and may I say I think it is one of the best signs of patriotism in this House that so few things have been said in it which would endanger the peace of Europe, or which would diminish the friendship which happily exists between us and all the nations of Europe.
§ MR. CREMER (Haggerston)
I very much regret that this debate should have been forced upon the House before hon. Members have had the opportunity of well digesting the Papers relative to this important subject. It is only a few hours since those Papers were issued, and, consequently, it is impossible that I or any other Member of this House could have made himself even fairly well acquainted with their contents. It may be, however, that when those Papers have been read and digested the desire of hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House will be so far gratified that we on this side may form somewhat different conclusions from those at which we may have arrived by reading the reports that have reached us through the Press, by means of correspondence from abroad, and through the medium of other unofficial sources of information. Up to the present moment I feel bound to say that I, for one, do not share the views that have been expressed with regard to the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government. Admitting to the full the difficulties which the Government have had to contend with—and no one is more inclined than I am to look with a favourable eye on their conduct—I have little sympathy with the course which they have pursued in Africa. Nor have I much sympathy with the Portuguese, who, having been in possession of an enormous tract of country for many years, have neither benefited the natives or advanced in any appreciable degree the blessings of civilisation, pursuing, in fact, a dog-in-the-manger policy. As I have said, it is difficult to approach the consideration of this question without having well mastered the contents of the Blue Book—an advantage possessed by the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs—who has addressed himself in a fair and amicable spirit to the question under discussion, seeing that he has been for months quite au fait with everything said and written on the subject. The hon. Member for Salford has delivered a speech, in the conclusions of which, I think, all of us must have concurred. He began by saying that he hoped that every Member of the House would be sparing in the use of adjectives which would be calculated to offend the 260 susceptibilities of the gallant Portuguese, and his whole speech justified us in concluding that the hon. Member was perfectly sincere in the opinion he was expressing. I could not help thinking that if the hon. Member had been Foreign Secretary, or could have breathed his spirit into Lord Salisbury, the ascerbity of feeling and harsh language that has been employed by his Lordship in his despatches would have been spared us, and that we should also have been spared the soreness which exists in Portugal, and the discredit which attaches to this country throughout the whole Continent of Europe. ["No, no!"] I hear an hon. Member say "No;" I shall be very glad if any Member of the Government will undertake to disprove this. I shall be glad to learn that anywhere in any part of Europe any one country can be referred to where anything has been said or written—which can be regarded as coming from a serious source—in favour of the course which this country has pursued. The hon. Member for Safford said that our conduct towards Portugal has lost us the sympathy of the lesser Powers; but I go further, and assert that, judging from the general tone of the Continental Press, and from correspondence which I have received from foreign organisations and public men who have for years given practical proofs of their deep sympathy with, and admiration for, this country, I am warranted in concluding that we have not only alienated from ourselves the sympathy of the lesser, but also of the greater Powers of Europe. As the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northampton is not to be pressed to a Division, all we can can do is to lift up our voices in hopes that the Government will reconsider their course. I greatly regret the lampoons which have appeared in our so-called comic papers, and also the exaggerated sensational writings in the newspapers. We have witnessed the evil of this with regard to the Sister Isle. I have often been pained by the scandalous cartoons in some of our papers in reference to Ireland; and it is a regrettable thing that our newspapers, in their desire for sensational matter, often magnify news of an infinitesimally small character into a matter of the utmost importance—a 261 course which frequently leads to strife and bloodshed. I remember a few years ago seeing in Paris a large gathering of men in the Place d'l'Opera, the majority of whom were simply looking on wondering, like myself, what was the matter. A body of police was also present, and I was told by some onlookers there was a demonstration of Anarchists. I asked where, but no one could answer my question. Nothing took place beyond what I describe, and yet, two days afterwards, I read in the English newspapers that terrible riots had taken place in Paris on the occasion, and that shops had been broken into and sacked. This shows the way in which Continental events are magnified in the English Press. Well, I heartily endorse the expression of regret given utterance to by the hon. Member for Salford at the language which the Press has employed upon the difficulties between ourselves and Portugal. The hon. Member went on to say that he should be glad if even at the eleventh hour the Government could see their way clear to meeting the sentimental aspirations of the Portuguese. The hon. Member is an authority upon this matter. He was born in Portugal, and has lived there a great part of his life, and upon this question his opinion is entitled to serious consideration. Reading between the lines of the hon. Member's speech, I feel sure that he, like many other hon. Members amongst whom he sits, would be glad if the Government could see their way to modify the feeling which has arisen in Portugal in consequence of the language used by Lord Salisbury in some of his despatches. I think the Government could do that and relieve itself from this difficulty by referring the matter in dispute either to a friendly Power or to a body of arbitrators. It would then rid itself of the obloquy which it has incurred, find shift the responsibility for the solution of the problem from its own to other shoulders. This dispute appears to have arisen from two great causes. Those who have watched the course of events have seen from what has taken place, and what seems likely to take place for some time, that in Africa there is a race for commercial supremacy. England, France, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, and other European Powers, are trying to get hold of as 262 much of the Continent of Africa as they can, each hoping to secure new markets for their manufactures. That, undoubtedly, is one source of strife, but I am not clear that even if we succeeded in getting hold of the whole of that Continent that the game would be worth the candle, and that we should not find we had possessed ourselves of another white elephant such as we have in the case of India. Then, we have another element of strife, namely, the missionaries, who have been referred to in friendly terms by the hon. Member for Northampton. I have no doubt but that, in the main, their objects are praise worthy; but we know that they sometimes do a little trading on their own account, and here we have another element of strife. But is it possible, under the circumstances, to employ mediation to settle the disputes which have arisen? I frankly admit that there is a great deal of difficulty surrounding it, inasmuch as most of the great European Powers, are engaged in this struggle, and it would, therefore, be difficult to find an impartial mediator. But admitting that difficulty, is it not possible that the differences in dispute could be settled in some other way. I agree with the hon. Member for Northampton that if ever there was a case in which arbitration should be employed it is the present dispute with Portugal. Nations, like individuals, are bad judges of their own quarrels. In this instance, I believe justice to be on the side of this country; but that, to my mind, is an additional reson why we should be magnanimous and offer to refer this dispute to arbitration. If, as Lord Salisbury said, Portugal has put herself out of court, by making war while negotiations were going on, the fact would tell against her before any body of arbitrators. There must be other reasons why Lord salisbury declined arbitration. I asked yesterday why Her Majesty's Government declined to accept arbitration, and the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, replying to me in a somewhat supercilious manner, said the Government would not accept arbitration, and a lusty cheer went up from the Benches opposite, hon. Members in that quarter of the House being evidently glad to hear that this equitable principle was not to be applied to the settlement of the ques- 263 tion. The right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary said to-night that arbitration was not to be prescribed in all cases, any more than one medicine could be applied in all cases to the cure of influenza or any other disease. It is easy for the Under Secretary to sneer at arbitration as a universal panacea, but what is the cure which Her Majesty's Government invariably prescribe for difficulties of this kind? Why, they have only one remedy which they have been prescribing for generations past—not arbitration, but force. They never attempt any other, and when they are invited to apply a more humane, economical, and God-like remedy they ridicule us and say, "You are always proposing one remedy". Let me just remind them that their universal panacea which has so disastrously failed all along the line has cost this country, since 1688, nearly 7,000,000,000 of money. I fully admit the difficulty of finding an impartial mediator, and there will always be a difficulty in improvising a peaceful tribunal after a dispute has arisen, but if the Government has any desire to refer the dispute to arbitration, the difficulty is not insurmountable, and I would suggest that such a tribunal can be founded on the lines of the Supreme Court at Washington. Whatever objection may be taken here or elsewhere on the score of corruption in the United States, and the principle of electing Magistrates, it is an extraordinary thing that you cannot find a man from one end of the continent of America to the other who has one word to say in disparagement of the Supreme Court at Washington. Is it, I ask, impossible for the statesmen of Europe to-day to imitate the example set at Washington? Could we not have a tribunal of that kind by inviting two or three of the Governments of Europe to constitute it out of the Judges of their Supreme Courts? They are men likely to be free from party prejudices and religious bigotry, or any other kind of bias, and who could be trusted to deliver a righteous verdict. I would, even at the eleventh hour, ask the Government to be magnanimous enough to admit that there are two sides to this question; and that, as Portugal thinks there is something to be said on her behalf, this country will be willing to submit the question in dispute 264 to arbitration. In doing that, Her Majesty's Government will earn not only the gratitude of this country, but the admiration of the whole world. And now I want to refer to the speech made by the hon. Member for North Islington, in reference to an agitation which he says has been stirring up strife during the Recess and doing much mischief. I think he pointed to the small wing of the Radical Party, to which I have the honour to belong, as being the chief sinners—the vile agitators who have done so much harm. The hon. Member suggested that they should do something by way of social reform. It is extraordinary that we all seem to be catching the spirit of social reform. Agitators may be, and no doubt are, very dangerous people; but somehow the Government, or the supporters of the Government, have caught the spirit of the agitators, and are now pressing the very points they formerly denounced the agitators for. The hon. Member approves of the principle of profit sharing. We must be getting on when an hon. Member of the House who sits upon the opposite Benches denounce some of us as violent agitators and then finishes his speech by recommending the Government of Great Britain to introduce into all the Government Departments the principle of profit sharing. That is very much akin to Socialism, and if it exists on the Benches opposite what can be expected from the Radicals on this side of the House? I cannot help thinking that the speech of the hon. Member must have been delivered more from a party standpoint than from any other cause. Last year when I tried to put an end to what I have termed sweating in Government offices, the hon. Member for North Islington not only voted against me but spoke against me. His conversion, therefore, must have been exceedingly rapid. But whether it is rapid or otherwise, I congratulate the hon. Member and other hon. Members opposite upon the expressions of sympathy they have uttered in regard to the condition of the toiling masses of our country. I have not much faith in sudden conversions, but time will show whether they are sincere and likely to be lasting. In conclusion, I hope the Government will carefully weigh what I have said in regard to the 265 dispute with Portugal, and that they may be able to see their way clear to act in a magnanimous spirit towards that little Power—in the same spirit, for instance, in which they would have acted towards France, the United States of America, or Germany. I put it to the House whether, if the question in dispute had been between either of those countries or any other strong Power, the Government would not have listened to a proposal to have referred it to arbitration.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Nottingham, W.)
I am exceedingly sorry that not one of the 16 or 17 Cabinet Ministers has found it convenient to be present during the important speech just delivered by my hon. Friend (Mr. Cremer). Whatever may be thought about his views on the question, of peace and international arbitration, undoubtedly they are shared by an enormous mass of people throughout the country, and are therefore deserving of more respect than they received at the hands of the Government. Now the only remark I have to offer with regard to foreign affairs is that, in discussing the affairs of our African and other possessions to which missionaries have gone with the highest and noblest intentions, we should be careful if one or other missionary has committed mistakes, not to condemn that whole band of noble men on that account. The work of Dr. Livingstone, for instance, is a work unexampled in the history of the world, and I only refer to the subject in order that we may avoid as far as we can any general condemnation of such worthy and valuable citizens of our country, and one of the most remarkable examples of good work of these men is in the case of the Fiji Islands, a work of which all civilized people must be proud. I desire now to express the pleasure with which I heard the announcement in the Speech that the Government intend to apply themselves thoroughly to the solution of the difficulty connected with the employers' liability for injuries to workmen. I can promise Her Majesty's Government that if their measure turns out to have been conceived in a large and liberal spirit, and is framed upon bold and just lines, no Member of 266 the House will give them more hearty support in passing the measure into law than myself. The hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Baumann) complained of the absence in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech of any reference to factory inspection. We are fully aware that the Report of the Sweating Commission has not yet been presented, but that is no reason why Her Majesty's Government should not have sufficiently made up their minds as to announce in the Speech that they are prepared to propose legislation on the subject during the present Session. No matter what the Report of the Commission may be, all the world knows from the evidence given before it, and from other evidence, that there is a dire necessity for an increase in the number of Factory and Workshop Inspectors, as well as for an increase in the power of such Inspectors. As regards many of the Metropolitan industries, I doubt very much whether much light has been thrown upon the subject in addition to that given from year to year by at least one of Her Majesty's Factory Inspectors, Mr. Lakeman. I hope that before the general discussion closes we may have some assurance from the Government that if they are not prepared to legislate themselves they will give such assistance to any measure brought in by a private Member as will deal effectually with the great and crying evil of sweating. I should not have addressed the House further had it not been for the extraordinary speech delivered by the hon. Member for North Islington. The hon. Member commenced a great attack upon what he called the agitator of the Metropolis, who created hopes in the minds of a great number of people, hopes which had no chance whatever of being realised, and then he himself took up the position of agitator and proposed a scheme which, if he has the intelligence which ordinary persons possess, he must know is utterly impossible of realisation. The hon. Member denounced all men who endeavour to better the position of the labouring people; then he proceeded to denounce in mild terms Her Majesty's Government because they do not propose a large scheme for division of the profit made in the Government yards. One could not help imagining 267 that the hon. Member was entering into a competition with some of the men he had just been denouncing. He seemed to be in favour of everything in general, but nothing in particular. He did not tell us where the profits are made, and I am unaware of any part of Government work which makes much profit except the General Post Office. The mode of agitation adopted by the hon. Member will only create hopes which, can never be fulfilled, cannot be too strongly condemned by Members of this House. In conclusion, let me say I trust the Government will introduce their promised Employers' Liability Bill at such a period of the Session as to allow ample time for its consideration, and again I promise the Government that if the measure is conceived in a large and liberal spirit, I and those with whom I act will most heartily co-operate with them in passing the measure into law as rapidly as may seem expedient and just to those concerned.
§ MR. SALT (Stafford)
I quite agree that debates upon Her Majesty's Gracious Speech are not very desirable, and especially when very prolonged. Therefore I shall only say a few words upon two points that I desire to raise. I think the present Gracious Speech from Her Majesty contains more matter of public interest than any Speech from the Throne that I ever remember to have heard, and I hope, therefore, the Government will be careful so to arrange the various measures and matters referred to that they may have full and careful consideration. I wish to urge on the Government the desirability of one Bill they specially and prominently mention in the Speech being passed this Session. I refer to the Tithes Bill. For two or three Sessions we have had the Tithes Bill before the House in the most inconvenient form. Last Session it was brought before the House in such confusion and tangle that I am hardly exaggerating when I say the friends of the Ministry were asked in the afternoon to vote one way and in the evening to vote another way. I trust the Government will make up their minds what the Bill is that they ought to propose to the House, and resolutely determine to abide by their proposals. I do not 268 speak of the subject from an ecclesiastical point of view. This is a great business matter; it concerns property and the managers of property; it concerns what is in a sense a tax upon the people, and a tax which may well be considered at this time in its form and incidence. At the present time tithe is inconvenient to those who pay and also to those who receive. Therefore it is upon pure business grounds that this matter should be resolutely and finally settled. The other day the First Lord of the Treasury stated that he considered that the tithe rent charge of this country was National property. I do not wish to go into the question at length now, but I am bound to tell the right hon. Gentleman that that is a proposition which is absolutely disputed. I do not mean to say that those who oppose his view may not fall in with a proposal for a large re-arrangement of tithe, but I hold that the statement that tithe is National property in the ordinary sense of the term is a statement which cannot be justified, either legally or historically.
§ MR. O. V. MORGAN (Battersea)
I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for North Islington (Mr. Bartley) with considerable interest, and I am bound to say I disagree very generally with him. But as my hon. Friends the Members for Haggerston (Mr. Cremer) and Nottingham (Mr. Broadhurst) have replied to the parts I disagree with, I only desire to say a word as to the point on which I agree with the hon. Gentleman. Great changes have taken place recently in the labour world, and we find that large numbers of men are dissatisfied with their condition. The working people see that, although there is a large increase in the wealth of the country, very little of it reaches their hands. I do not hide from myself the fact that these men are becoming more intelligent, as they are better educated. I do not think things can go on very long as at present, and I agree with the hon. Member for North Islington that profit sharing is the best remedy for strikes. I think we have now commenced profit sharing, but there are many difficulties in the way of its general success. Perhaps one of the 269 greatest difficulties is that, for one or two years when things are prosperous, men get large amounts by way of profits, and then a depression comes, the men get nothing by way of profits, and there is a great deal of heartburning. Still, I see many advantages in profit sharing, and I do believe that at the present time too much of the profit made does go to the capitalist and too little to the labourer. The hon. Member for North Islington has recommended a Committee or a Commission of inquiry into the whole question of capital and labour, but I do not think that a Committee of the House of Commons is the best means of conducting such an inquiry. There are many men outside this House whom it would be most desirable to have taking part in such a proceeding, and I hope that at least half of the Commissioners would be representatives of labour from all parts of the United Kingdom. With a Commission so composed, I believe very valuable information could be collected, and I can speak as one who has taken a great deal of interest in the subject, and not without some success, for the last 25 years. But from a Committee exclusively composed of Members of the House of Commons I can anticipate nothing but failure in the object we seek to attain. Not that I have any distrust of the honour and honesty of Members of the House of Commons, but I doubt if they would have qualifications for the duty entrusted to them. I passed a good many hours in the Sweating Committee, and I could not help feeling it was a great misfortune that only one class of people was represented on that Committee, and I was struck with the want of knowledge some noble Lords displayed. However, we shall have the Report in a few days, with, I have no doubt, much valuable information. For my part, I attach the greatest possible importance to bringing every possible kind of manufacture under the jurisdiction of the Factory Inspector. It is among the smaller employers that the most mischief is done. You do not often find the large employers of labour using the sweating system. The hon. Member for Haggerston, with whom I generally agree on questions of International arbitration, was rather hard, I thought, upon Missionaries. Now, I have 270 seen these men in most parts of the world, and believe that on the whole they are an exceedingly good body of men. They suffer many hardships, living, as they do, remote from civilization, or in society from which they can derive little pleasure, and I believe that nowhere in the world is such good work done by Missionaries as in Africa. In old and settled countries with a civilization older than our own, such as India and China, their efforts meet with little success. I remember once in Foo-Chow being introduced to a Church of England clergyman, and he admitted that in that town of a million men he had not made a single convert, and this he largely attributed to the wickedness of the British merchants there. I did not agree with my reverend friend on that point, for I found our merchants there as good as they are anywhere else, and, indeed, perhaps rather better. He went on to say that if I went up country I should find that Missionaries had had considerable success. But in Africa, where the natives have no kind of religion we may say, or only of a most brutalising kind, there is a good field for Missionary work, not only in teaching Christianity, but in setting good examples and spreading the blessings of civilization and education. In this connection I might mention the names of Livingstone and many other distinguished men. I hope some Member of the Government will tell us they will take into consideration the question of appointing a Capital and Labour Commission. Such an appointment might lead to very good results, and could do no possible harm, I think.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
I am sorry I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Stafford in the opinion that discussions upon the Queen's Speech should be brief, especially when, as he admits this Speech is of a most important and interesting character. I think myself it should be carefully considered by paragraphs; and I am now going to confine myself to the paragraph having reference to our relations with Portugal. And here I must say that I do not think ministers are justified in putting into he Queen's mouth a totally in- 271 correct account of what has happened in Africa. The Portuguese are said to have withdrawn at the request of Her Majesty's Government; but if the correct account were given it would run somewhat thus:—"I had a trifling difference with an ancient and a faithful ally about the navigation of the Zambesi; and I, taking advantage of a collision between some armed Portuguese and some half-drunken natives, concentrated a strong naval force, overawed my ancient ally, and Portugal had to give in to my claims." That would be a truthful account of the matter. The supposed insult to the British flag has been put forward in an unfairly prominent way. Of course every civilised nation pays respect to the flag of another nation when hoisted in a proper and legitimate manner; it is a point of international propriety, and naturally the honour of a nation is touched if its flag is improperly hauled down or lightly dealt with. But the fact in this case is that the flag was forced upon some native chief, who thought it would be a protection and keep away the Portuguese. This is to be gathered from Acting-Consul Buchanan's account. The man was so ignorant that the flag was hoisted in the wrong place and left to itself, when some wandering Zulus, probably attached to the Portuguese expedition, came across the flag and took possession of it. There was a Portuguese official order that the British flag was to be treated with every respect, as no doubt it was, and it is far from the truth to say an insult was offered to the flag. It is a mere pretext, as anyone who reads the correspondence will see: the real question was the navigation of the Zambesi. I do not wish to go at length into these African rights. I understand the position to a certain extent: Portugal has ancient rights which may have lapsed in course of time because she has not gone on enforcing them, while we have taken more trouble and maintained our Protectorate over a number of drunken natives. We have it on Con- 272 sular authority that on the occasion of this collision the natives were more or less under the influence of liquor, and to this, as much as any other cause, the collision was due. I do not say we have not cause for remonstrance on the question of the navigation of the Zambesi, but I say we have not taken the proper means to convince Portugal of our substantial rights. I quite understand why we should endeavour to open up this channel for our commerce. We might have had recourse to arbitration. That is a new-fangled idea, and may be valuable sometimes, though I have doubts of its efficacy in the long run. I dare say nations will sometimes submit their claims for arbitration, but I believe that if nations are dissatisfied with the award of the arbitrators they will go to war all the same. But I think, Gentlemen, means might have been used to convince Portugal. If we had had discussions here and in the Portuguese Parliament, I believe the people in five or six months would have tolerably understood the rights of the question and have arrived at a compromise. Instead of that, Lord Salisbury, intoxicated with the knowledge of the number of ships we were able to muster at the last Naval Review, took the opportunity of coercing Portugal, which, though a brave, is a much weaker Power, and had to yield. Such a course of conduct would not have been prudent had we to do with Russia or any strong Power. We punish Portugal for being our ally. Portugal has been more associated in arms with England than any other country during the last hundred years. You cannot open a chapter of Napier's History of the Peninsular War without finding the courage of the Portuguese soldiers acknowledged. They were willing to obey British officers, and fought bravely by the side of English and Irish troops, and drove Napoleon's best troops out of Spain. We have done much to forfeit the alliance. While I was in the Mediterranean, it was always accepted that though Spain was more or less our enemy, Portugal was our constant ally, and the Tagus would always be our base of operations. But now we take advantage of our first difference to upset this alliance, though I hope that when the Portuguese people find it is not the English people but the 273 Government which has exhibited this violent method of enforcing commercial rights, friendly relations will be resumed. Lord Salisbury plunged into this business with a light heart, but I think it shows the inexpediency of one man combining the offices of Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, for I do not believe that two Ministers of high position would have been found in agreement in such a blunder. The Under Secretary ably expresses the views of Lord Salisbury, but I do not think he would have taken this course had he been in the Cabinet. See what a difficulty we should be in if Portugal had been in alliance with any great Power. But since 1807, when Wellesley's troops landed at Lisbon, Portugal has relied solely on the English Alliance. The fact is, this action may exercise a powerful influence in bringing about a union between Portugal and Spain. Now Lord Palmerston pointed out that it was only by maintaining Portugal in its separate existence that we could be sure of having the Tagus as a friendly instead of a hostile naval station. Every military man knows what an enormous loss we should sustain if Portugal were to become hostile to us. The whole trade of the Mediterranean would then be lost to us in the event of war. This is what Lord Salisbury is driving us to, and therefore I, in common with many Members on this side of the House, am anxious to dissociate myself from the insult to Portugal which has been perpetrated by Her Majesty's Government.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
Although some of my hon. Friends have criticised with some severity the action of the Government towards Portugal, there does not seem to be any substantial difference of opinion in regard to the ultimate merits of the case. I cannot, however, help joining in the expressions of regret with reference to this difference with Portugal. Portugal is a small country, proud of the glories of its past, and sensitive as to its position. Its people have many fine and attractive qualities. Having spent a considerable time among them, I can bear testimony 274 to the friendliness which up to now has existed in the minds of the Portuguese towards England, and I entertain a warm hope that nothing further will occur to prevent a renewal of cordial relations between the two countries. When we look at the sub stance of this matter, the case of this country is exceedingly strong; and in fact when the Portuguese case is looked into, it proves to be utterly unsubstantial. Consequently I do not think we have any reason in this country to feel qualms of conscience in regard to the position which we have taken up. There are really only two questions to be considered. One is what the manner of Her Majesty's Government has been in conducting the negotiations, and the other is whether we were bound to accept the arbitration which Portugal at one time suggested. It appears to me that when Her Majesty's Government, in July, 1888, received notice of departure from Portugal of an expedition, which obviously had certain ulterior designs, they ought to have lost no time in warning the Portuguese Government of the consequences which military action, or an attempt to annex, might involve. This they do not seem to have done until the following December. Since 1887 there had been a dispute between this country and Portugal as to their rights in Mashonaland. When the dispute first arose, if Portugal had proposed mediation it would have been an unfriendly act on the part of Her Majesty's Government to refuse it. But Portugal made no such proposal at that time. She seems to have endeavoured to anticipate the result of friendly negotiations by taking the law into her own hands. It was not possible for this country to acquiesce in proceedings of this kind; nor would acquiescence have been of good augury for the future, since it would have encouraged others to grasp at possession, and then try to protect their possession by invoking mediation. I listened with great interest to the speech in which my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch put his case 275 with great earnestness. We all respect the conscientious way in which he has continued to advocate for many years the valuable principle of arbitration, but in this case Portugal acted in a way to make the application of that principle impossible, for it was not until she had altered the status quo and put this country into the position of being obliged to demand the withdrawal of the troops who were carrying on hostilities in territory which we claim as subject to our influence that she made the suggestion for arbitration. I confess that, regretting as I do sincerely the excitement which has been raised in Portugal, I cannot help feeling that a firm and prompt course was probably in the end the best. We must not complain of the Government for having acted with firmness, but the case did not call for satire and scorn such as the Foreign Secretary indulged in. It is a little exasperating to a man knocked down by superior force to be also overwhelmed by the resources of satire. We all know the powers which our Foreign Secretary possesses in that line; we all know the great gifts in sarcasm of the noble Marquess, gifts which have been brought to high perfection by practice in journalism; but I cannot but regret their exercise on this occasion, and hope that in future the literary man will not forget the dignity and reserve which befit a Foreign Secretary.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. BRYCE
There is one other point to which I wish to refer. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, in a speech with the general tenour of which I cordially agree, referred in somewhat disparaging terms to the conduct of our Consul at Oporto. I confess to thinking that my hon. Friend is entirely mistaken in the censure which I understood him to convey, and I regret he should have gone out of his way to reflect upon an official whose conduct has not deserved any criticism of the kind, and who is one if the most competent of our representatives abroad. I am glad that the Under Secretary for the Colonies proposes to lay Papers on the table with respect to the Charter granted to the South 276 African Company. But it would be better that Papers should be presented before the grant of such a Charter rather than after, and I hope the Government will give the House an early opportunity of discussing its policy. The Under Secretary of State has passed without notice the question of Samoa. The Gracious Speech contains a congratulatory reference to the result attained: and with that result we are all well pleased. But the Government is not entitled to any credit in the matter. This question came up last Session. We appealed to the House on behalf of the people of Samoa and Malietoa the king of their choice. We pointed out how harshly and unjustly he had been treated by the representative of Germany. A very unsatisfactory defence was put forward on behalf of the Foreign Office. In point of fact, British interests in that part of the world have been neglected by the present Government, and it has been left to the United States to take up the case of Malietoa, to address effective remonstrances against the highhanded proceedings of the German Government, and to bring about the present satisfactory settlement. I will not now go fully into the case so well stated by my hon. Friend the Member for the Rye Division of Suffolk. Papers were issued last August on the subject of Armenia, and I should like to know to what later date the promised further Papers go.
§ MR. BRYCE
We have had no Papers for the period between 1881 and 1888, which were years of great importance, and for these we must continue to press. The Papers already published amply justify the charges which have been repeatedly brought from these benches against the Turkish Government, and I hope the Foreign Office will make no attempt to minimise the gravity of the situation, which is menacing to peace, and is not unlikely to lead either to an insurrection of the suffering people or to intervention on the part of Russia. I trust the Government and the House will pay heed to the valuable Reports of 277 our Consuls, which fully disclose the perils of the present situation in that part of the world. Now, Mr. Speaker, a very important statement fell from the Under Secretary which, so far as I know, is quite new. He disclaimed all responsibility for the Anglo-Turkish Convention, which he described as now being a dead document.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
What I said was that the special responsibility which would have been assumed in respect of that Convention had been dormant in consequence of the non-fulfilment of the conditions attached to its performance.
§ MR. BRYCE
I know that by the Convention of 1878 the Tnrkish Government undertook to introduce certain reforms, and that our engagements were conditional on that being done. But that was not the whole of the Convention. It also contained a provision under which this country occupies the island of Cyprus, and it is under the Convention that we get our only title to the island I always held that the Cyprus Convention was a great mistake, and I confess I was glad to hear the important announcement the Under Secretary made. I remembered the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, when the Convention was first announced, pronouncing it an "insane Covenant," and, indeed, no more reckless or misguided engagement has been contracted in our time. I am glad to hear that the liability of the country under it has lapsed.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
What I said was that Turkey not having fulfilled certain provisions, our special responsibility had not come into force.
§ MR. BRYCE
The House heard what was said: and it seems to me that I have correctly stated the meaning and effect of the statement of the Under Secretary. Reference has been made to the mock trial of Moussa Bey. I shall not go into that, 278 as the Government has assured us that there is reason to believe he will be put on his trial a second time. But the responsibility of the Government will by no means come to an end with the second trial, or even with the exile or other punishment of Moussa Bey. Crimes and outrages similar to those of which Moussa Bey was guilty are going on at this moment in Armenia. It is to be feared, unless exemplary punishment is inflicted on these ruffians, that very serious disturbances, perhaps armed insurrection, will follow. We are glad that Sir William White is exerting himself, and we trust he warns the Sultan of the consequences, which even his quondam apologists in the German Press have begun to perceive, which will follow a denial and prostitution of justice in cases like that of Moussa Bey. There is another quarter in which the peace of the East is gravely threatened. I need not now inquire into the origin of the recent conflicts in Crete; but I must indicate to the House how menacing the position has become. The Turkish soldiery in Crete have been guilty of disgraceful excesses, which have provoked reprisals from the Christian population. Feeling on both sides is very bitter; and the perverse folly of the Turkish Government by its recent firman cancelling no small part of the autonomy which Crete has enjoyed for the last 11 years, has further incensed the bulk of the Cretan population. Hostilities will probably be resumed as soon as the snow melts on the mountains; bands of sympathizing volunteers from Greece will join the bands of warlike Spaliots now preparing themselves for the conflict; and the Hellenic Government may find itself unable to restrain the ardour of its subjects. Mr. Tricoupis, who is one of the ablest and most resolute, as he is one of the most high-minded statesmen in Europe, has done his utmost to prevent the outbreak of war between his own country and the Turks. But Greek passion, and the blindness of the Sultan's advisers, may be too much for him. If the contest is renewed. Sebdin Bey is shewing himself an apt imitator of Mussa Bey in Crete; if it provokes a 279 war between Greece and the Turks, the whole inflammable materials in the East will be set on fire. We know very well the feeling of Crete as to re-union with the Greek State, and there is no one in this House who does not feel certain that Crete will sooner or later become a part of the Greek Kingdom. That being so, the duty of friendly Powers, and not least of Britain, is to endeavour to procure, if possible, the speedy and peaceable cession of Crete, and if that be impossible, the full restoration of Cretan autonomy and a complete amnesty to those concerned in the recent troubles. If war were to break out between Greece and Turkey—and the whole East is honeycombed with the materials for insurrection—we cannot tell how far it may spread, or who will be drawn into it. I therefore desire to impress on Her Majesty's Government the duty which devolves upon them to take measures of pacification with regard to Crete. If the Sultan does not withdraw the firman recently promulgated, there is too much reason to believe that the contest will be the prelude to a general European war. It is because in this country we have a most earnest desire to avert such a calamity that we beg the Government to use its utmost influence to awaken the Ports and its advisers to a sense of their duty.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Baron H. DE WORMS,) Liverpool, East Toxteth
As several questions have been raised during this debate affecting the Department for which I am responsible, I think it would be discourteous on my part if I were not at once to answer them. The hon. Member for Northampton has said that in answering certain questions which were put to me last Session with reference to the concessions granted by Lobengula and other chiefs that I replied that the Government were entirely adverse to these concessions and utterly disapproved of them. He seemed to imply that we had power to annul them but we have no such power as he suggests. In answer to questions on this subject, put by the hon. Member himself on the 280 2nd and 5th April last, I stated that the declaration of British influence does not enable Her Majesty's Government to control the grant of concessions by the chiefs; and, further, I pointed out that they could not advise Lobengula to break any concession already granted, though they might advise him to modify it. Again, on the 2nd April, I stated that—It appears to Her Majesty's Government that the best mode of putting an end to all exclusive and competing concessions in that part of South Africa which is under British influence may he by uniting all valid concessions under one control, subject to important modifications—as, for example, the supply of arms—and also to take such restrictions as may fully secure the interests of the natives and all other legitimate claims.The concessionaires came to an agreement among themselves by which their various interests were merged into one company. It was then that they applied to the Government to grant them a charter, and it was only after Her Majesty's Government had satisfied themselves that the company so organised was really a responsible company that they consented to grant a Charter. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) has said that this Charter was kept entirely secret, but that was not the case, for the House will probably remember that in the course of last Session when a question was put to me upon the subject by the hon. Baronet the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir G. Campbell), I informed him that it was intended by the Government to grant a Charter to the company. Since then the Charter has been published in the Gazette in its entirety, and it will be presented to Parliament together with the Papers I am about to lay upon the Table of the House. The hon. Member for Northampton seemed to think that previous to the signing of the Charter the Government ought to have obtained the consent of Parliament; but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there was nothing at all extraordinary in the course we adopted. This will be seen by the instance I am about to quote. In November, 1880, a charter was granted to the North Borneo Company. Parliament was not then sitting, and notwithstanding that strong remonstrances were put forward by the Government of the Netherlands, 281 and objection was also taken by the Governments of Spain and the United States, together with the fact that Parliament had not previously been consulted on the matter, the Charter was granted. I may add that the rights of those persons who are not concessionaires have been carefully safeguarded in the Charter by Article 2, which says—The Company is hereby authorized and empowered to hold, use and retain for the purposes of the Company, and on the terms of this our Charter, the full benefit of the concessions and agreements made as aforesaid, so far as they are valid or any of them, and all interests, authorities and powers comprised or referred to in the said concessions and agreements, Provided always that nothing herein contained shall prejudice or affect any other valid and subsisting concessions or agreements which may have been made by any of the chiefs or tribes aforesaid.The hon. Baronet the Member for the Lichfield Division (Sir John Swinburne), who raised this question at the end of last Session, maintained that the Charter had been passed so rapidly that the claims of certain persons, including himself, had not been recognised; but in order that there should not be the slightest plea of injustice put forward we inserted the following provision in the Charter:—Nothing herein contained shall prejudice or affect certain concessions granted in and subsequent to the year 1880 relating to the territory usually known as the district of the Tati.I should not have thought it worth while to allude to one argument urged by the hon. Member for Northampton had he not made it the ground of a somewhat strong charge. He stated that the Duke of Fife, the Duke of Abercorn, and others had very largely profited by the sale of the shares of the company. The hon. Member in making this charge must have been unaware that there has been no allotment of shares to the public, no official quotation on the Stock Exchange, and that, as I am given to understand, there is an agreement entered into by the Directors that no shares shall be sold or transferred before the expiration of two years after the granting of the Charter. Therefore it is absurd to say that any person could have derived a source of profit from speculating in these 282 shares. The hon. Member for the Arfon Division of Carnarvonshire (Mr. Rathbone) has altogether deprecated the formation of these Chartered Companies. He asserted that they involved this country in great responsibilities, and that they were very prejudicial to the interests of all parties concerned. I do not think it necessary at this late hour to go through all the arguments used by the hon. Member; but I think he can hardly have studied the Charter itself, otherwise he must have seen that under that Charter the South African Company were likely to bring about results conducive to a very decided improvement in the condition of the native population. The Charter requires that the Company shall to the best of its ability discourage and, so far as might be practicable, abolish by degrees any system of slave trade or domestic servitude in its territories; that it should regulate the traffic in spirits and other intoxicating liquors, and as far as practicable prevent the sale of any spirits or other intoxicating liquor to the natives; that the company as such, and its officers as such, should not in any way interfere with the religion of the people, except so far as might be necessary in the interests of humanity; and that in the administration of justice careful regard should always be had to the native customs and laws of the tribes to which the parties respectively belong, especially with reference to the holding of land and other rights of property. I think it will be seen that these provisions afford satisfactory evidence of the enormous civilising influence which this Charter must exercise over the vast territory to be administered by the Company. Besides all this, hon. Gentlemen who have put forward objections to the Charter can hardly have been aware that the Company is at the present moment doing much to open up our portion of the South African territory; for they are spending out of their own pockets a sum of about £60,000 in the formation of a telegraph line, and are also about to construct at their own expense a railway into British Bechuanaland, many miles of which have already been made. In addition to all this they are also organising and contributing to the establishment in their midst of a body of police charged with the maintenance of law and order. 283 I wish, however, to state distinctly in this connection that the grant of the Charter and any proceedings under it do not involve a withdrawal of the British Protectorate which is being, and will be, fully maintained under the High Commissioner. In my opinion, and. looking at the results that have been achieved by other companies through the granting of similar Charters, and the opening out of vast dominions, which have been of the greatest value to the British Empire, there is every hope that the granting of a Charter to the British South African Company will lead to equally successful consequences. A question has been addressed to me with regard to Swaziland. The House is aware that Her Majesty's Government some time ago sent out Sir Francis De Winton as a Special Commissioner for the purpose of consulting with the Transvaal Commissioners, with a view of ascertaining and suggesting what measures might best be taken for the better government of that part of the country. Sir F. De Winton has returned to England and made his Report; but although that Report may have been delivered to-day at the Colonial Office the Government have not yet had time to consider it, and it would, under those circumstances, be improper for me to offer any opinion upon the matter. I may, however, be permitted to say that from the action of the Transvaal Government we have every reason to believe that they are, to the full, as sincerely anxious as we are in the desire to arrive at an equitable settlement which shall maintain and strengthen the friendly relations which now exist between the two countries. With this assurance I think the House will for the present be satisfied. At any rate, it is impossible for me to attempt to discuss questions, the details of which, up to this moment, I have not had the opportunity of studying, and which, from the gravity and importance of the issues at stake, deserve the fullest and most serious consideration at the hands of Her Majesty's Government.
§ MR. MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
I desire to offer a few observations with reference to our colonies; but in so doing I have nothing to put 284 forward that may be regarded as being of an unfriendly character, for I am bound to acknowledge that, so far, there has constantly been evidence on the part of Lord Knutsford of a very genuine desire to promote the prosperity of the colonies. But before entering upon that portion of the subject, I should like for a few moments to refer to the question of our recent dispute with Portugal. As an Irish Member I suppose I ought to claim indulgence in referring to matters of high Imperial concern, inasmuch as the party to which I belong has been accused of holding particular views with reference to the maintenance of the Empire. I must, however, say, and I say it distinctly, that I am very glad of the decisive step that has been taken, although possibly not for the same reasons that may actuate the minds of other hon. Gentlemen. I do not take the ground that it may possibly be conducive to British interests, which may constitute high and patriotic motives in the minds of many hon. Gentlemen. In my opinion, it is a matter of great importance that England should assume the protectorate of the Shiré and Nyassaland with a view of the better carrying out the policy she has so long pursued in the direction of the abolition and suppression of the Slave Trade. It was scarcely worthy of the reputation of England to indulge, with respect to a nation that has been humiliated, in small and petty gibes and sneers. I believe, however, that had right hon. Gentlemen opposite not been in power, the step would have been taken in the same way by some other Government. But I would point out that the whole transaction was begun, continued, and ended between the 16th of December and the 1st or 2nd day of February, by Lord Salisbury alone. No Cabinet Council at between those dates. I do hon. Gentlemen opposite the credit, 285 though I am often in conflict with them, of believing that they would not be parties to making a subject of wit and sneers of a nation which had been trying to assert its ancient historic rights in respect of dominions which it had in the past. An observation of a somewhat singular character has been let fall in regard to missionaries. There are bad and inferior men to be found in all bodies; but, as a whole, the missionaries are a splendid class of men, displaying the highest devotion. Missionaries who have obtained the highest distinctions at the Universities, and the equal of political Ministers in attainments, have gone to Africa at a salary of £20 a year. Such men are the promoters of the prosperity of the subject race among whom they live; it is they who lay the foundations of civilisation. Wherever Christianity goes slavery ceases. Slavery is the open sore of Africa, and it has been described as the "heart disease" of that country. It is because I believe Christianity will stop slavery in Africa that I am glad the English Government is there, though I am very sorry because of the means. Well, Sir, one word, and only one word' on the subject of India. I regret very much that there was no mention in the Gracious Speech of the Indian question. I saw with great gratification in a forecast given in the newspapers of the Speech that there was to be some legislation in regard to India. I hope that is so. I certainly thought that, having regard to what has taken place, that some mention might have been made, some word of sympathy spoken, to no fewer than 250,000,000 of people, in respect of whom it has been said that one single vote put into the ballot-box here is an act carrying with it more power than is possessed by the whole 250,000,000 of people. Let me present very humbly three facts—I do not wish to trespass on the time and attention of the House—which probably are well-known to the Under Secretary of State (Sir John Gorst), who will, doubtless, during the coming 286 year take them to heart. The right hon. Gentleman knows, first af all, that the famine is a national institution, that there is a famine fund provided by the Government—famine not being an exceptional thing, but a matter about which the Government must take actual steps year by year. I ask him during his year of office to rectify such a shocking state of things. In one year alone—1877—more people died of actual hunger in India and in our dominions than the entire population of this enormous place. There are material ways in which we could assist that people. It has been computed that if you merely supplied the material to furnish one article of clothing for each of our fellow-subjects in India, it would take 100 miles of cloth to be distributed on one day during the entire year. The income of a native Indian is miserably small, and it is for the right hon. Gentleman, with his ability and power, to endeavour to rectify and remedy the condition of the inhabitants of our Indian dominions. I would like to contrast the imports of India with the imports of the Australian Federation. The imports in the Australian Federation are at the rate of from £14 to £15 per head of the population. The imports of India amount only to 1s. 6d. per head of the population. What an enormous development would take place in our industries if we could increase our exports to that portion of our Empire! I will not do more than barely touch upon these points, but the facts ought to be known. The great efforts of Lord Macaulay, 50 years ago, have done good. That agitation is now largely in progress in India. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will not consider, during his term of office, some means of promoting the interest of the people of India by enabling them in some measure to control their own affairs, and by endeavouring to ameliorate the condition of that vast population. I was glad to see that the Speech took favourable notice of the subject of the Federation of Australasia, but I would urge upon the Colonial Office the desirability of extending the principle of self government still further amongst the colonies. Going from a Crown to a self-governing colony, one is struck by the 287 enormous change which is wrought by the spirit of independence. There are groups of colonies which are eminently suited for self government. In the Colony of the Falkland Islands self government would be a blessing to it, and a benefit to ourselves. The colonies under Responsible Government comprise 8½ millions, and the colonies governed by the Colonial Office comprise 7½ millions of population. The colonies under Responsible Government are of temperate climate, and the European population predominate—the great majority being English and Irish; and, of course, some Germans. The Crown Colonies comprise 7 millions, 175,000, or 2½ per cent., being Europeans. The Falkland Islands are well worthy the attention of the House. The colony now comprises 1,583 villages. I have received from some of the colonists piteous complaints of the petty despotism from which they are suffering. They have no power of helping themselves, no representative Government, and the Council of the Governor can simply do anything they choose. This state of things should not exist in an ordinary Crown Colony, much less in a colony composed of our own kith and kin, who leave this country as freemen. I hope the Government will take steps in South Africa and Eastern Africa to extirpate the curse of slavery. I trust the Under Secretary will do his best to ameliorate the condition of the millions entrusted to his charge, for his power for good or evil in this part of the world is great. Let him take into his favourable consideration the condition of the people in the Falkland Islands, so as to remove the wrong under a sense of which they are labouring.
§ SIR R. N. FOWLER (City)
I wish to make only one observation, and that is in regard to what fell from the hon. Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan), whom I am sorry not to see in his place. I did not hear his speech, but he is reported to have said, speaking of Portugal, that Her Majesty's Government had taken advantage of a weak Power, and acted towards it in a way in which they would not have done towards a strong 288 one. I wish to state to the House that Lord Salisbury said to a deputation on this subject which I attended very largely composed of Scotchmen, both hon. Members and others from that country that the great difficulty he was labouring under was that he could not deal with Portugal, a weak Power, in the way he would have dealt with a strong one. I rise simply to say that the hon. Members' remark was quite unjustifiable, Her Majesty's Government having arrived at their decision in regard to this Portuguese difficulty with great reluctance.
§ MR. CUNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, N. West)
There is a pleasing air of concord and agreement hanging over the first day or two of the present Session of the House of Commons. It is a little dull while it lasts and it is fortunate that it does not continue for long. Not infrequently it is my unfortunate task to break in on the concord of the House with a discordant note. I compassionate the Government on having such an indiscreet supporter as the hon. Member for North Islington (Mr. Bartley) has proved himself to be, for he has forced me on my feet to repel charges leveled at myself and fellow-workers in regard to our public action. He alone is to blame for any observations that may be addressed to him in reference to his speech—for I presume I am in order in following him into his somewhat discursive remarks upon the Dock Strike. Her Majesty's Government has grasped fully that something must be done in the way of labour legislation, as is proved by sub-head 15 in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech—by which I understand that Her Majesty'S Government intend to introduce measures dealing with the working classes and the health of the Metropolis. In the face of this I will not comment at any length on the extreme undesirability of indulging in a 289 trade against the working classes of the Metropolis in general as was done by the hon. Member for North Islington. One would think listening to the hon. Member that the dock strike was a thing which redounded greatly to the dis. credit of the working classes of this country, that it had been arranged and carried on by some sort of secret tribunal, that the speeches of the men who addressed large crowds on Tower Hill and at other places were calculated to disturb the peace of the Metropolis, and that the swelling of capital and the quantity of tonnage that comes into the Port of London year by year are the only questions the Government will look to in approaching these great labour and social difficulties. The hon. Member, in my opinion, made every effort to embitter the relations between capitalists and working men. In my opinion nothing is required to embitter these relations, certainly not a speech of the tenour of that we have been listening to. I believe that the interests of capitalists and labour are diametrically opposite, and the breach between them cannot be bridged over by any rose water process of profitsharing. Bogus schemes like that recently propounded by Mr. Livesey for the purpose of breaking up a combination of workmen never can do good. It is not for me to point out the danger of fostering a feeling among the working classes that they are being cheated and deluded by schemes of that kind. There are not wanting men who, for their own aims, are going about advocating these things every day. But in my opinion something can be done to avoid a repetition of the troubles which have lately occurred, and that is in the direction pointed out by the Emperor of Germany and the Swiss Government, that of calling an International Conference to discuss these matters from an International standpoint.
§ MR. J. F. X. O'BRIEN (Mayo, S.)
The Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs a short time ago made a remark which struck me very forcibly, in which he described the magistrates and judges of Crete as "partizans." I wondered 290 whilst the right hon. Gentleman was speaking whether he had any idea that that observation would apply equally to the position of judges and magistrates in Ireland. Everyone I am sure listened with attention to the interesting speech of the hon. Member for Salford, and I myself noticed with interest one remark he made touching the discovery by Major Serpa Pinto, of the Geographical Society of London. I doubt whether on the whole we can congratulate the Geographical Society on that discovery. But paragraph 10 of the reply to the Queen's Speech interests me more than any other paragraph in the document for it refers to a continued improvement in the state of things in Ireland. Well, it appears to me that the most striking facts in Ireland at the present moment are to be found in the fact that part of the town of Tipperary is to-day in a heap of ruins owing to the action of a certain Member of this House; that the Olphert, Massarene, Clanricarde, Kenmare, Luggacurren, and other estates are to-day a scene of waste and desolation. We find also that there is occupation for the British troops and the Irish police at the present time in marching from village to village, carrying in their train battering rams and petroleum cans for the destruction of the houses of the people, In other countries it is understood that the duty of the Government is to protect the people, but in Ireland the one duty the Government devote themselves to is the destruction and extermination of the people. Perhaps the word "improvement" in the Address is meant to convey the success of the present policy of the Prime Minister, that it means part of the 20 years of unbridled tyranny in Ireland to carry out which policy the noble Lord sent his nephew to Ireland. We all know the first outcome of the Chief Secretary's policy was the telegram sent from Dublin Castle to the police at Youghal, ordering them "not to hesitate to shoot," and we know what has been the results of that policy. First we saw the young man O'Hanlan lose his life in Youghal, and then we know that, emboldened with the impunity with which that Act was committed, the police soon 291 afterwards took three lives at Mitchelstown, and I suppose that altogether eight or ten lives have been lost in Ireland in that way, no attempt having been made by the Government to bring the perpetrators of the outrages to justice. I should like to know how it is possible for some gentlemen to talk so much about "law and order" in Ireland, and how they can upbraid the people for want of respect for it, when we find that the Chief Secretary himself is mostly responsible for the murders which have taken place in Ireland through his myrmidons. We know how forged letters were published deliberately for the purpose of assisting the Government in obtaining the Coercion Act. We do not know if the Government have any responsibility for those forgeries, but we do know that they were employed in their service. We know how the pledges made by the Government when that Act was passed have been broken. We know that the Chief Secretary declared that the Act would not be used against the Press, and that it would not be used against his political opponents, and that there would be an appeal in every case. Well, what were the first uses to which the right hon. Gentleman put his Coercion Act? As regards the Press, he attacked under the Act the then Lord Mayor of Dublin (Mr. T. D. Sullivan), Mr. Walsh, Mr. Alderman Hooper, Mr. Hayden, the proprietor of the Cork Examiner, a gentleman associated with the Leinster Leader, and others, as well as several newsvendors. These attacks on the Press are going on still in face of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the Coercion Act would not be used against it. Then, the right hon. Gentleman declared that the Act would not be put in operation against his political opponents, but in face of that declaration we have the fact that the Members for North-East Cork, East Mayo, East Galway, Mid Cork, Monaghan, South Tipperary, Kildare, and Kerry, and several other Members of this House have been proceeded against, and have been sent to prison, some of them repeatedly. As to the pledge that there should be an appeal in every case, there is hardly any necessity to dwell on the point. Everybody knows how flagrantly 292 it has been broken. Another element, probably of the improvement of Ireland, was the arrest of Father M'Fadden at, Gweedore, in a way that would not, I believe, have been attempted in any other country in the world. We know what followed that outrage. We remember the trials at Mary borough and how the juries were packed. We can calculate with good certainty what would have happened if there had not been in the Court house visitors from various parts of Great Britain. We verily believe that if these visitors had not been there several innocent men would have been hanged as a result of the packing of the juries. We know that during the hearing of the appeal in one of the Gweedore cases., the late Attorney General for Ireland was censured by Chief Justice Morris for his conduct at the trial, and we know how the whole world was astonished when, soon after, Lord Chief Justice Morris having been promoted to the House of Lords, that Attorney General Peter O'Brien was put in his place as Lord Chief Justice. If the Sultan of Turkey had sent back Moussa Bey as Governor of Armenia, the outrage on the Armenian Christians would be something like what the Chief Secretary has done in Ireland by this appointment of Peter O'Brien. A greater scandal was never perpetrated. In the face of these things the Irish people are taunted with a want of respect for the Law. How can the people of Ireland respect the administration of the law by Peter O'Brien? Another incident in the improved condition of Ireland is the invention of the famous battering ram of the Chief Secretary, and a further evidence of the good government under which we live is the shameful way in which a funeral procession in Tipperary was proclaimed as an illegal assembly. The Removable Magistrate thereby taking to himself power to disperse it by force of arms. The Chief Secretary boasted, towards the close of last Session, that large numbers of evicted farms were being taken. The right hon. Gentleman was asked to give some particulars as to this successful part of his policy; but singularly enough he replied that it would not be safe to give information, as if, indeed, it would be 293 possible for evicted farms to be taken without the people in the immediate neighbourhood knowing something about it. And surely if there could be danger in the facts being known, it would be in the near neighbourhood and not at a distance. This kind of evidence is on a par with a good deal of what was said at the time coercion was required for Ireland. We all remember how, in the last Parliament, the Liberal Government were compelled to relax the coercion which prevailed in Ireland at that time owing to the pressure of the Tories, and how the Tories had not been in office more than six months when they found that according to their own calculations coercion was urgently necessary. The only deduction is that either their action in compelling the Liberals to relax their coercion was not sincere or patriotic, or that the present Government's six months of office had such an injurious effect in Ireland as to make coercion necessary. In another paragraph of the Address proposals are made for increasing, under due financial precautions, the number of occupying owners. I protest against the present system of purchase in Ireland, for we find that under it Irish tenants are compelled to pay, by threats of eviction and other means, far more than they ought justly to be called upon to pay. In another paragraph a measure of local self-government for Ireland is promised. In face of the recent action of the Government that is a promise that we must look upon as very insincere indeed. One of the latest acts of the Government has been to suppress almost the only kind of local government at present existing in Ireland. We have also proposals for improving the material welfare of the poorer districts of Ireland; but taking all the circumstances of the present Government into consideration, we are bound to say we can have no confidence in anything this Government can undertake. Throughout its career it has shown itself quite unentitled to the confidence of the Irish people; and I certainly would not entrust the Government with the outlay of any money I could possibly withhold from them.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Mr. Richard Power.)294
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till tomorrow.