Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £114,920 (including an additional sum of £30,000), be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1891, for sundry Colonial Services, including Expenses incurred under 'The Pacific Islanders' Protection Act, 1875,' and certain Charges connected with South Africa.
§ (4.5.) SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
The Government promised that these Estimates should not be left over this year until the month of September, when there would be no opportunity of discussing them, but they have considered it desirable to bring them on upon the first day after the vacation, when there are very few Members present. I have given notice of my intention to move various reductions in these Votes, especially in regard to Bechuanaland; but before we come to that item I wish to put a few questions to the Under Secretary for the Colonies upon several of the previous items. The first which I desire to put has reference to the Norfolk Island Mail Service. The sum which is asked for that Service is very small—£67 I think; but I want to know if the island itself belongs to us, or whether it belongs to the colony of New South Wales, or any of the other Australian colonies. If it has been made over to one of the colonies I do not see why the British taxpayer should be asked to pay even this small sum. The next item to which I would refer is that for the Mauritius Mail Service. As far as I can make out we appear to be paying the whole cost of the subsidy to our old friend the British India Steam Navigation Company. Hitherto, I find that the Government of the Mauritius has voted £5,600 for the maintenance of the Service, but I now find that Her Majesty's Government have thought it right to subsidise the company as well, and a sum of £7,500 is proposed to be 1762 given to the British India Steam Navigation Company, of which we are asked to pay £2,813 this year. I want to know upon what ground this money is to be paid, and whether any new service has been undertaken by the company in addition to their ordinary trading occupations. I would ask further what is the necessity for a mail service between Colombo and the Mauritius to justify the Government in asking the taxpayers of this country to vote a subsidy of £7,500, in addition to an equal sum voted by the Government of the Mauritius, and what we gain from the arrangement? It is an item which appears in the Votes for the first time this year, and I wish to afford Her Majesty's Government an opportunity of explaining what it means. In order to enable them to do so I will move the reduction of the Vote for Norfolk Island and the Mauritius by £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That item D, £2,813, Mauritius Mail Service, be reduced by £100."—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ *(4.10.) THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Baron H. DE WORMS,) Liverpool, East Toxteth
In answer to the first question of the hon. Member, I have to say that Norfolk Island does belong to this country, and that an Imperial Grant of £100 was made on April 1st, 1889, for improved communications between that island and New South Wales, and was promised for five years, on condition that one-third of the cost should be borne by the island.
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
It certainly belongs to us. In regard to the Mauritius Mail Service, it has been found necessary to improve the service.
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
Both the Admiralty and the War Office have impressed upon the Colonial Office the necessity, from an Imperial point of view, of providing an improved mail service. In reference to the amount inserted in the Estimates this year, it represents for 1890–91 three-fourths of the expense.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
What advantage do we gain from the new service? Is a 1763 new service to be maintained, or is it merely the subsidising of the old service already carried on by the British India Steam Navigation Company for local purposes?
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
The War Office and the Admiralty are, as I have already said, of opinion that there should be an improved communication for Imperial purposes.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
As I did not give the right hon. Gentleman any notice of the question, I will not press the Amendment, but will rest satisfied with the answer I have received.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (4.12.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
The next Amendment I have to propose is the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £1,275, for the salary and establishment of the Governor of Heligoland. I have been a good many years in this House, but I have never heard yet any satisfactory explanation given of our possession of Heligoland, or what object the British Empire has to serve by retaining it. Being anxious to know all about it, I first obtained a map of Europe, and it was with some difficulty that I discovered the island at all. It appears to be situated in a bight of the German Ocean, somewhere off the mouth of the Elbe. As the map did not throw much light on the matter, I referred to the Encyclopedia Britannica, where I find Heligoland described as a small island with a population approaching 2,000, who principally live by entertaining German bathers during the summer months. I find that there is no wheeled vehicle whatever on the island, except a wheelbarrow and a few bathing machines for the use of the bathers. There are a few horses there in the summer, but they are withdrawn in the winter. They get their supplies from Hamburg and Bremen; the bathers are all Germans, and when they go away the place is so dismal and desolate that there is an unusual preponderance of suicide and insanity. All the residents except the Governor and the garrison are Germans, and, looking at the history of the island, it certainly does seem extraordinary how it ever came into our possession. It originally belonged to Denmark, but in 1764 1817, being at war with Denmark, we took the island and found it useful when we were engaged in blockading Hamburg and other ports. But, although it might have been serviceable in those days, its possession now is an absurd anachronism. I, therefore, cannot understand why we should keep a Governor there at a salary of £800 a year, and a garrison of three coastguardsmen at a cost of £475 a year. The island is of no use whatever to us, and in the event of a war, the retention of it might be followed by humiliating consequences. I think it would be better to give up the island altogether, at a moment when we could do so with honour, dignity, and credit. Surely, in some of the negotiations which are going on with Germany, we might trade Heligoland against some territory in Africa, and save this £1,275 a year, which I cannot help looking upon as a most unnecessary tax upon the British taxpayer. With that view, I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £1,275.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item E, £1,275, for Heligoland, be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ *(4. 16.) BARON H. DE WORMS
The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir G. Campbell) says we ought to give up Heligoland, but ho did not say to whom we ought to give it up. The only reason he has alleged is that we ought not to pay £1,275 a year for an island which is principally used by German bathers. I think he also alluded to the fact that it is near the German Coast. But it follows from the hon. Member's argument that if, as he suggests, possessions of the Crown are to be given up for no better reason than because of their propinquity to other Powers, we might on that ground surrender not only Heligoland to Germany, but also the Channel Islands to France and Gibraltar to Spain. That is the natural consequence of his argument, but that view is shared neither by the present Government nor by those which have preceded them. When the question was discussed in 1885 Lord E. Fitzmaurice, the then Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and a firm supporter of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone), said— 1765He would ask the House to consider what would happen if he or his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies were to bring in a Bill to hand over Heligoland to Germany. The Government would be denounced as cowards, and as crowning the edifice of their disgrace.Those were the views of a Minister of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Not a shadow of reason or excuse for giving up one of the possessions of the Crown has been brought forward by the hon. Member. The annual imports of Heligoland are over £30,000, almost entirely from the United Kingdom. I do not think it is necessary to waste the time of the House with arguments to show why we should not give up Heligoland. I certainly do not think the hon. Gentleman has shown any reason why we should do so.
§ (4.20.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
My hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy has perfectly convinced me that we ought to give up this island of Heligoland. The only reason which the right hon. Gentleman opposite has assigned for not doing so is that it might lead to the cession of other possessions, and that we must necessarily give up the Channel Islands and Gibraltar. I will not enter into the question whether it is desirable that we should give up the Channel Islands and Gibraltar or not, but surely anybody but an Under Secretary of State, who is obliged to defend anything, should know that there is a very wide distinction between giving up Gibraltar and this wretched little sand-bank called Heligoland. Gibraltar is a harbour, and there are harbours in the Channel Islands upon which we have wasted several millions of money. Heligoland has no harbour; it costs us £1,275 a year, and it is absolutely worth nothing. I will tell the Under Secretary why we do not give it up. It is because there is a nice comfortable little office attached to it, and while we can have a little sandbank, and place a Governor there with £800 a year, we shall never be ready to give it up. I have been there, and I may tell the right hon. Gentleman that it is not even a fishing island—only a wretched little sand-bank. If we gained anything in the world by it, it might be a matter for consideration whether it would not be desirable to retain it, but, as it is, we gain nothing whatever except 1766 the power of spending £1,275 a year upon it. The right hon. Gentleman has told us what some Liberal Minister said in 1871.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Five years ago. A great deal has happened since then. The Liberal Party is not now what it was five years ago. The Liberal Party has consolidated itself, and has adopted more drastic Radical views with regard to these matters than in 1885. This is 1890, and I look upon the matter from the 1890 standpoint. We are spending this money, but there is no object in keeping the island. My hon. Friend says that German bathers go there, and it seems that the only object of its existence is that German bathers should go there So far as I am concerned, I do not care who gets it, so long as we get rid of this damnosa hereditas. During the wars with Napoleon it was made a depôt for contraband goods we wished to introduce into the Continent, but it is practically of no use now.
§ (4.25.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
I entirely agree with the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), and as to which Power the island should be handed over to, that is, I take it, a matter for the Foreign Office to decide. Personally I think there is a strong case for giving it up to Germany, as it is practically a suburb of the City of Hamburg. The Germans go there to bathe and enjoy their summer vacation, and there is no analogy whatever between Heligoland and Gibraltar or the Channel Islands. Even the Under Secretary has not ventured to assert that the island is of any value for strategical or military purposes, and I agree with the hon. Member for Northampton that it is quite enough to deal with Heligoland now, and wait until the question of what is to be done with Gibraltar and the Channel Islands arises. I believe that the people of the Channel Islands are very much attached to this country, and very properly so, because under the government of this country their prosperity has very much increased. Indeed, I would suggest to this House that if they were to study the case of the Channel Islands a little more carefully they might find it greatly to their advantage to extend The same 1767 principle of government in other directions. The people of the Channel Islands are attached to this country because we have left them alone, have allowed their local institutions to grow up under their own control, and have not interfered with them in the assertion of their rights. The case of Heligoland is entirely different. We have only a garrison and a Governor there, and if we gave up the island to Germany tomorrow it would not involve us in one penny of loss.
*(4.26.) MR. GOUELEY (Sunderland)
I wish to remind the Under Secretary for the Colonies that the speech of Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, which he has quoted, was made in answer to a Resolution brought forward in this House by the present Under Secretary for India (Sir J. Gorst), who suggested to the then Liberal Government that they should hand over Heligoland to the German Government. The view then expressed by the Under Secretary for India was, I think, the correct one. I have myself visited Heligoland, and I am satisfied that it is of no use whatever to this country. It is merely, as has been described by the hon. Member for Northampton, a useless sandbank, and no analogy whatever can be drawn between it and Gibraltar or the Channel Islands. Gibraltar we all know is of immense service to us, and so would the Channel Islands be in the event of a war with France. But Heligoland is of no value to this country whatever; and I agree with the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) that it would be a graceful act on the part of this country to hand it over to the German Government, to whom it properly belongs. At the same time, he thought that the concession might be dealt with in what is understood to be disputes regarding German and British influence in Africa.
§ (4.28.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
The right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary has invited us to enter into the question whether if we gave up Heligoland we ought not also to get rid of Gibraltar and the Channel Islands. I decline to enter into that question. I have no wish to get rid either of Gibraltar or the Channel Islands. The Channel Islands afford us a good example of the advantages of Local Government 1768 and Home Rule. The Under Secretary justifies the course he takes by quoting a passage from the speech of a former Liberal Minister in 1885. But two-blacks do not make a white, and I am afraid that it is too much the habit of the Front Bench to cover their own imperfections by a reference to those of others. My opposition to the retention of Heligoland is that it is altogether useless to us, and that it entails upon the British taxpayer an entirely unnecessary expenditure.
(4.30.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway)
I must say that, in my opinion, Heligoland would be a very valuable station in time of war. It would be a great centre for receiving intelligence both upon naval and military matters. Its possession would enable us to keep a good watch upon a very large portion of traffic from Hamburg, and therefore it has some strategic importance. Germany is an extremely friendly Power, but no people know better than the Germans that if one wants peace ho must prepare for war.
§ (4.33.) CAPTAIN BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)
Whatever we may think of the importance of Heligoland, it would, in my opinion, be extremely foolish to give it up as an act of grace without getting something substantial in return for it.
§ (4.34.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
Though I suggested that the island should be given to Germany, I never proposed that it should be given for nothing. On the contrary, I think we should drive the very hardest bargain we can.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
My suggestion was that the island should be traded away to Germany, and, of course, I meant in consideration of something else.
§ Question put, "That Item E be omitted from the said Vote."
§ (4.35.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 27; Noes 150.—(Div. List, No, 110.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (4.45.) MR. HANBURY (Preston)
I want to ask a question about the salaries paid to Governors in the West Indies. I find that there is a popula- 1769 tion of over 1,500,000, and that there are no less than 10 Governors at large salaries. This is a relic of the ridiculous system of old days, and I do not know why so many Governors should be employed at such high salaries. Why should not a Governor-in-Chief of the whole of the West Indies be appointed? If I get a satisfactory answer from the Government I shall not think it necessary to move any reduction, but I think it is only reasonable to ask that the Government should look into the subject.
§ *(4.49.) BARON H. DE WORMS
The question raised by my hon. Friend is a very large one, and one on which he could not expect me to give any pledge off-hand. Most of the West Indian Islands are at a great distance one from another, and it would, therefore, involve great inconvenience to place them under the same Governor. It is, however, a question of great importance, and one which will receive the full consideration of the Colonial Office.
(4.50.) COLONEL NOLAN
I would suggest that in the future the names of all the Governors should be printed in the Votes.
§ MR. O. V. MORGAN (Battersea)
The hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) referred to the number of Governors in the West Indies. I do not think he can be aware that during the last few years a very considerable reduction has been made in the number of Governors. It is possible that something more may be done in the same direction. I should be glad if the Government will look into the matter.
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
I will consider the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Galway.
§ (4.52.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
The Under Secretary has said that the Colonies have not asked that the number of Governors should be reduced. Why should they? We pay the Governors, and I ask why we should do so? I know of no reason whatever. Colonists will not pay for a Governor if they can get us to pay him. I find that lower down in the Vote mention is made of Leeward Islands. We pay no less than £3,000 for a Governor there. I understand these islands are a number of trumpery islands in the West Indies. We pay £300 for a Secretary to the Governor, and—
Order, order! The hon. Gentleman has a notice down to reduce a previous item. He must not go to the Leeward Islands until he has disposed of that notice.
§ SIR. G. CAMPBELL
I only wanted to abbreviate the Debate. There is a vast number of Governors in the West Indies for whom we pay. It is unreasonable that we should do so. If it is important that the colonies should have Governors the colonies ought to be taxed to pay for them.
§ (4.54.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I wonder if the hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) thinks he has got a satisfactory answer; for I can tell him from some experience of these matters things will go on this year, next year, and the year afterwards precisely as they do now. The best course for the hon. Member to pursue is to move some sort of reduction. He will get beaten at first, but his supporters will gradually increase. That is the only thing which produces any effect upon the Government, whether it be a Liberal or a Conservative Government. As to the Bahamas the Under Secretary admitted that the islands ought to pay the salaries of the Governor, but said there was not sufficient revenue. I see the right hon. Gentleman has got a colonial work there which gives him all the information which perhaps he did not possess at the commencement of the Debate. Possibly he will tell us what are the imports and exports of the Bahamas, what is the population, and what is the revenue, and in what way it is raised. It is very easy for the Representative of the colonies here to say, "Oh, the Bahamas do not pay because they have not got sufficient revenue," but it seems to me the question really is, whether the revenue could not be raised. The first business of any particular island is to pay its own way. If it does not we ought to get rid of it, no matter where it is situated. I want to have colonies which are of benefit to us, not wretched islands like the Bahamas. I cannot believe the Bahamas are so very poor that they cannot pay £1,000 per annum for a Governor. It is very probable that they do not want a Governor; or possibly they think £500 a year would be amply sufficient to pay a 1771 Governor. We have a sort of notion that when we send a Governor to one of these wretched islands he is to be a sort of regal person. I once knew a Governor of the Bahamas, and he told me all about the thing. He told me how he had to give receptions, and he laughed and jeered at the idea when he ceased to be Governor.
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
The hon. Member has asked me what is the revenue and expenditure of the Bahamas. The local revenue in 1888 was £45,578, and the expenditure £44,429. The present debt is £83,136.
§ (4.59.) Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
While I agree with the general observations of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), I am rather glad the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) has not moved any reduction. The present Governor of the Bahamas is one of the most excellent Governors we have ever had, and has done a great deal to increase the resources of the colony. I invite the Under Secretary to prolong the discussion by giving us some information as to the recent measures taken. The Under Secretary seems shocked at the idea of giving us some information as to the proceedings in the Bahamas. I am sure the information must be at his disposal, and it is only fair he should give us an opportunity of knowing what these measures arc. It may not have come to his knowledge that a former Governor of the Bahamas, named Sir Henry Blake, is taking credit for reforms which have been effected by Sir Ambrose Shea. I should be glad to have from the Under Secretary a statement giving credit where it is due. With the exception I have mentioned, I agree with my hon. Friend in his general contention, that there are too many Colonial Governors appointed, and that their salaries are far in excess of the duties they perform. Discussions such as these have been raised continually during the past 10 years, but have failed to lead to any practical result.
§ (5.0.) MR. PICTON (Leicester)
The figures put before us show a surplus of revenue over expenditure in the colony, but yet we are called upon to vote this item. Why is it that we have to supplement the revenue by the payment of the Governor?
§ (5.1.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I presume in the estimate of expenditure the interest on the debt is included? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can tell us also what becomes of this large surplus?
§ (5.1.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
We seem to get very little information from the Under Secretary. If the right hon. Gentleman will not tell the Committee, perhaps I may be allowed to explain that it is the oligarchy in these colonies who do not like to be taxed, and the Revenue is raised by taxation of the food of the people, contrary to all the doctrines of Free Trade, so dear to the people of these islands. Throughout the whole of the West Indies a select oligarchy rules in each colony and escapes taxation, while revenue is squeezed out of the food of the people.
§ (5.2.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
Will the right hon. Gentleman say by whom the Import Duties levied in the colony are fixed?
§ *(5.3.) MR. PICTON
The matters I have to raise in connection with administration at Sierra Leone and the neighbourhood are of the gravest importance, and this will be allowed by anyone who has given attention to the latest Blue Book in reference to this part of our colonial possessions. In the first place, I think I have a right to make some complaint of the delay in the issue of this Blue Book. It was presented to Parliament in June last year, but it was not available to Members of this House until nearly the end of the year; and when it came into our hands, we found that much information we had a right to expect was omitted. But the information we do possess shows how heavy is the responsibility resting upon us. I am not, I think, using language of exaggeration when I say this Blue Book tells a tale of slaughter and incendiarism. The actions described in this book include the slaughter of an indefinite number of people in several native towns, the burning of six or eight towns, and punishments inflicted of a cruel character unknown to our laws on natives in the Colony of Sierra Leone or the neighbourhood. When I speak of the 1773 slaughter of an indefinite number of people, I mean that we have no information as to the numbers; they must have been at least 300, and may have been 700 or 1,000. On page 74 of this Blue Book we have a document signed by J. C. Ernest Parkes, the superintendent of the Aborigines Department, which document gives the information gathered from prisoners taken at Fanima—All the inhabitants of two of the three towns which formed Fanima were killed when the attack was made by the police.Of course, we have no means of knowing the number, but the statement is that "all" the inhabitants were killed. I may be told that such are inevitable incidents in the administration of a great Colonial Empire. That may be so, and it is a misfortune if it is; but the point I insist upon, and I support my assertion upon the information in this Blue Book, is that this slaughter was to a very large extent due to the unauthorised action of an underling anxious, I suppose, to distinguish himself, and contrary to the express and repeated warnings of those who were in authority over him. The lesson we ought to learn from this record is the danger of giving an adventurous young man representing this Empire unlimited discretion in a savage country when he has not had experience and does not understand the responsibility that rests upon him. As it is, all the notice taken of his proceedings at head-quarters amounts to just this:—"It is very irregular, quite unauthorised, but it seems to pay on the whole, so you can do it again" This and no more the telegrams from the Colonial Office amount to. Now, this underling of whom I speak was manager in a particular district of Sierra Leone, Sulymah district, and his name is Mr. Copland Crawford. On February 13th I asked a question of the right hon. Gentleman in reference to this officer, who, in the previous July, was convicted of manslaughter at Freetown, he having caused a native to be flogged to death, his object being to extort a confession of crime. Mr. Crawford was convicted and condemned to 12 months' imprisonment. His health not being good, he was brought to England, and subsequently, his health not improving, he was released altogether. I only wish 1774 the same consideration were applied to all prisoners; to some imprisoned in Ireland, for instance, who, if they had had similar consideration extended to them, would be alive to-day. It is to the proceedings of Mr. Crawford I wish to call the attention of the Committee. In September, 1888, ho was placed in charge of the Sulymah district of Sierra Leone, a narrow strip of coast in the south east of the colony, bounded by the territories of a number of independent native chieftains, who have never yet been considered subject to the British Crown. Among these native chiefs was a certain Mackiah, whose head-quarters were at the town of Largo. I do not wish to make out this man as a saint; his character, probably, was as shady as his complexion. But I do not know that we can look among these natives for examples of the Christian virtues, considering the examples we have set them. To this chief Mr. Crawford paid a visit. He received no particular instructions to suppress or destroy Mackiah, but he was to enter into negotiations with a view to a peaceable settlement of disorders that had undoubtedly taken place on the frontier. On September 28th, 1888, Mr. Crawford paid a visit to Mackiah and was very hospitably entertained by the native chief. It is set out in Mr. Crawford's Report to the Governor how Mackiah gave the party quarters for the night, presented sheep and rice to the men, and two white cloths for the Government. What recognition did ho, Mr. Crawford, make of this hospitality? In this same Report to the Governor he wrote—As your Excellency is well aware, the only way to renew trade, not 5 per cent., but 100 per cent., which means good for the Revenue as well as good for the merchants and traders, is to smash once and for all Mackiah, on one side, and Gumbo Saido, Bocarry Governor's brother, on the other.This view, thus expressed by Mr. Crawford, did not meet with the approval of the Governor of Sierra Leone, Sir James Hay. The Governor, having a longer experience and taking a sensible view of the position, wrote a letter to guide and instruct Mr. Crawford, in which he said—While I am pleased to note that your journey has not been attended by any" untoward accident, I cannot but remark that it is one which should not have been undertaken 1775 without specific instructions from the officer administering the Government, the more so as, at present, the relations between Mackiah and this Government are such that the future policy in dealing with him is one which requires much consideration.Therefore, the proceedings of Mr. Copland Crawford were by no means approved by his superior officer. But what was the effect of this warning and rebuke? Within a short time we find Mr. Copland Crawford goes voluntarily to arrest two independent chiefs, whose names sound strangely on our ears, but they must be given in order to identify them, Fahwoondoo and Fangh Patoh. These chiefs were presumably friends of the Government, but they were suspected, and as it turned out without justification, of treachery. Mr. Copland Crawford sent a party of men to Fahwoondoo's town to summon the attendance of the two chiefs. And why? Because he heard that a meeting of chiefs was to be held in the town, and this official seems to have been as much afraid of a meeting as ever the Irish Secretary is of National League meetings in Ireland. He straightway insisted that the meeting must be suppressed, and he sent Mr. Davies and a party of 12 men to arrest Fahwoondoo and Fangh Patoh. Mr. Davies and his party of police were hospitably received in Fahwoondoo's town, and Mr. Davies asked the chief why he did not come when summoned. Fahwoondoo answered, not without dignity, that he fully intended to come when he felt at leisure. He was not called upon to obey the instructions of a man not representing his Sovereign. The words used, if rightly translated, were to the effect that he would come when at leisure. Thereupon Mr. Davies produced the warrant from Mr. Copland Crawford for the arrest, and laid hands on the two chiefs. Of course, a fight followed; 10 natives were killed and wounded, and three of the constables were wounded. The Committee will find the circumstances detailed on pages 12 and 13 of the Blue Book. The chiefs were conveyed prisoners to Sulymah, and were there handcuffed and gagged, and remained in that condition for a considerable time. But what did Governor Hay say to this? He regarded the whole proceeding as altogether unauthorised, and expressed his regret that this action should have 1776 been taken without his approval having been first expressed. He said—Apart from the fact that your action may create complications, it is at all times, and more so at present, unadvisable to arouse the hostility of the people with whom the police come in constant contact, as it may have a tendency to render their services as messengers, as heretofore, of little or no use to us when once distrust has been created."I remark, "concludes Governor Hay—that you say in your Report that you issued a warrant to make this arrest; this, I need hardly inform you, was invalid, and should not again be resorted to.In fact, Mr. Copland Crawford had no more right to issue such a warrant than I have, or any commercial agent trading on the coast. And yet we expect the natives to observe what we call law and order, although our agents behave in this lawless way! Governor Hay found these proceedings unjustifiable as well as unlawful, for, in a despatch to Lord Knutsford, on January 1, 1889, he says—There are hardly any grounds for believing that Fahwoondoo was one whit worse than the majority of chiefs in this part of the country, for whose shortcomings a great deal of allowance has often to be made, and from whom it is useless to expect that strict integrity and freedom from intrigue which Mr. Crawford undoubtedly seems to have expected, but apparently Fahwoondoo was the only chief whose acts were found out. In these circumstances I have thought it best to order the release of this chief from police surveillance, and I intend to send him back to his own country as soon as practicable. I feel, my Lord, that I shall be doing that which will conduce to the best interests of this portion of the Krim district in re-instating Fahwoondoo, who is the most influential, and, notwithstanding all his faults, the best of this compeers, as at present the people of the district are like sheep without a shepherd.These are significant words. Mr. Crawford previously spoke of this chief as "a wolf in sheep's clothing," and yet, in two or three months, we find the Governor referring to the man as the shepherd of his people. It is remarkable, too, that in the earlier Blue Book, in reference to this district, Sir Francis De Winton, when he sent Lieutenant Phillips to try and settle matters, recommended the appointment of an approved chief, using a similar phrase that the unsettled state of the country was owing to the people being "as sheep having no shepherd." I think we should reflect on these observations made by the authoritative Repre- 1777 sentatives of this country in those regions. We are continually destroying-, banishing, or endeavouring to humiliate native chiefs who, by natural force of character, have gained eminence and influence among their fellows. The names of Cetewayo, Langalibalele, Dinizulu, Ja-Ja, occur as illustrations of this policy of ours, and many other instances might be recalled, men whose influence might have been availed of for the interests of civilisation, but whose influence we have destroyed, with the independence of their people, and then we complain of want of law and order! Well, Mr. Crawford proceeded still in his violent policy, and Governor Hay, in despair, began to beseech for instructions from home. But Mr. Crawford would not wait for instructions. On December 12, 1888, Lord Knutsford telegraphed to Governor Hay—In answer to your telegram of December 5, you should warn Mackiah he will render himself liable to severe punishment if he enters territory under British protection. Am communicating with War Office: Chief object is defence of territory under British protection, and not to punish past offences.Mr. Crawford would not wait for the grave consideration Lord Knutsford deemed these matters should receive. On the very next day to that on which Lord Knutsford sent this telegram Governor Hay telegraphed again to Lord Knutsford—Referring to your telegram of 12th December, Crawford reports that on 2nd December he captured Jehomah; 131 Mackiah's war-boys killed in action, one policeman severely wounded. Crawford recovered possession of 522 women and children, who had been captured by war-boys. I am asking what urged him to take the town.It is clear that Governor Hay knew nothing about the recovery of these prisoners.
§ *MR. PICTON
The despatch goes on to state that 522 captives, mainly women and children, were found in Jehomah. It does not affect my point that Mr. Crawford acted entirely without authority and contrary to orders received from Governor Hay, and my point is in no way invalidated by a 1778 later despatch founded on ex post facto knowledge. It is clear that the recovery of the 522 women and children was not Mr. Crawford's object; the town was captured in pursuance of his policy of "smashing Mackiah." Let me say here that if it is considered legal and part of our recognised policy to send an armed force to assault native towns to deliver domestic slaves we ought to know it. I have as much sympathy with such a mission as any hon. Member in the House, but let us understand if that is so, it has never been understood, and there is nothing to show that this was Mr. Crawford's object in capturing the town of Jehomah; he was pursuing his policy he had expressed as that of smashing Mackiah. I should like the Committee to know what was the effect of the telegram sent to Lord Knutsford. Six days afterwards Lord Knutsford telegraphed to Governor Hay—In reply to your telegram of 17th December, if you are quite satisfied that Crawford is not running undue risk, and can carry on energetic action with advantage, it seems undesirable to restrain him, but he should be warned to act with caution and report fully what steps he proposes before taking action.This Mr. Crawford never did, and seemed incapable of doing. Nevertheless, this despatch of Lord Knutsford put new heart into Governor Hay, and, as will be seen, after this communication from the Colonial Secretary, he gave up all attempts to restrain Crawford. He had, indeed, just previously to the receipt of this telegram tried again to curb the violence of his insubordinate underling, and on December 17th, and after we had received the Report of the storming of Jehomah, but before receiving Lord Knutsford's telegram, he wrote to Mr. Crawford, and, after acknowledging receipt of a letter, in which Mr. Crawford announced his intention of making an attack on another town, he said—I have once more to point out that in so doing you have exceeded your instructions; you have no authority from this Government to assume the offensive by attacking towns, and, as stated in my confidential letter of the 11th instant, you must, on no account, adopt such a course of procedure. Your duty, as conveyed by the instructions which you have, from time to time, received, is to protect the integrity of the jurisdiction, and no hostile advance against the forces either of Mendingrate or Mackiah must be made without obtaining express permission so to do.1779 This is the third grave rebuke from Governor Hay to his irrepressible underling, yet Mr. Copland Crawford took no notice. On the 18th he received the telegram I have read, suggesting it was undesirable to restrain this young man; and so the storming, capturing, and burning of the towns went on until at last the Governor himself began almost to rejoice in these peculiar doings. I find on reference to page 61 of the Blue Books that Governor Hay, in a letter to Lord Knutsford, says—No one is more averse to resorting to arms than I am, but the present case was one of urgent necessity. Mackiah was threatening to overrun the Bum and Kittam districts. Had he been permitted to do so, the result would have been disastrous to British interests, and untold misery on the many hundreds who would have been led into captivity.But surely there was no need to burn down towns and slaughter hundreds of natives simply because Mackiah was threatening to overrun certain districts. Surely the Government are strong enough to prevent his doing that. I protest against this wanton slaughter of poor black people simply because their chief threatens to overrun a British district. Now, in a letter from Governor Hay to Lord Knutsford, printed on page 71 of this Blue Book, I find these remarkable words—I trust in the course of the next two days to have completed my business here, when I will burn down the remaining towns and remove to Bandajuma, where Captain Mackay and myself settled on the site for the block house which I ordered Chief Momoh Keikei to clear at once."I will burn down the remaining towns!" Just as he might speak of an ordinary bit of business, to be polished off before he packed up and moved on. Surely if such frightful things as these have to be done they might be spoken of in terms other than these, and ought not to be referred to as mere matters of business. I think that, so far as I have stated my case at present, I have shown that Mr. Crawford has acted with gross insubordination, and that he ought to have been restrained: yet, instead of dealing with him firmly, Governor Hay hesitated; he appealed to the Home Government for advice, and while he was hesitating six or eight towns were burnt down and 700 or 800 people 1780 were slaughtered. There is one case of individual cruelty to which I feel bound to call attention, and that is the case of Gbannah Gombo, an ally of the Governor. On January 9 he was-thanked by Governor Hay for his valuable assistance, but subsequently led astray by the evil example set him he looted and burned Bandajuma on his own account, and thus excited the indignation of the Governor, who consequently caused him to be arrested. He was taken to Freetown prison.
§ *MR. PICTON
Page 84 of the Blue Book contains particulars of the arrest. The third paragraph says that "Gbannah, for whom no excuse can be made," was arrested about January 17. On page 92 I find the following, signed by Mr. D. Palmer Ross, M.D., Edin., Colonel-surgeon:—Gbannah Gombo was admitted in the gaol hospital, Freetown, on the 24th July last, and died on the 1st inst. from the effects of blood poisoning. Previous to his arrival at the gaol he had been secured with a rope, and the loop around his right arm caused ulceration of the fore arm and induced the blood poisoning above mentioned.Gbannah Gombo was a man of weak constitution, and was badly nourished.It is, therefore, very likely that this condition of things, together with the marauding life ho had led, accelerated his death.Surgeon Ross, in his evidence at the inquest, said—The prominent parts of his body, such as his shoulders, his elbows, and his hips, were bruised, evidently from lying in a hard place, such as a boat. His right forearm was in a state of mortification or sloughing, caused by the tightness of the rope that had encircled both his arms. He died of blood poisoning, the result of the mortified arm, caused as I have above stated. I produce the written record of his case for the inspection of the Coroner and the Jury.The Coroner's Jury returned a verdict to the effect that the said Gbannah Gombo came to his death on the 1st day of February by blood poisoning, caused by ill-usage. I do not think a matter of this kind can be passed over in silence. In the Stanley Exhibition there is a model showing the mortification of the hands of a slave produced by the narrowness of the fetters he had worn, and people who look upon this horrible sight little think 1781 that anything of the kind can be done under the protection of the British Crown. It is not sufficient for the Colonial Secretary merely to express a hope that such accidents will be avoided in the future. At any rate, we must secure that such things shall be avoided in the future, and I do contend that those who have been responsible for such occurrences should be subjected to the severe displeasure of the Government. Again, I should like to draw attention to the nature of the bribes we give to these poor people. On page 50 I find that Mr. Copland Crawford, in his letter to the Administrator-in-Chief, dated December 11th, referring to a visit made to him by certain chiefs, says—On their departure I gave them 14 cases of gin and 14 pounds of tobacco, for which I would ask your Excellency's approval.This, be it remembered, was given to 13 chiefs. He might as well have given them 14 bottles of prussic acid. I am informed that only the worst kinds of spirits are sent out to Africa, and that the stuff used for bribes is sheer poison. The effect on the men who consume it is, first, mad drunkenness, then ill-health, demoralisation, and idleness. When forced by starvation they begin again collecting nuts, or other produce, with a view to obtaining more gin and more ram. On page after page you find instances in which demijohns of rum and cases of gin are given to these people by way of bribes. I think this practice should be most sternly prohibited; poison of this kind ought not to be used by the Government as current coin. In order to got an expression of opinion on this subject, I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £500 as a mark of the displeasure of the House at the gross insubordination of Mr. Crawford and the weakness of the authorities, as well as of our dissatisfaction with the abominable practice of bribing inland chiefs with these bad spirits.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item J, £2,500, for Western Coast of Africa, be reduced by £500."—(Mr. Picton.)
§ *(5.45.) BARON H. DE WORMS
I assure the Committee that I have listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Leicester with considerable 1782 interest, not, however, untinged with regret that unfounded attacks should be made in the House of Commons upon the Governors of distant colonies that they indulge in fire and slaughter out of sheer brutality. This goes far beyond the licence that the House ought to be expected to allow.
§ *MR. PICTON
I never said anything of the kind. I never said or suggested that these things were done solely out of sheer brutality for a bad, selfish, and mercenary purpose; but I did say that all the proceedings were undoubtedly inconsistent with morality and Christianity.
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
The hon. Gentleman gave the Committee to understand that the expeditions were undertaken not for the purpose of liberating captives, but of burning towns and killing people. But the sole object of the attack by Mr. Crawford was for the purpose of rescuing women and children who had been carried off from British territory, and who were then in slavery. Does the hon. Gentleman realise what such slavery in the interior means? There were 525 persons rescued by Mr. Crawford, and I ask the hon. Gentleman whether that did not warrant the action which he took? Would the hon. Gentleman have preferred that these 525 persons should have remained in slavery, and that those who held them should have been allowed to go scot free? Would that, in the opinion of the hon. Gentleman, be in accordance with the principles of morality and Christianity? It is true that in rescuing the 522 persons many of those who held them in captivity were killed, but would the hon. Gentleman have preferred that they should remain in slavery? If those are the views of the hon. Member I can assure him they are not the views of the House, or of the world generally. The hon. Gentleman read such portions of the despatches as would lead the Committee to believe that Governor Hay condemned the action of Mr. Crawford, but when I challenged him to read other portions he did not do so. If he had read them it would be found that the Governor did not condemn the action of Mr. Crawford which led to the release of the wretched captives, though he did condemn that for which Mr. Crawford 1783 was punished. The action of Mr. Crawford in rescuing women and children from slavery is one for which he has not been, and ought not to be, condemned. I think the statement made by the hon. Member was not a fair one. And now, as to the case of Gbannah Gombo. On the 8th of March, 1889, I answered a question put by my hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Sir R. Fowler) with regard to the unfortunate case of this chief who died from the effects of mortification of his wound in consequence, as was alleged, of having been too tightly bound. On that day I said that the Governor reported that the chief's death was attributed to blood poisoning in consequence of the mortification of the wound, and that the conduct which led to such a result was greatly to be regretted. In that I expressed not only my own view, but the view of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. The hon. Gentleman would have acted more fairly if he had stated that the question had been raised and had been fully answered on the 8th of March, 1889. I think the Committee will believe that, so far from these expeditions having been undertaken from the sheer spirit of wanton cruelty, as suggested by the hon. Member for Leicester, they were rendered necessary for the rescue of women and children, and nothing more was done than was absolutely needed for that object. I do not think I need weary the Committee with any further observations. I believe I have answered all the points raised by the hon. Member.
§ (5.52.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
The right hon. Gentleman has given a very weak answer to an extremely grave charge. I object to the observation that we have no right to make attacks on the Governors of these distant colonies. If the right hon. Gentleman had said that observations upon the acts of these gentlemen should be made with discretion and reserve, I should have agreed with him. But he seems to have suggested that we have no right at all to criticise their acts. Has he seriously studied the Constitution of this country when he lays down such a monstrous proposition?
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
What I said was that unfounded charges should not be made against men in responsible positions.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
The right hon. Gentleman said nothing of the kind. Of course, unfounded charges should not be made against anybody, and I wish the right hon. Gentleman had always remembered that in the course of his political career. Now, there are several parts of the case which the right hon. Gentleman did not attempt to answer. He did not explain the strange change of front on the part of the Colonial Authorities at home and of Governor Hay, who for weeks and months condemned the conduct of Mr. Crawford. That change of purpose has-been little short of a scandal. How does the right hon. Gentleman account for the Colonial Office backing Governor Hay in condemning those unauthorised expeditions? He seems to be surprised that we echo the complaints of Governor Hay. The right hon. Gentleman now justifies Mr. Crawford on the ground of the rescue of women and children. But Mr. Crawford does not demean himself by putting forth any such plea of justification. What he says is something very different. On page 9 it will be found he says, in a despatch to the Governor, that the only way to renew trade, not by 5 per cent., but 100 per cent., which means good for the revenue as well as for the merchants and traders, is to smash this chief, and that I think this alone is sufficient to show that these expeditions were undertaken solely for vulgar brutal greed. "One hundred per cent." was the real reason for the expedition against Mackiah, and not the-humanitarian object suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. Now, I should like to know what answer does the right hon. Gentleman give to the charge about the distribution of gin among the chiefs? Does the right hon. Gentleman approve of that course?
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
Then the right hon. Gentleman might have occupied a portion of his time in expressing condemnation of it. He completed his speech without saying one word in condemnation of it; and in his position his silence might well have been misinterpreted into approval of such a course. I think, even with a Compensation Bill to push through the House, that he might have ventured on some condemnation of the demoralisation of these 1785 districts by the distribution of gin. The right hon. Gentleman never said anything on that subject. There is another subject—the treatment of the Chief Fahwoondo. On that subject the right hon. Gentleman said nothing whatever. All I can say is, Mr. Courtney, that I regard it as something very like an insult to the intelligence of this Committee that the right hon. Gentleman can get up and imagine that he can escape the grave indictment brought by my hon. Friend. As to the distribution of gin, I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether or not he approves of the conduct of Mr. Crawford? The right hon. Gentleman does not make a sign of assent or dissent. We shall extort from the right hon. Gentleman, if we continue this Debate, some more courteous and more proper treatment than he has hitherto given it. I come to the last point, and that is the treatment of this unfortunate man, Gbannah Gombo. I would like to call the attention of the Committee first to the despatch of Governor Hay—Despatch No. 86; from Governor Hay to Lord Knutsford—My Lord, with reference to my despatch of the 17th ultimo, in the third paragraph of which I stated that I was taking to Freetown, as prisoner, Gbannah Gombo, for plundering the town of Samah, in the Luhu country, I have the honour to report that that chief died in the gaol yesterday.This is a very terse description of this transaction. Who would imagine the horrors, some of which have already been detailed by my hon. Friend, from this description, "he died in the gaol yesterday." This man died from cruelties which, if committed in Siberia by Russian officials, would have extorted from the right hon. Gentleman, who has distinguished himself in his career by strong denunciations of Russia, an expression of the fact that he was astounded and shocked that no word of reprobation had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. But because this transaction has been on British territory by British officials, the right hon. Gentleman thinks the justice of the case met by a mild expression of regret, which he has just read to the House. What happened? This man was so brutally ill-treated during his imprisonment that his arm mortified, and he died from blood- 1786 poisoning. It is a most horrible and shocking story. I will read the evidence of the surgeon—The deceased Gbannah Gombo was admitted into the gaol hospital on the evening of the 24th January last, and died this morning. He was admitted in a weak and exhausted condition, suffering from the effects of ill-usage previous to his admission into the gaol. He had the marks of rope round his neck, his thighs, above the knee, and his elbows, The prominent parts of his body, such as his shoulders, his elbows, and his hips, were bruised, evidently from lying in a hard place, such as a boat. His right forearm was in a state of mortification or sloughing, caused by the tightness of the rope that had encircled both his arms. He died of blood poisoning, the result of the mortified arm.Now, here is the evidence of John Henry Williams—I am a lance-corporal of police. The deceased, Gbannah Gombo, was handed over as a prisoner to the police stationed at Maffuai, about the middle of the past month by the Governor. I was one of the police. He was then tied; his arms were bound behind his back. The Private Secretary ordered us to keep the man tied. We were ordered by Mr. Parkes to take Gbannah Gombo to Bon the in a boat. We left Maffuai with the deceased on the morning of the 17th January. His arms were now tied before him, there being no handcuffs. We placed him in the stern, where he could lie or sit as he pleased. We reached Bon the on the 20th, when the ropes were taken off the deceased, and we left there, on the 23rd, in the Countess of Derby, with him. When the deceased was first delivered to us at Maffuai, the upper part of his right arm was a little bruised. We reached Freetown on the evening of the 24th, when I was directed by Mr. Parkes, who handed me at the same time an official letter for the gaoler, to take Gbannah Gombo to the gaol. That is the body of Gbannah Gombo lying in the dead-house, and which was just now viewed by the coroner and jury.Then this witness says—"The deceased made no complaint," a statement on which I have my own opinion. Here is a transaction which, if got hold of by the Russian Press, would effectually put an end to any of these Phariasical denunciations of cruelties under the Russian Government. I do not wish to be misunderstood, Mr. Courtney. I condemn as strongly as anybody those atrocities which are committed in Siberia, taking the accounts given of them as not exaggerated. At the same time, I very strongly condemn a Christian and Constitutional Government represented in this House passing over these atrocities with such a mild expression of regret as we have got from 1787 the right hon. Gentleman. I think that the Committee and the country have reason to be grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester for the manner in which he has brought this question before the House, and I think, on the other hand, that we have every ground for dissatisfaction with the scant, flimsy, and incomplete answer made by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ *(6.12.) MR. G. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)
Mr. Courtney, I think my hon. Friend has done signal service in bringing this matter before the Committee. I am perfectly prepared to make every allowance for one in the position of Governor Hay, who cannot refer home for authority, and is obliged to act on the spur of the moment, and who is liable to be made responsible for the acts of underlings and officials, who are not always men of the highest stamp. If the expedition had stopped at the original object of liberating a number of slaves, even though some persons had been unavoidably killed in the operation, I should not have been disposed to say anything, but the matter went a good deal further than that. The declaration of Mr. Crawford that his object was to increase trade 100 per cent. showed that his object was a very different one to that of simply liberating a number of slaves. As to the death of this unfortunate Gombo, no excuse whatever has been offered, and the case is practically undefended. But I confess I was disappointed that the right hon. Gentleman did not utter one word of regret or condemnation of the attempts which have been referred to, to bribe these chiefs with presents of rum and tobacco. I do hope, before the Debate closes, that the right hon. Gentleman will express his regret for this most objectionable practice.
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
The question raised by the hon. Member for Leicester was as to the action of Mr. Crawford in destroying villages and rescuing the captives, and not as to the distribution of rum. I answered that fully; and with regard to the presents of rum to the natives, I not only very strongly condemn any such action, but, as the Representative of the Colonial Office in this House, I, in the course of a recent Debate, expressed the strongest condemnation of the liquor traffic amongst the savages. It is the 1788 endeavour of Her Majesty's Government to do all in their power to limit and put down the traffic.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
Mr. Courtney, I have again to complain that the right hon. Gentleman has not answered my statements with reference to the Chief Fahwoondoo, and I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to point out one word of condemnation in the despatches. I want the right hon. Gentleman to point out in this Blue Book one single despatch or one single sentence in which any condemnation of the demoralisation of the chiefs by liquor is expressed. And here I must express my astonishment at the want of courtesy displayed by the right hon. Gentleman in not having given an answer to this question when previously put by my hon. Friend. I would further say that his position in this House is not so great nor so high as to place him above the ordinary courtesies of Debate, one of which is that when the attention of a Minister is called to a particular subject, and a question is put upon it, he should give an answer to it. I now ask the right hon. Gentleman what answer he has to give to the case put forward with regard to the Chief Fahwoondoo, whose imprisonment and ill-treatment have been so much complained of?
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has alleged that I have been guilty of discourtesy; but I think that if anyone has a right to complain of discourtesy it is for me to complain of discourtesy on the part of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicester.
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
In the first place, I had no notice that this subject-was to be brought forward.
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
The hon. Gentleman had not the courtesy to inform me as to the subject he wished to draw attention to; and I think that the Committee will certainly acquit me of any discourtesy in not having, under the circumstances, been provided with all the papers relating to an incident which happened more than a year ago. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Liverpool has asked for some information with regard to the case of the Chief Fahwoondoo, and the only answer I 1789 have to give is that at the time referred to the country in which that chief had authority was in an extremely critical and dangerous condition; and Fahwoondoo was suspected of secretly aiding those opposed to us; and, in the exercise of his discretion, Mr. Crawford thought it right to arrest Fahwoondoo and send him down to Freetown. That official was justified in what he did by the difficult position in which affairs were placed; but when Sir James Hay found there was not sufficient grounds for detaining him he was released.
§ SIR W. PLOWDEN (Wolverhampton, W.)
It appears to me that the two chiefs who have been referred to were arrested in the most illegal manner, and that the illegality of those arrests has been fully established. But, notwithstanding this, the right hon. Gentleman appears to justify what was done. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question with regard to the unfortunate man Gbannah Gombo, who died from the treatment he received during his capture and subsequent confinement. I would remind him that this matter was the subject of a question addressed to him some months ago; and I would ask whether he has not received information as to the conduct of those who are responsible for what then took place. We have heard of the expression of dissatisfaction on the part of the Government with what was done by those persons; and I should like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman whether any measure of punishment has been enjoined by the Governor or any other authority with regard to their action? If not, I think the right hon. Gentleman, as representing Her Majesty's Government, might fairly say he is prepared to express the dissatisfaction they feel with regard to the very cruel treatment to which that individual was subjected.
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
During the time the hon. Gentleman has been speaking I have read the Report of the answer I made to the question he has referred to, and I find that I then said the Secretary of State had had under consideration the conduct of those who had so treated that unfortunate man, and had expressed his disapproval, at the same time warning them of what would 1790 be the consequence if there were any repetition of the offence.
§ *MR. PICTON
The right hon. Gentleman knows that when I ventured to allude to Mr. Crawford while another matter was before the Committee I was out of order, and I was rightly stopped by the Chairman, I then stated that I wished to bring this question before the Committee, and I should hardly have thought that a gentleman occupying the responsible position of the right hon. Gentleman could have been unprepared to have entered upon such a subject. I do not think I ever knew a case in which a story of wrong and misery and cruelty has been met in a more cold-hearted way than that in which this case has been met by the right hon. Gentleman. It is all very well for him to think that, because I am an insignificant Member of this House, he can afford to despise a question of this sort when brought forward by me; but the matter is one that does not rest with me; it rests with public opinion, and I am persuaded that public opinion will be on my side when I am found raising a question of justice and right, and can show that I have a fair claim to courteous treatment from the Ministerial Bench I assert that the right hon. Gentleman has not treated me with due courtesy, and that if he thinks he can in the space of five minutes pooh-pooh a subject which it has necessarily taken considerable time to put forward in detail he is mistaken. He says the Government have condemned the employment of liquor to a demoralising extent among these people; but I ask for some evidence of this. Let the right hon. Gentleman produce a despatch in which the Government has taken this course. There is nothing of the kind in the Blue Book; while, on the other hand, the approval of the Governor is asked for and given, and the expenses are allowed. Can the right hon. Gentleman explain the unrighteous treatment of Fahwoondoo and his friends? The Governor said an illegal act had been perpetrated, which he condemned, and ordered not to be repeated. The question I have brought before the Committee is one of humanity, and I say that the Government dare not treat the people of Wales or Scotland as they treat these poor natives. I am afraid I cannot mention Ireland along with Wales and Scot 1791 land, because things which are done there are justified by the Chief Secretary, and do not arouse so much attention here as any wrong that might be inflicted on the people of Scotland or Wales, in regard to whom Her Majesty's Government would take a very different course of action. I am afraid that no good result will follow what is being done in Africa until we understand that the black man's life is as sacred as that of the white, and that if the black is slaughtered needlessly a full account will be demanded. Here, however, no such account has been demanded, and no punishment has been inflicted. There has been nothing but a weak expression of the hope that such things will not happen in the future. I earnestly trust that I shall have the support of hon. Members on both sides of the House in condemning this most unrighteous course.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I cannot but regret that the right hon. Gentleman, who is responsible for this Vote, has not taken a different course. He has been dealing with a matter involving acts of reckless cruelty of which he has given us no clear condemnation, nor is there any clear condemnation of those acts in the Blue Book. He has given us some very nice phrases about the desire of the Government and the Secretary of State to diminish the liquor traffic, but there is no distinct condemnation of that traffic in the despatches hero produced. The Committee have a right to expect something more definite. The truth is that most of the officials in contact with these unfortunate people treat them as though they were not human beings on anything like the same level with ourselves, and that is the difficulty of dealing with the different native races—a difficulty which the Colonial Office should take care to diminish as much as possible by expressing disapproval of the use of violence such as Captain Crawford has exhibited. I trust that the hon. Member for Leicester will go a Division upon this question, and that the vote will not be a Party vote; but that those who are in the habit of saying something ought to be done in behalf of the aborigines by the European race will now come forward and give their votes in favour of the Amendment.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN, St. George's Hanover Square
I should be exceedingly reluctant to find this House avowing that there is not the same feeling in regard to this question on both sides of the House. It would, indeed, be giving a wrong impression to our fellow-subjects in many parts of the world to say that the same feeling did not apply to every part of the House. My right hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies is under the disadvantage that he has not been able to study the more recent despatches bearing on this matter during the past few days, and, therefore, it is impossible for him to answer with that precision on the subject than hon. Members below the Gangway, through having the subject in their minds, require. Under the circumstances of the case, however, I trust that hon. Members will not feel it necessary to divide. We shall, of course, vote against the Motion to reduce the Vote, and may give our fellow-subjects in distant parts of the world the impression that we approve of the proceedings which hon. Members have so strongly condemned in the course of the Debate; and it may be that after we have had time to thoroughly examine into them, we shall not approve of those proceedings. To force on a Division at this moment may be to give a wrong impression by inducing the outside world to believe that there is a difference of opinion amongst us. I need scarcely assure hon. Members that occurrences of this sort create the same impression on the Government as on other people. It certainly happens sometimes that there are unfortunate occurrences affecting other races than our own in which British officials are concerned: but, on the whole, the government of native peoples by Englishmen has been less marred by such occurrences than any other European administration of native affairs. In fact, our administration has been singularly free from these deplorable occurrences. With respect to the exceptional instance before the Committee, our view has now been expressed; and in these circumstances I trust that we shall not be compelled to divide, for the Division might, as I have explained, create a perfectly false impression.
§ (6.35.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I am glad the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has thought it necessary to supplement the very inadequate remarks of the Under Secretary for the Colonies with regard to these occurrences, and I endorse what he has said—that our agents in distant parts of the world have great difficulties to contend with, and that their administration is less marred by these deplorable occurrences than the administration of the officials of other European nationalities; but I do hold that the Government should always express strong reprobation when these deplorable incidents take place. I, myself, have a notice on the Paper bearing on this subject, namely—On Civil Service Estimates, Class V., Vote 3, Sub-head I., to move to reduce the Vote by £100 (part of the Salary of the Governor of Sierra Leone).The subject, however, has been so fully and adequately laid before the Committee by my hon. Friend below the Gangway that I do not desire to go over the ground again. I would say, generally, however, that the result of perusing the Blue Books has been to strengthen me in the suspicion I have always entertained that the object with which native races in all parts of the world are treated with cruelty and severity, especially on the West Coast of Africa, is not the humane one which is sometimes put forward as the pretext, but is to further the interests of local traders and monopolists. The object in the particular case to which the attention of the Committee has been called, seems to have been to raise the profit of British merchants from 5 per cent. to 100 per cent. Fourteen cases of gin were given to the native chiefs. It ought to be distinctly understood that such gifts ought not to be made by officials of the Government, and I think we are justified in asking for a distinct pledge from Her Majesty's Ministers that this practice will be discontinued in future. But Mr. Copland Crawford has been guilty in another case. Tried before the Colonial Court for flogging his servant to death, he was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment. From Sierra Leone he was sent to England to undergo the sentence, as it was held that his health was not such as to enable him to 1794 endure the confinement in the severe climate of the colony; but on reaching these shores, he was examined by two medical men, who certified that his health was so bad that his life would be jeopardised by imprisonment. The result is, that Mr. Crawford goes scot free. It may be that there was sufficient ground for releasing him; that he had suffered so much from the ill effects of the climate that it was necessary to remit the punishment, but I would ask who were the medical men who signed the certificate, and what was the form of it? Did the certificate say that the man was so ill that it would be fatal to him to endure this 12 months' imprisonment?
§ *(6.40.) MR. G. OSBORNE MORGAN
I suppose I am right in assuming that Mr. Crawford will not be employed any longer by the Colonial Office.
§ *(6.40.) BARON H. DE WORMS
I can give the right hon. Gentleman all the assurance he desires in that respect. I may explain that Mr. Crawford was sent to this country from Sierra Leone because it was found that his health was too bad to admit of his being detained there. It was believed that if imprisoned in that climate he would not live many months. On his arrival at Liverpool he was examined by Mr. Palmer Ross, colonial surgeon of Sierra Leone, at the instance of the Colonial Office, and by Dr. Beamish, the senior surgeon at Walton Prison, at the instance of the Home Office, and they certified as follows:—In accordance with the instructions of the right hon. the Secretary of State for the Colonies, we proceeded on board the S.S. Lagos immediately on her arrival at Liverpool (from Sierra Leone) at 8 p.m. of the 24th instant, and medically examined Captain Crawford. We found the following conditions to be present:—Absence of reflex action at left knee, slightly present in right knee; impaired sensibility of left foot and leg up to knee; inability to clench the hands tightly; unsteadiness of gait; œdema of both ankles and feet; enlargement of abdomen (evidently from fluid) with increased size of liver and spleen; excited action of heart; marked mental excitement; slight hesitancy in speech.I think that hon. Gentlemen will admit that such a state of health was amply sufficient to warrant the medical officers examining him in recommending that the remainder of the sentence should be remitted.
§ (6.42.) MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
I think we should congra- 1795 tulate the hon. Member for Leicester on the Debate he has brought about this afternoon. He has taken a great deal of trouble and spent a large amount of time in looking up the case and in laying it before the House; and after hearing the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it seems to me that there is only one course to follow. The right hon. Gentleman wishes us not to arrive at a too hasty decision, and not to appear to give a one-sided vote; then, I would suggest that the proper way to obviate any appearance of the kind would be to pospone the Vote so as to give the Under Secretary for the Colonies the opportunity he desires of informing himself on the subject. If the right hon. Gentleman does not accept this suggestion, I would advise the hon. Member for Leicester to divide the Committee. The Under Secretary cannot justly complain of having been taken by surprise, for I see the following on the Notice Paper:—Mr. Picton,—On Civil Service Estimates, Class V., Vote 3, Sub-head J (Western Coast of Africa), to move to reduce the Vote by £500.In face of such a notice I should hold it to be the duty of the Minister responsible for the Vote to come down fully prepared for its discussion. It is his duty, I take it, to go through all the Blue Books relating to his Department from time to time. As he has failed to make a defence on this occasion, the only alternative is to postpone the Vote in order to enable him to make himself acquainted with the facts and to give us what explanation he can. The indictment of the hon. Member for Leicester had not yet been adequately replied to.
MR. W. A. MARTHUR (Cornwall, Mid, St. Austell)
I think it only just to the Government to say that I know from private sources that Mr. Crawford's health was such as to render it quite impossible that he should undergo the sentence of imprisonment passed upon him. I admit that it is extremely difficult for the Colonial Office to control the action of its subordinates in all parts of the world. At the same time, questions of the sort under discussion ought not to be lightly passed over, as by so doing we may make a bad impression upon the native races if they have reason to think that an English subject, 1796 whether black or white, and whether at Sierra Leone or in Regent-street, does not have fair-play at the hands of the Government. We govern, I suppose, more coloured races than any nation in the world, and I believe the British Government is more popular amongst all coloured races than any other Government for the reason that these races believe they receive fair play at our hands. It is of immense importance that that sentiment should be sustained. It is of enormous advantage to the trade of this country; therefore, I think that whenever instances occur -where natives have been subjected to unjust treatment at the hands of our Agents, they should be thoroughly examined into and pronounced upon in this House. I trust it is not intended in the future to allow colonial matters to slide.
§ *(6.49.) MR. WINTERBOTHAM (Gloucester, Cirencester)
I would appeal to the Government to postpone this Vote, as I agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer it would be a thing to be deplored to have a Division upon a subject upon which we ought to be all as one man. Wicked and abominable deeds have been committed in the name of this country, and the Minister who is called upon to reply for our Colonial Office, without having thoroughly informed his mind on the question, gets up and offers an apology which almost suggests some excuse for the person who is mainly responsible. We have a right to demand a more satisfactory reply than that, in the light of a more searching examination of the facts. We have a right also to be told not only that Mr. Crawford has been dismissed from the Service of the Crown, but that he has been dismissed under conditions which will debar him from receiving a pension. The Minister in charge of the Vote ought to have an opportunity of making such a speech as will prevent the necessity of a Division.
*(6.50.) MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen)
The tone in which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer addressed the Committee was so essentially different from that which had previously been adopted on the Government Bench that I should be glad if it were possible to avoid a Division. But I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in face of one case which has 1797 been referred to, it is possible to escape a Division? I speak of the case of Gombo. He was a chief held in high respect and exercising authority in his own country. His is, therefore, an instance from which we may form a judgment as to the way in which the poorer people are treated. It was considered necessary to arrest him. He was arrested, and he was subjected to torture which led directly to his death. His hands were tied behind his back tightly with ropes that cut through the flesh. It is impossible that this should not have been known to those who were responsible for the arrest. The chief was so seriously wounded by this operation that, after he was taken to prison, the hand mortified and he died in consequence. What did the Colonial Office do? Here was a man cruelly done to death, and treated as badly as prisoners in Siberia. Did the Colonial Office express any condemnation of the proceeding? Not by a, single word. Did they take any steps to punish the persons who wore wilfully guilty of such atrocious cruelty? They took no steps even to ascertain who was to blame, and they actually abstained from a single word of condemnation. Lord Knutsford's Despatch of the 4th of March, 1889, merely acknowledged the receipt of the Despatch informing him of the Chief's death, and his next Despatch conveys his approval of such orders as had been issued to the police for the avoidance of such accidents in the future. What is the Chancellor of the Exchequer's opinion of this mode of treating such a case? How does he think it is possible for us to hold up our heads before the world? Under the circumstances I have referred to, if the proposed reduction is pressed to a Division I shall vote for it.
§ *(6.57.) BARON H. DE WORMS
Injustice to the Secretary of State, I cannot allow the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman to go unchallenged. Lord Knutsford did condemn the unfortunate occurrence to which reference has been made, and I have stated that the strictest orders were given to the police that handcuffs should be used, and that the greatest care should be taken that no injury or hardship should be committed. That which Lord Knutsford approved 1798 was not the unfortunate occurrence, but the immediate action taken by the Governor with the object of preventing a repetition of it. The man was violent in resisting his arrest, and his hands had to be secured. The police had no handcuffs with them, and the rope they used was extremely hard. It was in consequence of its hardness, rather than of the tightness with which it was tied, that his hand was lacerated. The man was in an extremely bad state of health.
§ (6.59.) MR. LABOUCHERE
The Chancellor of the Exchequer hopes we will not take a Division, because it may produce a wrongful impression on the black races if they vote as he says they will have to do on the other side. But we have two matters to consider. In the first place, we have to insist that cruelties of this nature should be prevented in the future; and, in the next place, we have to consider the action of Her Majesty's Government. Must unquestionably the action of the Government has been most improper in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman explained that Mr. Crawford, when he came to England after having been sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment for flogging his servant to death, was liberated because he was ill. But what are we to think of the administration of affairs in this place, when an officer who flogs his servant to death receives a punishment of only 12 months' imprisonment? I should have thought that Her Majesty's Government ought to have expressed the opinion that such a punishment was utterly inadequate. With regard to Gombo, the right hon. Gentleman has explained that what occurred was a mere accident. The police did not happen to have handcuffs with them, and the rope happened to be rather too stiff. But when the facts were represented to Her Majesty's Government did they make any protest? I say there is actually none on record. The right hon Gentleman says Lord Knutsford approved of the instructions given to the police to be more careful in the future, but nobody was punished. We have another charge also to make against the Government. It is recorded in a Despatch printed in the Blue Book that Mr. Crawford gave 50 cases of gin to the native Chiefs. The Governor makes no sort of protest against this gift, but treats it as 1799 a matter of course, and we may presume, therefore, that this is the way in which those chiefs are habitually treated in this part of the world. I think, on the whole, that the Government have come exceedingly badly out of this discussion. They have not acted with any sort of energy or determination, and if we had not had this discussion, the things would have been passed over as if they were entirely normal. Under these circumstances, if we go to a Division, I shall certainly vote for the reduction.
§ (7.5.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I wish to know what foundation there is for the right hon. Gentleman's statement that Gombo behaved with great violence when he was arrested?
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
There is a Despatch from the Governor to Lord Knutsford reporting the arrest, and it does not contain a word about resistance on the part of Gombo. There is not even a hint in the evidence of the Commissary of Police that Gombo, after his arrest, did not proceed to gaol with the greatest quietness. I give the right hon. Gentleman notice that we shall call on him to produce at a later date the information on which he founds his statement, that the course taken was justified by Gombo's violence. I am willing to concede that the intervention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the debate has given a considerably different complexion to that which it previously bore. The right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary had treated the indictment of my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) with a levity which was very unbecoming, and which led to a strong feeling of resistance. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has somewhat smoothed the situation by the very candid expression of his feeling of condemnation of the actions to which my hon. Friend alluded. But that is not enough. The right hon. Gentleman will see that we cannot allow it to go forth to the millions of the native races who are dependent on us that such transactions as are recorded in this Blue Book are treated with anything but the strongest condemnation by the Imperial Parliament. The Under Secretary for the Colonies 1800 excuses the inadequacy of his reply by the shortness of the notice. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer will consent to give the Under Secretary an opportunity of further discussing the case later we shall be willing to refrain from taking a Division on the present occasion. Unless this be done, I think we are bound to challenge the opinion of the House on the question.
§ (7.9.) CAPTAIN BETHELL
Hon. Members opposite have treated the case as if Mr. Crawford was guilty of an act of personal cruelty to Gombo. I think it is only just to point out that, although Mr. Crawford was rightly responsible for the binding of the man, of course, the actual work was carried out by the police. No doubt Mr. Crawford behaved extremely badly in another matter, and was properly punished, but, at the same time, I think it is fair to acquit him of the charge of personal cruelty in this particular matter.
§ (7.10.) MR. WADDY (Lincolnshire, Brigg)
The complaint we make is that not the slightest punishment has ever been meted out, not to Mr. Crawford, but to the police. Now we come to the case of Crawford. It is said he is not responsible for what occurred. We say he is. He himself has told us that the acts of cruelty were done by himself. What we complain of is that when he deliberately drew the attention of his superior officer to what he had done, not one particle of reproof is meted out to him. In his letter dated December 11th, and which is given in the Blue Book, Mr. Crawford dealt with two or three different subjects. In the first place he told his superior officer that he was about to commence almost military operations against certain persons whose names he gave, and then he said he had seen certain Chiefs, and added—I have so far succeeded in effecting peace between them, and they have all left quite satisfied. On their departure I gave them 14 cases of gin and 141bs. of tobacco, for which I would ask Your Excellency's approval.What took place? A formal and categorical answer was returned by His Excellency. His Excellency pointed out that Mr. Crawford had exceeded his instructions with regard to the warlike operations—that his duty was limited to defensive operations—and there was not a word of reproof as to the matter which 1801 has been dwelt upon by various Members of the Committee. In his answer His Excellency never indicated in any sort of way that Mr. Crawford had done anything of which he ought to be ashamed. We complain that different treatment was meted out to the constable with his hard rope and to Mr. Crawford with his 14 cases of gin. It appears the Government have not come down to the House prepared to deal with the matter. In point of fact, the Under Secretary for the Colonies has been thrown over by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the ground that the Under Secretary has really not had time to read the matter up. We are to understand that if the right hon. Gentleman had had time to learn what is going on in his own office the thing would have been put in a nicer way. With an innocence which was very touching, the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggested, "You had better not divide, because it will put us in an unfortunate position; we must vote against you whether you are right or wrong, and it will give a wrong impression." I do not see why they should vote against us. If we are right let the Government do violence to their feelings and vote right for once. If it is right this amount should be struck out of the Vote let the Government agree to strike it out. If they cannot do that they can at least postpone the Vote until such time as they are ready to deal properly with this atrocious matter. To enable the Government to consider the matter and make up their minds in regard to it I am prepared to move that you, Sir, should report Progress. I do not wish to press the Motion to a Division, but I will do so if the Government say they will not withdraw the Vote. I venture to suggest that there is something very unconstitutional in this matter. The Government say they have information which we are not possessed of. I ask them to lay that information on the Table. If they have not given us all the information, let them give it to us. Perhaps we are all in the wrong; let the Government give us all the information they possess, and we shall see how the matter stands. A very pertinent question which was put from the Front Opposition Bench has not yet received an answer. Is it, or is it not, a fact that this man is to receive a pension for his 1802 services? Are the Government prepared to say that Mr. Crawford shall not, when he recovers from his illness, as we all hope he will, and as we all believe ho will, be re-employed in Her Majesty's Service? I ask for an answer to this question.
§ (7.20.) MR. HANBURY
I should like to have a little more information on this point. Is this man going to have a pension, or is he not? It is really the gist of the whole thing. I doubt whether it is possible to give him a pension. I was astonished to hear the right hon. Gentleman say it has to be considered.
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
I never said anything of the sort. I said if the matter arose it would be considered.
§ *(7.21.) MR. GOSCHEN
As a matter of fact the question has not arisen. No application has been made to the Treasury for a pension. When the case comes before the Treasury with the certificates that will have to be given as to good conduct, of course it will be dealt with as it deserves. My right hon. Friend is unable to answer the question which has really not yet been put to him. It does not rest with the right hon. Gentleman or the Colonial Office to decide whether the man shall have a pension. The matter will come before the Treasury and will be dealt with on its merits.
§ (7.22.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
Is it not a fact that a man who is compelled to retire from the Service on account of a serious crime is not entitled to a pension?
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
I have little hesitation in saying he will not be entitled to a pension. There have been cases, no doubt, where it has been proved that the person committing an offence had suffered from sunstroke, or had suffered from the climate to such a degree that his head was affected, and was not properly responsible for his actions. I do not sug- 1803 gest that that may have occurred in the present case; but I make the remark to show that it is difficult on the spur of the moment to give a final and definite answer. I should say, speaking offhand, that the circumstances of the case are such that it would be impossible to give such an officer a pension.
§ (7.23.) MR. PICTON
I fully appreciate the intervention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I ask him whether the case has been answered this evening, and whether he will not, under the circumstances, consent to postpone the Vote. The Under Secretary for the Colonies says he does not know anything about the matter, which practically amounts to him saying he does not understand his business.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
It is impossible, after the long Debate which has taken place, to postpone the Vote. The case was stated at considerable length by the hon. Member for Leicester, and I think the Committee are in full possession of the facts and able to form a judgment upon them.
§ *(7.25.) MR. J. B. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)
An important Constitutional point has been raised by the reply of the Under Secretary. Certain statements were made on this side, and the right hon. Gentleman got up and defended the cruel conduct of this man on the ground that certain information is in possession of the Colonial Office which has not been laid before the House. It is surely idle to print Blue Books and circulate them amongst Members of the House if a Minister can get up and defend action on the possession of information which is not in the possession of the Members of the House. We quite understand this kind of thing from the Chief Secretary for Ireland, but it is new to have it from the Colonial Office. If there was no other reason why this Vote should be postponed a reason has been supplied by the Under Secretary.
§ (7.26.) MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries)
I was in hopes the Under Secretary would give some reply to what has been advanced. The Under Secretary has referred to something that is not in the Blue Book. Why is it we are not in 1804 possession of the additional information he has got?
§ MR. W. JAMES (Gateshead)
I do not think anyone would be disposed to charge me with obstructing public business; but unless the right hon. Gentleman will give us all the information he has I think I should be justified in moving to report Progress.
§ (7.27.) MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
We want to know on what evidence other than that contained in the Blue Book the Colonial Office have acted. I appreciate the force of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's objection to report Progress, and I am not prepared to vote for that Motion if it is made. But we have had sprung upon us by the Under Secretary the fact that there is information which has not been laid on the Table of the House. I think the House is entitled to ask for the despatch.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
The information must have come in one or two ways: it must have come either in a telegram or a despatch.
§ (7.30.) Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Waddy.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 61; Noes 121.—(Div. List, No. 111.)
§ Question again proposed, "That Item J, £2,500, for Western Coast of Africa, be reduced by £500."
§ (7.38.) MR. PICTON
I hope now we may come to a Division, but with the understanding that upon the Report stage the Under Secretary for the Colonies will be able to give us more ample information, more especially as to the despatch to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred as giving the information upon which he has based a statement he has made. If the right hon. Gentleman is not in a position to give us that information now, I do not wish to occupy time, but certainly many of us will expect the information upon the Report stage.
§ (7.39.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I accept the suggestion of my hon. Friend, and it is not my intention to stand 1805 between the Committee and a Division. I only wish to say, by way of personal explanation, that when the Under Secretary explained that Gbannah Gombo violently resisted arrest, I asked in what despatch such resistance was referred to, and the right hon. Gentleman said he made the statement upon information in the possession of the Foreign Office. It was not until half an hour after that that the right hon. Gentleman charged me with having misquoted him; he did not do so immediately after I had spoken.
§ (7.40.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 64; Noes 114.—(Div. List, No. 112.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
Before that, I desire to move a reduction under the present item by £150, and I do this for the purpose of eliciting some information from the Government as to their policy and the present position of affairs in reference to the unfortunate King Ja-Ja. From the consternation among Members of the Government on the mention of this name, it would seem they have forgotten all about Ja-Ja, but I think it will be found the matter is pertinent to this Vote. It will be desirable to explain the circumstances under which Ja Ja was two or three years ago kidnapped by a British officer.
The hon. Member is referring to a matter which does not appear to be included in the Vote. This is not the Vote for the Colonial Office.
§ (7.52.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I have to move a reduction in Item P, the salary of the High Commissioner in the Western Pacific. I desire to move the reduction not on account of any general disposition to find fault with the conduct of Her Majesty's Representative in the 1806 Western Pacific, on the contrary, speaking generally, the High Commissioner deserves the praise of the country for having done his best in the interests of all parties. But there are circumstances in which it is impossible for the best of High Commissioners or Deputy Commissioners to withstand the influence of a long-continued and bad policy. In the Debate which has just taken place the Representative of the Government has disclaimed the idea that the expeditions were designed for wholesale slaughter and bombardment; the expeditions on the West Coast were primarily made, he said, with a definite object, the release of prisoners, and so on, but this description does not apply to naval action in the Pacific generally. In a succession of Blue Books we have stories of the cruise of H.M.S. Diamond and H.M.S. Opal, and these narrations are nothing else than a series of bombardments of native villages, of slaughterings, and of destruction of native settlements and canoes. It is not necessary that I should go back upon these official accounts of two or three years ago, but I refer to the latest incidents of the kind which, though they have not yet found their place in a Blue Book, and only appear in a newspaper paragraph, bear all the traces of a continuance of that policy with which we have long been familiar. The paragraph to which I draw attention appeared on December 17th last, and described how H.M.S. Royalist had completed a seven months' cruise in the Pacific Seas, during which time many villages were burned, islands bombarded, and canoes and plantations destroyed for several murders which had been committed. I admit that those bombardments were caused by acts of violence committed by the natives, but our policy in this respect seems to be that if we cannot catch the actual murderers we execute vengeance upon the whole people. This seems to me to be a barbarous state of things. We, in fact, do exactly as the natives. They look upon Europeans as a, hostile tribe, and when natives are ill-used by certain Europeans they revenge themselves upon the next European they catch, and very likely kill him. We do exactly the same thing, for when Europeans are ill-used we make reprisals, subjecting natives generally to bombardment, the destruc- 1807 tion of their property, and all the harm we can inflict. It is a barbarous proceeding, and we cannot be surprised if the natives continue it. If the first offence had been committed by the natives these hostile operations might be, to some extent, palliated. But we have it on the highest authority—that of Her Majesty's Commissioner, according to the recent Blue Book on New Guinea—that the natives are the persons first sinned against. They defend themselves or make reprisals for injustice suffered, and then, because the actual offenders cannot be discovered, we execute vengeance upon the whole tribe, men, women, and children being killed, and whole villages being destroyed. The High Commissioner has told us that in many of these cases the natives had what they might consider reasonable excuse for what they did. Sir Peter Scratchley has given us the result of investigations he made, and in many cases the killing of Europeans has been caused by crimes committed by the latter against native law, unfair dealing, and the demand for vengeance aroused by the evils of the labour traffic. It is the opinion of Sir Peter Scratchley that on nearly every occasion the natives had received direct or indirect provocation, and in many cases the fate that befel Europeans was the result of reckless disregard of warnings given. The account of the cruise of the Royalist is but a parallel to many such cruises by Her Majesty's ships. It is a lamentable state of things, and surely it is incumbent upon us to try to put a stop to it. I might quote other evidence from the Blue Books. Mr. Musgrave, the Deputy Commissioner, says that the recruits from New Guinea were irregularly obtained in the first instance—meaning that the natives were kidnapped. Mr. Forbes also, our Resident in Samarang, says natives were kidnapped or entrapped by false statements, and the crimes of a few Europeans in this way are enough to inflame the natives of the Archipelago against white men for a whole generation. In fact, the authoritative evidence of our own officers shows that outrages on whites are the result of aggression, in the first instance, of whites against natives, either on the part of individuals or by those engaged in prosecuting the labour traffic, and whose crimes are avenged upon their 1808 successors. In our Blue Books we have accounts of barbarities committed by natives; but we have no statement from, the blacks of their wrongs, which might excuse their barbarous vengeance. No one who reads the information put before us can doubt the grave evils of the labour traffic. I ask, Do the Government mean to maintain the system of which this cruise of the Royalist offers an example? Is it the only system we can resort to? I hope we may be told that there is no intention to continue this policy of simply barbarous vengeance, this system of merciless bombardment and slaughter, which is a discredit to the British name, and condemned on high authority. I move the reduction of the Vote by £250.
The hon. Member has not observed that there is no salary for the High Commissioner included in the Vote. There is for the Deputy Commissioner.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item P 1, £1,890, for salaries of the Western Pacific High Commission, be reduced by £250, part of the salaries of the Deputy Commissioners."—(Sir George Campbell.)
(8.10.) COLONEL NOLAN
I do not agree with all the hon. Member has said; but I think he deserves the thanks of the public for bringing this question before the Committee. The Committee is not largely attended at this moment, but this is a question which ought to receive European attention, and our discussion here may serve to draw that attention to it. I do not agree with the hon. Member that these proceedings are particularly discreditable to the British name. I remember a speech delivered about a month ago by the hon. Baronet the Member for Dublin (Sir T. Esmonde) on his return from the Pacific, wherein he said that the British were more tolerant towards the natives than the Germans were. Outside the sphere of American influence the English and Germans are best known among the natives, and it is acknowledged that, of the two, the English are the more tolerant, so that it is the conduct of 1809 Europeans towards the natives that is in question, and the action of England is not to be singled out for condemnation. To a certain extent I agree with the hon. Member, and I think that bombardment of towns is about the worst remedy that can be resorted to to check the violence of natives, but I cannot go so far as to say when Europeans are murdered, even if other Europeans have been aggressors, that, therefore, the murderers are to escape. It may be impossible to find any evidence to convict the actual murderers, it may be that the natives on an island may kill and cat a whole boat's crew, and some punishment must be inflicted upon the inhabitants of that island. I should not object to the landing of a force, and the shooting of a certain number of men, but a bombardment kills, probably, only the old people, the women, and children, because all who are able to do so seek shelter when the first shell falls. I look upon bombardments of towns as cruel and unnecessary, and I really think it ought to be ruled out of all warfare, civilised or uncivilised. Of course, if, in the shelling of a fortified place, a shell falls among the civil population that is but one of the chances of war. It would be quite possible to land a larger force to capture a certain number of men who, in all probability, if not the actual murderers, must have connived at the murder of Europeans, and execute them. Though I do not go so far as the hon. Member, I support his protest, for I think the policy of bombardment ridiculous, and it inflicts punishment upon those who are least guilty among the people. An arrangement should be arrived at by the American and European Governments for police measures for the punishment of outrages upon Europeans. Punishment there must be, or there will be no chance for any shipwrecked crew; and the punishment should be severe and systematic. I do not blame the officers of the Royalist, for they were only obeying orders and following the old custom; but in future I should like to see the shelling of villages discontinued, unless resistance is offered.
§ *(8.14.) BARON H. DE WORMS
No specific allegations have been made by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy, and it is rather difficult to answer the vague and general accusations which the hon. 1810 Gentleman has made against those who have to administer affairs in the Pacific. The hon. Member quoted from a Blue Book, dated some years back, the opinion of Sir Peter Scratchley—
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
The hon. Member dwelt upon the opinion of Sir Peter Scratchley, who has been dead for more than three years. I can assure the hon. Member that when extreme measures are resorted to Her Majesty's naval officers act with as much humanity as is possible, considering the object in view. The statement that the whites are always the aggressors cannot be substantiated. Within the last few months a crew of Europeans wore engaged in fishing' when they were all murdered, and most of them eaten by the natives.
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
There have been many cases where Europeans have been murdered without any provocation. It is only in such extreme cases that it is necessary for us to assert our authority, and to show the natives that these horrible massacres cannot take place with impunity. The only way of punishing tribes who commit outrages on passing vessels, or on individual traders, is by what may be called an act of war. The High Commissioner has no jurisdiction over the inhabitants of the islands. Those responsible for carrying out such an act of war are the officers of Her Majesty's ships; the action can only be carried out by means with which the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken is familiar. I am not in a position to say if bombardment or another method should be adopted; that does not come within the scope of my duties. The only assurance I can give the Committee is that these extreme measures are only taken in extreme cases, and that they are always carried out with the greatest humanity, considering the object in view. No more force is used than is absolutely necessary. No brutality 1811 is used, and it is with the greatest regret that Her Majesty's ships are sometimes obliged to be employed in this service.
(8.20.) COLONEL NOLAN
It is an important admission we have had from the right hon. Gentleman; he disclaims the onus of these proceedings, and throws all the responsibility upon naval officers. Now, I do not believe that when this statement becomes known—of course, the right hon. Gentleman can correct or amplify or explain his statement in Hansard—but I do not believe that after this statement naval commanders will resort to the practice of shelling native settlements on their own initiative, unless, of course, they consider themselves justified by the armed resistance of the natives. Now that entire responsibility is thus officially cast upon the naval officers in the Pacific I do not believe they will do it.
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
The entire control of the operations; and, therefore, the responsibility must be with the commander of the ship.
It comes to very much the same thing. I do not believe that any captain of a ship will incur the responsibility of bombarding a village if all the odium of the act is to rest upon him, an odium which the Under Secretary is so anxious to disclaim.
§ (8.25.) MR. E. HARRINGTON
I think we are all ready to protest against the doctrine that we are justified in shelling a native village because some of the inhabitants of the village may have had a quarrel with Europeans, which ended fatally for the latter. It may be that those engaged in the quarrel are not in the village at the time of bombardment, and the innocent only suffer from our reprisals. I sometimes doubt our claim to be considered pioneers of civilisation when I read of such incidents, and I am not surprised that savage peoples do not always accept our ideas of civilisation, thus enforced by shot and shell. The right hon. Gentleman has made a Ministerial speech from a Ministerial point of view, but it is not a complete answer to the criticisms offered.
§ (8.27.) Notice taken, that 40Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,1812
§ (8.30.) MR. E. HARRINGTON
In regard to colonial matters I would advise no man, no matter what his political views, to be party to a count out. These matters cannot be treated lightly, and the House cannot be counted on the first night after re-assembling when colonial matters are being discussed. It is not a matter which directly affects the country I come from. Still I would ask, What would have been the effect in the colonies had they read in the papers tomorrow that the House had been counted out on colonial questions? I would venture to address the word of warning to hon. Gentlemen that it is not well that colonial matters should be treated in this way. I am aware that others are prepared to address the House on the subject, and I, therefore, resume my seat with great comfort and convenience to myself. (8.32.)
§ (9.4.) MR. CONYBEARE
I think it will be difficult to find a more important subject affecting this Empire than that which has been raised in connection with this Vote. The proceedings which are under consideration in connection with this Vote illustrate in a very forcible manner the nature of our policy in dealing with what I suppose I must call heathen or barbarous tribes in different portions of our dominions.
§ (9.5.) Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ (9.7.) MR. CONYBEARE
The fact that two counts have taken place within the last half hour or so adds point to the observations I was about to make. It shows the deplorable absence of interest on the part of Members on both sides of the House in the proceedings on colonial matters at a distance from home, but which yet go to the root of our dominions throughout the world, and until Members feel bound by a sense of duty to take a greater interest in these matters, and to listen to the facts we are able, by industrious investigation of the Blue Books, to bring before the country, I am afraid that the nefarious atrocities that disgrace our character in the eyes of the people we profess to try to civilise will never cease. When the count was moved I was about to say that it has been a frequent matter of comment that, with all our boasted Christianity, the results 1813 of our operations amongst native races have been miserable to a degree, and that it is not surprising that we are not more successful in gaining over to Christianity heathen tribes in the Western Pacific, as well as elsewhere, when we consider the methods adopted to impress upon them what we regard as the fundamental principles of morality. It is also a matter of comment that, even where we do partially succeed in converting the heathen, the good that we may do is almost as speedily undone by the mischief produced by the amount of spirituous liquor we introduce amongst the natives in the name of British trade. I am not, however, on this occasion going to comment on that aspect of the case, though I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that it is one of sufficient importance to require the constant attention of Members of this House. But in connection with the particular matters which we have under our consideration to-night, I want to insist on the peremptory duty which rests upon us as Members of the House of Commons to control far more than we do at present the action of Her Majesty's Representatives in the form of the officers of ships of war and Consuls who seem to exercise an absolutely autocratic power of life and death, and to exercise, in the most ruthless manner, the power which is placed in their hands for the purpose of destroying whole villages and districts and great numbers of the lives of natives. I have here a newspaper report of "A Cruise of Revenge" in the South Pacific, and I want the Committee to observe what the facts are. The report says—Her Majesty's ship Royalist completed, on the 15th ultimo—that is somewhere at the end of last year—A seven months' cruise in the Pacific seas, during which many villages were burned down, islands bombarded, and canoes and plantations destroyed. The Royalist paid the most attention to the Solomon Group, where several murders had been committed. After investigating the case of the massacre of the crew of the vessel Savo and the murder of Messrs. Dabelle, the Royalist fired on the villages of the murderers. The natives, however, had fled on the approach of the war vessel, and none of them were killed. Their villages, canoes, and plantations were, however, destroyed by the war ship's guns. Manoba was shelled by the Royalist and the place destroyed. This was the chastisement for the murder of Mr. Armstrong, the Government Agent. Dinner Island was also bombarded by the Royalist. The 1814 natives at this place had murdered two prospectors who had visited the place. The natives here also had fled, fearing the destruction of their villages, and witnessed the bombardment from the tops of the mountains. When the Royalist visited Rendon, Loko Kongo, she received news of the massacre of a boat's crew of the Enterprise. After killing the crew, the natives cut up the bodies in a shocking manner, and ate most of them. The place was shelled by the Royalist, after an unsuccessful attempt had been made to capture some of the murderers. Some of the Royalist's crew suffered considerably from fever, but no deaths occurred.I am not desirous at all of inveighing in general or unmeasured terms against the actions of our Representatives in these distant and barbarious latitudes. I am perfectly well aware that the ditty which our Representatives have to carry out, under such conditions, and in such places, is onerous and difficult, and highly responsible. No doubt great crimes are committed by the natives, and I do not say they should not be visited by some sort of retribution; but it does appear to me that in many of these cases our Representatives do not act with as much judgment, clemency, and regard for the principles of Christianity which they are supposed to be trying to spread as they should do. If we have regard to the instructions contained in the Blue Books, which lay down distinctly that a policy of revenge is not to be followed, it appears to me that in a case like this those principles have been, to a very great extent, departed from. And if we find that the crimes of which the natives are guilty are in some instances induced by the ill-treatment they (the natives) receive from our own countrymen, I think we shall have made out a very strong case why we should exercise much more stringent control over those to whom are committed such terrible powers over life and death than has hitherto been exercised. In order to illustrate the principles I have laid down I will quote from the Blue Book of this year. I find that in the appointment of John Douglas, Esq., to be Her Majesty's Special High Commissioner to protect the territory of New Guinea, he is required "to promote to the utmost of his power religion and civilisation amongst the natives of the Protectorate," and to prevent and restrain all violence and injustice that may be practised against the natives. I would ask the Committee whether we can find in 1815 the narrative I have just read out to the House anything to show that these principles are practised—principles which, I suppose, the occupants of the Government Bench are most ready to preach? I say that even if we do find barbarous savages killing and eating their neighbours and taking the usual methods of revenge upon foreigners who come to interfere with their institutions, and to commit all manner of misdeeds amongst them, it is not the right way to promote religion and civilisation to go in a harum-scarum fashion to the islands bombarding the towns, burning the villages, and destroying the canoes and plantations. If we have got no farther in our notions of Christianity and civilisation than that, I think the less we talk about either our civilisation or our Christianity the more honest it will be for all of us. I find in the Blue Book a good deal of information of a similar kind as to the principle on which our officers are supposed to act in dealing with these natives. What I want to know is why we find such wholesale destruction and massacre by our own agents as are illustrated by the facts which I have placed before the House? I suppose the Government case is that whatever measures are taken they are justified by the necessity of preventing further outrages on the part of the natives. I say we must look a little further back and see what were the causes of the outrages. I will quote a passage I find on page 26 as an illustration of the argument I am endeavouring to place before the Committee. It is a Report of Sir Peter Scratchley.
I must point out to the hon. Member that the question now before the Committee refers to the action of the Western Pacific Commission. New Guinea, to which the Blue Book from which he wishes to quote refers, cannot now be dealt with.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I am quite aware that there is very often a difficulty in obtaining particulars of matters under particular Votes, and I shall be very sorry if I am introducing a question in its wrong place. I have been trying to discover whether there is any other Vote under which New Guinea can be brought.
The question of New Guinea was brought under the notice of the Committee in reference 1816 to the former items which are now passed.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
Well, I am not referring solely to the question of New Guinea. I think, Sir, if you will permit me to read the extract you will see that it does not apply to New Guinea alone.
If the hon. Member will address his remarks to the Committee in any order, we can get on; but he must address himself to some particular item of the Vote.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
That is precisely what I wish to do. The passage on page 26 says that the most important complaint made by natives against white men was a charge brought against two men named Jeyes and Currie; that they were in the habit of systematically violating the young women of a tribe, and—what appeared to be the chief cause of his complaint—of violating the married women also. I read this statement in order to illustrate my case. I say we ought to understand what is the kind of conduct that leads to these outrages, for which native villages are bombarded. Grave charges of the most abominable ill-treatment by Englishmen of native women have been brought under the notice of the authorities by the natives. It surely is not necessary for me to labour the point that the minds of the natives, even at a considerable distance, would be affected by such conduct, and they would be filled not only with distrust, but with hatred against our fellow-countrymen. I will not refer to the next paragraph, which relates to the New Guinea Coast. Of course, our Representatives have to face grave difficulties in maintaining the Empire of the Queen in foreign waters, and I should be very sorry indeed to press too hardly upon men who perhaps may err from an excess of zeal as well as a want of discretion, and who judge it necessary to do everything in their power to maintain the honour of their country; but, unfortunately in some cases, they go the wrong way about it. Some of the methods which are adopted seem to me to involve not only the safety of individuals, but even the safety of the Empire itself, as far as our dominion in these lands is concerned. I hope I may be permitted to quote a single line from another portion of the Report to illustrate from another point of view the grievances from which these natives 1817 suffer. I find it stated here that all the recruits from New Guinea were understood to have been irregularly taken in the first instance. I find that a very striking method of taking' revenge or punishing outrages is apparently resorted to by the missionaries themselves.
I must point out to the hon. Member that he is taxing the tolerance of the Committee very much. He is continually adverting to a volume which does not affect this Vote in order to illustrate his points.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I have no wish to argue with the Chair, but the cases I was referring to had reference to other parts of the Western Pacific besides New Guinea. I would ask Her Majesty's Government to give us some more information as to what they have to say in explanation of the conduct of H.M.S. Royalist, and also to say whether, if they think there is any justification for such action, they do not consider it would be more in keeping with the Christianity of this country to adopt some other method of punishing natives where it can be clearly shown that they deserve punishment? It appears to me that if there is any basis of truth whatever in the facts we have been able to place before the Committee, these officers have strangely departed from the principles which have been laid down for their guidance. It is monstrous, and a discreditable tiling to this country, that such wholesale outrages should take place in the way of destruction, not only of property, but also of life, without any real attempt being made, in many cases, at all events, to ascertain whether the crimes committed by the natives were not the result of ill-treatment on our side, and whether a less barbarous method of punishment could not be adopted. If I could lay before the Committee other specimens of the literature of the Blue Books, I should be able to show that the Government have laid down certain principles on this point, and also what they have done to enforce them. I call upon the Government to say whether, if that is the policy which has been sanctioned by previous Governments, they are prepared to uphold such a condition of things as the Reports show to be existing at present; whether they will not at once take some proper steps to prevent any recurrence of such out- 1818 rages as I feel sure every Englishman must in his heart abhor?
§ (9.42.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
As I was the first to quote from the Blue Book, I should like to explain how matters stand. Early in the present Session we pressed the Government for information on the subject, and we were told by the Under Secretary, "Oh, a Blue Book will be laid before you, which will give you the fullest information." When I attempted to quote from the Blue Book in regard to New Guinea, I was told the information refers to a period before New Guinea was annexed. Again, when we referred to the case of the Royalist, the Under Secretary said, "Oh, we know nothing about the Royalist." If we cannot quote Blue Books of recent date, it is entirely because the Government fail to give us information. They presented us a few weeks ago with a Blue Book; and when we quote anything from it they tell us it is ancient history, and has nothing to do with the question at all. What I quoted from the Blue Book went to show that those islands were under the jurisdiction of the Western Pacific Commission. As regards the general question, officer after officer has declared in the strongest terms that the war of races which is going on was, in the first instance, promoted by the whites. We are told that these bloodthirsty attacks are made in revenge for the crimes of whites. To me it is a regrettable state of things that we should be obliged to carry on this barbarous warfare. The Under Secretary said we have carried it on with all possible humanity, but what possible humanity can there be in this cruise of the Royalist? The Under Secretary seems to think that blame attaches to the naval officers. I have paid attention to this subject for many years. I have carefully studied the Blue Books, and I wish to acquit the naval officers of any bloodthirstiness in the matter. I find that very frequently, indeed, naval officers have expressed most clearly their disgust and dislike at having to execute a policy of revenge. My firm view is that the naval officers are not responsible for these severities; they do nothing but carry out the orders given to them, and very often they show they carry out their orders most unwillingly. It is those who give the orders who are responsible. The reason why these acts of 1819 revenge are committed is that Her Majesty's Government have not the courage to check the demands of the traders in the Pacific. I am exceedingly sorry Her Majesty's Government have not seen their way to adopt a more humane policy, especially in the face of the declarations of their own officers that directly or indirectly they will not pursue a policy of indiscriminate vengeance.
§ (9.51.) DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
I must protest against this Vote being passed without some proper explanation at the hands of Her Majesty's Government. We are aware of the great powers possessed by the Under Secretary for the Colonies, but this is not a purely saccharine matter. We had hoped the right hon. Gentleman would have dealt with the subject in a serious spirit, because there can be no doubt that, notably in the case of the Solomon Islands, there has been a great deal of kidnapping of natives. There has been more cruelty in this matter than is shown on the surface, and I would not have risen to take part in the Debate were it not that a friend of mine had an opportunity not very long since of seeing what was being done in the Solomon Islands, and he has informed me on the point. What is this Vote? It is the Western District High Commission. Vote for Expenses under the Pacific Islanders Protection Act. If this Vote is to be passed under the Pacific Islanders Protection Act, how comes it that such things have been done as we have heard of during the course of the Debate? I maintain that the right hon. Gentleman has skirked the question, because he has not referred to the causes of the present state of things. The treatment of the natives first attracted the attention of the Queensland Legislature, and then it was brought under the notice of the House of Commons, and though I do not wish to deal unduly with the subject, I maintain that if the Committee wish to promote peace and to act in a Christian and humanitarian spirit, they will bring pressure to bear upon the Under Secretary, in order that right may be done and wrong punished. If the Debate results in putting an end to the policy of exasperation disclosed by the story of the cruise of the Royalist it will really have been productive of benefit and good. On the other hand, if the right hon. Gentleman refuses to answer the arguments which 1820 have been addressed to him, if he fails to give the reasons why the cruelties which have been disclosed have been perpetrated, I think the people of this country will see in this matter only another portion of their system of cruelty and coercion; and that when the day arrives that the Government have to give an account of their stewardship at the poll, they will meet with that condemnation and reprobation which their action in this matter, as in everything else, justly deserves.
§ (10.0.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 60; Noes 113.—(Div. List, No. 113.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
(10.10.) COLONEL NOLAN
I should like to know why £200 is to be paid because we are giving up the territory of the Orange River? Where is this territory?
§ (10.11.) DR. TANNER
And I should like some explanation as to the sum put down for travelling expenses.
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
The item with regard to the Orange River is simply payment for services rendered.
§ (10.12.) DR. TANNER
I regret that the right hon. Gentleman has not understood the purport of my question. The item I desired to bring under his notice was Sub-head 3, for travelling and other expenses, including stationery and printing. Under this head we are asked for a sum of £600, whereas last year we wore only asked for £400. What makes it all the more remarkable is this: that all the other items are exactly the same this year as last How comes it to pass, then, that, everything else being symmetrical, the whole thing is spoiled by this unsymmetrical item? It appears to be rather ridiculous. Of course, if the right hon. Gentleman is unable to answer this question, I am willing to defer the consideration of this subject.
§ *(10.15.) BARON H DE WORMS
There is a sum of money included in the Vote for the expenses of the Deputy Commissioner to the New Hebrides.
§ DR. TANNER
And because that Deputy Commissioner did not do what was expected of him the country is to be called upon to pay. I must say I do not think we have had a satisfactory explanation of this matter, and I appeal to hon. Members opposite to say that they are not satisfied.
§ (10.16.) MR. CONYBEARE
I think we are still in a fog in this matter. I understood the Under Secretary to state that this extra charge was incurred because a certain official had chosen to reside outside his district. But why, if he chooses to reside in the wrong place, should we have to pay the expense? He ought not to be allowed these travelling expenses. The repairing of a house has nothing to do with travelling expenses.
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
A temporary addition of £200 has been made to the item travelling expenses, in order to provide, amongst other things, for the necessary expenditure on the repairs to the house of the Deputy Commissioner at Tonga.
§ (10.18.) MR. CONYBEARE
He does not need to travel meanwhile. If the right hon. Gentleman cannot give a better explanation I shall have, on another occasion, to move to reduce his salary. The further we go the deeper we get in the mire. If the right hon. Gentleman intends to shuffle out of his responsibilities—and I do not say this in an offensive sense—if he declines to give us any explanation I will ask him upon which Department does the responsibility rest?
(10.19.) COLONEL NOLAN
I want to know about the Orange River Territory. Where is it? Has it anything to do with the Orange River State?
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
It was called the Orange River Territory before it became the Orange Free State.
(10.20.) COLONEL NOLAN
Then where is this territory? There are two places on the map. Is it the boundary of the Orange Free State, or is it this place towards the mouth of the Orange River which flows into the Atlantic, and which constitutes the boundary between us and the Germans?
§ *(10.21.) BARON H. DE WORMS
Surely the hon. Gentleman knows where the Orange Free State is. The British sovereignty over the Orange River territory was proclaimed on the 3rd February, 1848, and revoked by an Order in Council in 1854. The only charges which now remain are charges duo to those who served on that territory and to those to whom pensions are now payable.
§ (10.23.) MR. BAUMANN (Camberwell, Peckham)
I wish to move to reduce the Vote under Sub-head R (Salaries, &c., Transvaal) by £100. I do so in order to urge upon the Government the inadequacy of the salary at present allowed to our Agent at Pretoria. Assuming that the Agent receives £700 a year, and £300 a year for office charges—and, by-the-bye, I may point out that the figures are, I presume by mistake, reversed in the Votes—I would point out that the aggregate expenses attaching to the office amount to no less than £700 a, year, practically leaving only £300 for salary. Her Majesty's Agent at Pretoria has to pay £30 a month for rent and £200 a year to his clerk and interpreter, his travelling expenses are not less than £40 a year, and other necessary expenses amount to £100 a year. The Committee must bear in mind that our Agent at Pretoria is not merely a Consul, but an official of diplomatic rank, and I maintain that the salary ought to be £1,500 or £2,000 a year. Our Agent at Zanzibar receives over £2,000 a year, and that post is not half so important as the one at Pretoria, especially in the present important state of South African politics. There are a large number of Englishmen in the Transvaal, we have millions of capital invested in South Africa, and it is desirable above all things that at the present juncture we should have a really able, capable, and experienced Minister at Pretoria. It is ridiculous to suppose that such a man can be obtained for the small salary now given, and I understand, in fact, that the Government recently had some difficulty in filling the post. I repeat that our agency in Pretoria is the most important diplomatic post in South Africa at the present time, and I hope, for the reasons I have stated, that the Under Secretary for the Colonies will recommend the Treasury to appreciably augment the salary and allowances of Her Majesty's Agent.
§ *(10.28.) BARON H. DE WORMS
I may point out that the salary of the office has been already increased from. £400 to £700, and £200 more has been granted for office expenses. In those circumstances I do not think the Treasury would be disposed to grant a further increase.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I wish to call the attention of the Secretary to the 1823 Treasury to the constant misprints which occur in the Estimates. Surely they ought to be avoided.
§ (10.30.) MR. CONYBEARE
Before we go to another subject, I propose to say one word on this question. I have on more than one occasion been entertained in the Transvaal, and I can endorse what fell from the hon. Member opposite as to the cost of living in that country. The state of affairs there has arisen to a great extent from the protective policy inflicted upon the country by the Boer Government. I mention that to show that our Resident is in no way responsible for the high cost of living. What I particularly want information about is as to who is the new Agent who has been appointed. I understand that the Agent has recently returned to this country and is not going back to the Transvaal. I understand from the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman that the salary has already been increased, and that he does not propose any further increase. I entirely agree with the hon. Member opposite, in whoso objection there is a great deal of force. Things are in a very desperate condition at the present moment in South Africa, and I think what you want is a man of position who is willing to take the office. There is another reason which was adduced by the hon. Member opposite. In the disturbance which took place at Johannesberg some little time ago an insult was offered to the President of the Transvaal Republic by some British subjects, who, I believe, are in prison at the present moment. No one can deplore more than I do that such an incident has occurred. We must all admit that we hold the most friendly relations with the Boer Government, and I am not introducing this matter for the purpose of making any difficulty. It only illustrates the delicacy of the situation at the present time, and the necessity there is of having able men to look after the affairs of Great Britain in Africa. I should like to know who is the new Agent, whether any British subjects are in prison, and any other general information with regard to South Africa which the right hon. Gentleman may have to give.
§ (10.35.) MR. W. F. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)
Mr. Courtney, if in order, I would like to ask the 1824 Under Secretary for the Colonies whether he can report to the House any improvement in the condition of the mining interests of the Transvaal. The mining interests, as is perfectly well known, are entirely British, but they are sorely handicapped by the taxation exacted by the Boer Government. Horned cattle are taxed at the rate of £2 per head; flour at the rate of 15s. per 100 lbs; pork and bacon, and suchlike, at the rate of 1s. per lb; and coals at the rate of 15s. per cwt. All these items the House will see are necessaries of life. They are enormously oppressive to the mining interest, and these are the items which are produced by Boers, who are almost entirely farmers. Then, again, the Import Duties on goods from over sea represent 33½ per cent. of the invoice price. In addition to that, the taxation for licensing mines amounts to £1 a month for mining an area of 125 feet by 400 feet. I hear that the Licence Duty is altogether preposterous, and beyond comparison with anything to be heard of in Australia or in America. Therefore, I should like to ask the Under Secretary for the Colonies whether there is any probability in the near future of the Boer Government meeting the defined wishes of the English population settled in the Transvaal, in order to ameliorate their condition. Further, can the right hon. Gentleman report any definite news as to a forward policy with regard to railways, which are equally important to the mining interest as matters of taxation.
§ *(10.38.) SIR R. N. FOWLER (London)
I wish to support the opinion of the hon. Member for Peckham with regard to the salary of our Representative at Pretoria. It is obvious that a gentleman in that position has most important diplomatic duties to discharge. Further, I have been in South Africa myself, and, in common with others who have been in that country, I know the high cost of provisions, and it certainly seems to me that the salary of our Representative is perfectly inadequate to enable anyone competently to discharge the duties of the position. I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman perfectly agrees with the hon. Member for Peckham, but I suspect the difficulty lies with the Treasury. I hope the Government will deal with this matter in a liberal spirit.
§ (10.40.) SIR JOSEPH BAILEY (Hereford)
I raise my voice in support of those who have already spoken in favour of increasing the salary of our Representative at the Transvaal. I do not think it is thoroughly understood that the cost of living in that part of the country is altogether different from what it is in England. In the Transvaal they pay as much for the commonest vegetable as we do here for forced strawberries sold out of season. Again, any person who undertakes the management of our affairs in the Transvaal is expected to entertain every English visitor of anything like station, because he is the Representative of England. He has expenses forced upon him which in another position he would not incur; and I think England ought to support her Representatives, whoso difficulties are so great, in a liberal and becoming manner.
§ (10.42.) DR. TANNER
Are we to understand that the salaries of certain Colonial Representatives are to be raised in order that they may entertain their friends? The idea is ridiculous. I think Her Majesty's Government have done right in cutting down the salary, but still I want to know how it has been reduced from £700 to £200, for £500 is a very large sum. I should like to express my disapprobation of the way in which the figures are given. It is put, salary £200, expenses £700; making £1,000. That is very ridiculous, and these mistakes ought to be remedied. While you cut down the salary by £500, you immediately raise the allowance for rent and contingent expenses to £700. Yon cut down here, and raise there, as though you desired to obtain a sort of uniformity. I want to know why the reduction has been made in one instance and the increase in the other?
§ (10.43.) THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON,) Leeds, N.
What has really occurred is this: There has been a slip in the type, and the error was not discovered when the Estimates were revised. I do not think too much blame should be put upon the printers, who have to get the Estimates printed within a very limited time. It is almost impossible to avoid mistakes; and though I am extremely sorry that this mistake should have occurred, still if, as the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy says, there is a great number, I have not been made aware of them. There has really been 1826 no change in this expenditure either in one amount or the other.
§ DR. TANNER
These Estimates were circulated eight weeks ago. Surely there has been time to remedy these mistakes. I am not blaming the printers; I am blaming the Government.
§ MR. JACKSON
I might explain to the hon. Gentleman that the cost of printing the Estimates anew in order to correct some errors would be very great. I am not aware that there is a great number of errors, though the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy says there are many.
§ MR. JACKSON
I am extremely sorry if that is the fact. It has not been brought to my knowledge, and I do not think the hon. Gentleman should say that, there is a great number of mistakes.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
Yes, Sir; there are a great number of mistakes; in fact, the Estimates are full of printers' errors, and, although the Secretary to the Treasury has said the printers are not to blame, I think they are very much to blame, because the printers employed by this House get an enormous sum for the work they do, and ought to employ a sufficient staff to do the same duty as is done by every newspaper office in the country in setting up and printing documents that are urgently needed and must be brought out within a reasonable time.
We are at present on Vote 3, Class V., Sub-head R; but no Amendment has yet been moved.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
If no Amendment is before the Committee, I shall have the pleasure of moving one, in order that I may be able to elicit some answer from the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies to the questions that have been put to him. I will, therefore, move the reduction of the Vote by £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item R 1, £1,000, Salaries, &c, Transvaal, be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Conybeare.)
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
I hope the hon. Gentleman will not persist in that Motion after I have answered, as I was 1827 about to do, the questions to which he refers. The first question put to me was who is the gentleman holding the ad interim appointment of Resident of the Transvaal. He is Sir Jacobus Albertus De Wet, and belongs to a South African family, which is well-known and of high standing. He is a gentleman in every way well qualified for the post, and has already distinguished himself by his conduct of affairs in regard to the relations between Cape Colony and Pondoland after the death of the late chief of the latter territory. I was also asked whether there was any one at present detained in prison at Pretoria for having taken part in disturbances connected with an insult offered to the South African flag. I am informed that there is only one man so detained, and he has been committed for trial, which he is now awaiting. Then my hon. Friend the Member for the Abercromby Division of Liverpool has asked a question with regard to the mining interests of the Transvaal. I am afraid that that is a matter on which I am hardly able to enter into any detail, inasmuch as we have no control over the Transvaal Government, but I may say that I believe that British subjects who have acquired concessions from the Transvaal Government are treated in a fair spirit by the Government of the Transvaal, and I hope that spirit will continue to be evinced.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the information he has given; but he has described the appointment of the Resident in the Transvaal as an ad interim appointment, whereas I should hope the Government will see their way to make it a permanent one. With regard to the other matter, the imprisonment of an Englishman for insulting the President of the Transvaal Republic, the complaint is that the man is kept in prison and not brought to trial, that is to say, he is being detained there without any attempt being made to bring him to trial. It is on that point I should have been glad to have heard some statement from the right hon. Gentleman.
§ *MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
An hon. Member has put questions to the Under Secretary which, I think, should have drawn from him a fuller statement than he has made of the position of those British subjects who have 1828 settled in the Transvaal. When asked to vote money to the British Agency in the Transvaal, I think we are entitled to know more about the position of our fellow-subjects there. This is about the only opportunity we have in the course of the year of raising such a question, and I think the Minister responsible for our policy in that part of the world ought not to treat in a cursory or cavalier manner such a question as that put by the hon. Member for Liverpool. I wish to repeat, the future of the British residents in the Transvaal is an urgent and important matter, inasmuch as it largely affects the future of Swaziland, and many other questions that may press upon us. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether our Representative in the Transvaal is instructed to adopt a policy or to make representations to the Transvaal Government which will lead to a strengthening of the position of the British residents there, and giving them greater power in deciding questions regarding British rights in connection with a future policy of that part of Africa. I think that is a question upon which the Committee will think we ought to have some further statement from the right hon. Gentleman.
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
If the hon. Member is alluding to the franchise being granted to British residents in the Transvaal, representations have been made to the Tranvsaal Government on the subject.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I wish to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to an item in this Vote of £3,074 for pensions to wounded volunteers and the widows of volunteers killed in the war of 1880–81, and for compensation for the abolition of offices, and I desire to ask whether sufficient care is taken to see that the persons to whom these pensions and compensations are being paid are still alive. Also, how many persons are receiving these allowances.
§ *BARON H. DE WORMS
There are now five persons to whom these pensions are payable, seven persons who are in receipt of compensation as wounded volunteers and widows of persons killed in the war of 1880–81, and seven who are being compensated for abolition of office.
I trust that the Government take the greatest precaution in seeing that sufficient proof is given 1829 that the persons to whom these allowances are payable are still living. The most stringent precautions are taken in this respect in India.
§ MR. JACKSON
I think I can assure the Committee that this question has been most carefully examined within the last 18 months, and that none of these pensions or compensations are paid except on absolute proof that the persons to whom they are payable are still living.
§ Amendment, by leave withdrawn.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I shall be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would furnish some information with regard to the Delagoa Bay question.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I rise now to move, as an Amendment on this Vote under Sub-head S, to reduce the amount by £500, part of the salary of the High Commissioner of South Africa. I see that we are asked to pay £1,000 for the personal expenses of the High Commissioner. I want to know what is the meaning of the allowance so paid to that officer. What I find is that these personal allowances go on from one High Commissioner to another, and what is called a personal allowance is merely an allowance given as part of the salary of the High Commissioner, in order to retain his services for the British Government. Now, I want to know what is the position of the High Commissioner; is he paid by the Cape Government, or is he paid by the Imperial Government—whose servant is he? This, I think, is a most important matter.
§ *(11.3.) MR. GOSCHEN
The extra £1,000 a year is a personal allowance, given because the High Commissioner in a most public spirited manner gave up a most valuable appointment which he held in Australia.
§ (11.4.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
But who pays this money? Is it the Cape Government or the Imperial Government?
§ *MR GOSCHEN
The salary of the High Commissioner is paid by the British Government, and that of the Governor by the Cape Government.
§ (11.5.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
Well, I should much prefer the High Commissioner to be entirely in the pay of the British Government, as he holds in his hands the keys of our whole policy in South Africa. What has occurred there is really the outcome of the policy of our High Commissioner. I admit that 1830 there is a great deal of sense in the view which Sir Hercules Robinson takes on these matters, but I think that Sir Hercules ought to have resigned his position rather than have expressed his views on this subject to the people at the Cape. Sir Hercules is, no doubt, a very able man, and one of the highest honour But I have brought home from India some very strong ideas with regard to a public official having anything to do with regard to speculative affairs arising within his own jurisdiction. I hope there is no truth in the rumour that Sir Hercules Robinson has made large sums of money by speculations in his own territories, in which he was associated with Mr. Rhodes. I know we have been told that the affairs in which he was concerned represented very much the holding of shares in the London and North Western Railway Company. I hope that is so, but I confess that I feel that speculations in diamond syndicates are not quite of the same character. I had some experience of these things in Bengal, and if, for instance, I had had anything to do with the Assam Tea Company, or with the granting of additional territories to a great syndicate, I should not have felt very comfortable. At the same time I am bound to say I do not see any trace of personal influence in his conduct; he has expressed his views freely, fairly, and logically. He is, no doubt, quite honest in what he says I quite admit that there is a good deal in the argument in favour of putting an end to the scamble among concessionaires in South Africa, by giving over the whole of South Africa to the one great company which is associated with the name of Mr. Rhodes; but, at the same time, I hold that it is a dangerous thing to grant charters to companies, giving them the control of an enormous trade in South Africa. Her Majesty's Government have promoted this South Africa Company, and have given it all the official assistance in their power. They have written official letters to Lobengula, and have sent out officers of Her Majesty's Horse Guards—the biggest men who could be found—to assist in this company promoting. The roving commission given to those companies, will, in all probability, involve us in war, and I am afraid that the ultimate burden will have to be borne by the British taxpayer. It is a repetition of 1831 the old story "Heads I win, tails you lose." If there are any profits they will go to the company, if there is any loss the British taxpayer will have to pay it. This is the real Jingo policy. We are told that these companies cannot be expected to carry on their operations unless they have the full and active support of the British Government, and Mr. Stanley said, only the other night, that unless the British Government gave adequate support he should advise the African companies to give up their work. This raises a very serious question, as to the policy of our pushing further and further into the interior of Africa, and I cannot but recall the wise words of Lord Salisbury, in which ho warned the country against the adoption of such a policy, and in which he pointed out the difficulty of sending arms into a country thousands of miles from the coast. I find from a Memorandum of the East Africa Company that that company has agreed to support the African Lakes Company by an annual grant. As to that, I wish to ask Her Majesty's Government whether the East Africa Company are to be allowed to go beyond the Zambesi and absorb the African Lakes Company, for that is what I suppose is meant. I saw in Saturday's Times an article by a German writer classing Lord Salisbury as an ally of the German Government.
Order, order! The hon. Member is going outside the Vote, which refers to the salary of the High Commissioner.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
Well, with regard to these questions I will only say that I hope the Government will decide each point upon its merits, and will not allow their hand to be forced by the Jingo element in the country, whether they trot out the old story of the missionaries being in danger or not. My belief is that the jealousy that exists is not between the English and the Foreign missionaries, but is between the Protestant and the Catholic missionaries. Our missionaries are not jealous of the Germans, but they are jealous of the Portuguese. It has been said that great interest is taken in Scotland in these matters, as a number of the missionaries come from Scotland. But, as a Scotch Member, I venture to say there is a great deal of delusion about the fury which is said to have spread from one end of 1832 Scotland to another on this subject. No doubt in Edinburgh and in Glasgow there is a fair and legitimate amount of interest; but it is a delusion to suppose that the missionaries altogether support the Trading Companies. I am glad to think that in the recent Assemblies of the Churches of Scotland not much attention was devoted to this matter. Indeed, Professor Lindsay was the only speaker who referred to the subject, and he, no doubt, uttered some very brave words—
§ (11.30.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I should like to allude, on this question of South Africa—and in this I am not trespassing beyond the fair limits of the question before the Committee—to the Liberal wire-puller Mr. Schnadhorst. I, have alluded on previous occasions to the way in which Jingoism has developed in the Liberal ranks; but I now find that the Liberal wire-puller himself has come back from South Africa a very pronounced Jingo indeed. The colonists, as a rule, are not people who are concerned for the British Treasury, and can afford to be Jingoes, seeing that the British Treasury has to pay the piper; and at the Capo Mr. Schnadhorst has been associating with these colonists—with, for instance, the gentlemen who contributed some thousands of pounds to the Irish Parliamentary Fund. I am not one of those who pin my faith altogether to the Party wirepuller. I, therefore, do not attach much importance to Mr. Schnadhorst's extreme advocacy of the interests of the South African Company. That gentleman seems to be more for the Chartered Company than the Chartered Company itself; and when he says we should give Home Rule to these people in South Africa as we should give it to Ireland, he should remember that what he asks would be like giving Home Rule not to Ireland, but to the narrowest section of Orangemen in that country. I must say I hope that Lord Salisbury will not give way to pressure, but will hold the balance evenly, remembering that it is the bounden duty of the British Government, in any arrangements that may be made, to have regard primarily to the interests of the natives. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £500.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That Item S 1, £1,620, Cape of Good Hope, High Commissioner, Salaries, he reduced by £500, part of the Salary of the High Commissioner, South Africa."—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ (11.34.) MR. BAUMANN
I wish to make an appeal to Her Majesty's Government. This Vote raises important questions with regard to Swaziland and Bechuanaland, and other important matters in relation to the South African Company which will require considerable time for their discussion, and under these circumstances I would ask whether Her Majesty's Government will not assent to now reporting Progress.
Her Majesty's Government cannot possibly consent to this. This is the second day of the discussion, and we have now had seven and a half hours' discussion on it.
§ (11.35.) MR. W. A. M'ARTHUR
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Vote attaches sufficient importance to the questions which it involves. I know it has been the custom in this House to relegate colonial subjects to the back-ground. We have had no adequate opportunity of discussing them since 1886. Last Session the leader of the House gave us a promise, in consideration of our refraining from pressing on the subject at that time, that this Session we should have full opportunity for debate; and it therefore does seem to me extraordinary that the Under Secretary for the Colonies should say that we should go on with the discussion and pass the Vote at this hour for the reason that we have discussed it two days. I would draw his attention to the fact that while 100 nights are not deemed too much to devote to Irish affairs, two nights are deemed enough to devote to the affairs of all our colonies—affairs so closely touching the interests of our fellow-countrymen in every part of the world. I trust that Englishmen in all our colonial possessions Will appreciate the manner in which the Government treat these subjects. So far as I am concerned, deeply interested as I am in colonial subjects, no Government can charge me with unduly pressing them on the attention of the House. I withdrew from the discussion last year in order to enable the House to rise at a reasonable time, relying on the promise of the leader of the House that we should have 1834 ample opportunity for debate this Session, and I say that if this Vote is taken now that promise will have been distinctly violated.
§ *(11.40.) SIR R. N. FOWLER
I appeal to hon. Gentlemen who were in the 1880 Parliament whether the present Government have not done more than their predecessors to bring forward colonial questions early in the Session, and to afford opportunities for their discussion.
§ (11.41.) MR. W. A. M'ARTHUR
I object to a comparison between the present and previous Governments. When I am discussing colonial questions I do not care a straw what Government is in power; but I would point out that this Parliament has sat four years, and that we have only discussed colonial matters fully this Session.
§ *(11.42.) MR. GOSCHEN
The Government have endeavoured to give effect to their pledge by bringing forward this Colonial Vote early this year, and I may remind the Committee that this is the second night on which this one Vote has been discussed. The Government, persuaded of the fact that most important questions are involved, have not tried to hurry hon. Members; but I regret the time which has been spent upon some minor details connected with the Vote. I will not, however, say more than that if a due sense of proportion had been observed by hon. Members in their speeches we should have arrived earlier at the questions which remain to be debated. I would suggest that hon. Members should now allow the Vote to be taken, and I will undertake that the Report of this Vote shall be put down for a comparatively early hour, so that the part of the Vote which still remains undebated may be fully discussed. With regard to Swaziland, I may mention that negotiations are still pending with the Transvaal Republic. They are of a delicate and important character, and are being conducted with very good feeling on both sides; but the Government can scarcely approach the discussion with a free hand in the circumstances, although they have no desire to unduly cut short any expression of opinions which hon. Members may wish to give utterance to. I trust that the proposal I now make will be accepted as a fair compromise.
§ (11.46.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
While appreciating what the right hon. Gentleman has said as to the conduct of the Government this evening, I must say I do not think that those Members who are interested in colonial questions can accept the proposal just made. This Vote raises most important questions, which we have not had an opportunity of discussing this Session. They were scarcely touched on last Session, and it must be remembered that private Members are now deprived of their right to raise questions by Motion on Tuesdays and Fridays, and that it is only on Votes of this kind that they can express their minds. We desire to have an opportunity of raising important questions concerning Swaziland, Bechuanaland, and the South Africa Company. From experience we know that Government promises of Debates on Report are not satisfactory, and, however reluctantly, I must ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to press the Vote further this evening.
§ *(11.48.) MR. GOSCHEN
I must admit that it would be difficult to press the Vote much further this evening, and that I do not think I should be justified in suggesting the Closure, even if the Chairman should be disposed to assent to it. If, however, my suggestion is accepted, the Government will put down the Report for half-past 10 o'clock, and as the discussion need not then be stopped at midnight there will be time to have a real and substantial Debate. That, I think, is a very reasonable suggestion. The Government have shown their readiness to give the House an opportunity of discussing these questions.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again."—(The Chancellor of the Exchequer)
§ (11.50.) MR. H. H. FOWLER
I am sure the House appreciates the very conciliatory manner in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has dealt with the case. I may say, however, that my hon. Friend (Mr. Bryce) has been present during the greater part of the discussion. I should like to point out that the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir G. Campbell) made a very serious impeachment of the Government respecting the South Africa Company. When the hon. Member sat down the right hon. Gentleman the 1836 Under Secretary did not rise to reply, and it was from the Government side of the House that the suggestion came that business should be suspended. I myself saw no reason why the time remaining up to midnight should not be occupied; and I think the Under Secretary would have been wise if he had availed himself of the opportunity of replying to the charges which had been made against the Government. The Report stage does not give that freedom of discussion which is desired in a matter of this importance. I quite acknowledge that all sides of the House should help the Government where they legitimately can with regard to business; and I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will admit that at all events during three hours of this Debate it was the other side of the House that was responsible for the difficulties that arose. I think we must now urge the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consent to report Progress.
§ (11.54.) MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, E:)
The attitude taken up by the Government amounts to this, that under present arrangements they are not able to furnish the House with full and adequate opportunity of discussing the subject-matter of the Estimates in Committee of Supply, and it is necessary that that which ought to be taken in Committee shall be taken on Report. I submit that this is an entire departure from the intention and scope of Committee of Supply. It is intended that all 'questions arising on the Estimates should be discussed fully, and, if necessary, in great detail, under circumstances which admit of conveniences of reply and rejoinder, such as are not open to us when the Speaker is in the Chair. It is perfectly true that two Sittings have been consumed in Committee of Supply in discussing this Vote.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
, Well, I am not disposed to blame the Government for even an appearance of impatience in reference to the Vote. They have not hurried it at all, and have acted with perfect fairness. But the fact is that the Vote covers nearly the whole of the globe, and it is therefore not to be wondered at that it should give rise to much debate. I would submit to the Government and the Committee that the real source of the difficulty is to be found in the undue extension of scope of these Votes—an extension which is now being 1837 carried further by the consolidation of a number of Votes. The difficulty which has attended the discussion of this Vote will be experienced in the discussion of a largo number of Votes, as at present consolidated; and I would invite the attention of the Government to the present situation, in order that they may reconsider the plan they have apparently adopted in making the Votes so large that it is almost impossible to cover the whole of the ground enclosed by them.
§ (11.58.) Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee to sit again to-morrow.