HC Deb 06 June 1890 vol 345 cc227-58

"That a sum, not exceeding £307,909, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1891, for the Expenses of Her Majesty's Embassies and Missions Abroad, and of the Consular Establishments Abroad and other Expenditure chargeable on the Consular Vote."

Resolution read a second time.

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

Sir, before this Vote is passed there are two questions of very great delicacy to which I wish to call attention. In negotiations so intricate and requiring so much tact as those which the Government is now conducting, I think it undesirable that we should increase by any imprudent remarks, which might be misconstrued, the difficult}' which no doubt is already felt to exist. One question relates to the delimitation of British and German areas of influence in South Africa, and the other to the negotiations pending- with France in respect to Newfoundland. I do not propose, for the reason I have given, to enter into those subjects, but I hope the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs will say anything that can be said to allay the anxiety which the House feels upon these matters. We have, I believe, no reason to complain of the spirit in which the questions relating to Newfoundland have so far been treated in France, or of the manner in which they have been dealt with in the French Chamber. I should be glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that the attitude which the French Government have taken is one which makes it easy to discuss the matter in an amicable spirit. I hope, also, he will be able to correct any misimpressions which have been formed from answers given in the last fortnight as to what has happened in Newfoundland itself. There have been alarming telegrams sent to this country as to what has happened in Newfoundland, and if those reports have been exaggerated the right hon. Gentleman will now have an opportunity of telling us something relating to them. I would like to say that this question affords some hope or prospect of applying the method of arbitration. We are all accustomed to honour arbitration in the spirit, but we seldom give it much support when the time for taking practical steps arrives. It must, no doubt, be remembered that however anxious we may be to see the principle practically applied, and however valuable we may regard it as an alternative to armed force, it is often difficult to apply it. There are cases in which the disputes about facts are such, and the difficulty of ascertaining them so great, that the intervention of an arbitrator cannot be judiciously invoked. This is not one of those cases. The dispute with Newfoundland is very largely a purely legal controversy. The facts, which seldom happens in diplomatic disputes, are substantially admitted by both sides. It would be, if this wore the case of a dispute between private individuals, mainly a question for the Court; there would be only comparatively small questions for the jury. Now, cases of this nature, cases of disputed interpretation or doubtful law, are cases which can be referred to arbitration. It is matter eminently fitted for the interposition of an arbitrator, if one can be found, who could be relied upon by both Governments as perfectly impartial and competent. To find such a one is surely not impossible. The question is one which ought not to create any permanent difficulty between the two countries, both being willing to approach it in a fair and reasonable spirit. I desire, also, to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he can tell the House anything with regard to the report of a shocking massacre perpetrated upon some Christian emigrants who wore proceeding from North Macedonia into Servia. It would appear that the condition of Macedonia is disturbed, and that all the elements of insurrection exist there, and it is much to be wished that the strongest effort should be made by the Porte to restore order and to prevent the danger of insurrection breaking out. The report to which I refer is a terrible one, for it is stated that 80 people have been killed, and that the local Turkish authorities have been virtually accomplices in the crime. Passing from that, another point I wish to refer to is the condition of Armenia. In that unfortunate country great cruelties have been perpetrated, and its condition has hardly improved at all since the war. Our own Consuls and the American Missionaries, who are most impartial witnesses, agree in saying that the country suffers not only under the exactions of the officials, but also from the depredations of the Kurds and other races. The Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs has answered a question this evening on the subject of one atrocity, and I wish to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to yet another—the alleged roasting of a peasant in the district of Khanoos by a Turkish official who wanted to extort money from him. Now, the House knows that these are frequent, and, so to speak, ordinary occurrences in Armenia, and when complaint is made the answer generally given is that it is not in the power of the Turkish Government to prevent them, because to do so military force would be necessary. But it appears from an answer lately made in this House by the right hon. Gentleman that considerable improvement has taken place in Bitlis in consequence of the exertions of Réouf Pasha, whom he describes as an honest and vigorous official, who has been recently sent there. I hope what he says may be true. But if improvements can be brought about in one district in this way, why cannot the same thing be done in Erzeroum and other districts? Influence should be brought to bear on the Porte to encourage the appointment of upright and active men to other places besides Bitlis. I must refer for a moment to one case which has attracted much attention recently, and which throws a full light on the difficulties in the way of obtaining justice in Turkey. I refer to the trial of Moussa Bey. It shows that the Turkish Government has no desire to do right, and that it is totally lost to any sense of justice. Moussa Bey is a Kurdish chief, whoso father is still famous in that part of the world for having, 30 years ago, burnt a whole village, and killed some 80 people. Moussa Bey of late years has been the terror of the district inhabited by his people. A year or 18 months ago he eclipsed his previous acts by violently abducting a young Christian girl from her parents, and he is said to have also roasted a man to death by flinging him on a pile of faggots. These deeds excited too much comment, and the Porte was compelled to summon him to trial, but the official, who might be called the Juge d' Instruction, at once endeavoured to prevent his being tried, by endeavouring to ignore and get rid of the charges. On the representation of the Government, backed by public feeling in Europe, the action of the Juge d' Instruction was over-ruled, and it was determined to try Moussa Bey, but, instead of being kept like a prisoner in Constantinople, he was sent to the house of his uncle at Scutari, where he suffered a kind of honourable detention, and was treated as a champion of Mussulman interests. When the trial came on, the Public Prosecutor, instead of trying to state the case properly and give the witnesses a fair chance of telling their story, really acted as counsel for the prisoner, browbeat the witnesses, and emulated the conduct of Scroggs and Jefferies in the State trials of Charles II. and James II.'s reign. In the end, this man, about whose guilt there was no doubt whatever, was acquitted by the majority of the Court on some counts, while they failed to convict on others. He has, so far, entirely escaped conviction. If hon. Members refer to the Blue Book, they will find that Mr. Devey, our Vice Consul at Van, undoubtedly believed in the truth of the charges. Sir William White, our Ambassador at Constantinople, and the Representatives of the Embassy, who watched the proceedings in Court, give; i very full and instructive account of the proceedings, and it shows they are convinced that Moussa Bey is guilty. In spite of this Moussa is acquited, and what are we to think of Turkish justice, and the impression made upon the Mohammedan population when we see a man who has disgraced his nationality by these shocking crimes is treated practically as a hero, and is acquitted on his trial. I may also mention, as showing what Turkish justice is worth, that another case has happened since. A revolting outrage was committed on a young German not long ago in the neighbourhood of Constantinople. There was no doubt at all about the facts, but the Turkish Court acquitted the accused, and it was not until the German Ambassador addressed the most serious threats to the Porte that the Sultan gave way, ordered the trial to be cancelled, and a new trial to be held, dismissing at the same time the Minister of Justice, who had endeavoured to shield the culprit. I believe there is some prospect that Moussa Bey may yet be put upon his trial. The lesson which the German Ambassador gave has, perhaps, not been lost, and I should like to know what is the latest information which the Government possesses on the subject. Is it true, as has been reported, that Moussa Bay will be tried once more? If such is the case we must hope that the trial will be with some definite purpose. But I hope that, in the face of so strong an instance of total failure on the part of the Turkish Government, and of the effect which representations may have upon it, Her Majesty's Government will direct our Ambassador to speak even more strongly and more clearly than has as yet been done. Intervention by this country in this subject is not wanton intervention. I know there are some who do not see why we should concern ourselves with crimes and outrages committed in Turkey any more than in any other country. It is a natural impulse in humane people to make representations to any country in which crimes and outrages are committed, but we know well enough that however strong our feelings may be we have no title or claim to interfere in the internal affairs of other European Powers, however grave the cases may be. But the case is not so with regard to Turkey. We are in good faith and honour responsible for crime that happens there, because it is we that sustain the Turkish power. It was we who set aside the Treaty of San Stefano, and who took the duty of protecting the Christian subjects out of the hands of Russia; and henceforth we have not only the right, but the very clear and bounden duty to interfere in matters of this kind. Indeed one may go a little further. One may say that if it had not been for the support which the Turkish Empire received from England, it would have been broken up long ago. The natural course of events is that when Government becomes utterly rotten and effete, and unable to make itself respected, it comes to an end by its own weakness. Some stronger power arises, the dynasty is dethroned, or the Empire itself breaks to pieces. We have stepped in, and upheld and kept what would have been a decaying carcase in some sort of suspended animation. It is owing to the Powers of Europe generally, but particularly to England, that Turkey has been so long maintained in life as a Government. If that be so, what duty can be more incumbent upon us than to endeavour to bring about alterations in the condition of such a country, where oppression and injustice rule, and to address strong remonstrances to its Government? I dare say there are many Members of this House who think that there is really no hope of Turkish reform, and that no better thing could happen to the Empire than that it should vanish out of existence altogether. I express no opinion on that point. We know that it stands there, because we are not prepared to put anything in its place; and, while it is there, we are bound to continue the policy of remonstrance and exhortation, and to endeavour if we see an opportunity of not only seeing that strict justice is done in a case like that of Moussa Bey, but to urge the Turks to take the one method certainly open to them, that of appointing Governors who will substitute good government for crime, misery, and suffering.

(11.29.) SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

Sir, I have given notice of an Amendment upon this Vote, and, as the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs can only speak once, I rise for the purpose of calling attention to the charge for the unforeseen Mission of Sir J. Lintorn Simmons to His Holiness the Pope.


I beg to point out that there is nothing taken in the Vote for this special Mission.


I have in my hands a despatch from Sir J. Simmons, dated the 7th April, 1890, which states that he had an interview with His Holiness the Pope.


I beg to call attention to the fact that the expense of the unforeseen Mission was supplied out of the Revenue of Malta.


The Under Secretary told us the other night that the expenses were for unforeseen services, but, be that as it may, I can raise the subject by moving the reduction of the salary of our Ambassador in Italy. I have not in the least degree to complain of the conduct of Lord Dufferin; far from it. But by the appointment of Sir J. L. Simmons, the labours of our Ambassador must have been considerably lessened, and, therefore, his salary ought to be cut down. I find Sir John Lintorn Simmons has been appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to His Holiness the Pope, while we have an Ambassador in Italy. I object to this Mission as unnecessary and contrary to the policy of this country. I am not afraid of the Pope, from a religious point of view, but I say there is not the smallest necessity for an Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to be sent to him in order to settle some trumpery ecclesiastical affair in Malta. I maintain that if we read between the lines we shall find that the real object of this Mission has had to do not with Malta, but with Ireland; that it was sought to secure the influence of His Holiness in settling the Irish Question. The Pope hankers after diplomatic recog- nition by the Powers of Europe, and we all know that he can be very much gratified and influenced by conceding to him that recognition. It seems to me that in pursuance of this policy of consulting His Holiness——

(11.33.) MR. SPEAKER

The hon. Member is out of order in referring to that. There is no Vote on the matter referred to by the hon. Member included in this Resolution.

(11.33.) SIR G. CAMPBELL

Are we distinctly to understand that nothing is to be paid for this Envoy? I desire to move to reduce the salary of our Ambassador to Italy, but I presume that if I do I shall be ruled out of order. May I take it that nothing is to be paid under this Vote for this special Mission?




Then I have nothing more to say on the matter. I now pass over from Europe to Asia, and say a word as to the appointment of Mr. Clifford Lloyd to be Her Majesty's Consul General at Erzeroum, a position of great importance, hitherto held by that most highly qualified and able officer, General Chermside, whose despatches we have all read with so much interest. The position is a most difficult one, requiring negotiations of a most delicate character to be conducted between this country and that rotten Empire, Turkey, seeing that in the district of Erzeroum there is a war of races raging between the native population and the Mohammedans. In such a post as that you wanted a man of tact, sagacity, and discretion, who, from his previous history, you could rely upon to appease rather than stir up quarrels. Mr. Clifford Lloyd is certainly not the man to have selected. He has made Egypt, Ireland, and the Mauritius, too hot for him, and he has retired from the service of the country twice on medical certificates declaring him to be unfit for further employment. I could not have believed that Lord Salisbury would have appointed Mr. Clifford Lloyd to this post, and I am altogether at a loss to understand the influence that has been brought to bear upon his Lordship in the matter, and I do not think the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs will be able to say anything in defence of the appointment. I now go to Japan. In the reduction I propose I include part of the salary of the Consular Judge in that country. Several of the Great Powers have agreed to an arrangement that has placed Japan on the footing of a civilised country, but Her Majesty's Government have held out, and have refused to assent to that equitable arrangement. It seems to me a most extraordinary thing that the British Government, of all Governments on the face of the earth, should refuse its consent, for if there is a Government which has suffered from those injuries and unjust capitulations, which are another form of the extra territorial jurisdiction, it is our Government. We have suffered in this respect in Egypt, and I think we should bring our experience to bear upon the matter and avoid these evils in the case of Japan, regarding that country as able to dispense proper justice. Having done with Asia I will now say a word in regard to Australasia. I want to know what is the present position of affairs with regard to the Now Hebrides. I have seen statistics which declare that the French outnumber the British there, and if that is the case I think we might very well make it an Imperial question and exchange our interest in the New Hebrides for that of France in Newfoundland. I will not go into the Newfoundland question, as it is a matter of great delicacy, and one in regard to which we can rely on the conciliatory policy of the head of the Foreign Office. In justice to Lord Salisbury, who is often attacked for sub-serviency to the Germans, I would say, that although he has been conciliatory to Germany, he has been equally so to France. Then, in regard to Africa, I want to know what is going on with the Orange River Territory? Is that important territory going to be given over to a chartered company, and is the monopoly of the Royal Niger Company to be maintained? Have the chartered companies a right to levy duties on the goods of rival traders? We know a Commissioner was sent out some months ago, and I hope Her Majesty's Govern- ment will tell us what conclusions have been arrived at, seeing the great interest which is felt in the question. As to Mombassa, the power of the East African Company and the question of slavery in East Africa, I should like to ask for information. I was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman refused to give us information last night. A question was put to him on the subject some time ago, and he returned an answer which was, not evasive but diplomatic, and I think he will admit that his words did not convoy any meaning whatever. A proclamation had been issued by the company, and as he must have had a copy of it, I think I am entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman what is the exact position of affairs?


I do not think the question of East Africa arises under this Vote.


I beg to submit that the resolution covers a Vote for a Consul at Mombassa and a Consul General at Zanzibar, both of whom deal with the East Africa Company and look after it. As a definite proclamation has been issued, I hope we shall be given to understand what its object is and what is the position of the Slave Question in that part of the world. We have always, been given to understand that one of the guiding principles of this country in her operations in East Africa is the suppression of slavery, but we know that a system of contract has been adopted by which slaves purchase their freedom by labour. We know that that system has been adopted by the East African Company, and I should like to know if it is now being pursued. We also know that large numbers of slaves have been brought for exportation to the Congo and elsewhere, in order to work under the contract labour system. The matter is one in which we and other countries have taken great interest, and I should like to know what has been done. I should also like to know what is to be done with regard to the jurisdiction of the Consul General at Zanzibar over the African hinterland so to speak. There is no reason why great European nations, should quarrel, or permit their chartered companies to quarrel, over territories that neither of them possess and neither of them have really reached. It would be better for these countries to consolidate themselves where they are, near the coast, and construct railways. I do not think Lord Salisbury will permit his hands to be forced by Stanley and the Jingoes. I refrain from moving a reduction of the Vote in the hope that we shall have a satisfactory explanation from the Under Secretary.

(11.50.) SIR W. BARTTELOT (Sussex, N. W.)

I am not going to object to everything done by Her Majesty's Government all over the world like the hon. Member who has just sat down—who, while giving them credit for nothing, puts no restraint on his utterances in condemning them. I wish to ask my right hon. Friend whether he has any definite information with regard to Dr. Peters's expedition—whether it is true or not that he has invaded those territories which Englishmen believe come within their sphere of influence, and which we have ventured to hope the Germans, as a friendly nation, wishing to court their own interests as well as ours, and to be on those friendly terms that two great nations should be upon, would not invade. I venture to say that, in the position we occupy as a great nation, the best thing we can do is to state firmly and determinedly what we believe to be our just rights, and not to allow any Power, even Germany, to interfere with them. We have dealt with Portugal, and I would deal with Germany in precisely the same manner. I do not wish to use any threat of any sort or kind, but when an understanding has been come to, and some definite sphere has been settled, I think we might humbly ask Germany to keep within her own sphere. I enter my earnest protest against its being thought that this House of Commons is not a fit place in which to discuss the vital interests of our children, and I believe the sooner this question is settled the better it will be for both countries. I wish also to ask my right hon. Friend whether there is or is not at the present moment a Consul on the Congo, and, if not, why one has not been appointed?

(11.54.) MR. A. PEASE (York)

Allegations have been made in letters which have appeared in the columns of the Times that there have been a large export of labourers from Zanzibar, many of whom are undoubtedly slaves, and I think that if the right hon. Gentleman will make inquiries on the subject he will find that these allegations are true. Several vessels have lately left Zanzibar for the Congo with labourers, amongst whom are numbers of slaves, who, for a consideration paid to them, have been placed on board these vessels and exported to the Congo State to make the railways there. I understand that not long ago a German vessel left Zanzibar with a mixed cargo and with hundreds of these men on board. An English commander on the station had the vessel searched, and found amongst the slaves two or three who were going unwillingly. He took them off and landed them at Zanzibar, and allowed the vessel to proceed on its voyage. I believe the officer was reprimanded for not having seized the vessel as a slave prize. Whether the accusations against the Congo contracts are true or not I would urge on the Government that they should seize the opportunity whilst the Conference of Brussels is still sitting to bring this question before the Conference and request that it may be thoroughly investigated. On a former occasion when I discussed this question in the House I seemed to have been misunderstood both in the House and by the public outside. I was supposed to have made some remarks reflecting on the British East Africa Company; and I wish to say that I believe that company have pursued the host policy with regard to slavery that an enterprising company could pursue in Africa. I put them in a very different category from the Congo State on the question of labour.


I am sure the last thing in my mind is to complain of reference being made to these various matters that have attracted great attention in the country. It would have, indeed, been surprising if no reference had been made to some of them on the present occasion. Indeed, the Government have much reason to appreciate the absence of embarrassing interference on the part of the House of Commons, when it is known that Her Majesty's Government are deeply interested in safeguarding the interests of the country by negotiations with foreign Powers. To the questions that have been asked with regard to the position of our affairs in various parts of the world I shall endeavour to give sufficient replies. The hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce) began with a brief reference to Newfoundland, and I think he exercised a wise discretion in not entering into the details of matters which are undoubtedly delicate, but which are, I hops, susceptible of peaceful adjustment in the spirit that has actuated the British and French Governments in the past. The hon. Gentleman mentioned arbitration as a suitable expedient in view of contending interests and the interpretation of treaties. The other day the French Minister said that it was possible that certain matters of difference between our Governments might be referred to arbitration. Her Majesty's Government are not averse to that expedient; but it is evident that there must be considerable difficulty in coming to an agreement in regard to the scope of such reference, which must necessarily be limited and defined. The application of the Treaties presents unforeseen difficulties, from the fact that the industry, instead of adjoining a shore which formerly was absolutely without population, is now in the neighbourhood of a considerable population. It is evident that circumstances so changing present difficulties which were not present to the framers of the Treaty. But we have endeavoured to get over the present difficulty by what is called a modus vivendi. I regret that that has not been entirely acceptable to the people of Newfoundland; but I think the House will recognise that that was the best expedient to be adopted in the circumstances; at all events, it sacrifices no right pending the settlement of the question. Papers are in preparation, and will shortly be in the hands of Parliament; and when hon. Gentlemen have an opportunity of looking at the terms of the Treaties and the correspondence that has taken place, they will see there have been difficulties in the way of an earlier settlement, with which perhaps some of them were not acquainted with before. Hon. Members will readily recognise that these matters must be treated with delicacy and reserve. There is no desire on the part of the Government to withhold any information from the House; and with reference to certain allegations that have been made, we are informed that no French officer has committed any act inconsistent with existing rights and inconsistent with the terms of the Treaty. To the best of our belief, we have, in late events, no cause of complaint against the French Authorities. The hon. Gentleman made some remarks with respect to the affairs of Turkey, and to the atrocities reported to have been committed by unruly persons in different parts of the Turkish Empire. Sometimes it is our duty to say we possess no information on matters which have been sent by telegraph to the newspapers, because Her Majesty's Consuls do not report occurrences on events which will cause pain and regret in this country without having ascertained their truth. It is easy for a newspaper correspondent to telegraph to this country any rumours of outrages which he may hear; but it is the duty of Her Majesty s Agents abroad, before reporting an event, to make investigations and ascertain the truth of the story. This is why I am often unable to give any information in regard to matters that appear in the newspapers. I regret to say there is too often truth in the statements as to outrages committed by robber bands and tribes in Asia Minor, and also in some of the European provinces. The hon. Member admits that Armenia is now in a bettor state than it was in some time ago; and he has said that when a Governor of exceptional justice and energy wore sent to Armenia it is to be regretted that officers of similar qualifications have not been sent elsewhere.


One particular district.


Now, Sir, as we take upon ourselves to criticise in such unsparing terms the Government of the Turkish Empire, we ought at least to do justice to the endeavours of the Governors of that country to improve the condition of affairs when it came to their knowledge. The appointment of Réouf Pasha in Armenia is not an isolated instance by any means of the selection of the best possible officer to bring order to the disturbed provinces. The appointment of Chakir Pasha in Crete has, by its results, reflected the greatest credit on the Turkish Government. The successor of Réouf Pasha at Beyrout dis- plays, so it is reported to Her Majesty's Government, the same quality that so long and honourably distinguished him; and I am glad to learn from recent Reports from Her Majesty's Consul at Erzeroum that the Pashas in other districts in which the Armenian population is numerous have also been making similar endeavours to put down and punish outrage. The hon. Gentleman referred to the recent trial of the Kurdish Chief, Moussa Bey. I need not now express any opinion with regard to that trial, for Her Majesty's Ambassador has spoken out very plainly, and has expressed the opinion that that trial was not conducted in a manner consonant with our ideas of public justice. He has condemned it in very strong terms; and I regret deeply, for the sake of the Turkish Empire, for its position in the world, and for its future, that when the opportunity was afforded of bringing to trial a notorious criminal before the eyes of the world, care should not have been taken by the Turkish Authorities to show to the world that there was no desire to shrink from doing justice. But, on the other hand, I think some exception might be taken to the lion. Member's idea of justice. The hon. Member talked about a Public Prosecutor using every effort to procure a conviction.


I particularly guarded myself from saying anything of the kind.


That was the impression conveyed to my mind by the hon. Gentleman's speech. Again, I think it would be rather rash to assume that in all the counts on which Moussa Bey was brought to trial there was a denial of justice because a conviction was not obtained. For instance, in one ease it appears that not he but his brother was the real criminal. The Government do not know whether Moussa Bey is to be put on his trial on other charges; but they do know that the Minister of Justice under whom this failure took place has been removed. That, at least, is some evidence that the Government of the Sultan do intend to have justice administered with some reality. I think, too, there is evidence before the House that Her Majesty's Ambassador made representations of unusual earnestness in respect to the conduct of justice by this officer. The hon. Member says that this was owing to the German Ambassador. If the hon. Member assumes that Sir W. White has no influence at Constantinople he differs from his right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian.


I never assumed anything of the kind—on the contrary, I paid a tribute to Sir W. White. The right lion. Gentleman must be careful how lie represents what I say.


I will let the House judge between me and the hon. Gentleman. Now before I leave this part of the subject, I should like to point out to the House what the hon. Member thinks is fitting language for one who has held the office of Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to use in this House, language which he thinks, I suppose, will have influence with the Turkish Government, and cause them to restore order in their provinces. The lion. Gentleman talked of the Turkish Umpire as a "decaying carcass," and said that many people thought that the best thing that could happen would be that the Turkish Empire should break up and come to an end. That is the lion. Gentleman's idea of statesmanship, and the way in which this country can obtain influence with Foreign Powers I differ with him. I venture to say that no more unfortunate language could be used by a Member in his position. What passes in this House travels throughout the world.


The right hon. Gentleman must allow me again to interrupt. What I said was that there were many who thought it would be better that the Turkish Empire should vanish; and if Her Majesty's Government wished to save the Turkish Empire they should adopt the only means by which salvation is possible.


The lion. Gentleman did not say he was not one of those who thought so. In answer to the question put by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir G. Campbell), I believe that a great deal has been done to benefit the people of Malta by the recent Mission of Sir Lintorn Simmons. The hon. Member also referred to the appointment of Mr. Clifford Lloyd. I can only say that Mr. Clifford Lloyd, since he has been at Erzeroum, has been displaying most commendable activity in keeping Her Majesty's Government informed as to the course of events there, and I believe him to be a man of ability, well fitted to serve the country in his present capacity. With regard to the Treaty with. Japan, the fact is that the Japanese Government carried on negotiations up to an advanced point and then broke them off, so that they had to be commenced again from the beginning. It is not the case that other nations have concluded Treaties from which we shrink. The United States of America did conclude a Treaty with Japan, but after wards themselves withdrew from it. Her Majesty's Government are acting in concert with other Powers in endeavouring to obtain full recognition of the rights of foreigners in the Japanese Courts on terms which will be honourable to the Japanese, and at the same time acceptable and satisfactory to Europeans. With regard to the suggestion that we should exchange the New Hebrides for Newfoundland, I should like to ask what the Australians would say to that I With regard to the hon. Member's remarks about the Oil Rivers, no step will be taken without the House being informed. On the subject of slavery in East Africa, and especially within the sphere of influence of the East Africa Company, the hon. Member says that I have refused information. I must refer hon. Members to an answer given by me on May 15, when I said— Her Majesty's Government are informed that the British East Africa Company have approved a proclamation issued by their administrator in Zanzibar with the assent of the chiefs and the peoples concerned, decreeing immunity from slavery within a certain area in the company's territory, and beyond the ten mile limit. It is understood that the proclamation does not affect the status of slavery as at present existing. It should be observed that we have not acquired territory at present, and that we are only carrying on a system of trade under engagements with the tribes. It is only in the seaport towns that actual administration is at present possible. It must be remembered that the British East Africa Company cannot change the whole domestic institutions of the regions between the sea and the Great Lakes by a stroke of the pen. They must move by cautious steps, endeavour to introduce free labour in the place of slavery, to redeem as many slaves as possible from servitude, and to wean the people to better courses. The East Africa Company has already been instrumental in freeing thousands of slaves. In this connection I may explain a point which seems to have been misunderstood. Certain slaves having taken refuge from their masters within the area of the company's influence, the company advanced money to enable them to freedom them selves. The company then allowed them to work out the money advanced on easy terms, but their freedom had already been secured, and many of them repaid the debt by work in three or four months' time. With respect to the coolies engaged for labour on the Congo, I have to say that all persons connected with the East Africa Company are careful not to make any bargains with slaves owners. The bargains are made with the slaves themselves, who have the right to make such engagements, the arrangement being, I believe, that they pay half the wages they earn to their owners. I trust that whilst we are connected with East Africa free labour will more and more take the place of slave labour until finally the latter shall be a thing of the past.

(12.24.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

I wish to ask a question with reference to the Duke of Norfolk's visit to Rome. It has been represented by Her Majesty's Government that he went to Rome as a private gentleman, and not as an envoy. However, in the Parliamentary Papers issued in connection with Sir Lintorn Simmons's Mission to Rome, I find that the Pope in one of his speeches distinctly spoke of the "Duke of Norfolk's Mission." I wish to know whether the Government still adhere to their original representation in face of this statement of the Holy Father? I desire now to call attention to another matter, and to move the reduction of the Vote by £600, the amount of the salary of the British Consul at New York. The House will remember that on March 4 my hon. Friend the Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin (Mr. T. Harrington) called attention to a series of messages which had passed between Mr. Soames, solicitor to the Times, and his private agent in New York, Mr. Thompson. One of these messages from Mr. Soames, dated April 1, 1889, ran as follows: — Hoare, British Consul, has authority to give you names of some informants like Major Lo Caron. See him; get all particulars, and induce one or two men to come over. Upon April 2 the private agent replied— All informers' reports including those from Philadelphia passed through his (the Consul's) hands up to 1884. If he does not know names himself, he can refer you to those who do. Now, the duties of a Consul are perfectly well understood. He is a public officer discharging a public function in the interests of his country and for the benefit of British subjects. The charges in relation to these telegrams were previously made in the presence of the Attorney General (Sir R. Webster) and other Members of the Government, and they were repeated by myself a few days afterwards. We challenged inquiry and called for a reply. But the Government have given no reply; they have maintained an absolute silence on the matter from, that day to this. In the absence, then, of any reply or explanation, we may take it that the facts are admitted. If you need detectives you should employ men as detectives and pay them as such, either by money voted for the Secret Service Fund or by the Vote for the Detective Service; but I maintain it is not permissible to you to use the public funds voted for a specific purpose, the payment of a British Consul, and employ-that official in the work of a detective for private parties. It may not by too late for the Government to offer explanation —if they have any to offer—of a transaction which I think I am justified in stigmatising as disgraceful. I could add something more grave in regard to the conduct of Mr. Hoare if inquiry were granted; but, meantime, I move the reduction of the Vote.

Amendment proposed, to leave out "£307,909,"inordertoinsert"£307,309." —(Mr. Sexton.)

Question proposed, "That '£307,909' stand part of the Resolution."


I hope I may be pardoned, though I may not be strictly in order, if I reply to the first question of the hon. Member, for though it is not germane to the Amendment before us I do not wish to let it pass without a reply. The hon. Member has not observed that the Duke of Norfolk was sent on a Mission to the Vatican by Her Majesty to congratulate His Holiness upon the attainment of his year of Jubilee, and that explains the reference to a Mission in the words the hon. Member has quoted. On a former occasion when the Duke of Norfolk went to Rome he had no sort of Mission, and it is by mixing up two occurrences perfectly distinct that confusion has arisen. With regard to the matter upon which the hon. Member has moved an Amendment, I know nothing of it whatever. I do not believe that the British Consul at New York was ever employed for any purpose of the kind alleged. I can only say that it is quite unknown to me; and, as I am cognisant of every Paper passing through the Foreign Office, I may be allowed to express my opinion that what is alleged has never taken place.

(12.32.) MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

A more extraordinary answer was never given by the Government to a distinct and definite charge. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that, because he is cognisant of all Papers passing through the Foreign Office and found no mention of these transactions, he is convinced such transactions never took place. But this is no disproof or even answer. Such transactions have nothing whatever to do with the Foreign Office, and would not appear on the face of any Foreign Office communication. The contention of my hon. Friend is not that the Consul was directed to take action as the agent of the Treasury, but that the Consul, if these allegations are true, prostituted his office and became an agent or spy for the agent of the Times. The Government were informed of the facts some time ago, but they have deliberately shut their eyes and abstained from any inquiry. Has the right hon. Gentleman stated that inquiries have been made as to whether the Consul at New York did do this thing or not? It is perfectly manifest, from the answer of the right hon. Gentleman to my hon. Friend, that he regards the charge as most disgraceful and scandalous. The right hon. Gentleman must have known of these cablegrams. They were alluded to in the House, and they were made matter of argument, and none of the agents of the Times have denied them or contested their authenticity. Under the circumstances, I think the Foreign Office is bound to meet these charges, and at the very least the Government are bound to state that they will undertake to inquire from Mr. Hoare whether he did or did not act in this utterly unjustifiable and scandalous way, and if he did lend himself to the agent of the Times, he should be called to account for his conduct. I think my hon. Friend's charge has been met in a manner almost unparalleled. Let the leading counsel for the Times, who is sitting there, and should know all about the matter, get up and state that of his own knowledge there is no truth in the statement. If he does not do that every Member in the House will be justified in believing that the statement is undoubtedly true. It is perfectly useless for the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs to say ho does not know anything about it; that is no answer. The only answer we can accept as satisfactory is for a Member of the Government to get up and say that he has made inquiry; that he has satisfied himself, and can state, on his word of honour, that the cablegrams are false, and have no foundation. I ask the House to listen to the statement in the cablegrams that they may understand the nature of the charge. These cablegrams were read in the House on March 4th last, and there has been ample time, therefore, for the Foreign Office to make inquiry as to the truth:— 1st April, 1889, London—To Johstone, Gilsey House, New York—Hoare, British Consul, has authority to give you names of some informants like Major Le Caron. See him; get all particulars, and induce one or two men to come over. Assistance will he sent you for Millen. Did the Foreign Office give any authority such as is here alluded to to Soames? Then, on the following day, another message was sent,— All informers' reports, including those from Philadelphia, passed through his hands up to 1884, and were sent by me here. If he does not know names himself, he can refer you to those who do. Now, will the hon. Baronet stand up and say that of his own knowledge he can state to the House that Mr. Hoare gave no assistance of the kind? He has had four months' notice of the charge; and if he can give us no such answer, we are still entitled to believe the charge is true; and if it is true, Mr. Hoare is not worthy to represent this country for another week. We do not pay our Consuls to act as private agents for any newspaper. We are entitled to know more of this matter before the Vote is agreed to, and, under the circumstances, I think the House will feel we are entitled to press for a definite answer to this charge.

(12.40.) MR. M. HEALY (Cork)

I am very much surprised that no answer is forthcoming. I may call attention to the fact that the Attorney General has already practically admitted the authenticity of the cablegrams. This is not the first time that they have been referred to in the House, and the right hon. Gentleman has already spoken in reference to them. The only thing the Under Secretary will undertake to say is that he himself knows nothing of them. But although the Attorney General has had the opportunity of consulting with Mr. Soames, and, though he did, as we understand, consult with him, Mr. Soames has never denied the authenticity of the cablegrams; and until to-night, in the form in which the Under Secretary has put it, there has been no attempt to deny their authenticity. Really it is monstrous, under the circumstances, that Members of the Government should sit there silent in the face of these charges. I ask that we shall have a reply, and, as the Government cannot or will not give a reply, I hog to move the adjournment of the Debate.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned." —{Mr. Maurice Healy?)

(12.42.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)

I really do not know which way to vote, but I shall be prepared to vote for the Government if the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs will deny that our Consul at New York had anything to do with the Times' case, directly or indirectly. If the right hon. Gentleman will make that statement I shall be quite satisfied.

(12.42.) MR. SEXTON

My hon. Friend has made a suggestion which, if met, would probably end this matter for the present. It would be satisfactory if we had a promise of inquiry into the conduct of the Consul. Manifestly, it would be absurd to suppose that we can be content with the reply of the Under Secretary. Of course, it is not to be supposed that, if a Consul were engaged in participation in a disgraceful conspiracy to defame Members of this House, an account of his proceedings would be found on the records of the Foreign Office. Hut we ask for an inquiry which, if diligent and searching, will elicit the facts of the case. I do not wish to delay the House, and only rise now to endeavour to ascertain whether the Government are disposed to assent to the very reasonable proposal of my hon. Friend the Member for Mayo that the Foreign Office should undertake to make a prompt official inquiry.


I confess to being altogether taken by surprise by this question that has been raised, and I do not think the House will wonder at that. I have no knowledge of the matters referred to, and I never heard of these cablegrams until to-night. But this I will say, that upon the only point I have heard mentioned in which the Foreign Office is concerned, the statement that authority was given to the British Consul at New York to answer questions concerning witnesses upon that definite statement, I will undertake to make inquiry. Beyond that it is impossible for me to make any further answer now.

(12.44.) MR. DILLON

The right hon. Gentleman is not quite correct in stating that that is the only definite charge; that is only one of them. The main thing is whether, with authority or without, the Consul did confer with the agent of the Times, and lend the machinery of his office and the knowledge acquired in his official position as Agent of Her Majesty's Government in New York to the assistance of the Times representative.

(12.44.) THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir R. WBBSTER,) Isle of Wight

It is not possible for me, I think, upon a Motion for Adjournment, to enter fully into the questions raised without a breach of the Rules of Order. All I can say is that I had these telegrams before me and saw them for the first time when they were referred to by the hon. Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin (Mr. T. Harrington) during the Debate upon the Report of the Special Commission. I gave an answer then which, though I do not suppose it satisfied hon. Members opposite, satisfied the majority of the House. I at that time stated the fact that I had never heard of the telegrams; that I knew nothing of them; and that, so far as I knew, Mr. Hoare, the Consul at New York had nothing to do with the conduct of the Times' case. The statement I made then I now repeat. Never in my conduct of the case had I had any information from Mr. Hoare, whose name I did not know.

(12.45.) MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)

The Attorney General seems to think, because he has no in formation, what is complained of cannot have happened. That, surely, is a strange doctrine——


The Question before the House is the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate.


It is upon that Motion, Sir, I desire to say a word or two. What has been said by the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs really strengthens the reasons for adjournment. I would appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, I suppose, is leading the House at the moment. Here we have a Vote, in which is included payment to British Consuls, and the conduct of one of these officials has been seriously challenged. It is quite obvious that the Under Secretary is without information which might enable him to contradict these very serious charges. I am quite sure that any hon. or right hon. Gentleman being in possession of serious charges against a subordinate would suspend payment until those charges were investigated. I think it is only fair to a Member of Her Majesty's Service that we should suspend action until a direct official contradiction can be given. I do hope, therefore, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will consent to the postponement of the Vote.

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

We cannot consent to an adjournment of the Debate. The money has been voted in Committee, and we are now on the Report Stage, which has been deferred to suit the convenience of hon. Gentlemen opposite. This point, so far as my recollection goes, was not raised in Committee.

An hon. MEMBER

There was no time.


No intimation was given that this point would be raised, and we cannot consent to a further postponement of the Report. But hon. Members are fully entitled to put down a question on the Paper, and if they will do so, and give sufficient notice, full inquiry shall be made and answer given to these allegations. We cannot, by assenting to an adjournment, admit that there is a prima facie case against this official.

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

I submit that what the right hon. Gentleman intends for an answer is no answer at all. It is perfectly true that it is open to any Member to ask a question as to the conduct of any official, but it is also true that this is the last stage upon which that official's salary can effectually be dealt with. If this Report is passed, the Government will be put in funds for the whole of this official's salary, and, practically, the matter then becomes unchallengeable. Now, this is a charge of a grave dereliction of public duty on the part of a certain official, details of names, dates, and circumstances have been put forward, the charge is put forward in the clearest, most direct way, and the Government are bound to take notice of it. But they have sat in silence, refusing or neglecting to give any information. What other course is, then, open to us than to move the adjournment, in order that the Government, by a 24 hours' delay, can ascertain from the incriminated official whether he is in a position to repudiate the charge or not? Of course, the Under Secretary cannot now give us the information. It is not to be supposed that he has any special information in relation to this matter, and we know in conneccion with the Parnell Commission there has been a careful suppression of information. But it is very easy to obtain information in the present instance. All that is required is to telegraph to New York and ask this officer if be is in a position to deny, or is obliged to admit, the truth of the charge made. A direct categorical answer would be forthcoming when the House meets again, and on Monday the Vote will be disposed of without further opposition. But that the Vote should be passed without any explanation scarcely becomes the gravity of the allegation.

(12.53.) MR. BRYCE

It seems to me that a strong case has been made out for adjournment, unless the Government are prepared to give a far more complete pledge than as yet they have given; a promise not only that inquiry shall be made, but that the House shall have the opportunity of debating the result of that inquiry. This is not a new matter. We fully accept the statements of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and the Attorney General, that they have told us all they know of it, and the language of the Under Secretary shows that he looks upon this as a very grave charge fully deserving investigation. But neither he nor the Attorney General are able to give us any information, and, on the other hand, the only suggestion made is that a question should be put down for answer at Question time. But this is not at all the manner in which a matter of this gravity should be dealt with. Sine:; March 4th the Government have known of these allegations, and inquiry might have been made of Mr. Soames, and the whole affair probed to the bottom in the interval. The House is in possession of some control over the matter now, and ought not lightly to part with it. I am unwilling to give a Vote for delay, but I shall be justified in doing so unless we have a promise from the Government that they will institute inquiry into the whole matter raised by these telegrams, and give the House the opportunity of considering it. It is our duty to make a protest against the laches of the Government in not at once investigating these grave charges against one of Her Majesty's Consuls.

(12.55.) The House divided: —Ayes 58; Noes 127.—(Div. List, No. 119.)

Question again proposed, "That £307,909 stand part of the Resolution."


This matter need not be discussed at great length, because it is evident there is no real foundation for the adverse criticism on which the proposed reduction of the salary is based. The statement is that Mr. Soames telegraphed to an agent of the Times in America, and asserted that Mr. Hoare had authority to give certain information. The whole charge is based upon that. In the series of telegrams it appears that this agent of the Times in America, with whom Mr. Soames was in communication, went to Consul Hoare, who was civil and would tell him nothing.


That is not all. It was stated that Mr. Hoare could not assist in any way. Of course he could not give facts against Irish Members which did not exist. But it was stated that "All informers' Reports passed through his hands and were sent by me here." The word is printed "sent," but in the original it is "seen." They were shown by Mr. Hoare to the private agent; and it is said, "If he does not know the names himself he can refer you to those who do."


I understand that the telegram stating that Mr. Hoare was civil stands by itself and does not form part of a longer telegram. In any case if a grave offence was committed, it was committed by the Government at home, who gave this imaginary authority to Consul Hoare. The offence, if there was one, was committed by some official in England, and not by Mr. Hoare, and if Mr. Hoare had given any information he would have given it under orders. Therefore, it is not Consul Hoare's salary that ought to be reduced. If any inquiry is desired into this imaginary transaction as to the authority given by some official in England a question may be put on the Paper and the information given in reply thereto.

(1.9.) MR. SEXTON

The question is, Is the British Consul at New York an intermediary for the transmission of the Reports of spies and informers?


Mr. Soames apparently knew that certain Reports-had been seen in London. If anyone is to blame it is people in Loudon, and not Consul Hoare.

(1.10.) MR. KNOX (Cavan, W)

In the first place I think the Attorney General ought not to have assumed that this was a direct attack upon him. It was the intention of the hon. Member who raised this discussion to attack the British Consul at New York.


I never suggested it was an attack upon me.


The Attorney General said he had answered the allegations of my hon. Friend the Member for the Harbour Division three months ago. I confess I have looked carefully through the speech he delivered on that occasion. Although he dealt at length with certain other allegations as to the negotiations with Sheridan, I cannot find any reference to this matter, which, surely, is a most serious one. In a civilised country the main duties of a Consul should have regard to commercial matters only, and should have nothing to do with police matters. But if Mr. Soames is correctly informed this Mr. Hoare is a sort of secret police agent of the Government in America. The House ought to have some more definite information on the point, and, in the absence of it, I think my hon. Friend will be justified in pressing this matter to a Division.

(1.15.) MR. E. HARRINGTON (Kerry, W.)

It seems to me that Mr. Soames made his statements on good authority. All the resources of the country were placed at his disposal, and apparently the Attorney General was his master, or he was attorney to the Attorney General. The character of the Government depended on the result of these transactions, as well as the money of the Times. If Mr. Soames was not responsible for these statements will the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or the Chief Secretary, give us the name of the man who was responsible We often talk of the duties of officials of the British Empire. We think it to be the duty of Her Majesty's Consuls to be the intermediary of friendly relations between different countries, and not to be the tool and instrument of political Parties in making accusations against the characters of other persons; that is what has been done in this case. The Government have not the manliness to defend this Consul; they simply fall back on the excuse, they do not know whether he did what is alleged, and add that if he did he had no authority for his action.

(1.21.) MR. BRYCE

There are two totally different questions before us. It would be most unjust to blame Mr. Hoare for anything which he did at the command of his official superiors, but, of course, if he acted as is alleged, and acted in concert with the agent of the Times on his own responsibility, the matter bears a totally different aspect. We have received no adequate explanation on this point, and unless our minds are enlightened, or an undertaking is given of a more complete inquiry, I shall support the reduction of the Vote. If, however, it is shown that Mr. Hoare acted on the authority of the Government, I shall not vote for the reduction.

(1.25.) MR. CRILLY (Mayo, N.)

What we want to get at is the position of Mr. Hoare in this matter. He is the Representative of England in New York, and we want to know what authority he had for allowing the agent of the Times to inspect his papers and Reports. On that point, the Government have not vouchsafed us any information, and the impression left on my mind is that the Motion for the reduction of this Vote is amply justified by the fact that this Consul identified himself with the agents of the Times in a conspiracy to defame and destroy the character of the Irish Parliamentary Representatives. I hold that we are entitled to demand from the Government some more exhaustive and elaborate explanation than we have yet had.

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

I desire to protest in the strongest and most emphatic manner against the conspiracy of silence which has to-night characterised the conduct of the Government. At the outset of this Debate, when those charges were pushed home with so much effect by my lion. Friend the Member for West Belfast, the Government sat silent, and this is always their policy when they are not up to their work. We know very well that the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in common with most of Her Majesty's Ministers, is following out the policy of the noble Lord at the head of the Government.


Order, order! The hon. Gentleman is not speaking to the Amendment.


I was trying to address myself to what has taken place in connection with this Debate, and I was just coming to the point of the reduction of this "Vote, and the action of this gentleman in America, and the responsibility of the Government for it. I appeal to the common-sense of the House. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but I appeal to the good feeling of the House in this matter, in the hope that it will deal with the matter in a way which I am afraid the present state of feeling will hardly "allow——


Order, order ! The hon. Member is not speaking with any relevancy to the matter under discussion.


All I want to do is to ask the Government to delay further discussion on the point, in order to give time for a proper inquiry into the circumstances of the case. Telegrams have been road from Belfast by my hon. Friend the Member for Mayo which have not been disproved by the Government, who have entirely failed to establish their case, and yet we are asked to go to a Division on the point at a time when it is impossible for the Press to report what takes place.


Order, order! The Question is, that the sum of £307,509 stand part of the Resolution.

(1.30.) The House divided:—Ayes 128; Noes 52.—(Div. List, No. 120.)


The Question is, that the House agree with the Committee in the said Resolution.


I submit, Sir, that I am in order in rising to point out—


Does the hon. Gentleman rise to a point of order?


Yes, Sir, I do. The hon. Member for Mid Cork was addressing the House, and you rose and called him to order because he had not addressed himself to the Vote, whereupon you immediately put the Question. I want to ask whether it is not the custom and practice of the House, and in accordance with the Rules of the House, that the hon. Member should have been requested to resume his seat before the Question was put?


The hon. Member resumed his scat without being requested, and then I put the Question.


I wish to say—


Order, order!


On another point—


Order, order! The Question is, that the House agree with the Committee in the said Resolution.

Main Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."


There are some other charges against the Consul General at New York. Of course, the House is well aware of the Treaty with the United States of 1792——


I rise to order. I wish to ask whether the question of the salary of the Consul General has not been settled?


That question is settled already.


I wish to direct attention to the general Vote—not upon this particular Consul's salary, but upon the general Vote.

MR. GEDGE rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."


The ayes have it.


The noes have it. *MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member is too late.


I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, I said "No."


Of course, I take the hon. Member's word for it.

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

(1.45.) The House divided:—Ayes 127; Noes 38.—(Div. List, No. 121.)

Question put accordingly, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

(1.55.) The House divided:—Ayes 128; Noes 42.—(Div. List, No. 122.)