Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [31st January], "That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as followeth:—
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain Ireland in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the Most Gracious Speech which lour Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—(Mr. Lambert.)
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ *MR. CARSON (Dublin University)
I am not disposed to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland very minutely through the mass of figures which hr gave in relation to that country. But I find it hard to reconcile some of the facts stated by him with others which I shall briefly refer to. The reason I do not take the course of following Iona at any length is this: It has always been the case of the Party to which I have the honour to belong, that the recrudescence of crime in Ireland depends largely on the course the political agitators find it convenient to take at a particular moment. If these political agitators have decided that it is right to say that the government of Ireland is to be made impossible, then there will be a recrudescence of crime; but if, on the other hand, they have not, you may be perfectly certain that crime will decrease in the country. The right hon. Gentleman points out the fact that even this year rents are being better paid than heretofore, which shows that the payment of rent is dependent not on the state or condition of the tenant farmer, but on whether men like the hon. Member for East Mayo is prepared to say, ''I know a man who can pay, but who won't pay, because I tell him not to pay." But I desire to mention one or two matters which require explanation, but which, as I shall show the House, have been absolutely unexplained by the right hon. Gentleman. While he quoted the 430 Charges of the Judges at the Winter Assizes he forgot the Charge of one Judge who, in the County of Leitrim, drew attention to the substantial increase in the more serious class of crime. He said he understood that bail eases had been sent forward in serious cases at the Winter Assizes, but he did not tell us that Her Majesty's Judges, in two out of the four circuits, drew attention to the fact that cases of serious crime—intimidation and the raiding of houses at night had not been sent forward as they ought to have been. There is one other case, too, that must have escaped his memory or his notice—the case of the Rev. Father Clarke, in the County of Meath, who was sent forward last July on a charge of doing grievous bodily harm to an old man voting, in the district. Why did he not send him forward? Why, because it would be inconvenient to try him out of his own parish, and he will he kept there to be tried, as he is hound to be, in March. I desire to pass from these matters, and I believe the House Will bear with me while I proceed with a few observations upon that grotesque performance, the Evicted Tenants Commission. I happened to be one of the counsel who attended upon the opening day of the sittings of the Commission. The right hon. Gentleman did me the honour of saying he should not refer to the urbanity of counsel on that occasion. Well, following the taste of the right hon. Gentleman, I shall abstain from referring to the urbanity of the Judge. But, Sir, it is not upon the urbanity of the counsel or the urbanity of the Judge that the serious question in relation to this Commission at all depends. In its conception, in its proceedings, up to the day it left Dublin, t he whole thing was a monstrous pretence. Why did the right hon. Gentleman appoint the Commission at all? The right hon. Gentleman tells us he was anxious to heal up old sores, and to find a basis upon which these evicted tenants—these fraudulent evicted tenants—could be restored to their holdings. He tells us he does not like the crambe repetita of his own speeches. Perhaps he does not like the crambe repetita of his votes in this House. While he was casting about to accomplish t his object the right hon. Gentleman must have forgotten that he voted last year in favour of Mr. O'Kelly's Bill for the 431 compulsory restoration of these tenants. I would also remind him that another Member of the Government—the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Shaw Lefevre)—went down to a district in Ireland and made these promises to the tenantry on behalf of the Government should they prove victorious.There can he no doubt that within a month of such a victory every emergency man will have fled the country, and every bogus tenant will have resolved himself into his original element, and agreements will be come to, if not voluntarily by some legislative process. Every tenant who has been evicted may confidently hope to he reinstated in his holding, and those who have suffered eviction from honourable motives will ever stand high in the memory of their own countrymen.I want to know, in the face of that statement, and in the face of the vote give by the right hon. Gentleman himself, and I think also by the present Leader of the House, what was he casting about for when he thought fit to appoint this Commission, and what was the exact information he expected to get? I therefore, venture to say that the right hon. Gentleman, when he comes forward and argues seriously before us that he wanted to heal up these disputes existing between landlords and tenants, is not giving us the real reason I full existed for the appointment of this Commission, which was to avoid an ugly question coming forward, and which was to enable him to extricate the hon. Member for Meath and the hon. Member for Cork from the difficulty in which they had placed themselves by procuring that these tenants should he evicted. When the right hon. Gentleman did think fit to appoint this Commission I think the least he might have done was to try and appoint it with some of the externals of decency. The right hon. Gentleman—and I think it does him credit—did not follow the course last night that he did at Newcastle. At Newcastle certain matters were not known which he has been since informed of, and he took it upon himself there to allege dud the Commission as appointed was more of a landlords' Commission than a tenants' Commission. I must say he had not, the indecency to repeat that statement in this House. What was the character he gave the Commission himself last night? I think he almost conceded that it was a partisan Commission. No 432 doubt he did say that "two of the members were officials of the very highest competence, experience, and responsibility in connection with the land question in Ireland;" but one of these gentlemen he took care, by giving him an appointment, to remove on the second day they sat, and as regards the other gentleman of the "highest competence, experience, and responsibility in connection with the land question in Ireland," he found the conduct of the President so distasteful to the feelings of any honourable man that he had to withdraw on the third day of the sitting. Now, the right hon. Gentleman has, as far as he could, attempted to defend the remaining Commissioners. He made an elaborate defence of Mr. Redington. Mr. Redington, he says, has been misrepresented. He says that gentleman never did assert that the "landlords of Ireland were the worst enemies of their class and of their country." He made this remarkable correction. He said that Mr. Redington's words in reality were that the "landlords of Ireland who follow Lord Salisbury are the worst enemies of their class and of their country." I make the right hon. Gentleman a present of the correction. I shall be glad if he will point out to tire one single landlord in Ireland who is not a follower of Lord Salisbury, except Mr. Redington himself, who has become a follower of the right hon. Gentleman since he sold every acre of land he possessed in Ireland. Now, there was one matter as to which I was exceedingly anxious to hear what the right hon. Gentleman would say, and that was the opening statement of Justice Mathew—a statement which I venture to think will not be defended in this House, alai which, although there w ere many noble Lords who have been ornaments of the Bench in England present in the other House when it was challenged the other night, not one of them stood up to support. What was the opening statement The learned President, who, to do him justice and to do the English Bench justice, took care to say that he was not acting as an English Judge, commenced his opening statement in this way—We must first, we very much regret, take the case of the Clamicarde estate. Urgent representations have been made to us that Parliament should be frilly informed as to the 433 mode in which Lord Clanricarde has used the powers which the law has entrusted to him as a landlord. For the present, so far as we know, Lord Clanricarde stands alone. No other landlord makes common cause with him. Even at the eleventh hour he may see the wisdom of permitting us to extricate him from Ids position, which, it would seem, great as is his risk, no loan need envy him…If Lord Clanricarde in person refuses to attend and explain his conduct he must he prepared for the assumption that arises and the inference that is properly drawn where evidence is deliberately withheld.The right hon. Gentleman truly said last night that he did not appoint this Commission to try the Irish landlords—I think he appointed them, Sir, to condemn the Irish landlords. But, Sir, I venture to characterise that opening statement of time President not only as scandalous, but as incompetent, and I shall tell you why. What was the foundation for this charge that was matte in segregating the case of Lord Clanricarde, for whom I appeared at the Commission [Ministerial cheers] from that of the other landlords? Yes, I am not one of those counsel who selects his clients when they are on their trial. I always quite willing to appear, to see that justice is done to any man. But what was the basis of the charge made against Lord Clanricarde? In a very humble way. I ventured to say that I appeared for the noble Lord, and that I did not understand why his absence from the Commission should be commented upon iii this way, I was courteously told to sit down. But what turned out to be the fact? The President went on to say that Lord Clanricarde had been invited to attend, and that in an insulting way he had said that he would not attend. I think the House will be surprised to hear that, as a matter of fact, Lord Clanricarde was not invited to attend, and had not refused to attend. On the contrary, he instructed me to attend for him, and to examine him when he came before the Commission, to see that fair play was done to his case. Therefore, so far as the opening statement of the learned Judge—if I may call him a Judge—was concerned, I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, has thought proper, by his silence, to show his condemnation of the performance of that gentleman. There is another serious question, and I should 434 certainly like to explain the view that I took of it at the time and the view that I take of it now. I mean the question of cross-examination. I never stated to the learned Judge that I thought there was an absolute right to cross-examination. At the very outset, when we were discussing procedure, I suggested to the learned Judge that, at all events, somebody ought to cross-examine the witnesses, and I suggested that a convenient course would be that the names of the witnesses to be examined ton behalf of tenants should be submit edt to the landlords in proper time, and that they should supply a brief to the Commission for the purpose of having certain questions put. I was told in answer to that, which seemed to me to he a practical suggestion, that I was looking for a grievance. Well, hut ought a witness to be cross-examined, or ought he not? When the matter arose at a subsequent stage, with reference to the first witness, I asked to be allowed to cross-examine. Before lunch I was told that I might cross-examine. After lunch, I suppose wiser counsels prevailed, and I was not allowed to cross-examine. When I was refused the right to cross-examine I made what I think was a very moderate request to the learned President, and it was this: Having regard to the particular facts of the case, I asked would he allow me to state my reasons why I thought cross-examination was essential, and he said he would not. I, therefore never had an opportunity of stating to the learned President why I thought that cross-examination was essential, and I purpose now to state to this House the reason I was not allowed to give. The first witness examined certainly rather astonished me. I bad had smile experience of that witness. I was present in the Court on the occasion of the trial of "Blunt v. Byrne," which went on for eight days in the Superior Court before the Lord Chief Baron, whose charge, by the order of this House, has been laid on the Table. I saw this first witness called before the Commission sitting seven or eight days in the Court while the case to which. I refer was being tried. I heard matters of the gravest responsibility proved against him in relation to the Clanricarde estate. I saw him challenged to go upon the table and stand the test of cross-exami- 435 nation, and I saw him refuse; and, whilst I make no accusation whatsoever against the witness, I think, at least, the House will say that, under these particular circumstances, and in relation to this identical estate, there were at least some grounds for sifting the honesty of the evidence. Some reference has been made by the hon. Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) to the speech of the first witness examined before the Commission. Let me read to the House what the Lord Chief Baron said with reference to that speech, and then the House will see whether the gallant Colonel and I myself are too persistent in endeavouring to bring this matter under the notice of the House. The Chief Baron said that—Upon the first night after the service of the processes another meeting was held, and John Roche, one of the leading spirits at Woodford, on the 23rd October, said the authorities had had their Balaclava that day, hut the people would have their Fontenoy another day, and thereupon the name of an unfortunate Mail was groaned at. Within a period of two more months—he did not know whether they considered it their Fontenoy or not—that unfortunate man was, without a moment's notice, sent before his Creator, and within half an hour of it becoming known that his body had been riddled with shots, his widow was publicly groaned at, and hooted through the streets of Woodford. Oh! what a lesson for moderation of language! Oh! what a lesson as to the effect of the exciting speeches made in Woodford on the 23rd September!But it was not simply in reference to these matters that I desired to cross-examine. The witness stated in his direct examination that if at a certain date Lord Clanricarde had given a reduction of 15 per cent. all the trouble would have been avoided. It had been proved before the Special Commission that at the very date at which the witness averred that 15 per cent. would have been accepted the witness himself had been chairman of a meeting, and had signed a resolution pledging all those present not to accept less than 50 per cent. for a reduction. Now, Sir, before the Special Commission the witness was confronted with that resolution. He was cross-examined as to it by the Attorney General of the late Government, and I merely mention this as one of a number of incidents. I want to know was that a material circumstance when you were finding out the right and wrong of these 436 evictions? But there was another matter in one of the things referred to before the Evicted Tenants Commission, and which I have no doubt we shall hear a great deal about from the right Iron. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, and that was the cost of those evictions to the country. Well, the witness deposed to the great cost and expense incurred through resistance to the law and the Sheriff. On cross-examination before the Special Commission he admitted that he was at one of the most disgraceful scenes that ever took place in Ireland—the Scene at Sandy's Fort. The witness said that he was one of those who had been there to help in resisting the Sheriff in the eviction.
§ MR. ROCHE (Galway, E.)
I have just come into the House, and I understand that the hon. Member is referring to me. I have to say that his interpretation of my evidence is totally inaccurate. I defy him to find out where I said I was there for the purpose of resisting. I said that I was present at the eviction—and I was proud to be present.
§ MR. CARSON
Exactly; the hon. Member was present, and proud to be present, at the evictions that were costing so much expense to the country. I make no charge against the hon. Member. I am not accusing him of resisting the eviction, but having regard to the fact that he was there, and proud of it, I suggest that at least I was entitled to put one question in cross-examination. But I will give one other instance, and this is the last I will refer to. The hon. Member was called to prove a case on behalf of the tenants as against a gentleman or a lady, I forget which, of the name of Lewis, and he had made a speech to Lewis's tenantry, in which he told them that they ought to throttle a Mr. Lewis until the glass eye fell out of his head.
§ MR. ROCHE
Mr. Speaker, I did not tell the tenantry to throttle him; but I told them that by adopting the Plan of Campaign they would adopt a means and method by which they would throttle him. And I admit that in the heat and excitement of the moment I did go so far as to say that by adopting that method—I was led away to an extent, and I did make use of the expression that by adhering loyally to their pledges they would throttle him, and I hoped 437 they would not loose their grasp until the glass eye fell out of his head.
§ MR. CARSON
Well, I really will leave it to the House whether that was a matter upon which one might have been allowed to put a question to the witness. But, Sir, the important point of my argument is to come yet, and it is this, that all I have been stating as material for cross-examination was known to Mr. Justice Mathew, and he had it on his desk before him. While the learned President thought fit to make use of the direct evidence given before the Special Commission, for the purpose of proving a document, he never thought fit to ask one single question of the hon. Member of the several hundreds which had been put to him in cross-examination. Therefore it was that I did venture humbly to suggest to the learned President that I ought to be allowed, when he would not take the obligation upon himself, to sift to the furthest the evidence on which this House was to he asked to legislate. But, Sir, the Commissioners were only anxious to heap up the agony against Lord Clanricarde. There were many other matters that were not touched upon that seemed to me most material. This House has passed a large number of safeguards for the protection of tenants in Ireland. You have passed safeguards which render it impossible for landlords to evict tenants wholesale unless they wish to ruin themselves if the tenants are in the right. There are provisions in the Act of 1870 which would have enabled almost all the tenants on the Clanricarde property to bring before the Court any unjustifiable conduct on his part, and to have had compensation assessed, even where evicted for non-payment of rent, if Lord Clanricarde was in the wrong. There are also provisions in the Act of 1887 enabling the Court in certain cases, if judicial rents have not been fixed—as they were not in Lord Clanricarde's case—to stay the execution pending the fixing of those rents. I should like to know, before this House is called upon to pass additional legislation and to vote away public money, whether it would not be well to inquire why these tenants had not availed themselves of the Courts. Not one single question on any one of these points was 438 asked while I was there. Now I pass away from that matter, mid I have explained, I think, the reasons why I ought to have been allowed to cross-examine. I rely upon no precedents, but as the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned them I may say that so far as we have been able to ascertain every single precedent that exists is in favour of allowing cross-examination, in Commissions under Viceregal warrant. The right hon. Gentleman said last night there were seven one way and six the other in twenty-five years. But I asked him across the table whether in the cases where there had been no cross-examination it had been asked for and disallowed and he said he could not say. I am glad that he has not ventured to say in this House what he said at Newcastle —when he spoke away from the records of Dublin Castle. This is what he said—Well, then as to precedents I state without fear of contradictive that the procedure followed by Mr. Justice Mathew was in accordance with every precedent to be found, and that counsel have been allowed to intervene, if at all, only as friends of the Court and not -la attack or protect witnesses. The whole of this clamour and uproar has been got up for party purposes.["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members may cheer that, but the Chief Secretary for Ireland did not venture to assert that last night. On the contrary, be admitted that the landlords were willing to attend and to give every information, and had not objected even to the constitution of the Commission. No, Sir; the right hon. Gentleman was strictly correct in that. The landlords did not object though they did protest that there was nobody to represent them on the Commission. They thought that even the body of Nationalists, as the right hon. Gentleman called them, would be able to take evidence—if they were not to form a judgment—and to submit that evidence fairly to the House for its consideration. All I can say is that while the right hon. Gentleman boasts that they were all Nationalists, I should not complain of the fact that they were all Nationalists if they had acted fairly; but it certainly is not likely that this body of Nationalists, if it is the best the right hon. Gentleman can obtain, will inspire much confidence in the Loyalists of Ireland as to the administration of the law in the future when we are blessed with this. Home Rule scheme of the Government. 439 Now, Sir, I pass on to another question, upon which I venture to think the right hon. Gentleman gave the House but scant information—I mean the Gweedore prisoners. I was very reminded by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman of a speech I heard at Mary borough, pronounced by the gentleman who is now the Attorney General for Ireland, in connection with the trial of those prisoners. What we challenge in this matter is, not the right hon. Gentleman's right to see that the clemency of the Crown is exercised, hut that the exercise of the clemency of the Crown in the present case was not a bonâ fide exercise of the clemency of the Crown. The right hon. Gentleman says that he examined into the merits of the case; hut I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that at the time when these trials took place, before he had any opportunity of examining into the merits, he went about the country from one place to another denouncing those trials and verdicts, saying that the verdicts were tainted and when the right hon. Gentle man says teat for the purpose of exercising the clemency of the Crown he examined into the merits of the ease, I should like the House to note the judicial frame of mind of the right hon. Gentleman who had prejudged the matter three years previously. I was anxious to see what were the exact grounds on which the right hon. Gentleman would state that the clemency of the Crown was exercised in this ease. I must say, having listened carefully to the right hon. Gentleman, I have not been able to follow him as to what those grounds were. Does the right hon. Gentleman say that there is any doubt of the guilt of those prisoners—of all or any of them? Was that the ground on which he went? I have always understood that the clemency of the Crown in overruling the constituted tribunal set up by Act of Parliament was not to he exercised unless on some special ground, either as regards failure of justice or by reason of some doubt being thrown on the guilt of the prisoners who have been incarcerated. But, Sir, in the present case the right hon. Gentleman will admit that the Judge who tried the case not only was perfectly satisfied with the verdict that was pronounced—["No, no!"] Does the right hon. Gentleman dispute 440 that? Then I will read the words the Judge used in passing sentence—Every one concerned in the resistance to the police in the execution of their lawful duties is responsible in the eye of the law for murder if any policeman is slain in the discharge of his duty. And I had to lay down that law to the jury, and to explain to them the circumstances of provocation which the law recognised as sufficient to reduce the crime from Murder to manslaughter, telling them that I was hardly able to discern myself—and, in fact, could not discern—any evidence upon which such mitigating circumstances of provocation could rest, but adding that there were matters in this case which might induce them to bring forte and strain upon the evidence, so as to bring in a verdict for the lesser crime. They adopted the merciful view. Of their action I make no complaint what they did I agree with; lint I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that but for their mercy it would now be my duty to pronounce sentence of death upon you and that the only mitigation you could expect would be to have that sentence changed from death to penal servitude for life.Not only does the Judge there approve of the verdict, but he commends the jury for having brought "force and strain upon the evidence so as to bring in a verdict for the lesser crime," but for which they would have had to expiate the murder of that policeman by the penalty of death. Well, Sir, were these prisoners guilty, or is there any doubt of their guilt? The right hon. Gentleman said last night that there was some difficulty about the evidence as to identification, as to places and persons. But did the right hon. Gentleman forget that the prisoners had pleaded guilty? It. strikes me as a curious feature in this case that we should be inquiring here not only into a case in which there was no miscarriage by the jury, but actually into a case where the prisoners themselves pleaded guilty. [Mr. JOHN MORLEY: Coll.] I do not know why the right hon. Member interrupts me, because he let out the other three as well as Coll. Well, but something was said as to the prisoners pleading guilty on the suggestion of counsel according to some arrangement or compact. Well, I must say that I do not think the counsel who defended them—the right hon. Gentleman who is now the Attorney General for Ireland and the hon. and learned Member for Louth—were at all the counsel who were likely to suggest to innocent men that they should plead guilty. But that this was not so is absolutely shown by the fact that the hon. and learned Member for 441 Louth himself, speaking a few days afterwards as regards this very matter of the plea of guilty at a meeting of the National League in Dublin, said—It was said that counsel exercised their judgment wrongly because they recommended the prisoners to plead guilty. That statement was absolutely false. They gave no such recommendation. It was the law in felony cases that counsel could not plead guilty for a prisoner. Their action was to consider all the facts, and leave the defendants in the case to come to their own conclusions.Therefore, you have it upon the statement of the hon. and learned Member that the act was a voluntary one on the part of the prisoners themselves. I cannot understand the point made by the right hon. Gentleman in answer to the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), as to the evidence given by the Attorney General for Ireland and the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) upon the hearing of the libel action. I think there is a strong contrast between the way in which those trials and verdicts were treated by the right boll. Gentleman when he was putting himself into a judicial frame of mind immediately after the trials, and that in which they were treated by the two eminent counsel who defended the prisoners at Maryborough. The hon. and learned Member for Louth was asked this question—In your opinion as counsel, knowing the strength of the Crown case and the strength of your own, were they getting off easy?How could that have relation to men who were being acquitted? It must have had relation to those who were being convicted. The hon. and learned Member said in reply—We originally believed that some of them would Le convicted. I think, to use a popular phrase, they got off 'in a coach.'Now, is it suggested that the statement of the hon. and learned Member had not reference to the men who pleaded guilty?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
do not desire to intervene in this Debate, as I was counsel in the ease. I have never spoken in any Debate respecting a case in which I have acted as counsel, and I do not propose to speak in this. But as the right hon. Gentleman asks me a question I will reply. I was put in 442 the witness box with reference to 24 men, and in my reply I was speaking of the whole body of men. According to my recollection of the whole of the men, all except four escaped without penal servitude. Gallagher, against whom there was the most terrible evidence, was left out by the Attorney General, while Ferry, about whom the evidence of the policeman was that he had danced on the man's head, was absolutely discharged. Others were discharged, and six got off with sentences of two or three months' imprisonment. Therefore, speaking of the entire body of 24 men who were originally indicted for murder, I said they got off "in a coach." I would add, having resisted this compromise, though for months I bore in silence the slander that I had been a party to it, that the compact which wits entered into by the representatives of the Crown was not kept, and the men got monstrously severe sentences.
§ MR. CARSON
I do not know that the hon. and learned Gentleman really given any answer on the point. The phrase he used is before the House. I do not wish to press it further than Iris explanation will allow, hut it certainly does occur to me to be a strange thing that it should be suggested that the nature of the bargain or agreement with the prisoners' counsel was that, in consideration of men whom they knew to be absolutely guilty getting off, other prisoners whom they knew to be innocent should agree to plead guilty. I want to know, Where is the evidence which throws doubt upon the verdicts? There is absolutely none. The right hon. Gentleman says that he passed over his own Lord Chancellor in Ireland, who is well acquainted with the state and condition of Ireland, and he passed over his own Solicitor General in Ireland. He thought fit to erect in England a Court of Criminal Appeal front the sentences passed in the Superior Courts in Ireland. When the right hon. Gentleman tells us he found elements of doubt in the case, is it not a curious thing, that the Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, speaking in the other House last night, said he did not impeach the original sentence? The right hon. Gentleman said be took into consideration the time and place, and also 443 the fact that none of the three men had been guilty of any physical injury to this unfortunate police constable.
§ MR. CARSON
Well, it is difficult to say when a number of blows are struck which of the men is the actual murderer. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman ever read the injuries inflicted on this unfortunate man. I will read them for him. One of the witnesses at the coroner's inquest on Inspector Martin said—There were four lacerated wounds, three inches, one, and one-and-a-half inches respectively in length, and the top and back part of the skull was completely smashed in. There were nine fragments of bone completely detached, and two portions driven into the substance of the brain. A large portion of the bones of the skull were almost detached. The bones of the nose were broken. There was a punctured wound on the left forehead, with extensive bruising. There was a bruise on the left cheek. There was a circular wound one inch and a half in diameter on the right elbow, and there was a contusion on the hip.Well, I cannot tell the right hon. Gentleman which of these men it was who inflicted the wounds. That they were all there engaged in a common object which resulted in the death of this unfortunate constable is beyond doubt; and certainly the law will become ridiculous if it is to be suggested that there is to be any palliation, whether in the verdict of the jury, or in the exercise of the clemency of the Crown, because you have not been able to put your hand upon the man who inflicted the actual wound that caused death. I cannot at all agree with the right hon. Gentleman that, having regard to the time and place, there were any mitigating circumstances whatever. And even if there were, if he had read the judgment of the Judge who had tried the case he would have seen that every one of the elements in the case had been carefully weighed and considered in estimating the sentences. In his evidence given at the libel trial the Attorney General admitted that the reason why he had advised Father M'Fadden to plead guilty was, that the rev. gentleman had admitted to him that for three days previous to the occurrence he had been obstructing the police in the execution of this very warrant; and it had been proved that a few nights before the crowd which assembled ren- 444 dered it absolutely impossible for the police officer who had gone there to serve the warrant, to do his duty. If, by reason of the conduct of the person against whom the warrant was issued, by reason of the way in which he had tried to evade the police, and by reason of the way in which he had organised his parishioners, it was found impossible to execute the warrant on any day but a. Sunday were the Government to be frustrated, was the warrant to be allowed to be set at naught, and was the rev. gentleman to be allowed to assert once more as he had frequently asserted during these troublesome times that "he was the law in Gweedore? "That the thing was premeditated is placed beyond all doubt, if you read some observations extracted from the speeches of the rev. gentleman himself. On the 19th July, 1887, he said—I expect to be arrested in a short time, and even if I be arrested I can console myself with the thought that within the four seas of Ireland there is not one priest deserves it more than I. I will treat any summons that is issued against me with the utmost contempt. I will not attend on such summons, and I will never divulge one word as to the Plan of Campaign.On the 12th September he said—I will not appear upon their summons. Then they will issue a warrant for my arrest. Will they dare arrest me in Gweedore amongst my people?See how pathetic he is. He goes on—It would take the whole British Army to do it. There will be some blood spilt before they take me out of it.The epithets of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) were indignantly heard by a section of the House yesterday. I am not myself in favour of using such strong epithets, which probably lead to no good result, but in the next paragraph I read I will ask the House to mark how carefully this minister of religion and charity was as to the epithet he thought fit to use towards the police. On the 16th January, 1888, he says—I do not agree with Father Stephens that the landlords are the only murderers. The police I regard as murderers, and they will have vengeance to fall on them in this world or in the next.I ask the House whether if, after these statements of the rev. gentleman, there was blood spilt it was not through the organisation of the rev. gentleman. An 445 hon. Member yesterday made a most brilliant speech in this House, and I believe what chiefly brought forth the cheers of hon. Members below the gangway on this side was his statement of his great regard and friendship for Father M`Fadden. After all the hon. Gentleman is quite entitled to make his own friends. It is purely a matter of taste. I have gone into these matters because I thought it was well that the House should know that in persisting in making the charge that this was not a case of bona fide exercise of the clemency of the Crown we desire to go upon facts which are unanswerable and unanswered by the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham asked for an assurance that the release of these prisoners was to be no indication of the policy of further releases. I attended carefully to the speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and although the right hon. Gentleman assailed my right hon. Friend with reference to several matters, he sat down without giving any answer whatever to that question. I have seen it stated in the papers that the right hon. Gentleman either has released or has in contemplation the release of a prisoner who was tried for having explosives in Tipperary during the outrages committed there while the Plan of Campaign was in full force. The sentence on this man was one of either seven or five years, and be has only been imprisoned one or two years at the outside. I want to know whether it is a fact that he is now to be released from prison. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that we Irish Unionist Members are only too anxious to aid him in every way in carrying on the Government of Ireland, but I can also assure him that as surely as he abuses the powers that are entrusted to him, so surely will we upon every occasion, before the House and the country, call upon him to defend his action. The right hon. Gentleman says that he has not a magician's wand to bring peace and prosperity at once to Ireland. I should like to know what single act he has done during the six months he has been in office to increase the material prosperity of that country. I looked with anxiety in the Gracious Speech from the Throne for some indication of au intention on his part to ex- 446 tend the useful measures which had been set on foot by his predecessor my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, but I found that the only hope held out to Ireland was this miserable Home Rule Bill. And while the right hon. Gentleman knows that there is not the slightest chance of the Home Rule Bill becoming law until he and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian summon sufficient courage to put the issue before the country, he is not able to announce to the people of Ireland one single measure which he proposes in the interim to bring forward in this House for the material benefit of that country. This Home Rule policy has been before Ireland for the last six or seven years, and I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman what progress he has made in that country towards bringing the different Parties together? Six years of so-called coercion under the right hon. Gentleman, six years in which we have had time to consider, as against it, his Home Rule policy, and what is the result? After the six years of coercion we Unionists for Ireland come back here stronger by five seats than we were, and I do ask the right hon. Gentleman in all honesty and sincerity, in the interests of Ireland, if this policy is to be adhered to, not to keep the matter open one day longer than is necessary, and to take the verdict of the country upon the net issue. I have only, in conclusion, to say I feel under a deep obligation to the House for the manner in which it has received me.
§ MR. D. RANDELL (Glamorgan, Gower)
said, that the part of the speech to which he wished to specially direct the attention of the House was of momentous importance to Wales—to Wales, which had been more loyal to the Liberal Party than any other section of the United Kingdom. Since the 1868 Election the Welsh Members had been practically a united Party, and all returned at the last Election—with two exceptions—were Liberal; they constituted a solid phalanx of Liberals pledged to support Her Majesty's Government. But whilst Wales was prepared to concede to Ireland the first claim, having regard to the long and great struggle which Irishmen had been engaged in asserting their nationality, they were very jealous of 447 precedence being given to other measures than Home Rule over Welsh questions. The question uppermost in their minds was the disestablishment and disendowment of the English Church in Wales. In regard to that, they had hitherto exhibited great patience, and he did not think that that patience should be too long tried. Up to the present they had had little return for the support they had given to the Liberal Party; and as for the immediate future, it had in it very few signs of encouragement for them. It was only in the last paragraph of the Speech from the Throne that they found a very indirect reference to the question of Welsh disestablishment; they were promised that at some time or other during the Session a Suspensory Bill should be brought in, and even in that matter there was an indication of an intention on the part of the Government to give Scotland priority From a Liberal Government that was the unkindest cut of all. While we admitted that the question of precedence for political questions ought not to be governed by the measure of support the Government received from one part of the country as compared with another, he did think Ministers should not be unmindful of such circumstances. He was not aware that a Suspensory Bill was at all necessary for Scotland; he was under the impression that there the appointment of parish ministers was by Statute vested in the parishioners, and there was, therefore, less need for a Suspensory Bill for Scotland than existed in the case of Wales. He supposed the object of giving Scotland precedence was to show the Scotch people that they were not forgotten. Why should not a like assurance be given to Wales? The Welsh people showed far larger majorities than the Scotch on the question of disestablishment. Was precedence given on the principle of political expediency, or on the Hartingtonian theory of decisive majorities? On this subject Wales had spoken with no uncertain voice; but the case was different in Scotland; even the majority of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian himself was reduced to a significant extent owing to his views on the disestablishment question, and other Scotch Members suffered in a like manner. The Liberal Federation, which did the propaganda work for the Liberal 448 Party, had from time to time promised Wales the second place in the Government Programme; had promised that her claims should be first considered after Home Rule; but evidently that promise was not to be fulfilled in regard to disestablishment, and the draftsman of the Speech could not apparently have been aware of the pledge. Little regard, indeed, seemed to be shown for the Welsh people, and his object in now speaking was to give voice to the disappointment they felt in consequence. He had hoped that a Disestablishment Bill would have been introduced this Session, or that the Government would have brought forward a Resolution pledging themselves to the people of Wales, and that they would have followed that up by a Suspensory Bill; but they had not, and there was deep and widespread disappointment as the result. He trusted they would not be kept too long in suspense, but that they would have more satisfactory assurances from the Treasury Bench as to the intentions of the Government. He noticed an interesting circumstance the previous night which was not without significance. A Motion by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board for leave to introduce a Registration Bill—one of the leading Bills of the Government—was resisted by the Irish Members because they could not obtain a pledge that its provisions should be extended to Ireland. He had no desire to follow too closely the policy of the Irish Representatives, but he thought the Welsh Members would be justified in pressing for an explicit undertaking which would remove the prevailing dissatisfaction and which would prove that their sacrifices on behalf of and their allegiance to the Liberal Party would not go unrewarded.
§ *MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
expressed his surprise that no Member of the Government had risen to reply to the marvellous speech lately delivered from the Front Opposition Bench, for it was a speech which required to be answered. He himself desired to deal with the variety of the subjects touched upon in the Queen's Speech. Ireland was not the, only topic dealt with in the Speech. There were also mentioned a Registration Bill, a Disestablishment Bill, the Law of. Conspiracy, the Liquor Traffic, and a large number of other subjects—a vote- 449 catching collection, brought forward with the hope apparently of securing support at the next Election. The Speech reminded him of one of those useful, but not very ornamental, instruments used in the summer for the purpose of catching innocent flies. It was like a paper covered with a sugary and sticky substance, which attracted the flies to their doom. Several of the questions, as, for instance, that of Disestablishment and the Liquor Traffic, were sufficient to occupy the attention of Parliament for a whole Session at least, and he thought, therefore, the House had a right to ask if they were mentioned in the Queen's Speech with a view to being legislated ii pot this Session, or if they were only touched upon in order that the Government might hereafter say, "See what we would have done if you had only left us in Office. "What was the Party which expected to pass that Programme? It had at the best a majority of 40, and a shrinking was setting in from day to day. It was not a homogeneous Party; it was made up of different bodies, each having a different object; it was a combination which the least friction or heat might separate. Was it not unreasonable to put before the country such an enormous Programme, seeing that a Party so constituted could not possibly expect to carry it through? An analysis of the Party exposed its weakness at once. There were the specially Gladstonian Members, the men who saw with the eves and heard with the ears of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian. They, of course, would support any measure he brought forward. But they were comparatively few in number. They were not all always so docile as at present; a few years ago even the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not so subservient or amenable. The Secretary of State for Scotland was a few years ago a staunch Unionist, and the Home Secretary was not even last year so obedient as now. Taking all the sections of that Party, and including the prodigals who had returned to the fold, they did not number more than 150. They could not pass a measure without the aid of the other sections with which they were allied with the object of keeping the Unionists out of Office. They had heard a great deal about the Irish Question, but was it 450 certain that the Government could depend on their Irish followers? Could they depend on the solid support of the 80 Home little Members? There were indications of doubt even as to that. When an arrangement was made with them last August two conditions were insisted on by the Anti-Parnellite Party before they would give in their allegiance. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister himself read the conditions out at the Table. One was the reinstatement of the evicted tenants under the Plan of Campaign. They had heard a good deal about the Evicted Tenants Commission, and would, no doubt, hear much more. By what authority had a Minister of the Crow taken a Judge from his duties and converted him into a. partisan? They had in the Government, too—at the head of the Office of Works—a gentleman who was specially interested in the Plan of Campaign. He went over to Ireland to look into it; he tried to get into prison, but did not succeed, and at a time when he was a pensioner of the Crown he subscribed £50 in aid of the Plan. He might be called a "Cabinet Campaigner."
§ MR. T. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
it is due to the right hon. Gentleman that I should state he has not subscribed any money whatever to the Plan of Campaign. He subscribed bathe relief of evicted tenants in Ireland, which is quite a different thing.
§ MR. BARTLEY
replied, that the two things were closely allied, and that, practically, the money was given to the support of the Plan of Campaign, because it went for the relief of the tenants who were evicted under that Plan. It was only a quibble of words to say that the right hon. Gentleman gave the money for one purpose when it was really for another. Was the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that he had, in the Commission of Inquiry, got a fair return for his money? Clearly, he had not. Some of those among them who lived in London could not understand why the Irish tenants who could, but, would not pay their rents should he treated better than unfortunate tenants in London, who if they could not pay were evicted. Were the evicted tenants themselves satisfied with the Commission presided over by Justice Mathew, and with its result? Could the Government 451 calculate with certainty on the support of the Anti-Parnellite Members, who made it a condition of their allegiance that these tenants should be reinstated? The second condition on which they promised their support was that the dynamiters should be released. It seemed remarkable that the prerogative of mercy should be debased as it had been in this respect. The great quality of mercy was never intended to be used for political purposes; it was never intended to be almost prostituted for political objects. But even the release of some of the prisoners had not satisfied the people of Ireland, and there was an Amendment on the Paper calling for the release of the other dynamite prisoners—of men who were the most unmitigated scoundrels on the face of the earth; of men who sent dynamite in packages to railway stations in London with a fuse attached to them so arranged as to explode and injure men, women, and children when returning from their work. Surely men of that class were villains and demons of the worst kind. Were they to be released at the demand of the Irish section? Why, if one's own brother committed such a crime it would be felt that, instead of releasing him, he should be kept in prison all his life, so that he should not have another opportunity of so sinning. In addition to getting America to interfere on behalf of these men, the Parnellite and Anti-Parnellite Members were holding meetings all over Ireland to demand their release. He repeated that, as the Anti-Parnellites had not got what they demanded in respect of the release of the dynamiters and the reinstatement of the evicted tenants, the Government could not be quite sure of their support. Then he came to the Parnellite Party; it was a small Party, but it was a pugnacious body, and the hon. Member for Waterford, who led them, evinced no weakness in stating what he meant and what he wanted. What did he say was the price of the support of the Parnellite Party? He had distinctly laid it down that the Irish Parliament was to be supreme, that the veto of the Crown should be exercised by the Irish Ministers alone, and that Irish Members should still come over to this country and vote upon such questions as disestablishment and finance, and upon all subjects of importance. Was he going to have his own way? Was it 452 certain he would support the Government unless he did get his own way? They knew it was only a year ago since the hon. Member for Waterford put this question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he sat on the Front Opposition Bench, and they knew that it so frightened the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he ran away. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, when speaking before the meeting of Parliament, said the Home Rule of Mr. Parnell was Fenian Home Rule, which he and the Liberal Party would never support. He (Mr. Bartley) wanted to ask whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given up his view in deference to the view of the hon. Member for Waterford? If so, he would have to settle with the hon. Member for Cardiff (Sir E. J. Reed) and those of his friends on his own side of the House; or was it that the hon. Member for Waterford had given up his scheme in deference to the Chancellor of the Exchequer? But until one or other of these questions was settled, it was clear that the Government could not depend for certain on the support of the Parnellites. Then there was another section—the section of the Anti-Parnellites, which was influenced by Mr. Davitt. Mr. Davitt had been employed recently in recommending magistrates in Ireland, which was a very peculiar thing when the antecedents of that gentleman were remembered. Mr. Davitt was an able man, and some said a conscientious man, and he might be expected back to the House again very soon. Mr. Davitt had taken the oath of allegiance already at the Table of the House, but he had taken an oath of allegiance elsewhere besides, and they had a right to ask whether he had given up being a sworn Fenian, whether he had given up demanding the absolute independence of Ireland, whether he had given up working with Devoy and other members of the Clan-na-Gael, who promoted the Land League of Ireland, and whether he was still a friend of the man Ford? He (Mr. Bartley) thought it was impossible for the Government to reckon on the support of Mr. Davitt and the support of Ids followers, unless this Ethiopian had changed his skin and the leopard his spots. Looking, therefore, at the measure of Home Rule, it was plain that the Government could not depend even on the support of the 453 Irish Members for its Irish scheme. But there were other questions on which the Government relied. They had put off the question of the disestablishment of the Welsh Church. Now they depended entirely for their majority on the 28 Welsh Members. They knew that a Welshman was a very stubborn and a very determined man. They had an example last Session of the determination of Welshmen when hon. Members from Wales, young enough to be grandchildren of the Prime Minister, set the Prime Minister at defiance, and all the efforts of the friends of the Prime Minister to subdue their insubordination were fruitless. The House, therefore, knew the price of time Welsh Members. Their support could only be got if they obtained the absolute disestablishment and disendowment of the Church in Wales. But were they going to have that? The Prime Minister had done his utmost to give the Welsh Members a sop. The Prime Minister was like the woman in the sledge, who threw out one of her children to the wolves hoping it would quieten them. He had thrown over the Welsh landlords, anal it was extremely good of him to do that, because if he was not a Welsh landlord himself, he was very nearly one. But though the Welshmen were to have the three F's, or any number of F's, the price of Welsh support was the disestablishment and disendowment of the Church; and unless they got them, it would be impossible for the Government to reckon on the support of the 28 Members from Wales. Then there was another great question referred to in the Queen's Speech—the question of the liquor traffic. It was trot certain that the Government would get the support of the Liquor Traffic Abolitionists. There were no less than 27 Members on the Government side of the House belonging to the North of England Temperance League. Was it certain that these men were going to support the Local Option measure of the Government? Their leader was the hon. Member for East Bradford (Mr. W. S. Caine), who was at one time a tremendous Unionist; but he had given up his views on that subject, and swallowed Home Rule. But why had he swallowed Home Rule? Because he wanted it advocated 454 that nobody should be allowed to swallow a glass of beer. He and his friends would not be satisfied with Local Option. What they wanted was what the United Kingdom Alliance demanded—the power to prohibit the sale of alcohol in every district. It had been said that the Local Option Bill of the Government was to be a half measure; but in order to satisfy the Member for East Bradford, the Government must abolish the sale of alcohol, and in doing that they will have to settle with their own friends who were interested in the liquor traffic. Then there was the Nonconformist section to be reckoned with. The Nonconformist conscience was a troublesome element to the present Government; it played a very important part in the downfall of Mr. Parnell. But it should he remembered that two of the present Ministers of the Crown—the Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of Ireland—had been supporters of Mr. Parnell. At the meeting held in Dublin after the divorce proceedings, the present hon. Member for Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) said that they would never give up the leadership of the man who load, under unparalleled difficulties, done so much for Ireland. The present Attorney General for Ireland (The MacDermott) and time Lord Chancellor of Ireland (Mr. Walker) spoke at that meeting, and said nobody had any right to interfere in the question of Mr. Parnell's leadership but Irishmen. He (Mr. Bartley) wanted to know whether these two Members of time Government were Parnellites still? If they were Parnellites, the Nonconformist conscience would have to see to it; and if they were not Parnellites, they would have to reckon with their own followed in Ireland. Mr. Parnell was sent adrift after the result of the Divorce Court proceedings; but will the Nonconformist conscience allow to sit on the Government side of the House and support Government measures for social reforms a coati who had been tried by his own Peers, and had been adjudicated in the same way as Mr. Parnell. That was a great question, and should come up again. It was a question of great importance to the country, and he did not think the Nonconformist conscience were so fickle or unreasonable as to 455 swallow this camel after straining at a gnat. There was another section of the House which he called the "Discontented Brigade"; it was said to number 40. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) was the leader. The hon. Member for Northampton was not included in the Cabinet—he (Mr. Bartley) wished he had been included—and he wrote some remarkable letters about his exclusion. But he was not the only discontented man in the House; there were a large number on the Government side of the House who were also discontented. With a large amount of discontent in the House was it hopeful that all those vast measures in the Queen's Speech could ever be considered. Then the Scotch Members were said to be in revolt, but he did not think the revolt of the Scotch Radicals a very serious thing. On all these grounds, therefore, he thought it would require extreme measures to keep the Liberal Party from open revolt. He remembered that one section of the Party was soothed by tea parties in the afternoon, but the Prime Minister would have to go to tea parties without end in order to keep the entire Party quiet. One thing was certain—it was impossible to consider the Programme of legislation in the Queen's Speech as a practical Programme. It could root be considered, and it would not be considered. The only purpose it served was to raise false hopes, to help to keep the Government a little longer on the Benches opposite, and that in the coming Election that these attractive things might possibly win a few votes. It was impossible that the Government could last, and they knew perfectly that this Programme of legislation, which was so attractive to some persons, would very soon whittle down. It was never intended to be passed. It was merely propounded in the hope that it would catch votes.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Devonport (Mr. Morton) yesterday, at the commencement of his very able maiden speech, said that in his opinion anyone who called attention to matters of foreign policy at the present moment was impeding the march of domestic reform at home. I should have put it rather that if we engage in interventions 456 and protectorates abroad at the present time we impede, the march of domestic policy at home. Whenever the heart of the nation is set upon Radical reforms it becomes the duty of every Radical to see, as far as he possibly can, that we do not drift into responsibilities abroad which may come in advance of these reforms at home. Now, Sir, I have always been one of those who have thought the House of Commons ought to have the same absolute control over questions of our foreign policy as our domestic matters. I do not think that any Treaties ought to be ratified, that any wars ought to be undertaken, that any protectorates ought to be assumed, and still less that any Charters giving sovereign rights to private companies ought to be given without the full absolute preliminary assent of the House of Commons. Mr. Speaker, I rejoiced when the Election took place and resulted in a Liberal victory; I rejoiced, not only because I anticipated that all those great reforms we desired would be carried, lint also that an end would be put to the immoral continuity of Jingoism abroad. Sir, I am beginning to Fear that I was a little anticipatory ill my rejoicings. Be that as it may, whether the Liberal Party is in power or out of power I trust there will remain Members of this House who will never bow the knee to King Jingo, and will always protest against any of these acts abroad which cost vast amounts of money, and which in the end demand a vast expenditure of British blood. Before entering upon the subject on which I have given notice of Amendment, as I see the Prime Minister in his place I would like to ask him one or two questions on other matters of foreign affairs. I do not complain of what has recently occurred in Egypt. I think we are there to maintain order, and are bound to see what that species of order is, and have some control over it; I think if we have even a corporal's guard there it is a great advantage to the place; if we do not think the number of soldiers there sufficient, that they should be augmented; but, Sir, I was surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) say that in consequence of what had recently taken place in Egypt he hoped that the Government would inform 457 the French Government and inform the Khedive that we intended to remain there for an indefinite period, because Lord Cromer had reduced the position of the Khedive to what was practically a dummy position. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham thought he would improve the position by adding insult to injury in attacking the Khedive personally. My reading of what has recently taken place is that the Khedive and the people of Egypt are against our continued occupation. They have a laudable desire for national independence; they want Home Rule, precisely as the Irish want Home Rule, and to my thinking they ought to have it, just as the Irish ought to have it. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, as the Member for West Birmingham pointed out, did say in a speech delivered a year or two ago in Midlothian, "Our occupation was a source of weakness and a source of embarrassment." In 1892, I remember, on the Estimate for the number of men in the Army, I divided the House against the exact number that were in Egypt. I did that in order to put, as broadly as I could before the House, the question of evacuation. A very considerable number of Gentlemen on those (the Ministerial) Benches, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Mr. John Morley)—I am not quite sure whether my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir W. Harcourt), but anyhow, many eminent Gentlemen voted with me, and every single Liberal voted with me on that subject. I think, therefore, we have a right to know what is doing at the present moment; whether any negotiations are taking place with a view to our evacuation of the country. I saw in the newspapers to-day a telegraphic report of a speech of a French Minister. It is conceived in the most conciliatory terms, and expressed the hope that we should enter into that conciliatory spirit in order to settle the period of our evacuation of the country. When Lord Salisbury came in in 1885 he at once initiated negotiations with the Sultan. In 1887 Lord Salisbury declared himself in favour of what is called the Wolff Treaty, and the only reason why that Treaty was not signed and we are in Egypt at the present was because the Sultan refused to sign it. I 458 really think, in view of all the declarations that have been made by eminent Members of the Liberal Party, that it would be a disgrace for the Liberal Party if they were to go out of power without having done something to bring to an end that evacuation which the Prime Minister said was a source of danger and embarrassment to us. I have no doubt the Liberal Party will remain in power during the natural term of the present Parliament, and I do not entertain a doubt that die next General Election will result in another six years for the Liberal Party. But still, accidents sometimes do happen in the best regulated families. Dissolution may come upon us like a thief in the night; therefore, I do trust the Government will not risk anything by delaying too long entering into some sort of negotiations in order to put an end to our evacuation. The other question I would ask the right hon. Gentleman concerns the Triple Alliance. The right, hon. Gentleman will remember that during the last Parliament it was asserted in this House and in the newspapers that Lord Salisbury had given some sort of assurance to Italy as to in some way coming to her and should she join the Triple Alliance, and if in consequence of joining that Alliance she found herself at war with France, because France wished to re-acquire Alsace and Lorraine. At, that time I remember the right hon. Member for West Birmingham saying, in the House that whether Lord Salisbury had given this assurance Or not he has not, informed the House of what he has lone, and therefore we are in no way responsible. I should like now that the right hon. Gentleman as Prime Minister should make it clear to us that whatever assurances were given—if any were given by Lord Salisbury—that the Government is in no way responsible for them, that the Government does not recognise them; and ill the event of Italy being involved in war with France owing to the action of Italy, she must, protect her own coast, awl take the consequences if she is beaten. I ask these questions in no spirit of hostility to the Prime Minister. In foreign politics I am Gladstonian, and I hope and trust the right hon. Gentleman will not himself turn his back upon that most excellent and respectable Party. Now I come to 459 the subject of my Amendment, and I may also say that my Amendment is a thoroughly Gladstonian Amendment. It refers to Uganda. I must go somewhat in detail into these matters, because the whole subject is very much a question of detail. Uganda, as the House knows, is a kingdom in Central Africa seven hundred miles from the coast, and separated from the coast by a tract partly deserted and partly inhabited by wild and savage tribes. It was discovered in 1862 by Speke, and in 1874 Mr. Stanley visited it. In 1877 certain Protestant missionaries went there, and they were speedily followed by Catholic missionaries. When Stanley went there, the King of the country was named Mtesa, an able and powerful Monarch who died in 1884, and he was succeeded first by one son and then by another, all heading different factions. But in 1890 the King was King Mwanga, who was the present monarch of the country. In 1890 Mwanga's Throne was in danger, and he made application to the East Africa Company in order to induce that company to give him their aid. This matter is somewhat important, because it has been vaguely asserted that the East Africa Company went there out of pure patriotism, and were urged, directly or indirectly, to go there by Lord Salisbury in order to prevent the Germans from going there. I will read to the House a statement issued by the Church Missionary Society—The critical condition of things made Mwanga and the Christians look for help to Mr. F. J. Jackson, of the Imperial British East Africa Company, who was heard to be in Usoga. They sent to him for assistance, and Mwanga accepted a flag sent by hint as a token of alliance. The missionaries preserved a wholly neutral attitude in these negotiations; they simply, as Mr. Walker said, have told Mwanga the truth as far as we knew it, and have explained the meaning of the company's offer, and their flag which they have sent. We have done this not as political agents,' but merely as Mwanga's and the Christian party's friends, being, moreover the only people in the land who could have done it. We have also been Mwanga's mouthpiece in writing to the company's agents, and we have done our best to give them a true account of the present state of the country.' In May, 1890, Messrs. Jackson and Gedge, of the I.B.E.A. Company, appeared in Rubaga (now called Mengo), and endeavoured to come to terms with Mwanga, the company to render help against the Mohammedans and Kabarega, and in return to receive the tames of the country. Although 460 supported by the Protestant, or rather English party, Mr. Jackson had to retire without effecting his object, and no control of the country was exercised by the company until December 29, 1890, when Captain Lugard arrived.The House will see by the statement that the proposal was a purely business and commercial one on the part of the company. They were asked to go there and defend the Throne of King Muringa, in consideration of which they replied they must have the collection of the taxes of the country. As these modest proposals to collect the taxes of the country were refused these gentlemen, Messrs. Gedge and Jackson did not go there as representatives of the company. But in December of that year Captain Lugard arrived in the country. He was closely followed by a considerable force of Zanzibaris with breech-loaders, and two Maxim guns. I derive my knowledge of what took place front the Reports that had been presented to this House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said that I was in the habit in writing upon the subject of alluding to a private document. Sir, the document was not private. I will explain what it was. The right hon. Gentleman further said that Captain Lugard had altered his views since that document was written, and since he first came to the country. All I can say is that in the Blue Book to which we were obliged to refer for information, I find not only this Report which was written by Captain Lugard immediately on his arrival in the country, but I find that the Reports went on until August, 1891, and that Captain Lugard in no sort of way in subsequent Reports contradicts his statement in the first Report, except that he once says if the people of the country are industrious they might produce cereals and export them. The House will remember that in the last Parliament there was a Debate upon the proposal to vote £20,000 for the survey of the Mombasa Railway, and the present Chancellor of the Exchequer quoted largely during the Debate from this so-called private document, which was a Report of Captain Lugard to this company. That Report has appeared in "Africa, No. 4." The House will hardly believe that almost all the passages which were referred to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to prove his case against this 461 railway, and against any intermeddling Uganda, are absolutely suppressed from the Report. The Report was prefaced by a letter of the Company, and a more impudent letter, considering the Company asked Parliament last year to aid them in building the railway to this country, and would have us now take over the country—a more impudent act on the part of the Company than is shown by the letter never took place. The letter is as follows:—Sir, in view of the demand made in the House of Commons by some Members during the recent Debate on the Survey Vote, that the Reports to the Company by Captain Lugard should be laid upon the Table of the House. I am instructed to inform you that my Directors had no objection to that course being taken, provided the passages marked in red ink in the accompanying Reports are kept out.Here this information was given us by the right hon. Gentleman who, fortunately for us, hail, I think, been sent one of these Reports—one of these private documents. If he had not received it, and had not had an opportunity of reading out in the House from this private Report, we should have known nothing of the series of the most monstrous atrocities that had taken place in Uganda. I will return to what occurred after Captain Lugard's arrival in the country. A few days after' his arrival he determined to make a Treaty with the King of Uganda. It is important to look at this Treaty, because, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer said last year, it will explain any possible right of the Company to exercise sway in the country, and is necessarily the keystone of any possible right that we may derive from the Company. The right hon. Gentleman the present Prime Minister said this Treaty was obtained by threats or compulsion, and I think, when I read what really Captain Lugard wrote respecting what he did, that the House will agree with the Prime Minister. This is how the Treaty was obtained—A warm discussion arose on many points. Then the chiefs were for signing, but the King held back, and giggled and fooled. He demanded time. I replied by rapping the table, and speaking loudly, said he must sign now. I threatened to leave the next day if he did not, and possibly to go to his enemies. I pointed out to him that he had lost the southern half of his kingdom to the Germans by his previous delay, and that he would lose more if he delayed now. He was, I think, scared at my 462 manner, and trembled very violently, and was on the point of signing, when a rabble with guns which crowded the doorway threatened, I understand, to shoot the first man who signed, shouting that they were selling their country. I had increased my Soudanese escort to 20 men, and they were drawn up on one side with fixed bayonets. Seeing that an immediate signature was hopeless, I said that to-morrow, being Christmas Day, we should not act on it, but the day following I must have his reply. On Christmas Day there was much excitement and dissension and a fight seemed imminent; but late at night I heard that the Catholic chiefs had agreed to sign, and that the King would do so too …No sooner had the Treaty been signed than the King began to repent of his act, and sent a paper to me to sign, stating that all the States therein named should be subject to Uganda, together with other stipulations of a vague kind. I declined to sign it, but made many explanations. Consequently, to the present day, I have managed to avoid another interview, and hope to do so until I have the Treaty well on its way to the coast.
§ MR. BURDETT-COUTTS
May I ask the hon. Gentleman what is the date of the Treaty he is referring to?
§ MR. BURDETT-COUTTS
As the hon. Member probably knows, that was the first Treaty, and was obtained under exceptional circumstances.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I will come to that. This shows how very eager they were to secure the presence of Captain Lugard. Captain Lugard said the heathen and lawless party, also the Catholics, were not well disposed, whilst the Protestants were bitterly disappointed when he signed. In fact, so far as I can see, except the Zanzibaris with fixed bayonets, there was not a single man in the country in favour of the Treaty. Well, Sir, not one of these extracts is contained in the Report of Captain Lugard to the Company that is submitted to the House of Commons. They were absolutely suppressed till now. The Report had not been submitted to the House of Commons, but according to this letter they were part of the passages in red ink, and I think the House can pretty well understand why they were suppressed. During the Mombasa Debate the Treaty itself was not known to the House. Since then Captain Lugard 463 has been careering about the country, saying everywhere that he acted as an English officer, and that he pledged the honour of England always to remain in Uganda. Of course he had no right to pledge it. The first article of the Treaty says—Acting solely on behalf of the British East Africa Company, with fall powers to conclude and ratify the same on behalf of the Company.Moreover, this Treaty, which was the only Treaty which was spoken of at the time we were asked to make the railroad, contains the following clause:—This Treaty shall be binding on both parties for a period of two years, after which be renewable or subject to revision as the change of circumstances may require, so that this Treaty would have expired in 1892.But I must call attention also to the language of this poor unfortunate savage King. He seemed to recognise himself that he was, as Captain Lugard suggests the people around him said, selling his country. He, when the Treaty was made, says this—An agreement we now make between the white man and ourselves; and I also, in icy own person, King Mwanga, the Sultan, anti all its territories, make another agreement,— namely, should another white man, greater than this one, come up afterwards, these words shall be wiped oat, and we make another.I do not know how we can in any sort of way be supposed to derive any right to interfere with the internal polity of Uganda with I his Treaty extorted from the king by Captain Lugard. Captain Lugard having made the Treaty then erected a force. Having got his Zanzibaris with him he enlisted the riff-raff of the country left by Emin Pasha when he left it. I will give an example of how this man—whom we are ail asked to admire—ruled in that country. I will take an extract from Captain Lugard's reply to the French. Missionaries—Père Gaudibert told me at first that when they (the French missionaries) walked about, the Waganda used insulting words to then.…I said that, not only were they my guests, but I would not allow a European to be insulted by a Waganda. I told him that I would station a sentry close to where they walked, with orders that if any of the Fathers pointed to a man (for my men, not knowing Kuganka, were ignorant of anything that might be said) he should be seized. I said I would dearly like to catch a man, and begged Père Gaudibert to have one seized, that I might publicly flog him.464 That is how he carried on the government of the country. The Gentlemen Trout Ireland complain most justly of the way the late Government acted in Ireland with their Coercion Act, but I ask them what would they say if the Irish Secretary stated in this House that he would dearly like an Ulster Member, we will say, to seize hold of a Nationalist, as the right hon. Gentleman himself would like to publicly flog him. But it is only in Africa where monstrosities of this kind take place. Naturally the king and people did not like this species of rule. Captain Lugard descended, so far as they knew, from the skies, and inaugurated this system of government. A tight took place in the town against Captain Lugard. He calls it a rebellion. The establishment of the Catholic missionaries was looted, and the king and his subjects fled to an island. There is some difference in the statements of Captain Lugard and the French missionaries on the subject. I will not cite the account of the French missionaries, but I will cite the statement of the English Missionaries. Here is Mr. Collins' account of it as given to a Renter's agent at Zanzibar—When the Protestants heard the sharp rattle of the big guns they burst into rounds of cheering. A few minutes later we saw that the Catholic Mission station out Rubaga Hill was on fire, and that their new church was also ablaze, and we knew that our people had taken Bubaga. Captain Williams, in command of a huge force of Soudanese and Baganda, left the fort for a spot on the lake shore opposite the island which was only about the length of a rifle-shot distant. Captain Williams at once got his Maxim in position, and seeing this the king's party tried to escape from the island in their canoes; but no sooner were the boats tilled than they were sunk, one after the other, by the Maxim, and an immense number of the natives were drowned, going down in boatloads. King Mwanga himself managed to escape in a canoe, accompanied by the Catholic Bishop.I am bound to say that Mr. Collins does not quite accept the accuracy of the statement of Renter's agent, but in his denial he practically admits the main facts. He says—I was pressed for time, and could only give him my diary, and ask him to make some extracts. When I read the article in the paper I was surprised to find that the extracts had not been male verbatim, but that a considerable amount of colouring had been given in several places. This was the case in connection with the event you name. No such expressions 465 as 'going down in boatloads,' &c., occur in my diary; but I find that I have written that it was reported to me by native chiefs who were present on the occasion that several canoes were sunk, and a considerable number of natives drowned, and this I believe was the case.I really do not see much distinction between the first statement and the amended statement. The King, of course, had no choice. This unfortunate King returned, and accepted the necessary facts that Captain Lugard, with his Maxim guns and breechloaders, was the absolute master of the situation. Then comes what I think the hon. Gentleman opposite alluded to as the new Treaty with King Mwanga. I do not see, as fur as I can make out, that King Mwanga signed the Treaty himself; I think it was a chief. But in event the Treaty amounted to this: that Captain Lugard divided the country between the rival factions of Mahomedans, Catholics, and Protestants. When I use the word Protestant I would add that the word must not be understood as we understand Protestant, for Captain Lugard himself says it was a mere political name for one of the factions, and the word Protestant actually was not known until he came into the country. Now, Captain Lugard frequently said his action in Uganda obliged us to remain for ever there, that if the Company was not prepared to remain there the Imperial Government must take its place. But it is a remarkable fact that Captain Lugard himself did not take that view. When he was there he was prepared to throw over the Treaty and retire when he found it was not a paying speculation. Captain Lugard wrote to his company stating—It occurred to me that it might possibly, be better to transfer the centre of European control and administration to a new position.What is more, the company adopted this, and announced about the end of 1892 that they intended to withdraw from the country on the very practical ground that it did not pay them to remain there. They said they intended to withdraw from the country in July, 1893, and they would have done so had it not been for the Church Missionary Society, who came forward, and said they were anxious they should remain there another six months, and that if they would remain they would pay the cost of their re- 466 maining. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham says that Lord Salisbury intended to take over the country, and he seems to imply that that bound us to do so. I have carefully looked through the whole statement Lord Salisbury made, and I timid no sort of sign or indication that he intended to take over the country. He was informed that the Company were going to withdraw in 1892, but he made no sign then, and did not say for a moment that if they withdrew the country would have to betaken over by the Imperial Government. He made no sign when the Church Missionary Society was going to provide the funds for the Company to remain there another six months, and he did not indicate at the end of the six months that he would be in favour of taking, over the country. The Member for West Birmingham, in answer to some interlocutory question during his speech, said—Well, but remember that he intended to take over the country because he asked this House to give £20,000 for the survey of the country for the purpose of the railway.I have gone over the Debate this morning, and have been unable to to see one single word in it with reference to the question of taking over the country. A speech was made by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and speeches were made by other gentlemen, but I do not think the word Uganda was once mentioned. The grounds for giving the money were that we were bound by an arrangement made at the Brussels Conference to make a railway, because it was thought that a railway would tend to diminish in some way the Slave Trade. The first time that Lord Salisbury had an idea of taking over the country was, I gather from a. letter in The Times newspaper, some time about September last, after the noble Lord had left Office. Some one wrote to Lord Salisbury inquiring what he had intended to do, and Lord Salisbury replied that he had always contemplated retaining the country. Now, I cannot really enter into Lord Salisbury's mind of the minds of anyone else. He may have contemplated retention or he may not but when a man has occupied the position of Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, we must not go by what 467 he contemplated in his own mind, but by his public words and acts, and there is no public word from Lord Salisbury which bound him to take over the country. The Prime Minister has suggested another reason why we might not have our responsibility involved. He dealt with the charter of the company, the terms of which he described as remarkable by reason of the largeness of the powers conferred on the Secretary of State for controlling the Company. It was perfectly true that there was an agreement with Germany that certain territory should be within the sphere of our influence. Germany was to go one way and we another, but no responsibility was to be involved. It was to be much like the arrangement made after the Fall of Sodom and Gomorrah between Abraham and Lot. Abraham went his way and Lot went another. They were responsible for nothing that occurred in regard to that. The agreement of 1888 was based upon existing arrangements with the Company, made by the Sultan of Zanzibar and the Sultan of Witu. It gave the Company no right to acquire territory by Treaties made with the sovereigns of the country, and there is a clause in the Treaty that these new Treaties must be approved by Her Majesty's Government, but the object of that clause, as far as I can understand, is to prevent anything which might be deemed unfair from being, done under those Treaties. This particular Treaty was numbered 25, and I think there were upwards of 100 Treaties. No one could say that we were responsible for the Treaty, or that we approved of everything negotiated by the South Africa Company or the Borneo Company, and if we had no responsibility for those Treaties—the Treaties of those two companies—it cannot be said that any approval rendered us responsible for the Treaties of the East Africa Company. Now, this was the position of affairs when the Liberal Government came into power. We were not bound by any Treaty by the action of Lord Salisbury or by the Charter to interfere in any way. The Company announced that it was going to leave Uganda at the end of last year. The better course would have been to let well alone and allowed the Company to withdraw. But in Sep- 468 tember a deputation from the Church Missionary Society waited upon Lord Rosebery, asking him to take over the country. His reply was somewhat ambiguous. Shortly afterwards a Cabinet Council was held. I do not know what occurred then, but I suppose the reply of Lord Rosebery was discussed. Then a circular was issued to the East Africa Company by Lord Rosebery, which, I presume, contained the intentions of the Government. Three months more were given to them for evacuation. The Company were told to evacuate the country on March 31st. Lord Rosebery said that his predecessor had accepted the principle of evacuation, and that continued occupation would be arduous and dangerous, if not impossible, in the present state of our relations. After this letter another deputation—it was from the Anti-Slavery Association—went to the Government and protested against the decision that had been arrived at. Lord Rosebery made a reply in which he appeared to separate himself from the decision of his colleagues, for in one sentence he spoke of "I" and in another of "we," and the noble Lord seemed to suggest that some agitation should take place in order that the decision of the Government should be altered. I defy any one to read that reply without coming to the conclusion that Lord Rosebery was urging agitation in favour of retention. One gentleman who was there subsequently told his friends the effect of Lord Rosebery's reply when he said at a meeting thatLord Rosebery's magnificent setting of this country's duty toward the poor nations of the earth with whom God had placed us in bond, mad every one leave the country a better Englishman than he had entered it.The Captain Lugard went about the country, and the big drum was beaten. He went about saying that we would be disgraced if we did not take over the country. He not only contradicted his own Report, but contradicted in one speech what he said in another. ["No, no!"] I can show any Gentleman absolute contradictions, if you wish I shall go into details, but I do not want to detain the House. Well, in December last this agitation bore fruit; the Ministry did,. apparently, reconsider its decision, and it was announced that a 469 Mission of Inquiry should be sent out. The gentleman selected was Sir Gerald Portal, a very able administrator, I believe, but a man of not absolutely independent judgment in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister said the other day that if Sir Gerald Portal was an advocate of annexation he did not know it. The following letter, dated Mombasa, September 14th, appeared in The Times from a gentleman who had received it from Sir Gerald Portal, and The Times, after some past experiences, was rather careful as to the letters it inserted, and have, I presume, authenticated it, and know the name of the author—I have come up here for a few days to do a lot of business in my dual capacity of Consul General and Her Majesty's Commissioner for the Interior. The question of Uganda is of vital importance. The Company say they are determined to go, in spite of their promises and treaties of protection to King Mwanga all the Protestants and others Lugard, Martin, missionaries, natives, and everyone who has come from there are unanimous in saying that the withdrawal of the English officers will be the certain signal for a general war and the inevitable massacre of Christians—a massacre such as the world has not seen for centuries.The point is, that Sir Gerald Portal is not a man of independent character. Probably this was a private letter, but the mind of the writer was filled with the idea that they were bound to take over the whole country. This letter has been discussed in the newspapers, and given as one of the grounds why we should take over the country, and it was cited also in the Manifesto issued by the Church Missionary Society. If the Government wished for or wanted more information in September last, they should have sent out their Mission in that month. Then, at least, they would have had time to consider whether they ought to take over the country or not. But now the position is that Sir Gerald Portal will only arrive in Uganda on the 26th of March, and on the 31st of March the company will evacuate. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham asked last night what was going to take place between the period when the company was to evacuate the country and the time when Sir G. Portal's Report would be received. As the right hon. Gentleman said, in all probability that Report 470 will not be received until August or September next. It would then be unnecessary for the Government to write back to Sir Gerald Portal, for if he did take over the country, even provisionally, when the company left, then our responsibility would be actual, and it seems to me that if we once took over the country, though only temporarily, it would be exceedingly difficult to withdraw afterwards. As to the grounds on which it has been said by Captain Lugard and others at public meetings that we ought to take over the country, we are told, in the first place, that Uganda would be a great market for their goods, that it would raise large exports and would receive large imports from England. But Captain Lugard himself said on this point—As regards the value of Uganda to the company, I hold the opinion, which Seems to me to be shared alike by the English and French missionaries, the Germans, and Messrs, Jackson and Gedge, that Uganda per se has been much overrated. At present there seem to be few or no products suitable for exportation except ivory, and that almost entirely comes from the tributary States. Nor can the country, I understand, supply much labour for the construction of outside works. The company should go further, to a place not divided up into factions or spoilt by the veneer of civilization, which has been the bane of Uganda.Yet Captain Lugard and others have represented Uganda as a country flowing with milk and honey, and the single fact given by Captain Lugard to justify this is, that some chief asked bins when he left to be good enough to send hint some opera glasses and white donkeys. It is well known that the natives do not work hard in any part of the country. There is no such capacity for work in them to make the country productive. There is a slave population, it is true, and I can only say that, if this population raised crops to enable other persons to have opera glasses, the slave raised the crops and the slave master got the glasses. But the absurdity of the statement that Uganda would be a market for their goods is shown by the fact that the cost of carriage to send up goods from the coast is £300 a ton. This is a prohibitive rate, and there can be no such importation of goods into the country as was spoken of. We will be told that a railway is to be constructed to the country, but I cannot believe for a moment that it will be done. The present Chancellor of the Duchy of 471 Lancaster (Mr. Bryce) spoke on this matter in the course of the Mombasa Debate, and he said that it was absolutely impossible to make such a railway. The words of the right hon. Gentleman were—There were no means of obtaining indigenous free labour to make this railway. They would have to import coolies from India or Chinese, to make the railway or to make it by slave labour. The Committee would notice that the Government had but their case as an alternative to establishing garrisons and flying columns. It was clear that they should have to guard the railway when it was made. There were warlike tribes along the route, to whom the iron rails would be as valuable as a gold mine. Nothing less than a line of forts would be sufficient to protect this railway. They should have all the expense in addition to the construction. He should like to point also to the want of any jurisdiction. They had no jurisdiction in the territory except over British subjects. It seemed to him that the guarantee involved intervention, and that the involved annexation. They were now asked to take the first steps in annexation. There was no stopping place in the fatal descent.The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister went further, alai pointed out that if we were to make the railroad we should have no sort of legal jurisdiction over the tribes of the country through which it would pass; that any species of crime might be committed by them, and we should have no power to punish or prevent these crimes. In those circumstances I should like to know from the Government whether they are going to construct this railroad or not. It must cost about £3,000,000, and it would not pay working expenses, and would probably cost a subsidy of £300,000. Hon. Members opposite will agree that if the Government are not going to make the railroad any intermeddling with the affairs of Uganda by them would be unwise and ridiculous. If they were going to construct it, they would have to eat their own words and do what last year they said was a monstrosity. It will be said that we are bound to make the railroad by the terms of the Brussels Conference, but this county is under no such responsibility. With regard to the statement by Captain Lugard that settlers might establish themselves in Uganda, the nature of the climate made this very improbable, if not impossible, especially when there were more attractive lands in the south—Mashonaland and elsewhere. 472 The only "settlers" who will go to Uganda are those whom I cannot look upon as better than swindlers—those who would go out and dig a hole, declare there was gold in the hole, then bring out a Company and sell the hole to foolish' and confiding British orphans and widows for, perhaps, one or two hundred thousand pounds. Then it is said by Captain Lugard that Uganda should be taken over on account of the slave trade. He has also said that the slave trade did not now exist in that country, but that there are a great many domestic slaves, and, as far as can be understood, these people would remain slaves under the aegis of the Government of Great Britain if the country were really taken over. What is the fact? It is that the only labour in the country is slave labour, and the East Africa Company make use of that for the conveyance of their goods from Uganda to the coast. It is held by some that those unfortunate people are permitted to work out their own salvation or freedom, but the system is very wrong—it is absurd, for the men are brought down from the coast by the slave dealer and sold, and what does it matter to the dealer whether they are purchased to work out their salvation or to continue in slavery? While the system lasts we will have slaves sent down the coast. Now, we have heard a great deal about the missionaries who went out to Uganda in 1877. I do not complain of them. It has been stated that 18 missionaries were murdered, but that is not so. Eighteen died in Uganda or going, to it, but 15 of them died from illness brought on by the nature of the climate. Only three were killed, but not even one of them was killed as a missionary. Bishop Hannington was believed by the King to be an emissary from the Mahdi, and the two missionaries declared that they could not convince the King that the Bishop was not a Sheikh sent by the Mahdi to take the country. [Laughter.] Of course, Gentlemen laugh. They have been humbugged and fooled and cajoled during the last six months by persons who have been going about the country speaking on this question. Let them do as I did—go to the original sources for their information. I got this information from the statements of the Church Missionary Society. Well, 473 Bishop Hannington declined to wait outside the country. On the other hand, orders had been sent to prevent his advancing into the country. A conflict consequently ensued, and the Bishop was killed. The other two missionaries, who were most estimable men, were going up country, and while they were in the territory of some Chief a fugitive from justice got into the camp. They were actuated, no doubt, by the very best feelings, and they would not give him up when asked to do so. A fight ensued; a number of natives were killed, and the two missionaries themselves were killed. At present there are about 1,000 converts, so far as I can gather, who tire members of the Church of England. We are told that a terrible massacre will take place if we withdraw from Uganda. Well, I have never seen any sort of evidence of it; but if it is so, surely it would be much better to instruct Sir Gerald Portal to pay for bringing away those 1,000 persons than to stop there. [Laughter.] Gentlemen laugh; but, surely, when it is a question either or taking a kingdom with 2,000,000 inhabitants in order to prevent 1,000 persons front being massacred or of bringing the 1,000 persons away, the more reasonable course is to bring them away. There is, however, no quarrel with the missionaries of the Church Missionary Society; the quarrel is with the Catholic missionaries. I think it was very unwise of the Church Missionary Society to explain the political ditties of the Government in their Manifesto, to tell us it was a disgrace to England to withdraw, and to say that those who wished to withdraw have "petty and parochial minds." Mr. Speaker, I glory in the fact of haying, the "petty and parochial mind" which induces me to protest against such vast expenditure. I do not consider it to be our duty to annex a kingdom with 2,000,000 inhabitants in order to aid missionary labour. That sort of thing rat her impedes than benefits missionary labour. What does Mr. Mackay, a most estimable and respectable missionary, say? He says—We are suspected of political aims, and are called spies awl pioneers of invasion. Our people are believed to be won over to English rule, and to be false to their country.474 I will also cite a very much higher authority upon the best way of converting Africans and other pagans than I am myself. Mr. Guinness Rogers, a leading member of the Nonconformist Body.—
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Well, I remember complaining of him because he hacked up my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in his Soudan expedition, so that he cannot be suspected of being a man who is opposed to every species of African buccaneering. Writing in the Nineteenth Century, and contrasting Mr. Moffat with the missionaries of the Maxim Gun School, he says—To me that is the truer ideal of a missionary than the man who is full of large ideas of the mission or his country, ever speculating on the comparative merits of different lines of policy, sighing for British protection, and thus with or without his awn purpose, becoming continually involved in entangled controversies, which it should he his purpose rather to avoid.America has missionaries in Africa, but if an American missionary were to go hack into his own country and suggest that the United States should annex a country with a, population of 2,000,000 in the centre of Africa in order to aid American missionary enterprise, he would certainly be removed to the nearest lunatic asylum. The Church Missionary Society is, of course, a Church of England Society, and I consider that this demand is the very last outcome of Church and State. Captain Lugard actually suggested that the King's son, who was a Catholic, should be brought to England, and educated as a Protestant. I myself admire missionaries like Moffitt and Livingstone. They never started those Church and State doctrines. They never advocated annexations, and we must really go back to the time of Peter the Hermit and the Crusaders to realise what an extraordinary thing it is that people should advocate the sending of armed forces to foreign countries in order to aid missionary labour. The company was founded on the basis of commerce and philanthropy. It issued a prospectus in which people were asked to subscribe for shares, and were told they would in all probability get 8 per cent. for their money. Behind the 8 per cent. 475 there was the old trick of founders' shares, half of the profits of which was to go to the shareholders and half to the founders. Indeed, it was a sort of company that Mr. Bottomley might have put his name to and been proud of it. The company has a port at Mombasa, and is able to levy duties there. Naturally, they want the Hinterland to be opened out so that imports and exports may pass through Mombasa. They want us to sow, in order that they may reap. I can perfectly understand the position of the company, and, speaking of the commercial gentlemen, I think they are, front the Bottomley point of view, as wise as we should be foolish if we acceded to their proposal. Behind the company are the "Jingoes," the people who suffer from the disease of earth-hunger, and are under the impression that if any other country annexes any part of the globe that country is a disgrace to civilisation, but that we have a sacred and divine mission which imposes on us the duty of annexing wherever we can. I really believe that if the North Pole were discovered we should have hon. Gentlemen opposite immediately insisting on its annexation. People who do not agree with them are traitors, or have "petty and parochial minds." I can only Say, Sir, that if some step is not taken to prevent these "Jingoes "carrying out their views, we shall get into trouble with every other country on the globe, and the British Empire will burst into fragments like a balloon that is blown up. Africa is now the great field for annexation. The "Jingoes" want to go up from South Africa first to the Zambesi, and then beyond it. In the north they want us to remain in possession of Egypt. I have no doubt they would admit that they had not any idea of our leaving Egypt. [An hon. MEMBER: Hear, hear!] Hear, hear! Then they want communications between Egypt and the Cape Colony, and in their idea Uganda is the key of the position. Hear what Captain Lugard says. He writes—If Uganda is to be held, a line of forts, with an organised system of defence, I look upon as a necessity, sooner or later, against the Wave of Mahomedan fanaticism and power from the north, which is encroaching further mid further south, and must sometime come into collision with the influences of European civilisation, 476 which, happily for Africa, are spreading towards south, east, and west. When the two waves meet—Islam from the north, and British influence front the south and east—it will be of vital importance, not only to the territorial interests of the company, but to the cause of Christianity and of civilisation, that the company be found ready to meet force by force, complete and organised in itself up to its furthest frontier. Within the limits of this frontier would be enclosed a vast territory the development of which will tax the resources of the company to the uttermost, and, meanwhile, the battle can be fought out between the rival sects of the Mahdi and Sennousi, and an opportunity may then offer for any advantageous advance, when the forces of Islam are divided against themselves. I was informed by Dr. Shulhmann of the report that the forces of Sennousi are slowly advancing southwards sweeping all before them. They are hostile to the Mandists, and are still more antagonistic than the latter to the white men and Christians. Their organisation and equipment are wonderful, and they have enormous stores of ammunition, breech-loading rifles, cannons, and steamers.Lord Salisbury, as I understand it, is in favour of the retention of Uganda at present. There are a few Radicals, I suppose, in this House who are also in favour of its retention. There are always some weak Radicals. Lord Rosebery is, I take it, somewhat in favour of retention. The Tory Press—I do not know whether rightly or wrongly—has put forward Lord Rosebery as a sort of guardian of the honour of England against the "pernicious and unpatriotic designs," or Prime Minister (Mr. Gladstone), the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir W. Harcourt), the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. J. Morley), the Postmaster General (Mr. Arnold Morley), and most of the other gentlemen who sit upon the Treasury Bench. Sir Gerald Portal has been sent to Uganda, and unless he is told to evacuate the country the necessary result of his mission will be that Uganda will be annexed. I really must trouble the House with one further extract. I run very sorry to do so. It is from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister in the Mombasa Debate, and it puts the case very clearly against our getting mixed up in the affairs of Uganda. The right hon. Gentleman said—Are you better off when you get into that country (Uganda)? Can you count upon friendship there? Is the King of that country friendly to you? Captain Lugard says we have 477 framed a Treaty with him. But he obtained that Treaty by threats and by compulsion. He admits that it was with the greatest difficulty that it was obtained, and that every effort was made by the wretched Sovereign who signed it to escape from it, and that the Sovereign will make any effort to escape from it in the future. But even Captain Lugard in that Treaty does not venture to include the slightest reference to the acquisition of land. Captain Lugard says that he effected his point by going into the country with extreme rapidity, and that it was the extreme rapidity of his movements that prevented the natives from getting out their troops to oppose him, as they had not time to do it. On whose friendship do you rely The bulk of the country is inhabited by natives absolutely savage, but not, I believe, incapable of being stirred up by an alarm in respect of the land upon winch they depend for their subsistence. Captain Lugard says that from the north there is a wave of onward Mahomedan progress, and another great tribe, called Unyoro, agreed with Uganda in its opposition to the English. It is a most singular thing that, according to this Report of Captain Lugard, almost with one exception, all these people who are at variance with one another, yet are agreed on being hostile to the admission of English troops. What is the exception? There are strong religions influences at work. There are Roman Catholic missionaries in this sphere of influence; and it appears that the East Africa Company takes upon itself to inform French missionaries where they may go, and where they may not go. They happen, however, to be a very powerful body, and between them and the Protestant missionaries, who are much fewer in number, there is rivalry, and the Protestant missionaries welcome our interference, hoping that it will be backed by force of arms; whilst the Roman Catholics, who are the large majority, are very averse to it. We are obliged to act upon presumptions, and all these presumptions converge to show that what you have to expect from the mass of population in this region of Africa is bitter and, generally speaking, united hostility.Could anyone put the case more strongly? I apologise for having occupied the attention of the House so long. I have never concealed my view; I have always objected to all these Protectorates and all these annexations, and I mean to do so as long as I am in this House. I know it is said I am a false and base Englishman because I do not agree in these grand Imperial schemes of expansion. I am perfectly satisfied as au Englishman to look after the interests and well-being of the British Empire. I consider that is a large enough business. If people like to civilise Africa and to subscribe money for christianising any other part of the world let them subscribe to do it; I may do it myself; but when it comes to the money of the taxpayer, I consider that we ought to 478 take the beam out of our own eye—God knows we have many beams—before we wander about the globe taking the mote out of the eyes of Chinese and Africans. We have want and misery here; we have great labour questions, and if we have money to spend—it is money taken from the mass of the people—let it be spent on the well-being of the mass of the people. I know perfectly well that the Debate on the Address is not an opportune time to ask the House to divide, particularly when you are a supporter of the Government. I am not going to divide. I am perfectly willing to accept the responsibility of any division against the possibility or probability of annexation. But I am practical. I know a Supplementary Estimate will soon be brought in to cover the expenses of the Sir Gerald Portal's Mission, and if I divide on that I shall get a better Division. We must be strategical in these matters. My object is to prevent these annexations and to get as many people as possible to vote with me. In order, however, to concentrate the attention of the House on the question, I beg leave to move the Amendment which stands in my name.
At the end of the Question, to add the words, "And humbly ventures to express the hope, that the Commissioner, who has been sent by Your Majesty to Uganda, will effect the evacuation of that country by the British East Africa Company, without any increase in Your Majesty's Imperial responsibilities."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ *MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
When I heard the ingenious argument by which my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton made good his proposition that it was not wise for him to divide, another question arose in my own mind, whether this argument ought not to have gone a little further, and to have suggested to him that this was not the proper occasion to move his Amendment. He expects there will be some Supplementary Vote upon which he will be largely supported, but surely he would have been much better supported upon the Supplementary Vote if he had reserved until that period the animated and interesting speech which he has favoured us with.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The statement that my hon. Friend has just made stirs in me another fear, and that is that, he having given us fair notice that when he makes his Motion upon some Vote still in nubibus he has another speech approaching two hours ready to be delivered, it will be in the power of every Member to determine for himself whether he will have the will fruition or whether he will omit a portion of the enjoyment. My hon. Friend will excuse me if I refer very shortly indeed to the matters, independent of Uganda in Africa, which he introduced into the discussion. I think I need only say, with regard to the Triple Alliance, that I am not aware that anything has occurred since the accession of the present Government to power which ought to give uneasiness either to him or to any Member of this House in respect of the Triple Alliance. With respect to Egypt, he asks us what are we doing there? My answer to that is simple. We are doing these two things: We are striving steadily to fulfil that absolute duty which is incumbent upon us of maintaining not only the external security, but the internal peace of the country so long as the British occupation lasts. And together with that we are endeavouring to prosecute or to restore, whichever you please, that system of thorough harmony and concord between the native Government and the occupying Power, which has been the basis of all our proceedings heretofore, and which, has alone enabled the successive Governments to neutralise and qualify the inconveniences of a critical situation. My hon. Friend has referred to the language of the Government of the French Republic in the Chamber of that country. I cannot but observe the temperate and guarded and friendly language in which the Foreign Minister of France dealt with the subject. I do not doubt that the same spirit will continue to animate him and his colleagues and any French Administration which is likely to come into Office in the regulation of the relations, which are happily most friendly, and which might become most difficult were there a want of judgment in the steps taken upon either side. My hon. Friend, I think, signified that we, 480 having been in Office now for such a lengthened period, and having nothing to occupy our attention of any consequence at home in connection with the Session, ought to have made great progress with the settlement of foreign affairs. My hon. Friend appeared to think that it was our duty to initiate some correspondence or proceedings on the subject of the Egyptian occupation. On that matter I shall give no opinion which in any way may restrict our liberty of action for the future, either remote or immediate. But I would point out to my hon. Friend, in reference to the words which fell from me the other night, that it is not a very long period since we received from the Government of France a friendly inquiry as to the reception which we should be disposed to give to some overtures on their part for re-opening the negotiations which it is perfectly true to say never were entirely dropped by Lord Salisbury, and could not have been said to have passed out of existence at the time when tile, late Government resigned. Under these circumstances, I think, when we consider what has happened as to the internal politics of France during the last month or six weeks, my hon. Friend will feel that it would not have been very courteous or wise for us, after the friendly communications which had taken place, hastily to step in and take the new initiative in the matter without any menacing or embarrassing circumstances. So much for this subject. Now I pass to the main point of the speech of my hon. Friend. He has traversed a very wide field indeed, over which it is totally impossible for me to follow him. Let him recollect a fundamental proposition as determining our situation at the moment. It is this. No doubt, as he says, gentlemen have been careering through the country representing this subject front one point of view and another point of view, but those points of view are not the points of view from which it is possible to tender sound and weighty advice for the purpose of guiding the policy of England. It is very well, no doubt, that the British East Africa Company should be active, and should have its agents in activity, and should possess the public mind in its own interest, and on its own behalf with the views it is inclined to take. I recognise the difficulties of the position of the 481 Company, though I shall give no opinion whatever in regard to it or its proceedings at the present time. It is also most natural that those who are connected with the religious interests embarked in this portion of Africa should with earnestness, and even with enthusiasm, present their view, or points of view, to the country. But I must say I cannot help sympathising in some degree with the reference my hon. Friend has made to some statements of the Church Missionary Society, which I have read with great regret. For I very much indeed doubt whether observations of that kind upon the external policy of this country are observations which can wisely proceed from a strictly religions body, which has its own exclusive functions in t he interest of the propagation of the Gospel.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
My hon. Friend will have his opportunity later on in the discussion. There is one passage in the speech or my hon. Friend which I regret, and which I do not think he himself can Inc very well satisfied with. It was Ins reference to Lord Rosebery—it was his favourite reference to worthless passages in articles written for a momentary political Party purpose. My hon. Friend cannot have failed to remark the naturally enthusiastic approval with which that portion of his speech was received by all those whom he does not wish to cite as Iris political friends. My hon. Friend would ham a very mean judgment of me if I were to treat those speculations as worthy of a single moment's notice. I pass from them to the main subject which is before us—a subject which we debated at length last year, and which we may very possibly have to debate again, but which at this moment it is not in our power to debate. We cannot eater fully into this question, and for what reason? Because, as we have stated frankly to the House, we are almost entirely destitute of such informa1tion in regard to the internal condition of Uganda and tire transactions which have taken place there as alone could form a firm basis for us to stand upon in I taking decisions, and announcing decisions, and recommending them to Parliament, which may deeply involve the interests of this country. I was struck 482 with the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham wirer Ire said that he hoped that, whatever we did in this matter, we should not drift. I share that hope. We are determined, so far as depends on us, not to drift, and tire best way of taking security against that condition of helpless drifting is to refuse steadily to act until we are in possession of tine data which will supply us with the necessary information. Moreover, I think until we have acquired those data there will be little or no advantage in entering upon a discussion which must necessarily be loose and superficial. In the speech which my hon. Friend delivered last year there was a multitude of presumptions and difficulties in regard to which our information is not such as to enable us to convert them either one way or another into certainties. The general dicta of my hon. Friend command a great deal of my sympathy. The question is the application of general dicta to a particular case in a remote country with which the time of our communication is counted, not by days or weeks, but by months, and where the whole stock of information that we have, being scanty, is of a partial and unauthoritative nature. It is totally distinctive from such authority as alone Governments can recognise and act upon, and this tends to increase the responsibility which we should incur were we to take any premature steps in the matter. I wish to express as exactly as I can the full extent of the difference between my hon. Friend and myself at this moment. Into what forms this question may develop itself hereafter it is impossible for me to tell. The Speech from the Throne distinctly explained to the House and to the country that we have sent a Commissioner of great ability to Uganda for the purpose of inquiring into the best mode of dealing, with the country and for the purpose of examining into its condition. My hon. Friend's position, I understand, is this: "Consider all the transactions in Uganda as being now, once for all, absolutely at an end; close the book; say this is res acta; whatever may happen, we have no more to do with it in any shape whatever; we have no more concern with Uganda than rye have with Kamschatka." I do not think that I can go quite so far in that direction as my 483 hon. Friend. A Charter has been given to the East Africa Company. But that Charter, my hon. Friend says, involves nothing whatever, involves no possibilities of obligation or responsibility on the part of this Government. I am very far from saying that it involves facts of obligation or responsibility, but I do say that before we can adopt the sweeping negative of the hon. Member we have to judge that there are matters to be examined and ascertained. This Charter, as my hon. Friend is aware, confers on the East Africa Company powers to govern, to make Treaties, to discharge all those high functions, and likewise places the exercise of those powers, in terms extremely large, under the direct control of the Secretary of State. It is not, I think, an unreasonable proposition that we should have authentic information, not merely ex parte, but some authentic and responsible information as to the mode in which those governing powers, those Treaty-making powers, have been exercised, and as to the mode in which that authority to control has also been put in practice before we can form a complete and conclusive judgment on those questions. There is another point on which I ought perhaps to say a word. Some time after we came into Office we found that the French Government were disposed to advance claims on England, not absolute but contingent claims, on behalf of the Roman Catholic missionaries. The contention of the French Government, as I understand it, has been this: that if in the course of the deplorable proceedings—and those who predict massacre in certain contingencies ought to recollect that something which may be called massacre has been happening under arrangements made by other parties—that if it should appear that those missionaries, especially those French subjects, had grievously suffered through transactions in which the Company was the representing agent, and not by their own fault, we should acknowledge in some shape or other, subject to future definition and fuller examination, some obligation to make good any injury so sustained. Looking at the question on international grounds, we have not felt that we could at once say that there is no such responsibility. Does not my hon. Friend see that unless he is 484 prepared to say, "You are totally wrong, and you ought to have said to the French Government, whatever the terms of the Charter may be, whatever the proceedings of the Company under the Charter may have been, we disclaim all responsibility, and you may go and ask for indemnity where you like, but do not come and ask it from us." Unless the hon. Member is prepared to go that length, he will see there are matters in Uganda which it is not only prudent, but absolutely necessary for us, as well as we can, to probe to the bottom in order to ascertain whether any responsibility, and if so what responsibility, has grown up out of any proceedings taken in this country, and if there be a debt of honour incumbent upon us—I am far from saying that there is such a debt—we should meet that debt and satisfy it in the spirit of honour which directs all the transactions of this country. As to the claim of the French Government, I do not think I am making a tu quoque. On the contrary; as far as I understand the matter, I am quoting a proceeding of our predecessors for the purpose of expressing approval of that proceeding. I believe that what we are now doing with regard to the subject at large is what Lord Salisbury has done with regard to this particular, and apparently now, but at the same time claim of the French Government in respect of the Roman Catholic missionaries, especially the French subjects. We learned—I think about two or three mouths after we had been in Office—that a gentleman of his ability, a young man, but, I believe, competent from his qualifications to do his work—Captain Macdonald—who had been sent to Uganda for the purpose of making a survey of the railway, bad at a later period received instructions from Lord Salisbury desiring him, at a point midway between Uganda and Mombasa, to proceed up the country and examine into the conduct of the agents and officers of the Company and of all others concerned bearing on the question with regard to the damages which may or may not have been sustained by the French missionaries. The question was, whether we should acknowledge that proceeding of Captain Macdonald, or whether we were to ask Captain Macdonald to desist. We took up the proceedings of Lord 485 Salisbury, and Captain Macdonald was instructed to proceed to fulfil the task which Lord Salisbury had laid upon him. We have not yet received his Report, and I am not certain in how many days or weeks it will be received. But I refer to the point in order to show how many matters of delicacy and difficulty are involved in this subject, and how unwarrantable and inexcusable it would be if we were by premature action to prejudice our own liberty or that of the House or the country with regard to any portion of what seems to be, on the whole, a complicated question. Whatever the country may be—limited in its relations, in population, limited in the actual extent of the British interests connected with it, yet when they come to be taken with the religious and secular interests of all parties, and the unhappy condition of the Company, which, after having undertaken a great task, has been obliged to recede, a situation of great difficulty—our duty is to put ourselves in full possession of the facts before we allow ourselves to be driven to a premature conclusion, or by a premature and anticipatory discussion we do anything to prejudice the future. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham referred the other night to the policy of occupation or annexation. That is a policy I need not say which we have not proclaimed, and with respect to which we have done nothing whatever, direct or indirect, to prejudge the future or to prejudice our own liberty. My hon. Friend asks me what was the state of facts with regard to the railway? I believe the state of facts with regard to the railway is that a survey has been made, and that the first estimate has been doubled, which is the regular and normal state of affairs, and it would not perhaps be hazardous to predict that the second estimate may be followed by a further addition before we are done with it. Nothing whatever has taken place except the survey. My right hon. Friend, it appears to me, invites us to adopt this policy of occupation, which means annexation, even at the very moment when we ourselves are declaring we have not sufficient information, and that we have appointed a person, whom we think a competent and able Commissioner, in order to ascertain arid examine what course is the best course 486 to take. My right hon. Friend appeared to be under the supposition that Sir G. Portal had gone to Uganda as Administrator of the country, and to exercise functions of government. There cannot be a more complete mistake.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
I understand that until March 31st the administration of the country is in the hands of the British East Africa Company, and all I asked was what was to take place after their administration ceased, and until the Government came to a final decision.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I understood the point of the question was what was to take place in the country after Sir G. Portal's inquiry was at an end, and it appeared to me the right hon. Gentleman thought that Sir G. Portal was to administer the country in the meantime. Sir G. Portal has from us no such commission, and the withdrawal of Sir G. Portal will create no such vacuum. You may say we ought not to leave the country without some administration. Well, when that battle comes to be fought, we shall fight it in common in the same ranks as right hon. Gentlemen and noble Lords opposite. I do not deny that certain disadvantages may arise from an interval of that kind. I do not at all deny—I think it very possible—that Sir G. Portal may unofficially and gratuitously, so to speak, be of use in transactions that may arise here or there while he is in Uganda. But Sir G. Portal has no commission as Administrator. Neither is there any commission of administration to follow. If we had made Sir G. Portal the Administrator of the country, our inquiry would have been a pretence and a mockery, for we should have come to a foregone conclusion. That I hope will be clearly understood. [Opposition laughter.] Gentlemen opposite are merry upon the matter. They do not understand it. If my language has been deficient in perspicuity I shall endeavour to the best of my poor ability to make a further effort to meet their extreme needs in any quarter where it may be needed. My hon. Friend has moved an Amendment which, it appears to me, does not deserve his own support. I will give him my reasons. He has not stated in distinct terms his disapproval 487 of our sending a Commissioner to inquire and supply us with what I may call responsible information. If he had been bold enough to grapple with that proposition, and said—"It is no affair of yours at all; you have no more business to send a Commissioner to inquire into the facts of Uganda than into the facts of the icy barriers at the South Pole "—I could have understood his Amendment. It seems to me that by failing to disapprove of this determination of Her Majesty's Government to send a Commissioner my hon. Friend thinks the act is unassailable. Further than that, what does my hon. Friend say? He hopes that Sir G. Portal will effect the evacuation of that country by the British East Africa Company in such mode as not to increase the responsibilities of Her Majesty's Government. Now, I say that we have not sent Sir G. Portal to effect the evacuation of the country, and here I retaliate a little upon my hon. Friend. I carry the war into his camp. I say that if we had sent Sir G. Portal for the purpose of effecting this evacuation, of prompting, guiding, and controlling the measures of the British East Africa Company in the evacuation, we should by that fact, which my hon. Friend by his Amendment asks the House to adopt, greatly have increased the responsibilities of Her Majesty's Government. I commend that to my hon. Friend, for he is the man of all others who ought to vote against this Amendment. Sir G. Portal has been referred to in terms of honour so far as regards his ability and character, but in terms which I feel bound to repudiate so far as regards his opinions and prepossessions. My hon. Friend thinks, and virtually said, that the question now at issue is annexation. On our part I entirely repudiate that allegation. I say Sir G. Portal has gone freely in his own mind, as well as freely towards us, to examine into all the alternatives that may present themselves. These alternatives are more than one or two; but I do not intend to enter on them at this time. My hon. Friend says that the opinions of Sir G. Portal are known to be favourable to annexation. I stated the other night we did not know that my hon. Friend seems to have better means of knowing than we have. He 488 says he can give us information, but he has not given us any. The information he has tendered is third or fourth hand information. I can only say that Sir Gerald Portal has himself sent a message to this country, and the terms in which he speaks of his information are incompatible with the idea that there is all atom of representation of his opinions in the reference of the hon. Member. Sir, I do not stand merely upon negative histories. Sir Gerald Portal has not been sent on this very important duty as a venture. He has been sent by a Government who before they sent him had been placed by him in full possession of his views—I mean of his general views, the general spirit with which he would approach the task—and it is because we were satisfied these were views which entitled him to confidence, and that he was the best man to give assistance in a most difficult task, that we selected him to discharge duties that must undoubtedly be difficult under all circumstances, and as to which any act of carelessness or of misjudgment would render almost hopeless. I apologise to the House that I cannot enter into the multitude of topics of a most interesting character that could be dealt with in a Debate of this kind, or that I cannot say anything to lead hon. Gentlemen to the point at which they can say, "Now we see our way; now we have clear ground before us, a well-defined path, and we have nothing to do but to travel along it." At the present moment I am obliged to speak on insufficient information. But I am able to say, in conclusion, that no one has shown that better steps could have been taken for the purpose of bringing our information to efficiency, and for the purpose of arriving at a most clear judgment in a difficult a matter, without forming which we should not be justified in recommending a policy to the House.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)
I do not propose to intervene in the domestic quarrel between the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down and the hon. Member for Northampton; nor do I mean to make a speech on the subject of Uganda. But I do think it necessary, after what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, to press him upon a most important point which has been 489 pressed on him in this Debate, and on which, after all, he has returned no answer whatever, good, bad, or indifferent. The right hon. Gentleman is a master of safe phrases; phrases that can under no possible circumstances at any future time be turned against him; phrases the full meaning of which it is perhaps difficult to grasp at the moment, but which, whether easy or difficult to grasp, cannot by any ingenuity be brought home to him at any later stage of a controversy, or at any future development of the question we have to discuss. Now, the right hon. Gentleman was asked by myself on the first night of the Debate, and by the right hon. Member for Birmingham on the second night, what provision, if any, the Government contemplated making after Sir Gerald Portal's mission was accomplished. We are told in the Speech from the Throne that Sir Gerald Portal is to be supported by material force. He is to go up to this country, having behind him a force adequate to support the dignity of the Empire. He will make an inquiry lasting over weeks or months. When the inquiry comes to an end, and when Sir Gerald Portal returns to Iris ditties at Zanzibar, what provision, if any, do the Government propose to make for the administration of the affairs of Uganda until they shall have had tine to discuss and decide upon the permanent settlement which they propose to adopt in that country? That was the question that was asked. Has any answer been received to it? ["No."] Neither in the first speech which the right hon. Gentleman made upon this subject, nor in the second speech which he has just delivered, has he given any answer whatever to that question. He tries to shelter himself under the ægis of the late Government, anxious, at all events, to show how carefully he follows out their policy. He has told us that when the late Government left Office they had no plan, and he leaves it to be inferred that that justifies him in having no plan himself. But the right hon. Gentleman should remember the dates affecting this case. Our desire with regard to Uganda was that it should be administered by the Company, and we really felt that it would be difficult to administer it by the Company or by anybody 490 else unless the railway was constructed, and we desired to see the railway constructed. That was an essential part of our policy. As I understand, the right hon. Gentleman does not commit himself to the railway, and, as far as he has alluded to the railway at all, he has alluded to it in disparaging terms, and therefore if he desires to retain any Imperial control over Uganda he evidently contemplates doing so without the assistance of a railway, a task which is undoubtedly one of great magnitude and difficulty. Our policy, at all events, was the railway and the Company. Shortly before we left Office it became quite clear that the Company could not carry on their duties—in fact, the Company declared that they could not carry on their duties—and we had no power to compel them to do so. A question was put to me on this subject on June 16th by a gentleman whose decease we all deeply regret—Sir W. Barttelot. On June 16th, which was the day on which the date of the Dissolution of Parliament was announced, I gave this answer—I have to say that I believe the Company have sent instructions to their agents to retire from Uganda at the end of the year. The Government have not, as I understand the matter, any power to compel them to stay, but it must be borne in mind that the withdrawal of the Company's officers by no means implies the abandonment of the country…I may remind my right hon. and gallant Friend that in our opinion the proper way to maintain our position in Uganda is to construct a railway to the eastern shore of Lake Victoria Nyanza; that the surveys are being rapidly proceeded with, and would so far seem to show that the prospect presents no engineering difficulties.I was then asked by Colonel Barttelot whether he was to understand that it was the intention of the Government to maintain the sphere in which Uganda was situated, and I replied—"I apprehend there is no intention of altering the sphere of British influence." That was the policy of the late Government as stated on June 16th; and because of that date, which, as I said before, was the date of the Dissolution of Parliament immediately after the Company had announced their intention to depart, we produced no policy dealing with the country after the Company had left. Therefore, apparently, the right hon. Gentleman considers that he, after six 491 months of Office, is also absolved from having any policy upon this all-important question. Had we remained in Office until the present date, we should, of course, have made up our minds what policy was to be pursued, and we should be prepared to state to Parliament what that policy was. I fully allow that the right hon. Gentleman has a right—it is, perhaps, his duty—to send up Sir Gerald Portal to make investigations into the condition of Uganda and into the various policies which might, in his opinion, be with advantage pursued in that country. But that does not absolve the Government from endeavouring to make up their minds as to what they mean to do when this officer, who is sent up for purposes of investigation alone, leaves the country and comes back to report. What are you going to do in the interval between his making that Report and your making up your minds what to do upon it? That question has been put two or three times in clear and specific language to the Government. It was put by myself in the first place, it was put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham in the second place, and it has been put by other speakers on this side of the House at a later stage of the Debate. No answer whatever, except what we have obtained from ambiguous utterances of the hon. Member below the Gangway, has been vouchsafed to us by the Government. Are we to infer from that silence that the Government have not yet made up their minds? Surely, that is the very drifting against which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham warned the Government, and against which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister declared he was on his guard. And yet it appears that, with all these facts before them, and with all their knowledge of the difficulties of the situation, the Government are content to send out an armed investigator, and to make no preparations, no arrangements, and no forecast of the difficulties which are to ensue when that investigator shall have left the country. I do ask the Government to give us some indication both as to what their policy is when Sir G. Portal shall have left the country, and as to what are the instructions they have given to him in the meanwhile.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Is the Debate to close to-night, or to go over to-night? If it goes over to-night, the reply of the right hon. Gentleman that we shall see the instructions on Monday is a pertinent and relevant reply; but if the hon. Member below the Gangway is going to withdraw his Amendment to-night, and if we are to have no further means of questioning the Government on this legitimate and Constitutional opportunity, then we have a right to demand from one of the right hon. Gentleman's Colleagues who has not already spoken on the Amendment what is the general substance, the broad fellow of the instructions given to Sir Gerald Portal, and what are the plans of the Government for dealing with the country when Sir Gerald Portal has left it.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir W. HARCOURT,) Derby
Derby): I think it extremely easy to answer the question of the right hon. Gentleman as to what course we shall take after Sir G. Portal has made the inquiries he is commissioned to make. That course depends upon what he reports to us. Either you are to inquire to some purpose or you are not. Are you going to determine before you receive that Report what you will do when the inquiry is made? It is impossible to conceive that you could take any other course.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not wish to interrupt, but that is exactly what I did not ask. I asked, What is to be done between the conclusion of Sir G. Portal's Mission and the time when you choose to make up your minds as to what is to be done? That is all I ask.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
The right hon. Gentleman comes from north of the Tweed, and I will give him an answer after the manner of his own country and that is, by asking him a question. What did you intend to do to Uganda between the time when the Company had retired, which they were with your consent to do in December last, and the making of the railway? When you were asked in this House what your policy was in Uganda when the Company retired you said, "Our 493 policy is to make the railway." What where you going to do during the three or four years between the evacuation by the Company and the making of the railway? That is the thing you were asked. That question was put in June last to Lord Salisbury in the House of Lords, and he refused to give a reply. Now, the right hon. Gentleman has spoken of the relations of the late Government to the Company—he said that the Company could not hold its own. That is true. The Company gave notice to the late Government that they were going to evacuate last year—the first notice to evacuate, in fact, was given the year before. When these Papers are produced (and I am entitled to refer to them as they are going to be produced at once), the House will find that the late Government simply accepted the notice of evacuation without a single word to the Company, or to anyone, of what they were going to do when the Company left. They received a second notice in last May, intimating that the Company were going to evacuate on the 31st December. They accepted that notice in a simple letter, without any intimation that they were going to do anything, or what they were going to do on the evacuation. They left matters in that position when they quitted Office in August. The Company was going to evacuate on the 31st December. It takes three months to communicate with Uganda, and the position of the late Government was this, that they had made no provision for what was to take place when the Company left Uganda. That was the position they occupied. That is not the position we occupy. We were informed that there would be danger to the people in Uganda unless some precautions were taken in order to facilitate evacuation, and upon that information we requested the Company—a request the late Government never made—that they would continue occupation until the evacuation was safe. That is the difference between our conduct and theirs. They accepted evacuation without a word, without a measure, without a plan, without any intimation of what they were going to do, except that in four years time a railway would be made to Uganda. These are the gentlemen who come and ask us, 494 "What are your plans?" What were your plans? What did you contemplate was going to happen when the Company, whose proceedings you dismissed with the silence which I daresay they deserved, left Uganda? The Company said, "We are going," and the late Government said, "Then, good bye." They did not say—"What are you going to do when you leave, what is going to be the condition of the missions, or of the slave trade, or what is going to be the condition of anything at Uganda?" They simply said, "Take your departure," and nothing more. That is what you will find when you read these Papers. The Chancellor of the Exchequer shakes his head. [Laughter.] [The Chancellor of the Exchequer was here referring to Mr. Goschen who had been Chancellor of the Exchequer in the late Government.] Let him tell us what more there is in these Papers, and then we will judge by the Papers when they appear. Let him say whether there is a single word on the record which shows that when the late Government said "We accept your evacuation" they suggested for a moment anything in the nature of an interim occupation by themselves, or that they took any measure whatever for such an occupation. That is the position of the late Government. That is not the position we have taken up. We have made a provision up to March next in order that the dangers of evacuation in December should not accrue. The late Government made no such provision. We have made provision to inform ourselves as to the condition of Uganda, and wad that information is given us we will not bind the country to any such policy as that which the late Government now pretend they had, and which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham wishes us to adopt. Let me correct myself. I stated that the late Government had said nothing more to the Company except that they should lake their departure. There was one thing more, perhaps, and that was what the Chancellor of the Exchequer was thinking of. [Renewed laughter and cries of "The late Chancellor of the Exchequer."] The Company had proposed that they should leave their arms behind them for their friends the Protestant party to defend themselves 495 with, and the late Government said, "Don't leave your arms behind you for such a purpose."
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Speaking for myself, I can honestly say I desire that this question, which at present, I believe, divides not only the two sides of the House but different Parties in the House, should not be treated as a Party question. I care very much more for what, at all events, I believe to be the true interests of the country than I care for any of Party game in the matter. And I confess that while I make absolutely no complaint of the tone and spirit of the argument and observations of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, I regret very much the recriminatory tone in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has just spoken. I agree with the Prime Minister that the discussion which has been raised by the hon. Member for Northampton is a little premature. No doubt the Party in this House which the hon. Member for Northampton represents—and I am sorry he is not going to divide that we may see how numerous it is—has determined, without any fair information or inquiry, that Uganda ought to be immediately abandoned. Well, Sir, there is another Party in this House with which I have already identified myself, and winch I believe is more numerous than the Party of the hon. Member for Northampton, winch believes that it already has information enough to justify it in coming to the conclusion that Uganda ought to be retained. But between these two Parties we have the Party led by the Government, who tell us, in the words of the Prime Minister, that they are destitute—they frankly say, I admit, that they are destitute—of information which would form the basis of a safe judgment. We cannot get over that, and under these circumstances I do not see for a moment how we can dispute their right to make a full and careful inquiry in order that, with all knowledge in their possession, they may come to a right decision. I for my part make no complaint of the mission of Sir G. Portal. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby is entirely incorrect in imputing to me, as he did just now, that I desire to commit the Government prematurely to any policy one way or the other. They 496 say they are ignorant; I cannot contradict them. I am perfectly willing that they should be educated. They have a perfect right to inform themselves upon the question, but they have no right to prejudge the matter, and that is what they are doing. Now we have the information we have vainly attempted to gain during the last two days' debates—we have the information from the mouth of the Prime Minister that they have made no preparation whatever for the state of things which will arise when the evacuation by the Company takes place. And what says the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He indulges in recriminatory language, and says "you," that is to say the late Government, "made no provision." Granted, for the sake of argument. Does that make it right? I contend that on the evidence we have it is perfectly clear the late Government would have made some provision. But, grant that they did not and were guilty of the inconceivable folly that the right hon. Member for Derby attributes to them of proceeding to make a railway at the expense of. £3,000,000 through a country that might be hostile to a country, and taking no steps to secure peace in either country—grant that they were so foolish as that, does the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby mean to tell us he is going to be equally foolish? They are no longer responsible. You are. Now, let me again point out this state of the case. Here we have a Mission accompanied by some 220 armed men, composed of a few Englishmen and 200 natives, and if that force is considered adequate to protect the honour of England, I draw the conclusion that the protection of our interests in Uganda is not so difficult as the hon. Member for Northampton seems to think. I do not dispute that the Government have taken sufficient precautions to protect the Mission. The Mission will get to Uganda as the evacuation of the Company takes place. As long as the Mission remains in the country the country will be peaceable. I have no doubt that the force of 200 men, led by Sir Gerald Portal, with such armed forces as there are in the country, will be sufficient to preserve the peace of the country. Bur when Sir Gerald Porta comes home there must, 497 then, necessarily be an interval—it may be of many months; it must, of necessity, be at least four months—during which there will be no such force in the country, and you may, as I said last night, have a massacre such as has not yet occurred in that country. The Prime Minister, who I do not think has been directly informed on this subject, said I referred to massacres, and appeared to argue that something that might be called a massacre bad taken place in that country. There have been two battles in recent times, but I am assured by those who have the best right to speak on such matters, because they were present at the battles, that the loss of life, however much we may regret it, was comparatively trifling; and if you look at the results which these battles secured, I believe the loss of life will be looked upon as inconsiderable. These battles have secured the absolute peace of the country. At the present time the country is perfectly safe under the advice and guidance of the officer who has been left in charge. Is all that to be destroyed when the evacuation takes place? I am not putting this question in any hostile spirit, but I do ask again, is it possible that you are going to allow a state of anarchy, and possibly a public massacre, to ensue from the moment the Commissioner leaves the country? If so, his report will be a dead letter, and any recommendation he may make for the retention of the country can then only be carried out by sending an enormous expedition to the country, at an immense cost.
§ MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's,) Hanover Square
I see no symptom of any right hon. Gentleman rising from the opposite Bench to answer the question put to the Government. One question is this—and I venture most humbly to put this point once more to right hon. Gentlemen opposite—will they, before this Debate closes, tell us whether Sir Gerald Portal has any instructions with regard to making any arrangements on his departure to secure the administration of the country, or for taking any measures necessary to secure the peace of the country when he departs.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The interval is the time between the time of his departure from Uganda and the time that the Government will make up its mind as to the course that must be taken in the matter, and what we wish to know is, Has Sir Gerald Portal got instructions which will enable him to make arrangements for the temporary administration of the country when he departs, and if the officers of the Company have then also left? We hold in the strongest way that we have a right to an answer to that question. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is the last person who I should have thought would forget that he is in Office, and yet he retained tonight both the manner and doctrines of a Member in Opposition. He seemed to think that we were still in Office, and he once or twice called me the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He has charged me with indulging in tu quoques. But when he and Ids colleagues in the Government are responsible, is it enough to ask what we should have done if we were in Office? Were we in Office we should have felt the responsibility. We now put it on the Government. Had the Chancellor of the Exchequer attended to the quotations that were read by my right hon. Friend (Mr. A. J. Balfour) he would have known that on the 16th of June my right hon. Friend distinctly announced to the House that the retirement of the Company did not mean, in the opinion of the Government, the abandonment of Uganda. Could a stronger declaration be made of the views and sentiments of the Government on the eve of a General Election? I put it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Would it have been right, under the circumstances, when a General Elect ion was about to take place, to pledge the Government of the day to a more decided plan? I think we should have been wrong if we at that time attempted to commit Parliament mid the country to a course which we should not have been responsible for carrying out, and, therefore, we put no definite plan before the country in regard to Uganda. But every 499 phrase, every sentiment which we uttered, showed that we should have felt the immense responsibility entailed upon us at that time had we come back to power. The Government have increased their responsibility in this respect by the step—possibly the wise step—they have taken in sending Sir Gerald Portal to Uganda. Will the right hon. Gentleman tells us, is it the policy of the Government that Sir Gerald Portal should came away from Uganda, the Company having previously retired, and then allow events to take their course?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Well, you can tell us this. If Sir Gerald Portal believes that there is danger to the communities and to the missionaries, will he be empowered to leave his force there while he returns home to make his Report, and to make temporary arrangements with the authority of the Government for carrying out the administration of the country?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The right hon. Gentleman says "No doubt he will." Then, at last, we have extracted information from the Government. Then this Debate has not been fruitless. I am glad the Government have given a free hand to Sir Gerald Portal. The right hon. Gentleman knows that the Debate has not been raised by us, and that we are anxious to support the policy of the Government in despatching Sir Gerald Portal to Uganda. We know now that after Sir G. Portal has left Uganda in order to make his Report, he has received powers from the Government to make arrangements for the temporary administration of the country.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I am anxious not to misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman. I think he said Sir Gerald Portal would have to make his own arrangements. Does the right hon. Gentleman admit those words?
§ *SIR W. HARCOURT
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to ask me whether, if the occasion arose when it would not be safe for Sir G. Portal 500 to go away with his force; he would have the power to keep the force there for the purposes of safety. I said he had. That is a very different thing from making arrangements for the administration of the country.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I do not in the least wish to press the Government, to whom we are grateful for the attitude they have taken in this matter, looking to their rather questionable antecedents; and we are only anxious that they should not, under the pressure of hon. Members below the Gangway, in any way diminish the influence of this action by any demands that might arise as to the position in Uganda before Sir G. Portal returns. There must be no misunderstanding on this point. I think those of us who take an interest in the security of the position in Uganda are entitled to a distinct declaration of policy of the Government in this matter. I understand—and should be corrected if I am wrong—that Sir Gerald Portal has, however, not to take over the administration of the country, during the absence of the British officer, but to make the arrangements; that he has got distinct instructions in this direction—You are going on a Mission of inquiry to Uganda. The Company have told us they propose leaving in a short time. That retirement of the company and your departure together might produce a disastrous effect upon the various parties in Uganda. Consequently, you have the power and the authority of the Government, and you will have the support of the Government, in making the necessary arrangements for the protection of all interests.If the right hon. Gentleman or one of his colleagues can give us any assurance to that effect it will relieve the very considerable anxiety that oppresses many.
§ Motion made, and; Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. G. Wyndham.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till Monday next.