§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
, who rose to move the reduction of the Vote by £5,000, being the cost of Sir Gerald Portal's Mission to Uganda, said, he took occasion on the Address to call attention to the possession of Uganda. He was obliged at the time, he was sorry to say, to speak at considerable length on the subject, because there had been many misstatements with regard to the place, which probably deceived a great many people, while numbers of others had not really turned their attention to the matter at all, and hardly knew whether Uganda was a country or a town. But now, thanks to articles which had appeared in the magazines from his right hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir Charles Dilke) and others, the facts of the case were pretty well-known. In Uganda at the present time there was absolutely no Imperial responsibility of any sort or kind. Uganda was situated on an area known as "a British sphere 540 of influence." That meant that in that area the Germans had promised not to set up any Protectorate, but that did not give us any rights or involve us in any responsibilities in Uganda. Some gentlemen had obtained a concession of some miles along the coast line from the Sultan of Zanzibar. These gentlemen formed themselves into a company to ask for a Royal Charter. They were given a Royal Charter, by which they were allowed the beneficial use of this concession, and at the same time they were permitted by one of the provisions of the Charter to make Treaties with tribes and chieftains in the Hinterland beyond their line of coast, but these Treaties were only to become valid if they obtained the approval of the Foreign Office. The company set up in Uganda a King of their own in the person of the Chief of one of the factions in the country, and they made two Treaties. The first Treaty, as had been admitted, was obtained by fraud and violence, but in any case it was only for two years, and that time had now expired. The second Treaty had never been confirmed by the Foreign Office, and consequently at the present moment the company, qua company, had no right to remain or to exercise any responsibility in Uganda. After a short time in the country the company began to perceive that Uganda was a bad speculation, and they therefore determined to leave it, and they informed Lord Salisbury of their intention. But Lord Salisbury made no sign. Lord Salisbury simply said it was no business of the Government whether the company remained in the country or went away— that it was a matter entirely for the company and the people of Uganda. The Church Missionary Society then interfered, and stated that if the company remained in Uganda for a longer period they would provide portion of the funds necessary. Again Lord Salisbury was informed of that fact—that the period would last till the 31st December, 1892, and that then the company would retire. Again Lord Salisbury made no sign. But, after all this had been made public, there was inaugurated a platform campaign in this country in order to induce us to take over Uganda, and the speakers in that campaign were really about as florid in their statements in regard to this country as an auctioneer's advertise- 541 ment when he wanted to sell an estate. It was said to be a Canaan overflowing with milk and honey; that it would absorb our manufactures; that by taking over the country we would deal a deathblow at slavery; that the people of Uganda were a most affectionate and intelligent body, who were pining to become Christians. But Despatches between the company and the officials of the Government were published, and anybody who read those Despatches would find that all those glowing descriptions of the country were untrue. It was plain from the Despatches that Uganda had no products of its own; that it could not take our manufactures as it had nothing to exchange for them, and that the climate was very unhealthy. Captain Lugard had said it would be impossible for the English people to settle there, as they could not bring up their children in such a climate. The intelligent and interesting natives were really divided into warring factions; most of them were slaves, and the country was surrounded by persistent enemies. As to the desire of the people to become Christians, Captain Lugard had said that the introduction of Christianity had not entered into his mind at all. Captain Lugard simply went there and put up as King the head of one of the factions. That faction choosed to call itself Protestant because, as they understood it, "Protestant" meant "English." The King was once a Mahommedan, once a Pagan, once a Catholic, and once a Protestant. He called himself a Protestant when he hoped to obtain assistance from Captain Lugard, and when he threatened to withdraw from his engagements Captain Lugard instantly replied by threatening to supersede him by a Mahommedan King. When Captain Lugard went there there were Protestant and Catholic missionaries. In 1892, according to the work published by the Catholic Union, there were 300 Protestants and 3,000 baptised Catholics; but during the occupation it appeared the cause of Christianity had suffered, and, to his mind, that was not surprising when Christianity was associated in men's minds with Maxim guns and the loss of their independence. As for slavery, in that favoured country there was, as he had said, domestic slavery; but it was remarkable, as Captain Lugard told them, there were no slave raids in 542 the neighbourhood. But why was that? The raids took place in other parts in order to carry up the trade that was done with Uganda. This damnosa hereditas was 600 miles from the sea coast, and to send up goods it would cost £300 per ton. It was, therefore, impossible to organise a trade there, or to establish a garrison— for it must be remembered the garrison would have to be a considerable one, as it could not be reinforced under several months—unless a railroad were built there. The cost of such a railway would be about £3,000,000, and, at the same time, there would not be commerce for more than half a dozen trains per annum. Further than that, it would require a subsidy of £300,000 per annum to maintain and work that railway, for it must not be forgotten that it passed through the territory of hostile tribes who would seize the opportunity to provide them-selves with iron rails. In August a change of Government took place, at which time it had been settled that the company were to retire on the 31st December last. The new Government undertook to maintain the occupation during the three months—why they did so he did not know; but anyhow, it was clear at that time there was an idea that the intention of the company was evacuation—that they were to prepare for the full and final evacuation at the end of that period. Later on it was decided to send a Mission there, and it was somewhat remarkable that the Mission was sent off precisely at the period of time when it would arrive at the end of the three months, either a few days before or a few days after the time fixed for the evacuation of the country by the company. Sir Gerald Portal was put at the head of that Mission. Sir Gerald Portal was a very eminent and able gentleman, and was Consul General at Zanzibar when Lord Salisbury sent a communication as to what he ought to do with the territories in the sphere of influence around Zanzibar; Sir Gerald Portal was told he was to cultivate friendly relations with the inhabitants, but in no case was to interfere with tribal Governments. If this Mission had been sent out merely to aid in the evacuation, if that rule had been maintained that the Mission was not to interfere with tribal Governments he should not have complained as much as 543 he did now; he should have thought it a waste of money, but he should have accepted the fact without opposing it. The case, however, was very different, and so far as he could see the effect of the instructions were to countermand the rule that the Consul General or official, whichever they called him, was not to interfere with Tribal Governments; he was to be given a free hand to take over all the forts, forces, and guns belonging to the Company. ["No, no!"] Well, anyhow, they would take it that the Company had offered to make over to Her Majesty all their establishments in Uganda, because in the instructions occurred these words—"It will be for you to judge how far it is necessary to avail yourself of this proposal." Lord Rosebery in another place said that Sir Gerald Portal had about 230 Zanzibar troops, and under his instructions had full power to take over any forces belonging to the Company, and, therefore, he had a perfectly free hand in the matter. He (Mr. Labouchere) thought he had established his position that Sir Gerald Portal was given a free hand to take over the establishments, the forts, and also to take over the forces, that was to say, all that riff-raff that was enlisted by the Company. Sir Gerald Portal was enabled by these instructions to set up some sort of Government there, and maintain that Government when there; and, moreover, when he came away he was allowed by his instructions to leave some one else there to carry on the superintendence of the Government set up. Thus he contended that Sir Gerald Portal had the power to establish there a temporary protectorate, and consequently they would be involved in Imperial responsibilities, which would end in their being told — as these people were as strong Home Rulers as the Irish themselves—they had compromised themselves by joining in the Government set up, and we would be obliged to remain there to prevent them from being injured. They might lay it down as a rule in all uncivilised countries that whenever a civilised country established a temporary protectorate it became a permanent one. He thought hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite would agree with him that that was the view they took of the instructions; they desired the protectorate, and they thought the protectorate 544 was practically obtained by the terms of the instructions. They had a two days' Debate on this question upon the Address. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite would remember that on the first day they were not satisfied with the instructions; they did not gather the instructions were so large and ample as they were; they thought that during the period between the time of Sir Gerald Portal bringing his Report to England and the Government at home reporting upon it, the Government set up would fall to pieces. On the next day they were told that would not be the case, that not only would he set up a Government, but that a. locum tenens would replace him when he went away who would carry on the Government until the matter was decided. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who had come down on the Monday primed with long speeches no sooner heard that— finding they had gained a point—than they put the speeches in their pockets, limbered up all their artillery, and were satisfied and silent. This temporary occupation would last a considerable number of months. They had to go there, then there was the time Sir Gerald Portal would be there, the time of his coming away, and then when the Report came home it would no doubt be considered by the Executive, and the evil— no doubt hon. Gentlemen opposite would consider it the good—would have been done; the Government would only have one choice, and that would be to convert a temporary occupation into a permanent occupation or protectorate. As usual, Parliament would be called upon to express an opinion on the matter, and that would be about as valuable as telling a person that he might shut his stable door when the steed was stolen. That was the history of almost all their wars and annexations. They did these things, and then Parliament was told it had the power because it need not pay for it. Of course, Parliament was obliged to pay for it, because the matter was settled before they came to Parliament. The expense and risk of taking possession of Uganda would not be commensurate with the advantages; but a great deal more was involved than mere possession of Uganda. They knew what the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite were; they had been told they ought to hold the entire course of the Nile from its source 545 to the mouth; they desired to establish a large Empire there. Already he had seen in the newspapers that supported hon. Gentlemen opposite suggestions that, if they took Uganda, obviously they ought to take the Soudan and the Equatorial Provinces of Egypt governed over by Emin; in fact, our being in Egypt was used as an argument in favour of taking Uganda—just as, when they had taken Uganda, that would be used as an argument that they ought to remain in Egypt for ever. In considering this mission and the results of this mission they had to consider also what were the views of the Earl of Rosebery, who was the Minister of Foreign Affairs. On March 1 Lord Rosebery was the guest, he was sorry to say, of a nest of Jingoes, called, he believed, Imperial Federalists. Before his health was proposed Lord Rosebery made a speech, and in protesting against the doctrine of non-extension of the Empire he said—It is said that our Empire is large enough and does not need extension. That would be true enough if the world were elastic; but, unfortunately, it is not elastic, and we are engaged at the present moment, in the language of mining, in pegging out claims for the future. We have to consider, not what we want now, but what we shall want in the future. We have to consider what countries must be developed, either by ourselves or some other nation, and we have to remember that it is part of our responsibility and heritage to take that the world, so far as it can be moulded, shall receive the Anglo-Saxon, and not another character.[Cheers.] He perfectly understood the cheer from hon. Gentlemen opposite. He greatly admired Lord Rosebery; he believed he was a gentleman of great talent, and he regretted that his talent should to a certain extent be lost to the country by his being in the House of Lords. In home matters his Lordship's views were no doubt perfectly sound; in Foreign Affairs outside Africa he had no reason to suppose his views were not sound; but when his Lordship came to Africa he was the high priest of Jingoism. They were told their business was to peg out claims in Africa, not only what we wanted, but what we did not want, in case posterity should want it; that it was their object to mould the whole of Africa in our Anglo-Saxon character. During the last six years they had pegged-out, or, as he should call it, had jumped, claims in Africa over a 546 territory larger than the whole of Europe He had hoped this greed for land had been satisfied for a time. There were not more than 100 or 200 of real settlers in this vast territory we had pegged-out; the rest went to find gold, or brought back some specimens from parts where they said gold was, in order to float a rotten company. But where was this all to end? After having laid hold of a country as large as Europe were they to peg - out claims for the sake of posterity; were they to incur vast costs and risks in order that posterity should be able to go into places like Uganda, where, as a matter of fact, the climate would not allow an European to live? Perhaps their object was to prevent others going there. He could only say that he most deeply regretted that when the spheres of influence were decided between Germany and England that Uganda did not fall to the Germans, and he should have been glad if the greater portion of all our spheres and influence had fallen to the Germans. He would ask, was this pegging-out doctrine the policy of a Liberal? He could not think it was. A Liberal Foreign Secretary did not hold office to carry out his own views or the views of his predecessor. He held office to carry out the views of his supporters. He was merely the executive servant of his supporters in the House of Commons, just as hon. Members of that House were the legislative servants of their supporters outside. The Liberal Party had a programme they called the Newcastle Programme. Could it be conceived what would have been said if, when that programme was adopted, any one had suggested as an additional item this doctrine of pegging-out claims for posterity? He, at all events, had always been consistent in his conduct with regard to this kind of policy. He believed he divided the House at least 50 times against providing money for the Soudanese expeditions. If there was one character in Scripture history he despised more than another it was that leprous Syrian, Naaman, who bowed down before a false god in the Temple and abused him when he got outside. In the Temple and out of the Temple he had always opposed King Jingo. He was one of those of whom it might be said, "Cælum non animum mutant." He could not help thinking that if Lord 547 Salisbury had sent such instructions as had been sent to Sir Gerald Portal what indignation there would have been, what denunciations and outbursts of indignant protests there would have been from the Liberal Benches! He knew what he said was called un-English; but they were views entertained by such men as Mr. Bright and Mr. Cobden. It seemed to him that everybody was un-English who was not prepared to hinder as much as he could the piratical instincts of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Jingo doctrine was that they should spend as much English money as possible, provided it was spent out of England. If it was a question of improving the slums, relieving misery, or giving employment to people at home, then they were not ready to give anything; but if it was a question of annexing some African territory they were ready to squander all the resources of the Empire. These Jingoes were most remarkable men; they did not seem to care whether the land they acquired was valuable or valueless; they were like magpies, they loved stealing for the pleasure of stealing. He would ask the Committee to realise this fact, that this mission probably meant a protectorate, and this protectorate of Uganda meant further projects and a railroad to be built at a very large cost. This first step on the path of Jingoism must inevitably and necessarily lead to further steps, unless there were the strongest protests on the part of Liberals against it. Sir Gerald Portal had got the right to interfere with tribal government.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
thought it was in the Debate that took place in the House when they were told that Sir Gerald Portal would establish a Government in Uganda. He would like to understand what Sir Gerald Portal's position was. When he arrived in Uganda he might, it was admitted, take over the forts, the establishment and guns. It was also understood that he was to remain there. Was he to allow a revolution to take place against the Government actually there? He certainly understood that not only was Sir Gerald Portal to watch over the Government, but when he came away he was to leave somebody else there to do the same thing. 548 If we mixed ourselves up in this matter, we should have to follow it up by assuming further responsibilities. The cost already incurred was considerable. There was the present Vote for £5,000; there was an additional £10,000 on the full Estimate; there was £10,000 to be given as a present to the Company for the period they remained in Uganda, £10,000 had already been voted for the Railway Survey, and in addition a considerable indemnity would also have to be paid to the French Government for the injuries done by the Company to the French missionaries. Then not only would the railway have to be subsidized at a cost of several hundreds of thousands of pounds, but a garrison would have to be maintained, as was the case in the Soudan; and he had no doubt that at a given time the whole thing would end as the raid in the Soudan ended, that the Government would get so utterly sick of Mohammedanism that they would give it up. He had no doubt he should not get many to vote for him on this occasion; but he did not get many in the Parliament of 1880, when he protested against the Soudanese raids—and yet he did not believe there was a single gentleman who was cot perfectly confident that he was absolutely right and the Government absolutely wrong. But his hon. Friends need have no fear of voting in accordance with their principles on this occasion; they need not be under the impression that they would endanger the position of the Government, because the Government would have the support of every Unionist in the House. During the Recess there was a great Jingo campaign, set on foot in the names of Christianity, slavery, and commerce, to induce us to take over this Uganda. Those who were opposed to that policy did not interfere, they did not hold meetings— they might have done so, and he had no doubt they would have been well attended, but they did not do so, for the reason that they trusted to the Government, they believed the Government would not take any action on the Jingo card. At the present moment he felt the Government would be glad if they could show them there were persons in this country who were prepared to aid them to resist the assaults from within and without of Jingoism. He thought the Government required in this matter of Uganda to have 549 their Radical fibre somewhat strengthened. The way to do that was by a rather bungling process. He moved that a certain sum should be struck off the Estimates in Committee, and if he was so fortunate as to carry it, he should move that the same be replaced on Report, because the money had already been spent; it was a bungling way, but it was the only way they had of raising the question of policy. If he could get a Teller he should unquestionably go to a Division. For his part he did not believe he should have given a vote more right, more just, more legitimate, more in accordance with the doctrines held by the majority of Radicals in relation to foreign affairs than the one he should give on the pre-sent occasion. He begged to move the reduction of the Vote.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item M, of £21,600, for Special Missions and Services, be reduced by £5,000 in respect of Uganda."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Midlothian)
I do not think that the speech of my hon. Friend has done much to increase the knowledge of the Committee. He has not dealt in a precise manner with the matters of fact as disclosed in the documents before us, but has merely explained the general construction which he himself puts upon those documents. I regret that my hon. Friend should have assumed without any proof that a case has arisen where the Committee is about to be entrapped into a course which must lead to dire con-sequences. My hon. Friend asked what would have been the wrath of the Liberal Party if Instructions had been issued by Lord Salisbury similar to those issued by Lord Rosebery. Any hon. Gentleman sitting on this side of the House who thinks it right to make an appeal of that kind is naturally, and perhaps legitimately, met by a warm cheer from the Benches opposite. But my hon. Friend, in making his charge against Lord Rosebery, did not condescend to quote one word from Lord Rosebery's Instructions.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
After that admission I am very much tempted to sit down, for that is the whole head 550 and front of my charge against my hon. Friend, that, instead of particularising —as every man, it seems to me, ought to do who has an accusation to make—he generalised. Well, my hon. Friend asked what would have been said if these Instructions had been issued by Lord Salisbury. But Sir G. Portal's powers do depend upon the Instructions of Lord Salisbury, for he exercises those powers as Commissioner, and he was made Commissioner by Lord Salisbury. I am quite aware that we have not thought fit to interfere with those powers. Having regard to the difficulties of the case, and to the partial and perhaps insufficient information that we have, we have not thought it wise to deprive Sir G. Portal of his powers. My hon. Friend, however, does not direct his chief complaint against those powers, but points it against the Instructions of Lord Rosebery, and at the same time refrains from quoting one single word from those Instructions. My hon. Friend says that a rule was laid down by Lord Salisbury against interference with the native-tribal government, and that that rule has been relaxed or abolished by us. As far as I am aware, there is not a single syllable of truth in that allegation. Can my hon. Friend point to one word or passage in Lord Rosebery's Instructions to show that the rule has been relaxed by us? There is not a syllable in the Instructions of Lord Rosebery to that effect. As to the powers given to Sir G. Portal by Lord Salisbury, I need not again read the passage which I quoted on February 13 when this subject was before the House. It forms the Charter under which Sir G. Portal will act as Commissioner. The Instructions given by Lord Rosebery point out to Sir G. Portal that the purpose of his mission is that he should go to Uganda and there report upon the best means of dealing with the country. That is the main and essential feature of the Instructions, and everything else that is said by Lord Rosebery to Sir G. Portal has regard to emergencies and needs which may be incidental to the character of his mission and to that temporary sojourn in the country which will be requisite in order to enable him to conduct his inquiry. My hon. Friend rather conveyed to the Committee that Sir G. Portal had received from Lord Rosebery special powers to take over 551 property. But that is beside the purpose of Sir G. Portal's mission. The passage I read on a former occasion had reference only to what may be necessary for the wants of Sir G. Portal and his party. It would be an extraordinary thing to send him there and not authorise him, in the uncertainties of the case, to supply himself, either from the company or otherwise, with what might be necessary for the welfare and safety of his men. I regret the manner in which my hon. Friend has thought right to speak of Lord Rosebery. My hon. Friend says that Lord Rosebery in his foreign policy is actuated by the spirit of Jingoism. But what proof does the hon. Member allege? He did not recite any, but he generalised upon certain proceedings which had taken place at a dinner at which Lord Rosebery presided. The hon. Member did not allege that Lord Rosebery at that dinner made the slightest reference to Uganda.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (interposing)
Yes, I did, and I will hand to the right hon. Gentleman an extract from a report in which Lord Rosebery referred to hereditary policy.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Any gentleman who indulges in patriotic aspirations—any gentleman who points out that the Anglo-Saxon race has evidently a great mission in the colonisation of the world, and who points out that among the Anglo-Saxon race England for this purpose is at the head—is immediately convicted by my hon. Friend, by his generalising process, of having given instructions for the establishment of a protectorate, and a virtual annexation of Uganda. I do not deny the colonising necessities which have arisen in certain parts of the world, and which have become not only a duty but a point of honour on the part of this country to meet. But what, after all, is the main complaint of my hon. Friend? He has been singularly inaccurate in his reference to documents, and to the matters of fact connected with the case. All this matter of taking over the property of the Company is simply a question whether, in case Sir Gerald Portal finds that the Company has got something which he has not got, and which he wants in order to meet any necessities or emergencies that may arise, he may take from the Company for the purposes of his mission. My hon. 552 Friend has used certain words bearing on the subject. He conveyed to the minds of the Committee in the most express terms that Sir G. Portal was authorised to establish an occupation of the country, that the Government should enter on a protectorate—on a virtual annexation of the country. These are points upon which Sir G. Portal has no authority whatever. He has not gone there for these purposes. He has not gone there to bind by any engagement, or any proceeding, the Government with regard to their future policy in Uganda. He has gone to consider and report on the best means of dealing with the country, and undoubtedly he has received the fullest, and most ample powers to do all that is necessary to carry these important purposes into effect. I do not deny that there may not be an important difference between my hon. Friend and myself, quite apart from the broad and general allegations he has made. Lord Rosebery has authorised Sir G. Portal to proceed in the following terms:—A mission to Central Africa cannot, of course, be conducted according to ordinary precedent. The in frequency and difficulty of communication may require a latitude beyond what is usual, and in entrusting to you these important duties Her Majesty's Government reckon with full confidence on your meeting with firmness and caution any question that may arise.I do not deny that in order to reach the heart of Africa—I am not quite sure it is the heart, because that would depend upon where you have put the mile-stones —but I apprehend, whatever the distance may be, it is a serious matter to send a mission of this kind into the country. There was a question, however, which the Government were not prepared to answer at once, and in limine, in the negative. There was a question whether, out of the whole mass of proceedings that had taken place, upon most of which we were very imperfectly informed, and on which we had no independent information; whether out of that whole mass of proceedings there had grown circumstances and results which made it our duty to inquire how far we were prepared to go; whether it was open for us to treat this question as if the Company had never gone there, and how far results had arisen put of the presence of the Company, which it would be the duty of the Government to take cognizance of, and also to consider what 553 would be the best mode of dealing with those circumstances. That this is a serious thing I do not deny. We could not, with the approval of the House and the country—and not even with the approval of my hon. Friend —say, under the imperfect conditions that existed, that there was no case for examination. We could not treat as equivalent to zero all that had been done by the agents of the Company. We could not say that all the Company's Treaties should be set down as waste paper. The Government took the best mode they could to inquire into the circumstances, and certainly that was not an extravagant measure. We did it in obedience to the obligations of honour quite as much as of policy. I do not deny that an inquiry of that kind is different from an inquiry in a well-known and civilised country, where we have the means of meeting difficulty and uncertainty. It is the obligation to inquire which we assert, but as to the further obligations which my hon. Friend asserts, with regard to protectorate and annexation, I must submit that not only has my hon. Friend not established his case, but he has made no attempt to establish that Sir G. Portal has carried with him any powers of that kind. I believe Sir G. Portal will do his duty, which is, to reserve all permanent arrangements for the free consideration and decision of the authorities at home, and most of all, of course, of the authority of this House. There is the policy which has been announced in very definite terms by the late Government. Their policy was to allow the Company to come away from Uganda. Not a syllable was ever written by them, according to the Papers before Parliament, which signified the slightest intention on their part even to enter into relations to remain in the country; but at the same time they did not even imply, on their part, any plan for the ultimate abandonment of the country. On the contrary, they had a policy, and that policy was, that they would come down to this House in proper time and make a proposal for the construction of a railway. But as far as the question of a railway is concerned, I do not think, in the existing state of facts, that there is any solid information such as we can accept with confidence. I am not aware at present of anything which is in any way likely to lead us to 554 adopt the same view of this matter as has apparently commended itself to Lord Salisbury. I shut the door, however, against no suggestion which might be made. It would be premature and improper to do so, when we have already cast open the door to the widest inquiry into the whole case. It would need more than I have heard to convince my Colleagues and myself that the construction of a railway through 600 miles of uncivilised country and over a range of mountains is the best mode of approaching the Uganda question. In one portion of his speech my hon. Friend was most moderate. He said the railway would cost £3,000,000, or probably more. I must confess that that is a most moderate estimate. When we recollect what has been the original estimates for works lying a great deal nearer home than Uganda, and much more capable of being made the subject of thorough preliminary scientific investigation, I must say that, in my opinion, it would be very unwise in the Committee, or any of us, to look upon these figures as anything more than a merely speculative estimate. When we came into Office, or some time after, we found that the late Government had sent out Captain Mac Donald to inquire into the conduct of those gentlemen who were in Uganda, and into the sad and lamentable transactions which occurred nearly at the time when we were discussing in this House the railway survey ordered by our predecessors in Office. I think it was a very proper thing for Lord Salisbury to send out Captain MacDonald to inquire how far the conduct of the gentlemen in question might have given rise to any fair or valid international claim. Captain MacDonald had been intercepted on the way, and the actual fulfilment of his mission had been delayed. We had to consider then whether we should avail ourselves of that state of things to stop his mission or direct him to go forward. I believe that Lord Salisbury's action was a very proper action. But does not the hon. Member see that it is too late for him to say that the particular course which he speaks of ought to be adopted? Information was conveyed to us that the time was not sufficient to enable the evacuation to be completed with safety to life and property. Therefore, I submit that there will be no doubt in the minds of the vast majority 555 who are acquainted with the state of affairs that we could not refuse our assent to the proposal that some longer time should be given, but we took every precaution possible to prevent this country from incurring any new obligations which might involve us in the future. We endeavoured to secure our own liberty and the liberty of the House. This Vote is a necessary Vote. The House is not called upon to do anything which is not found to be necessary in order to act fully up to the spirit of the obligations which are inseparable, or which may possibly be found to be inseparable, from the policy which has been pursued.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The speech to which we have listened with so much interest embraced many topics, but there is one topic which we on this side of the House are hardly qualified to pronounce upon, and that is, what is the precise Radical orthodoxy in relation to this question. Whether the Member for Northampton is right in taking one view, or Lord Rosebery in taking another, or the Prime Minister, who oscillates between the two, we cannot venture to pronounce. But on this we surely may pronounce, that the Party which follows the right hon. Gentleman does not speak in this matter with a consistent and a uniform utterance. The Chancellor of the Exchequer last Spring was in agreement with every syllable which fell from the hon. Member for Northampton, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer were only now to follow his own inclinations he would be one of those whom the hon. Member for Northampton expects to lead into the Lobby to-night. While it is clear that the hon. Member for Northampton has an avowed policy, is it not equally clear, from what we have already heard, that Lord Rosebery takes an entirely different view of what ought to be the policy of this country in the matter of annexation? A phrase was quoted from Lord Rosebery that it was our duty to carry out our traditional policy—I think the words were—of "pegging out claims" for the benefit of posterity. Does any human being imagine that Lord Rosebery was referring at the time to any other part of the world than East Africa? Will anybody who heard him or read his speech point out any portion of the 556 habitable globe where we are occupied in "pegging out claims" other than East Africa? But, instead of Lord Rosebery, if any Member of the late Government when in power had said so, would not every platform in the country, from one end to the other, have been ringing with invectives against the Jingo utterances of a Jingo Government. But many things are permitted to a Liberal in Office which are not permitted to a Conservative in Office, and great changes may be undergone without rebuke by hon. Gentlemen now sitting on that side of the House, who certainly took the same view not so long ago as was taken by the hon. Member for Northampton to-night. The fact is, that it is very likely that gentlemen opposite do not always mean everything they say in Opposition. They have one creed with regard to foreign policy when they are irresponsible critics, and they have quite another when they are invested with all the responsibility which tenure, of Office brings with it. My complaint is not that they have changed their views, nor do I desire to rake up against them any utterances of theirs some six or eight months ago—my complaint is that, at the present moment, the Prime Minister is disposed to minimise the assurances which he gave us on the Address, and that he does not now see the full extent to which he and his Government are really committed with regard to a vigorous and forward policy in Uganda. In the Debate on the Address the right hon. Gentleman showed that he felt great uneasiness lest, after the Mission of Inquiry was finished, he should be compelled to leave the country in a position of unsettlement and anarchy. The right hon. Gentleman came down, and, in answer to questions, gave us clearly to understand, in the first place, that Sir G. Portal, under the old powers given by Lord Salisbury, had authority to make every regulation he could, or thought expedient, for the government of Uganda after he himself had left the country; and, in the second place, that he knew what were the views of the Government on this subject, and that it would be his duty to see that not merely during his presence in Uganda proper provision for the government of the country was made, but that, if necessary, a more permanent and more stable 557 arrangement should be established. We accepted those assurances; but if I understand rightly, I will not say the language, but the tenour of the speech we have heard to-night, the whole emphasis is now placed, not upon the arrangements to be made by Sir G. Portal in Uganda during his stay there, but on the information which he is to obtain in that country, by which is to be guided the future policy of the Government. If the Government desire information, I am very glad that they should have it; but let me assure them that of the two branches of Sir G. Portal's mission — that which concerns obtaining information, and that which is concerned with the organisation of the country — the second branch is by far the more important. To that branch the Government are as clearly committed by their statements on the Address as they are committed to the other branch. The hon. Member for Northampton is unquestionably right when he says that Lord Rosebery's policy, and probably Lord Rosebery's desires, point to establishing a state of things in Uganda which shall make our sphere of influence operative, and permanently operative, throughout the whole of that district for the benefit both of the natives and of this country. The fact is that it is possible in this, as in other questions, for the Government to put off coming to a decision because of the want of information. Their passion for information is known to be illimitable. It extends through every branch of public policy, foreign and domestic, and I am the last person to desire to balk them; but something besides the mere accumulation of information is asked from the Executive Government, and if that Government, or if some members of that Government, have not realised what unquestionably Lord Rosebery has realised —that the policy and the honour of this country emphatically require us not to withdraw from the position which we have taken up with regard to this sphere of influence—the fact remains, as the hon. Member for Northampton has seen, writ large upon their declared utterances in the past that, whatever Ministry be in power—whether it be the present Government or a Government drawn from the other great Party in the State, or a Government reflecting the particular com- 558 plexion of Radicalism which the hon. Member for Northampton affects to represent, whatever the Government may be which may be responsible for the further devolopment of our policy in Africa—it will be absolutely impossible for them to withdraw from the responsibilities undertaken not by the present Government, but by their predecessors, and fully accepted and absolutely endorsed by the gentlemen now holding Office.
§ MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
had no doubt at all about the good intentions of the Government, as expressed by the Prime Minister, who said he was not going to establish a protectorate, was not going to annex Uganda, was not going to have a war, and was not going to make an impossible railway over the mountains of the moon. Those were the intentions of the Prime Minister, but the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had last spoken showed that, notwithstanding the best intentions of the Government, facts would be too strong for them. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) told them that no matter what Ministry came in they must be prepared for a vigorous and forward policy in Uganda. He thought it was necessary that some of them at any rate who held a contrary opinion should say now that, whether it were the present or any other Government, they were prepared to oppose a vigorous and forward policy in Uganda. He had no doubt the Prime Minister was in a difficulty, and he had no doubt that that difficulty was created in part by the late Government. But he felt bound to say to the right hon. Gentleman that if he had read the Despatches aright, and if he understood the matter, the difficulty the right hon. Gentleman was in at this moment, though a little dependent upon the acts of the late Government, was largely dependent upon the acts of the present Government. They were told, and with truth, that when the late Government went out of Office notice of withdrawal to the Company had been given; that no Mission had then be sent; there was no Sir Gerald Portal on the scene, the Company would have left, and after that the deluge. But then came the present Government, and what had it done? It was not going to annex; it was not going to protect; it had only sent to inquire. But when it interfered in order to inquire 559 what had it done? It had sent up to Uganda for the first time an armed party responsible to the Government of this country, had, by that Party, taken over all the resources in men, arms, and big guns of the Company there, and having taken the first Governmental step there was nothing for us, a civilized country going to uncivilized territory, but loss of honour and loss of credit unless they adhered to the position which the Government had taken up; and in time to come he (Mr. Storey) might tell the right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench he should be free to say that whilst the beginning of this mischief came from the late Government, the sending of an English force into that country in the pay of, and by command of, the present Government, had had the effect of making it absolutely certain that we must remain there. He would ask right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench, and the Radicals who were in the last House of Commons, if the late Government had done this thing what would have been the attitude that they (the Radicals) would have assumed? They would have condemned such a thing as wrong, and they would have said, and with immense force, to the then Government, "You may wish to spend British money, and expend British lives in Uganda, but if you have got millions to spare, and time at your command, we would ask you to use those millions first for the good of our own country." As a Radical he should hold himself for ever disgraced if, on a matter like this—when he lived in a country which called itself Christian, but in which, at this time, millions of people were living under shameful and insanitary conditions, and which yet permitted hundreds of poor men and women to die in the workhouse wearing pauper garb—the Government should come and say they would expend these millions of money, annex a territory in Central Africa, where they were not wanted, separated by 700 miles of desert through which they would have to build a railway, he did not at once protest. If that Government came to him and proposed such a wild scheme as that, he would have said to them, "Your business is first at home, and if you have got millions to spare spend them here." The Prime Minister said there was nothing in the intentions of the Govern- 560 ment which implied that they had decided to establish a protectorate in Uganda, nothing to show they intended to annex that territory, and they would decide in the matter when Sir Gerald Portal reported. But he would humbly suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that in sending an armed force there under an able man like Sir Gerald Portal, with full powers to organise and control the country he had already decided, he need not wait for Sir Gerald Portal's Report, because they knew very well what it would be. He would put another point to the right hon. Gentleman. Now that that force had gone, now that Sir Gerald Portal was probably at this moment in Uganda, what would happen? Was the Prime Minister quite sure all would go smoothly? Would he and his Colleagues not remember what happened in the last Parliament in the Soudan? The right hon. Gentleman sent there General Gordon, who was to work wonders, and in so sending General Gordon he was pushed on from day to day and hour to hour by the Party opposite. But things did not then go smoothly in the Soudan. The Soudanese proved intractable, took up arms, and attacked General Gordon, and what was the consequence? Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite said the honour and credit of England were bound up in this, and that we must have an expedition. An expedition was sent. [Hon. MEMBERS: Too late.] Yes; it reflected credit on the bravery of the British soldiers, although not, perhaps, much on the foresight of British Generals and the British Government. They shed the blood of thousands of men there and near Suakim, and what was the final issue? After all had been done, when Gordon lay in his grave and the British standard had been withdrawn from the Soudan, with the exception of Suakim, there was the bill to pay. And when the Government of the day, with the Member for Midlothian at the head, came down to that House and asked for the money to pay for this proceeding which the Tory Party had urged them to take, the Tory Party, one and all of them, voted against the finding of the money, and as some of the Radical Members also felt they ought not to vote for that money, the result was the Government went out of Office. He ventured to warn right hon. Gentle- 561 men on the front Ministerial Bench that they were preparing some such fate for themselves. Of course hon. Gentlemen opposite would urge them on. They had them on the ice, and it would not be their fault if they did not push them on until the ice broke and brought them to ruin. When the House came to vote, even if it should destroy the Government, much as his (Mr. Storey's) heart was bound up in it, he should say to Her Majesty's Ministers, "You have sown the wind, you must reap the whirlwind." He should say to them, "You have undertaken responsibilities abroad which I will never assist you to pay for." When that time came he should vote against the payment of this money even if he wont into the Lobby by himself. The view of foreign policy held by the right hon. Gentleman was not his (Mr. Storey's); it was not the view of many on the Liberal Benches; it was not the view of hundreds of thousands of intelligent people in the country. They might be right or they might be wrong, but their view of the present position of England in the world was that its Empire was large enough, that its responsibilities were grave enough, and they were not prepared to extend these responsibilities or enlarge that Empire. They believed that all the power they had, and all the time at the disposal of the House and all the money the State could command, should be used to redress the evils that existed at home, and never until these evils had been redressed, and until England had been made strong by filling her with a happy, comfortable, and industrious people, would they be willing to extend their eyes and thoughts and arms over the world to add to the great Empire the country already possessed. As for the missionaries he respected them, and if like Peter and Paul they went out with their lives in their hands to preach the gospel they would find reverence hero and doubtless their gain hereafter. But to say that the lives and properties of British missionaries were to be defended by soldiers and Maxim guns was a disgrace to British Christianity. The missionaries aimed at a great object, and he cordially sympathised with it, but he would invite them to do just as the great missionaries in the past had done—take the chance that came to them. The hon. Member 562 for Northampton might not have a large following on this occasion. What would it matter!He was base who dare not be,In the right with two or three.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
said, they were in possession of the views of the hon. Member for Sunderland and the hon. Member for Northampton, and the question arose to his mind whether, this being the third time that the subject of Uganda had come up in Debate in the House, it would not be better to decide once for all who was to win the tug-of-war between hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite and the Opposition acting in alliance with Lord Rosebery. There was a battle going on between those who said that they were the true Radicals and the Opposition in order to capture the opinion of Her Majesty's Government. So far both parties to the contest had met with but little success. The tendency to oscillation on the part of Her Majesty's Government had been noticed this afternoon —they had never had a more striking example of it than in the speech just delivered by the Prime Minister. On a certain Friday the hon. Member for Northampton delivered a speech alike in tone, and furnished with the same arguments, as those he had delivered this afternoon. What was the result? The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister delivered a speech the exact parallel of that he had made this afternoon. It was the turn of the hon. Member for Northampton to push the Government on that Friday—it was the turn of the Opposition to push it to-day. And what were the forces the Government could command in the opposite direction —for it was clear from a survey of their position that the Government had no proper momentum and no direction of their own on the question of whether Uganda should be retained or evacuated. The Prime Minister had confined his assurances to the statement that Sir Gerald Portal had gone to Uganda in a double capacity—as the High Commissioner of the British sphere of influence, and as the candid friend of the King and all parties concerned who were afterwards to supply the Government with information. The Prime Minister laid stress chiefly on Sir Gerald Portal's 563 capacity as High Commissioner of the British sphere of influence. But the value of that capacity depended entirely on the interpretation which Her Majesty's Ministers placed on the phrase "Sphere of influence." What was the "sphere of influence?" The hon. Member for Northampton probably held that it was that part of the world painted big on the Tory electoral maps, but the Foreign Secretary the other night held that it was a claim pegged out for the needs of future generations of Englishmen. But what meaning did Her Majesty's Government attach to this "sphere of influence" —for it was that which must guide the judgment of the House as to the value to be placed on Sir Gerald Portal's position. It was only on the 3rd March, 1892, that the Prime Minister uttered words significant of the meaning the Government attached to the phrase. The right hon. Gentleman said—What is this sphere of influence? What right does this sphere of influence invest you with? Does it invest you with a juridical title to go into the country with several hundreds of men?The Government, therefore, attached no importance to this term "sphere of influence," and if doubt existed as to its meaning, far from giving precision to the nature and emphasis to the effects of Sir Gerald Portal's mission, it plunged the whole policy of the Government into deeper gloom. The fact was that, though on this Vote they had a perfect right to discuss the whole policy of the Government with reference to Uganda, their difficulty was that during the last two years they had been endeavouring to discuss the policy of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and that hitherto their researches had been wholly futile and in vain. They wished to know not what the Government would do supposing they met with great difficulties, but what conception they had formed in their own mind of the kind of part which this country ought to play in Uganda. The hon. Member for Northampton said the other day that our obligations and duties in Uganda were no greater than our obligations and duties in Kamtchatka, and, in reply, the Prime Minister had said that he was unable to go quite so far in that direction. Was it possible to allow the question to rest there without demanding of the Government a more explicit statement of their 564 views? The attitude of the late Government had been accurately described. They were in favour of the construction of a railway from Mombasa to the Victoria Nyanza. They recognised that the Brussels Act had placed new obligations on them in connection with the Slave Trade. They recognised that there were conditions in these territories which one day would amply repay us for the undertaking. What was the position of the Government? The Instructions given to Sir Gerald Portal were so vague in their terms that it was impossible to judge of the intentions of the Government with any approach to accuracy. All that was known was that at the present moment there was a handful of Englishmen in Uganda and a few British flags floating over conspicuous sites. They knew that the presence of those Englishmen and the display of those flags were keeping off civil war and foreign invasion. They knew that one day's doubt as to the continuance of our occupation would bring all those evils of civil war and invasion upon that land, would overwhelm it. in desolation, and would waste all the money and energy which had hitherto been expended there by Englishmen. With those facts known to every Member in the House, they were asked to find solace and comfort in the Instructions issued to Sir Gerald Portal. Now, was this a tolerable burden to have been placed on the shoulders of the Representatives of the Queen. In paragraph 5 of the Instructions Sir Gerald Portal was told—You will impress upon the King that, in following the advice which you may give him, he will best be proving the sincerity of the assurances given by him and his chiefs in their letter to the Queen of the 17th of June, and that your mission cannot fail to satisfy him of the interest which is taken by the British Government in the country.Therefore, Sir Gerald Portal, who was not to occupy the country, who was not to guarantee the Treaty the King had entered into, was to use the King's own letter as an engine for making him discharge his duties. In his letter to the Sovereign of this country, dated June 17, 1892, King Mwanga said—Now, I earnestly beseech you to help me; do not recall the Company from my country. I and my chiefs are under the English flag, as the people of India are under your flag; we desire very, very much that the English should 565 arrange this country; should you recall these agents of the Company, my friend, my country is sure to be ruined, war is sure to come.Those words must touch every English-man with any sense of honour, and he held that Her Majesty's Government was guilty of meanness which was almost incredible in sending a representative of the Queen, to quote his own letter to the King, without empowering that representative to guarantee the Treaty which the King had made with the Company. Passing to paragraph 7 of the instructions, they were informed that in the eyes of Her Majesty's Government the greatest doubt overshadowed the Treaties which had been made under the Charter of the Company. It was said—The Company has of late concluded a great number of Treaties with native chiefs. including one of perpetual friendship with Mwanga, which last, however, has not been ratified by the Secretary of State. There are many others—83 in all—which have been so approved.Lord Rosebery further said—Whether an approval of this kind can be held in any way, directly or indirectly, to bind Her Majesty's Government is a moot point.Now, the Prime Minister had laid great stress upon his lack of information and the necessity for sending British agents to inquire and supply him and his colleagues with data on which to act. But, with all respect, he (Mr. Wyndham) would ask whether Sir Gerald Portal was better able than Lord Rosebery to determine whether the Treaties were binding or not, and whether East Africa was a more convenient place in which to arrive at a decision than Downing Street? One would suppose that this Treaty was lost or buried in some desert place, and that Sir Gerald Portal had been sent to discover it. In paragraph 8 Lord Rosebery wrote—A mission to Central Africa cannot, of course, be conducted according to ordinary precedent.It was hardly necessary to add this. If they wished for a precedent the only one he was afraid they would be able to find was the one referred to by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Storey)—namely, that of Gordon and the Soudan. It appeared to the Opposition that the real object of Sir Gerald Portal's mission was to cause delay. It conveyed nothing to their minds as to the intentions of the Government, and the question which, if possible, 566 he should like to have answered was as to whether it was the policy of Her Majesty's Government to get out of Uganda if they could or to stay there. That seemed to him to cover the ground. All the speeches of the Prime Minister on this subject had been directed to show that even if they wished to get out of Uganda they could not succeed in effecting their escape, but that if they wanted to stay there they would find impossibilities crossing and barring their path. Surely, however, before they voted this money they were entitled to know from the Government which of these two policies they were desirous of pursuing. There was a distinct change of opinion in the House. There were those who believed that in Uganda they had obligations to fulfil and duties to discharge imposed upon them by the Brussels Act—that it was necessary to construct railways and administer the country, and to act on parallel lines with other countries in the endeavour to suppress the Slave Trade. Another view possible, no doubt, and the right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Dilke) had, in a very able manner, placed it before the country in a letter he had written the other day. But what view did the Government take? Last year the Government repudiated any obligation to construct a railway or to take any steps within the sphere of influence in order to deal with the Slave Trade. Was that their view now? Could anyone who had listened to the Prime Minister say confidently that was their view now? Then there was the same change of opinion as to the contingent benefits to be derived from remaining in Uganda. There were those who held that, whether from a commercial or Imperial point of view, they had nothing to gain by occupying Uganda. The hon. Member for Northampton and the right hon. Baronet held that there were no products they could receive from Uganda in exchange for their wares. That was, no doubt, true at the present time. But civilisation and population and productions grew; and there were evidences in Uganda that it had a teeming soil, and that its population even now was large and increasing, so that that part of the world they found suitable for pegging out those claims which Lord Rosebery was so anxious to see pegged out in Africa. Turning from commercial to 567 Imperial benefits, they knew the view of the hon. Member for Northampton, but he (Mr. Wyndham) and his friends held Uganda to be the key to that civilized Africa which, sooner or later, must exist—sooner, if they did their duty, later if they neglected it. That view was shared by the present Foreign Secretary, who had said that it was the key of Central Africa commanding the Nile basin. Of course, it was not the view of the hon. Member for Northampton. What it was necessary to know was how far the Government were prepared to go in this matter. There were some people in favour of evacuation, but there was a large body of public opinion in favour of the continued occupation of Uganda. He (Mr. Wyndham) and his friends based their action upon that feeling, and they demanded information as to what line of policy this Government had made up their minds to pursue.
§ Mr. William Allen rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. H. W. PAUL (Edinburgh, S.)
said, the hon. Member for Dover in his able and eloquent speech put an epigrammatic question to the Government. The hon. Member asked them whether their object in sending Sir Gerald Portal to Uganda was to ascertain whether they could get out or whether they ought to stay on.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. PAUL
admitted the felicity of the epigram, but denied the force of the dilemma, for the answer on behalf of the Government might very well be both. They had sent a distinguished gentleman on a mission of inquiry and examination. The Leader of the Opposition contended boldly that the Government, by the very fact of sending out Sir Gerald Portal, had committed themselves to a policy of retaining control over Uganda. He would like to know how far the right hon. Gentleman would be prepared to carry that doctrine. Supposing that Sir 568 Gerald Portal were to answer all the questions in regard to the utility of Uganda in the negative, he would like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman would contend that even in that case the Government were still bound, by the mere fact of having sent him out, to act in entire contradiction of the Report of their own Commissioner. The Leader of the Opposition commented with a sort of genial malice upon the difference of opinion which he observed on the Liberal side of the House. He (Mr. Paul) hoped the time would never come when such differences would not exist. His hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, in the course of his second philippic, expressed a wish not to endanger the position of the Government. He (Mr. Paul) did not think the Government need have been in much alarm, because he had observed that however strong might have been the righteous indignation with which his hon. Friend rose to address the House, however zealous and determined he might be at the outset of his remarks to execute judgment upon some offender who had come within the scope of his wrath, his good nature always prevailed as his speech proceeded, and he sat down a perfect specimen of the man who would not hurt a fly. There was one doctrine enunciated by his hon. Friend to-night against which he felt bound to make a humble protest. The hon. Member said the one duty of a Minister was to carry out the principles of his followers, and that the one duty of a Member of Parliament was to obey the orders of his constituents. He (Mr. Paul) ventured as a Liberal, aye, and as a Radical, to protest against both these doctrines. A Minister was a creature of this House, but while he was in Office he owed to this House and to the country the duty of giving them the benefit of his independent judgment. He (Mr. Paul) ventured to say also that while he held himself bound to fulfil every pledge which he gave to his constituents, and while he considered it his duty, so far as he could, to represent their views, yet he believed he would not earn their respect, but incur the contempt of those who sent him there, if he did not give them the benefit on any question which might arise of the best opinion which, with his imperfect lights and the materials before him, he was enabled to form. 569 The hon. Member for Northampton de-scribed the present Secretary for Foreign Affairs as a Jingo. He (Mr. Paul) thought the evidence for that assertion was imperfect. He understood by a Jingo a person who expressed vulgar and ostentatious and aggressive views about the rights of other countries. He thought that strongly objectionable form of sentiment perished in the year 1880. When they asked themselves how they came into this part of Africa, they were entitled to turn to the authoritative explanations which were given by Lord Salisbury. Lord Salisbury explained at the Mansion House the policy of his Government in these matters. He had been entertained by the Lord Mayor, and he certainly was entertaining in return. Much as they admired Lord Salisbury as the head and representative of a great and historic cause, there were some, and he was one of them, who admired him even more when he emancipated himself from the restrictions of Parties and examined public questions in the dry light of a cold, critical, and sarcastic judgment. In such a light, on the occasion to which he referred, Lord Salisbury examined the scramble for Africa. He explained that he had been engaged with foreign statesmen in apportioning large parts of the Dark Continent. These parts of the world, he explained, did not belong to us or to the other parties to the negotiation. They belonged to totally different people, but that constituted no difficulty whatever. The only difficulty arose when it was found that even with the existence of such maps as the Foreign Office could secure it was impossible to discover exactly where these places were. Did Lord Salisbury say Uganda was the pearl of Africa? Did he say it was the brightest jewel of the British Crown? Certainly not. He said nothing of the sort. The only reason he gave why these spheres of influence were created was that if they were not, some obscure quarrel in some unknown corner of Africa might involve this country in a European war. That he (Mr. Paul) thought was a sensible policy, and one with which it was difficult to find fault. But had that been adopted? It became the duty of the Liberal Government to consider the consequences to which it led. He confessed that in dealing with this question he was notable to scale the heights of heroic enthu- 570 siasm. In spite of the eloquent speech with which Lord Rosebery thrilled the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel at the Foreign Office, he had certainly to admit that Uganda did not recall to him either the literature of ancient Greece or the politics of ancient Rome. He regarded the question first as one of duty, and, secondly, as one of business. But apart from questions of policy, there were obligations which when entered into by a Government were binding upon their successors. The hon. Member for Dover talked about Treaties. It was not a question of one Treaty. There were numerous Treaties entered into with the Chief in Uganda, he admitted by the Company, but countersigned, he believed in every case, by Lord Salisbury. It was impossible to cut themselves off. Whatever they might think of the original policy of interfering in their matters, for the consequences of such deliberate action as that moral continuity as applied to the question of Uganda seems to him to be beset with another difficulty. Before they could continue a policy they must know what the policy was, and speaking in the presence of the late Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs he said fearlessly that so far as Uganda was concerned there was no evidence that the late Government had any policy at all. It was true that they applied to the House for money for a survey which might ultimately have resulted in a railway being made from Mombasa to Victoria Nyanza. But what they had of late been told with considerable force was that if Uganda were even for a few weeks left to itself there might be a massacre or a series of massacres. He would like to know how many massacres might have been committed in Uganda while this railway across a mountain chain 700 miles in length was being laboriously constructed. There was no policy that the present Government could continue, but there were obligations and duties which the present Government had to discharge. The Government were confronted with two sets of critics—those who said that the Government ought to have disregarded what their predecessors had done, and to have left Uganda altogether alone, and those represented by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, who said that there was no case for inquiry at all, and that we did not want 571 to know anything more about Uganda. The right hon. Gentleman, indeed, never wanted to know anything, because he always knew everything, but inferior mortals who had not been to Uganda, and who wore somewhat perplexed by the contradictory reports which they read, were anxious, and he thought it was their duty to be anxious, for some definite statement upon which they could rely as to the nature and the capacities of this country for which England had become in some degree responsible. They had of course the Despatches of Captain Lugard, and most interesting Despatches they were. He, did think anybody could read them without acquiring the very highest possible opinion, not only of the remarkable ability, but of the striking originality of Captain Lugard. Captain Lugard was very naturally and properly an enthusiast. He had been accused of extorting a Treaty at the point of the bayonet. Well, he (Mr. Paul) was afraid that Treaties with savage chiefs, of which this country had made so many, were often made by the agency of the bayonet or a bottle of rum, and he thought the bayonet, especially if it were not used, was by far the least deadly of the two. Against the allegation of violence having been used they had the letter of Mwanga to Her Majesty asking for help to set his country free. He thought Lord Rosebery acted very wisely in dispensing with the future cooperation of the Company. He did not wish to say a single word against the objects of the Company, or against the way in which those objects were carried out; he did not doubt for one moment their philanthropic intentions, but he did hold that the sovereignty with a limited liability was a very dangerous policy. Whatever might be the result of Sir Gerald Portal's mission, it was not safe or right that this country should be represented by the agents of a commercial undertaking, however honestly it might be conducted, or however high might be the character of the agents who represented it. The hon. Member for Sunderland had asked if we were going to war for the missionaries. He would answer most emphatically, no. The missionaries were amongst the heroes of this country, and were men of whom Englishmen, and more especially Scotchmen, were justly proud, and he thought they ought to be 572 mentioned in the House with something better than a sneer, but he did not understand that they, or the Societies which they represented, had claimed that we should take up arms for them. They merely complained that if Uganda were without warning left to itself, and the protection extended to them were withdrawn, they would be in a worse position than if the Company had never interfered. He did not think Uganda was of any great commercial value, but they must look to the future and consider what might happen when the country was further developed and civilised. The country at present could only be approached on foot by a journey of three months from the coast, but it might be accessible ultimately from no less than four points —from Mombasa, by railway; by the Nile from Cairo, through the route of the Great Lake; from South Africa and the Cape; or from the Congo State. He was not prepared to admit we should never be allowed—as some hon. Members seemed to think—to approach it through German territory. Surely that was a strong doctrine to hold in view of our relations with the German Empire. He held that the Government would have incurred a liability, which no Government would have been justified in incurring, if they had, without making any inquiry to ascertain which view of the conditions and possibilities of Uganda was the correct one, simply turned tail and marched out and left the people to take care of themselves. He held that the House should heed a solemn warning contained in the Despatches of Captain Lugard, whose opinion of the immediate consequences of our withdrawal from Uganda would be not only to put an end to the Protestant mission in that country, but the outbreak of a most desperate war of religion which would end probably in the establishment of a Mahommedan Slave-hunting Power, and in the absolute destruction of such civilization that the country now enjoyed. It was said that this country had placed itself in a dangerous position, and that it was not known what future liabilities might be incurred. He did not believe that their liabilities would in any way be increased, even if, as the result of this mission, some permanent control were retained over Uganda. What was spent in one way would be saved in respect of 573 the useless, slave-hunting squadron. It was foolish not to regard the consequences of a right, just, and necessary policy. There were moral and other duties which they must discharge. There was the plighted word of this country, by which they must abide. He hoped that, whatever Government might be in power, this country would always fulfil her promises, protect her interests, and discharge her obligations, let the consequences be what they might.
MR. ABEL SMITH (Herts, E.)
said, that the hon. Member for Sunderland had stated he would have had more admiration for the missionaries in Uganda if they had not put themselves under the protection of the East Africa Company. But the missionaries of the Church Missionary Society had gone to Uganda 16 years ago without such protection. They had gone there at the peril of their lives, and a great number of them, including Hannington, and Mackay, and others, for whose memory they had all the greatest respect, had laid down their lives for the cause they preached. The British East Africa Company went to Uganda under Royal Charter, and it was no fault of the missionaries that they came under the protection of the Company. What was to be the duty of this country for the future in regard to Uganda? They owed a responsibility to the King and the people of Uganda, who, ignorant savages that they were, could not distinguish between the Chartered Company and the Imperial Government. He maintained, with the hon. Member for South Edinburgh, that the word of England had been plighted, and they could not withdraw from their responsibilities, but must go on and protect the people in Uganda. They had heard from the highest authority— Captain Williams, who was in charge of the country now—that if the English troops were withdrawn anarchy would again reign in the country, and the good work which had been done there in the way of Christianising and civilising the country would be utterly destroyed. The cost of maintaining the country was only £40,000 a year, and Captain Williams had declared that with economy that sum might be reduced. He, therefore, most cordially supported the Motion before the House.
§ MR. ROBERT T. REID (Dumfries, &c.)
said, he had great respect for the opinion of the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, and he felt certain that in the views he had urged upon the Committee, in the interest of supporting the missionary enterprise, he was only advocating what he had advocated elsewhere. But that was not by any means always the case with others who had put forward the missionary enterprise, and the protection of missionaries, as the ground for supporting as aggressive territorial policy. He felt that the Government had had very grave difficulties to contend with. He did not think that the Government was responsible for the trouble into which this country had been involved in the matter of Uganda, and, therefore, he should not be disposed to quarrel with the decision they had arrived at if it were possible to defend it. Great pressure had been put upon them, and great pressure would be put upon them, and unless it was counteracted from the Ministerial side of the House, he was afraid that the country would be embarked on an undertaking, the limits of which no man could foresee. Those who supported the hon. Member for Northampton were not the worst friends of the Government, and he believed that the Government themselves, if they were not convinced already, would be convinced of that by the events that would take place within the next two or three years. He observed that the Prime Minister did not say a single word as to what point of duty, or what point of interest, it was that compelled them to send this expedition to Uganda; and he observed still more with regret that they had not heard from the right hon. Gentleman one single hint as to what was to be the future policy of the Government after Sir Gerald Portal had returned. It had been said that the policy of the Government was a policy of inquiry. He was not aware of what facts they required to be informed; they had information from many sources; they knew the French history of the question; they had Captain Lugard's Reports, and they had Captain Lugard's Reports amplified by his speeches in the country and his letters to The Times. They had also Captain Williams' Report, and they had access to 575 the mass of information gathered by travellers through the country. He, therefore, did not know what facts Sir Gerald Portal had to ascertain. It seemed to him that the policy which might be pursued in Uganda might be one of two policies. They might either use the strong hand and at once send the necessary forces for the purpose of maintaining our position in the country; they might resolutely adopt the forward policy advocated by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Though he did not agree with that policy, he admitted that there were some chances of its success. Then there was another policy—that was the policy of withdrawing from the position which in fact we do not now occupy, and of recognising that if we were to take that country it must be hereafter, when we were better situated for its occupation. That he believed to be the true and safe policy. He should gay that he did not observe from any Member of the Government—with the exception of Lord Rosebery, whose language outside the House seemed to be more or less repudiated by other Members of the Government—that there was any policy that the Government had resolutely adopted, or that they had any definite ideas on this subject. It was for that reason that he wished to say a few words in regard to the position in which hey now found themselves; he would do so in no sense of hostility towards the Members of the Government, but because he believed that if they on the Ministerial side of the House kept up a steady and constant pressure on their right hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench, they might induce them to rescue themselves from their unhappy position in Uganda. The proposed expedition to Uganda was a very hazardous one; it had to travel 600 or 700 miles from the coast through a country inhabited by a very large population, which was very warlike and addicted to massacre. When Mr. Stanley was there he saw the King at the head of his Army, consisting of 150,000 men, which was a very considerable force to deal with. They knew the character of these men as far as fighting was concerned, because they had had already bitter experience of their warlike propensities. They were now sending out an expedition of about 230 native troops with four or five European 576 officers. When that expedition got out there they would be joined by about 1,000 Soudanese troops who were with Emin Pasha, and who were—according to the Papers presented to the House-— a set of ruffians who had been parading the country, and were little less than slave-raiders themselves. Assuming that the expedition would number about 1,200 men, and that these men remained faithful, how could it face that enormous population of whom Captain Lugard had said they possessed 6,000 rifles, and who had since been supplied largely with the same weapons from French sources. It was impossible to send out any reinforcements. They could not send across that fever-stricken morass more than 300 or 400 men at a time. He hoped it would not happen, but suppose there was a rising on the part of the population—who certainly did not desire our presence amongst them —the expedition would be exposed to danger and beyond the possibility of being rescued by reinforcements from home. That would be a disaster indeed; and if it happened it would be one into which they had gone with their eyes open. He would not object to this risk being undertaken if it was for any definite or necessary object. He would not object if it was necessary to send this force for the purpose of rescuing our own countrymen, numbering some eight or ten, and those who had thrown in their lot with us in order to enable them to evacuate the country. But there was no such necessity. These people could evacuate the country at any moment up till now. The only danger of their being unable to evacuate it was if we thus further provoked the hostility of the King and people of Uganda by a manifest intention of taking possession of the country and governing it for ourselves. Neither would he object to the expedition if it were sent merely for the purpose of establishing some nominal sovereignty in our sphere of influence without assuming the actual control of the country. But that did not seem to be the intention—if, indeed, one knew really what was the intention—of the Government. They had to look to the instructions given to the expedition to know what the intention of the Government was. The whole frame of the instructions contemplated the remaining and the retention of Sir Gerald Portal in 577 Uganda, not merely to advise the Government as to the condition of affairs in Uganda, but to set up a Government of the country, which would make it dishonourable or impossible for them to withdraw. In this connection they could not ignore Lord Rosebery's speeches. He was a great admirer of Lord Rosebery, but he thought that the Foreign Secretary had used utterances in and out of Parliament for the purpose of putting pressure on reluctant Colleagues to fall in with his scheme, which meant a first step towards the premature establishment of a great Empire in the Valley of the Nile, and up towards Uganda and the Lake District. He had to ask himself, therefore, whether this expedition was not a prelude to the assuming of the government of the country. They could not doubt that that was so, and he asked what did it mean? It meant, in the first place, the assuming of responsibilities towards Foreign Powers of which they already had some experience in the action of the French, who were putting forward claims for compensation for the lives lost and the mission houses destroyed. It meant something more. It meant that they must maintain internal order, which would be something new in Uganda. It meant that they must keep at bay the so-called religious parties, who called themselves Protestant or English, French or Catholic—and into whose calculations the idea of religion was the last thing that entered—who were always flying at each other's throats. They would have to keep these people down, and, at the same time, protect them against foreign invasion, to which they were constantly subjected, surrounded as they were by enemies. That would be by no means an easy matter. The hon. Member who spoke last talked of £40,000 a year for the occupation of the country, but that was preposterous. They would have to maintain a considerable force to which they could not readily send reinforcements. It would cost £200 a ton to send up supplies to Uganda. The country could not, therefore, be maintained at the cost of £40,000 a year. Under these circumstances, it was absolutely certain that if they were to occupy that territory they must have a better means of communication. He had not had the pleasure of hearing the whole of the speech of his hon. Friend the 578 Member for South Edinburgh, but he understood that the hon. Gentleman had suggested three alternative routes to the route afforded by the railway. One of the routes was through an almost impenetrable desert, 700 miles long, and occupied all the way by hostile tribes. Another route was to go through Egypt. But they must conquer the Soudan first. Another route was by the Cape of Good Hope, but that was at least 3,000 miles off. Was there ever such a mad-cap enterprise? If they were to occupy Uganda, the simple, the obvious, and the necessary course was to construct a railway. It was said that would cost £3,000,000. The Prime Minister was surprised that it would cost only £3,000,000. He wondered when the House would be liberal to even one-tenth that extent for the purpose of benefiting their own people, and not squander it in a land inhabited by savages. But they must not only build the railway, they must guard it. The railway would be laid through 600 or 700 miles of country inhabited by savages, who, when they wanted iron for the purposes of making their own weapons, would be certain to tear up the rails. It meant this: an immense initial outlay, a, constant annual outlay, a constant danger of warfare, and the establishment of a line of communication which was perfectly unprecedented in the history of British enterprise. He was not one of those who were opposed at all to the extension of the Empire; he was prepared to see the extension of the Empire with pleasure, provided it was done on the lines of common sense and prudence, but not otherwise. The whole history of the Colonial undertakings of this country was quite different to the course which was now proposed by Her Majesty's Government, or rather by the Opposition, and half endorsed by Her Majesty's Government at the present moment. All their previous Colonial enterprises had been undertaken in this way: that they had seized some point of vantage or some easily accessible territory, and had pushed their advances as their resources behind them enabled them to do, until at last they had consolidated a great Empire. If they had set about it in the style now adopted they would never have established a great Empire at all. He asked himself what equivalent 579 were they to get. It had been practically given up that there was any present equivalent at all. Hon. Gentlemen opposite said that there was no prospect of trade at present. He should think not. Mr. Joseph Thompson, a well-known authority, in the Contemporary Review last December, said he must reluctantly confess that from a purely commercial point of view Uganda was of but small value to them at present, and that as matters stood there were only two things which would pay to bring down to the coast—rubber and iron. Mr. Thompson proceeded—If a railway was established in Uganda, four or five trains per annum could take all the produce we could rely upon from Uganda; and one train a month, or, say, one per week, would be sufficient for the trade to Uganda.And he could imagine that that trade would mainly consist of blunderbusses, pistols, and rum, or ammunition, which would be required for the occupation of the country. With regard to this being a grand opening for colonisation, the same authority said—Captain Lugard has a theory which, if true, would make Uganda colonisable. I doubt the theory, though I am prepared to believe that medical science has discoveries in store which will make things possible that are the contrary now, discoveries that will rob Africa of half its terrors. In the meantime, however, we must consider Uganda not a place where homes can be formed and families reared.Notwithstanding all this, he admitted there might be some overwhelming duty incumbent on them, and, if so, he would not invite the Committee to disregard such a duty. But what were those duties? He observed that the Prime Minister said not one word about them. What was the theory they had with regard to missionaries? Everybody admitted that in the ordinary course, when missionaries went out to any territory they could not, and did not, expect their Government to send any material support to enable them to maintain their position. It was impossible that wherever missionaries, in pursuance of a sense of duty, chose to go, they should be followed by an armed expedition to save them from harm. That had never been advanced by any responsible statesman. But it was said there was something exceptional in this case. It was said that the East Africa Company had so unsettled the territories in Uganda that it 580 was necessary in the future to afford that protection which the missionaries did not claim in the past. He asserted that if in the course of public policy it was necessary to send an expedition to a country, and then it became desirable to withdraw from that territory, all they were bound to do was to give the missionaries a fair and full chance of leaving the country. They were not bound to keep up an occupation of that country, if it was against the public interest, merely in order to enable missionaries to carry out their duty. He entirely demurred to any argument as to Treaties with the blood-stained ruffian M'Wanga, and he could not understand that they should be invited to regard documents obtained from savages, partly by menace and partly by persuasion, as being of equal value with the great and solemn Instruments regulating the relations of European Powers. The first Treaty was extinct, and the second had never been ratified by Her Majesty's Government. There was, therefore, no obligation on them in regard to Treaties. It was said that it was necessary to send the expedition for the purpose of averting massacre. If they had produced discord, riot, and commotion, where previously there had been peace, he should say it would be a very mean and shabby thing on the part of the Government that, having caused anarchy, they should leave the people to their fate. But the facts were precisely the reverse. Captain Lugard himself, in a letter which he wrote to The Times, after the speech of the lion. Member for Northampton on the Address, made this statement—Uganda has been placed by international agreement within the sphere of British influence. For years it had been the theatre of war and revolutions, till half its area lay waste and half its population was dead. I was sent to endeavour to bring peace and order, and I found on arrival that not only was the war between Christians and Mahomedans still being waged with great barbarities, but the bitter rivalry between the Christian sects pointed to the imminence of a final quarrel between them, and a triangular internecine conflict, which would have ended in the practical extermination of the people of Uganda, and the probable triumph over all parties of Kabarega, of Unyoro, whose cruelties are the theme of all travellers in Africa.Captain Lugard, with a courage that he could not sufficiently admire, by expending some 300 or 400 lives, which he himself bitterly regretted, succeeded in 581 averting these disasters, and in putting an end to the wars which he told them had already reduced the population by one-half. The East Africa Company was extremely unwise and incredibly rash in going to Uganda, but the wrong which had been done was rather to this country than to Uganda. It was a case in which they had done good in Uganda, and had stayed bloodshed rather than created it, and what they were asked to do was to prolong their position in Uganda for the purpose of saving the people from their own murderous propensities. But the natives did not want them, and had never asked them, and would be only too glad to get rid of them. By whom had this country been constituted the police over the whole of Africa? It was said they were bound to stay in Uganda for the purpose of suppressing the Slave Trade. That was, no doubt, an argument sincerely put forward by many, but it was not sincerely put forward by the East Africa Company. Sir G. Portal's expedition was one which had numerous slaves in its ranks. The whole territory of the East Africa Company now was swarming with slaves. What hypocrisy would be charged against this country if, their real motive being financial greed and territorial aggrandisement, they put forward the sacred cause of slave emancipation, while at the same time their own territories were swarming with slaves, and were actually impressing these poor creatures in large numbers to carry Sir G. Portal himself on this expedition. [Sir J. FERGUSSON: Oh!] He was sure the right hon. Baronet did not deny that, Sir G. Portal's luggage, stores, &c, were being carried by native porters.
§ MR. R. T. REID
I am sure the right hon. Baronet will not deny that the persons are in fact slaves who are carrying the whole of the stores of Sir G. Portal up the country.
§ MR. R. T. REID
said, they were hired from their masters. There was no slave-raiding in Uganda; if they wanted 582 to deal with slave-raiding they would have to go further and further west in the district of the Congo Free State. In fact, the further west they went the further west would the slave raiders go, and they would be committed to a vast crusade all over Africa. That would be a noble purpose, and if the country was prepared with its eyes open to undertake it, he would not be one of the laggards; but it must be a purely philanthropic enterprise, and not one for founding a great African Empire. Those were the grounds upon which he was opposed, with his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, to the granting of this money. He had not spoken more strongly than gentlemen on the Government Bench spoke only two months ago, and knowing that they were the inheritors of evils which they did not create, he hoped that before long they would be again leading their followers instead of opposing them in the efforts they were making in this matter on behalf of the best interests of the country.
§ MR. R. C. JEBB (Cambridge University)
said, the Vote for Sir G. Portal's Mission could be defended on grounds independent of any resolve to retain Uganda. These grounds were indicated by the right hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on February 6th. They were two. If no provision for order after March 31st had been made, anarchy and bloodshed would probably have ensued. And such consequences would have prejudged the question; since then, if the ultimate decision were to retain Uganda, a large expeditionary force would have been required. Since, however, the question of retaining Uganda had been raised now—though it could not now be effectively discussed till Sir G. Portal's Report arrived—the main arguments for retention must be stated. The engagements made by them at the Brussels Conference of 1890 were not the less binding because they had acted in Uganda through a Chartered Company. The Brussels General Act, Chapter I., Article I., laid down the best means of repressing the Slave Trade. Among these were—The gradual establishment in the interior' by the responsible Power in each territory, of strongly occupied stations.583 Also—The construction of roads, and in particular of railways, connecting the advanced stations with the coast.By Chapter I., Article III., the Powers represented at Brussels pledged themselves to repress the Slave Trade, either by these means or by others. And then Article IV. said—The Powers exercising Sovereignty or Protectorate in Africa may, however, delegate to Chartered Companies all or a portion of the engagements which they assumed in virtue of Article III. They remain, nevertheless, directly responsible for the engagements which they contract by the present General Act, and guarantee the execution thereof.This obligation could not be avoided on the plea that it did not refer to spheres of influence. The Powers which might thus delegate their engagements were, indeed, described as those exercising Sovereignty or Protectorate; but there was not a word to show that the area in which the Chartered Company might operate must be that of a Sovereign State or Protectorate, and might not be a sphere of influence. On the other hand, the phrase in Article I., "The responsible Power in each territory," clearly included a sphere of influence. And, as Captain Lugard said in The Times of February 6, British "Chartered Companies exist only in British spheres of influence." He contended that having, under the Anglo-German Agreement of 1890, accepted a sphere of influence which included Uganda, England could not now escape from her engagement under the Brussels General Act, merely because she had employed a Chartered Company to represent her. But, further, Imperial responsibility for the acts of the Chartered Company was distinctly implied in the instructions given to Sir Gerald Portal by the late Government, after he was appointed Commissioner and Consul General in the British sphere. He referred to the instructions conveyed in the letter of Lord Salisbury under date of March 22, 1892. It was there pointed out that our sphere of influence comprised three divisions of territory, namely, the dominions of the Sultan of Zanzibar, now leased to the Company; the territory now administered by the Company under Royal Charter; and the territory not at present administered by the Company. In respect to the Company's 584 territory, the Commissioner was directed to see that any new agreements made by the Company should be submitted to him, to be forwarded to the Secretary of State for his consideration. But in the territory not administered by the Company— which was "liable to diminution in proportion to the extension of the Company's administration"—the Commissioner was himself authorized to make, subject to sanction, Treaties on the part of Her Majesty with Native Chiefs. Such Treaties would be direct Imperial engagements. And they were put on the same footing with Treaties made by the Company. It could not have been intended that the latter should be less valid than the former. Lord Rosebery, in his instructions to Sir G. Portal of December 10, 1892, referred to the fact that 83 Treaties made by the Company had been approved by the Secretary of State, and remarked—Whether an approval of this kind can be held in any way, directly or indirectly, to bind Her Majesty's Government is a moot point. There is no doubt of the liability of the Company, and of the fact that the Company, having concluded these Treaties, finds itself compelled to evacuate the country without making any endeavour to implement them. It is to be feared that this proceeding may have a prejudicial effect"—On what? Not on the good name of the Company merely, but—on the British good name in those regions.Could it, indeed, be otherwise, seeing that the Company acted under a Royal Charter, subject at every step to the sanction of the Secretary of State, and that among its agents were officers of the Queen, who received leave of absence for this special service? If we left Uganda it would not be the Company merely, it would be Great Britain, which, in the eyes of the natives and of the civilised world, would have withdrawn from its engagements. What was the importance of Uganda with reference to the repression of the Slave Trade, in which England was bound by the Brussels Act to assist? First, let them note, in passing, how matters stood as to the alleged use of slave-labour by the Company. That matter was placed in its true light by a letter in The Times (March 20) from a gentlemen (Mr. Frederick Holm-wood) who was for several years Consul 585 General at Zanzibar, and who can speak with authority. This letter said—It is true that a large proportion of the porters, guides, and guards of all expeditions from Zanzibar to the interior is, composed of slaves, in a technical sense. Whilst representing England at Zanzibar, I engaged, both for the Company, for Mr. Stanley, and for other travellers, more than 1,000 of such porters.These men are professional travellers whose livelihood is gained by such work, and the fact of their being slaves or otherwise has no bearing on their engagement, for no master can compel a slave to travel, and, practically, the moment he is outside the coast region he can desert and settle as a free man in the interior.But their position as confidential slaves of Arabs is too advantageous for them to lightly throw it up.I know personally more than 100 of such slaves, and have employed them as carriers and guides in the interior of Africa, and do not believe that 10 per cent. of them would accept freedom if offered to them. In cases where they pay to their owners a stipulated proportion of their wages, they do so voluntarily, and always retain for themselves much more than they could earn by ordinary work. In discussing this question with them over the camp tire, they always frankly acknowledged that the arrangement suited them, and that they received a very practical return for it in the shape of food, clothing, shelter, and freedom from anxiety when unable to obtain employment.So much on that point. They must, next, clearly distinguish between African domestic slavery and the African Slave Trade. Domestic slavery was an institution universal in Africa, and could be extinguished only gradually, by the progress of civilisation. Our present aim "was to stop slave-raiding and the slave traffic. It was true that slave-raiders did not now come into Uganda itself; though, on the other hand, there was evidence that, as late as the autumn of 1891, there was still some export of slaves out of Uganda. In a letter of October 4, 1891, Captain Williams said—It may interest you to know that a few days ago I got the King to issue orders against the sale of slaves across the borders.But our chief aim was to repress the Slave Trade in countries adjacent to Uganda. Holding that compact and central territory, we should be placed in touch with regions where the Slave Trade still flourished. First, there was the country West and North-West of Uganda, which had long been devastated 586 by slave-raiders from the borders of the Congo Free State. They came as far south as Miala, a little north-west of the Albert Edward Lake. Secondly, there was the country just east of Uganda. At Ketosh (on the proposed railway route) there had been slave-raiding in recent days. Thirdly, there was the country between Uganda and the East Coast. All trading caravans were potentially instruments of the Slave Trade. In this region they often captured women and children for the harems. Captain Lugard himself met and dispersed such a caravan. Thus Uganda was a central point of vital moment for the repression of the Slave Trade. The commercial importance of Uganda was described by Mr. II. M. Stanley when he spoke at Swansea on October 1, 1892. They must distinguish between what Uganda and the neighbouring districts could now yield, and what they could yield after a reasonable expenditure of time and labour. They could now furnish ivory, rubber, hides, copal and other gums, cocoanut and palm oils, nuts, seeds, and fibres. But the soil and climate was further suitable for growing cotton, rice, millet, corn, maize, indigo, fruit, coffee, rice, sugar, and (on the sloping uplands) tea. There was plenty of excellent pasturage. It was true that colonisation could not, so far as we yet know, be advised for British settlers, though experience showed that at least a prolonged residence and reasonable activity were possible for our race in the Highlands around the Victoria Lake. But native labour was available; and, as Mr. J. S. Keltie pointed out in his recent work on Africa, it was an error to suppose that African natives could not be trained to regular and even skilled labour. Hundreds of natives worked well for wages in the diamond and gold mines of South Africa. On the Blantyre Highlands south of Lake Nyassa—a district which Livingstone, on his last journey, found in a wretched condition, owing to slave-raiding and wars —Scottish missionaries and traders had brought thousands of acres under cultivation for coffee, and natives came from a distance to seek labour on the plantations. Many of them had been trained to various trades. As to the proposed railway, the Reports of Captain MacDonald and Captain Pringle showed that the length 587 from the east coast to Berkeley Bay at the north-east end of Lake Victoria would be about 660 miles. The estimated cost was £2,500,000, and it was believed that this would leave an ample margin. Alternative routes had been surveyed for every section of the line where a choice was open. No hostility had been met with. "Every where," said Captain Pringle (September 29, 1892), "we encountered friends and not foes, and no ammunition has been expended with any hostile intent." The railway would not only open commerce, but would kill the Slave Trade. The whole line appeared fairly easy, the difficulties being confined to a few points in the more westerly half. The first 300 miles from the coast might be made first, and after that animal transport could be organised to the Lake. As to the general importance of Uganda to British interests, it commands the chain of lakes to the south, and the Nile to the north. The value of this position would be enhanced if Mr. Cecil Rhodes carried out his project of extending the telegraph line from Mashonaland to Uganda, and thence north, so as to connect with the telegraph in Egypt. Mr. Stanley had pointed out that if we left Uganda some other Power, more appreciative of its strategic value, might come there. Mr. F. Holmwood, in his letter to The Times, emphasised this warning. He said—However others may deceive themselves as to the intentions of foreign Powers, those who know the situation practically cannot believe that if we quit Uganda—that is, if we give up command of the head waters of the Nile, some foreign Power will fail to find some excuse for occupying them. The sequel, as far as the Soudan is concerned, I may or may not have correctly forecast in my memo.; but what I wished to urge was that a civilised Power in possession of the Nile sources would be in a position to occupy the Soudan if at any moment she cared to incur a certain expenditure, and that there would be no means of preventing it. And it may be well plainly to state that the possession, by a civilised Power, of the head waters of the Nile even as far down as Lado, gives the possessor a virtual control over Egypt for all time; for should such a Power become involved in a war in which it might be to its interest to dictate its own terms at Cairo, it would not be necessary to occupy the country.By means of a few comparatively simple engineering works communicating with the vast expanse of low-lying country on the right bank of the Nile below the Albert Lake, the river could be deviated at any moment, with the result that the Lower Nile provinces of Egypt would in a few weeks become desert, unable even to support its own population.588 Already there had been an expedition from the Congo Free State through the north-west of our sphere to Lado on the Upper Nile. In his reply to the Anti-Slavery Society on October 20 last, Lord Rosebery justly described Uganda as—A country of great possibilities, as the key perhaps of Central Africa, and as commanding the Nile basin." "My belief is," he said, "that having put our hands to the plough in that great enterprise, we shall not be able, even if we were willing, to look back.As a great Power, Great Britain was bound, both by duty and by interest, to aid in civilising East Africa. Uganda was our opportunity, which, once lost, could never be recovered. Uganda was also of vital importance for our prospective influence in the Nile Valley. It also afforded an opening for new markets and for the extension of our trade. The existence of social problems was not a reason against, but was one of the strongest reasons for, retaining Uganda. We must think not merely of our own day, but of the future, and of the destinies of our Empire.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
said the hon. Member who had last spoken had given some interesting information that did not, however, really touch the point before the Committee. The question before them was simply this—whether they should pass what was practically a Vote of Censure. That was really the point before the House, and as he was about to separate himself so far as his vote was concerned that evening from hon. Members with whom he usually worked, and with whose views on this question he to a very large extent agreed, he wished in a few words to explain the reasons which actuated him in taking such a course. The hon. Member for Dumfries in the admirably argued and most weighty speech he had addressed to them had put many parts of the question very fairly to the House. All unconsciously to himself he had given one reason at least why inquiry was absolutely necessary before any further step was necessary. He had admitted that certain consequences had followed upon the entry of Englishmen—even of the East Africa Company—into Uganda. Amongst other things he said we had stayed massacre in Uganda. Was that 589 true? If it was true surely we ought to make some inquiry as to how that state of peace was to be maintained after our departure, and whether massacre was likely to occur again after we had left. He agreed that the Company had engaged in an impossible undertaking when they went to Uganda. They had not the means to do their duty by the country. They were on the point of bankruptcy and they ought never to have gone. A great deal had been said in praise of Captain Lugard. He should be the last to avail himself of an opportunity in the House of belittling a brave man; but much as the private and individual qualities of Captain Lugard might be considered admirable, he thought his policy was absolutely abominable and most reprehensible. It was policy like that which brought our country into disgrace all over the world. In dealing with this matter the last Government had nothing whatever but a policy of drift, and in August last they handed over Uganda in a state of confusion to the succeeding Government. They did not even know what was going on in Uganda. What were the present Government to do? Were they, without any further inquiry, to retire and shake off all responsibility? They had not information sufficient to justify them in taking such a course. They had to consider the unsettled claims of France, and if they were to negotiate with France they must get more information for these claims were unsettled still. If they had gone out, from the country hastily and unthinkingly, fresh disturbances would almost certainly have arisen, and additional claims would have been made against us. He, therefore, held that the Government could not possibly have taken any other course than that which they did in authorising inquiries to be made by a. gentleman in whom they could place confidence. With regard to the missionaries be thought the hon. Member for Dumfries had put the case very well when he urged that the missionaries ought to go out on their own responsibility; if they were disturbed in the midst of their labours by filibustering companies and prancing pro-Consuls, they ought to be protected. It was Said, "Give them a safe retreat," but that was not the view he took of the matter. These missionaries had devoted their lives to the salvation of men; they 590 were working for the glory of God, and what consolation would it be to them to be taken away, even if safely taken away, from Uganda. Having allowed filibustering companies to go into Uganda they were bound to see that after they left the work of the missionaries was likely to be continued, and carried on with success. Besides, no Government could take Office in this country without paying a good deal of respect to public opinion. If a Government came into Office charged with one supreme mission it often happened that on many subsidiary points they had to yield to public opinion in order that they might carry out the greatest duty with which they were charged. He held that to be a very proper principle. Apparently the hon. Member for Northampton would overthrow the most beneficent Government they had known in this country for a long time on any side issue when they did not happen to agree with him. He hoped the Government would be able to make such arrangements as would enable them to retire from Uganda, but if in the end they found it impossible to retire, if they found it necessary to retain a force in this territory, he should hold that it was not their fault; they would not be responsible. With right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite would rest the entire responsibility for all the bloodshed and all the misery that had been or might be suffered in Uganda. So far as he was concerned, whilst the supreme task of the Government was undischarged, and a country nearer home remained in a state of slavery, he should give no vote which would weaken them in the slightest degree.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
The discussion, opened by the hon. Member for Northampton, and carried on by the hon. Member for Sunderland, has been an extremely interesting and an extremely important one, and many questions of serious gravity have been raised in the course of the Debate. I confess that when I listened to my two hon. Friends I thought that their primary object was to show to the Committee the difference between Liberals in Office and Liberals out of Office—between Liberals above the Gangway and Liberals below the Gangway; and I certainly think they 591 proved that while Liberals above the Gangway are extremely latitudinarian in their acceptance of Liberal principles, Liberals below the Gangway remain rigidly sectarian as long at all events as there is no prospect of their being transferred to the Bench above the Gangway. Well, Sir, that is no doubt an extremely interesting question, but it is one on which, I think, a stranger, an outsider like myself, who has been excommunicated from the congregation has really very little right to offer an opinion. I do not like to interfere in domestic squabbles. I know the proverb which says it is wrong to put your finger between the bark and the tree, and therefore I shall leave my hon. Friends to settle this private question with my right hon. Friends upon the Government Bench. But there is another issue that has been raised which perhaps has a greater, a more general, and even a national interest, and it was put, to my mind, extremely well by my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland. He said that he as a Radical—I may perhaps in passing say that there are Radicals and Radicals, and that although I fully admit his claim to be a Radical, I hope he will admit that there are other Radicals who do not hold altogether his opinions—he said he as a Radical was opposed to the expansion of the Empire, and that he would not spend one penny for any such object so long as there are poor and distressed and destitute persons at home on whom the money which could be afforded by the State might be expended with great advantage. That is a very important statement, and I should like to know how far it is likely to meet with general concurrence. I wonder in the first place how far my hon. Friend's economy will carry him? Take, for instance, one of the subjects we have been discussing tonight. We are spending at the present time £200,000 a year, which might be spent on the poor and destitute for whom my hon. Friend claims consideration in endeavouring to put down the Slave Trade. Well, Sir, is my hon. Friend prepared to move that that expenditure should cease?
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
No; but my hon. Friend made two statements. 592 He said, in the first place, that he was opposed to the expansion of the Empire-That may stand by itself. But he said, also, that he was opposed especially to the expenditure of money, which might be laid out for the advantage of persons at home who are poor and destitute; and the inference, which I am perfectly certain—and I am speaking in the recollection of the Committee — everyone who heard him would draw from his observations, was that, so long as there were poor and destitute persons in the United Kingdom, they had the first claim upon our consideration. Then I ask him whether, for himself and those whom he professes to represent, he considers that the £200,000 a year, now spent in order to prevent and put down the Slave Trade, might be better spent on the poor and destitute at home?
§ MR. STOREY
I do not wish to interrupt my right hon. Friend. My argument was precise. I was raising the question of an expenditure on the movements in Uganda, and I said that I was not prepared to spend money on these wild expeditions for expanding the Empire in Africa or elsewhere, so long as so much was needed at home. I adhere to that. If I had the choice to-morrow as to whether I would spend £200,000 on improving the slums of London or in endeavouring to put an end to the Slave Trade, I would expend it on the slums. But I submit that that question does not arise here.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I am much obliged to my hon. Friend, who has confirmed my suspicion. He would to-morrow prefer to devote the £200,000 a year which this country spends in endeavouring to put down the Slave Trade on the improvement of the position of persons in the slums. I am not saying for a moment that that is not an agreeable contention. All I say is that when we are dealing with this question of economy it raises a vast variety of questions, and I am curious to know how far my hon. Friend is consistent. We have it that the hon. Member thinks the hereditary duty and responsibility which this country has taken on itself in regard to the Slave Trade of less importance than the new duty which he foresees in 593 the future of dealing with the slums. I am tempted by his answer to ask him how far he reconciles this intense sympathy for the poor with the vote which it is understood he will give on Friday night to spend £300,000 a year in paying Members of Parliament, who do not live in slums, and who do not want to be paid. I say this discussion has raised many questions of very considerable-interest and importance. But I must put another question to my hon. Friend. I put it to him rhetorically, and I ask it because I think he is the best representative we have had this evening of a view consistent, arguable, and well worthy of serious consideration. He is opposed to expansion of the Empire and to any expense, on the ground, as I understand, that we have enough to do at home. Now, suppose this view which he puts before the Committee, and which I suppose will not be accepted even to-day by the majority of the Committee, had been put 50 or 100 years ago, and suppose it had been accepted by the Parliament of that day, I ask myself what would now be the position of this country, what would be the position of persons in the slums for whom my hon. Friend has so much sympathy and feeling? Does my hon. Friend believe, if it were not for the gigantic foreign trade that has been created by the policy of expansion, that we could subsist in this country in any kind of way—I do not say in luxury, but in the condition in which at present a great part of our population live? Does he think that, we could support 40,000,000 of people in these small islands? Is it not the fact that the great proportion of the 40,000,000 people of this country earns its livelihood by the trade brought to the country in consequence of the action of our ancestors 50 or 100 years ago who did not shrink from making sacrifices, and who were not ashamed—if I may borrow the expression which has been referred to more than once to-night—to peg our claims for posterity? We are the posterity who enjoy the result of that policy; and are we to be meaner and more selfish than those who preceded us? Are we to do nothing for those who come after us? Are we to sacrifice that which those who went before have gained for us? Why, if this idea of closing all the doors through which all new trade is to come to us is to 594 be accepted by this House, we must adopt some moans or other by which our population can be kept stationary. And I venture to say that when our ancestors pegged out claims for us, as they did in many parts of the world, they were not at the time more promising than the claims which are now under consideration. Well, what is it we are asked to do to-night? This is not a question of Uganda only; but we are asked to reverse the whole policy of this country —a policy undertaken, I believe, with the consent of the vast majority of the people of this country. We are asked to give up all the advantages which have been secured by the surrender of Heligoland, and by the Treaties and arrangements made with foreign Powers. My hon. Friend does not take into account any advantages. At any rate, we have made sacrifices. We gave up territory with the full consent of the majority of our people in the belief that we were getting a quid pro quo. Parliament is now asked to sacrifice the quid qro pro which this country obtained. We are asked to give up all part and share in what has been called the partition of Africa. I am bound to do my hon. Friend this justice—to point out that he always speaks in the first person singular; therefore, I do not suppose that he claims to speak for more than himself. He will be in a minority in the House to-day. I believe he will be in a small minority in the House, and I believe that in the country he is in a still smaller minority. I believe that the people of this country have decided this matter in their minds, and have determined that they will take their full share in the disposition of these new lands and in the work of civilisation they have to carry out there. I think they are justified in that determination—justified by the spirit of the past, justified by that spirit which has shown that the spirit of travel and adventure and enterprise distinguishing the Anglo-Saxon race has made us peculiarly fit to carry out the work of colonisation. It is a curious fact, and one which I have never been able to explain, that of all the nations of the world we are the only one able to carry out this work without absolute cost to ourselves. Take, for instance, the case of France, which has been for a long time ruling in Algeria. Up to this 595 moment, although French rule there has been beneficent, Algeria costs to the French Exchequer large sums every year. The same is the case with regard to Tunis, and the German possessions with regard to Italy in Abyssinia, and also with the foreign possessions of Portugal. There is no other country in the world except Spain, in the early days of America and Holland up to comparatively recent times, which has been able permanently to carry out a policy of colonisation without imposing burdens on its subjects. I say that all these facts should lead us to be hopeful in undertaking this new work of colonisation, which does not differ in any respect from the work we have carried out successfully in the past. If we are not going to give up this mission—to use a word I do not much like, but it has been previously employed—let us look the matter courageously in the face, and be prepared, if need be, for sacrifice of life and money, which, in the first instance, we may have to make in order to carry it out. We have come to the point at which we do not consider life so sacred that it may not be sacrificed to save life. For my own part, I hold that, both in matters of life and money, we may sacrifice both, if we see before us a prospect of good and a satisfaction for the sacrifice we may make. The people of this country, in my opinion, have by large majorities declared that it is our duty to take our share in the work of civilisation in Africa. I do not believe they are at all prepared to sympathise with my hon. Friend below me. They know that an omelette cannot be made without breaking eggs, and I do not believe that they are prepared to count the cost. They think that in the long run any expenditure they may have incurred will prove to have been well expended. And now I leave the general question, and come to the particular question of my hon. Friend.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Well, my hon. Friend is pleased to hear this, but I would observe that, so far as he was concerned, I said nothing whatever about Uganda. His observations were directed to the general question of the expansion of the Empire. I come back to Africa, and I say, in the first place—and, after 596 all, I do not think that our divisions should make us indifferent to national honour—that our honour is pledged; and that whatever you may think about the matter, it is too late to go back. The Government are in a state of suspense. They are always in a state of suspense. That is the policy of the hon. Member for Sunderland. I respect the hon. Member for Sunderland for having a policy, which is perfectly intelligible, and which, as the Committee has seen, can be defended with energy and success. I have also a policy. I and those who agree with me believe in the expansion of the Empire, and we are not ashamed to confess that we have that feeling, and we are not at all troubled by accusations of Jingoism. We, I say, also have a policy, but the Government have no policy at all. My profound sympathy is with the Government, who are endeavouring once again to do what no Government has ever done with success—namely, to ride two horses and to promote two different policies at the same time. Here is my hon. Friend below me, the Member for Leicester, the great opportunist of the present Parliament. He has an excuse for the Government. I do not know whether the Government approve of their defender—he says that he approves of their policy of inquiry. This policy of inquiry! Who believes in it? Is there any man in this House who believes in it? It is a policy of postponement. The Government have plenty of information at their disposal; they know all they will know when Sir Gerald Portal has reported. But it is difficult to go against old friends; they did not want to come to a decision; it is better to appoint a Commission than to come to a decision. I wonder they did not send out a Judge of the High Court. But they have sent a "Commission of Inquiry" to Uganda, and, of course, the Commission cannot report until very late in the Session. Then, as my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester says, the one supreme ambition of the Government will have been accomplished, and then, perhaps, he will support them in attending a little to what he calls subsidiary questions. It is a most convenient doctrine which my hon. Friend, who is a leader amongst the new Radicals, has now taken up. He never 597 mentioned his new convictions in the time of the late Government. I never heard him explain then that the Government might have a supreme mission which would lead them to ignore all subsidiary questions. The only things he cared about then were the subsidiary questions. I do not accuse him of inconsistency; but it is delightful to note the growth of his mind. I was saying that in Uganda we cannot go back if we would. What have we done there? By a Charter we gave to a Company certain powers. Not only was the Company entrusted with discretion, but distinct and definite pressure was put upon it to go forward and to prevent other countries from coming in and taking possession of territories which were within the sphere of British influence. Rightly or wrongly, the Company yielded to the pressure of public opinion; they went forward in Uganda; they broke up such government as there was in Uganda. I am told the hon. Member for Dumfries has said, in an excellent and powerful speech, which I had not the advantage of hearing, that the normal condition there was one of massacre. But, of course, there was a Government there—such a Government as you may expect in those countries. But after all, suppose we have no business there whatever, and no responsibility, and never intend to take any, we had better have left those people to work out their own salvation for themselves, be it by massacre or in any other way. However, as a matter of fact we did not do so. We broke up the authority of those who were held to be chiefs and rulers in Uganda. We came in at a cost which, to my mind was trifling in comparison with the results achieved. We have secured for Uganda the pax Britannica which has been so beneficial in India. I heard the Prime Minister to-night—and I confess I was delighted to hear him—I heard him talk about the sad and deplorable occurrence in Uganda. I think he spoke of those occurrences as constituting massacre. There was no massacre at all. What existed in Uganda at that time were anarchy and civil war of the worst kind. If we had not been there thousands and perhaps hundreds of thousands of people would have been cruelly massacred; and after the victory of one party or the other 598 what remained of the minority would have been cruelly tortured to death. Captain Lugard was on the spot. Let me say in passing that I sometimes feel we do not do justice to our bravest and noblest citizens. Of Captain Lugard I know no more than any Member of the House may know—I know him only through reading his works. He was, I believe, an Indian officer who was sent to Uganda under the orders of the Company. He undertook a work of the highest responsibility and the greatest importance, and I say that anyone who reads his accounts impartially will agree with me to this extent, that he was, at all events, a man of extraordinary power and capacity, tact, discretion, and courage. Courage is a common virtue, but he has shown it in no common way, and he has exhibited a modesty which is beyond all praise. I say it is something for England, for the United Kingdom, to glory in that we can still boast such servants as these. I was saying that Captain Lugard was present in Uganda when this state of things arose. He took his measures, and as a matter of fact in all the confusion which followed, 400 lives at the outside—he himself puts the number at considerably less—were killed. It was deplorable, no doubt; but that sacrifice cheaply purchased the peace, the pacification, and temporary civilisation which followed; and at all events, long before now the people of that great country would have been at each others throats but for the presence of the English. You have taken this responsibility through the Company to whom you gave a Charter; you have never disavowed them; and now you cannot leave that country whatever it cost you. Even if, as the hon. Member for Northampton said, it cost you another expedition, you are bound at all costs to fulfil the obligations of this country to maintain the faith of this country to the people to whom it is pledged. What would happen if you left? Would not the Protestants, Catholics, and Mahomedans be at one another's throats, and would there not be a massacre almost unparalleled even in the history of Africa? And who would suffer most? Those who have been our allies. They are the people whom we have disarmed and who would now fall an easy prey to their enemies. I do not think my hon. Friend contemplated such 599 an abandonment as that. I am quite ready to protest against any further extension of the Empire. But we are dealing now with what has taken place and cannot be recalled; and I say it would be a greater disgrace than ever befel England if you were to retire from a country whose prosperity and the lives of whose people depended absolutely upon your continuance of the hold you have upon them. The hon. Member for Northampton has made one of those speeches to which we are accustomed. It was a very amusing speech on a very serious subject, but I do not think that questions of international policy ought to be determined by buffoonery. This is not a small matter. Remember that the consequences of the decision at which this Committee is about to arrive will extend to long years after you have made it. The decision at which you are about to arrive involves the faith of Great Britain and the influence of Great Britain not only in Uganda, but in the whole of Africa, for news travels fast even in that vast continent. The hon. Member has talked about the cost of an expedition to Uganda, but I do not understand this measuring duty and honour by the money it costs. The hon. Member for Northampton, however, is only following the example of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland in that respect. If we have to protect people who are in danger of their lives we have to count the cost. According to the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, if it will cost £10 we may protect their lives, but if it will cost a million we had better keep the money in our pockets. But I believe that the hon. Member for Northampton has ludicrously exaggerated the cost of this matter. He has told the Committee that it will be necessary to bring up the British troops in large numbers if we are to have an expedition like that to the Soudan. But Uganda is only 600 miles from the coast, while the Soudan is 2,000 from the coast.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member speaks as if Suakin was really a serious part of our work in connection with the Soudan. Our position in Suakin was abandoned. The railway was 600 abandoned. I confess now that I wish it had not been abandoned. But really the heavy part of that expedition was the cost incurred in the attempted rescue of Gordon. The two expeditions are, in my opinion, absolutely incomparable. All the evidence—and I believe it to be good evidence—goes to show that the peace of Uganda and of the neighbouring countries can be secured at a comparatively trifling cost. A few English officers with a small body of Soudanese troops will be able to keep the country quiet. The hon. Member for Northampton talks of the cost of erecting forts, but all the forts that will be necessary are mere stockades, which can be erected at the cost of a few shillings, and which will be amply sufficient to withstand the assaults of savages. I do not see the slightest reason for believing that the cost of preserving the peace and of policing the country need be anything more than the taxation of the country itself will bear. We have had this same question argued over and over again with regard to other parts of Africa, and in every case it has been shown that the discretion and the prudence of a few English officers has enabled the peace of the district to be preserved without a single farthing of expense to the English Exchequer. The hon. Member spoke of possible danger that would arise from the attacks of the Mahdi and Senoussi. As for the Mahdi, those who know best do not fear the Mahdi in any way. Mahdism is a periodic outburst of fanaticism which is nearly exhausted, and I believe that in a very short time the Soudan will fall like a ripe pear into the lap of Egypt. I make that prediction with confidence.
§ An hon. MEMBER: It's a way you have.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I understand that the observations of the hon. Gentleman are inarticulate, so I will not take notice of them. The Committee may rest assured there is no danger to be apprehended from Mahdis. The Senoussi is a person of great importance, but of a different character, and it is very difficult to prophesy what will be the future of the party he leads. Tradition and all 601 information as to this sect is entirely in a different direction. He is not at all likely to interfere with the position we may acquire in Uganda. Putting aside these two impossible hypotheses, there is no reason to believe that the cost of our Protectorate or rule in Uganda is likely to be anything but moderate in the first instance, and nothing at all in the course of a very few years. As to the commerce of Uganda, the late Mr. Mackay, the missionary, who was universally respected, said that the climate of Uganda was excellent, that the country would produce almost anything, and that the only difficulty was the want of transport and of British enterprise, but that once those two things were secured there was no reason whatever why Uganda should not be a most prosperous, even a wealthy, country. Of course, Uganda, 600 miles from the coast, in such a position that everything brought there from the coast or taken to the coast from there costs £200 per ton in transport, is not likely to have a very brisk trade at present. But I would ask hon. Gentlemen what they would have said about the cost of carriage to the North-West of Canada 100 years ago? Until the Canadian Pacific Railway was constructed there was scarcely any trade in those great dominions of the British Crown. I say that the prospects of Uganda at this moment are quite equal to those of the North-West of Canada 50 years ago. This is what Lord Rosebery means by pegging out claims for posterity. Lord Rosebery is sensible that our returns cannot be immediate, but, on the other hand, a return at some time or another is almost certain. This brings me to another point. I have quoted the opinions of Mr. Mackay to the effect that you cannot have a commerce in Uganda without a means of transport. I call the policy of the Government one of drifting. They might just as well make a bold stand at once, because the result will be the same. They have committed themselves as much by sending out this mission as by facing the people of this country, and saying, "We are going to retain the country, and make the best of it." The question is, Are we going to make the best of it? How much time are we going to waste by this Commission? I tell the Government what they know 602 already—that nothing can be done in the territory unless they are prepared to make the railway at a cost of some £2,500,000, or of £3,000,000, according to that great financial authority, the Member for Northampton. That would be the cost if you made the whole 600 miles, but those who are best acquainted with the country think that it would be sufficient at first to make a railway for 300 miles up to the mountains, which are not very lofty, nor do they prevent engineering difficulties, though no doubt they would add to the cost of the railway. If you made such a line you would get over all the country which is difficult for animal porterage, and by animal porterage you would be able to carry the traffic for the rest of the way. The cost of a railway for 300 miles would be £1,500,000, taking it at £5,000 a mile, which our experience in India shows is about the average expenditure on railways of this kind. All I want to impress on the Committee is this: that whether the railway costs £1,500,000 or £3,000,000, you had better make up your minds tonight that if you are going to stay in Uganda, you will have to spend the money—in other words, you will have to guarantee some interest on the money. I firmly believe that the railway will pay in the end, and will prove a good investment. If you spend this £1,500,000 or £3,000,000, the working classes of this country, and the people in the slums, for whom the hon. Member for Sunderland is so anxious, will benefit, for the whole of the work will, of course, be done in this country, and the line will be engineered by natives of this country. Even in the hon. Member's view, therefore, the money will not be wholly thrown away. I believe that the chances of this railway are every bit as good as the railways which this country made 30 years ago in the Peninsular of India, and which are now bringing in a good revenue. This railway will bring us into contact with 12,000,000 of people, as, besides the people of Uganda, there is the population of the countries conterminous with the Victoria Lake and the other great lakes to be considered, and whatever may be said of Uganda, nobody will deny that the neighbouring countries, like Unyoro and Usoga, are countries of enormous natural wealth. I 603 believe that just as soon as you make porterage possible, we shall have a very large commerce. We shall get from this country gum and rubber, and perhaps even wheat, and in return we shall send out large quantities of our manufactures. One thing I must say in confirmation of this. I think it is a most remarkable fact that since we created this Company and this sphere of influence, the British and the general trade of Zanzibar has been increasing at a perfectly marvellous rate. In one year—the last year for which we have Returns—it nearly doubled, increasing from 72,000 to 131,000 tons. If that is done in the green tree, what will be done in the dry? I have no hesitation in saying, therefore, that the investment is one which a rich country can wisely undertake. The hon. Member for Sunderland says he does feel a certain amount of obligation in connection with the suppression of the Slave Trade, though to his mind it is inferior to the obligation we have to the inhabitants of the slums. Well, I say with regard to the Slave Trade, that the railway will do more to suppress that abominable traffic than can be accomplished by any other expenditure of the same sum. What is the Slave Trade, and what is the cause of it? People do not make slaves through love of cruelty or mischief, but they do so because they made their livelihood by it. Tribes are enslaved, are taken as slaves, in order to carry burdens to the coast, and when they have done that they are sold for what they will fetch. If you could give to the slave-raiding Arabs, who at the present moment are the most barbarous and brutal people on the face of the earth, peaceful means of making an honest livelihood, do you mean to say that they enjoy war so much that they will not accept these means? If you say so, I think all history and experience is against you. You have never found a case where it has been made profitable to a nation or tribe to keep the peace that they have not done so. Take an illustration. In the old days we had to fight with the Punjabees, and when we had conquered them they supplied us with our best soldiers in India. But now that we established peace, and the country is more prosperous than it ever was before, and people, who were once the most warlike race in India, are 604 settling down, or I should say, rising up, into agriculturalist and peasants, and we cannot get from them an adequate number of recruits for our Army. We have to go farther afield. What happened in India will happen in Africa. Make it the interest of the Arab slave traders to give up the Slave Trade, and you will see the end of that traffic. It costs at present between £200 and £300 to carry a ton of merchandise to Uganda. Construct your railway, and increase the means of traffic, and you will take away three-fourths, almost the whole, of the temptation to carry on the Slave Trade. I ask the Committee, and I should like to put it to the country: Are they in earnest in this matter of the Slave Trade? Is the hereditary sentiment of the British people still existent amongst us? Do we hold it to be one of our prime duties, as Lord Rosebery said, and great glories, to take a prominent part in suppressing this trade? If we do, let us look boldly in the face the necessities of the situation and let us spend our money wisely and direct it to this purpose. We are spending £200,000 a year for a squadron on the East Coast, as I said just now, which, I am afraid, has too often increased indirectly the horrors and sufferings in connection with the trade. Now we are asked to sanction an expenditure which I believe will be much more fruitful of good results. I have to apologise to the House for having spoken at greater length than I intended to. I wish, in conclusion, to say that I do hope that the Government will take to heart this Debate. They get no credit from either side by taking a middle course. I am uncertain whether if the majority of them might follow out their wishes they would not at once pronounce in favour of the absolute evacuation of Uganda, or whether they would not be prepared to take all the risks of such a course. At all events that would be a bold course, and they might make their own defence and might go to the country and see if they could get approval for it. But, on the other hand, they may take the course I urge most earnestly upon them. I do not care whether they say that course was forced upon them by the proceedings of the Party opposite or in obedience to their own wishes, but at least they could say in the present situation and with the responsibilities which 605 we have undertaken, and which are incumbent upon them as much as they were upon their predecessors, that they will face this problem, and that they will carry out the policy which of course will result in the protectorate or the annexation which is feared by the hon. Member below me, but which I believe will do credit to the British name, and will, in the long run, be in accordance both with our interest and our honour.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
After the very interesting speech to which we have just listened I rise to appeal to the Committee to come now to a decision upon this Vote. I may point out that we have not only certain Votes to come afterwards which must be finished, but we must also take the Resolution on Ways and Means before 1 o'clock. I therefore hope the House will now agree to come to a decision.
§ Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.
Question put accordingly,
That Item M, of £21,600, for Special Missions and Services, be reduced by £5,000 in respect to Uganda.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 46; Noes 368.—(Division List, No. 33.)
§ Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer claimed, "That the Original Question be now put."
§ Original Question put accordingly, and agreed to.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 2. £15,500, Supplementary Colonial Services.
§ 3. £4,756, Treasury Chest.
§ 4. £20,600, Behring Sea Sealers' Compensations.