§ *SIR CHARLES W. DILKE) (Gloucester, Forest of Dean
said, he rose to call attention to the course pursued by. Her Majesty's Government with regard to Egyptian affairs; and to move—That the time has come when effect should be given to the declarations of successive Administrations as to the Government of Egypt.It might not be necessary to go into the history of the military interven- 1635 tion in Egypt. The present military occupation of that country was not necessarily the consequence of the military intervention itself. On the history of that military intervention in the year 1882 the two sides of the House had never agreed—there had never been agreement between them as to the circumstances which had brought about the military occupation. The view of the Liberal Government, which was very often stated in the House and in the country, was that the first Control—the Control established by the late Lord Derby—although one which the Liberals could not oppose as a Party—being a financial Control which did not amount to an intervention by the Government in the general affairs of Egypt—was, nevertheless, a somewhat dangerous experiment which had to be watched with a great deal of attention, and that view was expressed with almost prophetic force by the present Prime Minister in an article which he wrote on the Egyptian Question during the time of the first Control. The first Control was a financial Control. It arose out of the mission of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square (Mr. Goschen). The Controllers were not nominated by their Governments, and they were, at all events nominally, the servants of the Khedive of Egypt. A change occurred in the situation at the end of 1879. In November, 1879, there was sot up a second Control, which had been known as "The Salisbury Control." That Control constituted a direct intervention in the affairs of Egypt, and, in his opinion, military intervention after that was only a question of time. The second, or "Salisbury" Control was very sharply opposed by very many Liberal Members who still had seats in the House. They foresaw and tried to get others to foresee many of the evils that had since happened. The Cotrollers occupied seats in the Government of Egypt. They were nominated by their respective Governments, but they were no longer servants of the Khedive—they represented in the Councils of Egypt the actual voice of the foreign Governments by whom they were nominated. The very natural result of this sharper form of Control was that Egyptian national feeling began to be excited against the foreigner. Lord Salisbury was beaten in March, 1880, 1636 but the Liberal Administration which followed did not reverse the policy of the Control, although they set themselves to reversing the policy of their predecessors in almost every part of the world—notably in India, where it was necessary to withdraw the Viceroy.
§ SIR C. DILKE
said, that at all events the policy of the Control was not reversed—the incoming Government accepted it with all its consequences. It would have been difficult and dangerous, only three months after the Control had got into working order, to have changed the whole system. However justly and severely they might have condemned Lord Salisbury's Control of November, 1879, they must remember that it had only become an actual fact in Egypt from February, 1890, and, it would be admitted, considerable trouble was likely to ensue in an Oriental country from a sudden reversal of policy. But after the creation of the Salisbury Control and the revolutionary acts of the Arabists, the Joint Note was probably unavoidable. He was himself prepared to take his share of responsibility for the Joint Note, although it had been issued by a Cabinet of which he was a mouthpiece, not a Member, and, oddly enough, without his previous knowledge: for, although he was in the Foreign Office service at the time, he was abroad on Government business and did not see the draft. After the Joint Note the Cabinet, of which he was still at that time not a Member, thought armed intervention necessary, though they deplored the earlier engagements which had in their opinion, and in that of the then Tory Leaders, though not of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington, nor in that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge, made it necessary. The intervention, supported by the two Front Benches, was a matter as to which there was a difference of opinion. As regarded a majority in the country, intervention in the East was always judged by subsequent events, although these events did not affect the principle. In 1860 the intervention in Syria was not only, like that in Egypt, generally popular at the time, but, unlike that in Egypt, remained popular. It made the fame of Lord Dufferin. It was 1637 as popular in France, which found the troops, as in England, which found the Commissioner. War was averted and the troops withdrawn. The Bedouin might easily have made of the Syrian intervention the partial failure which the Soudanese made of the Egyptian. The principle in each ease was the same. The occupation which followed the intervention had not been a necessary consequence of the intervention. It would have been possible to come away a few months after the expedition, when Sir Evelyn Wood had reported the Egyptian Army, with its British officers, fit to stand alone. Personally, he himself could take only his share of a collective responsibility that we had not come away at that moment. The time had not arrived—would only come after the death of all concerned—when it would be possible to distribute the blame, if blame were due, or praise for the troops remaining there. In the meantime, all must be content to take any blame that might have to be allotted, merely pointing out that the Government had been going to leave Egypt when the obstinacy of the Native Government, against their advice, caused the Hicks disaster and led to the general uprising of the frontier tribes. To stay in Egypt was contrary to the settled policy of this country. Lord Palmerston had expressed it in these words—We do not want to have Egypt. … We do not want the burden of governing Egypt.It had been contrary to the promises made at the time we went there. In October, 1882, the then Sir Evelyn Baring, now Lord Cromer, had written most powerfully against a protectorate and in favour of evacuation; and, although he now held a different view, Lord Cromer could not easily undo the effect of his own reasoning, which had greatly influenced him (Sir Charles Dilke) and others. No positive step of withdrawal had been taken before February, 1883. On the 15th of that month Sir Stafford Northcote, in the Commons, complained, with a sneer, that the GovernmentHeld forth a prospect of withdrawing the Force in six months or in half-a-century.Lord Hartington, in reply, had said that Sir S. Northcote 1638In the first period of time he suggested, has stated with probable accuracy the length of time that it may be necessary to keep our troops in Egypt—that was six months. In August, 1888, his right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle had quoted these words of the present Duke of Devonshire, and had quoted also a promise by the then and present Prime Minister, and asked if there was any change. The right hon. Member for Midlothian, in reply, introduced the word "stable" as representing the state of things which we desired to leave behind us, and from that time forth fairness bade him carefully point out that it had figured in all the promises. The promises, however, were very strong. As early as March, 1883, Lord Dufferin had pointed outThat the permanent military occupation, … being contrary to the repeated declarations of Her Majesty's Government, was not an idea to which he could give the slightest encouragement.On the 9th November, 1883, the order for the evacuation of Cairo had been given, and the Prime Minister, naming it, called itA subject for congratulation which will offer a new testimony to the world that we have been in earnest in the declarations that we have repeatedly made.All the Powers at that time believed our promises, but Austria was in the habit of asking us from time to time when they would be kept; and we replied to her in January, 1884, disavowing not only the idea of annexation, but also of protectorate. In February, 1884, Lord Derby, speaking for the Government, said—From the first our … intention has been to withdraw our force as soon as circumstances allow. Lord Hartington spoke a year ago of hoping we might do it in six months. He was sanguine … but do you doubt that he was sincere? We know why the intended evacuation was delayed. The war in the Soudan is the sole, the sufficient cause.… We wish to help Egypt out of her troubles, but we do not wish to turn Egypt into a British Dependency. … We have always looked forward to the time when our powers should be at an end.On the 15th February the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle declared that annexation (but he would not deny that his then argument applied to even a long continuance of occupation) "would be giving hostages to France;" and he went on to say, "Fare- 1639 well the blessing of the silver streak!" Four days later Lord Hartigton explained that some Conservatives desiredThe substitution for the Dual Control of a single British Control, for which permanent military support would be necessary. … The administration of all departments of importance by Englishmen. …Their system would build up nothing … prepare nothing. When at any time our military support … was withdrawn that system must necessarily fall.The present Duke of Devonshire went on to taunt the Conservative Party with being, in fact, unwilling to accept the policy of protectorate put forward from the Radical Benches by Mr. Cowen, whose speech they cheered. Sir Stafford Northcote, in reply, said on the same day—Our interest in Egypt is not to expand our territory, not to annex that which does not belong to us, not to extend the boundaries of our Empire.On the l5th of June, 1884, France had explained her policy. She pronounced the condominium to be dead, and said she spoke only for the collective interests of Europe. The Government of the Republic was willing to come under an engagement never at any time to occupy the country. Its declarations wereInspired by the confidence that Her Majesty's Government will not hesitate on their side to confirm distinctlytheir declarations that they wouldEvacuate the country when order should be re-established.Lord Granville, in reply, on the next day, declared that—Her Majesty's Government … are willing that the withdrawal of the troops shall take place at the beginning of the year 1888.Her Majesty's Government wouldAt or before the expiration of the occupation, propose to the Powers and to the Porte a scheme for the neutralisation of Egypt on the basis of the principles applied to Belgium.On the 11th August the right hon. Member for Bristol made a pronouncement upon the question—I do not think that anyone who has considered this question imagines that we could act in reference to Egypt otherwise than in accordance with our Treaty obligations and the general opinion of Europe, and I should be very glad to see the day arrive when it might be no longer necessary for a single soldier to remain in Egypt.1640 In 1884 and 1885 we induced France to enter into conferences with regard to Egyptian finance and the Suez Canal, by means of the proposal that, on the termination of our occupation, there should be this "neutralisation of Egypt, on the basis of the principles applied to Belgium." Early in 1885, when our troubles with the Arabs had been at their height—even at that most difficult of all moments—the promises had been renewed. On the 26th February, Lord Derby had said—We do not propose to occupy Egypt permanently. On that point we are pledged to this country and pledged to Europe, and if the contrary policy is adopted it will not be by us.On the same day Lord Derby had said that—If he thought the Opposition agreed in the policy of terminating our responsibilities in Egypt as early as possible, and if the House believed the Opposition could better accomplish that purpose, he would gladly resign his seat.Taking up the phrase "stable Government," he ridiculed the idea of a Government more stable than that existing being set up, unless it were, in fact, a British Government. He asked if the Conservative Party intended to take up the position that—he sacrifices of England entitled her to claim exclusive influence in Egypt. … Is that your proposition?Some noble Lords on the back Benches said "Yes," and Lord Derby replied—We went to Egypt having made the solemn declaration to Europe that we did not intend to do what you now ask us to do. We made that declaration in the name of the English Crown and with the authority of the British Parliament.After describingthe sacrifices which a permanent occupation of Egypt would entail upon us,he wont on—For my part, I adhere firmly to the declaration which the Government made when they first entered Egypt.On the next day Lord Kimberley, speaking for the Liberal Party, said that there was no difference between the Parties.Any Government would endeavour to … secure our interests in Egypt, and as early a retreat from it as may be possible.So much for the period when the Liberals were in Office. When the Conservatives 1641 came in they at once sent Sir Henry Wolff to Constantinople on the Special Mission of August, 1885, on the Egyptian Question. The very first thing they did was to enter on fresh negotiations on this subject. They, indeed, worked hard at it until they concluded a Convention, which, refused as it was by the Turks and the French at the time, could now, he thought, be obtained if it were pleased. The first promise of the Conservatives had been taken word for word from those of their Predecessors. It was dated the 26th August, 1885—Her Majesty's Government had no idea of annexing Egypt, or of establishing a Protectorate.In October, 1885, there had been concluded a preliminary Convention, the terms of which pointed towards evacuation; and the matter then somewhat slumbered until Sir Drummond Wolff's Mission was taken up again in November, 1886. On the 4th November Her Majesty's Government delivered a Note to Turkey, in which they reiterated their assurances, rehearsed the terms of the Convention, suggested concessions from the other Powers, whichwill render the termination of the British occupation practical at a comparatively early date,and concluded by saving that the above proposals were made with a sincere desire to render the British occupation as brief as possible. On the 9th of November Lord Lyons explained what the French Government had said to him in reply to what they had heard as to our intentions. The French Prime Minister was willing to consider the necessity of a provision for the temporary return of our troops in the event of disorders. On the 13th November the French Ambassador declared that his Government were "prepared to accept it," meaning the stipulation as to return. On the 17th December Lord Lyons informed the French Government that—Her Majesty's Government were anxious to be relieved of the burden which was entailed upon them by the occupation of Egypt.The Home Government then declared their intention of discussing the details ofArrangements to be made prior to the withdrawal of the British troops with a view to … putting them in the shape most likely to be acceptable to the Powers.1642 In January, 1887, the Government wrote fully on their views. They desired to retainAn adequate number of British officers in positions of command in the Egyptian Army.Subject to this, they declaredThe object which the Powers of Europe have in view, and which it, is not less the desire of Her Majesty's Government to attain, may be generally expressed by the phrase 'the neutralisation of Egypt.' But it must be neutralisation with an exception designed to maintain the security and permanence of the whole arrangement.This was the right of re-entry, which they had obtained from France, and of which Lord Salisbury wrote—There is no danger that a privilege so costly in its character will be used unless the circumstances imperatively demand it. … Her Majesty's Government are very far from intending to use such a power, if it should be reserved to them by Treaty, for the purpose of exercising any undue influence or creating a Protectorate in disguise; still less for unnecessarily renewing an occupation which has already imposed so many sacrifices upon Great Britain.These sacrifices had not diminished since that time. The sacrifices imposed by the occupation of Egypt on this country had increased and were likely to grow. The monetary sacrifices to which Lord Salisbury alluded were considerable. The other night the Chancellor of the Exchequer appealed to them on the grounds of economy to save money on every side. The right hon. Gentleman well knew that the occupation of Egypt was a very costly matter to this country, and that the amount of money which Egpyt repaid towards the charge for the British troops was very different from the sum they cost, and was ridiculously small compared with the full cost as borne by India in the case of India. On the 4th March, 1887, Sir Drummond Wolff declared on behalf of the Government—We consider the time arrived when a permanent settlement of the country could be fixed which would give to no one Power any undue preference.… Our only national interest is to keep the highway clear.We had handed to the Turks a Memorandum, in which we explained to them what was meant by neutralisation, and quoted the case of Belgium. In April we had agreed to fixing a term for the conclusion of our occupation, a term which Sir Drummond Wolff thought should be shortened, and he pointed out the great cost to the British Government 1643 of the maintenance of the troops in Egypt. The Austrian Government had also been pressing our Government to come to an absolute conclusion of the occupation, and had informed our Ambassador at Vienna of that which was still true—That the Egyptian Question was the one obstacle to the establishment of perfect confidence in England on the part of the Sultan.Sir Drummond Wolff was directed to inform the Turks—and did so in the same month—That it in no way enters into the views of Her Majesty's Government to establish themselves permanently in Egypt.The Convention was then signed, and Sir Drummond Wolff, in explaining it, made some important remarks, which were approved by the Government at home. He declared that—The drain on the military and financial resources of England rendered it most desirable that an end should, as soon as possible, be made to a position of so delicate and dangerous a character. … As to the policy of annexation, … the objections are, to my mind, overwhelming. It would have been a violation of the traditional policy of England, of her good faith to the Sultan, and of public law. In time of peace it would have exposed her to constant jealousy and danger. In time of war it would have been a weak point, entailing a perpetual drain on her resources.This language of Sir Drummond Wolff was the language of the Government, for it was approved in the usual form, and the approval laid before Parliament; and after the ordinary approval it was again approved, for Lord Salisbury, on the 22ud July, declared on the whole correspondence that the negotiations hadHad important results in defining formally the character of the British occupation of Egypt, and the conditions which are necessary to bring it to a close.On the 10th June Lord Salisbury had defended the Convention in Debate—the same Convention which the present Government might have had, he thought, from both Turkey and France. Lord Salisbury said that—It was not open to us to assume the protectorate of Egypt, … even supposing … that such a course … would be consistent with International Law and the interests of this country. It was not open to us, because Her Majesty's Government had over and over again pledged themselves that they would not do so.These words of the Conservative Prime Minister were his case. The matter had 1644 slumbered for a time after the Turks had failed to ratify the Convention, which at the present moment they would be willing to ratify. On the 20th December, 1888, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Member for St. George's, Hanover Square, had again repeated our assurances—We are pledged before Europe not to occupy Egypt permanently. I say distinctly that we do not look upon the occupation of Egypt as strengthening the position of this country.This was the position, then, of two Liberal Governments and of two Conservative Governments in succession: that we ought to leave a stable condition of affairs behind us, but that our occupation must be brought to an end, both because we were pledged, and because the occupation was a burdensome weakness to this country. On the 20th August, 1889, Lord Carnarvon brought the subject to the notice of the House of Lords. Lord Salisbury replied—To say that, in despite of all we have said, … we will … declare our stay in Egypt permanent" would show "an insufficient regard to the sanctity of the obligations which the Government of the Queen have undertaken and by which they are bound to abide.This concluded the list of official or Government pledges so far as he should quote them. If ever a country was committed to bringing a temporary occupation to an end, this country was committed in the Egyptian case. As to the views of the present Government there could be no doubt. The first reference to the matter during the Election period was that by the present Chief Secretary for Ireland at Cambridge, in which he rightly traced to the occupation every evil which affected the country in the conduct of foreign affairs. He asked what was "the cost, the whole cost in weakness? England in Egypt is a vulnerable England"; and he spoke of "the bootless disadvantages and dangers to which it exposes us." Then came the speech at Newcastle of the present Prime Minister, in which he alluded to our occupation of Egypt as an embarrassment and a weakness; and the organ of the Liberal Party, in commenting upon that speech, exclaimed that it was a "noble thing to govern Egypt as we govern her. But it is a still nobler thing to keep our word." Up to the present time we had not kept our word, but we had not broken 1645 it. Such a state of things could not long continue; and it might have been more prudent, after joining with the Conservatives in declaring the occupation to be a weakness, to have, at the commencement of the acts of the Administration, done that which in somewhat similar circumstances of delicacy Lord Granville did in 1880—made our own proposals in our own way to the Powers. The last official statements which had been made upon the question were those of the 10th February 1892. Lord Kimberley, speaking as the Leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Lords, spoke of the occupation of Egypt asFraught with great advantages to that country, the long; continuance of which is, however, fraught with great disadvantages to our Empire.Lord Salisbury had replied that Lord Kimberley's speech constitutedA sound and orthodox statement of the view that has always been held upon both sides.That was the latest utterance of Lord Salisbury on this question. The present Prime Minister possessed a considerable advantage in dealing with this question over any other living statesman who could be named. He had always been guided by principle in regard to it; while too many others were, for one reason or another, open to the reproach that they had been at times animated by considerations of mere expediency. The plan which was suggested was that which had been admirably expressed by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington in the following words:—I advocate the placing of Egypt under the guarantee and guardianship of United Europe, so that, no one single Power shall be able to exercise there superior influence to another, so that collective authority shall restrain individual ambition. In a word. I plead for the real emancipation of an historic land and the true freedom of an ancient race.In the same speech, curiously enough, the noble Lord had quoted the prophetic words which had been written by the present Prime Minister in 1877 to the effect that an occupation of Egypt meant a farewell to all cordiality of political relations between England and France. The noble Lord also had protested in eloquent language, upon purely British grounds, against a military occupation "by the already over-burdened Forces of 1646 the British Crown." The case for negotiation was overwhelming, and had been overwhelming from the moment when the Government came into Office. Their Predecessors might say—"We tried, all but succeeded, and failed through French obstruction." The present Government could make no such plea, because they might have had the same Convention which had previously been refused, or a better one if they could have drawn one better. He was far from saying that it would have been possible for anyone to complain if in settling this question the Foreign Secretary had insisted on dealing at the same time with other outstanding questions in which the late Government, instead of going right, as they had on this one, had gone wrong; such questions as Newfoundland and Madagascar. But negotiation, cither by itself or to include other outstanding questions, was an obvious duty which he thought had been too long neglected. It was for us to make our own propositions—not for us to wait for France. The present reply, made by many, was to admit everything—to admit the pledges, to admit the burdensome weakness of our position, the drain and danger to the Empire, but. to plead (hypocritically in some cases, he much feared,) our duty to the Egyptians. Now, it was a curious thing that there was nobody in Egypt who wanted us. The late Khedive was an admirable, cautious, wise, prudent, timid man; absolutely dependent, as it would seem, on us. But he did not want us to stay. The present Khedive was as different as one man could be from another. He was a man of very considerable power, perhaps somewhat rash. He did not want us to stay. The late Ruler saw no difficulty in maintaining himself under the arrangements that were proposed in the Wolff Convention. The present Ruler saw no difficulty. The statesman that we had placed at the side of the present littler, our own man, Riaz Pasha, who had had more experience of governing Egypt than almost any other man, was anxious that we should be gone. In all Egypt there was nobody of weight that wanted us except our own officials. Some maintained that the peasantry would be oppressed, whatever the influence of Europe, if we should leave. It was the actual presence of our troops that, was 1647 necessary for their protection. But the peasantry themselves did not think so; and all who knew the circumstances were of opinion that they preferred Rulers of their own. If negotiations were not soon entered on, this matter would be brought to a pretty definite test. We had insisted on the adoption of Liberal institutions, the formation of a National Assembly, but we had never called this Assembly together for the purpose of acting on its advice. It was the intention of the Khedive and Riaz to let it meet. Could anyone doubt what would be the opinion of that Assembly when it met? What were we going to do when the Khedive, and the Prime Minister that we had given him, and the National Assembly declared their course? Were soldiers to be sent to arrest the Khedive in his bed, or was the National Assembly to be turned out by British force? Some said that the Dervishes would give trouble. But their best leader, the man who had destroyed Hicks, had marched on Egypt with his picked men; he had been met by the Egyptian Army commanded by British officers, before the British troops came up, and he had been destroyed at Toski. Toski showed that Dervishes died of hunger and thirst like other people, and that they were unable to reach the Egyptian frontier in formidable force. Some quoted the opinion of Lord Cromer, but Lord Salisbury had that opinion before him and deliberately decided not to stay; and it was hardly necessary to point out that an opinion given in the country—in Egypt, on local grounds—could not take into consideration those International sources of weakness of which the Prime Minister had spoken. The one argument which had something in it was that Egyptian Stocks were sensitive and that Egyptian Funds would fall. But, on the other hand, France had also immense interests in Egyptian Stocks, and this very fact would make it certain that any Government of France would not desire to see rash steps taken to bring about an inconsiderate evacuation. When we were told that we could come out when the work was done, he must point out that it was as much done as it ever would be. As a great official in Egypt that he could not name—for he was referring to a private conversation—had said to him—"If you 1648 want us to go you must give us different orders." In other words, everything had been done, in spite of our language, to make going difficult, to keep the late Khedive in leading-strings, to impose our will upon the present Ruler. The last consideration that he would name would be his own conception of the extent to which the occupation hampered our policy. Newfoundland, Madagascar, Heligoland, the lost "British road from south to north" in Africa along the lakes, were the evidence of the dead weight of the Egyptian occupation. He had given some consideration to the strategic problem. Our pledges were pledges, and no doubt it was our duty to come out even against our clearest interest; but he should have let somebody else propose it, as far as he personally was concerned, if he had not been as convinced as Lord Salisbury was that in a military and strategic sense the occupation was a burdensome weakness. Egypt was strategically an island. It was ours in war if we retained our command of the seas. If the command of the Mediterranean was lost our force in Egypt was locked up and thrown away. There were some who were indiscriminate in these matters, whose one idea was to grab all and keep all; but he himself was not averse to an extension of Imperial responsibilities when good ground was shown. He had fought, even against the Navy, for the retention of Port Hamilton, and he had fought with the Indian Authorities against the Government at home for the retention of the Pishin Valley, just as he had fought against the Indian Authorities and with the Government at home for the evacuation of Kandahar. These questions could not be solved by any general rule. Each must be considered on its merits, and the merits were against the Egyptian occupation. If negotiations were not begun he should have to ask himself what course he himself, and any who might agree with him, should take when, in the future, Divisions were taken on the Votes for men in Egypt, and on the Agent's salary. He thought that it would be a grave mistake to come out of Egypt suddenly and without due International preparation; but when he considered what were the dangers of staying there he must retain his freedom to vote for 1649 the least dangerous solution, that of instant evacuation if reasonable negotiation could not be secured. His own policy, however, was that of the two last Liberal and of the two last Conservative Administrations. He attached no importance to any particular word. The word "neutralisation" had been that of Lord Granville in 1884, suggested, he thought, by himself and others who, perhaps, had now changed their minds; it had been the word of Lord Salisbury in 1887; and when he was told by some hon. Members of the House, who had also changed their views, that we must stay, in the interests of the Egyptian people, he replied that it was our duty, with due regard to our pledges, to look first to our own interests—that our position was too dangerous for us to do aught else; that it was against our interest to stop in Egypt, as had been shown by Lord Salisbury and Lord Kimberley, by the right hon. Member for St. George's, Hanover Square, and by the Prime Minister; and that in our own interest it was our duty to secure Lord Salisbury's Convention, with the power of re-entry given by it, or some equivalent arrangement. Lord Rosebery in his recent Despatch, and towards the end of it, had used a phrase which declared that under certain circumstances it would be necessary for us to call a Conference. If we were not to have the Wolff Convention a Conference would be necessary. But he feared that the policy of the Despatch was to wait until circumstances of danger arose, and then to propose it. It surely would be far better, without waiting, at once to suggest the Conference. He would urge upon the Government the expediency of not waiting for other people—of not waiting until proposals were made to us by France: but to put forward our own policy was the best course in redemption of our pledges and in the maintenance of our interests. He concluded by moving his Amendment.
To leave out from the word "That." to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the time has come when effect should be given to the declarations of successive Administrations as to the Government of Egypt,"—(Sir Charles Dilke,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE,) Edinburgh, Midlothian
My right hon. Friend docs not require to offer any apology to the House for the very interesting and lucid review which he has given us of the history of the Egyptian Question, or for the extent to which he has gone in citing and pressing upon the attention of the House the many and singularly accordant declarations of principles which have proceeded from responsible Ministers and others on both sides of the House in respect to our present occupation of Egypt and the character of that occupation. I am very glad that my right hon. Friend has not found any cause to object to what has been actually said and done by the present Government, while he wishes them to say and do what they have not yet done. He has discussed the recent declaration of Lord Rosebery, and I think I can say with perfect safety that there is no foundation for the apprehension, which he did not seem to entertain, that the declaration was intended to convey the sense that it would be a wise policy on our part to wait in Egypt until circumstances of danger and difficulty arose, and then to make those circumstances, and those circumstances alone, the ground for proceeding to arrange the necessary measures for evacuation. That construction, I can assure my right hon. Friend, may be entirely laid aside as not having entered into the mind of anyone who has been called upon, so far as I know, to take in view this important and very grave question. I cannot do otherwise than express my general concurrence both in the historical outline and also in the declarations of principles which have been cited in the speech we have just heard from so many sources, that the occupation of Egypt, viewed with respect to the interests of this country, is in the nature rather of a burden and difficulty, and in given circumstances a risk; that the permanent occupation of that country would not be agreeable to our traditional policy, and that it would not be consistent with our good faith towards the Suzerain Power, 1651 while it would be contrary to the laws of Europe. All these declarations adopted by my right hon. Friend are declarations which I do not think will be seriously contested in any quarter of the House. At any rate, my right hon. Friend has supported them with a mass of evidence very difficult indeed to deal with by those who wish to set up an opposite view. My right hon. Friend has anticipated that the answer would be made to him—and I suppose he meant an answer on the part of the Government—that a duty to Egypt has arisen the effect of which is virtually to cancel those declarations.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
I did not go so far as that. I did not speak of the Government. I gathered the opinion from conversation with hon. Members of the House.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I think that might be inferred from the speech; but I wish, at any rate, to combat that inference. I certainly shall not set up the doctrine that we have discovered a duty which enables us to set aside the pledges into which we have so freely entered. I do not at all disguise that the burdens and the risks attending upon this occupation have been accompanied by one great compensation, and that great compensation has been the enormous benefit which has been conferred upon Egypt, not only by the maintenance of peace and tranquillity, but especially, I hope I may say, by the unmeasured improvements which have been introduced into its law and finance. I will not now argue how far that consideration ought to enter into our view; but an indefinitely prolonged occupation has passed out of our view—I do not say out of our competence as a Naval and Military Power, but out of our competence as a State bound to observe and set an example of honour in respect of its engagements to other nations. Of course, it would be quite within our rights to invite the Powers of Europe to a Conference, together with the Suzerain Power, and to lay before those Powers—if it be really our opinion—the change of circumstances which has taken place, the great benefits which have arisen from our practical intervention in the government of Egypt, and, consequently, the sense which we entertain that a new arrangement ought to be made, and that 1652 Egypt should remain, if not permanently, yet without any strict limit of time, under tutelage, instead of being restored to anything like her independent action subject only to the relation she holds to the Suzerain Power. We might do that with perfect honour; but the thing we cannot do with perfect honour is either to deny that we are under engagements which preclude the idea of an indefinite occupation, or so to construe that indefinite occupation as to hamper the engagements that we are under by collateral considerations, and so virtually to relieve us from them altogether. Beyond that our course is free and open, in an assembly of the Powers of Europe, to recommend—and to act on the recommendation as far as our title goes—that which we believe to be best for the welfare of this country. So far, therefore, I am able to travel with my right hon. Friend; but when I come to regard the question of his Motion upon other grounds, I am bound to say that I venture even to hope that he does not himself propose to force it upon the consideration of the House with a view to a definite opinion, and to lay down the grounds, which I think are very clear, which show that such a Motion ought not to be adopted by the House. We have to consider not only Egypt, but the rights and the peculiar position of the Suzerain Power, and we have to consider also the position of the five other Great Powers of Europe. It is a very nice matter to determine what and when and how any steps should be taken by Her Majesty's Government in this matter. My right hon. Friend has given his opinion that we should probably have acted with more wisdom if we had produced a plan of our own upon entering Office rather than that we should have waited even for the most limited period to sec what communications would be made to us. But I think that he has omitted to take into view this rather important fact: that the subject was already open, and that the British Government under our Predecessors were in what I may call a more passive condition—that they had ceased to be the actual proposers of any plan, as they had been in the case of the Drummond Wolff Convention, and that they were receiving from time to time overtures or communications from 1653 the Turkish Government, and were also in communication with France upon the matter. There is no special title on the part of France to intervene on this subject. Her rights are no different from those of others, but, at the same time, it must be borne in mind that we have had practically a great many communications with France upon the subject, and that rudely to break off from any recognition of the special part which France has taken in the Egyptian negotiations would not be quite consistent, I think, with our friendly relations with that country, and undoubtedly it would not be a step politic in itself. I give great credit to Lord Salisbury and his Government for the Drummond Wolff Convention; but here is a point on which I am afraid that I am not quite at one with my right hon. Friend. He says that it is in our power to revive and extend that Convention. That, as an announcement from him, is one of great interest; but I am bound to say that I have never heard from any quarter—certainly not from any quarter of authority—that the reasons which induced Franco to obtain through Turkey the rejection of that Convention have ceased to operate in such a degree and manner that Franco is ready to withdraw that objection and to allow of the ratification of the Drummond Wolff Convention. That is a point of great importance, and in regard to which I am inclined to think—I am bound to say—there are strong presumptions leading to the belief that the Drummond Wolff Convention is, in its actual form and not in the principle underlying it, a thing of the past, and cannot in that form be satisfactorily revived. It would be a very strange step on our part, without any intimation from any quarter, to assume that the attitude adopted some time ago by. the Suzerain Power and by France had been altered. I am bound to admit that the state of things after the rejection of the Convention is identical with what it was before the rejection; and it seems rather that—if the movement were practical—some modified form of that Convention should be devised in order to hold out the hope of a successful and satisfactory issue. I think, considering the nature of this case, and the multitude of parties who are to be called upon to act, either independently of one another, or at least having a considerable power of action as if they were 1654 independent—it is quite clear that the position is a delicate one; and the House will feel, as I assume they will feel, that it will be unwise to bind the hands of the Government by any preliminary declaration. By all means let us gather from the declarations of hon. Gentlemen who are competent all the light we can obtain, so as to be enabled to estimate carefully and accurately our means of action. But, Sir, there is a circumstance to which my right hon. Friend has not alluded, and which appears to me to have a very important bearing upon the question whether any expression of opinion should be sought from the House of Commons at the present moment. It is true that there has been no important step taken by the Government bringing within near view the evacuation of the country; it is true that. France made a friendly overture, through M. Waddington, so long ago as the end of October or beginning of November, wishing to know whether Her Majesty's Government were prepared to enter into friendly negotiations with France on the subject; it is also true that the answer to that communication was that if Franco had suggestions to offer they would be received in the same friendly spirit in which they were tendered. When any communications are received through the Turkish Ambassador, my right hon. Friend may rely on it that there will be no indisposition on our part to extend to them our friendly consideration. But surely we cannot speak in this matter without taking the view of abandonment at some future date. There was a time when there was in Egypt a man in power in whom the British Government, as well as other Governments, placed complete confidence. But in January last—I do not remember the exact date, but in January at all events—on the ground of ill-health, he was summarily dismissed, and a gentleman was designated in his stead as Prime Minister in whom the British Government were not able to repose the same confidence. While we continue in Egypt there is no satisfactory method to pursue except a harmonious and cordial co-operation with the existing Government. But that event of January, brought about in a moment of haste—it is not necessary to impute anything worse than haste—led to serious misapprehension with respect to 1655 the maintenance of public order in Egypt; and, as Lord Rosebery has pointed out, our position with regard to public order in that country is one of the greatest difficulty and delicacy. We are responsible, not only to the people of Egypt, and to our British subjects in Egypt, but likewise to the subjects of other Powers. Occurrences might arise which, in the event of disturbances following them, might assume a most embarrassing aspect. It was from no wish to further complicate our position, but from a very serious consideration of the military condition of affairs in the country, and upon advice which we received from military as well as political authorities, that we considered it necessary to increase the British garrison. Only three months, practically, have passed since that was done; and I put it to my right hon. Friend and to the House that after the danger of last January, and after the stops we took upon it, you must allow a certain moderate interval of time to elapse before you can assume that we have returned to the normal position in which we stood before these events happened, and to the condition of affairs at the time when the communications took place. My right hon. Friend did not advert to that; but upon a question of this kind he will see that it is very far from an indefinite resort to the argument of inconvenience when I say that there is an inconvenience of a character of an important difficulty involved in this matter. For a period those occurrences of January made it the first duty—I go so far as to say the exclusive duty—of the British Government to consider the means to be adopted for preserving, not merely from infraction, but from menace, the security of the position of Egypt. That being so, I hope my right hon. Friend will not be inclined to push me further. The British Government has been the willing recipient of any communications addressed to it on the subject of affairs in Egypt. I am not aware that a time has come or circumstances have occurred which make it our duty to depart from our attitude, and certainly we have done nothing to repel or discourage any friendly communications upon a question which we all own to be simplicis juris a question of European law, and upon which we have no rights which we can 1656 set up against the rest of the world. There is no reason to look forward with misapprehension as to the future, or for anyone to say that we shall rue our action in the matter. The only condition precedent in Egypt to render communication possible is that there shall be no misapprehension that the immediate and permanent condition of the country is one of peace and security. I should not be doing justice to the question if I were not to say something upon the character of the late Khedive. I believe him to have been honourable, honest, unselfish, and without any prepossession or prejudices whatever. It was that spirit which enabled the British Agents to conduct their negotiations, and I am also open to say he was a man of great competence to discharge his duties and to take a sound and courageous view of the situation; and we may expect from the Prime Minister, as from the Khedive, all that may be necessary to enable us to fulfil our duties in the future. Now, having said this, in justice to all parties, I again venture to impress upon the House that we must be most cautious to avoid any proceedings which might by any possibility tend further to complicate the situation against those who are necessarily your Representatives under the circumstances in regulating a matter which, as all must see, calls for the exercise of the utmost vigilance and circumspection. It is the more easy to make that appeal, because I think it would be impossible to refer to any matter which has been so many years before the public, and in which the substantial declarations of responsible persons have been so much in accord. The position is one depending upon a multitude of points of which advantage might be taken, were there any disposition to take that advantage in a hostile spirit, and if that accord did not prevail among us. I do not at all want to preclude the full expression of views—though some of those views may not be identical with our own—as to what is politic for Egypt; but nothing but mischief could result from unduly pressing us in regard to this matter at the present time, or, on the other hand, that any unfortunate regulations should prevail to complicate and embarrass further communications.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Prime 1657 Minister fully recognised that they were bound in honour to make their occupation of Egypt a temporary one—that it would be contrary to their interests it should be anything else. He recognised the desirability of, as soon as possible, allowing Egypt to be free from English control. He referred to the Wolff Convention, and he spoke of proposals which, if they were made by other Governments, would be favourably considered. But the right hon. Gentleman, above all, recognised that they were bound in honour to leave Egypt as soon as possible. He said, however, that the present moment was inopportune for their withdrawal, owing to the recent disturbances at Cairo. Now, the lesson to be learnt from those disturbances was, he believed, that the sooner they left Egypt the better it would be in their own interests. They gathered from those events that the whole country was opposed to their remaining—that they were remaining against the wishes of all the leading politicians—["No, no!"]—and against the wishes of the fellah population. [" No, no!"] No! What proof was there that these classes wished them to remain there? [Laughter.] If there were a French force remaining in this country, would it be a question for laughter whether the English people desired them to remain? Every nation desired its own independence, and the Opposition seemed to think it right in Englishmen and Europeans to have that aspiration; but when it came to Orientals, then the Opposition seemed to think they were made to be governed, and it was a crime on their part to think of governing themselves. No doubt the Administration of Egypt was infinitely better than it was when they went there; but it was understood that they went to build up some Native Government, and that as soon as they had done that they should go. But they could not teach persons to rule themselves by keeping them under tutelage, by nominating the Khedive's Ministers and Governors, by maintaining a vast network of European officials. They heard a good deal about the National Assembly; but how often had it been called together? Had they in any way encouraged it to act? They appeared to consider that they were to be a Parliament to the Khedive, and that they were to dictate everything to him, 1658 and, if he did not approve of then advice, he would probably be turned out of the country. Very different views were adopted when the Liberal Party were in Opposition. On one occasion, on the Vote for the number of men in the Army, he moved that the total should be reduced by the exact number of the Army kept in Egypt; and every Liberal in the House voted with him, with the present Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. John Morley) at their head. He did not recollect, but perhaps the right hon. Gentleman spoke in favour of reduction.
He did not speak, but, at any rate, the right hon. Gentleman did not think it necessary to controvert anything he had said, but went into the Lobby with him. Surely, after that, he might say that if the Liberal Party had a single principle in foreign affairs, it was committed on this point.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, everyone who was in the House at the time voted; perhaps his hon. Friend was not there, or, Gallio-like, he did not care, and kept away. To the best of his recollection, the Chancellor of the Exchequer honoured him with a vote. On such occasions he always kept his eye on the Front Bench, and he knew the Prime Minister was not present, but all his lieutenants trotted into the Lobby on that occasion. When the present Government came in he rejoiced greatly; he said they were not only going to have Home Rule and some of the reforms in the Newcastle Programme, but they were going to get a Radical, anti-Jingo foreign policy, and the first step would be to make it clear that they were going to withdraw from Egypt. The Prime Minister now said they were awaiting proposals from France and from Turkey; but, supposing neither France or Turkey made any proposals, were they not to make proposals themselves? The Prime Minister admitted that they were bound to bring their occupation to an end, and that dangers were involved in their remaining. Then, what was to be done? What action was to be taken if no proposals were made by France or Turkey? He could understand the Governments of 1659 France and Turkey saying—"We await the proposals of the British Government." He sincerely hoped the present Prime Minister and his Government would remain in power during the full term of that Parliament, six years; but he could not help knowing that accidents sometimes occurred, and a Government did not remain in power for six years. It was humanly possible the present Government might not do so. What would happen if the Prime Minister went out of Office leaving Egypt as it was now? What could then be urged against the Conservatives continuing the same policy? He admitted that all on the Ministerial side were not agreed about this occupation of Egypt; but, speaking generally, it was a strong view of the Liberal Party, in and out of Parliament, that the occupation should be brought to a speedy end. It would be playing into the hands of those who desired not only to continue the occupation of Egypt, but also to make further annexations in Africa, if a Liberal Government remained in Office a certain time and went out without taking any action towards withdrawing from Egypt. His right hon. Friend (Sir C. Dilke) would do right not to take a Division. [Laughter.] Well, what was to be gained by a Division after the assurances given by the Prime Minister? This Debate had elicited from him the most solemn assurances that it was their duty and interest to leave Egypt as soon as possible; that he was far from adopting the views of some hon. Gentlemen, who thought that because they had got there they ought to violate their own words and remain for ever, because they thought it was to their own interest or that of Egypt that they should do so. It was clear that their policy was not one of continuous occupation of Egypt, and that they would withdraw as soon as they could.
§ *SIR JULIAN GOLDSMID (St. Pancras, S.)
said, that his right hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir C. Dilke) had carefully avoided referring to anything that would tell against the case he had presented to the House; but it could be proved that the situation was not exactly what he had represented it to be. The right hon. Gentleman had not referred to the responsibility they had incurred, and to the compulsion that rested upon them to 1660 remain until they had carried into effect all that they had undertaken. How did the occupation come about? In 1879, when they had a Conservative Government in Office, measures were taken for removing Ismail Pasha from the Throne of Egypt. He ventured at that time to point out what the result would be—namely, that by taking the action the Government did they would make themselves responsible for the government of Egypt. This was not admitted at the time by the late Sir Stafford Northcote (afterwards Earl Iddesleigh); but afterwards Sir Stafford Northcote said to him personally—"You were right and I was wrong; and the action taken has involved us in responsibility for the government of Egypt." How did that come about? They had been obliged to take upon themselves the duty which in 1879 he ventured to indicate would fall on the English people. In January, 1883, Lord Granville, in a despatch to the Foreign Powers, said the position in which Her Majesty's Government was placed threw upon them the duty of "giving such advice as would secure the elements of stability and progress." Consequently, they were under no obligation to leave Egypt until the elements of stability and progress were assured. On January 4. 1884, a similar statement was made in a despatch addressed to Sir Evelyn Baring. At that time the greater part of the foreign population of Egypt were pressing upon Her Majesty's Government the desirability of accepting the suzerainty. We declined, however, to do so, because we were not anxious to add to our dominions. At the same time, we took on ourselves the responsibility of remaining in Egypt until the object with which our troops had been sent there was thoroughly accomplished. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir C. Dilke) had taken care to avoid all reference to what they had done for Egypt during the last 10 years. After four years spent in overcoming French opposition, foreigners had been made liable for House Tax just as the Egyptians had always been. The equalisation of the Stamp Duties, which was also proposed by Her Majesty's Government, had also been opposed by France, and had had to be abandoned in consequence of the opposition of French and other 1661 residents in Egypt. Turning to finance, everyone would remember that the Law of Liquidation was passed in 1880, Egyptian finance having become simply impossible. Day after day loans had been raised at usurious rates of interest, the result being that Egypt had been brought to the verge of bankruptcy. By the Law of Liquidation interest was reduced, and for a time an endeavour was made to place the finances of Egypt on a permanent footing. Not very much was accomplished for a year or two, but later on a most magnificent harvest of prosperity resulted. Lord Cromer, in the Report laid before Parliament in March last, stated that the Revenue of Egypt in 1892 was £10,364,000 and the Expenditure £9,595,000, showing a surplus of £769,000, which was larger than the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been able to show for England itself. This fact alone was enough to prove what a difference British administration had produced in the Egyptian finances. It had been brought about by honest administration, and by the reduction of the burdens upon the people. There were two things which used to cause the fellaheen to suffer beyond all endurance. One was the exactions of the tax-gatherers and the other was the corvée. The first had been stopped and the second had been abolished. They had so maintained the credit of Egypt that they were able in 1890 to convert her Debt. Indeed, our administration had been of the greatest benefit to the Egyptian people without costing the English people as much as the right hon. Gentleman had alleged. A large fund had accumulated in consequence of the economies of former years. It amounted to £3,391,000, the General Reserve Fund being £1,958,000, the Special Reserve Fund £777,000, and the Conversion economies £656,000. The reason why this fund had not been spent in ways useful to Egypt was that France had made it a condition of her consent to the conversion of the Debt that there should be no expenditure of the fund without her consent. The only thing her consent had been given to had been the payment of £110,000 towards the cost of the abolition of the corvée. He was justified in saying, therefore, that Egypt was suffering not in consequence 1662 of English action at all, but because of the interference of other countries in her financial arrangements. What had they done for Egypt? They had reduced the tax upon salt, which was a necessary of life to the poor people, and which was a Government monopoly, by 40 per cent. They had abolished the tax on sheep and goats, and the licence-tax on trades and crafts. By these means they had conferred the greatest benefits on the people of Egypt. At the same time the Revenue had been increased by placing a House Tax upon foreigners, reducing excessive salaries, and reforming the accounts. As far as possible the tax - gatherers had been prevented from oppressing the people and the officials had been taught to perform their duties honourably. A still greater thing had been done. Egypt had had a series of crops utterly unknown in former years, the reason being that Egyptian agriculture depended on the question of the supply of water at the proper season of the year. If the canals, the storage, and the barrage were neglected, the difficulties of the supply would be increased a thousand-fold, and many of the poor people of Egypt would be deprived of water for their crops. They had not only secured a steady and regular supply of water at the proper time, but had increased the amount of storage, added to the number of the canals, and altogether re-established the barrage, the result being not only to reclaim thousands of acres which had become unproductive, but to entirely re-establish the prosperity of the people in the Delta. The railway receipts had also increased in a most astonishing manner, one reason being that the Administration was honest, and the other that moder-European facilities had been introuduced. Whereas in 1890 the railway receipts wore £1,400,000, in 1891 they were £1,630,000, and in 1892 they were £1,680,000. The various improvements which had taken place in Egypt were much to the credit of the small band of Englishmen who had undertaken the responsible task of endeavouring to re-organise the Government of Egypt. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Dilke) had talked about £500,000 a year as being the cost to them of keeping troops in Egypt. As a matter of fact, however, they had received from the Egyptian Government more than the cost of maintaining 1663 the troops in Egypt; and, as they had not increased our standing Army, they had really gained rather than lost by the transaction. He thought he knew the English people well enough to say that they would have been prepared to bear a small burden, if necessary, in order to confer such great benefits on the Egyptian people, and to maintain the great highway to India, which was, after all, the source of much of England's greatness and prosperity. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Dilke) and the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) pressed for an immediate withdrawal of the troops from Egypt. If their wishes were carried out, the result would be that the laborious system of Government they had established would be almost completely overthrown. They must remember that there were in Egypt many people who belonged to the old governing classes, who had been removed from Office, and who, formerly, were a source of corruption. These classes were ready to return, and to pursue their ancient methods. We had turned these people out of Office, and had brought in better men, who had done their duty to the people of Egypt. If we now retired from Egypt what would be the result? A return of corruption would follow. Works for water storage, canal construction, and similar undertakings had been carried out under great difficulties, and were still in progress owing to English enterprise. All this would be brought to an end were we to retire. He did not think the Khedive desired to see the present admirable system of administration departed from. It would not be to the interest of the Egyptian people, and the English people would not desire anything of the kind. As to the question of our obligation, as he had pointed out, it had been stated in a Despatch of Earl Granville that we should never leave Egypt unless we had established a stable Government, with a prospect of permanent success. We had not done that yet completely. The present difficulties in Egypt it would require years to get over. He did not think that Lord Cromer was active in interfering in Egyptian affairs. Lord Cromer was only in the background, contenting himself with giving his advice when it was necessary: but a knowledge of the fact 1664 that he was there would be a source of strength and not of weakness to Egypt. He did not think that the right hon. Baronet had made out his case that, as a matter of obligation, it was our duty to retire from Egypt when we had not yet completed our work, nor had he shown that we had promised any European Power that we would do so. He had, therefore, heard with pleasure the declaration of the Prime Minister that he would not undertake to do more than he had promised. No one could say when the day would arrive when it would be our duty to retire, but, in his opinion, it would not be for years; and, therefore, the right hon. Baronet must make up his mind to see for many years the English hand still strong on the Egyptian rudder.
§ *SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
thought that, before the Debate closed, something should be said from those (the Opposition) Benches. He earnestly hoped that the House would cordially support the Prime Minister. He would not say a word as to the right hon. Gentleman's speech lest he should impair its effect. But the right hon. Gentleman might be assured that hon. Members on the Opposition side had listened with respectful attention to the statesmanlike dicta which he had delivered that evening. In the very few remarks he (Sir R. Temple) intended to address to the House, he would endeavour to confine himself to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir C. Dilke). No one would dispute the effect of the very elaborate series of quotations which the right hon. Gentleman had presented to the House. No doubt Members of both Front Benches had declared that Egypt should be evacuated as soon as we had done our duty to that country, but not sooner. So far they were all agreed, and the real question was as to the time of such evacuation. As to this, he hoped the right hon. Baronet would not think it disrespectful if he said that, whatever might be the validity of the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech as to obligations to ultimately evacuate, the second part was altogether inconclusive—namely, as to time and mode of evacuation. With regard to the time of evacuation, there were many matters worthy of consideration, such as British interests, our grow- 1665 ing trade with Egypt, the vast amount of capital embarked in the country, and the sacrifices which had been made there by the British Government. These were all British interests of importance, but these alone would not decide the question. Then, as to the military question, there was much to be said on both sides. The right hon. Baronet thought that, in the event of war, the retention of Egypt would involve us in peril. But it must not be forgotten that we held possession of such strategic posts and coaling stations as Gibraltar, Malta, and Cyprus, all stepping-stones to Egypt. A Power, therefore, like ourselves, virtually masters of the seas, ought to be able to occupy Egypt in the event of war. if it ever came to pass that, with our great Possessions in the Mediterranean, and with our Fleet, we could not command the route to Egypt, then we, ourselves, were in danger, and our Empire must be tottering to its fall. If we could command Egypt as a halfway house, no one who knew India would doubt that the possession of Egypt in the event of war would be a great advantage to us. But, again, it was not the military consideration which would decide the question. He ventured, with all respect to the Prime Minister and to other parties in the House, to say that the real question was, What is our duty to Egypt itself? We were bound, no doubt, to vacate Egypt when we had placed the Egyptians in a position to govern themselves for the future. The right hon. Baronet had hardly adverted to this question, although it was the cardinal point. The right hon. Gentleman had touched only the fringes of this cardinal and vital question. He was, surely, bound to have some regard to the achievements, both administrative, judicial, and fiscal, which had raised the name of England throughout Europe, and it also behaved him to consider how far the reforms we had introduced had gone, and had placed the administration of Egypt in a suitable position for future self government, and bow far yet further reforms were needed. To not one of these subjects had the right hon. Baronet given any consideration, though these were the points on which the whole matter turned. The right hon. Baronet had 1666 said they were to depend for the future government of Egypt upon a National Assembly which was hardly yet full fledged, which had not yet tried its wings, and which might turn out to be broken-winged. He fully admitted it was most essential that we should endeavour to develop this Local Institution of a representative character, but we must give them a few years' trial before we could form an opinion as to the future of self-government. Had we yet done our duty towards the people of Egypt? We had done our best, and that best had proved fruitful of reforms for which, no doubt, we were blessed by the mass of the people of Egypt. There were probably some leading statesmen in Egypt who desired to be quit of British control; but when any hon. Member ventured to say that the fellaheen, the peasantry, the toilers on the soil, desired that our occupation should cease, he desired to express his entire disbelief. He altogether discredited any such notion. If the British occupation were now to cease, these people would be in lamentation and despair. Doubtless, they looked upon all Governments as more or less trouble some; but they regarded their own native government as oppressive, and they looked to us for reform, peace, prosperity, safety, and protection. To tell him that these people wished us to evacuate the country was to tell him something which he could not, for a moment, believe. Until such time as we had fulfilled our task in Egypt before the world and under Providence, we ought not to evacuate it. He desired to put this broad, plain, and prominent consideration before the House. He was confident that, apart from all diplomatic and juristic considerations, the plain duty which we had undertaken towards an interesting, increasing, extensive, and growing population would induce hon. Members to reject the Motion now before the House by an immense majority.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, that if we had not yet done our duty to Egypt, as the hon. Baronet said we had not, it was high time we left that country. If, as it was said, we had been in Egypt for 11 years and had not done our duty, it was time for us to leave the people of 1667 Egypt to govern themselves. He was not going to reply to the catalogue of benefits that the hon. Member for St. Pancras had read out to them. But the hon. Member could not say what benefits would have occurred to the country if it had enjoyed the benefits of Parliamentary government. We did not know what would have been the state of things if the British Army had not crushed the Egyptian Forces and had not crushed the Parliament that then was doing duty. It was said that the cost to England of the occupation was very little, and that Egypt defrayed the expense of sending the troops there. Sir H. Drummond Wolff had estimated the cost at £415,000; but the right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Dilke) would not be far wrong in his estimate, because we had many more soldiers in Egypt than we had at the time Sir H. Drummond Wolff had made his estimate.
§ DR. CLARK
did not know what the proposition was, but he believed that at the present time we had a larger number of soldiers in Egypt. It was said that we charged Egypt the extra cost of sending out our troops; but if we charged Egypt the same price per soldier that we charged our Colonies—Ceylon and India and the Straits Settlements—it would be much nearer £1,000,000 than £500,000. He could not agree with those who said, "We want a certain number of soldiers; and it is a matter of no importance whether we have them in garrison at home or in Egypt, so long as we have them somewhere. Besides, a certain portion of the necessary expense is saved to us by sending troops to Egypt." He very much regretted to hear the statement of the Prime Minister; but he was not surprised, because he had often seen the Liberal Party out of Office adopt one position and then take up another position directly they crossed the floor of the House. A certain event had occurred; and that event, instead of inducing the Government to leave Egypt before disaster happened, seemed only to make them inclined to remain. The policy of the Prime Minister with regard to Egypt seemed to be entirely one of drift. He did not seem to have anything like a clearly-defined and definite policy. It was to his (Dr. Clark's) mind a moral obligation on the right hon. Gentleman to develop some policy. He had taken 1668 us into Egypt in 1885, and he had afterwards admitted that he had made a mistake. The two great crimes of the century against liberty had been the crushing of the Roman Republic by the French Republic and the destruction by England of the attempt to establish Parliamentary government in Egypt. It was considered advisable to support the control—that was to say, to have Englishmen to look after English interests, and Frenchmen to look after French interests. Well, the Chamber of Notables demanded the right to vote the money of the country, and they took upon themselves the right, whereupon occurred the intervention that Mr. John Bright had described as "a sin against God and man." We had been in Egypt for 11 years, and our stay might be indefinitely prolonged unless the advice of the right hon. Baronet were taken. It was said that we were doing good work in Egypt; but so far as the opinion of all classes in Egypt could be ascertained, they did not thank us and did not want us. But we were in Egypt; the crime had been committed; thousands of lives had been lost, and millions of money spent, and the question was, what were we to do? The Prime Minister had no policy but that of drifting, and the end of it would be that the Powers would interfere, or trouble would arise from French intrigues, and we should leave Egypt, perhaps, after ignominy and disaster. What ought we to do? What ought the Liberal Party to do, taking into consideration the position it had adopted throughout this question? If they believed what they then stated—if the Government believed what they had said in Opposition, they would call the Powers together and say, "We said we would leave Egypt when order was established, and would take nothing for ourselves. Order is now established, but we ask permission to stay in Egypt for another 10 years"—that was, if they meant to develop self-government. The Chamber of Notables had taken upon itself larger powers, perhaps larger than the Khedive desired it to have. What had occurred since? The Chamber of Notables had practically ceased to exist, and the Chamber established by Lord Dufferin had collapsed; and, unless the Powers were consulted if we left, the result would be that the old Pashas would govern the country, or somebody 1669 else would. If the Powers were consulted, no doubt in the end Egypt would be neutralised, its independence would be recognised by the great Powers, and we should have five or seven or 10 years to develop self-government in the country. It was to be regretted that the Prime Minister had not declared a programme, and he hoped and trusted that the present policy of drift would not end in disaster.
§ MR. USBORNE (Essex, Chelmsford)
desired to say a few words on this question, as, perhaps, the last Member of the House who had visited Egypt, and as one who had been in the habit of visiting that country for the past four or five years, and who had some means of getting information there as to the wishes of the natives and the largo commercial community at Alexandria. The only remark of the last speaker to which he would refer was the statement that if we had failed to govern Egypt successfully during the past 11 years, the sooner we left it the better. One remark would be sufficient to answer that. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir C. Dilke) had said, and said very truly, that the Egyptians were anxious for our departure; and, no doubt, the Egyptians, like every other people, were anxious to be free; but he had spoken to many of them, and they had always said that they did not desire that freedom to come at the present moment. The British rule had done two things for Egypt which had not been alluded to. Our occupation had had the effect of improving the administration of the law and improving the system of education. His friends in Egypt told him that the people who used to govern Egypt before our occupation, and who governed it so badly both legally and officially, owing largely to their want of education, were still lurking about the country, ready to assert themselves again as soon as the occupation ceased. He would, therefore, urge that British influence ought not to be withdrawn until those people whom we had been educating had grown up and were able to get the power of government into their hands. That would be the time when Egypt could become a free nation. These were the views he had gathered from his residence in Egypt.
§ *MR. A. C. MORTON (Peterborough)
was sorry to have to occupy the time of 1670 the House at all, but as he understood that the right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Dilke) did not intend to press the matter to a Division he (Mr. Morton) considered it only right to say a few words as to his opinion. If the right hon. Baronet had intended to go to a Division he (Mr. Morton) should have voted with him, as he had always hold a strong opinion that we had no business at all in Egypt, and that the sooner we got out of it the better for ourselves and for everybody else concerned. We were showing a bad example to the rest of the world in interfering and taking possession of territory which did not belong to us. The Radical Party were anxious to see Egypt evacuated; but that was not the policy of the Tories, or of some Jingoes on the Ministerial side of the House. Their policy was to retain possession of Egypt, and to that policy he, for one, objected. He had been sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister say to-night that France had no more right in Egypt than any other Power. He could not overlook the fact that the French people had constructed the Suez Canal. This country had opposed the construction of the Canal; but in spite of our opposition, the French people persevered, and had brought the undertaking to a successful issue. Therefore, although is was said that we had gone to Egypt to protect the Canal, the French had more right to protect it for themselves and for the rest of the world than we had.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
said, that proved nothing except that we had had the good sense at last to see that the French were right in constructing the Canal. The people who had the most right to protect the Canal were the people who risked their money to make it. There were two reasons why we should get out of Egypt: One reason was, that the occupation cost a lot of money, and he did not think that we ought to spend our money in foreign countries when there were so many people at home wanting aid and assistance. The other was, that as long as we remained there our relations with the French Government could not be cordial. He was aware that some hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House did not wish 1671 to be on good terms with the Republican Government of France. If there was a Monarchy or an Empire there, they would wish to be on good terms with France, but they disliked the Republic. He was sure their feelings were not shared by the British people. The people of this country—the democracy—were anxious to be on good terms with the people and the Government of France. There were difficulties with France constantly cropping up, which could not be settled because of our policy in Egypt; and one notable example of them was the French shore difficulty at Newfoundland. It was well-known that that difficulty could not be settled in consequence of the Egyptian Question. The hon. Member for St. Pancras seemed to forget that all we had been attempting to do with the people of Egypt was to rob them. We and other countries had lent them on paper about £120,000,000; at least, they were supposed to be that amount in our debt, but all the money we had ever handed over to them had been about £50,000,000. We had assisted to rob them of £70,000,000, and that fact alone was sufficient to account for the difficulties into which the country had fallen. Why, such a loss would even bring a country like England into difficulties. Egypt had been brought to the verge of bankruptcy, and that was all we had done for her. We had done it for the benefit of British adventurers and company promoters on the London Stock Exchange and elsewhere. Instead of concentrating our efforts upon an endeavour to establish good government at home, we were wasting energy and money on Egypt. Surely the Egyptians had as much right to come over here and endeavour to establish good government in Ireland, and to make the Irish people contented, as we had to go to Egypt for similar purposes. Even if the Egyptians could not govern themselves as well as we could govern them, surely their own endeavours would be more palatable to them than those of the foreigner. When were we to know that Egypt was capable of governing itself? The very moment it showed a disposition towards self-government we stepped in and interfered. We had done that in the Spring of this year. He was afraid there were numbers of people in this country who desired that we should take possession of Egypt altogether, and 1672 he was afraid that we should drift into that policy. He thought, therefore, the best thing we could do would be to get out of Egypt as fast as we could. There was some reason to believe that the majority of the Liberal Cabinet were Jingoes, who could not be kept down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He could not say how many they numbered, as he had not been in the Cabinet: but it was necessary that those Radicals who acted up to their election pledges should keep a careful watch upon the Liberal Government and keep them up to their mark in regard to their foreign policy. They would not be able to do that by moving Resolutions and not voting for them, because, of course, what Her Majesty's Government feared was not so much talk as Divisions. He trusted, however, that the Debate would do some little good, and that it would have some effect on the Liberal Government. He hoped, also, that the result of the Debate would be to let the Government know that there were a largo number of Radicals in the House who intended to stick to their pledges, and were anxious not only to do justice to the people of Ireland, but to the people of Egypt as well. Above all, let these people have an opportunity of governing themselves. He desired to see this plundering all over the world put an end to. The people of the West End of London no doubt were favourable to this policy, as it gave their class something to do, and provided them with pensions. Let these people, however, start in the future working to get an honest living. The country would be all the better, as well as the world generally. He protested against going into foreign countries for the purpose of destroying people at the expense of the British taxpayer, and hoped that ere long we should, like the United States of America, see the wisdom of settling all disputes by arbitration.
*MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said, the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir C. Dilke) was entitled to the thanks of the House for bringing before it a subject superior, perhaps, to any other in the Imperial policy of this great country; but he thought that when the Debate was read—as it would be read throughout the whole of Europe—a cer- 1673 tain amount of disappointment would be felt at its lame and impotent conclusion. The facts stated were not disputed by the Prime Minister; the inferences drawn from these facts by the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean were every one of them adopted by the Prime Minister, and yet the right hon. Gentleman entirely ran away from the conclusion the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean would have him to draw. The House was asked to affirm that the time had come to fulfil the most solemn and oft-repeated engagements entered into by both sides of the House and by successive Governments, but the Prime Minister replies, "The time is not come," for, like the lady in the Arabian Nights, the right hon. Gentleman finds him a new story why he should not be beheaded on that particular morning. The last time the right hon. Gentleman was challenged why he did not come out of Egypt he gave as his reason the existence of cholera. Now, when he was again challenged, he said certain things had occurred in January which prevented him coming out. It seemed, therefore, in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, that cholera, or "events in January," were sufficient reason why no attempt should be made to carry out the engagements which successive Governments had entered into in regard to Egypt. He could not help feeling that it was a little hard on the Prime Minister to be called upon to reply to a Motion dealing with foreign affairs. The right hon. Gentleman was First Lord of the Treasury, and not Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Possibly, the right hon. Gentleman had not fully acquainted himself with the mind of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and might not, therefore, feel himself fully able to deal with the subject. But the right hon. Gentleman's own mind had long been made up on the question of Egypt. As long ago as 1887 the Prime Minister saw to the fullest extent the dangers of our going to Egypt, and the dangers of our continuing there. The right hon. Gentleman denounced the project of going to Egypt—not in a speech which might be delivered without care or attention—but in an article in The Nineteenth Century. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out in that article that it was traditional with Russia to make over Egypt to our 1674 mercies, and by implication he drew the inference that what it was traditional with Russia to wish us to do was a thing we ought not to do. He went on to say—My belief is that the day which witnesses our occupation of Egypt will bid a long farewell to all cordial political relations between France and England,and the conclusion of the right hon. Gentleman was—"I, for one, am inclined on prudential grounds to say, 'Hands off!'" But, notwithstanding these solemn declarations of the right hon. Gentleman, he was the first man, in defiance of the moral law and the law of nations, to send a Fleet to Alexandria to bombard it, to occupy Egypt, to upset the Parliamentary Government of Egypt, on the ground that it wanted to vote its own Budget, and to start that occupation of Egypt which had continued ever since. But the first question that arose on the Motion before the House was—"What is our present status in Egypt?" Undoubtedly, an impression was entertained by many people throughout the country that we were in possession of Egypt; that Egypt was ours to use as we wished, and that it would be very foolish to give it up. He did not wonder that that impression prevailed. The engagements with regard to Egypt had been so involved and so departed from by successive Governments that it was perfectly comprehensible that the simple voter should have rather mixed ideas on the subject. But we were in Egypt under certain conditions. We were there under the conditions that no settlement of the Egyptian Question should be come to without the assent of all the Powers of Europe; that our occupation was to be purely temporary, and not permanent; and that we should never seek for any advantage, diplomatic, territorial—or otherwise—through our presence in Egypt that the other Powers were not entitled to. We were in no better position in Egypt than any other Power in Europe, except that we supplied the occupying Army. But he came to the real practical question—"What good had our occupation of Egypt done to anybody?" Undoubtedly, when the occupation first took place in 1882, it rescued the usurers, the Egyptian bondholders, from a most embarrassing position—a position he should have been glad to leave them in. It might be said that we 1675 were bound—and he would admit it for the moment, if necessary—to rescue the bondholders from that position; but from 1882 to the present time Egyptian Bonds had constantly risen in value, and if in 1882 we had obligations—moral, or immoral—towards the usurers, those obligations were long ago discharged, because anytime during the last 11 years they could have sold their bonds at a rise. Then it was said our occupation had done good to the Egyptians. He would not deny that a certain amount of good had been done to the Egyptians. Undoubtedly, corruption had been stopped in high places; but it had not been stopped altogether. It was one of the evils of our occupation of Egypt that, whilst Englishmen who went to India made India their home, learned the language, sympathised with the natives, and desired to work for them, the Englishmen who went to Egypt went there only for a temporary purpose: did not, as a rule, learn the language, and, consequently, did not come into direct contact with the natives, communicating with them only through the Syrians and Armenians, who acted as interpreters. The result was, that the Englishmen in Egypt, though extremely well-intentioned and desirous of doing their duty to the best of their power, were unable to deal with the Egyptian races in the admirable, effective, and successful way the native races of India had been dealt with by Englishmen. We sought to impose on Egypt for its good Western methods. Western notions of law and Western plans of administration were very good for Western people, but were entirely un-suited for Orientals. Lord Salisbury, writing in August, 1885, said truly that the cause of true progress in Egypt had been arrested by the efforts to induce the Eastern populations to accept reforms conceived in the spirit of Western civilisation. It had been established by a question he asked in the House a few days previously that the system of enforced labour, which was considered one of the great grievances under which the Egyptians laboured, had not been abolished, but was in full existence at the present moment. He was aware that the kourbash had not been abolished. Anybody who had been to Egypt and who had seen the way government was carried on, and had the candour to describe what he had observed, must be aware that the 1676 kourbash still existed. The fact was, that the conditions under which we were in Egypt rendered it impossible that any good government could be carried on there. Again, we were told to look with admiration at the fact that a larger sum had been raised in taxes in Egypt than had ever been raised before. He believed that at no time since the days of Pharaoh had a larger amount of taxation been raised in Egypt than at the present day. But that was not a thing to be proud of, for it was not to the advantage of Egypt. If he wished to prove that good had been done to the Egyptians he would like to be able to say that the taxes had been halved, or at least reduced; but, instead of that, the taxes had been increased, and they were asked to believe that that was for the benefit of the people of Egypt. The effete so called, the incapable Government so called which preceded them, conquered and kept the Soudan and the Equatorial Provinces, which were most important Provinces for the welfare and prosperity of Egypt. They were of enormous strategical and material advantage to Egypt, inasmuch as it was recognised that they commanded the affluents of the Nile. The men who were masters of Khartoum were the masters of the prosperity of Egypt. When this country said they had done good by their occupation of Egypt they must remember that, as regards the Soudan and the other Equatorial Provinces, they had inflicted the greatest possible injury upon Egypt, for those Provinces which had been previously won and kept they had lost and abandoned. But even admitting to the full the claim that benefit had followed upon our occupation, he contended that it was not to the point. It was not the mission of this country to go about governing other people whether they would or would not. If that be our mission he could point out many other countries, even in Europe, where we might beneficially intervene. The important question for us to consider was not whether we had done good to the Egyptians, but rather what good, if any, had the occupation of Egypt brought to this country. Financially, so far from gaining 1d. by the occupation, undoubtedly, at this moment, to follow the calculation of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, the mere expense of the British 1677 soldiers that were kept there was £360,000 a year. Out of that Egypt paid £87,000, leaving a net expenditure on the British Army of Occupation of £273,000 a year. Then, commercially, we should carry on exactly the same trade through Egypt as we did now if our Forces were withdrawn. Strategically, Egypt was so situated that it was approached by navigable seas on two sides; the remainder of its frontier was desert, across which Armies could not march. This was the governing factor of the strategical situation in Egypt, for it led inevitably to this conclusion—that Armies were incapable of action upon Egypt, whereas Navies wore capable of coercing it at any moment. That had been proved over and over again. It was proved at the end of the last century, in 1798, when the greatest captain of the age, Napoleon, with the finest Army that had ever trod the soil of Europe, the Army of Italy, conquered Egypt, governed it, and England drove him out, not with Armies, but with nothing but ships; and so to this day Egypt was always safe from Armies and always must be the slave of Navies. So long as England commanded the sea, Egypt would be always at her mercy; although there might not be an English soldier on her shores. All the nations of Europe might occupy Egypt, yet England, with the command of the sea, would have no more difficulty than then in driving them out; and, therefore, he said that strategically there was no advantage whatever to be gained by this country from the military occupation of Egypt. Coming to the Canal, no doubt it had been of great advantage to us, and in time of peace, and still more in time of war, might be of great advantage to this country. But in time of peace no one would over interfere with the use of the Canal, and in time of war we had given it up by the Convention we had signed, to the effect that in time of war the war and merchant vessels of all nations should, like us, use it. So in time of war, with England in the occupation of Egypt, they came to this result—that, assuming we were fighting Russia for the possession of India, and Russia desired to send an expedition throughout the Suez Canal to attack our Indian Possessions, positively the English soldiers would have to allow 1678 the expedition to pass through the Canal, and would have indirectly, if not directly, to assist in the passage of that expedition to our Indian Possessions. But, assuming for the moment that this crazy and insane Convention were abolished and that we had to fight for the Canal, the fight would take place not in the Canal itself, but in the approaches to the Canal, either in the Bed Sea or between Crete and Port Said, or between Port Said and Gibraltar. The winner of that action would have full, complete, and unfettered control of the Canal. Then they were told that if we withdrew from Egypt Franco would enter it. The first answer to that was the answer of 1798. France at that time did enter Egypt, and was driven out by England without soldiers, practically with nothing but ships. His second answer was the declarations of M. Waddington and M. Freycinet, on the part of the French Government, that it was not their intention to occupy Egypt. With regard to the effect of the occupation of Egypt upon our diplomatic relations and our reputation for justice, he would undertake to say that the English Ambassador at Constantinople never went into the presence of the Sultan or the Grand Vizier without being reminded in some form or another that England had taken one of the Sultan's Provinces, and that England had ranged herself on the side of those Powers who sought to despoil the Sultan of his dominions. It was not the Sultan alone who felt this, for there wore 40,000,000 Mussulmans in our Indian Possessions who looked up to the Sultan as the head of their faith, and who would think that England had lost her sense of justice. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean that we should leave Egypt, but he could not agree with the right hon. Gentleman in his suggestion that the negotiations of 1887 for neutralising Egypt were still open. The reason which caused the Wolff Convention to fall through was nothing more nor less than, as was said in one of the despatches in July, 1887, "the persistent threats of Russia" and the great opposition of France. The persistent threats of Russia they could understand. It had always been the policy of Russia to embroil England with France by getting England to occupy Egypt. Russia did not oppose 1679 our remaining in Egypt; she was delighted to see us there, and all our enemies had the same feeling, because they knew the injury it did us. But the Convention of 1887 was, he thought, very fairly opposed by the French. They opposed it on the ground that the right of re-occupation which it gave to England was such that it practically divided the sovereignty of Turkey between England and the Sultan. Under these circumstances, it was natural that not only Russia and France, but the Sultan himself, should have refused to sign the Convention. Those objections still subsisted. If that Convention of 1887 were again to be proposed, the same objections would be felt to it, if not by France or Russia, at any rate by the Sultan; and he submitted that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean was wrong when he said that at any moment they might have the Convention of 1887. As to the neutralisation of Egypt, that, in his opinion, was the worst, the most unsatisfactory, and the most incomplete solution of all. Instances of neutrality were known, and be defied any hon. Member to mention a single instance of neutrality which had served its purpose. In 1802 the neutrality of Malta was guaranteed by the Treaty of Amiens; but that neutrality had fallen through, because this country had retained Malta ever since. The neutrality of Switzerland, which was guaranteed by Treaty in 1815, was violated in 1848 by the Prussian occupation of Neuchatel; and how long that neutrality would last if the struggles between Germany and France were renewed no one could say. The neutrality of Belgium was guaranteed by the Powers by Treaty in 1830; but in 1870, when a period of stress came upon that neutrality, it was felt to be impossible to rely on the guarantee that existed under the old Treaties, and this country found it necessary to make a new Treaty with France on the one hand and Germany on the other to the effect that whichever of these two Powers violated the neutrality of Belgium would find England ranged against her. The integrity of the Danish Monarchy was guaranteed by Treaty in 1852, but they all knew what occurred in 1864. The Black Sea Treaty, also one of neutrality, prohibiting, among other things, the building of warships, resulted 1680 in the Conference of London, and in the yielding of every point to an empty affirmation of an infructuous principle. In 1856 there were Treaties which guaranteed the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire; they knew what was the result, and he submitted that these instances were enough to show that no European guarantee of neutrality would be of the slightest effect with regard to Egypt, unless backed up by some Power ready at any moment to take up arms in defence of neutrality. What, then, was his solution of the difficulty? It was the same solution as that which England readily afforded to this same problem at a time when she still possessed statesmen. It was the solution of 1801, following on the action of 1798, when we restored Egypt to its rightful Sovereign, the Sultan. For the benefit, credit, and future of England, there was no better solution to be obtained than that. The Sultan was all-powerful in Egypt, not merely from his political position and his power, but also from the fact of his being the head of the Mussulman religion. He was the only Power that could govern Egypt as it should be governed, or, at any rate, as it desired to be governed; and the Sultan would never fail to meet whatever requirements they might make upon him in reason and justice with regard to the territories of Egypt. The true word of this Debate, the word which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean had suggested, the word which the Prime Minister had not dared to utter and adopt, and the true moral was, "Come out of Egypt."
§ *MR. BURNIE (Swansea town)
said, he would not have intervened in the Debate but for the reason that they were not likely to be able to show by their votes in what direction their sympathies were. He was one of those who looked upon our action in this Egyptian Question as a huge mistake. He thought the origin of our disasters dated from the Dual, or Salisbury, Control, for, as a natural consequence, immediately difficulties arose in Egypt we had to intervene, at a great cost of life and money. He would take this opportunity of pleading for the release of Arabi Pasha, who headed the revolt of the Egyptians against oppression, corruption, and persecution. It might be said of the whole history of our interference 1681 in Egyptian affairs, "Twere long to tell and sad to trace," and the sooner we could get rid of the ignominy of remaining in Egypt as conquerors of a people struggling to be free the better. It was our duty to our interests, pledges, and traditions as a liberty-loving people to retire from the position in which we were now placed.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question again proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."