Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £80,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1896, for a Grant to the Imperial British East Africa Company on their retirement from East Africa, and a Grant in Aid of the Expenses of Administration in British East Africa.
§ *THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOU FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir EDWARD GREY, Northumberland, Berwick)
I do not think that I need detain the Committee at any great length in offering some explanations with regard to this Vote, and in making a statement as to the intentions of the Government with regard to the future administration of the country affected by the Vote. In the first place there is nothing in the Vote intended in any way to alter or change the present administration in Uganda itself. The Vote deals with the affairs of the country that may be roughly described as lying between Uganda and the coast in British East Africa. The Committee will remember that last year, when a protectorate was established over Uganda, although we dwelt on the fact that it was necessary to retain British influence and British control over the country intervening Uganda and the sea, that country was left for the time being in the administration 1087 and under the control of the British East Africa Chartered Company. That Company was anxious to dispose of the rights under the Charter with regard to that territory, provided it received what it considered due consideration from the Government—in other words, it was anxious to sell the rights it had acquired, and to dispose of them to the Government, if the Government were prepared to buy them. That, I think, was the attitude of the Company—they were ready to make an offer to Her Majesty's Government. The question arose, was it desirable, in the public interests, that Her Majesty's Government should take advantage of that opportunity and endeavour to come to terms with the Company? In most of what has been said or written on this subject, from the time that Sir G. Portal's first Report appeared, you will find an opinion has been expressed that it was desirable this country should come under the administration which was, at any rate, controlled by the same authority as Uganda was subject to. The Company made an offer and Her Majesty's Government entered into communication with the Company, and after the passing of a certain amount of correspondence, the important portions of which have been already laid before the House, in Africa No. 4, 1895, the Company and the Government made an agreement, under which the Company was willing to dispose of its rights. The Company had two things to dispose of: First of all was the concession of the strip, ten miles broad, on the coast, held from the Sultan of Zanzibar; next were its possessions in the territory inside that coast, which it was entitled to administer under its charter and under treaties. The Sultan of Zanzibar proposed to buy back the Company's concession, and the assets have been disposed of for the sum of £200,000 altogether. Her Majesty's Government have proposed to add to that £50,000, to compensate the Company for the work it has done in the country inside the ten-mile strip, and to take over the rights of administration in that strip. The Committee is, probably, well aware that many opinions have been expressed as to whether the Government ought to have given the Company anything at all, and, on the other hand, as 1088 to what the amount of the allowance ought to have been, and whether we ought not to have made them a much larger allowance. I do not propose to discuss the extreme opinions; I will only say that, although undoubtedly the East Africa Company has received in the past encouragement and support from Lord Salisbury's Government—
§ *SIR EDWARD GREY
Certainly the Company have received encouragement and support in the way in which many British enterprises have received it—they were looked favourably upon. ["Oh, oh!" and "Hear, hear!"] The question is sometimes raised whether the British Government has encouraged British enterprises. Undoubtedly it has given encouragement and support to British enterprises; and I have no doubt the Company did receive encouragement and support in that way. I do not contend that the encouragement and support given to this company was of such a nature as to entitle the company to demand full indemnity and satisfaction for everything it had expended in the country. In other words, the relations between the British East Africa Company and the British Government were never such as to leave all the risk to the British Government and all the hope and prospect of future benefit at the disposal of the company. Therefore, when it is said, as it has been, although I do not know it has been said in this House, that we ought to have given a much larger sum to cover the whole of certain expenditure of that company, I say at once that it is not the view taken by Her Majesty's Government. But the company were entitled to some compensation. The Government have expressed this in a letter, published in Africa No. 4, in which they say:—No doubt advantages to trade, which the company would have been the first to reap, were expected from opening up the lake district. …. On the other hand, the company were the pioneers through whose agency British influence was extended to the lake district, and by their means the condition of the native inhabitants has been improved and the slave trade suppressed in the territories administered by them.
§ SIR E. GREY
Undoubtedly they have done a great deal in this direction; they have laboured to suppress the slave trade.Moreover, the maintenance of posts at Machakos and Fort Smith, where a useful and effective control has been exercised by the agents of the Company, materially facilitates the work which has been undertaken by Her Majesty's Government in Uganda.That I propose to put before the Committee, as the justification of Her Majesty's Government in offering this sum of £50,000 to the company for making over their rights in the territory behind the ten-mile strip of coast. The rights of the company being disposed of in that way, being transferred to Her Majesty's Government or to the Sultan of Zanzibar, the question arises, what is to be the condition of the country when the company has retired. Practically the question may be divided into two considerations—first of all that which applies to the ten-mile strip of coast line belonging to the Sultan of Zanzibar, and next that which applies to the part inside, which is really under no settled native authority at all. In dealing with that territory for the present purpose it will be enough to bear in mind that it is necessary that the control and influence of the British Government should be maintained over that territory, primarily as a means of communication with Uganda and inland. That, at any rate, is a primary and essential condition. I do not think that for the purpose of this evening's discussion it is needful to go beyond the necessity that we must keep open our communications, and to keep them open we must maintain a control over the country between Uganda and the sea. One question will at once occur, and it is whether anything is to be done to facilitate the means of communication through the country. Her Majesty's Government have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to construct a railroad between Uganda and the coast. [Loud Cheers.] As soon, therefore, as the necessary arrangements can be made a railway will be begun—[renewed cheers]—and, although no money is taken for the railway in this particular Vote—wherefore I do not propose to dwell upon it at any greater length—I can assure the House that no unnecessary delay 1090 will take place. [Cheers.] The next point to be considered is the administration of the country itself. In order to provide for that Her Majesty's Government propose that the country intervening between Uganda and the coast shall be included as a British protectorate. [Cheers.] That in no way extends the operations of the Government beyond Uganda; the limits of Uganda are not altered on the further side. The Committee, therefore, need not regard this as any great extension of the obligations of the Government. If we are to maintain control over the intervening country, I am certain that the natives of that country will not have the remotest conception of the difference between a sphere of influence and a protectorate. I ought to say that this is not to be added to the protectorate of the Uganda, but it will be a separate protectorate. There is nothing in this Vote to alter the existing condition of things in Uganda. The advantages of a protectorate will be that it does not in the nature of things extend the obligations which are undertaken by the British Government. It does make the administration of the country very much easier, because with it goes, as a matter of course, the power of jurisdiction over foreigners who may enter the country. The further question that remains is—Who is to administer this British protectorate? Various plans have been proposed, and have been considered. It has no doubt been discussed whether or not the authority of the Sultan of Zanzibar should be made use of for administering a considerable portion of the mainland. The revenues of Zanzibar are likely to be taxed at the fullest extent they will bear in connection with the status of slavery in the islands themselves. On that ground I put it to the Committee that it would not be desirable, and I do not think it would be possible, to throw the necessary expenditure of the administration of any part of the mainland upon the revenues of Zanzibar. Her Majesty's Government will have to find the money to administer this territory on the mainland, and, that being so, it is better that the administration should be under their direct control. It is, therefore, proposed that, in administering this territory, which will be handed over to the East African Company, it 1091 should be administered on the same lines as Uganda is administered—by officials who will be placed under the authority of the Consul General at Zanzibar, and have no connection with the Zanzibar Government. It is estimated that the amount of money which it will be necessary to provide for the administration of this territory, from which the company, are retiring, will amount to £30,000 a year. That is asked for in this vote, and the result of the vote practically is, first of all, to compensate the company, so that the agreement with the company may be carried out and the company may hand over its rights and leave the field clear; secondly, to place Her Majesty's Government in a position to at once proceed to take over the rights of the company, the existing establishments, and no doubt, in a large number of cases, the existing personnel as a going concern, and provide for the administration and development of the country without further delay. One point will arise, no doubt, as regards administration. The arrangement is quite simple as regards territory inside the strip of coast ten miles wide, which belongs to the Sultan of Zanzibar. It may be asked:What arrangements are you going to make with the Government of Zanzibar, who are the owners of the ten-mile strip of territory which they had leased under the concession to the East Africa Company, and which the Government of Zanzibar, under agreement with the company, are going to purchase?I think the Committee will admit it is desirable that that ten-mile strip should be placed under the same administration as the mainland behind it. It will be necessary to make some arrangement with the Sultan of Zanzibar, and the arrangement will be on these lines: The rent which the East Africa Company pay to the Sultan of Zanzibar, amounting to £11,000 a year, will be paid by Her Majesty's Government, and the interest on the £200,000 belonging to the Sultan of Zanzibar will be paid at 3 per cent. by Her Majesty's Government. That will amount to £17,000. The revenues from Customs in the ten-mile strip already amount to £15,000, and that, whatever views hon. Members may hold as to the future of the country, can hardly decrease. At any rate, our estimate is that this £17,000, which will be 1092 paid yearly to the Sultan of Zanzibar, will practically be covered by the revenue of the country. I ought to add that what I have said about the administration of the country applies also to the Protectorate of Witu, which must be a separate sovereignty from that of Zanzibar, and the administration of that is also included in the provision that will be made and will be covered by the £30,000 which has been voted by the House. I have, I think, put the House in possession of the intentions of the Government and the arrangements we proposed to make. I do not wish to enter on any controversial matters, which can be dealt with afterwards, if raised. I will only submit the Vote to the Committee by saying that I think it is the necessary outcome of the establishment of a Protectorate over Uganda. I know there are hon. Members who would be glad if we retired from Uganda altogether. That has often been discussed, and I think I am not going too far in saying that I regard that matter as having been settled and decided. It is no longer a possible alternative, and I think I am justified in submitting this Vote to the House as an arrangement which may be regarded with satisfaction by the Committee as a provision for the future administration of the country, the maintenance of our control and influence over it, and the safety of the Protectorate of Uganda itself.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I have listened with the greatest interest and general satisfaction to the statement which has been made in the House by the Under Secretary. I think it would indeed be churlish to make any complaint that this important decision of the Government has been announced to us by him, because we all feel that there is no one in the Government or out of it who has a greater grasp of the subject, or who is able in clearer or more intelligent terms to put his case before the House. But though, Sir, I do not make any complaint, I may be permitted to express a little surprise, because we understood, from proceedings in another place, that this statement would be made here by another and still more important Member of the Government, although I cannot admit he is better qualified to make the statement than my hon. Friend. I am sure we shall wait with 1093 interest to hear what will be said in the further development of this Debate by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is the Member of the Government I more particularly refer to. In another place we understood the head of the Government considered this declaration of policy of so much importance that he announced that the statement would be made by the Leader of this House. There has evidently been a change of plan, and it is most difficult for any of us to even entertain a suspicion as to what could have been the reason for this change. Now, Sir, dealing with the statement of the hon. Baronet, I have to say that, in the first place, it affords the greatest possible justification for the action of the late Government and the position taken up, consistently from the first, by the Unionist Party. We have always said it is necessary for the honour and interests of this country that a protectorate should be established over Uganda. In the time of the late Government that was absolutely denied, but we now find it accepted, if not unanimously, at all events by a great majority on both sides of the House. We also said at a later period that the protectorate of Uganda would involve an extension of protectorate over the country which commanded communication with Uganda. The Under Secretary has declared to-day that that was a self-evident proposition. It is a curious thing that that self-evident proposition on the occasion of previous discussions escaped the notice of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because we were told by him that any such protectorate would be almost immoral, and certainly a most impolitic proceeding. He also said:—If you are going to establish a protectorate over Uganda you would inevitably have to make a railway, since that was the only way that territory could be cheaply administered and profitably developed.I congratulate the Government on having come at last to the same conclusion, but I regret the hesitation and delay which have marked their action. But I cannot help saying I think the time has now come when we may expect from the Chancellor of the Exchequer an explanation of the circumstances and reasons which have led him to change his opinion. 1094 When the question was previously discussed the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a powerful statement and laid before the House arguments which no doubt demanded full consideration. For instance, I find the Chancellor of the Exchequer said it was quite impossible to make the railway without forced labour. We rejoice that the Government has come to the conclusion that the railway is a necessity, but we do not wish to see it made by forced labour. I trust, therefore, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will tell us how he is able now to assure us it is possible to make it without forced labour, when previously he said this was impossible.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
But does the Chancellor of the Exchequer think it a legitimate thing to make that railway with forced labour? Does he think that this country, which is doing its utmost to put an end to slavery, which is going, at considerable expense and even at some risk, to prohibit the legal status of slavery in Zanzibar—does he think it is a moral and proper thing for us to use forced labour, which is only another name for slavery, in the construction of that railway? That seems to me to be a most unprincipled thing and any British Government which knowingly and deliberately introduces forced labour into Central Africa is doing that which is absolutely inexcusable. I put the Chancellor on the horns of a dilemma. He has told us that he still thinks it is impossible to make this railway without forced labour. What is his position in the Government? He is Leader of the House and a most important Member of the Government. We know his influence is supreme if he chooses to exercise it; that the Government could not go on a single day without him; and he has it in his power, if he thinks this is an immoral project, to stop it. I am perfectly astounded by the interjection the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made. I have come to the conclusion that he has changed his opinion. He is right, and I ask what has led him to adopt that change of view? Here is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the face of the House of Commons, declaring that he believes we 1095 are about to do an immoral thing, which he has it in his power to prevent, and he sits there and allows this to be done by his colleagues and a Government in which he has supreme influence. That is a matter which undoubtedly requires further explanation. But here is another statement with regard to this railway, also made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Again, it is not an expression of opinion, but a positive statement:—The railway can only be made by men with Winchester repeating rifles in their hands. You must have platelayers with rifles every hundred yards along the line.The railway is 800 miles long; there is to be a platelayer with a rifle every 100 yards. As far as I can make out that will involve a force of 14,000 platelayers with rifles. What does the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer say about that? Does he still offer to the House this prospect of our having to employ these 14,000 men with rifles in their hands? Then there is another point. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the making of this line would tend a great deal more to promote slavery than to prevent it. Has the right hon. Gentleman changed his mind upon that point also? The interjection which the right hon. Gentleman made just now leads me to suppose that he still retains his opinion upon these points. If so it is evident that he has made himself personally responsible for a proposal which he believes will tend to promote slavery rather than to prevent it, which will involve forced labour on that part of Africa, and which will require an army of nearly 15,000 men. Never was such a proposal made to the House of Commons, and if any subordinate Member of the Government had made such a proposal the right hon. Gentleman himself would have been one of the first to hold that he was guilty of an act of political immorality. That such a course as this should have been taken by a person in the position of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House passes altogether my comprehension. I have dealt with the point on which the Government as a whole have entirely justified the opinions on this matter which have been previously expressed by the Unionist Party. There is one other point upon which I have to congratulate the Government, 1096 and that is in reference to the simplification which they are going to introduce into the administration of this important State. When we last discussed the matter I expressed an opinion as to the great difficulty and complication that would arise in reference to the administration if this strip of the coast, the interior, and Uganda itself were all under separate administrations. As I understand the Under Secretary there will be only one administration for East Africa, from the coast to Uganda, which will be included in one single protectorate. Of course, that will get rid of a great number of difficulties, which must be vast, if there were to be a separate administration. I noticed an ironical cheer from the hon. Member below me, when the Under Secretary stated the amount of the Imperial charge that would be laid upon the country in carrying out these arrangements; but the House must not be led away into supposing that it will be necessarily a continuous a growing charge, because, if the country takes over the cost of the administration, it takes over at the same time the revenues that will accrue in consequence of that administration; and I have every reason to believe that, when the railway is made, importations will greatly increase, and therefore the annual charge upon this country will probably be correspondingly a decreasing charge. There is every reason to hope that, as has been the case in every instance in which we have undertaken responsibilities for this kind of colony, the colony will, before a great many years are past, prove to be a self-supporting one. There are only two points with regard to which the statement of the Under Secretary was incomplete. Although it would be ungenerous not to admit that much has been done, still I regret that the Government are not prepared at the present time to go a little farther. We predicted that they would have to go as far as they have gone, and so we have turned out to be true prophets to that extent. I will now make another prediction, that they will have to go farther, and they will only unnecessarily delay the solution of the question by not grappling with the difficulty at once, by extending the protectorate to the territories around Uganda 1097 which are all within the sphere of influence of this country. It is impossible to suppose that these countries will not eventually form part of the protectorate. At present we are engaged in hostilities with Kabarega. Some people express sympathy with him, but I suppose he is about as bad a specimen of the native slave-dealer as is to be found on that coast. He holds at the present time some 20,000 people in slavery, and it is perfectly absurd to undertake this responsibility without opening our eyes to the obligations before us. The "Little Englanders" are perfectly consistent. They would have prevented all the extension of the Empire that has taken place within the last 100 years for reasons exactly as strong and similar in character that they put forward now. And holding these views they are perfectly consistent and are perfectly right in pointing out that you cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs, and that you cannot undertake the responsibility for these countries inhabited by these savage people without facing the necessity of the case and without being prepared to spend money and, to a certain extent, life. That is absolutely necessary; but, in my opinion, it was as absolutely justified in the past, as it will be in the future, by the benefits which will ultimately accrue. If we can extend, as we shall extend, to the vast and fertile territory that pax Britannica which would enable the people of the country to live quietly and engage in agriculture and other pursuits, we shall save infinitely more lives than can possibly be taken in the preliminary proceedings necessary to put down those who at present disturb their peace. I regret that the Government have not faced their responsibities in this matter and have not told us what they are going to do with the territories which surround Uganda. I suppose it may be answered to what I am going to say that the question does not arise out of the present Vote, but it is closely connected with it; but I must say that I regret that no further statement was made by the Government with reference to the territories on the Nile. Colonel Colvile sent an expedition to Wadelai, which, we are told by the Undersecretary, has been withdrawn. But I should like to know upon what ground that expedition has been withdrawn and 1098 what view the Government take with reference to their obligation in connection with the Upper Waters of the Nile. That is a most important part of the question—it is, indeed of infinitely greater importance, in consequence of its connection with our European relations, than even the protectorate of Uganda. May I remind the Committee of the position in which the latter stands? The Under Secretary, speaking with the full authority of the Government, told us the other day that the Government would regard as an unfriendly act any expedition by France or other foreign State which should enter upon the Upper Waters of the Nile which the Government regarded as being within the British sphere, or the Egyptian sphere, of influence. But what, if such an expedition does reach the Nile, is the Government prepared to do? Having stated publicly before the world that they would regard the sending of such an expedition as an unfriendly act, are the Government in a position to say that there is no chance of such an expedition actually being sent? From the latest information I have received, which is, of course, not authoritative, and which may amount merely to one of those rumours which are so frequently current, it appears that a portion of the expedition of M. Decazes has been lost sight of, which is a euphonism for saying that it is proceeding in the direction of the Nile. That is a most serious state of things, which may lead to a situation of great danger. Whilst I am perfectly content to place implicit confidence in the Government if they will tell us that they are alive to all that is going on, we are entitled to ask them to give us such assurances as will remove all cause for alarm. I think I have dealt with the main points of the statement of the hon. Gentleman, and I repeat that, as far as he is concerned and as the mouthpiece of the majority of the Government as a whole, that statement will be received with satisfaction by both sides of the House.
§ SIR G. BADEN-POWELL (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
congratulated the Government upon the reversal of their former policy, which the statement of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs had indicated. He regretted, however, 1099 that more detail had not been given, and that owing to the delay that had taken place in arriving at a decision by the Government in declaring a protectorate over Uganda great expense and possibly some bloodshed had been incurred. He was disappointed that the hon. Gentleman had not given the House some further information in regard to the railway, and he should like to know the date at which it would be commenced. He should like to know whether the Government were going to combine with Germany in the construction of a railway, and whether the line was to start from a German or a British port. They wished also to know whether the railway would be made by forced labour. He was quite of opinion that without this railway neither our interests nor our honour could be preserved in that part of Africa. But why had the Government for three years opposed its construction, at the cost of heavy expenditure in Uganda, and the loss of valuable lives? If they had really intended to make the railway they should have made it at first, and not allowed our men to go upon that three-months' journey through the wildernesses, when they knew that ultimately they were going to make the railway. They ought to congratulate themselves that the Government was following in the footsteps of its predecessors in regard to this decision. They were bound in every way to make this railway, but they ought, he thought, to insist on the Government coming to some decision as to the date of the commencement of the railway, and how far they intended to proceed with it. They were now only aware that the Government approved of the construction of a railway, but he should have liked them to have asked for money and to have laid a scheme before the House. He was convinced that the House, and the country, would have granted anything the Government might have chosen to determine on for such a purpose, and he hoped before the Debate closed that the Leader of the House himself would tell them that he was prepared to find the money to start this railway. The railway, if it started from a good port, would develop the country through which it passed. He thought the Government had come to an eminently satisfactory conclusion. He did not like 1100 to hear much said about the authority of the Sultan of Zanzibar, because we had practically annexed the Sultan of Zanzibar, with all his territory, and were really responsible, not only for the coastline, but also the interior of the island. He cordially supported the Government in making three distinct administrations; geographically the three areas were very distinct. The island, the East African coast, and Uganda, as a protectorate, were three distinct areas, with distinct needs; he hoped, however, that some head would be found to unite all three protectorates in a common policy. He feared that £30,000was a very low estimate to make, on account of the delay in taking over the administration by the Government, and it would not cover expenditure in connection with petty wars; but on the other hand, he thought the Under Secretary had by no means over-estimated the possible revenue. There was one system of raising revenue which we had not yet tried in our own protectorates or colonies, but which had been tried by foreign nations, and he thought in that respect we might follow our foreign friends. He wished the hon. Baronet had given them some indication of the process of raising the revenue which was contemplated. He cordially congratulated the Government on having taken perhaps the most important step ever taken by any British Government in opening up tropical Africa, and he hoped it would be but the first step in a policy which would be applied to both of the coasts of Africa. They could not limit their responsibilities or their duties in that respect. Not only would they by this step open up these countries to their commerce, and do their duty in disestablishing slavery, but they would afford a fresh opportunity for the young men of England to obtain useful work. He congratulated the Government on having adopted the policy of the Party to which he belonged.
§ *MR. T. SNAPE (Lancashire, S. E., Heywood)
said, that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer had formerly opposed the proposal to construct a rail-i way he also had been hostile to the scheme. He still believed that at that time any such attempt would have been ill advised, and would have resulted in bloodshed, but circumstances had now 1101 changed, and he intended to vote with the Government because he thought they might now safely undertake the protectorate, and indeed, there was no option but to do so. By undertaking this protectorate we had certainly largely increased our national responsibilities, and therefore it was desirable that we should have such authority as would enable us to control those foreigners who might settle in the country. If the railway to Ugunda could only be constructed by forced labour he should not even now be in sympathy with its construction. But he thought the term "forced labour" would hardly be found to be applicable to the kind of labour it was contemplated to employ in the work, for he understood that it would be labour hired for wage and willingly rendered for wage. Still, he should await with much interest the remarks which the Chancellor of the Exchequer would no doubt make on this point at a later period of the Debate. There were what were called domestic slaves in Zanzibar and on the mainland, but those people were employed for wage and willingly gave their labour for wage. Such men had been engaged as carriers by Stanley, and by every one of the pioneers who had explored the interior. It might be true that many of those men deserted, but they did so only from timidity. He did not suppose there would be any difficulty in obtaining the services of such men in the construction of the railway, and though their labour in this and similar cases was termed forced, or slave, labour he believed it would be found to be much of the same class of labour as that employed in our own country—labour hired and willingly given for wages. Having undertaken the protectorate, it was important and desirable that communication with the interior should be opened up, at least as far as the protectorate extended. He did not agree with the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, however, that that communication should be extended to the unsettled regions round about Uganda. They had gone far enough at present in going to Uganda, where they had already established themselves and introduced a certain degree of settled Government. There was another reason which had induced him to take up the position he now assumed on the matter. They had 1102 been told how the trade of Lancashire was suffering from the competition of the Chinese and Japanese; and, as the representative of a Lancashire constituency, he knew what had boon the feeling in the county owing to the levying of the Indian Import Duties. Lancashire undoubtedly had been passing through a long and severe time of depression, and if as a Government or a Parliament they could do anything to develop or increase the trade of the country they ought to do it without hesitation, and the best way of securing that advantage was by the opening up of new markets. He believed the construction of the railway to Uganda would have that effect, would largely benefit East Africa, and would at the same time confer great advantages on the manufacturing and commercial interests of this country. On those grounds he should support the Government in the action they had taken.
§ MR. W. ALLEN (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
said that, last year, he voted against the Government because he believed that it was impossible for this country to govern and administer Uganda successfully unless there were some easy means of transit between that country and the coast. He still held that opinion. But the Government had that night told the House of a great change in their policy and had stated that they intended to construct a railway in Uganda. That being the case he should vote in support of their policy. He believed that, if a railway were constructed, it would be possible to successfully develop and administer the country. There would, no doubt, be objections urged against the building of the railway—and, indeed, against our staying in Uganda at all—by his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton. The hon. Member urged the same objections again and again whenever there was any question of this country acquiring any territory in any part of the world. For his part he had very little sympathy with the objections that his hon. Friend always took, and in this case he had less sympathy than usual with him. He believed that at the present time when we were losing market after market, and when our trade was so depressed, it was necessary for us to endeavour to obtain new ones; and he had hopes that in the future there would be a great market developed in Uganda 1103 for the trade of this country. Another reason why he would support the Government was—that he believed their policy was calculated to put down slavery in Central Africa. He agreed with the right hon. Member for West Birmingham that if they took this step they would have to go further; but he was so convinced that what was contemplated would not only serve the interests of this country, but also those of the inhabitants of Central Africa, that he should not hesitate to vote with the Government on that occasion.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that his hon. Friend who had just sat down seemed to approach matters such as were now under consideration with the acquisitiveness of a magpie. His hon. Friend was in favour of the extension of the Empire. The world, however, was limited, and other countries would not be likely to permit us to pursue a policy of continuous annexation. If he had not arrived at the age when nothing could surprise one, he should certainly have felt surprised when the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs laid down the policy of the Government. He was curious to know how many of the Under Secretary's colleagues agreed with him. He regretted greatly that Parliament did not exercise more control over our Foreign Affairs, which at the present moment were managed by two noblemen. The first step in this Uganda business was the granting of a charter to the East Africa Company, whose expansive policy the Under Secretary appeared to think commanded general admiration. Having made treaties with the kings, the company came to the conclusion that their speculation was a bad one, and they announced to the Government that they intended to withdraw. Lord Salisbury was then Minister for Foreign Affairs. He was a Jingo, but there was method in his madness, and he took good care not to annex Uganda or to convert it into a Protectorate. But his successor, the present Prime Minister, announced that his policy was to "peg out claims for futurity" in Africa, and the Liberal Party apparently accepted that policy, as they accepted every single proposal submitted to them by Her Majesty's Government. [An hon. MEMBER: "No!"] Why, the hon. Member himself had just made a 1104 speech in which he renounced all his former views and did his best to rival the Jingoism of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. When the present Ministry came into Office the House was told that a Commissioner was to go to Uganda with a free hand. He knew at the time that that meant that the Commissioner would annex Uganda. In fact, the Commissioner, before starting, declared that that was his intention. He raised the British flag in Uganda, and then some sort of vague administration was set up in the country. Now we were asked to establish a protectorate between Uganda and the sea-shore and to buy out the company, and it was intended to build a railway from the coast to Uganda. The best proof that this policy was bad and illiberal was that the Conservative Party had acclaimed it with wild cheers. They were asked to vote £30,000 for the administration of the country lying between Uganda and the sea-coast. What was the nature of this territory for the administration of which this money was wanted? In a letter published in The Times that morning, Captain Lugard said:—The Company, whose administration has long been paralysed by the state of suspended animation, in which the protracted negotiations with Government have placed them, has now been dispossessed. Various proclamations and actions by the Government have had the effect of discrediting them. The result is what might with confidence have been anticipated. Constant trouble with Witu has involved the Government in much expense and loss of life, and in the last few days, since it was known that the company were to go, we hear that the powerful Arab chief Mbarak bin Rashid, who for years waged war with the Sultan, has risen in arms. Still more recently we hear that Baroka of Takaungu is hending a second revolt, and it is announced that punitive expeditions are to be organised against each. In another direction the Consul-General has had to order the armed occupation of three stations on the Tana against Somali raids, and we may hear any day of fresh trouble with the Masai and Wa-Kikuyu.That was the territory which the hon Gentleman (Mr. Snape) thanked the Government for describing as a glorious accession to the British Empire. The Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs said he did not suppose any one would suggest the alternative policy of Withdrawal. Well, he would take the liberty of suggesting it at once, and the sooner 1105 it was done the better. The country, they were told, would be an accession to the British Empire. Unfortunately Europeans could not live in it. ["No."] Perhaps he was wrong in saying they could not live in it. But at all events Europeans could not colonise the country, because they could not bring up white children. It would be like the position of India, to which Europeans might be able to go and live a few years, but they would have to send their wives and children, back to England. It was obvious, therefore, that accounts in the newspapers of a happy population of English labourers going out there with their wives and families, dwelling in these swamps and jungles, were utter nonsense. On what grounds wore we to go there? He had been told over and over again that it was absolutely necessary to go there in order to put an end to the slave trade. There never was a greater piece of humbug ever palmed off upon good, well-meaning, innocent philanthropists since the commencement of the world. There was no slave trade in Uganda. There was domestic slavery, but no slaves. It was in Zanzibar and Pemba, which was really to all intents and purposes a portion of the British Empire, that we had the greatest slave market in the world, and what was the result? The result was that naturally the Arab slave catchers in the centre of Africa went on catching slaves and sending them down to the market we ourselves provided for them. Moreover, by means of this slave population we were enabled to get their labour as porters and carriers, and we were obliged—we who were so boastful of our putting down the slave trade, and must needs go to Uganda in order to do it—we had to hire these slaves and send them to Uganda as porters. That in itself produced the demand which produced the supply. By turning our attention to the quarter indicated, it was obvious we should do infinitely more to put an end to slavery than if we were to go to Uganda. The other thing was the extension of markets for British goods. What was it his hon. Friend wanted to be exported from Uganda, and what imported?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Well, that is vague. As already pointed out, the only possible produce was produced by slaves there. And surely his hon. Friend—he did not know if he had travelled in the interior of Africa—was aware that the very last thing a negro thought of doing was to work in order to exchange his goods with the products of other countries. No, what he wanted was gin, and a gun and some powder in order to shoot his neighbour when he got the chance. But, as he understood, gin and gunpowder were just the things we were not going to allow these natives to be supplied with; and, therefore, when they talked about extending the markets of the world by the annexation of Uganda it was perfect nonsense. The truth was, in this matter we drew out the chestnuts for the German, who were a little more unscrupulous than we, and managed to get his gin and gunpowder up there and to sweep in any little products there were in exchange for the gin and gunpowder. All this, however, was just so many pleas put forward. The real reason why hon. Gentlemen opposite were so anxious to make this annexation in Central Africa was that they had a grand Jingo dream of Empire. They seemed to think we were always going to stop in Egypt, but we had pledged ourselves to leave Egypt, and could not put in a claim for the whole territory between Uganda and Egypt simply because we had looted Uganda and were staying in Egypt in defiance of our honourable pledges to the whole of Europe. Now, about this railway: he looked forward to a speech from the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject, because he was a follower, in this matter, of the Chancellor the Exchequer. He remembered the noble speech his right hon. Leader made, he thought, in the last Parliament. If he had needed conversion, his right hon. Friend's speech would have thoroughly convinced him that of all the absurd, ridiculous things ever imagined by the mind of man, the absurdest and most ridiculous was that of spending money to build a railway between the coast and Uganda. Did the Under Secretary know how many Europeans there were at present in Uganda? There were 20, and yet it was recommended as a sound measure of 1107 economy to build a railway of 800 miles in order to feed these 20 Europeans! Was the railway expected to pay? Oh, no; it was not pretended that it would pay. The cost, they were told, would be two millions. But, ho asked the Committee, did they not always discover when a Government, wanting to do some public work in a free and easy way, mentioned two millions, that it cost four? He had no doubt this railway would cost four millions. And not only would there be the cost of those four millions, but we should have to maintain that railroad. If they were so very anxious to make railways, surely it was more reasonable to try to bring their own agricultural produce at home to their markets cheaply than to make railways in Uganda. Moreover, if they were to engage in such undertakings in England they would be employing English labour, whereas in Uganda they would have to employ slave labour. This Vote was divided into two portions, and the first was for the administration of the country between Uganda and the sea-coast. In the speeches delivered on the same day by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the present President of the Board of Trade in the last Parliament, both right hon. Gentleman pointed out that there were nothing but wild and savage tribes and deserts in this part of the country; and why they should pay £30,000 per annum to establish a protectorate there, and have the silly boast and swagger that they had increased and extended the British Empire, he really did not know. The second Vote was to give £50,000 to the Company. If ever a Company deserved little or nothing from an English Parliament it was the East Africa Company. The Company obtained their Charter, which they based on a Concession of ten miles of the coast which they had hired from the then Government of Zanzibar. They were to pay £10,000 per annum for this Concession, and they had the right to levy Duties with which to pay the £10,000, the expenses of administration, and a good, sound, philanthropic dividend to themselves. Besides this, the Charter gave them powers over the country behind this slip of coast. They were now told that 1108 although the Company had paid absolutely nothing to the Zanzibar Government, and although they had found they could not work the Concession at a profit, they were actually to receive £200,000 for giving up a Concession which cost them nothing. That was monstrous; but, as if they did not receive enough, this country was to pay them an additional sum of £50,000. What this was for he was waiting to hear. An hon. Member said it was for work they had done in. the territory beyond the coast. What was that work? They had acted in the meanest and most disreputable way ever Englishmen acted. They went up to Uganda, made treaties with the King and Chiefs, pledged themselves to remain there and support the Chiefs, and when they found it was a bad speculation they threw over the treaties, sneaked out of the country, and appealed to the British Government to take their place. ["No, no!"] They had, he contended, announced that, whether the Government took their place or not, they would withdraw from their obligations, and if a debtor and creditor account were to be opened between the Company and the Government—which meant the country—the latter ought really to receive from, instead of pay anything to, the Company for taking over their obligations. Another reason why he opposed the grant to the Company was, because at the present moment claims were made against them by France on account of the cruel way they were alleged to have treated the Catholic inhabitants of Uganda; and until they knew to what extent this country might be responsible for those Catholic claims they ought certainly to pay nothing to the Company. He knew they were told that the Company was made up of philanthropists—but they were business philanthropists, a prospectus they issued for more capital being one of those flowery documents eminently calculated to attract the poor widow and orphans. Some of the members of this Company had already received titles. They had been made baronets, knights, and such-like things, which were the delight of all business philanthropists; but, not satisfied with this, they now wanted the country to give them 1109 £50,000 for a Concession which they could not work, and which they had received from Zanzibar for absolutely nothing. He regretted all these African annexations, and he still more regretted that the Government were taking so favourable a view of the plutocracy of this country. Whenever the question was one which affected rich men the Government were always ready to help them; but if it had been two or three hundred poor men who had lost their money they would have had to whistle a long time before they got £50,000. He was against all annexation of territory, no matter where it was. Such territories cost them an enormous amount of money, and they did not repay their cost. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said the other day that the limits of taxation were already reached, and therefore he, was a little surprised at the right hon. Gentleman's having assented to the limits being extended by the expenditure of these large sums in Central Africa. There had been a falling-off on the Treasury Bench from the principles that distinguished the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian. He read a letter from that right hon. Gentleman the other day, in which he said he went all the length in—denouncing the strain, and would almost say the insane strain, of ideas and opinions with respect to defensive establishments (so-called) which has obtained such a hold on the public mind. It is well-nigh enough to make our fathers and grandfathers rise from their graves and walk around howling.He had not walked out of his grave, but he made no apology for standing up in that House and howling in despair at these wild and reckless annexations; and he could well understand the right hon. Member for Midlothian joining in howling against the Government on those matters. He protested against this policy. What would happen in the next Parliament, supposing the Unionists obtained a majority? In times gone by there were, in regard to this question, but two Parties in the House—one Party in favour of the annexation of territory and the enlargement of the Empire; the other Party not so much in favour of it. The fact that there was an Opposition had a controlling effect on Conservative Governments in this matter. But supposing a Conservative Government got 1110 into Office, they would be able to say when any Radical protest was made against their policy: "Look at your own Leaders; we are not worse than they. In fact, we are better than they, because we do not go so wildly and so recklessly as they did." It was probable that jingo craze in regard to Africa would go on for a certain number of years;—he did not think it would go on longer than a certain number of years; but meantime they would have spent enormous sums of the taxpayers' money, and put themselves into antagonism with many of the countries with whom they wished to remain friends.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham asked the House why it was that the announcement made to the House on behalf of the Government was made by my hon. Friend who so ably represents the Foreign Office in this House. The answer is a very simple one. Certainly, so far as I am concerned in the management of the Business of the House or of the Government Business, I always think that men, especially of the signal ability of my hon. Friend, should be the spokesmen of their Departments (hear, hear); and for me to have taken the matter out of the hands of my hon. Friend, who in so distinguished a manner has represented his Department on this and other questions, would have been on my part very unworthy conduct. I do not think that I have ever done anything in this House to induce hon. Members to believe that I should shrink from any responsibility attaching to myself in regard to this or any other matter. I am perfectly willing to accept the whole of the responsibility which belongs to me in regard to the policy and proposals now laid before the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham asks me whether I have changed my opinion on the subject of Uganda. I have not changed my opinion at all. What was the position in which the present Government found themselves in reference to the occupation of Uganda? When they came into Office they found the Company that had come forward—as I said at the time, and as I still think—most imprudently, without sufficient resources, to occupy Uganda That Company had entirely failed to 1111 sustain the position it had assumed, and in the time of the late Government they had given notice that they intended to abandon Uganda, and the late Government accepted that notice on the part of the Company with respect to Uganda. That was just before the change of Government. The late Government had made no provision for what was to follow from the evacuation of Uganda by the Company. The responsibility then attached to the present Government of determining what was to be done. We considered, as we stated at the time to the House, that it was impossible, in the position of the British occupation of Uganda, that we could leave it derelict, as it had become in the hands of the East Africa Company. We found it necessary to sustain that occupation in the situation the Company had placed it. For a time the occupation of the Company was continued. That position was found impossible by the Company and by the Government, and therefore it became necessary to—I do not know the phrase to use—to expropriate the Company, not only from the part of the country which they had themselves abandoned, but also from that part of the territory stretching along the coast, which unquestionably was profitable to them. Then arose this situation. The Government felt themselves bound to occupy Uganda and the territory that was still in the hunds of the Company, unprovided with administration or with the means of treating with the intervening territory, as it was necessary it should be treated in order to maintain communications with Uganda, of which the Government had undertaken the occupation. The question then arose, What were the inevitable consequences or corollary of that occupation? My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton takes the line that it is an absurdity to hold Uganda. But even he admitted that if we were to occupy it we must establish some means of communication less extravagant and less expensive than the present means of communication by caravan from the coast to Uganda. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham asked me whether I hold to the opinions I have expressed as to the objections to the occupation. I have seen no reason whatever to alter my 1112 opinion on the subject. We consented to occupy Uganda because of the situation in which we found ourselves. I know there are people who pretend to be better judges and better prophets in these matters than any other men. There are people who believe Uganda is to be an Ei Dorado, if not of gold, then of profit of some kind or other. I am old enough to have heard a number of prophecies of that description. I remember how Asia Minor was to be turned into a paradise, how the steam plough was to cultivate Armenia. That was some 12 or 15 years ago; but the steam plough is not cultivating Armenia to-day. We were also told that Cyprus was to be an outlet for our commerce, and was to render us immense profits. These vaticinations did not turn out to be well founded; and I must be permitted now to be sceptical as to whether we are going to establish a flourishing colony where white men are to cultivate the ground under the Equator. I still doubt the probability of that event. I know there are people who think that you can establish a new India under the Line. I doubt that. They may turn out to be right and I to be wrong; but I say that up to the present I have seen no ground for altering that opinion. Then the right hon. Gentleman referred to one particular point upon which I had at the time insisted. And I would remind the House that when I was speaking on that occasion against the railway, it was against the railway that was to be made for the convenience of this joint stock company who were then in occupation of Uganda. I was not speaking of a railway which was to go through British territory, and which we found it necessary to establish there. But the point to which the right hon. Gentleman referred is one of very great consequence, and one which I think has not been gravely considered by this House or by people outside as it deserves to be. You are going to deal with communities and with countries in which the social condition is one of slavery. You are going to undertake the protectorate of a vast territory in which your protectorate must be conducted amongst people to whom domestic slavery is an actual and a necessary condition of life. In my opinion it is difficult, and it will become more difficult 1113 every day, to reconcile those conditions with the sentiments held by English people in reference to slavery. We have not been able yet to gauge exactly the actual expense of abolishing slavery in Zanzibar. Are you going to undertake to abolish domestic slavery in the whole of Central Africa? Have you any conception of what that operation will be? The right hon. Gentleman referred to the question of the labour by which this railway is to be made. What is the labour that is now employed in the locality, and which carries goods from Zanzibar to Uganda? What was the labour with which Stanley was supplied in his celebrated journey from the Congo to the lakes? Where are you going to get the labour, which is necessary? Supposing that your expectations are entirely fulfilled; supposing that you do create a great and flourishing trade in those parts, you will develop, no doubt, a demand for labour; but what is the labour, and what is the source from which you are to obtain it? These are matters which require much graver consideration than has yet been applied to them; and the people who talk about these enterprises as being enterprises that are to diminish slavery seem to me to have given very little consideration to the conditions with which they will have to deal. These are the grounds which lead me to believe, that if the matter had to be begun de novo you would require to give it much greater consideration before entering on an enterprise of this character. But we have stated—and we adhere to that statement—that, in the position in which we found ourselves with Uganda so occupied, we were unable to retire from the country, and were obliged to maintain our position there. All that is proposed by this Vote is the necessary and inevitable consequence of that position, and to that I am prepared to adhere. There is only one other point in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham to which I must refer. I must express my deep regret at the provocative language which he used to France. I think language of that kind, especially coming from a gentleman in the position of the right hon. Gentleman, is much to be deplored. When he called upon us to state what it was that we were prepared to do 1114 if France entered upon action hostile to this country, I think he was employing language which was most mischievous and most dangerous to the peace of the world. [Cries of "Oh!"] He talked about pax Britannica. I do not know whether the occupation of Central Africa would be best described as pax Britannica, but the language in which the right hon. Gentleman indulged towards a friendly nation like France is language which does not in any way tend towards the pax Britannica. The right hon. Gentleman said that all his prophecies had been fulfilled, and he made a further prophecy, and demanded to know whether the Government considered it part of their policy to occupy Unyoro and to extend their occupation and dominion to the Valley of the Nile. I have no hesitation in saying that is no part of the policy of Her Majesty's Government; it is no part of the policy we have proposed in this Vote. The Government were not responsible for the original policy of the occupation of Uganda. Having found Uganda occupied, and feeling that the country could not honourably retire from the obligations into which it had entered, they have determined to take upon themselves the responsibility of the occupation of the territory of Uganda. They have defined the limits of that occupation. The proposals which are now made in the Vote for the administration of the territory intervening between Uganda and the coast are the necessary consequences of that policy. It is upon that ground that we ask the House to support this Vote.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
I am very loth to trouble the Committee again, but as the speech of the right hon. Gentleman is professedly an answer to certain questions I addressed to him, I hope the Committee will bear with me while I say one or two words in regard to his answer. In his concluding observations he reproached me with having used provocative language towards the friendly Power of France, and with having, in fact, used language which was dangerous to the peace of the world. I beg to say, in my opinion, that is nothing but a bit of political claptrap of the very lowest kind, a device which the fight hon. Gentleman is frequently accustomed to use in this House, but of which we have never had a more glaring example than 1115 upon the present occasion. The language I quoted was the language of his own Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and I asked the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues whether they were prepared to give us any further information with regard to the situation which was exposed to us by the Under Secretary. I used no word of my own which by any possibility of construction could be construed as being provocative to France or calculated to disturb the peace of the world. I stated to the Committee that the hon. Gentleman, speaking on behalf of the Government, had declared that a particular act on the part of France would be considered as an unfriendly act by this Government. We listened to that statement almost in silence, leaving of course the responsibility of it to Her Majesty's Government. I asked whether the Government had any assurance that no steps were being taken which would lead up to this act which they had declared would be unfriendly, and, if not, whether they could give us any assurance which would be satisfactory to us. Under these circumstances it is nothing more or less than unfair for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to accuse me of having introduced provocative language. Of course it was intended as a rhetorical device to divert the attention of the Committee from the business immediately before it. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to answer questions I had addressed to him, and he proceeded to answer questions I had not addressed to him. I never asked him whether he had changed his mind as to the original occupation of Uganda, although he has elaborately told us be not changed his mind, and that he still entertains the objection which he always expressed to that occupation. That had nothing to do with the point I put before the Committee. I never asked him about the occupation of the intervening territory, or whether he had changed his mind about it. The points I asked him about were exclusively confined to the railway. On a previous occasion, the right hon. Gentleman said this railway could not be made without the employment of forced labour, without the employment of what I showed to be an army of 14,000 men, and that it would do more to promote slavery than to prevent it. I asked him whether he 1116 had changed his mind upon these questions. At the moment he intervened and said in regard to the first of the questions he had not changed his mind, and I assumed that he had not changed his mind on the other point. In the speech he has just made, the right hon. Gentleman has not alluded to any one of those points except by implication, because he has elaborately told us that we ought gravely to consider the situation before we proceed to make a railroad in a country in which slavery prevails. Who ought to consider it? Who are the persons responsible for making this railway? It is not the House of Commons; it is the Government. In this case from whom is he asking for more consideration? I suppose from his colleagues. We come to the personal position of the right hon. Gentleman. I accept the position of the Government; to me it is entirely satisfactory. I do not think an army of 14,000 or forced labour will be required. I believe the railway will do more to prevent slavery in Central Africa than all the squadrons we have had there, at an expenditure of £200,000 a year, for more than a quarter of a century. I do not anticipate any of the dangers the right hon. Gentleman anticipates, but I say upon him a moral responsibility is imposed to tell us whether he has changed his mind in regard to these evils which he foresees and predicts. If he had come forward and told us that on further consideration he had changed his mind, we should have nothing to say. A man would be a fool who did not change his mind when he had information which justified the change, and I have not the slightest intention of blaming the right hon. Gentleman for changing his mind if he tells us he has done so upon sufficient ground. He, however, tells us he has not changed his mind; and yet he is deliberately participating in a policy which he has declared would be followed by these tremendous evils. What is the real situation? The right hon. Gentleman is in a minority in his own Government. He retains his own opinion, he is outnumbered, and he accepts the opinion of his colleagues. Even that is not a criminal offence. I suppose anybody who knows anything about Governments or about the proceedings of any 1117 number of men who agree to work together for a general policy knows perfectly well there are many occasions on which there must be difference of opinion and on which the minority must yield to the majority. But the question, the only question for the consideration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Committee is whether the issues in this case are of sufficient importance to justify the Chancellor of the Exchequer in taking up a decided position. I have pointed out what the issues are. According to the Chancellor of the Exchequer you are going by this Vote, to which he is still opposed, but on which he has been overborne by his colleagues in the Cabinet—you are going to promote slavery in Africa; you are going to involve this country in the expenditure necessary to send an army to make the railway and to guard the railway; and you are going deliberately to make this railway, knowing you can only make it with the assistance of forced labour. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer thinks there are minor questions which he may properly subordinate to the major question of keeping his Party together, that is a matter for himself alone, and we only take notice of the result. But I have pointed out that, so far from his speech being an answer to my questions, he has deliberately ignored every one of those questions.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made a most admirable speech against the Vote. It only remained for the right hon. Gentleman to follow up his speech by voting in the lobby with the hon. Member for Northampton, and he hoped that he would take with him the Chief Secretary, who appeared to be thoroughly enjoying the Debate. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had not mentioned the grounds on which the hon. Member for Northampton and others were voting against this proposal. The main point j against the grant to the company was the question of the Catholic claims, to which not one reference had been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, though in itself it was fatal to the Vote. The other point was the question of the railway on its merits. Would the country believe that the Government which had made such violent speeches 1118 against the railway in the past, had now, through the voice of the Under Secretary, announced that the railway was to be made, and without a single estimate or statement as to one farthing of the expenditure? How could the country be expected to pay money to the company until the question of the Roman Catholic claims had been disposed of? One of the conditions of the evacuation by the company was thatthe Government did not intend to take upon themselves any of the liabilities incurred by the company or its agents in respect to Uganda,—Africa 1, 1893, p. 22.Those words were used because of the existence of the very liabilities which the Government now admitted that M. Waddington, the French Ambassador, pressed for compensation, in respect of these Roman Catholic claims, for the acts of Capain Lugard, who was the agent of the company. In the first interview Lord Rosebery took very strong ground against the French Government, though he toned down his language later. Since November 8, 1893, no statement had been made by the Government in reference to these Roman Catholic claims, except that they were still under discussion. It was known from private sources that two successive missions had been sent to Uganda by the Government to consider these claims. Yet the House had never been told what those Reports were or what was the amount of money for which the French Government asked. It was monstrous that the House should be called upon to vote this money in the circumstances. What was the war in which those damages were incurred? He was not going to assume that there were any damages for which this country ought to be liable. The case of Captain Lugard had been laid before Parliament, and in his statement it was said that the French bishops served out breechloaders for the purpose of continuing the war, and that they got what they deserved. Captain Lugard went on to tell the company—for the rest, the large amount of ivory captured by us in the war will largely indemnify the company's expenses in connection with the fighting."—Africa 2, 1893, p. 65.1119 Therefore Parliament had a lien on this money, and they ought not to part with it to the company until the question of the Roman Catholic claims had been settled. Dealing next with the project of the railway, he said that he was not opposed, like his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, in all circumstances to an extension of Imperial responsibilities, because he believed it was a wise thing for this country to incur responsibilities, and to accept territory on coasts where it could carry on trade. But here the Government were going to make a railway to which they had been long opposed, though there was not a farthing taken in the Vote towards its construction, nor was the smallest estimate for work laid before the House. The Government had an estimate two years ago in the Report of the Mombasa Railway Survey. Did they mean to accept the estimate there given, or was it to be less or more than the cost suggested in that Report? On a former occasion the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that there was no trade in the country, and the right hon. Gentleman quoted Captain Lugard. Sir Gerald Portal could also be quoted to the effect that there was no slave trade in Uganda. The market for the slaves was in Zanzibar and Pemba, and the slaves came through the German sphere of influence from the British Protectorate in Nyassaland. Although Sir Gerald Portal went to Uganda with a foregone conclusion in favour of a railway and annexation, he reported that there was no trade, and that there would not be any trade, there. Something had been said in favour of the climate, but he reminded those hon. Members who supported Uganda for its climate, that Sir Gerald Portal and many officers had been invalided home in succession—a fact which showed, not only that European children could not be reared there, but that it was a dangerous climate even for hardy European soldiers who went there in the prime of life. Did hon. Members remember the words of General Gordon with reference to the whole of the equatorial provinces, including Uganda? General Gordon said:—There can be no trade, for they have nothing to exchange for goods. Poor creatures! They would like to be left alone.1120 Those were Gordon's words of testimony at the end of his second term of office as Governor General of the Sudan. Sir Gerald Portal pointed out in connection with the railroad that there were no natural means of communication to Uganda through the sphere now being made into Protectorates. This new Protectorate was not on the natural road to Uganda at all. In the War Office Report of September, 1892, it was stated that the natural means of communication—the natural approach to Uganda—had always been by water through the German territory. This was the shorter route in time and the easiest, as it was the old-established trade route. We were now trying to develop trade through a sterile and hostile country by artificial means of communication. It never paid, however, to drive trade away from its natural route, and it would not pay now. With regard to the slave trade and the making of the railway, enough had been said that evening. He would, however, remind the House that another great African power had tried making railways in Africa, and had been nearly ruined by it. He referred to the Congo Free State. He was glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had watched that experiment. The Belgian Government which, at the wish of the King of the Belgians, had promoted the union of the Congo Free State with the Belgian Crown, had been obliged to abandon its great measure, to amend the Belgian Constitution, because of the ruin caused to the finances of the Congo Free State through the making of the railway. Her Majesty's Government had told the Committee nothing as to what the Uganda Railway was to cost. In the Report on the cost of the Mombasa railway, the initial cost was alone stated to be pound;2,240,000. That was not the total amount that would have to be paid or guaranteed, and there was, besides, an admitted loss upon the working expenses. Moreover, the line was found to be shorter than was originally supposed; yet, such were the difficulties met with in its construction that the cost would be what he had stated, plus the loss on the working expenses; and there would be a loss which was estimated at pages 60 to 62 of the Report. It was said that the line was to be made by labour imported 1121 from India, and not a single man was to be employed from that part of Africa. From a pure question of £ s. d., it was said that every man employed on that railway must be brought from India and must be selected from certain parts of India. And, not only so, but they were to be protected by an armed force, which would at least have to be considerable, and would have to be employed during the whole time of the construction of the line. The railway would run through the territory of the Masai, who might perhaps recover their former pluck and fight again as they fought before. It was monstrous that the House of Commons should be asked, not exactly to spend the money on making the railway, for this they were not at present asked to do, but, as it were, implicity to sanction the railway by that night's Debate, so that Votes might be asked for on account of the railway on a future occasion. It had been said in the Debate that evening that it was generally understood that the railway was to be made, but some Members of the House would, like himself, protest as strongly as possibly against this course. He did so in no little England spirit. He was not in favour of a universal restriction of our responsibilities, but he was in favour of restricting them in the interior of Africa. He was convinced that we should never see our money back, and he would never cease to protest against the whole of this Uganda business.
*MR. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith)
did not think it would be necessary for him to defend the Government either against their recalcitrant supporters or against their Leader in the House of Commons. He thought that they might congratulate themselves and the country that the Foreign Department of the Government was not controlled by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. There were a good many statements just made by the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean, which came upon him with surprise and which he proposed briefly to deal with. But, first, he would ask the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs to give the Committee some more definite statement in regard to the administration of the ten-mile strip, which was at present a British Protectorate, which was in the strange position of being a portion of Zanzibar, 1122 a British Protectorate, and yet was under concession from the Sultan of Zanzibar to the British East Africa Company. If he understood the Under Secretary correctly, it was intended to sever the connection which now existed between the Zanzibar Island Protectorate and the Zanzibar ten-mile strip. It was important to do it for this reason, because in the Zanzibar Protectorate all treaties with foreign countries run, with the various complicated jurisdic-dictions of foreign consuls towards their own subjects and towards their protected followers. This matter was of great importance—nay, almost of vital importance. We ought to get rid of these treaties, and free ourselves of these responsibilies as far as the ten-mile strip goes. Therefore he asked whether the ten-mile strip was to remain a portion of the Zanzibar Protectorate or was to form a portion of the new Protectorate which would cover the whole district from the coast up to the lake. He further desired to ask whether the new Protectorate was to be under the control of our Consul General at Zanzibar, or was it to be a separate Protectorate? That at Uganda now was a separate one—it reported directly to the Foreign Office; and the Commissioner was in no way responsible to, and did not report to, Mr. Harding at Zanzibar. Was it contemplated to make this new Protectorate subsidiary to that at Zanzibar, or was it contemplated to establish an independent Protectorate? He thought the Government would be well-advised if they were to establish a totally independent one. The interests of that part of Africa were different from those of the islands, which, besides, was a very inconvenient place from which to administer the new Protectorate. It was not as healthy as Mombasa, which would be much more convenient, and would be the starting-point and basis of the railway. Therefore, it would be desirable that the official in charge of the new Protectorate should have his headquarters there, instead of on an island 30 or 40 miles away from the mainland. With regard to the proposed payment of £50,000, it was not for him to say it was too large, nor was it incumbent on him to say it was too small; but, speaking for others as well as himself, he might say that they 1123 considered it a not unfair sum under the circumstances to give to the Company, and, therefore, Her Majesty's Government in proposing it would have the support of the Opposition. But he must enter one caveat against the great delay there had been in arriving at a settlement of the question. In this respect the Government had acted rather unfairly against the Company. The Company gave notice in July 1892—three years ago—that they were going to withdraw, and from that time onwards it had been evident that the position of the Company was untenable. Over and over again the Company asked the Government to submit the question to arbitration, and over and over again the Government refused. The proceedings were dragged out to great length, and the Company had some ground of complaint as to delay. At all events, now that an agreement had been come to, it would only be fair to the Company to bring matters to a conclusion as soon as this Vote was passed. It was not fair to the Company and their servants that they should have to carry on the administration with a rope round their necks. Another point he desired to mention was that of the Catholic claims. He had no official knowledge of what had been going oil since 1892; but he could not help thinking that the fact that Her Majesty's Government had not referred to them in any way indicated that the Government had decided not to meet them. [Sir C. DILKE: "They are under discussion in Paris."] That might be, but still he should be much surprised if the Government were to say they still considered the question an open one. He could not help thinking the Government had come to the conclusion that what the Roman Catholics had suffered was, in a great measure, if not entirely, due to their own action. The most important point of all was the announcement made as to the construction of a railway. He could not conceive how it would be possible, except at an extravagant cost, to retain our position in Uganda without constructing a railway. From Mr. Stanley to Colonel Colvile the chain of evidence in favour of a railway was unbroken. The right hon. Baronet opposite talked about difficulties in making it, and of navvies and plate-layers defended by an army. But what happened in the case of the 1124 railway survey? [Sir C. DILKE: "That is their report."] He had read it through twice that day, and did not find any statements bearing out the view of the right hon. Gentleman. He did not find anything in the report of the Railway Survey to that effect, but he found this:—The line as recommended is a good one.…There are no great, or even serious, difficulties to be overcome.… The work over the greater portion is of a very easy nature.The fact that the survey party had not only traversed the whole of the ground along which it was proposed to make the railway, but had considered other possible lines of route, without the protection of soldiers with rifles posted every 100 yards, was absolute proof that the railway could be made without any difficulty or fear of attack on the part of the natives. The Report, from beginning to end, showed that the line would be a fairly easy line to make from an engineering point of view, and would be as cheap a line to make as many Indian lines had been. With regard to forced labour, the whole of the estimates of the survey of the line were based on the introduction of Indian coolie labour. The strategical necessity for making the line was generally admitted. The hon. Member for Northampton, in a certain periodical for which he was responsible, said:—Without a railway our annexation of Uganda is criminal folly, and contrary to the first elements of military strategy.The commercial advantages of the railway could not be doubted. Every important Chamber of Commerce which considered this question two years ago passed resolutions in favour of the line being made, expecting to derive commercial advantages from it. Sir Gerald Portal, on page 37 of the Blue Book, said:—The prospect of the creation of profitable British trade, the suppression of internecine religious war, the control of the Lake District and the Upper Waters of the Nile are our only hope of killing the slave trade within a reasonable time. All resolves itself into the important and overshadowing question of transport communication;and he pointed out that the only thing to be done was to make a railway. This was our own British Commissioner, sent 1125 out to inquire into the matter. For himself, there was one matter to which he attached more importance—the carrying out of our obligations to foreign countries. By the first Article of the Brussels Act all the Powers agreed that the best means of stopping the slave trade was to promote railways from the coast line into the interior, so as to strike a blow at the slave traders and raiders to be found there. The French had already two railways in their Protectorate of Senegal; the Germans were making a railway in their sphere of influence in East Africa; the Portuguese were making a railway on the West Coast of Africa; and the Congo Free State was making a railway within its territories. Although we were the foremost nation in promoting the Conference which resulted in the Brussels Act, until that day we had declined to take any step in furtherance of the first Article. The right hon. Gentleman pooh-poohed the idea of the railway being able to stop the traffic in slaves. But the map issued with the Report of the Railway Survey marked out the slave caravan routes, and showed there were no fewer than three routes running from Victoria Nyanza to the East Coast alongside of which the proposed railway would run. It was obvious that if the railway was once built we should be able to stop the caravans of slaves carrying down ivory to the coast, because the railway carriage would be so much cheaper than conveyance by slaves. There was nothing so expensive as human porterage. The human being walked more slowly than any other animal, he carried less, he ate more, and fell more easily a prey to the climate. For these reasons and for many others he entirely approved of the proposal to construct this line. In conclusion, he could only express his regret that Her Majesty's Government did not see their way to include in the Vote some sum which might be taken as a first instalment towards carrying out their intentions in this matter.
§ *SIR E. GREY
In reply to the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean and the hon. Member opposite I can only say that I can promise that as soon as the formalities connected with surrender of the Company's Charter are complete the transfer shall take place with as little delay as possible. With 1126 regard to the question of the protectorate, I may point out that the word "protectorate" is hardly as important as that of "administration." Uganda remains a separate protectorate and a separate administration. Vitu will remain a separate protectorate. The ten-mile strip will remain a part of Zanzibar, and in that sense would also be a separate protectorate. The intervening country between the ten-mile strip and Uganda will also become a protectorate; but these three will remain under one administration, which is really the important thing. There is no change in regard to any territory on the further side of Uganda.
MR. J. W. LOWTHER
asked whether, as far as the ten-mile strip was concerned, the treaties with Zanzibar would cease.
§ *SIR E. GREY
The ten-mile strip will remain a part of Zanzibar and subject to the same liabilities as the rest of Zanzibar. With regard to the railways, many questions, such as that of the gauge, the construction, and the nature of the labour, will have to be inquired into. No decision upon these has yet been come to.
§ MR. G. J. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)
asked whether the results of these inquiries would be communicated to Parliament during the present Session.
§ *SIR E. GREY
I am unable to say at present. I can only say that there will be no unnecessary delay. With regard to the Roman Catholic claims, it is undoubtedly the fact that Her Majesty's Government have in recent times made an offer to the French Government with regard to those claims, but no settlement of them has been arrived at. In making that offer, however, Her Majesty's Government never admitted that on the merits of the case they were convinced that there was any liability on their part. They made that offer as a simple act of good will to the French Government, and in deference to the views which had been put forward by that Government. Her Majesty's Government offered in respect of those claims not as large a sum as hon. Members appear to suppose as part of the general settlement. The Committee will surely admit that in such circumstances the questions could only be settled by mutual consent. The fact that 1127 you are prepared to make concessions as an act of good will is not necessarily an admission that you are convinced of the merits of the point of view of the other Government. I hope that in future negotiations both the French Government and Her Majesty's Government will be ready, from time to time, to take into consideration the points of view of each other which they might not themselves be able to accept, because they recognised that mutual concessions were necessary to a satisfactory settlement. The position as regards these claims will not be altered by this vote or by this transfer. The Committee will not be justified in holding the East Africa Company responsible unless, after careful inquiry, you are convinced on the very clearest evidence that, undoubtedly, Captain Lugard had made such mistakes that the Company which had employed him could fairly be held liable for damage done which might have been averted. At the time this damage was caused Captain Lugard was undoubtedly in a very critical sitution. I do not know that it is too much to say that he was in personal danger, and for a time, at any rate, it seemed doubtful which way things would go; all his resources were needed to retain his position and some such questions as this arises: Could he in that crisis have given more protection than he did to the property of Roman Catholic missions? In deference to the view of the French Government, we may be willing to make an offer when they put forward the claim that Captain Lugard might have done more to avert the damage that was done; but it would not be fair to Captain Lugard, or to the Company that employed him, to say that in a crisis like that he might have done things which he did not do, or that he did things which he ought not to have done, unless you have far clearer evidence than we possess. The sum in question is nothing like as large a proportion as the half of this Vote, and I think the Committee will admit that it would not be fair to delay the settlement with the East Africa Company, or to hold them responsible. I should like to relieve the apprehension of the hon. Member for Northampton by saying that, no doubt there is a considerable chief of the name Mbarak bin Rashid, but it is not true 1128 that at the present time he is in revolt, or that we are preparing to have any difficulty with him, or that we expect them to occur.
§ *MR. BURDETT-COUTTS (Westminster)
said, the Debate had taken such a much wider scope than the mere question of the Vote to the Company, that he hoped he would not be out of touch with the Committee if he confined himself to that question. He was fully aware of the jealous caution—the justifiable caution—with which that House, or the Committee of it, regarded a Member who took part in a Debate involving important public issues, and who at the same time might be considered to have personal interests in the matter, whether they were his own or whether they belonged to a body of individuals whom he represented. It had not been a congenial task on former occasions to find himself in this position, knowing as he had done the motives which had animated this Company from its inception, knowing the high character and the patriotism of the men who started it—many of them men who had rendered long and distinguished service to their Queen, and country; knowing the loyalty to those motives with which they had carried it on, and the patience and self-sacrifice, and the untiring energy with which they had worked through a long course of misrepresentation and undeserved difficulties; knowing and feeling these things deeply—it had not been an agreeable position to find himself fettered in the full expression of defence and vindication of the Company by the considerations to which he had alluded. But now that a settlement—of sorts—had been arrived at, he hoped that the Committee would generously discharge him of these suspicions; and as he happened to occupy a position of responsibility to the Company, he would humbly beg hon. Members not to allow any deficiencies on his part to discount the merits of the case he desired to lay before them. That case was not confined to a justification of the Vote under notice, it was a protest against the whole spirit in which the Company had been treated by the Government. He might say at once that the Company were far from satisfied with the compensation now being granted. He would deal with that part of the subject later, and would turn at 1129 once to certain specific points on which the Company had been attacked in this Debate, and a few days ago in another place. On the whole he had no reason to complain of the tone and matter of the speech delivered by the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs on that occasion. But if anyone could read the Company's protracted correspondence and negotiations with the Foreign Office they would see at once a great contrast between the Under Secretary's speech and the tone of that correspondence The latter was pervaded with a spirit of carping, belittling suspicion and jealousy which had, throughout the whole career of this East African enterprise, dogged every step of their dealings with the Foreign Office. And they especially complained of a speech recently made by the Prime Minister in the House of Lords on the 23rd of May, and he would keep that speech in view in dealing with the points raised in this Debate, because it was a fair embodiment of the prejudices which had been manufactured and fostered to the end, against the proceedings of the Company—prejudices of which they bitterly complained as unjust and uncalled for, and of which it was his bounden duty to endeavour to disabuse the minds of hon. Members and of the people whom they represented. On the subject of the French claims for the Catholics in Uganda, of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean had tried to make something, he had been so fully answered by the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs that it was unnecessary for him (the speaker) to do more than say, on behalf of the Company, that no charges had ever been brought against them, no representations ever had been made to them by the Government on this score. If any inquiry had been held it had been done behind their (the Company's) back; and the Company was ready and willing at any moment to meet any vestige of a charge that could be brought. The Chancellor of the Exchequer blamed the Company for going into Uganda, and the hon. Member for Northampton abused them because they had not sufficient capital to stay there. On the first point, too, the Prime Minister had said of his Government:—We, on our part, would have been satisfied to proceed much more slowly and much more 1130 economically, if we had not been pushed into the competition of the race. And therefore we have been forced into Central Africa.But could any words describe with greater force or fidelity the case not of the Government but of the Company? They were formed for limited and definite objects, with a capital as he had said commensurate with the scope of their original undertaking. They certainly should have been better "satisfied to proceed much more slowly," but the energies and capital of the Company were "pushed into the competition of the race" in order to save East Africa for England. This extension of operations arose not out of land hunger or any avaricious motives, but through the force of political exigencies, which the Company had recognised, patriotically, but to their cost. The Company under its original Concession and Charter were required to administer a coastline of only 150 miles, and the limited sphere of British influence as then defined by International Agreement. It was the aggressive hostility, promoted by commercial rivalry, of the neighbouring German company (then established to the north as well as the south of the British sphere) in striving to hem in the British Company and shut England out from gaining access to Uganda and the sources of the Nile, that forced the Company, prematurely, perhaps, but successfully, to establish Great Britain's claims to those regions, and to bring about a readjustment of the respective spheres of British and German influence, thus freeing Her Majesty's Government for all time from the jealous rivalry of a great Power—in other respects, he was glad to say, a great friendly Power—a rivalry which powerfully opposed itself to English claims in the earlier years of the Company's existence. Now, on the question of the Company's capital, the hon. Member for Northampton had sneered at its insufficiency, and the Prime Minister animadverted on the same subject when the latter, at least, must have known that it was the opposition and difficulties placed in their way by the Government, and specifically the fear and reluctance of the Government to declare their intentions with regard to Uganda and the railway that had made it useless for the Company to ask for more capital. Had Her Majesty's 1131 Government merely guaranteed the interest on a railway to be constructed from Mombasa to Lake Victoria—a sum not exceeding £60,000 per annum—had they taken this step which they have now announced, at an earlier date, the capital would have been provided by the Company as necessary to hold and administer Uganda and the vast territory acquired by the Company, an arrangement that would certainly have effected a considerable saving to Her Majesty's; Treasury. He must certainly congratulate the Government on making a very sharp bargain with the Company when they settled the price before announcing their intention to construct the railway. The property they bought would at Twelve o'clock to-night be worth double what it was when the Company accepted their offer. It was very clever; but was it the way in which an English Government should deal with a great national English enterprise? The Company had sufficient capital for the original scope of their enterprise: it was the larger area they wore compelled to embrace, and compelled by public opinion and by national interests and national honour, which made their capital insufficient. Side by side with the British East Africa Company the German Company received, by way of subsidy, a guarantee on a loan of £500,000, and a grant of £30,000 a year, and the Italian Government had paid all the expenses of their enterprise. The British East Africa Company received nothing. They did not ask for anything. And yet the Company stood in the place of the British Government. Upon them depended the guardianship not of their own interests but of the whole national interests of England in the partition of that important portion of Africa. It was not the case of a company extending an existing sphere and taking in large gold-bearing territories. The Company knew it was a poor country; they knew it was an isolated position; the knew it was their mission to place the wedge of British power in that position, trusting that the British Government would take their part in driving it in so as to become an effective location where it was most necessary, both with regard to the North and South of Africa. Did the Government take their part? Did 1132 they assist the Company in the least? No, they must have known the national exigencies of the position, they must have known the Company were doing their work, but they hampered the Company in a hundred ways, and they now were loth to acknowledge who it was that did that work of which they were now reaping the fruits. The noble Lord said—speaking, forsooth! for the Government—that it was "the enthusiasm of the nations for dividing that continent that put us—" the Government—"so far." To whom did the pronoun apply? To the Government? No; to the Company who had been made the corpus vile of this experiment in the "enthusiasm of nations," and it was the English Government and the English nation who had reaped the benefits of it. He was not complaining of the policy of Her Majesty's Government in acquiring the direct administration of British East Africa. On the assumption of the British Protectorate over Zanzibar in 1890 Her Majesty's Consul General virtually assumed the powers of the Sultan, and the position of the Company thereupon so changed as to render the existence of dual control unnecessary and calculated to create friction between Her Majesty's representative and the Company's administrator in East Africa. What the Company did resent was the unmerited depreciation of the Company's services which distinguished the language and attitude of Ministers and officials in effecting a settlement so willingly facilitated by the directors. The Company had been charged with being solely a commercial Company, animated by commercial, mercenary, and personal motives, rather than a company which had been guided throughout its career by political, humanitarian, and patriotic objects. Now there was in the office of the Company a letter from Lord Kimberley, dated the 14th of November last, in which there occurred the following passage:—There is a marked difference between the work of other chartered companies in Africa, in which the commercial element is a prominent feature, and that of the East Africa Company, in which that element has hitherto scarcely existed.Who was the responsible Foreign Minister of this country, when in spite of that letter from the nominal occupant of that office, the noble Lord at the head 1133 of the Government sneered at the Company as a—commercial Company which had expressed its willingness to take its dividends in philanthropy, but when it came to discuss the question of evacuation, was not satisfied with that remuneration.His Lordship must have known that the Company had received no dividends, that they were asking for none, and that on the present arrange, ment they were losing more than half of their capital, and had definitively agreed three months ago to that arrangement. They had been accused by the noble Lord at the head of the Government of delay. He had something to say on this question of delay. The noble Lord stated that he felt purged of any responsibility for the long and, to the Company costly delay, of coining to an arrangement, and by implication that some of that responsibility attached to the Company. But the noble Lord knew that for the last three years they had been willing to retire ever since July 30, 1892, when they submitted a proposal to Lord Salisbury, which he thought of sufficient importance to submit to Sir Gerald Portal in Africa and to ask for a telegraphic reply. What that reply was had never been made known, for shortly after the Seals of Office were transferred to the present Prime Minister. Again, a year later, in May, 1893, they approached the Foreign Office with a committee of shareholders. The Foreign Office said that they must make a definite offer and they made the offer to take 10s. 6d. in the £ of their expenditure up to that date. They were encouraged to believe that that offer would be accepted. But there followed a whole year of fruitless and unnecessary delay, at the end of which the shareholders, having borne the great cost of maintaining the country for a year after that offer was made, had no alternative but to withdraw it. There was no assurance of further compensation to meet the cost they were being put to. Then the Government, having declared its Protectorate over Uganda, made an offer—an offer so indefinite in its terms and so at variance with their former expressed intentions that it took another three months of weary negotiation before they found out what it really was. And now, after depriving the 1134 Company of the use of the money which they would have had for two years, had it been paid in 1893, and after putting them to the enormous extra expense of maintaining the country for those two years, the Government made an offer which was less than their former offer by reason of the great cost of those two years. Insufficient as the directors deemed the offer, they accepted it last March. It was now the middle of June, and no steps had been taken till now. He did not think, therefore, that it was competent for the Government or any of their critics to accuse the Company of delay. But there was the more serious innuendo of the Prime Minister—namely, that the "Company were being paid money without having their accounts inquired into." They had asked, they had pleaded, they had protested, that their accounts should be inquired into, fully and drastically. They asked that they should be inquired into by a Committee to be appointed by the Foreign Office. That request was refused. They asked that they should be inquired into by arbitration. That was the method they wanted; because it would have been the fairest, the most honest, and the most natural way of settling this difficulty. And arbitration was refused point blank. What did this last refusal mean? What did the refusal of arbitration mean in any case, be it of commercial disputes, or labour disputes, or or legal disputes? Did it not mean that the party that refused arbitration was afraid of arbitration and desirous of doing less than justice to the party that claimed it? After these requests and refusals, he said it did not lie in the mouth of the Prime Minister or of any Member of the Government to suggest that they were being paid money without any investigation of their accounts. But the suggestion had been made, and he proposed to answer it by giving the Committee a clear statement of what those accounts were. The Company had spent altogether—i.e., it had put into the property which the British Government was taking over bodily, a sum of £612,281. He would deduct from this the sum, a very inadequate one, paid to the Company by the Government for the last quarter of a year ending March 31, 1893, during which the Company continued to occupy 1135 Uganda at their request, viz., £4,394, plus the sum for the stores there which they took over—after the Company had carried them up—viz., £12,175, making together £16,000. Deducting this £16,000 from the £612,000, there was left the sum of £596,000. Deducting further from this the £58,000 which they had paid in rent to the Sultan and had collected from the Customs, a sum of £538,000 was left, which the Company had put into the property now to be taken over. He desired to fix the attention of the House on this figure of £538,000, because the Company were getting in return for it £250,000. Now, with regard to this £250,000, only £50,000 came before the House, or would be contributed by the British Government. £200,000 was to be paid by the Sultan of Zanzibar. The distinction between the Sultan of Zanzibar and the British Government was merely a nominal one, but it was perhaps important to keep to it in arguing the case, because the £200,000 paid by the Sultan of Zanzibar did not come out of the pocket of the British taxpayer. It was a sum which he received from the German Government, which was formerly locked up, but which nearly a year ago came into the hands of the Foreign Office by the passing of the Zanzibar Indemnity Bill through this House, and was there ready for the Government to use in dealing with the Company, which was ready at that time, and long before, to deal with them. He observed that the Prime Minister stated in another place that this fund was only freed a few weeks before the completion of the present arrangement. He could not reconcile that statement with the fact that the Zanzibar Indemnity Bill passed through this House on July 16, 1894. Now, what did the Sultan of Zanzibar, this imaginary party to the deal, get in return for his £200,000? He got the value of £247,000 spent by the company,£161,500 assets, and £85,500 cost of administration paid for eight years, from every penny of which he had been relieved. Coining to the £50,000 which was the subject of this Vote, which had to be paid by the taxpayer, he asked, what did the Government get for that? They got the value, in hard cash spent, and putting aside all other things, of £269,000.
§ *MR. BURDETT-COUTTS
said, as for the money having been thrown away, let them consider what this country had got for it. When the Company began operations it was limited to a narrow strip of coastline of 150 miles. As the result of these operations, this country, instead of being restricted within the insignificant sphere reserved to her under the international delimitation of Africa in 1886, now possessed the Protectorate of Zanzibar, 400 miles of coastline, with many valuable harbours, and the vast territory extending back to the Lake District and the Nile basin. But there were other considerations than the expenditure of the £269,000. The free investment by the shareholders in what was held out to them from the very first as a national enterprise, in what had been conducted as a national enterprise, and in what the nation, and not the shareholders, would reap the benefit of—the patriotic spirit which called forth these large contributions of money, and which was the motive which drew into this enterprise the greater part of its capital was not one that should be sneered and carped at. Then there was the loss of more than half of the Company's capital and the loss of interest for eight years on the capital called up. He might even mention the loss of life; for, although in one sense that could never be compensated for, a more generous treatment at the hands of the Government might have enabled them to review some of those sad cases in the direction of relief to relatives who were dependent on those lives. Man after man, from the gallant young Fenwick de Winton and that distinguished officer Captain Mackay, down to humbler but not less faithful employés of the Company, had in that wild country, alone and far from home and friends, freely risked and yielded up their lives, as Englishmen had in all ages, in order that English Empire might be built up upon them. And lastly, there was the watchful, tedious untiring devotion of a body of men in the court of the Company, many of them, as he had 1137 said, old servants of their country, tried and trusted in high offices, who had freely given years of their time and labour, unpaid, to the great responsibilities of this enterprise. All these, and many other considerations, were naturally put aside when the Government began by offering£50,000 for the £269,000 the Company had spent. They had advised the shareholders to accept that settlement, and the shareholders had followed the advice. None the less, they left it with confidence to public opinion to say what sort of a settlement it was, and how far it would conduce to the honour and prestige of the Government that had made it. For their part, although they were deeply concerned for the grievous loss their shareholders had been made to suffer, they had no reason, in the moment of resigning their long and arduous task, to be otherwise than proud of what they had done. They had opened the centre of that unexplored and mysterious continent, the last that was left, to the civilising enterprise and the humanising influences of England. They had opened those regions to the productions of our working-classes at home, and ultimately as it would prove to the colonisation of our surplus population. They had secured to England the key of that broad highway of trade and commerce, aye, and of mercy and justice and freedom to the unfortunate native tribes, which was bound sooner or later to traverse Africa from Capetown to Alexandria. They had made this path the work of Englishmen; they had made it possible for it to be, if only the old spirit animated their successors, the possession of England. They had struck by far the most effective blow that had ever been dealt at a frightful human abuse—namely, the traffic in human life, which was caused by the system of porterage and which was insufficiently described as slavery, and of which the districts which they had opened up to the light of day and the ultimate blessings of civilisation formed the very nerve-centre. They had made possible the effective accomplishment of a great cause, for which England had made historic sacrifices in money and in noble lives. And although it might be many years before the complete fulfilment of these things should have come to pass, no one 1138 could say that the light of hope had not already dawned upon the darkest part of Africa, and in future years it would be remembered that those who carried it there were not the Government who sat upon the Benches opposite, but the British East Africa Company who had sacrificed their own interests to a great public and national necessity.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
thought it right to say on behalf of the Government that they recognised the high motives by which the hon. Member who had just sat down and his colleagues had been inspired in the work in which they had engaged. He should be very sorry if those who had shared in that work should imagine that their motives had been misunderstood or not appreciated by the country. He hoped that now the Committee would come to a decision upon the question before them. [Cries of "No."]
§ MR. ALPHEUS MORTON
observed, that as yet only two of the Members who were opposed to the Vote had been able to express their views.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that the reason why he hoped that a decision would be come to without further delay was that it was very desirable that progress should be made with the second Order on the Paper, the Seal Fisheries (North Pacific) Bill, which must be passed into law by the last day of this month or the first day of July.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, he had been waiting all the evening for the purpose of placing certain views upon this question before the Committee, and unless the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to give another evening he should not be induced at the present moment to accede to his appeal. He might be permitted to draw attention to another line of communication to the districts in question, and he did so because the principal objection raised to the construction of the proposed railway from Uganda to the coast was on the score of expense. It had been a matter of surprise to him that in all these Debates no attention appeared to have been drawn to the great chain of lakes which would constitute certainly the easiest line of communication between these districts and the coast. Anyone familiar with the map 1139 would be aware that from the mouths of the Zambesi to Uganda, with one or two gaps, there was a great waterway of over 1,200 miles, which not only formed the easiest method of communication with Central Africa, but ran through the most productive and densely populated portions of the Continent. He should like hon. Members to consider whether it would not be simpler and more profitable to assist in the development of the lake route. The only defects in the chain, of communication were two—first, a distance of about 200 miles between Uganda and the north end of Lake Tanganyika; and, secondly, at the south end of the lake, about another 200 miles, to Lake Nyassa. That was about 400 miles which would, no doubt, have to be covered by railway or some other means of land transport. Then coming to Lake Nyassa, you had, with the exception of the Murchison Cataracts on the Shiré River, open communication down to the sea. The reason why he advanced this proposition was because there were parties who, if the Government would lend their aid to the purpose, were willing and able to carry the opening of the great lakes into effect, and we would thus, at much less cost and at a much earlier period, have free communication with the richest portions of Central Africa, which would send all their commerce down by the channel indicated to the coast. He believed that so far from throwing away £3,000,000 of money, as might be the case in the construction of a railway through a difficult country, thinly populated, and not having any very great natural wealth, they would be able to obtain from the great reservoir in the districts he had alluded to many sources of revenue which would only require a fair amount of capital and no very long time to develop. He was anxious not to do anything which would prevent the Vote being taken that night; but there were one or two matters to which he should have liked to refer. On the subject of slave labour in these districts, for instance, the hon. Member for Northampton had spoken as if all the labour, even that of the Zanzibarees in connection with the caravans, was slave labour. At the time the hon. Member made 1140 this assertion, he ventured to interject a remark, by way of correction, and the hon. Gentleman retorted by asking him if he had been in those districts himself and had seen what went on there. He admitted that he had not, but he would make this remark: If one's knowledge of things in this life was to be limited to everything one had seen and nothing else, he ventured to think one would be as narrow-minded on all subjects as the hon. Member for Northampton was on some. It did not need that they should have travelled in these districts if they had that modicum of education which enabled them to read the books of authors who had travelled in the countries of which they wrote. In regard to the particular country under discussion they had what had been written of it from his fulness of knowledge by the late Commander Cameron, and they had also what had been recorded of it by the late Captain Stairs in the book recently published by Dr. Moloney. He would undertake to say that in every one of these authorities there would be found the most ample corroboration of the proposition he advanced, that, in the first place, the labour in these districts was not forced or slave labour; and, in the second place, that there were tribes in the central districts containing skilled workmen, who were also keen traders, and who did an immense amount of more or less skilled work in the production of the wealth of their country. In proof of the contention that the labour of the Zanzibarees was not forced labour, the hon. Member quoted a passage from Dr. Moloney's book, in which it was stated that a few days after the Zanzibaree porters had gone back to Zanzibar, having endured for many months the utmost hardship and privations incident to a long journey which they had undertaken across the country, they again enlisted themselves for another journey right across the Central district. There was just one other matter to which he should like to refer for a moment. The Leader of the House had that evening, as well as on a former occasion, insisted upon the exceedingly unhealthy character of the district for Europeans, but on page 93 of the report of the Survey, in reference to this very district of Uganda, testimony 1141 was borne to its healthfulness. It was stated that in some parts the climate was very similar to the mild European climate such as that experienced in the South of England, and was remarkably free from malarial influences. It was only fair, he considered, that this should be stated. He should have liked to have touched upon other points, but he did not wish to interfere with the Vote being taken that night.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am bound to say that, after the very satisfactory explanation of the Government to-night, I see no reason why we should not come to a vote on the proposals they have made. I do not intend—and, indeed, the time at my disposal would make it impossible—to traverse the smaller controversial points that have been raised. The relation between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his colleagues is one which, no doubt, is of great interest; but it is of less interest, after all, than the great national cause which is at stake, on which the Government have at last come to a decision, and on which, in my opinion, they have decided as patriotism should recommend. Had I had more time at my disposal I should have pressed on the Under Secretary the extreme inconvenience of one part of the plan of the Government—that, namely, of leaving the strip of ten miles of territory under all the inconveniences which attach the extra-territorial system. It is the cause of endless inconvenience in Egypt, and in every country where it has been tried. Germany, suffering under the system, have brought out the rights by which that system has been kept up; and I would urge on the Government if possible to follow in this respect the German example. With this brief indication of my opinions on the subject, I will only conclude by pointing out to the House that the Government are now absolutely pledged to the policy of the railroad; that they must, I presume, in the course of the present year, bring in a Vote, if it be only a nominal Vote, for the railroad; that it would be on that Vote that further discussion would properly take place; and that, so far as we on this side of the House are concerned, we feel that, as the Government have gone so far in the direction we 1142 have always pressed on them, it would be ungrateful on our part if we did not support them to carry through, as far as is possible at this stage of our proceedings, the policy they have announced to-night.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee proceeded to a Division; and the Chairman stated that he thought the Ayes had it, and on his decision being challenged, it appeared to him that the Division was frivolously claimed, and he directed the Noes to stand up in their places, and one Member having stood up, the Chairman declared that the Ayes had it.
§ Question put accordingly.
§ MR. ALPHEUS MORTON
, who remained seated and with his hat on, asked whether shareholders and directors of the East Africa Company would be allowed to vote on the Division.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
, who also remained seated and covered: The last time this question came before the House, the position of the directors and shareholders was considered, and it was ruled, I think, by the Speaker that they had no right to vote.
This is not a question of Order. It is a question for the House to decide. If, after the Division is over, the House thinks it proper to order any votes to be struck off, that is another matter.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 249; Noes, 51.—(Division List, No. 121.)
§ And, it being after midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported this day; Committee to sit again this day.