HC Deb 03 September 1895 vol 36 cc1610-46
* MR. J. M. MACLEAN (Cardiff)

said, he rose to move the Resolution which stood on the Paper in his name:— That this House views with apprehension the continual increase in the burdens of Indian taxpayers, caused by the annexation or military occupation of large areas of unproductive territory on the land frontier of British India, Instead of concluding with a Motion, the right hon. Gentleman (Sir H. Fowler) seemed, he thought, to acquiesce in the present policy of Her Majesty's Government, and throughout he appeared to be really conscious of the fatal weakness of his own case. Obliged by the financial necessities of India to impose obnoxious duties, he flung the money away in the invasion of Chitral, and he was the first to invade the territory of the tribes. Surely nothing could be more immoral than his conduct in sanctioning invasion and then trying to wash his hands of responsibility in the face of the General Election. He said the right hon. Gentleman, with unusual boldness, had come forward to defend his own policy, and he ought to have concluded with a Motion, but instead of doing so, he seemed to acquiesce in the policy of the present Government, and by his action he seemed to show that he was really conscious of the weakness of his own case. They admired the right hon. Gentleman as a high-minded statesman, but his career at the India Office was peculiarly unfortunate. The right hon. Gentleman was obliged by the financial necessities of India to impose obnoxious duties, and the money so raised he flung away on the invasion of Chitral. The right hon. Gentleman was very indignant at the idea that the present Government should invade the territory of the Swati, and said we had no right to be there: but it was he who first invaded that territory; it was with his sanction that enormous forces advanced to invade it. The right hon. Gentleman had said a good deal about the opinion of Sir Donald Stewart and others; but did Sir Donald Stewart give his sanction to the invasion, to the opening up by violent means of the road from Peshawar to Chitral? The right hon. Gentleman did all the mischief, and now he said it was immoral to invade the territory of the tribes. All along he had told them the policy of the Government of India was to throw this road open. When he made no objection to the crossing of the frontier by an army much larger than that with which Lord Roberts marched from Kabul to Kandahar, he must have been aware that the passage of the army would excite the hostility of the people of the country. While he only made some slight inquiry as to the object of concentrating this large force, he must have known of the vehement criticism to which the action of the Government of India was exposed in India itself. Many persons habitually favourable to the action of the Government of India took strong objection to the mobilisation of this vast force for the relief of the beleaguered garrison of Chitral. When the Government of India persevered the right hon. Gentleman said, "Go on," and took on himself the responsibility of the invasion of the country and of slaughtering hundreds of patriots in the Malakand Pass. Surely nothing could be more immoral, according to his own standard of morality, than the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman, after he had been a party to all this, in view of the General Election, to try to wash his hands of the responsibility he had incurred and to throw upon the new Government the duty of settling this difficult question. In a telegram of March 18th the Viceroy said:— We are agreed that the military occupation of Chitral, supported by a road to the Peshawar border, is a matter of the first importance. The right hon. Gentleman made a temporising reply to that, and then came the further urgent message from the Viceroy of the 25th of April:— Narrative of events indicates withdrawal under present circumstances impossible, and would leave country to complete anarchy, and would render a settlement more difficult. In our opinion, we must also keep open the road from Peshawar for some time, probably three or four months at least, whatever the ultimate decision may be. The right hon. Gentleman replied to that:— Pending the final decision of Her Majesty's Government, I do not object to the temporary arrangements which you consider necessary. By that telegram the right hon. Gentleman did everything he was bound to do at that time. There was no necessity for the great hurry he showed afterwards to come to a definite decision about what should be done at Chitral. The temporary arrangements which the Viceroy said were necessary would have lasted for some months. The Viceroy had said that he had created a state of anarchy in the country, and it was therefore impossible to evacuate it at that time. Within a few weeks the Government was tottering to its fall, and the right hon. Gentleman evidently dreaded going to the country without trying to wash his hands of the blood-guiltiness falling upon those who were responsible for the invasion of Chitral. He (Mr. Maclean) acquiesced in the decision of the Government to retain Chitral, because he thought they were bound to accept the statement of the Government of India that it would be impossible to evacuate the country; and he accepted the decision with the more pleasure, because the noble Lord in his Dispatch pressed for estimates of the exact cost. He had properly guarded himself from taking any hasty action whatever, in regard to the opening or permanent occupation of this road by British troops; and he hoped that the noble Lord would get trustworthy estimates from the Government of India. A Government which at the end of March could calmly put down £150,000 as the probable cost of the Chitral expedition could not be trusted to give satisfactory estimates unless closely pressed. He also hoped that this was the last of the annexations on the British frontier which would be sanctioned by this or any other Government. The Royal Engineers in India were a most indefatigable body of men, and directly they had gained possession of and fortified one pass, they found another by which a few stray Cossacks might find their way to British India. Some of them would never be satisfied until Her Majesty's Government had hermetically sealed every mule-track across the immense region of mountain ranges extending from Quetta to the Pamirs. [Laughter.] Then the adventurous traveller came upon the scene, like his right hon. Friend the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who unfortunately was prevented from making any more voyages at present. [Laughter.] These travellers seemed to think that wherever they had once set foot, the British flag ought to wave for ever afterwards. [Laughter.] Unless strong pressure were put on the Government of India there would be someone proposing to occupy the territory along the other side of the river, and the road leading from the Hindu-Kush to Jellalabad, and the hospitable columns of The Times would be full of eloquent declamation about the noble mission of Great Britain in bringing every barbarian nation under its rule. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] It might be a noble mission, but it could not be called a very self-sacrificing one, when it was done at the expense of the Indian taxpayer. If this country desired more responsibility in these directions, let her take it at her own risk and cost. Her conduct was of a piece with that of the Government in connection with the Shahzada, who received a generous invitation to become the guest of the British nation at the expense of the mild Hindu. [Laughter.] If any one looked at the map of India now, and compared it with what it was 20 years ago, beyond the Indus on one side and the Ganges on the other, they would find that an immense empire had been added to our dominions. Beyond these rivers we had almost as much territory as between them; and nearly all of it had been acquired within the last 20 years. It stretched over a frontier several thousand miles in extent; if Afghanistan, which had been brought within our sphere of influence were included, the responsibility on the shoulders of the Indian taxpayer would appear appalling. For it was India who paid the whole cost of all these expeditions; and the worst of these annexations was that they had been wholly unproductive. Even the kingdom of Burma, which was flourishing when we took it over, cost India a million a year—not a very creditable thing to the present generation of Indian officials. Most of the other annexations not only paid nothing at all, but were very largely subsidised by the Indian Government. India now subsidised all Central Asia from the Indus to the Oxus. The Government either enlisted men of these border tribes in our army and continually increased their pay, or else paid them blackmail to keep the peace. ["Hear, hear!"] The Government of India was becoming more and more dependent on these border tribes for the security of the Empire, although many of them could not be trusted in an emergency. All the taxes were paid by the industrious traders and merchants of the plains; and nearly the whole of the revenue was spent away from them. Of the 50 millions of revenue, fully one-half went to England, and a very large proportion of the remainder was spent upon troops and expeditions on the frontier, so that the money did not go back to the people who paid the taxes at all. ["Hear, hear!"] This showed the fallacy of such calculations as were given in the explanatory statement issued this year by the late Secretary of State for India. The right hon. Gentlemen there spoke of the small burden of taxation in India. It might appear small, but there was this difference between the taxation in England, and that in India. The former was all spent within the limits of the country to stimulate trade and industry, but as regards India it was almost to the extent of three-fourths of the whole spent out of the country in which it was raised. This was because, in England, the Treasury was supreme over all Departments, while in India the Treasury was practically helpless. The Government of India was really a military despotism, and the Treasury had only one member on the Council. All the other members might be trusted to act together on questions of Imperial policy. There was no representative of the trade and industry, the culture and intelligence of the country; the members lived for the greater part of the year away in the hills at Simla, and were utterly out of touch with public opinion. They were like the Olympian deities, of whom Tennyson wrote: There they live and lie reclined,. "On the hills like gods together, cureless of mankind. The possession of India had been of inestimable advantage to us; but how long should we retain India if we did not maintain sound finance there, and see that the people were lightly taxed. The right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for India, several times in his speech, made allusion to the agreement made with Russia for the delimitation of territory at the Pamirs. That was signed in March last; it had certainly been concluded before operations in Chitral were sanctioned by the right hon. Gentleman, and that alone should have restrained him from taking the action which he had taken. That agreement with Russia altered the whole political situation in India. This policy of occupying the mountain passes was a Chinese wall policy; it was not the policy meant by Lord Beaconsfield when he sanctioned the "scientific frontier." Then the intention was to push forward to Kandahar, which would have been on the flank of anyone advancing on the principal road to India. But now the policy was not one of pushing forward at all. We were going to lie in wait behind these passes, until the Russians advanced to our frontier. Every military man of repute knew that if ever a Russian invasion of India were to be attempted—and he thought such an event very improbable now—our troops would be obliged to advance to Kandahar or Cabul to meet them; and if we were defeated there, what would be the use of our fortified passes? The enemy would then pour like a torrent into the plains of India, and we should be driven to make a last stand behind the Indies for our Empire in the East. That was a sufficient condemnation of the policy which was now being pursued. But our apprehension in regard to the policy of Russia was removed now that we were going to have the whole frontier fixed from Herat up to the crest of the Pamirs. That would be a blessing to everyone in Central Asia. All the disputes in the past had been occasioned by the acts of frontier officers naturally desirous of distinguishing themselves, who had gone into territories that had not been marked out as belonging to any Power, and so had brought about conflicts which were very much to be regretted. It was to be hoped that that would never again happen after the new arrangement with Russia in regard to the frontier. Our real defence in future would be that, when once the line was fixed, Russia would know that to cross it meant war. Lord Roberts made one sensible remark in a letter to The Times. He said that Russia had made no attempt to violate the frontier since it was fixed from near Herat to the Oxus, because she knew that if she did so it would mean war with England, and this would be true as regards the whole line of frontier, now that it was completed to the Pamirs. Lord Beaconsfield, in the same spirit, speaking of the evacuation of Kandahar, ridiculed the idea entertained by some fussy people that the possession of one place or another was essential to the security of our Indian Dominion. He said: "The key of India is not Herat or Kandahar. The key of India is London. The majesty and sovereignty, the public spirit, and vigour of our Parliament; the ingenuity and determination of our people—these are the keys of India." He thought that was a profoundly true sentiment. He considered that we might at least lay aside our misgivings as to a Russian invasion of India. He believed Russia would respect our boundaries, and he hoped that, instead of continuing barren conflicts with her, we should enter into an understanding with her for the good of the whole; population of Central Asia. Look at what was within our reach if we were to come to a good understanding with Russia. Why should Afghanistan be kept isolated from the commercial world? We had filled the purse; we had pampered the pride of the Ameer by the extravagant honours we had paid to his son; we had guaranteed his dominion, and we had got nothing from him in return. Why should not the Ameer open his country to trade and commerce? Why should we not join hands with Russia, and bring Afghanistan into the commercial world? It would be an immense boon to India, a great advantage to England, and a benefit to the whole world, to connect the Russian and Indian Railway systems by the construction of a few hundred miles through Afghanistan, and so to complete an overland line to India and introduce railways into the vast regions of Central Asia, which in almost recent times contained populous flourishing empires where stagnation now existed. The record of the past 30 years had been the opening up of Africa. He hoped the next 30 years would see the renaissance of Asia, and would see those vast regions recalled to civilisation. What he asked was, that in order that England might fill an important part in the future of Asia, she should do the work that now lay at her hand. He begged to move his Motion.

* MR. M. M. BHOWNAGGREE (Bethnal Green, N.E.)

in a maiden speech, seconded the Motion. He said he did so unhesitatingly, because the burden on the Indian taxpayer had grown in recent years to an enormous extent. But he should disclaim any connection between the Motion and recent events in Chitral. The word "annexation" had been used in connection with Chitral in the course of the Debate; and it was well to point out that it was not very applicable. It was only recently that Sir George Robertson put upon the throne of Chitral its own proper Mehtar, which showed that Chitral was not completely annexed, in the same sense as Burmah was annexed. But, at the same time, it could not be denied that recent events in Chitral, the glorious achievements of our Army, British and Indian, and the prudent resolution of the Government to retain its hold on Chitral, were capable of being read by ambitious military officers in a somewhat different light from that in which they were regarded on the floor of the House of Commons. Many of the difficulties of the Government of India could be traced to this cause. Ambitious officers had before now embroiled themselves in matters which had made it impossible for the Government to escape being brought into conflict with tribes on the frontier. In order, therefore, that the resolution of the Government to retain Chitral, and the approval of the feats of our Army in that region, might not mislead such officers to follow the same course in the future, and also for the reason that there might not be aroused in India an apprehension that the policy of the present Government was annexation, and that they were determined to advance the frontier of India to the furthest limits, and thereby make the burden of the taxpayer so intolerable that India would be plunged into bankruptcy, he begged to second the Motion.


The Motion which my hon. Friends have proposed and seconded is so intimately connected with questions relating to Chitral, that upon it I am able to reply to the speech which the right hon. Gentleman has just made. We all welcome back to the House the hon. Member for Cardiff. He always speaks with authority on Indian questions, and, although I cannot agree with all he has said, everything he says is worth listening to. ["Hear, hear!"] I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Bethnal Green upon the speech he has just made. He has behind him a record of long and useful public service, and I feel confident both sides of the House will always listen with attention when he speaks on any question connected with our Indian Empire. I now turn to the speech of my predecessor in office. He spoke with great vigour and at very great length. For an hour he made an elaborate historical analysis of the reasons which led us to Chitral. He then proceeded for another hour to attack in the most violent terms, from financial, military, moral, and political points of view, the decision at which we have recently arrived; and, having occupied so much of the time of the House in this denunciation, he concluded by observing that the House was not in possession of sufficient information to enable it to form a judgment. ["Hear, hear!" and a laugh.] I listened with great regret to the right hon. Gentleman's speech. These frontier questions are very difficult, whether you go back or go forward. The right hon. Gentleman quoted many authorities, but the one authority he did not quote was the Indian Government. [cheers.] Not once, from beginning to end of his speech, did he allude to the Indian Government, except for the purpose of denouncing it. Our machinery for governing India is of a very complicated and delicate character; and the Secretary of State incurs a grave responsibility if he imposes a policy on the Indian Government contrary to their wishes, and insists upon their trying to carry that policy out through an instrumentality which they consider obsolete and ineffective. It appears that anybody in the street who gave the right hon. Gentleman any information of the most extravagant kind, whether it was political, financial, or moral, was at once accepted by him as an authority, and the statements made to him were publicly paraded in the House of Commons as reasons why we should refuse the proposal of the Indian Government. "But if," said the right hon. Gentleman, "I am wrong, I shall be very glad." Now, there is risk, and there always will be risk, attending our Empire in India, and we must face that risk. ["Hear, hear!"] What we have to consider is, whether the decision at which we arrived is a right one. I accept the right hon. Gentleman's account of the position which Chitral occupies in connection with the North-West frontier of India and Kashmir; but there is just one point I should like to bring home to the House of Commons. Chitral is at the extreme end of the territory over which Kashmir claims suzerainty; and, up to the present moment, access to that State has been over some of the most difficult mountain-passes in the world. But the difficulty of communication is not all; there is a great length of communication. If anybody will look at the map, he will find I that one has to traverse almost a complete circle when going from British India before he arrives at Chitral, and the distance which has to be covered is something like 600 miles, whereas the route from Peshawar is only 180 miles. The important question at present is whether a new road shall be made direct from Peshawar. In dealing with frontier questions it is impossible to lay down one general principle which, under all conditions, must govern our conduct. The right hon. Gentleman quoted the opinion of Lord Lawrence. I speak with the utmost respect of that great man. When these frontier questions began to be discussed, in Lord Northbrook's Viceroyalty, I was Under Secretary for India, and I well remember there were then two schools contending against each other, one led by Sir Bartle Frere, Commissioner of Sind, and the other by Lord Lawrence. Their views were diametrically opposed. Sir Bartle Frere believed that a forward movement was the right movement; he advised advance, and every single advance made from Sind has been attended with good results. Lord Lawrence, as Commissioner of the Punjab, had to deal with a different and more difficult country, and said, "Stay where you are." He was right as regards his own frontier. But every case of this kind which comes up for decision we must look at on its merits. The great mass of the more modern school, with regard to frontier questions, are upon this side of the House, and those of the old-fashioned view sit opposite. We know that at the India Office and amongst retired officers the old-fashioned view prevails; but in India—and it is there where most responsibility rests—opinion is almost invariably opposed to it. The complaint I make against Her Majesty's late advisers is that from the first they made up their minds to get out of Chitral. They forced the Indian Government to send them their policy before they had sufficient information to support it, and they then pounced upon their lack of information to upset the policy associated with it. The right hon. Gentleman complains very much of the editing of this Blue-book, and seems to think I have struck out of it papers or minutes which ought to have been given. He must recollect that this correspondence all comes from the Secret Department of the India Office. I have not had one single extract or line of the Dispatches struck, out except in the public interest. These are most confidential documents, and it is impossible to publish them in their entirety. But in every single case where there has been any excision of any kind the fact is noted. The right hon. Gentleman thinks I should produce some Minutes of Sir Donald Stewart. Sir Donald Stewart is the ex-Commander-in-Chief, and if I were to publish his, Minutes, I must publish the Minutes of the present Commander-in-Chief and Sir-Henry Brackenbury. The result would be we should publish to the whole world an elaborate analysis of the strong and weak parts of our military system. If the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman were acted upon, we might just as well at once dissolve the Secret Committee of the India Office. Let us see what happened. The right hon. Gentleman spent a great deal of time in trying to show that the assent which he and his predecessor, Lord Kimberley, gave to the policy of the Indian Government in Chitral was of a tentative nature. [Sir H. FOWLER: "Temporary."] Well, temporary. As stated in a Dispatch of his, there were three objects in view. The first was to control the external affairs of Chitral in a direction friendly to our interests; the second was to secure an effective guardianship over its northern passes; the third was to keep watch over what goes on beyond those passes. These were the objects of the policy of successive Governments, both at home and in India. When Dr. Robertson was caught at Chitral, in pursuance of this accepted policy, the right hon. Gentleman very properly ordered a large force to his relief, and I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is a matter of national congratulation that such heroic tenacity was shown by the troops, and that the siege was raised with such dash and daring. [cheers.] Chitral was relieved on April 20. What correspondence took place between the Secretary of State and the Indian Government? On March 30 the Secretary of State telegraphed to the Viceroy, impressing upon him the necessity of doing nothing which in any way could commit him to any future policy. He said:— As soon as present trouble is over, policy with regard to Chitral and neighbourhood will have to be fully and carefully reconsidered in light of recent events. Meantime, our hands should be kept perfectly free. I hope, therefore, that yon will take care that nothing is said or done to commit Government either way, with regard to making new roads, or retention of posts now occupied, or occupation of new posts. Later on he telegraphed again. He asked for further information, and the Viceroy very properly replied:— We have discussed Chitral policy, with reference to your telegram of March 30. Until we have ascertained what has happened in Chitral since Robertson was shut up we cannot arrive at a final conclusion as to policy. That was a very natural conclusion. The Secretary of State telegraphed to the Viceroy on April 19, pressing him again for further information. That was the day before the siege was raised. The Viceroy replied:— Our views as to the importance of Chitral are expressed in our telegram of 18th, but without entering into negotiations with tribes I cannot answer as to cost of road from Peshawar, or extent of political difficulties. On the 25th the Secretary of State pressed the Viceroy to send his policy, and the Viceroy replied:— Narrative of events indicates withdrawal under present circumstances impossible, as it would leave country to complete anarchy and would render a settlement more difficult. In our opinion we must also keep open the road from Peshawar for some time, probably three or four months at least, whatever the ultimate decision may be. On May 8 the Indian Government, in response to the instructions received from the Secretary of State, wrote at length their views. Chitral had only just been relieved, and I doubt whether they had had any direct personal communication with any officials there, so that they were very much in the dark as to what the consequences of their policy might be, but they were absolutely unanimous in recommending the retention of Chitral. [Cheers.] Indian Finance has passed through a very severe ordeal, and yet the Indian Finance Minister, who is an exceptionally strong Minister, signed that Dispatch. The Indian Government were compelled to represent their views before they had definite information, but they warned the Secretary of State that it was possible the expenditure might be very great. They say:— What must be faced is a consideration of the means whereby we can maintain a sufficient military occupation of the Chitral Valley. The length of time occupied, and the difficulty incurred in sending troops and supplies by way of Kashmir and Gilghit, and the expense of doing so are so great, that some of us would prefer to abandon all attempts to occupy Chitral rather than try to hold it by so precarious a thread. The alternative is to establish communication from the Peshawar border. The expense of doing so may be prohibitive. They go on to say:—"We are not convinced, however, that these difficulties will occur." In the same Dispatch they state that this proposal may involve a heavy increase of expenditure, but that it may be possible to lessen these objections. It is clear to anybody who reads the Dispatch by the light of recent telegrams that this was a preliminary statement of policy extracted from the Indian Government by the orders of the Secretary of State. But Her Majesty's then Government immediately pounced upon this, and, after a very few days' consideration, sent a peremptory order to the Indian Government to reverse this policy, and then they added:— As regards Chitral State they request that, in view of the decisions above stated, you will telegraph what are the arrangements which you would recommend for the future. On June 22 these alternative arrangements which the Home Government directed the Indian Government to send arrived, and on that day the late Ministry resigned. They never considered the alternative proposals in any shape or form, and I contend it is ridiculous for any Government, or any body of responsible men, to pretend that they have settled a difficult question by vetoing the only workmanlike proposal put forward without ever considering the alternatives. [Cheers.] Under these circumstances, we had to reconsider the position. I agree entirely with the right hon. Gentleman that financial considerations are of the utmost importance at the present moment. I go so far as to say that, in my judgment, and I dare say the hon. Member for Cardiff will agree with me, no external policy, however bold, and no frontier performances however heroic, can compensate for the permanent annual deficiency in the Indian Exchequer. I believe that the constantly increasing taxation is a serious danger to the stability of the Indian Government, and, therefore, I looked with great apprehension on the words that the Indian Government used in which they admitted that their proposals might be prohibitive by reason of the expenditure involved. I consequently endeavoured to see whether it was possible in any way to gain time, in order to hit upon any compromise or do something which would prevent us arriving at an irrevocable decision to retire from Chitral and not make the road. The House will see that whatever decision was arrived at, would be more or less binding for years to come. It was difficult to retire from Chitral, although we had only been connected with it for some three years; and if we had decided to remain there we should have to do so for a long time to come. On the other hand, if we retired and did not make this road we should possibly never get so favourable an opportunity again of constructing this line of communication, and our retirement would probably be final. Looking to the issues raised and the grave consideration attached to them, it was essential we should have time. Her Majesty's late advisers also spoke of the unanimous decision of the Cabinet. The word "unanimous" is a new epithet in connection with Cabinet decisions, and I think it is an unfortunate one, because if you state the occasions on which the Cabinet is unanimous you are bound to state those on which the Cabinet is not unanimous. My impression is that the late Prime Minister on more than one occasion, alluded to the unanimity of the late Cabinet. I suppose because, it was so remarkable an event in their career that it was necessary to mention it. [Langhter.] Time, therefore, was a very essential consideration. In the Cabinet to which I have the honour to belong there are no fewer than three ex-Secretaries of State for India, and we have the advantage of the presence of Lord Lansdowne, the late Viceroy, who, I should say, is the highest living authority in this country on questions of this kind. He has visited Kashmir, is conversant with every detail of this policy, and he was of great assistance to me in examining it. I wonder if the late Government at all realise what the evacuation of Chitral would have meant? In the first place, it is perfectly clear if we abandoned Chitral we should in all probability be obliged to abandon Gilghit. Gilghit is most expensive, since, as the valley in which it is situated cannot sustain the garrison, the cost of bringing supplies from Kashmir is very heavy. If we abandoned Chitral the cost of maintaining Gilghit would be the same as before, although our main object in maintaining it would have gone. The difficulties did not end there. The right hon. Gentleman described the condition of Chitral before we went there as one of dynastic murder and civil war. That would be the condition, of Chitral if we left. ["Hear, hear!"] He laid stress on the fact that we had arrived at an arrangement with the Russian Government by which the frontier had been delimited between ourselves and that Power. I look upon that delimitation from a different point of view to the right hon. Gentleman. I believe that, wherever these frontier arrangements are made, they can only be satisfactorily maintained on the distinct understanding that within each area allotted to the respective Powers, each Power will do its utmost to prevent anarchy, disorder, and disturbance. If anarchy and disorder commence on one side of the frontier they are, not, unlikely to extend to the other side. Nobody can deny that if we had left Chitral we should have lighted a fire there which would be unlimited in the extent of the area over which it might spread. The mere fact of our retiring before the face of the whole world and admitting that we were unable to perform the duties we had practically undertaken would have been an invitation to the neighbouring Power to step in and perform the duties we had abandoned. ["Hear, hear!"] Take an ordinary case in life. If one of the occupiers of two neighbouring houses chooses to go away and leave a fire smouldering which may burn down the premises of his neighbour, that neighbour has a right to come in and extinguish the fire which is the source of danger. Therefore, if we had abandoned Chitral with a certain knowledge of the disturbances which our retirement would cause, we should have been doing our very best to upset the frontier arrangement which had been arrived at. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman on one point only. I do not think Chitral is of so great strategical importance as some eminent military men consider. I admit that the honours on that point must be divided. I think that considerations of a moral rather than a strategical character force us to remain. I agree that, where you have a great area to defend and only a limited number of troops to protect your frontier, it is unwise to lock up your men in out-of-the-way places. Mobility and concentration are the two great ideas which should be aimed at. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that our occupation of Chitral would necessitate an enormous strain upon our military resources. The curious thing is that, whilst the right hon. Gentleman complains of the want of information, one of the cardinal and vital pieces of information, the telegram of the Indian Government on this point, is the one which he shirks. It is very easy to exaggerate the dangers attending any course. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think there will be a large number of troops required at Chitral. But the Indian Government point out that they require no addition to the Indian Army, and show that there will be practically no troops in the intervening districts. In the same way the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the occupation of Chitral would necessitate enormous financial outlay. Somebody told Sir Alfred Lyall it would cost half-a-million to make the road, and the right hon. Gentleman flourishes half-a-million before the House. The difference between the actual facts and the excited imagination of the right hon. Gentleman is shown by a telegram which has just arrived, stating that the total amount would be 20 lakhs of rupees, or, turned into sterling, £13,000, of which one-fifth would go to permanent works. I cannot help thinking that the late Government were so anxious to get out of Chitral that they did not want to be accurately informed on these points.


Surely your figure is wrong.


What did I say?


You said £13,000.


Oh! it should be £130,000. ["Oh!"] There is an enormous disproportion between this figure and the half-million estimate of the right hon. Gentleman, which was for making the road alone, whereas of the £130,000 one-fifth is for a permanent buildings. The most serious part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was his indictment of the Indian Government with reference to the Proclamation. I cannot understand how anybody holding the views of the right hon. Gentleman can be content with simply making a speech and moving no Resolution. ["Hear, hear!"] If Lord Elgin cannot interpret his own Proclamation, if he is going dishonourably to break the terms of it, he is unfit to be, Viceroy of India. [Cheers.] I do not think it fair to come forward and talk about honourable adherence to engagements, and not put your charge in such definite shape that the Viceroy can meet it. ["Hear, hear!"] Lord Elgin framed that Proclamation and the Indian Government have interpreted it, and from first to last they have contended that it is no obstacle whatever to the course they propose. [Cheers.] Then the right hon. Gentleman, not content with exaggerating the cost of the road, says that the whole country through which the road passes must be annexed and subjugated to English rule; and he assumes that this will be done at the point of the bayonet, contrary to the wishes of the tribes. The truth rather is that the tribes are ready to fall in with the arrangements proposed. They are glad to get the money, and my belief is that the fruit of the expedition will be to induce the people to adopt more regular habits. I could not help smiling when I heard the right hon. Gentleman denounce the construction of roads. Why, 150 years ago he would have used exactly the same arguments against opening up the Highlands. [Laughter.] The position was exactly the same, and if every successive Parliament had taken the view he now advocates the Highlands would have been to this day an isolated and inaccessible part of the United Kingdom. I believe this road, if the negotiations are properly conducted, will place our relations with the tribes on a better footing than before. Now, I think I have answered the main points of the right hon. Gentleman's indictment. I have shown that he has enormously overrated the calls upon our resources which the occupation of Chitral will entail; and I have shown that he has systematically disregarded the advice of the Indian Government in this matter. I should like to add just one word on the right hon. Gentleman's references to economy. In my judgment, economy does not consist merely in stopping useless expenditure, but it consists also in getting a good return for expenditure already sanctioned and incurred. The right hon. Gentleman was forced to sanction this expedition to Chitral. The valour, determination, and endurance of our soldiers accomplished great feats, and have immensely raised our prestige in that country. Why then throw away all the fruits of the expedition. ["Hear, hear!"] It seems just as much the act of a spendthrift to throw away the legitimate consequences of a very large and necessary expenditure as to incur wholly useless and unnecessary expenditure. ["Hear, hear!"] But whilst I approve strongly of the proposals of the Indian Government, I have no desire whatever to embark on a frontier policy of enterprise, or of annexing all those territories to which the hon. Member for Cardiff alluded. On the contrary, I believe we have now arrived at a settlement of our Indian frontier difficulties. We have, I think, by the arrangements sanctioned, utilised the results of the Chitral expedition, and my one wish now is, looking to the condition of Indian finance, to associate with the satisfactory settlement of those frontier questions a period of quietude and economy. [Cheers.]

SIR W. HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)

My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, in his powerful speech, had two objects in his plan. First of all, he had to establish that the policy which the late Government pursued was one which, in the circumstances under which they were placed, and with the information in their possession, was a sound and wise policy. I believe his speech established that proposition beyond dispute. They had to come to a determination and that determination was come to on the information furnished to them by the Indian Government in their Dispatch of May 8. I do not understand what the noble lord means by the charge that we rather forced the Indian Government to give an opinion upon this subject. Why, the Indian Government, after the success of the expedition to Chitral, had to consider what was next to be done, and they laid their views before the Government at home in the Dispatch mentioned. Of course there was a question of finance. Everybody knows that in those short weeks there was an expenditure of something like one-and-a-half millions of money, and that every week meant an expenditure of thousands and tens of thousands; and in the present condition of Indian finance it was of the first importance that the Government at home should determine whether or not they were going to continue that expenditure. Therefore it was the duty of the Government of India immediately to report, and it was the duty of the Government at home, without any unnecessary delay, to come to a determination upon such report. If they determined that the expenditure should not continue upon that scale, it was their duty at the earliest moment to inform the Indian Government of their decision. Therefore I must say I entirely dissent from the tone of the observations of the noble Lord, in which he seems to assume that the late Government unduly pressed the Government of India in the matter. Now, my right hon. Friend has already laid before the House what was the character of the Report of the Government of India. I at once accept the proposition that the question of this road is really the deciding question. Therefore the argument does not depend upon the policy of making this road. The Government of India, on May 8, told us they were perfectly conscious that the course they recommended might involve the Government in an expense which the finances of India could ill afford. They were perfectly conscious of that. The noble Lord, on the other hand, enters upon this expenditure with a light heart, and that is because he has a peculiar measure of the value of a lakh of rupees. I do not wonder that he thinks the road a very cheap undertaking. We, on the other hand, being under the impression that a lakh at par is £10,000, were not able to understand how 20 lakhs of rupees amount only to £13,000. There are many county councils in England which would be extremely glad to make a road of 180 miles for £13,000. I know that in the county in which I reside roads cost more per mile than the roads over those great passes, according to the estimate of the Secretary of State, who is so careful about financial waste. Such, then, was the plan which was laid before the late Government by the Government of India. Taking that into account, and all the political considerations to which my right hon. Friend has referred, the late Government thought they were not justified in countenancing or authorising the plan proposed by the Government of India. It is a remarkable fact that when this question first arose under the present Government the Leader of the House stated that new information had come to the present Government which had altered the whole position from that in which the late Government found themselves. Well, that is an indication that he thought the decision which the late Government arrived at on the information in their possession had not been altogether a wrong one, and he laid as the foundation of his case for altering that policy the subsequent information received. Now, what I desire to do is to examine what that subsequent information was and how it has really altered the situation. The question is, as I said before, was this road, and is this road, a thing which ought to be made with a view to the occupation of Chitral? It is said that it is a very serious thing to come into conflict with the Government of India upon a subject of that kind. Yes, but English Governments have come into conflict with Indian Governments before now—["Hear, hear!"]—as, for example, on the question of Kandahar. No one who heard it at the time will have forgotten the great speech made by Lord Hartington defending the evacuation of Kandahar against the opinion of the Government of India; and is there any man connected with the Government of India now who regrets that decision? ["Hear, hear!"] Would it have been a wise thing in reference to our subsequent Afghan policy to have maintained the occupation of Kandahar? The opinion of every man connected with Government in England and in India is that the evacuation of Kandahar was a wise and judicious policy. But let us consider the circumstances which Her Majesty's present advisers consider have altered the situation. They telegraphed to the Government of India to give them information as to what they thought could be done in reference to this road, which they regard as the critical part of the question, and they received an answer, I think on August 3, in a Dispatch to which the noble Lord refers, and of which he complains that my right hon. Friend did not read it at length. It is not necessary to read it at length, because the whole of this information, which the noble Lord says changed the policy of the Government, is entirely hypothesis and surmise. The Government of India, wished to enter into negotiations with the tribes in reference to the road, and my right hon. Friend did not object to that, and gave the Government of India leave to enter into negotiations. But there have been no negotiations; all that is said is that the tribes have been "sounded." I think that is the expression, or, at all events, that is all that has taken place, and it is surmised that the tribes may be friendly in regard to this road. Now, two or three year's ago such an opinion would have been expressed in regard to Umra Khan; but what happened? There were wars of succession such as made up so much of the history of Eastern States, and tribes which are friendly to-day become our enemies to-morrow. The extraordinary fickleness of these people is admitted by Dr. Robertson. Therefore, the mere surmise that probably the tribes, or a set of tribes, may be friendly is most unsafe ground to go upon. It is a very curious thing, now that it is assumed that these tribes are friendly, that I read yesterday in the Times a telegram as to the attitude of these tribes at this time. It is dated Laram, and is headed, "The Retention of Chitral." It speaks of the withdrawal of a part of the force from Chitral. It says the garrison of Chitral, consisting of the 3rd Goorkhas, the 25th Punjab Infantry, and so forth, and that the 3rd Brigade under General Gatacre is beginning to withdraw; and then it proceeds:— It is apparent that a withdrawal of 10,000 men in the face of tribes who, though at present peaceful, would spring; to arms on the smallest pretext, is a problem of no little difficulty, and one which requires great skill, patience, and adroit manœuvre. Therefore, at the present time, when the tribes are under the influence of our victories, and while there is a great body of our troops there, the withdrawal of 10,000 troops from the midst of these tribes is beset with danger. They are peaceful to-day, but they may be our enemies to-morrow. Through this country you propose to make a road of 180 miles, and by this means you rely on a peaceful occupation. Then the telegram proceeds:— The evacuation of the Jandol Valley was most skilfully accomplished without a shot being fired, and the successful carrying out of that difficult operation gives reasonable hope that the withdrawal from the line of the Panjkora river will be equally successful. This shows that no reliance can possibly be placed on the permanent peaceableness of these tribes. My right hon. Friend has said, and it seems to me to stand to reason, that, if you are to rely on these peaceable tribes for your road, if the tribes cease to be peaceable you will have to subdue them by force and so occupy your road. Now, the noble Lord in his Dispatch uses these words:— It was apparent from your letter of May 8 that your Government was not without apprehension that the task of opening up this road might, if it were to necessitate the military coercion of the tribes and the interference with their independence, be one of such great cost and involving such embarrassing complications as to render it of doubtful expediency; but in your opinion this question, both in its financial and political aspects, depended on the attitude which might be assumed by the tribes, and you indicated that if amicable arrangements could be secured and they could be persuaded to become responsible for the safety of the road, the cost need not be prohibitive. What, then, is the condition of the occupation of Chitral? That the tribes become guarantee for the security of the road. But how can you rely on these tribes? The noble Lord continues:— But your information is still incomplete as to the exact cost of the scheme, and I felt some doubts as to the absolute necessity of permanently maintaining regular troops on the Malakand Pass, and as to whether the tribes would see in this an infringement of the Proclamation. The Government of India sent proposals that, in addition to the tribes, there should be quartered on the road three regiments and a battery, and, of course, the tribes would see an infringement of the Proclamation in the quartering of these troops in their midst. The noble Lord, then, was perfectly right in telling the Government of India he had doubts on the point. But how is this road going to be kept? By native levies? If the road is attacked you must defend it, and this road of 180 miles is in charge of native levies and of tribes not to be depended upon from month to month, or, indeed, from day to day. If the tribes do not choose to defend the road, and regard it as a menace to their independence, what becomes of your Proclamation? This is where the moral consideration to which my right hon. Friend referred comes in with enormous force; it deprives you of the power of really defending the road on which the occupation of Chitral must depend, because you cannot use force to defend the road, having given an undertaking. So then you go to the expense of making a road and have no security for the safety of it when made. Chitral, then, will be held under a sort of tenancy at will, a tenancy dependent on the will of the tribes along the road. I cannot conceive a more insecure tenancy. Where in any other part of the frontier do you hold a road on such terms? But this is what you declare in your Proclamation, and that, I suppose, is what the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs meant in his allusion, for he must have seen that the use of the road depends on the good-will of wild and fickle tribes, and there is no security of occupation. Then the noble Lord says:— The Government of India say it will cost nothing, that it will lead to no increase of the Indian Army. Has the Government of India never been mistaken on that subject before? Did they not give assurances that the expedition to Afghanistan was to cost one and a-half millions? It cost, I believe, 22 millions. I have never known a single case in which the Estimates made by the Indian Government have not been proved to be greatly and disastrously below the mark. I was glad to hear the noble Lord express his strong sense of the impolicy of loading India with additional expenditure. I was very glad to hear him say that the discontent which might be produced in India' by additional taxation would be a far greater danger to India herself than any she has to fear from attacks upon her frontier by foreign nations. The great thing you have to fear is that you shall create discontent among the people of India. As long as you have the people of India your friends, satisfied with the justice and policy of your rule, your Empire there will be safe. You may rely on your Army, which has shown upon a recent occasion its vigour, its valour, and its indomitable pluck. [Cheers.] But if you have that Army on the frontier of a people which you are oppressing by taxation which they are unable to bear, you will have behind you and upon your communications a far greater peril than any which you apprehend and for which you are making advances of this character. I read in this Dispatch that the noble Lord is not satisfied with the information he has yet received. He charges us with making up our minds upon information that was incomplete. Well, he cannot have made up his mind, for in the very last paragraph he says the information is still incomplete. How, then, can he have made up his mind as to the course we are pursuing in the circumstances? It is quite plain that he has not accepted the plan laid before him by the Government of India. I do hope that before the country is finally committed to a course which I believe will be highly injurious to the finances of India, and, so far from giving strength to your frontier defence, will only weaken it, the Government at home will require much fuller information as to the cost of this expedition and as to the situation in which we stand with reference to these tribes. It is upon our situation in reference to these tribes that the matter must be judged, and I do hope that before the country is committed to a policy of this gravity, we may have much more satisfactory information than any which the Government is thinking of acting upon, and upon which, as it appears to me from the Dispatch of the noble Lord himself, he has not finally made up his mind.


said, he should not have risen to address the House had it not been for the direct allusion to himself in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who brought the subject before the House. He might express his regret that there should not have been a Motion made. The right hon. Gentleman had put a Motion on the Paper and so excluded other Motions, and then did not move it. He thought that was to be regretted so far as the course of public debate was concerned. The hon. Member for Cardiff and his Seconder seemed to him to have placed their Motion on the Paper for the purpose of preventing some other subject corning on. Indeed the Seconder actually spoke against the terms of the Motion itself so far as he understood them. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green said that he was in favour of the annexation of Chitral; but on the merits of this case he held diametrically opposite views to the proposer of the Motion. He should not have alluded to these two hon. Members or their speeches but for the fact that the hon. Member for Cardiff had introduced into the Debate statements which showed so imperfect an acquaintance with the whole subject that he was afraid he had misled the House of Commons. The hon. Gentleman repeatedly alluded to the fortification of the passes leading into India as the particular policy he condemned. There was not a single one of these passes fortified with the exception of the Khyber Pass, which was only fortified against infantry. He thought his right hon. Friend had enormously exaggerated the difficulty and danger of making roads between the political and administrative frontier of India. It was quite possible that the road now in question might be a difficult road to make and hold; but it was equally possible that that might not be the case. Roads had been made outside the frontier of India over hundreds of miles of territory, and the making of them had been absolutely justified by what had followed. He did not wish to express any confident opinion upon the policy of holding this country; all that he wished to argue was that with regard to the road as it stood, it was quite possible, without any actual war or any great military cantonment, to keep it open, for the natives might be willing to do so for their own sake. The position of the Government was that the road was to be held by tribal levies without anything being done to infringe the Proclamation. His right hon. Friend had referred to the frontier of India, and he condemned in strong language indeed going beyond the frontier; and he used the term annexation, which was also employed by the hon. Member for Cardiff. His right hon. Friend, in giving the history of Chitral, showed that long ago it came under British influence. When in 1881 it was proposed to withdraw the Agency, doubt was expressed as to whether it was safe, but it was laid down that the withdrawal made no change in the policy with regard to Chitral. They had admitted that Chitral became a feudatory State, and they had given money help. Mr. Gladstone's first Government in 1880 endorsed that view. In 1892 the Member for Wolverhampton and the Leader of the Opposition agreed to increase our Chitral subsidy; all through, down to the recent action of the late Government, successive Governments invariably followed the opinion of the Government of India. They never attempted to over-rule it. Then there came a very sudden change, and it was upon that that he justified the interruption which he had made. The late Government acted very rapidly upon the Dispatch of the 9th of May. They must have received it during the Whitsuntide holidays, and then, after a few days, on the 13th June, they reversed the unanimous opinion of the Government of India—the first time that that opinion had been departed from in such questions. The right hon. Gentleman had taken the opinion of these great military authorities no doubt, for there was on the other side the opinion of Sir Donald Stewart. He asked the attention of the House to the very sharp point of controversy between himself and the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton. What was the principle at issue when they reversed or accepted the opinion of the Government of India? The Duke of Argyll in his famous Dispatch—twice laid on the Table of the House—had always been taken as a masterpiece on that subject. It expressed the constitutional view on this question. The Dispatch laid it down: Such powers of control as are claimed for the Secretary of State must be used with great deliberation, and on the rarest occasions. The Duke was then in Mr. Gladstone's Administration. These words were taken note of by the Government of India, and accepted. What he wanted to know was whether this principle was applied in the Chitral case. He had not forgotten the Kandahar case, but in that case the Government of India were not unanimous. There were two questions there. There was the question whether we should hold Kandahar and the Pishin Valley, or whether we should hold the Pishin Valley without Kandahar. They had had three Members of the Council in India with the month at question: the Viceroy, the Military Member of the Council, and the Finance Member of the Council, such weighty names that they finally very largely overcame the opposition towards them. The Finance Member at that time was Major Baring.


said, the Finance Member of Council was Sir John Strachey.


said, at the time he spoke of, Major Baring, now Lord Cromer, was the Finance Member. Those were very weighty names, and they had against them other very weighty names. But what did they do? They argued with them for months and months, and finally yielded to them on the Pishin portion of the case, and by doing that they carried a not very unwilling dissent from those Members of the Council who had been opposed to them with regard to Kandahar. For two years they agreed to stay temporarily in Pishin, and then ended by staying there altogether. That was what he called "great deliberation," a deliberation which had been entirely lacking on the present occasion. He was one of those who believed that it was not by over-ruling the Government of India from time to time upon some question of frontier policy, but by considering larger changes of policy, that they should be able to bring the finances of India into order. The hon. Member for Cardiff thought that annexations were the main cause of the difficulties of Indian finance; there were others who ascribed them to the complications with silver which had arisen in modern times. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green appeared to share the views of the Government with regard to this particular annexation, as he called it. He, himself, should not call it by that name, but, at all events, there was, common to the Mover and Seconder of this Resolution, and common also to a larger number of Members of that House, a very uneasy feeling in regard to the condition of Indian affairs. He believed there was much to be done in the way of civil economy and civil reform in India, but, apart from that question, he contended they would never deal adequately with this question of military expenditure of India until they radically revised the whole of their military system. They had an expensive system of white army, and they would have to alter it into a cheaper system of white army before they could make both ends meet.

SIR W. WEDDERBURN (Banffshire)

regretted that the Papers relating to Chitral had not been published earlier. The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton complained that the Blue-book did not contain all the necessary Papers, but the late Government had had it in their power to publish all the Papers and Documents at an earlier stage, and that he thought would have been a right and proper course to take. If the case had been put before the public the late Government would have received a great deal of support in the decision at which they ultimately arrived. As regarded that decision, he entirely concurred in the views that the late Government took. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman for the way in which he had sought to raise this question from one of mere temporary expediency, or money consideration, to a higher level. He should be prepared to vote with his hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff upon the Amendment, because it covered the ground occupied by the Chitral question, as well as many other similar questions. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green should, he suggested, have seconded the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cardiff, but he regretted that the hon. Member's reasons were, if he might say so, opposed to the whole educated opinion of India. He was sorry that Mr. Naoroji had not been returned to the House, as he could speak more authoritatively on behalf of the Indian people. He thought that in that discussion the opinion of the people of India was a very important one. He thought the public opinion of this country would insist that the question should be looked at from a broader and higher point of view, and that they would have to consider that these aggressions upon our weaker neighbours in India—this forward policy as it was called—was right and just. We had no quarrel with these people, and we had no right to deprive them of their land and liberty. He thought that a black man was as much entitled to his life, liberty and property as a white man. To the ordinary man, the terms of our Proclamation to the Chitralis conveyed the idea that we only intended to enter that country for the purpose of relieving Dr. Robertson, and that we would not interfere with the independence and liberty of any of the tribes there. He did not care who were the people who upheld the present action, for he said that, primarily, Ministers were the responsible people, and that they must take the responsibility, and they could not put it off on Lord Elgin or anyone else. Then, as regarded the grounds upon which the present forward movement had been justified, the Leader of the House placed it on two main grounds. One was the question of prestige; he said that if we abandoned any territories that we had once occupied, we should strike a blow at our prestige. He thought that his right hon. Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton (Sir Henry Fowler) very rightly objected to that word as being a governing rule for our action. What did the word "prestige" mean? Dr. Johnson had said that it was the Latin for "lie." In a dictionary which he had consulted, he found the first meaning to be "illusion," that meant self-deception; and the next meaning given was "imposture," that meant the deceiving of others. He left the Government to choose which of the two meanings they would adopt. The second reason given by the Leader of the House, was that, from a financial point of view, it would cost us little or nothing and that it would not be expensive, and he said that he had had assurances from the Government of India that the expenditure would not be very large. This information which had now justified the change of policy turned out to be simply a statement of the political officers, to the effect that the tribes would agree to having this road pass through their territories. He did not think that anyone who had studied these matters would be impressed with the correctness of the information obtained by the political officers on the frontier. Really, by far the best way of getting reliable information was the old method of placing a native Agent in these border places. He was a Mahommedan, generally of priestly position. He could mingle with the people and could give exact information upon all border questions, without raising the same suspicion or prejudice that a European officer raised; and he was able to live there without creating disturbances or rivalries among the different claimants for the Throne, or those who advocated different policies. The native Agents did not get us into these difficulties that Dr. Robertson did in the case of Chitral. Anybody reading the Blue-book would see what a humiliating position we were placed in through the interference of the British officer, who carried with him all the authority of the British Government. As regarded the cost, the Estimates were very unsatisfactory, and this had been the case in the Afghan War of 1877 and the Abyssinian War. It was remarkable that we should be regretting the policy started by Lord Lytton in 1878, which had brought us so much disaster, loss, and disgrace. Lord Lawrence's policy, on the other hand, was based on experience and common sense. He said that Nature had given us a strong rampart of rock, and mountains, and torrents, and that we should maintain those natural boundaries. Nature had also provided volunteers to man those ramparts in the native tribes, who hated foreign interference of any kind. It was just the same as if a farmer had a thick, thorny hedge round his orchard. He would be very foolish if he were to remove those thorns and briars, and still more foolish if he were to spend his substance in cutting a hole through that hedge and let the thieves through to steal his fruit. If we made this road fit for artillery, though he was not an alarmist, he must say that we were just paving the way for a Russian invasion. That meant more common sense, and that was the view which Lord Roberts held in 1880, when he was responsible for the defence of India. The noble Lord then held that, the longer and more difficult the road along which an enemy must approach through the mountain passes was, the better it would be for the defence, and that, so far from shortening such a road by a single mile or rendering it easier, he would prefer to lengthen the road and to increase the difficulties of it. That was the opinion of Lord Roberts at that time, and the noble Lord had not written or said anything since that detracted in any way from the force of that statement. The noble Lord had certainly written a letter to The Times in which he said that the defence of such a road would depend very much upon the friendly feeling of the natives to our Government. Was it not a curious thing that we should go among these tribes and, by robbing them of the independence which they valued so highly, make them our enemies? A gentleman who was well acquainted with the state of feeling that existed among the mountain tribes on our Indian frontier had said that they always regarded the first invaders as their enemies, and the second invaders as their deliverers. The proper course for us to take in the matter was to leave the native tribes alone, and to persuade them that we did not want their country because we did not think it worth taking, and then they would regard us as their best friends, and if any pressure were put upon them by either Russia or the Ameer, they would at once throw themselves into our arms. That was the policy that had been pursued by Lord Lawrence, Lord Mayo, and Lord Northbrook, and it was only set aside by Lord Lytton. They ought to return to the well-tried system, which had been found both effective and economical. By pursuing an opposite policy we should suffer from loss of prestige, we should meet with great financial difficulties, and we should cause great dissatisfaction among the people of India. As regarded the financial question involved in the imposition of the Indian Cotton Import Duties, he hoped that the hon. Members from Lancashire would carefully examine into the matter, because, if a policy of annexation were to be pursued, those duties would have to be raised from five to ten per cent. Such a policy was unjust, because under it the tribes would be deprived of their lands and liberties. Moreover, to follow such a policy would be an act of bad faith, because all those people thoroughly understood that we only intended to occupy their country until our immediate purpose was fulfilled. Such a policy would be ruinous both politically and financially, while the people of India would see money spent in a needless way, and would see no hope of ever getting the taxation which pressed so heavily upon the poor of the country lightened, or applied to those purposes of improvement and advancement which we were so anxious to see carried into effect. He, therefore, fully approved of the policy of the late Government in reference to this question. He believed that the policy which was good then was good now, and that so far from any change in the circumstances of India having occurred which would make the policy less successful, everything tended to show that it would be more effective than ever. The fact that the boundaries of India had been delimited on the frontiers of Russia and of the Ameer's country, ought to induce us to return to the good, old, and humane policy which had given India a full treasury, and friendly neighbours on the frontiers, and a contented people at home.

* SIR ANDREW SCOBLE (Hackney, Central)

said, that having been a member of the Government of India at the time when the Gilghit Agency was re-established in 1889, he hoped that the House would permit him to make some observations. The right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary for India had said that in going to Chitral we were going beyond the boundaries of India; but the right hon. Gentleman appeared to forget that there was not only a British India, but the India of which Her Majesty was Empress and over which she exercised political control, and that Chitral was certainly within the sphere of her dominions. That was clearly shown by the definition of India in the Interpretation Act of 1889. The Government of India had merely discharged an imperative duty in relieving the British officers who were being besieged in Chitral, and that duty having been discharged, the only question now before the House was as to what was to be done with Chitral. It might be perfectly true that the result of our agreement with Russia as to the delimitation of the Pamir frontier would render it improbable that Russia will give us any trouble in that quarter of the globe, but we must not overlook the fact that no longer ago than 1878 Russia had set troops in motion by the Pamir route with the avowed intention of stirring up the tribes of the Hindu-Kush so as to cause trouble on the Peshawar border. The march of these troops was only stopped by the Treaty of Berlin. What had happened before might happen again. It therefore appeared to him that the Indian Government were perfectly right in taking steps to secure our frontier in that direction. He submitted that we had good reasons for retaining our hold on Chitral. It had been assumed that the Indian Government intended to annex Chitral; but so far as he could gather it had never entered into the minds of any one connected with the Government of India to annex that country. It seemed to be thought there could not be a military occupation, temporary or permanent, in any part of India unless there was annexation. There were military occupations in various parts of the country, but the native chiefs did not consider themselves annexed because there was a British force cantoned in their territory. It was said we were going to force on the tribes a mountain road to Chitral. The correspondence contained no evidence of any such intention; on the contrary, it appeared that there was every probability of a peaceful arrangement for the road being made. Experience showed that the tribes might be trusted as guarantors for the security of such roads. In Belu-chistan there was not only a road, but a railroad, under the protection of the tribes through which it passed. On the acts he failed to see what objection there could be to the course the Government proposed to pursue. It was unfortunate that the question of Chitral should have been mixed up with the wider question raised by the hon. Member for Cardiff. In the last Parliament they had sad experiences of the result of academic Resolutions passed by the House, such as those on the system of examinations for the Indian Civil Service and the opium traffic. The latter resulted in the appointment of a Commission which entirely destroyed the case of the anti-opiumists. He hoped the House would not accept the Resolution of the hon. Member for Cardiff. So far as its principle went there was no great objection to it, but he feared it would cause embarrassment in time to come. [Cheers.]


I will not attempt to make another speech, but there are one or two personal explanations due to myself and the Government of India which I wish to make to prevent misconception. The right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean complained of the want of deliberation that the late Government appeared to have shown in coming to a decision on the question. He seemed to be under the impression that the Dispatch sent on May 8 and received towards the end of the month, was answered offhand on June 13 by telegram. No one knows better than the right hon. Baronet that a large number of communications are being constantly received in London from India. On April 18 I was perfectly aware what the policy of the Government of India was. On May 9—the day after the Dispatch—I received a private telegram telling me what the effect of the Dispatch was. On May 27, the Government of India pressed me to indicate what the Cabinet intended to do, and on June 5 for the decision of the Cabinet; and whether our decision is right or wrong, no Government ever made a more careful examination of the Papers before giving a decision than the late Government, whose decision I sent by telegram. If we had not left office I should have sent a Dispatch in a few days fully explaining the question. Another misconception I am perhaps to blame for. The noble Lord opposite thinks I have cast a reflection on the Government of India with reference to the Proclamation. I can assure him and the House that it was not my intention to do so. What I did was what the noble Lord said in his telegram of August 9:—"Do nothing to infringe the terms of the Proclamation," and at the conclusion of the last Dispatch he cautioned the Government to strictly keep to the conditions of the Proclamation. I am satisfied that Lord Elgin and his colleagues had no intention to violate the terms of the Proclamation. The Indian Government believe—I do not agree with them, but I will not trouble the House with the reasons why—that peaceful arrangements can be made for the construction of this road. If they are made, of course there will be no violation of the terms of the Proclamation. The argument I submitted was that it was impossible to make the road by means of peaceful arrangements, and to make it without them would be annexation; but that was a question of argument, and it was not one of imputation upon Lord Elgin, for whom I have profound respect, and I hope that he and his Government will believe I had no intention to cast the slightest reflection on their good faith. I will not pursue the little personal conflict I had with my right hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean. He and I were speaking of two different times. I spoke of one part of the transaction and he of another. There is no doubt that in the Debate to which I referred Mr. Gibson, now Lord Ashbourne, twitted my right hon. Friend with not having told the House what the opinion of the Government was, and asserted that, with the solitary exception of Major Baring, the Indian Government opposed the evacuation of Kandahar, and Lord Hartington stated at that time that Sir Donald Stewart also opposed that policy. That is a trivial matter, but, whether our position is right or wrong, I should like, in justice to my colleagues and myself, to repudiate the suggestion that it was arrived at without full consideration or in a hurried manner. The consideration of the question was going on for several weeks, and we did not arrive at our decision without the most anxious care.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes, 137; Noes, 28.—(Division List, No. 38.)

Main Question proposed.

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