§ [ADJOURNED DEBATE.]
§ [THIRD NIGHT.]
Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed (12th February) to Question (11th February), "That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as followeth:—
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament:
We take this first opportunity of expressing to Your Majesty our deep concern at the sad affliction with which Your Majesty has been visited in the death of His Royal Highness Prince Henry Maurice of Battenberg:
We desire to assure Your Majesty and Her Royal Highness Princess Henry of Battenberg of our sincere participation in the general feeling of sorrow for the heavy bereavement which Your Majesty and Your Majesty's family have sustained by the loss of a Prince who was regarded with universal affection and esteem by Your Majesty's subjects."—(Mr. George Goschen.)
And which Amendment was, at the end of the Question, to add the words—
And we humbly represent to Your Majesty that Your present advisers, by their refusal to propose any measure of self-government for Ireland, have aroused feelings of the deepest discontent and resentment in the minds of Irishmen; and that they have thereby added to the complications and difficulties which have arisen from their Foreign and Colonial policy."—(Mr. Dillon.)
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. P. J. POWER (Waterford, E.)
resumed the Debate on Mr. Dillon's Amendment. He said, the Speech from the Throne was as remarkable for what it did not contain as for what it did contain. The treatment which Ireland was receiving at the hands of the 243 Government ought to be another proof, if, indeed, it were wanted, to the people of Ireland that as long as they lie quiet no attempt will he made by this Imperial Parliament to redress any grievances they may have. The English Parliament really put a premium upon Irish agitation. Yesterday three speeches were delivered from the Government Benches in opposition to the Amendment of his hon. Friend. One speech came from the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Radcliffe Cooke), but it was only remarkable for a want of knowledge of the Irish people and bad pronunciation. The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh delivered one of his characteristic orations. The hon. and gallant Member wished the House of Commons to believe that the sentiment of the Irish nation in regard to self-government had passed away, or was passing away, and he said that evidence to that effect existed. He said the elections in Ireland meant nothing and conveyed no idea of the current of political thought. That was quite erroneous. Only recently there was a vacancy in West Waterford. If Home Rule was dead, how was it that the Unionist Party never ventured to run a. candidate in that constituency? Home Rule was deep down in the Irish minds, and time would prove that no Party could eradicate what had been handed down to the people from their ancestors. The hon. and gallant Gentleman was wrong in his historical references. He had the hardihood to say that the Catholics were anxious Grattan's Parliament should he abolished, because Catholics were not emancipated. Protestants thought it was Grattan's Parliament was loved and revered by the Catholics of Ireland, and it proposed to emancipate the Catholics of that country. The promises made at the time of the Union were flagrantly broken. Catholic Emancipation was not granted until 26 years afterwards, and only when the country was brought to the eve of a civil war. That had been the experience of Ireland in regard to every reform claimed by her; it was never recognised until the people were irritated almost beyond control. As to the Union itself, the student of history must acknowledge that it was brought about by bribery and corruption, a course of things which 244 the Catholics, as a whole, never sanctioned. The attitude of the Chief Secretary on the question of Home Rule was an unhappy one. He had stated that England had decided irrevocably against Home Rule; but he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that though his majority in that House was greater, the majority in England against Home Rule was less at the last Election than in the preceding one. The right hon. Gentleman had contended, as he understood, that Home Rule was now unnecessary, because any Bills introduced for the benefit of Ireland by Irish Members would be considered on their merits, and because this Parliament would be prepared to do what it could, short of Home Rule, for Irish reform. But, unfortunately for that contention, there was no mention of measures of reform for Ireland in the Royal Speech; and yet the need of reform in Ireland, both municipally and nationally, was most seriously urgent. This entire disregard of Ireland in the Programme of the Government could only have the effect of impressing upon the people the continued necessity for organisation among themselves in order to make their voices heard. In 1885 the right hon. Member for West Birmingham delivered a speech in which he described the system of Government then prevailing in Ireland as one founded on 30,000 English soldiers permanently encamped there as in a hostile country—a system as centralised and bureaucratic as that by which Russia governed Poland, or which was common in Venice under Austrian rule; that under this system an Irishman could not move a step in any local or national work without being interfered with and controlled by an English official, yet had no representative authority. That state of things still prevailed, only in a yet more aggravated form, and he maintained that this fact was a disgrace to English Statesmen. [Nationalist cheers.] In those circumstances, he asked what could be the hope, or the anticipation, of the Irish Members in attending that House. They came there to express the views and wishes of their constituents, with a view to their country's progress, but their voices were practically ignored. Even if an Irish Member introduced a Bill, and it was 245 said to be a good Bill for Ireland, that very circumstance was sufficient to induce the Unionists to vote against it. It would be far more consistent on the part of the Tory Party to disfranchise Ireland altogether, than to give her representation in that House and ignore the voices constitutionally expressed of those sent there by the people. [Nationalist cheers.] The Chief Secretary had said that Great Britain had decided irrevocably against Home Rule. He disputed the statement, but time alone would show. At any rate the Nationalist Members held that the present policy, attended, as it was, by decrease of population and increase of taxation, was driving things from bad to worse in Ireland, and again filling the minds of the people with feelings of bitter resentment. The policy of the present Chief Secretary was simply in accord with that of previous Tory Governments towards Ireland, and therefore it would meet with similar failure. The right hon. Gentleman was woefully in error if he imagined that the aspiration for Home Rule was less ardent now than it ever was. [Nationalist cheers] The sentiment of nationality was a motive power among both men and nations; it had never been successfully ignored or crushed out. The feeling of Irish nationality was as strong as ever in the hearts of the people, and wise statesmanship would recognise and seek to utilise it, and would invest it with an exercise of responsibility for the general good, rather than treat it with ignominy. [Nationalist cheers.] He believed that if that sentiment in Ireland was duly recognised by England, and invested with responsibility under conditions of Home Rule, it would be fulfilled in a Conservative spirit, in the best sense of the words, and for the advantage of the United Kingdom. [Nationalist cheers.] He begged to support the Amendment.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.),
who was received with cheers, said: The Secretary for Ireland expressed a desire yesterday that I should state the view which I and my friends who sit around me on this Bench take with reference to the Amendment now under the consideration of the House. I think that is a very reasonable request, and I will endeavour very briefly to comply with it. The right 246 hon. Gentleman has stated with clearness and precision his views and the views of his Party on this question,. He stated them, as he always does, with moderation and ability. The policy of the speech of the Secretary for Ireland may be summed up, I think, in one sentence. He will "never, no never," consent to Home Rule. That is the policy of the Government stated with perfect frankness. I observe, that it did not contain even the mitigating elements which have, on former occasions, been present. It was thought wise before the Election to hold out a great plan of Local Government for Ireland. [Irish cheers.] There was not a trace of that in his speech; not a word on that subject. His view, as I understand it, is that the people of Ireland now regard everything in their Government as the best possible condition of things in the best possible world. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] That is his view of the present condition of Ireland. He says, indeed, that Home Rule is not dead—that it sleeps. It sleeps, I suppose, like the beautiful Princess we have read of in the fairy tale. But that sleep reminds me of the famous passage at the end of the "Dunciad," where everything is put to sleep under the influence of Dulness. That is the policy of the Secretary for Ireland and of his Party, and those are his convictions with reference to the sentiments of the Irish people. Well, that is not the policy of the Party which sits mi this side of the House; nor are those our convictions. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman adheres to his belief, and we also adhere to the views and policy which we have stated on this matter. [Irish cheers.] We believe that the long-continued discontent of the Irish race is not extinguished, and will not be extinguished until, in some way or other, you satisfy that perpetual demand which they have always made, and I believe they still make, for a system of local self-government. [Irish cheers.] That is our belief. We are deeply convinced that whatever palliatives you may introduce you will never cure the disorders which have been continued in Ireland for so many generations, I might say for so many centuries, unless you go to the root of the evil and satisfy that deep-rooted sentiment of the Irish 247 people. ["Hear, hear!"] That is what I understand to be the policy of Home Rule, and to that policy we adhere. [Cheers.] But the right hon. Gentleman says "never." Well, "never" is a word which has a very liberal interpretation in politics [Laughter], and it is not a wise word, especially in the mouth of an Irish Secretary. [Renewed laughter.] I think the experience of history has shown that, and I advise the right hon. Gentleman to modify that phrase, and say, "hardly ever." [Laughter.] I think he will probably find, before we have done with the matter, that that is more nearly the truth. Was there a Statesman in England who, before the year 1782, would not have said that an independent Parliament in Ireland was impossible, and that "never, no never" would they grant it! And yet, under the pressure of the war with the American colonies, aye, and still more under the pressure of the armed volunteers of Ulster [Irish cheers], Grattan's Parliament was established in 1782. Well, there is one of your "nevers." I will give you another. There were the claims of the Catholics to equal civil rights, to the right of voting in Ireland. Oh, never was that to happen, and it overthrew Mr. Pitt in the very plenitude of his power. You may say if you like that Catholic emancipation slept for a generation or more. So it did, for 30 years. There were election after election, on the Protestant cries, with enormous majorities, and in the year 1829 the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel said never would the Catholic claims be conceded. You are not greater men than the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel, and yet the Catholic claims were conceded. [Irish cheers.] What was the ground stated by the Duke of Wellington for conceding the Catholic claims? Because he would never face civil war. That was the history of the "never" in regard to the Catholic claims. But I have not done with the "nevers," because in the very following year so great a man as the Duke of Wellington had not learned the danger of the word "never." He got up in the House of Lords and said that never would he and the Conservative Party consent to Parliamentary reform. [Laughter.] We 248 know what happened the next year and the year after in answer to the "never" of the Duke of Wellington. Let us take one more. Who does not remember—I am afraid there are a great many Members in this House who do not—the contest over the Corn Laws and the great Election of 1841, which I recollect as a boy, and the great Conservative triumph—a triumph in which their majority was almost as great in those days as yours is now? Protection was established, as it was then believed, upon an immutable basis. What happened four years afterwards ["Hear, hear!"] These are lessons of the danger of using the word "never." You are not a more powerful Government than Sir Robert Peel's was in 1841, yet through all those periods, through the long period of the contest on Catholic emancipation, the Liberal Party never lost faith in that principle. They submitted and subjected themselves to exile from power in the maintenance of the claims of the Irish Catholics. They maintained the cause of Free Trade in spite of the great Election of 1841. Those reforms, though long delayed, ultimately prevailed, and therefore I would respectfully recommend the Irish Secretary to reconsider his "never." [Laughter and cheers.] This Amendment points in the last paragraph to the difficulties which the Irish question has created for us in our Empire. That is a fact which is deplorable, but it is a fact which cannot be denied. It is not to be got rid of by the use of, if I may use the phrase without offence, the hoity-toity language of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh. You may deplore it; you may condemn the manner in which it is expressed, but you cannot ignore its existence, and it ought to be your object, and your first object, to remove it if possible. [Irish cheers,] We appeal to the sentiments of those of our children who have gone forth from amongst us; we appeal to our kindred in the United States; and we appeal with confidence, I believe, to the great majority of those peoples. But when you appeal to the Irish population there and elsewhere, the appeal falls, I am afraid, upon deaf ears. ["Hear, hear!"] What we desire is that our people in all parts of the world should speak as men who are contented and proud of their relation to their mother State. That is 249 what we desire, and that, thank God, in the greater part of the globe, is what we do possess. [Cheers.] We have rejoiced within the last month or so at the enthusiastic response which has come to us from our colonies, ["Hear, hear!" and Ministerial cheers.] Yes, and what are those colonies? Those are colonies to whom you have granted Home Rule. [Opposition and Irish cheers.] Lord Salisbury said the other day that he did not mind how much we were isolated abroad so long as we were united at home. But can you truly and honestly say you are united at home, when there exists the feeling which you know exists both here and elsewhere against your Irish policy? I have spoken of the colonies on which you bestowed Home Rule—your Australian Colonies—not underpressure, not under difficulties. But I am old enough to remember as a boy seeing the troops embarked at Spithead to fight the rebels in Canada. You sent the Guards out to subdue the rebellious population in Canada. A Liberal Government then gave, practically, Home Rule to Canada. They were denounced, as we are denounced now, in the most violent language for that measure. I remember very well the speech of Lord Stanley, afterwards Lord Derby, in which he predicted the same dangers to the Empire which you are continually holding out in regard to Ireland; and yet the result of that policy of the Liberal Party, that policy of Home Rule, is that which has brought to you that loyal response from our Canadian colonists [Cheers], and it is that policy which has united the Empire. It is not necessary that I should argue now at any length the question of Home Rule. This Debate is confined to that point; it is sufficiently familiar to the House; and we are precluded, even if we desired it, from going into Irish policy or the condition of Ireland generally. We are told, and we are expected to believe, that the future of Home Rule is desperate. I do not think so. [Nationalist cheers.] The future of Home Rule depends, in my opinion, very much, in the first place, upon the course which is pursued upon that subject by the representatives of the people of Ireland. [Opposition cheers.] How far the Home Rule Party in this House are able to assist them in this matter 250 depends very much upon themselves. [Ministerial laughter.] Do you imagine that legislation for Ireland must, not depend upon the sentiments of the great majority of the Irish representatives? And yet you call yourselves the Constitutional Party. [Opposition cheers.] That very spirit which raised that sneering laugh is your great difficulty in the Government of Ireland. ["Hear, hear!"] It is because you will not recognise the right of the Irish people or of their representatives to have a potential voice even in this House upon Irish affairs; that you never can and you never will reconcile Ireland as long as you deal with it in that spirit. [Nationalist cheers.] Therefore I do assume that the first and most important of all factors is the view of the representatives of Ireland upon Irish questions. If you reject that, you reject the principle of the Union, because it is for that purpose that they sit in this House. I was going to say that I do not think we have had a great deal of encouragement from the hon. Member for Waterford. [Laughter.] I do not dispute the ability of the hon. Member. I do not dispute his capacity and right to determine his own policy in this matter; but I confess that I do not understand it. His policy, it appears to me, is to attack Home Rulers wherever he finds them. [Cheers.] He attacks the majority of the representatives of Ireland. He attacks the only Home Rule Party in this country on every occasion. [Cheers.] In the last Parliament his first effort was to displace a Government favourable to Home Rule.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
They dropped Home Rule. [Cheers.] I supported the late Government all through the days when they were pushing the Home Rule Bill through the House of Commons. [Cheers.]
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
As I said, the hon. Member is the best judge of his own policy; but his voice was always at the disposal of the Party opposite; and he has contributed as much as anyone to the present situation. [Cheers.] All I can say to that is that it is a policy which I cannot understand, and I do not myself desire to pursue. And therefore, when the question of Home Rule is brought before the House—a principle on which I entirely agree 251 with the majority of the representatives of the Nationalist Party in Ireland—I shall not be deterred, even by the hostility of the Hon. Memeber for Water-ford, from supporting that Resolution. It is a Resolution which I believe to be true in itself. I believe it represents a policy in the conciliation of Ireland equally advantageous to the Irish people and to the interests of the United Kingdom; and, therefore, I shall give my vote in favour of this Resolution. [Cheers.]
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
I understood that the right hon. Gentleman rose in order to give a definite and explicit answer to a question put to him in Debate yesterday by the hon. Member for Waterford.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
What the Chief Secretary did was to ask the right hon. Gentleman what answer he proposed to give to the question of the hon. Member for Water-ford. [Laughter.] We supposed that he got up to meet that challenge, and that an explicit answer would be given.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I tried to make my answer as explicit to the hon. Member for Waterford as I could. [Cheers.]
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I will endeavour to explain, if the right hon. Gentleman will give me a chance. [Laughter.] The hon. Member for Waterford did not ask whether Home Rule still remained part of the official programme of the Home Rule Party. Of course it does. What he did ask was whether the Members of the Official Opposition did or did not mean to continue the policy which they adopted before—namely, that of taking the decision of the House upon it, and, when that decision proved adverse, going on with other measures, trusting to the support of the Home Rule Party for Ireland. That is a question which does not really concern us, but it is a very interesting and important question, and I certainly gathered no very clear answer from the vague protestations made by the right hon. Gentleman in favour of the general principle of Home Rule. Passing from the interchange of opinion between the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Waterford, and coming to 252 the substance of his speech, the right hon. Gentleman began by reminding the House that the Irish Secretary had stated that Home Rule was not dead but slept—a fairy sleep, like that of some princess in the old tale. Is the right hon. Gentleman a fairy prince? [Loud laughter] who, with delicate tread and light touch, is going to awaken that sleeping form into life? Or is that task going to be left to Gentlemen below the Gangway, who, though having less responsibility for the great Party who sit opposite, are perhaps rather more ardent in the, cause of Home Rule, and are rather more anxious to see this slumbering princess come to life than, is the right hon. Gentleman and those who sit behind him? The right hon. Gentleman was very critical of the Irish Secretary because the Irish Secretary stated to the House, in tones of unmistakable decision, that, as far as this Government was concerned, we should never grant Home Rule. The decision and explicitness of that answer was called for in this Debate. I do not think that the Chief Secretary's language at all went beyond the feelings and opinions of Gentlemen who sit on this side of the House. [Cheers.] But the right hon. Gentleman objects to so definite a word as "never," and he has ransacked his historical memory for cases in which other politicians in other times have used that word "never," only to find that the event has disappointed their expectations. The right hon. Gentleman gave us a series of illustrations of this truth—if truth it be—which were in themselves interesting, but in which he went far beyond what history records of the true facts of the case. He quoted the case of Grattan's Parliament. He says: "You said there never should be an independent Parliament in Ireland." I do not know who said it. The right hon. Gentleman did not quote anybody, and I do not remember the statement being made by any responsible politician or party. But if it had been stated that an independent Parliament in Ireland must either come to an end or terminate in some form of disruption of the Empire, I think that the politician who had said that would be right. And sure enough, Grattan's Parliament had not existed for 17 years before those very difficulties arose between the Government of England and the Government of Ireland which 253 were a sure and certain presage that the Constitution then established was one which could not he the permanent Constitution of these islands. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that a similar announcement of policy had been made with regard to the Catholic claims. Again I say, what Party in the State used this word "never"? Was it Mr. Pitt? It is well known that he was in favour of them. Was it the series of Tory Administrations existing in the first quarter of the century? During that time, as far as I remember, the question of the Catholic claims was an open question among the Tory Leaders of the day; and from first to last Lord Castlereagh—the very type of Tory statesman in England during those years—is invariably quoted as being in favour of those claims. But among the ranks of the Unionist Party, is the Home Rule question an open question? No. [Cheers.] And if, as I do not anticipate, Home Rule shall ever pass, the right hon. Gentleman may depend upon it that those on this side of the House will not make the mistake made in the past by those who have opposed a policy to become the instruments of its being carried out. [Cheers.] The only remaining case which the right hon. Gentleman brought forward was protection; and he drew a picture of the Parties in England in 1841, from which anyone listening would have gathered that the Liberal Party of that day were ranged on the side of free trade in corn and opposed to a Conservative Party who were resolved never to grant it.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
So they were not. [Cheers.] And if the right hon. Gentleman will only refresh his memory on this subject he will discover that it was not until after Lord Russell's letter on the subject of the Irish famine had been written, and it was well known that the Irish food supplies would have to be considered by the Government, that the Official Liberal Party of that day for the first time gave their adhesion to the principle of free trade in corn. [Cheers.] There was a difference as to the duty on corn between the two Parties. One Free-trade Party was opposed to the other as to a sliding scale, 254 or some such matter. Is that a question of free trade? The right hon. Gentleman is clearly wrong in his history or wrong in his political economy. He has forgotten his history, or has forgotten his political economy. ["Hear, hear!"] The right, hon. Gentleman has not been more fortunate in his references to contemporary history than he has been to the history of the past. He has referred, and I am afraid with much truth, to the most unhappy fact that the descendants of the Irish race in America and other parts of the world are not always well affected to the Government of the country from which they or their fathers have come. Well, I am not one of those who either deny the fact or wish to minimise its gravity. But I do not think the true interpretation has been put upon it by the right hon. Gentleman. Indeed, I do not think that the true interpretation has been put upon it by all those who deal with it. Sir, the history of Irish disaffection—if I may use the word—is a history that has not got its roots in present grievances, but it has its roots in a long memory of past misfortunes, and in some cases, unhappily, in past injustice. The reason why this unhappy feeling towards England fills the breasts of so many men of Irish origin abroad is that they get their notions of English rule chiefly from the memories of the 17th and 18th centuries. They look back to the days of civil war; they look back to the days of penal laws, to the days of successive conquests and successive confiscations; and they have in no very explicit form, but still deeply rooted in their imagination, a sense that England is the oppressor and that they are the oppressed. I am not one of those who have ever attempted to minimise or mitigate the weight of condemnation which no doubt does attach to this country in many of her dealings in the past with Ireland. The difficulties were great; the wrongs were not always on one side. ["Hear, hear!"] But wrongs I admit there were [Nationalist cheers], and I fully grant that the history of Ireland through, let us say, the century that passed between 1640 and 1740—through that century more especially there were, undoubtedly, evils of a kind to leave bitter memories in the Irish race, who, I fear, are not quick either to forgive or to forget. But if we 255 are to attempt to allocate between the two traditional Parties of the State the chief measure of blame for that unhappy state of things, I venture to say it will be found that the Whig Party have the heavier load of responsibility to bear in this matter. They had more to do with the conquests of Ireland, with the old ascendency claim, with the enactment and execution of the penal laws, than the other Party in the State. Neither Party can be absolved; but do not let the right hon. Gentleman come down in his historical capacity and pretend or suggest for one moment that of this hereditary load of blame the Party which he represents has not got to bear its share. [Ministerial cheers.] For this state of things I do not believe that Home Rule would be a cure. There are many Irish Gentlemen opposite who have gone to the United States of America upon political lecturing tours, and have represented to the citizens of that country that all they demanded for Ireland was a Constitution similar to that of the United States, in which Ireland should represent, as it were, the State of New York within the British Empire. Sir, if there be, as there is undoubtedly, a feeling against England, that is not a feeling aroused by the mere fact that the Americans have one form of free Constitution, and that we have another. It is aroused by the fact that they think the national claims of Ireland are not adequately regarded. [Nationalist cheers.] Sir, the State system of America has nothing whatever to do with the Irish national claim.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I am sure the hon. Gentleman will not contend that the State system of America is now, or ever has been, founded upon the question of nationality. [Ministerial cheers.] It has never been founded upon that principle. I go further, and say that if it had been so founded, and if we suppose America had been broken up into various States as the Austrian Empire is broken up, with different origins and different languages, and were you to adopt the State system of America to meet the state of things, it would be as difficult to hold the United States 256 together as one great political organisation as it may be in future to hold together the diverse elements that make up the Austrian Empire. I make that very general observation almost in passing. I do not think it proper to discuss the details of Home Rule or the general effects of such a measure. I will only say that, in my judgment, the cure, the only cure—and it must be a slow cure—for this feeling among Irishborn citizens abroad against this country is an increasing knowledge of the earnest attempt of Great Britain to do justice, and even more than justice, to the Irish part of Great Britain. [Ministerial cheers and ironical Nationalist laughter.] We do not think it any part of the claim that can be made upon us by a fragment of our citizens that we should pull down the Constitution from top to bottom and substitute another in its place. But we boast that we have at this moment one of the best and one of the freest Constitutions in the world. [Ministerial cheers.] We give to the Irish race living within our jurisdiction every privilege we ask for ourselves under that Constitution. [Ministerial cheers, and cries of "No, no," from the Nationalists.] We give them not merely their share, but more than their share [AN HON. MEMBER—"Of coercion"], of representation in this House; and the mere fact that any minority—I care not how it be composed—finds itself a minority in a Legislative Assembly is not, in our opinion, ground for tearing up that Legislative Assembly into several fractions and fragments. We have always desired to retain for Ireland her full share in a free, self-governing Constitution. We do not admit that more can be asked by any section of citizens of this Empire. We do not think that more can be asked by any citizens of any Empire. We do not think that when that is thoroughly understood—as it is not at present thoroughly understood—in America that more will be supposed to be due by the Government of this country. And when that conviction has been brought home to members of the Irish race abroad, when they realise that this Assembly at Westminster—it may be mistakenly, but at all events sincerely—wishes to mete out full and generous justice to Ireland, then I think will 257 begin a change of opinion, which may be slow in coining to its full development, but which in the long run cannot fail to permeate the whole mass of every English-speaking community; and when that happy time comes the last cause of dissension between those two great communities will be removed once and for ever. [Ministerial cheers.]
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
said, the right hon. Gentleman the leader of the House had addressed himself to the question in a tone and temper of which there was no reason to complain. Apparently the attitude of America towards this country has sufficiently operated on the mind of the right hon. Gentleman to convince him that the Irish citizens of that great Republic were no longer merely the servant girls of New York from whose dollars it was supposed the Nationalist Party alone received sustenance. It was an important thing to have that recognition from the right hon. Gentleman of the power and potency of the Irish race in America. [Nationalist cheers.] The Irish people at home were as proud to appeal to their kith and kin abroad as the English people were to appeal to the Anglo-Saxon race. The English people relied for help and fellowship abroad on those who had left the mother country, and so, in like manner, the Irish people relied upon their own race—the Celtic race—who were not a fragment of English citizens, but a separate race and a separate nation. [Nationalist cheers], When the right hon. Gentleman told them, and told their race, in America, that his Party could not yield to a fragment of citizens, they told him that they put forward no demand on behalf of any fragment of the citizens of the Empire, but that they took their stand upon the immemorial rights of the Celtic race and the Celtic nation. [Nationalist cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman had gone into some archæological question of the 17th century. He had told the House that the grievances which stirred the blood of men from Dublin to San Francisco, from San Francisco to Melbourne, aye, and from Melbourne to Johannesburg, were the result of the influences of the 17th century. Why, in the jubilee year of her Majesty the Queen, the right hon. Gentleman with his own hand drew up 258 a statute to indict the Irish nation by which he suspended, by a stroke of his own pen, the British Constitution in Ireland and imprisoned Irish Members of Parliament by the score. [Nationalist cheers.] Was it in the 17th century that his friends were locked up in gaol or was it in the year 1887? [Nationalist cheers.] Was it in the 17th century that a thousand men were imprisoned in Ireland without trial? No; it was in the memory of Irishmen sitting in the House, few of whom escaped tasting the sweets of Kilmainham or Tullamore. The 17th century forsooth! He come over and waste his time by talking about what occurred 150 years ago! Why there were 83 witnesses to the grievances of to-day which affected their attitude to the right hon. Gentleman and the Cabinet. He told them that the British Constitution was open to them. Yes; and the law was open, as Horne Tooke said, like the London Tavern, to every one who could afford to pay. They had come here, year after year, for 15 years, endeavouring to obtain legislation, and not one of the Bills they had introduced into this free Constitution, with one insignificant exception, had passed into law. Some Members pretended to be enraged because the franchise was denied to the Uitlanders in the Transvaal. [Ironical cheers.] But when he, with endless devices [laughter], escaped the traps and pitfalls of the House and passed a Bill, every clause and line of which was already law in England, Scotland, and Wales, and got it up to the House of Lords, who was it that moved its rejection? To show the scorn of the Government for the Irish Members, it was their Viceroy of Ireland, the Earl of Cadogan, who, in a subsequent speech at Belfast, said that his doing so was contrary to etiquette. The first use they made of their Viceregal utensil was to get him to depart from the immemorial tradition of the Viceroyalty. And the Bill was one to enable the people of Ireland to look after their own rates and taxes. This was the way the British Constitution was open to them. True, they had the right to the ballot for Wednesdays; and, if they drew a prize instead of a blank, they had the, alternative of a decent funeral in that House or of the knife in the House of 259 Lords. For the enjoyment of these blessings they must appeal to the people of Ireland and get returned to this House. Yes; like Job on his dunghill, they had some liberty of speech. [Laughter.] Still the right hon. Gentleman expected the feelings of the Irish in America to be allayed by speeches such as he had just delivered. The right hon. Gentleman looked to time to remove their grievances; and that was just their position. He had never been an ardent believer in the immediate success of the Home Rule movement, or its success in his time; but it had been handed down to him, and he would hand it down to children and to children's children. He would give an infallible specific for getting rid of the Irish Question, and that was, to erect in each province of Ireland a shambles for the slaughter of Irish babies, and to prohibit alien immigration into Ireland. If the right hon. Gentleman could prevent the growth of the Irish Question in human form, then he might hug the delusion that he had settled it. And keeping it open had an effect, as the Amendment said, on our foreign policy. If he were an Englishman, he should be proud of the position England occupied before the world ["Hear, hear!"]; he would be a Jingo in British politics, as he was a Jingo in Irish politics. An English Nationalist was commonly called a Jingo, and in the same sense an Irish Nationalist was one; ho did not make much distinction between them. Ireland was regarded in England as a danger on the western flank. Political policy, like finance, was now international, and its effect was seen all over the world. The unfortunate Armenians were feeling the result of the Irish Question, as were also the people in British Guiana; and but for it the Transvaal difficulty might not have arisen. ["Oh, oh!"] If the Liberal Party had remained in office the Venezuelan Question would not have assumed such an acute form. It was the growth of American feeling that paralysed our hands in Armenia. But, for the power and influence of the Irish in America, the President would not have sent such a Message to Congress. In his judgment Mr. Gladstone in his Irish policy was the greatest friend England ever had. [Cheers.] Mr. Gladstone once said that 260 England could as easily deal with Ireland as a man-of-war could draw a punt after it in its wake; and that was an absolute fact. One reason why he did not subscribe to the view that England's difficulty was Ireland's opportunity was that England, unless she were beaten to her knees, could keep down the Irish people. The hon. Member for North Armagh said a good deal about "union of hearts." Well, the Irish people were not loyal at this moment, and he did not feel specially loyal; no man would be loyal when you were sitting on his head. [Laughter.] Loyalty was conditional. The hon. Member for North Armagh said he would take up arms if Home Rule were granted, so that his loyalty was conditional. ["Hear, hear!"] The present Commander-in-Chief of Her Majesty's Forces had boasted that he would take up arms against Home Rule and play the part of Dr. Jameson, so that his loyalty was conditional. Accordingly, from the point of view of England, it was good business for Englishmen to settle the Irish Question. Let them put it for the moment on no higher ground. But if they did not settle it, if they imagined for a moment that the Irish people were going to be satisfied with their policy, they would soon be undeceived. He despised and loathed the policy of those who would be satisfied with the gifts of the present Government. In the beggar's phrase in Ireland they asked for nothing "for God's sake." He had not been sent there to get light railways for Ireland, but to get her a native Parliament. That was his business, and while he was there his endeavour would be to harass, attack, and thwart in every way the policy of those who refused to give Home Rule to Ireland. Accordingly, he would advise the Government, it they expected gratitude from the Irish people, to keep their boons in their pocket. What they wanted was this. On the showing of the Report of the Commission on the Financial Relations between England and Ireland, Ireland was annually robbed of three millions. The Chief Secretary had said he did not agree with the evidence.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. GERALD BALFOUR,) Leeds, Central
I beg pardon, I said nothing of the kind. I made no reference 261 whatever to the Report of the Commission. I spoke of certain newspaper reports.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
said, that in reply to him the right hon. Gentleman said he did not agree with the evidence.
§ MR. HEALY
, resuming, said, that if the Chief Secretary would examine the newspaper reports, he would find they bore out what he had said. However, all he would say was that the evidence was the evidence of 15 gentlemen, all of whom were officials of the Government, and according to the draft Report of the Commission, Ireland was robbed of £3,000,000 a year. At the time of the Union Ireland paid £2,000,000 a year. Now £8,000,000 were extracted from her, and off and on during the century, for the honour and glory of balloting on Wednesday [laughter], Ireland had been robbed of £6,000,000 per annum. While accepting none of their alleged boons in settlement, they would insist on the Programme the supporters of the Government laid before the constituencies being introduced. The Government told them in the Queen's Speech they were going to give Ireland a Board of Agriculture. Let them keep their Board of Agriculture and give her a Board of Finance. Let them keep their Minister of Agriculture and give Ireland an Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer—even if he were a Tory. There was the eminent Scotchman they had appointed head of the Irish Board of Works. He did not object to him, but he would rather an Irishman had got the post. [Laughter] Let them take some man of that class and put him at the head of an Irish Board of Finance, to keep a watch on the Treasury as independent Auditor General of Irish Accounts—income and expenditure—and let, Ireland have the balance as found by him. ["Hear, hear!"] On these matters they were entitled to know whether this Government intended to carry out its only declared policy before the country. The Government said they would not give Ireland Home Rule. The present Government differed from all 262 its predecessors in that everything it said was true. [Nationalist laughter, and cries of "Oh!"] When Lord Salisbury said to the Armenians he would insist on giving them reforms, that was true. And now, when he said he did not mind at all, that was equally true. Then he said to the Turks in 1878 he would guarantee the integrity of their Empire, that was true. Now, when he said he would not do so, that was equally true. When he said to Mr. Olney he would never consent to arbitrate about the land of untold wealth in Venezuela, that was true. But when in the Queen's Speech he announced that they were happy to settle the matter with America, that was equally true. When he said he, was proud of the "splendid isolation" of England, that was true; but when he made the Queen rejoice that she was on friendly terms with all the Powers, that was true. [Cheers and laughter.] Accordingly they had now this further advantage in the Government—everything the right hon. Member for West Birmingham said in 1886 about Home Rule was true; and everything he might say on the subject in 1896 would be equally true. That gave the Government the great advantage of being the sole depository of truth. But surely they would allow Nationalist Members to place their own appreciation on the stability of their virtue. He himself had some doubts about it. As long as their majority of 150 continued; as long as they were having "booming" electoral times; as long as the Colonial Secretary enjoyed his present music-hall popularity [laughter.], no doubt there would be no approach, on behalf of the Government, towards the Irish Members. But they had seen changes before; they expected to see them again. There was one thing, at any rate. The Irish people had seen their inconsistencies and infidelities; but they had seen no change on the part of the Irish people. English majorities had come and gone, but the Irish banshee haunted them still. No doubt it was in the power of the, present Government to continue, this system of Government in Ireland, without any great gain, as far as he, could see, in Ireland, with great loss to their vigour abroad, with great detriment to their institutions at home. It was a remarkable fact that principles which t he squires 263 of England had fought against, but had had to swallow—from Disestablishment to the Laud Question, and from that to Electoral Reform—every one of them had been started in Ireland, had resulted from Irish ideas; and from Ireland had spread to this country, to Scotland, and to Wales. They were paying a big price for keeping up the present system in Ireland, and the question he would put to English Members new to the House was this: Let them consider this matter for themselves. Do not let them start any preconceived ideas on the subject. Let them treat the Irish people like the miners on the Rand; let them give them liberty as in Austria; let them treat them as fairly as if they were new-comers in a mining district, and if they thought that on the whole, the demands they put forward were fair and reasonable—if the present group of Ministers were unreasonable in their attitude towards them—it was in the power of the Tory Party to change them. One word with regard to the Liberal Party. When that Party were in Office he did his best—he admitted without very much success—to impress his views upon them with regard to minor measures of reform. They got nothing, but still the result of their three years' support of the Liberal Party was the Home Rule Bill, which the House of Lords rejected. But that would not stop him from making his acknowledgments to the Liberal Gentlemen who supported them through all those years—ten years now—in making that fight, and it would not stop him from avowing that if they were to give the Nationalist Party their support on these questions they were entitled to their support in return, where there was nothing against principle in giving it. [Cheers.] It would be an absurd line for Irishmen to take to say, "You must support us on Home Rule, but we do nothing in exchange." That was not his position. There was the enemy [the HON. MEMBER pointed to the Ministerial Benches]; there [pointing to the Opposition Benches] were their friends. It might be that they were not as keen friends of theirs as the Member for West Birmingham. He might in secret be preparing something for them, as he prepared something for President Kruger. [Laughter and cheers.] If he applied to 264 the right hon. Gentleman the new X rays, they might be able to discover remarkable photography of Home Rule. But for the moment all they knew was that the Party who supported Home Rule were Liberals, and that the Party who attacked it were the Tory Party. For his own part, they would be adopting the wretched Whig Policy of 1840, 1850, and 1860 if, for the sake of the sops and doles of Toryism—the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table—they were to surrender their demands for Home Rule, or turn their backs, to join the enemy, on friends who were willing to assist them. [Cheers.] They had before them, no doubt, six years of Tory administration, but they faced it as they did in 1881, 1882, and 1883. Of course his view might be entirely wrong. There were others who might be satisfied with Light Railways and the repeal of the Compulsory Vaccination Act. [Laughter.] He, for his part, did not expect anything of any real value from the Tory Party. He listened to the speech of the Irish Secretary the previous day as he listened to him frequently in the last Session of Parliament, and, so far as he could make out his views, they might fairly be represented by Gilbert's couplet about platitudes and stained-glass attitudes. [Laughter.] One shred of sympathy with the condition of Ireland, one idea of a sovereign specific for the ills of Ireland, one emanation of policy from the Tory Party as to the treatment of Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman did not give them. His performances were about as appetising as eating chopped straw. [Laughter.] The Irish people would have to buckle themselves up to the fact that they had their enemies in office. Even in such small matters as the appointment of nuns in workhouses and of small local officials the right hon. Gentleman refused them justice. He had occasion during the Recess to write one letter on one subject to the Chief Secretary, but he would never write him another. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] He would hear from the Irish Members across the floor of the, House, and he believed that, by what Lord Salisbury called a stern and resolute front being shown to the Government, if they did not win, they would, at any rate, keep up the courage of their race by the fight, 265 which after all was something. ["Hear, hear!"] Seeing that they were to be for the next six years in Opposition, he saw no advantage in spending their time girding at the Liberal Party, who were not in power, and when the occasion for putting them in power arose then would be the time to have their understanding with them. The present Government appealed to the constituencies on this plan and principle—"We won't give Ireland Home. Rule, but we will give her everything else;" and the everything else came down to a Board of Agriculture. [Laughter.] He believed it would be the duty of Ireland to assert in the most solemn manner and renew its national claims and views, to make itself heard by its responsible organs, so that it should not be pretended that the Irish Members, or any of them, had abated the claims of Ireland. Tie believed, if they were true to the historic principles of Irish nationality, that, whatever might be the depressions of the moment, the time would come when the old insurgent Celtic spirit throughout the world would rally once more to their side, would aid them in the battle, and would enable them with dignity, as they did with fearlessness, to uphold and carry on this old fight. [Cheers.]
§ MR. D. H. COGHILL (Stoke-upon-Trent)
observed, that one hon. Member who had spoken had expressed the opinion that this Amendment was foredoomed to failure. He quite agreed with that view. Hon. Members had all only recently come back from their constituencies, where they had expressed their opinions on the subject of Home Rule, and surely it was far too early to expect any change of opinion with regard to such a subject as that. To hear what had fallen from hon. Gentlemen opposite one would imagine that Ireland was an oppressed and downtrodden country without a single representative in that House. It was, however, as much represented in Parliament as any other part, or rather more than any other part, of the United Kingdom. It had 23 more representatives than it had any right to according to the basis of population. He could not see where the injustice or neglect came, in. As far as he could see, Irishmen had every institution enjoyed at the present time by Englishmen or Scotchmen, except 266 County Councils, and in 1892 the Irish Members themselves rejected a County Councils Bill in order that they might have a good Election cry. He thought, however, there was one grievance in Ireland which was never mentioned by hon. Gentlemen opposite. He alluded to the Viceroyalty. Surely the time had come when the Viceroyalty might be, done away with and Ireland goverened, as the rest of the Kingdom was, by a Secretary of State. The Irish Representatives, apparently, did not wish to see the Viceroyalty done away with. And, why? Because it gave some semblance to their contention that there was a separate treatment meted out to Ireland, and furnished them with a grievance on which, they could dilate to their audiences. Surely the time had come when this miserable caricature of Royalty should cease. There was one Measure which he was sorry to see mentioned in the Queen's Speech, and that was another Land Bill for Ireland. Had they not had enough of Land Bills? One succeeded another, and each was only one more failure. During the last Administration they had no fewer than three Land Bills. Were not the Unionist Leaders satisfied with these failures without wanting another brought into this Session? The announcement of the Bill had not been received with acclamation by the Irish Members, and the Chief Secretary should take warning from their attitude of the reception the Bill was likely to receive. The Government had had a warning from the late Prime Minister with regard to introducing a course of fresh Irish legislation, in the speech which Lord Rosebery delivered at Scarborough on the 22nd October last. Lord Rosebery, accounting for the defeat of the Gladstonian Party at the polls, said:—We were compelled to devote most of our Parliamentary time—indeed, the greater part of it—to comparatively small portions of the United Kingdom, and, therefore, to questions in which England itself was not greatly interested. Irish measures for land and Home Rule.And then Lord Rosebery made this confession:—We must admit that, not, only have we alienated many of the working classes, but a good many of the middle classes and of the well-to-do.267 If an Irish Land Bill was wanted, why did not the Irish Members get it from the late Government? They could have done so had they chosen, for what was the declaration of their then Leader? The hon. Member for North Longford declared that during the existence of the late Government the Irish Party held that Government in the hollow of their hand. Why in the world did they not get their Land Bill from them? The same hon. Gentleman made two other declarations to which he would call attention. When the Home Rule Bill passed the House of Commons in 1893 the hon. Gentleman said it was perfectly impossible that the House of Lords could reject the Bill, because the Prime Minister would at once hold an Autumn Session and the House of Lords would be swept away. Then, again, just, before; the General Election, the hon. Member ventured another prophecy. Speaking in Dublin, he said:—As long as the struggle went on the Irish Party would hold the balance of power. The wildest imagination could scarcely conceive a condition of things in which the Irish Members would not have the balance, and it would always be used for the good of the Irish cause and the Irish people. If by any chance, which he scarcely thought possible, a Tory Government were returned to power, the Irish Members would reduce that Government to failure if it did not listen to the demands of the Irish people.The hon. Member must have been rather astonished at the result of the General Election. At any rate, the House would soon learn what means were to be adopted by the Irish Party to paralyse the Government. This Debate had been useful in one respect. It had produced the question put by the hon. Member for Waterford to the Leader of the Opposition with regard to the future of Home Rule. All were anxious to know what was to be the position of Home Rule in the Liberal programme. Local Veto had already been thrown over by many Members of the Party, and he rather thought the, time was rapidly approaching when Home Rule would also be thrown, over by the Official Opposition. They had had the answer of the Leader of the Opposition, that they adhered to the policy of local self-government. But that was not what hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite meant by Home 268 Rule. That was a very different thing to a separate Parliament for a separate nation. The House wanted to know whether that was to be given. They did not want to be humbugged by the expression "local self-government." That was a capital expression to gain the sympathy of English audiences, but as long as they understood that the Irish Members wanted a separate Parliament for a separate race they would never give their consent to any scheme of Home. Rule. Were the speeches lately made in Ireland by Irish Members likely to conciliate English opinion? Such expressions as those contained in a letter written by the hon. Member for South Mayo to The Times, did more to put back the cause of Home Rule than anything else. Referring to the majority of Unionists returned at the last election, Lord Rosebery said:—I rejoice in the greatness of the majority because I think weak Governments are the curse of the country.He wondered what Government Lord Rosebery was thinking of. He, too, rejoiced at the greatness of the majority, because there was no temptation which hon. Members opposite could hold out to the Government. They did not depend for existence on a miserable packed majority. They were above every temptation, and would do nothing in the direction of tampering with this Home Rule question. If the Government attempted anything of the kind, he would vote against them as cheerfully as he would now go into the Lobby against this Amendment; believing, as he did, that it was opposed to all the best and truest and most vital interests of Ireland as well as of England.
§ MR. J. J. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)
said, he rose for the purpose of saying that he did not intend to move the Amendment which stood in his name, in consequence of an intimation he had received from Mr. Speaker that after this Amendment it would not be competent for him to do so. Of course, he would not argue that question with the Chair, though he did think there was a distinction between his Amendment, which referred to county and town government, and that which was under discussion. That Amendment might, he admitted, cover the particular subject, to 269 which he desired to call attention, and he would content himself by drawing the attention of the Government to the fact that there was no mention whatever in the Queen's Speech of any scheme of Local Self-Government for Ireland. This was very remarkable, seeing that for the last 10 years a hope had been held out by the Leaders of the Unionist Party that on the very first occasion they would make a move in that direction. In 1886 the late Lord Randolph Churchill promised that whenever a system of local government was granted to England, the same privileges would be granted to Ireland. Very nearly 10 years had passed since then. Local Self-Government had been given to the counties of England and Scotland, and yet their promise to extend a similar measure to Ireland remained unfulfilled. He did not intend to go into the defects of the present system of local government in Ireland, but if they had been, debating his own Amendment he thought he could have shown that, whatever were the, defects in the English and Scotch systems prior to the Acts of 1888 and 1894, those defects were multiplied tenfold in the case of Ireland. The words which the right hon. Gentleman the present Colonial Secretary uttered in June, 1885, were as applicable to the existing state of things in Ireland as they were at the time that his speech was delivered. He quoted the language not for the purpose of vexing the right hon. Gentleman or of taunting him with having changed his opinions, but because it accurately described the present state of Ireland.:—I do not believe that the great majority of Englishmen have the slightest conception of the system under which this free nation attempts to rule a sister country. It is a system which is founded on the bayonets of 30,000 soldiers encamped permanently as in a hostile country. It is a system as completely centralised and bureaucratic as that with which Russia governs Poland, or as that which was common in Venice under Austrian rule. An Irishman at this moment cannot lift a finger, cannot move a step in any parochial, municipal, or educational work without being confronted, interfered with, controlled by an English official appointed by an alien Government, and without the shadow or shade of representative authority. I say the time has come to reform altogether the absurd and irritating anachronism known as Dublin Castle, to sweep away altogether those alien boards of foreign officials, and to substitute for them a genuine Irish Administration of purely Irish business.270 That was the description which was given by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies as to the state of Ireland ten years ago, and yet since then no attempt had been made to alter that condition of things. Even if Her Majesty's Government were determined to refuse Home Rule to Ireland in its larger sense, how could they escape from their obligations to pursue a path of reform in regard to Local Government in that country? It was now eleven years since that speech was delivered; it was ten years since Lord Randolph Churchill had spoken on the subject, and it was seven years since Local Government had been given to England and Scotland, and yet the Queen's Speech contained not the smallest reference to the reform of Local Government in Ireland. The right, hon. Gentleman the present Chief Secretary (Mr. Gerald Balfour) had expressed the determination of the present Government never to grant Home rule to Ireland, but the reason why the Irish Party took no notice of the Government "nevers," with which their demands were generally met by the Tory Party, was because they knew that, the moment that it would suit their convenience, either of the English Parties would be willing to give them what they wanted. Lord Salisbury, speaking at Newport in 1885, distinctly foreshadowed a scheme of Tory Home Rule for Ireland which went a great deal further than even Mr. Gladstone's Home Rule Bill did, and it was Lord Salisbury who sent Lord Carnarvon to Ireland to negotiate a scheme of Home Rule with Mr. Parnell.
§ SIR W. HART DYKE
I have stated over and over again, in public and in this House, that I had nothing whatever, either directly or indirectly, to do with any such transaction. It was long after I had resigned the office of Chief Secretary that I heard, incidentally, that Lord Carnarvon had had an interview with Mr. Parnell, concerning which I absolutely knew nothing at the time it occurred.
§ MR. CLANCY
said, that that was a proof of the manner in which the Leaders of the Tory Party kept their colleagues and followers in the dark on these points. He desired to make a few remarks upon what had occurred in the House that evening. Yesterday afternoon his hon. Friend the Member for Waterford had asked the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition a very plain question which nobody could misunderstand—it was, what position Home Rule was to occupy in the future in the programme of the Liberal Party? He appealed to the House whether the right hon. Gentleman had given anything like a plain answer to the question. The right hon. Gentleman had quoted some old platitudes on the subject of Home Rule, such as what a beautiful principle it was, how much the Liberal Party was attached to it, and so on. But that was not what the Irish Party desired to know. What they wanted to know was, whether the Liberal Party were going to make Home Rule one of the principal planks in their platform, and were going to make it one of the chief points in their political programme? That was what they wanted to know, and on that point they had obtained no information whatever from the Leader of the Liberal Party that evening. Did they intend to place the principle of Home Rule before or after the subject of the Reform of the House of Lords? Was the right hon. Gentleman going to bring in a Home Rule Bill this Session; and if it were rejected was he going to do what he did in the last Parliament—take the whole thing calmly, and consent to go on legislating for England, Scotland and Wales? In such circumstances he should decline to pledge himself to support the Liberal Party, and should preserve his absolute independence as to the amount of support he should give that Party. He repudiated the charge that had been made upon some Members of the Irish Party, that they were willing to accept doles to Ireland from the present Government. For his own part, he believed that Home Rule was the only true specific for Ireland. The feeling of Irishmen was that they would rather be governed by any Party in their country than by any English Party, whether Home Rulers or otherwise. Home Rule, in 272 his opinion, was necessary for the material prosperity of Ireland, and to satisfy the national aspirations of the country. They would allow nothing to stand in the way of Home Rule, and would take every opportunity of furthering its cause. But if the Government brought in a Land Bill in a few weeks, and if that Bill was a good Bill, why should they reject it? If he did so he should be false to the professions he had made on the hustings, and he would be going against the interests of his countrymen. On the other hand, he promised the Government that they would be independent of them, as they were of the Liberal Party, and if this Land Bill was not of a satisfactory character, and did not come up to their expectations, the Government would find that they would oppose the Bill, or try to improve it. They were willing to take minor benefits from the Government, but they were prepared to act on independent lines. In the speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland there was one passage which must have struck a good many Englishmen, and that was that there could be no deep resentment in Ireland at the failure to pass Home Rule, because the right hon. Gentleman, himself had been received with bonfires in the West of Ireland, and because some articles had appeared in the Irish Press admitting that Home Rule was dead. A man of the right hon. Gentleman's intelligence could hardly fail to see that this was to put upon these extracts a totally wrong construction. What was meant was that there was no chance of passing Home Rule at present. Did the right hon. Gentleman think that by these phrases it was meant that Home Rule was dead in the hearts of Irishmen?
§ MR. CLANCY
said that phrase referred to the present chances of Home Rule in that House, in view of the majority of 150 against them. In view, too, of the doubtful attitude of the Liberal Party, which had been confirmed that night, it was a very natural thing to say that Home Rule had been put back for several years, or, in other words, was dead for the next few years. That the Chief Secretary had been received with bonfires in the West of Ireland was due to the innate courtesy of the Irish 273 character, and, inasmuch as light railways had been promised, this was no doubt quickened by an expectation of benefits to come. He did not consider that the Irish people ought to receive any English Chief Secretary, or any other Englishman who came in govern them, in that way; he did not wish them to show any discourtesy, but he thought bonfires were a mark of over-courtesy, and, he would be almost inclined to say, slavishness. He hoped that after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman of last night there would be an end of such demonstrations in favour of English officials, in order that the argument might not be drawn from them that the Irish did not care for the national rights which their fathers had fought for for 700 years. One of these days Home Rule would awake: the cause for which the people had died, and had been imprisoned or expatriated, could not easily be extinguished, and the awakening might be ruder than was at present imagined.
§ DR. KENNY (Dublin, College Green)
said, that they must hereafter remember the misuse which might be made of such demonstrations as these bonfires. That the right hon. Gentleman should have devoted most of his speech last night to an endeavour to show that Home Rule was dead, was another example of the ignorance of everything Irish which was characteristic of the English official. The Party to which he belonged was bitterly opposed to the methods which they believed would tend to kill Home Rule, but, on the other hand, it was asserted that it was their own action which would have this effect—that, he hoped, the people of Ireland would never believe. There was no better sign of the vitality of the Home Rule question than the unfortunate circumstances which divided the national movement in Ireland at present. He had listened with pleasure to the able speech of the hon. Member for Islington. He could not help saying that the hon. Member for North Down, who invited them to wait for the guarantees of the Liberal Party, that he seemed to have forgotten that when the Liberal Party was in Office they tried to get the guarantees they wanted, and Lord Rosebery refused even to see their representative, much less to give them guarantees. That ought to be 274 a lesson for them to take to heart, and when the Liberal Party were about to, or were likely to, return to Office they ought to get the guarantees they wanted before they were in Office, and not after. He thanked the hon. Member for Islington for the expression of his adherence to Home Rule. There was no question that the great national sentiment of Ireland was for Home Rule. If the Government were to heap benefits on Ireland they would not alter by one iota this demand for Home Rule. That demand was evidence of an undying nationality. They were the enemies of England, but they might be made friends. However, it would not be by such speeches as that delivered by the Chief Secretary that Ireland would be made a friend of. As long as the demand of a separate nationality was not complied with Ireland would always be a source of weakness to the Empire and an encouragement to foreigners. In the cases of Venezuela and the Transvaal, they had examples of the weakness produced by the Irish Question in their dealings with foreign countries. If he were to address a Jingo or Jingoes, one who wished to see the English flag floating all over the world, he would say: "Try to settle the Irish Question so that you may not have a source of danger behind your country." Let them give the Irish people equal credit for intense nationality. Let the English people understand that so long as Ireland was treated with contempt and ridicule it would always flourish the stronger for the thwarting of their legitimate demands. For centuries they had been making these demands, they had never ceased making and they never should cease making them until they were conceded. He could hardly understand how it was that the keen intellects of the Chief Secretary and the First Lord of the Treasury could make believe that Home Rule was dead. Home Rule was of an undying character, and the two right hon. Gentlemen did not believe in the death of Home Rule. No doubt Home Rule, owing to certain circumstances, had been indefinitely delayed. What the duration of that time would be they could not say. In the time of their great leader, the late Mr. Parnell, they could see that. Home Rule was within measurable distance. No man could 275 now say it was within measurable distance. He knew that was the hope of the Tory Party, but they knew that they or those outside would soon convert them by battalions into small ones; and either that or the stress of their circumstances would compel the Tory Party to give it. They were prepared to tender their gratitude to that Party in the State which did grant it, but they should withhold that gratitude until they grasped that for which they had so long struggled. They would not barter their liberty for any more promises of good will. They must have performances. They should set about endeavouring to extract from England some of her ill-gotten gains from Ireland—the millions of which the Irish people had been robbed. They should give them no gratitude. They did not show gratitude to a robber for restoring his plunder. The Government promised to produce all the good things, but when the Queen's Speech was read what did they find? Four beggarly promises.
§ DR. KENNY
Three promises, but there is not a single reference to Local Self-Government. They should have their assistance as far as it goes, but that would not take from them the obligation or prevent them from doing their duty to their country by opposing the Government in all acts of their policy until they had granted their demand.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL (Cavan, W.)
said, he gave his hearty support to this Amendment. The speech of the Chief Secretary on Tuesday was calculated in the highest degree to rouse the utmost ill-feeling and resentment towards the Government. Ireland sent over here more than 80 Members to represent her views. It was true that there were 20 others who were upholders of the old ascendency regime in Ireland, and nothing less would satisfy them except to keep the Irish people in slavery and degradation. They were more English than the English themselves. The speech delivered by the hon. Member for North Armagh, who said he was an Irishman, brought the blush of shame to the cheek. What was it that made this country great? The fact that it had the right to govern and guide its own affairs. Why not leave the Irish to attend to and manage their own affairs? Members like the hon. 276 Member for North Armagh tried to traduce and belie their countrymen, and it would be only decent for them to take themselves altogether out of Ireland. Let them go swashbuckling to any country that would, tolerate them The hon. Member for North Armagh said that the Irish Members were elected by constituencies which did not know them. The hon. Member was well aware that recently a vacancy occurred in West Cavan. No doubt the hon. Member heard of Mr. John Ross. That vacancy existed nearly a month. Why did not the hon. and gallant Gentleman go down to West Cavan and instruct the people as to how they should elect their Member? If he had done so he would have received a lesson in Home Rule which he would not have soon forgotten. It was no credit, either to the intelligence or the respectability of this Assembly to listen to such speeches as were addressed to it yesterday by the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Radcliffe Cooke). Such speeches were only calculated to injure the cause they professed to serve. Hon. Members opposite were inclined to say always to Irish Members "never," but when they used that word they could not know the intensity of the feeling in favour of Home Rule that existed throughout Ireland. The people generally, with, perhaps, the exception of those in the northern portion of the country, were of opinion that unless some radical change in the state of things took place the people would stand in danger of bankruptcy and total destruction. He asserted, without fear of contradiction, that unless there was an immediate intervention by this House there would not be the possibility of any farmer in Ireland paying his rent in the coming 12 months. Farmers were obliged to dispose of their stock at unfair or forced prices because American and other competition rendered it impossible for them to realise those prices which some years ago it was possible to obtain. Was it not time for men to give serious consideration to the Irish question with a view to the amelioration of the condition of the people? The poverty and wretchedness which prevailed in the rural districts of the country were hardly conceivable. Unless there was something wrong in the social and economic 277 conditions of the country, why should not the people of Ireland be as prosperous as the people of England? The cause of Home Rule was as lively and as kicking to-day as it ever was. In every speech made from the Government Benches that fact had been practically admitted, Hon. Members were as much afraid of the question to-day as they were 10 years ago, and he firmly believed that before the six years of determined and resolute government were over, the Government would find there was ample opportunity given them in the changed condition of things to change the word "never" into one more favourable to the hopes and aspirations of the Irish people.
§ MR. HORACE PLUNKETT (Dublin County, S.)
said, he would not stand for many minutes between the House and the Division, but he thought, as one accredited with some acquaintance with Irish affairs, he ought to give his opinion as to the present feeling in Ireland. The hon. Member for East Mayo said that he (Mr. Plunkett) was endowed with the usual ignorance of Unionists upon Irish affairs. Whether that ignorance arose from natural stupidity, hereditary prejudice or evil communications he did not know, but he worked every day in Ireland when he was not in this country or in America, where he took some interest in the Irish question. It seemed to be imagined that the Chief Secretary instanced the lighting of bonfires in the constituency of the hon. Member for East Mayo as a proof that the Irish people were changing in their opinion upon the question of Home Rule. The, right hon. Gentleman meant to convey that if there had been any bitter feeling at this moment against the English Government in Ireland, they would not have lighted bonfires for him in the constituency of the hon. Member for East Mayo. One hon. Member asked what the right hon. Gentleman promised in order to get the bonfires. He promised absolutely nothing, but it was quite true that in all his speeches he expressed a very warm sympathy for the Irish people, and it was no doubt in view of that sympathy that he was so heartily welcomed. There was a change of feeling in Ireland, not upon the Home Rule question perhaps, but towards this country. It was inevitable that that was so. The Home Rule feeling, no doubt, arose out of a very 278 great and real grievance in the past. Did it not stand to reason that as grievances were removed the intensity of the feeling against the country which, rightly or wrongly, was accused of producing those grievances should subside to a very considerable extent? The real change in the feeling in Ireland chiefly consisted in the turning of the minds of the people to practical questions. He did not believe there was any expectation that the Government would do more in the first year of their Administration than was foreshadowed in the Queen's Speech, and hon. Members opposite would admit that if the Land Bill were such as satisfied moderate expectations, that alone would be no small performance. But they had, without seeing the Land Bill, condemned it, and given the House reason to believe they would bitterly oppose it. There was a great difference in the attitude which the two Parties in Ireland opposed to the Unionists adopted towards the practical policy of the Government. One section of the Nationalist Party had announced their willingness to co-operate in every way with men of all sections in promoting practical measures for the good of the country, and he wished to recognise publicly that the hon. Member for Waterford and his friends had acted loyally with their colleagues upon the Committee known as the Recess Committee, in attempting to formulate reasonable proposals to the Government. What reason the Anti-Parnellites had for refusing to join in the efforts of the Recess Committee had not appeared. He stated on the formation of that Committee that he believed that a union of all sections of the Party to discuss practical questions for the benefit of Ireland, reserving the national question, would result in benefits that would satisfy the people and make them less anxious for Home Rule; but at the same time he frankly admitted that if this union and those efforts of the Committee had not that effect, but made the people yet more anxious for Home Rule, the national demand for such a measure would be rendered the stronger. Still the Anti-Parnellites declined to join in the work, and he regretted that no attempt had been made to explain the attitude they took. With regard to that part of the Amendment which dealt with the refusal of the Government to concede Home 279 Rule, and the effect it would have on America and the Colonies, he wished to say that he had been much in America at different times, and he was convinced that the Anti-English feeling which existed there had been aroused and fostered by the speeches and lectures delivered there by Irish Nationalists, while it was an absolute fact that the Unionists' view of the question had never been explained to the people of the United States. [Nationalist laughter.] The Americans assumed that the views in Ireland in regard to Home Rule were precisely similar to the views they themselves entertained on the question—that the same arguments which applied to the subject in America applied to it in this country, and he need scarcely say that there was great error in those views. ["Hear, hear!"] During the Debate no facts had been adduced in proof of the statement that great Anti-English feeling had been aroused in the Colonies in consequence of Home Rule not being granted. The hon. Member for East Mayo had referred to a statement he had made in the Debate on the Address last August, to the effect that the opinion of the civilised world on the question of Home Rule was not worth appealing to. What he meant by that remark was that the hon. Member and his friends would obtain no power by appealing to it upon Home Rule arguments. In spite of the attitude which he thought had been unfortunately assumed by the hon. Member for North Louth and other speakers, a golden opportunity was now presented to the Government to increase the good feeling towards England which had lately been manifested in Ireland. A few years of sympathetic Government under the present Chief Secretary, together with a just treatment of the few remaining grievances in Ireland, would lead the Irish people to recognise that Ireland's difficulties were really England's opportunity.
§ MR. D. SHEEHY (Galway, S.)
, said the hon. Member who had just spoken had referred to the services which had been rendered to Ireland by the efforts of the Recess Committee, but he could assure the House that that Committee had made no change whatever in the feelings of the people with regard to the subject of Home Rule. The Committee held meetings in 280 different parts of the country to promote the objects they had in view, but many of those meetings signally failed simply because the great national question was ignored. Home Rule the Irish people were determined to have, and they would not be turned away from that object by Recess Committees or any other dodge that might be resorted to in order to distract their attention from it, for no other method than the granting of self-government would secure the peace, happiness and prosperity of the country. The men who were born in Ireland, and who spent their lives there, as was the case with the Nationalist Members, were best qualified to interpret the real wishes of the Irish people, and in that respect occupied a somewhat stronger and different position to the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh. Ireland was not the country to which that hon. and gallant Member gave his energy, his allegiance, and his loyalty. He rather reserved them solely for Great Britain. On the other hand, the Nationalist Members gave their allegiance to the country of their birth, and to that country only. If, however, a union of hearts—which was sneered at last night—was brought about by granting to Ireland the rights and liberties she claimed, then he for one should be perfectly agreed to join in a feeling of allegiance and loyalty to both Ireland and England. But what was the attitude of the present Government towards the Home Rule question? It was the same old Tory attitude of non possumus. They had, however, heard over and over again of the unalterable determination of Tory Ministers not to make any change in reference to Irish questions; yet changes had afterwards been made on pressure being brought to bear. The Leader of the House himself had made allusion to the fact that his Party had been obliged, on more than one occasion, to pass measures for Ireland after declaring in that House and elsewhere that no such changes would be made. That lesson had been taught in previous Parliaments, and it was possible that it might be repeated in this one. The Chief Secretary had stated that there was now peace in Ireland; that Ireland was contented; that Home Rule slumbered, and that there was no enthusiasm 281 with regard to it. Did the right hon. Gentleman want this enthusiasm aroused? If he wanted the country clearly to understand that the claims of Ireland would not be recognised unless the feelings of the people were aroused, then there would be little difficulty in making that enthusiasm manifest to him and to the country generally. If the Irish people were still to be taught that nothing would be granted to them unless the old method of resort to agitation, was adopted, they would not be slow to take the lesson, and the, responsibility of the consequences would rest upon those who denied the nation its rights. The Chief Secretary was studiously courteous and cold, but he could not refrain from contrasting the right hon. Gentleman's attitude with that of a former Chief Secretary and his attitude towards the occupants of the Irish Benches. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the better temper and tone which he had shown that evening towards Ireland; but he warned the right hon. Gentleman not to think that, because there was no great agitation at the present time in Ireland, that therefore the feeling in Ireland in regard to Home Rule and other measures was not intense and ardent. He could not say that he was perfectly satisfied with either of the pronouncements which came from the two front Benches on the question of Home Rule. He should have, preferred to hear the Liberal Minister speak openly, and to have said without fear or hesitation that the Home Rule Question stood in the forefront, and would remain in the forefront of the Liberal programme. If, however, Ministers hesitated he believed there would be no hesitation among the rank and file of the Liberal Party, and that with them at any rate Home Rule remained in the forefront until it was finally settled. The Amendment of his hon. Friend was being met in the usual style and with the usual arguments of the Tories when in office; but when calmer moments came they would find that the Irish Members had given a note of warning which had not been accepted. He did not think that the measures proposed by the Chief Secretary were worthy the consideration of Irishmen. They had not been asked for, and he believed that nothing would come 282 out of the suggested Board of Agriculture. Ireland was the most "boarded" country in the world, and this new Board would be of no benefit to the country.
§ MR. W. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)
explained that he was a member of the Recess Committee, and that it had held nine meetings. Representatives had been appointed for all the principal commercial cities of Ireland, and he protested against any hon. Member saying that the Committee had already failed when it had hardly begun its labours. As an Irish Nationalist and Home Ruler he desired hon. Members who did not act in the same Party with which he was identified to understand clearly that he and his hon. Friends were prepared to take all they could get from a Tory or any other Government as restitution for the robbery of Ireland in the past. He hoped that the work in which they were engaged would be a useful one to forward the progress of the Home Rule cause.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 160; Noes 276.—(Division List, No. 1.)
§ On the return of Mr. SPEAKER after the usual interval,
§ MR. HENRY LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
, said he intended to move an Amendment in regard to the late transactions in the Transvaal, but he did not intend to take a Division upon it, as his only desire in moving it was to confine the discussion to the particular subject of the Transvaal, and in order that a few of his hon. Friends who had already spoken, in the Debate on the Address might be in a position to take part in that discussion. It was only right and proper that the position of the Chartered Company in regard to the questions which had arisen in the Transvaal should be debated, and as the Leader of the House stated in his speech on the Address that he would not go into the subject in detail, because the Colonial Secretary contemplated dealing with it later on, he (Mr. Labouchere) was really in the humble position almost of being a bellringer to the Colonial Secretary. He had not risen with the slightest intention of in any way complaining of the action of the Colonial 283 Secretary. On the contrary, he admired the right hon. Gentleman's action. He knew the right hon. Gentleman had a somewhat masterful nature, and the right hon. Gentleman seemed to have had the opportunity for a useful display of that peculiar characteristic in connection with recent affairs in the Transvaal. His admiration of the action of the right hon. Gentleman had been increased since he had read his Dispatches published in the Blue Book, because in dealing with the hornets' nest in South Africa the right hon. Gentleman appeared to have kept steadily in view what was for the benefit of the country, and to have acted for that object with the greatest decision. He was not going to raise the question—the interesting question—as to what ought to be done in regard to the grievances of the Uit-landers in the Transvaal, but he was glad to see that, while the Colonial Secretary was prepared to do his best to remedy whatever grievances those people had, he had not allowed those grievances to be dragged as a red herring across his path, nor to be diverted by them from standing to the views he had expressed in regard to the recent raid. Neither did he intend to go into the question of the raid in any sort of detail. As Dr. Jameson was to be put on trial, expressions of opinion might very possibly prejudice public opinion if they were of an adverse character, as they would most certainly be if they were made by him. But while those who held strong views in regard to the raid did not desire to prejudice public opinion, those who approved of the raid ought also to refrain from attempting to prejudice it. Yet there were published in the newspapers Dispatches from the Transvaal which were absolutely untrue, with the object of inflaming public opinion, and Dr. Jameson had been lifted into the rank of a hero. Why could not those people wait until the trial had taken place before expressing their opinion? He himself believed that Dr. Jameson was in all probability the instrument of others; but, at the same time, when the servant of another acted in that capacity contrary to law he was bound to accept the consequences. Mr. Rhodes, as they all knew perfectly well, was the managing director of the Chartered Company residing in South 284 Africa, and was also the mainstay and chief of what was called the Gold Fields Company in Johannesburg. Mr. Rhodes's brother and Mr. Rudd were the chief directors of the latter company; and so interested were they in the company that within the last four or five years they had received for their services as directors a little over £600,000. Therefore there was at least a presumption, which might no doubt disappear when the investigation took place, that Mr. Rhodes had some connection with the events that took place in the Transvaal. Mr. Rhodes came over to this country to face the music—as one of his organs announced. But he did not face it. He returned to South Africa; and, according to statements in the Press, contemplated going to Buluwayo and acting there as the managing director of the Chartered Company. He (Mr. Labou-chere) thought that the directors of that company residing in England ought at least to have the decency to suspend Mr. Rhodes provisionally until the investigation had taken place; and as they did not understand their duty in that respect, the Colonial Secretary ought to have pointed it out to them and insisted on its being carried out. President Kruger had demanded—and it was a reasonable demand under the circumstances—that the connection of Mr. Rhodes with the Chartered Company should cease. Moreover, while the Colonial Secretary had in his Dispatches directly asked Mr. Rhodes to make a public repudiation of Dr. Jameson's raid, Mr. Rhodes had not complied with the request. He simply said that he did not tell Dr. Jameson to act; but surely that was not what the Colonial Secretary intended. The right hon. Gentleman intended that there should be the moral effect of a protest by Mr. Rhodes against the action of Dr. Jameson and the forces of the Chartered Company. It was stated in the newspapers that an interview had taken place between the Colonial Secretary and Mr. Rhodes. It was a private interview, but a few days after it had taken place statements appeared in The Times and Daily News alleging that, while the Colonial Secretary intended to make some slight alteration in the charter, Mr. Rhodes and the Chartered Company would be allowed to remain and flourish in South Africa. These statements might be true 285 or they might not; but Mr. Rhodes had no right to make them. And what was the effect of those statements? The capital of the Company went up in two days after those statements were made from £1 to £2 per share. His objects in moving the Amendment were to suggest that Mr. Rhodes should not be allowed to act as managing director of the Chartered Company, residing in the territories of the Company, until he had cleared himself and the Company of complicity in Dr. Jameson's raid; and to demand that a full investigation should take place, not only into the raid, but into all the acts and transactions of the Company since they had got their charter. With a view to showing the House the necessity for such an investigation, he would submit a few facts in regard to the Chartered Company. Certain persons had obtained from Lobengula a concession which was intended to be a mining concession and which, moreover, was limited to those parts of the territory where he specified that the mining should take place. At first Lobengula was reluctant to grant the concession. He appealed to the Queen, through Lord Knutsford, and Lord Knutsford, replying in the name of the, Queen, advised him to give the concession and assured him that in doing so he should not in any way damnify them. This was a most important statement when we came to the consideration of what happened to him in consequence of his accepting it. When the concession was obtained, these persons, obscure, financiers, came to England, and they based a demand for a Royal Charter upon the fact of their having received this concession. Lord Knutsford told them that, in order to obtain a Charter, they must induce some gentleman of position to join them. It was rather a reflection upon those plutocrats; but the noble Lord had no confidence in the eminent financiers. Ultimately, a Charter was granted to the Duke of Fife, the Duke of Abercorn, Earl Grey, and one or two others. Their social position was undoubted, but it certainly would seem desirable that there should have been added to the directorate of an important Company some men of commercial experience. The Charter gave the Company police powers, and power to administer justice as between Europeans 286 and any persons employed by the Company; but it expressly declared that they had no sort of power over natives. Lobengula's country was divided into Mashonaland and Matabeleland, and Lobengula allowed the Company to mine in Mashonaland. The Company had held out that this was a rich goldfleld, a land of Ophir, and that the Queen of Sheba's palace had been discovered there; and the people who had bought shares were disappointed with the non-fulfilment of their expectations. No gold was found there, and the Company thought it desirable, in their own interests, to secure fresh territory in the hope that it might be more auriferous than Mashonaland. Their first raid was made upon Portuguese territory. As usual, they made up a story about a concession; but, as they had no right to remain there, Lord Salisbury ordered them back to their own territory. Without gold in Mashonaland they still required something to induce people to buy their shares. They invented a quarrel with Lobengula and seized upon Matabeleland. Anyone who had read the Blue-book with regard to that war must admit that there was never such a disgraceful episode in the history of England as that war was. ["Hear, hear!"] An army was raised, and how? Everyone who enlisted was given what was called a "loot" certificate, which entitled him to a portion of the booty if the war were successful. If any such war were made in Europe the whole continent would indignantly protest. With this "loot" army Matabeleland was overrun and the capital occupied, and there was afterwards a division of the loot, which consisted mainly of the flocks and herds of Lobengula and his chief men. After this the Company declared that they had mining rights and that the land belonged to them. He did not understand how Lobengula could give them the mines at the capital after they had been driven out of it. As to the land, a man named Lippert, belonging to the Transvaal, got some concession, believed to be a bogus concession by the Chartered Company, but they came to the conclusion that they had better buy it, and so obtain a proprietary right in a territory of 2,000 miles by 1,000 miles. There did not appear to have been a paying quantity 287 of gold in Matabeleland, and with the object of getting their shares upon the market the Company turned their eyes to Bechuanaland. Fortunately Khama came to this country, where he was held in some sort of regard, and the Colonial Secretary would not allow the Chartered Company to invade Khama's territory. ["Hear, hear!"] Then came the raid upon the Transvaal, which could not be dismissed at present. The real aim of these successive raids was to influence the Stock Exchange and to sell shares, more or less valuable, at an enormous premium, to a foolish investing public. Originally the capital of the Company was £1,000,000 in £1 shares. About one half were free shares, upon which no money was paid. The shares stood at 12s. before the Matabele war. After it the capital was increased by £1,000,000. The promoters, Messrs. Beit, Rhodes, and others, stated that they had certain rights as promoters, and they were absorbed by the Company at a cost of a million sterling, and 500,000 more shares were issued to the public. The result of the operations was that the real cash capital was about £1,000,000, and £1,500,000 was sham capital. The shares in the hands of the public by means of the Stock Exchange manœuvres went up from 12s. to £9, and thus a million pounds was being sold to the investing public at 23 millions. In these circumstances the public had a right to some sort of investigation. Everybody knew that there had been, continual gambling in regard to these shares, and it was much like gambling with "cogged" dice. A short time ago he moved for a register of the Company's shareholders to be laid before the House. A chartered company was not required like an ordinary company to deposit its register each year at Somerset House. The list showed that most of the shareholders held small amounts, and the larger amounts were held by syndicates, including Messrs. Rhodes, Beit, and Rudd, whilst large amounts were also held in their individual names. The fact was that a gang of speculators were the absolute masters of this Company. The state of things corresponded with that in the Balfour companies, in which one or two directors belonged to the financial gang and others were dummies.
288 Some might say that this was another case of fools and their money being soon parted, and ask what the House had to do with it; but special responsibility was involved in the granting of a Royal Charter, which the public imagined to be some guarantee of good faith. There ought to be full investigation into the affairs of this Company, for there had been more gambling with regard to it than there had been since the days of the South Sea Bubble. A Charter was regarded as a special permit to open a gambling-house in the City, precisely as the Charter of Monte Carlo gave the Prince of Monaco a special right to gamble there; and the difference was that, while the play at Monte Carlo was fair, in this case it was not fair, and the public were called upon to gamble under the Royal Charter. Assuming the House agreed that there should be a thorough investigation into the whole of the transactions of this gambling Company, what would be the proper tribunal to undertake their investigation? He submitted that the proper tribunal would be a Committee of that House. ["Hear, hear!"] When there was a general complaint of the action of financiers with regard to foreign loans, a Committee of Inquiry was appointed. In the Parliament before last he moved for a Committee in regard to a company in the Deccan on the ground that it had been dealing improperly, though established by the Governor General of India. The late Mr. W. H. Smith who was then Leader of the House, said to him:—I will always aid you in these things. "Whenever the Government is in any way concerned with these financial undertakings, and complaint is made, I think there should be a thorough investigation.The Committee was appointed; Lord James of Hereford was chairman, and it reported strongly against the Company. He was aware that the Chartered Company in South Africa was exceedingly powerful. Among its shareholders were members of the aristocracy and what was called "society," with many eminent and some shady financiers. [Laughter.] They knew what the strength of such a combination was. But he wanted the Colonial Secretary to see that full justice was done. The action of the right hon. Gentleman in 289 South Africa had earned his admiration up to now, but they had a right to claim that he should not be diverted by any backstair influence from seeing that there was a searching Inquiry. Honourable character was not limited to either side of the House. They were all honourable men, but no doubt there were, many hon. Gentlemen opposite who would agree with him that there should be this searching Inquiry for the honour, credit and good name of the country. As far as he and his friends were concerned, although some of them differed from the right hon. Gentleman [Laughter.] if he would take stops to have, such an Inquiry he would receive the support of every Radical in the House. The hon. Member concluded by moving at the end of the Question, to add the words:—And we humbly represent to your Majesty that no investigation into recent occurrences in South Africa will be complete unless it extends to the financial and political action of the Chartered Company of South Africa since your Majesty granted to certain persons the original charter under which the Company is incorporated.
§ MR. H. O. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
in seconding the Amendment, said, a thorough investigation into the transactions of the Chartered Company was absolutely essential for the welfare of the Empire which we already possessed, and was a necessary condition precedent to any extension of Empire which we could safely undertake in the future. It was argued by the partisans of the Chartered Company —and they were many and widespread—that this matter was Sub judice. But the matter Sub judice. was totally different. The First Lord of the Treasury had made this discussion all the more necessary. He made the inquiry they all thought was promised conditional on a certain event. He himself believed the Inquiry into Dr. Jameson's case would produce such revelations that public opinion and the House would be unanimous in saying that the Chartered Company had committed acts which disentitled it from holding the position it did. But he desired, not only to bring the Chartered Company to judgment, but to make it impossible for the Company to continue to exist on its present basis, or that any other Chartered Company should in future be established within the British Empire; and unless they had 290 a full, fair, and open Inquiry into the whole history of the Company they would not have the data on which they ought to be asked to come to a conclusion, He was not merely attacking a body which was in a little temporary discredit. He had protested against this Chartered Company in season and out since he had had a seat in the House,. So it was no new line that he was taking. The consequences of conferring upon the Company the powers given to it had been precisely what were said to be inevitable. When those powers were, given to the Company and the responsibility for the use of them placed on the Government there was a divergence of interested action, and responsibility was forced on the Government for acts to which they were no party. What was the real and true objection, not only to this Chartered Company, but to every Chartered Company? That they were mixing up totally dissimilar things—things not only dissimilar, but which ought on every principle of ethics and good sense to be eternally dissociated—the right to govern men and the desire to make money. ["Hear, hear!"] They were told that the love of money was the root of all evil, yet they had deliberately, by the constitution of this Company, made the love of money the prevailing motive of every officer of the, Company. He did not find fault with any corporation formed to make money. We were all money-hunters in one sense or other. Some succeeded, others failed. Some hunted for money honestly, others dishonestly, and brought themselves within the pale of the criminal law. The House, had divested itself of its prerogative—the government of Her Majesty's subjects—and placed it in the hands of these people, whose reason for existence was to make money. So it was incumbent upon them to see how this power was used or abused. The experiment of chartering such Companies had been tried over and over again and had failed. Lord Clive—the greatest man we ever sent to India—found there were conditions in regard to the East India Company which made good government impossible. Lord Clive spent the best years of his life in fighting the corruption resulting from private trading on the part of officials of the Company. The Charter was neglected, and the people of India suffered injury, 291 and injustice in consequence. He might he told that during the last 30 or 40 years of its existence the East India Company was without blemish or blame. That was when it ceased to be a monopolist trading Company and became a Department of the Government of the country with a Civil Service similar to that which governed the Empire at the present time. Take the case of the Niger Company. Although that Company was not so flagrantly in error as the Chartered Company of South Africa, it had been no advantage to us and had done nothing to confer distinction or honour on the name of England. In the case of the South Africa Company Mr. Rhodes had been put into a position unparalleled in the history of the administration in this country. Mr. Rhodes was not only President of the Chartered Company, but had been for months past a Minister of the Crown, just as the Colonial Secretary was now. He had been adviser to the High Commissioner in South Africa in the capacity of Governor of the Cape. He had been the President or Chairman of the railway which connected the Cape with Bechuanaland. He had been Chairman in the diamond fields of Kimberley. Wherever they turned they would find Mr. Rhodes appearing in a double capacity—appearing first and foremost as head of the commercial corporation, and as such having a distinct duty to his shareholders to return them 10 per cent., and in a secondary position as an officer of the Crown, upon whom it was incumbent to see that all men, rich and poor, were governed in a way that would redound to the good name and fame of this country. That seemed to be a position it was desirable should not continue. He was neither a champion nor an enemy of Mr. Rhodes, but he said that, given that state of facts, they were not bound to put a favourable construction upon any act which might be performed by an officer in that position. They were bound to act as reasonable men and ask themselves what was the prevailing motive, and when they heard things said and saw things done which were, on the face of them, to the interest of certain shareholders and a pecuniary enterprise, it would be folly to assume that that, interest invariably coincided with the highest 292 good and advantage of all Her Majesty's subjects who might be concerned in the carrying out of that transaction. ["Hear, hear!"] They were told that Mr. Rhodes was a great Imperialist who was always doing something for the development and extension of the Empire, and that they saw a great result from it. He did not see it, but he saw some transactions which lent themselves to a totally different construction. The transaction of Mr. Rhodes with regard to Swaziland was one which was open to criticism; and, again, while they might be told it was quite right that Bechuanaland should be handed over to Cape Colony, he would much rather it had been effected by some other person than the man who had a large direct pecuniary interest in the division of Bechuanaland, and who was, at the same time, the Premier of Cape Colony and controller of that great portion of Bechuanaland which was to be handed over to the Chartered Company. ["Hear, hear!"] The whole situation, to his mind, was an absolutely false one. Their Imperial rule had been sometimes a mischievous one; on the whole he believed it to be a good and judicious one. But what was the good thing they had got out of it all? It was that wherever the English Government had gone it had taken with it the traditions of honourable fair dealing and honesty. ["Hear, hear!"] Their Indian Civil Service, was a great example of this, for however poor and obscure one of its members might be the wealth of India would not buy him or any pecuniary consideration make him swerve from his loyalty to the service of this country: or, if it did, his own profession would cut him and his career would be ruined and blasted. ["Hear, hear!"] But who were the officers, magistrates, colonels, captains, and Heaven knew what, of the Chartered Company? They were all honourable men he had no doubt, but they were not under Imperial control like their Indian Civil servants, and the moment they resigned neither the Chartered Company nor those who cared for the Empire had any authority over them, and they might gasconade in some other part of the world the very next month. ["Hear, hear!"] That was not the sort of material out of which they had built up or could safely conduct their Empire. ["Hear, hear!"] He asked even those 293 hon. Members who felt most admiration for the work of the Chartered Company to consider whether they were not paying too great a price for the additions to the Empire which they believed had come to them from the Company. It had, no doubt, added certain portions to the Empire, but it had got the Empire into a great mess. ["Hear, hear!"] If it was desirable that this addition should be made to their territories, he was not prepared to admit it was not in the, power and resources of the Crown or some self-governing colony where there was a free and open Parliament to make that addition without resorting to the aid of the Chartered Company, He agreed that in this matter those who supported this Motion were fighting against a large host of enemies, and he wanted to know the strength of that host and to ascertain exactly where they stood. He found society had been, so to speak, salted. High and low the trail of the serpent was over them, and he should like to know whether the man he was talking to was speaking for the best interests of the Empire, or was, unconsciously it might be, a little biassed from another and secondary interest. They ought to have more information than was afforded by the document—a document without form and void—written In manuscript, which he believed was locked up in one of the cupboards of the House, and which only carried them down to 1893. He wanted the information to be carried down to the present time, so that the whole country could know precisely how things stood. They were going to have a hard fight over this matter. An amount of money had been circulated in the interests of the Chartered Company which was shocking to contemplate, and there was only one tribunal big enough and strong enough to bring that Chartered Company to its senses, and stop what he believed to be a gigantic system of corruption, and that was the tribunal of public opinion. [Cheers.] It was necessary, however, to know who the members of this Company really were before they could go a step further. They were entitled to be suspicious in this matter. They knew there was already a Company controlled by the Chairman of the Chartered Company, which had a secret service fund which he should call a reptile fund. They were 294 told that the directors of the Company in this country did not know anything of the expenditure of that fund, but he wanted to know how both that and other large sums were spent. He considered that a searching Inquiry, such as that asked for by the hon. Member, should be made into the affairs of the Chartered Company, and observed that, while he should have every sympathy with those people, who, however misguided, had been actuated by a real desire to strengthen the Empire, there were others as to whom they need not be so tender in their inquiries. Declarations had been made by leading members of the Chartered Company resident in Johannesburg, which showed they were not desirous of extending this Empire a foot, or anxious to contribute a shilling or a man to its service, but who in open, insulting, and offensive terms stated that they were desirous of shaking off Imperial control, hauling down the British flag, and becoming independent of this country. If these people were really determined to set up for themselves and run a Republic of their own in South Africa, he could not bring himself to a state of great emotion with regard to any calamity that might occur to them. For these reasons, because he believed the honour and interest, of the Empire was implicated, because he did not believe we could carry on the Government of the Empire on the terms on which the Chartered Company was framed, and because he did not see that the claim made for patriotic support by the Chartered Company was well founded, he did most cordially support the Motion of the hon. Member, and trusted that a full, searching, and impartial Inquiry might be given to the House and to the country. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ SIR HORACE FARQUHAR (Marylebone, W.)
said, it was somewhat unusual for a maiden speech to be of the nature of a statement of defence, and he must, therefore, ask for their sympathy as well as their indulgence. ["Hear, hear!"] He was old enough to remember the hon. Member for Northampton during his City career, and he, was bound to say that he had used language towards the Company, and 295 attributed motives to its Directors which reminded him very much of the reputation he did his utmost to cultivate at that time. It had always been the hon. Member's delight to paint, not only the Chartered Company but everybody else, in very much worse colour than they deserved, and to turn both business and politics into a burlesque. [Opposition laughter and cries of "Oh!"] The Chartered Company never was in a sounder financial position than at this moment. [Opposition laughter.] There was no doubt whatever about that. Before this month had passed the whole of its debenture debt would have been paid off, and the Company would have over £6000,000 perfectly free in cash. ["Hear, hear!" An HON. MEMBER: "Why don't they hold a meeting?"]
§ SIR HORACE FARQUHAR
, continuing, said that the whole of the money had been subscribed for the Bechuanaland railway. [Laughter.]
§ SIR HORACE FARQUHAR
No, subscribed by the public. [Ironical Opposition cheers and laughter.] The Beira railway was now being extended to the frontier, and would shortly be extended to Salisbury. So much for the statement made by some of the Transvaal authorities that the Chartered Company had found it necessary to rehabilitate its finances. With regard to the administration of the Company, nothing could have, been better, and the, more it was inquired into, the more that would be proved. One thing that was beyond doubt was, that the Company had expended very vast sums on the civilisation [Opposition laughter and a voice, "Maxims!"] and development of its vast territories, and if it had not been for the Company those territories would not have, been civilised or opened up. [Opposition laughter.] He went further, and said that if it had not been for the foresight and unbounded liberality of Mr. Rhodes, that great country would not have been secured to the British Empire.
§ MR. PHILIP STANHOPE (Burnley)
said, that he regretted that the maiden speech of the hon. Baronet had been delivered in such a tone and upon such 296 a subject. [Cries of "Why?"] The hon. Baronet had characterised a demand made solemnly in that House for an Inquiry into the affairs of a public company as a burlesque.
§ SIR HORACE FARQUHAR
I did not say anything of the kind. I said that the language used by the hon. Member for Northampton, when he chose to attack Companies, was generally for the sake of burlesque.
§ MR. STANHOPE
said, he was unable to split hairs with the hon. Baronet. All he was conscious of was that his language would be interpreted by the public to-morrow as an attempt to draw the House of Commons from its solemn duty by trying to throw ridicule on his hon. Friend. [Cheers and Ministerial laughter.] He was glad to think that the Secretary of State for the Colonies was unlikely to take so hilarious a view as his supporters below the Gangway, because he was conscious that the country was not governed by shareholders, and would be the first to recognise that this demand on the part of his hon. Friend was one which would receive the serious attention of the House of Commons. [Cheers.] The contention of the hon. Baronet was that there were a number of extraordinarily benevolent gentlemen who were spending large and almost untold sums in building railways and extending the Empire in South Africa. The facts were that the public—he would almost call them the unfortunate public—had supplied and were supplying these millions, not only to make these railways, but also to make the fortunes of the hon. Baronet and his friends [Cheers.], who were as ruthless with regard to the real interests of the Empire as they were with regard to the real interests of the shareholders. [Cheers.] He had never heard in that House a speech so devoid of a large view of the obligations and duties, he, would not say of a Member of the House of Commons, but simply of a citizen of the Empire, as the one to which they had just listened. [Cheers.] He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the, Secretary for the Colonies would feel, at, all events, that, though this subject might not perhaps receive its final sanction in the House by the vote, of the House, or by his influence that night, it was only in its infancy. They would use every 297 possible opportunity, and opportunities would not be wanting, to raise it again. He thought that this Inquiry, when it was granted, should be made to comprise all the matters to which the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment had alluded. The people of England had a right to know whether, under the pretence of patriotism, a sham and sordid patriotism, a great Company, speculating not with their own money but the money of the misguided shareholders, had been trifling with the best interests of the country and besmirching the name of England. [Cheers.]
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
said, he rose with great dffidence to address the, House, because everyone must feel that the present position of affairs in South Africa was one of such difficulty and delicacy that everyone must desire to do what he could to help the Government, and the High Commissioner in carrying out the problems which now confronted them. He was glad to think that no Party question was involved. The late Opposition gave to the late Government their moral support in regard to their colonial policy, and, speaking on behalf of the present Opposition, he might say that they would give the Government their most earnest support in endeavouring to clear the name of England of any moral stain that might attach to it. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies would allow him also to congratulate him on the pluck and promptitude which could be traced in his action throughout the whole of this crisis. ["Hear, hear!"] He was glad that the right hon. Gentleman had recognised to the full the way in which he had been supported and in many cases anticipated by the High Commissioner. It was rather a curious instance of how right must have, been the policy of the Government, here and the High Commissioner in South Africa, that in many cases the High Commissioner, by an hour or two, anticipated the telegrams of the right hon. Gentleman, often suggesting things which the Secretary of State had telegraphed out to him. There had been an almost complete unanimity with regard to all material points between the Government at home and the High Commissioner, and that showed that the action taken was strong and effect, and 298 carried out to the best advantage of South Africa and the Empire itself. ["Hear, hear!"] They had to discuss that evening a question not so much of the past as of the future, though they had to discuss one portion of the past, and that had been raised already by two or three speakers. He rose more for the purpose of putting interrogatories to the right hon. Gentleman than of criticising his action or desiring to oppose what he intended to do. The point the Opposition wanted to be certain about—and after the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury they had some doubt about it—was what was going to be the nature of this Inquiry into these particular circumstances and into the operations of the Chartered Company? Was there to be a proper and genuine Inquiry? The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House had said that the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary had promised an Inquiry into the circumstances of the raid, and it was stated in the Queen's Speech that an Inquiry would be held. But the right hon. Gentleman had also said that it was quite possible that all the information that was required would come out in the course of the trials to be held here and in Pretoria. Nothing, however, could be, more unsatisfactory than the mere legal evidence with regard to the criminal action of certain individuals. That was not the sort, of Inquiry that would satisfy either that House or the country. ["Hear, hear!"] He had been rather struck by the words of the right hon. Gentleman, which were to the effect that the proceedings at the trial would tend to allay the public curiosity which had been aroused in connection with this matter. This was not a matter with regard to which it was sought to allay public curiosity; it was a matter of public morality. ["Hear, hear!"] It was the question that they desired should be inquired into before a proper tribunal. ["Hear, hear!"] They desired that there should be an Inquiry into the question how far the Chartered Company was implicated in the raid. ["Hear, hear!"] The Inquiry ought not, he thought, to be one only in regard to the position of the Chartered Company. What they wanted to know was, not only the connection of the Company with the raid, but also who was at the 299 bottom of it, and whether we had amongst us men who allowed others to incur bloodguiltiness in order to fill their own pockets. ["Hear, hear!"] That point no legal Inquiry would touch. What he wanted to ask the right hon. Gentleman in the most cordial spirit was, what would he the nature of the Inquiry he had promised, to what extent it would go, and when they might expect it would begin? ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. Member for Northampton had said that, in his opinion, the Inquiry ought to be made by a public Committee of the House of Commons. That was a suggestion in which ho cordially agreed. There was ample, precedent for such a course being taken, and they believed that such a tribunal would be most likely to sift this matter to the bottom and to get at the truth. ["Hear, hear!"] When the right hon. Gentleman promised that there should be an adequate Inquiry, they wanted to know what would be the nature of it and to what extent it would go. It must necessarily take some time before they could get sufficient information that would enable them to discuss the future position of the Chartered Company. What was the right hon. Gentleman going to do in the interval so as to secure the South African Republic against a repetition of such raids? Without attempting in any way to prejudge the result of the Inquiry, he might say that they had ample evidence to show that the Charter of the Company must be so altered as to prevent a repetition of the outrage, by taking from the Company the control of their police and military forces, and to impose limitation upon their authority in the chartered territory. That was the least step that could be taken at the present moment. ["Hear, hear!"] The Chartered Company could not but admit that they had broken an essential Article of the Charter and of the agreement which they had entered into in 1894, under which they had promised not to use any armed force without the, sanction of the High Commissioner. There could be no doubt that, under the guise of employing the police, the Company had permitted the collection of a largo armed force, upon their borders, and so threatened the existence of the South African Republic, and of 300 this fact they had kept the High Commissioner in complete ignorance. The Company pleaded ignorance of the matter, and this was not the first time that the Directors of the Company had shown their absolute; impotence and ignorance in dealing with their Administrator and Managing Director in South Africa. The House would be aware that in their letter in which they acknowledged the receipt of a former Dispatch, the Directors had expressed no word of regret that this raid should have occurred. The only expression of regret that was extracted from them was one ordered to be given by the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary, who directed them to dismiss their Administrator, Dr. Jameson. It was quite unnecessary that he should follow the hon. Member for Northampton in his remarks as to the past history of the Chartered Company. That was hardly a matter for discussion at the present moment, because it was in some degree sub judice. It was quite sufficient for him to say that it was evident that the Directors here had no efficient control over their Administrator or over their Managing Director in South Africa, and that the Managing Director there had no control over the Administrator. As to the peculiar position of the South African Republic in reference to their foreign relations, he thought that some good might result from the difficulty that had had to be encountered, because we had now laid it down distinctly for all time that, as regarded those foreign relations, Great Britain intended to remain the paramount Power, having full control over such relations. ["Hear, hear!"] That principle had been laid down by previous Governments, but never so clearly as circumstances had compelled it to be laid down recently. ["Hear, hear!"] With regard to the relations between this country and the South African Republic, they involved questions of great difficulty and delicacy, but he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to tell them that President Kruger had accepted his cordial invitation to visit this country. In that case he was satisfied that President Kruger would receive a hearty welcome among us. [Cheers.] He trusted that the difficult questions he had 301 referred to would be approached by all those interested with a view to an amicable settlement of them ["Hear, hear!"] He hoped that the publication, in this country of the Dispatch to President Kruger before it readied him, would not be regarded as an attempt on our part to force certain conditions down the throats of the burghers, and so give rise to unnecessary misunderstandings. If these matters were properly considered from the point of view of the South African Republic and of the British Government there ought to be no difficulty in coming to a regular agreement in regard to them, and certainly he thought everyone of them would think that the Government, under the present circumstances, had a moral right to intervene in regard to the Uitlander question. [Cheers.] Some there were who blamed the late Government for not having intervened previously in regard to these matters, but he was glad to see that the Secretary for the Colonies had fully justified in his Dispatch the action which they and their predecessors had taken. Matters had now come to a head, the Government had a moral right to intervene, and, as far as the Opposition were concerned, they should certainly cordially support that intervention—intervention which should be made on a friendly basis. From the speeches which had been made in South Africa by the representatives both of the, Dutch and English, it was evident that there was a real desire out there that these matters should be treated, so far as was possible, as bygones, and that the two nations, who must live together, should be induced to do so on friendly terms. Everyone would desire to strengthen as far as could be the hands of the present or any other Government in bringing about unity throughout the whole, of South Africa. Therefore the right hon. Gentleman would, he trusted, be successful in his negotiations in regard to the Transvaal, and they asked him—indeed, they insisted—that, as regarded the Chartered Company, there should be a full and proper inquiry as to what had happened in the past, and how such occurrences might be prevented in the future. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. LEONARD COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
The speech of my hon. Friend the late Under Secretary for the 302 Colonies has not relieved me of the anxiety which I feel lest, under the stress of a great, and what may have been a terrible event, issues may be confused which should be kept quite distinct from one another. It is a very vulgar impulse when a catastrophe has happened, or nearly happened, to think that somebody's head must be knocked, and that that must be the first head that presents itself. The Amendment before the House is, as I understand, that, in consequence of the action of Dr. Jameson in an altogether criminal invasion of the Transvaal, there must be an Inquiry into the Chartered Company, its position, past history, and as to its future. I demur to the second suggestion as following directly from the first. It is under the effect and impulse of the recent transactions that the Amendment was moved. I am not saying that there is not ground for investigation into the position of the Chartered Company. I am no apologist for the Company, certainly its position will have to be investigated some day or other; but to suggest that it should be investigated now, at once, and by a Select Committee which shall be brought into existence immediately, is to put the House in an extremely awkward position, and one which will be found to be unjustifiable, for it might turn out that what Dr. Jameson did was absolutely his individual act. I know nothing of the evidence, but you cannot have an investigation directed against the Chartered Company without assuming some complicity with what their agent had done. You could not proceed in your Inquiry before a Select Committee without investigating the character of the action of Dr. Jameson, and the question of his own responsibility for it. I venture to think that an Inquiry into the position of the Chartered Company will probably be desirable on other grounds hereafter, but that you should desire it now is to seize hold of the present transaction in order to found upon it something which has no direct relation of cause and effect to it, and will lead to great embarrassment and difficulty. ["Hear, hear!"] I shall not be suspected of desiring in any way to take away one atom of responsibility from Dr. Jameson, or whoever was at the back of him. I happened to be in 303 Africa, in a different part of the country, when I first heard the news of the invasion of the Transvaal, and I cannot express sufficiently the disgust I felt at that news. [Opposition cheers.] Knowing something of the composition of society in South Africa, knowing the way in which the European inhabitants of that part of the world are divided, and the political difficulties of the case, one could not hut see in the act of Dr. Jameson something which would interfere altogether with the peaceful solution of the problems there, and produce something like war from end to end of the country. Anyone who had any knowledge of the feelings of the Dutch inhabitants of the. Cape, or of the Afrikander population, or of the sentiments of the Orange Free State, or who realised anything of the characteristics of the Boer of the Transvaal, must know that it would be no exaggeration to say that the mining agents and financial intriguers of Johannesburg could not furnish an atom of justification for the invasion. The fears which were expressed in the letter which Dr. Jameson is said to have received, and which moved him to action, the fears of a massacre and of injury to be done to women and children, were fears which nobody who knew South Africa could for a moment have credited. ["Hear hear!"] Then we have heard of the disorders, but there was nothing leading up to the representations made to Dr. Jameson. He ought not to have yielded, and when I heard of his defeat and surrender I gave unqualified thanks for the results [cheers], and if the Boers chose to raise their voices in singing the 68th Psalm I should have joined with them heartily. [Loud cheers and laughter.] I refer not only to the feelings in the Orange Free State. We know that in Johannesburg the, vast masses of the inhabitants dissented from the course proposed. They were content to look forward to a peaceable solution of the situation. They wore confident that the time would come—and I am sure, although it might have been delayed, it would have come—when the difficulties of which they complained would be removed. The invitation sent out is disowned by the majority of the inhabitants of Johannesburg. I rejoice at the result. [Cheers.] I give unqualified thanks to the Secretary of the 304 Colonies [cheers] for his admirable action in bringing about this admirable conclusion. He has saved us from a great peril as well as South Africa. He has saved our character and he has saved our honour. He saw at once what was to be done, and he did not hesitate to do it. It has been said in another place that my right hon. Friend only did his duty. I do not know anyone who could have acted better than my right hon. Friend in the situation in which he was placed, and I should find it extremely difficult to place a finger on one who would act so well. [Cheers.] He had advantages, no doubt, in doing what he did. He might have received different criticisms from those which were directed to him. There, were men who hesitated; there were those who thought it was too great a step—that he was judging Dr. Jameson prematurely; that he had better hold his hand, and one or two critics expressed wholly their dissent from his policy. The Times would perhaps not have been so timid if another Secretary of State had been in power. I give praise in that he did not hesitate, and bear witness also to his connection with the High Commissioner. He, too, acted promptly. The High Commissioner was as quick in action as my right hon. Friend himself. [Cheery.] We have been working in the same spirit, and I say this now: I confess I thought, when Sir Hercules Robinson was appointed, that the appointment was one of doubtful expediency. He had been connected with other matters since his retirement as High Commissioner which made it doubtful in my mind whether he should return to the post again. But he has shown in these transactions that he was free from any prepossessions, that he had no associations with anyone to check so as to check his activity. He has, in fact, shown that he was a worthy agent of my right hon. Friend. [Cheers.] Now, Sir, I have spoken rather strongly of Dr. Jameson and his action. Just by way of preventing any misunderstanding, I would like to say that I would not in all cases and in all circumstances condemn what might be a march into a peaceful country of armed men. There are occasions, no doubt, when society is ripe for a change, when elements demand a change, when at a touch a complete transformation is 305 effected in the organisation of the community. Such an event happened in the instance of William III. when he came over here, and the same may be said with regard to General Monk when he marched into Scotland. It is very different in South Africa, where there is nothing of the kind to justify the raid of Dr. Jameson. ["Hear, hear!"] There is one other reason why I did thank my right hon. Friend. I said he has vindicated our honour. He has saved us from very great embarrassments with foreign countries. Had it not been for him, what answer could we have made to the intervention which has been so strongly resented? ["Hear, hear!"] It has not yet been referred to in this House, but I will venture to refer to it myself. It may be asked why, if I condemn this invasion so strongly—why, if I rejoice in the success of the Boers, do I resent the message which came from Berlin? My right hon. Friend has enabled me to resent it. If he had not by his action vindicated the character of this country, and shown that we were upholding law and order, and were no parties to the invasion of an independent State—for in this respect it was an independent State—I should not have been able to resent the message of the German Emperor. It was because of what my right hon. Friend has done that suspicion of our conduct was removed. I pass from that transaction to the Amendment before the House. I suggest I have already given my reasons for believing that the appointment of a Select Committee is a premature step before the conclusion of the Inquiry which must be instituted in a Court of Law. But I will go further than that. I will avow my own belief at this moment that the probability is that it will be found necessary, after some fashion or other, to keep up a chartered company. There are only three courses really open, to us in considering the question of the movement of our white immigrant population outside the borders of our colonies into unoccupied lands, or lands occupied partly by civilised or wholly uncivilised people. We may do what I believe is the best course, but unfortunately it is one which the pertinacity, the persistence of this country is not strong enough to maintain. We might throw the whole burden of the 306 conduct of future advances upon the colony beyond whose borders the advances are made. We might, for instance, throw upon the Cape—or we might in the past have thrown upon the Cape or a combination of Cape States—the whole responsibility of the inevitable movement which goes outside the Cape and goes north. But we shall never do that. We shall never do it if we couple with the assignment of that burden insistence on the observance of the whole responsibility—if we insist that the colony to whose charge this is intrusted must bear the consequences, and must not come to us for assistance except against some outside foe that they themselves have not provoked to attack them. That, I believe, would be the best course, but I think it is absolutely impracticable. The second course is to undertake the control of these unsettled territories outside our settled colonies from Downing Street itself. I believe of all courses that is the worst. Downing Street has not the knowledge, cannot, have the knowledge, has not the agents to control the movements of a population such as I have described in the territories which are unsettled. It may be that upon the strength of what has recently happened—hope not—we shall see a revulsion of feeling, that it will be said we can have nothing but the Secretary of State for the Colonies ruling directly throughout the whole length of South Africa outside the communities already settled. I am sure if we did that we should, in a very short time, get into greater difficulties than we have recently had, and we should not escape the possibility of a recurrence of exactly the same difficulties. In fact, I believe they would come to us in a worse aspect, one from which we could much less easily disengage ourselves. It seems to be supposed that such action as Dr. Jameson's would only be taken if Dr. Jameson were the agent of a chartered company. You might, have Dr. Jameson or another person of the same character as a Commissioner under the Secretary of State [Opposition cries of "No, no."], and you might find him doing in that capacity what Dr. Jameson has done. People say "No." Do they not know that such things have been done by agents of the Colonial Office? Have you never heard 307 of a gentleman named Bartle Frere? (Cheers.) It, is only a Dr. Jameson who takes the bit between his teeth? The agents of the home Government have again and again taken the bit between their teeth and done things they have not been authorised to do. And the difficulty of disowning them, checking them, putting them aside, is infinitely greater than that of checking or putting aside the agents of a chartered company. You intervene with ease to stop a Dr. Jameson; you intervene with much greater difficulty to stop one of your own agents. It appears to me that to have a chartered company facilitates our control, although apparently giving up control. You must watch chartered companies strictly, you must retain the power of checking them at once, of disabling them from doing this or that, but you have really greater control over the agents of such companies than you have over agents of your own. It appears to me probable that the result of deliberation may be favourable to the principle of chartered companies; but in any case do not let us have an immediate inquiry, at once confused and excited. It should be an Inquiry instituted for much larger ground than the mere transactions of the last month. The result of the Inquiry may be that it is convenient and expedient to maintain in the future chartered companies as they have been maintained in the past. Do not let us have an assault made upon these companies and their doings merely on account of this particular episode. ["Hear, hear!"] It is proper and necessary the companies should be from to time strictly supervised; it is proper and necessary that their transactions should be periodically examined. Let that be done. Do not be carried away with the excitement of the recent month. Do not be carried away into another crisis, do not let us do another foolish thing by way of correcting the past. I apologise to the House for having, in the course of my remarks, passed a little beyond the limits of the Amendment before us, but I have felt it necessary to give expression to my feelings in reference to the events in South Africa. I conclude with an expression once more of thanksgiving for the happy delivery we have had from a great peril. 308 Once more I express my gratitude, the gratitude which the nation, nay, all Europe, ought to feel to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies for having enabled us to so admirably come out of the difficulty. [Cheers.]
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. JOSEPH CHAMBER-LAIN,), Birmingham, W.
who on rising was received with loud and general cheers, said: Mr. Speaker, in the course of this Debate some kind compliments have been paid to me, especially by my hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn, for the frankness with which the Colonial Office has treated the public in the course of these proceedings. I must admit that the frankness and publicity which I have thought desirable to give to all my actions has also its disadvantages, and I am far from following my hon. Friend in recommending other Departments to follow my example. I shall in the course of the remarks I have to make have to call the attention of the House to some of the difficulties which have followed upon that course of action. But, at all events, it has one advantage, because I now rise to address the House with the certainty that everything—all the main events, at any rate—on which I have to speak as to our proceedings and the policy of the Government have already been in the possession of the House for some hours, and have been considered. Consequently, all I have to do now is to fill in any gaps accidentally left; to answer questions that have been addressed to me, and to supply explanations. In the first place, I think I ought to recognise the general spirit in which this Debate has been conducted. I feel that both inside and outside the House the greatest appreciation has been shown of the difficulties in which I suddenly found myself, and I agree with Lord Rosebery, who observed the other day that I had been praised beyond my merits. At the same time, I do not know that I regret that. [Laughter.] I am sorry, of course, that it gave umbrage to the noble Lord—I am sorry that he should have taken it as though it were a slight upon himself or upon other Ministers. I do not think, however, that under similar circumstances of difficulty he has had any reason to complain of the treatment accorded to him—[hear, hear!"]—but although I 309 regret that he should, as I say, have been in any way displeased, I am sorry, not only on personal grounds, which will be readily appreciated, but on the public ground that this is only one other evidence that when any Minister, whatever his Party or opinions may be, is called upon to represent his country in a time of crisis and of difficulty, he may rest assured of the support of all Parties and all classes. [Cheers.] Well, now, Sir, I propose to deal in. order of time—because it seems to me that that will be the most convenient course, with the different questions that have been addressed to me. In the first place, I notice that some remarks have been made upon the ignorance in which it is supposed that the Colonial Office, and still more the High Commissioner in South Africa, was in regard to recent occurrences. I ask the House to bear in mind that it is always easy to be wise after the event ["hear, hear!"], and that circumstances which at a given moment appear to have no importance might, assume a tremendous importance after you know that they form a part of a large series of events. ["Hear, hear!"] I would also ask the House to distinguish between two different things as to which I think there has been a great deal of confusion. These two things are the proceedings at Johannesburg—the agitation of the Uitlanders, and any disturbances which might have been anticipated from that agitation—and the invasion of Dr. Jameson. The two things are absolutely separate ["hear, hear!"]; and practically I may say that while everybody knew about the probabilities of the agitation in the Transvaal, nobody, I believe, knew about the invasion of Dr. Jameson. Now, as to the condition of affairs in the Transvaal. That was, as I say, an open secret. It would have been necessary that we should have been blind and deaf if we had not been acquainted with the rumours, not only in Africa, but in London, as to the probabilities of a disturbance of some kind or another if the claims of the Uitlanders were not recognised by the Transvaal Government. That was known, I venture to say, long before I came into office. It was known to the late Government, and has, in fact formed the subject of persistent rumour during the last two years. 310 ["Hear, hear!"] But it became especially definite during the month of last December. At that period, not for the first time in the history of these events, but in December, actually the date was fixed by rumour. It was stated in some papers published in London that on a particular date towards the end of December there would be an outbreak on the part of the discontented Uitlanders, in the Transvaal, and it was open talk on the subject that, Mr. Montagu White, the Agent-General of the Transvaal, had telegraphed to his Government calling their attention to these rumours and warning them to be on their guard. Of course, if it is asked, Did we know of these rumours? did Sir Hercules Robinson know of them? I answer, of course, that we did. The man in the street knew of them, and we certainly were not more ignorant than he was. But is it suggested that, knowing of these rumours, we ought to have interfered? I confess that it appears to me that there was absolutely no ground for intervention on our part. We had explicitly repudiated any right of interference in the internal affairs of the Transvaal, and there was no proof that any representation of any kind would have been favourably received by any party concerned. Certainly our assistance was not sought by President Kruger, who was, of course, informed of the, rumours to which I refer. But he did not apply to us, and it was not likely that he would. It is absurd to suppose that lie should have applied to us to intervene in any way in the matter. Then, did the persons who had grievances, which are acknowledged, apply to the British Government to make any representations, friendly or otherwise? Certainly not; they did the exact opposite. Every public statement made by any of the leaders of the Uit-landers was to the effect that they absolutely repudiated what they were pleased to call the Imperial factor. ["Hear, hear!"] They did not wish our interference; they did not ask our assistance. They were seeking reforms of one kind or another, but they had no idea of supplanting the rule of the Transvaal Government by the rule, of the British Government. Their only idea was to alter the form of the Government of the Republic, and to substitute for the present leaders other leaders, who, I suppose, 311 were to be the leaders of the agitation. I say, then, that under these circumstances, not being called upon by either party to interfere, I think it would have been rather presumptuous if we had offered any intervention. ["Hear, hear!"] But I will say one thing more. It is true that these rumours were precise and definite, and, looking back now with the full knowledge we possess, it may be said that they were prophetic, and that we ought to have accepted them as true. But at the time we had no more reason to believe that these rumours, prophecies, and boasts were true than had the British Government reason to believe that the prophecies, rumours, and boasts of two years before ought to have boon accepted. In 1894 Lord Loch went to Pretoria, when there was great agitation, and it appeared at one time as if some actual disturbance might break out. At the same time Sir Jacobus de Wet informed the Government of the position of affairs, and warned them that at any moment serious disturbances might break out. The warnings in July, 1894, were as precise, as definite, as the warnings we had in December, 1895. Let me say that I think an injustice has been, done to Sir Jacobus de Wet. I do not know whether his Dutch name has suggested that he is a sympathiser of the Transvaal Government.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I am not responsible for that article, nor for the gentleman who wrote it. But, in any case, I think there has been an impression on the part of some of those who have attacked him that, because this gentleman has a Dutch name, therefore he is in the interests of the South African Republic. That is absolutely the reverse of the case. [Cheers.] The only doubt that the British Government, I believe, had with regard to his appointment was that he was so well known to sympathise with the grievances of the Uitlanders that it was doubtful whether he was a sufficiently influential person to represent us at Pretoria, sufficiently persona grata with President Kruger. Certainly no charge can be brought against him that he was a sympathiser in any wrong sense with the views of the Government of the 312 Transvaal Republic. ["Hear, hear!"] It has been alleged that Sir Jacobus de Wet ought to have kept us better in-informed. I can bring no complaint whatever against that gentleman. He has kept the Government informed. Since 1894 we have had constant dispatches from him representing the prevailing impression of the state of affairs at Johannesburg; but the result is in regard to those gentlemen who have been conducting this agitation, and who have been crying "wolf" so often, that when the wolf was at the door it was a matter of the gravest doubt whether anything serious was about to occur. Let me put in a word for a much deserving class—the public servants of the Crown and the officials of the Colonial Office. Again and again, when speaking about this agitation, and in the Colonies I have visited, I have heard complaints made as to the impossibility and absurdity of governing those distant countries by means of clerks in an office who could not know anything about what was going on or the local circumstances. All that has happened lately proves that those admirable public servants, without the least hope of public recognition—for whatever their merits may be, they are covered by the public appearance of their chief—have proved that they knew a good deal more than those who were supposed by local knowledge or local intuition to be better acquainted. [Cheers.] For what is the state of the case? While in Johannesburg, in Cape Town, all throughout South Africa, it was believed that this agitation was a serious one, which was likely to break out on a particular day, and which would topple down the Government of the Transvaal as if a pack of cards, the information at my disposal, and the result of many years of experience and knowledge of this question, was that all the probabilities were against anything of the kind, that the condition of affairs at Johannesburg would not justify the belief that there would be anything in the nature of a serious revolution. There was a constitutional agitation going on which might sooner or later end in serious disturbance, but at the moment it was not ripe for anything of the kind. Their view of the case proved to be the true one; and on December 26 what happened?
313 It was, I think, the date fixed by public rumour for the insurrection, for the revolution. There was no insurrection, there was no revolution. There was a manifesto published by a committee, which was a perfectly constitutional declaration of real grievances, and there was a demand for redress. There was a declaration on January 6, a fortnight later, that a public meeting would be called in order to pass a resolution. There is a good deal of difference between a revolution and a resolution. [Laughter and cheers.] That is where this matter would have stopped for the present. There would be nothing more than a most important and most interesting constitutional agitation, based, I believe, on most legitimate grievances—there would have been nothing more than that if it had not been for the unfortunate—I mean to say unfortunate in the interests of South Africa and of the good feeling that ought to exist between the two races in that country—and the unjustifiable invasion of the Transvaal by Dr. Jameson. [Cheers.] That is the second point, which has to be kept absolutely separate from the question of the condition of affairs within the Transvaal. If it is asked of me, "Was the High Commissioner, were other people, ignorant of this projected invasion?" I say to the best of my knowledge and belief that everybody, that Mr. Rhodes, that the Chartered Company, that the Reform Committee of Johannesburg, and the High Commissioner were all equally ignorant of the intention or action of Dr. Jameson. [Cheers.] That is the belief which I express to the House after having carefully examined all the statements of all the parties concerned. [Cheers.] The Leader of the Opposition made a remark which, if left without notice, would carry with it an imputation on Sir Hercules Robinson which he certainly does not deserve. When Sir Hercules Robinson was appointed I criticised the appointment; I said not a word against Sir Hercules personally. I thought the circumstances of the appointment and the policy of it were open to objection. I think so still; but that has only regard to general principles which I desired to see established in the Civil Service, and especially in the Colonial Service of the Crown. It had no reference whatever to the personal honour of Sir 314 Hercules Robinson, to his ability and special capacity with regard to matters in South Africa, where he enjoyed in an exceptional manner the confidence of all sections of the people. [Cheers.] I will say, as I have already said in my Dispatch, that I am most deeply indebted to Sir Hercules Robinson, and I think the country is indebted to him, for the promptitude and energy he has shown throughout this transaction. [Cheers.] The Leader of the Opposition said that, so ignorant were some persons of what was going on, that it appeared as though it had been left to the Colonial Office to tell Sir Hercules Robinson of the invasion. That is, I think, due to a misapprehension on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, who seems to think that the Colonial Office was aware of the probability of the invasion before it took place. That is not the case. It is due to a telegram I have published, in which I said to Sir Hercules Robinson that it was stated to me that a force might cross the border. I will state frankly to the House the genesis of that telegram. When the alleged and rumoured insurrection at Johannesburg came to an end, when it appeared to be a complete fiasco, so far as anything like violent or revolutionary proceedings were concerned, we all believed that everything was at an end, and that there was no reason to suppose that anything like a crisis was at hand. At the same time the matter occupied the attention of all of us, and especially the attention of the officials of the Colonial Office. It occurred to one of those officials, Mr. Fairfield, who is the head of the department, and who I fancy knows more about South African affairs than probably any other living man—["hear, hear!"]— thinking over everything, remembering what combustible materials there were in South Africa, and remembering what had been threatened and boasted—it occurred to him, "Can it be possible that something of this sort may take place?" Accordingly he wrote to me—I was at Birmingham at the time—and put the suggestion before me. My answer was, as appears in the Blue-book: "It is incredible, but at the same time no precaution can be too great to prevent a mischief of that kind; let us telegraph Sir Hercules Robinson to warn him and to put him on inquiry." In fact what I really 315 wished to suggest was that privately—I did not like to suggest to him that he should put it to Mr. Rhodes officially, as I thought that would be almost an insult—and confidentially he should bring the matter before Mr. Rhodes, in order, if there was the slightest possibility of such a thing, it might be nipped in the bud. That is the whole story. [Cheers.] We had no more information than anybody else. It was an idea that crossed the mind of one of the officials at the Colonial Office upon which we acted, and, as it happened, unfortunately, it had a better foundation than any of us imagined. Well, then, it has been said that we ought to have been aware of the preparations. I think that also is due to a misapprehension of what those preparations were. When the force crossed the border there was a telegram to the effect that 800 men or more had crossed the border. It was really a very much smaller force. The total number of men who crossed the border, according to a telegram from Sir Hercules Robinson, was only 510. We cannot make out as many as that. My own belief is that the total force was under 500. Let us see how that force was made up. We knew in the first place that there were, I believe it is called, two troops. At all events there were 198 men at Pitsani on the 1st of December. They were brought down on the pretext, which is a perfectly reasonable pretext, and I am not certain it was not a perfectly true one at the time, that they were wanted to guard the works on the new railway, and also that, as Mafeking was the terminus of the railway, it was cheaper and more convenient to keep the headquarters there, as the Government had previously found, than at a much greater distance. When the Bechuanaland protectorate was transferred to the Company it became absolutely necessary that their police should be increased to do the work which our police had hitherto been doing. They made a perfectly natural request that we should hand over the police to them. I objected, not simply in the interests of the police themselves, because no pressure could be put upon them, but I agreed that they should be brought down, and that the Chartered Company should select from them those whom it desired to employ for its own work. Accordingly a considerable number of the police 316 were brought down, and from that number, not the whole, but 125 men were taken over, and they remained at Mafeking. So that the so-called concentration of force consisted up to about the 16th of December of 198 men at Pitsani, 25 or 30 miles from Mafeking, and 125 men at Mafeking itself. In order to make up the number of 510 we have to account for another 187 men. As I say, I am not certain that that is the real number, because we are not quite certain of the total number that crossed the border. One telegram says they were brought down from Buluwayo; but I cannot confirm that, as it is most difficult to find out the exact truth. I cannot say whether they came from Buluwayo or whether they were enlisted from volunteers who offered themselves at Cape Town or elsewhere. At all events that additional number of men which made up the total to 500 were only brought in at the last moment—somewhere between the 16th of December and the time of the raid. The mere statement of these facts, I think, justifies me in saying that there is no ground whatever to complain of Sir Hercules Robinson for not having reported the circumstances of which he says, in the Dispatch No.121, he was entirely ignorant, and of which, if he had been aware, I do not think he would necessarily have seen anything requiring special precautions. [Cheers.] I think it is confirmatory of that view that we had had no representation whatever from President Kruger. It has been suggested that President Kruger was prepared for this invasion, that he induced the invasion, that he was a sort of agent provocateur, and that he knew all about the matter beforehand. Of course I am not omniscient, but I believe that President Kruger, in saying, as I believe he has said, that he was utterly unaware of any intention of this kind, is speaking the absolute truth. [Cheers.] That is my present opinion. He had his patrols all along the border. Those patrols, I believe, were seen by some of the troops that came down from Buluwayo, and if the troops that came down from Buluwayo saw President Kruger's patrols President Kruger's patrols must have seen the troops that came down from Buluwayo. [Loud laughter.] Therefore I do not doubt that President Kruger knew that there 317 were certain troops on the border, but what I mean is that I have no reason, at the present, to doubt his assertion that he did not know that any invasion was intended or probable. My argument is this, that if, knowing what he knew, which was practically what Sir Hercules Robinson knew, President Kruger did not see in that any cause for alarm or any cause to make any kind of representation to the British Government, it would be, I think, most unreasonable to bring any accusation against Sir Hercules Robinson, who certainly had no more reason to be suspicious than President Kruger himself. ["Hear, hear!"] Before I leave this part of the subject I should like to say one word more. I am trying in all this business to keep an absolutely open mind, not to pledge myself to any conclusion, because new information comes forward continuously, and my opinion may be changed if the result of further inquiry gives reason for it. But I want to protest against any prejudgment on one side or the other. [Cheers.] I take up the remark of my right hon. Friend the member for Bodmin, who said—and I wish the House to remember this—that even if there had been a concentration of troops—and I really think what took place hardly amounts to that—and if that concentration had been known to Sir H. Robinson and to the world, it does not at all follow that that would have given any cause for interference. There is no objection that I know of that could reasonably be taken to a concentration of that kind, unless you have reason to believe that it takes place with a criminal motive. This is not the first time there has been a concentration of troops upon the border. My hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Buxton) will bear me out that in July, 1894, there was a disturbance at Johannesburg, and an outbreak was expected at any moment. What happened? The British Bechuanaland Police were collected and concentrated at Mafeking, and other forces were under orders to move. Was that wrong? Of course it was done by the High Commissioner, but was it wrong? Certainly not. In my opinion it was absolutely right, and justified by the circumstances. When your neighbour's house is on fire, you are quite right to 318 get out your apparatus in order to extinguish it, and nobody can accuse you unless they can prove that you are bringing it out, not with the object of stopping mischief, of preventing damage, of interfering with general consent, but with the deliberate intention of promoting the mischief that you profess a desire to prevent. [Cheers.] All I ask is that in all these cases we must bear in mind that you have not only to prove a fact, but a criminal motive connected with that fact. ["Hear, hear!"] Why, Sir, I have referred to the action of our own Government, an action with which I desire to identify myself. What has been the action of another Government? What has been the action of the German Government? There was a disturbance in the Transvaal, and the German Government proposed, with or without the consent of Portugal, to land troops at Delagoa Bay and to send them up into the Transvaal. I am not complaining of their action, but surely, if it be legitimate for them to provide against mischief of this sort, it might be perfectly legitimate for other Powers to do the same. All I wish in these matters is that we should hold ourselves prepared to reserve our final judgment till we have all the facts before us. [Cheers.] I am afraid that in South Africa matters have not been always conducted with that regularity which is observed in European complications. I might, if I wished to enter on an argument, point to circumstances in which the Transvaal Government were engaged in proceedings which it would be very hard to justify—I am referring to the trek into British Bechuanaland. I am referring to it in order to say that, although those proceedings cost this country more than a million of money in the expedition which fortunately was bloodless, yet we never made them the pretext for maintaining an attitude of hostility to the South African Republic, we have never received, never asked for, any indemnity [cheers]; and, while I am one of the first to recognise the moderation and the magnanimity that President Kruger has shown in regard to recent events, I claim that he has only followed the example which has been set in preceding years by the British Government. [Cheers.] I come to another 319 branch of the subject. We are asked what is intended to be done with regard to the Inquiry which is promised in the Queen's Speech. I have promised that that Inquiry shall be full and searching. [Cheers.] Now, into what are we to inquire? In my opinion there are three matters as to which we want more information. The first is as to Dr. Jameson's invasion and all the circumstances attending it. Secondly, as to the proceedings connected with the agitation in Johannesburg. And the third is as to the administration and the responsibility of the Chartered Company. ["Hear, hear!"] Now, Sir, as regards the first of those, I take it that that, in all probability, will be fully inquired into in the course of the proceedings which will be held as soon as Dr. Jameson and his companions return to this country. As regards the second question, the responsibility of the leaders of the agitation——
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon; but will he tell us how a criminal Inquiry into Dr. Jameson's conduct would admit of an investigation into the question of how far the Chartered Company had to do with it. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
That is not the point. I have divided the Inquiry into three heads. [Cheers.] The Chartered Company is the third. The first is Dr. Jameson's criminality, and that will be disposed of by the trial. Then comes the alleged complicity of the leaders of the agitation in Johannesburg; that is being inquired into at Pretoria, in the proceedings which are being held by the Government there. The third is the complicity of the Chartered Company; and to that hon. Gentlemen, and, as I understand, right hon. Gentlemen opposite, add the claim that not only their complicity in recent events, but also their general administration, should be the subject of inquiry. ["Hear, hear!"] But if there is to be an Inquiry into the Chartered Company, what object is to be effected? With a vindictive object, in 320 order to punish individuals? No, that is not the object of anyone in this House. ["Hear, hear!"] The object is to see whether the Company are fit and proper persons to continue to be intrusted with the administration of this territory. [Cheers.] Therefore, if this Inquiry is to be gone into at all, it must include the objects demanded by the hon. Member for Northampton. I do not see how that Inquiry could be satisfactory which was confined simply to an incident of that general administration and did not include the whole. ["Hear, hear!"] I say that as much in the interest of the Chartered Company as in any other interest, because it appears to me that it is only fair to the Chartered Company that they should not be judged by a particular incident in which, undoubtedly, according to their own account, they have been badly served by their officials, but that they should be judged by the whole course of their administration; and if they can show, as they claim to be able to show, that on the whole their administration has been in the public interest and for the public benefit, then I believe that much will be forgiven to them. [Cheers.] As regards this matter of complicity, I do not think it is fair to ask the Government to pledge themselves definitely at the present time. No one can tell what is coming out at these two trials; and for this particular question I attach more importance to the trial at Pretoria than I do to the trial of Dr. Jameson.
§ Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Yes. President Kruger offered to place at the disposal of Her Majesty's Government all the documents and the proofs that he has, and Mr. Rawlinson, who has been sent out by the Treasury, has been told to place himself in communication with the Transvaal Government with that object. Besides, Mr. Rose-Innes, a I highly-respected and capable member of 321 the Bar in South Africa, has been instructed on behalf of Her Majesty's Government to attend and watch the trial at Pretoria and to report everything to the home authorities. Therefore it would be absurd for me to do more than say that we shall watch the result with the greatest care and attention, in order that when the result is brought before us the House will have the opportunity of considering whether they have got all the information they want or whether they want more. And if it appears that the House wants more, it will, of course, be able to obtain it; and certainly, if it appears that more information is desirable in the public interest, the Government will heartily support the demand. I have been asked about the nature of the Inquiry which would then be held. Again I think that is rather premature. ["Hear, hear!"] That the Inquiry would be a full one is admitted; but there is a question as to whether the Inquiry should take the form of a Committee of the House of Commons. A Joint Committee has inquired on many previous occasions in our history into the position of similar companies—as, for example, that of the East India Company; and if it be desired to have a general Inquiry into the policy of the Chartered Company, and as to the desirability of intrusting the Company with these large powers, that no doubt is a matter for a House of Commons Committee, and no other form of Commission. But if it be desired to trace the source of a particular accusation it might be a question for subsequent consideration whether a judicial Commission would not be a better means of arriving at the truth. ["Hear, hear!"] In these matters the House must understand that the Government have absolutely an open mind, and will make their recommendations to the House when the result of the preliminary Inquiry becomes known. My hon. Friend the late; Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Buxton) asked me a very necessary question— 322 This is a provisional state of things; and while these inquiries are going on what are you going to do in order to secure the country from a repetition of what has occurred? It is absolutely necessary to make a provisional arrangement. I have been asked to revoke the Charter. In the course of the Debate allusion has been made to the influential character of the Company, and, although there is no trace of that in the discussion [laughter], to the probability that enormous pressure has been brought to bear by the friends of the Company on anyone who might have to be concerned with the Inquiry. It is only right to state to the House that, with two exceptions, no pressure, no representation, no suggestion of any kind, direct or indirect, has been brought to bear upon the Colonial Office. The first exception was the Chartered Company, who made and challenged a full Inquiry; and the other was a number of Radical Associations which sent resolutions, all to the same effect, claiming that the Charter should be immediately with drawn. [Laugher.] I do not think that the demand is an unnatural one under the circumstances ["hear, hear!"]; and it is not one that would be made by any judicial or impartial people, because, in the first place, of the general recognition of the fact that you must not condemn people until they are tried. ["Hear, hear!"] That is a self-evident proposition. Then the second reason is that involved in this matter, are not merely the interests of the gentlemen who have been denounced by the hon. Member for Northampton—the promoters and directors of those Companies—but the shareholders; and the shareholders of the Chartered Company are influential, if even only from their numbers. There are 30,000 of them, of whom 10,000 are foreigners, mostly Frenchmen, and it would be a very strong thing to deal adversely with their property unless there was a most absolute case against them. ["Hear, hear!"] We must spare the innocent, 323 even if the guilty are to be punished; and I presume that even to the hon. Member for Northampton the shareholders are in the nature of innocent persons.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Gentleman will admit that there are seven just men among the 30,000. [Renewed Laughter], and for their sake, at least, until there is an investigation, their property cannot be taken away. I will now speak of a more serious matter—the question arises from those proceedings—whether the administration of these territories should continue in the same form and in the same hands. That is a question, I admit, that must be seriously discussed when the result of the Inquiry is known. But there is another question. Supposing those who are now accused are found guilty, will that be a reason for deciding that in the future territories of this kind are to be controlled directly by the Government of this country, and are not to be placed as before under the control of a chartered company? That is a question on which I entertain a strong opinion; and, though I do not think it is connected with the present Inquiry, I will state it to the House. I say that in the interest of this country, in the interest of the development of these now estates to which we become entitled, it would be fatal if they were handed over to the control even of the Department which I have the honour to represent. ["Hear, hear!"] I cannot conceive that such a Department could do the work that has been done by the existing Chartered Company, or by any of its successors. I am perfectly sure that if the persons responsible for the development of those territories had to go, as I have had to go, over and over again, to the Treasury to ask their assent to an expenditure of £5 [laughter], it would have been perfectly impossible for them, or for anybody in my position, to have done what the Chartered Company have already done, or another Chartered Company might have done in their place, to make 324 railways, to make hundreds of miles of roads, to do everything to bring into rapid occupation the territories which have been submitted to their rule. ["Hear, hear!"] Therefore, let the House understand, as to this question between the Chartered Company and the Government, that you may have, if you like, a system which may be more controlled by the House of Commons; but that you will not have in it a system that will be productive in the long run of the success or speedy development of these untried countries. ["Hear, hear!"] That, however, is largely for the future; but, at the same time, one thing has been proved beyond a shadow of doubt, and that is that the Chartered Company—I put it in a way that is non-committal—have either been unwilling, or been unable, to control their officers, to prevent what has taken place. That is a state of things that should not be allowed to continue. [Opposition cheers.] We have to see that a repetition of what we all deplore and condemn shall be made absolutely impossible, and impossible from the moment of the commission of the last offence. We have to guarantee to President Kruger and to all who are concerned, that it will be absolutely impossible that anything of the sort shall again take place; that, in fact, while the Chartered Company will now, at all events, pending any future decision by the House of Commons, be permitted to continue its useful work of developing the countries under its charge, the power will be, and has been, taken from it to do the mischief which we regret. ["Hear, hear!"] These are the demands which I have made on behalf of the Government upon the Chartered Company, and which the Chartered Company have accepted. We have informed them that all their military and police forces will be taken from their control, that they will be placed under officers appointed entirely by her Majesty's Government, and that they will take their orders from the High Commissioner of her Majesty's Government.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I do not think that any complaint of that kind has hitherto been made against persons in the service of the Crown. [Cheers.] Of course, as these officers and police will be doing the work of the Company, under the orders of the Government, the Company will have to pay for them. In future no magistrates will be appointed unless they have legal and colonial experience.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I think it would be unwise of the hon. Member to carry the parallel too far. [Laughter The border authority of the British Bechuanaland Protectorate, which marches with the Transvaal Republic, will be the commandant of the military forces—that is to say, an officer in the service of her Majesty. The magistrate in the railway strip where the railway is now being extended from Mafeking to Buluwayo, will be an Imperial magistrate of the same kind, but not the same person, as the magistrate already appointed for the reserves of Khama aud Sebele. Lastly, officers of the police, whether the commanding officer or the others, will be authorized to communicate directly with her Majesty's Government and with the High Commissioner. Without prejudging in any way any future decision upon this matter, I think I may say that, whether the Chartered Company is hereafter declared to be guilty or innocent, at all events, in this preliminary stage, we have deprived them of the possibility of doing any harm cither in the Transvaal or to British interests. [Cheers.] I think, therefore, we may wait for further inquiry before we come to a final decision. I come to another point on which the hon. Member for Northampton asked me some questions. He inquired as to the visit Mr. Rhodes paid me at the Colonial Office, and said that after the visit there was a large rise in the shares of the Chartered Company. I admit I do not follow the markets very closely, and I do not know what the fluctuations have been; but if there have been such fluctuations I quite admit I an really incapable of explaining them. I know nothing, absolutely nothing, took place in the interview between Mr. Rhodes and myself that ought 326 to have influenced the price of the shares in the slightest degree. The ways of the narket are a mystery to me, and I do not suppose the hon. Member for Northampton would expect me to instruct him in them. [Loud laughter.] I will, however, say something with regard to the interview, because I observe that certain misapprehensions have arisen which are of some importance, having regard to the fact that everything that takes place here, even the very slightest matters that appear in the papers, may be, and often are telegraphed to the Transvaal, and there used by those who I think are the enemies both of this country and of South Africa generally. One of these misapprehensions is that the Dispatch which I have published was a consequence of, or in some way or other depended on, the interview I had with Mr. Rhodes. I wish to say that that Dispatch was completed, printed, and signed before I saw Mr. Rhodes, that I did not show it to Mr. Rhodes, and he was not aware of it till he saw it in the newspapers, and that no change was made in it in consequence of my interview with him. Therefore I, and I alone, am responsible for the Dispatch, and Mr. Rhodes, at all events, among the many offences alleged against him, had nothing to do with that document. A second point with regard to which I wish to correct a rumour is that the Government or I had anything whatever to do with Mr. Rhodes's decision to leave for South Africa; that was a matter entirely within his own competence; and I offered him no advice and no opinion upon his action. Mr. Rhodes told me he intended to go back to Africa with the sole object of developing the material resources of the country which bears his name. It must be remembered that he goes back in a very different position from that which at one time he occupied. A few weeks ago Mr. Rhodes was, I think, the most powerful man in South Africa. He was powerful not because, or certainly not chiefly because, he was managing director of the Chartered Company, but because he was Premier of Cape Colony, and because he alone of British Statesmen had succeeded in conciliating the two races—[cheers]—in bringing together the Dutch and the English, and in securing Dutch support for the proposals made by a British 327 Minister. At that time I admit Mr. Rhodes was a man whose opinion was entitled to the utmost respect from the British Colonial Office and the Imperial Government. To have gone against a man who represented not merely his individual force and capacity, but the joint influence of British subjects and Dutch subjects in South Africa, would have been to risk the possession of South Africa itself. That is the keynote of the policy, not of this Government alone, but of all Governments in South Africa. We are constantly reminded of the fact that our Dutch fellow-citizens are the majority in South Africa, and I think I may say for myself as for my predecessor, we are prepared to go as far as Dutch sentiment will support us. It is a very serious thing, a matter involving most serious considerations, if we are asked to go in opposition to Dutch sentiment. As I say, a few weeks ago Mr. Rhodes occupied this remarkable position. He had behind him the Afrikanders at the Cape as well as British subjects everywhere. Besides that, he was master of many legions, inasmuch as he had under his control all the military or semi-military forces of the Chartered Company. He goes back almost as a private individual, having not the control of a single policeman, having ceased to be Prime Minister, and, for the moment at all events, having seen his work jeopardized, possibly destroyed—the work he set himself of consolidating and bringing together the Dutch and English races. Under these circumstances, the fact that he has gone back to Africa ought not to be the cause of alarm to any one, whoever his enemies may be. Whatever may be the suspicions entertained of him in Pretoria at the present moment, the Government there and his enemies here ought to see at all events that it is absolutely impossible for him to do the mischief with which they credit him. On the other hand, does any one deny that he may be a factor for good? I am not going to pronounce upon Mr. Rhodes, but I say it would be an act of ingratitude if we were, even now, when suspicion hangs over him, to forget the great services he has rendered. [Cheers.] I believe he is capable of great service still. He may have made mistakes and committed faults. It is not for me to pronounce, 328 but I say, in my opinion, although I was not consulted and had nothing whatever to do with it, and offer no opinion, now he has gone and the matter is settled, I believe his right place is in Africa, and even if he has done wrong in the past he may do a great deal to repair that wrong, and recover the confidence and gratitude of his fellow-citizens. Now I come to another point. I have one or two words to say as to the future policy of this country. We have taken, I believe, precautions which will be sufficient, and which are absolute, to prevent the recurrence of the troubles which have taken place. But although we can deal with disturbances from outside, it is not in our power to protect the Republic of the Transvaal from internal weakness; and there will be internal weakness so long as the causes of discontent remain. [Cheers.] I was glad to hear the Leader of the Opposition say the other night that, in his opinion, it was perfectly legitimate for Great Britain to use its influence to obtain justice for the Uitlanders. [Cheers.] There is no doubt about the grievances under which the majority of the population in the Transvaal labour. That is not contested. It is admitted by the Dutch population at the Cape, quite as much as by the British population, and it is even admitted by foreign countries. It is legitimate, the right hon. Gentleman says, that we should continue to use our influence on their behalf. I do not say that under the terms of the Convention we are entitled to force reforms on President Kruger, but we are entitled to give him friendly counsel, to warn him of the consequences of a recalcitrant attitude of opposition to every kind of reform, and we shall continue to adopt that method. He may reject our advice under advice from sources which are perhaps not altogether disinterested, but, if he does, in my opinion he will not show the wisdom which has hitherto distinguished his action. In the Dispatch which has been published, I ventured to put forward certain proposals to which I think undue importance has been given. The leader of the Opposition made them the subject of a good deal of good-humoured banter. Let me tell the House the object of these proposals. We have to deal with the demand of a majority of 329 the population of the Transvaal—[Nationalist cheers]—to have the franchise, which they do not possess at present, and to have a fair proportion of political power, which they do not possess at present. ["Hear, hear!"] But the answer that has hitherto been given, not on the part of the Government of the Transvaal, but on the part of some of its friends, has been that to grant this request would be to commit suicide, inasmuch as the moment the majority got the franchise the first use they would make of it would be to turn out the existing Government of the Transvaal and substitute a government of their own making. I confess I think that there was some reason in that objection. [Hear, hear!"] It was rather difficult to persuade anyone so capable as President Kruger that it was desirable that he should proceed with his own extinction—[cheers]—and accordingly I proposed to bring before him, in the Dispatch which has been published, an alternative suggestion which, at all events, would relieve him from that difficulty. That suggestion has been called by the Leader of the Opposition a proposal for Home Rule for the Rand, and the right lion. Gentleman congratulated himself upon the possibility of my conversion or of my reversion to Home Rule. I do not complain, but he must bear in mind that there is a good deal of difference between the Home Rule to which he is pledged and the Home Rule which I recommend. [Laughter.] My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House pointed out that, at any rate, whatever the extent of the grievances of the Irish Party may be, they are not the same grievances as those of the Uitlanders, and I venture to point out that the Home Rule I suggest is not the Home Rule which the right hon. Gentleman favours, but is the gas and water Home Rule to which, I believe, some of his Party are favourable. [Laughter and "Hear, hear!"] The remarks of the right hon. Gentleman have one interest. They convince me of what I have often thought was true, that neither hon. nor right hon Friends on that side ever give themselves the trouble to understand what is the basis of our objection to Home Rule. He talks of Home Rule as if we had objection to Home Rule in the abstract. Is there any single man 330 on this side of the House who has ever objected to Home Rule, say for the Australian colonies? [Cheers.] But it is Home Rule for Ireland we object to. [Laughter and cheers.] I am not going to argue that question now, but I will say this—that the basis of our objection—whether right or wrong does not matter now—is that Home Rule for Ireland would endanger the security of this country. [Cheers.] Apply that to the proposal I have made. The question is—Will President Kruger consider that my proposal will endanger the security of the Transvaal Government? If he does, then he will be perfectly justified in rejecting it. It is not for me to argue the question with him. All I will say now is—and I wish to say this because this is one of the matters which I believe has been misrepresented at Pretoria—that I do not attach any importance to that proposal; that it is put forward purely tentatively as a suggestion to meet a particular object. If it is not well received either by the Uitlanders or President Kruger, there is not the slightest intention on the part of Her Majesty's Government to press it. All they ask is that President Kruger will himself suggest some alternative. ["Hear, hear!"] There is one other matter I must refer to before I sit down. It is known to the House that Her Majesty's Government have invited President Kruger to visit this country. Sir, that was not done without due consideration. It was known that President Kruger is a man advanced in years. In the first instance I did not think it was probable that he would consent to undertake a journey for that purpose, but I received a private intimation from a gentleman who was in communication with the President that he would be glad to receive an invitation and would be willing to accept it. I thought it was desirable, to avoid the possibility of misconception, that before the invitation was sent the President should be informed that, while Her Majesty's Government were willing to discuss every question which concerned the security of the Transvaal or the welfare of South Africa, they would not discuss any modification of Article 4 of the Convention of 1884. [Cheers.] But after that announcement was made I was still led to believe that President Kruger would be glad to receive an 331 invitation, and accordingly a, cordial invitation has been addressed to him, and if it should please him to accept that invitation I am perfectly certain he will be received, not only by Her Majesty's Government, but by the people of this country, irrespective of political opinion, with all the respect that is due to his position as the head of a State and to his character. [Cheers.] I believe that if it please him to come, the personal negotiation would clear away a good deal of misunderstanding and would pave the way to a settlement of the difficult questions which still remain the subject of negotiation. ["Hear, hear!"] Unfortunately, in all these matters we are living, as it were, in a glass house [ironical Nationalist cheers], and what we do is seen not only by our friends, not only by those whom we wish to make our friends and by those with whom we are negotiating, but it is also seen by our enemies. ["Hear, hear!"] It has been said that the policy of publicity I have pursued is open to inconvenience. The late under-Secretary for the Colonies questions the policy of publishing the Dispatch which I have laid before the House. I admit that that is a matter open to question, and I only ask the House to judge me considerately. My object was to put the House at the beginning of the Session in the fullest possession of all that has taken place and also of the policy of the Government. ["Hear, hear!"] Before publishing this Dispatch I telegraphed a summary of it to President Kruger, through Sir Hercules Robinson. I did nor think the President would take any exception to the publication of the Dispatch, because, so far as he is concerned, it contains absolutely nothing new except the suggestion of Home Rule for the Rand, and, as I have said, as regards that suggestion I attach no importance to it myself, and I am perfectly willing to withdraw it and to go on different lines if it is not acceptable to the President. But with that single exception there was nothing in the Dispatch that had not already, in one shape or another, been communicated to him; because the House will be aware that even as early as January 4, 1896, communicated with Sir Hercules Robinson the views of Her Majesty's Government with reference to the grievances of the Uitlanders and the 332 way in which they ought to be dealt with. But although that was, as I thought, a justification for the publication of this Dispatch, it has not been so received at Pretoria, and to-night I have received a Dispatch from President Kruger in which he takes exception to the publication and complains about it. I have frankly explained to the House what induced me to make that publication. If I have done wrong it is a lesson to persons who endeavour to diplomatise on new methods [laughter]; but, at all events, I shall be discharged from any imputation of bad faith in the matter. ["Hear, hear!"] President Kruger says that they will not tolerate any interference with their internal affairs. [Nationalist cheers.] I regret the terms of the message, and I regret them because I think they are due to a misapprehension. At all events, my conscience is clear. I have approached President Kruger in this matter as a friend to him and his Republic. I believe that no true friend of President Kruger will counsel a refusal to meet the legitimate grievances of the majority of the population of the Transvaal, and as a friend I have counselled him to voluntarily concede something to their claims. ["Hear, hear!"] I do not think that ought to be resented by the President; but whether or no, I say, taking up the words of the right hon. Gentleman the leader of the Opposition, showing as they do that all parties in this House are united in this matter—I say that I will continue on behalf of Her Majesty's Government to endeavour by every legitimate means to secure that justice which up to the present time has been denied. [Cheers.] In taking that course I believe I shall be supported not only by this country unanimously, but I shall be supported unanimously by the British in South Africa, and by the vast majority of the Dutch fellow-subjects in the same country; and in these circumstances I do not hesitate to say it takes no prophet to predict that sooner or later justice will be done. [cheers.]
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. John Ellis),
§ Debate adjourned till to-morrow.
§ House adjourned at Five Minutes before Twelve o'clock.