Motion made, and Question proposed
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £601,300, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1896, for Additional Expenditure on the following Army Services, viz.:—
|Vote 1. Pay, etc., of the Army (General Staff, Regiments, Reserve, and Departments)||£ 8,500|
|Vote 2. Medical Establishment, Pay, etc.||2,500|
|Vote 5. Volunteer Corps, Pay and Allowances||496,300|
|Vote 6. Transport and Remounts||57,000|
|Vote 7. Provisions, Forage, and other Supplies||27,000|
|Vote 8. Clothing Establishments and Services||10,000|
|Vote 9. Warlike and other Stores||—|
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. BRODRICK, Surrey,) Guildford
said, that, with the exceptions of items for the Volunteers and the Artillery, the Estimate was for the Ashanti expedition. The total Estimate was one of unusual magnitude. The sum of £120,000 supplemented the Vote for the Ashanti Expedition, about which he did not propose to trouble the House, for two reasons. It was only a temporary charge, and a portion of the expense of the expedition had been already included in the Colonial Vote. The sum now charged would be repaid 786 as the balance of what had been previously paid by the Colonial Government to the Treasury. Therefore, although it was necessary now to vote the sum of £120,000 in order to defray the charges which had been actually incurred, that sum would not remain a permanent burden on the Exchequer. It was only necessary for him to allude to one point in the Estimate which was not made clear upon the face of it. Having regard to the work done by the troops and the laborious nature of the operations, it had been thought right to give a donation to the troops of one month's pay ["Hear, hear!"]; and he did not think the Committee would grudge a gift of that kind, which was in accordance with what had been done in the past for expeditions of a similar kind. Looking to the manner in which the operations had been carried out, which reflected credit not only on the officers and men actually engaged, but also on the officers charged with the equipping of the expedition, he thought there would be a consensus of opinion in favour of making the grant. With regard to the Estimate for the Volunteers, it was necessary to explain how it was that the Committee was asked for the payment for what was practically a whole year's Capitation Grant. The condition of the Volunteers with regard to their finances had long been a matter of serious consideration to the War Office. From time to time appeals had been made to the House on behalf of Volunteer corps whose officers were struggling with indebtedness and found it difficult to maintain their position. By the proposals now submitted to the Committee it was desired to effect two objects. First, it was wished to redress what was complained of as a long-standing grievance as to the date of the payment of the Capitation Grant. Secondly, it was desired to take effective steps towards the filling up of vacant commissions, which now numbered 1,800 among officers of Volunteers. The chief expenditure of the Volunteers was between April 1 and the end of October. A Committee of 1864, of which Lord Eversley was Chairman, recommended that a grant should be given to Volunteer corps because it was found that voluntary contributions would not suffice to maintain them. Parliament decided, in 787 April of that year, to give a Capitation Grant, which was to be based on the efficiency shown in the preceding year; and it was specifically stated that it was a grant in advance for the year then beginning. That had been the theory ever since, that the grant was for the work of the year then going on and was paid in advance. But theory and fact had not run together, and, as a matter of fact, many corps when they got the first grant were already in debt. From year to year the grant had been relied upon to discharge the obligations incurred, and in the interval debt was again incurred, or advances were obtained from bankers, to whom in many instances £50 a year or more was paid in interest. He could give numerous instances of officers who, on entering a corps, were asked to sign a guarantee with the other officers for the whole expenses of the year, and it was not everyone that would care to put his name to what, practically, was a bond for £1,500 or £2,000. The war authorities believed that to this system of pecuniary responsibility was due the difficulty experienced in obtaining officers for Volunteer corps, and in order to meet it they proposed to pay to the corps £500,000 in March instead of the £500,000 or thereabouts due in April, and £250,000 in April, making in all £750,000, or half-a-year's extra Capitation Grant. The result of this would be that, taking the War Office view, the corps which began their year in November and now got Capitation Grant in April, six months after the beginning of their year, would get it genuinely in advance; while in the case or corps who owed the Grant, they would pay their debts and start clear in April, with half their expenditure for the year in hand. They proposed to meet another grievance, which had frequently been brought under the notice of Parliament, by paying an equipment allowance of 30s. to those Volunteers who had received no equipment allowance on joining within the past six years. That meant a charge of £18,000, and would meet the case of corps who had had an increase of strength since 1890. Beyond that the War Office desired to make the position of corps better in regard to officers by giving an equipment allowance of £10 to officers on entering corps, a further £10 in the event of their attending a school, 788 passing some equivalent examination, and, in order to facilitate their attendance at school, the lodging allowance during the time they attended school should be increased from 5s. to 8s. per day. It had also been brought under the notice of the war authorities that officers of Volunteer corps going into camp incurred heavy charges. It was therefore proposed that the allowance of 2s. per day should be increased to 4s. per day, and that it should be paid to the officers themselves. In making those concessions to the Volunteers, Lord Lansdowne felt that the time had come when Volunteer corpsmust be called upon to give, in some respects, greater attention to financial matters, and also to place themselves more under the rule of the War Office in this respect than they had done up to the present time. The financial position of most of the corps was very satisfactory; but there were some in which expenditure had not been checked in the same way, and as the war authorities asked Parliament to sanction those large concessions to the Volunteers, they desired to secure that Parliament should not be called upon to make similar concessions in the future. They therefore proposed that the advance of £250,000 to the Volunteers should be devoted, in the first instance, to the discharge of liabilities which could not be at once met out of the funds of the corps; and for the future new forms of accounts, showing receipts and expenditure, would be furnished to each corps, a periodical inspection of accounts would be instituted, and no debts for which officers were responsible would be allowed to be incurred by a corps without the sanction of the War Office. It was also the opinion of the military authorities that while it was not desirable to make the medical examination on joining the Volunteers too strict, it was necessary to secure that men physically unsound in regard to sight, hearing, chest or heart, should not be included in the ranks. As a further condition of efficiency it was considered necessary that in the third or fourth year of service Volunteers who now only attended nine drills should be called upon to attend 12 drills. It would also be required of officers who had drawn equipment allowances that they should give three years' 789 service, or return to the State a sum proportionate to the time in which service had not been given. Turning to another question, he could assure the House that the state of the Artillery had received the most serious consideration of Lord Lansdowne. ["Hear, hear!"] Last year it was stated by the Secretary for War in the late Government that new batteries were formed; but no explanation had been given as to how it was done. As a matter of fact, what was done was this—each existing battery had a depot, and from these depots 20 guns were taken; in addition six batteries having six guns each were each reduced to four guns; and with the 32 guns thus made available eight new batteries of four guns each were formed, while the House was led to believe that the force had been considerably increased. [Laughter.] The position of affairs last year was, in the Royal Horse Artillery, ten batteries of six guns, and one battery of two guns, making 62 guns; in the Field Artillery 31 batteries of six guns, making 186 guns; 14 batteries of four guns, making 56 guns; and as a reserve for these 242 guns there was a depot of two guns. [Laughter.] It was not the intention of the late Government to leave things permanently in this position, but the process they proposed would have left us for many months without the equipment of some batteries. There were altogether 306 guns on the list last year. The present Government proposed to re-arm the Horse Artillery, and to use the existing guns as a reserve for the Field Artillery; and to convert the guns of the Field Artillery into 15-pounders. By April 30th they would have 30 of the new guns of the Horse Artillery—that was to say, an equipment of two Army corps. What time they would have the remainder of the 68 guns for the Horse Artillery they were not able accurately to say, because they had given a certain number of orders to the trade, but they hoped that before many months they would have the whole equipment and reserve of the Horse Artillery. They also hoped that by April 30th they would have converted 180 guns of the Field Artillery, being sufficient for two Army corps, and that by June 1st they would have 78 more guns, or 258 guns altogether. The position, then, would be that in the autumn we would have instead of 62 790 horse artillery guns as last year, 60 with the batteries and eight in reserve, making 68. As regarded field artillery guns we would have 258–43 batteries of six guns, 258; two howitzers of six guns, 12; four reserve batteries of 24; and 22 other surplus guns. We would, therefore, have 46 reserve guns, and the total of the artillery would be 387 guns as against 306 last year, giving us a surplus of 81 guns. He trusted that would be considered satisfactory by the Committee, and he confidently hoped the process of acceleration, for which the Department at present asked £55,000, would receive the sanction of the House of Commons. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ SIR HENRY CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
was sure the Committee had listened with much interest to the statement of the hon. Gentleman. But there was one phrase in that statement to which he must take exception. The hon. Gentleman not only implied but said that the House of Commons was given to understand last year that things were in a certain position in which he, when he came into office, found they were not. He denied altogether that anything of the sort was implied in anything he stated in the House. The change that was announced by him last year was a prospective change; it was so stated at the time; it was so understood by every one concerned in following these matters, and it was a mere question of expediency and propriety and of funds and means at what rate of progress that transition might be effected. No doubt the hon. Gentleman thought he did himself a great deal of good by implying there was some neglect last year. The hon. Gentleman and his colleagues had the advantage he did not possess last year, because they had a Chancellor of the Exchequer who had some millions sterling which he wished to get rid of. ["Hear, hoar!"] The Chancellor of the Exchequer had been looking about for weeks and months to find some way in which, for well or ill, the money might be expended in order to prevent it from going to the limbo of all other unexpended balances, and that was the reason why the hon. Gentleman was able to boast of the great things he was doing and would be able to accomplish. It was entirely a matter for the 791 discretion of the Minister to determine what they should propose to expend on armaments. With so much ease to to their elbows as the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues possessed this year, he was not surprised they had accelerated matters very greatly. But there was no reason why the hon. Gentleman, departing, not for the first time, from some of the traditions of the relations between the two sides of the House in these matters which ought to be kept, and so far as he was concerned always would be kept, entirely out of the area of Party dispute, should impute that he in any respect either neglected his duty last year or misled the House in so important a matter as this. ["Hear, hear!"] There was, too, a strong flavour of those millions which were asking to be spent about the proposal concerning the Volunteer capitation grant. The hon. Gentleman had been fortunate enough to do this year what would not have been very practicable in many previous years, that was to forestall one-half of the capitation grant to the Volunteers. He had not a word to say in deprecation of the policy of doing so. The true and sacred official doctrine was that the capitation grant, although based on the statistics of the past year, really was given for the coming year. Many Volunteer corps entirely misunderstood—and naturally misunderstood—the arrangement, and when the Secretary of State for War had an opportunity of satisfying their desires and ideas by making what was practically a bonus or gift to the corps of half a year's capitation grant, he was glad the noble Lord had availed himself of it. It was true it was very difficult to deal with the Volunteer corps equally, because some corps, either from failings of their own or otherwise, were in much worse circumstances than others, and there might be many corps in a flourishing position who did not require this additional money. Still he hoped it would not have any corrupting effect upon them, and on the whole he congratulated the hon. Gentleman on having been able to make this concession to the Volunteers. The only other subject upon which he would touch was that with which the hon. Gentleman began—namely, the expenditure which was included in these Supplementary Estimates for the war in 792 Ashanti. As to the policy of that war and the general circumstances of it he need not say anything, because that could be dealt with by others at a later stage. Of the preparation and equipment made in this country, the general conduct of the campaign, and the behaviour of the officers and men he was sure every Member of the Committee would join in praise. We had every reason to congratulate ourselves that those who represented us in these matters had been able to accomplish so good a piece of work. The previous Ashanti War was a creditable piece of business, though it was accomplished with considerable loss, at great expense, and with great risks; but as to the recent campaign, except for one or two unfortunate calamities which occurred to individuals, and no doubt the serious deterioration of the health of many of those engaged in the operations, we have nothing to regret or to lament. He did not think the Department had done too much in allowing the men a month's pay, because, although they had never actually come into collision with a human enemy, they perhaps fought enemies more deadly than any human foe, and we ought not to measure our gratitude by the amount of bloodshed or the active operations that might have been necessary. That part of the Estimate which affected the military management of the expedition would, he was sure, be assented to gratefully by the whole Committee. Returning to the question of the changes in the Artillery, he expressed approval of the abolition of depôts and the bringing of the general treatment and training of recruits for the Artillery into the same general line of organisation as was followed in the training of recruits for the other branches of the service.
SIR HENRY FLETCHER (Sussex, Lewes)
asked to be permitted to take an early part in the Debate, because he happened to be one of the oldest military Members, and perhaps the oldest Volunteer in the House. He congratulated the Under Secretary on having been able to grasp this great question of the Capitation Grant for Volunteers. It had occupied the attention of commanding officers and many others interested in the Volunteer cause for a considerable time. He had frequently put the question forward in the House, and only last 793 year he made an appeal in stronger terms than ever to the late Secretary of State. On that occasion he proposed that an advance of 10 or 20 per cent. of the Capitation Grant should be made at an earlier period than the 1st of April. His reason was that commanding officers at some periods of the year were in great stress for want of money to carry on the requirements of their regiments. He could not help thinking, taking everything into consideration, that his suggestion would have been better than the proposal now made. But they must not look a gift-horse too severely in the face. They were grateful to the War Office officials for the proposal they had made. It had been said that the Capitation Grant was a payment in advance. He had frequently argued that point with the authorities of the department. It was perfectly true that the Committee of 1864 took the numbers of the preceding year; but it must be remembered that many corps had been raised subsequent to 1864, and he, therefore, adhered to his old argument that the Capitation Grant was not altogether paid in advance. The next point on which he would touch was the equipment allowance. Some few years ago an equipment allowance was granted to Volunteer corps. That was received most gratefully, but their numbers had increased considerably, and up to the present the extra men had not received the advantage of the equipment allowance. Now it was proposed that the extra men should receive their equipment allowance. With regard to the allowance to officers joining, he thought it would be hailed with great satisfaction. They were very short of officers in the Volunteer force, the deficiency amounting to 1,800; and he thought this indulgence, if it was looked at in the proper light, would help to fill up some of the vacancies. On the average, the cost of a Volunteer officer's outfit was about £30, and this allowance would be a very great consideration to the pockets of many young officers. But he might point out that it would be rather a difficult matter, possibly, for commanding officers to distribute all these various grants. A great deal would be left to their discretion, and he felt sure they would distribute it to the best of their ability. He thought, also, that the increase in the grant to officers attending 794 schools of instruction would be of great advantage to young officers. He was also very pleased to find that an allowance was to be made to the officers in camp. They had, hitherto, been put to considerable expense in attending camp. He might be permitted to point out that, in his opinion, and not his only, these camps of instruction were of the greatest benefit, not only to the officers, but to the non-commissioned officers and men. In his early days camps did not exist. They performed a certain number of drills during the year; and they were brought together three or four times for battalion drill. But very little was learned. In the regiment which he had the honour to command, he felt sure, much as regards discipline and efficiency of all ranks must be attributed to the camps of instruction. Therefore, he felt grateful for this allowance to the officers, as it would be an encouragement to them to join the force, now that they found their expenses would not be so heavy. He rather wished that we should have power to compel the men to attend camps rather more regularly than they could at present. Some men now come on the night before the inspection in order to put in the requisite number of drills and make themselves efficient, but during the remainder of the week they were absent. They came in on the last day and threw out the men who had been working hard by their in attention to drill, and their want of knowledge of what was required of them. The next point was that medical examination should be required in the case of men joining the force. He hoped the authorities would not make the examination too stringent. It was all very well in recruiting for the regular Army that a rigid examination should be required. But now, when the Volunteer force was so popular and increasing in popularity and in numbers day by day, a very stringent medical examination might have the effect of preventing a great many from joining the ranks. Reverting to the question of the dearth of officers, he again asked the War Office to consider the desirability of offering commissions to Volunteer officers, as was done in the case of officers in the Militia. Concluding, he said it was satisfactory that Volunteers were now receiving full consideration, he would not say of their claims, 795 but of the services which they had rendered to the country for many years past.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
said, that the matter which he wished to mention was one more important than any which concerned the Volunteers. It was contended on behalf of the Volunteers that they would form an admirable force to resist invasion, and every one knew what an invasion would be if they ever lost the command of the sea. A mere force of infantry could not withstand an invading army unless it was accompanied by a powerful artillery. The late Secretary for War was jocular on some of these points. He alluded to the differences between the two front Benches, and it was fortunate that these differences did occur sometimes, for then a good deal came out which at other times would never come out at all. The late War Secretary spoke of his proposals last year as having been proposals for "re-armament." They were nothing of the kind. The word was never used. The proposals of the right hon. Gentleman were never called the re-armament of the artillery. They were called "the increase of the artillery." That was proved not only by what the right hon. Gentleman had said, but by what he had written in the Memorandum. They who had spoken of the artillery in connection with the auxiliary force refused to be content with less than that which would make an army of it. They stood in need of a specially high proportion of artillery, but still the suggestion of last year seemed to be a step in the right direction. It did seem to give them a larger proportion of the artillery, at least in the regular Army. The right hon. Baronet then quoted extracts from the speech of the late Secretary for War last year to show that there was no mention whatever of re-armament; it was all as to the increase of the artillery. It was with the greatest doubt that he asked, in order to clear it up, whether the right hon. Gentleman was going to increase the artillery at all—whether it was not a mere shuffling of the cards. ["Hear, hear!"] Ultimately they managed to make out that it was a reshuffling of the guns. And it was taken for an increase of the artillery when the artillery was not increased by a single gun, horse, or one man. This seemed to him to be a very serious matter. He was bound to say this, as he was one of those who 796 for years attacked the late Mr. Stanhope, who had reduced the artillery at home, although he increased it in India. He had attacked Mr. Stanhope over and over again for that reduction, and he could not do otherwise now than call attention to the pretended increase to which he had referred. While the present Government had increased the number of guns, they had not increased the artillery. They must look forward to an increase of the number of horses and men as well as an increase of guns. They had for the first time a reserve of guns. Although it was possible to use untrained horses, without trained men they had no artillery at all—["hear, hear!"]—and untrained horses could only be guided by the best drivers. Russia had increased her guns in a single year by 50 batteries, and the same increase took place a few years ago in Germany. He contended that they needed a higher proportion of guns for their Volunteers and Militia, if they were to be of any use. The increase in the number of men in the field artillery had been practically nil. They had been stationary for a long time, and the number of horses had declined.
§ SIR EDWARD HILL (Bristol, S.)
said, it was not his intention to intrude himself upon the Committee for more than a few moments, but he desired to thank Her Majesty's Government for their kindly recognition of the services of the Volunteers—a recognition which was both grateful and encouraging to them; and also for the benevolent view which they had taken of their pecuniary wants. He entirely agreed with his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Lewes Division of Sussex (Sir Henry Fletcher) in the satisfaction with which he regarded the allowance to officers attending Schools of Instruction, and especially with regard to camps. But there was one camp more than another which particularly commended itself to him, and that was a camp of instruction with the Regular Forces. He thought the greatest advantage was to be obtained by bringing the Auxiliary and Regular Forces together, and during the 32 years which he had had the honour of commanding his own corps he had gladly embraced every opportunity so offered, and trusted that those opportunities might be repeated. Again, he agreed that, while medical inspection might be in itself desirable, it would be 797 a mistake to attempt under present conditions of service to enforce any stringent regulations in this respect. It might be assumed that Colonels would naturally be anxious not to enrol men unfit for the Service. He had always been strongly in favour of offering officers of Volunteers some facilities similar to those enjoyed by the Militia of obtaining commissions in the Regular Army. He believed it would tend to raise the tone of the Service, and to strengthen that bond of affinity which should exist between Auxiliaries and Regulars. There was one point upon which he wished to say a few words. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir Charles Dilke), had made some remarks upon the necessity of keeping up a proper proportionate force of field artillery, with which he sympathised. The right hon. Baronet went on to say that there wore plenty of men for the garrison artillery. He did not know himself whether that included auxiliaries. If not, there were certainly not sufficient royal gunners for the purpose, and he knew, as a fact, that some of our principal fortresses were dependent to a very large extent upon auxiliaries for their manning. This being so, the instruction of the auxiliary artillery, became a matter of primary importance, but unfortunately there existed a very considerable difficulty in inducing officers of the Royal Artillery to accept commissions in the Volunteer Artillery, and this was a difficulty which had grown so acute that he knew of instances where adjutancies of Volunteer Corps had been vacant for months, and then only junior officers of barely six years' service were available. The reason of this was twofold. In the first place, it was a clear pecuniary loss for an officer of the Royal Artillery to accept such a post, while the duties were more onerous. There was even a stronger reason, which was that, rightly or wrongly, officers of the Royal Artillery were under the impression that they were looked upon unfavourably when they returned to their regiment, as men who were behind the times. He ought to explain that the duties of an Adjutant of Volunteers differed materially from those of an Adjutant of Regulars. In the latter case, he had to carry out daily instructions given to him by and under the 798 supervision of his Colonel. This could not be so with Volunteers. Batteries were often scattered about, and when the Adjutant visited them he must go with his commanding officer's authority in his pocket. Upon his wise and discreet use of this authority, and his own personal tact and judgment, depended to a very large extent the well-being of his corps. He thought the Committee would be of opinion that such a duty should be intrusted to an officer of the rank and experience of a Captain, rather than to a junior subaltern. He hoped it might be possible to remove the first difficulty which he had mentioned, while the second was a money consideration only, the cost of which he was quite sure the country would gladly bear.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
said, that anyone who looked at the statistics relating to the Volunteer force must congratulate the War Office upon the number of Volunteers who were upon the rolls. These now stood at a very high figure, which was largely due to the increase in the Capitation Grant. Irishmen, however, asked why all that large sum of money was to be spent in Great Britain to the exclusion of Ireland. At one time, he was an unfortunate Volunteer himself, and he could not help commenting upon the fact that whilst an Irishman residing in England was allowed to join the Volunteer force, he was not permitted to do so if he lived in his own country. No doubt, this circumstance naturally created some heartburning on the part of Irishmen, and he could not help hoping that the Government would give the House some assurance that this extraordinary state of things would be changed. He noticed that there was a special Capitation Grant for those Volunteers who possessed a great-coat. He should like to have that matter explained, because, of course, that could not refer to an ordinary great-coat. He should like to have some explanation as to how the travelling allowances stood this year as compared with last year and the year before. He hoped that the Government would take into their most serious consideration what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet, the Member for the Forest of Dean, with regard to the artillery, and to show how it was that the promises that had been made in reference to the subject had not been 799 fulfilled. The Government might at the same time inform the House how far short our artillery regiments were compared with those of foreign countries.
§ SIR HENRY HAVELOCK ALLAN (Durham, S. E.)
said, that, as regarded the late expedition to Ashanti, there could be but one expression of opinion. As a matter of organisation and management it had been a brilliant and complete success. This fact was undoubtedly due to the manner in which the whole expedition had been organised from the beginning, to the care which had been taken for the comfort and convenience of the troops, so that at the appointed rest houses no man had to wait any length of time for a meal, and not a single life had been lost which could have possibly been saved by the exercise of ordinary foresight. He was also glad to see that the Government were going to recognise the services of the troops—to whom it was no doubt a subject of disappointment that they had not come into contact with the enemy—by allowing them a month's furlough in addition to a month's pay. He congratulated the Government on the fact that they had got rid of a long-felt difficulty as to the Volunteer regiments and their finances by giving them a half-yearly advance in advance of their annual payments. The Government would be acting rightly in seeing that there was a stricter supervision of the finance of Volunteer regiments, and he was sure that the Volunteers generally would recognise the liberal treatment they had received in the matter of the advance. A closer attention would be paid to their accounts, so that no money should be wasted. He was gratified to hear the remarks of the hon. Member for the Lewes division of Sussex (Sir H. Fletcher) with regard to the advantage of brigade camps for Volunteers. He had personal experience of this matter now for eight years, and he was certain that his hon. Friend was right when he said that it was scarcely possible to over-estimate the advantages which Volunteer regiments would gain by going into brigade camps. It was in the highest degree desirable that they should be brigaded with regiments of the Regular forces, but when the opportunity was denied to them of 800 having the standard troops of the Regular forces to recruit themselves by, still the fact that they were aggregated in camps with other regiments established a wholesome rivalry, which allowed the Volunteers to learn, more in the eight days they were out than during the whole of the year. As regarded the annual inspections in brigade camps, it was necessary for a corps, in order to earn the capitation grant, that four-fifths should be present on the day of inspection. He suggested whether the same principle could not be applied dealing with the actual number of men who went into brigade camps. The command also of the Volunteer brigades was at present in an anomalous and somewhat unsatisfactory condition. In the battalions which formed the Metropolitan corps, there was nothing left to be desired, because the brigades of six, seven, or eight battalions in the Metropolis were under the charge of an experienced officer of the Guards. It was difficult, however, with the other 31 volunteer brigades, scattered over the country. The command there was vested in the officer commanding the Regimental District, who had very often a great deal too much to do to give attention to the tactical training of the Volunteers round about. As a remedy, he suggested that advantage should be taken of the willingness for service of many retired general officers in the prime of life, who with a small allowance of £150 or £200 a year could be placed in permanent command of the Volunteer brigades who would thus enjoy the entire attention of thoroughly trained officers, resulting in a large increase of educational efficiency. It seemed to be scarcely credible that the Volunteers out of their small capitation grant had to pay the expenses connected with the hiring of the camp grounds and water supply. He hoped that some remedy would be found for this state of things. The great blot of the present Volunteer Service was its total want of mobility.
The hon. Member is not entitled to discuss the general question of the Volunteer system. All he is entitled to do is to criticise the particular sum asked for in the Vote.
§ SIR H. HAVELOCK-ALLAN
next referred to the Artillery, and said that it had been pointed out that a great defici- 801 ency would occur in the number of field guns necessary for the whole of the troops in this country, including the Volunteers, should the occasion arise. The late Secretary of State for War took some credit for an alteration he had made with regard to breaking up the depôts of Artillery last year, thereby throwing additional weight on the batteries of the Royal Artillery at home. Precisely in the same way as it had been a complaint at the time that the linked battalion system put a great strain upon them in furnishing, year by year, from 300 to 400 men for the battalion abroad, that system had been applied to the Royal Artillery. He wished to point out that this change was one which required to be carefully watched, because he was informed, by those well competent to judge, that it threw upon our field batteries what they were ill able to bear.
§ COLONEL J. M. DENNY (Kilmarnock Burghs)
said, that there were only one or two small points to which he wished to call attention. The first was with reference to the statement of the Undersecretary of State as to the allowance to be made to an officer who passed the examination. The hon. Gentleman did not say whether the examination was to be made compulsory; but, of course, it must be understood that any examination must be made compulsory. ["Hear, hear!"] In order to avoid great expense to the officer, it would be desirable that arrangements should be made for holding the examination at a convenient distance from the locality, without compelling them to go to a great centre where a school was regularly established. With regard to the camp allowances to officers, he knew many regiments in which no corresponding payment whatever was made to the men, and he did not know that this conduced to good feeling or discipline on the part of the men. As to the supervision of accounts, they had been generously treated, and he should not object to a stricter supervision of accounts in the least. And, with regard to the medical examination, he was not afraid of having it done thoroughly; and, for his part, he would rather see a small battalion of well set-up men than one out of which you had to weed twenty or twenty-five per cent. before the battalion was of any use.
§ MR. MORRELL (Oxon, Woodstock)
desired to call attention to the demand 802 of the country for provision to enable the shooting to be properly carried on.
ruled that this was out of order on the present Vote, and pointed out that the subject would properly arise when the Volunteer Vote came on in due course.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
regretted that he should have to oppose this Supplementary Estimate, and he did so because he was strongly against the policy of the Ashanti campaign and the expenditure thereby incurred. From beginning to end he regarded the whole of that campaign as most iniquitous, and it was perfectly appalling to hear hon. Gentlemen like the hon. and gallant Member for South-East Durham saying that it was matter for regret that the troops had not come into conflict with the enemy in Ashanti. That was a sentiment so monstrous that one would hardly expect to hear it expressed in the British House of Commons. It was often said that these punitive expeditions were necessary to safeguard the Empire and the people of this country who were scattered so widely in different parts of the world. It appeared to him that these campaigns were not so much the result of any anxiety, as of a desire on the part of gentlemen connected with the Army to give the troops exercise and some experience of campaigning, and to give the officers some chance of promotion. In opposing this Vote he must be understood to be casting no reflection on the rank and file of the Army or of the officers. Everybody knew that the Army had no option in the matter. His objection was to the policy of the Government which sent the Army on such an expedition. No reason had ever been given why the Ashanti campaign was ever entered into. The King of Ashanti was now a prisoner for no earthly reason except that the authorities were disappointed in the amount of money they found in his possession at Coomassie. But long before a single soldier started for Ashanti it was stated that this unfortunate King maintained customs which were repugnant to civilisation. Customs which were repugnant to civilisation were not always confined to savage kings and peoples; in countries reputed to be civilised many things were done which were open to equal condemnation. 803 But whatever the character of the King of Ashanti might be, the fact remained that, directly he found there was the slightest prospect of a campaign being entered upon against him, and of his country being invaded by our troops, he did what the most enlightened potentate might have done—he sent some of his chief men to England as ambassadors in order to lay his case before the English Government and to try to come to terms. But the Colonial Office absolutely refused to receive the ambassadors, who were sent wandering about from pillar to post all over England. The chiefs simply asked to be heard and to deliver the message of their master, but they were told they would not be recognised. They exhausted every effort to come to some understanding or agreement, and yet were sent back to Ashanti unheard. So that this expedition was entered upon for no other reason, as far as he could see, than to act in pursuance of that miserable policy which seemed to have taken hold of the Governments of this country—namely, to make war on petty nations and poor tribes in different parts of the world. If Ashanti had been inhabited by Boers, by men who were armed and drilled, and knew how to shoot straight and stand to their guns, he did not believe for a moment that its ambassadors would have been treated with scorn and insult, and that an expedition would have been sent to invade the country. It appeared to him that this policy of expansion, as he understood it was called by some persons, would sooner or later land this country into very serious difficulties. One could understand the desire and effort to acquire territory in Africa which was worth having and fighting for, but to send out a costly expedition and risk men's lives to acquire such a country as Ashanti, in which Europeans could not live, and which could be of no advantage to England, was absurd. Why the Government should have sent out an expedition to Africa for the troops simply to march to Kumasi and back again, it was difficult to understand, and he would seriously suggest to the War Office that the next time they wanted to have a military parade of this make-believe kind, they might approach Sir Augustus Harris and enter into terms with him for the engagement of Olympia—[cries 804 of "Oh! oh!" and murmurs of disapprobation], where they could have a display at very much less cost. [Ironical laughter.] He objected to the money being voted for this expedition for other reasons. Even when dealing with savage or uncivilised people he thought the ambassadors sent to give explanation, or make terms, ought to be listened to; and if this course had been taken with the ambassadors sent from Ashanti the expedition might have been obviated. Moreover, before the Vote was granted he should like to know what our position was in Ashanti at the present time. Since the return of the troops no information had been given to the hon. Members on the point. Was a British Resident to remain at Kumasi? What was to become of the unfortunate king? Some hon. Gentlemen might think he was not speaking in a serious strain, but he was; and he might say that he read the other day, with feelings almost of disgust, an account in the papers of how an exhibition was given to the Secretary for the Colonies at the Colonial Office of the plunder from this poor African king, who was not only taken prisoner, but plundered of all he had. Some men might call this a policy of expansion in Africa if they liked, but he called it simply a policy of robbery. It was a matter for regret, in his opinion, that this country should be urged, not alone by Conservative Governments, but by Liberal Governments as well, to enter into the mad and fatal race going on to seize possession of Africa. The result if the course was continued, would be that we should yet find that we had more territory in Africa and other parts of the world than we could look after. We had already got splendid fields abroad for our surplus population, and there was no necessity for seeking to acquire such a worthless country as Ashanti.
said, the hon. Member would not be in order in discussing on this Estimate matters of future policy.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
said, he wished to point out that we had already acquired sufficient fertile and habitable territories abroad, which were open to our surplus population, and which offered ample scope for all the enterprise we 805 could bring to bear upon them, and that therefore it was perfectly unnecessary to risk money and life for the acquisition of such a country as Ashanti. He repeated that he wanted to know what our position in Ashanti really was as the result of the expedition? What was it proposed to do with the country? Was it to be annexed and a British Resident kept permanently at Kumasi?
§ MR. W. REDMOND
thought that as hon. Members were called upon to vote the money for the campaign, they were entitled to some explanation of the objects which the Government sought to attain by it. ["Hear, hear!"] Up to the present he had regarded the matter perhaps from an English point of view, and even from that standpoint he condemned the expedition as a monstrous piece of absurdity. And England had suffered from it seriously, if it were only for the sacrifice of the life of a gentleman who was valuable to this country, and who was regarded with a good deal of esteem. ["Hear, hear!"] If no other result than the death of this gentleman had followed from the campaign, a serious injury would have been done to the country. From the English point of view, therefore, a strong protest ought to be made against the expedition. But he objected to it mainly from the Irish standpoint. The Irish people had had no quarrel with the king or people of Ashanti; and he objected to the Irish people having to pay a share of the cost when they had had absolutely no voice in the matter one way or the other. This brought him to possibly the most serious objection he had to urge against the vote—namely, that the expedition had been undertaken altogether without the sanction of Parliament. ["Hear, hear!"] He contended that it was monstrous that when Parliament was in recess, and when the representatives of the people were powerless, so to speak, that a matter of such grave importance as sending an armed expedition like this across the sea at great cost, should be undertaken upon the sole responsibility of the Government, or of a Department of the Government, without consulting the nation. No expedition of such a 806 character should be taken in hand without Parliament being first called together. The people had to pay the expense, and surely they ought to be consulted through their duly elected representatives. ["Hear, hear!"] And he ventured to say that if this course had been taken, and the facts of the case had been fully and fairly laid before the country, the people would never have consented to the expedition. They would have censured the Government rather for refusing to take every means of bringing about a peaceful and inexpensive settlement of the matter. The people were not consulted, but the Government entered upon the expedition on their own initiative, without giving the representatives of the people an opportunity of being consulted in the matter. It appeared to him one of the most farcical absurdities connected with the government of this country, that an expense of this kind could be gone on with, and then, when the troops had gone and come back, when life had been lost, and the whole affair had become past history, they were seriously asked by the Government, if they approved of it? What a time to ask the representatives of the people whether they approved of it or not? After all, it mattered little whether they approved of it or not. The feeling of hon. Gentlemen opposite was expressed by the hon. and gallant Member for Durham, who said it was a matter for regret. that Her Majesty's troops did not come into conflict with the Ashantis. What a glorious thing that would have been! He was just as fond of a fight, perhaps, as any hon. Gentlemen in this House. He did not think there were many Irishmen who objected to a fight, but after all was said and done they liked a fair fight. They did not believe in fighting people who were really beneath contempt as foes, and they objected altogether to expeditions of this kind, with Maxim guns to shoot down naked and practically defenceless natives. It was a sad thing that in this country, which was supposed to possess such a liberal population, that with the exception of the hon. Baronet below him (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) and a few other gentlemen who were staunch to their opinions, there was not a single representative of the over-taxed 807 working people of this country who appeared to have the pluck or the conscience to get up and utter one word of protest against this fatal policy of expansion, the only result of which was to bring misery and disaster upon a people who had never done anything against this country, and to cast upon the people of this country a great expense. He did not know the exact figure they were asked to vote for Ashanti, but it was a very considerable sum, and surely in the name of common sense and humanity there was something wrong in a system which compelled this Parliament to ask for hundreds and thousands of pounds to defray the cost of an expedition such as that—an expedition from which the people of this country had not derived a single benefit.
§ MR. BRODRICK
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will excuse me interrupting him. The whole of the expense of this expedition is borne by the colony on whose behalf and for whose benefit it was undertaken.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
If the colonies are going to bear the expense of this expedition why are we asked for the money in a Supplementary Estimate
§ MR. BRODRICK
I do not think the hon. Gentleman was in his place when I explained that temporarily the money was found by the British Exchequer, but that the whole will be repaid by the colony.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
said he was bound to say that he thought the explanation of the hon. Gentleman was unsatisfactory. The hon. Gentleman now told them that the campaign was entered upon for the benefit of, and in the interest of, the colony, and not in the interest of this country (Mr. Brodrick dissented). He submitted that if some of the white population who inhabited this colony wanted to indulge in the expensive luxury of a war with a people who had never interfered with them, they ought to be allowed to do so at their own expense, and if they had not got the money to pay for it, he thought it was an audacious proposal to ask the already overtaxed people of this country to advance the money to prosecute a war in which the British people had no interest even on the terms that it was to be repaid by the colony. He would believe in the repayment of this money 808 by the colony when he saw it and heard of it. Even in the interest of the colony itself he would say that this war was a mistake. He protested against it with all the vehemence he could command, and he did so sincerely because he believed from the English point of view, that it was a mistake. He thought that what had happened in Abyssinia should be a lesson to the people of this country. In Ashanti they had no formidable foes, and in other parts of Africa which they had invaded they had been singularly fortunate, but some of these days if these Ashanti campaigns went on, they would stumble up against gentlemen like those who encountered the Italians in Abyssinia, when they would have a difficult and bitter experience, and they would probably then stop their policy of everlasting filibustering in Africa. He appealed to the representatives of the working-classes in that House to make a protest against this policy of invading territory which did not belong to the British people at all, and to enter on a policy of peace and friendliness instead of one of piracy and bullying such as had made their name objected to in so many portions of the world. Wherever the British name was breathed they would find that the policy pursued by England towards miserable and weak countries was condemned. Their policy in these little wars had done more to injure the name and character of England than anything that they could possibly do. He appealed to English Members to vote against this money, not because they objected to the soldiers getting the pay they had earned, not because they objected to giving to the men all they had deserved in an expedition they did not design, not as an act of hostility to the army, but as a protest against the policy of shooting Ashantis, and against the policy of spending hundreds of thousands of pounds in this extravagant way. He hoped for the sake of the honour and credit of humanity that some hon. Gentleman on the front Opposition Bench would dissociate himself from what he called the really astonishing statement of the hon. Gentleman opposite who said it was a matter for regret that the troops had not come in contact with these unfortunate natives. He should certainly challenge a Division on this Vote.
§ COLONEL SANDYS
observed that he was glad to hear the assurance of the Under Secretary for War that they had an increased and increasing supply of guns, and that the reserve of guns had also been increased. In the time of the late Government the apparent strength, on paper, of the artillery was made up by taking the reserve guns and putting them into the front rank. That was a military operation to which he took great exception. If there was one principle upon which soldiers were agreed it was that no matter what the branch of the service they took they must have a sufficient support behind it, not to bring it to the front line but to bring it up to fighting strength, to be kept in reserve and only brought forward when the front line was broken down. He considered that each battery of artillery, whatever its strength, ought to have a support behind it of two guns as a reserve, which ought never to be interfered with under any circumstances. They heard their artillery was going to be strengthened and he should also like to hear that in the future they were not going to have so many patterns of guns and ammunition in the Service as there were at the present time. He was informed that there were no fewer than six different patterns of guns in use with field and horse artillery, and the difficulty was that in times of excitement and hurry, when troops were in action, each of these different kinds of guns required to be supplied with its own particular ammunition. In these circumstances the ammunition was apt to get mixed and the wrong ammunition went to the wrong battery. They had different qualities of guns here and in India and there was no limit to the size and bore capacity of the guns. He was anxious that that system should be brought to a close. The point they should aim at with reference to their artillery was to reduce their patterns of field guns to the field gun, the horse artillery gun, the howitzer and the mountain gun for mountain work.
§ MR. JOHN DILLON (Mayo, E.)
observed that they were called upon to vote a large sum of money for the expedition to Ashanti, and the only attempt at explanation or justification for that expedition they had heard were a few 810 brief sentences from the Under Secretary for War, who, he assumed, had nothing more to do with the sending of that expedition or with the decision upon which that war was undertaken than he had himself. The only justification that had been advanced for the Vote consisted of a few sentences from the Undersecretary, who, with the greatest possible flippancy—(he did not use this expression in an offensive sense)—had calmly told them he did not think it worth while discussing the matter because this large sum was to be repaid by the colony. But, in his opinion, that really made the case much worse. Why should the colonists be called upon to pay for a war decided upon by the responsible Minister of the Colony here in London? If the war was approved of it should be provided for out of the British Exchequer. He quite agreed with the hon. Member for East Clare as to the appalling character of the language used by military Members of the House in reference to the expedition. One hon. and gallant Member said there was some doubt as to the credentials of the Ashanti ambassadors. One would have thought the ambassadors of some great civilized power were in question. One would have thought that the great Government of England would have been only too glad to have given these poor creatures a hearing. There should have been no question of credentials in such a case. When these men came to look for peace they should have been welcomed, and every effort made to give them peace before they were turned away from the doors of the Colonial Office. The hon. Member for South-East Durham used words which would be heard of again in this country:—I am glad the Government recognise the exertions of the troops, to whom it must have been a cause of the greatest regret that they did not come in contact with the enemy.(Cheers.) Why did he regret that they did not come in contact with the enemy, and that the expedition was brought to a conclusion without blood being spilled? Would any one pretend that the contest would have been an equal one, or one that any British soldier would have come out of without feelings of humiliation? He agreed with the hon. Member for 811 East Clare as to the scandalous exhibition of sacks of gold dust and jewels which were robbed from the Queen of Ashanti. The loot collected by the Army should have been hidden away, and a more extraordinary occurrence than the exhibition of this plunder was never seen in the capital of a great nation like England. An expert valued the jewels at £3,000. If that was all they were worth, they should have been left behind. The commander of the British force when he came into Kumasi, without resistance and bloodshed compelled King Prempeh to kneel in the dust and kiss his shoe. [Ministerial laughter.] That might be laughable to hon. Gentlemen opposite, but what would they have thought if President Kruger had compelled them to do the same thing. [Renewed Ministerial laughter.] He could not see where was our boasted manliness and British valour in making this unfortunate man humiliate himself before his conquered people. The Committee was entitled to know from the Secretary for War or the Colonies an explanation why this war was undertaken. A great many people in England and Ireland believe the thing was a fraud from beginning to end, that there was no necessity for the expedition, and that it was undertaken without any justification whatever. It was treating the House of Commons with great want of respect to ask it to vote £120,000 for an expedition to a savage country without giving any ground of justification for the war. He moved that the vote be reduced by £100,000 in respect of the Ashanti expedition. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, he was glad the Committee had at last secured the attendance of the Secretary for the Colonies, because they might perhaps hear from him some reason why they should vote this money. It seemed to him that this was one of the least necessary of our expeditions, and the cost of it ought to be defrayed by the late and the present Colonial Secretaries, for between them they were responsible for this expedition. It had been sent out in pursuance of a wicked policy, and the late Government, when they were in power, were even more wicked than the present one. The late Under Secretary, in a speech he made in February last year, said that his Government refused 812 to accept Prempeh as king of Ashanti, and they brought against him, on hearsay evidence, manufactured charges of cruelty. One of the points at issue was whether he was king of Ashanti or only king of Kumasi; but it could be demonstrated from a Blue Book that in the presence of a British Commissioner, he was elected king of Ashanti, and that, in confirmation of his election, he was seated upon a stool in a ceremony equivalent to what we call enthronement. A full account of this ceremony was given by the Governor of the Gold Coast Colony in a despatch to the Colonial Secretary. The Governor wrote—He was properly placed upon the stool; I regard him as the king of Ashanti; and I shall not treat with any other person except through him.The Governor added that what the rival candidate Mampou had to do was to submit to Prempeh. On receiving this despatch, Lord Knutsford expressed his approval of the Governor's proceedings. Notwithstanding this the Colonial Office afterwards refused to recognise this unfortunate man as king, began to treat with his subordinate chiefs, and to sap his independence. Last year, before they left office, the late Government took credit to themselves for the preparations for this expedition, and so was previously responsible for it. And why was it undertaken? The French was filibustering on both sides of our protectorate, or rather of our sphere of influence inland, and therefore we must advance too in order that we might, by occupation, prevent encroachment on our sphere of influence. The king of Ashanti, 18 months ago, tried to bring about a friendly settlement. There was some question about his ambassadors, the Ansahs, as to whether they were British subjects or not. Certain demands were made on Prempeh by the Governor of Cape Coast Colony. The king felt he had a grievance and he desired that that grievance should be laid before, not the Governor of Gold Coast Colony, but the Governor's master, the Colonial Secretary. He accordingly sent two chiefs to this country for the purpose of trying to get at the ear of the Colonial Secretary. It was a good thing to have envoys sent here in 813 such cases. If it had been done by Cetewayo the Zulu war would have been averted; and King Khama had recently prevented an injustice to his country by coming over here and seeing the Colonial Secretary.
The hon. Member must confine himself a little more closely to the subject matter of Debate.
The hon. Gentleman is dealing with Bechuanaland and Zululand affairs which are matters of ancient history. ["Hear, hear!"]
I must ask the hon. Gentleman to respect my ruling. ["Hear, hear!"] I must ask him to confine himself a little more closely to the subject matter now under discussion.
§ DR. CLARK
said, he did not intend to use the illustrations further. Captain Stewart and Mr. Frewen were sent by the Governor of Cape Coast Colony to Kumasi to make certain demands of King Prempeh. The King told them he was only waiting until his envoys returned and he got an answer from the Colonial Secretary. But the matter was pressed. The Governor sent the same agents to Kumasi with directions that they were to bring back an answer from the king in three days. No doubt the Ansahs were themselves responsible for not having been received here, by making pretensions which they ought not to have made; but there was no doubt, also, that they were sent by the King, and that he was awaiting the result of their interview with the Colonial Secretary. But the matter was pressed on, and war was declared. There was no necessity for war; and even if there had been a necessity, a large white force was not needed for the work to be done, for there were plenty of Native troops to do all that was required. He therefore thought that some explanation was needed from the Colonial Secretary, of whom he should say that since his accession to office had acted much more in accordance with his old Liberal professions than the Colonial Secretary of the late Liberal Government.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN,) Birmingham, W.
The challenge of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is sufficiently general, because, as I understand him, he says in the first place that the claim on the Ashanti King which produced the expedition was absolutely unjustifiable, and in the second place that, even if it were justifiable, it could have been secured by means less costly than an expedition to Kumasi. To his challenge I will endeavour to make a reply. I should like to clear the way by two statements. In the first place, this is the first time I have heard it stated that this expedition was prompted or suggested or supported by any reference to what the French are doing in West Africa. That has never been suggested either by the authorities on the West Coast, or by any person representing either the late or the present Government. And I would also refer to the statement made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Clare, to the effect that this was a matter undertaken in the interest of Great Britain, and therefore Great Britain should bear the cost. That, I think, he will find is entirely contradicted by the evidence in the Blue-book. He will see that everybody connected with the colony was in favour of this expedition, and claimed for many years previous to it starting, that some steps should be taken to repress what they considered, and what the Government considered, was neither more nor less than a public and an intolerable nuisance. If I wanted a justification of the war, I find it in those words. Absolutely, the continued existence of the government of the King of Ashanti under the circumstances in which it has been going on since the war in 1873 was an intolerable nuisance. It was in the way of civilisation, of trade, of the interests of the people themselves, and on all those grounds it ought undoubtedly to be put a stop to. I cannot help thinking that the hon. Member for East Mayo is moved by different considerations to those which moved the hon. Member for Caithness. We know perfectly well the hon. Member for East Mayo is moved first and foremost by his hostility to the present Government, and I am quite certain he would have made 815 a speech just as excited, just as enthusiastic, against the Government if they had declined to take any steps to put down the state of things as he has done now the Government have taken steps which have been successful. [Laughter.] The hon. Member for Caithness says the war was unnecessary. I understand he represents the King of Ashanti as an injured person, as one who is worthy of sympathy in this House, and his people as people rightly struggling to be free; and accordingly he complains that in our greed and love of aggression and conquest we have proceeded against this innocent person, and have reduced him to a most humiliating position. I cannot conceive anything which is further from the fact. From the date of the war in 1873 and 1874, this district of Africa, which is, I believe, extremely rich—certainly rich in natural resources, probably rich in mineral resources—has been devastated, destroyed, and ruined by inter-tribal disputes, and especially by the evil government of the authorities of Ashanti. No sooner was the present ruler installed as King of the country, than he began to make war upon every tribe in the neighbourhood, and the consequent loss of life was very great. I often think it is so extraordinary for Gentlemen like the hon. Member for Caithness to talk of the loss of life involved in the expedition. It cannot be placed in the same category as the loss of life which has been going on year after year, month after month, simply because we had not the courage and the resolution to make the expedition. [Cheers.] I think the duty of this country in regard to all these savage countries over which we are called upon to exercise some sort of dominion, is to establish, at the earliest possible date, Pax Britannica, and force these people to keep the peace amongst themselves—[cheers]—and by doing so, whatever may be the destruction of life in an expedition which brings about this result, it will be nothing if weighed in the balance against the annual loss of life which goes on so long as we keep away. What is the state of things in Ashanti and in many other of these West African and African possessions? The people are not a bad people. The natives are, on the whole, perfectly willing to work, and if they fight, they fight because they cannot help themselves. They would 816 always rather settle down to commercial or agricultural pursuits if they were allowed to do so, but in such cases as that we are considering, the government is so atrociously bad, that they are not allowed to do so. No man is safe in the enjoyment of his own property, and as long as that is the case, no one has any inducement to work. There are other complaints besides these general complaints against the ruler of Ashanti. He deliberately broke the conditions of the Treaty. He did not put down human sacrifices. They went on up to the time of the expedition, and actually they took place the day after our troops got into the capital of Kumasi, and if any proof of that is wanted, it is found in the sacrificial groves and fetish temples found by the troops, and in which were discovered the remains of thousands of persons who had not only been killed, but tortured by this interesting potentate—[a laugh]— for whom the sympathies of the House are invoked by the humanitarians and philanthropists represented by the hon. Members for Caithness and East Mayo. [Cheers.] One condition of the Treaty which was broken was the duty imposed upon this ruler to keep open the roads. The roads are absolutely necessary for purposes of traffic and commerce. The roads have been destroyed, allowed to be overgrown and commerce has been absolutely destroyed, not merely with the kingdom itself, but with the Hinterland. Inasmuch as the kingdom stands between the trade of the coast and the trade of the Hinterland, all increase of trade was destroyed by the insecurity of the routes through which it had to pass. I say, then, that on all grounds the war was necessary in order, in the first place, that legitimate trade should be promoted, and, in the second place, in order that practices which are universally condemned and prohibited by the Treaty and Convention on the authority of which the late ruler held his position should be put a stop to. I should mention, in passing, that, in addition to the special barbarities connected with the practice of human sacrifices, a great system of slave-raiding had been going on under the protection of the King of Ashanti for many years past, which also, I think, it was one of our duties absolutely to prevent. The expedition was necessary also 817 for the protection of other tribes. Every tribe in the neighbourhood of Ashanti lived in terror of its life from the King, who had on several occasions destroyed one after another tribes which had sought our protection. There were at least half-a-dozen tribes under separate kings or chieftains who had been driven out of their country, and to a large extent destroyed, the whole trade and commerce being utterly ruined in consequence of the continued raids, made against the representations of the British authorities by the King of Ashanti. In order to prevent that, from time to time the British Government took some of the tribes under its protection. In my opinion a great mistake was made in refusing sooner to take under our protection tribes that asked that protection merely in order that they might engage in peaceful commerce, always with the result that the tribe was immediately afterwards eaten up by the tribes of Ashanti. On one occasion the tribes of Ashanti marched into another kingdom which had been taken under the protection of the British Government. We had to send, at considerable expense, an armed force in order to protect these territories. It is true that in the presence of this force the tribes of the King of Ashanti were withdrawn. But it was only under threat of our intervention that they were withdrawn. The finances of the colony have suffered for years by keeping up larger forces in order to protect tribes under our protection. I think I have said enough to show that we should have been wanting in our duty if we had not insisted that this state of things should be stopped. What did we ask for? We asked, as the late and preceding Governments had asked, again and again, that a Resident should be admitted to Kumasi, this Resident being charged with the duty of seeing that slave-raiding was stopped, that human sacrifices were stopped, and that the attacks which were constantly being made upon surrounding tribes should also be put an end to. The King made no answer. In the first instance he refused altogether the proposition of the Government. At other times he sent insulting replies. Again he sent no reply at all. Finally, he refused to give any reply, but said he had sent his messengers to see the Queen of England, 818 and make known his wishes. Lord Ripon sent word to the Governor of the Gold Coast to tell the messengers if they came to England that they would not be received by the Queen or her representatives. He actually forbade their coming to England, although he did not feel justified in preventing them by force. On what grounds did Lord Ripon take this course? He had many grounds. In the first place, that their character was bad; in the second place that they were representatives of a King who indulged in human sacrifice, and that the representatives of such a potentate were not to be received by the Queen of England—[cries of "Oh, oh!"]—and, in the third place, that in dealing with these subject tribes under the circumstances which I have detailed, it would be absolutely ruinous to the Governor on the spot if at any time you chose you could pass him by, and claim to be received directly in London. We place a great responsibility upon the heads of the Governors whom we send out to those distant places, and who have to act very often on the spur of the moment; and if we ourselves reduce their authority in the eyes of these subjects, there would be simply no end to the representations with which we should have to deal in this country, and to the tricks by which these savage rulers would escape from their responsibility. When I came to office the matter came before me, having been already decided by my predecessor. I do not want, on that account, in the slightest degree to lessen my responsibility. If I had occupied office at the time Lord Ripon did, I should have taken exactly the same course. These persons came to England, and I refused to receive them. Representations were made to me on their behalf by a Member of this House; and I said I would be most happy to receive him, but I refused to recognise him as their representative. He did not desire to be recognised as their representative, but wished on his own account to place before me some statements which he had heard from them. Their statement was to the effect that they had credentials from the King of Ashanti; that they had plenipotentiary authority from him to deal with me as the representative of the Government; and, finally, that they were prepared to accept the terms which I informed the 819 Gentleman who saw me it was our intention to demand. Well, I told them I accepted their assurances for what they were worth—[laughter]—but that Her Majesty's Government would not on that account countermand the expedition. It is very easy, of course, to say we should have stopped the expedition; that we would have saved the expenditure and attained the same result. That is a hypothetical statement. I confess I have not the remotest belief that we should have attained the same result, or anything like it. And I think I have some reason for saying that when I had to make my decision of course I did not know all the facts, but what I did know was that if the expedition was held back, and if hereafter these so-called envoys were repudiated by the King of Ashanti, not only would great expenditure have been incurred for no purpose, but we should have to repeat the expedition at a time when, owing to the difficulties of season and climate, the loss of life would have been very much greater. I thought the risk too great. What justification has come to hand of the action which we took in this matter? In the first place these so-called envoys had absolutely no authority whatever to make the terms to which they gave their signature, their credentials were forged credentials, the seal of the King of Ashanti was manufactured in London after they came here—[laughter]—and they had no power whatever to accept the conditions imposed upon them by Her Majesty's Government, and the only authority they had was authority which they themselves had sought to obtain redress from Her Majesty's Government for the grievances of the Ashanti people.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Yes, they are on their trial. What I am stating is what has appeared in the newspapers; statements which have been confirmed by the Dispatches received from the Governor. The whole of it is in the Blue-book. If the hon. Member has not read the Blue-book——
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I was going to say that, as the hon. Member has not read the Blue-book, he was probably going to speak.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
As I have said, the Ansahs, according to the statements of the chiefs who accompanied them, and who were part of the Embassy to London, had no authority to grant the terms which were imposed upon them by Her Majesty's Government, and it is perfectly clear that what I feared would have taken place, and that if they had gone back without an expedition, they would have been repudiated, and properly repudiated by the Ashanti King. Then it is said, ''Why this display of force?" In order to avoid bloodshed. [Cheers. ] It has also been said that all this might have been done by a small force, and I believe that is true; but it would not have been done without bloodshed. If we had gone there with a small force, we should have tempted the Ashantis to war. Do not let it be supposed that the Ashanti King had no idea of resistance. You will find that he sent an Embassy to Samory, who is a powerful chief, inviting him to join in resisting the British attack, and nothing but the sense of his own impotence prevented a collision which must have resulted in a considerable amount of bloodshed. I will only say further that I do not like to sit down without bearing testimony to the admirable behaviour of the Governor Mr. Maxwell. ["Hear, hear!"] I think that throughout, both his discretion and foresight, and the extraordinary zeal and activity shown by him are worthy of the highest credit. The preparations which he made for this expedition were marvellously complete. He gathered together from all the friendly tribes an enormous number of porters necessary for the expedition, and one result of the preparations which he made was that the whole expedition was carried out with a precision almost unique. ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. Member for East Mayo spoke of the unnecessary humiliation to which the King was subjected when he was asked to make his submission. I do not think it is for us to criticise native custom. There is only one way of making, in Ashanti and the regions around, submission, and that is that the person making submission should on his knees embrace the knees of the person to whom he makes submission. The King went through that, and no native would have 821 believed that there had been any submission at all unless he had made it in that form. It is no more humiliating for King Prempeh to make his submission in the Ashanti way than for the European Power, after it has been defeated, to make its submisson by surrendering its arms. Therefore it is altogether an over-sentimentality—["Oh!" and cheers]— to suppose that there is any particular humiliation in the matter. ["Hear, hear!"] All I am concerned in is in the justification of the English Governor for doing that which he was called to do by the situation and the people with whom he had to deal. [Cheers. ]
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
was bound to say the whole tone of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was one of almost delight at the fact that the expedition was undertaken—["order!"]—and the right hon. Gentleman expressed his opinion that the expedition was not only necessary, but that it ought to have been undertaken long ago. That meant that all means ought not first to have been taken to bring about a peaceful result, and so make the expedition unnecessary. As regarded the historical part of the speech, he had nothing to say. The Member for Caithness said that the late Government was responsible for bringing about the expedition. When the late Government came into office, they found that communications had been going on for some time with the King of Ashanti in reference to his relations with the British Government, and the Government found that in 1892 it became necessary to make further protests in regard to the king's relations with neighbouring tribes. Some two years ago the late Government took steps to persuade the King of Ashanti to receive a British Resident, but he refused to accede to that request. He thought that Her Majesty's Government had acted rightly in the way in which they had dealt with the so-called ambassadors, because he entirely agreed with what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, to the effect that it would be absolutely impossible to maintain our authority in that part of the world if we did not insist upon communications from the kings of these nations being forwarded to us through our Governors, instead of their being sent to the Home 822 Government direct. The gentleman who had been sent out to Cape Coast Castle to obtain information, had shown in the course of his career great ability and knowledge of that part of Africa, had made a Report after the late Government had left office, and upon that Report the present Government had come to the conclusion that the difficulty between this country and King Prempeh could not be terminated by peaceful means, and accordingly the expedition had been sent out. In his view the Government had been bound to act upon that Report. He, however, should have had more confidence that every attempt had been made to bring the dispute to an end by peaceful means if the right hon. Gentleman opposite had not made the very warlike speech that he had just delivered. He did not intend to detain the Committee at any length, but before he sat down he should wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman one or two questions in reference to this subject. In the first place, he should like to know what steps had been taken in the way of setting up a British Resident at Kumasi, and what position King Prempeh now occupied. In his opinion every one in that House was glad to hear the statement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite that there was no truth in the accounts that had appeared in the newspapers with regard to the alleged humiliation of King Prempeh.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
No. I did not say that there was no truth in those accounts. On the contrary, I believe that they were accurate, although of course they may have been slightly coloured. I said that he was compelled to go through the form of submission that was recognised in Ashanti.
§ MR. BUXTON
said that there were numbers of hon. Members in that House who, from the accounts they had read in the newspapers, had believed that King Prempeh had been subjected to unnecessary humiliation, and he was glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that nothing was done to subject him to undue humiliation. He wished to know what was the present position of King Prempeh and to express his hope that he was being treated with proper respect. He had merely risen to make these few observations because he had no desire to make any attack upon what the right 823 hon. Gentleman had done in the matter, although, perhaps, greater efforts might have been made in the direction of peace.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I rise to answer the question which the hon. Gentleman has put to me. In his concluding remarks he said that he had no intention to make any attack on me with regard to the policy which the Government has pursued. I am certainly not surprised at that statement—[cheers]—considering that when he was in office he had arranged for and intended to pursue precisely the same policy. [Cheers.] But then it is true, as he told us, that he intended to pursue it in a different spirit. [Laughter.] The tone of my observations has caused him pain. It appears he intended to make war in a shamefaced sort of way, regretting and doubting the necessity of what he was doing; and his complaint is that I have not only made an armed expedition, but that I have justified it in the face of the world. [Cheers.] I cannot but sympathise with the position of hon. Members who occupy the responsible position occupied by the hon. Member, because he admits that he was prepared to make war in his heart, hating, and detesting, and regretting the action which, nevertheless, he was going to take. On what ground he was about to take the action about which he uses strong language, I must leave him to explain; meanwhile it is absolutely unintelligible. [Laughter and cheers.] He asks me, however, as to what is the arrangement with regard to a Resident at Kumasi. Major Piggott is at present occupying that position, and is being assisted by three chiefs or headmen, who have been selected as a sort of advisory council. Then he asks me whether King Prempeh is treated in a way consistent—with his dignity or character was it? [Laughter.]
§ MR. BUXTON
I asked whether King Prempeh was being treated with a respect due to a man against whom British troops have been sent; who has submitted himself to the Queen's representative, and who, after all, whatever may have been his misdeeds in the past—and I certainly do not wish to underrate them—has been King of a native 824 tribe in West Africa, and who, therefore, is entitled to proper treatment. [Cheers.]
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I have recently seen one of the officers who have been engaged in conducting the expedition, and I made particular inquiries on this subject. I was informed that King Prempeh appeared to enjoy his novel position very much indeed. [Laughter.] He expresses his delight at the treatment which he has received, but only complained that his allowance of spirits had been limited. [Laughter.] Of course, if the hon. Member opposite is anxious to make any representations in favour of an increase of the allowance, I shall certainly give the matter my most careful consideration. [Laughter.]
§ MR. DALZIEL
said, he rose for the purpose of putting two or three questions to the Government with regard to the Vote now before the Committee. The Committee had been discussing this Vote for the greater part of the evening, though the Secretary for the Colonies had not been in his place. After the Debate had gone on for some time, the right hon. Gentleman arrived on the scene, and immediately made known his appearance by suggesting to hon. Members that they had not taken the trouble to read the Blue-books. Did the right hon. Gentleman think that he was helping forward the business of the Government or the business of the House by insulting Members? ["Oh, oh!" and cheers.] Did the right hon. Gentleman, straining to catch a small point like a small corner-man on a Christy Minstrel platform ["Oh, oh!"], think that this was a way calculated to get through the business of the House? If the right hon. Gentleman, with his Disraelian smile [loud laughter], imagined that these tactics were going to help him to get his Votes through the House, he was making a great mistake. The Debate was calm and courteous in tone until the right hon. Gentleman introduced his indignant and sneering tone. The questions which had been put deserved to be answered, because hon. Members asked for information with regard to the expedition. The right hon. Gentleman, however, came forward and denounced as a forger and a criminal a 825 man who was now on his trial. [Cheers and counter-cheers.] What did the right hon. Gentleman mean? Was this tone calculated to inspire respect in the justice of the Colonial Office?
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member again forgets what he has read in the Blue-book. Ansah confessed that his credentials were false.
§ MR. DALZIEL
said, that he disputed the statement of the right hon. Gentleman; but that, even if it were true, the right hon. Gentleman was not justified in anticipating the verdict in a trial that was proceeding. The right hon. Gentleman said that this man was unworthy of credence, having been guilty of perjury, but he had not confessed to forgery as forgery was generally understood. He held that there was reason to believe that the Ansahs came over here as the representatives of King Prempeh. [Cries of "No!"] If they were not the representatives of the King, how was it that they had influence with him and were practically pleading for a truce on his behalf during the whole course of the expedition? The alleged forged signature to the credentials was a comparatively insignificant point, if the men were actually the King's representatives. What was the right hon. Gentleman's defence respecting this expedition? He had said that night that the expedition was undertaken in the interests of trade. He had thought so himself all along, but it was, nevertheless, a new defence. The reason put forward informally was that King Prempeh had refused to accept a British representative at Kumasi. Then the right hon. Gentleman declared that the representatives of King Prempeh could not be treated with officially in this country because the King had connived at human sacrifices. When was this new doctrine introduced, that the Government would treat with no Government that was responsible in any way for the loss of human life? ["Hear, hear!"] If that was to be the new policy of the Government they would find that it would carry them much farther than they would care to go. He did not say that, having regard to all circumstances, the expedition to Kumasi might not have been justifiable. His argument was that up to the present time the Government had failed to show that the King refused to accept the terms, the 826 acceptance of which would have rendered the expedition unnecessary. There had been no denial of the fact that the Ambassadors of the King were meeting the expedition at every point, and saying that there would be no fighting, and that the King was anxious to concede all the terms demanded. They were not told what the whole cost of the expedition would be. They were asked now to vote £120,000, and were told that the colony would pay that sum; but he feared that this was simply a preliminary expenditure, and that they would be asked later on to vote an additional amount. Then, they had not been told yet what the Government proposed to do with regard to Prempeh. It was easy to sneer, and it was easy for the right hon. Gentleman to make a cheap joke in that House at the expense of the poor man who was his prisoner. The right hon. Gentleman thought fit to suggest that, after all, the only grievance King Prempeh had was that he wanted a little more spirit. He would like to see the information on which the right hon. Gentleman founded his Birmingham humour. [Loud cries of "Divide!" and "Order!"]
§ MR. DALZIEL
thanked the Chairman for appealing on his behalf. He thought that when hon. Members had heard the humour of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, it was rather hard that they should object to hear some criticism upon it. After the tone the right hon. Gentleman had adopted, he was not inclined to limit by one single minute, and he hoped his hon. Friends were not, the passage of this Vote. If the right hon. Gentleman chose to insult Members in that House he must pay the penalty of his own mistake. [Cries of ''Order!" and "Divide!"]. He wished now to put a few questions to the Financial Secretary to the War Office with regard to the administration of the campaign. So far as its organisation was concerned, he thought the expedition was certainly a credit to those responsible; but he had received some information as to the equipment, on which he thought he was entitled to some explanation. The Government came into office as the champions of British interests. They were going to 827 stand up for the British workman against the German workman and the workmen of other countries; but would it be believed that the provisions, the forage and boxes were all from Germany. The very boxes on which Governor Maxwell sat when Prempeh made submission had on one side "Made in Germany," and on the other "Woolwich Arsenal." [Laughter.] That was the general consideration which appeared to guide the War Office in regard to this expedition. Why was German food preferred in this case? Why were the words "Made in Germany'' printed on almost every package? He believed the forage was also from Germany. The Financial Secretary himself wrote a letter during the Recess in which he admitted that the forage was brought from Germany. Where was the hon. Member for Central Sheffield that night, and the Member for East Essex, and all the hon. Gentlemen who, during the last Parliament, nearly every week and every day were asking about these goods coming from Germany? When it was admitted by the Financial Secretary himself that these goods came from Germany, he thought the House was entitled to some explanation why this Government of all the talents, and nearly all the Liberal Unionists—[laughter]—should have preferred German to British food for this expedition. There was an item for forage in this Vote, and he would like to know what was done with the forage. How much of the Vote was expended on forage, and what was done with it? As far as his information went, the expedition, so far as the requirements for forage were concerned, consisted of one horse, two mules, and two donkeys—[laughter]—and he believed one of the donkeys belonged to a civilian. The Committee was entitled to know for what the forage was required, and how much was provided. The biscuits provided for the troops also came from Germany. Did the Financial Secretary deny that? He asked for information on the points mentioned.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
suggested to the Committee, for a reason which he would briefly state, that this Debate ought now to come to an end. Before going into that he ought to say, in regard to the question as to 828 food made in Germany, that the food referred to was got from Germany because it could not be obtained in England. ["Oh, oh!" from the Irish Members.] Was the fact doubted? [Cheers.] It consisted of vegetable goods dried to a point necessary for the particular conditions of this expedition, and not being obtainable in this country, they were rightly obtained in Germany. [An HON. MEMBER: "Sauerkraut."] With regard to the question about forage, the hon. Member had drawn a false inference from the title of the Vote, "Provisions, Forage, and other Supplies," which was the ordinary title of Vote 7. As far as was known from the accounts received, there was no charge for forage at all. Now, the Committee had a great deal of work before them if the financial business of the country was to be carried on in accordance with law, and in these circumstances he hoped hon. Gentlemen would permit this Debate to come to a conclusion now, in order that they might have time to discuss the main Votes, which came on next. [Cheers.]
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
thought this was rather a strong Measure. He would remind the Leader of the House that this very important expedition into the interior of Africa took place at a time when Parliament was not sitting, and hon. Members had no opportunity of expressing an opinion on the circumstances. Never before had a Vote raising the policy and expenditure of a great expedition been put down upon a Supplementary Estimate; and Members had a perfect right to ask questions of the Government upon it. The Committee, besides, had been discussing the subject only about an hour and a quarter, a considerable part of which had been consumed by the Colonial Secretary. He could not understand why on earth the hon. Member for Poplar, the late Under Secretary for the Colonies, should have complained of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, Jingo in tone though it was, seeing there was not a vestige of difference between the late and the present Government in this matter. His hon. Friend complained of the expedition, and wept over the unhappiness of having to carry war and desolation into some foreign country, whereas the Colonial Secretary carried out the expedition, but did not weep at all over it. 829 [Laughter.] If they were to have expeditions of this kind by Governments, he preferred the Government that boldly, and even tempestuously, came forward and boasted of what it had done, than the Government which, having done precisely the same thing, should come forward with crocodile tears, and bewail its fate. [Laughter.] The Colonial Secretary had complained of the hon. Member for Caithness for saying that one of the reasons for this expedition was to restrain the advance of the French into the interior of Africa, and the right hon. Gentleman challenged his hon. Friend to show that anyone up to that moment had suggested such a reason. In support of the statement of his hon. Friend, he might refer the right hon. Gentleman to the Dispatch of Governor Maxwell of the 13th June 1895 to Lord Ripon, in which he stated in effect that, at a period when the French were advancing inland on both sides of us, it was not to be tolerated that the opening up of the interior of this part of Africa to British enterprise should be prevented by petty despotisms. Governor Maxwell therefore suggested such a reason as that referred to for the expedition. The Colonial Secretary said there had been human sacrifices in Ashanti, and that the people were engaged in slavery. No doubt they were engaged in private slavery, like many other tribes in that part of Africa. Then the right hon. Gentleman said, with a greater show of reason, that the expedition was undertaken for the sake of trade. He had no doubt of this; but what he and many other Members objected to was that those military expeditions should be undertaken to extend our trade in Africa. Then the Colonial Secretary fell back into vague generalities. He said that King Prempeh and his kingdom were an intolerable nuisance; and he went further, and said that we were in Africa to establish there—and he supposed in all the world—the Pax Britannica. [Laughter.] Did the right hon. Gentleman seriously mean to tell the House that we were responsible for every criminal and bad government that existed in the whole of Africa? Did the right hon. Gentleman recognise this duty of establishing the Pax Britannica—which he took to mean laying hold of the thing for ourselves—[laughter]—not only in 830 Africa but in other parts of the world—in Asia for instance, or in Turkey for instance? ["Hear, hear!"] Where was it to begin, and where was it to end? Was it only to be acted upon when we could get something for ourselves—when it was only a weak Power we interfered with, and when our action would not risk involving us in war with other Great Powers? ["Hear, hear!"] That appeared to be the right hon. Gentleman's view. What he strongly complained of was that when King Prempeh sent Envoys over to this country, the Colonial Secretary and his predecessor refused to receive them on the ground that they did not come from the King as a ruler, that they did not communicate with the Governor of Cape Coast Colony, and that to have received them over his head would have lowered the dignity of the Governor. It was stated that if an African King wished to negotiate with this country he should send notice of the fact to the Colonial Governor, and the Governor would send the communication to the Home Government. But, as he understood, it seemed that the complaint of King Prempeh was against the action taken by the Governor of Cape Coast Colony, and he really thought it desirable that those tribal chiefs, who were in some sort under our paramount influence, should be allowed to send to this country to protest against any action on the part of our Colonial officers, if they wished to do so. Then, in default of being received by the Colonial Secretary, the Envoys insisted on seeing the humble person who was then addressing them. [Laughter.] The right hon. Gentleman, carried away by his own eloquence, stated that the Envoys were bad characters [Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: "I did not say that."], but they appeared to him to be even suspiciously respectable. [Laughter.] Why in the world did not the right hon. Gentleman, as a reasonable man, as a practical man, as a business man, put aside the follies of Lord Ripon, and take upon himself to receive the Envoys? It was desirable for many reasons—to put it on the lowest ground, that of cost—that the Colonial Secretary should have seen these envoys, whom he admitted were bonâ fide representatives of the King, for it was quite possible that some arrangement might have been 831 made. But even when the expedition was going forward to Africa, again envoys were sent by King Prempeh asking what was to be done and declaring that he was ready to accept any terms that were suggested. He could not help thinking that when the expedition was sent and it had arrived there, it was thought it would be somewhat absurd if they did not go up to Coomassie, and so the envoys were put aside and the expedition went up to Coomassie. The right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary wanted his expedition. It must be remembered that this was done not only at great cost to the Exchequer, but also to the serious damage and injury of the health of a vast number of Her Majesty's forces. Really, he could not think there was any necessity to do so, and he could not acquit the Colonial Secretary of having followed in the evil course of his predecessor. The way in which these expeditions were treated by the Press was shocking. He had seen two contributions in the Daily Graphic. One was King Prempeh kissing—he believed there was a dispute between the two Front Benches as to what part of his person he was kissing. That was the way they treated their enemy—a man who was the monarch, for what that was worth, of a tribe in Africa and the head of a considerable State, and he really did think it was scandalous that they should submit this unfortunate man to this utter humiliation. The other contribution showed them "A black brother." This "brother," was chained to a tree, and there was one of Her Majesty's soldiers wielding a cat-o'-nine tails and thrashing him. That was how they treated their friends in Africa. He was bound to say that for the sake of Africa, for the sake of friends as well as foes, the less they went there the better it would be.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 224; Noes, 78.—(Division List, No. 45.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That Item (a), Ashanti Expedition, be reduced by £100,000."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 55; Noes, 232.—(Division List, No. 46.)
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I now claim that the main Question be put. [Loud cries of "Oh, oh!" and "Shame!"]
MR. T. M. HEALY
said: I claim that the Irish Members—[Loud cries of "Order!"] We are entitled to speak on this Question. [Renewed cries of "Order, order!"] We have not been heard on the Question. [Shouts of "Order, order!" and "Name, name!"] Surely, Sir, one Irish Member is entitled to be heard.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 228; Noes, 48.—(Division List, No. 47.)
§ Vote agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed:—
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £100, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Ordnance Factories (the cost of the Productions of which will be charged to the Army, Navy, and Indian and Colonial Governments), which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1896.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
said, that he moved to report progress. It was hopeless for the Government to expect to make any further progress at that hour of the night. He asked the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House to 833 consent to the adjournment of the further discussion of this Vote in view of so large a portion of the evening having been unexpectedly taken up by the Debate on the very important question relating to the Ashanti Expedition. It might be that that Debate was of sufficient length, but he did not think that the right hon. Gentleman would say that an extraordinary amount of time had been spent upon it, considering the number of hon. Members who were desirous of expressing their views on the subject.
Order, order! The hon. Member is now resuming a Debate which has been concluded. The subject under discussion is that of the Ordnance Factories.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
said, that he had commenced his speech by moving to report progress, and therefore he thought that he was entitled to give his reasons for making that Motion.
Order, order! If that be so I am afraid that I must decline to accept the hon. Member's Motion to report progress, because the House at an earlier period resolved that the 12 o'clock Rule should be suspended, the intention being, as I understand, that the sitting should be prolonged for some considerable time beyond 12 o'clock. In these circumstances I should not feel myself justified in accepting the hon. Member's Motion to report progress at this hour.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
said, that he could assure the right hon. Gentleman in the chair and the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury that in making the Motion he had done he had no intention of obstructing the proceedings of the House. He merely wished to put it to the latter right hon. Gentleman whether, the best part of the night having been taken up with discussing the Ashanti Expedition, he should not consent to postpone any further discussion of the Supplementary Estimates.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said, that it was absolutely necessary for these Votes to be got through that night, if they were to conduct the Government of the country with any degree of success. He must therefore ask the House to sit up later and to pass these Votes that night.
said, that the reason this Supplementary Vote had been asked for was because the work of the Department had been unexpectedly increased during the year. There was also the item for Buildings included in the Vote. Certain buildings had been found necessary in consequence of the alteration of the old proof butts. In this way it was found that on the Estimates there would be a deficiency of about £100, and that was the sum the Committee was asked for.
§ DR. CLARK
complained that the paper containing this Vote was not received with the other Supplementary Estimates. He wished to point out that the Estimate for the factory at Waltham Abbey was £12,000 and now £4,000 extra was asked for. Then the removal of the old proof butts to a new site was estimated to cost £14,000, a very large sum he thought for such a work, and now £5,450 extra was required. He thought they ought to have some explanation as to who was responsible for estimates which were at least one-third less than the cost of the works.
MR. T. M. HEALY
said it was a pleasure to contrast the demeanour of the First Lord of the Treasury with that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. While the Conservatives were sitting up to carry on the work of the Government, the right hon. Gentleman who was chiefly responsible for keeping up the Debate scuttled away. ["Order, order!"]
said he had intended to say a few words on the question of cordite, but he would not do so in the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. He protested, however, against the Committee being asked to pass Votes of this kind at that hour, when in reality they might have been taken at an earlier period if the Government had made a proper distribution of business.
§ MR. J. G. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
thought they had good reason to complain that the documents containing the statement of expenditure had not been circulated sooner. In several instances there had been a considerable excess of expenditure over the original Estimate. There was an item of £800 for plants issued and sold in connection with the manufacture of magazine rifles. Apparently tools were used for a couple of years and then thrown away. There was either jobbing here, or gross mismanagement. The House had never yet had any statement as to the cost of the plant necessary for the manufacture of cordite powder. Large sums had been expended, and the Committee ought to have some information about them. He hoped that the Financial Secretary was prepared to furnish some technical information. What kind of tools had been manufactured; how much money went in royalties to the patentees and when would the patents expire?
invited the hon. Member to look at the column 836 "Total Estimate for the work." If he cast up the two figures the total would be £27,150. The Committee in passing this Estimate was asked to pass £17,200 out of about £27,000; the balance being the total of the two figures at the extreme right hand corner. There was no excess on the Estimate. The figures showed that the Estimate was very close. As to the hon. Member's criticism with regard to the plant used and sold, did he ever know of a great manufacturing undertaking in which some of the plant had not, at some time or other, worn out, and it was advisable to sell it? [Mr. WEIR: Not after two years.] The figures with which the hon. Member was dealing on the left hand side of the Revised Estimate were passed by the House last Session, therefore the time to challenge the item was then and not now. The only alteration was the alteration consequent upon the expenditure of £17,200 upon buildings.
§ DR. TANNER
desired more definite information with regard to the amount refused for proof butts, and the increased output for cordite. In regard to all the matters referred to, more definite information ought to be given hon. Members and he pressed for further information in respect to the proof butts and to cordite. The Votes were shuffled up together in such a way that it was difficult to find them, and when they were found to understand them.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said he was really at a loss to understand how the Votes were being taken and where to find the particulars of them. He thought the Government ought to provide more information and to arrange the various papers in a way that would be easy of reference.
§ MR. DILLON
said he had been unable to get the papers necessary to discuss the Vote until an hour ago.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said he was sorry the hon. Gentleman had been inconvenienced. Possibly 837 some mistake had been made with regard to the papers, but the Treasury was not responsible for the error if there had been any.
§ DR. TANNER
said the matter was somewhat mixed up. If the items had been set out seriatim, then hon. Members would have been able to see them on the Paper. There had been a hitch, and he was glad the right hon. Gentleman admitted so.
§ MR. W. WOODALL (Hanley),
said, that as he was in a sense responsible for this Vote, perhaps he might be permitted to remind the Committee that the ordnance factories were managed as an independent Department of the State, very much on commercial principles, and dependent on the orders they received from the various Departments of State—from the War Office, the Admiralty, the Colonies, and so on. It was simply for the purpose of bringing them under the cognisance of Parliament that the Vote of £100 was asked for. In regard to the proof butts, it had been found necessary to make a complete change of the plan in order to avoid, in firing off the guns, the danger of hitting passing ships. The reconstruction of the butts, and the whole arrangement under which the guns were tried, would involve the expenditure of the amount asked for in the Estimate. The construction of a new nitro-glycerine factory would remove to a position of greater safety the risk of injury to lives and property of that part of the cordite process which was attended with danger and would duplicate the capacity of the works in time of pressure.
MR. T. M. HEALY
said he thought they were entitled, in regard to this matter of cordite, to have the whole question, on which——
Order, order. This Vote refers simply to buildings, and any remarks in regard to cordite must be confined to the question, of buildings.
MR. T. M. HEALY
said that the Government would do well, in a matter of this kind, in which the House was 838 so keenly interested, and having regard to the interest in cordite works of the Chamberlain family, to give cordite a heading and a column to itself. If there was one subject more than another in which the House as a whole took an interest, it was the fact that, owing to the commercial interest taken by a particular family in the manufacture——
The hon. Member is transgressing the rule I have laid down. I must ask him to confine himself within the four corners of the Vote. That is the ordinary rule of the House on a Supplementary Estimate.
MR. T. M. HEALY
remembered that on former occasions the present Secretary of the Treasury was allowed the greatest latitude on this question which he treated in every one of its details. If there was one subject more than another in regard to which the Conservative Party were committed to purity of administration it was that which concerned cordite. It was a question so mixed up with the Liberal Unionist Section of the Government— —
I have called the hon. Gentleman to order two or three times. I hope that he will now confine himself to the Vote, otherwise I shall be compelled to ask him to discontinue his speech.
MR. T. M. HEALY
thought that on the whole, considering the large interest which centred in this question of cordite, it was not surprising if he should have, perhaps, strayed somewhat from the Vote.
§ *MR. WEIR rose when
I think the Motion is hardly necessary, as, I believe, the hon. Gentleman only rises in order to ask one particular question.
§ MR. WEIR
remarked that that was his intention. The Vote contained an item for new nitro-glycerine factories to replace the old works, the new 839 buildings being required for the increased output of cordite. What percentage of the increase, he asked, was to be due to the new factories, and had any contracts been given out to private firms? The question of cordite was an important one, and he hoped some information would be vouchsafed him upon this point.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
appealed to the First Lord of the Treasury to reconsider his decision, and not force this Vote through to-night. The question was one of great importance, and he urged that the particular Vote should be postponed until the following night, so as to allow of adequate discussion.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
should be glad if it was in his power to do as the hon. Member suggested, but, unfortunately, it was not. Not only would they have as much work as they could do on the following day, but he should be again compelled to ask the House to suspend the Twelve o'clock Rule. He hoped hon. Members would content themselves with the considerable discussion that had taken place and allow the Vote to be passed. Considering all the time the Government had and the tremendous latitude given to them, it was unreasonable at this period of the Session that they should, besides taking Fridays from private Members, ask them to sit up all night.
§ MR. DALZIEL
said, no doubt the First Lord of the Treasury had cause to get his Votes that night. But the House was not responsible for the late period of the Session at which the Votes were brought forward. If the House had been called together one week earlier they would have had none of this pressure or the suspension of the 12 o'clock Rule. With regard to the Vote under discussion, if the Government would promise not to keep the House too late, perhaps it would be well if they did not divide. But they should ask some promise that the House would not be kept up till breakfast-time discussing the Amendment on the paper,
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
We must get all the Votes on 840 the Paper before we separate, the main Supplementary Votes and Vote 7.
§ DR. CLARK
asked whether the Government wanted the Committee to vote £1,100,000 on the Supplementary Estimates at a quarter past one in the morning. They had seven minutes on the previous night and they voted £4,400,000; and now there was a Supplementary Vote for £1,100,000, and the Government asked them to discuss a number of Amendments. He would conclude with a Motion that the Chairman report progress. Under ordinary circumstances the 12 o'clock Rule was suspended that special Votes might be passed, and it was not suspended for the purpose of thrusting through in one night a large number of Estimates containing debateable points. From 7 until 9.30 the only question was the important change with reference to the Volunteer Vote, and the Volunteer Colonels took nearly half the time in resenting the attack made by the Secretary for War and the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean, and it was only half-past nine when they got to some other points in the Supplementary Estimates. There were important changes with regard to the artillery and he knew there was a desire to discuss these.
The HON. MEMBER was still addressing the House, when—
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 187; Noes, 50.—(Division List. No. 48.)
Question put accordingly—
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £100, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Ordnance Factories (the cost of the Productions of which will be charged to the Army, Navy, and Indian and Colonial Governments), which will come in course of Payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1896.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 193; Noes, 43.—(Division List, No. 49.)