§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair" (for Committee on Civil Service Estimates.)434
*MR. GIBSON BOWLES moved:—
To leave out from the word 'That,' to the end of the Question, in order to add instead thereof the words 'It is the duty of Her Majesty's advisers to take such steps as may he required to fulfil Her Majesty's treaty engagements relative to the Ottoman Empire, entered into for the security of Her Majesty'). Oriental possessions.'
He said that no doubt there was implied in his Motion the suggestion that Her Majesty's Government had not adhered to their treaty engagements, and that suggestion he thought he would be able to make good. No doubt also there was implied the suggestion that the Government should amend their ways in the future, and should more strictly observe engagements entered into by Her Majesty the Queen. That also he thought he would be able to make good; but, having made those two points, he could scarcely conceive how any Government could resist his Amendment. That Amendment dealt with the treaty engagements relative to the Ottoman Empire. By Article 7 of the Treaty of Paris, 1856, the six Great Powers of Europe engaged to respect the independence and territorial integrity of the Turkish Empire; while, by Article 9 it was stipulated that there was no right of interference, whether collectively or individually, in any one of those Powers with regard to relations of the Sultan with his people. By the Tripartite Treaty (1856), England, France and Austria guaranteed jointly the independence and the integrity of Turkey, and undertook to regard any infraction of the Treaty of Paris as a casus belli. The denunciation by Russia of that part of the Treaty of 1856 which related to the Black Sea led to the Conference of London of 1871, at which it was agreed that:—
It is an essential principle of the law of nations that no Power can liberate itself from the engagements of a treaty, nor modify the stipulations thereof, unless with the consent of the contracting Powers by means of an amicable arrangement
Then came the Treaty of Berlin. By Article 9 of that Treaty, England and the Powers of Europe engaged that Bulgaria should pay tribute to the Porte, and that Bulgaria should assume a portion of the debt of the Porte. By
Article 11 the Powers of Europe, England amongst them, agreed that Bulgarian fortresses should be razed within a year; by Articles 33 and 42, that Montenegro and Servia should assume their share of the Turkish debt; and by Article 59, that the port of Batoum should be a free commercial port; and, finally, under the Cyprus Convention, 1878, England engaged to join with the Sultan in defending the territory of Turkey in Asia Minor by force of arms against Russia. Every one of these conditions was binding on the Government of this country at the present moment. What were they? First, they had guaranteed the independence and the integrity of Turkey; yet the whole of their recent policy with regard to Turkey was an attack upon her independence and a threat as to her integrity. They had undertaken not themselves to interfere nor to permit interference with Turkey. Yet they had interfered, and for that credit had been claimed. As to the Danubian fortresses, when he asked about them he was informed by the Minister that he did not know whether they were razed or not, but that if they had not been razed, then he presumed they had fallen into decay. They had engaged that tribute should be paid by Bulgaria and a share of the debt should be assumed by Bulgaria, Servia, and Montenegro; yet not one penny had been contributed of tribute or one penny assumed of debt by either one of them. Then as to Batoum, it was the conditions as to that port which reconciled England to the concessions made to Russia. It would be in the recollection of many Members of that House that in 1886 Russia suddenly announced that she no longer intended to be bound by this Article in the Treaty of Berlin. She said that the conditions had changed, and that she intended to abrogate that particular portion of the Treaty which referred to the maintenance of Batoum as a free commercial port. Lord Rosebery wrote 13th July 1886:—
In the first place, it must be understood that Her Majesty's Government cannot accept the view that this step on the part of Russia does not constitute an infraction of the Treaty of Berlin.
One direct, supreme, and perpetual interest, however, is no doubt at stake in this transaction
—that of the binding force and sanctity of International engagements. Great Britain is ready at all times, and in all seasons, to uphold that principle, and she cannot palter with it in the present instance. Her Majesty's Government cannot, therefore, consent to recognise or associate themselves in any shape or form with this proceeding of the Russian Government. They are compelled to place on record their view that it constitutes a violation of the Treaty of Berlin unsanctioned by the signatory Powers; that it tends to make future conventions of the kind difficult, if not impossible, and to cast doubt, at least, on those already concluded.
He could not conceive plainer or more proper language with regard to the highhanded action of Russia in throwing over the engagement. But the protest of Lord Rosebery ended with that language. Under the Cyprus Convention they undertook to defend Turkish territory in Asia by force of arms, and here he might express his astonishment at the way in which the Convention was thrown over by the First Lord of the Admiralty, whom he regretted not to see in his place. He asked the First Lord whether he had stated that they were free from any engagement as to the maintenance of the Turkish Empire, and on the 13th of February he replied that, speaking of the Cyprus Convention, he expressed his belief, which he held, that the Sultan, not having carried out the reforms promised, we were relieved of any responsibility as to defending the Sultan's dominions in Asia Minor. Here was a declaration from one Minister, and the responsibility of one was the responsibility of all. If the First Lord of the Admiralty spoke simply his private opinion about the Cyprus Convention, he might pass it by without comment; but the right hon. Gentleman, speaking as the First Lord of the Admiralty, spoke as the mouthpiece of Her Majesty's Government, and until they repudiated his declaration the whole Government were bound by it. ["Hear, hear!"] That was in accordance with a strict and fully recognised constitutional principle. The right hon. Gentleman had said that we were not bound to fulfil the engagement under the Convention. He contended that we were. The suggestion was that our engagement to protect the Asiatic dominions of Turkey from Russia by force of arms was conditional—the condition being the Sultan's promise, to introduce certain reforms to be agreed upon between
the two Powers. Hence the engagement was said to be conditional. Yes, but the condition itself was conditional. The condition did not arise until the agreement was come to between the two Powers as to the kind of reforms to be introduced. So true was this that Lord Salisbury in forwarding this Convention explained that it was purposely avoided making any definite arrangements as to the reforms, inasmuch as time was required to consider them, and that time had not been given. The essence of the promise of the reforms lay in the fact that an agreement was to be come to between Turkey and England as to what the reforms were to be in their nature and character. Until such an agreement had been come to, therefore, the promise of the Sultan was inoperative. ["Hear, hear!"] The Sultan was not bound to carry out any reforms not agreed to by England. Articles 9, 33 and 41 of the Berlin Treaty had avowedly not been executed by us, and the reason given was because the Powers had been unable to agree as to the exact amounts of the debt to be apportioned. Because of that failure to come to an agreement it was impossible to carry out the articles. He applied the same argument, or the same treatment, to the Cyprus Convention. But he denied altogether that our engagement to protect Asia Minor from Russia by force of arms was really conditional on the introduction of reforms by the Sultan. The reforms were not the consideration for which England undertook the engagement, for the keeping of which he was now pleading. The consideration was not the benefit of Turkey, nor for the security and good government of the Armenians; it was the interests of the Oriental possessions of Her Majesty and the safety of India. This was shown to be the case by the Circular of Lord Salisbury to Her Majesty's Embassies, dated the 1st of April 1878, in which, speaking of the Government of Constantinople, he said:—
The formal jurisdiction of that Government extends over geographical positions which must, under all circumstances, be of the deepest interest to Great Britain. It is in the power of the Ottoman Government to close or to open the straits which form the natural highway of nations between the Ægean Sea and the Euxine. Its dominion is recognised at the head of the Persian Gulf, on the shores of the Levant, and in the immediate neighbourhood of the Suez
Canal. It cannot be otherwise than a matter of extreme solicitude to this country that the Government to which this jurisdiction belongs should be so closely pressed by the political outposts of a greatly-superior Power, that its independent action, and even existence, is almost impossible.
The object, therefore, was to avoid the pressure by a great Power on the Turkish Government, which had so large a dominion over countries in which England was interested. In the course of the negotiations which preceded the final settlement of the Treaty of Berlin, Lord Salisbury again expressed his views, and again it was made apparent that it was not for the benefit of Turkey that we agreed to safeguard Asia Minor, but still for the interest of India. Lord Salisbury wrote:—
The progress of the confidential negotiations which have for some time past been in progress between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Russia make it probable that those Articles of the Treaty of San Stefano which concern European Turkey, will be sufficiently modified to bring them into harmony with the interests of the other European Powers, and of England in particular. There is, however, no such prospect with respect to that portion of the Treaty which concerns Turkey in Asia. It is sufficiently manifest that, in respect to Batoum and the fortresses north of the Araxes, the Government of Russia is not prepared to recede from the stipulations to which the Porte has been led by the events of the war to consent. Her Majesty's Government have consequently been forced to consider the effect which these agreements, if they are neither annulled nor counteracted, will have upon the future of the Asiatic provinces of the Ottoman Empire and upon the interests of England, which are closely affected by the condition of those provinces. …
Lord Salisbury, again writing to Sir Henry Layard on May 30th, 1878, said:—
Even if it be certain that Batoum and Ardahan and Kars will not become the base from which emissaries of intrigue will issue forth, to be in due time followed by invading armies, the mere retention of them by Russia will exercise a powerful influence in disintegrating the Asiatic dominion of the Porte. As a monument of feeble defence on the one side and successful aggression on the other, they will be regarded by the Asiatic population as foreboding the course of political history in the immediate future, and will stimulate, by the combined action of hope and fear, devotion to the Power which is in the ascendant, and desertion of the Power which is thought to be falling into decay. It is impossible for Her Majesty's Government to accept, without making an effort to avert it, the effect which such a state of feeling would produce upon regions whose political condition deeply concerns the Oriental interests of Great Britain.
Then he said that the only means by which Great Britain could avert the moral and material effect of the retention of these conquests by Russia was the completion of such an undertaking as the Cyprus Convention. He set forth in so many words the only thing that could save the provinces of Turkey, which, in the interests of England and India, ought to be protected. [Cries of "No!"] He was quoting Lord Salisbury. Hon. Members might deny their Leader if they pleased. They might say he had changed his opinion. He himself knew nothing of any such change. The solemn, serious, well-considered Dispatches in which he defended his conduct at the Congress of Berlin were good enough for him. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] It was not in the interests of Turkey or Armenia that the Cyprus Convention was concluded. In was concluded, Lord Salisbury said, in the sole interests of England and for the defence of the Oriental interests of Great Britain. ["Oh, oh!"] It was easy to say "Oh!" If any hon. Member could refute Lord Salisbury well and good. If we had entered into engagements it became us to keep them. How was it the Oriental interests of England were involved? He would quote a Dispatch by Sir Henry Layard of 30th May, 1877, who held the same opinion as Lord Salisbury that upon the safety of the Asiatic dominions of the Sultan very largely depended the safety of our Empire in India:—
As regards the acquisition (by Russia) of territory in Asia Minor, the interests of England would be alone concerned. It would probably signify little to the rest of Europe whether Russia retained Armenia or not. But England has to consider the effect of annexation to Russia of this important province upon the British possessions in India. Russia would then command the whole valley of the Euphrates and Tigris, which would inevitably fall into her hands in the course of time. Persia, moreover, would be placed entirely at her mercy. The possession of the entire coast of the Caspian Sea, and the direct road through a rich and well-inhabited country to Herat and Afghanistan, and ultimately to India, is a matter of vast political importance to Russia.
It must not be forgotten that the possession of Armenia by Russia as regards any designs she may have upon India would be very different from that of any part of Turkestan or Central Asia. In Armenia and the north of Persia she would have a hardy and abundant population, affording her excellent materials for a large army, ready at any time to advance upon our Indian frontier, and resting upon a convenient
and sure base of operations in direct communication by the Caspian Sea and by Batoum, with the heart of the Russian Empire.
The moral effect of the conquest of Armenia upon our Mohammedan fellow-subjects, and upon the population of Central Asia, cannot be overlooked by a statesman who attaches any value to the retention of India as part of the British Empire.
He thought he had shown—if extracts and the considered opinions of Statesmen were of any value whatever—that the Cyprus Convention was made for the sole purpose as every other Convention with regard to Turkey had been—for the sole purpose not of assisting Turkey or showing any great affection for Turkey but of safeguarding the interests of England and the security of the Oriental Empire of Great Britain. If this were so, surely it behoved the Government to adhere to the engagement undertaken. India had always been the prize of Empire and subject to the attack of aggressive conquerors from Mahmoud of Ghuzni to Nadir Shah. It had been exposed to invasion after invasion, and not until the occupation of the English had it begun to enjoy anything like comparative peace. He did not know whether it would be held by any Member of the House that the Oriental interests of England were in less danger than ever they were or that they were less in importance than ever they were. To his mind they were more in importance and in greater danger. The various outworks by which 50 or 60 years ago they were defended had disappeared, and at that moment Russia, which a few years ago was 1000 miles from the frontiers of India was within striking distance of Herat. If so engagements entered into for the protection of British India and the Oriental interests of India were of not less but greater importance than ever, and it depended on the attitude of England now what the attitude of India and of Asia might be in the future. India was hesitating, Asia was doubtful, not because they had any doubt of our power, but because they doubted our will, our courage and honesty. It was by this test they would try us. By testing our fidelity to the engagements we had undertaken would they try and deal with us in the future. The question was whether we were to be true to our engagements or false to them. He called upon the Government to declare whether
they meant to stand by their engagements or repudiate them. If the Government told him they would adopt the language of Lord Rosebery and practically carry out the principles he set forth in his Dispatch of 1886, then he should be content, and only too glad to withdraw his Amendment, but if he heard repeated what was stated by the First Lord of the Admiralty that the solemn engagements we had entered into would be repudiated, it would be his duty to go to a Division on his Amendment. ["Hear, hear!"]
MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
said, he rose to Second the Amendment, although he had on the Paper an Amendment of a larger scope; but, as they were doing the work of three or four nights in one, he would not go fully into the subject. The speech just delivered would be appreciated, but as he listened to it he wondered whether it would occur to the hon. Member to mention the future of our relations with the Turkish Empire, which depended so much upon our diplomatic relations with it. Her Majesty's Government laboured under great disadvantage in not having at Constantinople an Ambassador who could lay their views before the Porte with any prospect of those views being impartially considered. He did not desire to make any personal remarks upon the Ambassador, whose acquaintance he enjoyed, but the relations between the Sultan and the Ambassador were not such as to give a fair chance of British influence being exercised. The Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, in a loyal defence of the Ambassador, appeared to lay down an unconstitutional doctrine when he protested against attacks upon the Ambassador because he had no opportunity of exculpation or defence; but that doctrine would exclude any criticism or control by the House of any public functionary, and was wholly subversive of Parliamentary government. The Ambassador, who did not lack an extremely able defender, was charged with delicate and difficult duties, but they were performed in a manner which rendered success practically impossible. The wildest rumours, afterwards proved to be gross exaggerations, were telegraphed under the instructions of the 442 Ambassador to Her Majesty's Government. In the case of the earlier massacres, investigation showed wildly exaggerated rumours had been sent; and it remained to be seen whether the same would hold good of the later massacres. The Under Secretary skilfully mixed up different series of so-called atrocities and dealt with them as an indivisible whole, and that was most unfair. At Sasun it was said that 8,000 persons had been killed; but upon official inquiry the number fell to 265, which was the number adopted in the joint Report of the Consuls of Russia, France, and England. Then, when the Consuls had separated, one of the Vice-Consuls set to work to try to bring up the numbers more to the expectations of the Ambassador, and he arrived at the figure of 900, very much in the same way that a lazy canvasser, having canvassed one street, and ascertained the proportions of voters for and against his candidate, filled up other streets on the same pro- portions, sent in his books, and went off to enjoy himself. The reason why he mentioned these facts was because they showed a distinct bias on the part of the officials connected with the Embassy, and he feared, also, a bias on the part of the Ambassador himself. Indeed, the Ambassador had shown himself so much biassed, not only in regard to the Turkish Government, but in regard to the Sultan himself, that no useful object was to be served by continuing him at his post. The Duke of Westminster, speaking at Chester, and reported in The Times on 27th January last, said:—We hear every day of accumulated horrors being committed by that demon in human shape, | the Sultan of Turkey,and he added:—I was told by Sir Philip Currie the other day, that the Turkish Ministers were mere cyphers in the Sultan's hands, that nothing was done without him, and that he was responsible for the horrors.["Hear, hear!"] That amounted to an accusation by Her Majesty's Ambassador of wilful murder against the Sultan of Turkey. [''Hear, hear!"] He did not think the Sultan would receive in a very kindly spirit suggestions made to him on behalf of a friendly Power by a 443 person who had accused him not only of isolated acts of homicide, but of a series of deliberate wilful murders carried out over a long period of time. Therefore, if the Government intended to resume our long-standing influence at Constantinople, which they and their predecessors had so recklessly thrown away, they would do well to approach the Turkish Government through some other channel than that at present in existence at Constantinople. He doubted if there was any other Government in the world who would not have immediately presented passports to an Ambassador who had used language of that kind against the Sovereign to whom he was accredited. He was bound to make one defence of our Ambassador at Constantinople which was not mentioned in the recent speech of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. That was that Sir Philip Currie had been promoted to his present position without having undergone that training which would have enabled him to steer clear of the things he had committed. That was not the fault of Sir Philip Currie, but the Party opposite who had appointed him Ambassador should have borne it in mind. He could not conceive any duties of life less like to result in the production of a diplomat than the work of an ordinary Government office, which had been the training of our Constantinople Ambassador. The Sultan was not merely the temporary Sovereign, but the religious head of his people—he was not only the Sultan of Turkey, but the head of the Mahommedan world, and when that fact was remembered, it would become manifest that an Ambassador who had identified himself with violent attacks on the Sultan in his personal capacity was impossible at Constantinople. He desired to say, in conclusion, a few words on the general position of affairs in Turkey. This country had undoubtedly in the past exercised vast influence in Turkey. The great Statesmen who had maintained these intimate relations with Turkey had been by no means supporters of the system of Government which prevailed in that country. Could it be said that Lord Palmerston or Mr. Disraeli had supported Turkish Government? Not at all. Everyone knew that these Statesmen supported the supremacy of 444 the Ottoman Empire, not because they approved its system of Government, but because they had arrived at the conclusion that the maintenance of the status quo in Turkey was to the interest of England. Therefore, those who now desired the resumption of reasonable relations with the Turkish Empire did not thereby identify themselves with the excesses, or even with the ordinary courses, of the Government of that country. He hoped the Government would do their utmost to bring about those cordial relations with the head of the Mohammedan world, which had so long been held to be essential to our interests, not only in Europe, but in other parts of the world. It had been said that we could enjoy a "splendid isolation," and hold ourselves aloof from other Powers. But he ventured to think that during the last few months we had run a great risk of losing our character as shrewd, practical, hard-headed, common-sense people.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. GEORGE CURZON,) Lancashire, Southport
said, he could not help thinking that the good-humoured, but, as he thought, mistaken, speech of his right hon. Friend was a speech which he must have prepared, but lost the opportunity of delivering, at an earlier period of the Session. It was much more pertinent to the discussion of Turkish affairs than to any particular subject at that moment before the House. He did not suspect his right hon. Friend, in the remarks which he had made about Constantinople, of any personal feeling, but his right hon. Friend protested on public and larger grounds against the doctrine which he had laid down earlier in the Session—namely, that it was unusual and unfair to attack one of Her Majesty's Representatives abroad in the House, where, by the necessary conditions of the case, that Representative had not the opportunity of defence or reply. That doctrine was the normal and necessary doctrine of the Government; and he would amplify it by the statement of what he believed to be the constitutional and proper position—that, if any Member of the House of Commons wished to make an attack against any of Her Majesty's Ambassadors or Ministers 445 abroad for any lapse of duty, that attack ought to be brought against the Government whom that Ambassador or Minister represented and by whom he was accredited. [''Hear, hear!"] Therefore, the attack of the right hon. Gentleman ought to have been made against the occupants of the Treasury Bench, who, his right hon. Friend would find, were quite ready to meet it. Since he had been at Constantinople, Sir Philip Currie had acted as the diligent and faithful exponent of the views of successive Governments — [cheers] — of the Party opposite and of those who now occupied the Ministerial Bench. He was sure that right hon. Gentlemen opposite would take the full responsibility for everything that Sir Philip Currie did in their time; and the present Government equally claimed full accountability for what he had done in their time. [Cheers.] What were the particular charges brought against Sir Philip Currie? The first was that he had eagerly telegraphed to the Government rumours with little regard to whether they had any foundation, or not; that he palmed them off on the Government as facts and lent a ready ear to any reports which fitted in with his own preconceived notions about Armenian atrocities and Turkish government. That Sir Philip Currie telegraphed to the Government these rumours and reports was perfectly true; it was his duty to do so. [Cheers,] He transmitted to Her Majesty's Government the news he received from our Consuls and representatives in Asia Minor; and they, writing in many instances at some distance from the scene of action and the spot where these lamentable events occurred, could only, in the first place, transmit what was in the nature of rumour. ["Hear, hear!"] These Reports were naturally passed on to Her Majesty's Government, and the right hon. Gentleman had no right to say that Sir P. Currie had lent a ready ear to what suited his prepossessions. He defied his right hon. Friend, if he read the correspondence through, to detect any sign of prepossession on Sir P. Currie's part in one direction or the other [''Hear, hear!" and an HON. MEMBER: "It is full of them."] He should have thought that if any British 446 Ambassador had ever gone out to Constantinople who might have been suspected of prepossessions contrary to those which were now unjustly charged against Sir P. Currie, it was Sir P. Currie himself. [''Hear, hear!'' and ironical laughter.] He failed to find in anything which Sir P. Currie had written or done any evidence whatever of prejudice or prepossession. ["Hear, hear!"] He was surprised that his right hon. Friend had once again brought up that exploded story about the Sasun massacres and the number of victims. Once before during the Session he had called the attention of the House to this story, and, as he thought, had succeeded in shattering the particular version of those events given by one of his hon. Friends below the Gangway. And yet again his right hon. Friend had charged Sir P. Currie and the Vice-Consul with having tried to bring the number of 265 up to a larger total. The number 265 was the number of persons who were reported before the Commission to have been killed—a Commission which only took a certain amount of evidence from certain districts, and exerted every possible pressure to prevent witnesses from coming forward. ["Hear, hear!" and cries of "No!"] The Vice-Consul signed his Report in common with his colleagues, and from inquiries which he himself made he put the number of killed at 900 as being nearer the truth. If his own personal opinion were asked he should say that 900 was under the mark. [''What do you know about it?" from Mr. GIBSON BOWLES.] At any rate, he knew quite as much about it as his hon. Friend. [Laughter and cheers.] His right hon. Friend had commented on the fact that the Vice-Consul wrote a postscript to I the Report in which he revised his judgment. The Vice-Consul was instructed to write that postscript before he went out. He and his colleagues were enjoined not only to write a joint Report, but to accompany it with individual reports. [Cheers andan HON. MEMBER: "The postscript was three months later."] That was because the Vice-Consul took time to consider his statements, which the hon. Gentleman had not done. [Laughter and cheers.] The value of the Vice-Consul's Report 447 could not possibly be defied. The only other point made by his right hon. Friend was that Sir P. Currie had indulged in violent personal attacks on the Sultan. Well, it was his duty to go through the Blue-books, and he must say that, as far as he knew, there was nothing to give any colour at all to the belief that Sir P. Currie had been guilty of any discourtesy whatever to the Sultan. With regard to the speech of the hon. Member for King's Lynn, he believed he should carry the majority of the House with him when he said that the discussion on which the hon. Member invited the House to embark was an academic and superfluous discussion. ['' Hear, hear! "] When he first saw the hon. Member's Motion on the Paper, he confessed he did not quite know whether the attitude he was taking up with reference to the Government was one of praise or blame. Considering, however, that the Government rarely took any step that met with the approbation of his hon. Friend, he might almost have known in advance that his views on the present occasion would be those of criticism rather than of approval. His hon. Friend seemed to take particular pleasure in proving that all Governments, and Her Majesty's present Advisers in particular, were always breaking Treaties. He had constituted himself a sort of self-accredited custodian of all the Treaties of Europe; and when Russia broke a Treaty, or England broke a Treaty, or anybody else, down came his hon. Friend and fulminated against the Ministerial Bench, and tried to fix upon them the responsibility. Happily, he was in the position of knowing what his hon. Friend was going to say, because he said it all once before in this House. [Laughter.] He made the same speech in August of last year. He believed that, besides his hon. Friend, he was the only person in the House at the time. [Laughter.] Anyhow, it had remained in his recollection ever since, and before coming down he had refreshed his memory and prepared replies to meet his hon. Friend. That might account for any facility he might have in meeting his points.
*MR. GIBSON BOWLES
asked the right hon. Gentleman if he could quote a single sentence in his speech which was a repetition of his speech of August last.
§ MR. CURZON
said, he could quote many sentences, and he could also quote what was more pertinent — namely, several notable discrepancies between the two speeches. [Laughter.] The first Treaty to which he referred was the Treaty of Paris of 1856, and he remarked that by every subsequent Treaty the clauses of that Treaty had been re-enacted.
§ *MR. GIBSON BOWLES, interposing, declared that he would not be misrepresented even by a right hon. Gentleman of the ability and pretensions of the right hon. Gentleman. ["Order!"] He was perfectly in order. He said that the clauses of the Treaty which he quoted—those clauses, namely, which guaranteed the independence and integrity of the Turkish Empire, and which prohibited interference with its domestic affairs—were continued and saved by the subsequent Treaty.
§ MR. CURZON
was afraid that was entirely consistent with the proposition he had just uttered. But the hon. Member was wrong. He found Article 63 of the Treaty of Berlin said the Treaty of Paris and the Treaty of London were reaffirmed—in all such of their provisions as were not abrogated or modified by the preceding stipulations.What could be more clear than that certain clauses of the Treaty of Paris were abrogated, and certain others modified by the Treaty of Berlin, and that one clause so modified was the particular clause in the article quoted. His hon. Friend asked him to quote a single remark which appeared in last August's speech. Well, he made on that occasion two remarks about the tribute and about the fortresses which he had repeated this evening. He had never heard of those allegations before, and it was only in consequence of having read his previous speech that he had been able to provide himself with a reply. It was alleged that Bulgaria and Montenegro had not paid the stipulated tribute to the Porte.
*MR. GIBSON BOWLES
The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. I never 449 suggested that Servia and Montenegro were made liable to pay tribute by the Treaty, but that they were to pay their portion of the public debt in addition to which Bulgaria was to pay tribute.
§ MR. CURZON
said, that was exactly the same thing. The tribute was to be paid, there was to be payment of their portion of the debt. His hon. Friend sometimes called it tribute and sometimes their portion of the debt. [Laughter.] No doubt the hon. Gentleman was aware of the reason for which this stipulation was not carried out—inability on the part of the Powers to come to an agreement; but no special responsibility rested with England more than with any other Power. The hon. Gentleman spoke of the fortresses on the Danube which were to be razed by the Treaty, and which had not been razed. There was no necessity for razing them, because they had tumbled down of their own accord; and therefore, perhaps, they would not again figure in the next speech of his hon. Friend. [Laughter.] The next point made by the hon. Gentleman was with regard to the Cyprus Convention. He asked for the views of the Government about a statement made a few weeks ago by the First Lord of the Admiralty. What the First Lord of the Admiralty said on that occasion was perfectly true, and, so far from being repudiated, it was sustained and repeated by his colleagues. There was nothing in the Cyprus Convention compelling England to go to war with Turkey if the Sultan did not carry out its clauses. There was an undertaking in the Convention to defend the Asiatic Dominions of Turkey if an attack were delivered, and in return the Sultan was to carry out certain reforms. The Sultan had not performed his part of that engagement, and therefore the corresponding obligations on our part had lapsed. This was no new subject. That announcement was not made for the first time by the First Lord of the Admiralty. The same announcement was made as long ago as 1890 in the time of his predecessor the right hon. Member for East Manchester (Sir J. Fergusson) who was now present. The right hon. Baronet made the statement, which was eagerly accepted by the other side, that this part of the Cyprus Convention was now to be held as being in abeyance. 450 But, because a particular obligation to defend a particular part of the Sultan's dominions against a particular foe ceased to exist, it did not follow that the anterior obligations of a more general and less specialised character were affected. Our obligations to Turkey had been in some respects correctly stated by the hon. Member. They were obligations created by the Treaty of Paris of 1856, by the Special Treaty between Great Britain, Austria, and France of 1856, by the Treaty of London of 1871, and the Treaty of Berlin of 1878. The general character of those obligations was clear and explicit, and from none of them did Her Majesty's Government recede. His hon. Friend concluded his Motion by calling on the Advisers of Her Majesty to take such steps as might be required to fulfil those engagements. He had listened to the hon. Gentleman's speech with great interest to learn what those steps might be, but, having failed to receive enlightenment on the subject from the hon. Gentleman, he had only, on the part of the Government, having explained what the Treaty obligations of the Government with regard to Turkey were, to say that they had no other resource but to meet the Motion of the hon. Gentleman with a negative. [Cheers.]
§ SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs)
said, he had listened with some doubt as to the meaning of the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman as to the views of the Government on the binding force of the Treaties with regard to Turkey. The purpose of the Motion of the hon. Member was to ascertain whether or not Her Majesty's Government considered themselves bound to defend Turkey by force of arms by virtue of the various Treaties that had been made. He thought that this was a very hardy Motion to make in the recent memory of the House as to the frightful massacres that had taken place in Armenia, for which the Government of Turkey were unquestionably responsible. [Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the Cyprus Convention was one in which the promise to defend Asia Minor against Russia was contingent upon the performance by Turkey of the obligations in respect of Asia Minor and Armenia. He listened to that statement with great satisfaction; but when the right hon. 451 Gentleman proceeded to say that under prior Treaties, meaning notably the Treaties of Paris and Berlin, Great Britain was still bound to defend Turkey, he was left in doubt whether it really was the view of the Government that we were bound to defend the Turkish Empire notwithstanding that the Porte had not introduced the necessary reforms. Would the right hon. Gentleman inform the House whether, in view of the recent massacres—the truth of which he admitted—he thought this country was still under any obligation to defend Turkey against any foe that might advance against her? He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that we were now absolved, under the Cyprus Convention, from any obligation to defend Asia Minor against Russia. But he also heard that we were not bound by the Treaty of Berlin or the Treaty of Paris to act individually in defence of the Turkish Empire. Where there was a collective obligation on the Powers of Europe, that obligation could not devolve on one of them unless the others agreed, and we were under no greater obligation under the Treaties to defend the Turkish Empire than any of the other signatory Powers. Even supposing that we were bound by the most explicit Treaty to take action, he could not think that we should be justified in lifting one finger to defend the vile system of Government that prevailed at present in Turkey. ["Hear, hear!"] One hundred years ago a great Statesman in that House spoke of Turkey as a hateful and disgusting Empire, and the same description applied to it still. It was a lamentable reflection that so much blood and treasure had been expended by this country in bolstering up the Turkish Empire. In 1854 promises of reform were made but they were never fulfilled. As in 1854, so again in 1878 this country, carrying out a policy which he deeply regretted, prevented Russia from putting an end to this foul and filthy misgovernment. [Cries of "Oh!" and "Hear, hear!"] Events had proved that policy to be a failure. Lord Salisbury, in a Dispatch referring to the Cyprus Convention, had written that the agreement then made would probably be the last chance of reforming that the Turkish Government would 452 have. Strong as the present Government was, they would never get the House of Commons to consent to give any assistance at all to the horrid Government of Turkey. In the massacre at Sasun and the subsequent massacres in October, November, and December, the representatives of the Great Powers estimated that 25,000 people were killed in cold blood, and many more were believed to have met with the same fate, but their cases could not be verified. Was it to be supposed that we were going to use any of our wealth and power for the purpose of supporting a cursed Government like that of Turkey? [Cheers.] Our policy had hitherto been altogether wrong. We had been endeavouring for 50 years to prevent Russia from overrunning a part of Turkey when it was her manifest destiny that she should go there. He was not an admirer of the Russian Government, and recognised that it had many faults, but it was infinitely superior to a massacring Government like the Turkish. ["Hear, hear!"] We had been endeavouring to bolster up the rotten Government of Turkey in our own interest. He was perfectly certain that the Statesman who initiated that policy never thought what the result of it would be. No Gentleman would come forward now that the supposed interests of India, and our supposed interests in the Mediterranean were to be supported at the price of 25,000 people being massacred in Armenia every 10 or 15 years. While he thought it was bold on the part of the hon. Member to bring forward this Motion, he was glad he had done so, and he hoped that other Members would express their horror at the prospect of a single penny of English money or a single drop of English blood being spent on behalf of this infamous Government.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N. E.)
thought that a more mischievous or a more ill-advised Debate had never taken place. He was sure they all deplored the ill results of the efforts of this country over a long series of years not only to maintain the integrity of the Turkish Empire, but to guide that Empire into better courses with respect to its population; but it was quite another thing to argue that this country was bound to engage itself in all the risks of 453 war in order to fulfil its obligations under a Treaty, the counterpart of which had not been performed, and to forget the many disinterested and heroic acts performed by this country, and its efforts to maintain the peace of the world and the interests of the British Empire. His hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn had utterly failed to maintain his proposition. His right hon. Friend the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs had fully shown that the Cyprus Convention was bilateral, and that the conditions precedent to that fulfilment of our obligations had not been performed. From the very first the House was assured by the responsible Ministers that that Treaty was a conditional one. It was absolutely stated by Minister's in 1878 that the obligations incurred by the Cyprus Convention were conditional; and particularly the representative of the Foreign Office at that time stated that if the corresponding condition was not fulfilled, our obligation was not binding on us. That could not be denied. It would be found in one shape or another in every speech of every Minister who took part in those early Debates. Therefore it was vain for his hon. Friend to contend that the obligation undertaken by this country under that Treaty was still binding. He thought it was most unfortunate that the efforts that were being made to save the Turkish Empire from the results of its own folly should he frustrated by such a Debate. What good object could be attained by it? And what good object could be attained by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite depreciating the efforts of this country in the past?
§ SIR ROBERT REID
I beg pardon. I only regretted that our attempts to get reforms in Turkey had been unsuccessful. I never depreciated the efforts of this country in the past.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
said, he fully accepted that assurance. The efforts of this country had been based on a great policy. Undoubtedly our position as a great Eastern Power largely, and perhaps primarily, actuated us; but that did not compel us to perform our obligations under either the Cyprus Convention or the Berlin Treaty if the corresponding obligations contained in them had not been fulfilled. It must be borne in mind that as a great Empire, we had 454 great responsibilities which could never allow us to become isolated from all the Great Powers of the world.
§ *MR. J. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
felt bound to associate himself, as one of the Members of the late Government, which was responsible for the appointment of Sir Philip Currie, with what had been said by the Under Secretary in defence of that Ambassador. He thought the attack made upon him was very unjust, and that those who had followed the Dispatches would think that he acted with great earnestness and firmness, and few Englishmen placed in the same position would not have acted in the same spirit of humanity. ["Hear, hear!"] When Sir Philip Currie went to Constantinople he was by no means indisposed to regard the Turkish Government with favour, and it was nothing but his conviction of the incurable perversity and wickedness of the Sultan and his Government that altered his view. ["Hear, hear!"] Anybody reading the Dispatches would see that the alteration in Sir Philip's tone towards the Turkish Government was entirely due to the massacre of Sasun, to the proofs that he had of the complicity of the Turkish Government in it, to the dishonesty with which it was attempted to cover up the crimes committed there, to the abominable misconduct of the Turkish Commissioners who were conducting the so-called Inquiry, and to the impossibility he found of moving the Sultan to introduce any measures of reform or to inflict any punishment on those who had committed these crimes. ["Hear, hear!"] No one could have acted with more consistent honesty of purpose, or with a truer sense of what the honour and duty of England required, than Sir Philip Currie, and although his efforts had not, unfortunately, succeeded, from the want of support from other Powers, it had not been his fault. Of all those whose conduct had come before the judgment of that House, and would come before the judgment of posterity in connection with these calamitous events, no reproach could rest on the reputation of Sir Philip Currie. ["Hear, hear!"] As regarded the attempt that had been made to represent Sir Philip's statements as exaggerated, it would be found that the reports he forwarded regarding the massacres were substantially confirmed 455 in the report made by the six delegates of the six Powers acting together at Constantinople, and private information from authentic sources, which many of them had received, showed that the statements in the Blue-book were under rather than over the truth. With regard to the character of the Sultan himself there was a very significant statement which rested on the authority of the six Ambassadors at one of their conferences in November last, when, in a collective remonstrance addressed to the Sultan, they said that the Sultan, if sincere in his professions, could put a stop to the massacres. It was evidently the opinion of the Ambassadors that the massacres were carried on by the authority of the Sultan, and that the exertion of that authority would be sufficient to stop them. That went as far at least as any statement attributed to Sir Philip Currie. ["Hear, hear!"] The general question had been dealt with by his hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries, and he had not a single sentence to add to the very vigorous language he had used—language with which (so far as it related to the character and conduct of the Turkish Government), he concurred and which he thought expressed the general sentiment of the people of this country who had been roused to indignation by the shocking record of crime they had read. [Cheers.] This was no time for talking of establishing cordial relations with a Sovereign who had put to death some 50,000 of his innocent subjects, many of whom might have saved their lives by renouncing Christianity. These victims had died martyrs to their faith, and thus had a double claim upon the sympathy of a Christian people. ["Hear, hear!"] Turkey had long since forfeited any right which any Treaty had given her, either to the sympathy or to the material support of this country. The policy of former years designed to maintain her had irretrievably failed. No British interest required this country to support the loathsome and cruel misgovernment whose character was so fully set forth in the recent Blue-books, and he heartily hoped that never again would any British Government come forward and ask this House to countenance or support any policy which could commit England to the defence or 456 maintenance of a detestable tyranny. [Cheers.]
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
felt bound to protest against the outrageous language which had fallen from the ex-Attorney General, who, although he claimed to speak as a private Member, having held the position he had, spoke with more responsibility than did a private Member. His language was so unusual and so violent that he felt justified in protesting against it. It was language very rarely heard from the Front Bench, and it was language which might possibly cause the Party to which the hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman who endorsed it belonged, very serious and great embarrassment some day. The right hon. Gentleman said they had absolutely no interest in this matter— that it did not matter to us what the policy or the sentiments of the Ottoman Empire, its Government or its people were with regard to this country. Let him remind the House what might happen with regard to the action of the Ottoman Empire. The Sultan might cause them the greatest embarrassment if he took an opposing line in regard to their movements into the Soudan. Supposing the Sultan allowed the Russian war ships in the Black Sea to enter the Mediterranean, if this country was in trouble with France? Supposing the Sultan, provoked to exasperation by the unjust and shameful charges which the right hon. Gentleman had made, preached a Mussulman crusade against them in India? What an effect that might have upon them if they were in any embarrassment or trouble with the Great Powers. These three points illustrated the recklessness and the folly with which these utterances were made. The assertion of the right hon. Gentleman that the Sultan had killed these 50,000 people was a scandal, and a charge which could not be proved by any official statement which had been made, or printed, or laid before the House. There was not a single word of proof in the Blue-books to show that the Sultan was in any way responsible for the massacres at Sasun. So far from that, the Sultan, immediately he heard of them, appointed a Commission to investigate them, and invited the delegates of the Great Powers to attend it and check the 457 inquiry. The Prime Minister himself acquitted the Sultan of personal responsibility. How glibly the right hon. Gentleman slid from the subject of the sham Sasun atrocities to those very real and terrible events which had occurred in Asia Minor during the past four months! There was an interval of 14, or 15 months between the alleged Sasun atrocities and the horrors which began in Asia Minor last October; and how was that interval occupied by Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and their friends in the country? By covering the Sultan and his Government with every kind of unjust abuse and contumely, arousing in every possible way the passion of Mussulman fanaticism by their Christian fanaticism, and encouraging those unfortunate Armenians to proceed with their outbreaks and their conspiracy. The burden of the hon. Gentleman's speech was that they should encourage Russia to occupy those territories, and that a Russian Government would be so much better than a Turkish Government. What was his evidence of that? Was the hon. Gentleman ignorant of the way in which Russia had treated the nations she had conquered? What about the thousands and hundreds of thousands of Poles who had fallen under the Russian Government? What about the 500,000 people who were massacred and done to death during the Russian invasion of Turkey 18 years ago? For every Armenian that had recently suffered death or outrage a hundred Mussulmen suffered death or outrage during that fearful war of 1878. Was the hon. Gentleman ignorant of the way in which General Skobeleff mowed down 12,000 women only 21 years ago. The hon. Gentleman dissented, but was that an indication of ignorance or of disbelief?
§ SRI R. REID
said, he thought that was one of numerous fables. He had said, and he thought, that the Russian Government, in past times particularly, had been very far from a good Government. In many ways it was a very bad Government, but he thought it a much better Government than the Turkish Government.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, that was where he joined issue with the hon. Gentleman, and he was quite prepared to prove that the massacres and 458 outrages perpetrated by Russia were even worse than anything done by the Ottoman Government. He would beg the House to bear in mind that what underlay all this violent language by the Party opposite was a rooted injustice not only to the Turks but to the Mussulman faith. That had been the basis of the ferocious attacks which had been made on the Sultan, and, if it had not been the basis, it had been the form of them, and the effect must be injurious on their Mussulman subjects in India. He had no affection for the Mussulman religion, but he believed in justice to their Mussulman fellow-subjects. They had the right to have their religion treated with respect in that House, and the head of their faith, especially, treated with respect. That course had not been followed, and, instead, hon. Gentlemen opposite had persisted in using reckless language which might cause this country great trouble and, possibly, disaster.
§ MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
said, the statement of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down that there was not a word in the Blue-books to prove that the Sultan was responsible for the massacres was refuted by the Dispatch of Sir Philip Currie of December 17th, in which he stated:—That it is proved by eye-witnesses that the Turkish soldiers took an active part in the massacres in Erzeroum, Trebizond, and many other places, and the fact that foreign subjects and their houses were spared shows that the attacks were organized, and that orders must have been given to single out the Armenian subjects of the Sultan.There was abundant ground for saying, even on the authority of our own Consuls, that these massacres, in very many cases at least, had been organised and carried out by the local authorities in obedience to orders received from Constantinople. In fact, he did not believe there was a single intelligent person acquainted with the facts who did not believe that the massacres were committed at the instigation of the Sultan himself. ["Hear, hear!" and cries of "No!"] A proof of it was that in every case the men who had acted most infamously in these horrors had been decorated by the Sultan, and there was no case known in which an author or director, of the massacres had been punished in any way. ["Hear, hear!"] 459 He appealed to the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs to corroborate what he said. He challenged the Government to deny that much information in regard to these horrors had been kept back from the public because the facts were often too horrible and detestable to publish. It was a disgrace to civilisation that these horrors were still being perpetrated over a large part of Asia Minor; and surely some active steps should be taken to stop them. He regretted that one or two hon. Members opposite had sought rather to minimise the massacres, but trustworthy information proved over and over again that their extent and cruelty had really been understated. He had before him the testimony of a well-known Englishman who had been three years in the country, and in the very midst of the massacres, and his evidence justified all that had been said as to the massacres. He believed that more than 50,000 Armenians had been killed, and that at least 50,000 more had perished from exposure and starvation. Was not this a disgrace to civilisation? He was glad to hear the noble words which had been spoken on the matter from the Front Opposition Bench that night. He believed they echoed the feelings of the vast majority of the English people, and that they would, therefore, give great satisfaction. [''Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. T. W. LEGH (Lancashire, Newton)
said, that while the hon. Member for Aberdeen congratulated the House and the country on the fact that we were able to repudiate any responsibility for the Turkish Empire in consequence of what he called the detestable conduct of Turkey, he hoped, at the same time, he would repudiate any special responsibility on our part to interfere in the internal affairs of that country. [''Hear, hear!"] In spite of what the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs had said, he did not think Sir Philip Currie could fairly be acquitted of a certain amount of injudiciousness. The letter which he wrote to the Duke of Westminster, and which had been quoted, was not altogether discreet, and might have led to trouble. He had always understood his hon. Friends entertained sound views on this question, and therefore he was entirely at a loss to understand their action to-night. What benefit did they expect to get by making this Motion? 460 Who was going to break a Treaty, and what need was there to impress on the Government the necessity of carrying out our obligations? His hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn dwelt upon the necessity of what he called vindicating our good faith with regard to the Cyprus Convention. What proof was there of ill faith on our part? We occupied Cyprus for military purposes, and we paid a handsome rent for the privilege of doing so, and we did so still. Did Austria pay for the privilege of occupying Bosnia and Herzegovina? Did the French pay for the privilege of occupying Tunis. The First Lord of the Admiralty interpreted the Cyprus Convention very differently to the hon. Member for King's Lynn, and he much preferred the interpretation of the right hon. Gentleman. The First Lord's view was, he was sure, held by 999 out of every 1,000 people. He failed to see what useful purpose would be served by raising this question, and if the hon. Member for King's Lynn were well advised he would ask leave to withdraw his Motion.
§ MR. LEONARD COURTNEY
said that he agreed with the hon. Member for Newton as to the uselessness of this discussion, and yet he felt constrained to add a word or two with respect to one point. He was glad to hear the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs state so clearly what had been already stated by a higher authority in the Government—namely, that our obligation under the Cyprus Convention had practically ceased. That was the only obligation under which we had ever been towards Turkey itself. Under that Convention we did undoubtedly undertake to, under certain conditions, defend Turkey in Asia against Russian aggression. Turkey had not performed her part of that bargain, and, therefore, we were freed from our part. Under the Treaty of Paris we entered into engagements with other European Powers, but not with Turkey itself. He was not much concerned now with the Treaty of Paris, but he rose to say a word about the Tripartite Treaty which was agreed upon immediately after the Treaty of Paris between this country, France and Austria. To his surprise the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs spoke of that Treaty as still valid and 461 subsisting. It was necessary to repudiate that at once. That was a Treaty of a very onerous character indeed, entered into by us with Austria and with France, under which each Power was bound on the requisition of either Power to join it in defence of the independence and integrity of the Ottoman Empire a most stringent and terrible obligation. They had lived 40 years since then. The Government communicated with France and Austria that they would no longer be bound, under the altered circumstances of the day, by that Treaty. Lord Derby then said there was not the remotest chance of their ever being called upon by France or Austria to co-operate under the Treaty. They knew soon afterwards Russia was attacked by Turkey. The Treaty was now of no value, and he thought it necessary to rise to offer these few words as a protest against the unguarded observations of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
*MR. EDWARDMOON (St, Pancras. N.)
said, the operative part of the Article relating to Armenia in the Treaty of San Stefano was reproduced verbatim in Article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin. Article 61 further provided that the Powers should supervise the execution of the guarantees given by Turkey in the first part of the article. The portion of Asia Minor which was covered by the Treaty of San Stefano did not affect the district which bad been the scene of recent lamentable occurrences; he therefore thought that it was unjust for hon. Gentlemen opposite to say that Armenia would be is a better position to day if they had not prevented Russia having her way. They did modify the Treaty of San Stefano so far as it applied to Turkey in Europe, but, so far an it applied to Turkey in Asia, the modification practically made no difference at all.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
suggested that the discussion should be brought to a conclusion as soon as possible. Such an abstract discussion in connection with our duty in Eastern Europe might well be left to another occasion. It had been discussed more than once in the present Session.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said, there were still three or four Motions to be discussed on this particular question, one of which would require an hour's discussion, and another two hours. After that the Report of Supply must be taken, and that would be the only opportunity they would have of raising two or three questions of considerable importance. He appealed, therefore to the, First Lord of the Treasury to allow this discussion to be adjourned in order that the Report of Supply might be taken.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
said, he had already stated the position in which they stood. It must be remembered that new the House had an opportunity of discussing Supply very week. If hon. Gentlemen had taken the advice he gave in a spirit of conciliation at 4 o'clock that afternoon, they would have been spared three hours of perfectly unnecessary Debate. He was afraid he could not accept the suggestion.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
thought the right hon. Gentleman would be surprised to hear that eight out of the 11 hon. Members who had spoken were supporters of the Government. There were several matters which were ready for discussion. He understood that an hon. Member front Wales had a very important subject which he wished to bring forward, and, after that had been disposed of, an hon. Member from Ireland had a subject of equal interest, which he desired should be discussed. He himself had an Amendment upon the Paper, and after that the hon. Member from Wales had got another subject—an altogether new subject—quite a different subject —which he proposed should be debated. He quite sympathised with the desire of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury to get through the business of the House as rapidly as possible; but there was no earthly object in getting the Speaker out of the Chair on these Estimates that night, except that of facilitating the progress of business. If the right hon. Gentleman were 463 to consent to adjourn the Debate until the first Thursday after the holidays, he would in all probability make quite as much progress on the Thursday and Friday as he would if he forced them to continue the discussion that night. As the right hon. Gentleman was aware, the discussion on the Estimates could be made to last a long time in certain circumstances, or it might be considerably shortened if a friendly feeling prevailed. He really believed that the right hon. Gentleman would make greater progress if he took the course he suggested.
§ Question put, "That the question be now put."
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 197; Noes, 55.—(Division List, No. 84.)
§ The House was cleared for a Division, and Members were locked in the Division Lobbies, when Lord Stanley, one of the Tellers for the "Ayes," made a Report to Mr. Speaker, who thereupon ordered the doors to be unlocked. Members having resumed their places,
§ *MR. SPEAKER
said: I named two hon. Members as Tellers—Dr. Tanner 464 and Mr. Pickersgill. The hon. Member for Mid Cork declined to tell, and upon inquiry being made in the "No" Lobby, no other hon. Member was ready to tell. There being no Teller therefore for the "Noes," I declare that the "Ayes" have it. [Cheers.]