THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY moved: —
That to-morrow this House do meet at Twelve of the Clock, and, at its rising, do Adjourn till Thursday June 17th, and that, so soon as Government business is disposed of Mr. Speaker do Adjourn the House without Question put.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
said it would be inexcusable, in view of the work that remained to be done on the Workmen (Compensation for Accidents) Bill, if a friend of that Bill were to cause any long delay on the Motion before the House. The Foreign Office Vote had been postponed for the purpose of affording an opportunity for a general discussion upon the foreign policy of the Government on pending questions, such as affairs in the farther East in connection with China and Korea, while there were other foreign matters of importance, such as the treatment of slaves in the East Africa Protectorate, which could be dealt with on the Diplomatic and Consular Vote. But there were two questions as to which there would be a feeling in the country that an opportunity which would not offer again for a couple of weeks ought to be taken advantage of to elicit some information from the Government with regard to Turkey and Greece. With regard to Greece he would not attempt to press the Government, seeing that delicate negotiations were still in h progress, although of course he should be glad the Government could give the House any information. But it appeared to him that nothing could remove the impression under which many Members of the House rested, namely, that a terrible condition of affairs prevailed in Crete for which the policy of the Powers was in a large degree responsible. When the blockade of Crete became effective, on March 21, the policy of the Government was autonomy for Crete—autonomy of a very complete description—and the immediate removal of the Greek and Turkish forces. The whole of the Greek troops had left Crete now some time, but not a single Turkish soldier had been withdrawn from the island, and while the Powers had landed troops in considerable numbers, and while the British Power was represented by large forces, yet the Admirals appeared to be unable to maintain order, even in the town actually garrisoned by our troops. A question was put just now by the hon. Member for East Mayo, who had made a careful study of the Cretan question, and questions were put by him on the previous day, and from the answers given it appeared that disorder prevailed actually in Canea itself, and that prisoners—the persons who were 188 supposed to have been implicated in the attack by the Mahomedans upon a Greek village, in which a number of people were killed a few days ago—these prisoners were released by the mob under the very eyes of our troops. He confessed that the Blue-book laid before the House appeared to have been selected in a very curious fashion. The Dispatches seemed to have been taken out here and there, a portion only of the story being told, and here and there with references to papers of the same date which were not disclosed. Certainly the effect was to create an unjust prejudice, in his opinion, against one side in this particular dispute. The Admirals were no doubt very excellent Admirals, from the naval point of view, but as far as he could judge of their conduct from the Blue-book, they had not displayed great diplomatic powers or great powers of governing in connection with the settlement of the solution of the immediate Cretan question. Admirals, the most distinguished, had not always been successful in diplomacy. Nelson tried to affect the policy of the Two Sicilies, but he made no great display in the art of government. Certainly the Admirals in relation to the affairs of Crete seemed to be in face of a worse state of things at the present moment than they were three months ago. The Government were very deeply committed to the establishment in Crete of a very complete form of autonomy; they were absolutely committed to the withdrawal of every Turkish soldier from the island; but they saw no progress whatever being made towards the solution of this question. Things in Crete were going from bad to worse. Even on the evidence of the Blue-book and of our Admiral himself, the steps we were now taking were making things worse, because he showed in the Blue Book that every day that passed made it more and more difficult for the island to settle down, and to be brought under capable, prosperous, and contented government. No doubt the Government had told the House that their excuse for letting things slide along in Crete as they were going on now, was that the question of the Greek frontier must be settled, the Treaty of Peace between Turkey and Greece signed, and the question of the indemnity regulated before the Cretan 189 question could be settled. He was afraid from what he had seen in the past of this Cretan question, especially from what they had seen in the past few months, that this was merely a policy of postponement. ["Hear, hear!"] So long as they went on trying to govern Crete by a council of war composed of six Admirals, things would continue to go from bad to worse in that island. Nothing but the choice of a skilful administrator and diplomatist to act as the commissary of the different Powers was likely to lead to the cessation of the present state of things, which, in his belief, was a disgrace to Europe. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. DILLON
desired to call attention to the recent sortie from the town of Candia. It might appear to some people that these quarrels and bloody encounters, on a small scale, between the Mahomedan and Christian population of Crete, were small matters, but they were not small in their possible consequences, as they would realise when they remembered that this sortie of Candia was an occurrence exactly analogous to those which in the months of January and February last preceded the burning of Canea, and led up to the subsequent bombardment, blockade and war of Thessaly. Therefore, small as the matters were, it must be recognised that they might lead to the most regrettable consequences. So long as the Greek troops were retained in Crete, every request that was made to the Government to hurry up their operations in Crete, to declare the details of their policy of autonomy and go forward with the work of restoring peace in that island, was met with the one answer, that the occupation by the Greek troops was the only obstacle. Over and over again pledges were made from the Treasury Bench that the moment the Greek troops were withdrawn peace would be restored to the island, and the work of free government taken in hand. The last of the Greek troops left Crete on the 23rd May; it was now the 3rd June, but instead of any step being taken in the direction of giving peace and freedom to Crete they saw that fatal course of operations being indulged in which on so many previous occasions had been deliberately commenced by the Mahomedan population, with the view of involving the whole island in anarchy and confu- 190 sion. This particular sortie was the first blow struck since the Greek troops left the island, and the Christian population would have reason, therefore, to doubt the promises which had been made to them by the Powers in the presence of whose very troops such an occurrence was allowed to take place, although they were there presumably for the express purpose of seeing that law and order were maintained. The Candia correspondent of The Times stated on the 26th that a sortie was about to take place, but the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs on being questioned on Friday the 27th of May stated that the Foreign Office had no information about the sortie. Two days after being so questioned, the sortie took place, the right hon. Gentleman stating, that it had been secretly organised, and carried out without the slightest suspicion of such intention on the part of the Mahomedans or the Governor of the place. But it was clear, as was shown by the intimation given by The Times correspondent, that the contemplated sortie must have been a matter of common knowledge. What action did the Powers propose to take to secure the punishment of the men who had engaged in the sortie and in the outrages incident to it? He was rather surprised at an answer given by the Under Secretary to the question who was responsible for order and law in Candia. The right hon. Gentleman replied that the Turkish Governor was so responsible. All he had to say was that it was a bad look out for law and order. That was another way of saying that no man's life or property was safe. It was impossible for any one of the six Powers to wash their hands of responsibility for the acts of ruthlessness and violence, conducted under the very shadow of their flags. It was idle for them to disclaim the responsibility which the fact of the occupation of the island cast upon them.
I was not disclaiming it. I especially acknowledged it. Whilst I said in the first paragraph of my answer that the Turkish Governor was responsible for the maintenance of law and order in the town, I went on to say it must be considered that he is under the direction of the Admirals who represent the Powers and have control of the European occupying troops.
§ MR. DILLON
hoped instructions would be sent to the Admirals to show the same alacrity in restoring order and seeing justice carried out that they displayed in shelling the insurgents on another occasion around Candia. It was said that after the Greek troops had left the island the blockade would cease. The troops had left, and yet the blockade continued. There was no blockade against the Mahomedan inhabitants, but against the Christians, without distinction of person or sex. Why, now the Greek troops had left, was the blockade maintained? He was convinced that, if at the beginning, the Cretan population had been treated with a little consideration and kindness, the bombardments which had shocked the moral sentiment of the country, and the war in Thessaly would never have taken place. If the Cretans had not been treated as rebels and enemies, but with common sense and sympathy, showing that this country meant to do them justice and to rescue them from the position in which they were placed, a peaceful arrangement might have been brought about. He bad asked why the Admirals' Dispatches had been published, while previous and far more interesting and valuable papers had been kept back. A sentence in the Dispatch of Rear-Admiral Harris of March 4th showed that, however estimable he might be, he was utterly unfit to deal with the insurgent population. Before he had had any opportunity of making himself acquainted with the character of the Cretan people, he wrote speaking of them as a savage race who only understood force. No wonder he soon began to use force, and concluded that force was the only remedy. But history showed that the Cretans had had nothing but force for three centuries. It was just another sample of what was admitted by all nations to be characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon race—the utter incapacity to understand suffering races such as the Cretans. In connection with the Jubilee celebrations, it was his intention to put a question to the Government as to whether they proposed to follow the example of all civilised nations by taking the occasion of the great national thanksgiving to extend a measure of amnesty to the political prisoners now lying in gaol in this country and in Ireland. The Government 192 had been questioned over and over again on that subject, and the stereotyped answer was that they had nothing more to say in addition to what had been said by the Home Secretary. It was impossible to deny that it was the custom of civilised nations on occasions of national rejoicing to signalise them by the remission of sentences. On the occasion of the Coronation of the late Czar, upwards of 1,000 prisoners were released. The Jubilee celebration was undoubtedly an occasion of great national rejoicing to Great Britain and the Empire, but it was an occasion in which the Irish people could not join. Even if the Government should be so well advised as to release those prisoners—about a dozen in number—he (Mr. Dillon) could not pretend that that would cause the Irish people to join in the Jubilee celebrations, but it would have a considerable effect in lessening the bitterness that existed in Ireland in reference to this matter. [Cheers.] A few weeks ago a strange interview took place between Mr. Greene, England's representative in Pretoria, and the President of the Republic. Mr. Greene called upon President Kruger and asked him to release the Johannesburg prisoners still in gaol. President Kruger replied that they could get out by signing some papers which had already been signed by other prisoners released. The prisoners said they could not see their way to sign the papers, and Mr. Greene pointed out to Mr. Kruger that it was the custom of most civilised countries that when the circumstances in connection with which criminals had been sentenced had passed away, the sentences were reconsidered. "Am I to look upon your country as uncivilised?" said Mr. Greene. Mr. Kruger, in reply, said:—You have in Ireland still in your gaols, I am informed, Irish political prisoners who have lain there for 12 or 13 or 14 years, and yet your Government refuses to consider their sentences. Am I to conclude that your country is uncivilised?He was informed that Mr. Greene thereupon withdrew, and pursued the subject no further. There really was no answer to that. It was said that England was one of the most liberty-loving countries in the world, and the Government professed to administer their laws with humanity, and yet no civilised nation 193 had under similar circumstances of rejoicing refusesl to open the prison doors to those unfortunate political prisoners. He did believe that if these political prisoners were released, it would create a profound effect upon public sentiment in Ireland. The proposition had been laid down recently that these prisoner, should not be dealt with except on considerations of health. He had heard more than one Chief Secretary repudiate, as he would a most scandalous charge, the suggestion that political considerations should influence him in regard to these prisoners, and up to the present time no Irish political prisoners had been amnestied; they had only been released when the condition of their health was such that any prisoner would have been released under similar circumstances. He directed the attention of the house to the Debate which took place in that House in 1877, when Mr. J. O'Connor Power moved a Resolution in favour of amnesty. Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Gathorne Hardy, and Lord Harrington spoke on that occasion, and Lord Hartington then said that supposing these men were to be treated as political prisoners, if on general grounds Her Majesty's advisers, acting upon their own responsibility, came to the conclusion that the political advantages which would accompany a general amnesty of these political offenders would be such as to outweigh any disadvantages which might arise from, their release, he believed that such a decision would be received with the greatest possible satisfaction on his side el the House. That opinion was also endorsed by Mr. Gathorne Hardy. The principle had been laid down and accepted on both sides of the House that these questions of dealing with politic prisoners should be looked at from the point of view of political expediency, end if the Government would not accept that view, they would be going back to an earlier and more illiberal policy. It was open to the Government to consider whether the effect on Ireland of releasing these prisoners would not be well worth any disadvantages which might occur, and whether it would not be a good stroke of policy. He did not believe for a single moment that even if all these men were released, the Irish people could take an active part in the Jubilee celebration, but he was deeply convinced 194 that if the political prisoners were released as a part of the Jubilee proceedings, it would create a profound effect on public sentiment in Ireland, and would lead to great political advantages.
THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASRY
I will not discuss how far it was tiling for the hon. Gentleman to say that his party proposes to take no part in the Jubilee celebration, or whether he made that the foundation of the appeal winch he has addressed to the House. ["Hear, hear!"] But in any case I will at once say that we are really absolved from following the line of his argument from the fact that we differ from him fundamentally as to the premisses on which that argument was base,. He has quoted a conversation which I personally had not heard of before, which is alleged to have taken place between President Kruger and Mr. Greene. Mr. Kruger, according to the hon. Gentleman, has been under the impression that we were keeping in prison in this country prisoners who, in ordinary parlance, would be described as political prisoners. Now, the hon. Gentleman knows that that is not our opinion. I think I should probably be not far wrong when I say that if President Kruger knew the facts, he would not deny that we were right, neither would he be disposed to release, nor would any Englishman propose that he should release any individuals who, in the furtherance of their designs, used dynamite of attempted to use dynamite—["hear, hear!"]—and endeavoured to further their designs by means abhorrent to every moral and every civilised man. Sir, that is the real answer to the hon. Gentleman. If the persons with whom we were concerned were of the class of the Fenian conspirators, who, I imagine, were in question in the Debate to which he referred, I could understand the relevance of his speech, whether I should agree with his opinions or not; but I deny that the speech is relevant at all at the present time. The persons for whom he is pleading, in our view, and in the view of the majority on both sides of the House, are not to be classed among political prisoners, and it is a view which we have so often expressed in the House before that I do not propose to discuss it now.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
No, what the Home Secretary said was that these prisoners had a political object in the crime which they sought to commit, and that was true, but that they did not on that account fairly come within that classification in which the lion. Gentleman desired to place them. They cannot and ought not to be treated in the manner in which the Fenians, for example, were treated on the occasion to which the hon. Gentleman has referred. That is all I need say, I think, on the well-worn theme of the dynamite prisoners now serving their term of imprisonment. I will say a few words upon the Debate upon Cretan affairs raised by the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean and by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I do not think I need say very much on the subject; it must be felt by the House that this is not the time at which it would be possible for the Government to give a full account of the exact state of the negotiations now taking place. A full account of the main lines of the policy of the Government has been often given, and does not require to be repeated; of the details of the negotiations with the other Powers by which that policy is to be carried into effect, this is hardly the time to speak. I think both the Gentlemen who have addressed us seem to hold, as we certainly hold, that the discussion on foreign affairs should be delayed until some time when we can take it up with more liberty, and can take the House into our full confidence in regard to the course of the negotiations dealing both with Crete and Greece. Let me further say that I think the hon. Gentleman's reference to recent events in Canea is calculated to give an extremely false impression both to the House and the country. I believe I am right in saying that the most regrettable incident to which he referred is one of three incidents only in which the Mahommedan population, or any section of them, have got out of hand; and, considering the perennial hostility between the two sections of islanders, the constant attacks to which the Mahommedans have been subjected, and that through all these months it is the Christians who have been on the offensive and the Mahommedans on the defensive, I think we have reason to congratulate ourselves that, on the whole, 196 matters have not been worse than they have been. I think very little would be served by recapitulating the equally regrettable incidents which have marked on many occasions the actions of the insurgents. The hon. Gentleman is perfectly well aware that such incidents have occurred, and such incidents are, I fear, inevitable when you are dealing with a state of things such as prevails now in Crete. But I think common justice both to the Admirals, to the European troops, and to the Mahomedan population ought to compel us to say that, on the whole, the deplorable, act of retaliation to which reference has been made is but one of a very small number of similar acts which were done, most unfortunately, but which were done under very serious provocation. The hon. Gentleman appears to think that we are to blame for not having succeeded in convincing the great majority of the inhabitants of Crete that their best interests would be served by at once accepting the solution of the situation suggested by the Powers, and that they might find in us the true friends of Crete and Greece. I do not know whether we have been guilty of any acts of omission in this respect, but the persons who have been most sedulously occupied in telling the Cretans that ail our efforts were misguided, and that the end of those efforts must be failure, have been the hon. Gentleman and those who have spoken as he has in this House. [Cheers.] The right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean seems to be under the impression that things in Crete are going from bad to worse. Undoubtedly a condition of disorganisation and anarchy cannot last as long as it has lasted in Crete without producing very deplorable consequences, and leaving behind it many regrettable remembrances which it will take long, perhaps, wholly to efface. But I think I can assure the House that we need not take a pessimistic view of the future of the island. The difficulties of the situation, no doubt, are great, and they are aggravated, and must be aggravated, by the fact that we have not only to deal with the problem of Crete, but also with the more difficult and pressing problem of the settlement of the basis of peace between Turkey and Greece. But although those difficulties have to be contended with, I see no reason why they 197 should not be surmounted. This is a transitional epoch, and I fully grant that we cannot expect to see order restored in Crete until the transitional method of dealing with the situation which the Powers have been driven to adopt shall have come to an end. It is not until there is a governor with a gendarmerie at his disposal, it is not until those elements of good government are established in Crete, that we can hope to see there the fruits of liberty and autonomy which, I cannot doubt, will in Crete, as elsewhere, do so much to promote the happiness of the inhabitants of the island. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. JAMES BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said that he did not rise for the purpose of making any criticism upon what the right hon. Gentleman called the policy of the Government, but only to call attention to the fact that, as far as the public could judge, no progress whatever was being made in carrying out that policy. Three months had now elapsed since the right hon. Gentleman's declaration that the policy of the Government was "Peace for Europe and autonomy for Crete." As far as Crete was concerned, we were not one step more advanced than we were in March, and the population of the island was almost more exasperated and distrustful than it had ever been. People were watching, the conduct of the Powers and of the Government with astonishment and regret. The first and obvious course for them to take would be to procure the removal of the Turkish troops. He did not believe that there would have been any great difficulty in pacifying the Cretan people if those troops had been removed. That step would have been an earliest of the good intentions of the Powers, in which it was almost impossible for the Cretans to believe while the Turkish troops remained in the island. If it was said that the troops could not be removed for fear of attacks by the Christians on the Mussulman population, it must be clear that the only alternative course would be to settle at once the terms of autonomy and to bring these terms to the knowledge of the Cretan people. Last Tuesday the First Lord of the Treasury told them, however, that no progress had been made, and that the terms of autonomy had not yet been settled. In those circumstances they were bound to suppose that the 198 concert of Europe was as much divided on this subject as it had been on other matters, and that the suspicions and jealousies which had prevented the Powers from co-operating in other directions were also preventing them from cooperating in regard to Crete. He regarded the present position with the greatest anxiety, and feared that the prolongation of the state of tension in Crete might influence gravely the situation on the mainland and might even endanger that European peace for the preservation of which they were told such sacrifices had been made.
§ *SIR ELLIS ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
said that the right Lon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Bryce) evidently belonged to the class of the unteachable. He complained of no progress being made in the pacification of Crete during the past two mouths. He had evidently forgotten that his friends were largely responsible for the unfortunate events in Greece, and so for the postponement of the pacification of Crete. Had they not all heard of the famous telegram sent by 100 Members of that House, which had some influence in precipitating Greece into the unfortunate struggle in which she had engaged? He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman himself signed that telegram, but, if he did not, he was quite capable of signing it.[Laughter.] The right hon. Gentleman, who complained that no progress had been made in Crete, might recollect with profit this and similar episodes. He had rejoiced to hear the Leader of the House render justice to the conduct of the Mussulmans in Crete, and he thought it was time that hon. Members opposite should consider seriously what had been the practical outcome of their policy of vilifying and abusing the Turkish Sovereign, the Turkish Government, and the Turkish people. Whom had they thereby benefited? Had they benefited the Armenians, or the Cretans, or their protégés. the Greeks? They had absolutely done no good to any class, or nation, or interest in the world by their policy of atrocity mongering and sham sentiment. [Opposition cries of "Oh!"]
§ *SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said the number of 100,000 was a great exaggeration; but the violent and calumnious attacks upon Turkey and Mussulmans in general, long before any real atrocities had occurred in Asia Minor, were largely responsible for the subsequent troubles and loss of life which he had always deeply deplored. It would, indeed, be wise for hon. Gentlemen opposite to consider whether the course of injustice and calumny towards Turkey in which they had indulged for the last two years had been successful in any way, even from a party point of view. He agreed that it would be unwise to attempt to discuss now in detail the terms of peace between Turkey and Greece. It was generally accepted in this country that Turkey was practically forced into the war, and as the Turkish Government had behaved with remarkable forbearance and moderation before and during the struggle, he trusted that after it they would show themselves to be magnanimous. But it was hardly the right way to induce the Turkish Power to be forbearing to attribute to it constantly—as was recklessly done by a section of the English Press—every sort of malign and unjust motive in the peace negotiations. It was only natural that a Power which had been forced into war and which had been victorious, should claim certain advantages. To deliberately charge that Power with unfairness, evil intent, and underhand dealing, because it endeavoured to do its best for its own people, was a monstrous and very unwise act in the interests of Greece and of general peace. [Cheers.] The House ought not to overlook the tremendous dangers to which this war exposed Turkey. It was not only the danger of meeting Greece, because that was a comparatively small one, but it was the tremendous danger that the other Balkan States, and even Russia herself, should join in the war against Turkey. In his opinion, Turkey and Greece ought to be friends, and not enemies, and he was glad to say that he found that opinion shared by many leading personages both in Greece and Turkey. [Cheers.] Greece was the one anti-Slav State in the Balkan Peninsula, and Turkey was, of course, the chief bulwark for guarding Constantinople and the Straits against Slavonic conquest. That these two countries 200 should have endeavoured to weaken each other by a wholly needless war was deplorable. If it was true that there was a powerful influence in Europe Which had encouraged Greece in its unfortunate attack upon Turkey, a great and desperate crime had been committed for which he hoped the Power that was responsible alight some day have to suffer. The conspicuous feature of the war was the manifestation of the true power of Turkey and the high qualities of the Turkish people, whose strength many people in this country had been inclined to underestimate. The war had proved that Turkey was a very important military Power; it had proved beyond all doubt the splendid courage of her soldiers, and it had also proved how great was the discipline and good conduct of the Turkish troops. He hoped these facts would be remembered when hon. Gentlemen opposite were led to indulge in indiscriminate abuse of Turkey. British influence did not, at present, stand high at Constantinople. He lamented the fact, which was largely due to the hon. Gentlemen who took part in this atrocity-mongering campaign. It was also largely due to the errors of the British representative at Constantinople. ["Hear, hear!] Other Powers had had the intelligence, while many persons in England had been raving and abusing Turkey without rhyme or reason, to offer their support and protection to Turkey, and the result was that other Powers had gained the influence which we had lost. German policy had been as wise towards Turkey as British policy had of late been unfortunate. In any great Eastern struggle, such as we might find ourselves involved in at any time, as also in a great European war, the balance of military power would be held by those splendid Ottoman troops. As to the speech of the hon. Member for Mayo with respect to Crete, the hon. Member had shown his usual onesidedness and intemperance of language. The value of the hon. Member's opinion on Eastern questions might be gauged from the indiscriminate condemnation which he passed on the Imperial qualities of the Anglo-Saxon race. The hon. Gentleman said that the Anglo-Saxon race alone exhibited a total incapacity for sympathy with and humanity to inferior races.
§ *SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said he would adopt the words of the hon. Member, and say that no race showed so much capacity for sympathy with suffering people as the Anglo-Saxon race. The history of India should have given the hon. Member pause in such a statement. [Cheers.] In the whole of his speech the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dillon) had made no single reference to the outrages and massacres committed by the Cretan Christians on Mahomedans. For he last 12 months, and especially for the last five months, the Christians had murdered every Mussulman, man, woman, or child, they could get hold of. In one district 1,100 were massacred in a fortnight; and the other day 300 orphan Mahomedan children were sent from Crete to Constantinople. This question was always treated by Members opposite in a onesided way. In the case of Armenia none of the many atrocity-mongers ever said a word as to the fact that many of those unfortunate massacres were started by Mussulman refugees from Bulgaria of twenty years ago, who had seen their homes destroyed and their families outraged and murdered by Christian invaders, and who themselves were forced to leave all that was dear to them and to take refuge in the towns and villages of Asia Minor. Nor was any reference made by our Turcophile politicians to the deliberate provocation given by the Armenian revolutionary conspirators, in order to provoke Mussulman reprisals. These facts were not a complete justification, but should be borne in mind in considering the question. ["Hear, hear!"] There was a great deal to be said for Turkey and the Turks, and if the events that had taken place only led hon. Gentlemen to be fair and just to the Mussulman, something would have been accomplished for the future peace and good government of these Eastern countries. ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. Member was anxious that the Turkish troops should be hustled out of Crete. Everyone bore witness to the admirable discipline and good conduct of those troops, and upon their presence in the island depended the lives and fortunes of 100,000 Mussulman refugees. The returns showed that the Mussulman population of Crete had been greatly 202 under-rated. There were over 100,000 Mussulmans, and at least 60,000 were now dependent on charity. The Christian insurgents had driven them from their homes and seized their food and their property. If the Turkish troops were removed from Crete, and unless the Powers were prepared to treble the European forces there, the lives of the Mussulmans would be in danger, and there would be scenes of carnage which would throw into the shade the worst deeds of Armenia. Moreover, the sailors of the allied fleets now on shore were actually dependent for their protection upon the Turkish troops. He was glad to know that there had been a great improvement in the public knowledge and feeling in this country on the Cretan question, and especially with regard to the character of the Turks. He hoped before long to see the old policy of friendly pressure substituted for the new policy of hostile coercion. There was sonic chance of restoring the old understanding and good feeling between Turkey and England, which was absolutely necessary for the power and well-being of both countries.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said that he should be sorry to hold the Government responsible for the hon. Member for the Ecclesall division; but he would advise them, if they wished to curtail debate, to muzzle the hon. Member. ["Hear, hear," and laughter.] When the hon. Member threw across the House such terms as "sham sentiment" and "atrocity-mongering," and advocated a return to the alliance between this country and Turkey, it was more than flesh and blood could stand. [Cheers.] But the hon. Member stood alone in his views; and there was a fixed determination on both sides that never again under any circumstances should there be any alliance between this country and Turkey. [Cheers, and cries of "Oh!"] "Sham sentiment" meant that people had deplored and denounced the massacre of 100,000 human beings; and "atrocity-mongering" meant that meetings had been held to express the indignation which had been excited. He preferred such sham sentiment to the genuine sentiment of the hon. Gentleman; and as to such atrocity-mongering, the country would have been false to its best traditions if it had not taken part in it. No one denied the bravery of the Turkish 203 troops; but the victory did not alter the merits of the struggle, which was between civilisation on the one side and savagery on the other. [Cheers, and cries of "No!"] Did any one propose to hand over to Turkey, except for perhaps a fortress or pass, a single rood of the land which had been won back to civilisation and Christianity? The world had made up its mind with regard to Turkey. [Cheers.]
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said that undoubtedly there were Members in this House—and he was one of them—who held that Turkey should not be deprived of the fruits of her victory. [Cries of "Oh!"] Turkey had succeeded where the whole Concert of Europe had failed. The Concert of Europe had been engaged for months in the endeavour to get the Greek troops out of Crete; they were defied by Greece and by Colonel Vassos, and they could not get a single man or gun out of the island. It was reserved for the despised Turk, by a series of the most brilliant and glorious victories she had ever won—[Cries of "Oh!"]—to effect that which the Concert of Europe failed to effectt, and Dow the Greek soldiers had left Crete. The Turk had drawn the chestnuts out of the fire for the Concert; was he to have no chestnut for himself—all the more that it was his own chestnut? Thessaly was at this moment under mortgage to Turkey for the payment of the debt due to it by the Greek Government. By the Convention of May 1881, the Powers of Europe undertook to fix the portion of the foreign Government debt which should be paid by Greece in consideration of the cession to her of Thessaly. The Powers of Europe had never to this day done their duty, and Greece had bean permitted to occupy the territory without assuming that portion of the debt which belonged to her. Now the mortgagee had come into possession. Turkey had a double claim to a portion at least of this territory. She had the claim of a mortgagee in possession, and the claim of every victor who had been put to the hazard of war and won the hazard. But there was more than this. The Ottoman Empire had been forced to defend itself first against the most disorderly and lawless bands, whom even the Greeks themselves now repudiated, and then against 204 the Greek regulars. Was the sacrificed expenditure of blood by Turkey alone not to be regarded in all the history of war? Did not Turkey herself have to pay a large indemnity to Russia? And that indemnity had been paid punctually as arranged year by year. There was not a penny of that debt in arrear at this moment. He believed that an indemnity of 10 millions was not at all an excessive indemnity for Greece to pay; but whether that was so or not, at any rate Turkey was entitled to hold as a pledge for the payment of that indemnity the territory she had conquered until the indemnity was paid. He hoped the Government would not commit themselves to what he considered would be the tremendous blunder of undertaking to coerce Turkey to leave the conquered territory before she had received adequate satisfaction for the sacrifices she had undergone. He doubted, indeed, whether it was in the power of this country or the whole Concert of Europe to turn the Turks out of Thessaly now they were there; even assuming that they all agreed to attempt the task. He urged another point. From the newspapers he gathered that the Ambassadors at Constantinople had been made plenipotentiaries for the purpose of conducting the negotiations. He trusted that was not the ease, and that Her Majesty's Government would themselves keep control of the negotiations. It would be improper to avoid saying that Her Majesty's Government at Constantinople had failed in every one of the five plans which he had proposed—[Cries of "Oh"!]—for the improvement of the Turkish Empire. That being so, that Ambassador was not a man to be left there as plenipotentiary to settle on behalf of England the terms of this most important peace—a peace, the terms of which would affect the future of Europe for many generations.
§ MR. J. A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)
took the opportunity of protesting against the policy of the Government with regard to the continuance of slavery over the area in East Africa over which they had direct control. Last week the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs stated that our Administrator at Mombasa had received instructions to exercise his discretion as to whether or not slaves should be given up 205 when demanded. That was directly contrary to a declaration of the late Attorney General two years ago, that any British subject who should receive or detain a slave was guilty of an unlawful act. He held in his hand several demands made by our Administrator in East Africa to the Church Missionary Society, and he protested—and he believed t he country as a whole would agree in the protest—against the continuance of such a system.
That To-morrow this House do meet, at Twelve of the Clock, and at its rising do Adjourn till Thursday the 17th June, and that so soon as Government Business is disposed of Mr. Speaker do Adjourn the House without Question put.