HC Deb 24 June 1897 vol 50 cc511-56

1. Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £238,212, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the suns necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1898, for the expenses of Her Majesty s Embassies and Missions abroad, and of the Consular Establishments abroad and other expenditure chargeable on the Consular Vote.

*SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

drew attention to the conduct of the Consul General in Zanzibar in relation to the abolition of slavery and the treatment of fugitive slaves in that territory. He reminded the Committee that early in the Session, in moving for a further conference upon the affairs of Africa, following the Berlin and Brussels Conferences, he alluded to this subject. But since then details of the working of the policy pursued had been furnished by those thoroughly acquainted with it. In a Dispatch alluding to the treatment which would have to be extended to runaway slaves, and in the edict issued by Mr. Harding in Zanzibar, there were provisions for dealing with vagrancy, from which it appeared that slavery would be re-introduced. With regard to the coast strip, 250 miles long, extending from Mombasa south-west opposite to Zanzibar, the late Attorney General expressed an opinion, to which he still adhered, that the institution of slavery was absolutely illegal, and that there were Orders in Council which made it illegal, with an illegality which transcended that under the common law. The present Attorney General had also expressed the opinion that it was illegal to detain slaves against their will in the coast strip. Bishop Tucker had supplied the actual documents which had been used in the restoration of fugitive slaves, and these, signed by the Commissioner, gave the bearer permission to search for runaway slaves. Bishop Tucker informed us that scores of slaves had been surrendered under the orders of the Commission up to December last, but since then the practice had ceased. But he himself could not conceive that the Foreign Office should allow fugitive slaves to be handed over in direct defiance of British law, and the special engagements undertaken by the Powers under the Brussels Act. Seven slaves at a time would be fetched by British soldiers, and if their ownership were proved in the Courts, they were handed over. The Courts in the coast strip were British Courts, giving their decrees in the name of the Queen, not of the Sultan of Zanzibar, and yet these Courts tried fugitive slaves and handed them over to their owner. No stipulation was made that they should not be cruelly punished, and he was afraid they received the same treatment as in Pemba, where they had been flogged or starved to death. As Bishop Tucker said, slavery seemed to "die hard" in British East Africa. The terms of the Brussels Act were that any fugitive slave claiming the protection of the Signatory Powers should obtain it. Was it not in constant defiance of the terms of the Act as well as of the British law that these fugitive slaves, instead of getting protection, should be actually handed over to their former owners? He did not know what was the answer of the Foreign Office to these questions, but they could have no doubt as to what were the principles which the House ought to see enforced. In the House of Lords in 1876 there was a discussion on the whole treatment of fugitive slaves, and Lord Selborne then said that there was no question of international law in this matter at all, that it was a question of public policy and of what was due to the honour and dignity of this country. Lord J James—then Sir Henry James—had also said in that House about the same time that we could never be asked to enforce a law which was abhorrent to our nature and adverse to our institutions. If this were a case of human sacrifice instead of slavery a demand for the giving up of a fugitive would be treated as it deserved. He would like to know how the Foreign Office could expect that Bishop Tucker should allow his missionaries to give up the fugitive who had escaped from plantation slavery of the worst description. There was an item in this vote for the international bureaux at Zanzibar and at Brussels, the two bureaux—one local and one general — which were intended to inform the Powers with regard to the arrangements of the Brussels Act. One of those arrangements was a declaration by all the Powers with regard to this point of fugitive slaves, and how could the Government ask for such a vote when they were themselves handing over fugitive slaves to their owners I ["Hear, hear!"] This Vote contained all the Foreign Office protectorates except two, and he pointed out that the expenditure and the work were constantly increasing. Every one who knew them had a high opinion of the ability of the Foreign Office servants, but they were better fitted to carry out diplomatic rather than administrative duties, and he thought these protectorates should be administered by the Colonial Office. There was another matter of winch he wished to speak. In this vote they hail to deal with the salary of Lord Cromer and our officials in Egypt. Lord Cromer had lately sent two gentlemen to report upon the province of Dongola; at the time of the Soudan expedition very enthusiastic language was used in that House with regard to the value of that province, but from these reports it appeared that the agricultural resources of Dongola were limited, and that little cultivation was ever carried on there. It was stated that the Dervishes had put an end to the cultivation of tins strip of territory by abolishing male slavery. That was an extraordinary fact. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had spoken the other day of the immense difficulties connected with the abolition of slavery in such districts, and did not hold out the slightest hope to them of its abolition. In the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba the abolition of slavery had been but nominal, and in the coast strip under our direct protection there had been a continuation of plantation slavery. The measures which were taken with regard to the surrender of fugitive slaves were worse than the previous state of timings which had existed. He could not but think that it was somewhat discreditable, after the Debates which they remembered in a recent Parliament, when the removal of the stigma of slavery from the British name was urged, that they should have a state of things in which the slavery of all the women was retained arid the slavery of the men was not really abolished, and that an absolute refusal should be given to the proposal to abolish slavery in the coast strip. Constant complaints had been made that the Foreign Office was not as well served as it might be in regard to its Consuls. He believed that great numbers of the Consuls performed their duties most admirably, but that where there were deficiencies it was due to men with an insufficient knowledge of commerce or foreign tongues being put into important Consulates. He believed the cure for this might be found in making the Foreign Office more of a close service, and appointing men of merit to the larger from the smaller posts in a greater degree than had hitherto been done. The House never refused the large sums of money which the Government asked for the Consular and Diplomatic Service, and would he willing if necessary to increase it; but there was undoubtedly great dissatisfaction among those interested in the Consular Service, for commercial and other reasons, owing to the manner in which the Consuls were taken away from their proper work, and the absence of a system of promotion by merit. The Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs had very powerfully put those views before the country. The right hon. Gentleman, in his book, "The Problems of the Far East," pointed out the great importance, if the decline of British influence in Corea and Central China was to be averted, of having there trained Consuls who knew the language of the country, its needs, and requirements.

MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)

said he could not be accused of having pressed this question of the existence of slavery in Zanzibar less upon the present Government, which he supported, than upon the late Government. ["Hear, hear!"] Sir Arthur Hardinge, the British Consular General and Commissioner at Zanzibar—a valuable public servant, who well deserved the honour he had just received from Her Majesty—took an extremely strong view in his Dispatches against the abolition of slavery. The Government had overruled Sir Arthur Hardinge's views, and had decided, in accordance with its pledges to the House, that slavery should be abolished. He had no doubt that Sir Arthur Hardinge would loyally carry out the policy which had been decided on by the Government, but it was a question deserving of consideration whether a man who held such views should have the duty of carrying out that policy.

CAPTAIN BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)

said it was a question whether the Government would not be well advised in deciding to bring the Protectorate of Zanzibar not only really but nominally under the Foreign Office. If that were done—as it might have been done under the late Government—the legal status of slavery in the Protectorate could be easily abolished. He had no doubt that if the Foreign Office put their heart into the matter they would be able to remove the difficulties that stood in the way of realising the object which they all desired. The existence of the legal status of slavery in territory actually administered by this country was a scandal that ought to be removed as soon as possible, and the question would be raised again and again in the House until the Foreign Office decided that the reform should be carried out. With reference to the Nyassa Protectorate, the reports published from that country were very old. The last report was two and a half years old, and he could not see why reports of a more recent time should not be furnished.

*MR. J. A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)

said he held in his hand the actual documents sent by the representative of the Government at Mombasa to missionaries demanding the delivery up to him of fugitive slaves. One memorandum was,— The bearer, Idi bin Abdullah Kowbo, has permission to search for his master's slaves, seven in number [here follow the names]. If found he is to bring them down to Mombasa in charge of Askari from Rabai, and will have to prove ownership before the Court here. Another ran,— Will you please give the bearer, an Arab, Sher Ahmed, three Askaries, who will have to bring from Riba any slaves this man may claim. The slaves must then be brought here by the Askaries, and the Arab must prove his ownership. A third was,— The bearer, Ali bin Mahomed, has permission to proceed to Rabia to search for his slaves. If found, they must be brought to this office. Another of the documents, dated Nov. 27 last, ran,— Sir,—Would you be so good as to give the bearer any assistance you can in finding a woman named Khatima (slave). She is a runaway from Lamu, and is wanted by the Commissioner. Shortly before the Whitsuntide recess, the Under Secretary said in the House that the Administrator at Mombasa had authority to deal with each case according to discretion, so that the Administrator might still be ordering these slaves to be handed over to the slave-owners. There was the authority of the late Attorney General for stating that any slave held by a British subject, or handed from one to another, was a contravention of the law. The Government were not only permitting illegality, but were encouraging the system of slavery by this practice, and he learnt from a traveller who had recently returned that one effect was that runaway slaves were making their way to German instead of to. British territory, because the German authorities did not cause them to be returned to possibly cruel owners, as was the case in the British Protectorate. Last November a deputation waited on the Under Secretary, and represented the necessity of abolishing slavery, not only on the island, but on the mainland, and the impression of the deputation was the t the Government were going to free the slaves throughout the whole of the Zanzibar Protectorate. Wherever slavery had been abolished the policy had been successful. In Madagascar and the Niger territories slavery had been abolished by a stroke of the pen, and all the difficulties anticipated by the Government in abolishing slavery on the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, had proved unreal. As to the way in which the policy was being carried out at Zanzibar, he believed that there had been 25 slaves liberated, and the owners of 21 of them had been compensated. He protested against this policy of compensation, which was unnecessary, and would make the work of the Government more difficult in abolishing slavery on the mainland. He was informed that a number of slaves were running away from the Zanzibar plantations in order to appeal to the Government for their freedom. He hoped that justice would be done to these slaves, who were now being detained. He saw no reason why the slaves on the mainland should not be liberated at once.


said that before dealing with the important question of slavery in Zanzibar he would answer the questions of minor importance which had been addressed to him. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean had called attention to a passage in a book of his (Mr. Curzon's), in which great stress was laid on the organisation of our Consular service in the Far East and the necessity of having a body of specially qualified men for the work. The Government had not lost sight of that necessity, and at present they were reorganising the Consular establishment in the Far East with a view to putting it on a basis somewhat analogous to that of the Indian Civil Service. A separate examination was being provided for, and the intention was to get a higher class of candidate. For the work in these Eastern countries special qualifications and training were required, and no effort would be spared by the Government to secure them. But he did not agree with the right hon. Baronet that the case of Her Majesty's present representative at Peking was an instance of the salutary rule which he had mentioned being ignored to the detriment of the public service. It was true that Sir C. Macdonald had never been in China or the Far East before, but since his appointment the Foreign Office had had an absolute concurrence of testimony from every source—diplomatic, commercial, and others—that a more industrious, active, and capable representative of British interests in China there had never been. He had received a letter from the one Englishman who, having been resident in China for 20 or 30 years, knew most about the country, saying that Sir C. Macdonald would, in his opinion, turn out to be one of the greatest English Ministers who had ever been sent to China. As to the Nyassaland Protectorate, he was not aware that the official papers were behindhand, but he would see that they were laid on the Table as soon as possible. As to the question of slavery in Zanzibar, and the recent decrees, he must protest against the interpretation which had been put, not so much upon the conduct, as upon the intentions of the Government. The right hon. Baronet had spoken of a grudging and nominal abolition of slavery. That was not the intention of the Government, and he did not think that it had been the effect of the decrees. He was struck with the fact that there seemed to be on the part of those organisations in the country which had so long interested themselves in this question a sort of set purpose to prove that the Government in taking these steps were acting dishonestly and were trying to render their own policy nugatory in effect. The same spirit seemed to lie behind some of the references to Sir A. Hardinge. Sir A. Hardinge had argued with strenuous vigour and ability in favour of his own particular views, but that had not precluded him from showing the greatest ingenuity and industry in carrying out the policy decided upon by the Government. He did not think the hon. Member or any one in the Committee need have the slightest fear that Sir Arthur Hardinge would not carry out loyally the instructions the Government had given him. They had the best guarantee in his considerable experience in that part of the world and his great popularity with the Arabs. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean seemed to be haunted by the fear that the few words which appeared in the decree with reference to vagrancy were to be so interpreted as to involve a practical recrudescence of slavery in the islands. As a matter of fact, the only powers given to the local authorities in connection with vagrants were powers similar to those possessed by English magistrates and British officers in many parts of the world in dealing with vagrants. As an illustration of the operation of those powers, he might mention that the only case in which they had so far been applied had been with reference to 15 runaways who, when the decrees were issued, started off from their plantations and were then set to work, receiving a regular wage for what they did, on the Government plantation, and were perfectly content. There was no reason to fear that, by a side wind, under the title of vagrancy or anything else, the Government had the slightest desire to interfere with the decrees, which were boná fide, and which they intended to carry out. He hoped hon. Gentlemen would not be carried away by articles which were written for the most part by gentlemen sitting in London, who had to justify their action with certain excellent societies by putting the most odious interpretation they could at every point on the action of Her Majesty's advisers. He next turned to the question of fugitive slaves, on which the right hon. Baronet laid so much stress, and drew what he could not help thinking was a rather coloured picture of the actual steps that were taken by British officers in that part of the world, and which, he argued, were in direct defiance of British law and the Brussels Act. From a careful perusal of the opinion of the late Attorney General, he did not gather that that was his impression, and after a long conversation with the present Attorney General the other day, he could say that he was not of opinion that anything had been done contrary to the law, and he failed to find in the Brussels Act any clause or passage that had not been faithfully carried out by their representatives in the Protectorate. What happened? A slave ran away from his master. The master appealed to the British authority to supply him with a force of police to recover his runaway slave. The police were provided, and the master went to reclaim his slave. The slave was surrendered, and the master then had to take him back to the Court and prove to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that he was a legally held slave. That was the process. He could understand anyone arguing that they ought to abolish the legal status of slavery altogether. [Opposition cheers.] That was a question which he would deal with on its own merits, but, so long as they had decided not to abolish it, and so long as it was the law of the land, it was perfectly clear that the law must be carried out. It was perfectly clear that the Administrator, while exercising his own discretion in the manner which the Government had enjoined him to do, must, at the same time, carry out over the subjects of the Sultan the Sultan's law. When they took over the protectorate rather less than two years ago, Mr. Hardinge, as he then was, acting under the instructions of Lord Kimberley, was instructed to tell the people that the law of Islam would be maintained. That being so, until the Government changed their policy there was no alternative but to take the steps that had been taken. The hon. Member opposite talked about the slaves running away to German territory for fear of being handed over to their masters. This was a very extraordinary thing. The right hon. Baronet and the advocates of his view always seemed studiously to lose sight of the fact that any slave in the ten-miles strip could get his freedom by going across that strip. Why should he go into German territory, when, with a two hours' journey, he could gain his freedom?


He cannot come back. ["Hear, hear!"]


Yes, he can come back. He is free under the Brussels Act.


But he is liable to be taken within the ten-miles' strip.


said he was not. So long as he was within the ten-miles strip he was liable to be given back to his master—[Opposition, cheers]—but once he had crossed the ten-miles strip he acquired his freedom, and, having once been free, he could not be restored to his master. But, perhaps, after all, the real point of issue was not that he should explain or even defend the manner in which the existing law was carried out, but that he should try to put before the Committee the reasons why the policy which had been carried out in the islands had not at the same time been extended to the mainland. Here he must deprecate the implication in the speech of the hon. Member opposite that there had been a sort of breach of faith on the part of the Government. The hon. Member alluded to an interview which he and many of his friends were good enough to favour him with last autumn, when he endeavoured to state the views of the Government. At that interview he was never asked, and no Member of the Government had ever been asked, to abolish the legal status of slavery except in the islands. He believed that no Member of this Government, or of the Government which preceded it, had ever given any other pledge than to abolish the legal status of slavery in the islands. He had never heard the question of the mainland argued in that House, and it was not until after they had taken these steps with regard to the islands that the question of the mainland appeared. He thought it would be easy to show that there were the widest differences in the two cases—in the character of the slavery, in the number of slaves who were legally held, and in the conditions under which freedom could be obtained. In the case of the islands, during all the years in which this agitation had lasted, what had been the chief gravamen of the charge against the continuance of slavery? Had it not been that the enormous majority of slaves were illegally held? In the islands, as they knew, since 1873 every agricultural slave who had been imported or had been moved from one island to the other by sea, was illegally held. In the case of the mainland, under the treaties and decrees of successive Sultans, the enormous preponderance of the slaves were legally held. It was quite true that any slaves brought in by sea after 1873 were as illegally held there as in the islands, but any slaves, brought overland were legal up to the year 1889, when, under the decree of the Sultan, everybody entering the Sultan's dominions was declared free. All slaves horn there were legal up to 1890, and all slaves bought and sold on the mainland were legal before 1890, so that there was this great difference between the two cases—that, whereas the overwhelming preponderance of slaves in the islands were illegally held, the corresponding majority on the mainland were legally held. The Committee would notice how this would aggravate the question of compensation at the start. It might be argued that they ought not to give compensation. [Opposition cheers.] The reasons for which the Government did so were stated in Lord Salisbury's Dispatch, and it was not necessary for him there to argue the abstract ethical question as to whether the Government should in any case recognise the pecuniary value of the property of one man in the person of another. Suffice it to say that the Government felt that there was a definite guarantee given by the Sultan of Zanzibar, under British sanction, to certain possessors of legally held slaves which they could not ignore, and, having decided that in the case of the islands, it must be quite clear that they could not turn round and adopt quite a different policy on the mainland. He ventured to say that if they were to apply this policy to the mainland as well, the question of compensation would assume the most enormous proportions and would render their decrees a failure. He should like to say another word about the character of the system of slavery in the two places. In the islands the slavery was plantation slavery. That was not the case on the mainland. There the slavery was mainly agricultural and domestic: the slaves worked in the maize and millet fields, or in the cocoanut groves, living in the cottages or on the lands of their masters, and receiving a share of the produce in return for their labour. He had not heard of any grievances or hardships connected with the system of slavery on the mainland, and if there had been, they would have been brought to their attention. Then there was this final differentiating point in the two systems, that whereas in the islands there were no means whatever for a slave to acquire his freedom, because it was impossible for him to escape by sea, on the mainland any one of the slaves could, by crossing this ten-miles strip, acquire his freedom. It did seem to him to be absurd fur the right hon. Baronet to come there and talk about the slaves being handed over by British officers to cruelty and starvation. No evidence of either cruelty or starvation on the mainland had been brought to their attention. He might add that Sir John Kirk, who in this matter of slavery had an authority second to none, and who had for many years persistently advised the policy the Government had now carried out in regard to the islands, had told him himself that he saw no necessity whatever for taking similar steps on the mainland, and that if such a proposal were made he would strenuously resist it. There was one other consideration. He thought it was worth bearing in mind that it was not yet two years since they had taken over the Protectorate of the mainland dominions of Zanzibar. Almost immediately afterwards there was a rather formidable outbreak, and it was not until after they had brought over a regiment from India and a considerable expenditure had been incurred that the rebellion was successfully quashed. Whether their policy was held to be right or wrong, there were therefore very good grounds for it. He believed the matter would ultimately solve itself, but he was bound to say that, whilst there were very good reasons for the step the Government had taken, he had not had any reason put before him, beyond the abstract ground of uniformity, to lead him to believe they ought to have adopted a different line.

MR. REGINALD MCKENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)

said that when the right lion. Gentleman promised at the beginning of the Session to abolish slavery in Zanzibar and Pemba, he gave to the Government credit for good intentions. He believed now that the Government were as anxious to abolish slavery there as hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House, but the question was whether the instrument they had chosen to carry out the work was a proper one. The hon. Member for the Partick Division said it was notorious that Sir Arthur Hardinge was in sympathy with the Arab masters. He did not think that proposition could be disputed. Let him read two rival testimonies upon this subject. Sir Arthur Hardinge, who was the Consul General in Zanzibar, reported:— I think it may be said of the slave population generally, that, however little they may love the Arab, they greatly prefer him to the European. When the slave owner is a negro, and even often when he is an Arab, his slaves, even if from time to time lie cruelly beats and oppresses them, are generally treated as members of the same family, feeding out of the same dish, and living on terms of considerable intimacy. Slaves born in the islands will generally live to a fair age. That was the testimony of the gentleman who was sent out with instructions to abolish slavery. What was the testimony of Mr. O'Sullivan, who was sent out specially to report upon slavery in Zanzibar and Pemba? Mr. O'Sullivan wrote,— The Arab is a stern and exacting task master, often a cruel one as well. He gives himself no concern about the welfare of his chattel, to whom he gives neither food nor clothing. Hard work and miserably inadequate diet sufficiently accounts for a very high death rate, and an extraordinarily low birth rate. When a slave becomes incapacitated for work, owing to disease or accident—old age is hardly ever a cause, for the average life of a slave is a short one—he is in almost every instance discarded by his owner. Was it not to be expected that, in face of his views, Sir Arthur Hardinge, when he was sent out with special power to abolish slavery, should exercise the ingenuity for which the right hon. Gentleman had given him credit in a way of which they complained? There was a hut tax imposed upon the workpeople, no longer slaves, but workers. If the people were unable to pay the tax and ran away, they might be brought back and compelled to do forced labour. That was a condition which, in the case of a bad master or workman, would undoubtedly be a condition of slavery. It was certainly never the intention of the British Parliament that British officers should be used for the purpose of handing fugitive slaves back to their masters. No doubt there was a difference between the conditions of the continent and the islands, but it must be generally admitted it was unworthy of the British Parliament that at this time they should be voting money for the purpose of paying officers one of whose recognised duties was to hand fugitive slaves back to the masters from whom they had fled. ["Hear, hear!"]

MR. W. F. LAWRENCE> (Liverpool, Abercromby)

said it was invidious to complain of the way in which Consul Generals up and down the world performed their duties, but he heard that the Consul at Fernando Po had been rather lax in issuing reports. He was informed that the jurisdiction of this gentleman covered a very large tract of country of very great importance, and that those who had trading interests in that part of the world thought it would be a good thing if the Under Secretary would take an early opportunity of pointing out to the gentleman who represented the Government in Fernando Po the interest with which they would receive any information he might give with regard to the trade all along that coast. It was now ten years since the Consul had reported. Surely it was about time they should have evidence that the gentleman was adequately discharging his important duties. [NOTE.—Mr. W. F. Lawrence wishes it to be known that he intended to refer to H. M.'s Consul at Loanda, and not to H. M.'s Consul at Fernando Po.]

MR. ALFRED PEASE (Yorkshire, Cleveland)

said he was glad a mission was sent to King Menelik, because he believed it was the turning over of a new leaf in respect to our policy towards Abyssinia. He always regretted, not only the Italian policy towards Abyssinia, but also the countenance it received until lately from this country. He was certain that no commercial advantage, and he believed no political advantage, in those regions could be secured by this country unless we were prepared to recognise as far as possible the independence of Abyssinia. The importance of the mission had not been sufficiently recognised by the country, though during the last few weeks more interest had been taken in its proceedings. He supposed the right hon. Gentleman was not in a position as yet to give the Committee any details as to the success or failure of the mission, but he felt certain that if the mission had not succeeded on every point, it would have done notch to make the negotiations between this country and Abyssinia clinch easier. No commercial or political advantages could be secured by us in the regions of Africa unless we were prepared to recoginse the independence of Abyssinia, and to encourage such relations with that country as would enable us to delimit our Somaliland frontiers and to develop our trade interests. Even if the mission had not succeeded on every point it would have done much to promote the success of negotiations in the future. He looked upon the development of our trade with Abyssinia, as a most important matter. At present Greeks, who were not suspected of political motives, had most of the trade, and if we could persuade King Menelik that we had no ulterior objects except the protection of out rights and the development of our trade, we would find little difficulty in securing the cooperation of the Abyssinians. He was in favour of the establishment of a railway from Harar to Berbera, believing it necessary if the French were nut to divert tic Abyssinian trade. There was some, danger when this Commission returned and its Report was made that the whole question of our interests in Somaliland and commercial interests in Abyssinia might be lost sight of. Then there was the question of the Abyssinian raids into the horn of Africa, and on to the regions which were more or less under our protection. In the interests of the natives who looked to us for protection, he hoped some understanding might be conic to with the Abyssinian Government that these raids should cease. He had seen districts in Somaliland in a most piteous t condition owing to these Abyssinian raids. We must retain our hold on this part of Africa, for it was of absolute necessity to Aden, and it was becoming of increasing importance to India especially, because in Somaliland we could get the camels required for the Indian transport service. There were many camels in Somaliland, and the experiment was now being tried of exporting them to India. He felt certain it would be a successful experiment, and that Somaliland would be able to contribute to the wants of India in that and other respects. He trusted the Government would maintain the present regulations of the exclusion of spirits and gunpowder from that part of Africa, and would co-operate with the Governments of France and Abyssinia for the protection of the natives from these two curses. [''Hear, hear!"]


said that of course they desired to devolop to the best of their powers the commercial capabilities of the country. If a railway could be laid they would be only too glad. He was afraid he could not give any further information about the mission because he did not know anything for certain. There was absolutely no reason why this country should not maintain the most friendly relations with the Abyssinian Monarch, and there was reason to hope that Mr. Rodd's mission, which had recently returned, had not been unsuccessful in its object. ["Hear, hear!"]

*SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)

said that the question of the relations of this country with Abyssinia was of the utmost importance in connection with Eastern and Central Africa. Abyssinia had been too long neglected. He was confident that hon. Members who took interest in the future of the Soudan and the Nile waterway would recognise the importance of Mr. Rodd's mission, and would hope that it might be successful. Since the mission of the Russian Colonel Leontieff to Abyssinia, sonic three years ago, our relations with that country had been exceptionally critical. He hoped that the result of the present mission would be to improve this critical state of affairs. The future of the Soudan and of the Trans-African Empire of Great Britain depended enormously on Abyssinia. Not only Russia, but France also had been making desperate efforts to influence the policy of that country. Knowing that he welcomed the present activity of the Government in sending out Mr. Rodd. Great efforts had been made by two leading European Powers to close in upon the region of the Upper Nile and thus shut out British influence from the Upper Nile Waterway. The French had been approaching from the West, from the Upper Congo, and the Russians had also been making efforts to secure influence in Abyssinia and to thus approach the Nile from the East. So long as the Italians were in the country it was difficult for us to intervene. Now, however, that Italy was retiring, it was absolutely essential, if we wished to secure our influence over the Soudan and rescue that country from the evil rule of the Mahdi, and to prevent other great Powers from obtaining a dominant influence over the Upper Nile region, that we should be on good terms with the Abyssinian ruler.

MR. J. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

said that before he submitted the Motion on the Paper in his name, to reduce the salary of the British Agent in Egypt by £1,000, he wished to refer to one or two other matters. The Abyssinian ruler and his people were intelligent men, and they were not likely to forget that when they were in a desperate fix to save their country from the Italians, this country went to the rescue of the Italians, and did everything their power to help them. The House was told that one of the objects of the expedition to Dongola was to help the Italians—


Against the Dervishes, not against the Abyssinians.


said that the statement was that one of the objects of the expedition was to relieve the position of the Italians at Kassala, which had nothing to do with Menelik.


said that the Italians would never have been in any difficulty at Kassala but for their defeat by the Emperor Menelik. That Monarch and his nation were far too intelligent to be taken in by any humbug of that kind. He knew everything that was going on in this Parliament, and what was the avowed intention of this Parliament. The Abyssinians knew perfectly well what the meaning of all these missions was. He desired to say a word with reference to the Ambassador at Constantinople. He did not intend to make any attack upon him, for he had acted very well in difficult circumstances. He wished to call attention to his action in regard to the massacres at Tokat. The responsibility for that massacre had been brought home to the Sultan, and that House was told at the beginning of September that, at least, in the case of Tokat, exemplary punishment was to be meted out to the murderers. Of course, the usual result had followed. No one was punished. But when, two minutes ago a question was put in the House as to the result of certain pressure put on the Court of the Sultan, and although the Foreign Office telegraphed several times to ascertain that result, for a fortnight or three weeks no reply was received from Sir P. Currie; but at length a reply was received declaring that the Ambassador was putting no further pressure. He wished, therefore, to ask whether anything further had occurred in relation to those massacres, and what further action the Ambassador had taken. He had now to move the reduction of the salary of the British Agent in Egypt. That official occupied an extraordinary position—a position quite apart and different in its functions from that of any other official whose salary came under this Vote. He was neither an Ambassador, a Consul, or Minister-Plenipotentiary, and he had not yet been able to discover what was the position of Lord Cromer in Egypt. He was in point of fact a kind of Khalif or Governor General in Egpyt without re- sponsibility. He really ruled Egypt, and if the actual ruler differed from Lord Cromer he had immediately to give up his own view and adopt Lord Cromer's. Lord Cromer's position was exceptional, in fact unique, and he contended that the proper course for the Government to adopt would be to make their statement on Egyptian affairs on the vote for Lord Cromer's salary. He expected to hear some justification for, or explanation of, the action of the Government last year, when upwards of a million was expended on the advance on Dongola. He also wanted to have some information as to the probable policy of the Government in Egypt in the coating autumn.


Order, order! Questions of this kind have always been raised on the Foreign Office Vote, and that would be the proper place for the discussion of this subject. The hon. Member has been quite in order in drawing attention to the particular and abnormal position—as he describes it—of Lord Cromer in Egypt, but any general discussion of the policy of the Government in Egypt ought to be raised on the Foreign Office Vote.


said that the state of affairs was curious. When an advance was made into the Soudan, it was said not to be the act of the British Government, but of the Egyptian Government, and the advance was carried out by the Egyptian Army, which was paid out of the Egyptian Treasury. He did not think that an expedition of that kind could properly be debated on the Foreign Office Vote, because that Office had always disclaimed direct responsibility for the action of the Egyptian Government. The only connecting link, as far as he knew, between that House and Egypt was the Vote for the salary of Lord Cromer, who was responsible in some obscure way for the action of the Egyptian Government. The Foreign office was not responsible for these expeditions.


I do not think that question could be properly raised on this Vote. Lord Cromer is the agent of the British Government in Egypt, and of course he would only carry out the instructions given him by the Foreign Office, and it is on the Foreign Office Vote that a dis- cussion on the subject of any further expedition in the Soudan would properly be raised.


intimated that in accordance with the Chairman's direction he would raise the question on the Foreign Office Vote. For the present he contented himself with moving to reduce the Vote by £1,000 in respect of the salary of the British Agent in Egypt.

Question put, "That Item A (Salaries), be reduced by £1,000, in respect of the Salary of the British Agent in Egypt."

The Committee divided: —Ayes, 36; Noes, 225.—(Division List, No. 243.)


rose to move a reduction of the Vote as a protest against the policy which had been indicated by the Government in continuing to hand over fugitive slaves who sought shelter among, the missionaries in the ten mile strip of territory on the East Coast of Africa, and in allowing them to be sent back to their previous owners. He maintained that the position assumed by the Under Secretary in defence of the policy ought not to be allowed to continue. They objected to slavery on moral grounds, and there seemed to be a difference among the Law Officers of the Crown with regard to the illegality of slavery in this strip of territory.


Certainly not.


said that he understood the Under Secretary to quote the view of the Attorney General, in which the hon. and learned Gentleman stated that the laws of the Sultan operated, that it permitted slavery to exist, and that fugitive slaves could be handed back.


I never said anything of the kind.


said he was speaking in the recollection of the House, and he had no desire to misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman. He hoped the Attorney General would now explain his own views, but certainly the Under Secretary had stated there was no illegality, and that ho was supported in that view by the Attorney General. What was the case? A slave ran away and sought the protection of missionaries; the Administrator thereupon sent a letter to demand the slave with a view to his being handed over to his previous master. That course the Under Secretary had defended, and reiterated the statement that the Administrator had orders to use his discretion in each case as it arose. The Under Secretary had justified mainland slavery on several grounds. The first was that slaves were illegally detained on the islands, but on the mainland most were legally detained. Such an argument obviously carried no weight. The Under Secretary quoted Sir John. Kirk's views as opposed to abolition, whereas he had an opposite impression from communications, he had had with Sir John Kirk. The Under Secretary argued that two years had only elapsed since they could have done anything. That, however, was no excuse, for their predecessors the Imperial British East Africa Company were prepared to grant freedom to slaves at the time the Government took over the control. So, actually, the Government were not even prepared, with all their power, to do that which a private company would have done towards the abolition of slavery. Lastly the Under Secretary used as a justification for the continuance of slavery that there had been an Arab revolt, but, as he admitted that had been quashed there could be no longer any force in so feeble an argument. The facts were that the Government were prepared to leave the matter to solve itself, and did not propose to extend the decree of April 5th to the, mainland. He therefore moved a reduction of £100 in respect of the Agent and Consul General at Zanzibar.

SIR JOHN KENNAWAY (Devon, Honiton)

said that ever since he had been in the House of Commons he had been looking forward to the abolition of slavery on this coast, and it was more particularly with the view to our being able to effect this that the Government were supported in undertaking the great responsibilities on this coast. While wishing to give all credit to the Government in avoiding slave labour on the Uganda Railway, he yet maintained that this question of making British officers responsible for handing back slaves was one which the country felt very strongly [Cheers.] The country would say that, though Mohammedan law might nominally prevail in this territory, yet, considering what we had clone for the Sultan and the country, we were responsible, and the people of the country would expect the Government at the very earliest moment to put an end to British officers and soldiers being employed to give back slaves to their masters. ["Hear, hear!"]

MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)

said he was anxious to treat this matter apart from all Party considerations. He endorsed the appeal of the last speaker in the hope that the Government might even now be able to reconsider the subject. The Foreign Office had been for some time past, under the late as well as the present Government, rather slow in coming to a conclusion with regard to the slaves in. the island. After all, we were the responsible and governing authority in this region, and it was against all our traditions for many years past that fugitive slaves should be handed back to their masters. Though rose-coloured accounts had been received from certain quarters as to these slaves, in his judgment the evidence of the independent Commissioner sent out by the Government was absolutely conclusive against the system being allowed further to prevail.


thought that the hon. Gentleman's speech might give a wrong impression to the Committee as to the views of the Government on this subject. The hon. Gentleman appeared to be anxious to obtain a pledge for the purpose of reassuring the Committee and to remove the suspicion that the Government were in favour of the perpetuation of slavery on the mainland at the moment we were abolishing it in the islands. He need hardly say that this Government or any other Government representing a majority of the Parliament of this country, was desirous to abolish slavery and all the evils attendant upon it in any part of the world where British influence was supreme.


said that the chief point he was anxious to enforce was the question of time. What he wanted was a reconsideration of the question to see whether at an earlier moment than was to be anticipated from the speech of the Under Secretary the status of slavery might not be altered.


quite accepted the explanation. Those, who like the hon. Gentleman and other Members who had studied the question, were aware of the inherent difficulties which must attach to the position .of the suzerain power under whose aegis, as it, were, the laws, in this ease Mahommedan, were administered. That was the actual position upon the mainland. He was not going to dwell upon the difficulties of the situation, it was quite enough to admit that those difficulties existed, and to ignore them would not be to hasten the abolition of slavery, but to make the cause of the abolition of slavery to be attended by more than t he ordinary difficulties which necessarily accompany so great a change in the civil status for so large a portion of the inhabitants of the country. But the Committee might take it from him that the Government were earnestly desirous, at the earliest possible opportunity, to carry out on the mainland of the East Coast Protectorate what they had already carried out or were in process of carrying out, upon the island. It would, indeed, be a mistake to suppose that they regarded it as part of the permanent policy of this country to maintain in any district under our control an institution so alien to our traditions, our wishes, and our whole habits of thought, as the institution of slavery.

SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs)

, reminded the Leader of the House that, whatever might be the laws prevailing in Zanzibar, there were many Statutes, including those relating to slavery, which were binding personally upon British subjects wherever they were. ["Hear, hear!"] Whether it was in Constantinople or in any corner of the globe, wherever a British subject bought a slave he was committing an offence against British law, and would be justly punished for his offence. He begged to affirm his opinion that if what lie was informed was being done in Zanzibar was true, it was contrary to law. When he was Attorney General he took pains to ascertain what the law was and, in answer to a question, stated that it was unlawful for any British subject to accept, receive, or detain, against his will, any nelson as a slave within the territories of the Sultan of Zanzibar. The Attorney General, he was sure, would confirm him in the opinion that such was the law.


I said so in this House the other day.


went on to say that nevertheless, as he was informed, letters were directed by the British Commissioner to missionaries who were British subjects,— Please give bearer facilities to search for runaway slaves wanted by the Commissioner. What was that but "detaining"—for being party to detaining was just the Sallie as detaining—"against his will the person of a slave?" It was keeping the slave until he could be restored to his master. If that was the case lie hoped the Under Secretary would take the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown as to whether it, did not constitute a plain defiance of the laws of this country, which, being outside his discretion, he was bound to see carried out.

MR. W. S. ROBSON (South Shields)

called attention to the fact that the Under Secretary of State had vouched the opinion of the Attorney General as being in favour of the retrocession of fugitive slaves who were British subjects, to their owners. If the Attorney General had given such an opinion it was well that it should be expounded and defended in the House of Commons at once; if not it would be well if the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs would reconsider the position of the Government, and, at all events, exonerate the Attorney General from complicity in what, would be a breach of Excise law. ["Hear, hear!"]


suggested that before the hon. and learned Member talked about complicity in breaches of English law lie should take some pains to inform himself of the facts, because he had already stated that it was unlawful for a British subject to detain a slave. If a British subject did, in fact, detain a slave, it mattered not whether in a foreign country or on British territory, that was not in accordance with law; but ho must add that, upon the evidence before him, nothing of the kind had been done. There were many questions which might arise in a country like Zanzibar. For instance, it was well known that slaves sometimes ran away because they had been guilty of theft or of something even worse, and in order to evade being dealt with for their crime, they set up the plea that they were runaway slaves. In his opinion the allegation that British officers had held or detained fugitive slaves as such was not warranted by the facts. It was perfectly plain that British officers administering the law of the Sultan were obliged to do many things which would not be in accordance with English ideas, but they would not be justified, under cover of that authority, in committing an act which would be contrary to British law. [Cheers.] He declined, however, to condemn British officers for that which might, in fact, be only the proper enforcement of the criminal law against offenders who happened to be runaway slaves.

MR. T. R. LEUTY (Leeds, E.)

had understood the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs to say that any slave who went across the ten-mile strip of territory became immediately free, and would not be made a slave again, and yet the right hon. Gentleman went on to argue on the great difficulty surrounding the matter because of the question of compensation. But surely slaves held on a tenure such as that by which they could so easily obtain their freedom did not constitute property in respect to which claims to high compensation could be set up, It was disappointing to note the airy manner with which the Under Secretary treated the ethical side of the question. It was a shock to the lay mind to find that the status of slavery was recognised as legal at all. In the long past this country had made the proud boast that once a slave set foot on British territory he became free, and there was a rude awakening from that idea when the country learned that instructions were given to British officers that, under certain circumstances, slaves taking refuge on British ships should be given back to their masters. That aroused a very strong feeling throughout the country, and he was quite sure that if there was any extension of the recognition of slavery, and if slaves were to be treated by English officers different from free men, a strong feeling in the country would rise against it. He would very much like to see the Government make a strong stand in this matter in a manner worthy of this country's noble history in regard to slavery. Millions the country had spent in freeing slaves, and we policed the ocean to suppress slave traffic, and it was a shock to find that in any legal sense the status of slavery was recognised under British influence. Opponent of the Government as he was, he appealed to them to act in accordance with the best traditions of the English nation in this matter.


before a Division was taken, desired to say a word on the question of fact raised by the Attorney General. Documents at the disposal of the House and letters from Bishop Tucker made it perfectly clear that in the licenses to search for runaway slaves there were no allegations that such slaves were accused of criminal conduct. Bishop Tucker had sent the actual documents issued in the British East Africa Protectorate addressed to the Rev. A. J. Smith and others, stating that the bearer had permission to search for his master's slaves, so ninny in number, and these, if found, were to be brought to Mombasa in charge of the soldiers, and these warrants were signed, "J. W. T. McClellan, Assistant District Officer." Other letters there were stating that similar permission had been given to persons named to search for slaves, and it was stated that in scores of cases slaves had been handed over upon documents of this kind, a. fee of two rupees being levied on the issue of each permit. The case was clear beyond all doubt, and came within the definition laid down by the Attorney General. Bishop Tucker Lad given orders to refuse to hand over slaves in this manner, but that the missionaries were called upon to hand over slaves and up to December last lid so there was no doubt whatever, and but for Bishop Tucker's action, the practice would have continued. ["Hear, hear!"]


said the action of the Government was taken on the merits of the case, and had nothing to do with the action of Bishop Tucker, of which he had heard for the first time from the right hon. Baronet. In the instructions given, the Commissioner was directed to use his discretion in each case, and, as the Attorney General had said, circumstances might arise in relation to a particular case upon which the Commissioner must exercise that discretion. Certainly it was never meant and never understood that the Commissioner should act in a manner not in accordance with the law as explained by the Attorney General.


said before a Division was taken he would like to ask a question, the answer to which might justify him in voting for the Government. Would his right hon. Friend bring the state of the law, as expounded by the Attorney General, before the officers intrusted with the administration of affairs? That would remove any difficulty any Member of the Committee aright feel about giving his vote.


said certainly if there was any doubt on the subject that doubt should be removed. The Committee might take it that the Government would certainly not sanction any illegality. The suggestion that they would do so in their instructions was intrinsically absurd, and scarcely needed denial. The Committee might accept a complete assurance that it should be made clear to all engaged in administration on the spot that no breach of the law would be permitted. ["Hear, hear!"]

*MR. J. H. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)

said the Committee had been given to understand that the British Commissioner would be told that it was wrong for him to assist the recapture of slaves within the ten miles strip of territory. But that applied only to British subjects, and not to natives under British administration. The Commissioner should be instructed not to take any steps to obtain the return of slaves through the instrumentality of British or native subjects.


hoped that there would be added to the very satisfactory statement of the First Lord of the Treasury an assurance that forms of licence to search for slaves should not be issued, and that no Court presided over by an Englishman should enter into the question whether one man had right of possession of another as a slave. [Hear, hear!"]


said Bishop Tucker was now in this country, and he had more knowledge of this subject than anybody else. They were all at one in the desire to abolish slavery; would the Government consent to postpone the Vote until Bishop Tucker had had an opportunity of reading the Report of the discussion? It would show the boná fides of the Government in reference to a question upon which Bishop Tucker held such a strong opinion that his conduct was guided by considerations higher than any human law.


hoped the Committee would consider the assurances of the Government as satisfactory, as they certainly appeared to himself to be. He confessed he thought assurances were necessary in this matter, having regard to the position we occupy on the East Coast of Africa. Two assurances had been given that the efforts of the Government should be directed to the abolition of slavery on the mainland as well as on the island, and that any illegality in connection with the subject should so far as our authority extended be put a stop to.

Question put, "That Items P and Q (Salaries and Allowances) be reduced by £100 in respect of the salary of the Agent and Consul General at Zanzibar."

The Committee divided: —Ayes, 72; Noes, 124.—(Division List, No. 244).

*MR. EDWARD MOON (St. Pancras, N.)

said he was very anxious to draw attention to an anomaly which existed at Shanghai, owing to the fact that the Consul General and the Chief Justice were the same person. There were several reasons why this state of things, which bad gone on for some ten years, should cease to exist. In the first place, the Supreme Court of Shanghai was a Court not in a British colony it was true, but it was a British Court which had a great amount of prestige ill the Far East; and, therefore, he thought the Committee would agree with him that it was exceedingly desirable that the head of the Court should be a lawyer, who had not been merely called to the Bar, but one of considerable forensic experience. The present occupant of the office had that experience, but if the present state of things continued the office was open to members of the Consular Service who had only acquired what he might call a bare qualification. There was the further strong objection, that if one individual held the two offices his duties Wright conflict, the Chief Justice being liable to sit in judgment on the action or the recommendations of the Consul General. Financial reasons might underlie the situation, but the thing had only to be stated to the Committee to convince it how undesirable the present arrangement was. Full details could be found by hon. Members at p. 37 of Mr. Brenan's recent report. He should like also to refer to the Chefoo question. Earlier in the Session he asked a Question based on information which he now admitted to have been in some respects erroneous and exaggerated. But he thought the Under Secretary had unduly minimised the risks to which the property of British subjects was exposed of being taken from them in order to be handed over to officials or nationals of another Power. He congratulated the Foreign Office and the Legation at Peking that they had prevented this taking place and had caused the land so taken to be diverted to public purposes and to public purposes only. As to the Item £600 for new posts to be established on the West River and in Corea, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would give some details. They all regarded with satisfaction the announcement of the treaty under which the West River was to be opened to the trade of the world; and, perhaps, the occasion would be suitable for the right hon. Gentleman to say a word on that point. There was an important recommendation in Mr. Byron Brenan's valuable Report that a commercial Attaché for China should be appointed. We had such an officer in France and Persia, and he ventured to think that when the wants of China became more pressing, as railways were built and the country opened, a. similar appointment to the Chinese Court would not be unsuitable. It was well known to hon. Gentlemen who studied Chinese matters that a German gentleman of great distinction and influence in China held a position at Peking on behalf of his country as the commercial adviser. His influence was very great at Peking, and when they read, as they did yesterday, in a letter to The Times from their correspondent at Peking, that it was difficult for any persons who were not Russians to get concessions in the provinces of Chili and Kirin, he thought the need of such an officer had already made itself felt. That need was also reported on and commented on by the China Association, a body which commanded the respect of both the House and the Foreign Office, as well as by Mr. Brenan.


desired to refer to the subject of a most important Parliamentary Paper recently issued, namely, that on Diplomatic and Consular assistance to British trade abroad. On many previous occasions it had been necessary to be critical and often censorious on this subject. Their complaint had been that the British Government had not realised so much as other Governments the duty either of promoting trade generally or of giving it sufficient State assistance abroad, or even supporting these private individual rights which frequently had to be asserted against the influence of foreign Governments in commercial transactions. He was now glad to be able to acknowledge in the fullest terms the action of the Foreign Office in desiring to promote trade generally and in supporting British commercial interests—he did not mean in the shape in which it was frequently desired, and in the way that was most undesirable, namely, in obtaining concessions and the like, but supporting British interests in disputes with foreign Governments and the subjects of foreign Powers where advantage was being taken of legitimate British rights. He should like to point out that during the last year or two very important departures had been made by different Departments of the Government in support of British commerce. Probably no State Paper had ever been issued which from the commercial point of view had greater importance than that which was issued by the Secretary of State for the Colonies when he wrote a Dispatch to our Colonial Governors asking them to report where British industry was being displaced, and to furnish information for the guidance of our men of business as to the mode in which such displacement could be rectified. There could be no doubt that for a long time past in our own Colonies even, British trade had been very seriously displaced. It was not surprising it should be so. In foreign countries they had commercial museums, such as that at Frankfort. In addition to that, foreign Governments, rightly or wrongly, at great expense, subsidised lines of steamers, gave bounties to ships and commerce, and a very high system of education, both technical and general, combined with the State action in supporting these industries, had been the means of very largely displacing some portion of British industry. The Secretary for the Colonies had realised that, and most appositely in these times, when they looked forward to commercial union, had issued a Dispatch which had t old them what had taken place to meet that class of competition. The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to consult the London Chamber of Commerce, and the result was that the Governors laid sent home an infinity of products with full particulars as to prices and duties, the difference between the duty and the price, and so on, and the demand for the articles in foreign countries. These products had been exhibited in the London Chamber of Commerce and various parts of the country, and had elicited a great amount of interest. The practical and commercial result of this course had been that they had learned that in various branches of trade, while German goods had been supplied in the colonies, the people of this country could do the work in many instances better and cheaper if they only adapted themselves to the requirements of foreign countries. He wished to acknowledge that departure of the Colonial Secretary, and to thank him on behalf of the commercial interests for what had been of the greatest, value. He hoped this was only some step towards the establishment of travelling commercial museums, like that which they saw at Brussels. He wished to offer the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs his heartiest acknowledgments for the action he had taken on behalf of British trade generally, and in support of British interests where they were improperly assailed. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that regulations for the guidance of the Consular and diplomatic staff might possibly be revised by information given by the Chambers of Commerce. The regulations had accordingly been carefully examined, and had been found to be far less onerous than many of them had supposed. The Chambers of Commerce had specifically stated in what respects British trade could be aided, and lie was quite confident that most valuable information would be brought into this country now that the regulations had been supplemented by practical commercial information. He should like to support what had been said by his hon. Friend who spoke last as to what had been done recently by the Foreign Office to promote trade in the far East, where the Blackburn Chamber of Commerce had done so much to send out a mission—similar to one sent out by the State with State help in the case of France. He re-echoed the hope that they should have more commercial representatives. He did not go so far as the Blackburn Chamber of Commerce, which desired a commercial attaché to every Embassy, but he did think there should be some one person in every great Embassy with special commercial and practical business knowledge. He should like to pay a tribute to the Consuls in relation to their reports, in which there had been great improvements, and which were now largely read and appreciated by the commercial community to whom they were very useful. He suggested that there might be a larger number of special reports upon particular branches of industry located in foreign countries. What he had said with regard to the diplomatic service applied even more forcibly to the question of Consuls, and he hoped the time would come when commercial knowledge would be the first requisite of a Consul. There was only one other point to which he wished to allude, and that was to utter a word of approval on what had been done by the Foreign Office with regard to international exhibitions. The country which isolated itself and did not take part in these international competitions was one which was not unlikely to suffer injury. He thanked the Foreign Office for what they had done in regard to two such exhibitions recently, and pointed out what was done by foreign countries in this regard, and urged that greater support in this direction by the Government would do much to promote and advance British trade and commerce in foreign markets.

MR. J. BRIGG (York, W.R., Keighley)

commended the services of commercial Attachés abroad in obtaining patterns of manufactured goods made in foreign countries. But when the patterns reached this country there should be more discrimination as to where they were sent. They should be sent where they would be most useful. In the district he represented the reports of our Consuls and Agents abroad were relegated to the trades most interested in them. A good beginning had been made in the commercial exhibitions that had taken place. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer realised the importance attached by traders in this country to special reports from foreign countries on trade matters, he hoped he would see his way to provide the necessary funds. In the main he supported the remarks of the hon. Member for Islington as to the service the Foreign Office had rendered to the interests of British trade.

MR. T. W. LEGH (Lancashire, Newton)

said that, able as our commercial Attachés were, it was impossible to expect them to report in detail on the trades of several countries. One man could not look after the trade of an entire continent. Reports on particular trades should be made by persons conversant with those trades. The reports of the commercial Attachés were read simply because they were made by commercial Attachés. If the right men were appointed as Consuls, Consular Reports would be of great value. He hoped that in future the Foreign Office would take greater care in the appointment of Consuls abroad.


said that the hon. Member for North St. Pancras had spoken of the desirability of separating the offices of Chief Justice and Consul-General at Shanghai. These two posts were at present held by one person, the appointment having been, made some years ago as an experiment. But it had not been altogether successful, and a Committee appointed by the Foreign Office was considering a scheme for separating the two offices, the blending of which had caused some confusion. With regard to the opening of the West River for trade purposes, that was a result which he was glad they had been enabled to secure by the convention which had been agreed upon with China in relation to Burma, and the Estimates provided for the expense of establishing the necessary Consular posts on that river as well as at the new Treaty Ports opened by the Treaty of Shimonoseki with Japan. In reply to the hon. Member for Islington, the Foreign Office appreciated the favourable opinion he had formed of their work during the past few years. He agreed with him as to the importance of commercial Attachés. He also agreed with the hon. Member for Newton that it was most important to get the right kind of men to fill Consular positions. But it should be remembered that in the majority of cases the main duties of Consuls were other than commercial, and that they could not organise the whole Consulate system on a commercial basis. He was anxious to extend the system of special representatives for commercial work, and much had already been done in that respect. Europe had been subdivided into five commercial Attachéships by the present Government, as compared with two when they assumed office. As to the institution of a commercial exhibition, the President of the Board of Trade had taken great interest in the matter. He had been in communication with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Foreign Office, and a Committee was considering a development of the scheme. It was hoped by the President of the Board of Trade that a commercial museum on a considerably larger scale might be established in London, and that an attempt might be made to affiliate to it subordinate museums in different parts of the country for the circulation among industrial communities of the samples which came primarily to London. It was also in contemplation to send competent persons to Central and South America to see what opening there might be for British trade there and for the development of the interests of British commerce. This showed that the Foreign Office was keenly alive to the commercial interests of this country, and he hoped it would continue to deserve the appreciation that had been so liberally expressed. ["Hear, hear!"]

MR. J. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

testified to the excellence and value of the Reports on commercial matters of the members of the Consular and Diplomatic Services. They were valuable records of the commercial progress of the world. He agreed that it would be well if more care were exercised in the selection of men for appointment as Consuls. They need not be commercial experts, but they should be men whose training and experience as a whole fitted them to bring a well-trained mind to bear upon the discharge of their duties. They might have a man with a certain commercial knowledge, well fitted to go to a foreign country to make reports and convey useful intelligence to our merchants at home, who had never been in an office. There was the question whether there should be a commercial Attaché for every legation or embassy, or whether they should not have persons specially charged with the duty of making commercial reports attached to the representative embassies. That was the line which Lord Rosebery and himself were inclined to take up when the subject was examined in 1886. The proposal was made by a very distinguished public servant, and he was delighted to hear that we had now five of these special Attachés. He hoped it would be possible to provide specially trained commercial men to visit every important group of markets, and that something of the kind would be done in the Far East. He believed the commercial community appreciated what had been done, and that the old reproach that the Foreign Office disdained commerce had long since ceased to be true. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he could tell them anything as to the progress of negotiations in the East for the settlement of peace between Greece and Turkey.


said that the question was not in order. The question of general foreign policy arose under the Foreign Office Vote.


said he would ask the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs how soon it was proposed to send out the special Attachés who had been mentioned?


said he was afraid he could not answer the question. The scheme was under discussion between the President of the Board of Trade, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Foreign Office, and he could not say anything at present beyond the fact that they hoped that such an expert or such a mission would be sent.

Vote agreed to.

2. £117,463, to complete the sum for Uganda, Central and East Africa Protectorates, and Uganda Railway.

3. £64,876 (including an additional sum of £1,950), to complete the sum for Colonial Services, including South Africa.


asked the right hon. Gentleman for some information as to the progress of the Uganda Railway, the present position of British control and influence over the southern portion of the White or Upper Nile, that part nearest to Uganda, and also as to the present position of the French forces in those regions nearest to the Upper Nile. The progress of the Uganda Railway appeared to him to be rather slow. The French expedition of which they had heard so much two or three years ago, was then supposed to be moving towards the western side of the Upper Nile waters from the direction of the Ubanghi river.


said he could give no answer to the last question, because they had no information as to the whereabouts of the French force which was stated to have left French territory some time ago; what had become of it they did not know. With regard to the Uganda Railway, the progress made had been rather slow. He thought the railway was made now for 60 miles, and the line was not only surveyed but laid out for construction for a very much greater distance. The reason for the somewhat slow progress had been the difficulty of getting native labour; a large number of coolies were imported from India, but required some little time to become accustomed to the climatic and local conditions. At the present moment, however, there were several thousands of men at work, and the last report was distinctly encouraging. Full information on these points would be given in the report which would be published shortly. As regarded our position in the Nile valley, he believed that our effective control of the Nile valley extended to the neighbourhood of Dufile.


said he was anxious to know whether his right hon. Friend could give him any information of a definite kind as to the position of the French expedition.


was understood to say he could not do so.


said he would repeat the question at some future date.


said he had asked a question with regard to this expedition with reference to the recent statement made by a French Minister.

On the return of the CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS after the usual interval,


said he desired to draw attention to certain matters which concerned the Windward and the Leeward Islands. In the case of St. Vincent and some of the other islands certain legislation had been passed during the last year which had had a beneficial effect, and he believed that land legislation had been drafted, and was under the consideration of the Secretary of State for the Colonies at the present time. When Sir Charles Bruce left there was a deputation to him which, he believed, represented a good deal of feeling in the Windward Islands. On that occasion Sir Charles Bruce used these words with regard to a wider system of representation in the government of those islands:—"I am quite ready, myself, to carry on the government under any form which may be ordered by the authorities at home." He added that a free system of legislation under representative institutions had been a success in certain colonies which he named, rather implying that, as far as he was concerned, he saw no objection to the introduction to those of the Windward Islands, where the government was purely nominated at the present time a freer system of government. Sir Charles Bruce also stated that on going home he expected he should have conferences at the Colonial Office with the Secretary of State, and he should like to know whether, as a result of those conferences, either with regard to the land legislation or to the introduction of a more representative element into the constitutions of the islands which were purely nominative, the Secretary of State had anything to tell them in advance of what he was able to tell the House last year, At the present moment these islands were variously governed. Taking the West Indies generally, the Barbados had a purely representative government, but the Windward Islands had all got a purely nominated government. There lay among them the French island of Martinique, which had manhood suffrage, which returned senators and deputies to the French Chamber, and which had a Conseil-Général, elected by manhood suffrage, who carried on the affairs of island with perfect satisfaction to every- body. As regarded the Leeward Islands the assemblies were purely nominated, and two others were partly nominated and partly elected. He believed that in a few days they would have the report of the Committee which had been investigating the sugar industry in the West Indies and, very possibly, as a result of that report they might be asked to do something for some of these islands. There would, he thought, be a good deal of difficulty in persuading that House to take that course as long as the system of government was one which was in the hands of so limited a class as it is at the present time. There was, he knew a general impression that the depression in the West Indies was general and universal. That was not the case. There was an increase of trade taken as a whole, but the increase was not in sugar, which used to be the staple industry, but in other productions. In some of the islands the production of fruit had assumed very considerable proportions, and its development was connected with a peasant proprietary, which was declared to be successful by those well acquainted with the islands. There again the development of the peasant proprietary was connected, and must be necessarily connected, with a more democratic system of government. The system in the great majority of the islands was purely nominated, or partly nominated and partly elected, and it seemed to him that the system which existed in the Barbadoes produced very beneficial results. They ought to look ultimately towards the introduction in these islands of a general confederation to make government cheaper, which could hardly be established except on a more representative basis.


, said there was land legislation going on in connection with these islands, the general tendency of which the home Government desired by every means in their power to foster—legislation intended to encourage small cultivation. ["Hear, hear."] It was evident that a most critical time had arrived with regard to the islands, and if by any means it was possible to encourage small cultivation by the assistance of those who were engaged in it, the home Government would be very glad to give any assistance in their power. They were at all times most anxious to do that, and land legislation with that object had already been sanctioned and, he thought, would have that effect. He did not quite understand the Object with which his right hon. Friend had put the question to him with regard to representative Government. Certainly if the West Indies, or any of them, were suffering at the present time it was not for want of wealth of constitutions. It was not for want of a sufficiency of what was possible in the way of representative government. On the contrary, he should say that the defect was quite the other way. They had too much government by what were called representative institutions — by councils and legislatures which were not in any true sense of the word representative.


said he particularly put the case of Windward, where there was not a single representative Member. They were all nominated.


asked if his right hon. Friend supposed that the condition of the islands which were not assisted by nominated councils, but which were more or less controlled by so-called representative bodies were in a better condition.


Yes. I instanced the case of Barbados.


said that nothing could be proved by a single illustration, nor did he think the illustration was a good one. He imagined that the inhabitants of Barbados would entirely dispute that they were in a more prosperous and satisfactory condition than the other islands which were deserving of the consideration of that House. The fact was that as a whole the West India islands were at the present moment subject to great depression. No doubt there were differences, but those differences were certainly not in any sense attributable to constitutions or institutions. They were due to differences of climate, of character, and of local circumstances, into which he need not go at the present time. As he had said, he thought the West Indies suffered undoubtedly from a wealth of constitutions. They differed in every island, and he would say that they only agreed in being more or less unsatisfactory to the islanders themselves and also to the home Government. The fact was that a representative government in the true sense of the word was not what was contemplated in the West Indies. It had not been proposed that every inhabitant in the West Indies should have a vote in the same way that every inhabitant in the United Kingdom had a vote. They knew what a government was the electoral constituency of which was a black population.


There is the case of Martinique.


said the government of that island was of a much more arbitrary kind in fact, though not in name, than any of the West India islands under the British Government. ["Hear, hear!"] As regarded the West India islands, it had never been proposed that there should be representative government in the true sense of the word for every separate population, the majority of whom were, of course, of negro blood, nor had it yet been proved in the present state of civilisation that negroes were capable of a satisfactory representative government. What was always meant when representative government was talked of was government by a small oligarchy of planters, assisted, more or less, by lawyers and other persons who, however admirable in themselves, formed at the best only the smallest minority of the population. He thought it would be most unwise to burden them with larger powers than they at present possessed. In some cases the interference of a representative council was not by any means invariably in the interest of the majority of the population; it was the interference of the few, but it was not always for the benefit of the many. He believed that the present system of government was the best security for the happiness and prosperity of the people that could be given. The state of the islands at the present time was one which caused the greatest anxiety to Her Majesty's Government. As his right hon. Friend had said, a Commission had been appointed, whose report would, he believed, command universal respect. As yet he had not seen it and he had not the slightest idea what the mature of it would be. He was awaiting the report with the greatest interest. If it should appear, as might well be the case, that the administration of the islands could not be continued without either some change in our fiscal system or, as an alternative, very considerable grants from the House, the whole circumstances, including the constitution of the islands would have to be carefully considered.


said that his experience at the Colonial Office led him to agree with the Colonial Secretary when he said that we could not devise any really representative system for the West India Islands, particularly the smaller islands, and they could not lay down any general principle as to the way in which the islands ought to be governed. Each island must be treated on its merits. The right hon. Gentleman had said with truth that we had an immense variety of constitutions in the Crown and other Colonies. He was sorry to say that in many cases the constitutions had not been successful in being truly representative, but he did not think the House would vote money for the support of the industries of the West India islands unless the islands had a better representative system than at present. Certainly, if money were granted, it was likely that the House would prefer to see the expenditure of it in the hands of the Colonial Office rather than in those of the small oligarchies who in many cases ruled the islands. He could not support the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean on the present occasion, not because he was not in favour of representative institutions, but because he believed representative institutions in the West India Islands were absolutely impossible.


thought that any one who had any personal acquaintance with the West Indies would say that the success of Martinque was due to the artificial system the French Government had bolstered up in that island. He believed that the French went so far as to give an honorarium to whoever started factories in Martinique. If the Colonial Secretary would adopt a similar system he had no doubt our colonies would flourish in such a way that they would never need to come to this House for assistance. He was prepared to affirm from personal knowledge that it was not the form of government that really caused nonsuccess. The islands were passing through a great economic change owing to the bounty system which up to recent years had been more or less successful. It was quite a mistake to suppose that the inhabitants wanted extended representation in those various systems of government. They, however, felt that while they were anxious to start and spread a system of small cultivation, it was a thousand pities the larger estates should be ruined by an artificial system.


said it seemed to be assumed that the choice was between a slight popularisation of the present system of government of the West Indies and direct Crown colony rule. Surely, if the House was asked to vote money in consequence of the report of the commission, there was the alternative of a cheap system of federal government for the whole of the West India Islands, in which, while the varied interests of the islands would be represented, the Colonial Office would retain a really overwhelmingly dominant voice.


said he was sure that if his right hon. Friend had inside experience of this matter he would not make the suggestion he had just thrown out. Up to the present the attempt to secure more economic administration had been unsuccessful.


asked whether the grant of £7,000 for the Bechuanaland Protectorate was to be continued, and whether the right hon. Gentleman could give the Committee any information as to the general condition of the Protectorate? Then he should like to ask him with respect to the Vote whether it was a permanent charge? As to the salary paid to the High Commissioner, lie was almost ashamed to think of the number of years which had elapsed since he tried to get some consideration shown to the chiefs.


I do not think that that question arises on this Vote.


said his reason for raising it was the large salary paid to the High Commissioner under this Vote.


It would not be in order here.


I presume your ruling would also prevent discussion upon the policy of the Government with regard to the Transvaal, although the salary of Her Majesty's agent in the Transvaal is in the Vote.


said the matter could be discussed on the salary of the Colonial. Secretary.


hoped there would be a full opportunity of discussing the policy of the Colonial Secretary in South Africa, and that discussion would not be barked this year as had been the case last year.


That will arise when the Vote conies up.


said there were one or two minor questions to which he wished to refer. As to the extra allowance to be given to the late High, Commissioner, it was, he understood, not included in the Vote.


Yes, it is. The hon. Member will find it in a separate paper.


said he regretted that this extra Vote was proposed. He had intended offering some criticisms upon the policy of the High Commissioner, but as lie understood Lord Rosmead was seriously ill, which he much regretted, he would abstain front saying anything upon this extra Vote. He thought it was very evident that Sir Jacobus de Wet had been unfairly treated in being allowed the small pension of £300 a year. With regard to the disturbances in Swaziland the right hon. Gentleman had promised to make inquiries and give them information. He should be glad to hear it from the right hon. Gentleman. All the information which reached him with regard to the treatment of the natives in the Transvaal was of a highly unsatisfactory character. They were suffering from oppression and an injustice almost unparalleled even in the cruel record of the past. He thought the Government might now pay some attention to the situation of the natives in the Transvaal.


This should be raised on the Colonial Office Vote.


Of course, I bow to your decision. I shall raise it at a later period.


asked for information as to the Solomon Islands.


said that, in answer to the point of the lion. Gentleman opposite, lie had to say that he had not had any application for any further removal. If anything of the kind was desired by the islanders, lie would be, dad to consider the matter. As regarded the Solomon Islands, he had no statement to make, but the Government were in communication with the Australian colonies on the subject of the administration of the islands. He did not think there had been any extension of the disturbances in Bechuanaland, told lie thought it was to the credit of Mr. Newton, the administrator, that peace had been so successfully maintained there. As regarded Swaziland, he had not heard of any disturbance calling for any special, mention. The Consul there was a permanent officer, and he had been appointed largely to take charge of the interests of the natives. With regard to the remarks of the hon. Member for Sheffield, he recognised the considerateness of the hon. Member in abstaining from any attack or criticism on his conduct in deference to the Jubilee celebrations. No doubt the hon. Member would avail himself of another opportunity to dance upon his prostrate corpse. [Laughter.] The hon. Member had referred to the allowance made to Sir Jacobus de Wet. All he had to say was that that gentleman had been extremely well and handsomely treated. While he had never said a word against him, and while lie had admitted that lie had fully deserved the consideration shown to him, yet he joined the service without any claim to a penny of pension; but, nevertheless, in consequence of the rather exceptional circumstances in which he had been working, the House had voted him an honorarium of £300 a year. With reference to Lord Rosmead, he would only say that he had served his country in numberless important positions with admirable devotion and loyalty. Lord Rosmead had been absolutely true to his Queen and his country, and he thought it was most ungracious of the hon. Member now to take the opportunity of sneering at the allowance the House would be pleased to award him. ["Hear, hear!"] Lord Rosmead went out to South Africa at the special request of the late Government. It was not his wish to go out. It was a duty forced upon him as a servant of the Crown, and he went out at great pecuniary sacrifice. He had occupied for a considerable period and with conspicuous loyalty and ability a most difficult post, and the very least the Government could do in these circumstances would be at all events to minimise the pecuniary loss he had sustained, though they could never adequately express their appreciation of his services. ["Hear, hear!]


said the right hon. Gentleman had made a very unfair attack upon him. [Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: "No, no!"] He would tell the House exactly what happened in connection with Lord Rosmead. He had intended to oppose the grant of £1,000 to him, and he nave the right hon. Gentleman private intimation of his intention. The right hon. Gentleman then told him of the illness of Lord Rosmead, of which he was unaware. He felt that in these conditions it would be in appropriate for him to criticise Lord Rosmead's conduct as High Commissioner, and he had refrained from doing so. The right hon. Gentleman was not justified in representing that as sneering at Lord Rosmead. There was nothing of the nature of a sneer. The right hon. Gentleman had evidently forgotten that he himself had attacked Lord Rosmead in connection with his appointment.


The lion. Member has no right to say that. I did not attack Lord Rosmead. I never said a single word against Lord Rosmead in this House or elsewhere. ["Hear, hear!]


The right hon. Gentleman attacked his appointment.


I expressed my opinion at the time as to the policy of the particular a appointment, but I never said a single word against Lord Rosmead. I cannot allow the hon. Member to misquote me.


said that the right hon. Gentleman was not Secretary of State at the time. He spoke as a private Member, and he made a severe attack upon the appointment of Lord Rosmead. He had no wish at all to continue this Question, but the right hon. Gentleman had made a very unfounded attack on him just now, although he had endeavoured to treat Lord Rosmead with the utmost possible consideration. He had made this explanation to the House, and he hoped the House would see that the attack of the right hon. Gentleman was entirely unjustifiable.

Vote agreed to.

4. £1,128, to complete the sum for Slave Trade Services.—Agreed to.

5. £34,100, to complete the sum for subsidies to Telegraph Companies.—Agreed to.