§ *COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Epping Division, Essex)
, who wore the uniform of a Lieut.-Colonel of the Coldstream Guards, said: Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg leave to propose that a humble Address 57 be presented by this House to Her Majesty in response to the Gracious Speech from the Throne; and I beg to ask that kind indulgence of the House, which is usually extended to those hon. Members upon whom this duty devolves. On the principle of asking my adversary to agree with me quickly, I venture to take the first paragraph of the Gracious Speech, which announces that our relations with foreign Powers are friendly—and I am sure we hope they will continue so. Sir, that is an announcement that I am sure will receive the universal approval of the House. In these days, Sir, the path of peace is a narrow and difficult one to tread. The rush of the great nations of the world seeking fresh outlets for their commerce, and, in some cases, increase of territory, renders it a difficult matter for England, with her world-wide possessions and innumerable interests, to avoid injuring the susceptibilities of foreign nations. The next paragraph, Sir, deals with affairs in the East of Europe. I am afraid that many of us are inclined to gird at the slow progress of the celebrated Council of the Nations, where Moderate and Progressive alike seem to be equally tardy, but we must, at all events, remember that so far European war has been averted, and for that reason, and if for that reason alone, I think we must congratulate the noble Marquess at the head of Her Majesty's Government, who, through many dangers and difficulties—and, for all I know, through much provocation—has been able to possess his soul in patience. And when, Sir, we blame the slow progress of this cumbrous machine, the Council of Europe, let us at all events remember that besides the preservation of peace, the great nations are pledged to the autonomy of Crete, and have prevented dismemberment of Greece, which might have been the result of the war, which, I cannot help thinking, she so rashly undertook. And now remains, Sir, the last work—the crowning work—for the Congress of Europe to accomplish, and it is the choice of a Governor for Crete; and I am sure this country will gladly acquiesce in the choice of any person who might command the assent of the other Powers, and who would find himself able to restore peace and tranquillity between the Mohammedan and Christian popula- 58 tions. With respect to what is known as the Egyptian campaign, the Egyptian army, under the able guidance of the Sirdar, Sir H. Kitchener, assisted by English officers and troops, has been uniformly successful, while the advance of Colonel Parsons from Kassala had succeeded in driving back the dervishes from an agricultural land to the edge of the desert, a striking feature in connection with that advance being the friendly feeling displayed by the Italian officer who formerly had the training of the Arab tribes. Now, the House will remember that the relief of Kassala, until the Egyptians should arrive, was one of the principal, the principal, object of this Nile expedition, as it was looked upon as a place of very great importance, being the key of the Eastern Soudan. That relief has been successfully effected. Excellent work has also been done by the engineers in the completion of the railway to Abu Hamed. As regards what we have effected in Egypt, I cannot do better than quote the words of the Sirdar himself, in his despatch of the 9th December, when, describing the operations of those under his command, he said:—The operations have resulted in the restoration to Egypt of upwards of 300 miles of the Nile Valley, and of the whole of the Eastern Soudan, while we have been enabled to rescue the inhabitants of those regions from an intolerable tyranny.If then, Sir, it be true that the Khalifa has made up his mind to attack the Egyptian army, I have no doubt that, assisted by British troops, they will be able to inflict upon him such a severe punishment as might possibly put an end to the campaign, and would certainly make him unwilling to risk a further engagement. It is to be hoped that before long the Egyptian flag will float over Khartoum. India, the next subject on which I wish to speak, has suffered from a triple blow—pestilence, famine, and war, all of which have caused lamentable loss of life; consequently, a severe strain has been put upon her resources. The plague, which it was hoped the Government had stamped out has again broken out. It must be remembered that we have had much to contend with in trying to stamp out this fell disease. Their conditions 59 of life, their dense populations, their dislike of Western laws of sanitation, all combined to increase the difficulty in the way of our object. It is satisfactory now to be able to notice that those who resisted our efforts to put a stop to this disease now assist us, and even our bitterest opponents are obliged to confess that the tact and devotion shown by the doctors and troops while engaged in that delicate task have won all praise. In their combat with the famine, though so many lives have been lost, the Government have been able to be assisted by the heroic efforts of their servants in India, and by those contributions sent in such large quantities, which had saved so many thousands from starvation. I cannot help thinking that those contributions reflect as much credit on the nation as on the individuals who gave them. The third question concerned the warlike operations conducted against the tribes on the North-Western Frontier. Those operations, conducted by Sir William Lockhart under the most difficult circumstances, have been successful, and all the tribes but a section of the Afridis have submitted. No greater expert on mountain warfare than Sir William Lockhart, I believe, exists. Death and war have walked hand in hand. Even in this House we have had to lament the loss of the gallant baronet, the late Member for Durham, S.E., whose strong personality, and the inheritance of a name great in Indian annals, made him a remark able figure on these benches. The difficulties of transport in these mountainous regions for so large a force have been enormous, but they have been success fully overcome, and the gallantry of British and native forces was beyond praise. Sir William Lockhart states that the march through the Bara Valley was one of the hardest pieces of soldiering our troops have ever experienced. It is true that much valuable life has been lost, but we must remember that British officers have the knack of leading instead of following their men, which I trust will never desert them. You must remember that we have been fighting against skilled marksmen, shooting from inaccesible crags, armed with weapons of precision. The tribes have learnt much of the art of warfare from their contact with us, and that has made them all the more formidable as enemies, 60 and our men had to unlearn a great deal of what they learnt before in order to meet the peculiar tactics of the enemy. The zeal and co-operation of the native princes and troops can hardly be over estimated, and I think this is a striking testimony of the success of our rule in India. It is to be hoped that, at no great distance of time, we may arrive at a peaceful settlement with the tribes with whom we have been fighting, and with whose tribal institutions and laws we have no wish to interfere. With regard to the paragraph in the Gracious Speech from the Throne which alludes to the creation of fresh municipalities in the administration and government of London, that is a subject which has already created a great deal of interest outside this House, and will probably form the subject of considerable discussion within it. I am not in the secrets of the Government, but I believe they have no intention whatever of diminishing the usefulness or dignity of that popular body, the London County Council. On the contrary, the Government have, I believe, approached this subject with the desire to increase rather than diminish the interest taken by the citizens of London in municipal work. They believe that by the creation of fresh municipal areas they will relieve the great central body of a vast amount of detailed work which at present they are unable adequately to perform, and that it will enable men thoroughly acquainted with local wants to serve upon a local council, and to give the benefit of their experience, without demanding the whole of their time. In doing this, the Government would be doing nothing more than increasing the scheme of 1888. I come now to that portion of the Speech which is naturally to myself, and others who are wearing the Queen's uniform, the most interesting part of that Speech. For many years past the attention of this House, and of the nation, has been engrossed in the increase in the personnel and the material of the Navy, and, I think, wisely, and this year again the Government are going for an increase of men. The noble Lord, the honourable Member for York City, whose presence we are glad to recognise on these benches, took a leading part in the initial development of that scheme. May I be 61 allowed to remark in passing how I wish that his presence here had not been caused by the death of the late Member for York City, whom (if some of us were perforce obliged to recognise in him an honoured political opponent) we all respected for his talents, and loved for the innate gentleness of his nature. Military Members of this House are only too glad to recognise the prior claims of the Navy as the senior branch of the Service, and we have felt no jealousy while its legitimate claims were being considered; but we are grateful to Her Majesty's Government for the promise that Army reforms shall be prominently brought before this House. The nation may ask how it is that these questions have not been brought before the House before. It is an easy reply, and to some, perhaps, a congenial task, whenever there are sins of omission to be accounted for, to lay the blame on the Front Bench of either Party, but I cannot help thinking that in the present case there are others who should share the blame. The military Members of the House, and those interested in the Army, have been fairly numerous, and they have always received courteous attention from both sides of the House when they have risen to speak, but I fear they have not always used their numbers and technical knowledge to the best advantage. I have not had the advantage of being a Member of this House for a very long period, but I have noticed that on the night of the Army Estimates the attendance was not very full. It went by the name of "the Colonel's night." I have noticed that the Members have not always directed their attention to broad questions of re-organisation, but rather have occupied their attention with matters of petty detail. Small wonder, then, if the people outside this House should have said to themselves: "If the experts in the House of Commons are content with the state of the Army, surely we ourselves may rest content." There have been, of course, distinguished exceptions to this rule, such as the right hon. Baronet the Member for North-east Manchester, my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast, the hon. Member for Hythe, the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean, the hon. Baronet the Member for Yarmouth, and the hon. Member for 62 Hammersmith; but they have been the exception, and not the rule. I notice that that distinguished officer, the noble Lord, who holds the office of Commander-in-Chief of Her Majesty's Army, in making a speech a short time ago at the London Rifle Club, said that if he believed what he read and what he heard, he should believe that the British Army was in a moribund condition. I do not think, Sir, that this is a fair description of the present state of public opinion as to the condition of the Army. What we do think is, that unless the proper remedies are applied at the proper time, that which is now a slight ailment might in time become a dangerous disease. What public opinion holds—and I think it is backed up by the military opinion in this House—is that our numbers are insufficient, the conditions of the Service are not sufficiently attractive, and that the existing organisation is not the best for our present requirements. In the last sixty years we have added 2,000,000 square miles to our possessions. We know how even Secretaries of State for War have entered the War Office with their minds full of generous measures of reform, and how many have left it without having done anything, except to add to that exceedingly broad path which is supposed to be paved with good intentions. Sir, we gratefully recognise the value of the reforms foreshadowed in the gracious Speech from the Throne, and we shall wait for the details shortly to be laid before the House, while we do congratulate the Government and the Secretary of State for War on their desire to add to the efficiency of the Army. Our Army costs the nation about £18,000,000 a year. It is small, indeed, compared with the vast masses of the troops of foreign nations. Fortunately we cannot attempt to vie with them in numbers. We have not the smallest wish to do so. But we can see that for our £18,000,000 we get good value for our money in the shape of well-equipped, well-organised, and really efficient forces. There is a great deal in our present system which is extremely useful, and a great deal that is absolutely indispensable. There are some light-hearted souls who are perfectly ready to abolish our present system root and branch. I confess that I think such a course not only dangerous but impossible. Per- 63 haps my Tory instincts teach me that this is another of those cases in which it is better to mend than to end. For there is a great deal in our present system, which is extremely useful and a great deal which is absolutely indispensable. We have lately had the advantage of reading some interesting letters from the hon. Member for West Belfast, whose knowledge of Army matters is undoubted, and whose clearness of declaration leaves nothing to be desired, except by those who differ from him. We have also had some interesting statistics from a late valued civil servant on the same subject. Utrum horum mavis accipe? After all we must remember that it is the country which pays the eighteen millions, and it is the country which you will have to satisfy by your reforms. I sincerely believe that when the proposals of the Government are laid before the House they will be found to be fully satisfactory to those who have the efficiency of the Army at heart. I have no idea of what the reforms of the Government are, but I know that the Government are earnest in their wish to improve the present state of affairs in the Army. We have reason this year, especially, to see that reforms are absolutely necessary. Last year's abnormal demands brought to light in unmistakable terms the want of elasticity in our present system, which is based upon the maintenance of a proper proportion between the Army abroad and the Army at home. If you start with a deficiency of 10 battalions and a small war arises requiring expeditionary force, without the power of dealing with your reserves, you at once fall into difficulties. But they are difficulties which must be faced and met. To maintain an Army in peace time on war footing is impossible, to fill up your expeditionary force with recruits would be madness, and to steal from your other battalions is, I think, the worst crime of all; so that the only course left is to employ your reserves. I hope that the Government will see their way to effect this reform. I know that it is dangerous to make too frequent calls on your reservists for fear of injuring their permanent employment, but this is a difficulty which must be faced and met. A three years' engagement is very likely to be popular, but 64 the difficulty of providing drafts is one that may arise. With regard to the War Office, I hope we may now see the dawn of better things, and that the Government, in pursuance of their policy as regards other overgrown central Powers, may see their way to some measure of decentralisation. Such a reform would enormously add to the efficiency of the Army. I say nothing about the popularity because popularity, as we all know, is a fickle jade. I have known many popular officers who were not so valuable after all. Innumerable proposals have been pressed upon the Government, all of them absolutely perfect from the author's point of view. I have no right to enter upon these now, but I should like to conclude with the hope that the Government may see their way to assist retired soldiers to permanent employment. I am aware of the extreme difficulty that surrounds this question. I don't think any comparison between our own and foreign armies in this respect is possible, but I believe no action of the Government would be more likely to increase the popularity of the Service and add a greater stimulus to recruiting. The Under Secretary of State for War, who will have charge of these reforms in this House, will have a difficult task to perform, but I feel sure that he will bring to bear the same tact and discretion he showed last Session in the conduct of military business. I believe that the right hon. Gentlemen opposite are as anxious as we are that the standard of excellence and general efficiency of the Army should be maintained. I would like to make a few concluding remarks on a subject of great moment. I have rescued this innocent from the Crêche, where I found it in dubious company amongst Bills dealing with Laws relating to Prisons, Limited Liability Companies, and Church Patronage—the subject of secondary education. I have no idea what the Government are going to do; but we know of the advances foreign nations are making in this direction, and the pecuniary sacrifices they have made. We have seen how keen our competition for trade is with them, and we know that until our own secondary education is materially organised we can hardly expect to meet competitors successfully. I trust that when the Govern- 65 ment find themselves able to deal with the subject they will see their way to establish a paramount central authority with a professional council and a registration of school teachers.
§ VISCOUNT MILTON
, in seconding the Motion, said: I cannot help feeling, after the series of eloquent remarks which the honourable and gallant Gentleman made to the House, that any few remarks I may have to make will compare extremely disadvantageously. My honourable and gallant friend, the Mover, has referred, with the advantages which belong to him of extensive military knowledge and experience, to the welcome announcement in the Gracious Speech that a further augmentation of the strength of the Army will occupy a foremost place amongst the Measures which Her Majesty's Government will bring before the House. I propose to add nothing to the weighty observations which have fallen from my honourable and gallant Friend, beyond offering to the House, with much diffidence, the opinion that if we wish for the success of our diplomacy, which is another way of expressing the proposition, if we wish to avoid war, the safest and surest way to do so is to allow the world to observe that our military resources, as well as our naval resources, are adequate to the task of defending our colonies, our commerce, and all our rights. With regard to the operations in the Soudan, I venture to remark that in my opinion those operations are warranted alike by our duty to Egypt and our duty to ourselves. We have a practical object of the first magnitude to attain, namely, the restitution to civilisation of regions which formerly, in some degree at all events, enjoyed its blessings, but which have relapsed to the domination of a cruel, grinding, slave-owning tyranny. An object such as that alone were worth military efforts on the part of the British Empire. But there is a consideration beyond that. The key strategically to the existence and material progress of Egypt is admitted to be found in command of the upper waters of the Nile. How can we pose as having secured the well-being and security of Egypt whilst the forces of the Khalifa remain a menace and a deterrent to civilisation, commerce and prosperity. I should like to say a few words upon the paragraph 66 in the Gracious Speech which deals with operations beyond the Indian Frontier. Everything connected with the welfare of our Indian Empire and our Indian fellow-subjects must ever be of the deepest interest to me, because I served an apprenticeship under the Noble Marquis the Secretary of State for War in that portion of Her Majesty's Dominions. It may be a relief to Her Majesty's Ministers to hear that I do not intend to anticipate or usurp the function which properly belongs to them of defending the policy of operations beyond the ancient frontier of India. But whilst I decline to tread the thorny paths of policy unless equipped with official knowledge, I trust the House will permit me to convey a few words of appreciation to the right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean upon the convincing arguments he employed in a Yorkshire journal in October last, and which deserve the widest publicity on account of the great authority of the right hon. Gentleman upon all subjects of that character. I cannot forbear, Mr. Speaker, paying my tribute of admiration to the splendid examples of bravery and endurance which the Frontier operations have been the means of calling forth, and I venture to express the admiration of most hon. Members, not only for the gallant British troops in India, but also for those troops of Her Majesty's who, in making our Indian Empire in the past, have been friends in need, as they were friends in deed, and perhaps some day these manly, colonial brothers-in-arms whom, thanks to the forethought and consideration of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies, we had the proud privilege of meeting and of forming acquaintanceship with during last year, the year of Her Majesty's Jubilee, may be privileged to share as a right in the laurels which the British soldier seldom, if ever, fails to reap, no matter in what part of Her Majesty's dominions or what part of the world he may be employed. With reference to the paragraph in the Gracious Speech, which deals with the spread of distress in our West Indian Colonies, arising from a fall in the price of sugar, which is traceable to the undue competition of bounty-fed countries, all those who wish, not only to provide new fields for the 67 markets of our provinces, but who also wish to see our oldest colonies maintaining in some degree, at any rate, their former vigor, will rejoice to see that negotiations are now proceeding, with a view to a conference concerning the bounty-fed products of other countries, also that in the meantime Her Majesty's Government proposes submitting to this House measures whereby the distress of our fellow subjects in the West Indies may be alleviated, and very possibly may be the means of initialling new industries, and I would ask the House to observe that this measure partakes, at the same time, of generosity and of justice, inasmuch as for many years past our home populations have been reaping no inconsiderable advantage from the reduction in the price of sugar owing to foreign competition. But this advantage has been pretty widely diffused over our large populations, and it would, Mr. Speaker, be abhorrent if the people of this country should fail to administer in their dire necessity to some of our oldest colonies, who, from no fault of their own, are on the verge of ruin owing to the very considerations which give such great advantages to ourselves. Turning to domestic legislation foreshadowed in Her Most Gracious Majesty's Speech, the House will be glad to observe the promise of a measure dealing with Private Bills and legislation in Scotland. The measure, which is designed to relegate the sanction of enterprise and of public works to those localities most interested, has the advantage of increased expedition, probably of increased efficiency and undoubtedly of reduced cost. There will be no difference of opinion, I venture to hope, in this House, that Scotland is entitled to every legislative benefit compatible with Imperial interests which Parliament can afford to give her. The next point upon which I should like to touch, Sir, is one which I hope will touch the hearts of every hon. Member and right hon. Member in this House, and that is the question of the extension of local self-government to Ireland. This House is not entirely in the dark with regard to the lines upon which Her Majesty's Government will proceed in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman, the First Lord of the Treasury, made a most important announcement in this House 68 during last Session, the main features of which he has lately repeated at Manchester. In substance, the policy which Her Majesty's Government will follow in regard to this matter, will be to couple with local self-government a grant in relief and local taxation upon a broad and generous basis. I especially call the attention of the House to the important announcement with which the First Lord wound up his remarks on that occasion, namely, that the Government were determined that those benefits which they desire each class should have under this Act should be adequately secured, both to owner and occupier. A measure such as this is one which a Unionist Government is especially called upon to bring forward, in order to dispel the accusations—and, I venture to suggest, the unjust accusations—that under our present system in Ireland it is impossible to render here an equal measure of those privileges which have been rendered to England and Scotland. If you give local self-government to Ireland, the natural impulses and interests of the Irish people will be to further such local interests as beget enterprise, and the House needs no words from me to show that enterprise should beget employment, and employment should beget prosperity. This is an essential requisite to a thrifty, peaceful, and progressive country. I venture to predict that if this measure of local self-government to Ireland be finally placed upon the Statute Book in such a form as to be at once wide and just, I shall hail the advent of that Act as one who is a resident in Ireland and has the interests of Ireland at heart. The wider it is the better, and I venture to submit, Sir, that the people of Ireland will have good reason to look back to this 62nd year of Her Gracious Majesty's reign, and to a boon which they will have received from this House. I would like to suggest the earnest hope that the greatest possible interest will be taken throughout Ireland in the passage of this Measure, in fact, such an interest as has not been evinced by the Irish people with regard to legislation in Ireland, whether in this House or in the other, of late years. If I am justified in thus speaking, and my humble experience as a resident in Ireland leads me to believe that I am justified, hon. Members may confidently anticipate 69 during the present Session in many an Irish homestead, in many an Irish country town, and in many an Irish hamlet, great anxiety to ascertain, to gauge, and realise the scope and full value of the benefit bestowed upon the Irish people by this great measure. The peace which has now so long prevailed in Ireland has brought out the capacity for restraint, the respect for order which some were tempted to deny as possible attributes of the Irish race. Experience has given the lie to any such misapprehension, and a situation has at length arisen which renders apparent to hon. Members the opportunities of dealing with the question of the grant of local self-government to Ireland at the present time. It is, therefore, only a just recognition of a welcome and acknowledged fact that a generous measure of local self-government should be the response of the Imperial Parliament, the ostensible token that the people of Ireland have deserved well of the Empire as a whole of which they form so important a part, and if I may call upon my Irish friends and fellow subjects to set the seal upon the peace which has arisen, and to utilise all their best endeavours in bringing about material developments of their country, and as far as they possibly can to give over the system of pursuing after shadows. I venture to say that it must be apparent to all that a peaceful and settled Ireland would have a greater claim upon the goodwill and on the respect of the responsible British peoples than the factionary country which we remember some few years back. Mr. Speaker, I have endeavoured, according to the best of my ability, to put the points which have occurred to me in connection with Her Majesty's most gracious Speech, which has been read, and if my shortcomings have been too evident to this House, as they have been too evident to myself, I venture to hope that the clemency for which this House is so noted may be extended to me in proportion—I may say it will be a large proportion—as I have seen it extended to others. Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the Address.
*THE RIGHT HON. SIR WILLIAM VERNON HARCOURT (Monmouthshire)
Mr. Speaker, the hon. and gallant Mover of this Address need hardly, I think, appeal to the in- 70 dulgence of this House. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is an old and universal favourite in the House of Commons, and we are always charmed to hear him, even if he fails to convince. He has dealt, as we all know he would deal, with many controversial topics in an uncontroversial spirit. I would say to him, as I would say to the seconder, that we will reserve severe criticism of their arguments until they occupy the Bench below which I feel sure at some future date they will occupy. Turning to the Seconder of the Address at a time when the House has so many melancholy vacancies in its ranks, from the venerable statesman who, for more than half a century by his private character and his public services, had deserved and received the respect of all parties of the House to that severe loss which has fallen upon this Bench, and that colleague to whom the Mover of this Address has paid so true and so graceful a testimony—I say, in the presence of these considerations, we must welcome every young recruit to this House who appears to fill up the places of those who have fallen in our midst; and, Sir, I venture to say that the House has seldom welcomed—favourably welcomed, I would say—the presence of one of those youngest members more cordially than it has done tonight. I scarcely remember a youthful member of this House addressing it with so much promise of future Parliamentary success as he has shown. He has dealt with topics upon which he had a right, from his family connection, to speak in a manner which will meet with the approval of both sides of the House, although I cannot accept altogether the sanguine view of the results which may follow from a Local Government Bill for Ireland. I will now turn to the Address, and to the topics which are suggested by the Speech from the Throne, and I may say to many other topics which are not alluded to in the Speech from the Throne. I am sure that the Government cannot, and will not, complain that the House and the country look for and demand from them explanations upon many questions—more questions, I think, than I ever recollect to have been forced or been compelled to call attention to at the commencement of a Session of Parliament. I am sure that the Leader of this House 71 will not take any objection to a claim of that character, for I see that when he addressed his constituents, a few weeks ago, in what I may characterise as a very able speech, he remarked upon the circumstance that in three successive years he had come before them, and that in each year there was a new panorama of foreign complications with which he felt called upon to deal. The centre of interest, he said, moved first to America, then to Africa, then to the near East, and then to the far East. Centres of interest, no doubt, but different centres, rather like the description of one of those circular storms in which the fierce blast blows from every quarter of the globe in turn. Whatever else they may be, the centres of interest cannot be described as peaceful, considering that at this moment we have, in different parts of the world, not far off a hundred thousand men under arms. I believe we are told 70,000 men in India, some thousands in Egypt, and more troops despatched in different directions. The right hon. Gentleman, the Colonial Secretary, has claimed credit for this state of things as a special virtue in the dispensation of this Administration. He said, and I think you will agree with him, that "we are living in a most interesting time." But, he says with satisfaction, "I never remember myself a time in which our history was so full, in which day by day brought us new objects of interest, and let me say, day by day, new objects of anxiety." If the aim of the policy of Her Majesty's Administration were to bring about new objects of interest and anxiety, I can only congratulate them upon their complete success. The objects of anxiety are numerous enough; but, Sir, in all the troubles by which we are surrounded, we always had one consolation—we always had one refuge—we reposed with confidence in the bosom of the Concert of Europe. That would always save us from all dangers. Sir, we wanted some consolation, because in addition to the anxiety indicated by the First Lord of the Treasury and by the Colonial Secretary, there was a far more formidable symptom, and that was the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is officially, I believe, a man of peace, and, I had believed, was so in his personal capacity. He found it neces- 72 sary to talk with a light heart of war, and I confess myself, being of a pacific disposition, I would gladly exchange some of this interest at the price of a little less anxiety. However, if we are asked to look to the Concert of Europe for the preservation of peace, we cannot place that reliance upon it which was prescribed to us some time ago. Twelve months ago, or six months ago, any man who doubted the absolute wisdom and efficacy of the Concert of Europe would have been liable to have been indicted for lèse majesté—would have been considered to have uttered political blasphemy. We were told that if the Concert of Europe broke down, if in any way it miscarried, we should find ourselves in the midst of universal and terrible war, and that any man who questioned the Concert of Europe was the enemy of the peace of mankind. That was the language that was held a short time ago. What is the position now of the Concert of Europe? What is the reputation of this Areopagus—this federation of Europe which was to give law to the world? It is not only discarded, but derided by its worshippers and its high priests. Well, Sir, there is a euphemistic description of it in the Speech from the Throne. It says that "the question of an autonomous Government for the Island of Crete has occupied the attention of the Powers." But when Ministers are not speaking from the Throne they use very different language. The First Lord of the Treasury exhausted the resources of his agreeable satire upon the Concert of Europe. He says that the best thing it could do would be to toss up, in the hope that it might find a third-rate candidate as a Christian Governor for Crete. That was the last resource he recommended to the baffled and embarrassed Concert of Europe. And I observe that the great organ of the Concert of Europe, and of Her Majesty's Government, only a few days ago denounced the august stolidity of the Concert des Impuissances. This is the view of the great supporter of the Concert of Europe, and the Colonial Secretary came down upon the Areopagus with a still heavier hand. He said: "I sympathise with those who denounce the impotence of the great International tribunal to secure peace 73 and order in Crete, and bring justice and good government to Armenia. It is a disgrace to all the Powers of Europe. I will go further, and say that most men are coming to the conclusion that the present position is intolerable, and that it cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely. We know that there is a risk. I hope it will not be our duty to preserve our right to independence and isolation." If any of us had spoken in this tone six months ago, or three months ago, we should have been described as people who desired war in Europe, but now everybody talks with the greatest freedom of the dissolution of this august stolidity, and say if what we want to be done is not done, we will leave the Concert at once. I think, Sir, that the bugbear of universal war, by which weak and foolish persons have allowed themselves to be scared, has been dispelled. Reading these statements by leading members of the Government, I should gather that the steam-roller had been discarded, and at all events the Colonial Secretary is ready at once to start off in Lord Salisbury's hansom as the representative of isolated action. Well, Sir, this is isolated action which they seem disposed to adopt, but I think we are entitled to ask them what they are going to do, and how they propose to accomplish it, the right hon. Gentleman says what they have to do is to restore peace and order in Crete and to give justice to Armenia. The last effort—I will not say of the Concert of Europe but of the non-Concert—has been the proposal to confer the Governorship of Crete on Prince George of Greece. Supposing that that proposal had been made, as it ought to have been made, twelve months ago, what evils might have been avoided. If the Concert of Europe has seen what we have always maintained—i.e., that the only true and sound solution of the question of Crete is the recognition of its connexion with Greece—how many evils, how many miseries might have been averted? When we remember the vituperation and obloquy heaped upon Greece, and upon everybody who sympathised with Greece at one time, and when we understand that Russia is now proposing, and England and France are supporting, the candidature of Prince George of Greece as Governor of Crete, 74 I think we may well say that the whirligig of time brings its revenge, and we may throw back upon these gentlemen the language, the unworthy language of vituperation of Greece, and of all those who sympathise with that country. For my part, I never had any confidence in this Concert of Europe. In order that a Concert of the Powers should be of any avail they should have some common interest and some common aim. But these Powers never had any common interest or any common aim. When the policy of Canning, which led to the emancipation of Greece was inaugurated, it commenced by Mr. Canning refusing to go into a Concert with Powers whom he knew would be adverse to the interests he desired to promote. And what was the combination he made? It was similar to that which is promoting the candidature of Prince George of Greece; it was a combination of England, Russia, and France, and Mr. Canning saw that if it included Powers who necessarily by their interests would be opposed to the policy he desired to maintain, it would certainly fail. But the right hon. Gentleman says that even if this Concert has utterly failed to do justice to Armenia, and to give autonomy to Crete, it has preserved the peace of Europe. But you did not want for that purpose such a Concert as that. You can always preserve peace by not going to war. It was not the Concert that preserved the peace of Europe. The arrangement as to the Balkan provinces—which is said to have secured peace—was not made by the Concert of Europe, but it was a private compact between Russia and Austria. In any event the Concert did not prevent war between Turkey and Greece. Possibly it was the cause of that war, for there may have been Powers which did not desire that war to be prevented. These were not the works of the Concert of Europe. The Concert did undertake to give autonomy to Crete, but what is the condition of that autonomy after twelve months? The French Minister, speaking last year on this subject, said, "The Powers have taken charge of Crete as a deposit." But what have you done with this deposit? Day after day you read of the most deplorable misery, anarchy, and starvation in Crete. And yet nothing has been done! What is the 75 present position of the Concert of Europe? As regards Armenia, it appears from what we can see to be like some joint stock company about to be wound up. Armenia is written off as a bad debt, and Crete is apparently in liquidation. What progress has been made towards its autonomy? First the Admirals consult; then they write to the representatives of their Powers at Constantinople; and then those representatives at Constantinople, if they can agree, which they seldom do, send a despatch to the Porte, and it is declined with thanks by the Sultan. The only person who really has any authority and power in the Concert of Europe is, no doubt, the Sultan at Constantinople. That is the present situation. The Secretary for the Colonies has at last come to the conclusion that England has been befooled long enough. I do not quarrel with him in that conclusion, but I think he might have arrived at it a little sooner. And in the meantime, while you in the Concert of Europe were dealing with matters in the Near East while you imagined you were a harmonious Areopagus disposing of the affairs of mankind like some great beneficent, omniscient, omnipotent Federation, your partners were disposing of the Far East without your knowledge, without your consent, and apparently without taking any counsel with you at all. What have your concerting colleagues done? What are the arrangements which have been made by your trusty companions of the Federation in the Far East? Do you know, or are you ignorant on the point? If you know, all we ask is that you should tell us. It often, of course, occurs that in regard to great transactions Governments are not at liberty, and it is not politic for them, to reveal what they know, but when the Chancellor of the Exchequer comes forward and says that there are things to be defended at the cost of war—
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
Well, I read it cost, and cost is a more fitting word for a Chancellor of the Exchequer, and when we are told of war one is reminded of the old text, which says that before you run the risk of going to war you should count the cost of it. But it is a very serious thing when a Minister comes for- 76 ward and talks of war, whether it be the risk or the cost of it. As regards the defence of English commerce and of treaty rights, the Government may count on the support of the country and of the House of Commons. They may do so confidently, I am perfectly sure of that. But what we have to ask—what the Government, when they are talking of war, ought to let us know—is in what manner the commercial rights and the treaty rights of this country are imperilled, and in respect of what acts are these menaces of war employed and to whom are they addressed? That is a serious matter, and it takes these questions entirely out of the category of diplomatic secrecy, because it is not usual or prudent to begin negotiations by talking about war. War is a terrible thing; it is what the French call a big word; and when it is spoken by a responsible Government you suppose it is not the beginning, but the end of negotiations. Everybody knows that we have had some experience of the difficulties created by rash language in our relations with America about Venezuela. When you have menacing language of this kind employed it makes it far more difficult to arrive at a peaceful solution, and therefore I say that the situation created by the Chancellor of the Exchequer talking about war is such as to make it in the highest degree desirable—and, indeed, necessary—that we should understand what is this danger, and what is the character of it. Now, Sir, as I understand this Eastern question, there are two totally distinct things. First, the claim to defend treaty rights and equality of commercial treatment. That I gather to be the policy of the Government, both from the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury, and also the communiqué made to Leeds the other day by a near relative of his. In that policy I entirely concur. But you do not tell us how it is threatened and who is threatening it. That is a declaration which we ought to have. But apart from that—perfectly separable—is the question of the Loan. I am quite sure there is no desire, in a matter of this kind, to deal with it from a party point of view. We have never been told whether the statements that have been published in the Press as to the Loan and its conditions are or are not accurate. The Chancellor 77 of the Exchequer expressed dissent from the accuracy of these declarations. I think the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs rather set them up again afterwards. We ought to know with reference to this Loan what is the position today? Have you concluded it? If you have not concluded it, why have you not? Then as regards the conditions, are they a sine quâ non of the Loan, or are the conditions to have any force? One condition is the establishment of a new port—I do not venture to pronounce its name—in the neighbourhood of Port Arthur. What is the situation? Does that claim stand or fall by the Loan? or does it hold in regard to the general principles of commercial rights? These are all questions on which, in the alarm naturally felt in consequence of the language which has been employed of the peril to the commercial interests of England, we ought to have full and frank information from the Government. As I have said, we are all for supporting treaty rights: but upon that matter I am anxious to say a word upon a set of papers that have appeared during the Recess upon which we have had no opportunity of commenting—I refer to the papers relating to Madagascar. With Madagascar we had treaty rights of the most explicit character. We had treaty rights under two heads, one which gave us Consular jurisdiction, and the other which gave us very favourable commercial tariffs. Now, France in February, 1896, undertook the military occupation of Madagascar, and Lord Salisbury very properly reserved all British rights in the face of that occupation. I will not go into details, but I will just mention the dates which are important. On the 10th of April, 1896, the annexation of Madagascar was announced, and the French Minister thereupon declared the treaty rights were abrogated. Upon that, on the 10th of August, 1896, Lord Salisbury wrote, I think, as strong and peremptory a dispatch as was ever penned by a British Minister, and he charged the French Government with having broken their pledges, with the abrogation of the treaty, with a violation of international law, and declared that the effect of what had been done would be to destroy British trade with the Island. To that dispatch no reply was made. Confer- 78 ences went on about the Consular jurisdiction. I will say nothing about them, because that was an exchange of jurisdiction with Zanzibar. We gave up our Consular jurisdiction in Madagascar, and the French gave up theirs in Zanzibar. The real point is the commercial tariff. There was this dispatch sent on the 10th of August, and not a word more was said on that subject till April, 1897. The whole matter was allowed to slumber for nine months, and then Lord Salisbury asked for an answer to the dispatch of 1896. The French Minister merely replied that he was rather surprised at the request after such a lapse of time, and that he had nothing more to say about it, for the treaties were abolished, the English tariff was gone, and the French tariff applied. That is the end of the correspondence. According to the papers delivered, the whole affair ended in May, and not a word more passes on the subject. Now in international law precedents have a great weight, and when you are going to issue as you may be justified in taking issue upon the vital subject of the preservation of treaty rights, people will ask what is the practical out-come of this Madagascar correspondence. Perhaps the Under-Secretary will be able to tell us something of what has happened since last May on this question, and whether it is to be taken as an established principle that the annexation of territory abrogates all the rights to which that territory was previously subject in respect of other powers. I want to know what the position of the Government is. It seems to me that that, at any rate, is the principle established by the Madagascar correspondence. I should not have referred to this at such length, except that I cannot help feeling that the matter is a very serious one, and has an important bearing on the whole question of treaty rights. There are many other subjects upon which it is necessary to ask the Government for an explanation. West Africa is one of those subjects of interest and, it will not be denied, of anxiety, to which the Colonial Secretary referred. I am, however, conscious that this is a very difficult. I might almost say a dangerous, one, and I shall not press the Government to say more upon that subject than they feel would be to the public advantage 79 at this moment. I will only say I think it would be a shame to a civilised country if they did not come to a proper understanding on a question of that kind. There is another question—that with regard to South Africa. That is a matter in which we are all deeply interested, and I hope the Colonial Secretary will give us some information upon it. What has been done with reference to the reorganisation of the Chartered Company of South Africa? We were told at the end of last Session that the Colonial Secretary contemplated making new arrangements in that matter. It was obviously and absolutely necessary to reconstitute the Chartered Company. Here you have an immense territory, many times bigger than the United Kingdom, governed how, and by whom? By a Company which has made no report even to its shareholders for two years. We know nothing about its administration, and we certainly have not had a very flattering account of it in the report of Sir Richard Martin. We certainly desire to know by whom this Company is being administered, through whom, and on what conditions. That is a fair inquiry to make of Her Majesty's Government. Troubles never come alone. What is the state of things in Uganda? The accounts are most disquieting, and make one fear that any day one may hear most disastrous news from that country. As far as any information that we possess goes, it is to the effect that the trouble in Uganda arose from an expedition of Major Macdonald, and that the Soudanese troops refused to join in this expedition. Out of that arose the mutiny of the Soudanese troops. They betrayed us as they betrayed Emin; a more unsafe people to rely upon could not possibly be. What is this Macdonald expedition? We have a protectorate in Uganda, but, as I understand it, this expedition of Major Macdonald was to go outside Uganda, and it was for that reason that the Soudanese troops refuse to accompany it. I think we ought to ask, and we do ask the Government to state what was the object of this expedition of Major Macdonald, and what were the instructions that were given to him? because upon that must depend the judgment of the origin of this serious trouble in Uganda. Then there is the Soudan. There, as the Speech says, we are going 80 to send additional troops. I confess I was a little surprised at the view of the campaign put forward in this Speech. We have always thought that you were marching against the Khalifa at Khartoum, but, as it is described in the Speech, the Khalifa is marching against you. That is a most singular and novel view of the campaign:Intelligence, which is apparently trustworthy, has been received of the intention of the Khalifa to advance against the Egyptian army in the Soudan.When you were at Wady Halfa you were under no apprehensions of the Khalifa marching against you then. Then the Speech continues—and I have, therefore, given directions that a contingent of British troops should be dispatchednot to assist the Khedive to go to Khartoum, but to defend the Khedive at Berber. The settled policy of England in Egypt up till last year was founded upon the determination to abandon the Soudan. That was the policy of the Government of which the Colonial Secretary was a principal member, and with which also the Duke of Devonshire was connected. That policy was affirmed and confirmed when Lord Salisbury came into office, and he stated most distinctly that he had no intention of departing from that resolution. That has been the policy of England in Egypt for 12 years. The object of that policy, proclaimed and acted upon with consummate ability by Lord Cromer, was to develop the resources and sustain the credit of Egypt. But the present Government has departed from that policy, and has determined on the reconquest of the Soudan. They talk in the Speech from the Throne of assisting the Khedive. But everyone knows that when you talk of Egypt, you mean England. This is a war made by the Government of Great Britain. This new policy, in my opinion, is one that demands a full and frank explanation by the Government, not only to this House and to this country, but to the world, of what their true objects and intentions are in Egypt. Hitherto you have satisfied yourself that you were developing; the credit and resources of Egypt. You are now embarking upon something which is new.
§ *SIR W. HARCOURT
Yes, but two years is a short prescription to set up either in law or in policy. There are two things to consider in this matter. First, is it for the interest of Egypt? In our opinion it is not. Certainly it has not been for the financial interest of Egypt. It has already cost two millions, of which you have advanced nearly half on loan. In consequence, public works have been suspended in Egypt, and the development of the fellaheen and of the commercial and agricultural interests must suffer in consequence of this policy. Nobody who is acquainted at all with the matter will contend for a moment that this new territory is likely to pay. If they have any doubt about it, I would recommend them to read an extremely able article in The Edinburgh Review, entitled "Dongola," written by one who seems to thoroughly know the road, and who tells you that never in former times has the province paid its way (in the neighbourhood of Dongola) except as to a small part, and that since its devastation by the Khalifa it is impossible for it ever to do so. Again, it does not give any better frontier. No doubt, as one of the speakers said just now, you confer advantages upon countries that you redeem from barbarism to civilisation, but I venture to say that, with the difficulties and dangers by which you are surrounded, it is neither a prudent nor safe policy to lock up a British army at the Equator and undertake this unnecessary enterprise to add to your difficulties and embarrassments. That is the clear position which we take up as to the interests of England in this matter. I will not put it on any other footing, and I ask Gentlemen who tell us that we have no army, why they support a policy of sending out battalion after battalion to be shut up in Khartoum? When you get there what is your end? Everybody knows the difficulties you and your friend, the Khedive, will find there. You have, beyond Khartoum, the regions of Darfour, Khordofan and Bahr-el-Ghazal, full of warlike and hostile tribes. Who knows, too, what other foes you may have to face when you have got to Khartoum? You are not going to leave a small garrison there! It is quite obvious that every step you go the expenses and the 82 forces must be increased, and it seems to me to be what my right hon. Friend, the Member for Montrose, calls a "pre posterous policy" in the present situation in which England stands in the world to embark and commit yourselves to an enterprise the consequence of which no man can measure. You may find difficulties far greater than you expect, which you will be bound to face, and from which you cannot retire with safety. That is what I have to say on the subject of this policy in the Soudan. Then there is the question of your Indian frontier. That is a very great question, and it cannot be disposed of to-night. This frontier war has directly arisen from a course of conduct known by the familiar term of the "Forward" policy, and after what has happened in the last six months, the time has come when the House of Commons and the English people must pronounce for or against the spirit of the "Forward" policy. This is a question upon which certainly we shall desire to give the House an opportunity of forming and expressing its opinion; but to-night I must confine myself to the single point—and I think a very striking illustration of the "Forward" policy—of the occupation of Chitral. We sometimes hear of continuity of policy. We cannot be told that this was a continuous policy, because it is a very remarkable example of an Administration coming in and hurrying, with hardly time for examination, to reverse the policy of their predecessors. The noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton) came down to the House and asked the Conservative Party to rejoice in the great work he had done in reversing the decision of the Government, and to occupy Chitral.
§ *SIR W. HARCOURT
We shall see. The noble Lord will have an opportunity of challenging my statement later on. The Blue Books, delivered only today, of course require consideration, and the House will wish to have time to acquaint itself with them before the larger question of the rejection or adoption of the "Forward" policy is determined. But there are some questions about which we know the facts sufficiently well. We know very well that when the force went up to rescue the Resident at Chitral, a Proclamation 83 was issued that we did not permanently to occupy any territory amongst the independent tribes. I venture to say that that was an impossible condition from the first, because it was quite plain that, if you intended permanently to occupy Chitral, you must permanently occupy the road, and that whether the tribes liked it or not. Indeed, that was the view taken by the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, because the moment the Proclamation appeared the Under Secretary said:If this Proclamation means—as it will undoubtedly be interpreted to mean—that, having opened up the essential and inevitable road to Chitral, we are going again to allow it to be closed, it will be difficult to find words to describe the fatuity of such a decision.Then, after the relief of Chitral, and after the Proclamation, the question arose whether Chitral should be evacuated or permanently occupied. That question was really determined on the question of the road. It was admitted that the old road by Gilgit, through what might be called our own territory, was impracticable for all useful purposes; and, therefore, if Chitral was to be occupied, it could only be occupied by a road driven for 150 miles through independent tribes. The great materiality of this road was a thing perfectly well known. There is a book which I would commend to anybody who wishes to understand this subject. I think it gives a more correct account of the condition of these tribes than any other book I have met with. It is called "Our Asiatic Neighbours," by Mr. Thorburn. He says, speaking of Kohat, thatfor nearly half a century now we have, for fear of hurting the feelings of the villages, refrained from insisting upon making the road practicable for wheel traffic, the attraction of an increased subsidy and large profits from road-making contracts failing to tempt the Afridis to agree to the construction of a wheel road, because the making of such a road would be to them a visible sign of the loss of their independence.Then comes a passage, very remarkable to have been written just a year before this rising. He says:The reason why we have never made the road through the Pass is that the Government, in its dealings as well with its Indian feudatories and subjects as with the most barbarous clans, has always been scrupulously faithful to 84 its promises and engagements, and our original agreement with these tribes was that they should give us a right of way only, and no more. It is the knowledge of our good faith that gives England the great name she has through Central Asia—a fact which would go very much in our favour should the Afridis ever be called upon to take sides between Russia and England.That is the view of Mr. Thorburn. That is why we have abstained from making roads of that character, and my right hon. Friend, the Member for Wolverhampton, when he gave his reasons to the Indian Government for not occupying Chitral and not occupying this road, stated that there was great danger in having a road 150 miles in length through tribes notorious for fanaticism and hostility to foreigners; that there would be the great cost of its maintenance, and that the arrangement with the tribes might be broken up at a most critical moment, and that the work of the military force might have to be done over again. That is the main ground upon which we took our decision. The late Government, on the 13th June, decided that no military force or European agent should be kept at Chitral, and that no road should be made from Chitral to Peshawar. At a late hour—at the eleventh hour—the Indian Secretary has come to see the materiality of the road, and is anxious to declare that it was we, and not he, who made it. He thinks that is a splendid point to make. But how, and at what period, did he make this extraordinary discovery? because a good deal of his correspondence shows how little he knew regarding this road.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Lord G. HAMILTON)
May I explain?
§ *SIR W. HARCOURT
Let me, first of all, tell you what you have to explain. On 3rd September, 1894, the noble Lord said: "The important question at present is whether a new road should be made to Peshawar." Well, evidently he did not know at that time that there was already in existence the road that had been made by us. Then he comes forward on 17th February, 1896, and says:The Government (meaning his Government) has succeeded in making an excellent road from Peshawar to Chitral.85 That is his second declaration—one in 1895 and the other in 1896—when he evidently still thinks that he has made the road. At Acton, I see, on November 10th this year, he came forward and said he knows the very day on which he made the road:On 9th August, on behalf of the Government, I assented to the construction and maintenance of a road from Peshawar to Chitral.Later on, no doubt, the noble Lord will explain how these persistent statements are consistent with the knowledge he now says he always possessed, that it was we, and not he, who made the road. He says he always kept silence in order that we might commit ourselves. We cannot but ask what are the causes of the outbreak which led to this gallant but most unhappy campaign. Those who are responsible for it have been very anxious to assign every reason except the true one for it. I confess I saw with some indignation an attempt was made to throw the blame upon the Ameer. It was first suggested that it was the action of the Ameer. That was a most false and also a most dangerous charge. The next recourse they have is that it was the bad language used to the Sultan by statesmen of this country. It is not very usual for Ministers to attack their colleagues in this manner. Bad language! What was the language addressed to the Sultan? When the Prime Minister of England, speaking at the Guildhall, called down the wrath of Heaven upon the Sultan for his misdeeds, and consigned him and his government to the fate that belongs to those on whom the judgment of Providence descends, it was not the utterance of an unimportant person, but a denunciation of the Sultan—a deserved and rightful denunciation—by a man who claimed to represent the people of England. A more ridiculous and improper statement I never heard, and one, I think, quite unworthy to find its place in a solemn State paper like the dispatch of the Secretary of State. No, the real cause has, I think, been stated, and as we shall be called on to press the view of what we believe to be the cause, I will state the words of Sir Nevill Chamberlain. He said this:No nation is more alive than our own to the spirit of patriotism, but unfortunately, in my opinion, the notion prevails far too greatly 86 among us that this sentiment and impulse is set aside as of no moment whenever we come into contact with it in others to whom we are opposed. A new departure has been embarked upon. Outposts have been pushed forward inside the hills; permanent garrisons have been established on lands belonging to the tribesmen; valleys have been opened out, and roads made, with the object of letting them understand that they are no longer independent, but that they are at our mercy; and the whole system of intercourse with them has made them aware that the old order of things has passed away. It is these acts that have led the tribes to coalesce; it is this system that has taught them that union is strength, and has fanned a spirit of resistance that will be transmitted to future generations.This is, I believe, the cause that has led up to the outbreak in India. What is the true spirit and aim of this Forward Policy? The Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in India comes forward and says civilisation and barbarism cannot exist side by side and at the same time peaceably and independently as neighbours, and what is the use of talking of the independence of the tribes when such language as that is used? That is the language of the Forward Policy, and it is against that language and spirit of policy we are determined to protest. That is the spirit in which this war was undertaken, and it was said it was all fanaticism, and we knew there were fanatical tribes through whose territory we were driving a road and fortifying a road for 150 miles. I read a document which put forward the explanation that it was the Mullahs' doing, but what gave the Mullahs the text on which they were preaching? The first document says:The Kaffirs are taking possession of all the country, and the people wanted courage at first in the beginning, but now they have realised their strength.Well, all this fanaticism was set going, and the strength of the Mullahs was derived from the fact of this fortified road, which they looked upon as an invasion of their territory. The noble Lord, who was so confident—he always is confident, but is not always well informed—said that all the tribes were delighted, and that there was nothing they desired so much as to be incorporated under British rule. When he read the document it ought to have told him exactly the opposite. Because, what do the tribes say? They said, for Heaven's sake give us troops to defend us. To defend them against what? Against the tribes that 87 were around them, who were hostile to them, because they were supposed to be friendly to our rule. That shows exactly the point. It showed that a vast quantity of the tribes were still hostile to us. The noble Lord no doubt believed—one always believes what coincides with one's own view—that, having got these tribes, they will be constantly faithful. Now, if there is one thing more known than another it is that these tribes are fickle. I myself specially insisted on this danger when I spoke on this subject in 1895. This war is to be renewed. We have heard the proclamation which, coming from the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in India, is a very serious thing, that he is going back again to conquer the Afridis. "The Lion of Britain was going back to crush the independent flies." What wisdom to say that! It was as unwise as all the Forward Policy which was expressed in the language of the Commander-in-Chief. Is that your policy? If it is, I denounce it as a dangerous policy. I have reason to hope it is not your policy. I believe certainly that the events that have occurred in the last six months have sobered the mind of the Government. The noble Lord, who lives in a Paradise of his own, is always confident. He was confident the tribes were friendly, and would always be so, and he has had that delusion rudely dispelled. He has now changed his view about the tribes. They are not so friendly, but they have been punished, and have been subdued, and are submissive. He is quite mistaken. I will refer him to the same book I referred to before, of Mr. Thorburn, who describes the punishment inflicted on the Orakzáis tribe. He says:Expeditions of the old style were launched against the Orakzáis in 1855 and 1868; but it was not until 1891 that the tribe realised what punishment should mean. Our troops entered their hills in midwinter, quartered their whole country, blew up their towers, burnt the woodwork of their villages, destroyed their grain stores, and did not finally withdraw until dominating positions on the Samána range had been occupied or garrisoned. A treacherous rising soon after occurred, on which the former operations were repeated, but more drastically, and resulted in exemplary punishment being inflicted on the tribe. Had the work ended with the heavy losses in life and property suffered by the Orakzáis in those two expeditions, the lesson would have been an enduring one and have left no open wound. It was, however, decided at the end of the first phase to fortify and garrison several strong com- 88 manding positions just inside the enemy's territory. By so doing we have permanently locked up in unimportant positions regular troops, who in war-time could be better employed elsewhere. In addition, a large and unnecessary charge is added to the already heavy military expenditure of the Government of India, and a perpetual grievance is created which will embitter the Orakzáis against us for all time.That was written in 1894. After the terrible punishment you had inflicted on the Orakzáis, and in 1896 they were in arms against you. There is no reason to suppose the punishment you now have inflicted, and the acceptance of your terms for the moment, gives you any real security whatever against their rising in the future. What are you going to do in the flush of triumph at the poll? The First Lord of the Treasury at Glasgow proclaimed in 1894: "Where the British soldier had gone, there he should remain." After the experience of this year I think you will look for different plans from that. I fully expect the Government will have come to the conclusion, and if they have there are no people who will be happier than we to hear it, that a stop must be put to this Forward Policy, and to prevent the military element in India and England from forcing it on the civil and political administration of our Indian Empire. I am not going to address the House in detail on the subject of domestic legislation. In that legislation there is the usual Parliamentary catalogue of uninsurable lives. As to local government for Ireland, the hon. Gentlemen opposite know that we who sit on this side of the House are, and always have been, favourable to local government for Ireland, but the seconder to the Address must excuse me if I differ from what I must call his juvenile optimism in believing that a Bill merely for local government in Ireland is about to satisfy the demands of the country for self-government. Now, as to municipal government, the hon. and gallant Colonel says he does not know the intentions of the Government with regard to the government of London. He has no doubt been coached in other subjects, but he has not been coached in this, because the Government themselves do not know what they are going to do. The only thing that is quite apparent is that 89 the fierce and contemptuous denunciation of the County Council by Lord Salisbury has been repented of, and in order to put out the conflagration it has caused they have had recourse to that great and inexhaustible store of cold water of which the Duke of Devonshire had such an unlimited supply. After the late deputation, we are left in doubt about this great measure of municipal reform. Is it to be a small Bill for the decoration of vestries, or a great measure for the destruction of the County Council? I think the Government ought to come to the aid of the metropolis, and before the approaching County Council election takes place the Bill should be placed before the constituencies. Now, there are a few words I should like to say as to Army reform. I am not going to follow the mover and seconder of the Address through their speeches in this matter. This only will I say, that whatever the Government can satisfy the House of Commons is necessary for the efficiency of the British Army, the House of Commons will always be ready to supply. But I must make this reservation, that the House will not yield to a senseless panic, nor will it be guided by the sensational terrors of amateur strategists. I feel sure it will be more disposed to be guided by the superior authority and experience of responsible men. When we are asked to make great revolutionary changes in the Army of England, which has served so well in this and other campaigns, it is a satisfaction for me to know that the Secretary of State for War (Lord Lansdowne) has declared that he stands by the existing system of organisation—a very wise declaration. Then there is a man not altogether inexperienced—I mean the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army—who tells us that he can put on board ship two Army corps, which are composed, I believe, of 80,000 men, complete in every possible way, and that this Army which could go abroad would be composed of a finer body of men than ever left this country. A thing, he added, which no Commander-in-Chief could have ever said before. We can well conceive that there are modifications in the terms to be given to the soldier, and the number of the forces may be deserving of consideration, but it is nonsense to talk of the rottenness 90 of the organisation of the British Army. Now, are these statements of the Secretary of State for War and the Commander-in-Chief true or not? If they are true there is no cause for any alarm. If they are not true the obvious remedy is to dismiss your Secretary of State for War and cashier your Commander-in-Chief. There remains one paragraph in the Speech which I feel specially bound to deal with. It is a paragraph with reference to the Estimates. In rather imperfect grammar Her Majesty is made to say that they will involve expenditure beyond former precedent. I thought all precedents were former. I have felt it my duty on many occasions to raise a warning as to the alarming growth of the expenditure of this country. The Colonial Secretary has said that there has been no addition to the Army for 30 years, whereas as a matter of fact there has been an addition of 100,000 men—30,000 with the colours and 80,000 in the Reserve—there has been an increase in the expenditure of the Army of 50 per cent.—it has risen from £12,000,000 to £18,000,000—and you must add to that the Estimates of the Indian Empire, which are much greater. Therefore the addition for the expenses of the Army has been enormous. You have added £13,000,000 in that time to the Navy. The addition to the naval and military expenditure in that period has been £19,000,000. I would ask the House to bear in mind those figures, and observe that the military expenses of this country are greater than the charge on the National Debt for the accumulative wars of two centuries. Now I have always warned the House of the growth of expenditure. It is growing, not only in arithmetical but in geometrical proportions. The growth of the expenditure in this country has been, in the last thirty years, £27,000,000, and if you choose to add to it that which you ought to add to it—the money taken out of the Exchequer to give to local subsidies—it is £35,000,000. You have a great revenue founded upon a sound financial, commercial and monetary basis; the resources of the country are vast, the yield is abundant, but it is not inexhaustible. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, I am glad to know, will have a large surplus. You have this remarkable fact for the third year, you have an 91 accumulative surplus, but you are going to have, as you stated in the Speech, Estimates which are quite unprecedented. In each year you have accumulated a surplus without giving any relief to the taxpayer. You will have a great revenue, but you will have great demands upon it, demands for the Army, demands for the Navy, demands for Ireland, demands for the West Indies, and I know not what besides, and before the Chancellor of the Exchequer satisfies those demands I think he will regret the £2,000,000 that he threw away on the Agricultural Rates Bill, a dole taken out of the exchequer upon the assumption that the land in England was going out of cultivation, a pretence which is now admitted to be false, for the Chairman of the Commission has said that agriculture, on the whole, was a more agreeable and profitable occupation than any other trade. It was a false pretence upon which they obtained that £2,000,000. You have a splendid revenue if you administer it wisely and justly, but if you abuse it by squandering your resources, by giving doles to favoured interests, by unnecessary frontier wars and Soudanese expeditions, it is my firm belief that you will exhaust the springs upon which the life of your Empire depends.
The right hon. Gentleman has surveyed a large number of topics, as it was certainly his right, and perhaps his duty, to do, but the result is necessarily that he has driven me to speak within an hour when perhaps the greatest virtue would be extreme compression, and I shall endeavour when I traverse the ground—the very large field which he has already offered to our notice—to be as brief as I possibly can. But before dealing with the great task before me, I cannot forbear joining my congratulations to those of the right hon. Gentleman upon the way in which the Motion was moved and seconded. There is no more difficult task to perform, and I think my gallant and my noble Friends, the mover and seconder of this Address, have performed it with satisfaction to friends and foes. The right hon. Gentleman began his attack upon the Government with that well-worn theme of his, the Concert of Europe. He is never happier than when calling up the reminiscences of his former Parliamentary triumphs, and the 92 summaries of the many addresses which he has given us upon that well-worn topic. The fundamental fallacy which underlies all the right hon. Gentleman's criticisms is this. I have admitted, and others are prepared to admit, that the Concert has not distinguished itself in the matter of choosing a Governor for Crete. I have stated so elsewhere, and I am not going to conceal the fact that I hold that opinion still; but are we, because the Concert failed at the end of 1897 and the beginning of 1898 to carry out one of its functions, in one part of Eastern Europe, to ignore all it has done in the cause of peace and civilisation? I do not mean to labour the point so often laboured before, but if any honourable Gentleman really desires to know if the Concert has not done good work, let him ask himself this question: If the Concert had never been called into existence, can we doubt that we should either have had a war in the Balkan provinces, or a very great danger of war? I think there would have been war—in any case there would have been a great danger, and that danger has been averted by the Concert of Europe. Let them ask themselves this, If there had been no European Concert, would Greece have been the master of practically all her ancient territory? There can be no doubt whatever that Greece would have been at this moment wiped out. If the answers to those two questions do not satisfy, let him ask himself, If there had been no Concert, would Crete have had security for future autonomy? With Greece crushed by the Turkish forces, with a large Turkish force in Crete itself, would that island have had without the Concert of Europe that autonomy which the Concert of Europe has given it? If that is conceded, how idle it is to pretend that we do not know what the Concert of Europe has done for Europe itself. I now go on to say one word about three subsidiary topics mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman. First, there is Madagascar. There is undoubtedly a difference of opinion between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of France upon a very important point of international law. More than that I cannot say, except that in this particular we cannot enforce our own particular view, and there the matter rests. With regard to West 93 Africa conferences are at this moment being held in Paris. The mater is under discussion by the two Governments, and although I do not pretend that I do not regard the question as one of very serious gravity, I have every hope, so far as the wisdom of the two Governments is concerned, that they will be able to find an honourable solution of the difficulties in which they find themselves. With regard to South Africa, the right hon. Gentleman asked what had been done, or was about to be done, in connection with the South Africa Company. The Secretary of State for the Colonies informs me that in a very few days papers will be laid before the House which will, I believe, give very full information upon the subject. As regards Uganda, the right hon. Gentleman asked me what was the purpose of Major Macdonald's expedition, and what was the cause of the mutiny from which the district is now suffering. The object of the expedition was to explore and delimit the boundary between the Italian and British spheres of influence, fixed by the Treaty of 1891, and the cause of the mutiny was, I believe, the reluctance of the Soudanese soldiers to march a distance from that part of the country with which they were acquainted, and to which they were anxious not to be taken. Then the right hon. Gentleman came on familiar ground when he attacked our policy in Egypt, and really I thought a great deal of his speech would have been quite as appropriate to an Address of 1897—I had almost said 1896, but that perhaps was a little far back—as it is to the present occasion. The policy of Her Majesty's Government was brought before and discussed in this House in March or April, 1896, and it is unnecessary at the present time to travel over the well-worn ground then taken, and ask us again to justify the policy for which we gave full reason at the time, more especially as up to the present moment that policy has been crowned with success. In 1896 I remember a right hon. Member was full of a grave fear as to the result of the expenditure; the expedition was not yet over. Military matters are always doubtful matters, and I should not venture to do more than say we have every hope and 94 confidence that success will continue in the future, and to the end, but we can say that every anticipation of my hon. Friend in the past has proved fallacious. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that his military policy is stopping public works in Egypt, stopping peaceful and legitimate development of the country, but I am glad to inform the House that that is not the case, and that at this moment, out of the accumulative millions which Egypt possesses, but which by international arrangement she is not allowed to use freely, three-quarters of a million has been assigned by the Caisse de la Dette for the construction of great public works in that country. Before I go on to the only two remaining points let me interpose an observation I should have made when taxed on Crete. It is this—that Her Majesty's Government in concert with the Government of Russia, and of France, who were the two Powers of Europe originally responsible for the creation of the freedom of the Greek people, have agreed jointly to guarantee a loan to that country. The statement would have been introduced into the Queen's Speech had it not been that it was finally settled after that Speech had been approved by Her Majesty. Now let me say a word or two about China and about India. China has been so much a matter of curious and anxious discussion in the public Press, and such curiously distorted views have, I think, been taken of some events that have occurred there, that I think the right hon. Gentleman is justified in asking for complete information up to date as to what is going on. I cannot give the details, because, as a matter of fact, our negotiations in the Far East are still pending, and have not yet arrived at a final conclusion. But let me say that the right hon. Gentleman has shown his wonted acumen when he points out to the House that there is no necessary connection between the statement of the policy made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and myself in connection with British interests in China, and the other question—the question of the Loan, about which there has been so much discussion. The whole country has been aroused to a state bordering on anxiety by a report which came on the 2nd or 3rd of February, not a week ago, that the British policy had been reversed, 95 and a great check given to it by the abandonment by this Government of certain claims made in respect of Ta-lien-wan. It was described as the turning-point in bur policy. It turns out there is no foundation for that view. Perhaps it will be enough if I tell the House that the order of events was this. The Chinese Government, not inspired by us, asked whether we should be prepared to give them a Loan, and on what conditions. The conditions then became a matter of discussion between our representative out there and the Chinese Government. It was suggested that the port of Ta-lien-wan should be made a Treaty port. The Chinese Government at once said that that was a condition to which they had very strong objections. That was stated on the 16th, and on the 17th Lord Salisbury telegraphed to our representative in China, Sir Claude Macdonald, that if he thought it impracticable to make Ta-lien-wan a Treaty port, he must not insist upon it, and the suggestion was thrown out that though it was not made a Treaty port at the moment, it might be made a Treaty port if the railway was constructed down by the peninsula. That arrangement, I believe, was accepted by the Chinese Government on the 21st. That was three weeks before the strange version came out in the public press. Since then, as the House knows, the Loan has been gone on with, and the whole transaction is really a matter of ancient history. But what is it that is not a matter of ancient history? There were negotiations. That is a matter of temporary policy based upon the request of the Chinese Government for a Loan. Its only significance was along with that request, so actively made. It falls into abeyance when the request is no longer made. But what is not a temporary interest are those broad lines of policy explicitly stated by my right hon. Friend and myself, and to which the Government adhere at this moment, as they actually adhered at the moment they were made. The right hon. Gentleman is very severe on the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Of course, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated that at the risk of war—I have not got the exact words—our rights would have to be preserved at the risk of war, well, I do not see there is any 96 use in quarrelling over a phrase so long as the meaning is perfectly clear, and I do not think anyone could have put it more clearly than my right hon. Friend did in that speech. What he meant, and what we mean, is that these are interests in which the country is vitally concerned; and, of course, we, like every other country, are, I presume, all prepared to run the risk of war for interests which are vital. The two things go together, and I confess I see no difference between the statement of my right hon. Friend at Bristol and the statement I made a few days ago. Let me assure the Houses of Parliament that we now have it on the explicit declaration, both of the German and the Russian Governments, that they agree with this view that we take, that they think that the ports occupied in China by any Power should be open ports. There is no conflict of view whatever between them and Her Majesty's Government. That is their idea, and I take it that it should allay the many anxieties which have been felt; and I look forward with confidence to the future. It may be a very brief case, but there is to be an opportunity given to the House to thoroughly discuss the matter before the final Vote on the Address. The right hon. Gentleman has been good enough to warn us of the line he will take. I return the courtesy, and warn him of some of the arguments we shall use in defence. He appears to be determined to rest the whole of his case upon what is called our Chitral policy and the rise of the tribes. It is really too absurd to come down now and say that these tribes had legitimate grievances against what we did, inasmuch as they voluntarily came forward to keep the road, which the right hon. Gentleman and his friends made for military reasons, and which, I hope, will for ever remain between Peshawur and the outposts of Chitral. If you want confirmation of the fact, you will find it in the total distance between Peshawur and Chitral, which is 180 miles, whereas the actual distance along the road over which these disturbances took place was comparatively trifling.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Yes, and they never spread further; never went to the tribes further up the valley in the 97 direction of Chitral. I should have thought that if there had been a general rising among the tribes along our border, in consequence of our action on the Chitral road, merely tribes bordering on that road would have been themselves principally concerned. One more observation only on Chitral, and it is this. The question in 1895 was not whether we should occupy Chitral, but whether we should abandon it, and one of the reasons for not abandoning it was that there were tribes along the road who had helped the right hon. Gentleman and his friends to protect our garrison, and to abandon Chitral meant the abandonment of those friendly allies. There has been talk about good faith and obligation of honour, and I can conceive no obligation of good faith more binding on our Government than to preserve those who had stood by us in time of strain. But I may inform the right hon. Gentleman that when the debate comes on in connection with the vote on the Address it will not be confined to the question of Chitral alone. He has told us the question is one between a forward policy and a backward policy. In that he unquestionably contradicts a statement made by Lord Kimberley a few days ago, in which he said it was not a question between a backward and a forward policy. And he goes on to say that the Ministry, of which he was a member, deliberately conducted a forward policy, and that the Liberal Government was responsible for it. That statement was made by the leader of the right hon. Gentleman's party in the House of Lords, but I take very little interest in putting side by side the inconsistent statements of these two distinguished colleagues. There is a far more important difficulty which the right hon. Gentleman will have to get over than the mere utterances of a public platform. It was in the Tochee Valley that the first disturbance occurred. In 1894 the question came before the Indian Government and before the Secretary of State for India of that day, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, as to the policy to be pursued. Now the Durand agreement had completed the delimitation between the Afghan and British spheres of influence. The question was anxiously discussed in the Council of India, and the Governor- 98 General joined the military members in favour of the proposal to occupy advance posts. The civilian members of the Council took the opposite view. They wrote a lengthy and most able minute expressing their dissent from the despatch of the majority. That long minute was enclosed by the Viceroy with the opinion of the majority. The despatch of the majority advocated a forward policy, and the dissent of the minority advocated a backward policy.
§ MR. BALFOUR
Both the despatch in favour of the forward policy and the minute expressing dissent came before the Secretary of State for India, and, I presume, the Government of India. I can imagine that the decision between those two policies was a matter of anxious and long deliberation. But he did decide to make up his mind and go in for a forward policy, and the right hon. Gentleman when he moves this vote will have among his antagonists not only those on this side of the House, but one of his most distinguished colleagues. He and his Government took that decision and came distinctly to the conclusion that they could not carry out the obligation of this country or carry on the treaty rights or obligations in connection with Afghanistan without this forward policy, and it remains true at this moment that the very opponents of the forward policy are those who have entered into every single one of these forward engagements which made it absolutely necessary that they should keep those passes open. That is the sort of argument that has been used. I frankly admit that, in my judgment, the more the House surveys this question in all its bearings, the more the Members will feel that, unhappy as this war has been from the first, involving the loss of much needed treasure, it was absolutely necessary that we should engage in it. The responsibilities of the situation to which all these results are due I am glad to divide with the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Now, Sir, I do not think I have left untouched a single one of the topics connected with Foreign and Colonial policy raised by the right hon. Gentleman. On domestic policy, I need say nothing. We shall have ample opportunity, no doubt, later on in the Session. The right hon. Gentleman has 99 alluded with alarm to the growth of our Estimates, and the increasing pressure upon the resources of the country; and he has, not for the first or the second time, revived the memory of the old debates upon my right hon. Friend's local taxation measure, with all those characteristic misrepresentations which the right hon. Gentleman finds it so difficult to abstain from. I am not going to defend that Act. I am going to express my assent with the general view of the right hon. Gentleman, that it is the view of the House not to consider that it has unlimited millions to squander. Well, I think when the right hon. Gentleman talked about "drying up the sources of national wealth," he was indulging in a pessimism for which there is absolutely no excuse. Our expenditure is very heavy, and, great as our resources are, I do not think it should be indulged in recklessly. I am perfectly certain that this is the general view. But, Sir, after all, you cannot escape without you take upon you the responsibility of the cost. With the growth of civilisation the demands of every Government increase; it is not a phenomenon confined to these islands. You find it all over the world, and I sincerely believe that though our financial condition is one which should make us all look carefully at the need of balancing the resources within our expenditure, still I feel that almost all our neighbours are in a far worse condition than ourselves. Sir, I need say no more. On a first night we can do little more than exchange courtesies, and prepare a general survey of the future. I hope I have done that briefly, and I await with interest, but without alarm, the development of the battle under the leadership of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Forty Members having come in, the debate was continued.
§ MR. SAMUEL SMITH (Flintshire)
said: I wish to call attention very briefly to the policy announced in the Queen's Speech towards India. I am going to confine myself to 100 one or two aspects of the case, more particularly to the Indian question. We are confronted with anxiety and unrest in all parts of the world, but in none so strongly as in India. We are carrying on three wars at the present time—one in the Soudan, one in Uganda, but by far the most serious and wasteful one on the Indian frontier. I wish to address myself particularly to-night to our Indian policy. I wish to express the deep disapproval of the Indian people of the senseless and iniquitous policy which has produced this frontier war in which we are engaged, and which is pressing so heavily upon the people of India. I do not propose to go into the mere question as to whether there was a breach of faith or not in the retention of Chitral. That, after all, is a secondary question upon which much may be said on both sides of the subject. The real question is something much deeper. It is whether we are right in this whole Forward policy which the military party in India have forced upon the Government of that country, and to which our Government has weakly consented. Though our Party is not blameless in the past, the Conservative Party is much more blamable. I think when the debate has taken place it will be very clearly brought out that one of the chief troubles we are now engaged in is owing to the departure of the present Government from the wise arrangement made by the previous Government for the evacuation of Chitral. Nothing but evil has resulted from these endless expeditions beyond the Indian frontier. One of the results of this policy has been that during the last twenty years no less than 60 or 70 millions have been squandered on wars or military works on the frontier of India since the time of Lord Lytton's Afghan War. These figures may be disputed upon some small items, and I would not bind myself to the exact amount, but the estimate has been as high as 75 millions, and no possible argument could show it to be less than 50 or 60 millions. That vast sum has been wrung out of the poor starving population of India, a population so poor that 40,000,000 of them are underfed even in years of abundance. These millions have been spent upon what I think are needless, wicked, and wasteful wars. When you consider the condition 101 of the people of India, whose average income is not at the outside more than £2 per head per annum, you feel at once the cruelty of this system of draining their resources. I believe £2 per head is a very full estimate. According to the latest statistics, I note that the average income of the people of this country is £36 per head of the population. In other words, the average income of an Indian is one-eighteenth part of the income of a British citizen. It is from this extremely poor population, who do not know what it is to be adequately fed, that we have extracted this enormous sum in the last 20 years to carry on these frontier wars, to build these military railways, and put up these military forts. That is the plain truth of the situation, and in India there is the deepest dissatisfaction with the whole policy which for 20 years has led us from one war to another. This present war is but an episode in a disastrous policy—a policy which is causing bitter discontent among the Indian people, and which is opposed to the convictions of the soundest Indian statesmen. What has been the result of these wars financially? One of the results has been an increase in the salt duty, which is one of the most tyrannical taxes ever imposed upon a people, for it leads not only to disease amongst the cattle, but also to great sufferings upon human beings. Now, in connection with this question, I wish to make one remark. No doubt the Members of the House have noticed within the last few days that the late Sir Havelock Allan, whose death we all deplore, just before his death had stated that the chief cause of our troubles with the hill tribes was the enhancement of the salt duties. These Blue Books on the subject have just fallen into my hands, and they will be in the hands of the Members in the course of a day or two, and I would call attention to a very important despatch upon the subject of the salt duty on what is called the Kohat Mines, from which the frontier tribes draw their supplies of salt. The facts are very simple. The duty upon that Kohat salt up to 1883 was only four annas. In 1883 it was raised to eight annas, and in 1896 the duty was raised from eight annas to two rupees. I wish to call the attention of the House to this remarkable fact, that 102 the price of salt to these hill tribes is 32 times the prime cost of the article. I wish the country would understand this, because it is so difficult to get these facts before the people of this country, for it explains a good deal that is concealed by the Indian Government. Thirty-two times the natural price of salt, which is an absolute article of necessity, has been charged, and even the Government of the Punjaub said the effect would be very severely felt amongst the natives. As a matter of fact, business was completely dislocated, and for a year it was entirely stopped, and the persons engaged in that business lost their occupations, and I do not suppose that a human being in this country knew anything about it at all. As I have before pointed out, the present war is only an episode in the policy of the last 20 years. I call it a most disastrous policy, which excites very great discontent in India. This "Forward" policy has been a total mistake, and is against the real interests of India. The great bulk of the native Indian statesmen have been opposed to it. The great Lord Lawrence, the saviour of the Indian Empire, was opposed to it. So was Sir Auckland Colvin. I am well aware, too, that Sir David Barbour is opposed to it. So is Sir Lepel Griffin; indeed, I believe nearly all who have held command in the Punjaub, or have had charge of the finances of India, are opposed to it. Sir Richard Temple, I happen to know, is opposed to this frontier policy. The Government have led us to believe that the military men are almost unanimously in favour of their policy. Well, I believe it is equally opposed by some of the best military experts. It is well known that Sir Donald Stewart is opposed to it, and Sir Neville Chamberlain was also against it, and I should like to know the private opinion of Sir William Lockhart upon it, for I have my doubts whether Sir William Lockhart approves of this policy. I believe military opinion is very much divided, but civilian opinion has been up to recent years almost unanimous in opposing this wild policy. I know that, in the opinion of many of the wisest Anglo-Indians, we have only weakened the natural defences of India by this wild policy which has planted out military stations in the inaccessible fastnesses of barren mountains held by 103 savage and independent tribes, whom we have now made to detest and hate us. This policy of attacking these hill tribes is, in fact, one of the best methods of facilitating any designs that Russia might have upon India by making ourselves detested by the hillmen and Afghans alike, for we have killed and we have alienated the whole populations along the frontier. We have had Afghan wars, in which we have ravaged the country, and we are doing the same with the hill-men now, all under the pretext that we wish to keep them from joining with Russia. The policy is an absurd one, and I am sure it will be almost universally condemned by the country. I believe this conviction is gradually spreading throughout this country, and is one of the chief causes for the change in the electoral statistics of the past year. But I wish more especially to express my great disappointment that the Government have not intimated their intention to make a grant to India in this time of sore need. We know, from a speech made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that there is no intention on the part of the Government of proposing any grant in this House to relieve India. Many of us thought last year that a most appropriate thing to do was to make some grant to India from our overflowing exchequer to relieve the terrible strain of the famine. I take the words of the Secretary of State for India in the financial statement of last year, in which he stated that the total cost of the famine in India would be not less than twelve crores, or twelve million rupees. In addition to this, India has suffered fearfully, very heavily from earthquakes, and now it is suffering from this wasteful and expensive frontier war, and surely it is all the more necessary that some part of the expense of this foolish frontier war should be borne by this country. There will certainly be bitter disappointment in India if this is not done. The Indian people are utterly opposed to this war, which has been made, as they conceive, in the interests of Imperial policy, and against the true interests of India. I am sure no objection would be raised by the tax-payers of the United Kingdom if such a grant were made. I still hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, before he makes 104 his statement in the Budget, will reconsider this question, and that he will see his way to hand over to India that large surplus which we know he will have for this purpose. I am sure he could not do a wiser act. But what will he do with this surplus? What has he done with the surpluses of the last few years? Why, they have gone to pay off the National Debt. I say that is simply throwing money away, even from a money point of view, as well as from the point of view of sentiment towards our poor suffering fellow-countrymen. Never has India, since the Mutiny, passed through a time of such accumulated misfortune as last year. Up to the end of last year the cost of this frontier war was estimated at 3,500,000 rupees. I believe, however, that we have very much under-estimated the cost of this frontier war. I well remember the last Afghan war was said to cost five millions, which ended in costing twenty-two. That is a very well-known fact, for it was stated and published that the cost would be only five millions. I venture to state that before this frontier war is finally closed the cost will be much nearer ten millions, for it always happens that these Indian expenses are grossly underestimated, and it is done on purpose. The plague has also inflicted great loss, and the means taken to stop it have stirred up bitter discontent. On the back of all this comes this expensive war, which will cost far more than has yet been estimated. All Indian frontier wars are greatly under-estimated at the beginning; it will be the same with this one. I believe, when the final tale is made up, it will cost nearer ten crores than five crores. But what alarms me most is the growth of great discontent among Indian populations that were formerly tranquil. It is very ominous that the Indian Government conceives it needful to abridge the liberty of the Press, and to revive arbitrary powers of arrest and imprisonment, which have long been disused.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Lord G. HAMILTON)
They have been used every year.
§ MR. S. SMITH
I warn the Government that great care will be needed in the administration of that vast country, with nearly 300 millions of people, if some terrific explosion is to be avoided 105 in the near future. What that country needs above all else is sympathy, and I am sure that a grant of three to live millions from our overflowing Exchequer would have a healing effect on multitudes of our fellow-subjects. I believe it would bring back a reward, even in a money point of view, many times over. There are no people who respond more readily to kindness than the people of India, and I believe that a wiser grant than that which I have suggested could not be made. I entirely deny that it would encourage the Indian Government to plunge into needless wars. Its effect would be just the opposite. It would make future Governments of this country more determined to prevent these wars. The ultimate decision lies here, and it would be a wholesome thing for the people of this country to feel that they cannot throw entirely upon India the cost of blunders to which their own Government had assented. I only wish to say, in conclusion, that I foresee endless trouble from this forward policy which we have adopted in all parts of the world. We are in the midst of a most dangerous adventure in the heart of the Soudan, where there is nothing to gain but much to lose. We are quelling the mutiny of our own black troops in Uganda, and surely anyone can see that, depending as we do so much upon coloured troops in all parts of the world, there are underlying risks that are almost too terrible to think of. I protest against this policy of reckless extension in all parts of the world. This country is piling up responsibilities beyond what it is aware of. The mighty fabric of the British Empire is becoming unwieldy, like that of ancient Rome, and there will come on our descendants, if not upon ourselves, times of sore distress and trouble which will call for sacrifices little dreamt of at present.
§ SIR LEWIS MCIVER (Edinburgh, West)
I intervene thus early in the Debate in the hope of anticipating the discussion—anticipating it in making an appeal to this honourable House when it comes to the specific Debate on India, it should approach that question from the point of view of the interests of India, and not exclusively from the point of view of Party recrimination. Any hope of that sort that I may faintly entertain does not apply to the two Front Benches 106 —so far as they are concerned it does not exist. In discussions upon Indian questions, the Front Benches are past praying for. Of course I except the past and present Secretaries of State. But for the rest, whatever may be their personal feelings, and their personal convictions on any specific Indian question, no sooner does that question appear in this House than those feelings and convictions are subordinated to the irresistible desire to attack the opposite Front Bench—to use India as a stick wherewith to beat their predecessors, or their successors in office, as the case may be. Of this deplorable attitude, the records of our De bates furnish innumerable examples. The last serious debate of this character which occurred in this House was in the Session of 1896—on the subject of the payment of the Indian troops sent to the Soudan. A relatively small matter in itself, but involving a principle of vital importance to the Indian Exchequer. It involved the question whether in differences between the Indian and the Home Exchequer the latter was always to be the judge as well as a party. But, Sir, when the discussion arose across that table, the specific matter of debate and the principle it involved were both entirely lost sight of by the two Front Benches, who occupied themselves exclusively in mutual recrimination as to the number of past offences of a similar nature to which they had severally been parties; and, as usual, India was used merely as a pawn in the game of Party politics at home. I wish the House to regard this indictment as absolutely impartial. In the past, both Benches have been tarred with the some brush. Both have shown a fine indifference to Indian questions at all ordinary times. On the days of the Indian Budget the House is as empty as on the Derby Day. But when some question crops up in India, which seems service able for Party purposes, then we are once again treated to this very unedifying spectacle of past and present Ministers of the Crown using the Empire of able for Party purposes, then we are ing their opponents. Well, Sir, to judge from the speeches of right hon. Members on the Front Opposition Bench during the recess, there is too much reason to fear that we are to have a renewal of these pernicious methods, and it is to 107 the private Members of this House on both sides that I appeal for a treatment of the Frontier question on its merits in the interests of India, both politically and financially, and in the interests of the Empire from every aspect. And there is all the more need for this appeal in the present situation, because the history of Indian affairs during the last six years affords the most abundant material for recrimination between those two Benches. It is full of points admirably adapted for capping the other points. There is not a page in it that will not enable the present Secretary of State to say to his predecessor "You're another." And the following page affords a superb retaliation. As a matter of fact, there is very little to choose between them in their treatment of Frontier Questions, and they will probably content themselves with saying so—saying so, that is, at great length, with much warmth and copious quotations and counter quotations from dispatches. But the real question will be smothered and lost sight of, while they devote themselves to proving that the pot is blacker than the kettle. The real question—the question which I hope this House is going to decide for itself, is not which Secretary of State or which Cabinet was responsible for this or that step, nor yet what was the original Party complexion of the Viceroy who recommended it. But what is to be the future Frontier Policy, and by what fixed principles is that policy to be governed? And I ask this House, are we likely to arrive at a wise and statesmanlike solution of this grave matter by invidious comparisons between past and present Cabinets, Secretaries of States, or Viceroys? The theory of Cabinet responsibility is perfect. In practice it is almost a dead letter. According to the theory, the right hon. Member for East Fife is responsible for more desperately wicked acts of aggression and a more deadly "Forward" Policy than the whole Chauvinist School of Forwards. In practice the commonest of common juries would not convict him. In appealing earnestly to the House to deal with this question in a large and uncontroversial spirit—a suggestion which involves, as I have said, a total abstention from Front Bench methods—I do so almost as much in the interests of those Benches as in the 108 interests of India; for it seems to me that if in discussing Indian affairs they are incapable of forgetting Party considerations, in administering Indian affairs both Benches alike, with the best intentions in the world, have proved impotent to give effect to those intentions. Take the late Secretary of State. I know of no better, no stronger Secretary of State in recent years. Few men who have been called to fill that post have displayed a firmer grasp of, or a more sympathetic touch with Indian problems. And on the general principles which should regulate our Frontier Policy, and the objects which should be aimed at, I believe there is no substantial difference of view between him and his successor; and I may say further that the loyal support which he has invariably given to that successor in our Indian Debates has been a bright exception to the Front-Bench manners, which I have ventured to deprecate. But, Sir, even with a strong, sagacious, and clear-visioned Secretary of State, as he undoubtedly was, was he able to have his own way and give effect to his own views in matters of Frontier Policy? No, Sir, he was not. Anyone who peruses the Blue Books cannot fail to see that the Secretary of State for India, struggle as he may, is induced by dispatches, or compelled by circumstances of the moment, to concede one little point after another and that, before he knows where he is, he finds himself committed to, and his name identified for all times with, yet another step in the Frontier Policy, which he honestly deprecates, and which he sincerely has sought to stay or reverse. Just as there can be no doubt from the last India Office dispatch on this subject that the present Secretary of State, and the Cabinet of which he is a member, are sincerely anxious to avoid interference in the tribal area along the Frontier, so is it absolutely obvious from his dispatches printed in the same Blue Book, that the late Secretary of State for India was as conscientiously determined to prevent such interference, and that with regard to the "Forward" Movement in Waziristan, was just as honestly, and just as helplessly opposed to the persistency and importunity of the local authorities. That is the real truth about Cabinet authority in India, and this House, while insisting on Cabinet responsibility for the Indian 109 Frontier Policy, while recognising, as it must recognise, the sincere efforts of successive Secretaries of State to resist this "Forward" course, learns that both this responsibility and this intended resistance have proved ineffective to restrain the aggressive tendencies of our Frontier proconsuls, and that is the point which I wish to press upon this House as a ground for its independent action for asserting itself, and insisting that Cabinet responsibility in relation to India shall mean something more than good intentions. That there is a distinguished section of Indian Officers who take views with regard to Frontier Policy, which may be properly called "Forward," is a fact, and, if the House pleases, a regrettable fact. But, so far as the views of Members of this House are concerned, the word "Forward" applies no more to one Party than to another, or to one Government than to another. But, Sir, what does the "Forward" Movement in its present limited sense imply? It no longer means an attack upon Afghanistan. It no longer means the immediate occupation of Kandahar, or a march on Herat. Its external manifestations are limited to acts of aggression—justifiable or not I do not say—upon the independent territory across our border. And, so far as we have material for judging, it seems to aim at the ultimate subjugation of the independent tribes on the North-West Frontier. If that be so I say it is a wicked aim—a costly, profitless object—and a practically impossible undertaking. And yet, it seems the only logical issue of the proceedings recorded in the latest Blue Books. Of course, no one—no official—will admit this. "Nothing is further from our thoughts," says the dispatch. The Blue Books teem with repudiations of any such unworthy purpose. No one in authority in the Punjaub—in the Government of India—in the India Office will face the facts. They all protest—quite sincerely protest—that nothing is further from their thoughts—that they are reluctant to take this step—that they regret the necessity for that, and so forth. But the process goes on steadily all along the Frontier like the action of the tides—constant, persistent, not sleeping at nights, not knocking off for dinner. And the evil thing is worked in unconscious co-opera- 110 tion by one of the finest set of men—the most devoted and conscientious body of public servants we have—our Frontier Officers in India. As we know, Mr. Speaker, there is nothing like leather. Each of these Frontier Officers in his district wants to keep the peace on his border line. Only there are those thieves in a group of villages just a few miles over the border, who come raiding across—how natural he should wish to have them under control—only, perhaps, to discover that the real malefactors live a little further up the valley, and so on. It is not personal ambition or jingoism with him—it is only zeal for his own district and its peace and its trade. And it is not necessarily his business to look to general policy, or the cumulative effect of too much zeal all along the border. But behind this machinery—this half unconscious agency, giving it support and driving force—exists a highly conscious and powerful influence, that of the real Forwards. The high military Mandarins of India who are concerned with the larger strategy and dream of dreams of campaigns with a powerful foe from a far country, and who are constantly looking beyond the Punjaub line—and beyond the Durand line—to the Kandahar-Cabul Road, and who want as many approaches to that road as they can get—and are only too willing to utilise the Frontier Officer's necessities as their opportunities—to that end. It is there that the Frontier Policy resides—and that school, which has always been very powerful, appears since 1892 to have captured the Government of India and the India Office, to the complete effacement of their civilian colleagues. Their policy is never mentioned. Their aims are never avowed in the Blue Books, but are sedulously shrouded in phrases about our engagements with the Amir, our duty to protect trade—to secure our own Frontier. The military skeleton is locked up in the India Office cupboard. But this military spectre walks o' nights on the Frontier. The supreme triumph of the military force was in 1894, when they were able to secure the right to make a playground of Waziristan, in spite of the protests of all the civilian members of the Government, and in the face of a written dissent, which is probably the most statesmanlike 111 paper ever written on the subject. As this House is aware, there lies between the North-Western frontier of India and the line which by agreement limits the influence and the interference of Afghanistan and Russia a long stretch of mountainous country, stretching from the Zhob Valley to the frontier of Kashmir, which, while outside the interference of those two other Powers, and admittedly within what is called our "sphere of influence," is in reality independent territory, inhabited by a great variety of independent tribes, with whose somewhat difficult names the House is tolerably familiar. I am not going to emulate the erudition of the hon. Member for South Fife on this subject, by dealing with the characters, customs, and even costumes of these people, as he has elsewhere; but it may interest the House to realise that this tract of country contains, in more or less rudimentary stages, nearly every form of State polity known to history. Chitral: Effete and monarchical. Baluchistan: An aristocracy—an oligarchy of nobles and chiefs. Afridis and their neighbours: An incorruptible democracy, leaning to public plunder. Waziristan: Purely Socialist; everyone a law unto himself. No public plunder, because no public property. They have eaten it. But plenty of throat-cutting. Each does what pleases him, and what he does is generally unpleasant. But these tribes, whatever their differences among themselves may be, and whatever their faults may be, have in common that virtue which we should be the last to slight—a passionate love of their independence. From the Gumal to the frontiers of Wachan these people—Waziris, Orakzais, Afridis, Selarzais, Mohmands, Swatis, or Bunerwals—equally resent the occupation of their land or the assertion of permanent and alien authority in their midst. And, Sir, the Forward School of to-day, working through the zeal of our frontier officers, are constantly urging the Government of India, on one plea or another, to push their authority in amongst these tribes, to secure a trade route, to avenge an outrage, to "effectually control" this or that section of this or that tribe. And the modus operandi is almost stereotyped. First, punitive expeditions for raids into our territory, then the estab- 112 lishment of posts garrisoned by tribal levies. When that breaks down, the establishment of forts, garrisoned by our own soldiers, with fresh outposts, pushed further forward. Then the discovery that a particular line is most suitable for a commercial route; then generally a disaster, followed certainly by a war, and possibly a discussion in the House of Commons, and a demand for our withdrawal from a hornets' nest—from a course of useless, costly, and wholly unprofitable aggression; and then we get the answer that it is impossible for us to withdraw for two reasons, the validity of both of which it is often difficult to dispute, especially against experts on the spot—reasons of prestige, and reasons of honourable obligation—prestige with our own people on the frontier and inside the continent of India, honourable obligation to those of the tribes who have befriended us, and assisted us in our advance, and who have incurred the displeasure of their neighbours by their attitude towards us. Both those reasons, I say, are too frequently so valid that the evil course, once embarked on, has had to be maintained. But in all cases it is not the staying there that I object to, it is the original going there, in the face of all our past experience in our relations with these tribes, and in the face of all those recurrent protestations which stud the Blue Book, that nothing is further from our intention than to interfere with the internal affairs of the tribes. Interfere with the internal affairs! Why, what are the internal affairs of the Waziris? They have no County Council, they do not cultivate their lands, nor brew beer. They have not even a Local Veto to play with, and pull to pieces. Their internal affairs—their communal and individual interests—are murder and robbery, and, if you attempt to effectively control them, you must interfere with their internal affairs to the extent of destroying their internal affairs altogether. Your sole mission would be to put an end to the national industries—blood-letting and loot. No, Sir, it is the going there at all that I deplore in the past. It is not going there any more in the future that I advocate, and it is the coming away wherever that is any 113 longer possible that I present to this House as the most desirable frontier policy at the moment. Take the two examples most familiar at this moment. They differ in certain important features; but for illustration of their fatal process of drift they are fairly parallel. I refer to Chitral and Waziristan. Chitral, no doubt, stands by itself in certain particulars. Its inhabitants do not in any way resemble the fierce frontier tribes with whom we have been fighting. The Chitrali is neither fierce nor fanatical, he is fickle and treacherous, maybe; but timid and childish. Again, we had special interest in Chitral as a subfeudatory of Cashmere. Lastly, it had a unique position, and a unique claim on our interest with regard to our relations with Afghanistan and Russia. And that claim has not been removed, but only altered in its character by reason of our recent delimitation arrangements with those countries. Formerly it was considered necessary that we should have a hold on Chitral as a watch-post on the passes of the Hindu Kush. Now that even the most sensitive official has abandoned his nervousness about those passes, we have a new responsibility. It is no longer a question of fear of Russia as an invader, but of our duty to Russia as a friendly neighbour. Since that strip of Wakkan which we most unfairly imposed on the Amir when Shignan and Roshan were assigned to Russia hardly counts, our frontier may be said practically to march with that of Russia; and we are responsible to Russia for the peace of the border line on our side, just as Russia is responsible to us for incursions of tribesmen from her side. It is contended that that put our occupation in Chitral in a special position as a question of policing the border, that, in fact, we cannot afford to give even the most friendly neighbour a valid grievance against us by neglecting our international duties. I admit there is much to be said for this view. But, none the less, the fashion in which we gradually got to Chitral, and then drew back, and then returned, the responsibility which more than once we repudiated and then, bit by bit, accepted, the gradual development of an occasional official visit into a permanent 114 king-making resident with a gradually growing escort, then the revolt, the treachery, the siege, the costly rescue expedition, and then we cannot retire for reasons of prestige and obligations of honour to those, like the Khan of Dir and the Swati Chiefs, who have stood by us. That, at all events, was the unanimous opinion of the Government of India. They are good and valid reasons, I admit. But what is deplorable is that we should ever have got ourselves into a position which made them good and valid. I am not discussing whether, as a matter of policy or of fact, we ought to or could retire from Chitral. I am not going to deal with the unworthy myth about the so-called "Breach of Faith." I expect we shall not hear much about that yarn in this House. It was manufactured chiefly for provincial consumption. I only refer to this subject as an illustration of the way in which the successive Secretaries of State are dragged from what appears one trifling and important step to yet another and then a third, till we find ourselves clothed with responsibilities of which we cannot divest ourselves, and committed to a new strain on our financial and military resources from which we cannot get away. And now let us turn to an even more striking illustration of the gradual and insidious processes of which I have spoken. What has happened in Waziristan? There the Government of India proposed certain action for most innocent—even meritorious—purposes, guarded and hedged by pledges of the most virtuous abstention from things which should not be. A delimitation under the Durand Agreements of the Afghan Frontier was to take place at the back of Waziristan—that is to say, the line between Afghanistan and Waziristan, from Charkirgah, South, to Damandi—and as the Boundary Commissioners required an escort, it was thought to be a delightful opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, and by strengthening that escort into a small army to produce a sufficient display of force to enable our frontier officers to settle some moot points in a friendly war with the tribesmen of Waziristan, while, of course, the tribesmen would be assured that we had no intention whatever to interfere with their affairs, but only to 115 "take them along with us" to "secure peace." The professed objects which this arrangement had in view were to strengthen our position on the Gomul, to protect our trade on the Gomul, to discharge a responsibility (which did not exist) for the peace of the Afghan border, to open up a belt of country between the Gomul and the Tochi—a colossal task which we have not accomplished, and never will—to protect the friendlies, to extend our influence over tribes, and all that was apparently necessary for that purpose was, to use the language of the dispatch, "to establish a strong post on a permanent footing at Spin, in Wano." That was the programme decided upon, and recommended to the Secretary of State by a narrow majority of the Council in India—by a military majority, whose views were distinctly and specially combated by the three civilian members of the Council, in a written dissent, to which I have already referred, and which I hope every Member of this House will read. Well, Sir, the post was established at Spin. Post is a nice simple word; but when it comes to meaning a British cantonment, with a garrison of 2,000 men, many miles away from the British frontier, with barracks and forts and all the rest of it, it means a considerable military movement and a considerable financial responsibility. But that was only the beginning. That was a harmless first step, only at the south of Waziristan. Meanwhile, the military forward party had covetous eyes on the Tochi Valley, on the north, as the most direct road towards Ghazni; and so it was discovered a little later that perhaps after all Spin was not the best place for the centre of operations, but another place called Datta Khel, on the Tochi side. That resulted in our practically annexing the entire Tochi Valley as a part of British India, paying revenue, such as it was, and a cantonment at Datta Khel. And so the work went gradually on, with an occasional interruption of a war or two, until we have troops at Spin and Datta Khel and Jandola and Barwand, or Sarwaksi. We have the Shuhur Valley occupied,, and levy posts along all the routes and scattered about the country, and the development of this originally and virtuously designed single step, recommended in 1894, has practically arrived at a point 116 when we have included the whole of Waziristan in a ring-fence of military cantonments, forts, and levy-posts; and if I and other Members of this House, pointing out the heavy strain upon our finances which all this involves—its absolutely useless and profitless character, and all the expense of the numerous wars we have already conducted within the last four years within that area, ask that we should retire within our own frontier, we shall, of course, be told that we shall be leaving the friendlies to the mercy of the turbulent sections, that we shall be failing in our duty to the Amir in not policing his borders, and that we are sacrificing those important trade routes of the Gomul and the Tochi; but we shall not be told what is the real reason which underlies the whole of this forward and aggressive action in Waziristan, that we shall be limiting the access of the military to Ghazni and the rest of the Kandahar-Kabul line. We have no duty to the Amir of the sort suggested. We did not pledge ourselves to police his border. And as for trade through Waziristan, I doubt if the annual trade represents 5 per cent. of our annual military and political expenditure to protect it. Sir, these two instances—these two most recent instances with which we are acquainted of the action of the forward party in India, and of the gradual and insidious methods by which they drag well-intentioned Secretaries of State at their heels—contain the entire argument. As I began, so I continue, that I have made these references without any Party purpose. I am throwing no blame on either Secretary of State. I am blaming the system. Almost the earliest action of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, in his capacity of Secretary of State, was to sanction the first step in that fatal chain in Waziristan. Quite his last action in that capacity was an attempt to avenge himself for that error into which he had been led in that matter, by undoing a similar process in Chitral. And it is quite conceivable that there is a psychological connection between the two acts. I know how rare it is, and therefore. I may assume how difficult it is for a Cabinet Minister ever to admit that he has been wrong; and yet so high is my 117 respect for the right hon. Gentleman that nothing will surprise me less than to hear him admit at that table that he now regrets that, in deciding between the majority and the minority of the Council of India, he "reluctantly," as he says, gave his vote for the former in the matter of Waziristan. Nor would it surprise me to hear him also recognise the difficulty of every Secretary of State in riding roughshod over the unanimous decisions of the Council of India on a question which, according to that Council, involves our national honour. Well, Sir, I have, at the risk of trying the patience of the House, endeavoured to show them, perhaps at undue length, wherein lies the mischief on our frontier—what is the hidden influence driving us forward on this fatal and costly policy—how unreal are the phrases and alleged objects which cloak the working of that influence—how impotent the Cabinet at home is to restrain or overrule that policy. I have asked the House not to look to the Front Benches as a safe guide in this matter; they are too much concerned with themselves and with one another. But if the House wants to do a turn of good service to India, let it take the law into its own hands, and in justice to India, having due regard to her limited military resources, to her real poverty, and in justice to the tribes themselves—because, after all, even the rifle-stealing Afridi and the murderous Waziri have rights—to say there shall be no more of this costly and unprofitable aggression, and that where we can, with due regard to obligations which we have undertaken, we should retire from positions which reflect neither honour nor glory nor profit upon our name, and to which no accepted responsibilities, either local or international, commit us.
§ *SIR C. W. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
My hon. Friend, at the conclusion of his interesting speech, which the House has listened to with much pleasure, used words with regard to the future Debate with which I think we shall all associate ourselves. My hon. Friend will not be blamed for having to some extent anticipated the discussion on the Amendment of which notice was given by the Leader of the Opposition. On that particular part of the Indian Frontier where fighting has been recently 118 going on, and to which the attention of the public has turned—the Khaibar Pass and its immediate neighbourhood—there has been one frontier officer for eighteen years and unbroken peace for fifteen years. It is curious that within a month from the date of the removal of Colonel Warburton fighting began, and I think his removal from that post was a very important factor in producing the circumstances which have occurred. If we are to anticipate the discussion on the Amendment, it seems to me that there is one branch of the subject upon which one word should be said to-night, and that is the military policy, for which the Government are responsible. I have not had time yet to master the contents of the Blue Book which came out this morning, but it appears to me that the military policy stands in great need of defence. For four months after we were driven from the Khaibar Pass no attempt was made to restore British authority there, but instead of that some 60,000 men and 40,000 animals were collected at enormous cost for operations in other valleys. Even after these months the recapture of the Pass was a matter of little difficulty, but of greater than if it had been at once accomplished. The scale of operations and the delay and expenditure occasioned do seem to me to stand in great need of defence. I go out of my way to make a remark, which has not been made in either House of Parliament, because this is a matter which can better be discussed to-night than the matter of which notice has been given. I now turn to the gracious Speech from the Throne, and I wish to call the attention of the Government and of the House to the fact that there is an absence of reference to several subjects which should naturally have been mentioned, and which ought to have been mentioned. The Speech begins by a paragraph about Greece, which might almost be called false news, false information, so steadily does it assert that the territorial relations of Turkey and Greece remain unchanged; and the First Lord of the Treasury, in his speech to-night, actually went beyond the words of the Queen's Speech, and told the House that Greece at this moment was practically in possession of the whole of her ancient territory. Well, Greece is not in posses- 119 sion at this moment of the whole of her ancient territory; but, on the contrary, the whole of the territory which was taken from her in the war is still occupied by the Turkish forces, and one of the amazing points about the Speech and the policy of the Government is that they have not yet succeeded in getting that restoration of territory which months ago—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
What I was stating was that by the action of the Concert of Europe the boundaries of Greece remained substantially unaltered.
§ *SIR C. W. DILKE
The military situation remains substantially unaltered also. Then there is a matter of considerable importance, about which the Government have given the House no information beyond what they knew last Session. It is a paragraph which mentions the Treaty referred to last Session in this House as a treaty of friendship and commerce with the Emperor of Abyssinia. We are not told anything of the nature of that Treaty, which is a Treaty concerning which we shall hear a great deal in the future, I am sure. Now we are told, not by mere rumour or newspaper report, but by men who know and who make the statement pretty freely, that one portion of the Abyssinian Treaty is the surrender of a very large portion of Somaliland, which has been under our influence for a number of years. If it is the case that the civilising expedition to Khartoum has required us, for the purpose of its security, to recede from or to invite Abyssinia to occupy a great territory, the natives of which have trusted us, and been under our influence, I am bound to say that that consideration no doubt must affect the judgment of the House with regard to the expedition to Khartoum. We have disarmed the people of Somaliland, and they are at the mercy of their neighbours. I confess I think we shall strike a heavy blow at our moral authority in that part of the world from the recession from any portion of Somaliland, rather than gain much from our expedition to Khartoum. The next matter which naturally occurs to us in connection with this Abyssinian paragraph is one which is not mentioned in the Queen's Speech. There is no reference in the Speech to the recent occurrences in Uganda, and to 120 the disaster which has occurred to the expedition of Major Macdonald. The present position of affairs in Uganda is one that must give the deepest concern to the Government; but there is no reference to that disaster nor to the present position of affairs, nor is there any promise of Papers on the subject, in order that we may obtain information which the Government possess. Another African question also, which is not mentioned in the Speech, is one which the Government themselves, in the speeches of their members during the Recess, have called attention to—I mean the Conference on the affairs of West Africa, which is sitting at present in Paris. The Government have received news of the gravest kind; they have pointed out the terrible nature of a possible conflict between ourselves and France, and the statements that have been made have been most alarming: yet no reference has been made to that West African Conference, and no arrangement has been announced with regard to the preserving of peace. There is nothing in the Speech about two foreign matters which have been dealt with in both Houses of Parliament in the speeches of to-night; there is nothing in the Speech about Tunis or Madagascar, but papers have been presented since last Session concerning both Tunis and Madagascar which have been the subject of debate tonight. The papers with regard to the convention with Tunis were presented during the Recess, and the papers with regard to Madagascar were presented in December last, and circulated last month. There is a still more startling omission in the Speech, and it is that concerning the affairs of China—the whole of the recent negotiations with regard to China which have played so prominent a part to-night in the speeches of the leaders of both Houses. We are told by the leaders of both Houses that their policy in China is to stand upon our existing treaties, and in the speeches which they made during the Recess outside this House we were told that their policy was that of "equality of opportunity" with regard to trade and the open market. Of course, we support—I suppose all those on this side of the House support—that policy of equality of opportunity of trade 121 and the open market, but I am bound to say that the light which is thrown upon that policy by the papers with regard to Madagascar and Tunis that have been presented during the Recess leads me to doubt whether the Government are likely to succeed in preserving for us that open market, or whether, in fact, they will stand to their guns on that question, as they have not stood to their guns in regard to the other two matters. I am prepared to say that it is Lord Salisbury himself who, in the case both of Tunis and Madagascar, has by his own action and policy destroyed the open market which we formerly possessed; and that is a strong statement which I shall proceed to try to prove. The Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, speaking outside the House in the Recess, challenged us to discuss here, rather than outside the House, the foreign policy of Lord Salisbury, and the points upon which it is condemned by us. As regards two of the points out of the four covered by Lord Salisbury's own defence, we discussed them last year—I mean Siam and Crete—and as regards Tunis and Madagascar this is our first opportunity. We are seizing the first opportunity which the forms of the House give us to discuss them, because it has become officially known to us only by the publication of the papers which have in each case appeared during the Recess. Now Lord Salisbury has himself defended his own foreign policy both in the country, and to-night in another place. Practically, he said to-night in another place what he had already said in the country on the 16th November last. On 16th November he did not defend his Cretan policy so much as his Greek policy generally, and he defended it rather by an attack upon the Opposition than upon its own merits. The telegram which has been referred to to-night of certain Members of this House, expressing "our sense of the service which your Majesty's Government and people have rendered to the island of Crete," was practically Lord Salisbury's defence, and he virtually repeated, as the Under-Secretary repeated, last week, the words "piratical" and "filibustering."
§ *SIR C. W. DILKE
At all events, the Prime Minister's word in the House of Lords was "filibustering," and it was that word which brought forth the telegram of which I speak. We now know that at the very time when that action of the King of Greece was being so described in the House of Lords, Lord Salisbury was writing, on 16th March, "that the Greek contention was not unreasonable"—the contention being that in the state of affairs then the Greeks could best restore order in Crete. Now, for anything I know, Lord Salisbury may be a Jacobite—I believe one of his distinguished ancestors suffered in that cause, but the action of the King of Greece was as defensible at the time I am speaking of as was that of those who brought about the great Revolution in this country. But we are not concerned in defending the policy which we pursued at that time, because it has now been adopted by the Government themselves, who are proclaiming as their policy at this moment that Prince George, who was first despatched in charge of the Greek forces, is the best man to restore peace and tranquillity in the island of Crete. We have been completely justified in the action we took by subsequent events. All we desire is that as speedily as possible Prince George may become Governor of Crete, with the assent of the subject population. Now, with regard to the question of open markets, as I have said, the Siam branch of it was disposed of last year. Lord Salisbury said—It is too hard that I should be accused of making a surrender of Siam to the French, when all the time Mr. Gladstone was doing this.With regard to the Siam matter we had our say last year, and therefore all I will say of it now is that Lord Rosebery—who, after all, was considerably concerned, because it was his settlement which was certainly varied—said in the House of Lords in February, 1896, "by the change you have given up a great deal." On that occasion also Lord Rosebery indulged in a remark to the effect that, according to the First Lord of the Treasury, where a British force had once been it ought to remain, and he made an allusion to the withdrawal from Momsing. British trade was jeopardised on the Eastern 123 side of the Mekong by the arrangement with France; at all events, we consider that as regards the open market at Chantaboom it was compromised or given up by the action of Lord Salisbury. I therefore deal to-night with the two points we have not had an opportunity of discussing. I mean the case of Tunis and that of Madagascar. What I want to do to-night is to examine, by the light of what has been done in Madagascar and Tunis, the Government policy in China. That policy is the policy of the open market, maintained in strong language about war in the speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Attorney-General. The Attorney-General's speech has not been quoted, and I am sorry not to see him here to-night; but he practically said that he was prepared heroically to lay down his life in defence of the policy of open markets, and I confess that when I read that speech I was reminded of the observation frequently made by a noble lord, laid down as a maxim, in which he said that the Tory party should always talk Jingo and act Manchester. I think that is what they are fond of doing. If I have referred to-night to the Siam question, which we had an opportunity of discussing last year, it was because it involved the Tunis question, and involved the same surrender as in the case of Tunis. I did venture to attack the clause in the House, and we were told there was no surrender; but we saw in it the surrender which did eventually take place. Lord Salisbury has again to-night defended that policy in the matter of Tunis. He says the Regency of Tunis was a bad life. That means, I suppose, that the policy of an open market depended on the non-annexation of the country in question by a foreign State. But the moment a foreign State says, "Very well, we will annex," then the whole of our Treaty rights go. That is a most dangerous and disputable policy for this country. A great classical instance, in which the matter was discussed, was the matter of the interests in the late Duchy of Savoy, and the question there argued, and the view upheld by the greatest authorities of International Law, and acted on, was that France took it over subject to the Treaty rights. Lord Salisbury, by his protests in the Madagascar case, sup- 124 ports the view; but in the case of Tunis he throws it away. What is the real reason why he surrendered in the Tunis case? Was it not that the origin of the French going there was his own personal deed? I do not wish to raise any dispute, and I will take only what Lord Salisbury admits, and, from what we know, the first suggestion that the French should go to Tunis came from him himself. We went to the Treaty of Berlin with a secret concession. We took the Isle of Cyprus, and when it was discovered, and some of the Powers of Europe were objecting—when we went to Berlin, we found that the integrity of Turkey was the question; but England had already violated the integrity of Turkey before taking Cyprus, and before going in Lord Salisbury made offers to the French, and suggested to M. Waddington to go to Tunis. On two occasions that offer was made, and it was not denied. M. Waddington stated it most explicitly, and although Lord Salisbury contended there was no regular offer of out and out annexation, he complimented M. Waddington on his recollection of the matter. No speculation as to the effect on the trade appears to have crossed Lord Salisbury's mind, and no reservations were made with regard to our trade. Now, when the French found it to their domestic interest to go to Tunis, two stipulations were made by Mr. Gladstone—one as to Treaty rights and rights of entry, and a second stipulation with regard to the fortification of Bizerta, in reservation of our rights. We now know that Treaty has gone, and that Bizerta is being fortified, to the great alarm of the Italians, who were concerned in the transaction, and who are our friends. I may add that these capitulations, which have gone, went because of the action of the Government, which found itself in an impossible position. These capitulations have gone. There is no reciprocity in Egypt, for instance. In Siam we have had no return; no quid pro quo. In Tunis the open market has gone, and there is no equality of opportunity. Our goods are to go in, with the exception of cotton, with a low duty. French cotton goods are to go in at no duty, and, after fifteen years, the French are at liberty to place any duty they please upon those 125 goods. It will be seen that Lord Salisbury's policy is to settle a small question at the time without any quid pro quo, and they gave us nothing. In the matter of Madagascar his own words, with regard to Madagascar, are—I have been accused of surrendering to France in Madagascar. Madagascar was invaded and conquered. It was all done by Mr. Gladstone.Now let us see what occurred. As in Tunis, I am prepared to say everything that has occurred was directly due to the policy of Lord Salisbury. Madagascar was not invaded and conquered at the time that Lord Salisbury alluded to. The French, it will be remembered, cast a British missionary into prison, where he was dying, and we insisted on his liberation. As to the French, they were not doing well; they had been repulsed, and so far from having conquered the island, they never succeeded in getting two miles from their ships. The French then were glad to do what the Government would be very glad to do in the Afridi case—they were glad to patch up the very best Treaty they could, and they hit upon the expedient of patching up this Treaty. The Hovas absolutely refused to sign the Treaty as drafted, and the Treaty was signed after the Conservative party came into power. The French Admiral and the French Plenipotentiary both wrote letters saying no protectorate was intended, and the Hovas people then signed the Treaty. When the conquest came, I am prepared to say it was done by the act of Lord Salisbury, and I am prepared to give the steps by which it was done. In 1888 Lord Salisbury showed signs of recognising the sham French Protectorate in Madagascar, and in July, 1890, Lord Salisbury made an agreement that was the death-knell of the Government of Madagascar. He made the famous agreement called the Anglo-German Agreement in relation to Africa and Heligoland—an agreement in which almost every evil point which could be collected in one agreement was brought together. That extraordinary configuration of our dominions in Africa was the consequence of the Anglo-German Agreement made by Lord Salisbury. Under the Treaty, Zanzibar was divided with Germany, but we had an agreement with France that 126 neither our Government nor theirs would interfere with Zanzibar, and the consequence was that in order to get this wretched arrangement we had to have a fresh agreement with France, which was in the same form as that relating to Tunis, under which, in order to get rid of a small difficulty, we gave away something which was not ours to give, and fell upon this unfortunate island. By that unfortunate Treaty of July, we hauled down our flag in Heligoland, and violated a great principle by handing over a Colony which had never been German, and which desired to remain English, to Germany. Under the new agreement Lord Salisbury recognised the French Protectorate over the island of Madagascar, and the result of his recognition of this sham Protectorate brought about the real invasion of the island of Madagascar. Since last Session Lord Salisbury has published these papers, in which at last he makes a protest against the annexation of Madagascar. The result has been that the open market is gone, and equality of trade is gone, for our own goods are to be subject in future to the French tariff. When the Government are proclaiming the policy of equal advantage and an open market, the House ought to see how that policy proclaimed for British trade in China is affected by what has been done with regard to Tunis and Madagascar. In view of both these cases I am bound to say that the circumstances in China do not make it certain that the Government will permanently maintain the principle which they had so strongly laid down. On this matter the First Lord of the Treasury went out of his way to invite Russia to occupy a port in Manchuria. He was the first statesman of weight to mention this subject to Russia, and in his speech he said the occupation of an ice-free port in Manchuria by Russia would be welcomed by this country, and would be of advantage to the whole world. In both Houses of Parliament a policy has been proclaimed by the Government in which we entirely agree. I alluded just now to the terms made with France and Germany. Such promises have often been made and not kept, as at Bizerta and at Batoum; and, therefore, I am afraid that these promises are somewhat of a matter of form. The Russian policy 127 in China has not recently been so friendly to this country that we can count on having the help of Russia in keeping these international promises, which are so cordially offered at the present time. I do not think it is possible to assert that the recent policy of Russia in regard to Korea has been marked by a friendly feeling to this country. The Government have told us nothing as to their action in the matter; as to which we ought to have some information, especially as to the Russian action in insisting on the dismissal of Mr. McLeavy Brown, who is known to many Members of this House, who have the highest appreciation of the services he has rendered. Mr. McLeavy Brown represents the enormous interests of British trade—not only the present actual interests of British trade, but its potential interests—but we have Russia insisting on the dismissal of Mr. McLeavy Brown, and all we have heard since is that Russia accepted the situation by which a Russian official was put side by side with Mr. McLeavy Brown. These actions of Russia do not appear to me to be friendly actions on the part of Russia towards our trade. At the end of last Session the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs gave us a very strong assurance that the Government intended to insist in the future on the maintenance by Russia in regard to Korea of those undertakings which she had previously given. Those undertakings amounted to a guarantee, as the Under Secretary of State admitted, but I am bound to say that what has happened since last Session in Korea has been unfriendly on the part of Russia towards this country, and the Government will have to show a great deal of strength and determination if they are really going to carry out their policy. Has Russian policy been so friendly at Peking during the last two years as to give us confidence that a friendly policy will be maintained with regard to the opening of the ports? Russia joined with France at Peking in the recent negotiations, the ultimate result of which has just been laid before this House in the new arrangement with China as to Northern Siam. In that case, the Russian Minister supported the French Minister in making China give to France territory which was actually British territory, or 128 territory which had been handed over to China on the express condition that China should not yield it to France. The Chinese hesitated to yield it to France, who was supported by Russia, and that seems to be directly hostile to this country. Not only have Russia and France acted together in these recent negotiations at Peking in a manner directly hostile to the interests of this country in China, but there is some reason to suppose that there is an understanding which involves Germany in this affair, as may be inferred from the lately published work on "Three Tears of German Policy," 1894–7, by Herr v. Brandt, who was German Minister in China at the time. Under these circumstances the Government will have to show great determination if they intend to maintain the policy of an open market of equal advantage for trade in China. In view of the unfortunate history of their surrender in the cases of Tunis and Madagascar, and of the two new cases which have arisen since last Session, there is great doubt in my mind as to whether the Government will maintain the policy they have so admirably laid down.
§ *SIR ELLIS ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
I think there will be a general feeling in the House on both sides that the speech which the right hon. Baronet has just concluded has been interesting and instructive in the highest degree. The hon. Gentleman is a very difficult critic to deal with, for he is an Imperialist Radical. The criticism he has addressed to the action of the present Government, much of which, I am bound to admit, was justifiable, was also applicable to the past policy of his own leaders in almost every detail. The right hon. Baronet has shown, and I think the leaders of the Conservative Party should not be slow to recognise that a great deal of alarm and anxiety prevails in the country in regard to the surrenders which have taken place to foreign Powers during the last three years. The right hon. Gentleman has mentioned, in considerable detail, the cases of Siam, Madagascar, and Tunis, and as to the bulk of his contention I think there is no practicable answer. The speech of the Leader of the Opposition was of a very different character. A violent attack was made on the Government because of 129 their policy in Egypt, on the Upper Nile, and on the North-Western frontier of India. In both cases the Member for West Monmouth deliberately ignored the vital facts of the case. With regard to the Upper Nile, two foreign Powers are now making the utmost efforts to get control of those regions. But it is essential that the main stream of the Upper Nile should be maintained for the Egyptians, under British influence. That is a fresh justification for the advance on Khartoum, which did not exist five years ago. Another great European Power has advanced to within twenty miles of Chitral territory. It is absolutely vital for the safety of India that these warlike tribes should not be allowed to fall under Russian influence. These facts were ignored deliberately by the Leader of the Opposition. I come to the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury. That contained two remarkable statements of first-class importance. The first statement was that England has just guaranteed, along with Russia and France, the Greek Loan, and the second statement was that the negotiations for the Chinese Loan have collapsed.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
I am glad to hear the correction of the right hon. Gentleman. Our difficulties in the Far East date from 1893. As the result of the war between China and Japan in 1894, the Japanese were in possession of Port Arthur, where they would have been a perpetual bulwark against the advance of Russia southward. It is generally admitted that the Japanese are our natural allies in the Far East. They are a free, progressive people, they are a constitutional and a maritime people, and as a naval Power in the Far East they are overwhelming. The Government of Lord Rosebery, early in 1895, allowed Russia and France to deprive Japan of the fruits of her victory, and they left Northern China practically at the mercy of the intrigues and the territorial encroachments of Russia. It only required courage and intelligence on the part of the British Government to hold up their hand, and Japan would have been saved, and Russia permanently paralysed in 130 Northern China. The British Squadron in the Northern Pacific was then, with the support of the Japanese fleet, absolute master of the situation, and could have swept the seas of all opponents. Yet the British Government of those days backed down and allowed France and Russia to have their way in Southern and Northern China. Why, Heaven only knows! Possibly because they were engaged on the wild goose chase of trying to coerce Turkey in conjunction with Russia and France in the Near East; or, possibly, because they lacked courage. At any rate, the lâcheti displayed in 1894 was the main cause of the present crisis in the Northern Pacific. The aggression of Russia upon Northern China is now completely unveiled. The Cassini Treaty is now known to be a reality, and Russia no longer attempts to conceal the fact that she intends to dominate the whole of the populous and fertile regions of Northern China, and to shut out from those regions British influence and British commerce. It only requires decision and firmness to secure once and for all the triumph of British interests and of commercial freedom in the Northern Pacific. Let us hope that no fantastic idea of co-operating with Russia against Turkey in the Near East is now, as in 1895, paralysing British action in the China Seas. It is an extraordinary coincidence that at the very moment when the negotiations for the Chinese Loan are in abeyance we should be working with Russia and France, more or less against Turkey, to guarantee the Loan to Greece. I hope this will not have a disastrous influence. Here Mr. Balfour said, "Our object is to pay the Turkish indemnity.' I fear that the real reason is to get the Turks out of Thessaly, and to join Russia in coercing the Sultan to accept the unwelcome candidature of Prince George of Greece. The reason why it is necessary to say these things openly is that you cannot keep them from the knowledge of the Turks and Mussulmans throughout the world. They are well informed as to the aims and speeches of British statesmen. Why do I speak openly in regard to the Turkish and general Mussulman feeling throughout the world? It is because Mussulman sentiment has immense influence in India. Recent British policy with 131 regard to Greece and Crete, and against Turkey, has brought India to the verge of revolution, and has cost us this tremendous campaign on the North-Western frontier. Unless it is realised what mischief has been done, we shall have a revolution in India which will put all the others into the shade. Why are our Ministers now pressing the candidature of Prince George of Greece upon Turkey? Why are they joining with Russia in the near East? Do they think it will not have a disastrous effect upon Turkish feeling? When you are giving Greece a guarantee for a Loan, and pressing the candidature of Prince George upon the Sultan, you are running the most dire risk with regard to Turkish and Mussulman sentiment in the East. I feel it necessary to say those things in the interests of the Empire and for the safety of India. I do not propose at this hour to detain the House for any period, but I should like to ask one or two questions with regard to what happened in China. The anxiety in regard to China has been due to the conviction that the present Government has made many unnecessary surrenders in their foreign policy. So important is Chinese trade to us that the country has felt much anxiety when we are told that the demand for the creation of Ta-lien-wan as a "free port" was resisted by the Chinese—this meaning that the Chinese resented it under Russian compulsion—and that it has fallen to the ground along with the negotiations for the Chinese Loan. All we are told is that Russia, like Germany, has generally agreed to a policy of free commerce in Northern China. Are the Government going to allow the Russian army and Russian officials to gradually spread themselves over Manchuria and Northern China and down the Liao-Tung peninsula to Port Arthur, and so hold the whole game in their hands? There is only one way of dealing with Russia in this matter. Russia ought be given plainly to understand that the moment her forces enter Manchuria, that same moment we should take possession of Port Arthur, or any other coast position we deem necessary. We have now the whole game in our hands. The whole situation in the North of China is absolutely in the control of the British Government so long as they maintain their alliance with Japan. That 132 British control will last two or three years until the Trans-Siberian Railway is complete, and there lies the danger. Russia will put us off with smooth promises and with fair pledges until the Trans-Siberian Railway is completed. Then she will be in a position to pour an overwhelming military force into China, and, after that, the game will be in Russian hands. Sir, I should like to know from the Under Secretary of State what the military position of Russia is in Northern China—whether the telegram which said that a Russian armed force has entered the capital of Manchuria is correct, and whether Russia has fortified Port Arthur; whether she has landed soldiers and engineers in Port Arthur; whether Port Arthur is a Russian or a Chinese port; whether, in fact, our ships, in entering Port Arthur, salute the Russian or the Chinese?
§ *SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
Well, we should like to know the truth. It is impossible for any of us outside the Foreign Office to say whether Port Arthur has been handed over to Russia or not. There is one other question I should like to refer to. We have heard a great deal to-night about the many troubles in which this country is embarked; and it is nothing new that every month, every week, and almost I might say every day, we hear of some fresh complication or trouble having arisen. We have found France working her way all through West Africa, occupying the Hinterland, in Sierra Leone, taking a third of Siam, annexing Madagascar, and trying to anticipate us on the Upper Nile. This is not imagination—they are all facts. We see Russia doing as she likes in Northern China, acting against us on the Northwestern Frontier of India, doing almost as she likes in Turkey, and practically mistress of Northern Persia. Now, Sir, these are every one of them facts; they are not imagination. Why does this state of things exist? Why is this country so powerless at the present time? Why has she been so powerless for the last five years? It is not by the act of the present Government alone. It was begun by the late Government, although the present Government have carried on the mistaken policy of their predecessors. The reason is, that the whole root and basis 133 of our foreign policy has been wrong. We have ignored the essential elements of a successful foreign policy, which is the necessity for securing good and stable alliances. We have tried to make alliances with countries whose interests are antagonistic to ours. We have alienated our natural and traditional friends. We have lost our old supporters, and we have made no new ones. That is the reason why the country is comparatively friendless, and until that policy is reversed this country can have no success in its foreign and Imperial Policy. No Government can succeed until we return to the natural and traditional alliances of this country. Of course, I shall be scoffed at when I say that one of the natural allies of this country is the Ottoman Empire. When I say that we cannot do without the support of Mussulman feeling throughout the world I shall be jeered at; but unless you get the support of the Ottoman Power, and prevent the magnificent fighting power of Turkey from falling under Russian rule, you can never successfully hold your position in India. What are you doing now with Japan? You are threatening to lose Japan if you show weakness with regard to Russia. You will certainly lose China, which of course will yield to the Power that shows the greatest grit; and you will lose the alliance of Japan, out of sheer disgust and indignation, by whose aid alone you can control the Northern Pacific. Then I come to the most important alliance of all—the alliance of Germany. You cannot ally yourselves to Russia and France. How can this free country ally itself with the greatest military despotism in the world, which is stretching its grasp in every direction and making encroachments in every clime, which knows no scruple and pursues its traditional policy without mercy or remorse, and never turns back? How can you form an alliance with the aggressive despotism of St. Petersburg? How can you form an 134 alliance with France, which has changed its Cabinets 35 times in 26 years, and is now offering the world a series of extraordinary follies? It is impossible for you to make an ally of France. And then this theory of "splendid isolation"; what has become of that? It merely means absolute impotence in every quarter of the globe. We have the greatest and the richest dominions, and therefore the most coveted, and unless you can support your power by alliances, you are bound to suffer a series of reverses and losses. Your natural political allies are Italy and the German monarchies. Italy no one can deny to be a proper ally. It has the fourth largest fleet in the world, and in order to maintain our naval supremacy in the Mediterranean the Italian alliance is an absolute necessity. Austria has always been our ally, and I trust Austria may always remain so. I admit that Germany is a more difficult question. I fully recognise and realise the bitterness which has lately prevailed between this country and Germany. I know that there have been grave circumstances embittering to Germany as there have been circumstances embittering to this country. I know also that the Press has played a most unfortunate part in exasperating the sentiment of the two countries against each other. But our rivalry to Germany is not political. It is commercial; our political interests are the same as those of Germany. We have common feelings. We have a very largely common history. We have been allies for 200 years. We have a common religion and a common language, and our political interests are identical with those of Germany, and by the help of Germany we should be masters of the whole position in the Near East, the Far East, and in Europe. It was by the German Alliance that Lord Beaconsfield succeeded in 1878, and maintained British interests. Mr. Gladstone upset that alliance in 1880. He tried to work with 135 Russia and France. He caused England to undergo the disasters met in nearly every quarter of the globe. The disasters of the past five years very nearly resemble the five years which followed 1880, both in character and cause. I know that there are circumstances which seem to make for alienating us from Germany—there was the unfortunate telegram about the Transvaal, for instance. But these divergencies are few and most unimportant compared with the great bulk of cases in which the interests of the two countries coincide. These differences can easily be settled by mutual arrangements with, and by concessions to, Germany elsewhere. The commercial rivalry that exists must remain, and British commerce will not be in one whit benefited if we add political rivalry to the commercial. Rather the reverse. Each nation must do its best, openly and without undue bitterness, in the struggle for commercial ascendancy. It will be a benefit rather than a harm to British commerce that England should possess the increased strength, which a political understanding with Germany must give to this country and to the British Empire. So strong and inevitable is the bond of common interests that in the long run the alliance with Germany is bound to come about, unless by an act of official or national madness it is rendered impossible. Until we do away with the antagonism with Germany, which now, unfortunately, seems to exist, we shall not succeed in our foreign policy. Our political interests are in the main identical with those of Germany. No overwhelming disaster has yet befallen British interests, but the Government may change its policy too late, the country may change its sentiment too late. All the important troubles which have threatened us, all the difficulties which environ us, are in the main due to the fact that the root of our foreign policy for the last five years has been mistaken. Until we return to our traditional policy and to 136 the traditional alliances of this country we shall fail to secure peace and security.
THE RIGHT HON. G. N. CURZON: (Southport Division of Lancashire)
I am sure that the House will pardon me for the fact that, owing to the somewhat severe cold from which I am suffering, I am not able to adequately perform the duty which has been cast upon me of replying to the discursive attack of the gentlemen who have addressed questions to me on this occasion, and the difficulty of my position is enhanced by this fact. The right hon. Baronet who initiated this particular discussion was of course at liberty to select from the vast and inexhaustible stores of his knowledge what particular field of action he chose for his remarks, and from that field of action to determine, without reference to myself or anybody else, what points he would advance. I had no consciousness in advance, either of the range or the object of his attack, and I do not know whether I was more surprised or disconcerted by the fact that the circuit of that attack covered practically the whole surface of the habitable globe, and that there was no continent in which, during the six months since Parliament last met, the conduct of Lord Salisbury has not had the censure of the right hon. Baronet. I was perhaps somewhat disconcerted at the discovery that, although I had not expected to speak at all, I should have in reply to cover so wide an area; but still more disconcerted was I to find that the whole speech of the right hon. Baronet was practically an unconcealed attack upon Russia and France. The right hon. Baronet has a right to express his opinion, but it certainly does strike me as a most astonishing thing when I remember that last year and the year before the Leader of the Opposition was on every platform in the country imploring us to compose our own animosities, and make friends with those two great Powers—France and Russia. We are now held up to the reprobation of this House as having made undue 137 concessions and surrenders to those with whom we are now told we ought to fall out. Let me follow in brief succession the points in which the right hon. Baronet either blamed us, or asked for information. He complained in the first place of my right hon. Friend, the Leader of the House, for having given what he described as inaccurate information about the state of Thessaly; for having spoken of the Greeks as being in possession of the whole of the territory which they enjoyed before the war. It is true that they are not in actual possession, but they are in prospective possession. If the right hon. Baronet would look at the terms of the Treaty of Peace that was signed between Turkey and Greece, he would find that the evacuation of Thessaly by the Turkish troops must follow from the period of one month from the publication of the Loan of £4,000,000. What was the information that my right hon. Friend gave? It was, that owing to the joint action of the three Powers which 60 years ago brought Greece into existence, and which guaranteed this Loan, a sum of £4,000,000 is about to be paid to Greece, which will enable her to pay off the indemnity to Turkey, and which will be followed in a month's time by the evacuation of the Provinces of Thessaly. And when my right hon. Friend who has just spoken speaks of this Loan as showing hostility to Turkey, I think he does not show much familiarity with the needs of a Turkish Exchequer.
MR. G. N. CUBZON
The next point which the right hon. Baronet touched upon was the question of the Abyssinian Treaty. He said that the House knew nothing of the terms or the nature of that Treaty—but the very legitimate curiosity which he and other Members show upon that subject will, I am glad to say, be satisfied in a few hours. The Treaty has been made, and I hope will be in the possession of hon. Members before long. The right hon. Baronet 138 has apparently picked up some cock-and-bull story from the newspapers, which, I am bound to say, have not been free from such stories during the last fortnight.
§ SIR C. DILKE
Permit me to say that what I stated was, that although, of course, we were left to rumour, I did not speak from newspaper information, but from information of people who ought to know.
§ MR. G. N. CURZON
I am afraid they were equally cock and bull. However, when he sees the Treaty, the right hon. Baronet will be able to see and judge for himself whether we have made that large cession of territory of which he seems to suspect us. The next point he touched upon is that of Uganda. He complains that no reference has been made to events in that country. I do not know that there will be any reluctance on the part of the Secretary of State, with whom I will consult, to give information upon the matter. The right hon. Baronet then complained that the Queen's Speech, which apparently contained everything it should not have contained, and omitted everything it should have contained, made no allusion to the West African Question. I myself have a small recollection of the customs of this House, but I do not know that it has ever been the custom to mention in the Queen's Speech the result of negotiations which are still incomplete. The results of negotiations already completed are different matters, but I repeat it is not a common thing to do to put in statements laid before Parliament remarks concerning negotiations still in active progress, and about which it would be impossible, with due regard to others, to make any statement. I turn now to the point in the right hon. Member's speech in which he said the Government, in giving their support to Prince George of Greece as Governor of Crete, are practically adopting the policy of the hon. Gentlemen opposite. The same point was put in another way by the Leader of the Opposition, when he contended that we were now doing what he and his party were doing last 139 year. But is there not an essential difference between the circumstances of the two cases? Last year, a Greek force, without a declaration of war against Turkey, and, therefore, in time of peace, deliberately invaded the territory of Turkey. They endeavoured to forestall and anticipate the future of that country, Crete, which had been taken in hand and guaranteed by the Powers of Europe. That was a most illicit act, and if at that time the Powers of Europe had endorsed that position, and if they had endeavoured to impose upon the Sultan the Governorship of Prince George, it would have been an encouragement to similar illicit acts and raids on the part of other States in the Balkan Peninsula. The present conditions are, as the House knows, entirely different. The attitude of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the Government of Crete has always been this—they have been ready to accept any suitable candidate that was put forward. The only candidate they have never meant to put forward or to support themselves, would be either an Englishman or a Turkish Pasha. The candidature of Prince George has been suggested by Russia, and in the interests of Crete itself. That is the present state of affairs. Whether that candidature can be pursued with success I cannot say, but there is no contradiction or inconsistency between our support of that nomination now, and the position which, in defence of the public law of Europe, was taken by Her Majesty's Government and the other members of the Concert of Europe. The right hon. Baronet, in the course of his speech, then turned to the Continent of Africa, and he attacked us there. I may say with regard to that question that the right hon. Baronet's attitude is somewhat discounted in advance by the fact that ever since there has been an agreement with France with reference to this Tunisian question we have been prepared to surrender our rights. Ever since the conclusion of the original treaty with Tunis in 1875, we have been under 140 an obligation to revise that agreement. We have never repudiated that obligation, and when France, as the protecting Power, called upon us to act up to it, we were bound to do so. The situation, again, is not quite as the right hon. Baronet described it. It is not merely affected by the circumstances under which France exercised her protectorate over Tunis; it is also affected by the action of the other Powers. Most of the great Powers of Europe, and several smaller Powers, had treaties of commerce with Tunis not dissimilar to our own. After these treaties had been abolished, and new arrangements had been made, we were the only Power that remained. Does the right hon. Baronet mean to suggest that we ought to have stood out against the express wish of all Europe?
§ MR. CURZON
It is true we have the bulk of the trade, but does the right hon. Baronet suggest that the interests of Italy in Tunis, political even more than commercial, are inferior to our own? Those other Powers have made their terms, and Lord Salisbury regarded it as his duty to come to terms also. The right hon. Baronet says we have the bulk of the trade with Tunis. But the bulk of our trade with Tunis is cotton. I hope the right hon. Baronet will not assume that we acted in this matter without consultation with the proper representatives. We put ourselves into communication with the houses of Manchester, and found that their views as to the stability of the Regency, and the desirability of making new arrangements with France, coincided with our own, and we suggested to France the very terms they put before us. That is the arrangement we carried into effect. I believe the terms under which we secured largely improved conditions and most favoured nation rights for fifty years, and security for those rights for another forty years, will be found to be a matter for congratulation to English merchants. I 141 turn to the question of Madagascar, and here I must, in the first place, dissociate myself from the version of its history given by the right hon. Gentleman. I do not accept his account as accurate, neither do I accept his assertion that Tunis and Madagascar are parallel cases. What has been the attitude of France with regard to Madagascar? They sent a warlike expedition into the island to enforce their protectorate—which had been equally acknowledged by Liberal and Conservative Governments in this country—they then utilised the results of that expedition to abolish the protectorate and declare annexation, they interpreted annexation in their own way, and were abrogating the commercial treaty which we enjoyed with Madagascar. Still, we contest that. We have a perfect right to retaliate against the French interpretation. But supposing we had gone to war with France over the question of Madagascar, and had asked this House to support us in going to war over the abolition of that treaty? Would the right hon. Gentleman, who spoke so freely about the hostile attitude of Russia and France, and the right hon. Gentleman sitting on the benches opposite, have supported us? If not, what is there in taunting us with the surrender of our interests to France? The right hon. Baronet passed to Asia, and he complained that China had been allowed to violate the agreement with us about the Burmah boundary, and to hand over to France territory which France had promised never to surrender. That is quite true, but the right hon. Baronet forgot to mention that that infringement of Treaty obligations on the part of China had been paid for liberally by China under revised terms, by which we secured a very substantial increase of our interests and the opening up of great waterways. There are two questions in the right hon. Baronet's speech to which I have yet to refer. The first was as to the number and disposition of the Russian forces in Northern China. On this point we have not the confidence of the 142 Russian Government, and we have no official information at all as to the presence or as to the exact locality of Russian troops in the part of Russia he named. But when the right hon. Baronet asks me whether Russian troops are in Port Arthur, whether Russia is in definite occupation of that port, and whether the British ships saluted the Russian flag, I can give him a definite and immediate answer "No" to this question. Up till now Russia has done nothing in respect of Port Arthur which she is not perfectly entitled, under treaty rights, to do. Russia has sent ships-of-war to Port Arthur, and if blame is to be attached to her for doing so, Her Majesty's Government must be included in the accusation, for a fortnight ago we did exactly the same thing. That is a right we enjoy in common with other Powers under the Treaty of Tien-tsin, and in the exercise of that right our Admiral from time to time orders ships to visit that port. He did that two or three weeks ago, and, if the occasion arises, will do it again. I come now to the final question of the right hon. Baronet, which I cannot answer, because I dispute the premises on which it is based. He asks me to explain why we are so powerless and helpless in all parts of the world?
§ MR. CURZON
I suppose it was addressed to the House generally, and perhaps I may venture to answer on the part of the House. I deny his premises totally. I agree with him if what he means is that there never was a moment when concentration was more needed than at present. I hope the right hon. Baronet will not go away from this debate with the impression which his speech suggested. The terms of the Queen's Speech, of the speech of my right hon. Friend, the Leader of the House, should convince the House that in the face of those great difficulties the 143 Government is doing its best to sustain the dignity and credit of the country.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY (Northumberland, Berwick)
In the first place I desire to say a word with regard to the Concert of Europe, with which almost every speech on foreign affairs has begun for some time past. I do not think the proceedings of the Concert are matters out of which Party capital need be made in this country, but I suppose we are almost wearied with the delay and disappointment to which these proceedings have led. In the last speech which I heard my right hon. Friend opposite deliver in this House in July last he dealt at some length with the subject of Crete, and, although he did not say that the condition was satisfactory, he spoke in what, I thought at the time, were more hopeful terms than he had been able to use for many months. These hopes have been disappointed, and the condition of Crete remains to-day a scandal to Europe; that description does not exceed the facts, and hardly anyone will dispute it. The delay which has taken place with regard to the Concert's action in Crete has made us less confident as to whether the good results which we are told are so near will ever be achieved in the case of the evacuation of Thessaly. By all accounts they should be, but the whole experience of the proceedings of the Concert has been that what we had a right to expect should happen never has happened when it was expected, and although I submit, as the First Lord of the Treasury urged earlier in the evening, that the Concert may have done a good deal to prevent worse evils breaking out in the Balkan Peninsula, we have to make our estimate of the Concert, not merely by hypothetical guesses as to whether things might not be worse, but by considering whether the result has been at all commensurate with the immense power of the Concert. The answer to that can only be that they have been ludicrously inadequate to what might have been done had the 144 Concert been animated by that spirit which should have animated the action of the great European Powers. Passing from that question to one or two similar questions, there is the case of Madagascar. Lord Salisbury was the first to recognise the French Protectorate over Madagascar. When Lord Rosebery's Government was in office—during which time the last French expedition to Madagascar took place—Lord Rosebery had no choice as to action, because the Protectorate had been recognised by Lord Salisbury, and he was bound by that recognition. But we were given to understand that that expedition was not intended to impair the Treaty rights which France had guaranteed to us when Lord Salisbury recognised her Protectorate over Madagascar. What is the state of the case to-day? Those Treaty rights with regard to the importation of British goods have disappeared. Duties are levied on British goods against which they were expressly guarded by those Treaty rights, and the contention is put forward by the French Government that, having annexed Madagascar, our Treaties with Madagascar fall to the ground. Yes, but the annexation of Madagascar has been the act of France herself. France promised to preserve the Treaty rights, and she has now by her own act destroyed that which she promised to protect. In a case of that kind, if the heart of France has been very much set on annexing Madagascar, and imposing preferential duties on goods imported by other Powers, we should expect, according to the rules of international comity, compensation in some other quarter. If we sacrifice those rights, we should expect that there would be some compensation. What I think we feel is that it is a serious matter, which cannot be passed without notice, that in spite of what we consider the unanswerable arguments of Lord Salisbury in his last dispatch, these Treaty rights have lapsed, and no compensation has been given. With regard to Tunis, I must say that I think the 145 Government have claimed credit, but I do not think that in practice that arrangement will be an improvement on what has been the state of things before. In the first place, although the duties have been reduced, we have lost our most-favoured-nation treaty with regard to France, and, although the reduction of the duties is a good thing, it is not the whole story. In the claims which were made on behalf of this arrangement in the autumn, it was never pointed out by the Government that, though the reduction of duties had been secured, the most-favoured-nation treaty with regard to French goods had been lost. It is a doctrine that we were often urged to apply by some hon. Members opposite, when they were sitting on this side of the House, in the case of Zanzibar. It is a doctrine which we have hitherto hesitated to apply, or which we have not asserted in any case I remember. As Lord Salisbury has conceded that, where the life of a Protectorate is a bad one, the life of any treaties with that Protectorate are so uncertain that it is a reasonable cause for their being given up by the Powers who enjoy them, I hope, as that has been asserted in favour of France, it will not be forgotten when circumstances arise which may make the case stronger in other places. But what I feel about Tunis, Sir, is this, that the Government have been hampered by the arrangement which they made with regard to Siam. They were practically pledged by that arrangement to discuss the Tunis question when the French Government raised it. It is not the concession that has been made to France with regard to Tunis that I complain of. It is the waste of that concession. It is that that concession has been practically given for nothing, given away without any return—and, as I said just now in the case of Madagascar, I think we ought to have had some compensation for the rights we gave up. So I think that this question of Tunis should not have been given away in the Siam agreement as it was. It should have been reserved until the time when it might have made negotiations very much easier on other subjects, not merely for 146 us, but for the Government of France. I will pass to Africa, and to the question of West Africa in particular. I quite understand that, while negotiations are proceeding, the Government cannot make any statement about them. I do not know whether it will be in their power to lay any papers before the House up to the time when the negotiations began, or with regard to any period preceding the time when negotiations began. What most of us who have followed the question of West Africa feel is, that matters have drifted for some years, until they have got into an exceedingly difficult position. Now, the position is exceedingly difficult, negotiations have begun, but while the negotiations are proceeding, while there is hope, as I think we were told this evening, that those negotiations would lead to a settlement of the question, it would at least be interesting if any papers could be presented which, with regard to previous years, would show the various steps by which the two countries have drifted into the unsatisfactory position which they now occupy with regard to each other, and what steps have been taken at various times, either by way of protest or by way of asserting the rights, to anticipate, if possible, the situation which has now arisen, and to prevent its being brought about. If things are allowed to drift, they are apt to go too far, until a settlement of them becomes almost impossible, and we should like to know whether more could not have been done at an earlier stage, during the last few years, by which a settlement might have been made easier than I fear it will be to-day. In regard to the most important question of all—the question of China—I think the House will have been considerably relieved by what has been stated by the Government. The country has certainly been very much alarmed by what has appeared in the Press as to what was passing in China, and by the speeches of members of the Government in regard to the future. The question of China is, indeed, a most serious one, and I would demur rather to the futility of discussing the chances of the settlement of the affairs of that country merely by count- 147 ing up the ships of the respective Powers or groups of respective Powers in China seas. We should bear in mind that, whatever breach of the peace does occur, we could not have war in the China seas and peace in Europe. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made a speech some time ago in which he used the the word "war." What I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say at the time was, that we should prevent, we should resist, if necessary—I am quoting from memory—at the cost of war, the closing of doors now open to our trade in China. I do not think that that is a statement which will be objected to in any quarter of the House. I, at any rate, never understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that we were ready to go to war to enforce the opening of new doors for our trade.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir M. HICKS-BEACH)
I would like to say that when I used the words referred to I was not aware that anything was known to the public on the subject of the negotiations in regard to China. But it so happened that on that very morning a telegram appeared in the newspapers which I had not seen. Two days after, I made a speech to my constituents at Bristol, in which I observed that my speech at Swansea had been taken in some quarters to refer to the negotiations for the Loan, and I distinctly disclaimed that interpretation of my observation.
§ SIR E. GREY
As I have said, the observations of the right hon. Gentleman did not appear to me to bear the interpretation which had been put on them in some quarters. We have been told this evening that, not only is it not threatened that ports should be closed to British trade, but that, on the contrary, assurances have been given that ports, which were supposed by some organs of public opinion to be threatened, are to remain open. If that is to be so, it removes a great deal of the friction which would undoubtedly exist if a different policy were to be pursued by any 148 of the other European Powers. In the long run, it appears to me, that this Far Eastern question is the most serious in foreign politics. Questions like Madagascar and Tunis are not, in my opinion, questions, in reference to their intrinsic merits, which would lead to a breach of peace between two great nations. China might well become such a question. But if, as it appears, the different nations are willing to regard this question of China trade as one that is to be kept open, if they are willing to restrain themselves, and not to make any attempt to secure for themselves monopolies to the exclusion of other Powers, then I do not see why the trade of China should not be developed, by the growth of railways, by the opening of new ports, in a way in which all European nations could share in the benefits. I cannot help feeling, with regard to Africa, that other nations besides ourselves have got a great deal to face. We have been extending our responsibilities over great areas faster than we could collect forces to make sure that those territories would be secured to us. But I do not think that is our fault. Our hands have been forced because other nations have been going as fast as we have gone. In Africa a policy is being pursued the very opposite to the policy which the European Powers are apparently now pursuing in China. According as new territories have been opened by other European Powers in Africa the first thing done is to close them to our trade. But if the negotiations, in regard to China, were to bear a little fruit in showing how the policy of keeping open ports and open trade makes much easier the development of a country at an easier pace, and at much less expense, and prevents the Powers from forcing each other's hands, then the friction would also be removed in regard to Africa, and that country would be developed to the advantage of all the Powers.
§ MR. DAVITT (Mayo, South), moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ Debate adjourned until to-morrow.