§ (Adjourned Debate—Fifth Day.)
Order read for resuming adjourned Debate on main question.
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as followeth:—
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament" (Colonel Lockwood).
§ Question again proposed: Debate resumed.
§ *MR. JOHN LAWSON WALTON (Leeds, South)
, rising to propose as an Amendment to the Address at its end to add—And we humbly express to Your Majesty our disapproval of the policy pursued in the permanent military occupation of Chitral and the maintenance and fortification of the road from Peshawar through the territory of the independent tribes, and deplore the consequences which have followed from that policy; and we further humbly represent to Your Majesty that the safety and prosperity of Your Majesty's Indian Empire will be best promoted by respecting the independence of the Frontier tribes, and avoiding the occupation of their territory.Said: Mr. Speaker, the Amendment which I venture to submit to the reception of this House divides itself into two propositions. In the first place, I invite the House to express its disapproval of an act of administration on the part of the present Government reversing the policy of their predecessors with regard 500 to the fortification and maintenance of the road connecting Peshawar with Chitral on the North-Western Frontier of India; and, secondly, I seek to elicit an expression of opinion with regard to the future policy which should regulate the Indian Government in dealing with that portion of Her Majesty's dominions. Mr. Speaker, it is not necessary for me to emphasise the importance of this subject. This war, engaging more men than have ever taken the field during any previous period of our history, has for some time been conducted upon the Northern border of our Indian Empire, and, while the courage of our troops has been equal to the best traditions of the English Army, there have been untoward and inexplicable incidents which have occasioned a feeling of some anxiety. The fact, Sir, of these operations raises, for the consideration of this House, an important moral question. We shall have to discuss whether it is just that the burden entailed by these engagements should be cast upon the already embarrassed Exchequer of India, or should be borne by the people of this country. The loss of life which has attended these operations is deplorable, and a wide sense of bereavement exists with which, I am sure, every section of this House will profoundly sympathise. Mr. Speaker, we have suffered, in the course of this campaign, serious sacrifices, but those sacrifices will be gladly borne by the people of this country and of India provided they are satisfied that the war was just and has been undertaken in pursuit of some high aim of policy. These sacrifices will be contentedly endured if it is established that this campaign is the result of inevitable necessity; but, Sir, before this chapter of our history is finally closed the nation will demand, and rightly demand, that one or other ground of justification should be conclusively established. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, in language of unwonted depression, has given a record of the barren achievements at- 501 tending these operations. He has said, in speaking at Manchester, that there has been—In the course of this war, a great loss of valuable life; that there is nothing, so to speak, to show for it on the surface; that we seemed to be involved in an interminable petty warfare with uncivilised tribes which, when it was finished, would not produce any apparent or tangible result for the Empire, of for any of the great classes contained therein.I think, Sir, it is fair to say that a war undertaken on this scale, involving these sacrifices, and producing a record of results so barren, falls little short of a grave national calamity; and that we, Sir, of the Opposition, would be failing in our duty if we did not afford to Parliament some opportunity of reviewing the causes which have led to this campaign. Well, Sir, at the outset we are met with a preliminary inquiry arising from some of the speeches of the noble Lord the Secretary of State for India in regard to this matter. He raises the question whether this war can be said to have any ascertainable or intelligible cause. Has it a cause naturally connected with the treatment of the tribes, amongst which the outbreak took place, or is it a stroke of fate, coming we know not why or whence, to which we must submit ourselves with becoming resignation? The noble Lord apparently favours the latter solution. He told us at Acton that the war was spontaneous, and that it was unaccountable. He said, speaking at Chiswick, that he attributed it to a "spirit of unrest," which he observed was brooding over the face of the nations, and that this malign influence was at work in the risings in the Soudan and Rhodesia, and on the North-Western Frontier of India, and present in the capitals of civilised Europe, as manifested in scenes in the Legislative Chambers of Paris and Vienna. Well, I think that this House will not be disposed to accept such a view, and will hesitate before it casts responsibility upon a vague spirit of evil which we cannot summon to the Bar of this House or make amenable to a vote of the censure of Parliament. We, Sir, believe these political phenomena have their explanation in political action, and I will attempt to show, with 502 the indulgence of the House, as briefly as I may, that the explanation of these results which we all deplore is to be found in a policy chargeable, and properly chargeable, against Her Majesty's Government. But it is important, Sir, at the outset to remember that in 1895, when this question had its birth the policy of the Indian Government with regard to Chitral had been repeatedly defined. It had been announced as a policy of evacuation, and as late as June, 1894, it was clearly stated that the duration of the presence of an English representative at this outpost station would in all probability be limited to 12 months. Well, Sir, that having been settled, what occurred? We know of the murder of Nyzam, the Mehtar, in January, 1895, and the consequent visit of Sir George Robertson to Chitral, his beleaguerment in the limits of the fort, and the expedition which the English Government dispatched with the concurrence of the Indian Government for his relief. At that time it must be remembered that we had decided within a very short time that no English resident should linger within the limits of the Chitral Valley, and perhaps at this stage I should remind the House of the reasons which led to that conclusion, because they have an important bearing upon the subsequent history of the case. Chitral had been occupied in order to forestall Russian advances, and in order to avert the intrigues of the Ameer of Afghanistan. The treaty with Russia had made Russian aggression in the direction of India impossible. I say impossible, without a breach, of the Treaty, because the limitation of the Russian Frontier made further Russian intrigue on our Northern border a violation of international compact. The contract with the Ameer of Afghanistan under what is known as the Durand Agreement shut out any further effort on the part of Afghanistan to include the Chitral Valley within her sphere of influence. The argument, therefore, which had led to the occupation of this post had died a natural death by effluxion of time. Colonel Durand, who was commissioned in 1890 to report upon the 503 policy of a permanent agency in Chitral, indicated some of the difficulties which must necessarily attend upon that policy, and he showed that Chitral was useless unless connected by a main road with Peshawar. He pointed out that a road to Peshawar would excite the hostility of the intervening tribes, and he showed that any arrangement with the chiefs commanding those tribes must be unsatisfactory, because his experience and the relations at the same time into which he had entered with the ruler of Chitral, showed that the Mehtar of Chitral, while professing to favour the British scheme, was discovered to be secretly stirring up his neighbours to oppose us. Before the expedition took place great hostility was anticipated. It was predicted that the moment a British regiment appeared over the Frontier you would have a religious war not confined to the Valleys of Swat and Bajaur but extending throughout the whole country. And the Indian Government, conscious of the unsatisfactory arrangement made with the leaders of the tribes, took the step of appealing by means of a proclamation, not to the leaders, but to the people in the valleys of Swat and Bajaur. Now, Sir, the terms of the proclamation have been the subject of a great deal of discussion, but I do not think there can be any doubt as to its effect when you remember that at the time it was issued the declared policy of the Government with regard to Chitral was one of evacuation, and therefore the intention of this proclamation was to announce and make clear the character of the policy already stated. It intimated the intention of a British force to secure a passage and retirement, and only a passage and retirement, and that after it left there should be no annexation of the country, and that there should be no permanent occupation of the soil. Now, Sir, we know that the terms of the proclamation are in accordance with that proposition. What is its effect? The noble Lord has said that its effect was this: that while some of the Swat and other tribes objected, they were by no means unanimous, and were opposed to some of the chiefs in the Swat Valley; 504 and were resisted of course by the tribes of Bajaur, who were already up in arms. But, Sir, the most singular phenomenon attending the history of that expedition was that at various points along the road large bodies of the tribesmen were collected by the religious leaders of the people, who offered to the progress of the British troops the most obstinate resistance. The country had risen, and after the retirement of the expedition it was clear, and the Indian Government perceived, that no road through these valleys could be made or maintained without encountering a resistance similar to that which had already been encountered. Therefore, the matter came before the Indian Government for consideration subject to the influence of these experiences. Well, Sir, what was their advice? That expedition was the most successful probably ever devised, from a military point of view, but the success was attended by one misfortune. It changed the opinion of the Indian Government with regard to the occupancy of Chitral. They advised that advantage should be taken of the presence of Sir Robert Lowe in order that arrangements might be made with the tribal chiefs for the maintenance and protection of the road. But, Sir, that advice was attended by one important condition. They said it was essential that this arrangement should be backed up by an adequate show of force.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Right Hon. Lord GEORGE HAMILTON,) Middlesex, Ealing
What was that show of force?
§ MR. J. LAWSON WALTON
The noble Lord asks where was that said. If he will read the dispatch 43, 1895, he will find a full recital of the opinion of the Indian Government that the expedition must be backed up by an adequate show of force. But when you come to consider what was the adequate show of force which the Indian Government said would be required to back up these arrangements with the local chiefs, it became obvious that this policy could not be pur- 505 sued without the maintenance of a fortified road connecting Peshawar with Chitral. Let me point out to the House what was the nature of the force to be permanently left behind in these valleys. There were two forts to be constructed at Malakand and Chakdara; there were to be two cantonments of British troops within the Chitral Valley, and over these four positions they were to distribute five regiments, three batteries of cannon, and two companies of sappers. Well, Sir, the consent of the tribes, obtained under military pressure of this kind, was a somewhat hollow and unsatisfactory agreement. There could not be a poorer foundation of contract on which to base your policy. Why, Sir, a contract effected by military pressure of this nature would be voided by all courts of law in any civilised country in the world on the ground of duress, and it is difficult to see how in politics you can place greater reliance upon a contract obtained with people against whom you have brought all this military force as a foundation of the policy you pursue. Well, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman has taunted some speakers on this side with their views, founded on a comparison between the terms of the proclamation and the nature of the occupation of the road. The noble Lord called these critics platform moralists. I confess it would be most difficult to defend on any platform an alleged consistency between the terms of the proclamation announcing that there should be no permanent occupation of the country, and the provision for the erection of two forts and four cantonments for the quartering of five regiments of troops, and it would be most difficult for official moralists to defend the occupation on the ground that compliance with the proclamation had been exonerated by consent, when that consent had been obtained under military pressure of this kind, from people only partially represented by their rulers, under whose rule they were held by so loose a rein. This morning I read a letter in the Times newspaper, written by one of the strongest supporters of the present Government in regard to this very question. I refer to Sir Lepel Griffin. He says: These tribal rulers' assent are pro- 506 bably obtained by a political officer at the rate of a few thousand rupees a, head; and while I have no wish to press this portion of the argument on the consideration of the House, because the honour of this country is common to us both, and belongs to no Party, I do protest against the sneer conveyed in the expression "platform moralists," because we have pointed out that the nature of the occupation and the terms of the proclamation are irreconcilable. When, these arguments were submitted to the Liberal Government they came to the conclusion that the pacific maintenance of this road was an impossibility. At that date they had not been assisted by any speech from the right hon. Gentleman, the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. The brilliant epigram, "pacific control," had not then been coined. But, Sir, had they examined that epigram they must have discovered that it shared the fate of most epigrams, that it sacrificed truth to point; and that no control could be obtained which was pacific. If your object was peace, you must relinquish the attempt to effect control. With evidence of hostility so pronounced that it could only be overcome by the forces I have indicated, they came to the conclusion that it was their duty not to initiate a new policy, but to adhere to the policy which the English Government for some years had pronounced with regard to Chitral. That was that they should withdraw the British forces from the ground. There was disorder, and that disorder was connected with some dynastic disturbance. There had been a change of the rulership of the Chitral Valley, and like many of the changes of succession among these Oriental tribes, there had been an assassination of the existing Sovereign. That slight disorder could not be embarrassing to us and could not be the cause of so great a future perplexity as the permanent presence of British troops in this valley, which constituted an affront to the sense of independence among the people, and a pointed challenge for attack. Well, now, Sir, on that state of the case, the Liberal Government came to a conclusion which I submit was a wise and statesmanlike conclusion. This need is emphasised by the opinion of one of the most friendly critics of the Government. 507 In the letter I have referred to, Sir L. Griffin says—The Chitral post is useless—a post of observation which defends nothing and observes nothing, and the road through it is a road that leads to nowhere. The delimitation of the frontier between England and Russia has made aggression by the latter impossible at the cost of war.The same argument is best summed up by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, who indicates the strong body of military opinion by which he fortified his conclusions. He says—Lord Rosebery's Government felt it to be their duty to avail themselves of the best military service they could obtain. And I say now, as I have said in the House of Commons, that, so far as military preparations were concerned, our policy was settled upon the advice of some of the most eminent military authorities in the Empire. Their advice and its reasons could not be published, but I may state that the effect of their unanimous opinion was that the gigantic natural defences of the North-West Frontier would not be strengthened by the military occupation of Chitral, that it was not a place of importance, either as a base of military reserves, or military operations; and to lock up troops in Chitral, or in the Chitral Valley, would be a blunder, and that the construction of a military road from Peshawar to Chitral would be an advantage to an invading force and a disadvantage to a defending force. There were many other confidential considerations of a technical and detailed character, to which I cannot refer, but which strengthened the opinion of our military advisers.Mr. Speaker, as the Liberal Government have been challenged with regard to the body of military opinion which supported their action, I may, perhaps, remind the House that this opinion was shared by Sir Donald Stewart, Sir Neville Chamberlain, Sir John Adye, Sir Charles Gough, Lord Chelmsford, and certain other advisers in their country, whose names are not disclosed. I submit to the House that that is a strong case, that, upon those grounds, the Liberal Government, with the material before them, arrived at a wise conclusion. What was the action of their successors? In 1895, the present Government took office; and, somewhat under the influence of a triumphant election, they at once proceeded to reverse the policy of their predecessors in regard to this matter. The House will remember that 508 a breach in the continuity of the administration of a great State Department is of itself an act involving grave responsibility. I say it is an act involving great responsibility, only to be undertaken for the gravest reasons. What were those reasons? Was there any new fact in the situation? I have read the dispatch in which the noble Lord stated the case of the Government, and I fail to find a single argument which was not in existence at the time of the Liberal Cabinet, who had preceded the present Government in office. The only reason was that there had been a change in the personnel of the Cabinet. Other men, other Measures. Fourteen right hon. Gentlemen, who formed the present Administration, in the year 1881, had given in their adherence to the policy of a scientific frontier on the Northern portion of India. In the great Debate in this House in regard to the retirement from Kandahar the Conservative Party strongly opposed the step. Those right hon. Gentlemen remain Members of the school of the advanced Frontier policy, and are still uncompromising and emphatic opponents of the opinion expressed by the House on that memorable occasion. If hon. Members are curious, they will find in the dispatch of the noble Lord an effective summary of the arguments which led the Government to the conclusion at which they arrived. Every one of those arguments is at least, fifteen years old. Every one of those arguments was used in regard to the evacuation of Kandahar, and was answered by the most effective arguments and the most powerful rhetoric of a noble Duke, who was then one of the strongest supporters of the Party who sit on this side of the House, and who is now a Member of the Cabinet. These are old instruments of persuasion. They are out of date, they are out of pattern; but they are the only armoury available. What are they? The prestige of this country. The feet of the British soldier having trodden Chitral soil, Chitral must for ever belong to Britain. When that plea was urged in regard to Kandahar in 1881, the Marquis of Hartington said that British prestige would be far more likely to suffer by an apprehensive policy which lived in constant dread of Russia, 509 and which, instead of keeping within its own natural borders, constantly thrust out frontier posts into the territory adjoining. The noble Lord dwells upon the importance of maintaining the occupation of Chitral, in order that we may have a post from which we may watch the operations of Russia. What I say is that that apprehension is indicative of one of the reasons which influenced the Government in maintaining Chitral as an outpost upon the Northern Frontier. Recent history has made it clear that Russian designs need no longer trouble the peace of England, that Russia is seeking an outlet at a point still further East, and is neglecting the plains of India for the shores of the Pacific. Then the noble Lord pointed out that there would be some disorder still lingering in Chitral if we had left, and that there was an obligation on our part to remain there in order to keep the people in check. The answer, which was used in regard to Kandabar, is still more powerful in regard to Chitral. Nothing could create half as much, disturbance and be as great an embarrassment to ourselves as the presence in that valley of a British force. The decision of the present Government violates the essential principle of the policy of Lord Lawrence. I am quite aware that the policy of Lord Lawrence in its integrity has not been adopted with regard to the settlement of the Frontier question during the last few years. But I submit that the essential principles of that policy still remains, and must guide English statesmen in dealing with this matter. If I were asked what are the essential principles of Lord Lawrence's policy, I should reply the respect for and the maintenance of the independence of the Frontier tribes, because they are the natural garrison of the Indian Frontier. And it is all-important that those garrisons should be garrisons of volunteers. Their interest in their freedom identifies them with us in regard to our interests in our safety. In defending their freedom they are protecting the safety of our boundaries, and, therefore, unless under the pressure of inevitable necessity, it must be as true in the year of 1898 as it was in the rear of 1881, that all Indian policy should maintain and respect, as far as possible, the freedom of these tribes. So strongly was 510 this argument put forward by no less an authority than the present Duke of Devonshire—an authority whose influence in the Cabinet opposite it is difficult to exaggerate—that I may perhaps be permitted to read a few words. On the 25th March, 1881, in the Kandahar Debates, in referring to the argument of strengthening the Frontier by gaining strategic positions beyond it, the words made use of by him were—It is argued that you should strengthen the frontiers by gaining strategic positions beyond it. You may gain them. You may gain the strategic positions, but only by crushing rat the spirit of independence of the people, which, if properly used and turned to account, would be the best protection you could desire against the invasion of an enemy.And he said, with regard to the scientific frontier:We do not intend to trust to a scientific frontier, we do not intend to look only to mountain passes and strongholds. We think that some attention should be paid to the fact that these mountain passes and strongholds are held by men, and inhabited by men, of whom the strongest characteristic is their deep and strong attachment to their independence.We do not hear much about fanaticism there; the noble Lord called it "a strong attachment to their independence." He continues:We think that we will try and teach them once more that we ourselves respect that independence, and that in our own interest, and in the protection of our own frontier, we will assist them to maintain that independence against any coiner, from whatever source he may come.Now, that is a strong argument, and one wonders whether it was read by the noble Duke to the Cabinet which was summoned to discuss this matter. We wonder whether the noble Duke, and those who were then united with him in support of that policy, were convinced or outvoted on the occasion. If they were not in a Cabinet, which, like the prison house of the ghost in Hamlet might never yield up its secrets, the curiosity of the House might be satisfied with regard to this interesting matter. A new case has been made by the First Lord of the 511 Treasury in support of the Government. The first strong position he has taken up on the new policy is that there was a precedent for the occupation of Chitral, the action taken in the case of Waziristan, but that finds no place in the reasons assigned for the occupation of Chitral by the Government. There is no trace of it in the dispatches of the Secretary of State, on which he founds the action of his own Government with regard to the occupation of Chitral. That is borne out by the mass of Blue Books, which, at the last moment, has been launched suddenly upon the House. There is one matter which disposes of the precedent, and that is that the connection between the road to Tochi and the road to Chitral is so remote as to be nonexistent. While the Tochi road was being utilised, the Indian Government was proclaiming our intention of withdrawing from Chitral, and the inference is, if the case is examined, that the reasons in relation to the occupation of the two places fall into entirely different categories, and have to be dealt with by different arguments, and that while you decided to go to Tochi, you were coming away from Chitral. Then we are told there were some pledges of loyalty to certain tribes that had assisted us, that we should leave the British troops there. Strange as it is, if that actually had any place in the deliberations either of the Indian government or the British Government of 1895, there is no trace of it in the dispatches which passed between the two Governments. I quite acknowledge that some of the tribes had not been actually hostile, butt it would be a somewhat curious argument to say, that because some of the tribes had not been hostile, that we should occupy their territory to punish certain tribes who had. Now, there is a new argument which is credited to the Colonial Secretary that while the Liberal Government had some support, and some military opinion in their favour, yet a "vast majority" of military experts were in favour of the policy of the Conservative Government. Well, the right hon. Gentleman uses an expression which con- 512 jures up a whole cloud of military expert witnesses. Who are the component parts of that body to whom we are led to suppose the Government referred the question? Were they assembled in the United States Service Institute? One wonders whether the votes of this majority were weighed as well as counted. An hon. Gentleman says "Hear, hear!" Then, I say, it would be difficult to outweigh such a body of evidence as that adduced by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton. Now, the policy of reversal having been decided on, the Government had considerable difficulty in effecting it. It was, in the first place, discovered that the character of the Native rulers with whom the Government had to deal was extremely unreliable. The noble Lord, speaking at Acton, said—In this district the tribes are stronger, more warlike and more fanatical; their country is wilder, and the democratic nature of their tribal institutions renders the maintenance of Agreements difficult, as the leaders of opposition in those parts are apt to break arrangements if, by so doing, they can bring discredit on those who make them—a performance not wholly unknown in more civilised regions.Then there was a more formidable difficulty which did not arise from the action of the chiefs. There was a widespread dread of annexation on the part of the tribes. The military officers gave written assurances to the tribes themselves that the British did not intend to annex the country, and the only inferences to be drawn by those who received those written assurances were that they were worth little more than the paper they were written upon. Because the people saw the walls of the forts growing up, which were to hold British cannon, and the cantonements being erected which were to contain British troops. But there is still stronger evidence of the deep-seated and widespread apprehension which prevailed throughout the valleys, arising from the fact, which, curiously enough, was relied on by the Indian Government to show their policy had been favourably received, whereas it clearly establishes that it had been received 513 with hostility. Requests were made to the British Government to leave the British troops behind for an indefinite period. Why? Why, because the rulers, although they were equipping levies by means of subsidies from the Indian Government, felt that those levies were not sufficient to quell the opposition on the part of their own people and neighbours. That a British force, provided by British money, but of native origin, was not sufficient unless backed by the actual presence of British troops. Stronger evidences of the widespread hostility on the part of these people could scarcely be produced. What was the result? What result would you expect, having regard to the character of these tribes and the indication of their deep-seated aversion to the presence of British troops, however limited in time and restricted in scope? What result could there have been? As the memory of our military exploits faded, so the opposition began to gather force, and on the 28th of July, 1897, the storm broke. One thousand men fell on the Fort Malakand, and a few days afterwards 6,000 attacked the Fort Chakdara, and the very levies you had subsidised either joined the forces of your assailants or else took to flight, and, as the Times correspondent from Simla informed us in August, 1897, the bodies attacking these forts were led by the very same religious leader of the people who had sought to resist the original expedition of the British Government some two years before. Now, in that, I submit, you have cause and effect. In the policy of provocation you have the cause, and you have the effect in the outbreak in the Valley of Swat. The noble Lord has said that there had been a previous outbreak in the Tochi Valley, but it is obvious that if anybody could trace the matter, the attack in the Tochi Valley had no connection with the tribal rising that followed. In that case a force was sent out to levy a fine of 1,200 rupees, and the tribes did a thing which is often done in more civilised countries, when a bailiff is sent to levy a distress or a Sheriff to serve process. They resisted payment, and attacked Mr. Gee's escort. When the punitive 514 expedition went into the Tochi Valley the tribesmen made no resistance, and at once made submission. Now, can it be doubted that the outbreak in the Chitral Valley communicated itself to other portions of the Indian Frontier? The intercommunication of these various tribes is amply admitted in the correspondence before the House. It had been conceded by the noble Lord in one of his most powerful arguments. He has complained of British prestige suffering, not only in Chitral itself, but down the whole length of the British Frontier, through our withdrawal from Chitral. But, if that is so, must it not be said on the other hand with great truth that the apprehension due to our remaining in the Valley would communicate itself over the same region? The history of these engagements will entirely satisfy the House of the truth of the proposition that the war spirit came south from Chitral, being communicated from people to people, and then spread in the direction of the other tribes, who, one by one, took up arms, I submit to the House that there is an intelligible cause for the first outbreak—I do not say the only cause—but a proximate and immediate cause which spread throughout these tribes—because the spirit of apprehension of the people of Chitral was soon communicated to the tribes who had been subjected to a similar unfortunate policy of provocation which they regarded as having the same disastrous consequences to themselves. With the view of testing the truth of the proposition I have put forward as to the cause of the outbreak, I pass to the examination of the other suggested causes. The first of these is fanaticism. Supposing it to be fanaticism, it is certainly patriotism as well. It was patriotism inflamed by fanaticism, and was a very much more formidable force than patriotism independent of fanaticism. Then we have it, on Ministerial authority, that these outbreaks were caused by "the mad fakir" who has been mainly responsible for them. But there is a method in his madness, because the text of his sermon was that in 12 days the British should be expelled from the country; therefore, you have religious fanaticism as well as patriotism, and when the two 515 are in combination you ought to be extremely careful before you provoked such a formidable and explosive force. Then we are told that it is the reflection of the victories of the Moslem troops in Europe, but the forces which brought on this outbreak were present long before the banner of the Crescent was carried into the plains of Thessaly, and I will ask the House is it credible that the only spot in the whole Mahomedan world where there should be a reflection of the Moslem triumphs in Europe should be these remote and almost inaccessible valleys of the Himalayas, whilst amongst the millions of Mahomedan subjects of the Czar in Asia, and of the Queen in the northern provinces and tributary States of India, there is no responsive gleam. Then if fanaticism and Mahomedanism are identified, how do we explain the fact that we have been fighting Mahomedans with Mahomedans, and if it was by fanaticism that this war was caused—it is important in following this out—the same cause and the same feelings shared by some of your soldiers would have provoked them to have thrown down their arms and to have refused to make war upon their co-religionists. The true solution of this question was given by an eminent Indian soldier, in an effective letter before the question became involved in the heat of Party conflict. Sir John Adye, writing to the Times in 1887, in regard to this matter, uses this admirable language. He says, as to the cause of the outbreak in the Swat Valley, leading to the attack on the Malakand and 6,000 men on the Chakdara Forts, and dealing with the Chitral road and its forts—It is said we have improved the condition of the inhabitants, have prevented feudatory measures, and that we may expect them gradually to become friendly neighbours. I cannot myself see that we have a right to expect such a result on what has been on our part practically a breach of faith, and on the assumption of authority in a country that did not belong to us, and now, suddenly, when little more than two years have elapsed since we first entered the country, we find the Swat tribes have broken out into insurrection. It is idle and foolish to represent it as a mere fanatical out break, when it is evidently the outcome, the natural outcome, of what we on our part called a 'Forward' policy, and which, if it is per- 516 sisted in, will lead us into an indefinite number of expeditions, very costly in themselves, and very unjust to the tribes concerned.I should like to ask the House who is responsible for the "Forward" policy? I ask that question because two propositions have been submitted during the Recess, which involved questions of Constitutional importance. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury stated that Lord Salisbury was not principally or primarily responsible, and the same idea was expressed elsewhere by one speaker, who said that the act of the British Cabinet, in reviewing the action of the Viceroy and Council of India was a reversal of their proceedings. Sir, there is no foundation in the theory of the Constitution for any such proposition. India is governed by the Queen through the Secretary of State, and the Viceroy and his Council are a mere advisory body that can take no collective action. The importance of this question is shown by the argument used by the Colonial Secretary at Liverpool, who said that in these delicate and difficult matters we should leave the Indian Government a free hand, and that if we interfered we might lay ourselves open to the taunt of assumed infallibility. But I say that these are certainly not the views and principles of the present Prime Minister. He insisted, notwithstanding the unanimous opposition of the Indian Government, in despatching the ill-fated mission to Kabul. In the Kandahar Debates in 1881 he insisted on the individual opinions of the various Members of the Council being discussed on the very ground that Parliament was not to have its opinion affected by a majority on the part of the Council of the Indian Government; that each Member of the Council was entitled, having regard to his official position, to give advice to the Secretary of State in this country, who alone could advise Her Majesty's Ministers. It is important, in the interests of the people of India, that the responsibility for acts of Indian Administration should attach solely to the Minister of State responsible to Parliament, and that he should not protect himself, or seek to protect himself, or seek to share responsibility, with either the Viceroy of India or any other body, or with British officials who 517 are not directly and immediately responsible to the opinion and censure of Parliament. I am obliged to the House for having heard me with such patience. I have sought to pursue, as best I could, a narrow line of argument clearly within the limits of the proposition I ask the House to adopt. To summarise what I have said, in the first place I ask the House to say that this act of Administration is to be disapproved because it is a revival of the principles of the policy of a scientific Frontier in their worst application. I ask the House to disapprove of it because it is a reversal by the present Government, without adequate justification, of the Administrative action of their predecessors. Mr. Speaker, Sir, this policy, it is argued, has been undertaken in the interests of Indian defence. I submit that it weakens the defences of India by converting the tribes who are the only garrison of our Frontier into hostile and resentful foes, who will open the gates of Hindustan to the first invader who attacks them. This policy has been the main cause of the deplorable war which, unfortunately, has not yet concluded. It is a war which establishes no right, which defends no interest, which averts no danger, and which has been attended by an unfortunate loss of life. Some of our finest troops and some of our bravest officers have laid down their lives in this campaign. I feel that in asking the House to adopt the first part of this Motion. I shall be met by the whole force of Party allegiance on the opposite side; but, in approaching the second portion of my Amendment, I enter upon a freer field, and with regard to the future I rely with confidence upon the support of Members of all sections. If I have not their votes I shall have their sympathy and approval, and I trust the result of the Debate will be that it will be made clear that, in the future policy of this country with regard to the Northern Frontier of India, we shall be guided by the same respect for the independence of our neighbours as we entertain for our own, and that any departure from this wise and magnanimous rule will be received with the emphatic condemnation of Parliament. I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA
Mr. Speaker, Sir, the House has listened with interest to an ingenious speech from the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, and, whilst I congratulate him on the excellence of his speech, he will allow me without offence to condole with him on the badness of his brief. So soon as the Frontier troubles in India assumed a serious aspect, the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite went from platform to platform denouncing the "Forward" Frontier policy, distorting, exaggerating, and misstating the differences between them and us as regards the solution of the Chitral difficulty, and hon. Gentlemen sitting behind them naturally believed that when their Leaders, time after time, went to public meetings and specially selected the Indian Frontier question as the one upon which to speak, they knew something about the matter on which they descanted. They accepted that view; they have spent the autumn in denouncing the "Forward" policy on the Frontier, and when the House met expectation was so excited that it became necessary to move a formal Vote of Censure. Sir, I published two Blue Books on the day upon which Parliament met. They contained authentic facts concerning only a small portion of our past Frontier policy, but they were quite sufficient to blow to pieces the romance of the Recess. The hon. and learned Gentleman has quoted many authorities, letters from the Times, speeches twenty years old, and he alluded to Lord Lawrence, but the one set of documents at which he shies are the Blue Books giving an authentic record of what occurred. He even found fault that I had laid Blue Books on the table of the House. Of course, the hon. and learned Member, and those for whom he speaks, object to the publication of these Blue Books.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA
I published them as soon as I could, but still there has been more than a week in which the hon. and learned Gentleman 519 could make himself acquainted with their contents. The hon. and learned Gentleman has failed to establish the proposition upon which the Opposition relies, because it is beyond the wit of man to maintain the theories they put forward. It is true there was a difference between us and the Front Bench opposite as to how best to settle the difficulties connected with Chitral. The difficulties have been enormously exaggerated. This particular incident has been detached from all other Frontier questions, and upon this slender difference of opinion hon. Gentlemen opposite have tried to build up a gigantic superstructure of insinuation and innuendo, that it is this difference—and this difference alone—which has led to the Frontier troubles. I will dispose of this Chitral business in a few minutes. It has been argued very often, papers have been laid on the table of the House, and the hon. and learned Gentleman will not think me rude if I suggest that he certainly said nothing in addition to what was said by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton two years ago. These are the facts with which we had to deal. The late Government went to Chitral, and, in consequence of going there, their agent and his escort got entangled, and an expedition had to be sent. Her Majesty's late advisers then vetoed the only workable and creditable proposal that was made to them for the purpose of putting our relations with Chitral in a proper position for the future, and, having vetoed the proposition, they left office and substituted no other plan. It is idle to pretend that the plan we adopted was wrong because it was associated with risk. Our Empire in India is founded on risk, and if you get into trouble it is impossible to suggest any course which is not attended by risk. What you have to consider is the course attended by the least risk which is likely to give the best results. I admit at once that it is undesirable to lock troops up in narrow valleys or detached cantonments. I said so when I gave sanction to the proposals of the Indian Government in 1895. I admit there are also risks connected with the long road which runs through to Chitral; but there was another risk, and that is not a risk which 520 I was prepared, or Her Majesty's Government were prepared, to face, and it is a risk to which Her Majesty's late advisers, so far as I know, never gave any attention. I can only judge of the amount of attention and investigation which they gave to it by the papers they left behind them. The Indian Government pointed it out in a dispatch which they wrote on May 8th. They said—We urge that if, after the occurrences of the last two months, we hand over Chitral to a foreigner, or fail adequately to provide for the interests of those who in this emergency have declared themselves on our side we shall be looked upon by the Chitralis and Kashmiris alike as unfaithful friends. The value of our support now and hereafter will be appreciated, and those who at any future time might feel disposed to assist us will be deterred by the consideration that they will have nothing to gain by taking our side.Our Indian Empire has many remarkable characteristics, but its most peculiar feature is the limited number of people who, from these islands, have built up that Empire, and they have done so because in every emergency they have been able to rely on the co-operation of different sections of the native community, and upon different races, because those who helped us in our time of trouble knew well that we would stand by them and protect them from vengeance afterwards. There may be a certain risk in an unprotected road through a district inhabited by savage tribes, but that risk is infinitesimal compared with the risk of deserting your friends, for once admit that policy in India, and you strike at the very roots of our Indian Empire. The hon. Gentleman has informed us that this outbreak was entirely due to the annoyance of the tribes, and their resentment of an infringement upon their independence. The hon. Gentleman has not been able to quote one single line from the Blue Books in support of his statement. Throughout 1895, 1896, and during the last Recess, hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have been most ingenious in putting all sorts of words into the mouths of the tribesmen. But the tribesmen are the last people who will think or say what hon. Gentlemen are good enough to put into their mouths on platforms. The party opposite have accused us of a gross breach of faith. No tribesmen have ever given expression to that charge. They have said that this out- 521 break in the Malakand was in consequence of attacks on the independence of the tribes. The whole of the evidence in these Blue Books points to exactly the contrary conclusion. Why, Sir, the tribes have authorised means of conveying their views to the political officers—there are institutions, known as Jirgas, and any tribe or body of tribesmen can state their grievances through them, and if they do not receive any remedy they can intimate that they may embark on disturbances, or have recourse to the sword. But throughout these Blue Books it is reported again and again that the tribesmen in this particular valley, in the neighbourhood of Malakand, where the fighting took place, bitterly regret that they were carried away on the impulse of the moment. They all maintain that they have no complaint to make against the Indian Government. If these forts on the road were the primary cause of the outbreak it would be supposed that the nearer the tribes were to the road the more fiercely they would have fought. But, as a matter of fact, the more remote they were the more violent was the fighting. And this disturbance did not commence in the Malakand, but in the Waziristan. Now, Sir, even with the fanaticism of the neighbouring tribes, the result of our having stood by the tribes who helped us in the expedition to Chitral has been satisfactory. This road runs for 180 miles, and there was fighting only on ten miles of it, and the population along the other 170 miles remained loyal. Those who did not take part in the disturbances were those who were connected with the road, but were a long way from it. Now, Sir, supposing we had adopted the policy which right hon. Gentlemen opposite advocate—the precipitate abandonment of Chitral—what would have been our certain position when this outbreak occurred? It was admitted by everybody, whether they were in favour of remaining in Chitral or evacuating it, that the State of Chitral could not stand alone. And it was matter of absolute certainty that if we retired anarchy and disorder would spread throughout the State. It was a matter of equal certainty that in any disorder our friends would be the first to suffer from it. The late Government vetoed the propositions of the Indian Government. They left office before they had con- 522 sidered the alternative scheme which the Indian Government sent home. I have such a belief in the sense of responsibility of public men that I am sure if the late Government had continued in office, and had had to consider in detail the possible consequences resulting from the evacuation of Chitral, they would have largely modified their views. We might, in retiring, have brought away the leaders of the English party in Chitral, but we should have had to leave the rank and file behind; and what would have happened? The tribes who had helped us in the strongest way pressed us to remain, because they knew that if we retired permanently there would have been a combination against them which would have seriously damaged them. There fore, Sir, if we had retired, it is not a matter of doubt, but of certainty, that the whole of that country between our Frontier and Chitral would have been one seething mass of animosity against us. And I say that if an outbreak such as occurred in the autumn had taken place, our position on the Frontier would have been immeasurably more dangerous than it was in consequence of our action in supporting the tribes who stood by us. The consequence of standing by our friends was that when there was frenzy in India and fanaticism was running like wildfire all over the mountains a certain portion of the tribesmen who had made engagements with us stood by us, because they knew we would stand by them. But that is not the only question. For 17 years Chitral has been under the suzerainty of the Indian Government. The Indian Government stated that they could not abandon that suzerainty, because, if they did, in all probability the country would have been annexed by Afghanistan. But if they had retired, as suggested by the Home Government, they would still have been saddled with the responsibility without having any means to enforce respect. The result would be that in the course of time the state of things would have been so intolerable that the Indian Government would have been obliged to send another expedition. That was the reason why Sir James Westland, the Finance Minister, one of the ablest men who ever held that office, supported, from a financial point of view, the proposal of the Indian Government 523 to make this road. He thought that if the policy of evacuation prevailed the Indian Government would have to send a fresh expedition at enormous expense. The other day the Leader of the Opposition called attention to the fact that there was a discrepancy between two statements that I had made. That in the earlier speeches I took the responsibility of saying that the road to Chitral was made by us; while in later speeches I said that the road was made under right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The latter statement is correct. I am sorry that I fell into error; but right hon. Gentlemen opposite will excuse the fault, seeing that the mistake was entirely the result of placing some reliance on a telegram they sent. The telegram was to the following effect—We have decided that no military force or European agent shall be retained in Chitral, that Chitral shall be fortified, and that no road shall be made between Peshawar and Chitral.I naturally assumed that as the Cabinet had been investigating the subject for two months, when they said no road was to be made, they had satisfied themselves that the means of communication were sufficient for the purposes of the Indian Government. Therefore it occurred to me that there could not be two roads; and I made inquiries as to whether the road actually in existence was not made for military purposes when the expedition was sent out. I found that that was the case, and that right hon. Gentlemen opposite were responsible for the construction of this road.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA
Yes; but I assumed that when the late Government sent orders that no road should be made that the road was not made. The right hon. Member for East Fife elicited this declaration from me because he has denounced "the aggressive 'Forward' policy" in his best platform manner, saying that it had culminated in the blunder of constructing the road in defiance of proclamation, and through a country to which we had no more right than to the Republic of France. It is curious, because when the right hon. Member was in office he made two international Agreements, one with the 524 Ameer of Afghanistan, and the other with the Tsar, by which our exclusive political influence was acknowledged by both over this particular district. There is also an Act of Parliament regulating the position and relations of the House to the Indian Government; and that Act indicates that when any expedition is sent beyond the external frontiers of India an intimation is to be made to the House of Commons. No intimation was made to the House of Commons of the dispatch of the expedition to Chitral. When questions were put to the late Government on the subject, they replied that they did not consider it necessary to make such a declaration. That was equivalent to saying that in their judgment all this territory was within the Frontier of India. I think we have a right to complain of misrepresentation by Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite as regards our action in Chitral. It is not only the right hon. Member for East Fife who has indulged in this misrepresentation. The late Attorney General, who is a sober, level-headed Scotchman, not given to romancing, went one better than the late Home Secretary. He said, "You have no more right to be in Chitral than you have to be in Timbuctoo." That would have been a startling statement from anyone; but coming from the senior law officer of the late Government it is a monstrous and outrageous misstatement, because the right hon. Gentleman was the senior legal adviser to the Government when they sent an agent with an armed force to Chitral. If we have no more right in Chitral than we should have in France, or in Timbuctoo, the dispatch of the expedition was a gross violation of the comity of nations. The object, apparently, of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, after the disturbances had broken out on the North-West Frontier, was not to help the Government, but to do everything they could to embarrass them by gross misstatements of this kind. Sir, before I give my reasons for remaining in Chitral, I may explain that I do not say that if I had a free hand I would have gone to Chitral. But you went to Chitral. Nothing is easier than to sanction an advance on the Frontier, nothing is easier than to contend that that advance is a provisional or merely temporary arrangement. But the moment your agent goes to a place your 525 position in regard to that place undergoes an entirely different change; even if the political and military consideration which induced you to go there may become less, you cannot return without violating certain ties of honour. Now, Sir, I will allude for one moment to what I think was the most discreditable part of the performance of the Front Opposition Bench during the recess. I mean to use plain English. These were the allegations of breach of faith brought against Lord Elgin. The proclamation to the tribes was in their hands for weeks and months. They knew its contents. And yet they allowed Lord Elgin, as is shown over and over again, by telegrams in the Blue Book, to enter into negotiations with the tribes for the purposes of the construction and maintenance of this road, and yet, when we came into office, simply because we consummated these negotiations which, with their authority, Lord Elgin initiated, they accused him of a flagrant and deliberate violation of a solemn undertaking. And, Sir, when we asked them why they did not express an opinion on the subject during the months they were in office, and after careful investigation finding they had no communication on the subject, they were obliged to fall back upon private telegrams. I desire to use plain language about the conduct of the Front Bench opposite, but I wish to except from it the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, who has always behaved frankly and fairly to me, and has always looked on these questions mainly from an Indian standpoint. If the right hon. Gentleman had been allowed to manage this affair on the platform, right hon. Gentlemen opposite would not be in the difficulty in which they will find themselves before this Debate is over. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton as soon as found that Lord Elgin wished for the publication of the private telegrams, made them public, and those telegrams smashed to atoms the allegations of the Front Opposition Bench. The practice of the India Office in regard to telegrams and communications is well known to everybody who has filled the position of Secretary of State. All official communications, telegraphed or otherwise, have to pass through the Indian Council, or the Secret Committee. They are official documents, although 526 some may be secret. All private telegrams between the Viceroy and the Secretary of State are not public documents, and the Secretary of State takes them away with him on quitting office; but no private telegram can supersede a public telegram. Private telegrams are used for certain purposes, such as to prepare the Viceroy for certain official communications about to be sent to him, and sometimes to elicit his opinion upon a point which, although it is connected with something under official discussion, may not be considered necessary for a special reference. But if the Secretary of State telegraphs in any shape or sense his own wishes or views, or the views of the Government, the phraseology he invariably uses is "I" or "The Cabinet." Such being the case, look at this telegram from the Secretary of State—Private.—No doubt you have considered the probable charge of inconsistency between the terms of your proclamation to the tribes and policy described in your despatch on May 8th. As strong feeling on this subject exists here, I should be glad if you telegraph privately any observations or explanations that occur to you.No human being in his senses could believe that that was an expression of the opinion of her Majesty's Government. An answer came back from Lord Elgin, and he never heard another word on the subject. I do not wish to bring Lord Elgin's name unduly into this discussion. Do hon. Gentlemen who interrupt me think that the Viceroy is to be branded all over the world—as he has been—as a man who has deliberately and flagrantly broken his solemn undertaking, and that I, as Secretary of State, am not to defend him in the House of Commons? I say I do not wish to introduce Lord Elgin's name unduly into this Debate, but I think it only fair to say that, although the Viceroy and the Secretary of State weekly communicate at great length, with the single exception of that one solitary telegram he never had one word, private or public, in connection with the proclamation about Chitral. I do say, Sir, it is a monstrous abuse of platform licence to have attacked Lord Elgin as he has been attacked by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. India has passed through, in the last year, a much graver crisis than the majority of hon. Members are aware of. We have not had such troublous times 527 in India since the Mutiny. We have got safely over most of those difficulties, mainly through the courage and resolution, and level-headedness of Lord Elgin. I am glad to hear those sympathetic cheers, for I am sure the House will understand how cut to the quick any man of Lord Elgin's position and temperament must be when he took up, day after day, the reports of the news agencies, and found himself labelled all over the world as a man——
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA
I have not the words here, but they were, "deliberately and flagrantly violated a solemn undertaking." "Deliberately and flagrantly were the words.
§ *MR. ASQUITH
No, Sir, I did not use those words. They have been imputed to me more than once. I will tell the House exactly what I did say. I said that, in the opinion of the tribes—which I myself shared—the Government had, in this matter, been guilty of a breach of faith—I believe I said, "gross breach of faith." But I have explained this matter before, so that the noble Lord has no excuse whatever. My attention being called to those words within three days—certainly within a week of the time I used them—I took public opportunity of saying that I made no imputation whatever against the personal honour of Lord Elgin or his colleagues, and that statement I have repeated over and over again.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA
If you accuse a man of a gross breach of faith it is a personal charge against him. At any rate, I do not want to pursue this controversy. No, for the evil has been done, the harm has been done; but I have got the words now, and they were, "gross breach of faith on the part of the Indian Government." The right hon. Gentleman used those words. Then 528 mark, the right hon. Gentleman repeats in his explanation what I call one of those monstrous mis-statements—it is a monstrous mis-statement. He says—the words slipped out of him—"in the opinion of the tribes." That is absolutely untrue. No tribe whatever has imputed bad faith to the Viceroy. It was the right hon. Gentleman's own colleagues who have done it. But I will close what I think is a very unhappy incident in this controversy. I am bound to say that I do not think those observations would have been made had it not been thought that political capital would have been derived from them. Sir, I will now deal with the other part of the hon. Gentleman's Resolution. I don't think the right hon. Gentleman has been very fortunate in the wording of this Resolution. The House will recollect that on Friday last we had an animated Debate, a good deal of which turned on the meaning of the word "independent." If the House will look at this Resolution they will see it has a similarity to the Resolution which was discussed on Friday last, inasmuch as the dominant word is "independent." On Friday last, when the Leader of the Opposition and the Front Opposition Bench were asked to define the meaning of the word "independent" in regard to Ireland, they admitted that it was altogether beyond them, and the Irishmen, who wished to obtain some explanation, were sent empty away. To-day, however, the Resolution coming from the Front Bench not only introduced the word "independent," but the definition of the word is so exact that that word hereafter will govern—is to govern—the whole of our Frontier regulations. If on Friday last the whole of the Liberal Party refused to support their Leader, because they could not give a definition of the word "independence," and could not explain the relations between a paramount Power and a subordinate community, it is a little too much to ask them to vote for this Motion, when the governing idea is that the independence can be so clearly defined that it is the one factor which regulates our position with the Frontier tribes. A sharper curve of Parliamentary strategy I cannot recall.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA
Yes, I deny independence. I deny it because it is capable of indefinite explanation. I would remind the House of our solemn obligations in Afghanistan. Those obligations I assume, in certain eventualities, will have to be performed. If you recognise the independence of the tribes, you associate with it certain rights of sovereignty which are always associated with an independent community, and if those rights were pushed they would clearly debar us from having access by the only road by which we could go to perform our obligations to the Ameer; and, therefore, I object to the word "independence" used in that sense. It is perfectly true that the word "independence" occurs in my dispatches more than once, but it is always explained by the words with which it is associated. I go far beyond the hon. and learned Gentleman in wishing to respect the tribal system of government and our tribal institutions, and in a dispatch sent to the Indian Government I have gone further in that direction, I think, than any Secretary of State before me. I have, in the clearest and most unmistakable manner, said there is to be no interference with the system of tribal government, or with their institutions, except for some cause which is essential to fulfil our obligations.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA
No; it is the 28th of January last. These tribes have many very fine qualities, but we must not magnify those qualities too much or dissociate from them their old evil habits, which are hereditary. These tribes along our Frontier are hereditary robbers, and they associate with their avocations occasional murder and outrage. Hon. Gentlemen opposite laugh at that statement. Now, I happen to have here a report signed by three men, probably as of 530 great experience on the Frontier question as ever attached their names to any report. They are Sir Henry Lawrence, Lord Lawrence, and Sir Robert Montgomery. This is the statement they make—From their past history omens may be gathered for the future. It has been shown that they have at various times stopped trade, paralyzed agriculture, murdered governors, sacked towns, and, having wrought these deeds, have enjoyed impunity in their fastnesses. Some have even fought pitched battles, and several have ventured to attack British outposts. The sense which our predecessors entertained of their prowess is attested by the forts now standing, and by the tumuli, at short intervals, all down the Derajat on which military posts were probably placed 1,500 years ago to oppose them.and they then go on to describe the methods which were then initiated in the Punjaub, and which have ever been associated with what is known as the "aloof" system of Frontier Policy. Then there are the views of Sir Henry Lawrence and Lord Lawrence, who say that they are persuaded that a defensive attitude alone would not secure peace on our borders; that, when the hill tribes commit aggressions, they must be punished in their own homes; that those who have villages must lose them; that those who had not villages yet had herds which might be confiscated; and that they must be made to feel that nothing could protect them from the skill and courage of our troops. Now, Sir, these tribes commit outrages because they trust to the impenetrability of their fastnesses. There are only two possible methods by which these tribes can be prevented from committing outrages. One is the Sind system, by which the Frontier officers obtain control over the tribes without interfering with their independence, and stop crime. The other is the punitive system, which exists in the Punjaub, under which outrages are committed by individual members of a tribe. An expedition is sent, which makes the collective members of the tribe responsible for the evil deeds of the individual. Now, Sir, these punitive expeditions are unquestionably an interference with the independence of the tribes. The other system, also is an interference with the independence of the tribes, and you are asked to agree to a proposition of this kind, which would prevent the only two known methods of stopping outrage and securing 531 peace for our country. Well, now, a good deal has been said about the Frontier Forward policy, and I want rather to call attention to this, in a short retrospect of what our Frontier policy has been. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite judiciously skipped 16 years. It was just the kind of agile effort which an acute counsel would make. It is just, and it is perfectly right, because, if he had alluded to them, he would have given away his case, as I shall be able to show. Sir, in the 15 years which have elapsed since the evacuation of Kandahar, a great deal has taken place, and we have embarked on a Forward policy. We have entered into engagements with the Ameer. We have done so in no spirit of aggression, but in self-defence. This arrangement became necessary as Russia advanced in Central Asia. I have never held advanced views concerning this, but the mere fact of a great military Power advancing causes disturbing effects far beyond the area of its operation; therefore it became necessary for us to take care that that particular part of Afghanistan which dominates the passages leading into India, and to see that they did not fall into the hands of any Power save our own. The Forward policy in this country rests on four international or quasi-international documents or arrangements. One is the delimitation treaty made with Russia, by which the North of Afghanistan is delimitated. The next is the guarantee given to the Ameer by which we obtain security against external aggressions; the next is the Durand Agreement—a most important development of our political responsibilities by which not only was the whole arrangement with the Ameer confirmed, but in addition the line is drawn through the debatable land between our territory and his, and all the tribes on one side are under his exclusive political influence, and all the tribes on the other are under our exclusive political influence. And, lastly, comes another arrangement with Russia, by which a Frontier on the North of India has been demarcated between us. These four engagements are the Alpha and the Omega of our present Forward policy, and every single, solitary, one of those engagements was entered into by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Lord Kimberley, who speaks with 532 absolute authority upon this point, for he was Ambassador at St. Petersburg, gave a warning note to his colleagues to this effect, that the Frontier policy of India was not a question of what you like, or what you don't like; it was not a question of a forward or a backward policy. A forward policy had recently been adopted, and the Liberal Government were responsible for that Forward policy. I ask, is it right for the leaders on the Opposition Benches to denounce that development for which they are exclusively responsible? We have given effect when we were in office, before and now, to that policy, and if we had been in office we should have done exactly as they have done. But if we had been in Opposition I don't think we should have denounced the policy and principles to which, as Ministers of the Crown, we had attached our signatures. I see the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen in his place, and I take his speech as another illustration of the class of Recess rhetoric to which we have been treated. He went down to Manchester and arrived there in great glee. There he informed his audience that he had spent a happy autumn in demolishing an empty superstition, a Forward Frontier policy for which he and his Government were exclusively responsible. Therefore, so far as the principle of the policy is concerned, there is no doubt that every single arrangement was initiated by the right hon. Gentleman. It may very fairly be said that after all it is not the policy which we object to, but the methods by which that policy has been prosecuted, and that is our objection to what is now going on in India. Unfortunately, at no time was the former method of pushing a Forward policy more favourable than when the right hon. Gentlemen opposite were last in office. They made the Durand Agreement a most important addition to our responsibilities, one that was attended with a certain amount of risk; one which was, in my judgment, absolutely necessary, and which, if we had been in office, we should most certainly have negotiated. They then proceeded to interpret the Agreement, and the interpretation which they put upon it is wholly 533 inconsistent with the Resolution which is now before the House. We are now told by the Leader of the Opposition that the one object which we should keep in mind is to respect the independence of the tribes, but when they were in office they held somewhat different language. This is the interpretation—and this is most important—which the late Government put upon the Durand Agreement, and it drew forth a remarkable letter from the Indian Government, in which they state—We conceive that, by reason of the Agreement made in November, 1893, between the Ameer of Kabul and Sir Mortimer Durand, by which Agreement his Highness has undertaken at no time to exercise interference in the territories lying beyond the boundary line on the side of India, we have assumed a measure of responsibility for the peace of the Afghan border which has not hitherto been ours, and which, under present arrangements, we have no adequate means of discharging. We understand that Her Majesty's Government concur in this view. Lord Kimberley, writing on this subject, approved of our statement of policy to the effect that, while we emphatically repudiated all intention of annexing tribal territory, we desired to bring the tribes whom this settlement concerns further within our influence.Now, Sir, we go on to a very interesting phase of the Frontier policy of India. The Indian Government had next to consider how they could give effect to it. Now, there are two methods by which they could give effect to it. The one is the Punjaub system, which is the policy of Lord Lawrence, which all right hon. Gentlemen opposite usually eulogise. The other is the policy of Sind, which is the policy of interference in the internal affairs of the tribes by the responsible political officers, with a certain force behind them. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite have denounced the military men for their aggressive tendencies, but they had opportunities of showing how far their utterances on the platform conform to their responsible actions when in office. They had to decide what policy should be applied, and they had an absolutely free hand. The whole of the civilian members of the Viceroy's Council objected strongly to the adoption of the Forward method. The protest of the civilian members is the best embodiment of the case in objection to the Forward policy it is possible to make, and the 534 case is infinitely better put than it has been by any Member of the Opposition. The civilian members said—We have arrived, therefore, at the parting of the ways as regards our policy in Waziristan; the real issue involved in the present discussion is one of great importance. The decision arrived at in this matter must reach further than Waziristan, and must materially affect the rest of the independent tribal countries on the Afghan border and our treatment of them.All this, Sir, is important, because we must recollect that the doctrine has been laid down that we are responsible for this policy. They embark upon this Forward policy, and it is in pursuance of their policy that this outbreak occurred. It is opposed by history, geography, and by facts, and it has not one single particle of evidence in its favour. But that is not all. During that same period Her Majesty's late advisers went to Chitral. I do not blame them. They may have had very good reasons for going. But when the Member for East Fife says, "Your policy on the North-West Frontier is a policy of provocation," I say that that was the policy which he and his colleagues approved from time to time. What I do protest against is that any body of men who, during their tenure of office, were entirely responsible for the development and extension of the Forward policy in India should repudiate and denounce that policy when in Opposition. I believe in the system of Party Government, because I believe it is the best means of giving expression to the views of the majority for the time, and at the same time continuing a strong and consistent policy abroad. But it is only possible where men accept and do not deny their responsibilities for their acts while in office, and nowhere is it more necessary for hon. Gentlemen to observe this doctrine than in connection with India.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA
I am very glad indeed to hear that, and if the right hon. Gentleman accepts all I say on this point, then it is perfectly clear that if he votes for this Motion, and if he again addresses the House, he should do so in sackcloth, and ashes, and upon a stool of repentance. Now, I think I have done with 535 past polemics. I think I have clearly shown that whether our Forward policy be right or wrong, right hon. Gentlemen opposite have participated in it, and are as much responsible for the policy adopted as we are. Now, Sir, I turn to what is very much more important, that is the policy of the future. This is the first opportunity I have had of answering the attacks of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen made during the Recess. Hon. Members and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have scarcely realised the pain and annoyance that their observations have caused to Indian officials. Recollect what position the men you have attacked are in. They are in most trying circumstances, surrounded by most depressing conditions, carrying out a policy approved at headquarters, and it certainly enormously adds to their anxiety to find that the policy which they believe has been approved of by their responsible chiefs when in office is now denounced and attacked on public platforms. Well, now, there was an observation which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition which I cordially reciprocate. He said—Will it not be possible for us in some way or other to agree upon some doctrines which shall regulate our policy in future?Well, I wrote that despatch in the hope that we might be able to come to some kind of general understanding as regards the future policy. I have endeavoured in that dispatch to trace, in the shortest and simplest manner, the nature of our obligations. I classify them under three heads, and in a manner which, I think, will find general acceptance. We have, in the first place, to perform police and administrative protection to be given to British districts in the immediate vicinity of tribal countries. We have next to exclude extraneous interference from the tribal area placed by formal agreements within the sphere of British influence; and lastly, we have to fulfil our obligations towards Afghanistan and safeguard the Frontiers of India. It is not difficult to formulate the objects, but it is not easy to lay down the uniform procedure to attain them. The enormous variety of the duties imposed upon the Indian Government, the difference between the character of the tribes and of the country on different parts of our Frontier, 536 renders it almost impossible to lay down a rigid uniform procedure, but there are, I think, certain general principles of policy upon which we can generally agree. In the first place, there is undoubtedly a certain suspicion in the minds of the tribes as to our intentions under the Durand Agreement. I think one of the primary duties of a Frontier officer should be to allay those suspicions, and make it clear to them that while we have the power to enforce our own rights we are ready to protect and respect the rights of others. Then, Sir, as regards advances, I do not think it sufficient that the measures proposed for an advance should be simply desirable in themselves. It is necessary that they should be such as to amply compensate the risk of expenditure associated with them. And then, Sir, I attach great importance to another condition. I think no fresh administrative responsibility should be undertaken unless it is found to be essential for the performance of obligations we have already incurred. I have always viewed with great dislike the dispersion of forces. We have a large and long Frontier to protect, with a limited force, and concentration and mobilisation are the primary objects at which we should aim. I have a very great respect for the opinion of military men, because in certain eventualities we must depend entirely upon their advice, but at the same time I cannot help thinking there is just a little tendency too much now-a-days to look upon war as a game of chess. You take up a map and mark places on it with pins as indicating places which in certain eventualities would be positions of importance upon which to advance. No, Sir, there is little or no use for military purposes in occupying advanced military posts if you cannot protect and make tactical use of them; and the extent to which you can make tactical use of these posts largely depends upon the relations between you and the surrounding population. If you can improve your relations with the tribes, then in certain eventualities the performance of your obligation is so much easier, but if in the interval the tribal relations between yourselves and the tribes degenerate into unfriendliness—into more and more unfriendly conditions—the mere fact of occupying these posts in advance puts you in a worse 537 position when the emergency arises. Therefore, we have to consider the methods by which effect can be given to these ideas. There are two schools only that hold that field. There is the Sind School, and the Punjaub. The Sind School is one which is more sympathetic and more humane and more worthy of a civilised nation. It is to establish friendly relations with the tribes, to take part, to a certain extent, in the administration of the Frontier, and to have a Frontier officer advise them, and generally to try and settle by his influence and authority, not only the disputes amongst themselves, but also tribal disputes. This system has been an enormous success in Baluchistan. One would naturally wish to extend the system further north in the same manner in which the right hon. Member tried to do in Waziristan. But there are certain strong objections to the adoption of such a policy for the North of India. The people in the south are much more tractable. We have here to deal not merely with a narrow fringe of tribal territory within the Durand Agreement, but beyond that there is an almost inexhaustible supply of fanaticism. Weil there is also this disadvantage: that if you advance prematurely, and send your Frontier officer to take part in the management or business of any tribe, it is almost impossible to withdraw him after he has been for a short time fulfiling his functions. A remarkable feature of the recent outbreak is that the best and most humane officers get the greatest amount of blame. That is one of the peculiarities of these sudden outbreaks. The same thing occurred in 1837, and I don't think we should find fault with the officers. There is a story in connection with a well-known Hindoostanee fanatic—he went up from the North-West Province with a band of fanatics to wage war against the Sikhs. He assumed a great deal of authority, till, ultimately, he became very powerful, and practically King of the Valley of Peshawar. He had agents in every village all over the country, and yet a combined effort was made against him, and one night he and most of his men were simultaneously murdered. The conclusion I have come to, looking at past outbreaks is, that those who organise them are very few in number, 538 and that the Khans are such children that they do not know from day to day what they will do, and that they only join in these outbreaks from a love of loot and outrage. Therefore it is almost impossible for a political officer in this tract of country so to shape his course as to avoid giving offence. Therefore, I think, for the future, we should keep the Sind system and the Punjaub system to their legitimate spheres of influence, and not try to introduce the southern system, under the more difficult conditions. Now, Sir, we have certain additional difficulties to face, but we have certain advantages also. In the first place, we must, as the population develops, come more closely in contact with these tribes. We have a larger area of tribal population to deal with, and there is undoubtedly greater solidarity and more deep-rooted fanaticism among these tribes than was suspected. It is also quite clear that we must maintain and control and enforce our power over the great trade routes and roads leading into Afghanistan, even though they pass through the territory of the tribes. On the other hand, we have this advantage. We have asserted our strength all over the tribal country. We have imposed most lenient terms upon the tribes; we have given conclusive proof that we are most reluctant to interfere with their independence, and they hold no animosity against us. All the political officers state that their relations are better than they have been for some time past, and that there is a greater desire than ever amongst them to recruit in our Army. There is one other very satisfactory feature. If the House agrees generally, and there seems to me to be no dissent from the general principles I have laid down, is not this a favourable opportunity of trying to see if we cannot come to some general agreement? Ever since I have been in the House this question of Frontier policy has been an everlasting source of partisan strife in this House, and, worse still, the same division of opinion prevails in India. The Sind authorities are ranged against the Punjaub; the military authorities against the civil; and thus there is a frittering away of individual ability, talent, and experience, in controversy and correspondence, which might be devoted to the common object of a settled interior 539 policy. I want, if possible, to put an end to this state of things by an authoritative declaration of opinion that will be generally acceptable to the House. I want to clearly lay down for the future what can and what cannot be done. I want to tell the Forward men, "You may go so far, and no farther." I want to tell those who hold other views, "You must come up to a certain line, and there remain." If there is a desire on the part of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite to mark their participation in such a policy—I can hardly doubt their desire to co-operate in such a policy—now seems to me to be the time for them to give their assent to it. India has passed through a series of exceptional troubles and calamities. Some are ephemeral and are passing away. Others are permanent. The Frontier difficulty is permanent. We shall not conjure it away by our speeches. We have got to face it, to grapple with it, to overcome it. It will always be—I care not what policy you may pursue—a certain source of danger; it may even be a drain on the Indian Exchequer from time to time. But the difficulty and risks of the position are largely enhanced by the differences of opinion which prevail at headquarters. Now, Sir, if those who speak after me will only devote the main part of their attention to the future and not to the past, I do not think it is necessary to be perpetually indulging in past wranglings and disputes; and if those who speak hereafter will devote their main attention to the policy to be pursued in the future, let us hope that the upshot of this Debate may be that the country will know that, no matter what Party may be in power, the same policy, the same principles, and the same methods will be applied with firmness towards the treatment of the various difficulties which from time to time arise with this most complicated and far-reaching problem.
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
I think if the whole of the speech of the noble Lord had been couched in the tone and terms of the last quarter of an hour, this Debate might have been very appreciably shortened, and perhaps the general effect of our policy to some considerable extent strengthened. But the noble Lord must not ask us to forget the first three-quar- 540 ters of an hour of his speech, in which he made a series of statements we are bound to controvert—statements which we think to be inconsistent alike with the recorded and known facts of the case, and inconsistent with the very policy which he himself has advocated in the concluding portion of his speech. I must congratulate my hon. Friend behind me on the admirable speech with which he opened this Debate. I think that in view not only of the great ability he showed, but also of the powerful and eloquent speech he made this evening, he was not entitled to be subjected to the criticism which the noble Lord cast upon him in the first sentences of his speech. The noble Lord has alluded to two or three points upon which, before I deal with the general case, I must say a word or two. The first is a personal question. I have a great dislike to personal questions on the floor of the House, but it is impossible for me to ignore—however courteously the noble Lord put it—the accusation brought against myself, that I had not communicated with Lord Elgin with reference to the views of Her Majesty's late Government. Nor can I accept for a moment the interpretation which the noble Lord gave as to the communications which pass between the Secretary of State and the Viceroy. He is quite right in saying that ordinary official communications are entitled to be seen by every Member of the Council, and he is also right in saying that what are called secret dispatches and secret telegrams—which are only reminiscences of the old secret committee of the Board of Directors—pass exclusively; if the Secretary of State so decides between himself and the Viceroy. The members of the Council are not entitled to see them, although, I believe, there are many precedents for them being quoted in the Blue Books. But so far as the third-class of communications is concerned—the private telegrams—they are always supposed to be, until the First Lord of the Treasury broke down the practice that had been in force ever since the Government of India assumed its present form.
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER
Those third-class communications are always assumed to be exclusively private between the Secretary of State and the Viceroy; and they are the most important expressions which can be conveyed from the Government at home in the most confidential manner to the Government in India. Now, Sir, the noble Lord charges—and the charge has been repeated against me again and again—that I omitted to make any communication to the Viceroy with reference to the views entertained by Her Majesty's Government with respect to the policy proposed by the Indian Government in their dispatch of the 8th May, 1895. That I am bound to deny. The Viceroy asked me that no decision should be come to until that dispatch arrived, and I was bound to respect that wish of the Viceroy. But I may say, within a very few hours of the arrival of that despatch I telegraphed to the Viceroy—as, I though, courteously—what occurred to me on my perusual of that dispatch. I did not charge him with a breach of faith, but I did say that no doubt it had occurred to him that a charge would be made—that the policy indicated in the despatch was inconsistent with the proclamation addressed to the tribes—and I intimated to him as clearly as possible where the uneasiness was felt. I said; "Strong feeling exists here." Where? Not among the officials at the India Office; not in the public Press—they were in perfect ignorance of it; not in the House of Commons, for it was not discussed here. "Here" meant "in the Cabinet," and nothing else, and I think the Viceroy must have understood what I meant.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA
No, no! Not only did the Viceroy not understand it, but he wrote to me personally, before I settled on a decision, exactly in the sense of the telegram. He never knew that these objections came from the Government.
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER
If the noble Lord tells me that, I have not another word to say, and I will accept it. I might have said, "Strong feeling exists 542 in the Cabinet," but I preferred to use the word "here," and I thought the meaning was perfectly clear. What was Lord Elgin's answer? "I anticipated the charge." Within less than 24 hours of my telegram, he replied, "I anticipated the charge," and he was prepared to meet it. I never attempted for one moment to belittle Lord Elgin's arguments on that subject. I submitted both my telegram and Lord Elgin's reply to my colleagues before they came to a decision in the matter. And as to a long delay of time! The despatch arrived at the end of May, and the Cabinet came to a decision on the 13th June, and immediately after that decision was arrived at the Government was ejected from office. Now, Sir, I am not going to waste any more time on a personal question of this character. I say now, in the House of Commons, as I have said on public platforms and in the Press, in answer to the charge of the First Lord of the Treasury, that Lord Rosebery and myself had invented something which had never happened——
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER
: I am glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman at last say he did not say that, and I think we may accept that denial, and although he has been a long time in saying it I willingly accept it. What I was saying when that interruption took place was that if I had to go over the same ground again, I do not see what other course I could have adopted, so far as personal courtesy to Lord Elgin is concerned, which was not only my duty but my strong desire to observe. Now let us come to the real facts of the case. The noble Lord said he would dispose of the Chitral case in a few minutes. I do not think he has done so. He made four or five allegations in the course of those few minutes, upon which I must say a word or two. The first charge he made against us was that the late Government went to Chitral. I do not think we did so. I know that we went to Chitral in 1895 with an army. We went to rescue subjects of the Queen, who were besieged and in danger of their lives, and I say that any British Minister who knows that the representative of his Sove- 543 reign and country is interned, whether it be in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America, is bound to do his utmost to save him. It was our duty to rescue Sir George Robertson and his brave garrison who were in Chitral, and we did it. But we did not initiate the proposal to send a permanent political agent of the Government to Chitral. The first suggestion of that kind was made in 1889, when, if my memory serves me right, the noble Lord and his Party were in office; and in 1889, as the result of Sir William Lockhart's mission to Chitral in 1885, the Indian Government submitted to Lord Cross, and not to a Liberal Secretary of State, the whole of Captain Durand's proposal with reference to establishing an agency at Gilgit, and also with reference to the position of Chitral. The Indian Government wound up their despatch with this sentence—With these remarks we submit the matter for your Lordship's orders. In the meantime we have sent Captain Durand back to Kashmir, and if your Lordship is in favour of the scheme we propose, he will proceed to Chitral and make the new arrangement.There is also the fact that Lord Cross, in a dispatch of the 28th June, 1889, not only expressed approval of the arrangement, but suggested the practical opening of a new road from Peshawar to Chitral as an important feature in the scheme, adding: "I trust that the tribes will co-operate in the execution of this work." To endeavour to make any sort of Party capital out of this thing is not fair to Lord Cross. It was a question of Indian policy dependent upon a variety of considerations. Eventually, however, an agency was formed at Chitral, but it was again and again repeated that the agency was only to be a temporary one, that it was to be subject to certain conditions, and that the Government of India, in one of their very latest directions to the Resident at Kashmir, said that the British agency was to be clearly informed that it was not intended to maintain a permanent resident officer in Chitral, nor to look after the political affairs of Chitral at all times; that dispatch was dated, I think, in the summer of 1894. There is another charge made by the noble Lord—a charge which was made on the first night of the Session by the First Lord of the Treasury—which my hon. and 544 learned Friend said was an entirely new statement of the case, and it was to the effect that we had contracted a duty with reference to our allies in the valley, and the noble Lord quoted a paragraph from a dispatch of the Indian Government, in which they stated that if after the occurrences of the last few months we handed over Chitral to a foreigner, and failed to provide for emergencies after the tribes had declared themselves to be on our side, we should be looked upon as unfaithful friends. The noble Lord did not read the first sentence of that paragraph—that remark refers exclusively to a proposal of a totally different policy. They commence by saying: "It is being suggested that we may avoid the dangers consequent upon our withdrawal by inviting Afghan control," and they are proceeding to argue against handing over Chitral to the Ameer of Afghanistan, and, therefore, they say it would be a most undesirable thing to hand it over to a foreigner. But when the right hon. Gentleman talked, as he did very strongly, about our allies in the valley, I should like to ask him who they are. There were two sets of tribes with which we had to deal. There were certain sets that did not fight us. Why? Because they relied upon the Proclamation. That is stated over and over again. They were actually in arms at the time the proclamation was issued, and they laid down their arms and relied upon the proclamation.
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER
The noble Lord himself has said it. In his dispatch he alludes to it. I will give him the very words—It is probable that the proclamation was not without effect, at all events on the tribes in immediate contact with us.And he goes on to enumerate these tribes one by one, and which did not act hostilely to us, but they were a very small minority. We were fighting most bitterly all through that time, and at one time there were several thousands of men in arms against us, and I should like to read an extract from what the political agent in that neighbourhood said, writing to the Government of India and General Low—You can remind the Khan of Dir that to his loyal adherence to our cause he owes his 545 reinstatement in his State, and that we, on our side, recognising his loyalty, propose absolutely, without reserve, to withdraw our troops from his territories.That is not breaking our faith; that is not deserting him, and he relied upon the troops for the protection of the road. Then, Sir, at a later period the same political agent says—The Khan of Dir should not receive any assurance of general support, for if he is not, with the assistance given to him in the various ways above described, able to hold his own, it is not the intention of the Government of India to prop him up.There was a distinct statement after the present Government came into office, the 15th August, 1895—that is, so far as the allies are concerned, and I do not think the House would expect me seriously to argue the question of the road. But I should like to ask the noble Lord whether you can take 15,000 men through an unknown and almost desolate country, crossing three rivers and two mountain passes—both of them the height of Mont Blanc—without constructing a road of some sort or another? Why, of course, the troops could never have reached it, but that is altogether a different question from the question of a permanent military road, with the fortification and so on, which my hon. and learned Friend referred to. I cannot understand the self-denial of the noble Lord. He has hardly ever made a speech upon this question in which he has not taken to himself the credit of having made the road. He has told us of the advantages of the road, both politically, financially, and commercially, and yet now, in a spirit of self-abnegation, he says—Oh, no, the credit does not belong to me, but it belongs to the patriots on the Front Opposition Bench opposite—it is they who conferred upon Chitral that great blessing.That brings me to another part of this case with which I must trouble the House, though I will trouble it with as little detail as I possibly can. I should not have alluded to it if the noble Lord had been content not to have referred to it, only it is due to my colleagues now that I should do so. The point is with reference to the precedent which the noble Lord said was set. The noble Lord, towards the conclusion of his speech, said that I was responsible for 546 the adoption of the "Forward" policy in that district, and he alluded to the Durand Agreement in connection with that policy. Now, Sir, a good deal has been said in these Debates outside the House and inside the House, about the Durand Agreement. The noble Lord has at length come to the conclusion, and has laid it down, that the Durand Agreement was an absolute necessity. But all the way through—notably in the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury the other night, and also in one of the speeches of the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs during the recess—the Durand Agreement is described as an achievement of the Opposition, the responsibility of which rests with them. Now, Sir, I beg to say that, in my opinion, that is not a complete statement of the case. When the First Lord of the Treasury and the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs say that all the entanglements which the Frontier policy has involved have been made by Liberal Governments, both of them conveniently forget one date. They always commence in 1881—but both of them forget the great entanglements to which we owe so much of these North-Western complicated problems—I mean that folly, that worse than folly, of the Afghan War of 1878. It is from that date we have to date the commencement of the troubles which have since arisen. Well, Sir, the Durand Agreement was, no doubt, a great achievement. I am proud, in common with my Friends behind me—and not only them, but in common with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies—that I was one of the majority who voted in favour of the evacuation of Kandahar, and of adopting a policy which has secured us a friendly and independent Afghanistan, and created an amount of peace in that district which, for all practical purposes, has not been disturbed until these unfortunate occurrences in Chitral. I do not wish to minimise the engagements, which the Liberal Government accepted on that occasion, and I think it is best to state them fully, frankly, and fairly, so that the country may know whether we are looking at this case from the calm region of statesmanship or the unquiet atmo- 547 sphere of Party. Lord Ripon said to the Ameer of Afghanistan—If any foreign Power should attempt to interfere in Afghanistan, and if such interference should lead to unprovoked aggression on the dominions of your Highness, in that event the British Government would be prepared to aid you to such an extent and in such a manner as may appear to the British Government necessary in repelling it, provided that your Highness follows unreservedly the advice of the British Government in regard to your external relations.And when some hon. Member—I think the hon. Member for Sheffield—questioned Lord Hartington in the House of Commons with reference to whether the Government did not repudiate that obligation, Lord Hartington answered—I think it was in 1881—The present Government admit as plainly as any other that the integrity and independence of Afghanistan is a matter to them of vital importance, and they do not intend to permit the interference of any foreign Power with the external or internal affairs of Afghanistan.That being the case, I think it will commend itself to the judgment of the House at once that the question of the boundaries of Afghanistan was a very serious question to the English Government. What was the limit by which our obligations were to be defined? The House will recollect that the unfortunate dispute with reference to the Northern boundary of Afghanistan in 1884 very nearly led to a war with Russia. Well, Sir, the Government of that day—and I think that nobody will deny the wisdom of their policy, of which Lord Salisbury expressed his approval—decided to delimit the Northern frontier of Afghanistan. That has been satisfactorily done. But there is the Eastern boundary of Afghanistan, and that was a very difficult question. I suppose you have a tract of country some 600 miles long between the territories of the Ameer and of British India, and that territory is inhabited, as the noble Lord has told us, by these wild, untutored, and untamed tribes. The exact limit of the Ameer's jurisdiction and the exact limit of our influence were points which it was necessary to have settled, and for this obvious reason, that these tribes were playing off, as it were, the rival Powers against each other, and there was 548 constant uneasiness and danger of friction between the Ameer and ourselves, and under those circumstances I think that Lord Lansdowne and Lord Kimberley, by whom these negotiations were conducted, were justified in entering into the Durand Agreement for the purpose of settling these disputes, and, so far as the Durand Agreement is concerned, I think it is a very valuable Agreement in the interests of the two Governments. The Durand Agreement nettles one question:The Ameer and the Government of India are not to exercise interference in the territories lying beyond the line of demarcation.And then we made another agreement with the Ameer with regard to the Kunar Valley, under which the Ameer agreed that he would not exercise in Swat, Bagaur, or Chitral any interference whatever. So we settled that dispute. The Ameer, up to that time, had constant complaints with reference to putting our agent at Chitral, or because Chitral was objecting to the control of the Ameer, and it was a constant strife from one to the other. Now, Sir, it was necessary to carry out this demarcation. The boundary was of great importance to us, and both parties agreed to have the boundaries settled by Commissioners on the spot in 1894. Now, Sir, the First Lord of the Treasury said the other night that my action was taken after the delimitation was completed, and that, he said, is the precedent for the policy of the present Government in Chitral. Well, Sir, my action was taken before the delimitation began, and I will tell the House the reason why. My action was taken in connection with the delimitation. I doubt whether any action would have been taken at that time, but it was taken, firstly, in connection with the delimitation. The Indian Government had to send out a force to protect that mission, and they invited the Ameer to send out a similar force from his side of the boundary, and they sent over proposals for carrying out that delimitation. I think they made application to me in the month of July, 1894, and they did not propose that the delimitation should commence until October of that year. At that time they submitted to me certain proposals for the protection of the delimitation force. They called 549 my attention to affairs to which the noble Lord has not alluded in any shape or form. They call my attention to those very simple facts—that never in the known history of that border had there been so many outrages, so many murders committed, as had been committed in recent times. The average between January and June exceeded that of any previous average. There were 27 murders, seven of the murdered persons being not only subjects, but servants of the Crown. One of the baggage-carts had been attacked within our Frontier, and the traders passing through the Gomal Pass were regularly plundered to such an extent that that route could not be any longer maintained. Therefore, having described that they were surrounded, not by tribes all of whom were thieves and robbers, as the noble Lord has said, but by well-disposed tribes, who had amongst them a section of thieves and robbers, they said that the time had arrived when Her Majesty's subjects should be afforded some protection, and also to protect the trade routes between India and Afghanistan. They also pointed out another thing, that we should have serious trouble in Beluchistan. Under these circumstances they made a proposal that a small section of the troops which were to go in order to protect the Delimitation Commissioners should remain for the protection of the traders, and for the prevention of outrages—to protect our borders in this caravan route. But they said they would not proceed any further in this matter without negotiations with the tribes. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, the other night, during his speech, brought in the words "the Tochi Valley," and the noble Lord alluded to it also; but the Tochi Valley has nothing whatever to do with the question. It is 60 miles away, and in this very dispatch in which the Government of India submitted these proposals to me they said they were not prepared to put in anything with regard to the Tochi Valley, and that it would be determined upon its own merits. Now, Sir, the noble Lord made a great point of the dissent of the civilian members of the Council, and that they were overruled. Now, I am the last man to minimise the importance of the views of these distinguished men, and I can assure the noble Lord that the overruling of the 550 majority of the Council of India, and the approbation subsequently given by the Secretary of State to that overruling—I hardly dare now to allude to the communications between Lord Elgin and myself, for fear of being asked that they should be printed and laid on the Table—was not done hurriedly or without the gravest consideration. The whole question as between Lord Elgin and myself, and as between Lord Elgin and the dissenting Ministers, is this—They said it was a policy that contemplates the assumption of complete responsibility for the administration of Waziristan and the independent tribal territory intervening between the present frontiers of British India and of the kingdom of Afghanistan.Now, Sir, if I really for one moment thought that there was any foundation for that assumption, I should not have reluctantly assented. On the contrary, But I regarded the whole matter, from first to last, as I regard it now, as what the noble Lord has described as a purely police arrangement, and as in no way annexing territory, and as in no way controlling territory, but as exercising influence for the due protection of our Indian subjects—for the protection of trade and for the prevention of crime, which Lord Kimberley alluded to in his dispatch, and with which I cordially concur. It may seem a foolish thing to say that, after all these statements which I have made, nothing whatever was done. There never was a post put up there at all. A contest arose during the course of this delimitation—the tribes very much resented the force which was there marking the Frontier. There was a punitive expedition, and at the end of that punitive expedition there was a dispute, which the noble Lord said was a local dispute, that broke out in the Tochi Valley, and then there was a final break up. The Government of India wrote a dispatch home, stating that they were not satisfied with the proposition that had been made to me. Some of them thought that my policy had not been fairly tried, and some of them gave new proposals, which involved departure from what I had sanctioned. There were differences of opinion, and they then proposed a settlement in the Tochi Valley, but before that came to be dealt with I was out of office, and that was left entirely in the hands of the 551 noble Lord. I am not in any way criticising what the noble Lord did. I do not pretend to say he was wrong. But whether he was right or wrong I am in no way responsible for what was done in the Tochi Valley. I was responsible for sanctioning the retention of a small body of troops in the Kunar Valley for the purpose of protection which I have already mentioned. But there is no analogy whatever between the case of Kunar and the case of Chitral. In the case of Kunar, we were dealing with robbery, outrage, crime, and murder, but you had nothing of that sort at Chitral. The noble Lord has put in this Blue Book a very interesting and complete series of political memoranda by Sir Dennis Fitzpatrick, who was then Lieutenant Governor of the Punjaub. I challenged the noble Lord to put in the next Blue Book Sir Dennis Fitzpatrick's masterly memoranda on the maintenance of Chitral, and the construction of a military road to Chitral; and although all Sir Dennis Fitzpatrick's criticisms on the Waziristan matter are carefully set out in extenso, there is not a line of his criticism with reference to Chitral. Well, Sir, I told the House, in answer to this point, that there were no outrages in Chitral, now I will tell you what Sir Dennis Fitzpatrick reported to me with reference to this point of the outrages, so as to see whether there was any necessity for establishing frontier posts, in order to protect troops. Sir Dennis Fitzpatrick said to me:As to establishing posts on the whole of our northern border, that implies that peace has not hitherto prevailed, but that is the reverse of the truth. During the last 30 years there have been no raids across the border, except two, in 1878 and 1886. They were two small parties; they were only across the border 24 hours, and no fighting whatever ensued.I quote not for the purpose of justifying my own policy, but I quote to show the House that there is no outrage in the Chitral Valley. The people were in perfect peace. They were simply having their usual dynastic quarrel, murdering one ruler and proclaiming another. But the Chitral policy was an entirely new departure. And why? I find from first to last it was put on military grounds and none other. You find that from every despatch with which the House is familiar. Every speech that has been 552 made has been made on military grounds. The noble Lord justifies the policy now, not on the stategic point, not that it is needed for defence against the invasion of Russia, not to preserve the peace of the valley; but he justifies it on the ground that our prestige would be involved and that our allies in the valley would consider themselves badly treated if we deserted them on this occasion. Now, Mr. Speaker, I am not going to trouble the House at much greater length, but there are one or two points on which I would say a word or two. That is as to the state of things since the Government reversed our decision. What have been the causes of this recent outbreak? The noble Lord has not answered my hon. and learned Friend on that point. He has not answered him with reference to the Mahomedan outbreak being attributed to fanaticism, nor as to the absolute non-necessity of the Government's policy for preventing invasion. I should like to call the attention of the House to what took place in the Swat Valley. On the 27th July last year from some unknown cause there occurred the greatest outbreak since the Mutiny. The Political Agent in his report says that it is alleged that 12,000 men attacked the Malakand Fort. He says he did not think that there were more than 6,000 at any one time on the Malakand, but that these were daily relieved. He quotes another officer, who put the force at 8,000, and says that the losses of the enemy were from 2,000 to 3,000 killed and that the whole country was filled with the wounded; 500 to 700 were killed in attacks on the Malakand, 100 during a sortie, and 2,000 were reported to have been killed at Chitral. I think the House will think this is a very grave war, and that there is difficulty in finding sufficient reason for this terrible loss of life. But the Political Agent in giving his reason refers to what is given in a previous report. He says it had been impressed upon the minds of all that the Government intended to annex their country, disarm the people, and impose the payment of a revenue, and that these ideas had been deliberately circulated with a view to putting the people against us. I am not raising the question now simply upon the wording 553 of the Proclamation. I am raising the case this way: that the Government policy of erecting these fortifications in this valley and the Government policy of quartering soldiers was one of the main causes in producing the state of feeling which resulted in this outbreak. We may argue, I suppose, unceasingly and not convince each other. I have no desire to push my views more strongly upon the House than I have done already, because after all the main question, as the noble Lord has himself stated, has to deal with the future. I am much more anxious about the future even than I am about the past. I think the past has been a blunder, it has been costly, it has been useless, and it may involve us possibly in still further trouble. But what are we going to do in the future? We have had a new doctrine laid down with reference to the position of the Viceroy in these matters. The noble Lord has not dwelt much upon it to-night, but I think the House and the country must understand—and the military party, too, must understand—that the final decision of this question rests not with the Viceroy, not with the Indian Government, not with any section of public opinion in India, but with the British House of Commons. It is a question of Imperial policy in which Imperial interests are concerned and in which the Imperial Exchequer is, or ought to be, concerned. The hon. Member for West Edinburgh, in an able speech the other night, set the situation in its true light, censured both Front Benches, and said we were equally tarred with the same brush and had succumbed to the military party. Although I quite agree with that I agree that it is very difficult for any Secretary of State or any Viceroy to stem the sleepless, unceasing determination of the military party in India to carry out this military policy. Lord Canning established what he meant to be Cabinet Government in India by the Viceroy and six members of the Council. In that Cabinet of six, the Army has two members, not only the military member but also the Commander-in-Chief. I think there is a very unnecessary amount of military power in that Cabinet. The administration of the Indian Army is, no doubt, an important and responsible task, but it is just as capable of 554 being controlled by one responsible Minister as the administration of the English Army. No one would propose to put the Commander-in-Chief into the English Cabinet—no Government would survive such a proposal. I think one danger is that the military power is too strong in the Government of India, but there is another difficulty: there is no effective control over the expenditure. When the House comes to read, as it will do shortly, the report of the Royal Commission on Indian expenditure, it will find that there is great complaint by the Finance Ministers of India that they are practically powerless with reference to Indian military expenditure. Not only do they make that complaint, but there is the exclusion of the Indian Council. The Secretary of State is not allowed to spend a five pound note on what is called the ordinary expenditure of India without having a majority of the Council in London concurring in that expenditure. There is this check on the ordinary expenditure, but there is no check on the extraordinary military expenditure. The Council at home is absolutely shut out from any advice or any interference with that. I want to lay stress on the question whether the Indian Council should have some voice in Indian expenditure. I don't know what this war is going to cost, or what the Chancellor of the Exchequer may be disposed to give, but the other day the noble Lord gave a singular answer to a question put by my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire. He asked the Secretary of State what had been the amount of the military expenditure up to the present time; and the noble Lord said that the entire cost of the military operations up to the 31st March, 1898, would amount to four crores of rupees, equivalent in sterling to £2,500,000. The impression left upon the House of Commons was that it was only going to cost £2,500,000. That hardly represents the state of affairs. If the English Exchequer was going to find the money, that would be perfectly true, because £2,500,000 sterling in London would purchase 4 crores of rupees in India. But the cost of the war will be paid out of the taxation of India, which is estimated by rupees. The whole accounts of India are based upon 555 rupee payments, and expenditure and the bulk of the extra expense of this recent war will be paid in India out of the taxation of India, which is estimated by rupees. My hon. and learned Friend was not far wrong when he put the cost at many millions. The 4 crores is the estimate, and we do not know what the actual figures will be when they are ascertained. Now one word as to this Military policy—I do not call it a "Forward" policy; it is a Military policy from first to last. "Forward" is a misleading word. It may be applied to many Indian questions of a purely domestic character. This purely Military policy is disapproved of by the largest section of the ablest military authorities on India, and men who have served in India. The noble Lord has made a suggestion to the House which he thinks may be a basis of settlement, and I am ready to look at any proposal he may make in the light of a settlement, if it can be arrived at in this unfortunate Frontier question. But the noble Lord does not speak for the military party to which I have alluded, and they have recently propounded pretty clearly what their opinions are. I do not know whether he has read an article in the Nineteenth Century, written by an able military officer in India, one who has been mixed up with these disputes in Chitral. He proposes, first of all, the complete disarmament of the whole of the region through which the borders of our Frontier run, from north to south, for many hundred miles. Next he proposes the construction of metalled roads, giving access to every portion of each tribal territory, and he says these two measures will be found in most cases effective, but in the case of any specially recalcitrant tribe a sovereign remedy will be found in forced emigration from the hills to the plains. Then, not content with that, his next proposal is that the whole of this district should be placed under military control, under military 556 government, the civilian element to be entirely excluded. Having placed it under military government, he says it must be placed under martial law. And then his final remedy is a still more extraordinary one. He says there might be some difficulty about the cost. Well, it will be a costly thing to disarm 200,000 men, for that is what it means, and it will be a costly experiment to fortify all those Passes, to govern all this wild region, and to make all these roads. His last suggestion is that the cost of such a project might be practically nothing, because the tribes themselves should be compelled to supply free labour. Having deprived them of their independence, and their freedom, and their Government, they are themselves to provide the physical means by which our rule is to be maintained.
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but the writer of this article is not, as he seems to think, Captain Younghusband; it is his brother, who is not acquainted with the Chitral border.
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER
I admit the right hon. Gentleman is a better authority than I am. But there is a charming book called "The Relief of Chitral," which has on its title page the names of both Captain and Major Younghusband, as the authors of it. I thought it was a condition precedent to writing a book to know something about the subject. There is a still more important personage, however, than Major Younghusband—the officer at present in command of the Indian Army, Sir George White. I must express my profound regret that Sir George White ever made the speech he did make at Simla. I am satisfied that if the commander of the English Army had made such a speech in this country the House would have taken notice of it. I regret the speech from first to last, but we have no opportunity of taking notice of it except in this Debate. There are 557 two sentences in it which I will quote as indicating the mind of the military party—Civilisation and barbarism cannot exist coterminously. So long as we have on our borders 200,000 men of the most turbulent and finest fighting material in the world, we should never have peace to be relied upon, but we must always stand armed and ready.Now, is that the policy which this House and this country will sanction? India cannot bear it; she cannot sustain such a burden. If it means anything, it means a declaration of war against all our Asiatic neighbours. Then Sir George White adds—The cure seems to be to pursue a policy of closer control and disarmament.I know the noble Lord has in his dispatch repudiated the idea, but I want that repudiation to have the sanction of Parliament. It took a General Election and a change of Government to reverse the policy with respect to Kandahar, and now, after eighteen years, when the recollection of that is wiped out, the Party who then opposed that evacuation are now in power, and have during the last two years pursued a policy in defiance of what Parliament then expressed its views to be. And we may have, at longer or shorter intervals, a renewal of the same state of affairs. We want to have a policy laid down which shall not be the policy of the Secretary of State, not the policy of the Commander-in-Chief, but the policy of Parliament. We have got to guard in India against a policy of, as the Economist called it, "expansion and adventure." We want a policy of "prudence and concentration," and one of the objects of the Amendment and the Debate is not to deal with the past, but to lay down some broad, clear lines with reference to the Frontier policy of the future. I will only say one word in conclusion to emphasise my strong desire for the defeat of this military policy, and it is as to our best defence against external aggression. I think we have made great progress in the Pamir Agreement with Russia, and in the Durand Agreement, and if we maintain peaceable relations with the tribes we shall make still further progress. What I would like to impress 558 upon the House, and upon this military party, is this: India has three lines of defence. Our first line is the fortification which Nature has reared on the North-West Frontier. The second is the brave Indian Army, composed not only of Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Irishmen, but of Goorkhas, Sikhs, Afridis, and all the various tribes employed in the service of the Queen, and also of the Imperial Service troops. The third line of defence is the wise, just, and impartial Government of India, securing its peace, guarding its freedom, husbanding its revenues, developing its resources, and promoting its "material and moral progress." I am afraid, if this last line of defence is ever undermined or abandoned our real hold on India is gone—and gone for ever. It is because I am afraid of that last line of defence being endangered that I object to any sacrifices of any sort or kind being made to satisfy what I may call the insatiable claims of the aggressive militarism, which I believe to be the greatest danger now menacing the North-West Frontier of India.
§ *MR. MACLEAN (Cardiff)
With regard to the Amendment that has been proposed, I take it that it has been very badly framed. I believe the Opposition might have drawn a great deal of sympathy from the Ministerial side of the House, as well as from the country, if they had confined their Amendment to general principles, and abstained from any attempt to make Party capital out of what happened in Chitral. Soon after the General Election, the very first Motion I moved in this House was on the Address, and in it, while justifying the action of Her Majesty's Government in continuing to hold Chitral—as was indeed inevitable after the action taken by the Member for Wolverhampton—I deplored the policy of annexing such large tracts of unproductive country, and thereby causing so many financial embarassments to the people of India. Anybody who goes into the question will find that the whole source and origin of the mischief of recent years was the Durand Agreement, which has been so much praised by the late Secretary of State, Lord Roberts, who gave up his Indian command early in 1893, left the Frontier in what he believed to be a per- 559 fectly satisfactory condition. He said in his book—In 1893, when I gave up command of the Army in India, I had the supreme satisfaction of knowing that I left our North-West Frontier secure, so far as it was possible to make it so, hampered as we were by want of money. The necessary fortifications had been completed, schemes for the defence of the various less important positions had been prepared, and the roads and railways, in my estimation, of such vast importance, have either been finished, or were well advanced. Moreover, our position with regard to the border tribes had gradually come to be better understood, and it had been realised that they would be a powerful support to whichever side might be able to count upon their aid. The policy of keeping them at arm's length had been abandoned, and the advantages of reciprocal communication were becoming more appreciated by them and by us."—(Roberts, vol. 2, p. 408.)Now, that was the position in the early part of 1893, when Lord Roberts gave up the command in India. Then comes the unfortunate Agreement known as the Mortimer Durand Agreement, which was signed in October, 1893. I believe that Sir Mortimer Durand himself now repudiates personal responsibility for the Agreement, and says he merely carried out his instructions on the subject. Now what is the purport of that Agreement? It provided that absolutely the whole territory between Afghanistan and British India should be divided between the two Powers, and that each of the two Powers should fully exercise their influence within their respective spheres. Now, what seems to me to be as great a crime as was ever alleged against Warren Hastings was perpetrated by that Agreement. We actually sold the unfortunate inhabitants of Kafiristan into slavery with the Afghans, whilst the Ameer simply made over to us territory which he could not control, inhabited by turbulent tribes, and we were at liberty to do what we could with them. The late Government were in power at the time, and were responsible for the execution of it. As to that dispatch of Sir Henry Fowler in 1894, I must say that the explanation of that is very weak indeed. As a matter of fact, in the dispatch from the Government of India upon which the late Secretary of State acted, the proposal was that a strong military post should be established permanently in Waziristan, and the right hon. Gentleman, in 560 support of that, said we must have effectual control over the people. That could be nothing less than full military control over the tribesmen. The right hon. Gentleman committed himself to that view, although it was pointed out that only a majority of the Indian Government had proposed it. In the face of all opposition, they recommended we should adopt what was described as a policy of aggressive activity. Why was it that we supported the policy of Lord Elgin, a gentleman perfectly new to the country and its ways; of the Commander-in-Chief, who had been successful as a soldier, but who had not given any proof of being a very successful administrator? Then there is Sir H. Brackenbury, who had never seen any service at all, and the opinion of these men was preferred by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton to those of the competent civilians who were so strongly opposed to it. What would be the state of the Government of this country if we had an Administration like that? If Lord Wolseley had taken the advice which Cromwell formerly gave, and came here and said, "Remove that Mace," under these circumstances he could take his two army corps and go with them wherever he liked, and spend our money as he pleased. But even then the parallel would not be complete, unless the English Government went for six months in each year to Monte Carlo instead of remaining in London. That, unfortunately, is what the Government of India does. A Governor goes to India who really knows nothing of the people who live in and who are paying the taxation of the whole country, and at Simla dreams constantly of ambitious military enterprise, when he should be thinking of the economising of the vast sums of money which the people of India annually give for the government of India. The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton says that what he sanctioned in Waziristan was not the same thing which happened at Chitral, but I think it is just the same thing. He did not recall the forces, as he ought to have done long before. He allowed the force to remain there, while if he had studied Indian history he might have known the situation there must leak out, and 561 disaster might result. I do not think the hon. Member for Wolverhampton has come very well out of this controversy, and we must put the responsibility upon the Members opposite for the lamentable result of bringing on the miserable war. This war has been one of the most futile and one of the most inglorious that the British Army has ever been engaged in, and it is appalling to think of the loss of life and treasure that has been caused by what may be described as the utterly futile policy of a Government in sending an army to invade a country, and neglecting their obvious duty. Instead of clearing the Khyber Pass, as they ought to have done, they leave that closed, and take all the forces they can possibly get for service down to other parts of the country of the Afridis, to effect reprisals on them there. I do not know any war that has infused such a feeling of disgust as this war has done in the mind of the English people, who distrust the generalship of those engaged, and asked when was it to come to an end, and when was peace to be restored. Now, I think the Secretary of State has taken a very statesmanlike view of what ought to be done in the dispatch which he has written on the subject. He has negatived the desire of the Indian Government to exact taxation from these tribesmen. These men have nothing left in the world but their courage, their arms, and their independence, and you propose to take away from them everything they have left. That is the proposal of the military party in India. But the noble Lord has put his foot down wisely and firmly. He has decided that the terms given to these tribesmen shall be generous, and that every effort shall be made to wipe out the jealousy and animosity that is spread among them owing to the Durand Agreement, which has done so much mischief, and I hope we shall have more appreciation from the Front Opposition Benches than we had from their speakers to-night. With regard to the Frontier policy again, what ought to be done? What is the line we ought to take with regard to it? It is idle, in my opinion, to talk of a Forward or a Backward policy, and bring up the names of those who have long since gone. In 1881, I am not ashamed to say it, I was one who was in agreement with the Forward 562 policy of Lord Beaconsfield, but that was a Forward policy, and was a straightforward and intelligible policy as well. This Forward policy has no claim to such a designation. It is a pottering policy, and does not do any good to anyone. If we were threatened with an invasion, the natural proceeding for us to adopt would be to strengthen our fleets, and watch those spots where such an invasion was likely to take place, and not send our ships by ones and twos to watch every port in Great Britain, but instead of trying to command the trade routes and strategetic positions in India, we have spread our forces over a territory some 800 miles in length, and 300 in depth. That is the Forward policy which has been pursued in India. I should be glad to quote Lord Roberts again, as to the course that ought to be adopted by an intelligent and statesmanlike Government in India. In his book published last year he denies that the holding of all these small passes is of any real importance, because any army operating against India must come through the Khyber Pass—Although small parties of the enemy might come by other passes, the main body of a force operating towards India is bound to advance by the Khyber."—(Roberts, vol. 2, p. 407.)That is very important. There is a Forward policy if you like. The keystone of our policy in India and all our negotiations there is—we control Afghanistan. We are determined to continue that in our sphere of influence. We have been indiscreet, and we have allowed the Ameer to found factories to make ammunition and arms. We have given him power over all the neighbouring countries, and have given him large subsidies. And what did we get from him in return? A few expressions of friendship in the war, which did not prevent some of his subjects from aiding the Afridis; and there is no doubt a great many of the arms used against us in the war came through Afghanistan. That is the state of things now, and I think the day is not far distant when we shall regret the way in which we scuttled out of Kandahar. What is the result of that policy? The Ameer is still setting his face against us, and imposing heavy duties on all things coming from British India, and is actually 563 diverting from India the tea trade which used to go through to Central Asia by way of Afghanistan, and which now goes through the Russian port of Batoum, and so through to Central Asia. Why should we allow our pampered ally any longer to block the way of civilisation? We must have trade opened up through Central Asia for the benefit of India and of this country, and we might make a railway in a few years up to Kandahar for the purpose. Why should we not make an arrangement with Russia on those lines? Would it not be more honest on the part of England to go and say we are prepared to meet you either in peace or in war, but we think Asia is big enough for us both, and so we are prepared to assist in the development of that country for the exploiting of trade of the two countries? I say the time has come when we should try and make some definite arrangement with Russia for the permanent benefit of both countries. Now, just a few words as to the latter part of the Amendment which has been put forward. It is said it is desired to put a stop to this aggressive policy in order to secure good government in India. You cannot secure good government without you have sound finance. That is everything; and I do not think the noble Lord and the Chancellor of the Exchequer at all appreciate the state of the financial question in India. It is said by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it is flourishing, and that India does not want any money, but, in answer to a question, he stated that we had only been able to keep up the artificial standard there by stopping the exchange with England. That is a state of things that will not improve, but, on the contrary, go from bad to worse. I must say I think it would be far better for the Government to face the situation, and to secure good government by granting a subsidy to a people who are in such trouble and distress as the people of India have been during the last year. The right hon. Gentleman has said that cannot be, but I should say that India is, in my opinion, the only one of our possessions abroad that remains amenable to the Imperial Parliament, and, in my opinion, is worth more to us than all the self-governing Colonies put together, and I am bound to say that, if we asked the 564 European countries, they would be willing to give all they possessed for one-tenth of our interest in India, and I think it would be an act of great magnanimity, worthy of a great nation, if we were to give financial relief to India in her present great necessity.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)
With regard to a question which has been alluded to to-night, I venture to hope we have heard the last of the charge of breach of faith. I have endeavoured in the constituency I represent to state in public that I did not myself consider that the charge could be substantiated to the full, and that it ought never to have been brought forward at all. With regard to Chitral, that is very important, no doubt, but we must not conclude, as was concluded by my hon. and learned Friend, that it can be said to mean all the question. The causes of this outbreak evidently lie deeper and much wider than that. If we want to look for any particular cause which contributed to the trouble I think we must fix it by looking at the Agreement. No doubt a similar policy must have been going on before that. But you find it focussed in the Durand Agreement. Those who framed it had no idea of the consequences which would ensue from it. Its interpretation by the tribes has been a good deal the cause of many of the troubles that have arisen. Of course, the Government of India, in the dispatches of 1894, distinctly said that they considered that the Durand Agreement not only enabled them to lay down posts of delimitation but gave them an opportunity of introducing a better system of more effective control or direction. That system was introduced into various parts. If we had any doubt upon it it was made perfectly clear by the masterly minute of three distinguished members of the Council of India, who show that the Durand Agreement does not impose any particular obligation to take a course of action on the part of the Government of India. We must see that there was sufficient general cause for the outbreaks that have occurred. I do not think it is possible, considering the past history of all these negotiations, for one party to make out a much better case than the other. I think both sides 565 have been committed pretty well to the policy pursued during the past dozen or more years. It is of much greater importance to endeavour to consider in this Debate and at this time what should be done in the present and in the future with regard to the frontier policy of the North-West of India. The noble Lord, in his dispatches which he has amplified to-night, has laid down a certain line of policy which he thinks the Indian Government ought to adopt in the future. I think we may take it that it will come to this, that we insist upon opening up and keeping open the Khyber Pass, and with regard to the other various movements that have been made in the other tribal territories the Indian Government is to go forward as little as possible, and as much as possible to sit where it is. I think that is the general conclusion, that we insist upon reopening and keeping open the Khyber Pass for trade in future, and that in regard to the immediate districts between the Khyber and Baluchistan the Indian Government is to go forward as little as possible, and as far as practicable to remain exactly where it is. Now, there is one point which has been alluded to, and that is the question of expense. It was said there that one guiding principle which should be observed in any political movement is whether the advantages to be obtained would be worth the money to be expended, and the Government of India was called upon to send an estimate of the cost of Fran tier defence, including all charges for tribal services and all financial considerations. I hope that a full and complete statement will soon be laid before this House of the total charge to England's revenues upon the Frontier Policy that has been pursued during the past 10 years, at any rate since the Afghan War. There should be given the full total, not merely of the actual cost, but also the subsequent cost of the administration of the various territories that have been annexed or semi-annexed. The subject of military expenditure, of course, has been before the Commission, and amongst the officials who came before us were Lord Roberts and Lord Lansdowne. They set out in considerable detail what they considered to be the new Frontier policy and its advantages over the previous policy. 566 We questioned them on the subject of expenditure. Their reply was this: they believed that in the long run the new policy would be the most effective and would be cheaper, that although the expedition cost more it was more thorough, and there was less likelihood of expeditions being necessary in future. When these noble Lords and great authorities on the subject volunteered these statements in support of their views it was no longer ago than last April, and yet at no period had the Frontier appeared in a more quiet state or was there less likelihood of trouble on the Frontier. That will eventually, perhaps, make us pause in accepting too blindly the recommendations of expert authorities on the subject, or, in fact, upon other subjects. Now, before I pass from the question of expenditure I should like to allude to a question touched upon by my hon. Friend below, whether India ought to bear the whole expense of these operations now going on. I think it is perfectly clear that if there has been an error of policy committed, which has led to this Frontier trouble, we cannot fairly put the blame exclusively upon the Indian Government and let India bear the whole cost of the operations. The general question of policy has been referred home from time to time to the Government here, and it has been authorised and sanctioned by both Liberal and Conservative Members, and not only have general questions of policy been so referred from time to time, but even particular matters of military policy. There is a further ground on which India may claim on the Imperial Exchequer. In one of the minutes drawn up by Sir Dennis Fitzpatrick he stated that the only justification for a policy such as this was that its cause and origin must be Imperial considerations, that as far as purely Indian matters were concerned there was no need for taking action such as was contemplated. If the sole and predominant and guiding motive was Imperial considerations affecting the Empire at large, I think India has a very fair claim on the Imperial Exchequer to bear a fair share of the burden. If we call the tune, we must pay the piper, or, at any rate, part of the price. I do not urge this at all as a dole to the Indian Exchequer. I would urge such a tribute, not as a dole, but 567 as a matter of right to the Indian Exchequer, and say that it might be made a matter of legal procedure. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Wolverhampton, stated that the cause of all the trouble was that this was not a Frontier, but a military policy, and that generally the strong weight of military considerations had led to it. Partly I agree with that. I agree with him that it is extremely difficult to counteract the weight of military opinion of military circles in India. I agree with him in this, that the only method of counteracting it is to increase the interest of Parliament at home in the subject and to increase the power of Parliament. I do not know any method of doing it except through the House of Commons. Long ago, when the Government of India Act was passed, there was a clause put into it which was intended to meet—I don't say cases like this, but cases of a similar character—namely, in regard to the expenditure of public money outside the Frontiers of India. That has been interpreted in various ways, and its operation has been largely restricted. It has been interpreted in such a way that it was able to apply to expeditions over sea. But I believe that is an artificial interpretation of the Act of Parliament. I desire also to point out to the House, that we have now two Frontiers of India. We have got—as some describe it—a technical Frontier for legislative purposes, and outside that we have another Frontier, which apparently is not the technical Frontier of legislative purposes. It ought to be made clear that the Frontier of India has a limit over which we claim that no Power shall exercise any other authority, and within which we shall have certain military stations. There ought to be some legislation, or ordinance of that sort, by which it should be provided, that, in all military expeditions outside the legislative boundary of India, the Imperial Government primâ facie should have to pay part of the charge, and if the Home Government knew that they had to pay part of the charge, they would be very much more careful before they ventured to allow such expenditure as was recently incurred. I do not propose to be able to speak with any knowledge or authority upon some of the wider questions that have been laid before the House, but I 568 agree with those who have gone before that this is the very moment for dealing widely with the subject, and that we should have an authoritative declaration from the House of Commons as to the lines on which the policy ought to be directed to India in the future.
SIR J. DICKSON POYNDER (Wilts, Chippenham)
As one who has very recently traversed a very considerable portion of the North-West Frontier, I may claim to have some knowledge of the subject. My sole object in rising this evening, is to offer my very respectful, but most strenuous support to the Government, who, in my humble opinion, have, during the last six months, been the object of the most unwarranted and persistent charges against them ever since these Frontier troubles took place. I am bound to say that, in my judgment, the very weighty and powerful speech made by the Secretary of State in reply to the very eloquent, but I can hardly say powerful, speech of the Proposer of the Amendment, has not been sufficiently answered. There are two charges brought against the Government. There are two chief causes for these lamentable and disastrous Frontier conflicts. It is said, first, that these conflicts have been due, in a large measure, to the reversal of policy of the late Government, and the retaining of the occupation of Chitral. The second charge is that it has been the Conservative Party that has been responsible generally for a disturbing Forward policy. I would ask the indulgence of the House for one or two remarks upon these two points. Surely these conflicts have not been due to the fact that Chitral has been occupied by a garrison, and that this road has been maintained from Peshawar to Chitral. It is perfectly true that there have been very formidable and disastrous engagements. Communication takes place along the range of the Malakand, and along the Swat Valley. But any one who has studied closely the dispatches will agree with me that that insurrection was not one honestly started by the inhabitants along the Swat Valley. The dispatches have fairly gone to show that in the first place they were started by Mad 569 Mullah, who has been notorious for his fanaticism. By his incitement he succeeded in inflaming two particular tribes at some considerable distance from the Swat Valley. Those who read the dispatches closely will see that it was only very reluctantly that the inhabitants of the Swat Valley were induced to join in that insurrection. The rulers of the Swat Valley did their best to dissuade the inhabitants against joining. I am bound to say, from my own experience, two years ago, travelling as I did in the distinguished company of Major Deane, that I could not help noticing the peculiarly friendly and amiable spirit of the natives of that valley. The country around Chitral was conspicuous from end to end by its absence of any kind of disorder. Therefore I humbly and respectfully protest against the allegation brought by the Opposition against the Government, that it was due to that road being made that this insurrection has taken place. It was due solely and entirely to that spirit which pervades the tribes, when these Mullahs preach a propaganda of Mahomedan fanaticism. A very significant remark was made in another place by Lord Kimberley, which I took a particular note of. In alluding to this subject, he said that Chitral had been in the past, and he supposed would always be in the future, what he termed a post of observation. In my opinion, I consider it very much better to have a strong force there in order to make impossible for the future the punitive expeditions which have become so common in that part of our Empire. But one of the chief charges at the time of the making of that road was that the expense of maintaining it would be too great. Before Chitral was garrisoned it was indirectly a post of observation, and a very necessary post, in my opinion, because it commands one of the accessible parts of the Hindoo Khoosh. Before the garrisoning of Chitral it was under the control and supervision of Gilgit, which is itself a post of observation or garrison on the northern portion of India, and is also situated in a most difficult portion of the northern part of India. It is utterly unprovided for with regard to cultivation, and it is necessary to brine all the transport there along a most difficult road. That expense has been defrayed, in years gone 570 by, partly by the Government of India and partly by the ruler of a neighbouring State. I believe that in the years to come there will really be no additional expense to the Government of India. I would now say a word as to the second allegation which is brought against the Government. I think it has been shown in this Debate already that the Forward policy is not the sole property of the Conservative Party. The Mover of this Amendment attempted to argue that this Forward policy was their creation, but the Secretary of State has clearly shown to us this evening that it has been the gradual development of British policy for the last 15 or 17 years. I think you may start the Forward policy at the date when the English Government decided to place Abdur Rahman on the throne of Afghanistan. When he was put upon that throne, there were agreements by which "from henceforth" the British Government undertook to protect that ruler against any foreign invasion. From that date was started what has been known up to now as the initiation of the policy of a buffer State. Now, the bugbear of a Russian invasion has often been laughed at by hon. Members opposite, but the House has only to cast back its recollection to the year 1885, when that bugbear became so nearly realised. It nearly developed into a serious conflict, and the Government of India, recognised at that date that it was necessary to push forward troops, and for the first time recognised the difficulties they had to contend with in pushing those troops forward. There was then no regular communication between Quetta and the main base. It may be remembered that, at that time troops had to be pushed forward in those almost inaccessible regions, and the fearful difficulties of sending a large body of troops with transport were then recognised for the first time. In 1885, beyond having Peshawur, the Khyber Pass, and a few outlying posts, with a small garrison at Quetta, our Frontier, for all strategical purposes, was undefined; so from that date you may trace the gradual development of the Frontier. With that development great expense and loss of life have been incurred; but if the House could realise the paramount importance of maintaining the passes, I cannot but 571 believe that they would desire to maintain them at any cost. In 1885, military experts discussed carefully what in the event of an invasion—for invasion had then become almost a reality—would be the best means to meet that invasion. A few of the old school, said it was better to remain behind the line of hills, but military experts almost unanimously decided that, to allow a great and powerful nation to come, with the whole of their force, to the very confines of British India, to the line of the Indus, would be most dangerous and fatal to our Indian Empire. We maintain our Indian Empire entirely by prestige, backed up by a great military force, and if once the millions of natives who go to make up that nation should recognise that we were approaching a weak position, it would go very ill with our future maintenance of that country. Therefore it was recognised by great military experts at that time that the line of the Indus would be a fatal line to decide upon, and ultimately they decided that the only place where we could meet an invading force would be in the centre of Afghanistan. To make sure of that it was necessary to have three important bases. If an invader should come across the boundary on the Western side of Arghanistan it would be immediately necessary that the Indian Government should throw forward their forces into three important strategical points—from Kandahar in the South to Cabul in the North. That means complete communication between those points, and that has been the gradual development of policy by this country, and I hope it will be the policy of the future. I am certainly one of those who approve of the evacuation of Candahar, because I think that in our present state of affairs we derive all the possible benefits of being posted in Kandahar without any of the additional expense involved in occupying great towns in a foreign country. Then there is the Tochi Valley. In my opinion, it is most important that that should be kept open. Then there is the Khyber Pass, of which we have heard so much during the last few months. In developing a "Forward" policy it is impossible merely to confine yourselves to these three bases. One thing leads to another; therefore it has been found necessary 572 from time to time to develop posts at intervals between the bases. I am not making any unnecessary attack against the Opposition this evening. The only question I ask of Gentlemen who are experts is, which place do they consider to be most efficacious to hold, Gwali or Chitral? When I was there two years ago the great tribes of the Ghilzais had been able to come down that Pass without having to stand constant and continuous attacks from these pillaging robbers. That was due to the action from the Government, and I do think these attacks come with a peculiar ill-grace for those who so recently placed a large garrison upon our borders. These are my reasons for supporting the Government against the Amendment. I consider that if such an Amendment as this were passed it would practically be a censure on the Government for faults which they have in no way committed. I believe that if the Amendment were passed—which it certainly will not be—it would be a most severe blow and discouragement to the distinguished body of civil officials who, by their untiring energy, are doing such good work for their country on our Indian borders; and I believe also that it would be a most terrible blow to the splendid soldiers, both English and Native, who have been fighting in the interests of our Empire during the last three or four months. This Amendment will not pass, I feel sure, but if it did it would strike a greater blow still, because it would send to our great Empire of India the message that England could no longer bear the burden of the responsibility of Government, and you may be perfectly certain that such a message, disseminated as it would be by the vernacular Press, would be distorted and disfigured out of recognition. Therefore, I cannot help hoping, even now, that this Amendment may be withdrawn, because I consider that these matters of high Imperial moment should not be made the subject of the bandying of words across the floor of this House. We are all desirous of the maintenance of the prosperity of India, by which we retain in great measure our supremacy among other nations, and it is only by keeping untouched the borders of that Empire that we shall still continue to hold that supremacy.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
Although there is not much with which I can agree in the Speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for the Chippenham Division, I do most heartily with the desire he expressed just before he resumed his seat—that in the course of this Debate we should do more than bandy words across the floor of the House and vote in opposite lobbies. There must be many Independent Members of the House who will agree, in spirit at least, with the hon. Member for Cardiff, who unfortunately spoke when the House was almost empty. The hon. Gentleman took very strong objection to the treatment of this question as if it were a mere interchange of compliments, more or less friendly, between the two Front Benches; and he tried—and did his best from his point of view—to lay down certain principles which might be more useful for the future guidance of this country, in relation to the Government of India, than anything which is likely to be gained by the mere bandying backwards and forwards of Party repartee. The hon. Member for Cardiff traced almost all the evil that has arisen in connection with our Indian frontier to the Durand Agreement, but he did not succeed in disproving the necessity for, or the wisdom of, that Agreement. I have in this House—it is two years ago now—condemned very strongly one portion of that Agreement, namely, that relating to Kafiristan, which section handed over to the Ameer, and in effect compulsorily converted to Mahomedanism the inhabitants of Kafiristan. But the very vehemence with which I objected to that portion of the Agreement makes me the more inclined to agree with the late Secretary for India—and I believe the present Secretary does not differ—with regard to the general necessity for some agreement, such as that known as the Durand Agreement. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, read to the House what purported to be and what was the original guarantee given to the Ameer, out of the discussion of which the Durand Agreement ultimately grew. In 1883—besides the promises given in 1880 and 1881—Lord 574 Ripon asked the Government to allow him to drop out of the agreement all the conditional part of his promise, and use words which would satisfy the Ameer; and in February, 1883, he, after consultation here, informed the Ameer that the British Government had both the will and the power to make good its engagements to his Highness. In June, 1883, the subsidy to the Ameer was increased on the distinct ground of the protection of his North-West Frontier; and in March, 1885, Lord Granville, of all men one of the most peaceful politicians, described the agreement as one binding Her Majesty's Government to regard as a hostile act any aggression on the Ameer's territory. Now, those promises, which were made by Mr. Gladstone's Government, with the full knowledge of what they were doing, and with a full belief in the necessity of such engagements, were further fortified in 1885, when the Ameer came to India, and was received by the Viceroy. The Duke of Connaught, too, was present. That, of course, is a circumstance which has no political importance, but it may probably have had an effect on the mind of the Ameer. At that durbar it was publicly stated by the Ameer that the agreement with the British Government would assist him in repelling any foreign enemy. Now, it appears to me, as it has been put by my right hon. Friend, that those engagements with the Ameer were not entered into lightly, but were entered into with a full belief that they were necessary in the interests of the country; and I certainly believe that they justified the Durand Agreement—always, as I have said, with the exception of that portion of it which dealt with Kafiristan. My hon. and learned Friend who brought forward the Amendment attacked in gentle terms what he called the "Forward" Policy, and what my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton has called the Military Policy. If I may a little question, in some respects, the language which has been used, I do certainly blame one expression of the Military Policy. That is the policy of the present Commander-in-Chief, whose recent speech is, in my opinion, most unwise and deserves the attention of this House, to which the worst portion of it has not been quoted—a portion which, I fear, is calculated to do very great harm. 575 But before I join in the general condemnation of this "Forward" or Military Policy I want to know what the policy is. We have heard of the "Forward" Policy and of the Military Policy, as contrasted with the Lawrence Policy, which has never been defined, and which, as far as any one has attempted to define it to-night, fully deserves all that has been said of it, because no man in his senses would desire to convert the Indus into the frontier of India, and I want to ask some of my hon. Friends who speak with regard to the "Forward" Policy to clear their minds, and tell the House what they understand is meant by it. For instance, take what the Secreof State for India calls the Scinde Policy—but that is a Punjaub phrase and smells of heresy, so I would rather call it the Sandeman Policy. That Sandeman Policy has given us perfect peace over 600 miles in a straight line—from the Gomul to Barjou on the Persian Frontier—600 miles in length of country. There used, some little time ago, to be stationed there a single company of troops with two guns to control the whole of that enormous territory, but in recent years there has been no force there at all. I am bound to say that it is impossible to conceive anything more forward as a "Forward" Policy than that of Sir Robert Sandeman, but at the same time it is impossible to imagine anything which could be a more complete success; and, therefore, by that example alone, we should adopt the usual and wise course of considering each case upon its merits. Another example of the "Forward" Policy is the interpretation of the Durand Agreement as involving an increased control over the tribes which lie between our own territory and that which comes within the sphere of influence of the Ameer of Afghanistan. As I have already said, I heartily attack one portion of the Durand Agreement, for I consider that it was a great mistake—caused, probably, by want, on our part, of due consideration and knowledge—to hand over the Kafirs of the Hindu Khoosh to the Ameer of Afghanistan. The result was the extirpation of everything which did not turn Mahomedan; and the result of that war of extermination no doubt contributed greatly to arouse the fanaticism of the tribes of the Swat Valley. 576 Still, I say the real question of moment here is to strictly consider what we intend to lay down as something like a policy for the future. When I say a policy for the future, let me give an example. I do not wish to fall into the habit of making suggestions for our future guidance in language which is vague. I will take the Khyber as a test case. Do you intend to keep the Khyber open? If so, is not that "occupation"—to use the language of the Resolution? If you cannot keep open the Khyber by arrangements such as were made before, is not this an occupation of the territory of the tribes, and yet an occupation to which you must consent? The first words, too, of the Resolution attack the permanent military occupation of Chitral, and the word "military" appears to imply that it would be possible to revert to the old system of a native agent sent from the Kashmir side. Sir Lepel Griffin appears to imagine that it would be possible to revert to the older system, and I should prefer it to the direct route that has been opened through the Swat Valley, which in itself is not a valley route and not a natural route. It is not the route by which Chitral was originally held, and by which it was in fact relieved, which was done by a very much older route. After condemning the military occupation and condemning the direct route of which I have spoken, the Amendment passes on to its main broad position as to the safety of India. Now, the noble Lord has already said what is meant by the word independence. I should prefer to accept the word independence in the acceptation of the sense in which is is usually used. It has been frequently said by the Government of India that respecting the independence of the tribes meant that they should return to their own system of tribal government, and should rule themselves as far as possible. With regard to the occupation of their territory, is it to be laid down as inevitable? We do not want to occupy the territory of these people except for purposes essential to our rule. But steps which might be in the nature of an occupation or a partial occupation of the territory of certain tribes must be explained. The "Forward" or Military Policy, which has been attacked in general terms, must be considered in detail. It has never been 577 applied in the Shabkdr districts, and the tribes of the Shabkdr have been British ever since 1849, and no "Forward" or Military Policy appears to have been applied on the Peshawar side. It has been a success in Baluchistan, and it has also been a success on that side of Hunza-Naga. Under the Sandeman system as applied in Baluchistan the whole district for a distance of some 600 miles has been ruled in a state of perfect peace. The noble Lord says it has not acted well except in Baluchistan, and has failed in the case of the tribes further north. Now, the Sandeman system is a well-known system, and has been a success, keeping the peace in the Zhob, and there was no trouble there. That policy is capable of extension further north, and we need not despair.
§ *SIR C. DILKE
He rejects the Sandeman system and prefers the Punjaub. If you have got the proper man there is no doubt that the Sandeman system is the proper system. It consists of making friends with the tribes, and picking out the best men among them and mak-them your friends. That is what Sandeman did. Now, the Punjaub system is to send out punitive expeditions, and I cannot approve of that system as a good system in itself. It was with grief that I heard the noble Lord to-night express himself that he had a desire to retain the Punjaub system. Here is an example of this Punjaub system, this particularly miserable war which may be considered for a moment, though it was not mentioned in the Amendment that has been moved. The one matter which is in the minds of all is conspicuous by its absence. That has been the result of the Punjaub or sealed frontier system. Instead of knowing, as we should have done, what was going forward outside our frontier, the sealed frontier policy was adopted, and thus war has resulted in which 132 British officers have been killed and wounded, and in which terrible suffering has been undergone. I regret that the Amendment was not in another shape, as we 578 then might have had a full debate upon this war which we are now engaged in. I do not now desire to discuss it, but I do think that there are other circumstances which have greatly affected the rising in the Afridi district. With regard to the future, having inflicted the punishment that we have on those tribes we have punished, the Amendment bids us leave them to themselves. It was on the 23rd August that we were swept out of the Khyber. It was not until September 21st that the Punjaub Government said that the Khyber Pass must be promptly re-opened, and three months passed after that before it was opened, or any attempt made to open it. Now, Sir, the real policy for us to consider is not this Resolution, but the policy which is to be adopted for the future. You have burned all these villages, you have cut down the fruit trees of the people, and you have undone a great deal of what was done by Colonel Warburton for some years past, and now you have got to heal the sore you have made. You cannot adopt the policy of the Resolution. The Mover of the Amendment must admit that you must keep open the Khyber Pass. But, Sir, when I say you cannot retire entirely from your position, though I regret the punitive expeditions which appear to be the only alternative, I do implore the Government not to make up their minds that the Sandeman policy is inapplicable to the North-Western Frontier, but do their best to find the men who will make that system a success there.
§ *SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
I think the statements made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite are of a boomerang character as regards his own side. Most of the statements of the hon. Member (Sir Charles Dilke) are characterised by a great deal of knowledge, and by a great deal of good sense, but they will not, I think, be altogether welcome to his Leaders on the Front Opposition Bench. The attack which has been made on the policy of the Government has been met with great success by the noble Lord who represents the Indian Government here tonight; therefore, I shall not attempt to 579 go into detail upon the arguments which have been put before the House by the hon. Gentleman who introduced this detroduced this debate, made a speech of bate. The hon. Gentleman who in-very much eloquence, adorned by a great deal of epigram, and a speech which, I am sure, will read very well when it is reported to-morrow. But, Sir, he ignored some very important features as to the origin of these disturbances, which go to prove the necessity that has been imposed upon the Government of dealing vigorously with the difficulty on the North-Western Frontier. The hon. Gentleman in his speech ignored—or attempted to ignore—two of the most important points. He showed, by what he said, that he felt the force of these facts; he attempted to pass over them with the slightest notice. The two important considerations with regard to this outbreak on the North-Western Frontier are, first of all, the vicinity of the Russian Power to Chitral and to the North-Western Frontier of India in general; and the second is the agitation that has prevailed amongst Mussulmans throughout the East. The hon. Gentleman was quite in error in his statement that there were no signs of Mussulman agitation in India or elsewhere. There was a very serious outbreak amongst Mussulmans near Calcutta last year. There was the greatest possible agitation throughout the Mussulman population of the whole of India through 1897, caused by the anti-Turkish agitation in this country. Meetings were held in every large town, and resolutions of sympathy were passed with the Sultan of Turkey, which were communicated to the Sultan. That agitation not only existed in India, but it also was noticeable among the Mussulmans under Russia, in Central Asia, and the Russians were obliged to reinforce their troops there in consequence of that agitation. The discipline of our Indian Army is splendid, and it will require a very great deal to create an outbreak amongst them. There was a general Mussulman agitation, and it was that agitation among the Musselman tribes along our North-Western Frontier which was, no doubt, the fertile ground for the fanatical outbreak that was stirred up by foreign agents. The noble Lord the Secretary of State for India, when he re- 580 ferred to the Mussulman excitement in India and on the Frontier, was perfectly justified by the facts. No doubt the cause of the Mussulman feeling in India, and on the Frontier, is due largely to our mistaken policy in the East. The outbreak among the Pathan tribes is one of the evil fruits of the mistake we made in the East, a mistake which was begun by the right hon. Gentleman on that side of the House, who, in 1893, adopted a hostile policy towards Turkey, and drove our Ambassador at Constantinople into that fatal course—a course which he, fortunately, himself improved upon afterwards. One of the principal causes of this outbreak in India has been the general stir and ferment throughout the Mussulmans of the East, which was caused by our policy of hostility. The hon. Gentleman might have been one of the Members of the Liberal Government twenty years ago from the style of his remarks upon the Russian proximity to India. Then the great lights of the Liberal Party used to prate about old women's tales and old wives' fables, and deride the danger of a Russian advance upon India. The hon. Gentleman seemed hardly to be aware that the Russian forces, the Russian military power, and Russian agents are now within twenty miles of Chitral territory, just beyond the easiest pass through the Hindu Khoosh, a pass easily traversable by a hostile army coming towards India. When the history of this campaign is written, it will be found that Russian agents were not unconcerned in the general disturbances which so suddenly broke out on our Frontier. The hon. Gentleman evidently thinks that is a matter for derision. Does he think it unlikely that a great Power which has for many years directed all its efforts towards a movement upon our Indian Empire would hesitate to employ one of the most obvious means open to it to stir up that fanaticism on the North-Western Frontier, especially when they found that our own Imperial policy had given them good ground for Mussulman dissatisfaction? Why should the Russian Power hesitate to use methods which every other Power has always adopted towards opponents?
§ *SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
The hon. Member reminds me that it would be a breach of Treaty. That is very much the argument of the ostrich which puts its head in the sand when pursued by its enemies. I could give the hon. Gentleman a list of a dozen Treaties within the last 25 years which have been violated by Russia. I notice that the Leader of the Opposition smiled when this subject was mentioned, and when some hon. Gentlemen behind me, by their satirical interruptions, suggested that it was possible for the hon. Member for South Leeds to have shown too much faith in Russia. Why, Sir, has he forgotten the way in which the Treaty of Paris was broken in 1871, when Russia tore up the Black Sea Clause and threw it in the face of the then Prime Minister? Then Mr. Gladstone and his colleagues were in such an ignominious position that we were obliged to say privately to Russia—We don't like the way in which you have torn up the Treaty, but if you will meet us at a Round Table, we will accept your violation of the Treaty, and make it the international law of Europe.A chief point of this case is that by keeping at Chitral we are able to keep close observation upon this Treaty and see that Russia does not break the engagement which she has made to observe the new frontier line. Why, Sir, if we did withdraw our Frontier line 180 miles closer to Peshawar, how should we be able to prevent Russia from obtaining control over those tribes at Chitral and along the road to Chitral? The hon. Gentleman and his friends are evidently unaware that for centuries past the greatest possible incitement to these tribes has been the prospect of a raid upon India. We are in possession of India, and we are at a great disadvantage, for we are on the defensive. We are obliged to protect our Indian subjects from the incursions of hostile tribes. But Russia, coming from the North, is able to offer to them the prospect of the loot of India. Nothing would be easier than for Russia to gather them under her banner, not by attacking their independence, but 582 by joining them with her, by offering the prospect of the plunder of India. That is the danger against which we have to guard. As the Russian Frontier is now so close to ours, and as an alliance with these tribes would be of enormous advantage to Russia, we are obliged to forestall Russia, and see that our influence is predominant in these regions. All these vital facts are entirely ignored by the hon. Member for South Leeds and those who support him. We were told by the hon. Member, and to a certain extent by the late Secretary for India, that the great preponderance of military opinion was in favour of the evacuation of Chitral. But when this is reduced to facts, what does it come to? Who are the authorities who support this? There is Lord Chelmsford, Sir John Adie, who for the last 20 years has been a most persistent advocate of a backward policy for India, and who, if he could have his pernicious way, would have brought our Frontier back to the Indus, and would have even retreated to the rear of the position. There is also Sir Lepel Griffin, who has always been fantastic in his Indian views, and Sir Donald Stewart. The latter among these four is the only one of real weight. Sir Donald Stewart has always taken a retrograde view in regard to our Frontier, and though, no doubt, he has excellent reasons for his view, yet, I think his opinions may be easily outweighed by those of even more distinguished soldiers who have declared themselves in favour of holding Chitral. The hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment made a great point as to the evacuation of Kandahar. Now, Sir, the evacuation of Kandahar was conducted some 17 years ago, in 1881, and by a remarkable stroke of good fortune for those who were in favour of the evacuation of Kandahar, the ruler of Afghanistan has turned out to be a man of remarkable power and ability. But for that fact the evacuation of Kandahar would have been one of the most disastrous steps ever taken by a British Government. And unless the present ruler of Afghanistan is succeeded by a man of equal ability, the evacuation of Kandahar will have to be undone directly he ceases to hold power-in Afghanistan. I hope that period may long be postponed. The Afghans cannot hold together 583 except under a very strong ruler. The evacuation of Kandahar was contrary to the best military and political advice of the day, and it has only turned out a success owing to the fact that the present Ameer of Afghanistan is a man of most extraordinary force and ability. The Afghans themselves are incapable of union, and the withdrawal from Kandahar might soon have to be remedied. Therefore the argument used by the hon. Gentleman does not apply to the case of Chitral. The hon. Gentleman seems to think that he has replied to the arguments of the noble Lord when he said that there were only two arguments of any force—namely, the argument of British prestige and the argument of the danger from Russia. We do not expect Members on that side of the House to think much of British prestige. ["Oh, oh!"] If not, why did the hon. Gentleman sneer at the argument? Why have they sneered at it for the last 25 years? I have never heard the word "prestige" used in this House or in the country but what it has been sneered at by hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ *SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
That may be so; but he quoted the Duke of Devonshire in his unregenerate days. He quoted the Duke of Devonshire when he was the Marquis of Huntingdon—when he was under the influence of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I do not know whether he quoted the Duke of Devonshire accurately, but I am quite certain that the Duke of Devonshire would not despise, or affect to despise, the importance of prestige to the British power in India. I am dealing, fairly with the hon. Member in this matter. The hon. Gentleman ridiculed the idea of British prestige in the mouth of the noble Lord. (Mr. Lawson Walton dissented.) Well, if he did not mean to ridicule the idea that British prestige is of importance, I did not understand him. It is of the first importance. We hold India with a small army——
§ MR. J. LAWSON WALTON
I did not ridicule the idea of British prestige. I only pointed out that prestige was better preserved by looking after our own frontier, rather than by creating outposts beyond them.
§ *SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
Now I understand what the hon. Gentleman meant. He meant that after a British agent had been besieged in Chitral, and after the Russian frontier had advanced within 20 miles of Chitral territory, and after we had sent a large force to redeem British prestige and restore our power there, our prestige was better supported by retiring 180 miles within our own frontier, and leaving all those tribes to come under the influence of Russia. That is my answer to what the hon. Gentleman says. But there is a difference between us as to the maintenance of prestige. Prestige is really the secret of our power in India. We rule India, with its 250 millions or 280 millions of people, with only 70,000 British bayonets, and we must maintain our prestige in order to do that. The hon. Gentleman and his friends speak of these barbarous tribes as if these operations were a mere farce—as if we should allow them to come inside our frontier and commit murder and outrage, and then go away and not be punished; and my hon. Friend the Member for one of the divisions of Edinburgh (Sir L. McIver), whom I do not see in his place, made the same mistake. He made a very clever speech the other night—a very interesting speech, and a speech which showed that he knew all the geographical and ethnological surroundings and the practical condition of these tribes. (Sir Lewis McIver here entered the House.) I am glad to see my hon. Friend here. I was reminding the House of what an interesting speech he made, and how full of local colour and knowledge it was. But the hon. Baronet answered his own speech. He told us, in graphic language, of the predatory and murderous habits of these tribes. But he quite forgot that the natural conclusion of all this was that our frontier could not remain quiet whilst these tribes indulged in their plundering 585 incursions, and that it was absolutely necessary for the British frontier force to put down these raids and to restore order amongst these wild tribes. That is the effect of our influence, as Sir George White said in a very remarkable speech, which, of course, the Leader of the Opposition sneered at. The boundaries of civilisation and barbarism cannot remain co-terminous without barbarism ruining civilisation or civilisation overcoming barbarism. It is perfectly impossible that our civilised frontier can remain exposed to the predatory inroads of these tribes without counter movements being made to bring these tribes to a sense of order—to establish good government and peace instead of anarchy. That has always been the fact; and when you take into consideration the dangers arising from the barbarism of these wild tribes, and when you couple that with the dangers arising from the intrigues and hostility of the Great European Powers, you will see why it is that a Forward policy is necessary. Several important moves in the Forward policy have been put down to the opposite side. I do not attach much value to that fact; it is the tu quoque argument—the argumentum ad hominem. The noble Lord used it with great effect, and he was justified in using it, because nothing could have been worse than the policy of the Opposition during the Recess, when they tried to make Party capital out of our military difficulties—out of what is really a great Imperial question. The fact is that the Indian Frontier cannot stand still. It is impossible to maintain the Indian Frontier where it was 20 years, 10 years, or even five years ago. By the Durand Agreement certain tribes were placed under British influence, and we are responsible, to a certain extent, for the good conduct of these tribes. We are responsible for it, and we cannot avoid the responsibility. The right hon. Baronet opposite made a most remarkable point in a very striking speech when he put the argument about the Khyber Pass. We are responsible to a large extent for keeping the Khyber Pass free, and if we keep the Khyber Pass free we must interfere with the independence of these tribes. It is an absolutely un- 586 answerable argument, and it represents the facts of the case. The truth is that our first duty is to maintain the security of India. That is absolutely our first duty; and to maintain the security of India we have to do two things: we have to guard our Frontier against the incursions of these wild, valiant, warlike tribes, and we have to see that these warlike tribes do not fall under the influence or the domination of another great Power. In order to do that we may have to move forward, we may have to move forward in order to obtain strategical points. No one advocates interference with the local self-government of these people, but the establishment of a road to Chitral, the building of forts at Malakand and Chakdara, by no means interferes with the tribal independence of the people who live along the road. It may be that they thought that we intended interfering with them. But time will prove to them they can fully maintain their independence in spite of our forts and in spite of our garrisons. The hon. Gentleman thought he made a great point by stating that along this road five regiments were stationed; but what is that along a road 180 miles in length? Does the hon. Gentleman think that the tribes living along the high road are to benefit both by the freedom and trade of that road and also maintain their tribal independence? They were misled by the agitators, and where these people came from it is not difficult to imagine.
§ *SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
It is not difficult to imagine where the impulse came from that stirred up these tribes. But, Sir, the idea that the establishment of this road and the garrisoning of these forts must interfere with the self-government of these tribes is a gross mistake. We are equally bound to see, under our political and military obligations, that these tribes are preserved from falling under the rule or influence of our great rival in Central Asia. I hold that the policy of the Government has been directed towards that object; that it has been successful in its aims, and that it ought to be supported by this House. The conduct of the campaign is totally 587 different from the policy of the Government. I am not prepared to criticise the conduct of the campaign. I believe that we have had to deal with a country of exceptional difficulty, and with a population of remarkable courage, armed to an extent they have never been armed before, and possibly led by superior leaders. But whether that campaign has been successful or not has nothing whatever to do with the policy of the Government. The policy of the Government must be to secure these Frontier tribes from falling under the influence of our opponents, it must be such as will enable us to defend India in the most successful way, and for that reason I am prepared to cordially support Her Majesty's Government on this occasion.
§ *SIR. W. LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
Mr. Speaker, I will not detain the House long with the few remarks I have to make on this subject. This House, as we know, represents the people of three kingdoms, but it must not be forgotten that, while we represent our constituents and electors, we are also trustees of India. I believe it is true that one elector in Great Britain has more direct influence over the public affairs of India than all the 180,000,000 inhabitants of that country. If that be true, it throws a great responsibility on the Members whom the electors of this country have selected to sit in this House. We are each responsible for how we speak and how we vote on Indian questions, whether the money which will be called for for these warlike operations in India is to be paid by us or by the people of India. I, Mr. Speaker, am to a certain extent an outsider, and I am not going to indulge in any tu quoque to-night. We have had a good deal of that, but tu quoques are not convincing. We have had one front Bench firing shots at the other front Bench, and trying to allocate the responsibility for the Forward Policy, but, so far as I could understand it, they came to the conclusion that the whole thing arose through Lord Cross. Mr. Speaker, my point is this—whoever was responsible for this business in the first instance, it is now a very serious and a very alarming one. We have heard it 588 said to-night that we are carrying on this war with 70,000 men. It is all very well to talk about the gallantry of our troops—we all admire their gallantry—but they have not accomplished much. So far as I can understand the accounts of these battles, which have been given from time to time, our soldiers seem to be marching into some impregnable place and getting out again with all speed. We must remember, Mr. Speaker, when we talk about these people being rebels—and I object to that term, for they are not rebels—that the only legal instrument we have, so far as I can understand it, is the Durand Agreement, which was gained entirely over their heads. It was made with the Ameer. These tribes are independent, they were independent, and I believe they will continue to be independent; and when we talk about the Frontier War we must always remember this, Mr. Speaker, that these wars and raids are being carried on beyond the Frontier. It is not a Frontier war; it is a war beyond the Frontier. We have been for the last six months fighting with these people. How have we been fighting them? We have been making raids on them, burning their villages, stealing their cattle, destroying their crops, and, most barbarous of all, destroying their fruit trees. What has taken place has been horrible. I wonder what this House would say, or what the people of this country would say, if the Russians or the Turks were carrying on these proceedings. We should have every newspaper in the country denouncing the barbarism of their conduct; we should have the Poet Laureate extolling these men, and saying how—They fought till every rock and mountain cave,Was freedom's home or glory's grave.What a fearful cost all this involves. And that is not the worst of it. Look at the cruel loss of officers and men. How many hearts have been broken, how many homes have been wrecked and lives blighted in the Kingdom as the result of the war? When we see all this going on we must feel that, unless there is some absolute and unavoidable necessity for doing these things, we are permitting a hideous and horrible crime in waging 589 this war. I think everybody who speaks on this subject is entitled to quote the words of the proclamation issued when the expedition was made to Chitral. In that Proclamation it was stated that—The sole object of the Government of India is to put an end to the present and prevent any future unlawful aggression on Chitral territory, and as soon as this object has been attained the force will be withdrawn.Is there any Member of this House who thinks that making military roads and erecting permanent forts is carrying out that Proclamation? If there is, he is not worth arguing with. Sir Neville Chamberlain said—To make a military road, and to expect to keep it open without coming into collision with the tribesmen, is, to my mind, devoid of reason.I do not suppose that the whole of these miserable proceedings arose on account of our breach of faith in regard to Chitral, but we are entitled to say that that breach of faith was one of the contributory reasons for this turmoil on the frontier. And what is it all over? I will quote again, this time from Sir Lepel Griffin, who, in the Times, says—This policy consists in spending a quarter of a million annually on a post of defence and observation which defends and observes nothing, and on the maintenance of a road which leads nowhere.I think that is a very strong condemnation of the policy, coming, as it does, from a supporter of the Government. Who are the great authorities—and we must go by authority in this matter—who have supported, and who support, this policy? The first is Lord Roberts—we all know the great name of Lord Roberts—but who are the other three who, so far as I have seen, support this policy? They are Lord Lansdowne, the noble Lord the Secretary for India, and my right hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies, all of whom are civilians.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA
I will stick to what I say, but I object very much to be made responsible for what other people say.
§ SIR W. LAWSON
Does the noble Lord himself, and do all these people, approve of this policy, or do they not? I think I am entitled to say they do. We can all read. We are told in this House that we civilians don't understand these matters. My point is, that three of these people who have been most prominent in advocating this business are civilians. My right hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies, is the civilist of civilians on foreign affairs. Common sense has a good deal to do with this. We can judge, from a common-sense point of view, how these things are carried on. It seems to me that to go into a wasp's nest—which this war practically is—is one of the most ridiculous things we could do. It is a sort of lunacy. It is what our Irish friends call "Saying good morning to the devil." The hon. Gentleman who just sat down alluded to the Duke of Devonshire in the old days before, to use the hon. Member's own words, his grace had fallen from his high estate. I remember a deputation which waited upon the Duke of Devonshire, who was then Lord Hartington. It was a grand deputation.
§ SIR W. LAWSON
Yes, it was composed of all the jingoes and filibusterers in the Kingdom. When I think of what took place then, I always think it was one of the finest incidents in the career of the noble Lord. After listening to the deputation, he got up in that delightful, common-sense way of his, and said—Gentlemen—the first question is, what right have we got to be there?591 That is an observation which should be considered by this House. I remember a phrase of Mr. Gladstone's, which was very much quoted at the time, in which he talked about political economy being banished to Saturn. In these latter days, not political economy, but political morality, has been banished into infinite space. I was very much struck by some lines that Mr. Frederick Harrison quoted in a speech of his the other day. They ran as follows—There is no law of God or man,That England need obey.Take what you can, and all you can,And keep it while you may.I do not know where Mr. Harrison got them, but I think they might form an addition to the National Anthem. I suppose I shall be told that all this must be done because we must keep the road to Kabul open. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean, said it was necessary to keep this road open for trade. That is a new doctrine. Anything for trade. The motto of the Colonial Secretary is more markets, more money, more murder. It is for that that we have all our enormous taxation and our bloated armaments. It is in consequence of this policy that the House is becoming what the hon. Member for Fife described it the other day—an Army and Navy Stores. The policy of the great Englander is profit by plunder, whilst the policy of the little Englander is profit by peace.
§ *SIR W. LAWSON
Oh! dear me, no. I never quote from the right hon. Gentleman. I quoted what I thought was the spirit of his policy—the strong against the weak. Nobody seems to 592 care about the slaughter of these people, and the starvation of the women and children. It is hoped to win the battle by starving these poor women and children. The whole thing is horrible.
I have not the least objection to the hon. Member attributing to me anything I have really said, but if he thinks that represents what I have said, he is mistaken. It does not convey anything I have ever said in public or in private.
§ *SIR W. LAWSON
I apologise fully to the right hon. Gentleman. I only say that that is what his words convey to my mind. I think it is a miserable state of things that we are getting into. No one seems to care about the horrible slaughter which is recorded every day in the papers. Here is a quotation from Lord Elgin, who wrote, very shortly after the Indian Mutiny—I have seldom, from man or woman, since I came to the East, heard a sentence which was reconcilable with the hypothesis that Christianity had ever come into the world.I do not know whether the state of things is different in the East now, but it seems to me we are getting into that condition in Great Britain to-day. I will conclude with something more cheerful. There are signs and tokens that there is going to be a change in this policy. Many and many a man must have read, with a delighted and grateful heart, the speech of Lord Salisbury the other day, in which he expressed the exact sentiments which are attributable to us wretched little Englanders. We are not going to fight with all the world. We may be thankful for that, at any rate. I am glad also to see, from a recent speech to his constituents, that the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs is another recruit to the rapidly-growing Little Englander Party. But we must not be too sanguine. I confess I see 593 too little signs of a return to common sense on the part of the people of this country; but I do congratulate the Government on the show of comparative sanity that they are now making. I congratulate them on the fact that they have at last abandoned the Forward policy. But they must "bring forth fruits meet for repentance"; they must drop all this abominable fighting on the frontier. Whatever be the result of this debate, whatever be the numbers for or against this Amendment of my hon. Friend, sentiments have been uttered to-night, and principles proclaimed which will bear fruit later on, and will prevent us falling again into such a humiliating, perilous, and unjustifiable position as that in which we have been placed by the pursuit of the adventurous and aggressive policy upon which we have embarked.
§ MR. E. W. BECKETT (York, N. R., Whitby)
I hope I may be excused for rising to take part in this debate. I do not often trouble the House, and I should not do so on this occasion, were it not that the extreme importance of the subject, and the great difficulty of procuring accurate information, may, perhaps, be held to justify the intervention of one who, two years ago, traversed the frontier from end to end. But I would not have it thought that I wish to assume airs of dogmatic authority. I make no claim to infallibility; all I claim is that, having studied the subject on the spot, things have been brought to my notice which cannot be apparent to those who have not hand the advantage of seeing the vivid reality with their own eyes. But, nevertheless, I feel that I must buttress up my argument by references which are easily accessible to everyone. There are two paramount questions before the House. What is the cause of the present outbreak, and what is to be our policy for the future? There is also the question of the conduct of the campaign, but that is a question for mili- 594 tary experts to decide. We can only look at the result, and it is useless to disguise from ourselves that the result is not an unmixed success, but rather, as regards the Afridis, a disastrous failure. When all excuses are made—and many excuses can with reason and justice be made—it is impossible to contend that the recent campaign has ended as it ought to have done. In all our previous conflicts with the border tribes we have never come off so badly, and it is the duty of the Government to make a thorough investigation of the whole matter, and to probe it to the bottom. It is essential that we should get at the truth, how-ever anxious certain individuals may be to conceal it. Of one thing I am convinced; which is, that twice as many troops were sent to the frontier as were needed. I believe that Sir W. Lock-hart could have handled 30,000 men with greater ease and better success than 60,000. Of course, if I am told that he asked for 60,000, there is an end of the matter; but I have reason to believe that he did not ask for them, and was greatly embarrassed by finding such a huge host on his hands. We are told that the secret of victory lies in the stomach, and we must remember that for every soldier there is at least one camp follower, and camp followers have to be fed as well as fighting men. And what does that mean? The Chitral relief force consisted of from 15,000 to 18,000 men, and they required for transport and commissariat purposes from 28,000 to 38,000 pack animals, which also had to be fed. In the country itself you can get little or nothing. Except in patches, it is barren and unproductive beyond belief. The description given of Baluchistan applies to it—namely, that, after creating the world, God Almighty threw all his rubbish into Baluchistan. It seems to rain stones instead of water. Now, is that a country to send 60,000 men into, if you can do with less? Marching through one of the 595 least unprovided parts with a native regiment of 450 men in profound peace, we could see that the transport service was attended with considerable difficulties; so what it must have been in the campaign just over, God only knows. Everything had to be sent from far to the rear, through a country where good roads are scarce, and the way lies over strong kotals and precipitous passes, swarming with hostile tribesmen. No wonder the Army was clogged and hampered in such a way as to make disasters inevitable. Lord Roberts had 7,000 men when he attacked and defeated an Afghan army of 30,000 men before Kabul. What need had Sir Wm. Lock-hart of 60,000? If we cannot defeat the Afridis with 20,000 or 30,000, we cannot defeat them at all. Much money has been wantonly wasted, many lives have been fruitlessly thrown away, and I trust that this aspect of the question will receive the attention it deserves. Now, Sir, what are the causes of this Frontier rising, and are they likely to recur? No one, I think, who understands this question at all, will venture to put it down to any one cause. The Opposition, naturally wishing somehow or other to saddle the Government with the responsibility for it, tried to make out that it was all due to our retention of Chitral contrary to the engagements we had taken upon ourselves in our proclamation to the tribes. I hoped that they would have the sense and the justice to abandon that absurd charge. I am sure it never occurred to any one on the spot that it would or could be made. If there were any truth in it, do you suppose we should not have heard of it until it was hurled at the heads of the Government from a Scotch platform in the Autumn? If the tribes had imagined that they were tricked and deceived, they would certainly have said so in a manner quite unmistakable. But though we discussed freely the question of the retention of Chitral with the Frontier officers and 596 officials, and heard many opinions strongly adverse to it, no one so much as mentioned or even hinted that any breach of faith had been committed. It is certain that, in investigating the causes of the rising, the retention of Chitral cannot be altogether ignored, but it is equally certain that, if it were a cause, it was only a very partial and limited one. Why, if that were the cause, did the resentment of the tribes take so long to break out? They are not men who are slow to wrath, and whose power of self-control is so remarkable that, when they are burning with indignation and excitement, they present the appearance of calm and content. And yet we read in a dispatch dated 14th June, 1896, that—Since the breaking up of the Chitral field force in September, 1895, there has been no disturbance directed against the Government among the tribes along the Dir route; the mails have been carried with great regularity, and a general and unprecedented feeling of security appears to prevail in the country. You also report that our relations with the tribes are satisfactory, and the relief of the Chitral garrison has been carried out, not only without opposition, but with the active assistance of the tribes themselves, who repaired the road between Chakdara and Lowarai Pass, and successfully prevented fanatics from approaching the line of march.This is not the conduct of men who feel that they have been tricked and deceived and despoiled of their territory and deprived of their independence. In fact, they were treated better than they expected, and were left in the enjoyment of privileges which they supposed would be taken from them, owing to their not having fulfilled their share of the conditions of the proclamation. They would have been ready enough to plead a tu quoque if they had felt they could do so with a shadow of justice. No one who reads carefully the Blue Books can doubt that the tribes of the Swat Valley were stirred up to such a sudden flood of mutiny by the preaching of the mullahs and the Mad 597 Fakir. The Swat Valley is held by the Mahomedans of the Frontier to be a sacred valley, and the tribes there are more liable to fanatical seizures than the tribes elsewhere. But even so, they do not seem to have been very anxious to rise, and the mullahs had almost failed to make them take the held until the Mad Fakir came to their assistance, and made things comfortable all round by telling them that by his power the English would be turned into water. In spite of this encouragement, some tribes held back, and had to be coerced into taking action. And what do they say themselves? In the statement issued by nine tribes of the Upper Swat in August last they do not refer to the occupation of Chitral, but entirely attribute the outbreak to the fakir who went about proclaiming a jehad and exciting the people. They state that they were taken in by the fakir's words, and joined the Ghazis lest they should be condemned as infidels. What more do you want to account for the rising? The Ameer says that these men acted in a foolish manner through their own ignorance, on the instigation of the mullahs. As to the policy of the retention of Chitral, I found opinions on the frontier about equally divided. There is much to be said on both sides, and the arguments are so evenly balanced that I feel that any Government might be excused if they had resorted to the last expedient of statesmanship and tossed up to decide whether they should retire or remain. I think it probable that if they had retired we should have been compelled by Russian intrigues, and other causes, to go back there and do the work over again. Gentlemen say that after the delimitation of the frontier Russia would not have ventured to intrigue. They forget, apparently, that shortly after Russia had declared Afghanistan to be outside her sphere of influence correspondence was found at Kabul which proved that she had been stirring up the Afghans to shake off our authority. And the same thing might well have happened 598 at Chitral. And even admitting, for the sake of argument, that it was wrong to retain Chitral, in the long run it is better for the Home Government to take a wrong course by acting in accordance with the unanimous opinion of the Indian Council, than a right course by acting in defiance of it. India has been won and kept for us by the men on the spot, who had the facts before their eyes, and the Home Government should be very sure of its ground before it deliberately reverses their judgment. The rising of the Afridis was also to some extent due to a fanatical impulse, and the intercepted letters written by Afridi chiefs show that they were led to believe that the British had been defeated by the Sultan, who had seized Aden and the Suez Canal, so that no reinforcements could reach India for six months, by which time we should have had to retire from the country and defend ourselves in Europe and Egypt. Being a fighting tribe, largely composed of young men, well armed, who had never tested their prowess against the British, and also having a substantial grievance in the increased duty on salt, I think we can understand why they took the field, without dragging in the retention of Chitral to account for it. It may be thought that the effect of the Sultan's victories upon the tribes has been much exaggerated. I do not think so, and I will tell you why. When we were at the Frontier, Lord Salisbury made the celebrated speech in which he announced the impending downfall of the Turkish Empire. This speech was very quickly noised abroad among the frontier tribes, and caused so much excitement that Sir James Brown, the late Agent to the Governor-General in Baluchistan, said that he believed there would be a general uprising among the Mahomedans of the Frontier if England were to declare war against the Sultan. This is an element in the situation that it may be well for some statesmen to remember. If it be a fact that the Turkish victories roused the Afridis to revolt, then those gentlemen 599 opposite who encouraged Greece to go to war, and so enabled Turkey to win those victories, can fairly put in a claim to share with Her Majesty's Government the responsibility for this outbreak. As for the rising in the Tochi, the Government of India assert positively that it was the outcome of tribal quarrels arising out of a distribution of a fine, and that there is no reason to question their loyalty to their promises made to Government. There were signs of trouble in the Tochi when I was there in 1895, and we were warned that snipeing was possible. The Waziris have always been an awkward and unruly tribe, and judging only from what we saw and heard, I gathered that they had got rather out of hand, and were not being dealt with in the right way. As for Chitral, what was Chitral to them that they should care whether we went or stayed? But, Sir, I believe there is another cause for these Frontier risings in the Punjaub, a cause which might lead to their constant recurrence if it be not removed; a cause upon which our future policy in those regions largely depends; and yet it is a cause that no Indian Government, no Blue Book, would even reveal. There are two systems in operation along the frontier; one is the Baluchistan system and the other the Punjaub system. Before we had been in the Punjaub 48 hours the difference was plainly apparent though we were not looking out for it, as we were totally ignorant of the fact that there was any difference to look out for. How serious this matter is thought to be in some quarters is proved by a statement made by the war correspondent of the Daily Chronicle in November last in these words—That it is beginning to come out that the whole trouble is traceable to the action of the politicals on the Frontier.If we leave out the word "whole," and substitute for "politicals" "political system," I think we shall not be far from 600 the truth; and until the better system is substituted for the worse along the whole-Frontier, I am firmly convinced that we shall never exercise any real influence over, or know what it is to be on terms of peace and goodwill with, the Northern Frontier tribes. I will endeavour to explain the two. When we took over the Punjab we inherited from the Sikhs certain engagements with the frontier tribes which laid upon us certain obligations, and Lord Lawrence formulated a policy which is known as the "Close Border" system, which, I gather, is the system some hon. Gentlemen would like us to revert to now. No doubt that policy succeeded well for a time, and need never have been abandoned if only events would have stood still to please us. But in India, ever since Clive won the battle of Plassy, whether we liked it or not, we have had to move on. It was found that the restrictions of the close border system were injurious to our interests, that we could not, if we would, remain indifferent to all that went on beyond our borders, and that in our dealings with the tribes we were hopelessly handicapped by our total want of anything like effective influence or control over them, due to the fact that our officials were forbidden to go beyond the frontier, or even to dream of its extension. Some people seem to imagine that our Frontier had peace in those days. There never was a greater mistake. The true state of affairs was described by Mr. Thorburn in one sentence—The hill tribes kept the border in a ferment, raiding, robbing, and murdering whenever opportunity offered.Villages were burnt by hundreds. Corn and cattle and all moveable property were carried away, and the inhabitants, British subjects, were slaughtered without mercy. Punitive expeditions had, of course, to be despatched, and of those expeditions in the 28 years, those halcyon 601 years of peace, during which the close border system prevailed, there were fitted out no less than 19, and in addition to them from 50 to 60 guerilla enterprises, employing at one time or another 60,000 men—a number of men equal to the large army now assembled on the frontier. Referring to this system, Lord Beaconsfield remarked—All I can say is that if none of the Viceroys of India have felt the inconvenience, or if they have been insensible to the injury of such a boundary, they were not fit to be Viceroys.I think most people will agree with Lord Beaconsfield's caustic comment. But, as a matter of fact, every Viceroy, from Lord Mayo onwards, did feel the inconvenience of it. The tribes, too, felt the inconvenience of it, as British intervention was frequently sought by the tribes themselves, and in 1897 Lord Lytton writes—We could not decline the position thus decreed to us by a long course of circumstances without thereby incurring the grave responsibility of deliberately plunging into renewed bloodshed and interminable anarchy a neighbouring and friendly State, which has urgently appealed to us for timely rescue from those evils.The days of the non-intervention-cum-expeditions policy were numbered, and at this critical moment a great political genius arose to point out a new and better way. Along the Frontier and in the Punjaub there are two names on every lip—the name of John Nicholson, the Lion of the Punjaub, and the name of Sir Robert Sandeman, the real author of the "Forward" policy, for the "Forward" policy followed inevitably the occupation of Quetta. These great men were as much reverenced by the Natives as by their own countrymen. Their influence over the Border tribes was unequalled; they were moved by much the same principles; they believed in much the same policy, and they carried it out by much the same means. Nicholson said—I feel that I am little fit for regulation work, and I can never sacrifice common sense 602 and justice, or the interests of a people or country, to red tape.Sir R. Sandeman also felt himself unfit for regulation work, and in place of the wooden and effete system of Lord Lawrence he wished to establish, and did establish, in Baluchistan another system more human, sympathetic, and civilising, which was, moreover, imperatively demanded by the exigencies of the political situation. A single quotation from one of his letters will serve to show the House what manner of man he was—To be successful on this frontier a man has to deal with the hearts and minds of the people, and not only with their fears. The possession of the country is of vital importance to us, yet we do not set about obtaining it in the right way. Were it not for my belief in my own system I would not remain here. To be successful requires much labour, and this is what some people will not take. I have taken it, and have had a hard life, but a happy one, in the feeling that I have helped men to lead a quiet and peaceful life in this glorious world of ours.He often proclaimed that his policy was a policy of peace and goodwill. And so it proved to be. In ten years he completely transformed Baluchistan. When he went there it was a country distracted by blood feuds, given up to inter-tribal warfare, caravan routes closed, cultivation dying out, fierce and lawless marauders robbing and murdering in every direction, a welter of confusion and bloodshed, a danger and a nuisance to its neighbours, and a hell to itself. But by his tact and courage, sympathy and patience, he completely changed all this. The tribes were reconciled to each other and to the rule of the British Government, murderers were punished, robberies were suppressed, cultivation and commerce were extended, roads and railways were made, and order and tranquillity prevailed everywhere. The principles he worked on were these, and they ought to be written up in golden letters over the gates of Simla, and on the walls of the India Office—Never assume misbehaving tribes to be in the wrong until you have made careful inquiry; 603 and remember that "Do as you would be done by,' is as good a rule of conduct in dealing with Frontier tribes as with Christians. It is unfair to expect tribes or tribal chiefs to do your work and carry out your policy unless you make it worth their while, and having given them the quid, be careful to exact the quo. Work as far as possible through existing institutions, and in conformity with existing usage. Accord the local chiefs respect and honour, and let tribal disputes be settled as far as possible by jirgahs, or committees, of leading men. This is a vital point in tribal management. Be as ubiquitous as you can, and influence as much as you can, but interfere in details as little as possible.Now, Sir, this is a system which has answered as well in Baluchistan, and I can assure the House that the Punjaub system, when you see it in operation, is a much greater contrast than it appears to be in words. One is a system of sympathetic control. The other is a system of calculated indifference. The one holds out its hand to the tribes, the other turns its back upon them. The one is rough and ready, the other controlled by red tape. The one believes in tributes and tact, the other in subsidies and statutes. The one says to the tribes: "We intend to be your masters, but we will also be your friends, and we will prove to you that your association with us is to your own advantage." The other says: "We intend to occupy certain positions in your territory; if you leave us alone, we will pay you money; if you do not we will shoot you down." The one system has entirely succeeded wherever it has been tried, and the other has repeatedly failed, and this time the failure cannot be ignored. But with this experience before us I am afraid that the Secretary of State for India and the Viceroy seem still to favour the continuance of the discredited Punjaub system, instead of the introduction of the triumphant Baluchistan system; for on the 13th October the noble Lord writes—I understand you to be in favour of strictly limiting our interference with independent tribes, and thus avoiding serious eventual re- 604 sponsibilities involved in extension of administrative control over tribal territory. In this I entirely concur.You cannot get rid of these serious eventual responsibilities, and, however little you like it, you will have to extend your administrative control unless you abandon the frontier altogether. No middle course has a chance of success. You say your policy is "to maintain permanently your position as it existed before these disturbances." Very well, then, you also maintain permanently the risk of another rising; you maintain permanently your unsatisfactory relations with the tribes; you maintain permanently your bad and dangerous system of non-interference-cum-expeditions; you maintain permanently your liability to be engaged at any moment in serious hostilities with the tribes. Some people contend that the Nicholson and Sandeman system is not applicable to Pathan tribes, because they are more democratic and fanatical than the Baluch tribes. I might answer, "How do you know until you have tried?" but I have a better answer than that, which is, that the system I advocate has been tried with Pathan tribes, and it has answered just as well with them as with Baluchi tribes. There were no more fierce, turbulent, fanatical, unruly tribes along the frontier than those which occupied Pishin and Sibi, Harnai, and the Zhob Valley; yet they all yielded to the methods of Sir R. Sandeman, and their country now is as quiet, and they are as easily managed and as well-behaved as the tribes of Baluchistan. The Sheranis of the Suliman Mountains for 40 years troubled the Punjaub, which could do nothing with them, but Sir R. Sandeman reduced them to subjection without difficulty. It was the same with the Waziris; and he says himself that the Waziris and the Sherani, the Mando Khel and other Pathan tribes, do not in any great degree differ from the tribes of Baluchistan, and some do not differ at all. Where difference of race has existed we have found human 605 nature the same, and amenable to like influence. This being so, the course which we ought to take is clear. The first thing we should do is to put the administration of the entire frontier into one department, under one head, so that we might have one uniform system of Frontier management. The Punjaub Government has quite enough to do in looking after the Punjaub, and the Frontier requires a special organisation of its own. Whatever may be the opinion of officials at Simla, I tell the House that from one end of the frontier to the other there is no difference of opinion on this point. Headquarters might be at Peshawur in the winter and at Quetta in the summer. Then you must have a specially trained set of frontier officers, who understand the tribes and their ways, to deal with them. This is of the utmost importance. The Government of India, in 1877, was alive to this, for they wrote—Of one thing we feel certain. If it be conducive to British interests, as we have no doubt it is, to influence the tribes, we must be in contact with them. It is by the everyday acts of earnest, upright English gentlemen that lasting influence must be obtained; not by spasmodic demonstrations, nor any sudden and temporary influence purchased by money and presents.Truer words were never written, and I commend them to the notice of my noble Friend. You must carefully select the right men, and give them, as far as possible, a free hand, if you want to get the tribes under your control. Had Colonel Warburton still been the officer in charge of the Khyber, the Afridis might not have risen. But the Indian Government is not so careful in this very important matter as it might be. Complaints were general along the frontier that no one had a chance of getting on unless he happened to be a personâ grata to the Simla gang. We all know what that means. We have seen the same thing in political Parties at home. There was at Quetta an officer who was one of Sir R. Sandeman's most apt pupils, 606 who was treading in his footsteps, and who was much liked and respected by the tribesmen. A noted freebooter had committed fourteen murders and completely terrorised a certain part of the district. This officer, Captain Gaisford by name, pursued and attacked this murderer at the risk of his life, and in the struggle he killed his opponent. In the chase he had galloped across the border into Afghanistan, and this was held to be so serious an offence that he was deprived of his office and sent into the Madras Presidency, where his talents were wasted. Naturally enough, his dismissal was quite incomprehensible to the tribes. On the Punjaub Frontier there are too many men, learned in the law, ideal officials in a Government office, but who are quite unfit for Frontier work. Of course, you cannot procure a constant supply of Sir Robert Sandemans, but you can procure a trained body of earnest, upright Englishmen, who will apply his principles with vigour, judgment, and success. Then, Sir, it may be asked, admitting this policy is right, what should be our attitude towards the Afridis? We have now a rare chance of bringing the entire frontier under our control, if only we have the courage to do it. Treat the Afridis as we have treated the tribes of Baluchistan, of Pishin, of Sibi, of the Zhob Valley. Establish yourselves permanently in the Tirah valley, make them pay tribute, open out their country, encourage cultivation and commerce, lay down roads, show them that you intend to have the upper hand, make them feel your power, but let them see you intend to use it to their advantage; and in no long time the northern part of the frontier will be as quiet and settled and peaceful as the southern part. The Frontier question will be settled once and for all; the Afridis will bear you no malice; they will feel that they provoked their own fall, and will look upon it as a just punishment for their misdeeds. They will respect you and submit to you if you take 607 a strong line, but if you weakly return to the status quo ante, they will never believe that they were really defeated, and before long you will have fresh trouble with them, and perhaps with other tribes. It is of the most importance to exact tribute, however small. That is a tangible sign of superiority which has a great moral force on an Asiatic. Pay them for work done in the shape of subsidies, but it is a fatal mistake which is sometimes committed in the Punjaub to deduct fines, if you have to impose fines, from the subsidies, for by so doing you punish the headmen, who may be perfectly innocent, and whom you wish to keep as your friends; so that, instead of trying to detect the culprits they are inclined to make common cause with them. To anyone who has studied the question on the spot, who has seen with his own eyes what we have done, the reversal of the Forward policy is inconceivable. The Forward policy has been forced upon us by events over which we had no control. Even Lord Lawrence admitted that an advance of Russia towards Afghanistan would compel us to undertake a rectification of our frontier. If we had remained behind the Indus undoubtedly Afghanistan would have been absorbed by Russia in her victorious march across Asia. She would then have occupied the mountain passes; and it is an accepted canon in military science that the Power which holds the mountains, and possesses what are called by soldiers the issues of the frontier, has an immense advantage over the Power which occupies the plains. This advantage we now possess, and we should be madmen if we abandoned it. Surely this frontier war must have taught us this, if it has taught nothing else, that the country is so terribly difficult to operate in, that the passes are so naturally inaccessible and impregnable, that if they were held by an army as brave and determined as ours, with artillery and all the resources of modern 608 science at their command, no army in the world could possibly break through. While we occupy the mountains India is secure, and in that security we find our full and sufficient compensation for any outlay, however great. And is retirement always the cheapest policy? Our original retirement from Afghanistan, though I do not question its wisdom, cost us two wars and fifty millions of money. If we retire from the frontier now we practically invite Russia to come on, and to what that might eventually cost us no man can set a limit. A policy of precaution is always cheaper than enforced and hurried action. And if we retire, what are we to give up? Let any Gentleman mention a single place, and I will join issue with him. Every post has been chosen with the greatest care, and every post has its uses. Are we to retire from Quetta and allow the tribes to beat the Boran and Harnai railways into swords and ploughshares? Are we to throw back Kelat and Baluchistan and Pishin into anarchy and continual warfare? Are we to lose our control over Kandahar and our power to place an army in Afghanistan at a week's notice? Besides, the occupation of those regions has not only strengthened our frontier, but it has shortened it by 350 miles. Let us go on a little. If it be conceded that we can no more give up British Baluchistan than we can give up the Punjaub, then we cannot retire from the Zhob Valley, as it is practically part of Baluchistan, and if we hold the Zhob Valley we must hold Fort Sandeman, and must also extend our control over the Gomul Pass and Waziristan, which we can only do by holding Wano. It is not enough to hold the Gomul Pass unless you hold the Tochi as well, which debouches close to Bannu and through which you would have to march if you wanted to occupy Ghazni, or attack in flank an invading army marching towards India by Kandahar or Kabul. Next to the Tochi come the Kurram and 609 the Shutagardan Pass, over which Lord Roberts entered Afghanistan. In the Kurram the tribes are your firm friends, and give no trouble. You must also be there, if you are in the Tochi, to prevent an army marching through the Kurram Valley to take you in the flank. If you occupy the Kurram you must occupy the Samana range, which is close to the Kohat, and no one has ever denied that you must keep the pass open between Kohat and Peshawar. There only remains the strip of country between the Kurram and the Khyber that is occupied by the Afridis, and if you plant a cantonment there, say in the Tirah Valley, you have your chain complete, and if we leave that chain incomplete we shall suffer for it again as we are suffering now. I again ask any Gentleman to tell us where our retirement is to begin. I need not ask where it would end, as it requires no gift of divination to see that it would end only with our retirement from India. But we have really no choice in the matter. We must go on whether we will or no. A forward policy is forced upon us by two irresistible arguments—by events from without, and by our national character from within. The constant progresssion of Russia in Asia forbids any retrogression on our part, and you can no more cry "Stop" to the expansive tendencies of our race than Canute could cry "Stop" to the advancing waves. The line of policy that leads to the attainment of the objects we have in view is not necessarily an easy one, but it is clearly marked out for us, and if we take any other we shall fail and our failure will be deserved.
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Clare, East)
After 15 years' experience in this House I have arrived at the conclusion that in this matter of Indian Frontier policy there is very little to choose between the Liberal Party and the Tory Party. So far as I have ascertained, on a somewhat close observation in this 610 House, the policy of outrages, plunder, and pillage, without any justification whatever, has been substantially the policy on both sides. It has been held that, unless you robbed them of as much as you possibly could, you could not impress the Frontier tribes with your superiority. The hon. Member who has just addressed the House said that there was a great difficulty in retiring from the Frontier, because it would be impossible to mention any place from which the Government could really retire. This shows how hollow the whole business is. This is, after all, not a question of the Frontier; it is not a question of drawing the most favourable line to oppose the advance of Russia upon India. It is simply the old policy of extension for the purposes of trade, which has been at the bottom of English policy from time immemorial. Now, I say unhesitatingly that every Irish Member of this House is in absolute sympathy with the Indian Frontier tribes, and it would be little short of a shame if no voice from Ireland were raised against the expenditure of blood and money in the endeavour to suppress a people struggling in defence of their liberties. When we consider that something like 2,000 troops have been sent to their death in the carrying out of this futile and unjust policy, it is little short of a scandal and a shame; and, apart altogether from the argument that these are men who are "rightly struggling to be free," it is a disgrace upon the democracy of this country that a policy should have been pursued which has cost millions of money, and which has resulted in the death of very many of your best troops. If I were a friend of England—which I certainly do not profess to be at the present time—that is what I have said in Dublin, and I repeat it here—I do not want anybody to charge me with saying one thing on the platform in Dublin and another on the floor of this House—if I were a friend of England, I would say that I regard it as a sad and sorry sight to see the gallant men of the Gordon Highlanders and some 611 of the best regiments of this Empire lose their lives in the Passes of the Frontier of India in carrying out such a futile and pernicious policy. I attended, some time ago, a meeting in the City of Dublin of a representative character. It was a meeting which, by the way, had the honour of being commented upon by the right hon. Gentleman the late Home Secretary. When one of the speakers at this meeting expressed the desire that the Afridis would succeed in protecting their country, the audience rose as one man and cheered for the Afridis. The late Home Secretary said that this was a sorry exhibition for Englishmen. No doubt it was, but it expressed absolutely the feeling of the majority of the Irish people. Let there be no mistake about this. The Irish people—at least the majority of the Irish people, who send upwards of eighty out of a hundred Members to this House,—are in sympathy and accord with these men on the frontier of India, who are fighting for their liberty. I do not deny for a moment that when in Ireland—throughout the length and breadth of the country—we read of the wholesale slaughter of English and native troops who were sent to these wars, there is no feeling of satisfaction for the slaughter of these men, but rather a feeling of pity that good soldiers, who know how to meet their death gallantly, should be used in such miserable work; but do not mistake for a moment the feeling of the Irish people. I see the right hon. Gentleman, the Colonial Secretary smiles at this. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman thinks that the sympathy of Irishmen for a people rightly struggling to be free is a matter for laughter——
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES
Really, I was hardly paying any attention to the hon. Member's remarks.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
The right hon. Gentleman, perhaps, is impelled by the same emotion which impels me whenever he speaks, to laugh; I cannot help laughing. However serious his speeches may be, I confess I am always obliged to 612 smile when I think of his earlier political record. Sir, I must say that I cannot refrain from admiring the cool, audacious way in which this very respectable House settles down to calmly discuss a policy which is really nothing short of wholesale pirating, and murder, and pillage. I cannot withhold some small share of admiration for the cool, audacious way in which Englishmen plot and plan their nefarious designs. If the Government are allowed to pursue this policy, if this Amendment is rejected, it will simply mean this, that fresh murders will be committed, more villages will be burned, and thousands of people on the frontier will be reduced to misery and starvation, and hopelessness—all in the interests of civilisation. The hon. Member for the Ecclesall Division of Sheffield—a type of Englishman that I really admire very much—came down to the House this evening, and in the course of his speech vapoured and spoke about British prestige. Nobody, he said, on the Liberal Benches had any consideration for British prestige. Well, it is very easy for the hon. Gentleman to talk in that way, but I always notice that gentlemen who come down after a comfortable dinner, and talk about British prestige, do not seem inclined to go to India themselves and help the gallant Highlanders and other troops to maintain the British prestige of which they talk so loudly. But, Sir, perhaps it is wise, in the interests of this country, that the hon. Gentleman does not go, because the Afridis, opinion of British prestige does not seem to be very high up to now, and if British prestige were presented to them in the person of the hon. Member it might be still less. These operations have resulted already in the loss of close upon 2,000 troops, and the expenditure of some two and a half millions of money. I maintain that every Irishman is interested in this, not merely from the point of view of sympathy with a struggling people, but because of the share which Ireland will have to bear of this heavy expenditure.
§ House adjourned at ten of the clock.