Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding £50,971, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come
in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1899, for the salaries and expenses of the Department of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
Whereupon. Motion made, and Question proposed—
That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £100, in respect of the salary of the Secretary of State."—(Sir Charles Dilke.)
§ * SIR C. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
The Committee of the House has a sufficient knowledge of what passes in the full House for every Member to be well aware that a day was refused by the Government for the discussion of a Motion upon the subject of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs being also Prime Minister. The present day was granted by the Government for the general discussion of the Foreign Office Vote at the request of the-Leader of the Opposition, and I think also at what wan the unanimous wish of the House. Under these circumstances I propose to-day to deal rather with what seems to me to have been the failure of the Government in the conduct of the foreign affairs of the country during the last year than with the causes of that failure. There is, perhaps, the more reason for separating the two things on this occasion, inasmuch as there is another cause of failure in addition to the cause which I have named, which would carry us rather far in extending the discussion to-night, and that is, that the Foreign Office has been engaged in an increasing degree upon matters other than its own proper work. For example, the Foreign Office now administers what are in fact colonies, and colonies which are very difficult to administer, and in which such questions as Zanzibar slavery and the question of the fugitive slaves in the coast-strip of British East Africa perplex it, and add greatly to the already difficult task of governing. The Foreign Office has now its own armies, such as the Central Africa Rifles, the Uganda Rifles, and several distinct forces of Indian troops; all of these are under Foreign Office control, and, accordingly, the Foreign Office wages and carries on wars. In the present year it has carried on the war against the Zulus, near the Zambesi, and also a very serious war in- 1318 deed in Uganda and Buddu. It has also fitted out expeditions such as the Juba expedition, which has already been discussed in this House, and it has made such a grievous mistake as to appoint to command the Soudanese troops an officer known to be the most obnoxious to those troops. Many of these mistakes which have been made—many of the failures which have taken place—in our foreign affairs would not have happened had the Foreign Office not been overburdened with work other than its own diplomatic work, which it should have been left free to concentrate its energies upon. In my opinion, no better step in the right direction could be taken than to free the Foreign Office from these matters, which are not its own proper concern. With regard to the chief points of failure in the foreign affairs of this country, I should like to allude very briefly to those two which were mentioned a year ago upon this Vote, because they have come up again in the course of this last 12 months. On the Vote, last year we referred principally to the question of Crete. Whenever we criticise the conduct of the Foreign Office it is said to us that we ought to submit some alternative policy, and the Members of the Government, speaking in the country, constantly taunt the Opposition with having no foreign policy of their own as an alternative. I will not make the classical retort that when "called in" we will prescribe—but there is a quotation from Burke in his famous speech on Conciliation with America which seems to me to be peculiarly applicable. The quotation is this—It generally argues some degree of natural impotence of mind or some want of knowledge of the world to hazard plans of government except from a seat of authority.But in reference to this Cretan question, we did propose an alternative policy. We did point out to the House, and I believe that facts have justified us in what we said a year and a half ago in the early spring, that the Cretan question was at the disposal of Her Majesty's Government, and the Government could have settled that question consistently with the traditions of this country and consistently with the cause of freedom and of progress in the Fast. When the 1319 Eastern Question was shifted from Armenia to Crete it was brought into a tangible form. Crete was surrounded by our fleets and the disposal of that question rested with us, because we should have carried Russia and France with us in the policy which is now being adopted in Crete, and I believe that all the Powers would have concurred more or less willingly in that course. I do not believe that had that course been pursued which we recommended there would have been the faintest risk of war, and Crete would have been saved a year and a half of anarchy. Instead, however, of doing that England preferred to play a backward part. On that occasion we also complained of the manner in which the Government treated the House on this Cretan question. That treatment has continued throughout the year, a treatment which was brought to a head when Lord Salisbury, the Prime Minister of England, referred us for a foreign policy to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of France. In the case of Crete it seems to me that the Government only took Parliament into their confidence when they had met with failure, and that has been the case also with regard to China. The other matter which I mentioned last year on the vote was an attack by us—I think it was a very brief one—upon the manner in which the Government seems to have gone out of its way to invite Russia to operate in the Gulf of Pechili. We did not raise the question as to whether it was wise or not to stand in the way of Russia obtaining such a port. We did suggest that it was somewhat unwise of the Government, who afterwards seem to have changed their minds, that they should go out of their way to invite Russia to Port Arthur. The Government now deny that Port Arthur was at that time in their thoughts, but in all the Pekin news from April, 1895, and especially in October, 1895, Port Arthur had been named as the port which Russia intended to occupy. The Cassini Convention named that as the port, and although the Government told us that the Cassini Convention did not exist, that Convention has had the most extraordinary way of fulfilling itself in every word and in every detail. These were the two matters we mentioned last year, 1320 and I venture to suggest to the Committee that the criticisms which we then urged have been fully justified by subsequent events, and our predictions, even in the absence of that information which this Government alone possesses, have come true. It seems to many of us that the conduct of public affairs by the Foreign Office has gone from bad to worse. The Government are in possession of an immense majority in the House. They have the support of the House. They have the support even of those who express very freely to us their difference from the Government in the conduct of foreign affairs on many heads, because they think it is better to give the Government their general support, and justify themselves by saying that although the Government have made some mistakes if gentlemen on this side of the House were in office they would have made greater. Now, the Government, with this immense majority, unhampered by the House of Commons and less hampered by the Opposition than was ever any Government, have failed in almost every point in the conduct of foreign affairs. In Crete paralysis still, at this moment, continues, and in other places which I shall have to name, the story of the failure is told by the papers which the Government themselves have chosen for presentation to the House. I think, Sir, that the country is itself perhaps not entirely blameless for the failure in foreign affairs which has occurred. There has, undoubtedly, been a great deal too much shouting in the last few years and not enough of foresight—too much of what I should call a blind and indiscriminate feeling and use of Jingo language, which I, for one, although I am called a Jingo—[Mr. COURTNEY: Hear, hear.]—should be the first to repudiate. [Cheers from the Conservative benches.] I will take up that cheer, because my right honourable Friend has called me an Imperialist and a Jingo. I am one of those who are in favour of large armaments for this country, and believe in increasing the strength of our defences for the sake of peace, and one of the very reasons why I desire that is because I repudiate the idea of making our policy depend upon the policy of 1321 others, and I have always repudiated, and never ceased to repudiate, the policy of grab which is commonly associated with the name of Jingo, and in every case where that policy has prevailed I have gone into the Lobby with my right honourable Friend in opposition to that policy. As regards that portion of the globe in which that policy has most prevailed, there can be no doubt that during last year the practice of painting the globe red on maps which has gone on merrily for some years past has received a check. Books of reference containing maps show large territories as white now which a year ago were coloured pink as though they were in the possession of this country. In the whole of that policy of grab there was too little reality. The whole thing was a sham. We were aiming at a Chinese kind of glory. Clearly it has received a check during this present year, and if I blame the public to any extent for what has occurred, it is be cause, as I said just now, there has been a want of foresight—a want of calmly making up your mind in advance as to what you were going to stick to—aye or no—which has led to many of the disasters which have occurred. Now, Sir, I submit that the worst policy in these matters is to have regard to our own rights only and not to the rights of others. We want our country to be viewed with that respect which men will ever cherish for unbending integrity of purpose. We should be more scrupulous with regard to asserting nominal rights which we do not intend to maintain. That is a dangerous policy, but it is one which has unfortunately been pursued by this country in the last few years. As I have observed this afternoon, since this Vote was discussed last year matters seem to have gone from bad to worse so far as the conduct of foreign affairs is concerned. The Queen's Speech, at the end of the Session last year, mentioned two matters to the House; on was what was called by this curious title, "A convention for a more advantageous frontier for Burmah," otherwise known as the Kiang-hung Convention, and the other was a treaty with Menelik—I mean the Abyssinian Treaty, which has now been published. With regard to this latter, I will only say 1322 that whilst it makes a cession of territory it makes no settlement of dangerous questions which are involved on the Abyssinian frontier. On the contrary, it hands over to others a slice of one British Protectorate and leaves the larger and more important British Protectorate, which adjoins Abyssinia, to the exploits and enterprise of Count Leontieff. With regard the Kiang-hung Convention, I should like to point out to this House that it begins with this statement—In consideration of the Government of Great Britain consenting to waive its objections to the alienation by China by convention with France of territory forming a portion of Kiang-hung in derogation of the provisions of the Convention of 1895.This was a cession by China to France of territory which had been ceded by us to China on the express understanding that it should not be so re-transferred to France, and that rebuff to us—that very serious rebuff to our policy—was brought about by violent pressure applied by France and Russia at Pekin, I am bound to say that the passing over of that matter in the manner in which it was passed over by the Government does not seem to me to have been in the cause of peace, for the reasons which I shall give. As to the Siam arrangement, out of which this rebuff to the Government policy arose, there has been perhaps some difference of opinion as to the extent of the criticism which has been directed against it. Lord Rosebery, who was responsible for the previous settlement effected under his Government, has declared that the Siam arrangement was already a gift to France, as compared to the state of things he left when he went out of office. Lord Salisbury, when he came into office, found a buffer State accepted—admitted to be so by France. This he gave up. He let France have Batambong and Siemrap, and the Trans-Mekong part of British Keng-cheng. ["No!"] This is an accurate statement of what was transferred by the arrangement made when Lord Salisbury came into power.
§ * SIR C. DILKE
Well, they are under the sphere of French influence, and Chantabown is actually occupied by French forces; so that to all intents and purposes they have been transferred to France, and are under French, influence at the present time. When this transfer was referred to I protested against it, and the right honourable Gentleman who, when in Opposition, told us the value of what we have lost, in office pacified us by stating that the upper Mekong was not available for navigation, and yet I believe there is at the present time a French steamer on it now where they said no ship could possibly go. But in this connection I am only concerned at the rebuff received by this country. Lord Salisbury was a free agent, and in this case he was not bound by his own past as he was bound in the case of Madagascar and Tunis. He could, in fact, have done what he chose. But this remarkable rebuff, and the way in which he took it, does not, judging from other events which I shall have to describe, seem to have conduced to the cause of peace. Now, Sir, in addition to the Cretan and Abyssinian failures and this Kiang-hung rebuff, we have the new Foreign Office Papers sent out since last Session concerning the state of China, the Tunis Convention, and Papers concerning Madagascar. With regard to the Tunis Convention with France, that is wholly new since last year. That Convention gives up our perpetual trade Treaty, and it creates a temporary arrangement with, regard to cottons, not including yarns, and it gives up what is the most important point of all —our Most-Favoured-Nation treatment. Now, commercial Members of this House, as well as those who are conversant with diplomacy, know how essential to this country the principle of the most favoured nation clause has been. We do not ask for especially favourable treatment for ourselves, but what we do want is that other people shall not have specially favoured treatment at our expense.
* MR. CURZON
I am again sorry to interrupt the right honourable Gentleman, but I must point out that by the 1324 Treaty we retain our favoured nation rights in Tunis for 40 years.
§ * SIR C. DILKE
Not so far as France is concerned, and that is the whole point. We no longer have a special market for our goods. We have the clause, but we have the favoured market given to another Power. That is the whole point, because the trade with Tunis is almost entirely either British or French. Now, Sir, this case, as I say, differs from the case of Siam, because Lord Salisbury could not help himself. He was bound by his own past. When our Government occupied Cyprus, for reasons which we have always thought insufficient, and in pursuance of a policy which has always appeared to us to be unwise, the French Ambassador, M. Waddington, before the opening of the Congress at Berlin, informed the French nation, in a dispatch published in France, that when be had grumbled Lord Salisbury had voluntarily suggested Tunis to him, and had gone out of his way to suggest to the French that they should have Tunis, saying, "Why don't you take Tunis? You cannot leave Carthage in the hands of the barbarians." Lord Salisbury never contested that statement, and he replied that M. Waddington had "remembered with entire accuracy the general drift" of his remarks, but that there had not been a direct offer by this country, but only "a speculative discussion." Well, Sir, whatever it may have been, there is no doubt that the French nation believed, and that M. Waddington went to his grave believing, that there had been a special and positive offer by this country of Tunis to France. When France ultimately went to Tunis in 1881 we were able to preserve our Treaty, hopelessly, as our case had been given away by Lord Salisbury on the occasion to which I have referred. We obtained from France the promise that our "Treaty of 1875 is to remain in force." Yet, in spite of that, Lord Salisbury was so deeply committed by his past in this matter, that he was hardly able to contest the French change of view, so that this perpetual Treaty is gone, and we lost our Most-Favoured-Nation treatment as compared with France. Now, Sir, the question is, did even this concession help on the cause of peace? Have subsequent concessions which the Government have made in other parts of the, world 1325 gone to show that this policy of concession staves off future demands? Were they worth making for the sake of general peace? Should we not be likely to preserve peace more steadily and certainly if we stood up for our own legal rights, not by the use of violent language, but in a peaceful and quiet manner holding our own? That is the question. Where have, been the greatest dangers between ourselves and France since this Tunis concession? They are, I think, at the present moment, in West Africa, where France is camped in the back country of the Gold Coast and of Lagos; and, at all times, in Newfoundland In both this self-governing colony and in Africa we are at the mercy of events, with little power in control them. But let us contrast the action of the two Governments in these two cases. In the case of Newfoundland we hold that we are bound by the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht, which was imposed on France at the close of a victorious war in 1713. We not only maintain the terms of that Treaty so far as they go against us, but we have gone infinitely beyond the strict terms of the Treaty in the concessions to France which we have made for the sake of peace. For example, last year, and perhaps this year—there are changes every year, and I have no knowledge of what has taken place this year—but last year, in the month of May, we compelled all the fishermen on the coast to sell bait to the French at a lower price than that at which they had been allowed to sell to other fishermen, including those from the United States; and that was done for the sake of peace without legality—entirely without law, but under the powers which the naval officers on the station have. That instance alone goes to show to what extremes we haves gone in the direction of concession, as compared with the invasion of our rights elsewhere by the Power principally concerned. With regard to West Africa, I cannot, of course, deal with the territorial settlement which seems to have been arrived at, and I am dealing only with the notorious fad that in October last negotiations were proceeding in Paris between Sir Edmund Monson and M. Hanotaux with a view of reaching it settlement, and that in December the French force, which knew that those negotiations were still 1326 in progress, advanced into a territory which they knew we claimed as our own. In December, while the Conference was still sitting at Paris, a fresh invasion of the Lagos back country took place, and an armed march was made by a French expedition into Borgu. As late as the 31st of December there was desperate fighting near Niki, between French troops who knew that the Conference was sitting, and natives under our protection; and in February a forward French movement was renewed. To judge from this invasion during diplomatic, negotiations, the Tunis Convention itself does not seem to have promoted the cause of peace. I am bound to say that such proceedings, after the manner in which we had yielded to French pressure, not only in China but in Siam, and in Tunis, do not show that our concessions have produced that regard for our assumed rights, or even for diplomatic relations, which we should have been inclined, under the circumstances, to expect. Now, Sir, when such transactions are criticised the Government always reply in both Houses by asking, "Would you have gone to war at this or that particular point, for this or that particular object?" But I wish to submit to the Committee that that is not a fair argument. It is not one which has been allowed in the case of those who have been most successful in the conduct of foreign affairs in this country. The man, perhaps of all others, who conducted the foreign affairs of this country with the greatest success, and maintained the peace with the respect of all parties in the State, was Mr. Canning, and I believe his action is repudiated now only by the right honourable Member for Thanet, who I do not see in his place. Mr. Canning (who was not a war Minister), when he was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and when he was Prime Minister —for he refused to be both at the same time—always ridiculed that doctrine in this House. There was one remarkable occasion, when Russia was interfering with our trade to our Hudson Bay posts on the frontier of her Alaska territory. Russia, of course, held Alaska, which she afterwards sold to the United States. Russia, actually issued an Imperial ukase sinned by the Emperor himself. Russia was a formidable, and was viewed at that 1327 moment as a friendly Power, for she had the warm support of the Duke of Wellington at that time. Russia interfered with our trade to the Hudson Bay posts, and Mr. Canning was appealed to to make a concession. He repudiated that ukase as an invasion of our Treaty rights. There were some friends of peace in this House who found fault with Mr. Canning's action, but he produced by his protest a withdrawal of the ukase, signed by the Emperor of Russia though it was. After that there was a Debate in this House on the question of the Treaty rights, and Mr. Canning, as the true man of peace, triumphed over those who called themselves its friends and had been in favour of concession or surrender. He pointed out that the best way to maintain peace was to stand firmly by our rights, not by the use of strong language, but with patient adherence to our rights. There was another case quite recently. The late Government, with regard to Siam, in July, 1893, laid down the principle that they must stand by what they believed to be the rights of this country in Siam, and it was supposed by some that they ran a great risk of war by telling a great Power plainly what they could not tolerate. There was not much said about their action at the time, but it produced the effect that our rights were respected in Siam, and points were successfully maintained which subsequently have, in some degree, been given up. Well, now, Sir, it always appears to me in these cases that there is some confusion in our minds about this risk of war. On such occasions, if the intention of the other Power is to avoid war, war will be avoided when you quietly hold your own. But if the intention of the other Power is war, there will be no lack of pretexts to bring it about. The other new Papers since last year consist mainly of the volume on Madagascar, which ends with the rejection by France of the protest by Lord Salisbury. The effect of the correspondence is summed up in a few words that may be quoted from the correspondence itself. They are that there are no longer any treaties, and that, as in Tunis, the Most-Favoured-Nation treatment is gone from us—The French Government have simply taken possession of the island.1328The French cutsoms tariff will be substituted for that at present in force.These words are all taken from the Papers. How has this come about? On the first day of the present Session I ventured to make some allusion to this particular case, and the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in reply to me on that occasion, merely said that he "could not admit the accuracy"—those were his words—"of my 'historical survey.'" Well, Sir, he cheers that statement, but I am afraid I must trouble him to discuss it on this occasion, because I am prepared to maintain the strict accuracy of that "historical survey," as I put it before the House. The matter is of some importance. Madagascar was, in the wider sense of the phrase, a part of Greater Britain. It was the great success outside our own dominions in promoting the influence of this country. We had the whole of the trade with Madagascar except some American trade. Our trade stood easily first, and American trade was easily second. The country was the greatest field of our missionary enterprise in the world. Our missionaries of the London Missionary Society, of the Church of England, and of the Society of Friends had civilised Madagascar. The English tongue was taught in schools more numerous and more successful than existed in any country inhabited by dark-skinned races. Madagascar had become far more English than the greater portion of the lands we rule as parts of the Empire itself. But now, Sir, our influence has disappeared under circumstances which I should like, as briefly as I can, to describe. Let me first say that in Madagascar, as in Siam and as in Tunis, Lord Salisbury appears to have given away what was not ours to give, against the interests of this country. That is his policy of concession. In defending himself during the Recess. Lord Salisbury said that this charge against him was the cruellest of all, because Madagascar was "invaded" and "conquered," not in his time, but in the time of Mr. Gladstone. He afterwards said, speaking of Siam, Tunis, and Madagascar, in reply, I think, to my right honourable Friend the late Home Secretary's speech, in reference to these and other matters, that these things had been done, but "done 1329 by Mr. Gladstone"—a most extraordinary statement, as I will show. Madagascar was attacked, not for the first time, by France in the time of Mr. Gladstone. That invasion was even less successful than some previous attempts to invade Madagascar, and, so far from the island being conquered, the French were repeatedly repulsed, and at the end of a long war, their troops had never got beyond the protection of the fire of their ships' guns. Their operations had been closely watched by us, for in the course of them a British missionary, Mr. Shaw, had been wrongfully imprisoned at Tamatave on the charge of poisoning French troops. His release was insisted upon by us, and the compensation we demanded was given, in a manner very different from the manner in which compensation has been refused on some later occasions. Now, Sir, on the occasion to which I have referred, so far from there being a "conquest" of the island, there was a very long war and no conquest at all, and the war was brought to an end, as was our Afridi campaign in which we were less unsuccessful, by an arrangement which was satisfactory to everybody. The Patrimonio-Miot Treaty hung fire for a long time, and was ultimately signed by the Hova Plenipotentiaries on the receipt of a letter from the French Plenipotentiaries, which expressly declared that nothing in the nature of a Protectorate was intended by France. Hova sovereignty over the whole island of Madagascar was for the first time in history admitted by France. France was to have a Resident in the capital, as we have a Resident in the Transvaal. The best proof that Madagascar was not conquered was that our treaties continued with the Hova. Government. But what subsequently occurred? In July, 1890, an agreement was concluded by Lord Salisbury, which itself would appear to have no relation to this matter, but which, in fact, was the death-knell of the Hova Government and of our Treaty. It was an Anglo-German agreement relative to Africa and Heligoland. It brought Germany across Africa to Victoria Falls on the Zambesi, where no German had ever been, and created that wasp waist which mars the configuration of our South African dominions. Further north, it recognised the Peters Treaties of Novem- 1330 ber, 1886, and brought Germany to the centre of Africa, and from the other side to meet the Congo State; and so dammed up all chance of a Cape-to-Cairo British road. The Government case was that it was too late to have saved the territory included in the Peters, Treaties of 1886. But the Church Missionary stations might still have sufficed to save to us that most important strip between Tanganyika and the Nyanza Lakes. Great Britain engaged—to use all her influence to facilitate a friendly arrangement, by which the Sultan of Zanzibar shall cede absolutely to Germany his possessions on the mainland comprised in existing concessions.We got the rest of Zanzibar, but had previously possessed all its trade. Mr. Disraeli had refused a Protectorate of the whole. The foreign settlers were British Indian settlers with great interests. Under the clause I quote we, as the virtual Government of Zanzibar, had to exercise that pressure on the Sultan which was needed to induce him to transfer half his dominions to the Germans. In addition to the other provisions of this agreement, "the island of Heligoland, together with its dependencies," was "ceded by Her Britannic Majesty to H.M. the Emperor of Germany." Anybody but the Foreign Office would have said "the German Emperor," which is his title. The cession of Heligoland —a British colony—against the wishes of its inhabitants—to a country whose language they did not speak, and to which they had never belonged, was thrown into this arrangement, which was bad enough without it. The concession was defended by Lord Salisbury on such grounds as that Heligoland—a British colony—was within a few hours' steam of a foreign arsenal, which is true of Alderney and Cherbourg. At the first Colonial Conference, Lord Salisbury, speaking of the New Hebrides, and of what he thought, as against the Australians, his inability to induce the French to leave them, said, "You cannot negotiate Great Powers out of islands." Lord Salisbury was negotiated out of Heligoland in this agreement—bad upon all points, but had also to promise to cram the arrangement down, the throat of France. In August, 1890, there followed "declarations between Great Britain and France respecting Africa,"— 1331 that Africa which, according to Lord Salisbury (and I am inclined to agree with him), was "created to be the bane, the curse, of the Foreign Office." We had a previous agreement with France to respect Zanzibar—an agreement which suited us, but which, under German pressure, we had broken. By these declarations of August, 1890—the Government of the French Republic consents to modify the arrangement of the 10th March, 1862, and to recognisethe new arrangement for Zanzibar. The consideration was a double one. France was given that Say-Barua line which has been claimed at the elections in France as the greatest of the triumphs over us of the present Foreign Minister, who was the permanent official of the French Foreign Office who drew up this agreement. On the 4th November, 1890, the then Foreign Minister of France, M. Ribot, explaining the Say-Barua agreement to the French Chamber, said—The English are strongly established near Say, and had intended to push on 800 kilometres above Say to Bourem, where they could menace Timbuctoo, and create great difficulties for us.That is not true. We were not at Say, but the fact does not affect the French Minister's argument, which was that the acceptance by us of the Say-Barua line was a triumph for French diplomacy. The other consideration was—The Government of Her Britannic Majesty … recognises the Protectorate of France over the island of Madagascar, with its consequences.The result of this recognition of a sham Protectorate was that Madagascar was now really "conquered," and was annexed. The fate of our missions may be seen by those who read their annual reports; for instance, those of the London Missionary Society, of which the treasurer is a Member of this House, and which has the greater number of the schools. Though they ceased, on a French Government order, to teach English, and now teach only the French tongue, yet the treatment they have met with contrasts sharply with that which we have meted out to the French missions in Uganda, to whom compensation was lately voted by us. The acts of Lord 1332 Salisbury in all these cases conflict with what is declared to be the Government policy, namely—The maintenance of free markets even where that involves the acquisition of new territory and the taking up of a very firm attitude in regard to any attempt which may be made to deprive us of a territory which we already possess.The actual policy of the Government points wholly in a different direction; their policy, in place of opening new markets, has tended to the loss of old ones. In the Madagascar case I presume the reply will be to give up Lord Salisbury's own defence: "All this was done: it was done by Mr. Gladstone," and to say, "Lord Salisbury protested: would you have fought?" But it was Lord Salisbury's own act that put France into Tunis, not ours to give, against our interest—which put France into Madagascar, not ours to give, against our interest. If it was declared that, under the words "Protectorate with its consequences," it was intended at all hazards to retain our Treaties with the Hova Government, it is evident that the language often used by Lord Salisbury in the case of Tunis is a clear temptation to annexation in all such cases. Lord Salisbury told a deputation of merchants, and he told the House of Lords, that it was best to make what arrangements he could, although temporary, because the Regency of Tunis under French protection was "a bad life." That appears to me to admit the right of annexation. This matter of annexation as against protectorate bears on the China leases. These leases are an unhappy fiction, such as was resorted to in the case of our own Cyprus agreement, to preserve the integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire. It was, in that case, a naked fiction, for Cyprus was taken as "a place of arms," and if it remained a portion of the Turkish dominions Turkey would have committed a breach of her neutrality in every war in which we might take part by letting us use Cyprus. The fact is, as everyone knows, that there is a real transfer of sovereignty in these cases, and the lease is only a fiction. Such leases constitute, in reality, an alienation of sovereignty. Lord Salisbury has now himself explained his China policy, and on the 4th of May he defended it in the 1333 course of an interesting speech, in which he showed himself with a mind so speculative that it appears to conceal from him the facts themselves. The only new point, however, was that our base in the Gulf of Pechili is, as he puts it, to be defended from the sea. Now, we all know that the greatest terror of the Admiralty is this increase of bases, which tie the fleet and call upon it to support military bases by naval means. We shall never know, I suppose, what was the answer given by the Admiralty when they were consulted by the Government as to the acquisition of these bases on lease, but I should be much astonished if they did not express a doctrine very different from that which Lord Salisbury adopted. The fact is, Sir, that we have been scattering our strength in place of concentrating it on essential points, and we have, therefore, risked and met with failure everywhere in these matters since our last year's discussion upon the Vote. But there is one success among all these matters, and that is in securing better relations with the United States. Can that one success, of better relations with the United States, be ascribed to the policy of the Government? The policy of the Government, as one of my honourable Friends behind me has described it, has been a rash and feeble policy. It was especially so in regard to the United States, because a short time ago Lord Salisbury wrote an admirable dispatch, absolutely refusing to arbitrate in the Venezuelan question for reasons excellently given, and then yielded. If that had been the only case in which a policy both rash and feeble had been followed, we should have lauded the attainment of good relations with the United States, and not have been too particular as to the discredit which that method involved. But I am bound to give the credit to our excellent Ambassador at Washington, Sir Julian Pauncefote, who is a laborious, courteous, able, and strong Englishman, a typical and representative Briton. Credit for better relations with the United States is also, I am convinced, due in a high degree to the Leader of the Opposition in this House. I do not know what may have passed privately, but, to judge from the little that occurred in public, I think that much of the credit for our better relations with the United States must be due 1334 to the Leader of the Opposition, who prevented an attack upon the Government at a most critical point, and covered their change of front. But, assuming that we have many friends in the United States, where else shall we find them? We always claim, the friendship of Italy, but the friendship of Italy was brought about by a policy exactly the opposite of that of the present Government. Lord Palmerston brought about the friendship of Italy by his policy in regard to Sicily, which was a policy exactly opposite to the policy pursued by the present Government in the case of Crete. Our happiest relations in. the world are, indeed, the direct result of sound policy in the past. Our greatest friendly trade relations are vastly more important than those which we have with either our Australian or our American Colonies, or than those which we are likely to have with our largely extended dominions in Africa. They are with countries which were called into existence as States by the policy of Mr. Canning. Our trade relations with America, south of the United States, are fabulously great, and this country hardly realises what they are. Almost the greatest of our export markets are in Canning's America, to which we sent in 1896 over 23 millions worth of goods of our own production, and that trade is steadily and fast increasing, infinitely more than we sent to all Australia, three times as much as we sent to Hong-kong and China together, though the amounts of those trades should not be united. To one South American Republic alone, to Argentina, with only 1,800,000 people, we send of our own British produce seven millions sterling worth in the year; vastly more than we despatch to five millions of our own white British subjects in the Canadian Dominion. These great countries south of the United States were brought into existence by the wise policy of this country in a former period. Such friendships, such commerce, are the blessings which have flowed from a policy neither rash nor feeble, and they have lasted through long periods of our national life. They are the direct result of a policy pursued by a former Minister of this country, wholly different from the policy which the present Ministry have adopted. Well, now, Sir, apart from these friendships, we have lately had laid open for us a policy of 1335 something more than friendships—a policy of alliances. I read the speech lately made by the Colonial Secretary in connection with two speeches made by the Leader of the House. The Leader of the House alluded on two occasions to the desirability of closer relations between ourselves and Germany, and he did so in reference to certain affairs in China, in which there had been some measure of conflict between this country and Russia. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, speaking at Birmingham on the 13th of May, appears to have contemplated something like standing or permanent alliances. There is no question with regard to the United States. Nothing could be stronger, I believe, than the desire of every Member of this House, and of almost everybody in the country, that we should have closer relations and greater friendship with the United States, that our friendship should be unbroken, that our ends should be common ends, and that to every possible extent we should work together in pursuance of those ends. But I doubt whether anyone thinks in his heart that, at all events at .the present day, there could be what may be called a war alliance, for the purpose of making war against any enemies of this country, or forgets that any alliance with the United States must be influenced by the Irish policy of this country. Let me, therefore, only say this: every man welcomes an alliance, if you like to call it so, of hearts between the two countries, but none of us, and few Americans, think that it would be likely to produce what may be called a war alliance. Now, what had the Secretary of State for the Colonies exactly in view? I make no apology for discussing this question, as it appears to me to be the gravest question we can discuss in reference to the past and the future foreign policy of this country. The right honourable Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies used these words—I believe that if the policy of isolation is to be maintained, the fate of China probably will be decided in defiance of our interests.It seems to me, therefore, that he has pledged himself against a policy of isolation, because the Government have pledged themselves against the fate of China being decided in defiance of our interests. The Government have told us 1336 directly that the fate of China is not to be decided in defiance of our interests, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was defended by the Leader of the House, has gone so far as to say that even "at the risk of war" the fate of China shall not be so decided. The Secretary of State for the Colonies said that if we were determined to pursue the object of equal opportunities of trade, we must not reject the idea of an alliance with those Powers whose interests are most nearly approximate to our own, and I think he was specially speaking of the case of China. Well, Sir, no doubt the Government are pledged to pursue the policy of an equal opportunity for trade, although I confess that I think the facts I have pointed out in regard to other cases show that they have not successfully maintained that policy in action. But, Sir, what were the Powers which the right honourable Gentleman had in view when he went on further to say that unless we were allied to some great "military Power," we could not "seriously injure" Russia? Those words, "we cannot seriously injure Russia," no doubt must only point to this fact, that if, unfortunately, we should be drawn into a war with Russia, Russia is a Power with which it is difficult to make peace. If we were at war with Russia it might be found difficult to bring that war to a satisfactory conclusion, and it is no doubt to this well-known fact that the Secretary of State alluded in using the words, "unless we are allied to some great military Power." Now, Sir, I cannot but treat those words as being at least an invitation to this country to consider a system of permanent or standing alliances with the Power which was pointed at by the Leader of the House—namely, Germany. Those words, I confess, seem to me capable of no other interpretation, and I should like, in conclusion, to say a few words upon that most important branch of our foreign relations. I will not taunt the Government with the bad reception given to their overtures by the German Press, because I admit that the German Press is not Germany. The language of the German Press does not often continue for long periods to have much relation to the conduct of public affairs in Germany, and its language at one time has often before happily been exchanged for other language, and may be again. 1337 But, Sir, I should like to point out the reasons which make it unlikely that Germany could ever offer this country a permanent or standing alliance which would be valuable in view of war. Personally, I am entirely opposed to the policy of alliance, standing or permanent. I believe it is far better for us to keep the control of our policy free from any of those connections with other Powers in time of peace. I am not speaking of alliances with an immediate view of war—for in such an event no doubt allies would be found in various portions of the world with common interests with our own—but anything like a policy of permanent or standing alliances would lead us very far. The question now is whether there is any prospect that Germany would ever consent to bear in Europe the brunt of defending our interests and the most dangerous of our responsibilities. As I have pointed out, a standing war alliance with Germany seems to have been repudiated by the whole German Press. It could hardly be an alliance binding enough and general enough to meet our greatest risks and needs. We had such alliances throughout the last century, but, while we paid their price, they often failed us at a pinch; and as for our alliances in the great war, after Austerlitz we were at war with the whole world. As matters stand, our fleets, if not sufficient, can be increased at a less cost of money and of policy than that by which such alliances can be supported. As regards land war, our heaviest drain is India. India is the great nightmare of this country so far as military defence is concerned; but would Germany be likely to lessen the weight of that nightmare? Is it probable that Germany would bear in Europe the brunt of assisting in defending India or our China trade? I cannot myself think that she would do so, and I especially disbelieve in the possibility of our ever obtaining from Germany anything like a permanent or standing alliance against the great power of Russia. The Secretary of State for the Colonies said we cannot seriously injure Russia without an alliance with a great military Power. What has Prince Bismarck said upon this subject? I quote him for this reason. He is the highest authority on the possible alliances of Germany, and his policy 1338 in that respect has been avowed in the German Parliament over and over again. Although it was at one time rejected, it has now reasserted itself, and his policy since 1895 has been readopted by the German Emperor. In 1887 Prince Bismarck made this statement—Our friendship for Russia suffered no interruption during the time of our wars, and stands to-day beyond all doubt. We shall not … let anyone throw his lasso round our neck in order to embroil us with Russia.Then in 1888 he declared that if, unfortunately, the opposite view should prevail, and such an entanglement of Germany could be brought about—No great power can in the long run cling to the wording of any Treaty in contradiction to the interests of its own people. It is sooner or later compelled to say 'we cannot keep to that,' and must justify this, announcement as well as it can.That was said when Prince Bismarck was in power. In 1889 Prince Bismarck's views fell into discredit, and after he fell from power the present German Emperor, in 1890, renewed the Triple Alliance without renewing the alliance with Russia that Prince Bismarck had made. But, Sir, in 1895 Prince Bismarck's understanding with Russia was renewed. The Bismarck policy was again proclaimed, and the relations of those two countries have never been closer than they are at the present time. And, therefore, I hold that any notion of a permanent or standing alliance with Germany against Russia is a will-of-the-wisp; and opposed as I am to the whole policy of alliances as being contrary, I think, to the interests of this country, I am also specially opposed to this particular proposal, because I believe it will mislead our people and lead them to suppose that they can rely upon the strong arm of some other Power, instead of relying only upon their own strength. Now, Sir, the Colonial Secretary contrasted with the policy he suggested the policy of isolation which had previously prevailed. Let me say this: a policy of isolation does not, of course, necessarily imply isolation in war. Whenever you are driven into war you will probably find other Powers who, on particular questions, have common interests with yourselves. The policy against which I am protesting is that of permanent, standing alliances, when war is 1339 not in immediate view. A policy of alliance when you have an immediate common object in view of war with other Powers is one which everybody would favour. There is another point, however. The Colonial Secretary threw out a suggestion which has been often made, and as to which I hope he will give us some actual sign of the accomplishment of his purpose. He said we should prepare the whole power of our own Empire. That is an opposite policy which I should rather be inclined to favour, because all of us must feel that we should make a great attempt to bring together the whole possible forces of the Empire for a common object, and that we should do so in time of peace with a view of utilising those forces in time of war. Now, Sir, with regard to the course we are taking to-night upon this Vote, I have no doubt that the Government will rely upon their immense and overwhelming majority in this House to plaster over the failure of their foreign policy. Of course, in a Division on a Vote in Supply the issues are to some extent confused, and good reasons can be found by those who do not desire to overturn the Government for resisting an Amendment. You cannot have the clear issue which you might have on other occasions. That I frankly admit, but, on the other hand, I doubt whether there is even a single Unionist Member of this House who fully and completely approves of the foreign policy of the Government. It has been universally condemned by the Metropolitan Press. In a leading Unionist paper this morning —and we know that the Metropolitan Press has previously expressed its feelings very freely—I saw an appeal made in the largest type in the Standard newspaper calling upon all Unionist Members to vote for the Government on the Foreign Office Vote, because, it said, the present Government is practically the only barrier between us and the "party of Revolution." Of course, Sir, on that ground you might defend any Foreign Office Vote, whatever your opinion of the foreign policy of the Government might be. We shall continue to appeal to what we believe—and we have a very strong belief—to what we know is the opinion of the country on this question. In any Division on a Vote in Supply the issues 1340 are confused, while good reasons can be found by those who do not desire to overturn the Government for resisting an Amendment. But, Sir, the Division to which some of us feel bound to proceed, in order to prevent what might otherwise be styled a unanimous decision of Parliament in favour of this Vote, will be no indication of the forces of approbation, or of disapprobation, with regard to the foreign policy of the Government. Whatever we may think, it is, in my opinion, important that we should register our opinion, and put it to the test of a Division of the House.
§ Question put.
* ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)
As no one rises from the Government bench, I wish, in my own humble way, to make some observations upon, and make some protest against, the admirable speech of the right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, to which the House has just listened. The right honourable Baronet says the Government will rely upon their great majority. I say the Government will rely upon the justness of their case and upon their foreign policy from beginning to end. That, at least, is my opinion. I am aware that there are some Unionists who are dissatisfied and have expressed opposition not only in this House but outside, in the Press. We are told that we have to look to the Press as reflecting the opinion of the country. Sir, I do not look upon the Press as reflecting the opinion of the country; but to the House. The right honourable Baronet has travelled all over the globe, dwelling not long at any part, and finding fault with the Government policy wherever he could, as he thought, assail it, with some prospect of getting a cheer from his own side of the House. The honourable Baronet is a very able man, and has a great knowledge of foreign politics, but this criticism of the Government has been entirely of a negative character. He does not tell us what the Government should have done, but declares that its policy has resulted in failure and loss and discredit everywhere. The honourable Baronet referred to the policy of the Government in the [...] East, but it would have been a little 1341 fairer on his part if, in attacking the policy of the Government in that respect, he had acknowledged that they were more or less hampered by the Concert of Europe. The honourable Baronet says we should have got Port Arthur, and he complained that the Government invited Russia to take the port. I am not aware that the Government did anything of the kind. On the contrary I find they did their very best to prevent Russia taking Port Arthur. The Government no doubt had committed themselves to the idea that Russia had a right to an ice-free port, and I do not suppose anyone would doubt that she had. But I am not going to waste time travelling over that subject again—it was exhausted some weeks ago in discussing the China question. The honourable Baronet says there is paralysis at Crete, but he forgets that it is due to the action of the Government that Crete is not now in the hands of the Turk. That is my answer. The right honourable Baronet also complains that the Government have shown great want of foresight, and have gone "from bad to worse," and have yielded to the pressure of Russia and France at Pekin. But he never said one word about the alliance between France and Russia. Every sensible man must know that, in dealing with this question, the Government have had to face the fact that these two Powers were allied together in a naval and military sense, and have had to look every way before taking up a firm attitude. I say, without fear of contradiction, that the Government have come well out of their great difficulties, and they have had to face such difficulties in the China seas as no Government before this century has had to face in the collapse of an Empire of 300 millions governed by the literati, but I object to government by the literati. They are very clever men, but they are not the men who lead or guide a country. They do not fight; they talk. The honourable Baronet attacked the policy of the Government regarding Madagascar, but that is ancient history, and we need not trouble our minds about it. With regard to Heligoland—the cession of which, under an agreement with Germany, the honourable Baronet seemed to condemn, although he did not exactly censure it—I am very glad it is 1342 gone, and no man with any knowledge of the subject will say anything different. The right honourable Baronet goes on to say that the policy of the Government in Siam and Tunis is opposed to their professions, or their acts were not in accordance with their policy. I leave the right honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to answer that charge. But the honourable Member gave the Government credit for desiring to improve the relations between this country and the United States. He was very careful not to condemn that; he only ventured to criticise the statement of the right honourable Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies at Birmingham that—unless we are allied to some great military Power, as we were in the Crimean war when we had France and Turkey as our allies, we cannot seriously injure Russia.And he thought the right honourable Gentleman must have been referring to Germany. But it does not appear what particular military Power was in the Colonial Secretary's mind. There is another military Power, which is left out of account, in the Eastern Seas that is a coming military Power. The right honourable Baronet quoted Lord Salisbury in terms of scorn, but I believe in his heart he admires him all the time. The speech from which the right honourable Baronet quoted was the one in which Lord Salisbury very properly said, "Look at the results." The right honourable Baronet does not seem satisfied to look at the results, and I want to remind him of some of them. I would remind him that we have secured a port in the Eastern Seas, Wei-hai-Wei, and that naval men are perfectly happy that we have secured that port. It is a very important secondary base, but no sensible naval Member ever looked upon it as a primary base, or looked to a large expenditure for fortifications there. It is a secondary base, and one of our eminent naval men who filled the post of commander-in-chief in these seas, Sir Vesey Hamilton, has recently written a letter showing that this is the tone of naval opinion upon it. It is nearest our objective in case of war, and the Government deserve credit for having secured that 1343 base. The right honourable Baronet quoted the Secretary of State for the Colonies with approval, but seemed to think it was useless to talk about a possible alliance with some military Power. He opposes an alliance with a military Power, but I do not understand him to object to the kind of alliance Which all of us would desire, if forced into war—namely, that we should look to our American friends to help us. One word in conclusion. I only rose because I thought some humble individual on this side should give his views on the question of the Government's policy. The speech of the right honourable Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies has my warm admiration and the admiration of most men outside. It reminded me of a very good story. The late Archbishop Magee was once chairman of a Committee in the House of Lords on a very important Bill. There was a prevaricating witness before the Committee, and the Archbishop was very much irritated by him. The episcopal garb restrained him, however, until the prevaricating witness left the chair, and then he exclaimed: "I wish some layman would express my feelings for me." In relation to these Far Eastern negotiations, the Prime Minister is in the position of Archbishop Magee, and the right honourable Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies is in the position of the layman who has expressed his views, and I am certain the country will endorse them.
§ * MR. ASQUITH (Fife, E.)
I do not propose to follow the gallant Admiral in the various excursions which he has made into unknown seas. Nor shall I attempt to cover the ground so ably traversed by the right honourable Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean, in his extended survey of almost the whole area of our foreign relations. My object is much simpler, and is confined to an attempt to obtain from the Government an authoritative expression of their opinion on certain events which have occurred and certain declarations which have been made since this vote was last under discussion, and which, if they represent a serious and settled purpose, vitally affect the very foundations of our foreign policy. I would remind the 1344 Committee of the situation in which we were left upon the last occasion on which this subject came under discussion. Papers had been presented to Parliament recording the negotiations between this Government and the Governments of Russia, China, and Germany, in relation to the Far East. To many of us on both sides —and I believe I am not exaggerating when I say that to most people in the country without distinction of party— these Papers had been somewhat melancholy reading; and I cannot think that anyone with any pretence to controversial fairness will say that at any stage of these proceedings we have converted this question into a party question, or have even looked at it from a party point of view. Let me remind the Committee that at the beginning of the year, when Ministers made speeches whose apparent purpose and meaning was unmistakable, warning the country that our industrial future in China was menaced by new perils, we did not hesitate to come forward at once and assure them that in any steps which prudent and firm statesmanship might devise to protect those undoubted and invaluable interests they would have the support of the whole country. I am not going to redebate any of the questions which were discussed at such length on the last occasion, but I believe I am expressing in moderate language a feeling which predominates on both sides of the House, when I say that it was with sincere and legitimate disappointment that we looked in those Papers, and looked in vain, for evidence of foresight, consistency, or tenacity. But—and this is the point I wish to bring home—Her Majesty's Government, not unnaturally took a very different view. The right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the House consecrated a considerable part of the very elaborate and eloquent speech he delivered then to the proposition that in all these matters it was Russia and not we who had come off second best. He told us that Russia was not stronger, but weaker, than she was before any of these affairs occurred, whereas we, the fortunate people of Great Britain, had reaped a golden harvest in the opening up of the waterways of China, in having the Yang-tsze Valley assigned to us, as a sphere, if not of influence, at any rate of 1345 interest, and above all in the crowning mercy of Wei-hai-Wei. If the right honourable Gentleman surveyed the past with complacency, there was certainly nothing in anything he said to lead us to suppose that he looked upon the present or the future with anything approaching to alarm. Similar language, entirely corroborating the general impression created by the speech of the right honourable Gentleman, was used by the Prime Minister himself afterwards at a meeting of the Primrose League. In those circumstances, I do not think that anyone need feel surprised at the effect of the speech delivered at Birmingham the other day by the right honourable Gentleman the Colonial Secretary. I will not quote it in detail, but will ask, what was the general effect of that speech? The right honourable Gentleman agreed with his colleagues that so far as these negotiations were concerned they had done very well, but he gave to the negotiations the significant title of a "preliminary skirmish." The whole burden of the speech, as I read it, and as I am certain it was universally understood, not only in this country, but throughout the whole civilised world, was that we had arrived at a situation in which we must look upon Russia in Asia as a permanent, an irreconcilable, and a perpetually menacing antagonist. The right honourable Gentleman told us that the present Government had tried, and tried in vain, to come to an understanding. I should like very much to know where, and when, and under what auspices that attempt was made. I confess that, although I have read these Papers very carefully, I cannot find a trace of it in any one of them. The practical conclusion which the right honourable Gentleman the Colonial Secretary drew from these alarming premises was this: that the time had come when we must abandon our independent and isolated attitude, and that, in words already quoted—unless we are allied to some great military Power, as we were in the Crimean war, we cannot seriously injure Russia";and he adds—we must not reject the idea of alliances with those Powers whose interests most nearly approximate to our own.1346 I think I have fairly stated the general effect of the right honourable Gentleman's speech. As it was delivered as far back as the 13th of May last, and the Whitsuntide holidays have intervened, it is possible that some of his colleagues, more fortunate than the Prime Minister, have had time and leisure to read it. The question I have to put to Her Majesty's Government is this: is the policy laid down in that speech the policy of the Government, or not? If it is, since when have they discovered that to counter-check, by the aid of some foreign Power, the sleepless enmity of Russia is to be the basis, not only of our Eastern, but of our whole foreign policy? For remember you cannot segregate your foreign policy into water-tight compartments. You cannot be the friend of Russia in Europe, and the constant and vigilant enemy of Russia in Asia. The solidarity of international relations is now complete, and if this is to be the dominating and governing feature of our Eastern policy in the future, it means that, not in Asia alone, but all over the world, wherever our interests and the interests of Russia and the Powers allied with Russia come into contact, we are to be prepared to wage incessant war. Now, Sir, I think the question that must occur to everyone is this: what has Russia done, what does Russia contemplate doing, which has not been foreseen by everybody for years past? What is the new feature of the situation which calls for these alarming declarations and this complete revolution of our traditional policy? That Russia in Asia is conterminous with China for many thousands of miles; that Russia is constructing, and has for years been projecting, a Siberian railway; that Russia intended ultimately that that railway should find an outlet in the Chinese province of Manchuria; that she expected to obtain in that province an ice-free port, which you yourselves invited her to do, and an ice-free port, not merely for her trade, but for her fleet—for a naval as well as a commercial basis; and, finally, that the Government of China has long been notoriously corrupt and impotent— what one of these facts comes within the category of a new discovery? They have all been familiar, not only to statesmen, but 1347 to the man in the street, for years past, and I may add they are all facts which are quite as well known to the Prime Minister as they are to the Colonial Secretary. Yet I find the Prime Minister, who is also Foreign Minister, speaking in the House of Lords on the 17th of May, three days after the speech of my right honourable Friend, winds up what he had to say with this statement—Our general policy is not changed. We shall cultivate to the utmost of our ability the friendship of all the Powers with whom we come into contact.Now, Sir, I am entitled to ask, and I think the House of Commons is entitled to know, which is the true view—which is the authorised version? Are we going to cultivate friendship with Russia? Is Russia one of the Powers with whom we are going to cultivate friendship, or is she to be in the future in the position which my honourable Friend the Colonial Secretary has assigned to her, of a perpetual and standing enemy of Great Britain, against whom we are to invoke the assistance of some foreign Power? That brings me to a still more important proposition. If hostility with Russia is to be the end of our foreign policy, is an alliance with some unknown, some unnamed, Power to be the means? Again I ask, what have we done, what have the people of Great Britain done or suffered, that, after bearing, as we have done for nearly 50 years, the ever-growing weight of empire on our own unaided shoulders, without finding the burden too heavy for the courage, the enterprise, the self-reliance of our people, what have we done or suffered that we are now to go touting for allies in the highways and byways of Europe? I say Europe, because I imagine, from the form of the language which the right honourable Gentleman employed, that, in speaking as he did of some great military Power, he could not—in that part of his speech, at any rate—have been referring to the United States of America. I agree entirely with what the right honourable Gentleman, has said, that the closer union of Great Britain and America, not only in sympathy and thought, but political co-operation, is no longer merely the ideal of those who see visions and 1348 dream dreams. I believe that co-operation is destined to be one of the greatest— perhaps the greatest—of the pacifying and civilising forces of the 20th century. But if, Sir, there is an appeal to some great military Power, to whom is it addressed? There are only, as is notorious, two combinations of Powers in Europe—two alliances. One is the alliance of which Russia is the managing partner, and the other the alliance of which the managing partner is Germany. As this outside aid is to be invoked in opposition to Russia, we are driven, from necessity, to conclude that the quarter from which it is asked is that in which the managing partner is Germany. Now, Sir, I confess that this strikes me as a curious fact. I am not going to suggest for a moment—and I hope I shall not be understood as suggesting—that there is anything in the recent proceedings in Germany in the Far East which gives us cause of quarrel, or even of offence. But I must say that if you are going to compare the case of Germany and the case of Russia the proceedings of Germany are much more difficult than those of Russia to reconcile with the professed objects of the policy of Her Majesty's Government—namely, the maintenance of the integrity of China and the open door for British trade. What has happened? Germany has obtained at Kiaou-chau a complete and absolute cession of the sovereign rights of China. ["No!"], Yes, a complete and absolute cession of the sovereign rights of China. Russia has not yet obtained, in regard to Port Arthur or Talienwan, anything of the kind. But, I think, talking about sovereignty in China is like talking about suzerainty in other parts of the world—
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THH COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN,) Birmingham, W.
Does the right honourable Gentleman repudiate suzerainty in the district he has referred to?
§ * MR. ASQUITH
No, Sir. If I may finish my sentence the right honourable Gentleman will see my point. I was about to say that to talk about suzerainty in China is, to my mind, like talking 1349 about suzerainty in other parts of the world—to indulge in a barren verbal controversy. The question is one, not of words, but of substance. I point out the difference in the terms by which Germany has acquired one part, and Russia another—that Germany, in taking over the sovereign rights of China at Kiaou-chau, entirely gets rid of a number of existing Treaty stipulations of other Powers which bound China as long as she was sovereign of that part of the country; while Russia has expressly taken them over without a concession of sovereignty; and, lastly, that whereas Talienwan is to be an open port for British trade and the trade of the whole world, your German Foreign Minister will not give you more than the most shadowy assurance, or hold out a glimmer of hope, that in time to come the Germans may, in the end, make Kiaouchau a free port. If, therefore, you are going to contrast the conduct of these two Powers in relation to China, that of Germany constitutes a graver infringemen of the avowed policy of Her Majesty's Government than anything which can be laid to the charge of Russia. But, after all, this is only the fringe of the matter. A German alliance, as my right honourable Friend has pointed out, is not to be had for nothing. You cannot make alliances any more than you can wage wars on the footing of limited liability, and, if you are going to enter into a permanent alliance with Germany, depend upon it that not in Europe only, but other parts of the world, Germany has a colonising ambition, Germany has a great desire, for naval purposes, to plant coaling stations in different parts of the earth, and, depend upon it, you will find yourselves brought constantly in collision with some of those Powers whose friendship it is the legitimate object of your policy to get. Now, Sir, I have only one more word to say. The question, to my mind, does not depend upon special or local considerations. For my part, I differ toto cœlo from my right honourable Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I regard as essential to the wise conduct of our foreign relations the recognition of two principles—one I may call a positive principle, and the other 1350 a negative principle. For good or for evil, for better or for worse, Russia and Great Britain have become the two dominating forces in the Asiatic world. Every year brings them into closer neighbourhood and contact with each other. By different ways and by different methods we are both pursuing a great civilising mission, and in my judgment— and I believe it is the judgment of the vast majority of the people of this country, without distinction of party—our best hope in the future, not only for our own Imperial and industrial interests, but for those vast dumb populations of whom, under Providence, we have both made ourselves the trustees—the best hope for the future lies in friendship and co-operation between these two great Powers. The object we have in view—and it ought to be the end and aim of every British statesman—will not, depend upon it, be obtained by an alternating policy of bluster and retreat. It will not, I venture to think, be facilitated by picturesque metaphors drawn from the dialect of the new diplomacy. It may be altogether frustrated if we allow the world to believe that we are casting round for new allies in the opposite camp. Negatively, Sir, I am altogether opposed, as I believe the vast majority of our people are, to abandoning the free hand in these matters which we have always enjoyed. We have nothing to gain and everything to lose by entering into these costly and compromising partnerships with those whose ways are not our ways, whose methods are not our methods, whose interests are not our interests. There is nothing which they can offer us in the way of material force which can in the least compensate us for the loss of freedom to act, or not to act, according as our own interests and conscience dictate. I ask the Government to give us such assurances as will remove the legitimate uneasiness which these novel and disquieting declarations have caused.
* MR. CURZON
The right honourable Gentleman who has just resumed his seat has made, as is his habit, an eloquent, although on this occasion a very short, speech. It 1351 was a speech full of emphasis and rhetoric, and, in parts, of denunciation, but it was not in substance, as I understood it, an attack directed at the office which it is my duty this afternoon to defend. On the contrary, it was partly an expression of personal opinion on the part of the right honourable Gentleman, to which we, of course, attach great value, but which, from the very fact that he is seated upon that bench rather than upon this, is not, perhaps, of immediate importance. And, in an even greater degree, it was an attack—I must say I thought an unfair attack—upon a speech recently delivered by my right honourable Friend the Secretary to the Colonies. I think it not unlikely that in the course of the evening my right honourable Friend may speak in the House, and in that expectation and hope, I am dispensed from the necessity of treating that part of the speech to which we have just listened. But, Sir, that speech was preceded, at an earlier hour this afternoon, by another speech of a very different character. I allude to the speech of the right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. Although it covered an hour and ten minutes of time, and was marked by many features of ability and wide knowledge, I venture to say that a more inconclusive speech from him has never been delivered in this House. He rushed hastily over the whole surface of the globe, dropping a remark here, making a criticism there, hinting rather than sustaining an argument, except in one case, to which I will allude—that of Madagascar; often making misstatesments, in my opinion, to which I shall have to call attention, and spending a good deal of his time in the shady paths of ancient history. Let me recall to the House the subjects to which the right honourable Baronet alluded—Crete, China, West Africa, Burmah, Abyssinia, Siam, Tunis, Newfoundland, Madagascar, Zanzibar, Tunis again, China again, and America. In every one of the instances it was his contention that the present Government had been rash and feeble, and that the only part of the habitable globe where we had not displayed those qualities was in America, and there the happier relations that prevail at the pre- 1352 sent moment between the two countries he attributed, with a magnanimity which was quite touching, to the right honourable Gentleman the Member for West Monmouth. Now, I understand perfectly well the object of the speech of the right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, and that object was illustrated by the singular contrast between the tone, character, and substance of that speech and the one from the right honourable Gentleman the late Home Secretary. Sir, the Party opposite cannot unite on any common ground of attack against us upon this matter of foreign policy. They are hopelessly divided upon that, as upon almost everything else. There are some of them who contend, as the right honourable Baronet contended, that we have been universal cowards. There are others, like the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Montrose, from whose mouth I read an eloquent speech only a day or two ago, who live laborious days and, I believe, spend sleepless nights in contemplating with alarm the Jingoism of Her Majesty's advisers, and who see in every action of the Government, and in almost every speech delivered by an individual Minister, some evidence of a sinister and truculent design. It is quite clear that it is difficult for honourable Members opposite, with such differences of opinion, to construct any common platform upon which they can meet for attack upon the Government. Hence it is that we have no motion of censure moved in this House, no sustained impression produced by the different speeches to which we listen. We have plenty of speeches, indeed, from honourable Gentlemen opposite, but very few of them, I note, are pressed to a Division. We have occasional reductions of salary moved—I suppose, to salve the conscience of the speaker, and with no appreciable effect on the salaries themselves. We have attacks made, as we have had to-night, on individual speeches of Ministers, and we have the speech of the right honourable Baronet, full of peddling criticism upon minute details of policy, and we have no more. What is the object of the right honourable Baronet and those who take that line? His object is, by a narration of the alleged failures of the Govern- 1353 ment on all these small points, to produce a, general and cumulative effect of impotence and failure. I deny the reason, and I dispute the fairness, of such action on the part of the right honourable Baronet, both on particular grounds and on general grounds. On particular grounds because, with all respect, I must decline to accept the ipse dixit of the right honourable Baronet, and because I can show that many of his statements were in contravention partly of the facts and partly of the dicta of authorities even greater than himself. I protest against it on general grounds because I maintain that the foreign policy of the Government ought to be judged by a wide survey of the general field of policy rather than by carping and exaggerated attention to detail. I quite admit—no one can deny—that no one Government is uniformly victorious over the whole field of policy. There are such things—and, indeed, we have been invited in the speech to which we have just listened to recognise them—as the interests, the claims and pretensions, frequently conflicting and sometimes hostile, of other Powers; and some element of compromise, some modification of the ideals of policy which we all set before ourselves, must inevitably come about in any foreign policy in the world. But the question which I want to put to the House, and to which I shall endeavour to give some answer, is this: in casting our eyes over the whole area of international diplomacy as it has been affected by the proceedings of the past three years, have the present Government sustained—as, of course, it is their duty to sustain—the interests, the honour, and the peace of the country? Now, Sir, I take first the particular points upon which we were challenged by the right honourable Baronet. The first of these upon which I need touch is Siam. I am most reluctant to again handle the question of Siam in this House. Yes, but not for the reasons which honourable Gentlemen opposite seem to think. It is because the question of Siam was always looked upon from those benches as a hobby of my own, and because I am reluctant to again weary the House with a topic which may seem to have something personal in it. But it would be wrong if I failed to challenge 1354 the remarks made on that point by the right honourable Baronet. He has shown a most unexpected ignorance. He spoke of the two provinces of Battambong and Siemreap as if they were in French hands. They are not; no French troops are there. They remain now, as they did before this Government came in, under the dominion of Siam. He said, "Oh, yes, but the French are in the port of Chantabun." Yes, but they are there under a convention concluded when right honourable Gentlemen opposite were in power. They did not protest against that position. They did not turn the French out of Chantabun. What, then, is the object of the right honourable Baronet in coming down to this House and throwing it into our teeth, when it never was our object in the agreement that we concluded to affect the conventional status quo? Our object was to defend British interests in the future, as we did. Then the right honourable Baronet made a most surprising disclosure. I confess I was never more astonished than when I heard that the late Government, in respect of Siam, used very strong language to some other Power. It is the first time I have heard of it, and I confess that the very idea fills me with surprise. But what was the result of that very strong language which, I assume from, the context, must have been addressed to France? It did not keep the French from the left bank of the Me-kong, or from the 15-miles strip which they endeavoured to seize on the right bank of the Me-kong, and it did not prevent the French from occupying Chantabun. It did not secure that guarantee of Siam which the Government ought to have looked to, and which I daresay they did look to, but did not secure, and which was the main object of our agreement with France. Now, Sir, I have hitherto spoken of the question of Siam, being for the most part compelled to rely either upon my own opinions or those of persons known to myself and acquainted with the country. But I am now able to quote, with reference to the agreement that we made with France, very important extracts from a book recently written by a gentleman named Mr. Warrington Smyth, who has spent many years in the service of the King of Siam in that country. Let me 1355 just read these words as to the value and consequences of our agreement. The Committee will remember that by our agreement we had guaranteed the Menam valley to Siam. He says—The whole force of the agreement centred in the Me-nam valley, which, upon the map, to those who do not know the country appeared sufficiently unimportant in point of area to give good excuse for a howl of criticism. As a matter of fact the Me-nam valley for practical purposes, is Siam. Its population is more than five times that of the two excepted regions combined, and the present value of its trade, of which considerably over 90 per cent. is in British hands, may be placed roughly at seven times their combined total.Again he says—Those who were in Siam and knew what was going on at the time were aware that the agreement was just in time to save Siam from the cupidity of a certain section of the Saigon and Tongking colonial party. The first complaints were followed by loudly expressed regrets at the opportunities for annexation of Siam which had been allowed to slip, and the whole subsequent policy has been to discredit the agreement and to encourage the belief that it cannot stand. 'A betrayal of the rights of France over Siam' is the latest title given to the agreement.Apparently, therefore, the French regard it as a betrayal of French interests in Siam—that which the right honourable Baronet is alone in pretending is a sacrifice of British interests. Only one more remark about Siam, and that is as to the effect that has been exercised on the stability of that Monarchy by the conclusion of the agreement. Mr. Smyth says—The best reply to the slander of interested foes is to be found in the solid advance which has been made by Siam since the Anglo-French guarantee of the Me-nam valley in 1896. The advance of the eighteen months has been so marked that it far surpasses anything that Siam's best friends had dared hope for, and may well constitute a new departure in the history of the country.I have no hesitation in saying that when the time comes for the record of this Ministry to be written, that agreement in reference to Siam will be regarded as one of the most distinguishing features in the administration of Lord Salisbury. Well, Sir, the right honourable Baronet passed on to a topic which I am afraid does not excite general interest, but to 1356 which I am compelled to devote a few moments' attention. The right honourable Baronet would have us believe that having sacrificed British interests in Siam, we voluntarily and stupidly made a surrender of British interests in two provinces between Burmah and China over which we exercised not undisputed rights of sovereignty, but concurrent rights with China. By the agreement concluded in 1894, in return for certain advantages, we surrendered these provinces to the undisputed possession of China on condition that she should not hand them over to any other Power. She broke that agreement; she did hand over a certain part of these territories to France, and we at once demanded compensation. We had a long and difficult dispute over the matter at Pekin, and the compensation we ultimately secured is registered in the Anglo-Chinese Convention of 1897, which anybody in this House can see. Well, Sir, the compensation we procured for the surrender of this small and insignificant portion of territory in violation of the original agreement was the recovery of territory of Ko-Kang, ceded to China in 1894, the rectification of the frontier in other quarters. We further secured the appointment of additional British Consuls in Yunnan, and we realised the long-cherished aspirations of commercial circles—namely, the opening of the lower parts of the West river in. China. I submit to honourable Gentlemen that that was very substantial compensation for the injury which had been undoubtedly done us. The next point of the right honourable Baronet was the question with reference to Tunis. Now I really see no advantage in the right honourable Baronet repeating for the third or fourth time, almost verbatim, his attacks on this agreement, or in my repeating my defence three or four times over. Nothing that I can say to the right honourable Baronet will satisfy him. I regard the answer of the Government as conclusive, and his attack as misleading. This controversy has taken place three or four times in the House already, and on platforms several times. Nothing that has passed prevents the right honourable Baronet from getting up and repeating his old story. It is admittedly an agreement affecting our mercantile interests. He says it involves a sacrifice of those interests. If so, Sir, why do not the 1357 Members for mercantile constituencies in this House get up and say so? The greater part, or two-thirds, of our trade with Tunis is in cotton, coming from Manchester. Why do not the Manchester representatives get up and attack the agreement? Why is it left to the right honourable Baronet, who represents miners in a remote constituency—the Forest of Dean? I do not suppose the miners in the Forest of Dean have even a notion of where Tunis is. I may do them an injustice, but I think it would be unfair to rate the universality of their knowledge by the high standard of their representative. Well, Sir, as regards the particular question of cottons, we acted in co-operation with the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, who were acting for the cotton trade of Manchester, and they were satisfied with that agreement. As regards yarns, the right honourable Baronet tried to make a point out of the fact that yarns were excluded. The French term, "cotonnades," in the agreement, is equivalent to the English "cotton goods," and, I believe, by no stretch of the French and English languages can either be understood to include yarns, and that is why we were unable to secure the 5 per cent. for yarns as we did for cottons. Well, I won't pursue that point further unless desired to do so, although I have the material upon yarns that would occupy another 10 minutes. But, looking at what I have before me, I pass on. Now, Sir, these were the main topics touched upon by the right honourable Baronet, which it seems to me for the moment necessary to refer to. While answering him on these points I venture to deprecate the sort of criticism of which his speech is an example. I should like to put this consideration before the Committee. Supposing we had adopted a similar censorious and carping attitude towards the late Government: the right honourable Gentlemen opposite were in power for three years, and they will agree with me that as regards foreign affairs they were rather lean years; not very much was going on; but I think I can show that in what was going on there was quite enough to allow those right honourable Gentlemen to make very considerable mistakes. Now there was one point the right honourable Gentleman referred to, that terrible 1358 blunder, the Congo Agreement, by which the late Government sought to establish connection through the territory of the Congo State from the north end of Lake Tanganyika to the southern end of Lake Albert Edward. I will not go into that question now. I mention it only as a terrible blunder which had to be cancelled and withdrawn in view of the angry opposition of Germany and France too; and yet, if I am correct in my memory, not very much attention was drawn to that subject in the House, and certainly no Party capital was attempted to be made out of it in a single speech from the Bench opposite or on platforms.
* MR. CURZON
There were many of us who knew of the extent of the blunder made, but, in the interests of Imperial policy, we thought it not wise to call attention to it, and we passed it over with a silence that might be recommended to others. Now let me take another illustration. The right honourable Baronet to-night has severely attacked us, as I have said, for our agreement about Siam; he also censured in a passing ward our Treaty with King Menelik of Abyssinia. Now, the late Government, when they were in power, concluded a Pamir Agreement with Russia. I do not say whether that was a good or bad agreement; I think there was very much to recommend it; it fixed definite boundaries between the possessions or spheres of influence of the two Powers, and it put out of sight a long and much vexed question. But that agreement involved an immense concession to Russia; it entailed recognition of the Russian claim over almost the whole of the region of the Pamirs (except a small strip on the south)—a region over which we had previously asserted the claims of China or Afghanistan. It brought the Russian frontier to the Oxus, and it planted the outposts of the Russian army within 10 or 15 miles of the borders of Chitral. Now, I say it would have been possible, and even easy, far anyone on this bench—for an ingenious critic on this bench—to represent that agreement as injurious to British 1359 interests, as dangerous to the future safety of India, and as involving an uncalled-for surrender to British rivals. Was any such criticism ever passed upon it?
* MR. CURZON
The honourable Baronet, who then filled the office I now hold, will bear me out when I say that, keen as was the personal interest I took in the matter, I never troubled him with questions, or speeches, or attacks on the point. I looked upon it as one upon which the late Government had made the best they could out of a bad case, and that patriotism compelled us to support, and not censure, them. Now I come to the more important speech of the late Home Secretary. Among his many attacks upon us was one for our alleged want of foresight in respect to China. He said—You failed to foresee what has been foreseen by everyone for years and years past.Well, I hope the House will allow me to state my opinion that we are not nearly so stupid on this bench, and that right honourable Gentlemen opposite are not nearly so clever as they would have us suppose. But, supposing we are as short-sighted as they ask us to believe, ought they not, before proceeding, somewhat laboriously, to point to the mote in our eye, to extract the beam from their own? What did they do, or, rather, what did they not do, in respect of foresight in reference to Russian occupation in China? In 1895, at the end of the war in Corea, when Russia invited the late Government to co-operate with them to put pressure on Japan to retire from the Leao-tong peninsula, the late Government declined to join Russia, and they also declined to join Japan: they adopted the familiar attitude known as sitting on the fence, and did nothing. It was that want of action on their part which led to the co-operation of France and Germany with Russia in securing the end Russia desired, and that led, secondly, to the policy by which Russia, after having expelled Japan from the peninsula of Leaotong, was herself enabled, casting eyes of envy on that part of the territory, to 1360 prepare herself for securing positions at Port Arthur and Talienwan. Well, Sir, had honourable Gentlemen—had the late Government—possessed that foresight which now they deny to us, would that not have been the opportunity in co-operation with Japan to secure a guarantee from Russia that she herself was not going to take in the future that which she declined to allow Japan to keep? They have sown the wind of which we are now reaping the whirlwind. I submit that if it is a question of prescience that is at issue, the last persons by whom we ought to be attacked are the Members of the late Administration. Finally, Sir, the right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean summed up the whole of his remarks with the observation that Lord Salisbury had failed at every point. Well, he was very careful to point out all the Government had, in his opinion, not done; but he also very carefully omitted all that, by common consent, Lord Salisbury has done. There seems to me to be a good deal of political philosophy, in its application to foreign affairs, in the lines of the poem which says—Give all thou canst, high Heaven rejects the loreOf nicely calculated less or more.If the right honourable Baronet, instead of entering, as he did in his speech, into these minute calculations of profit or loss in various parts of the world, had thought of other and even more important parts of the globe in which substantial things have been done, he might have left a very different impression than he did by his speech to-night. Sir, to a few of those regions perhaps the Committee will allow me to draw attention. There is, first of all, the subject of America. Now, I must confess I was glad to hear the right honourable Baronet express the reciprocal feeling, shared, I believe, on both sides of the House, of satisfaction at the friendly relations that appear at present to exist between the American Government and people and ourselves. But I was surprised beyond measure when I heard that no portion of the credit for that result was to be attributed to Her Majesty's Government, but that was, according to the right honourable Baronet, to be given 1361 firstly to Sir Julian Pauncefote, who, I quite agree, is entitled to great credit for Ins admirable diplomacy at Washington, and that whatever was not due to him was duo to the right honourable Gentleman the Lender of the Opposition. That is not my reading of history. I do not, of course, want to deny to the right honourable Gentleman, by the many admirable speeches he has made on that topic, such share as he may legitimately claim in the result. But I have been under the impression that a great deal of that happy feeling was due not merely to the exigencies of the moment, or to the particular events that are now passing, but has been due to the consistently friendly and calm and dispassionate attitude assumed by the present Prime Minister in the discussions about difficult matters with America a few years ago. Lord Salisbury's Arbitration Treaty was not accepted, but it will be accepted some day.
* MR. CURZON
I think the honourable Member is the only man in the House who would suggest that there is anything irrelevant in dealing with a settlement of international relations which we all welcome, however much he may deplore it. It may be said that the Venezuela Boundary question has not been finally disposed of; but it is in a fair process of settlement. The Behring Sea question also is not yet settled, but it is among those about to be referred to a Commission concerning which I answered a question this afternoon. On all sides we see the temperate and courteous handling of these American disputes by Lord Salisbury two years ago bearing fruit which we hope will increase in the future. Then, Sir, I turn to Africa. We inherited from our predecessors in Africa grave difficulties on the West Coast of Africa. Though I am unable to make any statement upon this subject to-night, we hope also that these difficulties are in process of pacific solution. We have every reason to think that they are. On the East Coast of Africa we have abolished the status of slavery in the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, and the result, after one year's operation 1362 of the decree, will be revealed in a Blue Book, which will be laid on the Table and be hi the hands of Members in a few days. We have already constructed something like one-fourth of the Uganda Railway, which is to run from the coast for 650 miles to connect our seaports with the great lakes and with the upper waters of the Nile. We have made a Treaty, and are, I am glad to say, on the most friendly terms with Menelik, the King of Abyssinia. We have already recovered a considerable portion of the Nile Valley and of the old province of the Soudan, and are on the high road to Khartoum. When I hear speeches of denunciation such as have been delivered to-night, I always console myself by looking back to the memorable Debates that took place in this House two years ago, when we first announced the intention of sending this expedition up the valley of the Nile. Neither the prophecies nor the denunciations of the Opposition can ever affect me after that memory. I remember well the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Montrose, in the course of a speech he then delivered in the House, and in the course of subsequent orations upon provincial platforms, describing our plans for advancing up the Nile as reckless, unprovoked, aggressive, wanton, infatuated, blundering, criminal, and crazy, In fact, I wish I might respectfully invite the right honourable Gentleman, who is a great littérateur and a great philosopher, to study his own speeches at that time, in order that he may ascertain the capacities of verbal exaggeration and of human error. Why, only the other day the right honourable Gentleman, who is incorrigible, made another speech, in which he said—True you have gained some sort of military success, but all this has been done at the expense of the revenue and the improvement of the country.Since that speech was delivered, Lord Cromer's Report has been put into the hands of honourable Members, and I venture to commend it to the study of my right honourable Friend. He will find from a study of that Report that the revenue of Egypt is extraordinarily elastic, that railways are being pushed forward far into the interior, that large 1363 sums of money have been allowed by the international bodies for the undertaking of great public works which are needed in the country, and that during the last six months a great scheme for the construction of dams and reservoirs, which will add enormously to the cultivable area of Egypt, and to the prosperity of its people, and which is to cost several millions of money, has been sanctioned by the Egyptian and British Governments. Then, Sir, I turn in this short survey to Europe. Not a word has been said about Europe this evening, except one short and carping allusion to Crete. It has been in the main due to the policy of Lord Salisbury that Greece has escaped from the penalties of the war of last year with less suffering and with a better chance of recuperation than, I venture to say, has ever been experienced by any country after suffering such a disastrous defeat in the field. The fact that the 100,000 Turkish troops have at this moment to the last man evacuated Thessaly; that that province with its 280,000 people has been restored to Greece; that not a single Greek village in the rectification of the frontier has been handed over to Turkish authority is, I think, a result mainly attributable to the policy in which this country has borne no inconsiderable part. A loan has been made to Greece by the three guaranteeing Powers, of whom this country is one, and consequent upon that the finances of Greece have been put upon a proper basis under international control, and the country has been given a. start again upon its history of which it will be entirely its own fault if it does not take advantage. Lastly, I touch upon Asia. I have already argued that by the agreement with Siam Lord Salisbury has given a new lease of life to that kingdom. The Government have further emerged successfully from the cruel and devastating war that was raging last year upon the north-west frontier in India. In China they have secured a new naval base in the northern portion of the China seas; they have, as the information in the newspapers has acquainted honourable Members this morning, obtained measures for successfully protecting their old base in the south. The 1364 protection of Hong-kong from the possibility of hostile attack, and the opportunities for expansion given to its people by the acquisition of the peninsula and promontory of Kau-lung, constitute a concession which, I submit, is of very considerable value, which we have long; been asked to obtain, which reflects credit on the Minister at Pekin who has secured it, and which ought not to be lost sight of in a general summing-up of: the deeds or misdeeds of Her Majesty's. Government. Again, we have further secured the opening of the rivers and of several Treaty ports in the country, accompanied by commercial advantages, the value of which I am ready to admit depends upon the way in which the rights so acquired are interpreted and secured in the future, but which, at the same time, would have been regarded as absurd and preposterous had anybody suggested three or four years ago that they were likely to be obtained at this moment. All this has been done, all these advantages have been secured, not perhaps without danger of war—because such dangers are ever in the air and must be contemplated by any Government—but they have been done without war, without jeopardising the friendly relations between this and any other country, and done without the slightest sacrifice of the national honour. I submit to the Committee of this House that this is a creditable record, and one which entitles Lord Salisbury not to the ungenerous strictures and censure, but to the admiration and gratitude of the House of Commons.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
We have just heard a very interesting speech from the right honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. As usual, with a speech made by a member of the Government, that Government of which he is a member is the best of all Governments. Everything which has turned out right and successful is due to them, and everything which is wrong is due to the faults committed by their predecessors. I think I am right in saying that the right honourable Gentleman, as the representative of Lord Salisbury, was asked a question by my right 1365 honourable Friend the Member for Fife, which he has omitted to answer. That question was whether the Government were responsible collectively, directly or indirectly, for the speech that had been made by the Secretary for the Colonies. We anticipated an answer, but what did the right honourable Gentleman do? He, like Lord Salisbury in the Upper House, evaded the question, and told us that he would leave it to the Colonial Secretary himself to reply. Sir, we do not want to know what the views of the Colonial Secretary are personally. For my part, I do not care sixpence what his views are, provided they are personal to himself; but what we want to know is whether they are the views, or whether they are not, of the Government, That information we cannot obtain from the Colonial Secretary himself. I am bound to say that I think it is a most extraordinary thing, when the Colonial Secretary has made a speech of this importance, proposing absolutely a new policy, not one of his colleagues ventures to say a word of praise or a word of attack upon that speech, and we are left without knowing whether it is the Government policy or whether it is not The right honourable Gentleman told us that we on this side of the House are divided because we differ upon one or two little matters in regard to foreign policy, or, perhaps, in regard to home policy. While that is always the case with an Opposition, what we have a right to look to is that the Government of the country itself should be united in their policy, I never yet saw such a wonderful instance of disunion on the part of a Government as has been shown by the right honourable Gentleman himself in declining, as the official representative of the Foreign Office, to say whether or not the Foreign Office is responsible, and accepts responsibility, for the speech of the Colonial Secretary. I listened with interest to the speech of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean, and I listened with interest to the discussion that followed, and to the replies made by the right honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign 1366 Affairs. I confess I am not in a position to say which is right and which, is wrong. I really know little of the subject, and if right honourable Gentlemen opposite were as candid as I am, they would confess that they also know little about it. It is a matter of the most absolute indifference to me that this or that place belongs to France, China, Siam, or any other country in the world, or to us. My right honourable Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean objected to the Government policy in regard to Crete. What is the reply of the right honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs? He replied that Lord Salisbury had now got the Cretans out of their difficulties.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
The Greeks! But who got the Greeks into their difficulties? I fully admit that the question at the present moment that ought to occupy the House is not the question of the Greeks, and equally I admit that the question of Tunis or of Africa is not the question of the moment. I have no doubt that the criticisms of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean against the Government for not obtaining better conditions for us are correct, but. I feel myself that we owe a certain debt of gratitude to the Government, because at least, in this period of war and rumours of war, they have kept us out of war. I do not entirely agree with the right honourable Member for the Forest of Dean with regard to the firm attitude that ought to be adopted by the Government in these international disputes. My right honourable Friend only says, "No, we are in the right; we ought to hold on." But the question is, whether we are in the right. There are always two sides to every question. We say we are in the right; but so does the other Government, and in these circumstances I should hesitate to send an ultimatum to the other Government. I should rather refer the dispute to some independent arbitration. It is all very well to talk about sending an ultimatum, and to say that by this firm attitude we shall obtain all we want. But it is like playing poker. You may win. by bluffing, but sometimes you are asked to show your hand, and 1367 then you lose. A foreign Government will not accept your ultimatum, and then you are in the position of having to go to war or eating humble pie. The question before the Committee is a Motion for a reduction in the salary of Lord Salisbury. But when we have raised a question of this sort with regard to the reduction of the salary of a Minister we ought only to consider what that Minister has done during the actual year. We cannot attack his salary this year because we disapprove of something Lord Salisbury did the year before. Therefore I do not go into the question of Lord Salisbury's faults up to the present year; I limit myself entirely to what has been done in China. I am bound to say I do not take that adverse view of the Prime Minister's conduct in regard to China which is taken by some honourable Members en this side of the House.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
In this matter I am one of the supporters of Lord Salisbury up to a certain point. I judge these matters by results. What were the results of the policy of Lord Salisbury in his action with regard to China? Russia obtained a paramount influence in Manchuria, a naval base and commercial port. I have no objection to Russia obtaining a paramount influence in Manchuria, a naval base and a commercial port. Germany obtained Kiaouchau. I have not the slightest objection to Germany obtaining Kiaou-chau. I think it is rather an advantage that different countries should have possessions in China, because when several Powers are there it is less likely to exercise a paramount influence. On the other hand, Lord Salisbury has secured free trade in China; and with respect to the sphere of interest, I do not absolutely complain of that, as explained by the Government. As for Hong-kong, I think it is an advantage rather than a disadvantage. As to Wei-hai-Wei, I do not approve of that so much as I approve of other actions of Lord Salisbury with regard to China: but my view will depend upon the future action of the Government. If we have to take it merely as a sort of sop to the Jingo 1368 feeling in the country, and it is intended merely to put down a few scuttles of coals there and call it a coaling station, I do not object; if, on the other hand, we are going to spend a large sum of money in fortifying and garrisoning the place, it will be my duty, whenever one of these objects is proposed in this House, to give it my most strenuous opposition. I am not complaining now, because we do not yet know what the Government are going to do with Wei-hai-Wei. On the whole I think the Government have done a great deal for the cause of civilisation in China, and in the cause of our interests, by obtaining permission for us to use the Chinese rivers, and by securing that, when the present Head of Customs retires, he should be succeeded by an Englishman. An honourable Member has objected that, if the results are sound in the main, they are open to criticism sis to the manner in which they are carried out. In this I entirely agree. I think that Lord Salisbury, as far as I can gather from rumours, has allowed himself to be influenced too much by newspapers and by his colleagues. He seemed to me to have sound views, but when he came to put them into practice he was always nagging and quarrelling about small details. One moment he was ready to accept what Russia was going to do, and the next he was protesting against it. This has caused a feeling of animosity in Russia against this country which is to be regretted, and, if not raised, is so in the opinion of foreign nations. In considering this point we have to look not at Lord Salisbury alone, but at his colleagues, and we have to remember the war speeches which were delivered by those colleagues, notably by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. My complaint is that Lord Salisbury is too weak. He allows himself to be influenced by right honourable Gentlemen on the Front Bench, and I would suggest respectfully that he would do very well in his own interest as Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary if he would muzzle his colleagues, or insist that, if they must speak, they should ask him what they ought to say. Broadly speaking, I think we have to thank Lord Salisbury, considering his surroundings, his Party, and the Jingoism that permeates that Party, and that has, unfortunately, been caught 1369 by some honourable Gentlemen on this side, for what he has done. We have to thank him that things are not worse in China than they are. If it had not been for Lord Salisbury we should, in all probability, have been engaged in war with Russia now. Facts are more important than words in thin matter, and I look mainly to facts for the result of Lord Salisbury's policy. Undoubtedly this animosity of Russia would have calmed down, and would have been settled in an ordinary friendly spirit between the two countries, had it not been that Lord Salisbury is cursed with the Colonial Secretary as a colleague. The right honourable Gentleman the Colonial Secretary made a speech at Birmingham the other day. I think I never read a more foolish or a more mischievous speech in the whole course of my existence. What did the right honourable Gentleman do? He went out of his way to accuse the Foreign Minister of Russia of deliberate and persistent untruth, and then, having done this, he used a simile of the grossest and most scandalous kind in regard to the Emperor of Russia. As it seems to me that, although we on this side of the House have read this wondrous speech, the Members of the Government have not taken the trouble to read it, I shall not apologise for reading what the Secretary of State for the Colonies said. The right honourable Gentleman reminded his Birmingham audience that "he who sups with the devil must have a long spoon." He went on further to say—to make assurance doubly sure—If we had an understanding with Russia, who would guarantee that the understanding would be kept?I do say that never has a Minister of the Crown used such language with regard to a Power with which we are not actually at war. What would have been the indignation of this country had such language been used by a Russian Minister of the Crown towards the Prime Minister of this country and towards Her Majesty? We should have been indignant at it. We ought to recognise the fact that we have no right to use towards other countries language we should object to have used towards ourselves. I think it is an absolute duty 1370 on the part of Parliament to investigate whether these charges are true, or whether they are false. If they are false at is more monstrous than we should otherwise have thought. I am prepared to show to honourable Gentlemen in this House that nothing that was done by Russia justifies such language as to their bad faith; and that rather, if a change of bad faith is to be brought, a great deal might be said in regard to the bad faith of Her Majesty's Government. I must go back to 1887. ['Oh!"] Well, I understand honourable Gentlemen saying "Oh!" but I shall not be long. In 1887 we agreed to leave Port Hamilton on the distinct understanding with Russia that Russia, under no circumstances, would equire any port in Corea. That was established. Now what happened in 1896? In 1896 there were discussions going on in Constantinople; we were trying to get Russia to act with us, and use measures with Turkey to make her give concessions to the Armenians. On 2nd February, the Leader of this House said—"I for my part will welcome such a result"—an ice-free port to Russia. On the 22nd February the Under Secretary for the Colonies was asked whether the arrangements with regard to Corea still existed. The right honourable Gentleman said that the arrangements still existed. Now, in regard to the coasts on which an ice-free port could be secured for Russia, one was in the Guff of Pechili, and the other was Corea. It was obvious that when the Under Secretary for the Colonies made the statement that the ice-free port was not to be in Corea it could only be in the Gulf of Pechili. In order to strengthen the good feeling with Russia, Lord Salisbury, on the 9th November, said—It is a superstition of an antiquated diplomacy that there is any necessary antagonism between Great Britain and Russia.Are were doing this because we were wanting Russia to back us up in Constantinople. On 23rd November Lord Salisbury said—Russia agreed to use pressure on Turkey in regard to the Armenians.1371 It is clear and obvious that our object in saying that Russia should have a port in Manchuria and exercise influence there was to get her assistance in Constantinople. We did obtain that assistance, and the only place in which that port could be obtained was in the Gulf of Pechili. Russia commenced action to get her port. If the right honourable Gentleman will look at the Chinese Directory, he will see there are five ports. There are objections to four of them on the grounds of bad anchorage, ice, and shallowness, and the only possible port Russia could have taken was Talienwan. What did we do? We offered the Chinese Loan on the condition of Talienwan being made a Treaty port. That was a want of good faith on our part, and Russia had a perfect right to complain on the subject. About that time Germany seized upon Kiaou-chau. When Germany seized upon it, we made no sort of protest. It must be remembered that Germany obtained a commercial port and a naval base with a considerable amount of hinterland behind it. Russia observed this, and perceived what we were doing in Pekin with regard to Talienwan. She tried her best to obtain an amicable arrangement between us. At this time France and Russia were practically asked to interfere in the matter, and bring us to some amicable arrangement. The next step was that M. de Staal, the Russian Ambassador in London, explained, on 19th January, the aim of Russia. He said that if we insisted upon Talienwan being made a Treaty port, we should be denying to Russia that to which the progress of events had given her the right. Here was a distinct statement on the part of Russia, not only that Russia wanted to have Talienwan, but that she wanted to have it because she wanted to have Port Arthur. There was no protest made. Instead of that, the Foreign Office began discussing with M. de Staal the commercial conditions on which Russia could obtain Talienwan and Port Arthur. The Foreign Office had received information that she wanted to obtain Talienwan and Port Arthur; and on the 7th March the news was telegraphed to England by a Paris correspondent that Russia had acquired a lease of Talienwan and Port Arthur. That was on the 7th March, 1372 and on the 9th this was confirmed by Russia? What did we do? We took Wei-hai-Wei. There was no sort of protest made by Russia taking Port Arthur; there was no complaint of bad faith. Lord Salisbury wrote on the 9th March that he had received a telegram from Sir Fergus O'Connor, stating that the lease had been granted. The honourable Gentleman the Member for Sheffield asked indignant questions in the House of Commons, and obtained some support from honourable Members. It was thought that sop enough had not been given to the Jingoes, and that something more must be done. Remember we had then begun to discuss the commercial conditions under which Russia was to have Port Arthur. On the 23rd March we issued a protest against their having it, on the ground that Port Arthur was a fortress, and that the possession of it by Russia would be a menace to Pekin. We put our complaint merely on this ground. It is obvious to anyone that the protest was an after-thought on the part of Her Majesty's Government, that we were induced to do it by the pressure of the newspapers. They had been told that Russia would take it on the 19th January; they were told on the 9th March that Russia had taken it— yet they did not protest; and on the 22nd March they protested because of this outcry in the newspapers, and because Lord Salisbury knew there would be difficulty with his followers. Russia replied promptly to our demand and to our protest. Had she not done so, we might have expressed surprise. With regard to the commercial conditions under which those two points were to be used by Russia after the full statement made by Russia as to the course that it was intended to take, she might well express same surprise when this protest was sprung on her. Russia simply replied in a dispatch from his Excellency as follows—He went on to say that Talienwan was useless without Port Arthur, as they must have a safe harbour for their fleet, which could not be at the mercy of the elements at Vladvorlok, or dependent on the goodwill of the Japanese. Every other great maritime Power had a naval station on the Chinese seas, and why should not Russia, whose fleet was very considerable and whose territory was coterminous?1373 It appears to me from that, that the position of Russia was a perfectly reasonable one. That may be a matter of discussion, but what I am pointing out is, that there was no bad faith in any of these discussions on the part of Russia, and I do not think it is quite fair that there should be a general raving against Russia, unless we can specifically and definitely point to something in which Russia has shown bad faith.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Well, if you can by all means do it. There are two other points upon which the question of bad faith has been raised. In December the Russian Fleet was in Port Arthur, and we sent to know how it came to pass that it came there, and how long it was going to stay. Russia replied that she was making a temporary use of the port during the winter. Russia replied thus, and she could not have truthfully replied in any other way. Russia had obtained permission to be there, and remain there temporarily, and a lease had not been entered into at that time. Russia stated fully the conditions under which she was there, and the obligation she was under to China at that moment to withdraw. The other point is that Russia had assured this country and the Foreign Office that Port Arthur would be a port of entry for commerce, but Sir Nicholas O'Conor demanded both the new Russian ports as ports of entry for commerce. Now, just allow me to point out what really did take place. Just before the commencement of March, Sir Nicholas O'Conor demanded that both the ports of Talienwan and Port Arthur should be made ports of entry, and he expressly says that he did this without instructions from the Foreign Office. On March 16th he was informed that they should be ports of entry, and that there should be an equal tariff both for Russian and foreign commerce. Now, when that was reported to Lord Salisbury, what was his reply? I do not think that honourable Gentlemen, who have complained of bad faith in this instance, have read what was the reply of Lord Salisbury. He replied that he did not want anything of the kind. On the 22nd of March he was 1374 informed of this offer of the Russian Emperor, and he replied—Port Arthur is useless for commercial purposes, the whole importance being derived from its military strength.Lord Salisbury had never asked that the two ports should be ports of entry. What Lord Salisbury wanted was what he frequently demanded, that in both ports there should be the same conditions in regard to foreign commerce as in regard to Russian commerce, and he asked that neither of these ports should be open for Russian goods on special tariffs. The result was essentially the same, for Russia did maintain the Treaty of Tien-tsin. The result of all this was that Russia did not persist in opening ports when Lord Salisbury said he did not want it, and she did maintain the Treaty of Tien-tsin. Talienwan is now open to the commerce of foreign countries on the same conditions as to Russia, and Port Arthur will be open to the ships of foreign countries on exactly the same conditions as it is at the present moment. Well, if anybody can show me any bad faith in this I shall be glad to listen to what they have to say. All I can say is that so far as I can see there is not one iota of bad faith on the part of Russia in the matter. Well now, Sir, I come to the speech of the right honourable Gentleman the Colonial Secretary. The right honourable Gentleman said that there was some discontent in Jingo circles as to what had taken place in Russia. The Government had done something which was not particularly popular, and so the right honourable Gentleman devised the idea of attacking Russia, and vamping up this charge of bad faith and ill feeling, in order to save the Government from their unpopularity. Russia, according to the right honourable Gentleman, had tricked us, and the abuse of Russia was intended to divert attention in this country from the mistakes and the bungling of Her Majesty's Government. Hence we have these reckless charges of bad faith which are brought against the Government of Russia. It is the old story of when you have a bad case yourself, abuse your opponent. Sir, the right honourable Gentleman is in everything a strange and wonderful statesman, with his new diplomacy, his new departures, and his 1375 unauthorised programmes. I should have thought it would have been sufficient for him to have declared in this way eternal war against Russia, without seizing that opportunity to avow our weakness in being able to do nothing against Russia. But he has told the world that we can do absolutely nothing against Russia, and that we must go hanging about foreign countries trying here, there, and everywhere, to get an ally to defend us. This was like the angry woman in the street who quarrelled with everybody she met, and then shrieked out for a policeman to protect her. I do say that a more abject confession of weakness never was made by a British statesman than this confession made by the Colonial Secretary. China, according to him, was absolutely at the mercy of Russia, unless we find some great military Power to assist us. My right honourable Friend the Member for Fife asked what is the object of this alliance against Russia, and I ask the same question. We are asked to—enter into an alliance with those Powers whose interests most nearly approximate to ours.Now, what does that mean? It cannot mean France. The right honourable Gentleman went out of his way to suggest that we should establish cordial amity with the United States, but how did he suggest that we should establish that cordial amity? Why, we were to cement our friendship by fighting some great battle in some great and noble cause against some third party. But, Sir, he did not tell us what this great and noble cause was, and he did not tell us who these unfortunate third parties were, by whose friendship we were to cement this alliance. I would point out to him that the people of this country have always been in favour of the most cordial and the warmest alliance with the United States, for they have prevented wars and troubles time after time, which are said to have been been brought about by the governing classes of this country. We need no grandiloquent statements that this country wishes for a warmer and cordial alliance with the United States, and there is no necessity to cement this alliance in blood as the Colonial Secretary suggests. Look what happened during the Con- 1376 federate war. The governing classes were most anxious that we should recognise that, and it was only through the people insisting on arbitration that they would not allow it. Look what happened in the. Alabama case, and the case of Venezuela. Again, it was the people insisting on arbitration; and ever since we have had arbitration, and because it went against us, we have had Conservative gentlemen vilifying Mr. Gladstone because he consented to arbitration.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I do not understand what the honourable Member means. The Colonial Secretary claims credit for all this, but who was it that insisted upon the Government now in power taking up that attitude of arbitration? Why, it was the expression of the views of this country, not only by their representatives, but also through their newspapers. Sir, I do say that a more utter and contemptible piece of clap-trap than the suggestion made by the right honourable Gentleman the Colonial Secretary, that we should henceforth live in amity with the United States, never was before palmed off on a country as the utterance of a great statesman. But, Sir, in the opinion of the friends of the right honourable Gentleman, he has done perfect wonders, and raised himself to an elevation never attained by any other statesman by this clap-trap suggestion to live in amity with the United States, I was rather amused with the speech of the right honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, because he did not seem to know that the friends of the Colonial Secretary insisted that all the friendly feeling that exists at present between this country and the United States is due to the Colonial Secretary. Now, I do not know what the Colonial Secretary will say. I think he will be almost inclined to reply to the right honourable Gentleman when he gets up this evening, because the right honourable Gentleman actually said that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Office had something to do with it. Now, the right honourable Gentleman must clear his mind of these ideas, because when he sits as a colleague of the Colonial Secretary everything is 1377 done by the Colonial Secretary when it is approved of by the country; but when it is disapproved of, it is done by his colleagues. I have here a speech made by the Financial Secretary to the War Office, and, like the Colonial Secretary, he was not going to allow a thing of this kind to pass over without securing some popularity out of it. Replying to a vote of confidence and thanks for his services as representative of the Division of South Birmingham, he referred to the recent important speech of the Colonial Secretary, and said—It would be difficult to find a statement of more gravity and importance. The way in which it had been accepted by the Americans was in itself an immense event. Out of the speech he made no doubt there would issue an understanding with the American people, a great and unrestrained friendship between them and us that no circumstances, however alarming, would be able to break. He alluded with regret to the death of Mr. Gladstone, and said there was nothing which he accomplished that was greater than Mr. Chamberlain was now putting his hand to in reference to the Unity of the whole of the Anglo-Saxon-speaking nations of the earth in one great bond of brotherhood. That was an immense and world-wide policy, and, come the time when it might when Mr. Chamberlain's life as a politician would be at an end, that would be to be said of him always, and it would be a record of which all his friends might be proud.Upon my word, I never did hear one fly giving to a superior fly credit for what has been done. My right honourable Friend the Member for Fife has asked what Power this is which the Colonial Secretary referred to. It is not the United States, because that is not a great military Power. It in not France, and it cannot be Russia. Then we know perfectly well that it is Germany. Now, we know that for a long while the policy of Germany has been to keep on good terms with Russia and France, and yet the right honourable Gentleman thinks that Germany will throw over this policy which she has carried out so successfully up to now. I cannot believe that Germany is so anxious to pull the chestnut out of the fire for us that when an attack takes place upon us she will send her army to defend our interests in China. I ask, could anything more ridiculous be imagined? Sir, it must be remembered that it takes two to make an alliance, and Germany laughs at us at the present time, and refuses any alliance 1378 with us. She simply regards this as a confession of weakness. Now, I am no particular friend of Germany, but I am bound to say that: the German people are all a great deal too intelligent to dance to the piping of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. I should like to know what we should get by this alliance with Germany. We should have to guarantee to Germany all her possessions in Europe against Russia and France; we should have to guarantee her the possession of Alsace and Lorraine. I believe, however, that, France is more popular in England than Germany, and this country would never consent to any alliance with Germany made on any sort of understanding to assist Germany to retain Alsace and Lorraine against any attempt France might make to acquire those two provinces. I am opposed to war, but to have an alliance with Germany against France and Russia, under any conditions, I consider would be one of the most fatal steps it is possible to conceive. The Colonial Secretary is always very indignant at any criticisms levelled against the Government, for he considers that, even if they are true, they are unpatriotic. He says—I do not think it wise or patriotic at such a juncture to assert that he is discredited and defeated, to gloat over the alleged humiliation of the country, and to say on every occasion that the Government is weak and vacillatory.Now, this is not always the line which the Colonial Secretary has adopted with regard to Lord Salisbury. He practically says: "It is true, I admit, that Lord Salisbury, the Prime Minister, is a poor, weak, vacillating creature, but let us forgive him, and let us overlook his faults. He has a colleague by his side who will keep an eye on him, and keep him up to the mark in future, and strengthen him in the course he will pursue. Let us not tell the country what a poor Foreign Secretary we have got, but let us make the best of it." Now, the complaint that Lord Salisbury is discredited, the Colonial Secretary says, comes from us, but these charges against the Government come, not only from us, but from the other side, who have attacked Lord Salisbury far more than we have. I hope, therefore, that the other side will accept the reproof, and 1379 understand that when they have a Government like the present one, with an extremely pushful gentleman in it like the Colonial Secretary, they must not even criticise them, and if they disapprove of anything which the Government does and cannot praise it, they must not dispraise. I had some doubt at first as to how I should vote upon this Motion, which is a Motion for a reduction in the salary of Lord Salisbury. I should not vote for it, for the reasons I have given in regard to Tunis and Siam; I should not vote for it in regard to Crete and Greece; I should not vote for it myself, because of Lord Salisbury's policy in regard to Russia, because I should look to results; and, on the whole, the results of that policy are to be commended. As to Wei-hai-Wei, I shall wait, as I have said, to vote against it when the demand is made for armaments. We cannot resist, however, what is perfectly obvious—the fact that there are two sections in the Cabinet; one is in favour of war, and is doing its best to push on war, and the other is in favour of peace. Lord Salisbury appears to be at the head of the peace section, and therefore it does seem to me that we ought to strengthen his hands. It is Hobson's choice between Lord Salisbury and the Colonial Secretary, and that being so, I should not hesitate to vote in favour of Lord Salisbury as against the Colonial Secretary. My honourable Friend opposite says I have got a Motion on the Paper for this reduction, but I put that down on general principles. I am, however, driven to support this reduction, because I have come to the conclusion that the Government refuses to repudiate the speech of the Colonial Secretary. The Prime Minister has not repudiated that speech, and therefore I think Lord Salisbury is involved, and becomes a party to it. If Lord Salisbury, or even now if anybody will get up, if the Leader of the House will get up and wash his hands entirely of whatever has been said by the Colonial Secretary—if be will express his regret that the Colonial Secretary made such a foolish, mischievous, and wicked speech —I will go even so far as to vote against my right honourable Friend. But I am afraid that that is not probable. The Government seem perfectly afraid of this 1380 speech, and they do not know how to deal with it. He makes a speech, and they dislike it—they abominate his speech. When the right honourable Gentleman joined the Cabinet he was spoken of as "the gentleman Leader," but does the gentleman Leader approve of the tone of that speech as representing the opinion of this country? I do not believe that the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs does approve of it. I observe that he does not say a word in favour of that speech, and I should have been surprised if he had. Under these circumstances, I wish to dissociate myself from any protest against Lord Salisbury for not being sufficiently Jingo. I support this Motion upon the specific ground that I have not an opportunity of voting against the salary of the Colonial Secretary, and because Lord Salisbury will not threw over the Colonial Secretary.
§ * MR. MACLEAN (Cardiff)
I do not know that Lord Salisbury will be very grateful to the honourable Member for Northampton for his repeated offers of assistance and his loyalty, but he may find some satisfaction in the fact that the honourable Member devoted the greater part of his speech to demolishing the speech of the right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. I think that shows the real weakness of the Opposition in this matter. They are so hopelessly divided that the task of the Government becomes a comparatively easy one. The right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean used one expression in the course of his speech which struck me very much. He said that we scattered our forces too much about the world. Well, it does seem to me that that phrase is equally applicable to his own speech, and if he were not quite so omniscient and full of immense and varied information—if he were not so anxious to scatter his forces all over the universe—he might be much more effective than he is in this House. Well, Mr. Lowther, I have been anxious to intervene in this Debate to-night because it seems to me that there is a mistaken impression on the other side of the House that a very large body of Members on this side of the House are in favour of repudiating the policy of Lord Salisbury as a whole. Now, I do not believe that there are two 1381 opinions on this side with regard to the infinite patience and skill which Lord Salisbury has shown in disentangling some of the most complicated diplomatic knots that ever a statesman had to deal with. The right honourable Baronet says that we scatter our forces all over the world, as if we were in the habit of attacking other people. The position of the Government is this: that since they have been in office we have not assailed anyone, but attacks have come from elsewhere. Every nation on the Continent of Europe is anxious to enlarge its dominions, particularly in the Far East. All the Continental Powers see that England has outgrown Europe, that she has dominions in all parts of the world, and that it is from those dominions that she gathers her great wealth and power. Consequently, they are anxious to compete with us, and they assail our interests in various parts of the world, and it becomes the duty of the Prime Minister to meet them everywhere. Having offered this general tribute to Lord Salisbury's policy, I should like to refer particularly to what has been done in the Far East. The right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the House, in a speech he made when this Vote was last before the Committee—I will not say that he rebuked a large number of Members on this side, but he reproached them with having felt a certain want of confidence in the policy of Her Majesty's Government. I remember what he said at the time, because I felt it as a reproach to myself, and I may say that those who did feel very strongly with regard to it then in the Far East showed the utmost loyalty to Her Majesty's Government. Although they met together and exchanged views, and obtained the opinions of experts with regard to what is going on; although the Members themselves met together and consulted a very large number of men who had travelled in the East, and who had commercial interests in the East, and who knew exactly how our interests were affected; although, on those grounds, we had a right to offer opinions and criticisms on the policy of Her Majesty's Government; yet we approached them with bated breath, and asked them simply to consider what ought to be done with regard to it. I am sure no Resolution could 1382 possibly have been couched in humbler terms than was the Resolution passed by those gentlemen when they met together; and, having had some little share in framing that Resolution, I must say that when I saw it I was astonished at my own meekness. Well, Mr. Lowther, I would just like to say a few words about the policy which has been actually pursued. It seems to me that the Government have had from the beginning two policies in China. I do not know whether that is the result of the composition of the Cabinet itself or not. The right honourable Gentleman the Colonial Secretary told us not long ago that the Government was a blend; possibly the two elements that compose the blend have not yet been perfectly assimilated, and it does not yet possess that distinct and pleasant flavour to the palate which we look forward to in a perfect blend. Apparently, we have had two policies pursued with regard to China. One policy is the perfectly intelligible policy of supporting the integrity of the Chinese Empire. I listened with the greatest satisfaction to the speech which the Prime Minister made within the last few weeks in the House of Lords. On that occasion the noble Marquess stated in very good terms what was the policy we ought to pursue. He said we had taken possession of Wei-hai-Wei not only for commercial purposes, because I believe it can be used for commercial purposes, but also in order to encourage China to resist foreign aggression, and in order to frustrate the attempt of any foreign Power to obtain complete predominance at Pekin. That is a very good policy for this country to pursue, and the only objection made by honourable Members on this side of the House, who were in favour of preventing Russia from occupying Port Arthur, was that this policy should have been pursued at an earlier stage. Sir Claude MacDonald, the British Ambassador at Pekin, pressed China to accept a loan from this country on certain conditions, but the Chinese Government said they were afraid to do so, on account of the threats used by Russia. Our Ambassador said—Well, if you ever mean to make a stand against Russia, now is the time, when you will have the sympathy of the civilised world; if it is not done now, Russia will be able to find another pretext on an occasion when you will not be so well backed up.1383 The Chinese Government said—We are afraid of the power of Russia, but if you will protect, us we will accept the Loan and carry out the conditions, you propose.Sir Claude MacDonald telegraphed Unit reply to London; but, so far as appears from the Blue Book, not the slightest notice was ever taken of it by the Government. I do not believe that any British Ambassador, at a crisis of the national fortunes like this, would have made such a proposal to the Chinese if he had not been confident that he would have the support of the Cabinet at home, That support was denied to Sir Claude MacDonald, and then Russia naturally went forward; our Loan fell through, and Russia obtained, what she desired. We then fell back upon an alternative policy. We obtained possession of Wei-hai-Wei, and the concession of very great commercial privileges, the importance of which I am the last to deny, but which are of no value to this country, unless we are prepared to fight to maintain them should the occasion arise. Unless we are prepared to use force to keep the door open, it will be shut in our faces by some foreign Power. We obtained Wei-hai-Wei, but surely it would have been better for us to come to the aid of China before China was knocked down by the Russian Government. It is a curious policy to say to a friend, after he is knocked down, "Give me some portion of your property and I will help you to pick yourself up." That is an exact description of the policy of the Government. I am not one of those who believe that, although our original policy in China has been defeated, we are necessarily in a very bad way there, or that our national interests have been completely demolished. No doubt we have given Russia a standing there which we ought never to have allowed her to obtain. We should have resisted her, and resisted her effectually. But we did not do so, and now she is established there, and 10 years hence she will be stronger than at present, and we shall not be so well prepared for the inevitable conflict as we tire now. During the interval, I have no doubt we shall prosper immensely in the Far East. People say—I think it is childish—that Russia will not open Port Arthur or Talienwan to our trade. Why, Port Arthur can never be used as a com- 1384 mercial town, and when we asked Russia to come there we must have known that she would fortify any station on the northern Pacific which she obtained. Is it creditable to the high intelligence of the Leader of the House to suppose that when he invited Russia to come to the coast of the Pacific he did not intend to allow her to fortify and protect the terminus of her railway there against all the attacks of foreign Powers? I have, however, such a belief in the enterprise of the British people, and in the soundness of their commercial policy, that I am sure Wei-hai-Wei will be of the greatest commercial value to us in the north of China. It is all very well for rival Powers to seize ports and subsidise lines of steamers, but everybody knows that there is not a French, Russian, or German ship that is free to go where she likes, that will not go to a British port in preference to a port of any other nationality, because she gets freedom there. The natives of China would rather settle under the English flag than under that of any other nation, because they know that under the British flag they are assured of justice and freedom. Therefore I do not despair in the least of the prospects of our commerce with China, and I feel that we shall grow in wealth and power until, when the northern railway is completed, at the end of 10 years, we shall be able to compete with Russia on better terms than now seems probable. Sitting, as I do, on the Ministerial side of the House, I should not overlook what appears to be the main purpose of the discussion raised to-night, which is to try and extract from the right honourable Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies some explanation or defence of that remarkable speech he made at Birmingham, and which has aroused so much attention throughout the world. I candidly confess that I read that speech with astonishment and with great dislike to the sentiments expressed in it, and to the manner in which they were expressed. The Financial Secretary for War has gone down to Birmingham, and, with touching fidelity, has spoken as if the right honourable Gentleman were the predominant partner in the Government, and as if he had delivered an epoch-making speech, which 1385 would, perhaps, introduce a new policy to the people of this country. I trust and believe that no such new policy will be adopted by this country. I object very strongly to the language which the right honourable Gentleman used in speaking of our relations with Russia. If we suffer a diplomatic defeat it better becomes our dignity to say nothing about it, instead of using what I may call "nagging" expressions in speaking of the Russian Government. We ought to have known beforehand what the Russian Government were aiming at, and I believe nearly everybody did know what their aim was. The right honourable Gentleman the Colonial Secretary seemed to me, in speaking of the Russian Government, to use very nearly the same language as Ancient Pistol did in eating the leek: "I eat, and eke I swear!" That was the style in which the right honourable Gentleman permitted himself to speak to a great Power. Surely a Minister of the Crown, holding the right honourable Gentleman's high position, should have been more reticent. What, now, is the policy of the right honourable Gentleman? How things have changed! We all know what his policy was a year ago. None of us will ever forget how the right honourable Gentleman led that apotheosis of the British Empire, when we all shouted ourselves hoarse with singing "Rule Britannia," when we were patting ourselves on the back and saying we were the lords of human kind—when the streets were filled with celebrations indicative of the might and majesty and power of the British Empire; and we remember, too, how the great show culminated in that memorable picture of the right honourable Gentleman the Colonial Secretary, seated, surrounded by his Prime Ministers. There has been nothing like it since Alexander's feast—
The right honourable Gentleman will admit that was the policy pursued by him against the world alone, and that he then spoke as if the resources of the British Empire were adequate to meet any emergency. But, now. how 1386 changed his tone! The conqueror has become a suppliant to some other Power—a great military Power; and he says that we can do little harm to Russia unless we have the assistance of a great military Power. Has the right honourable Gentleman forgotten that 20 years ago Lord Beaconsfield challenged the whole power of Russia when a victorious Russian army was at the gates of Constantinople, and Russia fell back? Lord Beaconsfield had not then at his command one-third—hardly onetenth—of the enormous armaments which this Ministry has, and for which we pay £70,000,000 sterling a year. Yet Russia fell back 20 years ago when opposed by Lord Beaconsfield, who triumphed because he was a man of steadfast purpose and resolute will— qualities which are of more value to the nation than all the bloated armaments that may be at our command. It seems to me that the right honourable Gentleman has a perfectly inadequate appreciation of the military strength of the British Empire abroad. We have an army ready for service in India of about 300,000 men. India is an admirable secondary base of operations for war in the China Sea, and we could send from India to Pekin 50,000 men before Russia could place half a dozen battalions there. Therefore I say that the right honourable Gentleman's conception as to the military power of England is utterly erroneous, and ought to be indignantly resented. Well, then, again, the right honourable Gentleman has said that we must seek an alliance with America, in order that we may fight along with her in some holy cause, or, at all events, in what he terms a possible contingency. But the people in one latitude think a cause holy, while the people in another latitude think it unholy. I can readily imagine circumstances in which our power or interest are alone concerned, and that when we go to war our interests would clash with those of the United States more almost than with any other Power. I do not say this in any unfriendly spirit towards any Power, but I protest against the principle that it is the duty, or the business, or in the interest of this country to form an 1387 exclusive alliance with any Power whatever. It may be said that some of the great military Powers on the Continent would like to have an alliance with England. We know that the Triple Alliance is breaking down at the present time, that Italy has failed to remain a great Power, and that Austria is stricken with internal disorders; and I have no doubt that some great military Power on the Continent would like to have our alliance. But we do not want to mix ourselves up with European quarrels; that time has gone by for us. It matters little to us whether Germany or France or Russia shall be supreme on the Continent. Our interests are elsewhere, and we ought to be capable of protecting those interests when we are sure that we are in the right. I hope that we shall hear from the Government to-night some declaration similar to those which have been made by the honourable Baronet on the Front Bench opposite [Sir Edward Grey] and by the late Home Secretary on this subject of the ability and the willingness of England to defend by herself her own interests. The people of this country do not want war; they support Lord Salisbury in the policy of being friendly to every country; but if a crisis should arise, then the Minister who will sweep the country will not be he who hesitates to go to war, but one who goes to war in a just cause, confident in the strength and resources of the British Empire, and, above all, in the character of the British people.
- "Aloft in awful state
- The godlike hero sate
- On his Imperial throne;
- His valiant peers were placed around."
§ * MR. ROBSON (South Shields)
It has been said that the recent speech of the Colonial Secretary at Birmingham was an epoch-making speech, and I venture to say that that is precisely what it was. The right honourable Gentleman has made a speech which marks, not the beginning, but the end of an epoch. In that sense it is an epoch-making speech, and, in spite of its many disadvantages and the many criticisms which we are able to pass upon it, at least we are able to say that it is probably the dying speech and confession of what was once the great Jingo Party; because now, happily, instead of that exhibition of boastful and blatant vanity which one is accustomed to from, I was going to say, the Tory Party, or, at all events, a section of it, we now have the Colonial 1388 Secretary adopting what the honourable Member for Cardiff has called a suppliant attitude. Indeed, one may call it Jingo's petition in bankruptcy. What right had the Government, what right had Members opposite, to seek to encourage the baser instincts of the English people in pursuit of a policy of expansion, if that policy has for its necessary condition an alliance with some great military Power, we know not where? As the right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean has said to-night, we cannot find a single Power which will bear the description of a military Power that is desirous of assisting us in any Jingo undertaking. There is, I think, one useful lesson which we may learn from the speech of the right honourable Gentleman the Colonial Secretary. It is that while we ought not to be carried away by a spirit of Jingoism, equally we ought not to pass from an attitude of boastful vanity to one of undue self-depreciation and self-abasement. Therefore we are entitled to look to the heads of the Government, and see whether the Government has maintained the rights of England firmly, quietly, but conscious of the great strength which lies behind it. Now, I venture to say that the Government has sacrificed some of the most vital and material rights of England in a way which has received extremely little attention in the speeches defending the Government, or in those attacking their policy. When this Vote was before the Committee last year the First Lord of the Treasury sought to atone for the surrender of his Ministers by propounding a new doctrine—a doctrine entirely new to our commercial policy, so far as our relations with the Empire of China are concerned; and that was the theory of what was called the "spheres of interest." Now, I say that is a new principle; and it is not only new, but it is a principle which has always been regarded as diametrically opposed to our own interests. Even now the Government does not adopt that doctrine to the extent of claiming that England is to have special and exclusive rights in the same way as France, or Germany, or Russia has them. No; the First Lord of the Treasury merely applies this new doctrine of his—the doctrine to which he has given the name of the "spheres of interest"—entirely for the benefit of foreign nations, who have 1389 created spheres of exclusive interest against us. To whatever cause the attitude may be due, certainly the idea of an English Minister submitting to the creation of "spheres of interest" against England in the territory of a friendly State, against the wish of that State, and in violation of our own Treaty rights, has never, I think, entered the head of any English or any Continental statesman until the Foreign Office fell into the hands in which we see it now. We are now not only told that this doctrine of "spheres of interest" ought to be admitted, but we are told by the First Lord of the Treasury, in words which I am astonished should have escaped the attention of his opponents, that this theory of "spheres of interest" is one which is indispensable to oar interests, and which it would be fatal for us to deny. I say it is an astounding departure in the Imperial and commercial policy of England, and it is to me a matter of great regret that we should be driven to debate this important matter upon the question of the reduction of a Departmental Vote. The doctrine which he has laid down is one which ought to receive the honour of a full-dress Debate in this House, and not be confined to a discursive Debate of this character. Now, the right honourable Gentleman has said that we have not sacrificed our commercial interests in China, and that idea seemed to be accepted by some even on this side of the House. What was the policy, with which the Ministry started out? They started out with the policy of maintaining our Treaty rights. Now, I wonder how many honourable Members opposite have taken the trouble to read Article 54 of the Treaty of Tien-tsin, on which our commercial rights in China are based. May I read it? Article 54 says—It is hereby expressly stipulated that the British Government and its subjects will be allowed free and equal participation in all privileges, immunities, and advantages that may have been, or may be hereafter, granted by the Emperor of China to the Government or subjects of any other nation.It would be impossible to use words more clearly and explicitly excluding the doctrine of "spheres of interest." When we talk of the policy of the "open door," we mean the maintenance of these rights under the Treaty of Tien-tsin. When, 1390 therefore, the First Lord of the Treasury gets up and defends the creation of "spheres of interest," in mitigation of his own blunders or the blunders of his colleagues, it is in effect an abrogation of the most vital clause in the Treaty of Tien-tsin. Now, may I say that I am glad—and I am sure we are all glad—to see the Under Secretary back in his place to-night? The right honourable Gentleman has referred in his speech tonight to a great many subjects. He has spoken about the right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean traversing the whole field of politics, and touching in a carping manner on every difficulty that can be alleged against the Ministry. But he also went over the world, in order to try and find out some of the advantages that may be laid to the credit of the Government, carefully ignoring, however, the points upon which his Government had failed. Perhaps I may remind him of his own speech, delivered, I think, five days before the great surrender of the Government, to which the honourable Member for Cardiff has just referred—that great surrender forming, the turning point of our policy in China, when the Government refused to China any promise of protection if China, were willing to enter into friendly relations with us. The right honourable Gentleman then said that we were not going to be pushed aside in China, but were going to maintain the position of honourable supremacy which we had won. He went on to say that the existence of our Treaty rights made the operation of the "spheres of interest" in China impossible. In other words, the spheres of influence, such us had been, created in Africa and elsewhere, would not be maintained in China. Compare that speech with what has happened since. There has been a sphere of influence created against us in North China, and then in East China, and as far as we can judge there is already a sphere of influence by France in South-west China. From these three great spheres of influence the industry and capital of England are to be excluded to a very great degree. And what is our position with regard to the rest of China, that part where Ministers tell us they have got a sphere of special influence? That depends entirely on the maintenance of our Treaty rights on the part of the 1391 Emperor of China. How do those rights stand? The First Lord of the Treasury has told us that China is in a position in which she cannot react against hostile pressure. What does that mean? It means that China cannot help herself. It is perfectly clear that China is being made the subject of hostile pressure and that that pressure is directed against the position of England in China—directed against her Most-Favoured-Nation clause and especially against anything like a sphere of special influence for our advantage. Now, if China cannot help herself, what value are our Treaty rights unless we help her? I maintain the Government have not protected our Treaty rights. See what happened in the case of the loan. China was desirous of entering into friendly relations of a commercial character with us. They would not affect the sphere of influence of any other Power, they would not touch Talienwan or Port Arthur. They were relations of a pecuniary character between England and China, and China said she should be glad to enter into them if we promised to protect her in doing so, but the Government refused to give her any promise or protection whatever. After that how can it be pretended that our Treaty rights are any substantial security for our position in China? The moment you advertise the fact that China will receive no protection from us in the maintenance of her Treaties with us, then those Treaties lie naked and defenceless to every comer. That is precisely our position now. We see the effect of it during the last two or three days, and I really cannot help recommending honourable Members opposite to read these developments rather than their own speeches on matters of ancient history. Within the last few days—I think on June 7th—we got the news that Russia had stepped beyond the sphere of influence which I suppose we must now admit is hers, although, the right honourable Gentleman said it was inconsistent with our Treaty rights. She has demanded a particular trade monopoly over not less than six provinces of China, and not only that, but she has signed a contract with the Russian-Chinese Bank —which everybody knows is only another name for the Russian Government in this connection—for 1392 the construction of a railway far beyond her sphere of influence, and by means of which, apparently, it is contemplated to extend her influence even to the Yang-tsze Valley. I think it was stated in a recent periodical that Russia was about to extend her railway into the very heart of the distinct sphere of English influence. China has published to the world that she cannot fight unless some military Power helps her, and the Government has published to the world that it does not intend to help China. Then, of what value are our Treaties? The right honourable Gentleman may well retire to study the collapse which has followed the policy he propounded in January. I should like the Committee to consider for a moment what is really involved in these spheres of interest, and there again;—and I have watched, with careful attention, the whole of these Debates on foreign policy—the matter has not been more than touched upon at all. What is involved in a sphere of interest? The best thing is to take the plain words of the German agreement with China. Germany has the preferential right of the first offer to all public enterprises involving the co-operation of foreign capital or foreign skill. Now, I ask the Committee to consider what that means. First of all, I will tell the Committee how it is construed by Germany itself. On the strength of that agreement, signed on May 6th, the German Ambassador at Pekin has already vetoed the construction of a railway. It was projected by a Chinese syndicate and proposed to run outside the German sphere of influence, though a small part of it passed through a corner of that sphere; yet, on the strength of the agreement—t he syndicate being assisted by foreign capital, English and American— it was vetoed. Accordingly, if the natives of China themselves come over to England, in order to borrow capital, or to get engineers to build a railway, that railway can be vetoed if it passes over ever so small a strip of the German sphere of influence. Now, that is a most astounding state of things, and to have submitted to it on the part of Ministers is a sacrifice of our interests. See what follows. England has lost her share in the industrial development of China. That is important enough; but her loss means far more than 1393 a return upon invested capital. The import trade and the shipping trade to the German sphere of influence are at present almost entirely in our hands, but they will be undoubtedly affected by the industrial development, which dictates the character of the import trade. If you begin to make railways with German rails, and use German engines, you will find that the import trade will assume the character of bringing German goods to that particular part of the country, and therefore our own trade with the German sphere of influence is likely to be adversely affected by the fact that all public enterprises in that province will be under the control of a rival to our selves. We, therefore, lose in two ways. First of all, we lose our share in the future industrial development of that part of the country; and, secondly, we imperil the trade we have already got there. Someone has said of the province of Sze-chuen, I think, that if our trade with it were developed there would not be an idle loom in Lancashire. It is from such a market as this— one of the few great undeveloped markets in the world—that we have been excluded, not by any Power stronger than ourselves, and we have submitted to that exclusion in a sheer nerveless, drifting incompetence. If we were in a position which we were unable to defend, I could understand it. Far be it from me to say a single word to provoke anything like a Jingo spirit. Let us look calmly on the resources of our own country. It is idle to expect that Germany or France could establish a sphere of influence in China except by our consent. The Germans are a sensible, peaceable, practical people, and can anyone imagine Germany going to war with the greatest naval Power in the world, and with a Power which, in Asia at all events, is the greatest military Power in that continent, merely to destroy our Treaty rights in the province of Shantung? Germany would not dream of it, and no English Minister could for a moment think that Germany meant it. It is weakness in our diplomatic position, and that weakness is due to the way in which the Government received the dispatch of the 31st January, asking for protection from Russia, not in relation to Port Arthur, but in relation merely to the completion of a commercial trans- 1394 action. She asked for that protection, and we refused it, and then our whole policy of the "open door" collapses in China. We had France putting forward a demand, Russia putting forward a demand, Germany putting forward a demand, and each was granted. I think the Government have shown a great lack of foresight in regard to the advance of Russia in the Far East. Just consider the kind of foresight in reference to the advance of Germany. Germany, in a somewhat tainted manner, put forward a demand for certain exclusive privileges in regard to railway traffic. Then China asked us our view on that proposal. When she did we indicated that we thought it would be an interference with our trade rights—we let them know that we opposed it.
[At this point (8.33) Mr. SAMUEL suggested the usual adjournment, which was agreed to.]
Upon the return of the CHAIRMAN, after the usual interval,
Attention was drawn to the fact that there were not 40 Members present. Committee counted; quorum formed.
§ * MR. ROBSON
When my remarks were interrupted before the adjournment I was dealing with the German sphere of interest in China, and I was saying, that I thought the Germans had very much to be thankful for, because it was Lord Salisbury who devised that in the national interest there should be spheres of influence in Africa.; but it is not convenient to Germany, apparently, to annex territory, politically or administratively, in China. Therefore the First Lord of the Treasury devised for her this new doctrine of "spheres of interest," which, he tells us, is different from "spheres of influence," although he does not explain why and how, although he tells us that these spheres of interest are something essentially different. Now, what are these spheres of interest from the point of view of international status and international law? So far as Germany and France are concerned, without spending a single penny, and without becoming responsible in the slightest degree for the good government of the province, without bearing any part of the burden 1395 of the cost of defending it, Germany annexes, and France annexes, the commercial profits to be obtained from the provinces thus placed under their industrial control. I must say the this is a new form of international relationship, which ought not to pass sub silentio. We ought to consider carefully before any English Government gives its consent to a doctrine involving spheres of this character, which means nothing but that they are closed against us. The existence of a sphere of influence, which carries with it no responsibility, which carries with it no burden and no cost, but is intended to give to the other nations all the profits, is not a doctrine which can possibly be of any benefit to us. That is our position with regard to Germany and the German sphere of influence. Now, what is out position with regard to France? With regard to France, we have already regulated our rights by a Treaty, as to which we have heard the Government say a great deal, and which to-night has been made one of the boasts of the Ministerial policy; that is the Treaty already referred to by the right honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs—namely, the London Convention of 1896, which was concluded for the purpose of settling affairs in Siam. Now, I observed that when the Under Secretary for Foreign. Affairs to-night was pronouncing his eulogium upon his colleagues and his Ministry he said nothing about an advantage which he claimed that his Ministry had obtained for England two or three years ago—that is, the stipulation in one of the articles of the London Convention of 1896, under which it is agreed that France and England shall seek no advantages within the Empire of China that each nation does not share equally with the other. Now, we were making sacrifices in Siam—because, in spite of what the Under Secretary said to-night, we did make sacrifices: we made a sacrifice of territory, and we gave up territory that we had occupied by our troops, which would have been valuable to us now, for it would have been a base of influence for us upon China. When we gave up that territory, among the compensating advantages we were then to receive was that we had got the right to share with France any advantages that France herself might receive 1396 in the Empire of China. Now, what is taking place with regard to it? We have not been able to extract information from the Government as to the fresh negotiations, and we have been told that those negotiations are still pending. Now, I venture to express some doubt as to the precise accuracy of that statement. It may be that there are still some negotiations pending between France and China, but I think there are also some negotiations concluded, and concluded in a sense very adverse to English interests, because I find in the dispatches that Germany complains that she is only getting what has already been granted to France, so that it would seem as if the latter country has already obtained some very material advantage, although by the London Convention of 1896 it was agreed that no one country should receive a privilege which was not granted to another of the signatory Powers. Now it is pretty clear that France is at least demanding an advantage in breach of that Convention. I think we have somewhat misplaced our magnanimity in this regard in our anxiety not to embarrass the Government, and that we have left them too much to the suggestions of their own weakness and want of nerve, when, by the help of a little healthy opposition, we might have stiffened their backbone in some measure. But I think we are entitled to tell the Government now, if these negotiations be pending, that we expect France shall not recede from, and that this Government will maintain the rights we got by the Convention of 1896. How is such a stipulation to be made? I will only take the news for the last few days—or, perhaps, I should go a little further back. The Government made some time ago a demand that Na-Nin should be a free port. Now, that is a great centre of Chinese population, and is situated on one of the great rivers, which, as the Under Secretary reminds us, it is the triumph of our policy to have opened. But, after all, the river is only opened below Na-Nin, and the triumph is not unlike the sort of triumph that might be gained over us if we were impelled to open the Thames only below London Bridge. I confess that when I read the Parliamentary Papers I was surprised that France, should veto 1397 our suggestion to open Nanning. That attitude certainly looked as if France were aiming at some advantage which was not to be shared, or, at least, not shared with us. Apparently, therefore, Prance is seeking—I say no more than that—to get interests and privileges in that district which are to be exclusive of England; and I think we have a right to tell the Ministry that in our opinion they should display a reasonable amount of firmness with regard to the maintenance of our interests in that district. These, however, are a few, and only a few, of the blunders of the Ministry. The honourable Member for Northampton seems to think that there is on this side of the House a spirit of Jingoism. I am sure it would be a grave mistake if any spirit of that sort were displayed; but it is the misfortune of the honourable Gentleman the Member for Northampton to think that anyone who does not agree with him in his admiration of Lord Salisbury's foreign policy is a Jingo. I think the honourable Gentleman claims rather too much of us. He claims—but, I hope, wrongly claims— the Leader of the Opposition as one who joins with him in admiration of the Prime Minister in this direction. At any rate, he stands very nearly alone in that admiration, in respect of which he may claim to occupy a position of splendid isolation. He certainly does not seek allies. What we object to in Lord Salisbury is the fact that he has preceded failure by Jingo professions. We have had Jingo professions—boasts which the Government have sought to satisfy by war at any price with the weak, and then to mitigate and qualify by peace at any price with the strong. It would be difficult indeed for politicians of any school of thought not to disagree with Lord Salisbury. The Jingo would disagree with him on account of his deeds, and the Peace-at-any-price politician would disagree with him on account of his professions. I think I have dealt sufficiently with the blunders of the Ministry, but I also contend that the blunders of the Ministry are not worse than their excuses, for the ruin, they have begun with the one they seem anxious to complete with the other. It is not enough to sacrifice our Treaty rights to 1398 the policy of the open door in China— but that sacrifice must be justified by excuses such as have been presented to us. The cither excuse of the Colonial Secretary rests in belittling the Power of England. I do not want to magnify that Power unduly, but I think it is desirable to remember that England is herself in Asia a military Power. It is not very long ago since the right honourable Gentleman the Colonial Secretary delivered a speech in which he referred in no very obscure terms to Germany as being a country about a quarter the size of Queensland. The right honourable Gentleman was not giving us that opinion by way of adding to our geographical knowledge, but by way of letting us see how great the English Empire is. What a declension from that speech to the speech which is the subject of controversy to-night! That Power is now, apparently, a Power without whose assistance we cannot compete with our rivals. I think we may well ask the country not to be carried away by this undue sense of self-abasement and self-depreciation which has succeded to a Jingoism now dead and gone. It fell to the Liberal Party at one stage of its history to try to correct the influences of vanity and boastfulness into which some of the Jingo Party sought to mislead the English people. Now that Jingoism has gone down in humiliating collapse, it becomes the duty of the Liberal Party to prevent a reaction of depression, to invoke the honourable pride of the races which inhabit these islands, and to remind them that the high spirit and the pertinacious courage which have made this Empire what it is are still undiminished, and, in wiser hands, are quite sufficient to maintain all the rights of the Empire.
§ MR. YERBURGH (Chester)
I feel that when matters of this great moment are before us honourable Members who hold views disagreeing with those of the Government should not hesitate to give voice to them in this House, and, if necessary, support them in the Lobby. With regard to the opposition, which has been taken to the attitude of the Government on this question, may I say that I think it is the more incumbent on 1399 Members on this side of the House to indulge in criticism, if they think it right, because the Opposition are in such a disorganised condition—they are not only weak in numbers, but they also suffer from as many leaders as policies. The right honourable Gentleman the Member for West Monmouth has my most hearty sympathy, because he is in a most difficult position. If he is too strong in his foreign policy he will have to encounter the opposition of the honourable Member for Northampton, while if he is too weak the right honourable Baronet will rise and politely throw the right honourable Gentleman over. Under these conditions it is quite impossible that any matter of Government policy should receive effective treatment at the hands of the Opposition. With regard to the general foreign policy of the Government, I agree with what fell from the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, to the effect that we ought to survey the whole field of foreign politics and not confine ourselves to one particular branch of it; and I agree that in a certain quarters Lord Salisbury has so acted as to earn the thanks of everyone. I need hardly do more than refer [...] Greece and the great services he has rendered to freedom, his destruction of the scourge of slavery in the Soudan, and the great services he has rendered to this country by the encouragement of friendly relations, which I hope will continue to grow, between the United States and this country in relation to the Venezuela difficulty. But then let me look at the Other side of the shield, and see how the great trading questions of the country have been looked after—whether they have been safeguarded and protected as we think we have a right to expect they should be.
§ MR. YERBURGH
An honourable Member near me says "Yes." Let me first take the case of Tunis. My right honourable Friend the Under Secretary has stated that the Manchester traders do not disapprove of the Tunis Convention; but do they approve of it? There is a wide difference. If they approve of it, then there is an end of my criticism but, as from the silence of my right 1400 honourable Friend, I infer that they do not, then I must gather that the opinion of the traders was that commercial interests were not properly safeguarded by the Convention. Now, I take the case of Madagascar, and I think my right honourable Friend forgot to deal with this point. I have been through the Papers carefully, and I am bound to say that I can come to no other conclusion than that in this case the trading interests of the country have been sacrificed. I trust I may be wrong, and that I may, before the Debate closes, be informed that negotiations are not yet concluded; but, so far as I can follow them now, I can form no other conclusion than that trade interests have been sacrificed. And now for a short time I will deal with the case of China. I do not think I need apologise for doing so, for although we have important interests in every other part of the globe, it is in China that our greatest trading interests exist. In support of that view I can quote from my right honourable Friend's "Problems of the Far East." He says—Only in the East, and especially in the Far East, can we still hope to keep and create open markets for our British manufactures. Every port, town, or village that passes into the possession of France or Russia means an ultimate loss to Manchester, to Bradford, and to Bombay.And he goes on to say that the Empire of this country is, above all, an Asiatic dominion. On this I may base what I have to say about China, and state why I think the Government have not dealt with affairs there with the success we had a right to expect from them. Let me take the Committee back for a moment to that invitation which was addressed to Russia by the First Lord of the Treasury—I think it was in February, 1896 —that Russia should accept an ice-free port. Shortly after that invitation the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs stated in this House that the Government considered that Russia was bound by the pledges she had given not to occupy Corea. Therefore the statement that Russia was expected not to go to Corea, but that she should take an ice-free port, can mean nothing but the occupation of Port Arthur and Talienwan. I couple the two, but strategically they mean one, and the Power holding one 1401 must have possession of the other. What I wish to know is this: if the Government thought, as they have put on record they did think, that the occupation of Port Arthur by Russia was a menace to the power of the Chinese Empire in Pekin, why did they give this invitation to Russia, and why did they not endeavour to come to an agreement with Russia in 1895? At that time the Chinese Association waited upon Lord Salisbury, and conveyed to him their view that Russia intended to take Port Arthur; why did not the Prime Minister then endeavour to come to an arrangement with Russia that, on condition of their not taking Port Arthur, they might have a free hand in Corea? Was it impossible to have done that? Was a trial made at the time? Then again, I ask, if we did not want Russia to go to Port Arthur, why did we allow our representative at Pekin to make the opening of Talienwan as a free port a condition of the Loan? Undoubtedly, it was this demand that aroused Russian suspicions and led to Russia's opposition to the Loan, because when the Russian Ambassador was convinced that the proposal to make Talienwan a Treaty port was not to be persevered with, no further opposition was offered, and the Loan was soon issued through German and English bankers. There was another opportunity offered to the Government. If they did not intend to come to an issue with Russia in regard to taking Port Arthur, why did they not attempt to come to an agreement by which, if the Russians took Port Arthur, we might take Wei-hai-Wei? This might have been done in a friendly way with Russia, and we should not have those strained relations that unhappily now exist. An honourable Friend suggests that this would mean going behind the back of China, but I apprehend that China would have been as ready to offer it as she was to allow us to take it subsequently.
§ MR. YERBURGH
Well, now I turn to take a broader view of the question. I believe that this attempt to get Talienwan made a Treaty port led to the arousing of suspicion on the part of Russia, and I believe, to a large extent, led to 1402 the strained relations which, as I have said, exist between us. I do not want to refer for more than a moment to the correspondence that passed with regard to the undertakings given by Count Muravieff. That is a chapter which I think nobody would like to look back upon; it is a humiliating chapter with regard to Russia. We are told that if we made an arrangement with Russia she will not keep it, but considering that we for all time must be neighbours with Russia, surely it is worth while to make one more attempt, though it may be the last attempt, to enter into friendly relations with her. Are we prepared to take up an attitude of permanent hostility? I conceive that it is our duty in the highest interests of the country to endeavour, even though it be for the last time, to come to a friendly arrangement with Russia. I quite agree with all that has been said as to the civilising work that Russia has done in Central Asia. Freely I acknowledge it, and though upon some questions she may not have kept engagements, and though she may have made promises which have not been performed, yet I do not think it wise to go back upon these and reopen pages which we may consider closed; and, in all humbleness, I would ask the Government, is it not possible to attempt such an arrangement as I have endeavoured to shadow forth? Russia has her sphere of influence in Manchuria, and she has Port Arthur as her ice-free port; would it not now be possible to come to an arrangement, and even to call a Conference, as I think has been suggested by the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Montrose, of the Powers interested in the Chinese question?
§ MR. J. MORLEY (Montrose, etc.)
I did not presume to make that proposal on my own account. I only expressed a hope that it might occur to the mind of somebody more responsible that such a Conference should be called.
§ MR. YERBURGH
Considering there are so many countries interested in China, would it not, I ask, be possible to get them into line with ourselves in the endeavour to reorganise Chinese administration, to purify her finance, to develop her material resources, so as to open up 1403 China, with her great capacities, and develop her for the benefit of the trade of the world? This is in no degree chimerical; surely it is possible that Russia might be induced to accept the great wall of China as the boundary of her sphere of influence. And now I will for a moment deal with our sphere of influence in the Yang-tsze valley. I admit that is a most valuable concession that Her Majesty's Government have obtained from China; they have obtained most valuable concessions, and are to be heartily congratulated upon them. But the full value of the concessions in the Yang-tsze valley depends upon whether we make our occupation there effectual. In the first place, I say that you have not yet delimited the boundaries of our sphere of influence. What are the boundaries? We were told that they consisted of the parts bounding on the Yang-tsze river, but that can hardly be held to cover the situation. I venture to submit that the Government ought to see their way to have the Yang-tsze sphere of influence delimited. There are other points: that a railway should be made from Burmah, and in the course of time connected with the Yang-tsze river; that this country should undertake the financial administration of the Yang-tsze valley; that we should encourage the making of railways in the Yang-tsze valley; and I think above all, the Government should see that no railways which are not bonâ-fide industrial enterprises are projected or admitted to the Yang-tsze valley. There is one more point I have yet to dwell upon. It appears to me you can never make the occupation of the Yang-tsze valley effectual unless you are prepared to support your gunboats by a military force; and you can only obtain a military force by organising bodies of troops under British, officers. I have ventured to put forward these few points in connection with our sphere of interest in the Yang-tsze valley because it appears to me that if they are carried out we shall have gone a long way to make our occupation permanent and effective and useful. I do not propose, Mr. Lowther, to trespass any longer on the time of the House. I have ventured to make these few remarks in the belief that the Government have not conducted their policy in 1404 Chinese affairs in such a way as to have safeguarded to its full extent the trade and interests of our Empire; and therefore, with great regret, I shall be compelled to find myself voting in the Lobby with honourable Members opposite.
§ * MR. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)
The right honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs has expressed regret at not having had an opportunity of hearing the views of Manchester and Lancashire on the commercial policy of the Government. I consider it my duty to accept his challenge, and to declare in the most straightforward and explicit manner that I think the whole feeling in Manchester and Lancashire is that the action of the Government has been most pusillanimous. Proof of this is found in the recent election of the honourable Member for Middleton, who sits on the Bench behind me, in the face of very great exertions on the part of the Tories of the Division. The commercial communities of Lancashire feel that the action of the Government has not been such as to guarantee their interests, or to inspire confidence in the future direction of affairs. I was rather astonished to hear the right honourable Gentleman say that no opinions had been expressed with regard to Manchester interests, because for the last two or three months I have been asking questions with regard to the palpable error made by the Foreign Office in the Anglo-Tunisian Treaty. By this error a concession to British-made cotton goods was confined to one particular class of goods of limited sale, instead of granting the concession to all British-made cotton goods. Instead of mentioning "cottonnades" the Treaty should have referred to "tout tissu de coton." I am glad to say that, through the exertions of the right honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary, that error has now been removed, but it was a very palpable mistake on the part of the Foreign Office. I suppose the right honourable Gentleman, having such serious diplomatic difficulties in hand, let this escape him, and I am perfectly willing to make him a present of that excuse, but, at the same time, I want to point out that the manufacturers of Lancashire and of England are most dissatisfied that the trade of Tunis has practically escaped them. Our trade is 1405 being entirely and taken possession of by the French. It is true that a little sop was thrown out to Lancashire by the small reduction being made in the duty on cotton goods entering Tunis, to which I have just referred. That was meant to keep up the spirits of honourable Members from Lancashire who sit behind the Treasury Bench, and who look, I daresay, with very great fear towards the next General Election. I say it is a small sop, because in 10 or 15 years this concession comes to an end, and I think everybody will understand that it is not in the interests of Manchester merchants and Lancashire manufacturers to put up mills or buy machinery to turn out a class of goods for consumption in Tunis, when they know that this trade in a few years will fall to the ground, and that all the energy and intelligence and all the capital they may put into the trade will be entirely wasted and thrown away. It might seem almost unnecessary for me to speak, Because the honourable Member for Chester, who has just sat down, has came as a Daniel to judgment," and has absolved me from the duty which I am nevertheless going to take upon myself, of explaining that Manchester and Lancashire are just as much dissatisfied with the conduct of the Government with regard to Madagascar. Our trade there was a growing trade. I have heard from friends of mine in Her Majesty's Navy that the island of Madagascar is one of the richest islands that can be conceived. It is rich in products and minerals, and has a large and industrious population, and it seems a thousand pities that we should have allowed Madagascar to pass into the hands of the French without receiving any quid pro quo. That is the crux of the whole question of the Government's diplomatic efforts. What have they got in return? We have made graceful concessions on our side from the very beginning, but I do not see any graceful concessions made by France. Of course, the trade of Madagascar largely reaches it through indirect sources, and it is difficult to ascertain how much of that trade has fallen off; but it is obvious from the prohibitory French tariffs that any business we may do with Madagascar in the future will be of a very 1406 attenuated character. I do not know whether we are likely to receive any compensation on the West Coast of Africa; I think it very unlikely. The invertebrate condition of the Government has been displayed by its policy in West Africa, as in every other portion of the globe. I believe there is some greater difficulty in coming to a fair arrangement in West Africa there is found in other cases, because with all these Treaties with drunken African chiefs, and doubts as to the effective and non-effective possession of the districts, there is some actual difficulty in ascertaining under whose protection a district in West Africa may lie; but at the same time I am perfectly certain that the Papers will show us in a few days, when the cat is let out of the bag, that we have suffered by the bargain made, and that Lancashire merchants will again have to deplore the loss of their trade. I am not going to turn to Siam, and discuss the shortcomings of the Government there. I will only say this, that I heartily endorse all that hag been said by my honourable Friend who spoke from below the Gangway [Mr. Robson], who delivered one of the best and most pointed speeches made in this Debate, and who pointed out the laches of this Government quite sufficiently. In many ways the conduct of the present Government contrasts very badly with the energetic conduct of Lord Rosebery. He once said, and it is well known as a fact, that we were within an ace of war with France. I belong to the Peace Party myself, but there are times when you have to put your foot down and keep it down. I know it is a maxim that when your right cheek is struck you are to turn your left cheek to the smiter. So far as I am concerned, if my right cheek is struck, I shall always turn my left cheek to the smiter; but after that formality I shall always let out from my left shoulder. With reference to China itself, merchants in Manchester and Lancashire have, I think, very just right to complain, because they have seen their interests put on one side, in a graceful manner I have no doubt, but still in a very effective manner with regard to cessation of their trade. I know the late Government are blamed because they did not make some 1407 alliance with Japan, to force the hand of Russia and mate Russia declare her policy. We know that Japan is an Eastern nation; it is a new nation which has just sprung into the political arena, and I think it was very wise on the part of the late Government not to hazard at once such a very near Treaty, and such a near embrace, with a neighbour of whose disposition they could not possibly have a very decided opinion. But it seems to me Japan has been able to take care of herself thoroughly. She is now in possession of Corea, and England is in possession of Wei-hai-Wei. When I saw the name of Wei-hai-Wei first in the newspapers I thought it must be some enterprising colony of Scotchmen who had gone out there, and that this name was a delicate reference to "Scots Wha Hae." It is not all who can pronounce it, but I am sure we all fully recognise that we are in possession of a white elephant; that we have probably embarked upon another Cyprus, and we shall have to vote money in this House, as we vote sums of £20,000 or £40,000 for Cyprus every few years, only the sums will be very much greater, and we shall hear this unfortunate name Wei-hai-Wei in connection with very large Votes and very large demands on the pockets of the British ratepayers. As honourable Members have made the journey with me to China, perhaps they will not refuse to accompany me right round the world and come to America. The right honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs plumed himself that, in this great absence of diplomatic successes, at any rate, Her Majesty's Government could pride itself on the manner in which the Venezuela question was being solved. I am bound to say, if my memory does not play me false, that the Venezuela question was forced upon our attention in the most marked manner by the United States Government. Lord Salisbury was not at all inclined to face it, and it was only peremptory dispatches from America which really drove him to adopt a mild and reasonable tone and enter upon the discussion of the whole question. Then the right honourable Gentleman also spoke about arbitration with America, and said that the Government had done great service in introducing that question, 1408 and in proposing a Treaty of Arbitration with America. He seemed to forget that it was a former Member of that House, the Secretary of the Arbitration Society, who prepared the way for an Arbitration Treaty by going over personally some years ago with Members of this House—the late Mr. Pease, the Member for Darlington, amongst others—who saw the President, and obtained his hearty approval and co-operation. I am not quite certain that Mr. Cremer did not address the Senate. At any rate, a vote was prepared in approval of a Treaty of Arbitration. Well, I think that I have navigated the globe as well as the honourable and gallant Admiral the Member for Eastbourne could have done; but there is Europe to consider, and that is another great blot in the Government policy which arouses the indignation of Lancashire. We know, unhappily too well, the conduct of the Government in Europe; how they allowed Armenia practically to be strangled, and how very little was done to assist Greece. We were called upon yesterday to admire the conduct of a postman who at the imminent risk of his life protected a policeman who was wounded in those unfortunate riots in Belfast. Now, I think the action of Greece was very much of the same character. When the Greeks saw the Cretans, who are their near neighbours, of a common race and religion, coming back without noses, without ears, maimed and outraged by the Turks, they very naturally sympathised with them and flew to arms. Perhaps it was not a wise and cautious thing on the part of the postman, and not a prudent thing on the part of Greece, and I should be very sorry for the world if such actions were to fade away from history. I did not intend to make a speech at all, and I had not prepared any remarks, because I find that our Debates are confined to so few speakers, but, having been challenged by the right honourable Gentleman to express the opinion of Lancashire, I felt it my duty to do so, and I hardly think it is necessary to say into which Lobby I shall go when the Division is taken.
§ MR. LEGH (Lancashire, Newton)
It is quite evident that what is much more to the taste of honourable Gentlemen opposite is the discussion of the speech 1409 of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. And, Mr. Lowther, I must admit that I feel considerable curiosity with regard to this particular speech. Now, was that speech an inspired mid authorised utterance? Was it really a pronouncement of the policy of the Government? On the one hand, we have been led to imagine by the head of the Government that the speech was of no importance. On the other hand, another Member of the Government, the Financial Secretary to the War Office, has assured us that it is an epoch-making speech. For my part I find it very hard to believe that the right honourable Gentleman intended to make a speech of a frivolous character. It is ridiculous to suppose that the right honourable Gentleman would have done such a thing. I have so much admiration for the ability and for the energy of the right honourable Gentleman that I am driven to the conclusion that his ambition has led him to formulate a foreign policy on his own account. At any rate, Sir, it reaches me in the light of a new foreign policy, and as the speech was couched in the language of the new diplomacy it is not surprising that it should have a startling effect. It certainly is startling as regards myself, because I was always under the impression that the right honourable Gentleman was an advocate for an Anglo-Russian alliance. There are many people in this House in favour of a similar alliance, but it is not easy to arrive at an understanding with the devil. But, Sir, the task of a rapprochement with Russia is certainly not furthered by remarks of this character made by the Colonial Secretary: but I do not think that the position is altogether hopeless even yet. Several Members who have spoken in this Debate have repeated the expression and the hope that this understanding may eventually come to pass. Well, I am bound to say that those who hope for such a rapprochement or understanding have been seriously disappointed by what they have read in the newspapers, because I am bound to admit that the action of the Russian Government in the Far East has evidently been dictated by strong hostility to this country, whether it took the form of endeavouring to hound all British subjects from employment in China, whether it took 1410 the form of objecting to the presence of our ships, or whether it took the form of preventing us from lending money to the Chinese. Now, Sir, it is not my intention to delay the Committee at any length, because I am aware that there are many honourable Gentlemen who desire to make speeches upon the Far Eastern Question to-night; but what I would humbly submit to my leaders is this: that if they are going to make speeches in the country upon important questions of foreign policy, let them, in Heaven's name, say the same thing, for there are considerable discrepancies in the speeches delivered on the Far Eastern Question by Lord Salisbury, the First Lord of the Treasury, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Secretary for the Colonies. Once more I repeat that, if important announcements are going to be made to the country, they ought all to be of the same character. There were various questions which I wished to touch upon, but it is not my intention to delay the Committee. I was expressly anxious to obtain some information from the right honourable Gentleman with regard to Crete, and with regard to what appeared to me to be a singularly unfortunate proposal that Prince George of Greece should be elected Governor of that island, but perhaps this is hardly the moment to do so, and so I will reserve it for an opportunity which may occur upon some future occasion.
§ * MR. PROVAND (Glasgow, Blackfriars)
I wish to endeavour to obtain some information with regard to the somewhat remarkable dispatch about which I have asked several questions in this House. The only knowledge we possess of it so far is from a paragraph which appeared in the Times on the 23rd of April, in which an allusion was made to a dispatch having been spontaneously sent from this Government, intimating to the German Government that in connection with the occupation of Wei-hai-Wei we have no intention of injuring German rights in the province of Shantung, and that, above all, we had no intention of laying down railway communication with Wei-hai-Wei. I therefore asked tins question in the House, being uncertain whether such a dispatch had been sent at all. The First Lord of the Treasury, in reply, said that the 1411 dispatch had been sent. Well, Sir, I expected that it would he placed on the Table shortly after, but I waited, and had again to ask whether any reply had been received from the German Government, and also when he would place the Papers before Parliament. His reply was that he did not propose to lay any more information on the Table. Under the impression that perhaps the dispatch was confidential, and withheld from the House for that reason, I waited until the 4th of May, when I asked, if the documents were not of a confidential character, would he lay them upon the Table of the House? Now I have mentioned the questions asked and the answers, and neither of them say anything about the documents being of a confidential character, or whether they would be laid before the House, but that they had already been published at Berlin, and reproduced in some papers in this country. Again I asked to-night when a copy of that dispatch sent to the German Government will be placed on the Table, and also their reply to it, and again he refuses to give any answer to this specific question, and says that he has answered the question before. Now I venture to contradict him, and I challenge him to show that he has answered the question which I have three times put down on the Paper. All the information we have about it at the present time is from a paragraph published in a German newspaper. Well, Sir, I want to know why this dispatch is withheld, because it appears to me that if the contents were likely to be to the credit of the Government with reference to Chinese diplomacy, that they would, without hesitation, place it before the House; therefore I think it must be a dispatch that they regret having written, or are ashamed of having written, and desire to withhold it from the House, in order that the terms of it may be forgotten. [Here the honourable Member paused, and loudly called out "Order, order! on account of the conversation going on.] This, Sir, is not a case of neglect like Port Arthur. Here is a deliberate giving away of whatever commercial rights we may have possessed, and the remarkable part of all this is that what the Government has done is always represented as for the benefit of our commerce. I challenge the Government to say that 1412 what they have done has the approval of any of the Chambers of Commerce, or of the commercial bodies of China. Does the China Association approve of what the Government have done? It is not long since the First Lord of the Treasury, in answering a supplementary question respecting Wei-hai-Wei, said he thought that any merchant who went there would be very foolish indeed. Well, the Times newspaper told us, a few days ago, that merchants were commencing business there. I hope that our Front Bench will insist upon a document of such importance being laid upon the Table in order that those interested may inform themselves on this question.
§ * SIR W. HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
I was doubting whether it would be necessary for me to interfere at all in this Debate. The honourable Member for Chester stated that he would be good enough to undertake the duty that ought to devolve, upon me. I can only tender him my acknowledgments for the very able way in which he has performed that duty. I desire to adopt all the observations which he has made, and all the very just criticisms which he has offered upon the policy of Her Majesty's Government. I am not going over the whole ground which has been so ably dealt with by my right honourable Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean, and by the very able speech of my honourable Friend the Member for South Shields. They have dealt with matters which are, I believe, in the opinion of the country, greatly to the disadvantage of the foreign policy which has been pursued by Her Majesty's Government. It is less necessary for me to do so after the speech in defence of that foreign policy by the right honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. I can only describe that speech in legal language by the phrase that it was a speech of "confession and avoidance." The line of argument which the right honourable Gentleman adopted was not so much to deny that the Government were at fault in any of the particulars which have been charged against them by the mover of the Amendment. But at the end of his speech he put forward a kind of set-off, in which he said it was true that they had failed in many 1413 things, but that in some things they had succeeded. Having this confession before us, I think it is hardly necessary for me to continue the discussion. In the short time I propose to ask leave to occupy the attention of the House, I would rather come to the more general question to which the honourable Member for the Newton Division of Lancashire has just referred—namely, what we in this House are to understand, and what the country is to understand, are the general principles of the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government. We have tried our hands at such an investigation in several discussions that have taken place, and I am bound to say that I am as far as ever from understanding whether there is any system or any unanimity of view on the part of Her Majesty's Government as to what is the policy by which they are governed. The honourable Member for Chester was good enough to criticise the divisions of opinion which he supposed to exist on this side of the House. I think that is a compliment which we are in a position to return. What we really want to know is the history of what has been going on for the last six months in this country. We have had a series of scares; we have had excursions and alarms breaking out at various times, and we have had reassuring statements from the Government, and again alarms, in which their own supporters have been more than ever dismayed, followed by extraordinary declarations by different Members of the Government which seem to indicate extremely diverse policies. The Government seems to me to have been suffering for the last twelve months from a disorder which I will describe as suppressed panic, followed by fits of alarm from time to time. What we want to know is what is the foundation for those alarms? The Prime Minister has frequently administered to the country and to his followers a sort of anodyne, a species of soothing syrup. One in extremely glad to receive those assurances from the Prime Minister; but the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the House has complained of the difficulty of conducting diplomacy under the influence of discussions in the House of Commons and in the Press. But there is a still greater 1414 difficulty in conducting diplomacy when the various Members of the Government choose the platform to explain the policy of the Government. They complain that we do not challenge them here, but the challenges winch they throw out are challenges made upon the platform. We had the doctrine of the open door at the cost of war. That was proclaimed at Bristol. Then we had an exposition of the policy of the open door minus war, proclaimed at Manchester by the First Lord of the Treasury. Then we had the declaration of foreign policy at the Albert Hall from the Prime Minister; and after that we had a wholly novel and astonishing declaration of policy at Birmingham by the Colonial Secretary. I rind a very great difficulty in harmonising these various gospels. How in the world the doctrines which appear in each of these statements are to be reconciled one to another seems to me extraordinarily difficult to explain, more especially the last demonstration of foreign policy we have had from Birmingham! What was the view taken at the Albert Hall by the Prime Minister? and, after all the Prime Minister is somebody. He happens also to be Foreign Secretary, and therefore we are obliged to take some account of what he says. He claims to be judged by the results, and he stated that these results had proved perfectly satisfactory. He had just returned from abroad, and he was extremely surprised at the unnecessary fuss that had been made about these affairs in the Far East. He told us that the occupation, of Port Arthur was a thing which did nobody any harm except Russia; that, so far as Port Arthur was concerned everything was quite right; that Wei-hai-Wei was a great deal more than compensation for Port Arthur; that Talienwan had become a Treaty port, which it had not been before, and that was entirely satisfactory; and that as to prestige—in manly language, worthy, in my opinion, of a Russian statesman, which contrasted, I think, rather favourably with some of the panic-stricken language we have recently listened to— he said—We shall maintain against all comers that which we possess, and we know, in spite of the jargon about isolation, that we are amply competent to do so.That is worthy of an English statesman. But we have heard very 1415 different language, to which I am presently going to refer, described here as the "jargon about isolation." Speaking of the difficulties of the future, Lord Salisbury said—Undoubtedly we shall not allow England to be at a disadvantage. On the other hand, we shall not be jealous if isolation and sterility are removed by the aggrandisement of a rival in a region to which our arms cannot reach.That was intended to apply to Russia. In my opinion, that was a wise warning, which should claim the attention it deserves. That is the authoritative statement, I should suppose, of the policy of Her Majesty's Government. Apparently it did not give universal satisfaction, and thereupon, within a few days of the delivery of this statement that there was no cause for alarm at all, and that everything was satisfactory, one of the most distinguished colleagues of the Prime Minister goes down to his constituents and addresses them, as he says, in his own manner, and he made what I can only describe as a counter manifesto. After we received this reassuring statement from the Prime Minister the right honourable Gentleman at Birmingham sounded the tocsin of alarm. He made a speech which all turned on the terrors and dangers of that "jargon of isolation." It is very difficult for us who are not in the secrets of the Cabinet to penetrate this secret of this extraordinary performance. It had an extraordinary effect; it partly amused and partly scandalised Europe. And one thing we were struck by, also, was that there had been a singular disregard of the lecture on style which the Prime Minister had addressed to the ladies of the Primrose League, when he pointed out how delicate and courteous you ought to be in all diplomatic utterances with regard to your relations with foreign Powers. We were told that this was the new diplomacy. I confess, for my part, I am old-fashioned in these matters, and I prefer the courtesy, the dignity, and the good sense of the old diplomacy, which is based on the experience and traditions of centuries of civilisation. I can no more affect the new diplomacy than, I confess, I can affect the New Woman The style is different, but I prefer that to which I have been accustomed. Well in some form or other, it was necessary 1416 that the country and Europe should be frightened out of its wits in order to secure the reception of the new policy. We were told on that occasion, entirely contrary to what was stated at the Albert Hall, that the situation was terribly-grave, that we had only been engaged in the preliminary skirmish with Russia, that the battle of Armagedda still remained to be fought, and that for that battle it is necessary we should make due preparations. Well, now what was this terrible danger? A responsible Government and a responsible Minister, when they tell the country that the situation is terribly grave, that we have only had a preliminary skirmish, ought to tell us what the danger is, and what the pitched battle is going to-be fought about. I looked to see what is the revelation of this great peril, and this is the definition of it—that there was a combined assault on the commercial supremacy of this country, the like of which has not been known since the great Napoleon laid an interdict on British trade. That you are told the danger, and you are afraid is a fact. Who are the parties to this combination to ruin British trade like the Continental system of Napoleon? It cannot be Russia, because you invited her to an ice-free port. In the very same speech we are told that—The Government have informed Russia that there was no jealousy and no objection to what we understood to be her commercial objects, or to the expansion of her legitimate authority.That is not the position of a conspirator. We agreed to the Manchurian railway years ago, and in Lord Salisbury's final dispatch on China you will find it stated that? as regards commercial questions, the interests of England had been fully satisfied. How are you to maintain, then, that Russia is a party to this terrible conspiracy? Was it Germany, our great competitor in trade? It has been fully and rightly admitted by the First Lord of the Treasury, and other Members of the Government, that we have no right and no desire to denounce the competition of other countries, which we are prepared to meet. Is Germany one of the conspirators 1417 to destroy British trade? We welcomed Germany to Kiaou-chau. We have recognised in the mouth of the First Lord of the Treasury the sphere of interest of Germany in the Shan-tung peninsula. We have gratuitously offered her the assurance that we will not interfere with her in that sphere of interest. Therefore, she cannot be a party to this conspiracy to destroy British trade.
§ * SIR W. HARCOURT
I was referring to the last speech. We were discussing the statement made when we took Wei-hai-Wei—
§ * SIR W. HARCOURT
That it was entirely unfit for commercial purposes, and that we would not interfere in commercial matters with Germany in the Shan-tung peninsula.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
No. The right honourable Gentleman has accurately stated in the first part of the sentence what we did say. There was nothing whatever with regard to the comparative interests of Germany and England in the Shan-tung peninsula, apart from the fact that we would not connect Wei-hai-Wei, or use Wei-hai-Wei as a means of interfering with Germany.
§ * SIR W. HARCOURT
Just so—I remember perfectly. I said we had recognised in the Shan-tung peninsula a sphere of interest peculiar to Germany. Well, so much for Germany. Then, as to France. She made her occupation there for commercial purposes, and, so far as I know, the Government have made no objection to what France has done. Then where is the terrible combination by which the Colonial Secretary seeks to terrify us? I see no evidence of it at all. The remarkable part of the transaction is that this being the great danger against which you have to guard, the only remedy proposed is to solicit an alliance with one conspirator to destroy the other—a most extraordinary diplomatic expedient. It seems to me to be a conception altogether worthy of the new diplomacy. 1418 Then the right honourable Gentleman went on to say that—We had no alliances, and that he was afraid we had no friends.I do not think that the effect of that speech has been to procure us any alliance, and certainly it has not any tendency to create for us any friends. But, assuming that we are so desolate and so isolated as the right honourable Gentleman represents, what sort of diplomacy is it that impels you, before seeking for alliance, to make this palpable confession of impotence before all the world? Of all the humiliations which, in the course of these transactions, we have been subjected to, I think this seeking in forma pauperis for allies on the ground of our feebleness is the greatest. The right honourable Gentleman goes cap in hand round Europe in search of an alliance. His language might be interpreted as this—"We have got into such a terrible mess; we are so weak, so helpless, that unless we can obtain the alliance of a great military Power, we are impotent, and cannot meet Russia." That is the substance of the speech of the right honourable Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies. That is not, in my opinion, the way to secure alliances if you want them. When a firm desires to acquire a new partner it does not begin by a statement of the impecuniosity of the concern. Nations do not enter into alliances out of charity or compassion. They make alliances with those whom they believe to be strong, because they believe it will add to their strength. Now, we are not told by name who it is we are to seek as our European ally. I should like to know from the right honourable gentleman who is the author of this policy; what measure the Government have taken to propound this question of alliances which are absolutely necessary for our safety and security? A great military Power is mentioned, and there are only four great military Powers in Europe. What are the steps which have been taken by the Government for the purpose of propounding this alliance, and what success have they had in this solicitation? But, Sir, what is more amazing is, if you have not secured this alliance, that the Government should be- 1419 take itself, in its weakness and its terror, to attacks and insults addressed to the Power which you have reason to fear. To give a slap in the face to the Power which you profess to dread, before you have secured your alliance, is a diplomacy which is unfortunate, and likely to be disastrous. The night honourable Gentleman will perhaps be able to tell us whether the "Pomeranian Grenadier" is likely to be forthcoming, in order to make war upon Russia in the interests of British trade. Apparently, one of those nations whose darling object is supposed to be to destroy British trade, as Napoleon wished to do, is to step out of the ranks and join us in making war upon Russia, if necessary, in order to maintain the interests of British trade. Such a suggestion on the part of the Colonial Secretary betrays an absolute ignorance of the state of European politics and an inherent incapacity to handle foreign affairs. Well, has the Government of Austria or of Italy responded to this invitation? We have had, and may have again, diplomatic difficulties with France, and the language which has been employed with reference to Russia makes it absolutely certain that in any future difficulty you may have with France Russia will be her active ally. This policy, in my opinion, is absolutely fatuous. The declaration of the right honourable Gentleman has been referred to several times to-night, but, Sir, the words are so important and big with such consequences, that we are bound to have from the Government an explanation of their meaning. The right honourable Gentleman says—Unless we are allied with ome great military Power we cannot seriously injure Russia.Is it the policy of Her Majesty's Government, is it their aim, to seriously injure Russia? And is it to attain that end that they invite the co-operation of Germany? Is that an object worthy of this country; and, if it is, is it an object in which you are likely to succeed? For 50 years you have been endeavouring to settle Eastern questions in hostility to Russia. The commencement of that period took place at the time of the Crimean war. You then had the alliance of France and of Turkey. What has been the outcome of that policy? In 1878 Lord Beaconsfield pro- 1420 ceeded on that policy, and the Treaty of Berlin was negotiated. What has been the result of that policy? Has it been that which you desired? You know perfectly well that after the lapse of 50 years, during which that policy has been persistently pursued, Russia at this moment is more potent in the East than she ever was before the Treaty of Paris or the Treaty of Berlin. I think it is extremely likely that if you pursue that policy now you will fail as completely at Pekin as you have failed at Constantinople. Sir, I desire to express my opinion that if the Eastern Question is ever to be settled upon a footing favourable to Great Britain it must be settled in friendly concert with Russia, and not in hostility to her. The plan of treating Russia as our natural and permanent foe has failed in the past, and, in my opinion, it will fail in the future. This cry for alliances, especially in the position we hold as a great naval Power, is, in my opinion, unwise. It commits you to questions in which you have no interest whatever, and which may be causes of war among the great military Powers of the Continent. Now, permanent alliances are good so long as they represent the interests of the parties which adopt them under the influence of the sentiments and the interests of the time. Certain interests exist at the time these Treaties are made; years pass, and the history of the world shows that as soon as the interests change the alliances cease to be obligatory. The policy of those permanent alliances was what was called the "balance of power," in the diplomacy of the 18th century, but on each occasion, when the pressure came and the interests had changed, those alliances ceased to operate. It is only a short time ago, I remember, that the Foreign Minister in Germany expressed that opinion on the subject of alliances in the frankest manner. Therefore, Sir, the value of those permanent alliances is practically nothing. If the interests exist, you will have the support of those whose interests are similar to your own, with or without alliances; if the interests have changed, you will not secure them by alliances which have no longer any binding force. Well, Sir, there is one part of the speech of the right honourable Gentleman with which 1421 I can entirely concur, and that is the strong language in which he expressed a desire for closer and more permanent alliance with the United States. I think the right honourable Gentleman knows very well that there is no one who is more anxious and eager for such a result than myself. Ever since I have had anything to do with public life my great and, I may add, my foremost object has been the cultivation of good relations with the United States. I have seen some very mischievous attempts to represent that there is a difference between the two parties in the State upon that subject. There is no such difference. I venture to say that there is no Member of the Liberal Party, nor do I believe there is any Member of the Unionist Party, who does not place friendship— alliance, if you choose to use the word in the sense of cordial friendship, of entente cordiale—with the United States in the very forefront of English foreign policy. We have had a good many humiliations in the course of the last six months, which have arisen principally from this—propounding plans and making demands which you might have known beforehand would have no practical results. Then you turn round and say, "We do not care about it, because it is of no importance." But it is far better not to make a demand unless you have a reasonable belief that it will be accepted. What is the use of making a public declaration that without alliances England is impotent, when you do not know whether you will ever get your proposals accepted or not? That is what happened in this particular case. I think that before such a declaration as that made by the right honourable Gentleman at Birmingham it ought to have been ascertained whether there was any probability of those alliances with military Powers being concluded which he avers are essential to the safety the country. If it is to be attempted a more complete change in the policy of the country could not possibly be conceived. Well, Sir, all that has puzzled the country a good deal. What is the meaning of this different language held almost at the same time by different members of the Government? Foreign countries have also asked, what does this mean? Is the Birmingham speech a declaration of the policy of the responsible Government, or is it merely the 1422 idea of an individual? If it was a declaration of the policy of a responsible Government it would, no doubt, be a very serious matter indeed. I do not myself take it in that very serious light. There was an attempt made in another place to obtain the opinion of the Foreign Secretary upon the policy developed in the Birmingham speech. Lord Salisbury is an old hand, and he would not be drawn on this subject. He declared that he had not got a copy of the speech—I do not know what he had done with it—and declined to make himself responsible for it. Well, Sir, "like master, like man," and so to-night the Under Secretary exercised the same discretion, and he opened his speech by saying it did not concern his Department. It is something, at all events, to have ascertained from the Foreign Secretary and the Under Secretary that this new diplomacy does not concern the Foreign Office. We have not heard a word from Lord Salisbury on the subject of these indispensable alliances. Alliances are, apparently, to be solicited wherever we can get them to supply that "long spoon." which is necessary for diplomatic entertainment. On the contrary, however, when Lord Salisbury is pressed to say whether this declaration of hostility to Russia is the policy of the Government, what he says is—and to my mind it is infinitely more satisfactory than the Birmingham programme—As far as the general policy of the Government is concerned we have not changed, and we will not change. We shall cultivate to the utmost of our abilities the friendship of all the Powers with whom we may come into contact. That is the policy which Her Majesty's Government will pursue.There is nothing there about alliances with military Powers in order to supply the means of hostility against another Power. On the contrary, it is a policy— with which I confess I agree—of acting in a spirit of friendship, as far as the interests of this country will permit, with all the Powers of Europe alike. In my opinion, that language of Lord Salisbury's is worthy of a responsible statesman, sensible of his own self-respect and the dignity of the country of which he is the spokesman. He does not find it necessary either to fear or to flout his neighbours. He relies upon the strength, the spirit, the greatness of his country to defend her interests as they have done in the 1423 past. Since this declaration I think the world has been set to rest. Even the dovecotes of the Stock Exchange, which were fluttered for four-and-twenty hours, have returned to a condition of tranquillity. The bears, it is true, had a good quarter of an hour, and foreign nations were frightened and distracted; but that was owing to their imperfect acquaintance with our institutions. They were not aware how large a part, of late years at least, in the British Constitution is played by unauthorised programmes. There is a momentary danger about programmes of that description, but they have also a redeeming feature—they are of an ephemeral character. They come like shadows and so depart. They are dissolving views, brilliant for the time, but they "leave not a wrack behind." I hope that he permanent mischief may occur from this occasional indiscretion, that the Government, reversing the character of Charles II., having said many foolish things, will now begin to do some wise ones; that this epoch of vacillation and self-contradiction amongst the various members of the Administration may be brought to an end, and they may at last present to the nation a consistent and worthy policy which will command and deserve the respect of the nation and of the world.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THH COLONIES
I do not think that the Government have anything to regret in this discussion, except, perhaps, what must necessarily be its inconclusive termination. We have seen with satisfaction the unanimity of the Opposition in condemning the Government—the absolute incapacity of any two members of the Opposition to agree upon any alternative policy. If the Opposition had proposed a vote of censure upon the Government it would have had two advantages. In the first place, it would have defined the points upon which they specially took issue with us; and, in the second place, it could hardly have failed to suggest something which might be placed as a substitute for our policy. The right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean in a sort of gallant peroration declared that he would be ashamed if he and his friends had not the courage to vote for the Amendment which he had proposed; but I do not see 1424 much courage in voting for an Amendment of which 50 different interpretations may easily be given. The interpretation given of it by the right honourable Baronet himself is perfectly clear. It is in his mind an out-and-out condemnation of the policy of the Foreign Minister, Lord Salisbury. The right honourable Baronet travelled from China to Peru, and be found everything bad in the relations between this country and the countries which he considered; but it appears to me that the speech to which we have just listened, the speech of the right honourable Member for East Fife, and others from that side of the House, have been directed rather, not to the censure of the Prime Minister, but to the censure of the Colonial Secretary, whose policy and interests they separate from those of the Prime Minister. [Cheers.] Yes, but for which are you going to vote? Why, Sir, if you carry this Amendment we shall never know to our dying day whether you intend to censure the Prime Minister or whether you intend to censure the humble individual who is now addressing the Committee. As I have said, it has been made the more difficult, for us because throughout this discussion there has been an attempt on the part of the older Parliamentary hands to separate the case of the Government, to represent us as a divided organisation, and to assert that the views expressed by the Colonial Secretary are entirely opposed to the views expressed on other occasions by the Prime Minister and by my right honourable Friend the First Lord of the Treasury. That, Sir, is the assertion. Right honourable Gentlemen opposite are excellent at assertion, but their proof is insufficient. What have they brought forward in proof of that assertion? The right honourable Gentleman the Member for East Fife quoted two statements from the speech made by my right honourable Friend the First Lord of the Treasury. What were those statements? The first was that in the opinion of the Government we have done excellently well in this, the first, chapter of our relations with China and with Russia. Well, I cordially agree, and I said as much in the speech to which reference has been made again and again. In the second place, the second statement, was that my right honourable Friend had expressed a desire for better relations with Germany. 1425 Well, I did not express that desire in terms, but I am, at all events, perfectly ready to say now that I also desire better relations with Germany, and I believe, in entire opposition to the right honourable Gentleman opposite, and in direct opposition to the policy he has suggested, that our interests in China are much more nearly allied to the interests of Germany in China than to the interests of Russia. That may be right or wrong, but where is the difference which, the right honourable Gentleman, according to an old Parliamentary strategy of which I should almost have thought he would by this time have been ashamed, endeavoured to establish? If those are the two points to which my right honourable Friend the Member for East Fife referred, what are the points in that speech of mine which, I am afraid, has occupied already a great deal too much of the time of the Committee—what are the points which they think justify them in asserting that there is this serious difference of opinion in the Cabinet? I hope I am not presumptuous, but I am going to appeal to the common sense of right honourable Gentlemen opposite. What is expected in the way of solidarity and co-responsibility on the pant of the Cabinet? Is it expected that when a Member of the Cabinet makes a speech in the country he can, as the right honourable Gentleman said, choose his platform? Surely the right honourable Gentleman knows better than that. Surely he knows that we all deeply regret those more favoured times when a Cabinet Minister was not expected to make a speech more than once a year, and then only to his own constituency. We do not choose our platforms, but we are forced again and again to address public audiences according to pre-arranged engagements. We do not choose our own time; perhaps we have to make a speech at a critical moment. Does the right honourable Gentleman suggest that when the misfortune falls upon anyone who is connected with the Government to make a speech he is to submit his speech beforehand to the Cabinet? Sir, we do not all write our speeches. We could not do it; we think it is impossible; and under those circumstances I appeal to the right honourable Gentleman whether it would not be absurd to establish as a precedent that every Member of a Cabinet is to be responsible, for every word, every phrase, 1426 every turn of expression on the part of any other Member of the Cabinet. But I will admit this, that the Cabinet, as long as it remains a Cabinet, is responsible for every declaration of principle, for every statement of important fact, for every declaration of policy. The right honourable Gentleman has tried to establish a difference of opinion between myself and my noble Friend the Prime Minister. Does he remember the statement Lord John Russell made to a Committee of the House of Commons? Lord John Russell was asked what was the difference between the Prime Minister and a Member of the Cabinet, and he said—If the Prime Minister differed from a Member of the Cabinet, the Member of the Cabinet resigned; the Prime Minister did not resignThat is the case still. If I had the misfortune to differ from my noble Friend the Prime Minister, it would be my duty to resign; and if I did not feel it to be so myself I have no doubt those in authority would remind me of it. Well, then, that is the answer to all these charges. I have not resigned; I am not cast out by my colleagues; I am not rejected by the Prime Minister. Therefore, where is the solidarity to which the right honourable Gentleman refers? ["Oh, oh!"] I am sorry the explanation does not give satisfaction to some honourable Members opposite. How is that? Do they reject the statement I have made of the course ordinarily pursued? Perhaps they are thinking of some Government—I have heard of such a Government myself—in which the Prime Minister was said to be not on speaking terms with one of his principal colleagues, and neither Prime Minister nor principal colleague resigned. Sir, that is a bad precedent, and one which I venture to say the present Government will not follow. Now I come to the speech itself. I hope I shall be able to confine my defence of it to a very few observations, but let me say at once that what I have to defend is my speech—if I have to defend anything—not the right honourable Gentleman's interpretation of it. I did not think it worth while to interrupt him while he was speaking, but I do not. accept his view nor that of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for East Fife as to what was actually 1427 contained in that speech. Sir, the object of that speech was perfectly clear to anyone who took the trouble to read it. I believe the majority of those who have criticised it did not read it at all, for which I do not blame them; but they did read the criticisms upon it in their own Press and in the foreign Press, for which I do blame them. It seems to me that it is unnecessarily going out of your way to read the foreign Press in regard to the utterances of a politician in your own country; but the object of the speech was not to lay down a policy. There is not any attempt from the first line to the last to lay down a policy in the course of the speech. It was to state the facts, to lay before my constituents in the first instance, and my countrymen in the second, what I, at all events, conceived to be the conditions of the great problem with which we have to deal. We, forsooth, are accused by right honourable Gentlemen opposite of want of foresight—of which, apparently, they believe themselves to be the conspicdous monopolists—and when a Member of the Government goes down and talks of what may happen in the course of the next 10, 20, or 50 years they accuse him of laying down policies, of demanding adhesion to all kinds of doctrines which were certainly not involved in the speech he made. Let us see what was the position when I made that speech. There has been a great deal of criticism of the action of the Government in regard to China by Members of the Opposition, which has been general enough, and there has been criticism also by one or two honourable Members on this side of the House, like the honourable Member for the Newton Division, whom I may accept, on his own authority, as one of the loyal supporters of the Government. But a great deal of that criticism, to my mind, is unfair and inconclusive, and is based upon a want of knowledge of the fundamental conditions of the case. I take, as an illustration, the speech of the right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. He says the policy of the Government has been rash and feeble; that concessions which we have made—which he alleges we have made—have in no way conduced to peace, but, on the contrary have provoked further demands. He gives as illustrations Siam and Tunis Very well; what follows? We ought not to have made the alleged concession in 1428 Siam. I deny that we made any concession. I think the arrangement with Siam in regard to Siamese territory, if it be examined into, will be found to be a great diplomatic triumph. But assume, for the moment, that we made that concession. The right honourable Gentleman says we made a mistake, and ought to have resisted this concession. What is the alternative policy he suggests? That we ought to have quietly, but firmly, held to our rights? Is that the policy of the Opposition? Are we to hold firmly and quietly to what we think to be our rights in every case? That means a policy of universal war. They call us Jingoes. We pale our ineffectual fires before the Jingoism of the right honourable Baronet, and some of the other speakers on the same side. "Oh, no," says the right honourable Gentleman, "we do not mean war." Then I say your argument is inconclusive. You are going to put us in a position of the greatest possible humiliation. When France comes with a proposition with regard to Siam we are to refuse, and insist upon our own view in the matter. If we insist, what is to happen if France refuses to be convinced, if France refuses to retire? You must not play a game of bluff unless you are prepared to back it up to the end. I know nothing more feeble than a policy like that suggested by the language of the right honourable Baronet and by the honourable Member for Cardiff—a policy which would lead you to insist upon things which you cannot get without war, when, at the same time, you do not mean or desire to go to war, or when, if you went to war, you would not go with a fair chance of success. It seems to me to be the policy of honourable Gentlemen opposite to represent the Government as utter failures unless, in every negotiation in which we are engaged, we get everything we can possibly desire. All I can say is that the Government which can do that is yet to be found. What did the late Government do? I am not going to carry that argument far, but I make this one assertion: that, although they had to deal with less difficult circumstances than we have had to deal with, they did not gain, from the beginning to the end of their course of office, one single diplomatic success. ["Oh, oh!"] Honourable Gentlemen say "Oh," but I will be bound to say that there is not one of them can 1429 name a case. ["Oh, oh!"] What is the case?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES
What! a diplomatic success in Siam!—where they made demands which they could not secure, and where they left the whole question to us after all?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES
The right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean says "No." He was not in the Government, and I excuse him for not knowing what they did. As a matter of fact, they got nothing in Siam. They left us to get what I believe, at all events, to be a fair representation of our rights. Now, Sir, I have taken the right honourable Baronet. Let me take another right honourable Gentleman—the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Montrose. He made a most admirable and interesting speech the other day, and what did he say? He compared the Russian acquisition of Port Arthur to the obstruction of ancient lights—I do not think that is a bad comparison at all —and, therefore, as a wrong and an injury done to us. I do not know that I take a very different view from that which is taken by the right honourable Gentleman. But when you have an obstruction of ancient lights to deal with, what is your remedy as a private individual? It is either to accept it or to go to law. With nations the alternative, of course, is to go to war. But does the right honourable Gentleman wish us to go to war for Port Arthur?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES
Certainly not. The right honourable Gentleman says that to go to war for Port Arthur would be the most foolish thing in the world.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES
Good. Then, why does he blame us—why does he call that "bungling diplomacy"?
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Since my right honourable Friend has referred to my humble illustration, perhaps he will allow me to say that my point was this, that if I had a case of protecting my claim of ancient lights, and had lost 1430 my suit, I would not then have gone about the world saying, as the Prime Minister said, that the party who had won the suit, my victorious adversary, was a person deserving of all commiseration and pity.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES
I am sorry I have not a copy of the Prime Minister's speech, but I think that is rather a bold paraphrase of what my noble Friend actually said. At all events, the point I want to make is this. Those who think that the Government were wrong for not resisting Russia with regard to the acquisition of Port Arthur, must accept the consequences of that opinion, and must be prepared to take the only alternative, which is to say that the Government ought to have gone to war. I defy you to find a third policy; and it is because the right honourable Gentlemen who attack the Government for a weak and feeble policy will not accept the consequences of their own argument, and will not accept the logical conclusion of their own speeches, that I call those utterances entirely inconclusive. I had to deal with this state of things, in which it is complained, on the one side, that we have not gone to war, and, in fact, on all sides that we have submitted to a serious rebuff. I urged, as my right honourable Friend the Leader of the House had done before me, that, at all events up to the present time, there was no rebuff; that if Russia had played a very good card we had played a trump; and that, on the whole, there was nothing whatever which need lead the country to feel itself in any way humiliated, as I am sorry to find the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Monmouth has described it as being. The second alternative also is one which I had to consider—namely, that we might have gone to war. What I said on that subject was certainly not new. It was known, I suppose, to everybody— known to every diplomatist, at any rate —and, I should have thought, known to the intelligent members of the Opposition. And the only thing I thought it necessary to do was to make it clear to the people who are our constituents, and to whom, after all, we have to appeal for that support and confidence which alone can strengthen our policy. What I pointed out to them was that in framing our policy for the future (I was not 1431 speaking of the past) we must cut our coat according to our cloth. The right honourable Gentleman has complained of the words I used, and he has complained that I represented England as being in a humiliating position. The honourable Gentleman the Member for Cardiff said that I had made a "pitiful appeal." Well, that is all very well for honourable Members who desire to make personal attacks, but there is not the slightest possible foundation for it. In the same speech they will see an assertion—I hope not a boasting assertion, but an assertion of the rightful power and influence of this great Empire. Sir, I believe we are the most powerful Empire in the world; but we are not all-powerful; there are things we cannot do, as well as things we can do. It was to point out to my constituents and to the country generally that there were some things which were demanded from us which I thought were not in our power to secure, at all events under present circumstances, that I made the speech, not one word of which do I intend to withdraw. I neither spoke for nor against alliances—["Oh, oh!"]—I repeat that I neither spoke for nor against alliances except in regard to one particular nation to which I will refer. What I said was, if this country decides that the old policy of isolation—which I firmly believe was the best and wisest policy of this country, at any rate for a very long period—if they decided that it must be continued, then they must not make absurd and ridiculous demands on their Government; they must accept the consequences. The right honourable Gentleman the Member for East Fife, in an expression more forcible than elegant, said I had "touted for alliances"; and I think it was the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Montrose who said—or practically said —I had made piteous appeals to the Powers of Europe. Yes, but he also said that my speech was "incendiary rhetoric." Choose between the two; the speech cannot be both. I deny absolutely there was any "touting for alliances" or "piteous appeals" on the one hand, or anything in the nature of "incendiary rhetoric" on the other. I say we stand alone, as I have said before; but I say that under these circumstances there are certain national ambitions which we must surrender. We cannot in that case exercise the controlling influence we 1432 have hitherto exercised in China; we cannot obtain the open door, at least we cannot insist upon it, if we have opponents such as those we have. Does anybody deny that? [Cries of "Yes, the Chancellor of the Exchequer."] No, he did not refer to the subject. [Cries of "Yes, at Swansea."] Really, I find there is still so much ignorance, whether intentional or otherwise, that it is worth while to give it some further consideration. Can you resist the advance into China of a Power—a homogeneous Power—that has a great military force at its back, and which has 4,000 miles of open frontier? It may be you expect that position, and all I can say is, in that case do let us base our policy on some sound foundation; let us recognise what our position is, what we can and what we cannot do; and that will prevent all this "bluffing" of which you complain, and put us in a perfectly sound position in regard to foreign Powers. I do not mean to say that I think that is a position necessary to accept, but so long as China is in her present impotent position, and so long as this country is without alliances, it is absolutely impossible—I do not speak of the present moment, but of the future— to preserve the independence of China against the inroads of any great military Power which may desire to attack her. The right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and the right honourable Gentleman the Member for East Fife, and I think the right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean have united in denouncing beforehand any policy of alliance.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES
Who has talked of a permanent or standing alliance? Why set up bogeys of your own construction in order to knock them down easily? That is not real opposition, that is only the result of a too vivid imagination. Nobody ever talked of a permanent alliance. All I said was that the policy of this country, hitherto well known to all nations of the world, and declared again and again, was that we would not accept any alliance.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES
I will refer to that presently. Of course, so long as that is understood to be the definite policy of this country on both sides of the House, and by the voice of the great majority in this country, it is not unlikely we should have offers of alliance; but once it becomes known that we are willing to consider alliances, provided they are for mutual interests with reciprocal advantages, I do not think we shall find the difficulty right honourable Gentlemen suggest in getting offers well worth our consideration. "But," says the right honourable Gentleman, "wait until war breaks out." And then we are accused of want of foresight! If we wait until war breaks out we may find it too late to find an ally. If you contemplate a particular policy which you cannot carry out isolated, but can with allies, is it not better to consider the question of alliance in time and not to wait until war breaks out, when you may be unable to make your alliance? What are the disadvantages of alliances which have been put before us so forcibly by right honourable Gentlemen opposite? That they would inevitably lead to our being entangled in foreign disputes. But everything depends on the nature of your alliance. I may give a familiar illustration. The Triple Alliance has been alluded to. Does any reasonable student of history doubt that the result of the Triple Alliance was the preservation of the peace of Europe? So long as it remained a combination of non-aggressive great Powers it was a peaceful combination, and it resulted in peace. Supposing that some alliance were in contemplation in which this country could join, which would have the same object, does anyone pretend that it would be a Jingo proceeding to join such an alliance if we had hope that thereby we might preserve the peace and advance that which was the policy of this country and the other nations concerned? I do not understand that there is really so much difference of opinion as has been suggested with regard to the principle of an alliance, because the right honourable Gentleman the Member for East Fife suggested an alliance, only he shuffled the cards; his ally would be Russia, whereas he says mv ally would be some other Power. Sir, I do not think the time has come to speculate on whom our 1434 allies should be. The first thing is to settle whether the time has come in which we may accept allies. That being once determined, it will be easy enough to distinguish between those who are our friends and those who are not. But when the right honourable Gentleman suggests that we should for a moment seek to bring about a better state of things in regard to our interests in the East by an alliance with Russia, I wonder whether he has ever read the Blue Book. What does he find in that Blue Book? He finds that we have tried to come to an understanding with Russia. He asked me to state what I had in view when I said that we had tried to come to an understanding with Russia. There was nothing in my speech that was not based upon what was already published in the Blue Books that had been presented. If he will read the speeches made from this side he will remember that it was from the very first made absolutely clear to Russia that there was no jealousy of her commercial extension, no desire to interfere with her sphere of interest in Manchuria; but, on the other hand, we did hope and expect that she would not use this natural desire as an excuse for exercising a large territorial influence, and for commencing the disintegration of the Empire of China. We made those representations, and I am not going back over the history of them. Anyone can read how from day to day assurances were given, expectations were held out, and how in a very short time they varied and finally vanished. It is absurd in these circumstances to propose as a solution for our immediate difficulties, at any rate, that we should seek an alliance with Russia. We have sought alliance with Russia, and on the only terms upon which at that time we could have accepted such an alliance. We have failed, and although I do not believe for one moment either in absolutely permanent alliances or in absolutely permanent enmities, I do say, on the other hand, it seems to be perfectly absurd to suggest as a reasonable solution of our difficulties that we should now enter into immediate negotiations with Count Muravieff in order to establish a better understanding with Russia. Let me say one other word on the subject of alliances, and I have done. I did not 1435 say this in my speech, but it is worthy the consideration of the House. As regards our own immediate possessions, we are fully able to defend them. That is not denied by anyone. The question is whether we could also defend those future interests—those potentialities of trade and commerce to which we attach the utmost importance—in some of the countries which have been hitherto undeveloped, such as China. But we have to defend our interests in all parts of the world, and we come in contact, no doubt, with many foreign Powers. We ought, if we are to be safe, to have a power on the sea which is superior to that of any probable combination. That is admitted on both sides of the House. But, then, have you thought of what that involves? So long as you are isolated, can you say that it is not possible, can you even say that it is not probable, that some time or another you may have a combination of at least three Powers against you? Up to the present time all we have purported to do is to keep our Navy on a level with the navies of the two greatest naval Powers in the world outside ourselves. Do you suggest, as the result of your policy, that we should make ourselves safe against the probable combination of three Powers? You would add 50 per cent. to the Naval Estimates, and you would have to continue that as long as this possibility or probability continued. It seems to me that any assurance, I will not say of an alliance— I am not speaking of an alliance, but of a thorough and complete understanding —a mutual arrangement for particular interests—with any one of the great Powers would be one of the most economical things that this country could possibly undertake, because it would save at once one, at all events, of the great Powers from entering into a combination against us, and we should then be satisfied that the preparations we have made against all eventualities were absolutely sufficient. Now, Sir, I have said that I raised these questions not to lay down any final policy, but to make clear the conditions under which we acted. I do not think it is contended that an immediate decision is necessary. We know perfectly well the conditions of the case. We know that a great railway is in progress, which is of enormous 1436 value to the power that is making it, and that it cannot be completed for three, or four, or five years; that it will take a certain amount of time to organise the districts which have come under the power and influence of Russia, and therefore you have time to turn round and decide your policy; and it does seem to me a strange thing to accuse me of being premature when one accusation against the Government is that they have not looked forward at all. It seems to me that you have to look forward to the possibilities of the next 10 or 20 years, and now is the time to decide what shall be the policy with which you will meet the contingencies which are evidently ahead. As I said in my speech, I do not advise alliance any more than I rejected it. I only pointed out the consequence of rejecting it, and the advantages which might result from accepting it. But, with one exception, I admit—I do not think I used the word, but I am perfectly prepared to use it—I would say, in the strongest words I could use, that I desire, most earnestly desire, close, cordial, and intimate relations with the United States of America, and that the closer it is, the more intimate it is, and the more definite it is, the better I should be satisfied. Sir, in this case, which is different from all others, there are conditions which bring us together which cannot occur in other cases. We have the same language, the same literature, the same laws, and, as a result of all these, we have the same standpoint for all great questions. We can regard, for instance, questions of humanity from a different point of view from that of other nations, who hitherto have rejected all considerations of that kind as being purely sentimental.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES
I can quite understand the interruptions of the honourable Members from the point of view of our domestic policy. What is the opinion of the House in regard to this question? I have stated the facts. My opinion, at all events, is clear. I wish to believe—I do believe-—that right 1437 honourable and honourable Gentlemen opposite, with a few exceptions, are in favour of a similar policy. I wish to believe that for the credit of the country and for the interests of the country, but I must say that if they are of that opinion the way they take of expressing it is exceedingly unfortunate. What does my right honourable Friend the Member for Montrose say? Of course, he expressed his own personal love for America, but in regard to this question of alliance he thought it appropriate to remind us that the Irish would have something to say. Yes, they will have something to say, and I am thankful to know that the Americans will not listen to them. I know something of America, and perhaps more than my right honourable Friend, and I think he made a mistake in his allusion, which has already been taken up on the other side of the water. It was an unfriendly attitude on his part, which I do not think he intended at the time to adopt; but he makes a mistake if he thinks the Irish vote will stand for a moment in the way of the sympathies which bind together the Anglo-Saxon race. The Irish vote is powerful in America. It has been successful at times in inducing our kinsmen to "twist the lion's tail"; but when events arise to awaken the common interests and common sympathies of these two great divisions of the Anglo-Saxon race, I think the Anglo-Saxons in America will know how to deal with the Irish vote. The right honourable Gentleman suggested that no alliance was either possible or desirable. Well, nothing in the nature of a cut-and-dried alliance is at this moment proposed. The Americans do not want our alliance at this moment. They do not ask for our assistance, and we do not want theirs, at this moment. But will anyone say that the occasion may not arise, foreseen as it has been by some American statesmen, who have said that there is a possibility in the future that Anglo-Saxon liberty and Anglo-Saxon interests may hereafter be menaced by a great combination of other Powers? Yes, Sir, I think that such a thing is possible, and in that case, whether it be America or whether it be England that is menaced, I hope that blood will be found to be thicker than water. And in the meanwhile I say— 1438 without forcing this opinion upon either party, or desiring that either nation should enter into an alliance with which the majority of both nations would not thoroughly sympathise—I repeat what I said at Birmingham—the closer, the more definite, the clearer the alliance between the United States and ourselves, the better it will be for both nations, the better it will be for the civilised world, and the better it will be for all which we have a right to hope for.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
An alliance with America may be a very desirable object for the people of this country, but I take the liberty of stating my conviction that no man has ever spoken in this country who has done more to injure the prospect of an alliance with America than the right honourable Gentleman the Colonial Secretary. It may be the opinion of the Colonial Secretary that the voice of the Irish in America will not be listened to by the citizens of that great Republic; but I venture to recall to his memory the fact that for upwards of a hundred years the blood of the Irish citizens of America has been freely spent on the battle-fields of America, and on hundreds of those battle-fields the blood of Ireland has been spent in defending the liberties of America against the attacks of the Anglo-Saxons of this country. And so at the present moment, while the Colonial Secretary seeks to promote an alliance between America and Great Britain by hurling insults against the Irish citizens of the United States, who are foremost in pressing to the banners of America in the war which she is now waging for the liberty of Cuba, I will venture to undertake to say that in every battle that takes place amongst the list of wounded and dead will be found the names of those citizens whom the Colonial Secretary has gone out of his way to insult here to-night. Whatever may be the history of the future relations between the great Republic of America and this United Kingdom, I venture to say, without fear of contradiction, that they will not be improved by the speeches of the Colonial Secretary. One thing the Colonial Secretary said with which I entirely agree. America does not need an alliance with this country nor any other European nation to defend her liberties. She fears no combination of European nations, and 1439 no combination of European nations will ever be formed against her. She is able to defend her own liberty, and, what is more than that, she can sympathise with oppressed nations, whether in Europe or across the Atlantic; and the insults which have been levelled to-night against the
§ Irish citizens of America will certainly not serve to cement good relations between this country and the United States.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided—Ayes 128; Noes 254. (Division List No. 134.)1441
|Allan, Wm. (Gateshead)||Fox, Dr. Joseph Francis||Pease, Alfred E. (Cleveland)|
|Allen, W. (Newc.-u.-Lyme)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Pease, Jos. A. (Northumb.)|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Grey, Sir E. (Berwick)||Perks, Robert William|
|Asher, Alexander||Haldane, Richard Burdon||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm.||Price, Robert John|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert H.||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Hazell, Walter||Richardson, J. (Durham)|
|Bainbridge, Emerson||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hedderwick, Thos. Chas. H.||Roberts, John B. (Eifion)|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Holden, Sir Angus||Roberts, J. H. (Denbighsh.)|
|Billson, Alfred||Horniman, Frederick John||Roche, Hon. J. (East Kerry)|
|Birrell, Augustine||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Blake, Edward||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Jacoby, James Alfred||Shaw, Charles E. (Stafford)|
|Brigg, John||Jones, David B. (Swansea)||Shee, James John|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)|
|Caldwell, James||Kearley, Hudson E.||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Cameron, Sir C. (Glasgow)||Kitson, Sir James||Souttar, Robinson|
|Carmichael, Sir T. D. G.||Labouchere, Henry||Spicer, Albert|
|Carvill, Patrick G. Hamilton||Lambert, George||Steadman, William Charles|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Cawley, Frederick||Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)||Strachey, Edward|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Leng, Sir John||Stuart, James (Shoreditch)|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Lloyd-George, David||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Colville, John||Macaleese, Daniel||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Cozens-Hardy, Herbert H.||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Tennant, Harold John|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||McArthur, Wm. (Cornwall)||Thomas, A. (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||McDermott, Patrick||Thomas, A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan)||McEwan, William||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)|
|Davitt, Michael||McKenna, Reginald||Ure, Alexander|
|Dillon, John||McLaren, Charles Benjamin||Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Maddison, Fred.||Wallace, Robert (Perth)|
|Doughty, George||Maden, John Henry||Walton, John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Duckworth, James||Mellor, Rt. Hn. J. W. (Yorks)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Dunn, Sir William||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Warner, Thomas C. T.|
|Ellis, John Edward (Notts)||Morgan, J. L. (Carmarthen)||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan)||Morley, Rt. Hn. J. (Montrose)||Wilson, Charles H. (Hull)|
|Evans, Sir F. H. (South'ton)||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Evershed, Sydney||Norton, Capt. Cecil Wm.||Woodall, William|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Fenwick, Charles||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Ferguson, R. C. M. (Leith)||Oldroyd, Mark||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Owen, Thomas||Sir Charles Dilke and Mr.|
|Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||Paulton, James Mellor||Robson.|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Cayzer, Sir Charles William|
|Allhusen, Augustus H. Eden||Beresford, Lord Charles||Cecil, Lord Hugh|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Bethell, Commander||Chaloner, Capt, R. G. W.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)|
|Baden-Powell, Sir G. Smyth||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Wore.)|
|Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy||Bond, Edward||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Baird, John Q. Alexander||Bonsor, Henry Cosmo Orme||Charrington, Spencer|
|Balcarres, Lord||Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn)||Chelsea, Viscount|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J.(Manch'r)||Brassey, Albert||Clare, Octavius Leigh|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Grld W.(Leeds)||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Brookfield, A. Montagu||Coddington, Sir William|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Brymer, William Ernest||Coghill, Douglas Harry|
|Barry, RtHnAHSmith-(Hunts)||Butcher, John George||Cohen, Benjamin Louis|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Carlile, William Walter||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Cavendish, R. E. (N. Lanes.)||Colomb, Sir J. C. Ready|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H.(Brist'l)||Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbysh.)||Colston, Chas. Ed. H. Athole|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Hornby, William Henry||Phillpotts, Capt. Arthur|
|Cook, F. Lucas (Lambeth)||Howell, William Tudor||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford)||Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle||Pollock. Harry Frederick|
|Corbett, A. C. (Glasgow)||Hozier, Hon. James H. Cecil||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Courtney, Rt. Hon. L. H.||Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Cox, Robert||Hutchinson, Capt. G. W. Gnce-||Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. L.||Purvis, Robert|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Pym, C. Guy|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Jenkins, Sir John Jones||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert|
|Cross, Herbert S. (Bolton)||Jolliffe, Hon. George||Rankin, James|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir J. H.||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Curzon, Rt. Hn. G. N.(Lanc, SW)||Kenrick, William||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Curzon, Viscount (Bucks)||Kenyon, James||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Davenport, W. Bromley-||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Kimber, Henry||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Charles T.|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Knowles, Lees||Robertson, Herb. (Hackney)|
|Douglas-Pennant, Hon. E. S.||Lawrence, Sir E. (Cornwall)||Robinson, Brooke|
|Doxford, William Theodore||Lawrence, W. F. (Liverp'l)||Rothschild, Baron F. J. de|
|Drage, Geoffrey||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks)||Round, James|
|Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Lea, Sir Thos. (Londonderry)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Edwards, Gen. Sir J. Bevan||Lecky, Rt. Hon. W. E. H.||Russell. Gen. F. S. (Chelt'm)|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Rutherford, John|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Legh, Hon. Thos. W. (Lanes)||Samuel, H. S. (Limehouse)|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. SirJ(Manc.)||Leighton, Stanley||Sandys, Lt.-Col. T. Myles|
|Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Llewelyn, SirDillwyn-(Sw'ns'a)||Saunderson, Col. Edw. Jas,|
|Finch, George H.||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Savory, Sir Joseph|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|FitzGerald, Sir R. Penrose-||Lowles, John||Sidebottom, T. H. (Stalybr.)|
|Flannery, Fortescue||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Simeon, Sir Harrington|
|Flower, Ernest||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Forster, Henry William||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Smith, J. Parker (Lanarksh.)|
|Forwood, Rt. Hon. Sir A. B.||Maclean, James Mackenzie||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||McArthur, Chas. (Liverpool)||Spencer, Ernest|
|Fry, Lewis||McCalmont, H. L. B. (Cambs)||Stanley, Lord (Lanes)|
|Galloway, William Johnson||McCalmont, Mj-Gn(Ant'm,N.)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Garfit, William||Malcolm, Ian||Strauss, Arthur|
|Gedge, Sydney||Marks, Henry H.||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Sutherland, Sir Thomas|
|Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H.(C. of Lond.)||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W.F.||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Gibbs, Hon. V. (St. Albans)||Maxwell, Rt. Hon. Sir H. E.||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Gilliat, Jhn Saunders||Milbank, Sir Powlett C. J.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Verney. Hon. R. Greville|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Milton, Viscount||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J.(S. Geo.'s)||Milward, Colonel Victor||Ward, Hon. R. A. (Crewe)|
|Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Monckton, Edward Philip||Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Monk, Charles James||Warkworth, Lord|
|Graham, Horny Robert||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)|
|Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||More, Robert Jasper||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monrn'thsh.)||Welby. Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs)||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Greville, Captain||Mount, William George||Wharton, Rt. Hon. J. L.|
|Gull, Sir Cameron||Murdoch, Chas. Townshend||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-und.-L.)|
|Gunter, Colonel||Murray. Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)||Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W.||Murray, Col. W. (Bath)||Wilson, J. W. (Wore. N.)|
|Hardy, Laurence||Myers. William Henry||Wilson-Todd. W. H. (Yorks)|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Newark, Viscount||Wodehouse, E. R. (Bath)|
|Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Newdigate, Francis Alex.||Wylie, Alexander|
|Heath, James||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Wyndham, George|
|Helder, Augustus||Northcote, Hon. Sir H. S.||Wyndham-Quin, Mai. W. H.|
|Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord A. (Down)||O'Neill, Hon. Robert T.||Young, Comm. (Berks, E.)|
|Hoare, Edw. B. (Hampstead)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Younger, William|
|Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)||Parkes, Ebenezer||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Hobhouse, Henry||Pease, Arthur (Darlington)||Sir William Walrond and|
|Perm, John||Mr. Anstruther.|
Original question put and agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next Committee to sit again upon Monday next.