§ * CAPTAIN JOSCELINE F. BAGOT (Westmoreland Kendal)
Mr. Speaker, I beg to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows:Most Gracious Sovereign,—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.In doing so, Sir, I hope that I may count on that generous consideration which this House is accustomed to give to one who performs this honourable duty. Before attending to the subjects contained in Her Majesty's most gracious Speech I ask the indulgence of the House in order that I may express what I am sure is our heartfelt regret and respectful sympathy with Her Majesty and their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Saxe-Coburg upon the deep sorrow which has befallen them in the lamentable death of their son, the Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The announcement which is contained in the first paragraph of Her Majesty's gracious Speech is one which cannot fail to give satisfaction, not only to this House, but to the country at large, 79 and that is as to our relations with other Powers. At this present moment I think it comes home to us more strongly, for we have undoubtedly, during the Recess, passed through a somewhat stormy period of foreign affairs. I am sure I shall not be considered too sanguine if I venture to express the opinion that our friendly relations with the foreign Powers at this moment not only remain friendly, but have become placed upon a more satisfactory basis than they have been before. And whilst our understandings with several of the Powers appears to have improved, the brief crisis of strained relations with France has passed away, leaving the prospect of an amicable settlement of all the questions which may exist between the two countries. That improved state of things is more especially remarkable in regard to the relations which now exist between this country and the United States of America. Between the two countries there has recently grown up a feeling which cannot adequately be described as merely one of the continuance of an existing friendship. Circumstances have arisen, and events have so fashioned themselves that the bonds of mutual interest no less than the ties of kinship have been drawn closer together. I think it will be no exaggeration to say that at the present moment there exists a more genuine friendly feeling between us than has existed at any time since those days, now considerably more than one hundred years ago, and which I hope may be now happily forgotten, when our American colonists first found reason to differ from the Mother Country. The hope, Sir, will, I feel sure, be echoed by all members of this House that those expressions of goodwill which have recently passed and repassed across the Atlantic Ocean, will, as time goes on, become firmer and of a more enduring foundation. Any alliance which unites the two great English-speaking peoples need not necessarily be one of offence or of defence, but would seem to be admirably fitted to lead the nations of the world in the direction of freedom, progress, and of peace. The paragraph in Her Most Gracious Majesty's Speech which deals with our Indian Empire gives us cause to regret that the plague still continues, and also that it is, to some 80 extent, spread over portions of Southern India. However, it is satisfactory, on the other hand, to learn that the disease is of a less virulent type than it has been before, and also that the native people of India have come to a better understanding with the doctors and those engaged in combating the disease. Moreover, several of the more influential natives have now joined in the campaign. We are assured that no efforts and no expenses will be spared by the Indian Government to resist this plague which has spread over the Empire, and which, during the last two-and-a-half years, has carried away no less than 200,000 of Her Majesty's Indian subjects. Moreover, we have the satisfactory announcement that India has shown marked signs of recovery since the distress and famine of the year 1898; the crops, I understand, during the last year, have been most bountiful, and food has consequently fallen in price. The revenue has been most readily paid from all sources—both from land, and other sources, and of extereme interest is the fact that the railway returns during last year show higher receipts than at any time previously. In the course of six months—the six months ending September last—they showed an increase of 31 per cent, over the corresponding months of 1897, and showed an increase of 14 per cent. over the corresponding six months in the year 1891, which had previously shown the highest returns on record. The exchange vallue of money, as a consequence of this, has remained remarkably steady during the last six months, and that is a matter of most extreme interest to the Indian people. The Indian Treasury, I understand, in spite of the disadvantages of the last two years, owing to famine and other matters, is now able to show, or will be able to show, at the end of the financial year, a surplus of something like two and three-quarter millions sterling. Of this surplus, however, some part is due to the recovery of certain revenues which have not been paid during the last years, but, (notwithstanding that, I consider it to be a most satisfactory state of things, and although we may regret the continuance of the Plague, the remarkable powers of recovery which have been shown are extremely satisfactory. Sir, we are 81 approaching the end of the century. That century began in universal war, and I hope that it may be a sign of the times that it will end by the nations seeing what can be done in the interests of universal peace. I feel sure that it is the desire of every Member of this House, irrespective of Party, that the noble aspirations of the Emperor of Russia in the direction of avoiding, or, as far as possible, minimising the horrors of warfare may be crowned with success, and that those armaments which year by year have grown, and have become an intolerable burden to the taxpaying public, may be reduced within some reasonable limits. Sir, the Gracious Speech assures us that Her Majesty's Government will throw no obstacle in the way of any consideration which may have a tendency towards securing the peace of the world. But, at the same time, Sir, if we accept, as we must do, the heritage of a great Empire, with its concurrent advantages of a vast trade and increasing prosperity for our people, Her Majesty's Ministers cannot divest themselves of the great responsibility which attaches to such a heritage, and must use their utmost efforts to maintain and preserve the same. Any failure to protect our Empire is synonymous with the loss of that trade and commerce on which the country depends for its very existence. Her Majesty's Government found it necessary, in order to carry out our pledges and to protect our interests in Egypt, to have recourse to warlike operations in that country. We were deeply pledged to maintain the interests and the good government of Egypt—a task which would be difficult indeed if we did not have command of the upper waters of the Nile. We were bound also to restore to civilisation those regions which had lapsed to the dominion of a cruel and slave-owning tyranny. That work has been carried out, and moreover, in spite of the difficulties of transport, and of the nature of the country which had to be crossed, it has been carried out to the entire satisfaction of the country, and we have once more had the assurance that our officers and men have not fallen behind those traditions which the military history of this country has led us so invariably to expect; whilst the gallant officer, who commanded the 82 Expedition by his untiring energy, by his powers of organisation and by his military genius, has added one more name to that long list of distinguished soldiers who in the past have done as much to build up this Empire as have the statesmen who have given them their orders. While paying this humble tribute to the gallantry of our officers and men let us not forget our allies, both Egyptian and Soudanese, who fought side by side with our soldiers, and fought with equal bravery, and with an equal discipline, nor those men whose untiring and special work in the past in Egypt —work which has not been perhaps so much appreciated in this country—has done so much for the organistion of the native army — I mean the non-commissioned officers, who have proved once again their right to the title of "Backbone of the British Army." They have performed the extraordinary task of converting the unwarlike Egyptians and the extremely warlike, but savage, Soudanese into the disciplined soldiery, who have shown that they are able to do their work with the best troops and without any disadvantageous comparison. We should not have carried out this campaign so rapidly, so successfully, and so economically if it had not been been for those men, and I am quite sure that honourable Members in this House who have served in the Army will agree with me that the best gratitude of this country is due to the non-commissioned officers, who have been immortalised by Mr. Rudyard Kipling under the generic title of "Sergeant What's-'is-Name." Practical evidence has been given of the union which exists between the mother country and the colonies by the announcement that the Parliament of the Cape of Good Hope is prepared to give a contribution towards the naval defence of this Empire. That, I hope, is a precedent which in future time will be followed by other colonies. This feeling of citizenship of one Empire, although it has no doubt been in existence for some time, has been strengthened throughout Her Majesty's dominions by the action of the Government, or, I should say, of the Postmaster-General, in establishing an Imperial Penny Postage. That Measure will not only foster the sentiment of a United Empire, 83 but I have every reason to suppose that it will prove a financial success. Now, Sir, to turn for a few brief moments to the legislative proposals which are contained in the Gracious Speech. The question of the Government of London, with its vast population and wealth, and with its mighty interests, will undoubtedly occupy a considerable portion of the time of this Session. A Measure which, perhaps, to the country at large will be of more interest, is the one which deals with the educational proposals of the Government. In these days of commercial rivalry it is evident that an improved scientific and technical knowledge must be obtained by any country which wishes to hold its own in the trade of the world. The country that lags behind in education is sure to lag behind in the trade and prosperity of its people. This House has already dealt with the question of primary education, and the proposals of the Government, as I understand, will consolidate and improve the machinery of our present educational system, and will keep in evidence and tend to the advancement of scientific and of technical knowledge. That is a Measure which I consider, Sir, to be in the best interests of this country. There is the proposal to enable the proprietors of small houses to become owners of them —a Measure which has been brought to the attention of this House before, and which I think will be a boon to the working men of large towns. There is another Measure which I look upon with great approval, and that is a Measure which will undoubtedly fulfil a useful function in allowing the Water Companies to take water from each other's mains, so that we may not have any failure in our water supply, such as has occurred within recent memory. There is one Measure that I, repre-sentaing as I do a considerable agricultural population, would earnestly wish to see carried through this House, and one which I sincerely hope will by the end of this Session pass into law. I allude to the Measure dealing with the Adulteration of our Food. It is a subject which has been considered by a Committee which sat in this House for three Sessions, and the evidence taken before that Committee shows that 84 in the interests of the agricultural community, and no less in these of the retail traders, some changes and some limitation by law have become imperatively necessary. Now, Sir, those are some of the proposals of the Government, and if there is no Measure among them which may be described as of an heroic character, the reason is not far to seek. The most careful inquiry into the condition and affairs of the country would, I believe, fail to find any considerable section of the people eager or anxious for any important change or Legislation of a far-reaching character. Convinced of the justice of these proposals, I hope we may soon arrive at their discussion, and that this House will after no long Debate agree to the Motion which I now desire to move, and in doing which I desire to express to the House my thanks for their attention.
* THE HON. W. F. D. SMITH (Strand, Westminster)
I rise to second the Motion which my hon. and gallant Friend has just proposed, and in so doing I should wish to ask the House to extend to me that indulgence which is always so freely given to anyone in the position which I now occupy. First of all, I desire to associate myself with the remarks which my hon. and gallant Friend has made in lamenting the death of a Prince of a House so closely connected with Her Majesty—the death of the hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg, Prince Alfred of Saxe-Coburg. My hon. and gallant Friend has eloquently referred to that part of Her Most Gracious Majesty's Speech which deals with Foreign Affairs, and, indeed, if it was true of the last Session of Parliament, it is still more true to say of the recess just concluded that interest has been shown far more in the external than in the internal politics of this country; and I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend when he says that anyone who has followed the course of public events cannot fail to realise that public opinion has signified its approval of the course which Her Majesty's Government has followed. My hon. and gallant Friend has referred 85 in detail to the wonderfully successful conclusion of the Soudan campaign. As Seconder of the Address in reply to the Speech of Her Most Gracious Majesty, I should wish to add my own small tribute of praise of the great soldier to whom, in conjunction with Lord Cromer and the Anglo-Egyptian Army, that success was due. I imagine that few even those who were most sanguine could have expected that that success would come so completely, so decisively, and with so little delay, but so well had Lord Kitchener matured his preparations, largely by means of the railway which he had so wisely pushed to within a short distance of Omdurman itself, that the concluding stages of that campaign passed away with almost the precision of a military tournament; and I think I may say that by his genius as an organiser Lord Kitchener made it possible to attain the great end he had in view with small means, at comparatively little cost, and in a manner which ought to earn for him even the admiration of a Chancellor 01 the Exchequer. But not only as a soldier has Lord Kitchener earned the gratitude of this House and of the country. In the very difficult situation in which he was placed at Fashoda diplomatic ability was as much needed as soldierly qualities, and I venture to think that it is not too much to say that by Lord Kitchener's treatment of that situation he very considerably minimised its dangers and difficulties. The crisis that followed that campaign has now, fortunately passed away, and Her Majesty is able to say in her most gracious Speech that our relations with foreign Powers are friendly; and, Sir, I venture to think that crisis will not have been without its object if in the end it should be the means of creating a better understanding between two great countries which come into contact in so many parts of the world, and which have so much to lose by war and so much to gain by a lasting peace. The policy of the Powers with regard to Crete has proved successful, but the policy was carried out more perhaps through the courage and energy of those on the spot than by the slower methods of the Concert of Europe. At the same time hon. Members should not forget that, without the assistance of the Powers, and with the assistance of Greece alone, 86 Crete could never have escaped from the dominion of the Sultan. It is now to be hoped that as Prince George of Greece appears to have been so well received by Christians and Mohammedans alike, that Island may be entering upon a new era of peace and prosperity. I am sure that this House will receive with every sympathy that part of Her Majesty's Speech which deals with the terrible crime that cost Her Majesty the Empress of Austria her life. It is the intention of the Government to introduce amendments in the law with regard to these Anarchist crimes which may have the effect of lessening the possible success of such crimes in the future. Now I pass from that portion of the Speech which deals with foreign and colonial affairs to that which deals with home politics. As a Metropolitan Member I am glad to think that the first part of the programme is occupied by a Bill which the First Lord of the Treasury is about to submit to the consideration of this House for the better government of London. Last Session there was a good deal of disappointment that the Bill was not brought in and passed into law, but I am sure that every hon. Member will realise that the subject has only to be approached to realise its complexity, and I venture to think that the delay which has occurred, disappointing and galling though it may have been, will have had the effect of giving time to the Government and giving them an opportunity to examine more fully the many difficult questions connected with the subject. The result will be that we shall have a Bill far more complete and far more satisfactory than any which could have been introduced last Session. The present local bodies in the Metropolis have not been behindhand in their desire for some Measure of this kind and although upon a subject like this there must necessarily be some difference of opinion as to details, yet the agreement as to its broad principles is sufficiently pronounced to warrant that it will meet with a good reception outside this House. I should like to be in a position to combat the idea—an idea not so strong as it was but which still exists—that any Bill of this kind must be antagonistic to the London County Council. Those who 87 support this Bill on this side of the House, I am afraid, cannot agree with the opinion of the majority at Spring Gardens; but they do not, nor do the Government, on that account wish to injure an institution which they themselves created, any more than the Party in Opposition desire to injure this House of Commons because a Unionist Government is in power. If the Bill is to have any effect on the London County Council at all it will be to relieve the Committees and the members of that body of some of the great mass of detail which they at present have to surmount; and when the transfer of powers comes to be considered it will be found that there are many matters which can be more easily dealt with by the local than by the central authority. So far as the vestries and other local bodies are concerned, the Bill will, I hope, meet a demand which has been growing ever since the Bill of 1888 was passed. From the manner in which the various districts of the Metropolis have grown up it is almost impossible that there should be any uniformity in Local Government, but I hope that the effects of the Bill will be to introduce greater uniformity; if it does it will not be in vain. If I do not go beyond my present position I should desire to say that I hope that new municipalities will be created so far as possible all over London and endowed as far as possible with the same powers, otherwise it does appear to me that you will be creating an amount of confusion which will be very little improvement on the present system. There are two reasons why I should hope that these new areas will be of sufficient size. In the first place, it will be unfortunate if there are created small areas of rich and small areas of poor districts alongside one another; and in the second place, the areas should be large enough to command respect. The new dignity of incorporation will no doubt have its effect, but that effect will not be so complete or so far reaching unless the work which these bodies have to carry out is sufficiently interesting and wide in its scope to attract the best men. I hope that hon. Members may soon have an opportunity of discussing the 88 many interesting questions connected with the Measure and that when it has passed into law it may have the effect of quickening the rather languid interest at present displayed in Metropolitan Local Government. The other Bill to which my hon. and gallant Friend referred will also be of interest to London. No one who has read the interim report of the Royal Commission on the London Water Supply can fail to realise the fact that if inter-communication had been enforced last Session there would have been no cessation of the constant supply, the suspension of which in East London caused so much inconvenience. Of other Measures, no doubt those referring to Ireland and the reform of the Education Department will be awaited with interest, and of the remainder, having regard to two inquiries held—one within and the other without this House—hon. Members will perhaps most look forward to the Bill dealing with Limited Companies and the Contracts of Money Lenders. It is true that this programme is more useful than heroic, but it is not on that account less worthy of the serious consideration of the hon. Members of this House, nor less calculated to confer lasting benefits on the people of this country.
§ * SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
Mr. Speaker, the first duty which falls to the discharge of anyone who stands in the position which I occupy is to express on behalf of those who sit in this part of the House their recognition of the manner in which the Mover and Seconder of the Address in reply to Her Majesty's most Gracious Speech have discharged the duty assigned to them. I observe, Sir, that the two hon. Members each in turn appealed for the consideration and indulgence of the House. That was according to immemorial usage. I imagine that the reason for that usual appeal does not consist only in the unaccustomed attributes by which they are surrounded and which are enough to affect most nerves, but that it rather 89 is that they are called upon and expected not to convey to the House their own ideas and desires only, but to convey to the House what they have gathered or conjectured to be the ideas and intentions of Her Majesty's Government. They therefore have to undertake what to them may be a somewhat novel experience, that of speaking for other people as well as for themselves—a most serious and constant embarassment to a public speaker to which some of us become inured by long habit, but for which I have sometimes thought too little allowance is made by the private independent Member who enjoys a happy immunity from it. If it was any such feeling that induced the hon. Members to make that appeal I think if they cast a glance round the House and give a little play to their imagination they may perhaps find someone among their fellow Members who to-day stands in need of the indulgent consideration of the House in even greater measure than themselves. But, however that may be, the hon. Members were entitled to make their appeal. But they did not require to do so. They discharged their duty with ease, with good feeling, 'and success, and they dealt with somewhat controversial matters with due delicacy. They are not novices altogether in the House, but they have hitherto been rather classed among the more silent Members of the House, and it is with something approaching to trepidation that we occasionally discover how many of these silent Members could, if they chose, take an effective part in our Debates. Since Her Majesty gave her Assent to that Speech which has been delivered in her name to-day the Queen and the Royal House have sustained a sad loss in the premature death of her grandson, the hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg. The young Prince was not much known to the people of this country. But we are well aware of the intimate bond of affection which unites all the members of the Royal Family, and Her Majesty, I feel sure, may rely upon the respectful sympathy of this House and of all her subjects without distinction. Looking at the position in which we stand at the present moment, there is one event, it seems to me, which stands out from among all the incidents of the past year, which may be said to be 90 on a plane somewhat higher than the ordinary transactions which engage the attention of the Chancelleries of Legations and Embassies, and which I am glad to speak of in the first instance because it represents an influence happily brought to bear in favour of goodwill and civilisation throughout the world. I allude, of course, to the Rescript which was issued by the Emperor of Russia, inviting the Powers of the world to endeavour in conference with him to take such steps as may have the effect of securing peace, of preventing the horrors of war, and of checking the growth of military expenditure throughout the world. It can have surprised no one that this noble appeal met with an instantaneous and unhesitating response in the hearts of the British people, and that that response took the form of joyful acclamation. Her Majesty's Government—if one is to be critical, and I suppose it is my duty to be critical—did not show that alacrity and promptitude which we might have expected. But ultimately they did make a full communication of their entire adhesion to the proposal. No one who is acquainted with the condition of Europe and the relation of the Powers of Europe to each other, and bears in mind the inborn characteristics of human nature, can fail to see how enormous are the difficulties in the way of what is desired. But that is no reason for despair or discouragement. Though everything cannot be accomplished, something at least may be gained, and if there were in the end to be but small tangible and material result in the relief from the burden of armaments, who shall measure the moral influence upon the dispositions of men and nations of this noble example set by a generous and high-minded monarch? In the meantime, Sir, amidst the anxious times through which we have been passing, I am glad to welcome the first paragraph of this Speech, which says that Her Majesty's relations with other Powers continue to be friendly. I hope it may be long before that happy phrase disappears from the Queen's Speech, and while we rejoice that that is true with regard to the world at large, there is one country, it seems to me, Sir, above all, with regard to which the assurance is of importance—namely, our nearest neighbour, 91 the French Republic. I speak with the most sincere earnestness when I say for myself—and I am sure I can speak for those who think with me in politics, and although I am not justified in any way in speaking for the House of Commons and the nation at large, I believe it to be true of them also—that we have no desire, whatever but to live with the French Nation on terms of the utmost amity and mutual sympathy. Mr. Speaker, the old traditions and hostilities that live through generations have passed away altogether. It is not only that we have learned to admire the character and genius of the French people, but we are bound to them— closely bound to them—by the ties of every day familiarity and constant communication and of large and growing commercial transactions. We should regard the establishment of a hostile and suspicious spirit between the two countries as an unmitigated calamity not only to the countries themselves, but to mankind, because it would neutralise the benign influence exercised by them in Europe which is without doubt the supreme and leading influence in favour of freedom and progress. If we look a little further and contemplate the possibility of a war, we look upon it as almost inconceivable, so great are the disasters that would follow in its train. Now, Sir, while this is the predominant feeling here, we have every reason to know that it is entirely reciprocated by the great body of the French people; and if any danger of disturbance to good relations between the two countries does exist, or has ever existed, it can be traced on one side and the other, not to the people, not to the Governments, not to the Parliaments, but to a comparatively small number of noisy and reckless men, who carry a false and vulgar patriotism to the extreme extent of folly The political opinion and action of the persons to whom I refer are, we have been told by a great authority, difficult to define. Masters of language have attempted the definition, and have failed. We know them when we see them; they are among us; their voices are familiar to us. And if we come to strike the balance between the two nations in this matter, our great advantage in this country, for which we cannot be too thankful, is that with us these men who constitute this element in our public 92 opinion are, for all their noisiness, few and feeble; while across the Channel I am afraid, among our neighbours, who are perhaps more impulsive than we are, they are more numerous and influential. Now, Sir, it is with the most sincere satisfaction that we are now able to discern an improvement since three months ago in our relations with France. At that time there was a critical state of affairs arising from the well-known line of policy pursued in Africa by some of the French authorities at the instigation of the very section of politicians to whom I have referred. There came what is known as the Fashoda incident. Now the Fashoda incident has passed and gone, and I am not going to revive it. It is what would be called on the other side of the Channel a chose jugec and need not be revived, but it exhibited at the time and it left behind it strained relations between the two countries. Those relations are now improved. How do we know that they are improved? Why, Sir, it is in the air. We receive the knowledge from intangible sources. We can discern an improved and a more chastened spirit in the Press on both sides of the Channel, and, above all, we have had a Debate in the French Chamber in which the language used, especially by M. Delcassé' himself, who has shown throughout all these transactions the highest qualities of statesmanship, moderation, and desire for peace—the language used, I say, left nothing to be desired. Now what I wish to impress upon the Government— because I am sure that this improved condition of things of which I have been speaking exists—is that the fullest advantage should be taken of it in order to remove out of the way any outstanding causes of difficulty or offence between us in any part of the world which are capable of being adjusted by friendly negotiations. But while urging them to use the opportunity to the full, Mr. Speaker, it may not be amiss that we should inquire what is the cause of this remarkable improvement in our relations. Well, I have no doubt myself about the cause. Three months ago there was in this country a great demonstration of feeling and opinion, in which all sections and all parties united, which astounded the world, and which has altered the view taken of the policy of this country, I 93 believe, in every Court of Europe. It arose regarding the Fashoda incident. But the Fashoda incident, I venture to say, was the occasion of it and not the cause. I have seen it complained, more perhaps in France than here, that this demonstration of feeling was exaggerated, and that it was far beyond any necessity of the case arising from the Fashoda incident. I quite agree with that —it was. The Fashoda incident is one which has been settled, and could from the first have been settled, by the good sense, the dignity, but at the same time the conciliatory action of the French Government. Why then was the demonstration given in this country so strong? Why, Sir, in my opinion it was not a demonstration against France at all—it was a demonstration of protest against the manner in which the Government had during the last two or three years conducted our foreign relations and dealt with our interests abroad during that time. It was an odd situation. The Government were found to be acting strongly and consistently in this one case, and the whole country rallied to their support. And why? In order to show that there were occasions when the whole country could unite, and to show that the Government would be supported when it acted strongly in asserting the rights of this country. What had we seen before? In incident after incident we have seen valiant words spoken, followed by feeble action. We had seen claims gallantly put forward and promptly withdrawn. We had seen protests stoutly made, followed by meek acquiescence; the foot boldly put down and immediately lifted up again; a bold assertion of the rights of the country, followed by the concession of the very rights that had been claimed. Those concessions might have been in many cases wise and prudent. I do not dispute that for a moment—in fact, I think that in one or two cases they probably were, but they ought not to have been preceded by a forcible assertion of the claim. It is because of this shilly-shallying policy, which was condemned by hon. Members on that side of the House quite as much as on this side of the House, that the country, the people of this country, felt galled and humiliated, while our diplomacy and our attitude were lightly thought of in every capital of Europe. Well, Sir, I stand here, of course, as a 94 political opponent of the Government, and it may be said that I am making the best case I can against them. But I leave them rather to make a case against themselves. I appeal to the highest authority that I can appeal to. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House went down last week, I think it was, to Manchester. He had a good many speeches to make, and so far as I observed he had not very much to say. I have noticed that it is always on these occasions that candour shines most in a public man's speeches. When the cup is full and brimming over you cannot so well analyse its contents, but when you come to the dregs you can see exactly what they are. The right hon. Gentleman in one of his speeches was telling of the great change that had taken place in the opinion of foreigners and in foreign capitals as to the position and intentions of this country—the very thing of which I have been speaking—and he said that competent observers in these foreign countries a year ago were—universally impressed with the view that there was hardly anything to which England would not submit rather than run the risk of a great war. They argued that our commercial interests were so much bound up in peace, that we had so much to lose by a war, so little to gain by a war, that we were, as a military Power, almost to be neglected. There was scarcely anything short of a direct and open affront to which we would not with a more or less good grace submit.That is the account which the right hon. Gentleman, with the most creditable candour, gave of the condition to which he and his friends had reduced the affairs of the country. And it was because of this feeling, which was wide-spread among all classes and all sections of opinion in the country—it was because of this feeling that there was this great rally at meetings and in speeches on the Fashoda incident in order to undeceive the right honourable Gentleman's "foreign competent observers." This firm and strong exhibition of the true power and will of this country, so far from making for war, was the very best and most certain condition for the maintenance of peace, which can be endangered by nothing more seriously than by vacillation and uncertainty of policy. And now we are-reaping the benefits of it. We are now better understood, and I trust it has 95 been made clearly known and is understood on all hands that while on the one side we are ready to insist upon respect for our rights, on the other side we are anxious by friendly arrangement to remove causes of difference. Sir, there are two other countries, passing from France, to which I would make a cursory reference. The first is Germany. There have been rumours very widely spread, especially on the Continent, but in this country also, of a new arrangement and understanding between Great Britain and Germany. I have no desire whatever to press the right hon. Gentleman opposite on such a point as this; it may not be within his power to make any statement whatever upon the subject, but the House would be glad to receive from him any information he can give. The other great Power to which I would refer is Russia. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what progress has been made towards securing a good understanding with Russia? We on this side of the House have, again and again, urged upon the Government, and we have at all events, expressed our strong opinion that a good understanding with Russia was the key to the situation, not only in the Far East, but in many other parts of the world, and I should be glad to hear if the right hon. Gentleman can give us any good news on that subject. Now, Sir, I come to the second paragraph in the speech, which deals with the Soudan expedition, and I wish, I need hardly say, cordially to re-echo all that is said in praise of the admirable manner in which that expedition was planned and executed, and of the gallantry of the troops, whether British or Egyptian. The people of this country have not been grudging in their recognition of the great services of Lord Kitchener and all who were under him. But the Government will understand that not a little curiosity and anxiety is felt as to the future arrangements for the control of that great country. The admirable success of the military operations does not close a volume; it merely closes a chapter, and is the prelude to a new chapter. There are many of us here who, while quite ready to see even great responsibilities undertaken, when necessary duty compels it, yet are somewhat bewildered when we contemplate what is before us in the subjugation, in the administration and in the defence of this 96 vast tropical region. We expressed our doubts freely three years ago, and no subsequent military successes, however brilliant, have removed, or can remove, them. Therefore I would say to the right hon. Gentleman again, that any information will be grateful to us which he can give as to the future of our position in the Soudan. For the present the thing is clear. It must be held by a military force under an autocratic system of comparative simplicity, but how is it to be held during the years and years that are to follow? There is one particular point which is pecularly interesting to myself. How is this great region to be garrisoned? Is it to be garrisoned entirely by Egyptians and Soudanese, that is, by Mohammedans, or are there to be British troops there? Is it safe to be without British troops, and if there are British troops, where are you to find your British troops with an army already stretched by the demands upon it to the extreme limit that it can reach? Let it be distinctly understood—and this is a thing that I have said again and again from this place—let it be understood that under our existing military system military system or under any system like our present system, even if it were altered and reformed as proposed by the vivid imagination of the hon. Member for Belfast and others, there still would be no such force as would be required for all the vast responsibilities which we are invited to undertake. And if by some new arrangement, I know not what, you find British troops for the purpose, how are those British troops to be maintained in efficiency and health in that pestilential region? These are questions which the Government cannot, of course, have thought out entirely. These are the sort of questions which make us hesitate in accepting all that is said in favour of new possessions. The Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day made a very excellent speech and he used this phrase. I do not quote his words, but he said that we ought not to take more territory than we can digest. Now, the process of digestion is a very painful one when it follows upon too great repletion, but the painful element in it does not begin, as I understand, until a considerable time after the meal has been consumed. During the first interval there is considerable satisfaction. It is 97 by-and-by, some hours afterwards, that there is room for repentance. I hope, therefore, that we shall not be put down, and for my part I protest against being put down, and I am sure my friends would equally protest against being set down—either as pusillanimous or unpatriotic because we express some concern about difficulties so obvious and so formidable. My next reference is to the Island of Crete. It is a subject of congratulation to all of us that a change has come over the state of affairs in Crete. But what memories does it recall? What thoughts does it give rise to? I will read what one of the most competent of observers says of it. He is moralising on the spot, and says—It is sad to reflect that if the Powers could only have decided at the beginning of last year to take the step which they have now taken, all the horrors of the recent war, as well as the massacres at Sitia, Candia, and elsewhere, would have been avoided. At that time the necessity for the immediate withdrawal of the Turkish troops was repeatedly dwelt on in the columns of "The Times," and here, at least, it is firmly believed that had England, as the principal maritime Power, boldly taken the initiative and proclaimed her resolve to insist on evacuation, no serious European complication would have followed, Greece would have escaped a great humiliation and Crete would have been spared a long succession of disasters.That is the opinion of a well-informed man on the spot.
* Sir H. CAMPBELL-BANERMANN
The Times correspondent in Crete. But are there no qualms, are there no prickings of conscience on the other side of the House at the recollection of the reprobation and the derision which was heaped upon those hon. Members who advocated the very course indicated here? We remember the memorial to the King of Greece. [Ministerial laughter.] I see there are two Cabinet Ministers who are ready to laugh at it still. In regard to the memorial to the King of Greece there was no personage so exalted in the Party opposite, and there was no supporter so obscure, as not to be ready to fling a stone at those who signed that memorial. Now Sir, I can speak upon this subject with the most perfect impartiality. I did not sign it. I once or twice expressed my views on 98 Cretan affairs in strong terms, but, in common with those who sit, or sat, immediately near me, I shrank from interfering with the discretion of Her Majesty's Government, so patriotic were we and so forbearing. Their hope was in the Concert of Europe, and with my ingenuous disposition, I was imposed upon and overawed by their grandiloquent language. My hon. Friends were more discerning or more rash. At any rate, while the Concert of Europe would have been still fumbling over the difficulties, a British admiral on the spot, calmly took the difficulties in hand, loyally seconded by the admirals of certain other Powers, with the excellent results we have witnessed. I hope the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury when he rises will have some public amends to make to my honourable Friends for the language which he and his supporters have used and the hard things said of my honourable Friends. Sir, the two paragraphs referring to the plague in India and the disaster in the West Indies, we read with the sincerest sympathy, and we rejoice at the spirit indicated by the contribution to naval defence made by our fellow subjects at the Cape. But now I pass to a country which is not referred to in the Speech—I pass to China. At the close of last Session, in the very last expiring days of the Session there were two debates on the subject of China, and the complaint then was that papers had not been furnished on the subject. There were important documents bearing not on events then recent, but on events that happened in the beginning of last year, which still were not in the hands of the House of Commons, and now we still await information. I presume that the Government if they have not already laid, will immediately lay fresh papers on this subject upon the table, and I hope that those papers will show, or that we shall be able to gather from them that the Government have adopted some more definite and consistent policy on the subject than could be said to be apparent at the end of last Session. There is the policy of the "open door," and there is the question of what the "open door" means. There is the policy of spheres of influence, and there is the further question what a sphere of influence means. On all these points 99 there seemed to be the greatest mist at the end of the Session, and I hope we shall have some information given to us, and, above all, I trust, if I may recur to a subject upon which I have already spoken, that we shall hear what progress has been made in the good understanding with Russia and other Powers which would come rather late, and which with proper prevision ought to have been arrived at some time ago, but which even now is regarded by us as the proper solution of these difficulties. There is one comparatively small matter, but a very obtrusive matter, upon which I should like to ask for a little information, and that is in reference to the strange pilgrimage of the noble and gallant Member for the City of York. The world believes that he went out to China as an emissary of the Government. I do not know whether that is so. [THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY dissented.] Well that is a considerable relief. He went out at any rate with the assent and connivance of the Government. ["No, no!"] Then in what capacity did the noble Lord go out? You may depend upon it that foreign Powers regard him, whatever people may say, as an emissary of the Government, and the communities on the spot will be apt so to regard him. I have no doubt that he has disclaimed it if it is not true, but his disclaimer will not be accepted. I see in some papers it is stated that he has gone out to enquire into the condition of trade. Well, he is not one's ordinary idea of a commercial traveller. Unfortunately, whatever he does or says, strive against it as he may, the noble Lord always gets into the newspapers, and therefore I am afraid that there is an equivocal position created, unintentionally no doubt, on the part of the Government. But the noble Lord will soon return, and it is just possible that he may tell us something about it after he returns. I ask, then, whether papers are to be presented on the subject of affairs in China. And, as I am speaking of papers, there was a curious event a few weeks ago which struck me very much. In the middle of a time of profound quiet, from a blue sky, in fact, there fell a bolt in the shape of a bundle of papers relating to Madagascar. Why were not the China papers given to us about that time also, so that we might now with in- 100 telligence be able to discuss the question of China? Why were the Madagascar papers presented then? Did somebody in the Foreign Office who had nothing to do think he might just as well issue the Madagascar papers? I ask this, because if they were issued for the purpose of influencing public opinion over something else, it was rather a dubious proceeding, giving rise to suspicion of crafty tactics, when open and straightforward tactics would have been much more effective. We suffered many years ago from a too clever foreign policy. We are suffering from it still, and I should like to be sure that there are no little manœuvres of that kind going on at the present day. Well Sir, that is all I have to say on the paragraphs relating to foreign affairs. I now come to domestic legislation. There is to be a Bill upon London Government, of which the hon. Gentleman, the Seconder, spoke at considerable length. Well, a plain statement of our position with regard to that, shortly is this: that if the Bill is intended and calculated to facilitate the work and sustain the power of the London County Council, we will give it every assistance. If it is intended, on the other hand, and designed to undermine the London County Council, or to supersede the London County Council, then we will give it our most strenuous opposition. And unfortunately, as the Members of the Government have spoken in two voices upon this subject, we are left in absolute doubt which of these is the purpose of the Bill. There is to be a small Bill relating to Education, and another Bill relating to small dwellings—Workmen's Dwellings. Well, I trust that the Education Bill will be somewhat larger than the Bill introduced last Session, which did not at all meet the necessities of the case, and as to the other, I hope that we are not to have presented to us proposals against which we have voted again and again on Wednesday afternoons, and against which we shall take pleasure in voting another time, if necessary. The question of workmen's dwellings is, no doubt, a very important one, and I am anxious to see facilities given for the acquisition by workmen of their dwellings, but there is another thing trenching upon that subject which, I think, is, of infinitely greater importance, and that is some measure that would deal 101 with the housing of the poor. To enable workmen to purchase their dwellings is a good thing, but a greater object to be desired—and, as far as I can see, the greatest difficulty and the greatest cause of mischief that we have to deal with just now—I speak even in the presence of those who take so strong a view on the temperance question as some of my friends do—is some Measure to prevent overcrowding in unsanitary dwellings. I admit that that is a very large and difficult subject to expect the Government to deal with now. Sir, my right hon. Friend, the Lord Advocate, will re-introduce a Scotch Private Business Bill, and he knows the position on that matter perfectly well. We are all in favour of the reform which he advocates and seeks to accomplish, but there are certain rocks in the way, and if he is able either to blow up the rocks, or, so to speak, steer round them, there will be no great difficulty with that measure. Then I turn to the omnibus clause; and I think one of the hon. Gentlemen said it was not a heroic programme. It is not heroic, but there is a profusion of mixed legislation in this long omnibus clause. I have only two criticisms to make upon it, and I assure the House these will be the last things I shall say. In the first place, I must comment on the remarkable position of the promised measure dealing with Agricultural Holdings. The Agricultural Holdings Bill comes at the end of all. One cannot but recognise the remarkable vitality of that measure, for it has been there three times before. I believe this is the fourth time that that measure has been included at the tail of a long list of Bills of this sort. Now, this is the way in which so important a matter as this is dealt with by the farmers' friends! The friends of the farmer pick out from the recommendations of a Royal Commission the one thing which may be of pecuniary benefit to the landlord, and they leave out all the other recommendations, and they still keep this matter, as I say, at the end of all things, with no possible hope of being proceeded with. There are the recommendations of the Royal Commission, and there are the unanimous recommendations of the Welsh Commission. These are disregarded, and the Agricultural Holdings Measure is still in the background. I do not wish to use too strong language,—but I do consider that 102 a very strong word would be required, and therefore I will not trust myself to use it—for this mode of dealing with a great industry. My second observation is to notice that one urgent subject is conspicuous, according to the classic phrase, by its absence. When I received a copy of the Queen's Speech, I at once ransacked it and read it again and again to see whether this subject might not be perhaps included under some other and new name—that is, a provision for Old Age Pensions. There is not a word about it, and this upon a subject whose most obvious feature was stated, apparently according to the Secretary for the Colonies, to be extreme simplicity. And yet with a majority of 140, for four years, right hon. Gentlemen have not been able to advance a hair's breadth on that question. In fact, they have gone back. I have here a document which was issued in 1893, in which it was all explained. It is not a document saying, "We propose to introduce a scheme of Old Age Pnsions, and although it is a subject of great intricacy and delicacy we have no doubt we shall be able to hit upon some plan that will be feasible and successful." Not at all! They did not require to hit upon a plan; they have got a plan. It is all cut and dried. "Old Age Pensions guaranteed by the State. Mr. Chamberlain proposes a payment"—of so much before a certain given age, and a subscription so much per year, to secure for a man a small pension at a certain age stated: those who pay so much more down, so much annually. The whole thing is here. There are no actuaries; no science is required at all. If there is any doubt in anyone's mind as to any part of the scheme, "further information on the Pension Scheme may be obtained from any Liberal Unionist Agent." Here is a Government, a fully-manned Government, a fully-manned Cabinet, here is a Royal Commission, here is another Royal Commission—of actuaries, I believe—and none of them can do it; but any Liberal Unionist Agent in the country can do it. And then, in order to make perfectly certain that this is not some adulterated scheme or proposal, I find that this paper was issued by the Midlands Liberal Unionist Association, Birmingham, so that it comes from the very fountain- head itself. We laugh: it is comical enough in all conscience, but it is more 103 than comical. It is almost scandalous, because it was on these particulars so given that men gave their votes. Politicians are sometimes accused of holding out vague hopes to electors to get their votes. This is not a vague hope; this amounts to a definite promise. And if they have any doubt about it any Liberal Unionist Agent will supply what is required. Another point is this: that this is not a polling-card issued in a hurry, in the hurry-scurry of a General Election, where the great candidate himself, who has to make his speeches, could not possibly attend to small matters. A candidate may claim not to be entirely responsible for everything that foolish people may have done in his name. There is some force in that: but this is done in cold blood, long before a General Election, and it is issued from Mecca—from the Midland Liberal Unionist Association, Birmingham. I really do think that there has seldom, if ever, been so extraordinary a failure to fulfil promises, not of a vague kind, but of a most definite kind. Well, Sir. I have no more to say. Of course our position in these matters comes to this: with regard to legislation, if any of these Bills recapitulated in this programme are good Bills, we will support them; if bad Bills, we will oppose them. For my part, I earnestly hope that the greater number of Bills brought in by the Government will be in the first category, and then we shall be able to crown the efforts of this now opening Session of Parliament with a substantial measure of legislative success.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. Balfour,) East Manchester
Before dealing with the interesting speech which the right hon. Gentleman has just delivered to the House, it is my agreeable duty to join myself with him in congratulating my two hon. Friends on the way in which they have performed their duties this afternoon. I always think that though the position of a mover and seconder of the Address is undoubtedly an honourable one, it is also an extremely difficult and delicate one, and those who have, like my honourable Friends performed that difficult and delicate duty with such marked success and such eminent approval from both sides of the House, from Members of all opinions, have every reason to con- 104 gratulate themselves upon their success. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down stated that my two hon. Friends were not the only persons who were in a position to claim the special indulgence of the House, and with great delicacy and some humour he indicated that he was in a position which required our special consideration and our tenderest regard, for he had to perform duties which he could hardly expect to carry through without the sympathetic support of his audience. Sir, we have known the right hon. Gentleman, most of us in this House, through our whole Parliamentary career, and I do not know anybody who more often deserved, by his general ability and courtesy, the consideration of the House, but who is less perplexed and haunted by those feelings of diffidence which make the performance of our public duties within these walls so onerous to some of us. The right hon. Gentleman is happily endowed by nature and education with all the qualities which will enable him to shine in this, or any other position in which the fortune of political war may place him. Sir, all the gentlemen who have preceded me this afternoon have made fitting allusion to the great loss which has been sustained by the Members of the House in regard to our Royal Family. The death of a, young man, cue oft in the flower of his age, is always a pathetic subject for contemplation, and when he who has been carried away is an only son, and when he is so closely connected with our own Royal Family, and with a member of that Royal Family who has himself done such excellent service as an officer of our Fleet, and when in addition the loss is sustained of one of the Queen's grandchildren, every element combines to make it a subject upon which we should all desire to express our sympathy and our regret. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman's speech divided itself — naturally divided itself — into two unequal halves; halves, at least, of very different lengths, one dealing briefly with the legislative programme of the Government as foreshadowed in the Queen's Speech, the other, which was somewhat lengthy, upon the very important questions relating to our foreign policy. I do not know that I need follow him in his observations upon the legislative programme that we have foreshadowed. He 105 complained that the Agricultural Holdings Bill came last among the list of measures that are mentioned in the Queen's Speech. Sir, these measures are not mentioned necessarily in the order in which they will be taken. And the right hon. Gentleman has no ground whatever for suggesting that the Bill to which he adverts is one not likely to be passed in the course of the Session.
§ * SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
It has been in the Speech often before.
(AN HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear!")
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
Yes, it has been in the Speech before, but my right hon. friend, whose experience of Queen's Speeches is longer than that of the hon. Gentleman who so loudly cheered him, is well aware that that is not a peculiarity of measures brought forward by this Government. If it were worth while to ransack the somewhat dreary records of the Queen's Speeches, very many more remarkable and monster examples of the same practice could very easily be discovered among the Queen's Speeches of our predecessors. The right hon. Gentleman taunts us with indifference to the interests of our agricultural friends. Sir, there are two Agricultural Bills mentioned in the Queen's Speech, of which the Agricultural Holdings Bill is only one. I am given to understand that the agricultural community, of whose opinions I have, perhaps; more means of knowing than the right hon. Gentleman himself, while they undoubtedly desire that Bill to pass—and while I hope to be able to see both Bills passed in the course of the present Session—would, of the two Bills, undoubtedly prefer the first Bill—that is, the Adulteration of Food Bill. They regard that as much more closely bound up with their interests than the second Bill, which is the only Bill the right hon. Gentleman named. The only other point connected with legislation that I need mention is the right hon. Gentleman's attack upon us for not having on the present occasion brought forward a scheme for dealing with Old Age Pensions. Sir, I think the right hon. Gentleman is quite within his rights in making that attack, but he will forgive me for saying that the performances of Parliament are not 106 to be judged by the programme of legislation put forward at the beginning of any single Session, nor even by the amount of legislation which each Session gives us as an accomplished fact. They are to be judged as a whole; and while it is perfectly true that if this Parliament comes to an end without our having been able to carry out the intentions to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred; if, indeed, it be true that he seems, I will not say to hope, but to anticipate, without dissatisfaction, that we shall have to go to the country without having accomplished anything in this direction; then I admit that he will have excellent materials for the speeches, which doubtless he will make with his accustomed eloquence, in the course of the next General Election. I take a more sanguine view of this question than the right hon. Gentleman does, and I do not believe that we shall do him the excellent service of supplying him, whenever the time comes, with this material for his election addresses. The right hon. Gentleman is sufficiently ingenious in finding material for himself, and he must not ask us to help him in the simple manner in which he appears to anticipate. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman has traversed, as I think is customary, almost the whole field of foreign politics in the course of his address, and he began with the Rescript of the Emperor of Russia, which, he truly said, had been received in this country with an enthusiasm which indicated how deeply rooted is the desire of this country for peace, and how greatly we— an essentially commercial nation, as we are—desire a diminution of those armaments which not only endanger peace, not only are destructive of life if ever they should be let loose, but even in a state of quiescence constitute an inordinate burden on the tax-payers of the world. Sir, I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman associates such excellent sentiments in connection with the Emperor of Russia's Rescript with an attack upon the Government for not having expressed their sympathy with that Rescript at a sufficiently early date-It so happened that at the moment when the Rescript came out I was in charge at the Foreign Office, and I did not lose an hour without sending back, couched in very warm language, the sympathy which certainly I felt, which I knew all my col- 107 leagues felt, and which, without consulting them—which at the time of the year was impossible—I felt justified in stating to Count Muraveiff, as representing the Government of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia. I do not really know what the right hon. Gentleman referred to, but I suppose it was only that he felt, on being called upon to play the rôle of critic, that there was absolutely no part of the armour of Her Majesty's Government which ought to escape one or other of the shafts which he keeps ready in his quiver for its benefit. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman having disposed of that topic proceeded to make a very eloquent, and I thought, perfectly sound, address to the House on the subject of relations with France. Sir, I can conceive no reason, no valid or legitimate reason why the two countries, bound, as the right hon. Gentleman truly observed, in bonds of ever increasing strength by their propinquity, and by the commercial relations which are the immediate result of that propinquity—I see no substantial reason why the peace now happily subsisting between them should not be permanently maintained, and a better mutual comprehension and increasing national amity be the growth of the labours of the statesmen of the countries on both sides. When the right hon. Gentleman goes on to suggest that the present Government, or, indeed, any of its predecessors, had been backward in attempting to settle with France the many questions outstanding between the two countries, he does us injustice; he does the Government of which he himself was a Member, injustice, and he does its predecessors injustice. I believe no Government has ever existed in this country which has not felt the great inconvenience of these outstanding questions, which has not recognised that, if I may say so, they are centres of infection, from which some warlike disease or germ is always liable to spread, and who would not wish to see every single question now subsisting between us finally brought to an amicable settlement. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman made this eloquent appeal upon our international relations with France a kind of preface to a discussion, not upon the recent incident of Fashoda, but upon the volume of public feeling and the unanimity of expressions of confidence in the Government which that incident called forth, 108 and he thought it a very convenient opportunity to advance a most singular charge against the Government of which I am a Member. He declared that he and his friends belonged to a Party who had always professed an energetic and Imperial policy, and who had, in office and out of office, always done their best to advance such a policy, but unfortunately they were now in Opposition, numerically few, and a Government had come into office not animated by any of these Imperial ideas, and a Government which they in vain attempted to spur on to a more brilliant and a more vigorous foreign policy; and he indicated that the real significance of the outbreak of public feeling which took place in November rests upon this, that for the first time we, the Conservative and Unionist Parties, had risen to that high and Imperial conception of foreign policy which the right hon. Gentleman and his friends had ever been trying to spur us on to, in which task, unfortunately, they had only succeeded two months ago. Well, Sir, this is a view of the recent policy of this country which I confess absolutely staggers me. I have now been in public life and a member of' this House for over a quarter of a century, and I have never known an occasion on which there was a difference of opinion between the two sides of the House upon these broad Imperial issues in which the Gentlemen now sitting behind me were not on the side of the Imperial policy, and upon which the critics of that policy were not found among the right hon. Gentleman's own friends. So much is that the case that, unless I entirely misunderstand what has been going on during the last few months in the Party which he is now so brilliantly leading, he has actually lost two of his most brilliant friends over this very question. I am utterly puzzled how the right hon. Gentleman can have the courage to come to this House and, with the right hon. Gentle man the Member for Montrose (Mr. J. Morley) sitting on the same Bench, represent himself as the courageous, in trepid, public-spirited, and Imperial statesman struggling—
* SIR H. CAMP1SELL-BANNERMAN
Perhaps the right, hon. Gentleman will allow me to say that I said nothing about "Imperialism "—either about the 109 word or about the thing. What I did say was that we were tired of having A Government which did not know its own mind, and when we had the country rallied to it in order to show other people and other countries that we could sometimes make up our own mind.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
Well, I am now more puzzled than ever. I thought that this outburst of patriotic enthusiasm, the splendid contagion of which covered almost the whole field of public life, had something to do with the merits of the policy itself. That, apparently, is not the case. It is not that the right hon. Gentleman approves of what we did in Egypt; it is not that he approves of the advance into the Soudan; it is not that he rejoices in those military operations which ended in the victory of Omdurman; it is simply an intense personal satisfaction which he and his friends feel in what he regards as the improved psychological position of the Government. It was hardly worth while, if that is all, either making the speeches which the right hon. Gentleman and his friends did in the autumn, or spending our time this afternoon on that portion of his speech, certainly not the least amusing or eloquent, which appears to have no public significance whatever. The right hon. Gentleman was very angry with me because I went down to Manchester and made a speech which was not a party speech. I suppose if I had gone down to Manchester and attacked the right hon. Gentleman and his friends; if I had indulged in commonplaces of party warfare, of which he is so admired a master, he would then have thought I was doing my duty. But I did not wish to touch upon topics of general policy, which had been dealt with by speakers more competent than myself. He says that in that speech I made what practically amounts to a confession of impotence and imbecility in Foreign Affairs, because stated that there were competent observers abroad who would stir this country up to the sticking point of war, while these same observers had now come to the conclusion that we were not only ready to go to war, but were eager to provoke it. Well, Sir, I did say that, 110 and I believe it to be perfectly true. But the right hon. Gentleman is mistaken in supposing that the competent observers of whom I spoke only began to make' their observations after this Government came into office. The competent observers of whom I spoke are diplomatic representatives of foreign countries, and those foreign Ministers whom they advise, and the feelings I said they entertain with regard to the ultra-pacific attitude of this country are the growth of last year, of the year before, or the year before that. There is probably no Government whatever that produced that feeling more than the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was himself a member. I do not wish to drag in Mr. Gladstone's name in our present day controversies, but I must emphatically say that that mistaken view of the pacific character of English public men, and the determination of this country under no circumstances to be dragged into war has received more sustenance and more development from the eminent man whose name I have just mentioned and his colleagues than it has from any other single cause. It ill becomes the right hon. Gentleman now, decorating himself in all his new war paint, to forget the traditions of that Party of which he has so long been a distinguished member. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman asked me some question, about the Soudan, and he expressed a legitimate anxiety lest the Soudan should throw on the Government of this country, or the Government of Egypt, responsibilities, pecuniary or otherwise, which it would be difficult to bear. And, especially, he expressed some fears lest the drain upon our available resources in the way of British soldiers should be too heavy and that the Soudan might ask for a larger contingent of our Army than it was convenient or even possible to give. Sir, I entirely agree with the general principles underlying the right hon. Gentleman's remarks. I entirely agree with him that we ought to get down to the very narrowest possible limits the number of our soldiers serving beyond these shores, and especially serving beyond these shores in climates not very well suited to Europeans. But nothing has come to my knowledge which seems to indicate that the number of white 111 troops who will be required in the Soudan will be very great, and I have hopes that the dangers to which the right hon. Gentleman legitimately calls our attention are not dangers of a pressing character or likely to prove severely onerous, either in men or in money, to this country or to Egypt. As regards Crete—the next topic alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman—he has expressed, as everybody has expressed, satisfaction at the present position of affairs; but very naturally, certainly very characteristically, he took the opportunity of making a violent onslaught upon Gentlemen on this side of the House and upon the Government of which they are supporters in regard to the previous policy pursued on this question. Sir, looking back upon that policy, I see nothing to regret, nothing to repent of. I do not say that in matters of very great difficulty, involving considerations of the utmost delicacy, involving the balance of power in the East and in Europe, there may not have been mistakes made. Probably there may have been, but that the broad lines of that policy were the right lines of policy I have no more doubt now than I had at the time those lines of policy were first initiated. Indeed, I have less doubt, because I have seen the results which that policy has produced. The right hon. Gentleman talks as if we could have prevented the war between Greece and Turkey, by doing previously what has been done now, and he quotes an anonymous competent observer in Crete to the effect that England only had to put down her foot and the whole Cretan question might have been settled three years ago without any foreign complications whatever. Sir, the Correspondent of The Times is, I believe, the particular authority quoted. I have no doubt he is an excellent authority as to matters within his own observation, but when the Correspondent of The Times in Crete poses as a great authority on international relations, as a man who has got special access to information in all the Chancelleries of Europe, who can estimate the chances of peace and war, who knows how to value and rate at their true worth the jealousies of the States of the Balkan Peninsula, and the dangers which any disturbance there might produce in the International 112 Powers, then, I say, the right hon. Gentleman's competent observer is dealing with matters upon which, in the nature of the case, he must be relatively incompetent to decide. The unhappy war between Greece and Turkey, which has done, I will not say permanent injury, to Greece, but has thrown back her real prosperity, I fear for many years, was due primarily no doubt to the infatuation of the people and of the Governors of that country. But I fear that those in this country who fostered that infatuation have a very heavy responsibility to bear from which they cannot easily shake themselves free. The right hon. Gentleman tells us he did not sign the famous memorial to the King of Greece. I believe him. The right hon. Gentleman is a cautious Scotchman, and he is much too wise a man to put his signature to any document, if I may say so, so foolish and go mischievous, but he now apparently regrets his native caution, and thinks that had he only shown a little more insight and moral courage at the time he would be able to rank himself among the glorious band of patriots to whom he thinks it is our duty on this side of the House to apologise for the way in which we misjudged them. I think the right hon. Gentleman was well out of that performance. I congratulate him upon his caution, and I advise him always to reserve these rash judgments of his to such a time as makes them innocuous either to himself or to other people. He will, I think, have no cause to regret a policy which I am sure his native disposition will urgently pursue. Another matter of importance upon which the right hon. Gentleman touched was China, and in his remarks I heard the echo of many speeches with which we were favoured in the last Session upon our alleged shortcomings in that country. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman knows that at that time I did not concur in those criticisms, and I certainly do not concur in them now. Of course it is inevitable if you have a country of three hundred millions of people sinking into relative anarchy before your eyes, and if that country is regarded as a rich pasturage for the commercial enterprise of many nations, that questions will arise of considerable difficulty, requiring the sane and temperate judgment and the dexterous management on the part 113 of those who are responsible for the conduct of international affairs. But, Sir, the best way to judge of the policy is not to judge it hour by hour, day by day, or even month by month, but to look back upon it and to see what it all comes to. The man who thinks the Government either vigorous or weak, either determined or inconsistent, as he reads a favourable or unfavourable telegram in the morning newspapers, is really not giving himself a chance; and the only way to judge is to consider whether the broad lines of national and international interest have been preserved, or, if he can show they have not been preserved, that that is a contingency it was possible to avoid. I say it boldly, that the broad lines of policy which we laid down have been unchanged. I say boldly that the progress in China has been consistent and steady during the last year. I believe that our relations with Foreign Powers in that country are on a better footing than they were. I believe there is much less mutual suspicion; the capitalists of Germany and of England are working together for the development of the railway system of part of that country, and for my own part I see no reason to doubt, not only that we shall successfully maintain the policy of the "open door" in the only sense in which that word has ever been properly used, and which I have over and over again denned, but that we shall obtain—indeed, I may say we have obtained—our full share of those concessions on which much stress was laid in the course of our Debates of last Session—a stress which I think, in some respects was excessive, but which is certainly intelligible. I dare say this question will be raised again, and that my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs will speak in more detail than I think is either suitable or convenient on this particular occasion. If he does, I think he will be able to give figures to the House showing the number of concessions obtained, and the amount of British capital that will be required to make those concessions worth anything. They are, I think, very satisfactory from some points of view, but they are even ominous from others. I have always looked with a little fear upon these enormous concessions and upon those great financial enterprises to which they 114 necessarily give birth. I hope and believe that no abuse will occur in connection with the vast concessions which have been obtained in China, but that they will strain the financial resources of this country to carry them into effect I have no doubt whatever. The right hon. Gentleman referred to my noble Friend the Member for York (Lord Charles Beresford), who, as everybody knows, is in China, and is making himself very busy there. Now, much as it may surprise the right hon. Gentleman, he is exactly what the right hon. Gentleman thought it was impossible he should be—namely, a commercial traveller. I admit it is the last role in which my gifted and versatile friend might ever have been expected to excel, but he has gone out to China, not as a representative of the Government, not with any mission for the Government, but on a purely commercial mission, and sent out by a purely commercial body with purely commercial objects. We all must desire that those commercial objects will be fulfilled, and that when my noble Friend comes back, as he shortly will, he will have to tell us a long tale of his successes in that particular country. I think it not improbable that when my noble Friend comes back he will do more, and that he will produce proofs to the right hon. Gentleman that will be conclusive and satisfactory that he was not an emissary of the Government by addressing you, Mr. Speaker, upon Chinese affairs in a sense not necessarily or invariably favourable to the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman professes to think he is the representative. As I am on the subject of Foreign Affairs, it may be convenient that I should state to the House a change in the matter of Foreign Office questions which I hope will meet with the general approval of all sides of the House, and which, at all events, I am sure right hon. Gentlemen opposite who have before occupied responsible positions in connection with the Foreign Office will be in full sympathy with. I purpose to tell my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs that he ought not to answer any questions without notice. The custom of asking supplementary questions on all subjects, as the House knows, has grown to great length in connection with all subjects, 115 and personally, though it is not my business to give an opinion, I see no objection to it with regard to most matters of administration. But there are limits beyond which it ought not to go, and when we come to foreign affairs an entirely different order of ideas has to he taken into account. Lord Granville, when himself Foreign Minister and in the House of Lords, laid it down that he would never answer questions without notice. Lord Granville had a position far more simple than that which the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in this House has, or ever can have. In the first place, the questions in the House of Lords are not of that numerous and searching character which they are commonly apt to be in this House, nor are they pressed with the same determination. In the second place, Lord Granville was himself the Foreign Minister. He, himself, owed account to nobody; he was himself the final judge whether a question ought to be answered or not, and, if answered, how far. Clearly, no Under Secretary, whatever his competence or ability, can be or ever will be in precisely that position. The effect of answering a question, or the effect of sometimes not answering a supplementary question, may be equally disastrous and lead to equal misconception in the minds of foreign statesmen. Let me add that this change is in no sense intended to diminish the amount of information which the Government desire to give the House. My right hon. Friend the Under Secretary will answer in the fullest manner in his power every question put on the Paper, and he has devised a further plan of facilitating the acquisition of information by hon. Members—namely, that a copy of every question, and an answer to it, shall be put in the Library in the course of the evening, so that any gentleman will see exactly what the answer was to which he required supplementary information, and the next day he will have the opportunity of putting a supplementary question down on the Notice Paper in the ordinary course. I need not say that this alteration is not intended to prevent Private Notice Questions—a procedure which is capable of abuse, but which stands in quite a different category to the supplementary questions of which I speak. The criticism might be 116 urged that where the plan I now propose is quite convenient so far as it relates to the ordinary every day work of the House, yet there are times when, there is considerable excitement in regard to Foreign Affairs, when there are to be Debates between the two sides on Foreign Affairs turning upon some question which is asked upon the day on which the Debate takes place, and that by absolutely preventing any supplementary question you will introduce a degree of rigidity into our proceedings which may now and then on these rare occasions prove somewhat inconvenient. I think that want can be supplied and that evil remedied by arranging that, if there are questions of that kind which have to be answered, and if they are put by the Leader of the Opposition or other responsible persons to myself, I will, to the best of my ability, do what I can to meet their views. I thought it convenient that I should at this early stage of our proceedings take the House into our confidence. It would not have been fair to the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, to whom these instructions have been given, to have asked him to defend himself in respect to that new rule on the very first night that supplementary questions were put to him. I trust when honourable Gentlemen have had time to think it over that they will see that most important national interests are involved, and that they will do their best to support the Government in the new policy which I have thus ventured to indicate. I have now performed to the best of my ability the duty of dealing with the various topics raised by the right hon. Gentleman; perhaps in one or two portions of his speech, though he never travelled beyond the limits of perfect good taste and admirable temper, he was a little more aggressive than is sometimes the case on the first evening of reassembling. If I have in answering any phrase been tempted to overstep the limits commonly laid down for our guidance on this almost ceremonial occasion, I hope he will forgive me. But on the broad question of the Queen's Speech, our foreign relations, and our programme of legislation, I think it must be admitted by every fair-minded critic that, while we have not glutted the Queen's Speech with proposals which there is no chance at all of 117 passing, we have given ourselves full occupation for the whole Session, and, so far as Foreign Policy is concerned, we have nothing but congratulations to offer to the country upon the present position of our international relations, and, broadly speaking, the success of that policy by which those relations have hitherto been maintained.
§ * SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
The House will have listened with satisfaction to the speech of the right honourable Gentleman, especially with reference to the "open door," and I should like to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he does not think the time has come when some approach might be made to other countries with the view of inducing them to co-operate with us in maintaining the "open door" in commercial relationships. It is not merely a matter which affects us. It is just as important to Belgium, to Holland, to Switzerland, and other countries as it is to ourselves. I cannot help feeling, therefore, that we should endeavour to obtain their goodwill and cordial co-operation for the maintenance of the "open door" And we shall do so with much greater effect if we were acting not only in our own name, but in the interest of, and in co-operation with, other countries as well. After all, when we come to look into the question, it is clear that no country can have much interest in refusing the rights which we are asking, If we take the case of France, it might be considered in France that there are some advantages to that country in closing the door of Madagascar to other nations. But whatever advantages France lost in Madagascar she would gain in China or elsewhere; and in the same way with Russia. Whatever Russia might lose in China she would gain in Madagascar and elsewhere. And if the question is put to them from that point of view, or to other countries interested in the matter, we might reasonably hope that we might be successful in securing their co-operation in this matter. In the interest of trade and commerce the "open door" is, after all, much more important than the concessions of which we have lately heard so much. We have heard a great deal of late about "Little Englanders" and "Jingoes," but the real state of the case is that every question as it arises 118 must be dealt with according to its own merits. It is impossible to lay down any general rules to guide us in regard to these matters. And it is even more important that we should organise the strength of the Empire than that we should extend its boundaries. The House will have seen with great satisfaction the important announcement in the Queen's Gracious Speech with reference to the step taken by the Government of the Cape of Good Hope. Until now almost the only forces on which we can rely for defence have been those of Great Britain and India. In their own interests it is most important' that the Colonial Forces should be available for the general defence of the Empire. Our Colonies are animated by such cordial feeling, they have shown so clearly their determination to maintain the Empire in its full integrity, that I am satisfied that any wise and reasonable scheme for the defence of the Empire which might be organised will be viewed with great cordiality by our Colonies. Moreover, if we consider the increasing number of questions between ourselves and foreign countries, we shall find the large majority of them are questions that affect the Colonies primarily, and in which the Mother Country has only an indirect interest. Take, for instance, the question of Newfoundland. The question of Newfoundland affects that Colony first of all, and we have only an indirect interest in the matter. As to questions regarding Africa, these have really relation to the Colonies of South Africa far more than to the people of this country. Although there is no doubt that Great Britain is anxious to do all she can for the Colonies, still the Colonies are continually growing in relative importance, and the time will come when, with all the goodwill in the world, it will be impossible for the Mother Country to maintain alone the burden of empire. This is a favourable time to consider the question, because nobody can foresee at the present moment from what quarter danger may arise. If in the future some question concerning Canada should lead to trouble, the Australasian Colonies might feel that they were not interested. On the other hand, there may be some question relating, say, to New Guinea or some island in the Pacific, which would affect the Aus- 119 tralian Colonies, but as to which Canada might feel their interests were not involved. Therefore, the present moment seems to be a peculiarly favourable time for endeavouring to arrive at some scheme for bringing the whole Empire together, and I know of no question which more deserves the attention of British statesmen. Passing on, I would say for myself that, as regards London Government, I most cordially concur with the Member for the Strand Division. As I have had the honour of being both Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the London County Council, I should be very sorry indeed to see anything done to impair the power or to weaken the prestige of the London County Council. But at the same time there are certain matters connected with London county government in which reorganisation might be most desirable. There are some duties which might be transferred from the local authorities to the London County Council with advantage, on the one hand, and, on the other, there are other matters which might be transferred from the London County Council to the local authorities with equal advantage. The duties of the Council are very heavy and are continually increasing, and it would be an advantage to the London County Council itself if we could relieve its members from some petty details and leave them more time to think out the great problems of London Government. I must say I was very much surprised, when my Friend the President of the Local Government Board gave notice of a Bill to enable the London Water Companies to exchange supplies of water, to hear some laughter from the other side of the House. I looked across, but I could not see that the laugh emanated from any of the Members who represent London. I believe that I am expressing the general opinion of the London Members when I say that that Bill is one which will be of great advantage to the people of London, and will prevent a water famine such as that from which they have been suffering in the East End. We are glad to see that so much improvement has taken place in India. On the other hand, the condition of the West Indian Colonies is far from satisfactory, and I cannot help feeling that we owe a debt to those Colonies not yet adequately met. I 120 understand my Friend the Member for Liverpool is going to call the attention of the House to this matter, and to press for a reconsideration of the extra duty levied on rum. It is a very small thing for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it is a simple act of justice to the West Indian Colonies. I sincerely hope that Her Majesty's Government will give the suggestion of my Friend favourable consideration. I regret one omission from the Queen's Speech, because the present Government came into office on the strength of promises in regard to social questions. No doubt during the time the Government have been in office the Government have done as much as could reasonably be expected of them. But there is one question which seems to me to call for their serious attention. Certainly the worst paid and most hardly worked section of the community at the present time are the small shopkeepers and shop assistants. That has been recognised in this House. It has been recognised by a Resolution of this House that the hours of small shopkeepers and shop assistants are excessively long, and Her Majesty's Government has been called upon to take steps to empower the local authorities to shorten those hours of labour. In pursuance of that Resolution the Early Closing Bill has been introduced on several occasions in this House. It has been read a second time twice without any opposition. It has been referred to and approved by a Select Committee, and also by the Grand Committee. It has been supported by the strong testimony of medical men, who have pointed out that these long hours are most injurious, especially in the case of young women, and render it impossible that they should ever become mothers of healthy children. The Bill is supported by the tradesmen's associations in our great cities throughout the United Kingdom. I cannot imagine a single question which either calls more grievously for redress or one which is more ripe for solution. I am satisfied, if Her Majesty's Government would give us the time to pass this Measure, or if they will take it in hand themselves, there is nothing they could do which would make them more popular in our great cities, or would conduce more to the health, comfort, and happiness of our town population.
§ * Mr. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
We are told this will be a tame and uninteresting Session, and from the contents of Her Majesty's Speech I think that Her Majesty's Government have done their utmost to ensure that the Session shall be tame and uninteresting. Her Majesty's Speech reflects a disposition which is perhaps natural on the part of Her Majesty's Government. The whole of the first page of the Speech consists entirely of references to Foreign Affairs. Now, I imagine that the most heartfelt wish of Her Majesty's Government is to draw the attention of Parliament, if possible, to foreign affairs, and so distract attention from the very serious defects and failures of their policy at home. It appears to me that Her Majesty's Government has been trying to construct a flimsy screen for their misdoings out of the unfortunate disposition which is seen, both in the highest and the lowest classes of this country, to take extreme pleasure and delight in the phantasmagoria of military glory and blood, of which we have had far too much discussion during the last few months. Her Majesty's most gracious Speech presents a most meagre and insufficient bill of fare. I dwell the more emphatically upon the point because it does appear to me that we have reached the critical year in the history of the Ministry and the history of this Parliament. We have had three years of this Ministry, and there may be some excuse for Her Majesty's Government not having done more in the past than they have done; though I may have to refer to what has been done during those three years before I sit down, I must, however, insist upon this, that we have reached a period in the existence of this Parliament when, if Her Majesty's Government are really going to do anything to attempt to carry out those broad lines of social reform upon which they secured the majority in this House which placed them in power, it is high time that they carried out their policy. To touch on one or two proposals, we are promised a Bill for the better Government of London. I can only hope that Her Majesty's Government have taken to heart the repeated victories of the Progressive Party in the London County Council. These victories 122 are all the more remarkable because it is perfectly clear, from their having taken place in that centre of Conservatism, there is a desire on the part of those who have thus shown their faith and belief in the London County Council to support a great Central Authority to deal with metropolitan affairs. I think that Her Majesty's Government will be exceedingly ill-advised if they proceed on the lines of such a Bill as was sketched out a year or two ago by the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary. Then, also, we are promised a Measure to deal with Secondary Education, and if it is practically the same as a Bill introduced in another place last year, we know perfectly well that it is a skeleton without any flesh and blood upon it. This being so, I am not sure that it would not be a wise course if Her Majesty's Government were to accept the suggestions of Educational experts and to draw inspiration from experience gained in various parts of this country. If they deal with this matter in an open-minded way and accept those suggestions before the Bill passes, we might have a Bill which will give effective organisation. I take this opportunity of insisting that the suggestions made recently at great Educational Conferences by Lord Spencer, deserve the full consideration of the Government. Lord Spencer's suggestion is that we should adopt in this country what has practically been the system in America. He would have an Educational authority extending over a sufficient area, and an authority governing Secondary Education composed of representatives of those Education Boards, and also representatives of the County Councils. But if we are to have developed and extended the fantastic ideas springing up in the Science and Art Department under Clause 7 of their calendar of this year, and to have mixed and nominated authorities as are suggested, then I venture to say that the condition of Secondary Education in the future may be even worse than the present state of things. Now, before dealing with controversial topics I should like to ask why one Bill announced in the Press has not been put in the Speech. It may be it was because it is a Departmental Measure. I hope that there are other Departmental Bills which are kept in 123 the background, but which the Government contemplate carrying through this Session. The Bill I refer to would give the Board of Trade an extension of powers to compel the railway companies to adopt some form of safety-couplings, and thus prevent the fearful loss of life which now occurs in shunting and other operations on our railway system. Now, in the last Session several useful contributions were made by the Home Office to a social and moral legislation, and I trust that, although nothing of the kind is mentioned in Her Majesty's Speech to-day, we may have some proposals from the Government, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for the Home Department whether he will be able to give us any assurance on the point, that we may have Bills before us dealing with such subjects as those scandalous advertisements appearing in the newspapers, the social injury and moral evils of which have been lately shown in a terrible case. But what I desire to dwell upon in the few remarks that I venture to lay before the House is the general character and tendency of this Speech. I say that this Speech conies at a critical period in the history of this Parliament, It is the fourth Session of the Parliament, and we are drawing near the end of it, and whilst this Speech is composed of what I call the dead issues of foreign policy, we have none of those social Measures upon the pledges of which the present Government came into power. It seems that the policy of this Speech is a policy of Foreign Affairs. It is, Sir, a policy of shirking the great questions on which the minds of the people were made up. To take one urgent question, How is it that the Government have taken no step forward? How is it that they have not even announced any inquiry into the one question most keenly felt in the country—the present position of the Church of England? That is a question more keenly felt by a large number of the people than any question we have known in recent years. There is an anxiety on the part of millions of earnest Churchmen to have a real protection against the serious and growing evils which the present machinery of Church Government, and the course of the Hierarchy which governs the Church, have fomented, by their failure to use the legal powers 124 which they might have put in force, and by their ingenious endeavours, excuse themselves from affording the legal protection they ought. The advisers of the Crown—yes, and a Crown which is bound by solemn oath to maintain the Protestant character of the Church in this country—are shirking their plain and serious duty in not offering this House any advice upon this grave crisis. The present time, I should imagine, was opportune, either for a Bill to deal with this question, or for inquiring into the abuses of the Church, and the failure of the existing machinery to protect the Church, and prevent those abuses, which have crept into it, from continuing. That is a question which I think Her Majesty's Government have shown a desire to shirk, and to hand over to the country obligations which belong to themselves. Then there is the Agricultural Question. I must say I have very little faith in the pledges on this question. My right honourable Friend the Leader of the Opposition—I wish he were in his place, that I might have the pleasure of congratulating him on his brilliant observations, and the remarkable sagacity which he showed in dealing with this matter—referred to this topic,. but I may perhaps claim to be a closer observer of this question than even my right honourable Friend the Leader of the Opposition, and I may say I was agreeably surprised when I saw the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture rise in his place and give actual notice of a Measure dealing with the Adulteration, of our Food Products. But, Sir, I was a short time ago a member of the Agricultural Commission, and I recollect very well an incident that occurred just before the Session of 1896, when an interim report was sprung upon Parliament and upon the country. The result of that interim report was the Agricultural Rates Bill, one of the most iniquitous Measures ever passed by any Government. Now,. within the last few days we have had another interim report sprung suddenly on Parliament by the Local Taxation Commission. I may say that of these interim reports I have a strong suspicion particular report may be the basis of some scheme on the part of the Government to impose an additional burden upon the taxpayers of this country. I protest, on behalf of the 125 taxpayers and the farmers, upon whose shoulders the burden will fall, against any such proposal being brought forward in this House. It seems to me to be just conceivable that, as in 1896, some such proposal may be the only Agricultural Measure of the present Session. I saw with great regret that in his speech the other day at Newcastle the President of the Board of Agriculture said he would have to take his chance with the rest of the Government, and that he gave no positive guarantee that the Government would press the Adulteration Bill through. I must say in the past few years I have had some compassion for my right honourable Friend when I saw that he was compelled to confine his energies and powers to the muzzling of dogs. My experience of four years in the Agricultural Commission brings to me a conviction that if my right honourable Friend will try to muzzle landlords instead of dogs it would be better, because the evidence before the Agricultural Commission went to prove that the greater portion of the acute distress brought about in agricultural districts has been because many landlords in these districts, I hope innocently and without the consciousness of the wrongs the were inflicting, were enabled under the laws of this country to squeeze the farmers' capital out of their pockets, year by year, to meet rents which could not be made out of the soil, and thus divert to their own pockets the capital which in the farmer's business is necessary for success. The distress has been largely caused by the failure of the law to protect the agricultural tenant in the improvements for carrying on his work made by him in his holding. Now, it does seem to me that the failure of the Government to deal with the question of the Agricultural Holdings Act is the most serious betrayal of agricultural interests of which the Government could have been capable. I have here the Address of the Leader of the House in 1895. This is one of the four pledges placed in front of the Address—the better housing of the working classes, the encouragement of freehold occupancy, the amelioration of the lot of the aged poor, and the fourth, the protection of agricultural tenants in their improvements—every one of which has remained unfulfilled up to the present time. The only pledge to agriculturists 126 fulfilled is that to relieve the Agricultural Rates, and that has been done so as simply to put the money of the taxpayers into the pockets of the landlords. My right honourable Friend the President of the Board of Agriculture, in his recent speech in Newcastle, only said he hoped it might be possible that he might be called upon to deal with the Agricultural Holdings Act in the present Parliament. One of the most important duties of the Government, and a pledge that the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury placed in the forefront of his programme, has been neglected right up to the present time, and now the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture only says he hopes he may be called upon to deal with it at some indefinite time. Now, there is another topic in the Queen's Speech which acutely concerns the agricultural and the whole community, and it is the contamination of milk and meat by tuberculosis. It seems to me a positive disgrace, when we have all the scientific conclusion and evidence and the administrative details of this question thrashed out as they have been, that this question should be left to town councils to deal with locally upon their own responsibility, and that a Bill should not be brought in in order to deal with it as a whole. That seems to me to be a very great scandal. Only the other day, a resolution was passed by the Central Chamber of Agriculture, and a similar resolution was passed by the Dairy Farmers' Association some months ago, that this matter ought not to be dealt with piecemeal by local authorities. You will have isolated action taken by one authority for one place, and another for another, while other adjoining districts are left to follow their own sweet will. The result will be a chaos of jurisdictions and machinery injurious alike to the public and to the dairy farmers. This matter ought to be dealt with comprehensively by Her Majesty's Government, by one Measure dealing with the whole of the details of it, and it seems to me to be a perfect scandal that such an important matter should be so neglected. Now I turn from that to the agricultural labourer. What has the Government done for him? Not a single thing, except to shut the door in his face when one of their own sup- 127 porter's tried to extend the Workman's Compensation Act to agricultural labourers. Now, it will be said we shall have proposals to enable the working men to buy their own dwellings. I do not know whether it is to cover only the towns or the whole of the country, or how it is to be carried out, but I venture to think that if we have such ineffective and un workmanlike proposals as have been put forward before, they will be laughed to scorn by all practical men in the country. I trust we shall have a proper municipal power in the country as well as in the towns to deal with the housing of the people. With regard to the workmen's compensation, I wonder if the Government are proud of the operation of their Act. One of the County Court judges complained the other day that the Act provoked and led the way to an immense amount of litigation, and that its machinery was so complicated and obscure as to be practically unworkable. What had been the substantial results of the Act? This Act is simply a National Contracting-out Act, and had resulted in smaller compensation being given, both in cases of death and temporary injury, than the records of the Courts showed in recent cases could be obtained under the old Act and the ordinary Civil law, where they could be used. Then, further, the workers have been compelled to contract even out of the Act for nominal advantages, and the Government will find out that the great organisations of the workers of this country will resent the means that have been used to force this contracting-out upon them. One result of this Act must be apparent to all, that this Workmen's Compensation Act has placed both employers and employed at the mercy of the Insurance Companies, which has led to men of fifty, of forty, aye, of thirty years of age being refused work. That is a serious and ghastly result of the proposals of the Government, and it is a result which ought to shame the Government into dealing properly and immediately with the question of Old Age Pensions. It seems to me that the excuses which have been offered by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury at Manchester, and in his speech to-night, with regard to the Old Age Pensions are of the most meagre kind. His apology at Manchester was that the issue of 128 his election card was due to an oversight for which he was not responsible: a card which positively promised the people of this country—a card by which the votes of the people were obtained—that this question should be dealt with. I ask whether any responsible public man, much less the Leader of the House, is to be let off without comment or criticism on a matter of that kind. The card containing this specific pledge was issued with his address to his constituents, no doubt without his knowledge; but if these promises were not meant by the right honourable Gentleman, he ought, immediately it came to his knowledge, to have issued a second card throwing to the winds the promises he did not intend to carry out, and stating precisely what he intended to carry out. Now, to-night he has attempted to run away from the question by saying, "Let us wait a little longer and sea whether we cannot deal with these questions" I do not think that is honourable or straight-for ward. We have to deal with an urgent question adopted by the work people of this country, and it ought to be dealt with at once. I read with astonishment the comments made by The Times when the Committee had reported these schemes to be impossible, that Mr. Chamberlain was not to be led away by the complaints of the "absurd petitioners"—the honourable Member for Bow and Bromley, who had rendered such brilliant and useful service in pushing this question—and his friends, who "called upon the Government to promise that what was reported to be impracticable should nevertheless be at once attempted." Yet these pledges went back much further. Very shortly after the election of 1892, when the present header of the House was ad dressing a public meeting, he gave the most definite and absolute pledge that this question of Old Age Pensions should be dealt with, and we remember the phrase used on that occasion, which was this, that a reform of the Poor Law was imminent, whether by classification of the aged poor, or by Old Age Pensions. I do not stop now to specify how: I only say that that will be our programme. I can quote passage after passage of the speeches of the right, hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Gentleman 129 the Colonial Secretary, and many hon. Members who won their seats on this question, but I will not weary the House. I will only refer to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in which he gives various reasons why no proposal is possible, and asks where the money is to come from, and says that we have no money to deal with this question. Those words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer give the real reason why this question will not be dealt with. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he was bound to tell them that, having regard to the present expenditure, and its probable increase in such matters as the defence of the Empire, the existing sources of taxation could not bear the cost of any such scheme. That there was no money in the Exchequer to carry out any scheme of pensions whatever. But what a confession to make after three years of unlimited power. The Government had been spending £12,000,000 more a year than their predecessors, and unless there was some further expansion of the tax-producing power of the country, they would have to face a deficit within the next few years. And this in spite of the magnificent surplus handed over by the right hon. Member for West Monmouth of nearly £5,000,000, and the permanent increase of £5,000,000 added to the revenue by the Finance Act of 1894. The whole of the vast sum given by the Liberal Budget of 1894, and the enormous annual increments of the taxation of this country, the whole of these splendid reserves has been swept away in armaments and doles to favoured classes—the landlords of England, Scotland, and lastly of Ireland—and to the Clergy. These vast sums have gone in rewarding the classes who had supported them, but out of our enormous resources, out of the splendid surpluses at their disposal, not a brass farthing has gone to the working classes. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would no doubt say that he gave £1,100,000 on the Tobacco Duty last year; well, I have asked many workmen at many meetings that I have attended where and when they had obtained one ounce of tobacco at a reduction in consequence, and every one has told me it was no cheaper, and that is the only possible act which the Government can say they 130 have done for the working classes of this country. In my opinion, this Government will go down in history as the most wildly extravagant Government we have ever had. The Government have shirked many questions in this Speech from the Throne. They have shirked such questions as those dealing with the Church and those affecting the agriculturists of the country. There is one further question which has been brought before us, and referred to very eloquently, and that is the terrible position of the poor in our large towns, who are huddled together in single room tenements by the thousand, aye, and hundreds of thousands. That is a gross and intolelrabe scandal. It is a gross scandal in London, in Liverpool, in Manchester, in Glasgow, and in fact in all our great towns. How can that state of things be remedied? We know perfectly well that it may be remedied by placing gigantic subsidies at the disposal of the local authorities. But the Government have had ample money out of which to provide for this state of things. Have they done anything of the kind? No. But independent of the granting of gigantic subsidies to local authorities a solution of the difficulty might be found by enabling the local authorities to place a proper and fair proportion of the rates upon the shoulders of the ground landlords. That is one of the greatest and most urgent questions of the time. We have been petitioning Parliament for this bare act of justice for some time, and that is only one of the many crying social evils which exist in our large towns. The great communities of this country ask for resources to enable them to carry out the policy of social reform—to carry out matters which would mean much to the lives and happiness of the people. Money resources are what we want, and money resources are what the Government have had in countless millions at their disposal, but not one single brass farthing has gone to the help of the working man. The whole of this money has gone to foster the spirit of military aggrandisement, the spirit of mock heroism, and the spirit of battling with other nations, and of endeavouring to compete with them in carrying out a policy of gigantic armaments. Nothing has been seen like our expenditure on armaments within the 131 last few years. The yield in taxation has absolutely been less than the growth of the population, and the increase in the expenditure has been enormously greater—has been three times as fast as the growth of the population. The expense on armaments has been no less than six times that of the growth of the population. I think it will be well to weigh these facts, and to weigh them seriously. That is one of the dangers of a reckless policy, and I condemn this speech from the throne, because it offers no solution to the more urgent and crying questions of the day. It makes no announcement of any possibility of any change in this policy of reckless extravagance in all directions, and offers no inducement to carry out that spirit of social reform which this Government pledged themselves to carry out when they wanted the votes of the people, and which, since they obtained the votes of the people, they have made no efforts to proceed with.
§ * COL. SIR C. E. HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
Really, Sir, to hear the speech of the honourable Gentleman who has just sat down one would think that he had not read Her Majesty's Gracious Speech, especially that portion referring to the measure to enable the local authorities to assist working men in purchasing freeholds of their own dwellings. The honourable Member has referred to the housing of the working classes and to the question of overcrowding also. We, on this side of the House, have, in past Sessions, endeavoured to legislate in this direction, and I certainly think that some credit might be attributed to us in this respect. For my own part, having introduced this measure in past Sessions for the purpose of enabling the local authorities to assist working men to obtain the freeholds of their own dwellings, I heartily thank Her Majesty's Government for having made this important Measure of social reform a cardinal point in the proposed legislation of the Session, and I do earnestly hope that the right horn Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who, in referring to it, I understood to say that he would be prepared to oppose the Measure in the future as he had done in the past.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
Yes, it is. It is quite analogous, and if the right hon. Gentleman and his friends are really in earnest in their desire to assist the Government in their endeavours to help in legislation of this description they will support this measure and not oppose it. One word about Foreign Affairs. Her Majesty is in the happy position of being able to say that her relations with foreign nations continue to be of a friendly character. I believe that state of affairs to be mainly and entirely due to the extraordinary sagacity, and to the extraordinary foresight of the present Prime Minister, and if anything has tended to irritate Foreign Powers against this country, particularly one Power, I have much reason to believe that that irritation was owing to the spurious jingoism of right hon. Gentlemen and honorable Gentlemen opposite. So far from assisting the Prime Minister to preserve peace, I believe that their attitude, although, perhaps, directed by patriotic motives, contributed not a little to render the situation in recent weeks exceedingly dangerous and precarious. With regard to our relations with one Foreign Power—our nearest neighbour—I do not believe that there is any serious hostility in the minds of the mass of the French people towards England. Their trade with us is far too great a factor in their daily life for them to contemplate with equanimity an outbreak of hostilities with the British Empire. That trade represents 1,600 million francs a year, and that is too serious a question for the French people to think of jeopardising lightly, and without due consideration and just cause. I do earnestly hope that Her Majesty's Government may be successful in obtaining a peaceful solution upon all question at issue between us and the French Republic — Madagascar, Newfoundland, and elsewhere; because the effect of an outbreak of hostilities to this country would be less serious than to France, who in the past year lost 95 millions of francs of her trade with England, and mainly in the last six months, no doubt owing to the friction which has existed in that period. If this is a factor which is making for peace I believe to be also found in that Exhibition which is to cele- 133 brate the end of the century. Forty-eight hours ago I went over the works of the Paris Exhibition, and no words can possibly express the magnitude of those buildings, and the magnificence of their character; and I do earnestly hope that the manufacturers of this country will not be backward in exhibiting next year the very best productions which this country can bring forward, because with some knowledge of the facts I say that there is far too great a danger of that Exhibition being more favourable to our German rivals than to ourselves, and even perhaps to the French themselves. I regret that no mention has been made in the Speech from the Throne concerning the present state of British trade. We all know that during last year we were in the main successful and prosperous; that employment was considerably better than it was some time ago, and more particularly during those years when the right hon. Gentlemen opposite were in office; but at the same time the figures concerning our trade last year demand,I believe, very serious consideration indeed. Certainly they show a considerable increase; that is an increase of some 19 millions in 1898 compared to 1897, but the great majority, in fact nearly all this increase, was due to an increase in the import trade—to an increase in our importation of foreign goods; in fact the whole of it with the exception of half a million. The exports showed a serious decline,and that is a matter for serious consideration. Forty years ago England was said to be "the workshop of the world," and now with an increasing population, and with an increasing difficulty of obtaining employment we find that the imports of manufactured goods last year in this country, all of which we can make ourselves, amounted to no less than £87,000,000, or far more than ever before, and ten times as much as it was 40 years ago. There is in that ample food for reflection. I know that there are many hon. Gentlemen anxious to speak, and therefore I am not going to detain the House very long, but I cannot sit down without expressing my great surprise that the speech from the Throne contains no allusion to an important matter—I refer to the immigration of pauper aliens in this country. Hon. Gentlemen opposite (I do not notice the hon. Member for Poplar in his place) know as well as I can tell 134 them that amongst the working classes, more especially in the East-end of London, there is a strong and serious feeling upon this question. (No, no.) The hon. Gentleman says "no," and I will therefore give him this challenge; I will meet him upon any platform whenever he is so good as to send me an invitation, and I will discuss this question publicly with him, and we will then see whether he is in the right, or I. In November last I presented a petition from the East-end of London—from Bethnal Green, signed b- upwards of 35,000 persons, urging that no further delay should take place in dealing with this matter, and I would beg leave to repeat the words of the honourable Member for West Norfolk, (Mr. Joseph Arch), who I assume, understands the feeling of the working classes in some degree, and he says that "while our best workmen are being driven out of the country we are allowing the riff-raff and refuse of other lands to come to England. I am strongly opposed to the immigration of the pauper alien, as a man who has the best interests of his country at heart is bound to be. Several thousands of our best men emigrate every year. That is bad enough in itself, but instead of its tending to relieve our congested state we get in return three times as many pauper aliens—foreign Jews, Poles, and Russians to come in and swamp our countrymen." I do not hesitate to say that the matter is not the less serious by reason of the figures which were given the House, in the course of last Session, by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, who said that 3,035 aliens came into the hands of the Metropolitan police during 1897. I am very sorry not to see the President of the Board of Trade in his place; I have no doubt that his recent illness, which we greatly regretted to hear about, prevented the inclusion of a Measure dealing with this important subject when the Speech from the Throne was being prepared. At any rate we know perfectly well what his opinion was in reference to this matter. He put it in his address to the electors of Croydon in 1895, and in 1897 he said in this House that, "not only as individual members, but the Government as a whole were pledged to legislate on the subject, and that they did not desire to depart one iota from the pledges which they had 135 given." I do sincerely and earnestly hope, that Her Majesty's Government— the head of which introduced a Bill into the House of Lords in 1894, which Bill was again last year almost unanimously and very rapidly passed in another place—will redeem their promises upon this matter at the very earliest opportunity. As I have said before, I observe with pleasure that the Government are directing their attention to questions of social reform, such as those contained in the Bill which they propose to introduce as regards the housing of the working classes, and facilitating the working classes getting possession of their own dwellings. That is a Bill which I trust to see placed upon the Statute Book early in the Session. It is a Bill which will redound to the credit of Her Majesty's Government, and to those honourable Gentlemen who sit upon this side of the House. There can be no doubt that it will redound to the discredit of right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen opposite if they oppose it either in this House or in the Country.
SIR WILLIAM WEDDERBUKN (Banffshire)
The reference which is made in Her Majesty's gracious speech to India appears to me to be very meagre when we come to consider the terrible crises India has passed through. There is indeed reference to the Plague, but it is merely with regard to the efforts which have been made to check it. I very cheerfully recognise the efforts which the Government are making to check the Plague, but I should have wished that they would enquire more into the causes which brought the Plague about. I believe, personally, that it is the extreme poverty, and the ill-nourished condition of the people, which has caused it to ravage the land as it has done, and I should wish the Government to spend money on sanitation and on the dwellings of the people, and make them more comfortable, and therefore more healthy in that respect. There is no reference made to the Famine, but the same point arises with regard to that. A Famine Commission has been appointed to enquire into the machinery for dealing with the Plague. I think it will be within the memory of the House that the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for India, gave us hopes of a somewhat extended enquiry into the causes which led to the Famine, 136 and I trust that this enquiry will be made very thorough, and that we shall understand what the causes were which made the people unable to resist even the failure of one year's crop. The Speech mentioned that trade and harvest have both improved, and that the Revenues of the country have recovered. We shall be glad to learn that the improvement of the Revenue will be accompanied by some reduction on taxation, especially the taxation bearing upon the mass of the people who are so very poor. The Salt Tax, which, as we know, is extremely heavy, I hope may perhaps be reduced to what it was in 1884,and that a stop may be put to the increase in the Land Revenue which presses very hardly upon the peasantry of India. I hope also that consideration will be given to the question of the large burdens which have been incurred by the Government of India in wars beyond the frontiers. These sums, if returned to the uses of the various local Governments will be utilized upon those domestic reforms for which money is so urgently needed. I feel somewhat disappointed that there was no indication of the policy which is to be followed by the Government with reference to enabling the people to recover from war, pestilence, and famine. I must say that the speeches which were delivered in this country by the noble Lord who has now gone to take up the important position of Viceroy, were very encouraging indeed. They expressed great sympathy with the people. They expressed the fact that he fully realised the importance and responsibility of his position, and they also expressed his extreme desire to learn the real condition of the people. There is no doubt as to his sincerity, it is real, and his sympathy is the sort of sympathy that is wanted. What we want is for the Government to hear every side—to hear what the people have got to say; and our great theory is to obtain the co-operation of the people themselves, and to bring it as far as possible to the assistance of the Government. I think it will be found in dealing with the famine and the plague, that the greatest success has been met with when the people have been taken into the confidence of the Government, and when their assistance has been asked for it has been most willingly given. The trouble and disputes arose only when the prejudices were discouraged, and their assist- 137 ance not accepted or asked for. The disturbances and troubles that took place in Bombay would never have occurred if the people had been properly taken into the confidence of the Government. I am sorry to say that it was on account of those disturbances that a change of policy was adopted, which ought to have been adopted long ago, and after many urgent entreaties of the people. Now I am glad to see that the measures which have been adopted are more consonant with the feelings of the people. There is no doubt that within the last year measures have been taken which, so far from drawing the people more and more closely to the Government, have done a great deal to alienate them, and I do trust that the new Viceroy, when he gets more into contact with the people, will be able to redress some of those greater grievances arising mainly from the drastic measures I have referred to, which have caused so much deep dissatisfaction throughout the country. We want to get rid of disaffection, and the way to do that is to create affection with and to the Government. In my opinion the new Measures which are proposed are calculated to do anything but create affection towards the Government. There is the case of the Editors, who were imprisoned for some time, and although they have now been released from actual custody, they are still under parole, and I think that the time has come when these men should be released from parole altogether. The grounds given for their incarceration without trial were very unsatisfactory and very contradictory. Different accounts were given of those reasons, but whatever they may have been, there is now no excuse for detaining these men. Then there is the question of the Sedition Law, under which an editor can be treated as a rogue and vagabond, and told to give security for his good behaviour, and if he does not do so he is liable to be imprisoned. Then there is the question of the cases which are tried by district magistrates. A district magistrate is a man who is at the head of the police, and he is, therefore, not so likely to give such fair judgment in cases of this description as an unbiased man would give. None of those measures which I have enumerated are likely to create very affectionate feelings among the people towards the Government. Then 138 there is the very serious question of the educational policy. The policy has been retrograde to a degree. Within the last few years regulations have been made excluding native Indians from receiving the higher educational positions which they were previously able to reach. This is a matter of the most extreme importance. There is no political question involved in a question of education. If a man is really fit to occupy a certain post, why should he be excluded from it because he is of a different race? The natives consider this to be in direct conflict, with the Proclamation of Her Most Gracious Majesty to the effect that there was to be no difference made because of creed or caste. It comes to this, that an Indian who has taken high degrees in Oxford or Cambridge over here is not allowed to take honours in Bengal, and his fellow students who do not take so high a degree are allowed to pass over his head, and he has to be subordinate to them. This is felt to be a very great grievance, and it is one in which no political question of any sort or kind can possibly arise. Then there is a matter which I think will be brought in detail before the House, and I will, therefore, only just refer to it—viz., the retrograde Measure which it is proposed to pass with regard to the municipality of Calcutta. That is a matter in which there is very great feeling indeed. The municipality of Calcutta has been very successful, and it has kept trade up in Calcutta, and yet now that a practically representative municipal Government has been successfully carried on for 22 years, it is to be virtually put on one side. All these are matters in which the liberties and the concessions of former years are to be withdrawn from the people. We are not asking for anything additional to be given to India; but we do protest against any of the privileges which have hitherto been granted to India in past times, and after due consideration as to their advisability, being withdrawn. We admit that changes must be made slowly, but when once they are made we think they should not be withdrawn, and upon this point I should like to quote the words of a gentleman well known to this House, and who is now, I think, the principal editor of a Conservative paper—I mean Sir Douglas Straight. Writing to The Times, he 139 says that he has been 13 years observing India, and that he is firmly convinced of one thing, and that is that while changes should be only very cautiously introduced, a concession once made should never be withdrawn, except for reasons of the most paramount and pressing emergency. If those reasons existed we should wish them to be established by a public inquiry. We have gone through some sad experiences during the last year or two, and we now trust that we may get into a better line, and let us hope that we have entered into a new era of domestic reform, of educational progress, and of industrial development.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
The Speech dwells largely upon Foreign Affairs and I only want to draw attention to one small point now, because possibly we shall have an opportunity of referring to it afterwards, and that is the way in which the trade of this country has been treated in Madagascar. That is an important thing, because our trade there is gradually being extinguished, and although I do not agree with the honourable Gentleman opposite, still there is no doubt whatever that we can ill afford a policy in this country which tends to put our working people and manufacturers upon a different footing to that upon which other people are placed. I have no doubt that this very extraordinary book, "France No. 1, 1899," will receive some attention by those who have seats on the front benches of this House. It is not a matter of Foreign Affairs—it is a matter of the trade of the country; and the very few honourable Members who have read this book must be surprised to see the way in which the rights of this country have been allowed to be absolutely taken away by France in that important island of Madagascar. The island of Madagascar was a free State under its own government some little time ago, and then our trade was considerable. At a fatal moment France appeared-upon the scene, and in 1890 a French Protectorate was established. Now, if anything is clear in these papers, it is certain that when that Protectorate was established we assumed that it would make no difference at all in the commercial position of this country with regard to the island of Madagascar. We were assured that cer- 140 tain events were going to happen in that country, and the policy of Her Majesty's Government seemed to be settled by the assurances of France and Russia upon that point. Those assurances are most distinct; they are given at page 20 of Lord Salisbury's dispatch, and the words are:It is understood that the establishment of this protectorate will not affect any rights or immunities enjoyed by British subjects in that island.The rights which were among the most important, and which were principally contemplated by these words, were the fiscal rights secured to British trade by the Treaty of 1865 with the Queen of Madagascar, under which the most favoured nation treatment was secured to British commerce, and it was stipulated that the duty upon imports should never exceed and valorem duty of 10 per cent. Of course, after a protectorate was created between France and Madagascar, as was only to be expected, and as everybody would have understood, knowing the history of France and the history of Madagascar, it turned out that the protectorate was soon got rid of, and practically France became the owner of the island. What has happened since then? It is quite clear that the trade of this country has been absolutely destroyed in that island, and it seems to me that this correspondence, which has now been going on over a period of something like twelve months or more, does not suggest a satisfactory condition of affairs to those who are interested in this particular island. First of all, by a most distinct arrangement, English firms are boycotted in favour of French trade. At page I there is a most remarkable communication from one of the Consuls there, showing that absolutely—in February, 1891—the natives were threatened with being sent to gaol in irons unless they entirely traded with French merchants. This, of course, was denied; but if the correspondence is gone through carefully, it will be seen that if those absolute words were not authenticated, still the spirit of the action of the French Governor was practically to render it almost impossible that the native trader should trade with any but a French person. The next point is that English cotton goods have been absolutely driven out of the island by the action of the French. It is clear that in every possible 141 way our manufactures have been excluded, and in spite of the Treaty which gives us a right to take an absolute maximum ad valorem 10 per cent., the duties are increased to a much larger extent. In some cases the duties on the various articles have been so increased that the Board of Trade say it has been quite destroyed. Then there is the question of the tenure of the land. Special facilities have been given to the French with regard to the tenure of the land, and in regard to commercial enterprise generally, anything that could tend to injure and reduce the prosperity of the English trade has been carried out to the full. Then we come to the establishment of the system by which the coasting trade was to be confined to vessels trading under the French nag, and a jumped-up story was told to the effect that it was necessary because arms had been imported from Bombay. That matter was inquired into, and it was found that it was unfounded, and the French have withdrawn this condition, but they have only withdrawn it simply because they saw that they had not got sufficient ships to carry the goods, and as soon as they can get them there is no doubt whatever that our trade will again be interfered with, and the benefit of our trade in that district will be entirely destroyed. I only wish to draw attention to this because it seems to me that a great deal has been said cencerning the friendly relations between this country and France. Of course we have no right to object to anything that the French think proper to do in their own country, but this is a totally different thing. Madagascar was once a free and independent country, and the French only obtained possession of it simply on the assurance that our rights and privileges should not be interfered with, and inasmuch as they have been, I don't think that that state of things is likely to conduce to the peace and prosperity of the two countries. I do not think we should allow them without protest to do away with our trade. I am sure that the incident of Fashoda does suggest that clear, straightforward speaking at the right time is effective. I heartily agree with the Leader of the Opposition when 142 he says that a weak policy was one which led to war, and if we are to distinctly say to France that we would not tolerate things in Madagascar as they are now, the interests of our trade would be established there; and I cannot see why at this period of the day we should allow our citizens to be absolutely turned out of that island, when we have a powerful Government, and a Government which can do in Madagascar what it did so successfully in Fashoda.
§ SIR C. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
I think, Sir, that it is a little late in the day to complain of what has happened in Madagascar. We have been pointing out what would be the result of Lord Salisbury's action and policy there, and after having done so time after time, no answer has been vouchsafed. We have pointed out the possible results of this policy in utmost detail, and with ample proof, and on the last occasion on which that was done no single word of answer was given to the charges which we made. The speech of the honourable Member who has just spoken on the question of Madagascar is a curious commentary upon the remarks made at an early period of the evening in the able speech of the Member for the Strand Division in seconding the Address. The honourable Member for the Strand Division used these words: "The public at large has signified its approval of the conduct of foreign affairs by the present Government." Well, Sir, I am one of those who almost in every point disapprove of the conduct of Foreign Affairs, and if I had any regret at the admirable speech of the Leader of the Opposition to-night, it would be this, that' if we are to be so formidably represented in our criticisms upon Foreign Affairs we shall not long hear those frank criticisms of the conduct of Foreign Affairs by the present Government in which Members sitting upon the other side of the House indulge. Last year it was almost unnecessary for us on this side to say anything about Foreign Affairs 143 because attacks upon that subject came chiefly from supporters of the Government, and it was a matter of comment that not one single Member in one Debate, and only one in another Debate, who was not officially bound to do so, defended the present administration of the Foreign Affairs of this country. The Leader of the Opposition to-night has made a speech, every word of which I agree with without any exception at all, and I should not have risen that evening if his speech had been answered—it would have been unnecessary for me to say a word; but point after point of that speech, pressed with admirable force, remains without any answer at all, and the perfunctory speech of the Leader of the House, admirable in tone and in temper as it was, is no kind of answer to the questions which were so forcibly asked by my right honourable Friend, and which must be repeated till they are answered. I have never known the House to be left in the condition of blank ignorance in which it stands at the present moment with regard to some of the most important points of policy which have come up during the Recess, and which are pressing now. If I may make any allusion to the general discussion between the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the House, the Leader of the Opposition put forward, in language which has been adopted by the honourable Member who has last spoken, that which we put forward last year, when we moved for a reduction in the salary of Lord Salisbury upon the specific ground that his policy was one dangerous to peace, because it was a policy of concession, point after point, without any general settlement being arrived at. That Motion received the support of all the Liberal members present in the House. The Leader of the House reproached previous Governments with being the originators of that policy. I am not going into the merits of particular Governments, nor am I going back into the night of time, but let us consider a concrete case. Let us take the case of Siam, because there we have a case 144 of the previous Government and the present one. Yes, I hear a cheer from the noble Lord the Secretary of State for India, but is it to be imagined that any really independent Member of the House will suggest that our trade with Siam had not suffered by the action of the present Government, as compared with the action of the late Government? The honourable Gentleman who has just spoken has put forward the case of British trade in Madagascar—
§ SIR C. DILKE
The honourable Member says that the papers have only just come before the House, but these papers now are exactly the same as those of a year ago. There was a Blue Book a year ago of exactly the same nature. There were dispatches of ours practically without any answer from the French Government. It was in the year 1890 that these things happened, owing to the recognition by the Conservative Government of sham protectorate; and when the honourable Member says that the protectorate ended in annexation he will remember that Lord Salisbury, in defending the annexation of Tunis, said that these protectorates always ended in annexation, and if that was true then, precisely the same argument applies to Madagascar. The portion of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, which I personally heard with the greatest pleasure, was the part in which he said that as regards our military intervention in the Soudan, military success does not in the least degree affect our view of the wisdom of that military intervention. This is the sort of sentiment we should expect from the right honourable Gentleman, and it is one which with great wisdom he had put forward in plain words to-night. The honourable Members who moved and seconded the Address spoke of the necessity of taking the steps we have taken in the Soudan, because they were in the interests of civilisation. After all that has been written about the 145 Soudan in the way of history and travels, I utterly disbelieve in the notion that at such a distance from our naval base:— at such a distance from our great trade routes, and at such a distance from public opinion and the knowledge of this country, you can afford to govern a poor country so as to give it the full benefits of civilisation. We know the evils of the rule which we displace, but we do not know the evils of that with which we replace it, and if I want a witness to bear me out in this, I will appeal to Gordon himself, because there was no notion in which he was more consistent than that which he put forward in the strongest and most picturesque language —that We do more harm on the whole, and that we increase the sum of human misery, by interfering in a country at an enormous distance from control. He said "We are the interlopers," and in some new letters of his which I have recently seen, some of them published, and some of them not—but in one which has been published he says that this country "will never be of the slightest value." The Government have undertaken a great responsibility with regard to the Soudan, and, however painful that responsibility may be, they must go through with it. Probably the only part of this country which is of any value is the Bahr-el-Ghazal, and it is incredible that this House and the country should be left in a state of total ignorance as to what is the policy of the Government with regard to the Bahr-el-Ghazal. The Bahr-el-Ghazal is a country which has very long been occupied by Egypt. It was originally entered in 1840. From 1850 to 1853 the stations were mapped out. The country is thoroughly well-known, and, according to the men who have been there, this is the portion of the Soudan which possibly may ultimately pay. We have set up a whole series of different kinds of titles to this country. The French have also set up a whole series of titles, which are worse than ours. Juridically, no one has any title to it except the Sultan of 146 Turkey, and yet the Government expects the House of Commons and the country to vote the Address in answer to the Queen's Speech without the slightest hint of the policy they are going to apply to this, probably the only rich portion of the Soudan. Surely this is a matter on which the House and the country have a right to demand information, and to know the principle which the Government have in view. Lord Salisbury, in his dispatches, has set up as our main doctrine as regards the country in question, that we have some rights over the country we have conquered from the Khalifa. But the Bahr-el-Ghazal has not been conquered from the Khalifa. The Dervishes were swept out bf the country by the people of the country themselves, and ever since 1887 the Dervishes have had no power in the Bahr-el-Ghazal. There is, therefore, no question of our having conquered the Khalifa's power in the Bahr-el-Ghazal. I believe the French title is more shadowy still. Whatever ground the Government are going to take, they should declare that ground to the country. There is no sort of precedent for the concealment that has been practised in this matter of the Soudan. One of our main objections to the expedition itself was this policy of concealment which was then pursued. In January, 1895, and up to the fall of the then Italian Administration, the Italian Government constantly applied to our Government for support in the Soudan, but Lord Rosebery's Government rightly declined to give that assistance. The Italian policy at that time was a forward policy in the Soudan. When, however, the present Government, in March, 1896, stated that they were going to give their assistance to Italy, Italy had long since ceased to ask for it. Italy was then on a different line of policy; it was the desire of her then Prime Minister to give up Abyssinia altogether, and the Marquess Di Rudini was very much embarrassed by the assistance which Her Majesty's Government offered to give him; indeed, his Minister for Foreign 147 Affairs actually resigned on that very question. Remember, above all, it had been said that this was to be a purely Egyptian Expedition, and that there were to be only a few special service officers employed. There was to be no British money, and no British troops. We, however, thought otherwise. We asked, "What about the Bahr-el-Ghazal? Where are you going to stop?" And on the 26th April, 1897, I, myself, pointed out that the Liotard Expedition was then over the watershed, and in what is now called the northern portion of the Bahr-el-Ghazal. And I asked whether Egypt continued to assert her right to the country thus crossed by a French military expedition. The Foreign Office replied that they knew nothing about this expedition. When they were pressed time after time, they always said they knew nothing about these French expeditions, which were not only known to us on this side of the House, but had been referred to by French Ministers in Debate in the French Chamber. There was another French expedition across Abyssinia, which, although the Government here ridiculed the notion, did, according to the Secretary of the French Geographical Society, actually reach the Nile. Either the Government knew of these expeditions, and concealed from the House the facts, or else they were not informed, as any Government dealing with this question should have been. In June last year we pressed this matter on the Government, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the Government did not contemplate undertaking any further military operations on a large scale, or involving any considerable expenditure, for the recovery of the great provinces south of Khartoum. Does that continue to be the policy of the Government? Is it only the waterway to which they cling, or are they going to try and recover these great provinces? If you desire to be successful in your negotiations with the French for getting them out of the Bahr-el-Ghazal, surely it is better for you to give notice what is the extent of your claim. When 148 you use this phrase about the waterway, the French naturally think you are not concerned in these great provinces except so far as the water-way is concerned; but if you mean to employ the whole of the power of this country in order to induce the French to retire from the whole of the Bahr-el-Ghazal Province north of the watershed, surely, from your point of view, it would be better to say so. Personally, and speaking for no one but myself, I am not in sympathy with this advanced policy in the heart of Africa, because I do not believe you can ever show that either it is necessary to indulge in this policy, or that it will ever pay. One of my strongest objections to it is that it diverts the national mind from matters which are of more importance. The question of China is infinitely more important, but the intense attention which has been called to what Is going on in Africa has turned the national mind away from matters in China, which must have more influence on the future of this country. There are some African matters which were not raised to-night in the admirable speech of the Leader of the Opposition, on which I think some questions ought to be addressed to the Government. The state of things in Uganda is absolutely disastrous. We all know the scandals connected with Foreign Office Administration in Eastern Africa. We know the miserable failure there has been to keep the promises made to the House for the immediate abolition of slavery in Zanzibar and Pemba, and the still worse case with regard to the fugitive slaves in the Coast strip. I am sorry that the Under-Secretary should have begun his term of office at the Foreign Office by using language to a deputation which showed that he backed up and approved the action of the Consul-Genera] in Zanzibar in regard to fugitive slaves. That was an unfortunate beginning of his official career, and I hope he will see good reason to support the view taken by the Attorney-General rather than the resisting policy of the Consul-General in Zanzibar, who has refused to give due weight to 149 the authority of the Attorney-General and the Leader of this House. I have tried to persuade the Foreign Office that they are not a fit Department to administer Colonies and to carry on wars, and the higher opinion we may have of the Foreign Office the more we feel that the Foreign Office must be diverted from its proper use when it takes up these matters. In Uganda and Unyoro three independent wars have been carried on at the same time, these parts of Central Africa having been driven into anarchy and starvation by the civilising policy of our Government. The Uganda Railway, I believe, is not making the progress which the House was led to expect it would make. I am one of those who regret this adventure in the heart of Africa, mainly because it diverts the national mind from matters of more importance—for instance, British trade. In China the Government still believe that they have the possibility of securing and maintaining the "open door," but surely the Government themselves must feel that if they were backed up by a great national feeling on this question of China, they would1 be in a stronger position in their negotiations than they are at a moment when the national mind is entirely diverted to the swamps and sands of the Soudan. The future of certain portions of China, in which large British interests are supposed to have been secured, is one of the most momentous to our Empire that can be conceived, because they contain, according to the experts, the largest store of good coal that can be found anywhere in the world. The future lies in countries like that portion of China, and not in the heart of Africa. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition asked a question with regard to the expedition of the noble and gallant Member for the City of York, and ho was told, in reply, that when the noble Lord returned we should hear what he had to say. We know that the ruble Lord hat found that the condition of things which we thought would come true in Manchuria has come true. The country is packed with Russian troops. Russian 150 goods go in free, and from what the noble Lord has already said, it is clear that the "open door" is lost in Man churia. The Government, at the time they occupied Wei-hai-Wei, informed us, through the mouth of the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, that the occupation of that port would give us an opportunity of drilling the Chinese Bluejackets. We know that the Chinese Fleet is now making use, not of Wei-hai-Wei, but of the Russian port—Port Arthur, and that any drilling of Chinese Bluejackets which is taking place is being done under the auspices of the Russian Government. These are matters of vast importance on which, I think, we should have had in formation. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition defended the action of those of us on this side of the House who had taken an active share in the Cretan Question when it was debated in this House, and the Leader of the House seemed to think that it was an answer to point to certain, as I think, highly mythical dangers which the right hon. Gentleman said would have been in curred if the policy recommended by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition had been followed at the time. How could those dangers have happened on the mainland? It was the policy of the Concert of Europe, which transferred the possibility of those dangers from the Island to the main land. The British fleet could at that time have settled the Cretan question without the slightest danger to the main land, by exactly the solution which it has now received. The telegram sent to the King of Greece was one of congratulation on his courage in sending his son to the Island over which he is now the Ruler, and I contend that those of us who took part in sending that message, guided, as we were, by tradition, and believing the Greek cause to be the English cause in that portion of the Mediterranean, were not only justified in doing so, but that we should have been cowards if we had not done so. The Leader of the Opposition asked one other question on Foreign Affairs, which 151 has not only received no answer, but which has received no answer under circumstances which are entirely without precedent. My right hon. Friend asked a very guarded, careful, diplomatic and well-thought-out question concerning one of the gravest matters that could be brought before this House. It concerns the first secret engagement this country has come under in my time that was to last for more than a few days. There is now a secret engagement between ourselves and Germany. As to chat, I have no doubt whatever. Surely this is a matter which the Opposition ought to press if the Government are able to make any statement with regard to it. It is not the habit of this country to come under secret engagements, and virtually, since the time of the great war, this has never been done. Not only has no satisfactory answer been given by the Government, but no allusion whatever has been made to the subject. I do not know whether the question was asked in another place or not, but I ask both sides of the House whether it is not an entirely new departure in this country to be brought under a secret engagement without any statement being made to the House that there are reasons which make it impossible to allude to such engagement, or some statement in general terms of the reasons which have induced the Government on this occasion to depart from what has been the past policy of the country in these matters. I have reason to think that this engagement with Germany concerns in some measure Delagoa Bay. I want to know, but, of course, we shall not get an answer to this question. We want to know what Germany has to give us, and what we have to give her in return for any such engagement. These are questions which will not be answered, but I think the more diplomatically put question of the Leader of the Opposition ought to be answered, or the Government ought to tell the House that they have reasons of State which make it impossible for them to answer. I think as a matter of courtesy it should be answered. There is one other matter of Foreign Affairs of 152 a similar nature which has not been referred to by the Leader of the Opposition. Several Members have spoken of our relations with the United States, and not one word has been said on either side of the House on this subject from which any of us would wish to differ. There is, however, a very acute point which concerns our relations with the United States, and with regard to that question I think we are in a position to put a definite question to the Government. Some years ago Great Britain, in conjunction with the Government of France, considered the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty. When the Treaty was last under discussion between the Governments of Great Britain and the United States, Great Britain took up an anti-American attitude, and took up that position in conjunction with the Government of France. The Governments of England and France acted together more or less diplomatically against the Government of the United States. Those of us who have given much attention to this subject are under the impression that the time has come when this country ought to make a new departure in this matter; that we have no interest which ought to lead us to adhere in this Treaty to the position which in common with France we took up a good many years ago. If that is so, surely the best course would be for us to take the first step in the matter, and not wait until we are pressed, and until unfriendly language has been used, as it is beginning to be used, in regard to it. We ought to take the first step ourselves by offering to the United States those conditions as regards the future of the inter-oceanic canal which seem to us to be good. Now, Sir, I think we have a right to ask the Government whether they have taken the first step with regard to this Treaty. If they have not, I am sure it is a mistake to wait to be pressed from the other side. If they have, it is a matter which ought to be announced to the country, and I am sure in this case no harm could be done, and much good could be done by such an announcement. With regard to the matter 153 of alliances and understandings with other Powers, which is the most important question which can possibly occupy the attention of this House, the whole policy of the Government is in a highly nebulous state. The Secretary of State for the Colonies is not here tonight, and I will not allude in detail to what he said on the subject. We know he has proclaimed two doctrines, which have been received with a great deal of attention by the world, but which are absolutely contradictory the one to the other. He proclaimed at Manchester and Wakefield in regard to the "splendid isolation" of this country, that the British Empire needed no alliance, and that it was able to defend itself and its possessions against all attacks. That is my opinion, and I re-echo those words with pleasure. I am glad to see in the Speech that one point is mentioned, and another might have been mentioned, and probably will be mentioned in the next Queen's Speech, which bears on it, and that is the assistance which has been promised by certain of our colonies to the naval forces of this country. This is a matter of congratulation to all of us who have desired to see some consolidation of the forces of the Empire as a whole. The colonies are ready to help this policy of "splendid isolation"; they help this policy of relying upon ourselves controlling our own affairs, and not being bound up with other Powers. But this is inconsistent with the policy of an alliance with a military Power, which the right honourable Gentleman put forward in his Birmingham speech. In that speech he put forward that—We must choose between an alliance with a military Power and adding 50 per cent, to our Naval Estimates.That, of course, was an exaggeration, but I would sooner myself have a 50 per cent, increase than an alliance with a military Power, because that would put our policy in the position which the 154 right honourable Gentleman now tells us we ought to hold. Now we have these two different and inconsistent policies put forward, and yet at the same time the Government, although not adopting a general policy of alliances, have all the while this secret understanding with one great military Power, as to which they not only will not tell the House what the nature of it is, but they won't even answer in general terms a courteous and guarded question which has been put to them with regard to it.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
The right honourable Baronet has accused me of discourtesy, but the accusation is perfectly unjustified, and he has no right whatever to make that statement.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
I wish in the frankest manner to apologise to the right honourable Gentleman for using an improper word. In another portion of my speech I spoke of the courtesy of the right honourable Gentleman's general, reply. What I meant was that a question of this sort put with studied care ought to have been replied to in the right honourable Gentleman's speech. I withdraw the word "discourtesy," because no one can be more courteous in his conduct than the right honourable Gentleman. It is discouraging when a question so cautiously worded is put and receives no reply at all. I contend that we have been given no information with regard to the policy which is to be pursued in the Bahr-el-Ghazal; that we have been given no in formation with regard to the secret engagement with Germany; we have had no reply to the attacks which we have made with regard to Madagascar, which have been repeated by the honourable Member who preceded me, and all I can say is that unless we receive proper replies to all these questions as far as the Government can conveniently give them, and as far as the interests of the country will permit, we on this side of the House must not be blamed if we take the greatest possible 155 advantage of this and make use of the opportunity to point out to the country that no such answers have been given.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
Some honourable Gentlemen opposite have attacked the Government for neglecting the agricultural interest, but I fail entirely to see, Sir, what honourable Gentlemen opposite have done for that interest. Four years ago they introduced the Death Duties, and twenty years ago they introduced the Foot and Mouth Disease, which cost us something like eleven millions of money. It is not for me to criticise the Government with reference to the agricultural interest, but I would venture to congratulate them, because they propose to introduce a Food and Drugs Act, and also because they intend to introduce a Bill amending the Agricultural Holdings Act. The agricultural interests are tired of having to compete with foreign produce, such as milk mixed with boracic acid, which comes from the other side of the water. With reference to the Agricultural Holdings Act, what the tenant farmer wants is a free hand to cultivate the land himself as he likes. He wants compensation for improvements, and special compensation for land laid down to grass. He also wants a revision, or at any rate a discussion with reference to the Law of Distraint for Rent. Of course the Government cannot do everything, but I am sorry they have not seen their way to include the agricultural labourer within the four corners of the Workmen's Compensation Act of two Sessions ago. Two years year ago the Member for the Bordesley Division and the Secretary for the Colonies both told us that the agricultural labourer could not be brought within the four corners of the Act because the Act was tentative and untried. Well, the Act is no longer tentative, and I think it has exceeded the wildest expectations of the Member for Bordesley and those who acted with him from the manufacturing districts. Why cannot he be brought within the purview of the Act? It would be inexpensive, and would certainly be popular with the country. One other 156 matter I should like to be dealt with by the right honourable Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture, and that is the matter of swine fever, which does not interest the House very much. I am sorry to see that the right honourable Gentleman is not here, and so there is no reason for my troubling the House on the subject. Why doesn't the Minister of Agriculture get rid of the difficulty by rescinding the swine fever regulations? As the right honourable Gentleman is not here, perhaps some of his colleagues will answer for him. In my opinion swine fever and compensation are simply cause and effect, for if you had not swine fever you would not have the disease. (Laughter.) I fail to understand the hilarity of honourable Members opposite It is simply cause and effect, for if you do not have compensation you would not have swine fever. The way to meet the case would be to rescind the swine fever regulations. I regret to trouble the House with these agricultural details, but these are matters in which my constituency take particular interest, and I am bound to bring them before the judgment bar.
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
I have listened with interest to the speech of the right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, and also with much instruction. My only regret was that the matter might have been spread over more than one speech, so that I might have been able to follow him. I think the right honourable Baronet is somewhat unreasonable in the complaints he makes. He asks for information, but it seems to me that the whole of his speech consisted of a very successful attempt not to obtain information, but to give it. In addition to that I would point out that the speech of the Leader of the House took place before the right honourable Baronet's speech, and consequently it would have been impossible to traverse any part of the ground which, the followed. I would remind the honourable Baronet that he himself pointed out 157 that the most important part of his question was one which he did not expect the Government to answer. But, Sir, I do confess that I have a grievance upon parallel lines with those of the right honourable Baronet opposite regarding the Uganda expedition, which it has been said is extremely remarkable. I do not think that it is so remarkable that the Under Secretary should be denied the character of the expedition which now appears to belong to it. It is quite clear that the then Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs was entirely ignorant of the character of that expedition in which respect he assumes the fate which is often extended to Under Secretaries of the Foreign Office if they are ignorant of the principal lines of foreign policy. With regard to Uganda, I agree with what the right honourable Baronet said in reference to the entire failure of the Foreign Office in managing the affairs of Uganda. The Foreign Office is provided for the purpose of negotiating and for conducting bargains; it never was intended or comprised for the purpose of conquering territory. I myself think it is unfortunate that the Foreign Office ever undertook this Uganda affair, which might have been, probably would have been, adequately conducted by the Colonial Office, but which the Foreign Office is not fitted for. The whole of the proceedings have been a failure; I believe the wrong men—I may say the wrong man—have been chosen, and a most singular want of tact has been displayed in dealing with the troops, and also a most singular want of fairness. I think they were perfectly capable of being kept to their duty, and of carrying on the expedition. Nothing but ineptitude arising from the mistakes of the persons employed has resulted in the unfortunate insurrection, mutinies, and failures with which the Uganda policy has been marked. I trust that the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs will be in a position to say better things, and give us some encouragement to hope that affairs will be conducted by other men than those whose course has been marked by repeated and undeviating failure. I should like to make one remark upon the an- 158 nouncement which the First Lord of the Treasury has made that he has instructed the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs to make no reply to any question without notice, and to make no reply to any supplementary questions. I would point out that it very often occurs that a supplementary question is often necessary to elucidate an answer which has been given, and which may itself be imperfect.
§ MR. GIBSON BOWLES
That really seems to me to be a rather long time to wait in order to ask for the explanation or the meaning of a word or a phrase. It seems to me a very poor compliment to the new Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs—who, we all believe, will be a very great success—to say that he, the first of all other Under Secretaries, is incapable of dealing with supplementary questions, or that he was not to deal with them. This also I wish to say: I hope the right honourable Gentleman will remember that questions and estimates furnish almost the only independent field left for the investigation of this House. Consequently anything that is taken off that is a serious infraction of the small amount of liberty left to the individual Member. It seems to me that this new rule does not amount so much to an instruction to the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs as it amounts to a curtailment of the liberties of this House by the prohibition of supplemental questions. I only hope that the new ukase of the First Lord will be applied with as much mildness as possible, and when a supplemental question is necessary for the elucidation of an answer that it will be allowed occasionally to be put. Otherwise I am sure everybody will refrain from troubling the new Under-Secretary with questions. With Regard to the Tsar's Rescript, no doubt we all sympathise with the motive, but we cannot be blind to this, that in the course of the discussions which may ensue in this Conference that is to be called some very serious questions may arise affecting maritime warfare.
§ MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I am glad that the First Lord of the Admiralty cheers that remark, for it shows me that he has been and is conscious of the very serious danger that may lurk under the most meritorious proposal. What I wish to point out to the Under-Secretary, or the First Lord of the Admiralty, is this: In 1874 a similar conference was held at Brussels regarding the laws of war, but before Lord Derby agreed to enter it he insisted that an undertaking should be given by every Power that nothing should be dealt with at the Conference affecting the laws or practice of maritime warfare. Now, I think the same reservation should be made in this case. I should like to know whether Her Majesty's Government have made or propose to make the important reservation that nothing shall be done at this Conference that will affect our naval supremacy. I, of course, perfectly accept the good faith and the good intentions of His Majesty the Tsar, but I am equally well aware that there are Powers who would gladly and greedily seize an occasion like this for establishing new regulations, which might have the most serious effect upon our naval power in time of war. I hope that as in 1874, so now, Her Majesty's Government will take proper safeguards against any possibility of that sort. With regard to Fashoda, I think we must all feel glad that at last British diplomacy, the first time for 50 years, has achieved a most splendid success, and it has achieved it by the adoption of the new method of the publication of dispatches as you go on. But, nevertheless, glad as we all must be, we must all re-echo the sentiment expressed, perhaps at unnecessary length, with regard to the great desirability of the maintenance of friendship between England and France; but in my opinion plain language is essential to the maintenance of peace. There is one other matter to which I should like to call the attention of Her Majesty's Government, and that is the matter of Newfoundland. I am perfectly convinced from what I have seen in France recently that the French Government is perfectly 160 honesty, and with a desire to consider any representations that may be made. But if this occasion has not been taken, and is not now utilised to settle the matter, I believe the French will revert to the position of the last 200 years, and refuse to discuss the matter with us at all. I hope we may have some intimation that the matter is being treated by them in such a way that they have some hope and anticipation of a settlement. Then with regard to China. I understand that there is no doubt about the Government policy in China, which is to maintain the integrity of Chinese territory and the "open-door" for British trade throughout the whole of the territory. That was a Resolution which was adopted by the House on the 1st of March last year. The policy initiated in the Resolution has been confirmed again and again both by Lord Salisbury and other members of the Cabinet, and it is the declared policy of Her Majesty's Government. I believe this to be the true policy which Her Majesty's Government has ample force to carry out. It is the policy also of "the commercial traveller" who has recently been voyaging in China. I do trust—and here I would ask a question of Her Majesty's Government—that, we may have some assurance that the Government still adhere to the policy of the integrity of China, and the 'open-dor" for British trade throughout that Empire. So far as the declarations of Her Majesty's Ministers go there can be no doubt about the matter, but some definite statement to that effect would be welcomed by the House.
§ * MR. FRANCIS S. STEVENSON (Suffolk, Eye)
It is not my intention to stand long between the speech of the honourable Member who has just sat down and the speech of the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs. We all agree with what has fallen from the honourable Gentleman in the latter part of his speech with regard to the advisability of securing a good understanding in our relations with France. My belief is that the remarkable and almost unanimous outburst of feeling which found expression in this 161 against France, but it was directed in favour of increased firmness in the foreign policy of this country; because it was felt that in view of all that had taken place in Madagascar, Tunis, and elsewhere; in view of the concessions which had been made by Her Majesty's Government, which did not lead to any practical result, and which had rather weakened than strengthened our friendly relations with foreign Powers, it was quite time that an entire change should be effected in regard to the method by which these questions were treated in public utterances and in official publications, and it was highly desirable that not only should there be conciliation, but a definite indication of firmness on the part of this country. That was, 'I think, the real meaning of the great outburst of feeling in October, and it is to be hoped in the months and years that are to come that the Government will bear in mind what is the lesson to be derived from the experience of these few months. I believe that this outburst was due to the feeling that British interests had not been sufficiently observed, but also I believe that the attitude of the Government in years gone by with regard to another question in the Near East had also something to do with making it of a more intricate character. It was felt that not only in the Far East but in the Near East there had been a singular neglect to seize opportunities at a time when they presented themselves. It was felt that opportunities had been missed instead of being taken as they might have been by the forelock when there was an opportunity of dealing in a thorough and efficient manner with the problems which pressed upon us afterwards in the Near East. Instead of seizing hold of those opportunities there was simply the use of strong language, which was not followed by vigorous action, with the result that those who might have benefited by strong language on the part of this country were now in a worse plight after the strong language had been used than if it had never been applied. Well, bearing that in mind—remembering the misuse of valuable opportunities in regard alike to the Far East and the Near East—it seems to me that both these causes contributed in a very great degree to the outburst of feeling in October of last year. Now, I have only risen for the purpose of putting one or two 162 questions to the right honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whom we are pleased to see holding the position he now occupies. In regard to the Near East there are many problems, but there are perhaps three which have been conspicuous during the last few years—the questions of Armenia, of Crete, and of Macedonia. With regard to Crete, we are glad to see that matters are now far more favourable than in the past, and I only desire to make two observations on that point. Apprehensions were expressed that if Turkish rule disappeared from Crete it would be absolutely impossible for Christians and Mohammedans to live together in the island. Well, these apprehensions have not been realised, and it is to be earnestly hoped that under the rule of Prince George of Greece a condition of things will gradually be brought about under which not only will there be an effective peace preserved in the island, but that there will also be a very effective maintenance of friendly relations, and a disappearance of those feuds which in the past have existed for so many years, and for so many centuries have been encouraged by the presence of those who have now been removed from the island. That, surely, proves that if a better condition of affairs has been brought about in that unhappy island, it may be also brought about in other portions of the Turkish Empire, and that there will be no necessity for a renewal of those apprehensions which were expressed so freely two years ago. But there is also one other matter in connection with Crete. It is to me a matter of sincere regret that through the Queen's. Speech contains a reference to the splendid success which has been achieved in the Soudan, there is no reference to that very deplorable occurrence which took place in Candia, where the loss of British life was actually as great as the loss of British life at the Battle of Omdurman. It seems to me that it would have been very desirable if some appreciation had gone forth on behalf of the Government, calling attention to the great gallantry displayed by the British military forces in Candia. There was none of the glamour of battle about that action, and there were very few of the honours which ensue upon a great battle. But the heroism displayed on that occa- 163 sion was not on that account less considerable, and it would have been a graceful act if some mention had been made in the Queen's Speech of the gallantry displayed by the troops on that occasion, and more especially if reference had been made to the signal and decisive action taken by Admiral Noel, who was able, in a manner not attempted or achieved before, to carry out the very principles for which we had been contending so long. Although, Sir, the question of Crete has now to some extent been placed on a satisfactory footing, the same cannot be said of two other portions of the Near East. I have no intention of saying anything to-night about Armenia, because, perhaps, at the present juncture the less said about that unhappy country the better; but I would ask the Government to bear in mind that the question is by no means settled, that there are disturbances taking place at the present time, and that it behoves Her Majesty's Government to instruct the consuls, and more especially the military consuls, to take every step in their power to ensure that what occurs in that vast region of Asia Minor is not allowed to pass unobserved. The presence of consuls is of the utmost value, provided they keep their eyes open, and provided also, as is not very often the case in the past, their reports are read by the Government. Again and again it has occurred in years gone by that the reports sent in by the consuls to the Foreign Office were simply put in the pigeon holes, and led to no practical result. All I ask is that the Foreign Office will not deal with those reports as they have been so often dealt with before, but that they will keep their eyes open in those parts of Asia Minor where so many mistakes have previously been made. Then there is the question of Macedonia. On that point I only desire to ask whether any further information can be given in pursuance of what was asked last Session by myself and by others with regard to the deplorable occurrences which took place there. In the northern portion of Macedonia, in which there is a greater mixture of races than in any other part—where, gathered together, you have Servians, Bulgarians, and Albanians all mixed up together with the Turkish—there have lately been deplorable occurrences. In consequence of those occurrences a Mission was sent out, and Mr. 164 Charles Eliot, who was one of the ablest members of the British Embassy at Constantinople, was sent into that portion of the country for the purpose of watching that Mission. Mr. Charles Eliot is no longer at Constantinople, but at Washington; and I wish to know whether any further information can be given with regard to the occurrences in that portion of Macedonia. We are aware that Notes have been handed in on the subject, both by the Bulgarian and by the Servian Governments, to the Porte, and perhaps it may be possible for the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to state, perhaps in a sentence or twos whether the Government have any further information to give on the subject. It is earnestly to be hoped that the disturbances of which there was some sign last year will not again arise, but the only way in which they can be prevented is by some concerted effort being made to secure that the rights of life and of property are duly observed in that portion of the country. There is in existence a sort of draft organic law, which was arrived at in 1880 or 1881 largely through the efforts of the noble Lord the Member for the Cricklade Division of Wiltshire. It is surely desirable, as the British Government have special responsibility in this matter, that they should do their very best to see that that draft does not remain merely a dead letter, but that some effort is made to see that its provisions are carried into effect.
* The UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. ST. JOHN BBODRIOK)
Mr. Speaker, the honourable Member who has just sat down has asked me to give a reply to a very important question. It is, I believe, quite true that some communications have been addressed to the Porte by Bulgaria and Servia with regard to the condition of things existing between the Christians and Albanians in some parts of Macedonia; but I think the honourable gentleman will understand that that is a very difficult question for us to speak upon. There is no doubt that when, as in the case of so many other places under the dominion of the Porte, in which Christians and Moslems live together under the same rule, and that rule has not been as highly developed as we are accustomed to see in the West, the least 165 expression of sympathy is used, great efforts have been made by the party with which sympathy is expressed to bring matters to an issue. It is very desirable, therefore, that nothing should be done which might bring about such a result. Obviously those who propose to interfere ought only to interfere if they can do so effectively, for at the present time there is no question that a great deal of feeling exists between the Christians and the Moslems. I do not think that we are in a position to give any definite information, but I may say that the eyes of the Government are fully opened to what is going on. Sir, the right honourable Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir C. Dilke) has addressed to the House one of those speeches with which many of us are familiar, and which cover in the course of the briefest possible period the whole field of foreign affairs. I think there is hardly a subject in which this country is interested at the present time which did not fall a victim to the universality of the knowledge of the right honourable Gentleman. He touched upon Fashoda, the Bahr-el-Ghazal, and the future government of the Soudan; he brought up the questions of Tunis and Madagascar; he attacked the Government on the questions of Uganda and East Africa; he reviewed briefly the whole of the movements in China; he carried us by a very rapid transition from Crete to the Mainland; and dealt with the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty. I confess I feel some apprehension in attempting to give a comprehensive reply at this hour of the evening. With regard to Tunis and Madagascar, the right honourable Gentleman told the House that no word of answer has ever been given on Madagascar when time after time Lord Curzon referred to the subject. Speaking on the Address last year, on February 9th, Lord Curzon stated that undoubtedly the French had gone from the establishment of a Protectorate in Madagascar to annexation, and that under annexation they ignored Treaty rights which we had in regard to our trade. I ask the right honourable Gentleman, would he have gone to war with France because of the way we were treated in regard to Madagascar? If not—if you have made your protest on every diplomatic occasion which has occurred, and if you have claimed diplomatic compensa- 166 tion—I ask the right honourable Gentleman what more he would have attempted to do?
§ SIR C. DILKE
If the right honourable Gentleman really wants me to make a reply, I go back to 1890, and I say the whole thing was Lord Salisbury's own act.
§ Mr. BRODRICK
I am dealing for the moment with the right honourable Gentleman's contention that he has never had an answer on this subject, and I say Lord Salisbury warned France as soon as the Protectorate over Madagascar was proclaimed that we held to the Treaty rights which they had undertaken to respect. Then, in regard to Tunis, the right honourable Gentleman was again not satisfied with the answer he got.
§ MR. BRODRICK
Well, Sir, the answer with regard to Tunis is well known to the House. The Treaty with Tunis depended upon the stability of the Regency, and the stability of the Regency was not a matter of many years' purchase. It was not so regarded, anyhow, by Manchester cotton merchants, who, nevertheless, obtained largely improved terms for cotton for a period of years. This is what they asked for, and what. Lord Salisbury contended for. Therefore, so far as Lord Salisbury is concerned, the Government cannot be accused of having betrayed interests when those who were particularly interested in the matter were satisfied with what was obtained. I go from that to the more modern questions raised in the speech of the right honourable Gentleman. He asked us to lay down clearly what the policy of the Government was in regard to the limitations of the sphere to be assigned to the Soudan, as between us and the French. I hardly think the right honourable Gentleman was serious in his assertion that the House of Commons had a right to know, and have an absolute disclosure of, the views of the Government on this question. At any rate, I do not think that is a reasonable demand. I do not think that in any Assembly in Europe, certainly not in the United States of America, such a demand would be made. 167 The right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition alluded to the Debate on the subject, which took place in the French Chamber the other day. I must say that there was a marked reticence displayed on that occasion which might not be unworthy of imitation by this House in view of the intended negotiations. I am not in the least desirous of withholding from the House any information which can properly be given, but I do put it to the House that after the statements made by Lord Salisbury, and when the policy with regard 10 the Nile has been asserted over and over again, to ask for further details in a case of this kind is asking us to travel beyond the point, which, in the interests of the country, it is possible to go. Another important matter, as to which the right honourable Gentleman addressed some reproaches to the Leader of the House, was the Anglo-German Agreement. I think he has assumed somewhat unjustly that there is an attempt to keep from the House any information on that subject. Again, we are in a position in which it would be undesirable at present to state the exact course of that agreement, or to lay it on the Table. The agreement has to do with contingencies which are very far from being realised at present. Poliexclusively affect Her Majesty's Governtical reasons other than those which exment would certainly render it inexpedient to publish these negotiations at the present time; but I think I may go so far as to assure the House that this agreement has greatly confirmed, our friendly relations with Germany, and that the object of it is to secure us in the future from possible conflict of interest. For that reason, and seeing that the agreement is not operative at this moment, I shall have to ask the House on this subject also to put some confidence in the Government, and not to press for a disclosure which might be premature. The right honourable Gentleman merely asked for information on these subjects, but when he came to the question of Uganda he denounced the Government in no measured terms, and denounced the system under which Uganda is being administered. He said the whole thing is a scandal, that it has been disastrous, that it has been a miserable, failure in every direction. Well, I think that language is extremely hard. 168 what is the failure in Uganda? In the first place everybody knows whatever view we may take of the desirability of having acquired Uganda as a Protectorate, that the whole future and success of Uganda depends upon, and must wait for, the construction of the railway. What is the state of the railway? The whole distance, was to have been 650 miles. Of these about 250 are already open to traffic, and the line is being laid at the rate of half a mile at day at the present time. But when the right honourable Gentleman says the whole thing is a disastrous failure I can tell him that, although there have been great difficulties—difficulties of climate and transport, and also from mutiny and insurrection—SO far as the question of administration goes, the Foreign Office has not a bad record. In the first place, they looked at the worst of it. They asked for a railway which was to be 650 miles in length, but now it has) been found possible to reduce the distance by 105 miles—a difference which will cause a reduction in the estimated cost of the railway at present of at least half a million of money, and which will far more than compensate for the difficulties which no Government could prevent—namely, difficulties caused by losses of transport animals and by climate. The right honourable Gentleman spoke of the general administration of Uganda, and the honourable Member for King's Lynn supplemented those remarks by asserting that the mutiny had been caused by the want of tact and fairness, and by ineptitude in dealing with the native soldiers who had been brought together. Well, Sir, there again I think a slur is cast on the Department, and upon the officials employed there, which is unmerited. I the question is fairly examined I think it will be seen that a great deal that has occurred in Uganda is merely due to a sort of infection which spread from the Congo State. Some of the men who mutinied actually come from the Congo, and they mutinied because they could not be paid in kind instead of money. In consequence of the difficulties of transport stores could not be brought up as required. But the reflection on the officers responsible cannot be allowed to pass without protest. It is impossible to forget the extraordinary knowledge, courage, judgment, re- 169 source, and hard work shown by the young officers in Uganda. There were cases in which—if I were to mention specially the name of one I should not be doing justice to the others—young officers in command of troops at some station supposed to be perfectly loyal, who had stood their ground for weeks alone after the mutiny, and had succeeded in bringing these native fellows round, in imparting a certain amount of discipline amongst them, and making them a useful part of the British force. The history of these operations, conducted by British officers of no great experience, is highly creditable. I do not think that the outlook in Uganda is at all dark. No doubt in the administration of these Protectorates there must be ups and downs, and there has been in consequence mutiny and a great deal of expense that might otherwise have been avoided. But I am very much relieved to hear my honourable Friend complaining that these operations were not carried out by the War Office, or the Colonial Office, for it is the first time I ever heard from him a hearty tribute to the War Office or the Colonial Office. He pointed out in strong terms the advantages of co-operation with the War Office. We have had the advantage to the full of cooperation with the War Office in regard to all these military questions, and I believe that they are in a fair way of being satisfactorily solved. Now, Sir, the right honourable Gentleman has asked me a question as regards China. I hope he will excuse me from entering on the question of China to-night. I understand that an Amendment stands first on the paper tomorrow for discussion, in the name of the honourable Member for the Ecclesall Division of Sheffield, and I have not the least doubt that he will go over the whole question in an exhaustive manner. The right honourable Gentleman also asked as to the negotiations with the United States Government regarding the Clayto-Bulwer Treaty. The negotiations are going on between the two countries in the most friendly spirit. And, although the suggestion has been made that we should have surrendered the question of discussion to the United States Government before the negotiations took place, I think as negotiations are proceeding amicably, I need hardly pursue the argument. As to the general 170 outlook on Foreign Affairs to which the right honourable Gentleman alluded, I find it very difficult to fit in the facts with the account which he gives. I do not think that he could bring up with respect to our present relations with Foreign Powers anything to justify the opinion of the right honourable Gentleman in distrusting the action of the present Government in regard to foreign affairs. I do not believe that when the right honourable Gentleman comes to discuss the question of China in detail, when he looks at the events of last year in regard to the Soudan, when he looks also at what has occurred in Crete recently—that he will have any reason to say that, though it may have been necessary to wait, though every expectation has not been immediately realised, there will be any want in the end of success, owing to the patience and moderation which have been shown, and in the way our demands have been put forward. And, I think, Sir, I cannot do better than to quote the expression already made use of to-night, that we should look at these things as a whole. It is easy to pick out some detail in the negotiations and difficult operations carried on in the East of Europe, in which the Government have not realised all that is desirable, but the best answer to the criticisms so freely made by the right honourable Gentleman is to look at the present state of our relations abroad, and also to weigh them, by the consideration shown at present to the British Government in all their foreign relations.
§ LIEUTENANT-COLONEL A. LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
I hope I may be pardoned if I turn the attention of the House from the things of war to things of peace; to a subject of the greatest importance concerning our own affairs at home, one that occupies a very prominent position in the Gracious Speech from the Throne —I mean the subject of Secondary Education. Last year, on the opening day of the Session, when I addressed the House, I ventured to express a hope: that this question of Secondary Education would be brought, prominently, in a definite form, before the House at the earliest possible period, and I hope that both sides of the House will assist in expediting the measure. The statesmanlike speech of the Lord President of the Council in in- 171 troducing the Bill in another place last Session acted, as I have no doubt it was intended to act, in producing great interest throughout the country on this subject of Secondary Education. I have no knowledge of the Bill that is to be introduced this year, but I may fairly presume that it is on the same lines as that introduced last year in another place. It may be objected by some that that. Bill is somewhat meagre in detail. If I may venture to express an opinion on this subject, it would be that this very fault—if fault it be—is the virtue of the Bill. Before we settle details of Local Administration we certainly require to have an organising head. We do not require at present, to set about establishing secondary schools throughout the country. What we do require is to set to work and find out what is the quality of the secondary schools we already possess in the country. To acquire this information the country requires for a year or two the services of a well-equipped, well-organised Education Office, with power to inspect schools and ascertain the true needs of secondary education. This Education Office will need the guidance and support of a good Educational Council, and all the existing local authorities. At the beginning of the present reign a most complicated system of management existed in the Royal Palaces. Authority and duties of different officers had survived in forms so little suited to existing circumstances that three servants might be working in the same room responsible to three different officers of State. Housekeepers, pages, and housemaids were under the Lord Chamberlain, while footmen were under the Master of the Horse, and the cooks and porters were under the Lord Steward The Lord Steward was responsible for finding the fuel, and having the fires laid; the Lord Chamberlain had to provide for having them lighted. The outside of the windows was under the authority of the Woods and Forests; the inside was in the province of the Lord Steward. The natural consequence of all this division of authority was that it took months of correspondence to cause the fires to be little, or at all events, to get the commonest repairs executed. Many necessary duties were left undone, because it was nobody's business to do them. However, by the exercise of a little common sense and tact these anomalies were re- 172 medied. Economy was effected, and the work is at the present time thoroughly well done. Though these abuses have become a curiosity of the past as regards the Royal Household, absurdities just as great are in full swing in our educational system. Here we have four public bodies doing work which in most countries is confided to one, or at most to two, authorities. And even these four do not include the governing bodies or the Universities and other institutions which, by their examinations, have done SO much to raise the standard of secondary education in England. These four chief authorities on secondary education are—first, the Charity Commission; second, the Education Department; third, the Science and Art Department; and fourth, the Local Authorities and County Councils. The first of these authorities—the Charity Commission—has existed ever since 1853 for the better administration of all kinds of charitable endowments. The most important part of their powers, as far as education is concerned, are those supplied by the Endowed Schools Act, dating originally from1 1869. In the case of an educational charity the Commissioners may propose a new scheme, but it must be approved in the first instance by the Education Department, and ultimately be submitted to both Houses of Parliament. The endowments known to be subject to the Endowed Schools Act are of great value. From these sources about £650,000 a year are available for educational purposes. It will be at once seen that the Charity Commission has exercised a very great deal of influence on the Secondary education of the country. Then comes the Education Department, founded 60 years ago, controlling all public elementary schools—Board and Voluntary. It is supposed popularly that our Education Department has no connection with Secondary Education, but to this limit there are two great exceptions: many higher grade Board Schools, as at present administered by the Department, and also the Evening Continuation Schools. At first the pupils at the Board Schools were confined to six or seven standards. But as some of them passed the sixth standard before they were ready to leave the school, so they outgrew the seventh, and for want of a suitable higher school, or some other reason, they remained in the so-called pub- 173 lie elementary school. In some cases a number of the most promising children from different schools were collected in one superior establishment. In others an ordinary Board School added an additional ex-Standard VII. Class at the top. Some people have denied that such schools are secondary at all, but the Royal Commission of 1895 settled that point when they definitely pronounced them to be secondary "as regards the higher part of their curriculum." It is quite true that some of the School Boards have supplied most valuable and much-needed lower secondary education, and they are deserving all credit for having filled the gap which exists, but the Education Act of 1870 limits its aid to schools in which "elementary education is the principal part of the education given." In Evening Continuation Schools since 1890 this restriction is no longer necessary, though in all respects they remain under the control of the Education Department. Since the Code of 1893 these schools have been signally successful, and in the last four years their attendance has been trebled. Another Department which deals with Secondary Education in England is the Science and Art Department. It has existed for forty years and more in its present form, to give grants throughout the country to schools and individuals for instruction in science and art according to its regulations. It is a Central Authority so far as any such authority exists for Technical Instruction, and it has assisted much in the development of Secondary Education. The Schools of Science and Art, though they are supposed to be educationally inseparable from the higher grade schools, are under the supervision of the Science and Art Department, and not under the supervision of the Education Department. Yet the class room in which the work of the school is carried on may be an integral portion of the buildings of a public elementary school, and the funds for their erection may have been, and in many cases are, raised by the School Board as part of the Elementary Education rate. One headmaster presides over the Higher Grade Board School, including the Science and Art Department, but the Education Department Inspector will not enter the school of Science and Art, and, on the other hand, the Science and Art Inspector will not enter the class-room of 174 the Elementary School proper. Then we have a fourth department, the County Council Department. In 1889 the County Council received power to raise rates for technical instruction. In 1890 the County Councils became possessed of a very large sum of money, popularly known as "whisky money," and, a large portion of that money has been assigned to the purposes of technical instruction, and, according to the latest statistics that sum amounts to about two-thirds of a million pounds. The Science and Art Department has to decide as to what subjects can be brought under the head of "technical instruction," and that Department has admitted every subject which can be reasonably taught in secondary schools, excepting Greek and Latin. It cannot, however, under the Technical Instruction Act, 1889, recognise any subject of instruction excepting in so far as it is of technical or commercial or agricultural bearing; and, therefore, owing to this restriction, the tendency has been to my mind, a retrograde one, not from the point of view of educational efficiency or of general efficiency, but from the point of view of commercial advantage, or of specific preparation for a certain trade or employment, and it is inevitable that this sort of thing should have an injurious effect upon the schools. One school may, under existing circumstances, have five different authorities. It may have its own governors, it may come under the dominion of the Science and Art Department, it may be subject to the Oxford and Cambridge Joint Board Local Examinations, to the examination for the College of Preceptors, in addition to having to prepare its pupils for University and professional examination. It may have to work under a scheme of the Charity Commissioners, which must be sanctioned by the Education Department, and it may be earning grants for the Science and Art Department, and therefore be fettered by its regulations. It may also have a grant from the County Council, and therefore subject to regulations from them. Each of these authorities may be dissatisfied with the management of the other, and may be jealous of each other, and there is nothing whatever to prevent them from erecting and subsidising two fresh schools, instead of making one perfectly efficient. There is an example of this in a petition addressed to the School Board, for London 175 by the Governors of the Addey and Stanhope Foundation, Deptford. That is a Congregational School, and in their petition they say that they have heard with great concern that the Board have it in contemplation to alter and adapt the Blackheath road Board School with a view to its being opened gratuitously as a Science and Art School for advanced students; that, by the schemes regulating the Abbey and Stanhope Foundation, the income thereof (except a specific portion thereof distributable to poor persons) is exclusively applicable to the maintenance of a Science and Art School; that the school of the Foundation has for several years past been carried on in school buildings situate in Church Street, Deptford, but the site thereof having been condemned as undesirable and the school buildings as unsuitable by the Science and Art Department and the Technical Education Board of the London County Council, the memorialists are now building new Science and Art Schools at a cost of over ten thousand pounds, and such buildings are now fast approaching completion; that the site of these new school buildings in the New Cross road, Deptford, is within about 600 yards of the Blackheath Road Board School, and the road between them is for all but a few yards traversed by the tramway cars of the London and Greenwich Tramway Company; that in the immediate neighbourhood of the Blackheath Road Board School there are (in addition to the school now being built by the memorialists for 200 boys and 200 girls) the following Secondary Schools — viz. the Roan Schools, Greenwich (for boys and girls); Colfe's Grammar School and the Lewis-ham Grammar School at Lewisham; Aske's Schools (for boys and girls), and the Goldsmiths' Institute at New Cross; 176 that the above-mentioned schools are amply sufficient to satisfy all the requirements of the neighbourhood for Secondary Education, and that the scholars' fees at all these schools are of moderate amount, and the schools contain a con-that the above-mentioned schools are siderable proportion of free places; that the opening of the Blackheath Road Board School for gratuitous instruction will greatly diminish the attendance at the above schools, and will probably render it necessary to close some or all of them. The memorialists therefore respectfully urge that, in consideration or the above-mentioned facts, the Board do not proceed with the conversion of the Blackheath Road Board School into a Secondary or Science and Art School. I think that that rather bears out what Mr. Macnamaea said, that the School Board would be building new schools for the "fun of the thing" English Secondary Education should be controlled as far as any Central Authority is necessary by one department, or by one branch of the department only, which should be organised for that specific purpose. The present confusion is scandalous, and the waste of time is enormous, and the sooner our practical administration is given a chance the better for education as a whole, and I trust that both sides of the House will work together, in order to rescue technical education from its present position.
§ Question put.
Motion agreed to.
House adjourned at 11.50.