1. Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding £31,405, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, including a Grant in Aid of certain expenses connected with Emigration.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
I rise with some reluctance, because I had hoped that the Secretary of State for the Colonies would have commenced the debate and made some statement on behalf of the Government as to their present views on the question of South Africa, and communicated to the Committee any additional information which he could communicate with due regard to the public interest. But I understand from the right hon. Gentleman that he is not prepared to take that course, and I cannot find fault with his decision. I remain, however, of the opinion that a plain statement from him would have been the best and safest foundation upon which to build such discussion as is possible on the present occasion. I say "such discussion as is possible," because in the present circumstances it cannot be that we can fully, frankly, and freely express our opinions upon this important subject. It was, of course, inevitable that this Vote should be taken and discussed. The Government have very wisely postponed it till almost the last day that is available, but even now reticence and reserve must be the rule of our Debate. And this for two reasons. First, because the matter is not yet concluded, and we are not in a position to pronounce judgment upon the policy and conduct of Her Majesty's Government; and, secondly, I will not say because the critical state of affairs in South Africa in the course of the last fortnight has 687 shown great improvement, but on account at least of the critical state of feeling in South Africa generally, every man—every wise man among us, which I hope includes a large proportion—every lover of his country will engage in a debate of this sort with one predominant and overmastering feeling—the desire, namely, to avoid taking any step or uttering any word which can, by any possibility, intensify or embitter race and sectional and party feeling in South Africa, or which may delay or hinder the attainment of that amicable but effective settlement which it is the desire of us all to see accomplished. I am sure that in this view there will be concurrence in every quarter of the House, and when I make an appeal for moderation and for guarded language I trust at least that I shall not myself be found transgressing my own rule. I only wish that a similar appeal could possibly be made with effect, and to any good purpose, to the public press, and here I do not refer solely, or indeed principally, to the newspapers of South Africa—most of which, so far as my acquaintance with them goes, appear to contend with each other in violence of tone, and, organs of opinion as they may be, have rather the appearance of being the organs of some power or powers in the background trying to wrest public opinion to their own advantage; but I refer rather to our familiar press at home, and not only to the modern sensational journals which live in and by excitement, but to certain old, staid, long established newspapers—[Mr. DAVITT:—The Daily News, for example]—the writers in which would almost induce me to believe that they regard reason and moderation as a crime, and that they look upon an appeal to force as something in itself actually and specifically desirable. But any appeal to them is, of course, in vain. It behoves us at least in this House to maintain a calm tone, and it will be my endeavour in what I say not to criticise the action or policy of Her Majesty's Government—the time for that has not yet come—and not to make polemical advantage out of any errors that I may imagine I can discover in the history of the proceedings, but merely to submit to the Committee certain considerations which in my judgment ought to guide our conduct in this matter. I would first say that the relations between the Government of the South African Republic and 688 the Uitlander population constitute a state of affairs which not only works mischief to the interests of those immediately concerned, but which is a constant source of danger to the peace and prosperity of all the States and colonies in South Africa. If I were to search for words in which to convey this opinion I could not find any which more aptly express it than those used by the Secretary of State for the Colonies in his despatch of May 10:—Her Majesty's Government cannot remain indifferent to the complaints of her subjects resident in other countries, and if these are found to be justified Her Majesty's Government are entitled to make representations with a view to securing redress. This ordinary right of all Governments is strengthened in the present case by the peculiar relations established by the Conventions between this country and the Transvaal, and also by the fact that the peace and prosperity of the whole of South Africa, including Her Majesty's possessions, may be seriously affected by any circumstances which are calculated to produce discontent and unrest in the South African Republic.I adopt that view of our duty to our fellow-countrymen. We are entitled to make representations and to urge them with all the vigour and influence that we can bring to bear. Now, as the Committee are aware, for some time past, by general agreement apparently, the controversy, if I may call it so, has been concentrated upon one point; and as the most effective made of securing some redress for the grievances of the Uitlander, instead of inquiring into and interfering with particular grounds of complaint, which would lead to unpleasant intermeddling, to say no more, in the domestic affairs of another country, it has seemed better rather to enable the Uitlanders to right their position for themselves, or at least to have an opportunity of claiming redress by becoming citizens of the South African Republic. It is to this since the Bloemfontein Conference, if not from an earlier date, that our efforts have been principally directed. Now, as to the question of admitting the Uitlanders to the franchise, there has been much expression of surprise and of resentment at the stubborn resistance made to the proposal by the burghers, and especially by President Kruger. Sir, that resistance has been gradually wearing 689 down under the effect of the representations and expostulations of friendly advisers. But it remains. I cannot avow myself any admirer of misplaced stubbornness wherever I find it. But, at the same time, there is surely no ground whatever for surprise. Who that knows the circumstances of the whole case can be surprised? Lest anyone is inclined to take that view, just consider the history of the Boer people. I will only refer to two facts. The first is the main and originating fact. It was expressly for the purpose of quietly living by themselves in their own way that they trekked into the north and occupied the country which they now possess. It may not have been a very lofty purpose, but it was a distinct and a natural purpose, for it was to preserve their old ways and habits of living undisturbed; and therefore, when an invasion of active and restless men of other ideas than their own, and with modern habits, came upon them, however profitable that may be to the finances of their country, however much their revenue may be increased by the industry and enterprise of those incomers, still they felt themselves ousted from that life—a narrow life it may be—but still the life which they loved. It is not the case, let us bear in mind, of a few or even a considerable number of immigrants coming into a great community and demanding municipal or political rights; what the Boers see in it is that they are being swamped and upset in the life which they prefer by this huge invasion. Therefore it is they regard the admission of these newcomers to their privileges with the greatest suspicion. I do not say that they are wise; on the contrary. Nothing can be wise which is hopeless. It is hopeless for them to resist it, and, therefore, on that low ground alone I cannot say I sympathise with them; but I should be very much astonished if there is any man in this Committee who cannot at least understand how very natural the feeling is. But this is not all. The second fact to which I have referred is an isolated fact, but it is one which has a bearing on the present situation. How can we know how far our difficulties are increased by the deplorable Jameson raid? We in this country have almost forgotten it. We dismiss it from our minds as a stupid, clumsy, criminal blunder, discreditable to our country and our race. We wish to forget, and, therefore, we do 690 forget it; but if I were a Boer I should not forget it. To the Boer it is the last demonstration to his mind of the necessity on his part for regarding our proceedings and advances with suspicion and distrust. What does it matter to him whether it was directed from this country or not? We suffer from it at all events; in fact, in this case there is an exact inversion of the well-known adage, and we may say quidquid delirant Achivi plectuntur reges. The reges, the Imperial power and Imperial Government, are punished because of the folly of a few of our countrymen in that distant quarter. Such being the stubbornness of the Boers, and such being their feelings towards us—and I am afraid we must all admit it—how are we to overcome their reluctance to confer this right on our countrymen which we say will enable them to obtain the redress of their grievances? Shall we overcome it by threats? Never. I altogether disbelieve in the efficacy in this case, and in most other cases, of threats and hints of armed force, whether they take the form of open words or newspaper announcements of, military preparations. As to war itself, a direct preparation for actual hostilities, I must only repeat here what I have said elsewhere, that from the beginning of this story to the end of it I can see nothing whatever which furnishes a case for armed intervention, and least of all during the recent days or weeks, when we are evidently approaching, if only circumstances continue favourable, a solution of the question. I see war talked of very glibly and very lightly sometimes, and I would say this; that there is no part of the world, and I include in that South Africa, in which from one year to another there may not occur at almost any time the necessity for this country to take up arms in vindication of its essential interests. But a war in South Africa—a war with one of the independent States in South Africa—would be one of the direst calamities that could occur. However speedy and successful might be the issue of that war—and I do not dispute for a moment that it would be successful—it would leave behind it during many after-generations a race feud, not a feud between us and one particular small country, and not, perhaps, increasing much in size in that remote quarter, but a race feud extending through the whole of our colonies and possessions, which would make the good government of that 691 continent almost impossible. (Cheers.) I state this strongly, but I wish to fortify myself with the opinions of other people. I have heard some strong words expressed on this subject by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I am glad to have his authority on the side of what I say. What he said on May 8, 1896, was this:—A war in South Africa would be one of the most serious wars that could possibly be waged. It would be a long war, a bitter war, and a costly war, and, as I have pointed out already, it would leave behind it impressions of strife which, I believe, generations would hardly be able to blot out; and to go to war with President Kruger to enforce upon him reforms in the internal affairs of his State, in which Secretaries of State, standing in their place, have repudiated all right of interference, that would be a course of action which would be immoral.And again, on another occasion later in the same year in this House, the right hon. Gentleman said:—What is the alternative policy which the hon. Member would have put forward? We know what it would be. He would have sent an ultimatum to President Kruger that, unless these reforms, which he would have specified, were granted by a particular day, the British Government would interfere by force, and then he would have come here and he would have asked the House for a vote of credit of £10,000,000 or £20,000,000, it would not matter which particularly, and would send an army of 20,000 men at least to force President Kruger to grant reforms in a State with which we have pledged ourselves repeatedly—not this Government, but previous Governments by the mouths of successive Secretaries of State—that we would have nothing to do. That is his policy. It is not my policy, and it never will be.It is a relief to me to find this strong expression from the right hon. Gentleman, with which I entirely concur. How then are we to act in order to influence this obdurate reluctance on the part of the South African Republic Government, and how are we to act with the great object which must be the aim of every statesman in dealing with this question—the object of securing good government and harmony and good feeling between all the races, that, after all, are very nearly akin to each other, in South Africa? Our countrymen included among the Uitlanders allege that they are badly treated; they allege that with reason I think, and our countrymen at the Cape generally, whether of British birth or only of British blood, 692 warmly sympathise with them. How can we best help our countrymen and satisfy those who sympathise with them, but who are not directly concerned? Surely the one sovereign way is by bringing to bear upon the question, and especially upon the Transvaal Government, the influence of enlightened Dutch opinion at the Cape. This is the first influence we ought to secure on our side, and it is the chief ally that we should seek; and here again I am pleased to find myself in the closest harmony with the right hon. Gentleman, because in 1896 I find he used these words:We are constantly reminded of the fact that our Dutch fellow citizens are a majority in South Africa, and I think I may say for myself, as for my predecessors, that we are prepared to go as far as Dutch sentiment will support us. It is a very serious thing in matters involving most serious considerations, if we are asked to go in opposition to Dutch; sentiment.And further, on another day, April 22, in the same year, he said:—Now, as the paramount power we cannot be indifferent to a state of things which involves injustice to our own subjects, and which, involves danger to the peace of South Africa; but as a Dutch Government ourselves, as well as an English Government, it ought to be our object in endeavouring to secure the redress of those grievances,—the Committee will observe how completely this fits the existing situation—to carry with us our own Dutch fellow-subjects. Up to a recent date, until recent events, the sympathy of the Dutch population at the Cape, in the Orange Free State, and even of the progressive Dutchmen in the South African Republic—the sympathy of all was with the Imperial Government and the Uitlanders in endeavouring to secure the redress of grievances. But since then there has been a revulsion of feeling from causes that are well known; but I do not despair, in fact, I have the confident hope, that we shall be able to restore the situation as it was before the invasion of the Transvaal, and to have at our backs the sympathy and support of the Dutch population in South Africa; and if we have that, the nation, the united nation which that will constitute, will be a nation which no power in Africa can resist.I have ventured to make these quotations because, as I have said, they are much more strongly and effectively expressed than I could express them by any words I could use, and because I am sure that we are all glad to know that, it 693 is the present Secretary of State for the Colonies who has given expression to those feelings and opinions. Now, as there is at present a Ministry in power at the Cape which relies mainly for support on the Dutch people, what more natural than that we should use the good offices of the statesman who is at the head of it, Mr. Schreiner? This is precisely what has happened with such remarkably good effect. In my opinion the thanks of the whole Empire are due to Mr. Schreiner and to Mr. Hofmeyr (who does not occupy any official position), and to the others who acted with them, for the part that they have taken in securing concessions at Pretoria. I am glad to see that Sir Alfred Milner, in the last Blue Book which has been furnished to us, on one or two occasions refers to this action on the part of the Cape Premier in language which leaves no doubt that it was all undertaken with his thorough consent. In a telegram of June 11 relating a conversation he held with Mr. Schreiner, he said:I told him that these were points of first-rate importance and not of detail, and that since, after all, he seemed to agree with me more than with the President of the South African Republic, he had better address his advice to the latter and not to Her Majesty's Government.Here we have it in evidence that he was encouraged, and very properly encouraged in every possible way, to address himself to the Government of the South African Republic. Now, what are the limits within which the discussion on the immediate question of the franchise has now been brought? The limits, within which a solution of the question can best be found are most admirably stated by Sir Alfred Milner in his account of the Bloemfontein Conference which is in the second Blue Book. I will read a few words:In the first place," he says, "President Kruger objected that to grant the franchise to any large number of aliens would immediately result in the out-voting of the old burghers.That was what I was speaking of a short time ago.I agreed," says Sir Alfred Milner, "that this would be unreasonable, but endeavoured to explain to him that it would not result from any proposal that I should make.694 And further on he proceeds to lay down as it were, the maximum and the minimum:I had to bear in mind," he said, in proposing his scheme to the President, "on the one hand, the prejudices of the old burghers and the necessity of convincing them that they would not be swamped by the newcomers; and, on the other hand, the uselessness of proposing anything which would be rejected by the Uitlanders as totally insufficient, and would not bring them on the side of the State, throwing in their lot with it, and working in future with the old burghers as one people.There could not be a more exact and logical description of the problem that has to be solved; these are the two limits within which the solution is to be found—it must satisfy both of these conditions. It is most natural, and, indeed, most necessary, on the part of the Uitlanders that it should be insisted on their behalf that the admission to the franchise should be made retrospective, because obviously, if a long term of years had to be served and lived through before admission was possible, any redress or improvement of the present state of things would be put off for a long time. But then, on the other hand, cannot we understand the reluctance on the part of the Burgher Government to admit suddenly to the franchise a large number of men of whom they know nothing and who could come forward and say they had lived so many years within the bounds of their territory? Why are they so reluctant? I believe it is not so much on the question of admission to the Volksraad as on the question of the election of President. In the election of President every man who is a citizen votes as in a plébiscite, and, therefore, one can easily see—and this was the point Sir Alfred Milner at once admitted as perfectly reasonable—one can see what a swamping it would be of the present voters if a large number of new voters were suddenly brought in. But now we come to a curious difficulty—the question of the number. It is a most extraordinary thing that no one appears to have formed any accurate conception of the numbers involved, not even of the number who, under any system you like to take, would be eligible. The right hon. Gentleman told us very frankly the different conjectures that had been formed, but they were only conjectures. But there is another point beyond that which. 695 interests and puzzles me a good deal—there is a doubt as to the number of those who would be eligible, and of the eligible how many would choose to accept. Then we come to another element which cannot be estimated, because it depends upon individual principles and personal disposition. It has seemed to me from the first of this question to be one of the most strange circumstances that we could conceive that, originally, an idea—a rough idea—should be entertained in some sources of instruction in this country, that we should go to war in order to hurry our own fellow-citizens into another citizenship. To facilitate their getting rid of their British citizenship as fast as possible in order to become citizens of the South African Republic is to me a most comical idea. Most people in this country were under the impression, so far as I could see, that the Transvaal was very like a county in England, that it was as if a man who was registered as an elector in Kent went to live in Yorkshire, and in a certain interval claimed to be admitted to the franchise there. But this is another case. The first thing a man has to do is to abjure his British citizenship, to discard it altogether, and to assume another. In the second place, if he wishes to revert to his original citizenship, he will have to go through all the forms—the somewhat tedious forms—of regaining the citizenship he renounced. And now, not knowing the number, having no estimate of what the number would be, the question reduces itself, not to whether they should be admitted or not, but to whether the retrospective term should be five or seven years. Of course I quite admit, as the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies has said, that if a law is made stating a certain number of years, and it is then hampered by other conditions and qualifications—if, as was said yesterday, what is given with one hand is taken away with another—that, indeed, would be another matter. But when it comes to a question of five years or seven years, and we are told that there is a danger of the rupture of friendly relations on the ground of the difference between five years and seven years, I look into the matter a little and try to find out what those on the spot really think. I was struck yesterday on reading the Blue Book which was put into our hands to find that there was a great meeting at 696 Johannesburg to protest against the recent law. Amongst other things, we are told that a letter from Mr. Wessels was read and created great sensation. Mr. Wessels, whose name is quite familiar, strongly supports the Uitlanders' demands, and repudiates the whole proposals of the President. He lays down the condition that "nothing short of a full franchise after a certain term of years can allay the unrest and satisfy the Uitlanders' sentiment." He adds, "The term of years should not be an impracticable term—five, six, or seven years at the utmost." This man, whose letter created such a sensation amongst those present at the meeting as being such an admirable statement from their point of view, actually accepts a term of seven years as not an impossible solution of the difficulty. I hope it may be less than seven years, but, at the same time, surely I have shown that there is no case, I will not say for armed intervention, but even for the threat of war. That being the condition of affairs, why should we not hope, and hope with some confidence, that the comparatively small differences which now remain will, with patience, disappear? I am glad to recognise that yesterday the First Lord of the Treasury, who appeared at a convivial gathering in the middle of the day, made a speech of great vivacity. In the middle of it he introduced and discharged a certain number of fireworks, greatly to the advantage of the hilarious character, and no doubt to the satisfaction, of the meeting. They were received with great applause; but when he came towards the end of his speech the right hon. Gentleman came down to solid ground, as we might expect of him—the solid ground of good sense and of kindly hope. The sole desire of every man amongst us must be that things may be placed on such a footing that causes of discord may soon disappear, and that not only throughout our own colonies, but even in what may seem the unpromising soil of the Transvaal itself, we may find, as time rolls on, the Dutchmen and the Britishers more and more contented, more and more friendly, and co-operating in building up the prosperity of the great community of which in their different States they are a part. Have we no instances where a similar result has followed from our governing power, from our governing protection, in other parts-of the world? What had we in Canada? 697 Two races not nearly so akin as those in South Africa, peoples separated by religion as well as by race, and in many ways unlikely to come together; and yet not by force nor by threats, not by fomenting jealousies, not by regarding the interests of individuals or of sections, but by just dealing and patience we have obliterated the difficulties and differences that separated them. Why should we have such little faith as to doubt that in South Africa a friendly spirit and prudent action, guided and governed by large-minded statesmanship, will achieve a triumph more conspicuous still?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN,) Birmingham, W.
The right hon. Gentleman commenced his observations by regretting that I had not seen it possible to commence this Debate by an opening statement, or what he called a plain statement of the views of the Government. Sir, I certainly thought that was undesirable, because the House is already in possession of the views and policy of the Government in the Blue Books which have been presented, and it seemed to me that it would be more respectful to the House, and more convenient to the course of the Debate, that I should wait and see whether that policy was to be attacked, and, if it was to be attacked, whether it was to be attacked openly, or whether there was to be an attempt to undermine it. With a great deal of what the right hon. Gentleman has said I am able to agree, and I agree with nothing more than his wish that during the course of this Debate nothing should be said which would embitter race feeling, nothing which under any circumstances could endanger a peaceful settlement, or delay an effective one. And I gladly recognise that the right hon. Gentleman has doubtless been animated by a desire to carryout this principle. I cannot altogether congratulate him upon his success. I cannot think that some of the observations he made will conduce in any way to a friendly settlement of the difficulty; they are, I am bound to admit, rather calculated to embarrass the action of Her Majesty's Government. The right hon. Gentleman 698 commenced by pointing out what it is of the utmost importance the House should bear in mind—the danger of the situation. It is with the general situation we have to deal, and not with particular incidents. The question we have to settle is not a new question by any means. It has engaged the attention and caused anxiety to successive Governments ever since the retrocession of the Transvaal was made. Therefore it is with an old question we have to deal, and one which has been in existence at least fifteen years, although it has now been brought to a head by certain occurrences in the Transvaal, and by a petition from a very large number of British subjects which has been sent to and received by the Queen. Let me say in passing—as I must anticipate a little the criticism which may yet be forth-coming—that, in my judgment, there is no doubt whatever as to the genuineness of this petition. I think that any impartial person who reads the Blue Book and the affidavits of the persons who collected the signatures and the statements of men like Mr. White, who are of undoubted respectability, will not hesitate to accept this petition, although I would not ask them to accept every individual signature, but still to accept it as generally and accurately setting forth the views of the Uitlanders. Nobody, I imagine, or nobody of any representative importance, is going at this time of day to deny that the grievances stated in this petition are serious grievances. Even if there had been no petition at all, the question would still have arisen whether the acknowledged grievances of British subjects did or did not deserve the attention of the Government. It is true I have seen efforts made to minimise these grievances, to deny them by picking them out one by one, and by fanciful analogies endeavouring to depreciate their importance. But their cumulative effect is undoubted, and I confess I should very much like some of those gentlemen who think the kind of atmosphere in which British subjects in the Transvaal are now compelled to live is an agreeable one for freeborn Englishmen—I cannot but wish they would spend their holidays at Pretoria, and I daresay they would return wiser and sadder men. But the Government have made an independent investigation, with the facts at their disposal, of the complaints of the Uit- 699 landers. They have come to the opinion that they are well founded, and under these circumstances I do not intend to dwell upon them at any length. I am really happy, on this point, to rest myself on the statement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite made at Ilford the other day. He said—It can hardly be questioned in any quarter that many of the complaints of the Uitlanders are well founded. They have no municipal government, police protection, organised maintenance of order, or the even-handed administration of justice, which, in all civilised communities, are regarded as the very elements of civil rights and liberty.In that list, which is ample even if taken by itself, the right hon. Gentleman did not include the absolute loss of any political right whatever, the fact that a community, which is a majority in numbers, which finds at least nine-tenths of the whole taxation of the country, has not even a single seat in, or a single vote for, the governing body of the colony. The view thus put forward, and with which I agree, has received confirmation from all parts of the world. I have had occasion to study the foreign Press, and I find that, equally with the home Press, it is agreed that the grievances of the Uitlanders are of a character which Her Majesty's Government cannot ignore. I take one quotation which is a good illustration of the general tone of these remarks, which are more or less friendly according to our relations with the country they represent. This is from the Pester Lloyd, which is recognised as an influential organ of public opinion in Austria and Germany, and being published in a neutral State maybe considered to be impartial:—No great Power can tolerate such treatment of its subjects as the British Uitlanders endure in the Transvaal. If England does so, her predominance in South Africa will be destroyed.I do not confine myself to opinions in this country or in the foreign Press. The Afrikanders, the great party represented by Mr. Hofmeyr and Mr. Schreiner, have shown by their action and speeches, and in many cases also by signing petitions, that they also sympathise with the grievances of their British fellow-citizens. I go one step further and say that even in the Transvaal itself 700 there is a progressive party which does not share the prejudices of President Kruger and the majority of his supporters. Therefore I think I am justified in starting, at any rate, with the fact that these grievances are on all hands admitted, and the efforts which have been made to cast ridicule upon them in certain quarters in this House, and certain organs in the press outside, are not worthy of serious attention. But I do not want to lay stress on individual grievances. I began by agreeing with the right hon. Gentleman that the danger lies in the situation. No doubt such cases as the murder of the man Edgar, the general misconduct of the police, the subserviency of the courts of justice, the brutal and outrageous treatment of respectable Englishmen and coloured British subjects from the Mauritius and other colonies, are not to be lightly spoken of. They are grievances the continued existence of which would not be tolerated in any other country but the Transvaal, even for the length of time with which we have borne with them patiently. But if these grievances were isolated, and could be considered accidental; if when they are proved we could be sure of prompt and ready redress in answer to friendly remonstrances, I do not say any great importance would be attached to them or that they themselves would constitute a serious situation. What is serious is that these grievances are the result of a settled policy which has been in existence and pursued with the persistency of the Boer ever since the Convention of 1884 was signed. For fifteen years the Boer oligarchy—it is ridiculous to speak of it as a republic or democratic country, for at the present time it is an oligarchical Government—the efforts of that Government have been directed for the past fifteen years, contrary altogether to the spirit of the Convention, and in many cases, I believe, to the letter of the Convention, to place the Uitlanders, who are mainly British subjects, in a position of distinct and definite inferiority to the Boer inhabitants of the Transvaal. Such a policy would, I think, be irritating anywhere, but in the Transvaal such a policy is not only irritating to individuals but dangerous to Imperial interests. In the fifteen years of which I have already spoken we have been five times brought to a crisis under different Governments, and once such a state of things has provoked an in- 701 surrection. The right hon. Gentleman referred once more to the raid and to the fact that the raid has been disastrous to the cause of reform in the Transvaal. But in referring to the raid let it be recollected that, at all events, the insurrection and discontent in Johannesburg were the consequence of previous misgovernment. I have never sympathised with the raid, but I am not ashamed to say that I think those who attempted to make and did make an unsuccessful insurrection at Johannesburg had better justification for rising than is frequently afforded to those who are called rebels in other countries. But all this constant subordination and subjection of British subjects in the Transvaal to the ruling race endangers our position as the paramount Power in South Africa, and is also a constant menace to the peace and prosperity of the whole of the country. Worse than all, it has created the race antagonism of which the right hon. Gentleman speaks. The right hon. Gentleman has quoted scattered expressions of mine delivered in this House. But he did not mention that they were made shortly after the raid, and I think he will agree with me that, whatever weight may be attached to them, there must be remembered the time at which they were made and the grievances particularly to which they referred, and it would not be right to distort them into a permanent statement of policy, no matter what might have happened since. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that differences of opinion, the sentiment of race, and the antagonism of race, which prevail in South Africa constitute the most dangerous feature of the situation. He seems to imagine it would be the result of a war. I do not choose to contemplate war. But I say that if it occurred after a war it would not be in consequence of the war, because it is there now. The race antagonism exists at the present time in the strongest possible form. (Sir H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN shook his head.) The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. Let him consult his colleague the right hon. Member for South Aberdeen, who went there, and with his usual acumen and foresight gave an admirable and interesting account of the situation as he found it, and even then he found that the sight of this perpetual struggle was provoking race antagonism and animosity. Whence does this race antagonism arise? 702 It does not arise in the Orange Free State. There British subjects have no cause of complaint. They live side by side with their Dutch neighbours in perfect content and harmony. They take part in the government, and altogether they are entirely content with their situation. It does not arise with the Dutch in Cape Colony. They have absolutely no grievance. They are in a position of entire equality with their fellow subjects. It arises entirely in the Transvaal. The source of poison is there, and, being there, it cannot be prevented from spreading across the border into adjoining colonies, and the whole of this perpetual danger—which has become an urgent danger—the danger of this infection in Cape Colony and ill feeling in the Orange Free State is due to the action of the Transvaal Government. We cannot treat the Transvaal as if it were an island in the Atlantic. Just consider the extraordinary position of these people. Here is a country, mainly inhabited by British subjects, surrounded almost for its entire circumference by British colonies, whose foreign relations are under the control of the British Government, and yet where British subjects are placed in a position of humiliating inferiority, where they are subject to injury, and even to outrage, and where the friendly remonstrances of the suzerain Power are treated with contempt. What is the natural and the necessary result of this policy? This matter is sometimes discussed as if it were a question of some petty reform—the right hon. Gentleman has tried to represent it as a matter of two years' difference in the qualification for the franchise. It is nothing of the kind. It is the power and authority of the British Empire. It is the position of Great Britain in South Africa. It is the question of our predominance and how it is to be interpreted, and it is the question of peace throughout the whole of South Africa. I have spoken of the effect upon the adjacent colonies of this continual controversy, this bitter controversy, which goes on in the Transvaal. Has the right hon. Gentleman considered—I do not mean to dwell upon this point, but I must mention it—what effect it has and is likely to have upon the attitude of the natives, for many millions of whom we are responsible, who, owing entirely to our prestige and influence, remain quiet and peaceable, 703 although they form a majority of the inhabitants in South Africa? They see this contest going on. They see that that country by which they were defeated, and which presumes to govern them, is treated with scant courtesy by another State, and they begin to think that the strength is on the other side, and our influence is weakened over them, our prestige is seriously impaired, and a great danger—I speak with all sense of responsibility—is thereby incurred. That the position which I have explained lowers our prestige in the sight of all our colonies and dependencies, and in the eyes of every foreign nation, goes without saying. But we need not go outside South Africa to see how serious the matter is, and how absolutely necessary it is that it should come to a head and be satisfactorily settled. The nature of the position is recognised everywhere, I think, but on the benches opposite. It is recognised throughout the Empire, as is proved and emphasised by the offers of assistance from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Canada, West Africa, and the Malay States I hope we may never be called upon to accept these offers, or even seriously to consider them; but if this question is happily disposed of it will always be a matter of satisfaction that in any time of difficulty and trial this country may count on the loyal and active support of its colonies.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I do not know that the number of farmers inhabiting the Transvaal has anything whatever to do with the justice and right of any cause of difference between us. I say it has been approved by the action of our colonies. It is approved also by the comments of the foreign Press, which are generally hostile, and by the much more friendly sentiments which we read in the columns of the Press of the United States of America. I have endeavoured to lay the whole case before the House, in order that its importance may be understood. I think that if this state of things were to be allowed indefinitely to continue, it might cause us in the future many wars, and be the prelude to something like a national disaster. What 704 is at stake, then, is our position in South Africa. It is not a question of dynamite, it is not a question even of personal outrage; but it is a question of our position as the predominant Power in a country which includes also the most important strategic post in the Empire. We are told that in this case we have no right to interfere. It is said that the state of things which has been created is not a breach of the Convention. I think there is a good deal of confusion as to our position with regard to the Convention. The Conventions extend our right of interference; they do not limit it. Even if there were no Conventions at all, we have the inherent right of every civilised State to protect its fellow-subjects when they appeal for protection. And upon that I should like to quote a passage from Mr. Gladstone, who was not likely to err in over-estimating our rights in such a matter. He said in the House of Commons in 1882—Wherever your subjects go, if they are in pursuit of objects not unlawful, you are under moral obligations towards them which you cannot possibly forget or ignore, and their objects being lawful, you afford them all the protection which your power enables you to give.But that being our general right, we have a particular right under the Conventions. The Conventions have been broken, as we contend, on many occasions—in the case of dynamite monopoly, in the case of other monopolies of a similar character, in the case of the war tax which it was sought to levy upon aliens, and which discriminated injuriously to them as against the burghers, and in the case of the treatment of Indian and other British subjects. But it is not only that the Convention has been broken. It has been constantly evaded, or attempted to be evaded, in the matter, for instance, of our control over treaties, with regard to the general incidence of taxation, which according to the letter of the Convention should be equal as between burghers and aliens, in regard to the administration of the Press Law, and in regard to the Convention with the Swazis. And all these continual—I will not call them breaches, for I not think they go so far as that, but all these continual evasions of the Convention have naturally given rise to the suspicion that there is a deliberate attempt to get out 705 of the Convention altogether and to render it of no importance. It has been broken in the spirit more than it has been broken in the letter. The whole spirit of the Convention is the preservation of equality as between all the white inhabitants of the Transvaal, and the whole policy of the Transvaal has been to promote a position of inferiority on the part of certain classes. There is something even more striking than that. The Conventions were, of course, the result of a previous conference. At that conference definite promises were made which make it impossible to doubt with what object the Convention was signed. On May 10th, 1881, at a conference between representatives of Her Majesty and representatives of the Transvaal the President, Sir Hercules Robinson, asked this question:—Before annexation, had British subjects complete freedom of trade throughout the Transvaal? Were they on the same footing as citizens of the Transvaal?Mr. Kruger replied: They were on the same footing as the burghers. There was not the slightest difference in accordance with the Sand River Convention.Sir Hercules Robinson: I presume you will not object to that continuing?Mr. Kruger: No. There will be equal protection for everybody.Sir. Evelyn Wood: And equal privileges?Mr. Kruger: We make no difference so far as burgher rights are concerned. There may, perhaps, be some slight difference in the case of a young person who has just come into the country.Now, there is a distinct promise given by the man who is now President of the Transvaal State that, so far as burgher rights were concerned, they made and would make no difference whatever between burghers and those who came in. The root of the difficulty which I have been describing lies in the fact that this promise has not been kept, and that not only has there been no approach to the equality which was supposed to be guaranteed by the Convention, but that every act of the Transvaal Government has tended to make that inferiority more marked and more offensive. If, therefore, we are asked by what right we claim to interfere in what are admitted to be the internal affairs of the Transvaal, my answer is—in the first place, because we have the rights of every civilised Power 706 to protect their own subjects; in the second place, because we have special rights as suzerain Power; in the third place, because the Conventions have been broken both in the letter and in the spirit: and in the fourth place, because the promises upon which the Conventions themselves were based have not been kept. That being our position, what may we rightly claim? In my opinion, in accordance with equity, and in accordance with international law, we might claim that the Transvaal Government should put matters back to where they were in 1884. All this legislation which has been gradually imposed, and which has tended to restrict and impair the rights of the Uitlanders, and which has increased and created inequality between them and the burghers—all that should be swept away. In my opinion, we have an absolute moral right to make that demand. And, of course, if it be impossible for us to come to terms; if the Transvaal, of its own accord, does not meet the very moderate suggestions that have been made, we are not prohibited by anything that has hitherto been asked from putting in the whole of our claim. But we have adopted the view of Sir Alfred Milner, whose course in this matter has been, indeed, criticized by some persons—I think a very small minority of his fellow-countrymen—but whose action we entirely adopt. Sir Alfred Milner came to the conclusion, in which we think he was right, that the first step to a settlement, the change which would be of the greatest importance, which would relieve the tension, which would probably secure in the long run an absolutely satisfactory settlement, was that the Uitlanders themselves should be given some substantial and immediate representation. We did not ask, and he did not ask, for the franchise for itself; we asked for it only as a means to an end, as the best means, as likely to be the most pacific means, as the means which President Kruger could most easily concede, without loss of dignity or of authority. We asked for it as a means to an end, and that end is to give the Uitlanders such a moderate representation in the Transvaal Parliament as will enable them, not to swamp the burghers, about whom the right hon. Gentleman showed considerable anxiety, but to put forward their views and their grievances, and to secure that public opinion shall be directed to them. 707 and perhaps, in the long run, to obtain satisfactory and sufficient redress. It was with this object that Sir A. Milner made his proposals. What were those proposals? I beg the Committee not to labour the question of the details of this enfranchisement. The whole point is this—does it give substantial and immediate representation? Whether a particular number of Uitlanders would be enfranchised, whether the qualification is five or seven years' residence, and all the other details, may be put aside if you keep your view fixed on that one object—substantial and immediate representation. Sir A. Milner's proposals would have given immediate and substantial representation. They would have given the Uitlanders at once one-fifth of the First Volksraad. That was the object; and if it had been conceded and taken advantage of, that would have been the result. It is not easy to see how that suggestion can possibly be reduced and still be effective. I do not think that any man in this House will say that less than one-fifth of the representation would be a substantial representation in the First Raad. But at the same time I wish it to be understood that Her Majesty's Government are not wedded pedantically to the terms of this proposal. We are willing to consider any alternatives which may be suggested; but we shall test them all by the same standard—do they give this substantial and immediate representation? It is quite unnecessary to dwell upon the absolutely illusory character of the first two successive proposals made by the President. In each case it took some time to ascertain what they amounted to. But now it is recognised by everybody—and by President Kruger as much as by any one else—that they were entirely inadequate; and they have gone to a limbo from which, I hope, they will never return. But it is to be borne in mind in reference to these proposals, and in reference to the very strong praise which the right hon. Gentlemen opposite gave to the efforts of Mr. Schreiner and Mr. Hofmeyr, that those gentlemen declared each of these absolutely illusory and inadequate proposals, as they appeared, to be adequate and satisfactory. I confess I have always been unable to understand why Mr. Schreiner rushed into print the moment the second proposals were made, in order to assure his constituents that he regarded them as thoroughly satisfactory.
708 Why, Sir, he is the representative of the Dutch feeling in the colony. Good gracious What would the Dutch say if our laws bore any resemblance, however distant, to those proposals of President Kruger's, which, nevertheless, Mr. Schreiner thought were entirely adequate and satisfactory where men of British race were concerned? When these gentlemen, therefore, are quoted as impartial judges, whose assistance on every occasion we are to invite, and by whose counsel we are to be guided, the House must bear in mind that, at all events, as far as past experience goes, they have always been a little premature in accepting proposals made by the Transvaal Government, before ascertaining what their effect would be. Now I come to the latest proposal of President Kruger, and I am glad to get it, because it marks the first advance in this business. I and the Government are desirous of regarding it as an indication of a conciliatory spirit. We recognise that it is a real advance upon previous proposals, and we hope to find in it a basis for a satisfactory settlement. I am not going to insult President Kruger by supposing that this proposal has been made otherwise than in perfect good faith. I assume that it is a bonâ fide attempt to meet Her Majesty's Government's representations, and that President Kruger is not going to break the word of promise to the hope and keep it to the ear. The only point is that in regard to this, as in regard to the previous proposals, we have to see by careful examination the probable result, and whether or not it is likely to give immediate and substantial representation. But if it does not; if we are able to show that it does not; then—I will assume that President Kruger must have the same object that we have, and must be seeking, as we are, to relieve the pressure of a great number of questions by allowing the Uitlanders to work out their own salvation by means of separate representation—President Kruger, who is aware of this, and must share our views, will, no doubt, be willing to make such alterations in his latest proposals as will make them effective in this result. The right hon. Gentleman hoped that in this matter there would be no threats. He suggested that there had been threats. He complained of the attitude of the Press. Sir, I heartily join him. I also think that the attitude of a portion of the Press has been 709 almost the only danger to peace in this business. But I do not think it is the same Press as that which the right hon. Gentleman had in his mind. In my opinion, no responsible person can be properly accused of having used threats up to the present time; and while I feel it would be wrong to say that the difficulty is settled, I do not think the time has come for anything of which the right hon. Gentleman could complain in the nature of either spoken or written language. We regret very much that President Kruger did not see fit to communicate to us the proposals which he was about to submit to the Volksraad, in order that we might have consulted with him in a friendly way, and the matter might not be dealt with without our having an opportunity of saying a single word of comment or criticism. The result has been, of course, that the Act has now passed the Volksraad; and we are told that it is finally fixed. If we were to take that literally it would be an unfortunate statement. But I do not take it literally. The President, in the communication in which he refused to communicate the Act, invited friendly advice. We think that we are justified in those circumstances in appealing to him—as we have done—that a joint inquiry shall be held into these latest proposals with a view of seeing how far they will go in giving that substantial and immediate representation to the alien population which alone can be considered as a basis of satisfactory settlement. If this inquiry is accepted, and when it is concluded, the experts who will be engaged in it will make their report to Her Majesty's Government and to President Kruger, and then we hope that it may be possible for us to come to an agreement. In any case, we shall press for the necessary alterations in order to secure the object which I have stated. I have said that up to the present time we have used no threats. We have issued no ultimatum, and we do not intend to be hurried. I regret most seriously and I sympathise with the state of tension which is caused by delay in the Transvaal itself and in the surrounding colonies. I recognise that many of the inhabitants of that country must be suffering loss and great anxiety in consequence. But at the same time the responsibility of this business is ours, and it is so great a responsibility that we must choose our own time and method for giving effect to the policy 710 which we have announced. But while we intend to exhaust conciliatory methods and what is called "moral pressure," we have come to the conclusion that the grievances of the Uitlanders are substantial grievances, and that the situation which they have caused is a matter of Imperial concern. We have taken up the cause, and we are bound to see it through. And we shall not rest until a conclusion satisfactory in our opinion at any rate has been reached. I hope, and indeed I anticipate, that our efforts will be successful. But I am bound to take note of some language used by the right hon. Gentleman opposite; and I am bound to say in the plainest way that we will not tie our hands by any pledge as to ulterior measures which may be necessary if—to put an unfortunate and, I hope, most improbable hypothesis—our efforts are unavailing. We have promised to exhaust moral pressure. Yes, Sir, but the right hon. Gentleman does not appear to be satisfied with that. He says, repeating what he had said on a previous occasion, that he thought there should be no threats or hints of war; that there should be even no preparations for war; that there is nothing in what has happened, or in the present state of things, which furnishes a case for armed intervention. I should like to have a clear issue. We do not shrink from it. If that be the opinion of hon. Gentlemen opposite, let them give effect to it. What does it amount to? It amounts to this—that the right hon. Gentleman opposite recognises the grievances, he recognises the danger of the situation, he recognises our right to interfere, and he recognises that we are to use moral pressure; but, he says, "you must accompany that moral pressure by a declaration that under no circumstances will you ever transform it—"
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
On the contrary. I said that in South Africa, as in all parts of the globe where we are concerned, circumstances may arise at any time from year to year which—I used such a slipshod phrase as that—would compel us to take up arms in protection of our interests, or something like that.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I am sure that was what the right hon. Gentleman 711 intended to say, but I think he will find to-morrow that he accidentally dropped it. In any case, I am very glad that he should make that declaration now. The difference between us is not so great as I thought. I am not certain that there is an issue at all. I should have wished his declaration to be in less general terms. The right hon. Gentleman was positive enough in saying that there was now no cause for intervention. I wish he had been equally clear when the cause for intervention might arise. At all events, I may take this—that the right hon. Gentleman is not, as I supposed, one of those who think that moral pressure can be continued indefinitely. If moral pressure is continued indefinitely without result, it degenerates into nagging; it is ineffective, it is undignified. There must be a point at all events at which moral pressure will be considered by everyone to have been exhausted of all the merit in it, and I am most glad to elicit the statement from the right hon. Gentleman. At least I will put it in this way—I am very glad to have given the right hon. Gentleman the opportunity——
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Will the hon. Gentleman wait till I finish my sentence? I say, I am very glad to have given the right hon. Gentleman the opportunity of repeating his statement, because I attach more importance to that statement than to all the rest of his speech. I confess that I was a little afraid the statement made some time ago by Lord Kimberley might be justified on the present occasion also. It was in a letter which he wrote to Lord Selborne (it is published in his memoirs), dated about the time of the retrocession of the Transvaal or a little after: "I entirely agree with you that we ought to maintain a firm attitude." That is the position of the right hon. Gentleman opposite now; he thinks we ought to maintain a firm attitude. "But there is a disposition in so many members of our party to imagine that our Empire can be, and ought to be, maintained without ever resorting to force that I foresee difficulties when it comes to the real pinch." I was terribly afraid that the right hon. Gentle 712 man might foresee difficulties when it came to the pinch.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I think that was when the right hon. Gentleman was a member of the Cabinet.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Certainly it was; but I do not myself see the point of that observation. Because I can only say that if the right hon. Gentleman thinks I differed much at that time from Lord Kimberley in believing that there might be difficulties in the Liberal party of that day he is entirely mistaken. I should rejoice to think that now those difficulties are no longer to be faced. Now, there is one other point. We are told that the circumstances of the Transvaal are altogether exceptional, that the difficulty is so complicated by the presence of two races in South Africa that what it might be fitting and right to do in the case of another land against whom we had similar complaints would not be wise or politic in the case of the Transvaal, and that if we go in any way beyond this moral pressure we shall provoke a dangerous agitation among our Dutch follow subjects. Do not the right hon. Gentleman and his friends see that that is inconsistent with the indignation which some of them express at the suggestion, or the statement, in Sir Alfred Milner's despatch that a particular propaganda would tend to promote disaffection among the Dutch? You cannot at the same time maintain that the Dutch are so loyal that they may be always relied upon to support the Imperial Government, and also say that if anything is done to which they take exception you are promoting a dangerous disaffection. But I believe, myself, that all these fears of Dutch disaffection are exaggerated. It might be quite possible or probable if the Dutch had any cause of grievance themselves; but the Dutch in the Cape Colony have everything which is denied to the British in the Transvaal. In regard to the education of their children, in regard to the administration of justice, in respect of civil and political rights, they stand in precisely the same position of equality; and even more, because at the present moment, while they command only a minority of votes, they actually have in power a Ministry repre- 713 senting them and their section. Under these circumstances, I believe it would be impossible for the Dutch colonists in their hearts to disapprove any efforts we may make to extend the equality which they enjoy to the rest of their fellow-subjects in South Africa. In the meantime, I would invite and appeal to the House not to follow the right hon. Gentleman in forgetting that there is another side to this question—that there are British in South Africa, and that the British are in a majority over the whole white population in South Africa. Under these circumstances, their claims also have to be considered. They have great claims, and it would be a fatal mistake to ignore, in deference to the sentiment of the Dutch, who have no grievance whatever, the feeling of the loyal British, or to discourage their faith in the flag which covers them. As to the opinion of the Dutch of Cape Colony and throughout South Africa there cannot be the slightest doubt. To-day, or yesterday, I received intimation of the despatch of a petition signed by 48,000 adult white British subjects in Natal, Cape Colony, and Rhodesia. And I have received from the Government of Natal an account of the way in which the petition had been got up, carefully excluding all Civil servants, all railway officials, and all those who might be said to be in any way prejudiced by their official position. I think it is the most remarkable demonstration of the unanimity of British feeling in the whole of that district which has ever been received in the course of this long controversy. I should like to read to the House a few words of this petition, because it puts admirably in a few sentences what I have been endeavouring to impress on the House:Your Majesty's petitioners, being British subjects resident in the colony of Natal, wish to express their sympathy with those thousands of their fellow-subjects in the Transvaal whose petition your Majesty has been graciously pleased to receive. That men of British origin engaged in an industry of vital concern to the prosperity of all South Africa should labour on sufferance under unjust laws partially administered; that they should contribute nearly the whole of the revenue of the State and have no voice in its disposal; that, while themselves rigorously disarmed, they should have to watch the fruits of their labour being applied to swell the military strength of the class which holds their liberties and even their lives at its disposal; this is a position repugnant to good sentiments. Moreover, it is a source of un- 714 rest, insecurity, and injury to business throughout your Majesty's South African possessions. In all these possessions the rule is absolutely equal rights for the Dutch-speaking and English-speaking populations. In the South African Republic alone are the latter denied, not only equal rights, but political rights altogether. From this contrast springs an intense race feeling which tends increasingly to divide and embitter all South Africa.Your Majesty's petitioners feel that it is time that this state of things should be radically reformed, and, while yielding to none in their appreciation of the blessings of peace, are assured that only thus can peace be put on a firm foundation.Now, Sir, in conclusion, the situation I have described is undoubtedly a very difficult and painful one, and I will try to sum it up. There is no monopoly on the other side of a desire for peace. I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman should have fallen into that mistake. Some of his friends have spoken and written of me as if I were a most truculent buccaneer with most bloodthirsty prejudices and desires, struggling to impose them upon reluctant colleagues. Well, the extracts which he has quoted from my speeches are, I think, sufficient contradiction. This question was coming to a head in the period of the last Government. Lord Ripon's despatch in 1894 could not have remained long unanswered, but everything was thrown back by the raid; and no doubt the delay is due to the sense which we all feel of having put ourselves in the wrong. It was felt that that was not the time for us to put exceptional pressure on President Kruger, and that we should be rather wise and perhaps more generous if we waited for him in voluntary goodwill to give us some approach to the reforms we were led to believe he would desire to give. He made promises which I regret have never been fulfilled. During the whole of these three years the attitude of the Colonial Office and the Government has been one of excessive patience and moderation. We have avoided as far as possible every cause of complaint, perhaps too much so. We sometimes, I admit, put aside causes which we sympathised with because we did not wish to provoke a crisis or bring matters prematurely to a head. We have waited in the hope that President Kruger would make some concession; on the contrary, things have gone from bad to worse. In the first Blue Book sent out from the Colonial 715 Office it is made clear in almost every quarter that legislation since the raid has increased the disabilities of the Uitlander population and put them in a more and more inferior position. Therefore I think it cannot be any longer said with any fairness and without the risk of creating a mischievous misapprehension, that either I myself or any of my colleagues have been at all anxious to press matters forward to a premature conclusion. Sir, no one dreams of acquiring this country which we of our free will retroceded. No one has any wish whatever to interfere with the independence which we have granted; on the contrary, we desire to strengthen this independence. We desire to place it on a firm basis by turning discontented aliens into loyal fellow-citizens of the present Dutch Republic. Our interest is to maintain the freedom and the prosperity of the Transvaal Republic. We want to see it continuing in existence on similar lines to the Orange Free State, protected as to its outside relations and independent as to its internal affairs. But, on the other hand, the condition of our noninterference is that the Government of the Transvaal should accept in principle and make some approach in practice to that equality of condition between the two white races which was intended to be provided by the Convention, and was certainly promised in the interviews and conferences before the Convention was signed. Without this the Transvaal will remain what it is at present—a source of turbulence, disturbance, and danger. Although the situation is an anxious one, I am hopeful for the future. I am hopeful for two reasons. In the first place, because I believe that in spite of speeches and articles, which have been misunderstood, perhaps, and which at all events have been taken by the governing authorities at Pretoria as indicating a greater sympathy with them than I believe to be the case—in spite of this President Kruger has, I believe, come to the conclusion that the Government are in earnest, and that they have the people behind them. I trust under these circumstances to his common-sense. I trust to his present knowledge that reforms are necessary, and I hope we may be able to convince him in any further negotiations and communications that we do not seek to do him or his country any harm; but rather, by the 716 reforms which we insist upon, to help him to maintain his position and his authority, whilst at the same time securing justice to all the inhabitants of the country. But I am hopeful for a second reason, and that is because I have an absolute conviction that the great mass of the people of this country are prepared to support us, if the necessity should arise, in any measures we may think it necessary to take to secure justice to the British subjects in the Transvaal, and the due observance of the promises and Conventions upon which the independence of the Transvaal has been founded.
§ SIR W. GURDON (Norfolk, N.)
I venture to ask to say a few words on this question, as I have been despatched on missions to the Transvaal by both Conservative and Liberal Governments, and I have, therefore, learnt by experience the good as well as the bad qualities of the Boers. I grant that many of them are uneducated, ignorant, and obstinate, and for that reason the very worst people to be treated with injustice. Under a rough exterior they are sensitive and proud; and while they never forget a kindness, they do not easily forget a wrong. And we have wronged them in times past. At the commencement of the century we acquired the Old Colony by right of conquest; we took it in fair warfare; but it is no wonder that those who had won their country from savage tribes and wild beasts, and had undergone great hardships before they rendered it habitable, should have been unwilling to remain under foreign rule. Some of them emigrated to the Orange territory, which was speedily annexed; but in those days annexation was not the fashion; it was not considered smart as it is now, but on the contrary rather vulgar, and the country was given back with, I believe, the unanimous consent of Parliament, and of the nation, so far as the nation knew or cared anything about it. The Secretary of State for the Colonies alluded to the friendly feeling between the British and Dutch in the Orange Free State, but that country has not the same grievances to look back upon as the Transvaal. Some migrated to Natal, where they found a beautiful, fertile, and well-watered country; but they suffered great hardship before they could settle down in peace. The province in which 717 Dingaan's massacre occurred is called Weener, or "Wailing,"to this day. After forty years the inevitable annexation followed, and then those who did not wish to remain under British rule trekked northward, and found a vast tract of country, desolated and almost uninhabited after the great raid of the chief Mose-likatse. Then, after thirty years more, came the annexation of 1877. Never was a country to which the famous maxim of Lord Melbourne was more applicable: "Can't you let it alone? "If the advice of my right hon. friend the Member for Bodmin had been followed at that time, the Transvaal would have annexed itself in a few years. There were then no restrictions on the franchise; the British residents would gradually have become the majority, and would have voted themselves a British colony. There will be no such vote now; it is simply a question who will be masters in the Republic. There was much talk at the time of Shepstone marching into the Transvaal, with an escort of eight policemen, and hoisting the British flag in the market place of Pretoria. In point of fact, in a country as large as France, only containing about 40,000 inhabitants, there were many who never heard of the annexation until months afterwards. There was, indeed, a sort of vote in the Volksraad, but was that sufficient? What would be said if this Chamber were to vote the annexation of the United Kingdom to France or to Germany, without a plébiscite, without even a dissolution? We made great promises; we promised to put down the robber chief Sikukuni; we did not fulfil that promise for more than two years; we promised to call together the Volksraad; we never called it at all. The Government of the day seems to have put aside and forgotten the whole question, as a child forgets its lesson. Our officials have not always understood the Boers; they have not made allowances for a brave and free people, who were attached to the land which they had won so hardly. I have always believed that the secret of the success of our rule in India and the Malay Peninsula lay in the fact that we have never attempted to force our language on the inhabitants. No officer is appointed to India until he has mastered at least two native languages. But in the Transvaal we endeavoured to force our own language on the people, a fact which we now apparently 718 find it convenient to forget. Successive Governors of the Cape and Natal—Lord Loch, Lord Rosmead, Sir Walter Hutchinson—have done their best to smooth the differences, and not without success. Only, three weeks before the unfortunate raid the Prime Minister of Natal and the President of the Transvaal had met at a ceremony connected with Dingaan's Day, and had each spoken hoping that all enmity between the Dutch and the British might be buried and forgotten. I was very glad to hoar the Colonial Secretary speak in strong reprobation of the Jameson raid. It was cowardly and treacherous in its inception; cowardly and pusillanimous in its ending. I happened to be in Natal just after the occurrence, and I saw the strong feeling against the raiders which prevailed almost universally. I was speaking to one of the most eminent of the Natal statesman, and I remarked that no respectable savages, such as the Zulus or Swazis, would ever invade a foreign country without sending a declaration of war—a spear or a few bullets. "Ah," said he, "but then the Zulus are gentlemen." And if the raid was treacherous in its beginning, it ended in a most cowardly surrender. I believe it is not generally known that 700 men started from Pitsani; 500 were taken prisoners, 30 or 40 were wounded, and 18 killed, so that 140 men must have melted away on the march—turned round and gone home again. But what would be said of a British regiment which surrendered when only eighteen men were killed, and not one of their own officers? Why, every hon. Gentleman knows that the regiment would be disbanded, its name would be erased from the Army List, every officer would be court-martialied, and the commander would be shot, "pour encourager les autres." We admired the generosity and astuteness of President Kruger in handing over the prisoners; it was, no doubt, a wise diplomatic move; but if we take the high moral ground, I am not sure that he ought not to have shot the leaders. We have always ourselves done so on similar occasions. The Colonial Secretary spoke as if the raiders had intended to help the Uitlanders; but I think he will find that the Johannes-burghers believe that they would have obtained all they wanted peacefully, had it not been for this ill-timed interference. There is another view of the matter; the influence of the Crown had been steadily 719 increasing, the influence of the Chartered Company had been waning; and it appears to me that the object of the raiders was to place the interests of the Chartered Company before those of this country. Sir, I acknowledge that the Uitlanders have grievances, but I think that they have been somewhat exaggerated. It is said that the natives have been cruelly treated, and there have undoubtedly been such cases; but I fear that we are not altogether guiltless of the same crime. I have visited almost all Her Majesty's possessions in which there are coloured races, but I cannot remember any one where their treatment is thoroughly satisfactory. The only country in which I have seen the natives treated with true humanity is governed by an Englishman, but is not under British rule; I mean the territory of Sarawak, in Borneo, so admirably administered by Rajah Brooke. No doubt the police force contains many unfit members, but I have heard complaints against the police of other nations. Only the other day there was considerable stir about some newspaper correspondent, who was struck in the eye; but the man who assaulted him was duly prosecuted, and received much the same punishment as would have been awarded in this country. And I must say that I am ashamed to hear of a man calling himself a British subject, who is hit in the eye, and appeals to the police. It is the boast of the South African mining districts that the use of bowie knives and revolvers is almost unknown; but Nature has provided us with means of defence; and there is moreover an excellent weapon in South Africa called a slambok, a whip of hippopotamus hide, with which adequate punishment can be inflicted without risk of life. Then as regards the franchise. What is our position at home? A man may belong to a family which has lived 800 or 1,000 years in England, but he does not enter into the rights of citizenship on becoming of full age. He must be an occupier, and as we most of us become occupiers at Michaelmas he must then wait two years and a quarter before he obtains the franchise. And if he ever moves to another constituency—it may be only a mile, it may be only 100 yards—he loses his citizenship for a twelvemonth; he becomes a helot. He may even become a helot by a more error. My hon. friend the Member for Norwich was very anxious, on a recent occasion, to 720 vote for me or against me. His opinions do not exactly coincide with mine, but personal friendship would probably have induced him to make his mark opposite my name. But when he arrived at the polling place, burning with desire to record his vote, he found that by a clerical error of the revising barrister he had become a helot, and a helot he will remain until the 1st of January next. I wonder what the Press would have said if an important Member of the Raad, say Mr. Beit, wore to become a helot by a clerical error of the Field Cornet? What would be said if President Kruger were to publish such a statement as appears in Sir A. Milner's speech on opening the Cape Parliament? "A Bill will be introduced for restricting the immigration of undesirable aliens." The Colonial Secretary told us the other day that the time required for an alien to obtain a vote in this country varies from five years and five months to six years and five months. It would actually take about a fortnight longer, so that the average time is, as nearly as possible, six years. Is there sufficient ground for complaint in the difference between that term and the proposed seven years in the Transvaal, provided that, as I understand is the case, the law is made retrospective? Moreover, there are very many of the Uitlanders who only come to the Transvaal to make a fortune quickly, to earn high wages for four or five years, who do not wish for the franchise, and are only too glad of an excuse not to be mixed up in politics. Sir, I have ventured to transgress on the time of the House because I feel very deeply on this subject. I believe that the Boer, if not unjustly treated, is a good fellow, an honest follow, and, as I know, a hospitable fellow. I have heard it said that he is not grateful for the action of this country in 1881; that is not my experience. I believe he fully realises that it would be impossible for him to contend against the vast power of Britain. War in South Africa would be the greatest calamity that could happen to our nation. Of the immediate issue there could be no doubt. The Boers would fight bravely, but they would be crushed by the great force brought against them. But that would not be the end. From that day you must govern South Africa by the sword; you must hold South Africa by the sword. And you cannot hold a nation for ever by the 721 sword. More than a century ago we lost the fairest colonies that Britain ever possessed. I trust that blunder will never be repeated. We were then under the influence of an autocratic king; we now have a wise and far-seeing sovereign, who understands the advantages of constitutional government and knows the blessings of peace. And I hope that when the issue of this Debate is known, when the words which may be spoken this night are flashed along the telegraph, they will convey to our South African neighbours a message of peace, a message of goodwill, and I would even say, if need be, a message of forbearance.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
No debate which has taken place in the House of Commons will be read with more anxiety all over the Empire of the Queen than this. I recognise two dangers in the present situation. The first is the ignorance of the Dutch population. My experience is entirely opposed to that of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I visited the Transvaal a little over a year ago, and I found amongst the Dutch a firmly-fixed conviction that as they had licked the army of Great Britain in former times, they could repeat the operation whenever it became necessary. The other danger is the division of opinion in this country on the matter. I must say—if I may say so without offence—that a more mischievous speech than that of the Leader of the Opposition I have never heard. If I understood the right hon. Gentleman, his opinion was that we have the right to use as much moral pressure as we please, but must go no farther.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
Then in that case I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman did say. I venture, however, to say that when he reads his speech to-morrow he will see—and I took his words down at the time—that he distinctly said that we have no right whatever to go beyond moral pressure in dealing with the Transvaal. Of course if the right hon. Gentleman believes, as I do, and as I am confident the great 722 majority of the House of Commons and the British people believe, that moral pressure to be of any use must, if necessary, be backed up by force, I quite agree with him. Certainly we want to exhaust moral preesure to its utmost, and I believe I am speaking the feeling of the House of Commons, as well as of the British people in South Africa, when I say that we should all deprecate from the bottom of our hearts the necessity of going to war with the South African Republic. I do not believe in the whole House of Commons there is to be found a Jingo of the kind who desires to see prevailing in South Africa a condition of affairs of such a deplorable and far-reaching character. But, at the same time, if we take up the position that in no circumstances are we prepared to back up moral suasion by force, President Kruger would say, "What a fool I was to make so many offers as I have already. "I always think that President Kruger and the Sultan of Turkey are the two most successful men of the day. They both accept any amount of advice which they never follow, and they both make any number of promises which they never keep. But it strikes me that hon. Gentlemen opposite, so far from conducing to that peace which we so much desire, will achieve exactly the opposite result. They seem to think that no amount of tyranny on the part of the Transvaal and no amount of injustice would justify this country in exerting the whole force of the Empire to bring about that reign of justice and peace on which alone the fortunes of the Transvaal and South Africa depend. But what caused the present situation?
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
That is not the fact. Why do we meet with this hostile Dutch feeling? The present difficulty is, Majuba Hill coming home to roost. I do not wish to ascribe to Mr. Gladstone's Government, who made that unfortunate surrender, any unpatriotic motives. They said they were, and I believe they were, actuated by feelings of humanity; but I have been given to understand that their feelings of humanity were kept up to the mark by a memorial signed by between eighty and ninety of 723 their followers to the effect that if they did not make peace they would vote against them. No doubt they expected the surrender to attract the gratitude of the Boer population, but I do not believe that ever happened, either in the case of the individual or the nation. Ever since Majuba all those who have been to South Africa know that we have been sitting in the mud and trying to arrange our difficulties with the Transvaal from that position. Under the guidance of Her Majesty's Government, backed by the overwhelming opinion in the country, we are now at last standing up. What is the attitude we now assume with regard to the Transvaal? I quite sympathise with the feeling of the Boers that they do not want to be swamped by the Uitlander population. If I were a Boer I should object to it myself. But if you read the proposals of Sir Alfred Milner you will see that he himself realises that difficulty, and I believe this House would never consent to try and force President Kruger and his Government into any arrangement which would swamp him and his fellow-countrymen. If you look at the proposals which have been made you will see that they are of the most modest description. My right hon. friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies has admirably expressed his feeling and the feeling of Sir Alfred Milner, and I believe also the feeling of this House, when he said that we must have an immediate and sufficient representation for the Uitlander, and that sufficient representation, I think, amounts to one-fifth of the representatives in the Raad. Surely one-fifth is not an over-representation, and is not likely to swamp the Boer Government, or the representation of the Boer people. There is another reason why we have been for so many years divided from our fellow-subjects in South Africa. It is not a question of the raid; it is not a question of recent years, but it was started immediately after the surrender of Majuba, and that has been the reason why the white races in South Africa have been divided by so clear a cleavage, which has been such a great misfortune to the progress and peace of the country. Immediately after that surrender, when the prestige of England was at its very lowest and that of the Dutch at its very highest, Mr. Hofmeyr and his friends founded what is known as the "Afrikander Bond." That Bond has had more to do with this 724 cleavage than anything else during the last fifteen years. What is the value of the Afrikander Bond? I happen to be very fortunately circumstanced in having obtained the most accurate copy that can be conceived of the rules and regulations of the Afrikander Bond—in fact it is a copy of Mr. Hofmeyr's own set, so that it is about the most authentic copy in the world. Most people imagine that the Afrikander Bond resembles an ordinary political association such as we have in this country, but there is a very considerable difference. The Afrikander Bond is founded to create in South Africa an Afrikander nationality and to prepare it to become an Afrikander power—that is to say, a Dutch nationality and a Dutch power.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
My right hon. friend says "No;" but he does not know anything about it. If he will let me read I will show him that the Afrikander Bond applies to the Dutch, and only nominally to any inhabitants of South Africa. It was created with the view of binding in one solid whole the Dutch population in South Africa, not only with the Cape Colony and Natal, but also in the Transvaal and the Free State. Branches of the Bond were established all over the Transvaal, the Free State, the Cape Colony and Natal. These branches elect district councils, and these district councils ultimately elect a council of three, which has the special duty of carrying out as far as it can the election of members to the Cape Parliament. So that you have in South Africa an organisation which derives its main funds from the Transvaal, choosing and directing the election of members to the Cape Parliament. Therefore, although President Kruger may have been perfectly correct when he said no State funds were devoted to the election of Members to the Cape Parliament, enormous sums are furnished from the Transvaal for that purpose. One remarkable rule of the Afrikander Bond is this: "One object of the Bond is that inter-meddling from outside with the economic concerns of South Africa will be resisted." That would be perfectly fair 725 if it were reciprocated, but in that case why should the Transvaal directly interfere with the Cape Colony by subscribing this money to return Members after their own heart to the Cape Parliament?
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
The Bond exists in the Transvaal, and sends money through its branches to the Central Committee, whose duty is expressly set forth in these rules as being to see that the right men are returned to Parliament and appointed to the Government offices and the offices of the State. So that you have at present a Parliament at the Cape chosen practically by the Afrikander Bond. You have the Dutch element in the majority; you have a Dutch Parliament carrying out the laws of the country, chosen and created by this association. When I read these rules and regulations I said, "There is my old friend the National League over again."
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
No, we do not interfere at all in that way; we have not money enough. My right hon. friend challenged me about the Afrikander movement being one meant to embrace really the whole population. That is not the object of the Bond. At the end of the rules and regulations there is a description of its objects and aims as set forth by the Chairman of Committees in the Cape Parliament. I will read one paragraph:Next, they had learnt that they had a right to send their own representatives to the Parliament of their country, that they had by means of their representatives a voice in the making of those laws to which they as a people had to submit, that they had a feeling of nationality which was extinguished by strangers.The strangers are the British people. Then he goes on to point out another advantage. He said:Our people speak at the present day its own language through its own representatives in the Houses of Parliament.726 That is the Dutch language. Was I not perfectly justified in saying that this organisation has had one object, and one only, and that is to create in South Africa a great dominant, powerful, omnipotent, Dutch population and Dutch power? If you asked me whether the Dutch in South Africa are really disloyal to this country, I should say not. I think they are willing to be loyal to this extent: They are quite willing that we should prevent by the power of our Navy and our Army any other country taking possession of their land. They would rather have us as the Suzerain Power than any other. But beyond that their loyalty does not go.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I want a great deal more. I want a population that is really loyal to and ready to stand by the Crown whenever called upon. The British population in South Africa are as loyal as any other subjects of the Queen, and that is a great deal more than the native loyalty, and we do not ever see it in hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
A thing which struck me during my visit to South Africa was that the Irish out there, although they preserve the memory of their politics here, and no doubt if they came back many would be Home Rulers, are as loyal to the British connection as I could be. I may, perhaps, illustrate that by saying that at Durban I was entertained by the Irish Society of that town, and the gentleman who proposed my health and was as loyal as I was, had been a member of this House where he used to express views diametrically opposed to those he put forward out there, because when in this House he was by no means an admirer of mine. That is the effect of going to South Africa. Whether a man is Irish, English, Scotch or Welsh, there is one thing at any rate he learns to stick to, and that is the benefit of the British connection.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
On the other hand, we have the Dutch population whose differences with us are carefully fanned and fostered by the Afrikander Bond. I must say that of all the remarkable pieces of advice a British statesman has ever given in this House, the most remarkable was the solution of the difficulty proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. As far as I could make out, his only suggestion of policy was that we should ask Mr. Schriener and Mr. Hofmeyr, both Bondmen of the deepest dye, to make a final arrangement with President Kruger, and above all things to avoid any possibility of imagining that we ever intended to back up their advice by force. When this Debate is read in South Africa, the speech of my right hon. friend, the Colonial Secretary, very guarded and very moderate as it was, appealing as it did to all the best instincts that may exist in the mind of President Kruger, will be clearly read and clearly understood by both sides in South Africa. I take it from that speech that Her Majesty's Government intend to leave no stone unturned to exhaust every method to bring about a peaceful solution of the question. In that they have the sympathy of the entire country. But my right hon. friend clearly indicated, and I hope the people of South Africa will understand, that when he and his Government have exhausted every means that can be devised to avoid a rupture with the Transvaal, if that unhappy moment should arise, then, in order to secure common ordinary justice for our fellow-citizens in the Transvaal, all the force of the Empire is at, his back, and will be employed. I should like to refer very briefly to the position of the Outlanders. There are two things which stand out in strong relief in the case they make. One is their demand for a fair share in the representation of a country of which they pay nine-tenths of the taxes. That ought to appeal to the Radical Party opposite. The other is that they should receive common ordinary justice. Anyone who has read Sir Alfred Milner's letter, in which he points out that at the present moment they are treated as helots, that their lives and property are not secure, will see that something must be done, and done as speedily as possible, to rectify an intolerable condition of affairs. We do not ask outsiders to interpret the nature and character of the treaties we have made 728 with the Transvaal. The important point is the view we put upon them, because that is the view we intend to enforce. We believe that those treaties have been absolutely disregarded and set aside, and it is our determination that this opportunity should be seized for making a final and lasting settlement. Weakness at the present moment would be a crime. President Kruger is a very able man, but he made a great mistake when, after the raid, which put us so much in the wrong, he did not make concessions which would have established him in the eyes of this country and of the world. Probably if he had made even less concessions than he is willing to make now this Debate and this agitation would not have been heard of. Instead of that, more and more oppression has been piled on, culminating in the murder of Edgar.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
If such a thing had happened in Ireland, what would hon. Members opposite have said? A condition of society which permits such things to be done is one which cannot be endured by British people. We do not allow arbitration, but we may consent to the arbitrament of the opinion of the world. This case has been set before the world, and where has the Transvaal any friends? Germany is now on our side, as also is France. The only country that is not on our side is Mayo, whose representatives sit opposite me. All other civilised parts of the world declare through their Press that our action with regard to the Transvaal is founded on the highest principles of justice, and that in claiming, as we do, justice for our fellow-subjects in South Africa, we are but fulfilling the primary duty of this Parliament and of this Empire.
§ MR. DILLON
The hon. and gallant Member has alluded to his famous trip to the Transvaal, and has intimated that in 729 something like three weeks he acquired an intimate knowledge of the character of the Boers. I wonder whether he was familiar with the Dutch language.
§ MR. DILLON
Because the Irish speak English. I was not aware that it was possible to acquire in three weeks an intimate knowledge of the Dutch character without being possessed of their language. After the speech we have had to-day I am not surprised that it was said that a bigger firebrand had never visited South Africa. His policy is not to settle matters with the Transvaal, but boldly to declare war on the Afrikander Bond. That was the whole temper of his speech. The Afrikander Bond was an association organised in a spirit of hostility to this Empire——
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I never said anything of the kind. I admitted that the Afrikander Bond was personally at any rate loyal to this country—tolerably loyal.
§ MR. DILLON
That is not the interpretation that most hon. Members put upon his speech, which was backed up by quotations from a book which was obtained by methods of which it is impossible to discover the exact character. I wish to say a word in reference to a subject to which a gross and shameless amount of importance has been attached in the course of these Debates, viz., the killing of Edgar. The Colonial Secretary used the terrible words which I regard as an outrage on the Transvaal people; he alluded to this as the "murder" of Edgar. It was no murder. That circumstance has been seized hold of and used without scruple to lash this country into fury, and bring us to the verge of war with a people numbering in all 30,000 grown men, against whom the Colonial Secretary is not ashamed to brag that all the forces of the British Empire have rushed to the rescue of the 730 Mother Country. What are the facts of the killing of Edgar? In the town of Johannesburg, on a certain day last February or March, a drunken brawl arose at midnight between a man named Edgar and two other English Uitlanders, no Boer being concerned in the matter in any way whatever. Edgar was going home more or less full of drink. One of the Uitlanders used an expression towards him of an insolent character, and he struck him such a heavy blow that he fell and lay senseless in the gutter. His comrade rushed up clamouring for the police, and four policemen came to the rescue. He said, "That man has just killed my pal," pointing to Edgar, and he claimed at the hands of the Boer police that they should arrest Edgar. The Boer police had a short consultation as to whether they had legal power to arrest the man, who had retired into a room close at hand. One of the policemen said he did not think it was legal to arrest him. The other Englishman continued to clamour for arrest, whereupon constable Jones put his shoulder to the door and burst it open. Before he did that, they had seen Edgar at the window with a weapon in his hand, threatening them if they came into the room. Upon the sworn testimony of the police, Edgar struck Jones with a heavy loaded stick, and the blood poured down his face and wet the front of his jacket. Edgar raised his stick again to strike Jones, whereupon Jones pulled out his revolver and shot Edgar. I am not going to say that the policeman was justified in doing this, but he was put on his trial. The Uitlanders held a meeting to influence the trial, setting at defiance the advice of the British Agent at Pretoria, and I think it is quite possible that Jones might have been convicted of manslaughter, but no human being would have dreamt of convicting him as a murderer. The passion of the Boers was naturally aroused, and the acquittal of Jones was largely due to this meeting. Is it not a monstrous outrage that a responsible statesman should hurl that unhappy incident at the Transvaal Government, and put it before the people of this country, calling it murder, for the mere purpose of inflaming passion and promoting a war feeling in this country. From that date down to the present moment this incident has been incessantly used by the newspapers of this country to promote 731 war, and one of their chief weapons has been to falsify the truth in reference to this Edgar case and ask for vengeance. That is why I attach so much importance to this incident. I might allude to much worse cases in Ireland, where I have seen men shot down before my own eyes.
§ MR. DILLON
No, not landlords, but the poor people. The hon. and gallant Member said he found a difficulty in understanding the speech of the Leader of the Opposition; but those of us who sit on this side of the House found no difficulty in understanding it at all, for we listened to it with admiration. What he said was that in all that has occurred down to this hour there is no ground for threats of war or for preparations for war. The right hon. Gentleman never said that nothing that could happen in the future could justify war. No man would be so silly as to say that, let alone a man in such a responsible position as the Leader of the Opposition. The angry comments of some of the hon. Gentlemen opposite show that they felt the weight of the right hon. Gentleman's words when he said that nothing had occurred up to this hour to justify those threats of war. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite has described as intolerable the fact that in the Transvaal there is an armed police force in the midst of an unarmed population. I would remind the hon. and gallant Gentleman that this is exactly the position in Ireland at the present moment, where I have seen unarmed men shot down by the armed police. I will now turn to the Blue Books. Some time ago I made a complaint as to the suppression of the despatches from Sir William Butler. The whole of these Blue Books are full of inflammatory and violent despatches from Sir Alfred Milner, and when you search through these Blue Books carefully you will find that they only contain one despatch from Sir William Butler, giving his opinion of the situation. In view of the fact that Sir William Butler has had a great deal more experience in South Africa than Sir Alfred Milner, and was far better acquainted with the nature of the problem with which he had to deal, I think it is a most remarkable fact that 732 during all the time when Sir Alfred Milner was over here in consultation with the Colonial Secretary, there is only one despatch in these Blue Books explaining his views. I know there are many short despatches from Mr. Green, of Pretoria, and other quarters. Sir William Butler, in regard to the question of a more vigorous application of the law, said that this might have been influenced by considerations such as those which had been suggested by Mr. Fraser; but in his opinion it would be quite as much within the region of probability to suppose that the attitude of the South African League officials at Johannesburg was responsible for much of the tone and temper adopted towards the Cape boys. And because Sir William Butler had the courage and manliness to make that statement it was instantly suppressed. I notice that in the speech of the Colonial Secretary it is stated that the situation has resulted from, the oppression of the Uitlanders by the Transvaal Government. My opinion is that this situation has arisen from the machinations of the association which is known as the South African League. Even the Colonial Secretary himself must admit that it is not right to keep back from the knowledge of the people of this country the opinion of the advisers of the Crown, yet up to the other day this opinion was carefully concealed. On the 8th of July a question was asked in the House as to whether any Minutes of the opinion of the Cape Parliament had been communicated to the Government, and the Colonial Secretary replied that no direct communication had been made. When that statement was telegraphed to South Africa Mr. Schreiner called upon Sir Alfred Milner, and insisted that the Minutes and the opinion of the Cape Government should be immediately made public. A short time afterwards the Colonial Secretary corrected his answer, and said these Minutes had reached him through Sir Alfred Milner. The efforts of the South African League to foment and excite ill-will between the two races was denounced in the Minute to the Colonial Secretary, and while the resolutions and manifestoes of the league are accorded large print, the opinion of Mr. Schreiner is relegated to the appendix in small print. I ask is it not a monstrous thing that throughout all these months, when 733 passion has been lashed into such a condition, that formal opinion of the Prime Minister of Cape Colony, which contains such an important statement, should have been withheld from the knowledge of the people of this country, and that we should have been left to form our own conclusions from what has appeared in the newspapers? That is the opinion of the Cape Ministry, which is the only body constitutionally entitled to speak on behalf of the people of Cape Colony. That is also the opinion of Sir William Butler, and against that you have only got to set the opinion of the officials of the South African League and Sir Alfred Milner himself, who, whatever may be his qualifications—and about that matter a good deal of difference of opinion exists—has only gone to South Africa quite recently, and is only qualified by the experience which he gained in Egypt, where no constitutional rights whatever exist. To my mind the whole situation presents a totally different aspect from that which has been described by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I believe that had it not been for the machinations of the South African League and the persistent interference of interested men—who, for their own selfish motives, desire to keep up this agitation—the grievances of the Uitlanders would have been removed by President Kruger long ago. In all the comments which have been made upon the action of President Kruger, it seems to be forgotten altogether that this man has only too good reason to suspect the people of this country and our Government, and when those feelings of distrust begin to pass away and there are prospects of the kindly relations between the Uitlanders and the Transvaal Government being restored, these selfish intriguers and capitalists always put their finger into the pie and spoil that good feeling at the very outset. I could quote from The Timescorrespondent at Johannesburg, who was one of the chief agents in this conspiracy, to show that when President Kruger showed any signs of making concessions he was at once interfered with, and every possible means taken to excite and inflame passion in order to destroy good feeling and to keep up these disturbances, in order that the objects of the South African League might be achieved. I say it is monstrous to throw the whole blame of the 734 trouble and the bitterness which exists throughout South Africa upon the burghers, who are naturally alarmed and anxious as to the future government of their country, when the larger share of the blame lies with the capitalists of the Rand and the machinations of the South African League. The Colonial Secretary says that the Dutch at the Cape have equal rights with the English, but in the Transvaal the Dutch are the original inhabitants and the English came there as strangers. The history of these people is a very peculiar one. The burghers of the Transvaal have endured untold hardship and suffering, and they have gone hundreds of miles away into the wilderness in order to have their freedom and live in their own way; and then strangers follow them out there in order to live under their generous laws. (Laughter.) Hon. Members may laugh at that, but I only need to point to the palaces which have been built in London out of the profits of the Transvaal mines. There is no civilized community to-day where the mining laws are more liberal than they are on the Rand. My statement is sneered at, but I may point out that we were told the other day that enormous duties had been placed upon the food of the Uitlanders, and the cost of living had been greatly increased. Upon referring to the tariff lists I find that most of the common articles of food are very lightly taxed as compared with Natal and Cape Colony, and in both those countries the taxes are much heavier upon all articles of food than they are in the Transvaal. My complaint is that there is a spirit of injustice and a want of fair play in dealing with the Transvaal, for people exaggerate everything and give the Boers credit for no virtues, although they undoubtedly possess many. It is said that this great man—Sir Alfred Milner—has been sent out there; that he knows the whole subject, and therefore we must support him. But is he so very great a man? It is considered a kind of heresy or crime of the deepest dye to criticise Sir Alfred Milner. I have read with great interest all his despatches in the Blue Books, and I say deliberately that the tone of his despatches are more worthy of a "yellow" journalist in the United States of America or an electioneering agent than of a statesman. I never read anything more unfair and more sensational than the despatches of Sir Alfred Milner since his return. They 735 consist of clippings from newspapers and partisan reports giving one side of the question without alluding to the other side. I will give one example of one despatch which in my opinion is unworthy of any man holding a position of such responsibility. In a despatch dated the 30th of June last Sir Alfred Milner sent a newspaper cutting describing his reception upon his return from England. It was a magnificent description spread eagled in the best American style, and was headed in large print, "A Strong Man Appreciated." Sir Alfred Milner clips this out of the newspaper and sends it to the Colonial Secretary as a proof of the splendid work he is doing. That is unworthy of a British statesman. When a man is anxious to see himself described as a strong man, and when he sends home newspaper clippings in which he is alluded to as a strong man, he is a dangerous man, because he is always desiring to do something to merit that description. The editor of the Cape Timescalls every day on Sir Alfred Milner, and between them in the study of the latter they concoct articles, which are published and then sent by Sir Alfred Milner to the Colonial Secretary, who issues them in a Blue Book as evidence of the opinion in South Africa, although they are merely the concoctions of Sir Alfred Milner and the editor of the Cape Times. That is a condition of things not in the least degree calculated to justify the great opinion we are called upon to hold of Sir Alfred Milner. I repeat that I consider it to be most unfair to cram these Blue Books with these inflammatory partisan and aggressive despatches of Sir Alfred Milner and with these clippings from the Cape Times,and at the same time suppress or hide away the opinions of Sir William Butler, a man in my judgment much better qualified to give a better opinion on the subject, and who has much more experience of South Africa than Sir Alfred Milner. I trust that the Colonial Secretary may not be led to follow the example set in 1877, when the Transvaal was first annexed. The Debates then are one of my earliest recollections in Parliament, and I remember how the Members who were led by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin, who was supported to some extent by the Colonial Secretary himself, were resisted with furious denunciation by the Jingoes of 736 those days. The minority who opposed the annexation of the Transvaal commenced at twenty, and sank as low as five. They were denounced as obstructionists, their language was taken down, there was an all-night sitting, and the Bill was forced through. They were described as enemies of the Empire, and the very same language to which we have recently listened over and over again was used towards them. There was one passage in a speech delivered by the late Mr. Parnell, who took an active part in that struggle, which really appears in itself to contain the essence of this whole controversy. He said:—The Government have acted on the immoral doctrine that the interests of the people of South Africa are subservient to the interests of the Empire at large. The House is asked to sanction the annexation of the South African Republic, not for the benefit of the colony, but because it is alleged to be beneficial to the Empire.That is exactly the principle we are asked to act on now. We are told by The Times and by the great prophets of the war policy that Imperial interests will suffer if the Transvaal is not brought to reason, but we heard little or nothing of the good of the inhabitants of South Africa in general. Had the Transvaal not been then annexed the seeds of suspicion and of distrust of this county which were then sown or re-sown in the breasts of the inhabitants of the Transvaal would never have been planted, and all the trouble and danger and rumours of war to which we are now subjected would never have occurred.
§ Mr. COURTNEY
My hon. and gallant friend the Member for North Armagh said in the course of his speech that this Debate was looked forward to with interest not only in South Africa, but throughout the Empire. I am not sure that his speech will be read in South Africa as showing that he has acquired a very exact, precise, or trustworthy knowledge of the circumstances; but I feel with him that this Debate is one of more than ordinary interest and more than ordinary responsibility, and I venture to hope, speaking with a very great sense of the difficulty of the task I undertake, that whatever words I may use they will be words of moderation, good temper, and judgment. The Colonial Secretary has 737 announced a very practical, important plan. If his speech had been confined to that statement I should have rejoiced at the announcement he made. He has said that a recommendation will be made to President Kruger to appoint a joint committee to investigate what would be the probable effects of the enfranchising law which has been passed in the Transvaal, whether it would secure an immediate and substantial representation for the Uitlanders. That is a most important inquiry, and if it is completed, as I suppose it will be, so that the committee shall ascertain, not only what numbers it is expected might be enfranchised under the law in the first year of its operation, but in the second and third years, and see the effect of it, not perhaps to-day, but to-morrow or next day, at all events, before we can expect any settlement by more violent means, then we shall hail the work of that committee. I hope the Transvaal Government will heartily assent to the investigation as a basis, at all events, to ascertain what are the facts we are dealing with, in contradistinction to the wild and acknowledged guesses hitherto made. My right hon. friend, unfortunately as I think, did not confine himself to that business statement. I do not think he meant to use the language of threat; he disclaimed altogether any such intention; but I do think that his language will be interpreted by others as involving menace. I also think it was most unfortunate that his analysis of the present situation should have begun at a too recent period. I will not attribute to the Government any precise and express threat; but when we read week after week of the demonstrations at the departure of troops for the Cape, when we receive almost day by day the announcements from Queens-land and New South Wales, the offers from the West Coast of Africa, from men who are administering a Crown colony and are the creatures of the Colonial Secretary, the communications between the Government of India and the Government at home announcing that 10,000 troops might be spared from India for a campaign in the Transvaal—how can we say that these statements, even if the Government is not responsible for all of them, though it cannot escape responsibility for some, will not be viewed in South Africa and elsewhere as involving a threat? I was glad to hear the answer made by the 738 Leader of the House this afternoon that no troops other than white troops will be employed if a war should break out in South Africa. That was to me a very gladdening statement, because it got rid of the West African troops, the Malays and the special men under the personal influence and direction of the Colonial Secretary.
§ MR. COURTNEY
Not at all. But as the eyes of the handmaiden look to the eyes of her mistress, and the eyes of the servant to the eyes of his master, so these offers are evidence that in the Malay States and on the West Coast of Africa the people directing the government there thought that they were doing what would be agreeable to the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. COURTNEY
But against this expression on the part of my right hon. friend I am glad to put the statement of the Leader of the House that black troops would not be employed, which disposes of any weight attaching to my right hon. friend's expression. My right hon. friend said that this is not a new matter, that we are engaged here in working out a problem which has been in course of development for many years, and that President Kruger and his special associates have made it their standing policy, which they have developed with increasing energy in successive years, to put the British residents in the Transvaal under the heel of a Dutch oligarchy. My objection to the contention of my right hon. friend is that he has not gone back far enough, and has not considered elements which are essential to any real mastery of the problem. He dated it from 1881, and I saw with astonishment that the First Lord of the Treasury, in a speech he made yesterday, referred also to the commencement of this business in 1881. Given that the difficulty is the jealousy between the Dutch and the English; given that the spring of the whole matter is this 739 feeling on the part of President Kruger of a desire to keep under the English, did nothing happen before that? Did nothing lead up to it in 1881? Has nothing happened since? Have you not to realise that this feeling, which I admit is most appalling, the strength of which is perhaps the sting of the situation, must be traced to something far before 1881? Appeal has been made to the easy treatment under which the Dutch are admitted to constitutional privileges in the Cape and Natal. Everyone who knows the history of the Cape knows very well that the Dutch for a long time had no constitutional privileges whatever. Everything we are able to say now against the Transvaal could be said with greater force against English rule at the Cape. The crusade against the Dutch language was much more severe than the crusade against the English language now. There was no kind of free government. The Dutch were cut off from almost all participation in the organisation of the country. It is scarcely realised that the boon of responsible government in the Cape has happened within this generation. I well remember Lord Salisbury deprecating the wisdom of the change. He did not oppose it, but he questioned whether it was wise. My right hon. friend knows that responsible government in Natal is of still more recent date. Yet we talk as if what happens in the Transvaal is in shocking contrast to what existed for generations in the colonies immediately surrounding it. It was not so. The history of this movement has to be traced from the time when the Dutch farmers had no voice or share in their own government, when they moved out into the wilderness in order to escape from what they considered a tyranny and to enjoy freedom far away from the English flag. We must remember that these Dutch farmers went out from the Cape, and when they got to Natal we sent ships to Durban, and landed troops and drove them back, and how for seventeen years they maintained a precarious fight for existence, until in 1852 we recognised them. There is a strong distinction in the attitude of ourselves towards the Orange Free State and towards the Transvaal. Why is it? What are the differences between the two? The differences are these—that we attempted to take back the Transvaal and did take it back, and not till after years of weary re- 740 monstrance, culminating in war, was their freedom re-established. Not until after they in despair, failing to secure from the Gladstone Government the restoration of the freedom which they thought they had a right to expect, rose and fought—not until then was their freedom restored; and the fact that we did retake the Transvaal and the fact, the most unfortunate fact, that independence was not restored to them until after they defeated us are terribly important and permanent facts, poisoning the whole situation in the Transvaal from that day to this. There is also an accidental fact, but it is not a less potent one—the gold. Had it not been for gold, the Transvaal, after a certain time of difficulty, would have begun to forget their troubles and would have settled down to the situation of the Orange Free State. I have to recall another circumstance, which I think will commend itself to the acceptance of all candid men. Majuba Hill has told on both sides. One knows how many men there are in the Army who long to wipe out Majuba Hill. Military men constantly speak about it, and you may see their faces light up at the expectation. Majuba Hill has worked in South Africa as well as in the Army, and the Army, though it is not so potent in the United Kingdom as it is in some of the Continental countries, is still a great force in influencing public opinion and in creating a political situation. The memory of Majuba Hill has had a two-fold effect, and it will require all your patience, all your consideration, to work away from it I must protest against the use my right hon. friend made of the word "suzerainty" again and again as representing the present situation. If you look at what Lord Derby said in the House of Lords, if you read his despatches, you will find that the word "suzerainty" is expressly dropped, because it was ambiguous, because it lent itself to misrepresentation, because it connoted a series of relations, none of which could be precisely affirmed, any of which might be brought forward when the occasion required, and the single fact of control over; the foreign relations of the Transvaal State, which was the most important part of the old suzerainty, whatever else was included, was specifically provided for. I have so clear a view about this that if I had any influence with President Kruger, which I have not, I should recommend him to make this offer—to be willing to 741 have this question of the legal interpretation of the documents which settled the relations between us decided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council—excluding Members of the Ministry, and excluding the Lord Chancellor on the ground that he has already committed himself to an adverse opinion on the question. If I were President Kruger I would be quite willing to allow this question to be referred to the Judicial Committee and also the question whether the dynamite concession is an infringement of the Convention. I would allow that question also to be argued, with perfect confidence that a just result would be evolved, which just result I conceive would, with great probability, be in an opposite direction from the opinion of the Law Officers. My right hon. friend knows very well that international lawyers of the greatest eminence have given a decidedly contrary opinion to that which has been given by the Law Officers. And let me observe that, as I understand, Sir A. Milner, although he would not admit the intervention of foreign Powers, was willing to consider the possibility of referring questions in dispute arising out of the Convention or Conventions to a committee or arbitration board to be appointed for the special purpose. I am glad to say that I entirely agree with my right hon. friend that the immediate and practical controversy between ourselves and the Transvaal does not turn on the interpretation of documents, but rests on a broader basis. He affirms, and I think rightly, that inasmuch as there arc a great number of British subjects in the Transvaal who complain of being treated with injustice, and appeal to Her Majesty to use her influence to get the injustice removed, the Government at home is entitled to look into their complaints, and, finding the complaints well founded, is entitled to address a remonstrance—and to carry on the remonstrance—to the Transvaal Government, which has inflicted this injustice. Of course, precisely the same power exists with respect to complaints made by British subjects in any other part of the world. If, for example, complaints came from another gold region, the Yukon, of Canadians being ill-treated on the United States side; or if complaints came from the United States of American citizens being ill-treated in Canada, they have the same right and the same general grounds 742 to remonstrate as we have with respect to the Transvaal. It is only a question of the validity of the grounds and of the circumstances. Now, Sir, what are the special grounds of injustice which are talked of? There is one case which, though it was treated with great force and clearness by the hon. Member for East Mayo, I must refer to, because one of the greatest charges made against the Transvaal Government was its failure to execute justice and to maintain a proper police. The gravest illustration of that charge is the murder of Edgar. Now, I am not going over all the circumstances again, but I would put it briefly in this way: Two men are engaged at midnight, both of them more or less tipsy, in a brawl in the street, and one knocks the other down senseless. A pal of the man who falls down calls the attention of the police to the fellow who is running away and entering the door of his house, and says, "That man has murdered my friend." Now, suppose it had been the case that the man who was running away was a Boer, and the man who was lying senseless an Englishman, apparently murdered—would it have been considered so very atrocious that the police were called in to pursue the man who was running away? It would have been recognised at once, as it is recognised by every criminal lawyer, that in such a case the police were entirely justified in pursuing, and if they believed, aud honestly believed, that the man lying on the ground had been murdered, they were justified in breaking into the house.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
The statement the right hon. Gentleman is making is an ex partestatement. Every single statement he has yet made about the case is denied by the friends of Edgar.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
It is denied by his wife, in whose presence he was shot, that Edgar was drunk. Every single statement the right hon. Gentleman has made has been denied.
§ MR. COURTNEY
I have not got inside the door yet. This is very important. The evidence is in the Blue- 743 book, and I will refer my right hon. friend to it. Does my right hon. friend deny that Edgar knocked down the man?
§ MR. COURTNEY
That the man lay there senseless? That a policeman was summoned? Those are the statements I have made.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
My right hon. friend says that the man ran away and was pursued. His house was only across the road, and he went into his own house. My right hon. friend says that every criminal lawyer admits that the police, believing the man to have been killed, had a right to pursue Edgar into his own house. The police had no ground whatever for believing the man was killed. They never went to look at him until after they had shot Edgar down.
§ MR. COURTNEY
The attention of the policeman was called to the man on the ground. He was knocked down by Edgar, and Edgar was getting into his house, and I repeat that every criminal lawyer would allow that any policeman who saw this would be justified in breaking into his house and arresting him. Any man standing by would have been justified in arresting him. What happened subsequently is a matter of dispute. Whether Edgar raised a lethal weapon in his hand to injure the policeman is a matter of dispute. The Boer policeman shot Edgar, believing he was going to be attacked. Is there any possible reason why a man should shoot unless he considered himself in danger? I again appeal to hon. Members to ask themselves what their view of the situation would have been if it had been a Boer trying to get away. The case was tried, was fairly tried.
§ MR. COURTNEY
Evidence was given on both sides. The result was an acquittal, and the judge at the end said he was convinced that the Transvaal policeman always knows how to do his duty. That is the whole situation, and I say that, giving every chance to my right hon. friend, he cannot make this out to be a case of murder by the policeman. It may be construed into a case of man- 744 slaughter or homicide, but, giving my right hon. friend every chance, he cannot be justified in bringing this case forward as a bad illustration of the lawlessness of the Transvaal. There is one other statement I have to make, which I believe is true. It is a statement in a simple letter in the South African Times in Johannesburg, and is dated from Johannesburg, made quite incidentally, without any suggestion of a political character upon it, that the man Forster, who was felled to the ground, was taken to a hospital, that he never recovered, and there died, and that he, Forster, and Edgar now lie one on each side of a little footpath in the cemetery at Johannesburg. A man was killed by Edgar, and if Edgar had not been killed he would have been tried for homicide. Now, I say again that if that be true are you justified in making the tremendous parade you make of this case up and down the country as an illustration of the maladministration of justice in the Transvaal? Sir, the policeman was tried, and it is an illustration to my mind that the people of the Transvaal have reached a certain amount of civilization that they should try a policeman who has killed another man. If it happened across the Channel the droit administratif would be called in. These considerations may lead us to ask whether, accumulating all the difficulties with the Transvaal, they make up a case on which to build up the necessity for instant action. Now, I am glad to agree with Sir Alfred Milner and my right hon. friend that the wise way is to go for the franchise. Get the franchise made more accessible, so that you admit the Uitlanders to a direct and substantial share in the legislative Chamber and the, government of the country. That is the thing to go for. I agree entirely in that policy, and if that is fairly settled, other things may be expected to follow in due course. The real practical question before us now is whether the concession of a seven years' retrospective franchise is so much inferior to the concession of a five years' franchise that we cannot even take it as the basis for further operations, and must insist on an immediate concession of a five years' franchise. We may talk of war, we may make preparations for war, and make declarations which can be construed in no other way than as implying the proximity of war. Now, with respect to that, I come to what is the motive and 745 gist of my speech, and it is this—that the difference between a seven years' franchise and a five years' franchise is not, and cannot be, a sufficient ground for talking of war, nor for preparing for war, nor for proclaiming the proximity of war. It cannot constitute a casus belli. It is a singular circumstance that in the original message which appears in the Blue Book sent home by Sir Alfred Milner before he went into the Conference, he asked for directions, and my right hon. friend said he approved of his going for the franchise but gave him no specific directions. In the Blue Book the message received and correctly printed proposed to make the term six years. My right hon. friend received that proposal, he did not realise that six years was an impossible term, and he returned an answer which made no comment upon it. As a matter of fact we find out in a later Blue Book that the six years should have been five years; there was an error in the telegraphic communication. It is remarkable that six years was received as sufficient, or, at all events, that my right hon. friend made no complaint concerning it. It is a question whether you go to war with the Transvaal to compel them to give you a six years' instead of a seven years' or a five years' instead of a seven years' franchise. Why, is not time on our side? Does not the situation necessarily secure victory to the English-speaking people? Have they not the numbers, have they not the wealth, have they not the knowledge of affairs, have they not the political wit? They are as certain of winning as anything can be. My right hon. friend said the other day that with a seven years' franchise instead of a live years' there would not be half of them admitted at once. But next year the proportion would become greater, and the following year it would become greater still, so that in a little while there would be little difference between the number admitted under the one term and under the other. By the mere effluxion of time and the strength of your own influence you are certain of getting the predominance. Talk of war or contemplate war in order to bring about a five instead of a six years' franchise ! Some members of the House—not many now—remember Lord Aberdare, then Mr. Bruce, bringing in a drink Bill which was to give a ten years' run, and at the end of that time people were to have a free hand in dealing with the 746 drink question. The ten years' term was resisted as too long. Why, the ten years have passed by nearly three times over. If that proposition had been accepted we should now have the freest of hands in dealing with the drink question. And so in the same way, if you appoint a Commission before it has finished its labours the difference between seven years and five years will be lost. I say, Mr. Lowther, my purpose is to protest for my own part against the possibility of these warlike declarations being made. I believe that in this matter I express the feelings of many Members on this side of the House. By my speech I may possibly have estranged their sympathy and caused them to change their opinions the other way, but I know how many Members on this side have said privately that it is absurd to go to war over a difference of two years. That is true, and it is impossible to justify in the face of the world the suggestion that this two years' difference, which would cure itself before your war was over, justifies you in going to war. What effect a war would have on South Africa has been already described. I will only refer, in conclusion, to what the hon. Member for East Mayo called attention to a little while ago. My first session in this House was associated with action in this matter. I am only faithful now to what I did then. I am taking the same stand to-day that I took in the year 1877. It was the second session of my right hon. friend. He was then with us. I am sorry I have not the advantage of his great power and great influence with me to-day, but I think I shall be relieved from the aspersion that I am now indulging in mere potty personal criticism when I say that what I have said to-night I said twenty-two years ago from the other side of the House. Then a perfectly new Member, I raised my voice against an unwise annexation of the Transvaal. Then, as now, I pleaded for forbearance, conciliation, and the reflection that this was a problem which would cure itself if you let it alone. To go to war now, or to talk of war, for the difference between a seven and a five years' franchise I protest against with all my energy and might.
§ SIR H. MEYSEY-THOMPSON (Staffordshire, Handsworth)
We have listened to many extraordinary speeches in this 747 House, but to none more extraordinary than that of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. The right hon. Gentleman seems to have expended infinite ingenuity in devising arguments and expedients to enable not only our opponents opposite, but President Kruger also, to embarrass the Government. I will not follow the right hon. Gentleman into the complicated details of the franchise question to which he has been alluding. The question is not one between a five years' or a seven years' qualification, but whether the proposed alterations in the franchise will be sufficient to effect the purposes which are desired—namely, to give the Uitlanders sufficient political power to be able to insist on having their grievances redressed, and in obtaining a decent and just government. If the right hon. Gentleman, who tried to persuade us that the difference was small or no difference at all, had a river to cross, and if, when he attempted to do so, he found that the bridge was 25ft. too short, he would discover that this small difference of 25ft. made all the difference in the world so far as the purposes a bridge is intended to serve is concerned. I do not think he would be able to persuade himself that it was absurd to make a fuss about such a small matter as 25ft. in a long bridge. Experience would teach him that a bridge 25ft. too short is in reality no bridge at all. This Debate has wandered over a great stretch of ground, but what we have really to consider is whether there is any truth in what has been said, that ever since 1881 the Boer Government has tried to reduce the British population in the Transvaal to an inferior condition, and to make their position intolerable. The Boers after Majuba Hill had a splendid opportunity. The dangers which threaten infant States are generally interference from without, and want of money. There was England to protect them from outside interference, and there were the gold mines, and gold miners perfectly willing to provide them with an ample revenue for all legitimate purposes. There would be no difficulty in governing the Transvaal if it had ever occurred to the Boers to set their minds to govern well. The town of Johannesburg is isolated, and there would have been not the slightest difficulty in organising an efficient police and in stopping the illicit liquor selling. What is the position? There are five 748 different classes of population to be dealt with—the Boers, the natives of the Transvaal, the black miners, the white Uitlanders, and the Uitlanders from our Indian Empire. But four-fifths of that population are bitterly against the Boer Government. Take the financial question. The taxation of the Transvaal is nearly equal to the combined taxation of the Cape Colony, Natal, and the Orange Free State—although these three States have together between two and three times more territory and population to govern than the Transvaal. Then money is diverted from those who are working to produce the wealth of the State by railway extortions and monopolies, and this interferes with the development of the industries of the country. One of the great difficulties is black labour, and the use of mechanical drilling is interfered with by the high price of dynamite. The settlement of the Transvaal question will be discussed all over the world—in the camp of the Mahdi, in India, and by the inhabitants of every land with which we come in touch. If they see that England is determined they will probably keep quiet; but if they think England is weak, and can be insulted with impunity, it will probably cost us many other wars. The advantage to us of settling the dispute is very great. Settle it, therefore, once and for ever, and have done with it. We are spending half a million on South Africa more than we need, if this question were put an end to. It is interfering with business, not only in England, but all over the world. We are not asking for anything new, only that we may return to the state of affairs in 1881 and 1884, secured to us by treaty rights and conventions. I hope such a settlement will be come to as the world and the Empire will approve, which will make it clear that the gigantic power of the Empire will no longer be employed to shelter and protect injustice and misgovernment in the Transvaal.
* MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire, Eifion)
The hon. Member who has just sat down has made some reference to the grievances of the Uitlanders, but there is not one of them of such a character as to entitle this or any other country to interfere in any shape or form. I do not say that there are no grievances, but I submit that they have been very greatly exaggerated, while some of them 749 have no foundation whatever. The Colonial Secretary very wisely refrained from going into details, and the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh did the same. In fact, with the exception of the hon. Member who has just spoken, we have not had from the other side any reference to the specific grievances. But although the Colonial Secretary has made no allusion to these details we have before us now, after very considerable delay, the Blue Books, in which are enumerated all the grievances of which complaint can be made. Many of them, however, appear to have disappeared, at the present moment. Some years ago a statement was circulated in the newspapers to the effect that the Transvaal Government ground down the gold industry by heavy taxation. That grievance has now been practically abandoned. I believe it is incontrovertible that the gold laws in the Transvaal are more liberal to the gold-diggers than those in Rhodesia, the Cape, or Klondyke. In fact there is no gold-producing country in the world in which there is less direct taxation upon the gold industry. Indeed, it is very much less than it is in this country. All gold found in this country is claimed as belonging to the Queen, and the charge that is exacted by the Crown is very much greater than that exacted by the Transvaal Government. In other mining matters it is the same. Take, for instance, coal mining. The royalty charged in the Transvaal is only a fraction of 1d. per ton. Butin all the mines of England and Scotland the charge is 2d., 3d., and 4d. per ton, and in Welsh mines it varies from 10d. to 1s. In other words direct taxation is from 200 to 1,200 per cent. more in this country than in the Transvaal. Complaint is also made of the burden of indirect taxation. I believe, however, there is not a single article of agricultural produce which is not taxed very much heavier in the Cape than in the Transvaal. Moreover, the large majority of articles of agricultural produce go into the Transvaal absolutely free from duty which are themselves taxed, and severely taxed, in the Cape Colony. The grievance as to taxation, therefore, absolutely falls to the ground. Another question which has been raised, and to which the hon. Member made reference, is the question of education. The whole of this griev 750 ance, like most of the others when you come to examine them, quickly disappears. The education grievance is that in the Transvaal, which is a Dutch-speaking State, the Dutch language is taught in the State schools as a compulsory subject. Because certain Englishmen have gone to that country to settle, they think that they should have State-supported schools in which Dutch is not taught. But is it not absurd that any such complaint should be made? In Wales nobody makes a complaint of the fact that though the Welsh people in the county which I represent, as well as in the adjoining counties, speak Welsh exclusively, they are compelled to send their children to State-aided schools in which no Welsh whatever is taught. Then a complaint is also made about the interference of the Government with the judges. It has been said that justice is not meted out in the Transvaal. The whole of that charge is based upon one incident which, if examined, will show that it redounds really to the credit of the Transvaal Government and to the discredit of the Uitlanders. In the Transvaal the Government have the right to proclaim any district a gold district in which gold is found, and upon such proclamation being made, such is the liberality of the gold law that any person is entitled to go to that district and peg out any gold claim he likes, provided it has not been pegged out by anybody else before him. The sole restriction is that one person is entitled to one claim only, the object being the laudable one of distributing these claims equitably amongst the populace at large, and so preventing them from falling into the hands of big capitalists for the purpose of forming themselves into syndicates, and of launching them on the Stock Exchange at many millions premium. Some time ago an attempt was made by a certain capitalist to frustrate the object of the Government. Land in a certain district was proclaimed, and a large capitalist hired hundreds of men to peg out claims, nominally for themselves, but really for this large capitalist. Thereupon, when the Transvaal Government discovered that the whole law was going to be set aside by evasion of this kind, they withdrew the proclamation by a resolution of the Volksraad, and then the Chief Justice declined to recognise the resolution as binding. Resolutions of the 751 Volksraad, however, are as binding as Acts of Parliament in this country. It would be very much the same in the eyes of the Transvaal as if a judge of the High Court in this country declined to recognise the authority of an Act of Parliament, and was suspended and all the other judges were made to accept such authority. That is the only case, as far as I am aware, in which there has been any interference with the judges, and since a laudable attempt was being made by the Volksraad to defeat an illegal evasion the complaint falls entirely to the ground. Then, again, complaint has been made that the police are corrupted. The complaint is, as far as I understand, that the liquor-sellers buy the police. That may or may not be the case; but is not that a complaint which is heard nearer home than the Transvaal? Is it not heard in America also, where we are told by the anti-temperance people that although we can carry prohibition we cannot carry out the law? If, therefore, such a state of things exists in England and America, what right have we to complain that the Boer Government suffers to some extent from the same evil? It is the case all the world over. Is it not notorious that the Custom House officers are bribed in different countries—I do not say in ours—all the world over, in the lower walks of officialdom? We have only to cast our recollection back a very few years to remember an inquiry into the state of corruption of the police at Manchester. And what was found? It was found that the inspectors were in league with, and had a share in brothels, and that no prosecutions were taking place in these particular cases. That was corruption of a much graver character than is suggested to have occurred in the Transvaal. But was anybody so wild as to suggest that because corruption of such a kind was found to exist, not among common policemen, but in the higher ranks of the constabulary, the people of Manchester were not entitled to self-government, and that the rights of municipal government ought to be withdrawn? Nothing of the kind. It would be absurd to make such a suggestion. The Colonial Secretary in his nagging spirit has picked up every stone on which he can lay hands to throw at the Transvaal Government. The only remaining complaint that I know of is the treatment of coloured people. It is probably true that the treatment of the 752 coloured people in the Transvaal is very much worse than it should be. I believe that to be true of practically every country. But does it lie in our mouths, and does it lie in the mouth of the Colonial Secretary, who has practically connived at selling prisoners of war into slavery in the case of Bechuanaland prisoners, to make any complaint as to the treatment of coloured people in the Transvaal? It is said that the coloured people that are wronged are our own subjects from British India; but the severe treatment of British Indians in the Transvaal is more at the instance of the Uitlanders than of the Transvaalers. The only other grievance is the franchise There are two important considerations which seem to me to be totally overlooked in connection with the Transvaal question. First of all, it is forgotten that no Uitlander in the Transvaal has been there for more than fifteen years, and secondly, that not one intends to remain permanently in that country. In this respect the condition of things in the Transvaal is unique. I do not think a similar state of things obtains in any other country in the world to which people emigrate. When persons emigrate to the Cape, Australia, New Zealand., the United States, or Canada, they intend dwelling there for good and all, especially when they follow agricultural pursuits. Under these circumstances it is only reasonable that they should receive the franchise at once, for they transfer not merely their bodies to their new homes, but their interests and their patriotic love. But even in these countries they keep them a long time without it. In the United States, I believe, the period is five, or six, or seven years. In this country it is nearly six years, but there is no suggestion that the condition of things existing here or in any other country is the same as in the Transvaal. As a matter of strict right, if a man goes into another country and remains there for ten or twenty years he should have no interest in the representation of the country if he intends to return to England and bring his family back with him. He has only the right to the franchise in the country where he can show that he has, transferred his patriotic affections. I submit that there is not 1 per cent. of the men who have emigrated to the Transvaal who intend to remain, and that is the reason why even The Times has said. 753 that legislation ought to be passed in this country to meet that difficulty, since it is known that the British Uitlander will not accept the franchise there, because, intending as he does to return to this country, he will not renounce his allegiance to England. It is impossible for any man to be the subject of two nations at the same time, and this is a consideration that has been totally overlooked. I am delighted, however, to find that President Kruger has met the English Government, and has made very ample and very liberal terms. He proposes to admit those who have lived for seven years in the country, and I do not think the Uitlanders are reasonably entitled to any further concession. It must be remembered that the mines of the Rand will be exhausted in thirty years or so, and even if these people wished to remain they would have to come back. In fact, Sir Alfred Milner himself has admitted that it is unreasonable to expect the franchise to be given in such a manner as would hand over the power of government to foreigners who do not intend to permanently settle in the country. In conclusion, I would venture to repeat the prophecy which I made upon the motion for the adjournment for the Whitsuntide recess. I then expressed the opinion that the Colonial Secretary would force a war if he could, but there were wiser and soberer heads in the Cabinet who would not permit him to carry out his desire. That belief has been strengthened. My belief is that he has tried to force a war. I believe that that violent telegram sent by Sir Alfred Milner was inspired by the Colonial Secretary or, at any rate, was sent knowing that it would please him, and that that was what he wanted. But fortunately it did not have the effect that it was intended to. I deplore deeply the right hon. Gentleman's attempts to bully the Transvaal Government by threats of war. I am certain that the large majority of this country, and, I believe, the majority of the Conservative Party, are of opinion that in no case are the grievances such as to entitle this country to be plunged into the fearful horrors of war. The policy of bluff is utterly beneath the dignity of a great country. I would scorn to be successful by this means. Unless we start in the belief that the grievances are such as to entitle us to go to war we ought never to threaten to do 754 so. I am thankful, however, that, owing to the action of Mr. Schreiner and Mr. Hofmeyr, the Colonial Secretary has been saved from another untenable position by the very substantial concessions which have been made by the Transvaal Government.
* MR. NEWDIGATE (Warwickshire, N.E.)
I should not have ventured to intervene in this Debate were it not for the fact that I have only recently returned from a somewhat prolonged tour in South Africa. I do not think anyone can visit that country at the present time without forming a definite opinion one way or the other with regard to the crisis in the Transvaal. It is a subject of controversy in every part of South Africa, and wherever one goes he finds the wrongs of the Uitlanders discussed. From Members of the Dutch Party in South Africa one sometimes hears that some of these wrongs are imaginary, but I for my part could not help forming a very strong opinion. I welcome the firm, and, I think, peaceful and conciliatory speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies, because I believe from that speech that he exactly understands the position of affairs in South Africa, and he seems to me to pledge the Government to take a strong and firm course. The gist of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin appears to me to be that because England committed a mistake in the past, therefore we are to continue to suffer for it. The right hon. Gentleman referred to our attitude towards the Dutch language, but I would remind him that when at the beginning of the century Holland re-obtained possession of the Cape and held it for seven years, during that period the Dutch authorities did everything they could to change the names of the persons who had settled there into Dutch names, and they also did their utmost to suppress our language, and in connection with this I would now ask why should not the same rights be given to British in the Transvaal as are given to Dutch in Cape Colony, wherein the Cape Houses of Parliament and elsewhere each language is placed on the same footing? In the course of the Debate I think that the subject which has attracted most attention was the killing of Edgar, and as several hon. Members have tried to 755 gloss it over as if it were a justifiable act, I should like to refer to an extract from the first of the Blue Books issued on this subject. It occurs on page 208. A deputation of working men from the Rand waited on Her Majesty's agent at Pretoria, described Edgar as a respectable man who was known to many of them, and complained of the unwarrantable conduct of the Johannesburg police who were armed with revolvers and terrorised peaceful Uitlanders. They drew attention to the remarks of the judge in commending the conduct of constable Jones, who had shot Edgar, and mentioned a case which had since occurred in which a policeman fired a revolver at a white man in the street. I merely refer to the extract because several hon. Members to-day have endeavoured to mitigate the conduct of the police with reference to the killing of Edgar, and because it clearly shows the opinion of the working men of Johannesburg on the subject. Apart altogether from the Edgar case, there are several other instances where the conduct of the police has been unjustifiable. There was the celebrated Uitlander meeting held in Johannesburg on the16th of January, which a crowd of Boers, assisted by members of the Civil Service in the Transvaal, tried to upset, and when the law-abiding Uitlanders appealed for police protection it was refused them, and the meeting was broken up by Boer roughs. Then there was the death of Mrs. Applebe, the wife of a Wesleyan minister, who was set upon and so ill-treated that she died on the 28th of April. Then there was an assault on Mr. Slade, another Wesleyan minister, on July 8th, who has since died from the effects of the ill-treatment to which he was subjected. On July 11th Mr. Upton, the surveyor of the City and Suburban Mine, was shot at. No arrests were made, and surely in a place like Johannesburg if the police did their duty it would be perfectly easy to effect arrests. I merely mention these matters because from some of the speeches made this evening one would imagine that the Transvaal was a paradise, and that the government of the Transvaal was as excellent as any government could possibly be. I wondered when I heard an hon. Member referring to the abundance of gold in the Transvaal, and how easily fortunes could be made, if he 756 had read the report of the Commission appointed by the Transvaal Government, and the members of which were mainly Dutch. The Commission reported on August 7th, 1897, that in 1896 there were 183 gold mines, of which 79 produced gold amounting to £8,600,000, and 104 no gold at all.
* MR. NEWDIGATE
I will explain presently, from the report of the Boer Commission of Enquiry, why I think it is the fault of the Boer Government. In 1897, out of 218 companies only 28 paid dividends, and between 27 and 28 millions of invested capital produced no dividend at all. The reason given was that, first of all, they declared that it was necessary to develop agriculture in order to make the necessaries of life cheaper. They also said that the liquor laws with respect to the natives ought to be very much more stringently enforced than they are at the present time. It is well known that native races who have access to liquor lose all control over themselves and cannot take it in moderation. They mention that between twenty and thirty out of every hundred of the natives imported at a great expense to work for hire at the mines become regularly intoxicated from taking too much liquor. In Rhodesia the native liquor law is very strict indeed, and that place has become, in consequence, happy and contented, and the native population do not suffer from drink so much as they do in the Transvaal. There is also the question of the high price whit h is charged for dynamite by the company which possesses the monopoly, for they charge about double the ordinary amount. There is the case of the excessive charges on the railways in the Transvaal, which makes it so expensive to bring, articles to the mines, and there are certain other suggestions made by the Boer Commissioners which have been put on one side unattended to by the Boer Government. Bearing in mind the cases I have mentioned, I cannot help thinking that in some respects the Transvaal is not so well governed, and is not such a paradise as it is made out to be. Something has been said about Sir William Butler, and the hon. Member for East 757 Mayo said his despatches should have been put in the Blue Book. The hon. Member also said that Sir William Butler has had a great deal more experience of South Africa than Sir Alfred Milner. All I can say is, that when I was out in South Africa, in October last, the death of General Good enough took place, and Sir William Butler was sent out to succeed him as general in command in South Africa, and he at once began to issue despatches hostile to the Uitlanders before he had been there many weeks. It is said that most of this feeling of race feud and bitterness has been caused by the South African League. I may point out that that league has only been formed for a comparatively short time. It is simply a British organisation intended to act as a "set-off" to the Dutch Bond, the Dutch party organisation. I think it has hardly been formed more than a year, and yet it is said that the bitterness, the envy, and the feeling which exist have been caused by the South African League. Such a statement is a travesty of the facts. It has been said that it is very hard to interfere with the Transvaal Boers, who went into the wilderness to escape from civilisation and lead a pastoral life; but I hope hon. Members will remember that Dutch people who owned farms have been glad to sell them to Englishmen, and they are now in good circumstances through the excellent way in which they sold their farms, which they were not obliged to do. It may be asked what business have the Uitlanders to complain of their lot, since they have chosen to settle in the Transvaal? I think every British subject has a right to appeal to the mother country if he feels himself hardly used. The Uitlanders pay four-fifths of the taxation of the country, and before appealing to the mother country on many previous occasions they have appealed to the Volksraad; but their grievances have been in no way removed, and their petitions have been rejected. I would ask hon. Members to remember that shortly before the Jameson raid, which has been so much condemned, a petition signed by 38,500 Uitlanders was sent to the Volksraad, but it was summarily rejected. After the retrocession of the Transvaal in 1881 there was an honourable understanding that all Englishmen should have equal rights in the Transvaal with the Dutch population. After the raid, the armed Uitlanders laid down their arms on the understand- 758 ing given by the High Commissioner that the Imperial Government would see that their grievances were removed and justice done to them. In South Africa there is an enormous preponderance of natives over the white races, and I believe that in South Africa the whole of the white population is only something like 800,000. In the Blue Book we read that over and over again outrages have been committed by Boer policemen on natives and coloured people. In South Africa the natives have always looked up to the British as their protectors, and they have looked upon them as giving them better treatment than the Dutch. I cannot help thinking what serious political effect this state of things, if allowed to continue, may have upon the natives, who are governed rather by the moral effect of the fair and just British dealing than by force, but who will in time think that the Dutch are the ruling race in South Africa if we allow this ill-treatment to continue while claiming to be the paramount Power. The feeling is so strong in South Africa among the British that if the Government do not adopt a strong policy—which I am very glad indeed they are going to adopt—every Britisher who is loyal in his devotion and attachment to the mother country will lose all confidence, and we shall also be distrusted by the native population. The hon. Member opposite said that Sir Alfred Milner has had no experience in South Africa. I cannot help thinking that Sir Alfred Milner has already shown a great deal of carefulness and a great deal of knowledge on this subject. I should like to give an instance. On page 57 of the Blue Book it is stated that:On the 13th of May, 1897, Sir Alfred Milner, who has only lately arrived in Cape Town, refused to give an opinion of the case of the Critic, because he had not had sufficient time to master the details of the case.Then, again, he was unwilling to enter the Conference at Bloemfontein without a previous understanding. Sir Alfred was also taking the trouble to learn the Dutch language, in order that he may be able to speak to the Dutch population in their own language, and thus get that which the hon. Member for Mayo said was essential to anyone who desires to acquire a thorough knowledge of affairs in South Africa. In order to make himself practi- 759 cally acquainted with South Africa he has travelled through districts where no Governor has been since the time of Sir Bartle Frere, in one instance in a district unvisited by a Governor since the time of Sir G. Grey. I think Sir Alfred Milner was the best man that possibly could have been selected, and I do think that the House and the country would be doing absolutely wrong if they did not stand by the matured advice of Sir Alfred Milner. What we want is that the same privileges should be given to English subjects as are given to Dutch subjects in Cape Colony. It is said that we must be very careful and not offend the Dutch in South Africa; but if you take South Africa section by section and country by country, I think you will find that there is a great preponderance of British subjects in that country, as a whole, who are all united in their appeal to the mother country that the British and Dutch in South Africa may have equal rights in the Transvaal as they do in other countries in South Africa. In Rhodesia, with the exception of two districts, Enkeldoorn and Mallisetta, they are entirely British. In Cape Colony, the British and the Dutch are practically on a par as regards population; and in Natal they have sent in a petition to the Queen, upon the motion of both Houses, to support the Uitlanders. In the Orange Free State there is a very large minority of British people living in that country, and when you get to Delagoa Bay and Beira, and other Portuguese possessions, practically the whole of the trade is British. All these countries are waiting to see what this country will do in this crisis. When I think of the idea of asking this House to be careful not to offend the feelings of the Dutch, I cannot help remembering, with every goodwill towards the Dutch, that charity begins at home. We are Britishers, and surely it is the duty of the Government of this country to protect our subjects when they appeal to us as they have done at the present time. With people of the British race in South Africa loyalty to this country is a very strong feeling indeed. But if we do not support them in their just claims it is my firm belief that they will consider that we no longer take interest in their affairs, and will cut the painter which connects them with the mother country on the first opportunity. I thank the House for the 760 patience with which they have listened to me, and I only ventured to get up to speak because I do feel that we are in the midst of a very serious crisis. What I have said I thoroughly believe to be the case, and if I may be allowed to do so I should like to congratulate the Colonial Secretary and the Government for the firm and just stand which they have taken upon this question.
§ * MR. MENDL (Plymouth)
Unlike the hon. Member who has just sat down, I have not the advantage of a personal knowledge of South Africa, and I have no interest whatever in that part of the world. Therefore I can approach this subject with a mind perfectly free and unfettered. Of course I am very much inclined to sympathise with a small state like the Transvaal, even though the system of government is causing so much concern and trouble to the people of this country. But I am led to the conclusion that a state of affairs has arisen which demands the immediate attention of the Government, for it is a danger to the peace of South Africa, and to our position there as the paramount Power, to allow the present condition of things to continue. I know perfectly well that on this question I do not agree with some of my hon. friends on this side of the House, but, on the other hand, I think it should be clearly understood that those hon. friends of mine who have spoken from this side of the House, and some more who will no doubt speak during this Debate in the same sense, do not voice the unanimous opinion of the Liberal Party on this question. My chief objection to their attitude is that I am perfectly convinced that it does not make for peace. In my opinion, my hon. friends on this side are the real war party in this matter when they argue, or seem to argue, that we should be willing to support President Kruger and the Transvaal Government in the misgovernment and injustice which have been going on in the Transvaal for many years. My right hon. friend the Leader of the Opposition—both in his speech to-night and in his speech in the country—has shown that he does not minimise or deride the grievances of British subjects in the Transvaal, and the language which he used, and which has been quoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary, is one 761 of the most trenchant indictments of the misrule of the Boer Government which it is possible to formulate. I do not rise for the purpose of defending the right hon. Gentleman or the Government. Until the policy of the Government is completed, we cannot say whether the course taken by the Government is the best under the circumstances to secure a peaceful solution, which everybody wants to see arrived at contemporaneously with an abatement of the evils which for a decade have weighed heavily on the peace and prosperity and material progress of South Africa. I believe that is the object of every hon. Member in this House, and in spite of what some of my hon. friends have said, I believe that it is also the collective desire of the Cabinet—and that opinion is borne out by what the right hon. Gentleman has said to-night as to the intention of the Government with regard to the latest proposal of President Kruger in the direction of a reform of the franchise. The right hon. Gentleman says that what the Government propose to do is to press for a joint inquiry into the latest proposals. That proposal makes for peace. I confess that one aspect of that question is not quite clear to me. I do not gather whether the joint inquiry is to be a short or long one, because there is a considerable difference between the two cases, for if an inquiry is extended over some months it may have a bad effect upon peace in South Africa. If it is to be a short inquiry it ought to commend itself to all lovers of peace. Both inside and outside of this House I think everybody desires that this great question should be settled by peaceable means, if possible, but I cannot understand the position of my hon. friends who are in favour of non-intervention, notwithstanding the existence of those wrongs which have been going on so long. It does not seem to me that it is necessary to approve or disapprove of the policy of the Government. Admitting every complaint as to the way in which the Government handled this matter, admitting that the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary is as black as the most extreme of my hon. friends can paint him; what has all this got to do with the British subjects in the Transvaal who are suffering a great injustice? I consider that position alone, and I say that those British subjects who have settled in the Trans- 762 vaal for the entirely laudable object of earning a living or of seeking their fortune are entitled to the ordinary rights and privileges, and to that protection which every civilised Government affords to all settlers within its borders. Why should these people continue to suffer what the Leader of the Opposition has described because of the sins of the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary? In the interests not only of justice and civilisation, but in the interests of peace and harmony in South Africa and the prosperity of the Transvaal itself, these grievances should be redressed. What are the arguments used against this course? They consist chiefly of an attack upon the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary and Sir Alfred Milner. I do not think it is fair to use the Uitlanders as a stick with which to beat the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary and Sir Alfred Milner. The right hon. Gentleman is capable of defending himself, but I do object to the attacks made upon Sir Alfred Milner, because, after all, he is not a partisan. For years and years he has served the State in the Civil Service, and everybody knows that the last thing to expect from a Civil servant is partisanship. The whole tone of the Civil Service is non-partisan. Sir Alfred Milner has been two years on the spot studying the question, and during that time he has made himself acquainted with all the local facts, and he has even studied the Dutch language in order to be more fully conversant with the opinion of the Dutch in South Africa. I therefore attach that weight to the opinion of Sir Alfred Milner which people should attach to the opinion of a man in such a position. What is the second argument used? We are told that these Uitlanders are not worthy of consideration by the British Government because they are either millionaires or "riff-raff and bar loafers." I do not know how many millionaires there are in the Transvaal, but I do not suppose that they are more plentiful there than they are in this country, and are therefore an infinitesimal portion of the population. As for the argument that these men are the riffraff, I do not suppose that every Uitlander would be considered eligible for a first-rate West End London club; I do not suppose that every Uitlander wears a white shirt every day, but we do not 763 extend good government or the franchise in this country only to members of clubs and people who wear white shirts. There are doubtless a good many Uitlanders who are rough; they live in the vicinity of a mining camp, and I do not think it is surprising that they are not quite up to the mark of the West End of London civilisation. We know that there are many honest Cornish miners there, and miners from the north of the Tweed and from Yorkshire, and I say that it is a slander to call these men riff-raff. The real question is, are they British subjects? If they are, then they are entitled to British intervention when exposed to wrong and to misgovernment. I have no doubt the Colonial Secretary would say, "If you can show me another way to remedy these grievances other than the proposals which have been made, I shall be very glad to consider them"; but it seems to me that this is the only way in which you can deal with the question thoroughly.
§ * MR. MENDL
That is so, and it may be an unfortunate thing, but it is necessary under the circumstances, and I do not think it lies with hon. Members on this side, who gave the Transvaal self-government, to say that they are not entitled to consideration on that account. It is said that we ought to be patient in this matter, but you can even carry that argument too far. We have tried patience for years and years, and the history of the question has been one long series of appeals to the Transvaal Government from the Uitlanders, and from the Imperial Government as well, until I think it may be fairly said that the representations to the Transvaal Government have now reached the verge of what is dignified for a great country. Then comes the question of whether force ought to be threatened. I understand the right hon. Gentleman to disclaim any threat of force, and I think everybody will agree that it is absolutely essential to exhaust every means of moral suasion before you resort to force. But I cannot understand the argument that you are to go on using only moral suasion and at the same time intimating to the man with whom you are dealing that under no circumstances will force be resorted to. What will be the 764 effect of your moral suasion under these circumstances? Human nature is the same everywhere, and if you make it clear to President Kruger that under no circumstances will you use force them your policy assumes very much the character of a brutum fulmen. What was the result of such a policy in the case of the Armenians? The result was that the Sultan continued to oppress the Armenians, until there were no more Armenians to oppress. That was the result of the Sultan, understanding that under no circumstances would force be resorted to. To my mind the grievances of the Uitlanders are genuine, and it is essential that the Government should take the matter in hand, and make it clear to President Kruger and the Transvaal Government that we mean business, and I was very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman use such an expression. The material grievances to which the Leader of the Opposition referred this evening must be removed.
§ * MR. MENDL
I hope the hon. Member does not consider that the government of India by England is on a par with the government of the Uitlanders by the Transvaal. I believe the government of India is a humane government. If you have a thoroughly good government without the franchise, then possibly the franchise is not required. The principle of the franchise is to give people a vote in order to enable them to get good Government. The policy of the franchise may be a wrong policy, but surely it is not for Liberals to say so. What does it portend? The reform of the franchise is the only thing necessary in order to enable a people to help themselves and to work out their own salvation. I should have thought that we advocate the franchise, not as an end in itself, because a vote is worthless unless you use it to some purpose, but in, order to enable a people to accomplish something. But of course the most important question connected with this matter is the racial question. We are told we must consider the feelings of the Cape Dutch, which, of course, adds immensely to the difficulties of the situation. As the Leader of the House said yesterday, if the Transvaal were an island or within a ring fence, it might be possible from the point of view 765 of the material interests of Great Britain and the Empire, to wash our hands of the question, and leave the Utlanders to get on as best they could, but even then, to my mind the obligations of honour and the principle of Imperial protection for all subjects, wherever situated, would prevent a disclaimer of interest or responsibility. But the Transvaal is not an island. It is one of two free Dutch Republics surrounded by a large and valuable territory belonging to the British Crown. That territory is inhabited by two races, who live side by side in peace and concord—or who did, at any rate, between 1881 and 1890—enjoying equal right, and owing equal allegiance to this country as the paramount Power, and yet we are told that the Dutch in South Africa are going to object to our asking for the British in the Transvaal very much what they themselves possess. I should have thought that, considering the position of the Dutch in Cape Colony, they would see no reason for supporting the narrow and oppressive Government which obtains in the Transvaal. If they did, perhaps it might be intelligible on the principle that blood is thicker than water. But this argument can be carried too far, and if we are to consider the feelings of the Cape Dutch we must also consider the feelings of the Cape British. How is the policy of folding our hands and acquiescing in the helotry of our people likely to end? Will it not make them doubt the advantages of the Imperial connection? Is this great South African Empire worth retaining? I have no shade or shadow of doubt that it is. I doubt very much whether portions of our West African Empire are worth retaining, and I am not a great believer in Uganda, but South Africa is very different. Whatever may have been the primary difficulties of colonisation there we have overcome them. We have spent blood and treasure there; it is a country rich in mineral and other wealth; it is fit for white men to live and work in, and it is one of the most valuable assets of the British Crown. But it is impossible to deny in face of what we know, that this asset may be at stake if we permit misgovernment on the part of the government of one small portion of South Africa to continue. This country gave back to the Transvaal her independence, not in the exercise of generosity, but as an act of justice and reparation. There are very 766 few, if any, member of any Party to-day who wish to abnegate that independence. Her Majesty's Government and their supporters do not, because the Colonial Secretary and the Duke of Devonshire were both responsible for it. We are also responsible, for Mr. Gladstone was the Prime Minister who carried out the retrocession. But I cannot understand my hon friends failing to see that the very fact that we are all responsible for giving back its independence to the Transvaal throws on us a very grave responsibility to see that our fellow-subjects there are well treated. We gave the Transvaal its liberty, but it was not liberty to oppress and misgovern British subjects. It was given on the clearest ground that there should be equality of rights for all white men in South Africa—in that portion as well as in every other. That independence only becomes vulnerable if the Government becomes so bad that it is impossible to allow it to continue. That was the position which Lord Ripon took up in 1894 when he made much the same demand as is made to-day. At any rate, the basis is the same. Of course, I know we have to deal with extremists on both sides, but, as usual, the extremists are wrong. I have no sympathy with those who want war, and who thirst for an excuse tore-annex the Transvaal; but I have equally no sympathy with those who decry and deride the obvious grievances of British subjects in the Transvaal, and who ignore the responsibilities of our position as the suzerain and paramount power in South Africa. I am convinced that the right course to pursue is by the assertion of the rights we possess to see to it that this standing menace to the peace of South Africa is removed, and to do that in the only effectual way—viz., to remove the causes of the discontent or enable the discontented to remove them themselves by putting into their hands the weapon of the franchise, which Liberals in this country have proscribed, and rightly, as the only remedy for oppression. It is said that President Kruger and the Transvaal Government are waiting for the Opposition. I hope that this Debate and the Division, if there be one, will convince President Kruger that as long as his Government refuses to listen to the clear dictates of common-sense and justice he has nothing to hope from the Opposition, and that he 767 will in vain appeal to the great Liberal Party—which bases its historical claims to confidence on the reform of abuses—for support in his belated attempt to put back the hands of the clock and keep a great community in perpetual and irritating subjection to a narrow, illiberal, and corrupt oligarchy.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (Yorkshire, E. R., Holderness)
I think this Debate is one of the most curious we have had in the House of Commons during my time. Everyone admits it is a very great subject, but the difference has now been reduced to extremely narrow limits. We are all agreed that there are grievances, but we have asserted over and over again our intention to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of the Transvaal while at the same time using every moral suasion at our command to remedy these grievances. We have so far succeeded by the loyal support of the Queen's Prime Minister at the Cape—for Mr. Schreiner is the Queen's Prime Minister just as much as Lord Salisbury—and of Mr. Hofmeyr, and by their assistance we have reduced the difference between the demands of the Government of this country and what the Government of the South African Republic is willing to concede to very narrow limits. That is a positive fact. Sir Alfred Milner demanded that the franchise qualification should be a five years' residence in the country, and the Volks-raad has just passed a law requiring a seven years' residence.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Five years and a great deal more. I really should be sorry to hear my hon. friend speaking under a misapprehension. What we require is substantial and immediate representation. Five years' qualification may not be sufficient, or even one year's qualification, because the whole thing might be altered entirely by the conditions attached to it, and everything will depend on the number of seats given after the franchise has been granted.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL
This rather adds to the complexity of affairs. My right hon. friend says it is a question of immediate representation, and that, I presume, brings on the question of the redistribution of seats. I do not know how far that question is involved, but I think I am not far wrong in saying, having regard to the arguments used in the Blue Books, and assuming that the Government will not go back on the demands of Sir Alfred Milner, that in principle and substance the difference between the two countries has been reduced to very small dimensions. [Several hon. MEMBERS: "No, no."] Well, then, to dimensions which are not large. [An hon. MEMBER: "No, no."] Well, then, let me say at least dimensions which might be settled without the arbitrament of war. Let us bring home to ourselves what war would mean. It means that we should employ the whole machinery of our Army, with its weapons of precision and its quick-firing guns, to shoot down the burghers of the South African Republic and to devastate their country, and, whether it was intended or not, to annex the country. Would this country consent to have the burghers of the South African Republic shot down for such a small difference as now exists? That is what it means, and it cannot mean anything else. It is one of the most extraordinary propositions I have ever heard discussed in the House of Commons during the fourteen years I have been a Member of it, because it seems to me such an absurd conclusion to follow from such a very slight premiss. The right hon. Gentleman in his speech did not apparently place much reliance on the grievances of the Uitlanders in the Transvaal, because he alluded to the fact that there was great unrest in South Africa which was in some way threatening us. My right hon. friend of course has better information than I have, but I think he should lay before the Committee the information on which he bases that remark. For certainly I have heard of no danger likely to accrue to the British Empire in anything that has taken place in South Africa. The natives are not at all unfamiliar with checks having been received by the British troops in South Africa, but I do not suppose anything is happening now which is likely to disturb the natives or to make it essential for us to interfere in 769 the Transvaal dispute. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin asked the Committee to go further back into the history of South Africa than had been done by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. He traced in eloquent language some of the salient features of the South African Republic, and surely he was right in saying that the Dutch have grave grounds for misapprehension and fear about their independence. Nor is it quite the case, as the Secretary of State says, that during the last two years we have done nothing to excite the fears of the Dutch as to their independence, for two things were done under the auspices of my right hon. friend, which it seems to me must have caused the Government and the people of the South African Republic very grave apprehension as to the intentions of the British Government. It has been pointed out that three years ago the Secretary of State for the Colonies took a different view. After the raid the right hon. Gentleman implored the House to remember that our policy was to observe the Convention ourselves and to insist on its being observed by the South African Republic, and above all, to have patience—great patience. Two years elapsed, and my right hon. friend put forward a demand for suzerainity.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL
That is an extremely sore point with the South African Republic. We may think it ought not to be so, but it is. We have not been very complimentary to the South African Republic during the past two or three years, and I want to show they have 770 some ground to complain of our action. It is almost universally asserted here that all the fault is on the side of the South African Republic. One of the very reasons why the delegates from the Republic came to this country in 1884 was the question of the suzerainty. We may say it is absurd to attach so much importance to the matter, but we can understand how keen the dislike of the South African Republic was to the assertion of the suzerainty after it had been dropped. (HON. MEMBERS: "No, no.") Will any hon. Member assert that the claim to the suzerainty was put forward between 1884 and 1897? It was not asserted during that period, and when it was made by the Colonial Secretary the Government of the South African Republic naturally thought we were making an encroachment on the independence of their country. I am persuaded also that the demand in reference to the dynamite monopoly was regarded as an attempt on our part to get an opportunity for attacking the Transvaal, so that all the provocation has not been given by the South African Republic. I am not in the least a peace at any price man on this question. I know very well that by the comity of nations as well as by the Convention of 1884 we are entitled to see, and if necessary to assert, that our subjects should not suffer in person or liberty, or property, and if a clear case were made out I would heartily lend my vote to voice the assertion of that right even at the cost of war. I admit our responsibility in South Africa, but obviously it is not only the subjects of the Queen we are bound to defend. We are also bound to defend, if necessary, the subjects of all other nations because we refuse to permit the interference of their sovereigns. It is a mistake to imagine that our responsibility is limited to our own subjects, because we are responsible as the paramount Power for the subjects of other countries, and certainly I should not oppose the assertion of that responsibility. I am aware hon. Gentlemen are impatient at my taking a line strongly against their sympathies. I can assure them that I only take it under a strong sense of public duty. Years ago, when I entered this House, I did not mind nearly so much going against the views of hon. Gentlemen with whom I was associated, but as years go on one gets to know people better, and 771 one is more loth to take sides against his own friends. I can assure my hon. friend that the course I am taking is most disagreeable to me in one sense, and I only take it under a very strong sense of public duty.
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER succeeded Mr. GRANT LAWSON in the Chair.]
§ The question seems to me to be so very small to end in a dreadful war. I say "a dreadful war, "because any war entered on without very grave reason must be a dreadful war—not because of the persons who would be killed in it—but because of the effects it would produce in generations to come. The wounds caused by it would not be readily healed. The wounds caused by our action from 1881 to 1884, our constant vacillation, our fighting with the Boers, our efforts to take away their independence, our restoration of that independence are not yet healed or forgotten. What madness, therefore, would it surely be, now, without some very extraordinary or overwhelming reason, to open yet wider those unhealed wounds which were given so unthinkingly a few years ago. I do not know how long the effects of such a war would last, but I am sure it would last a long time, and therefore I deprecate it in the most earnest way, not only on account of the result which would follow to the South African Republic, but because, frankly, I do not believe that the people of this country or that the House of Commons would tolerate entering into it for so trifling a reason as has been given by my right hon. friend. I am quite persuaded that many who are absent now, and many who have listened impatiently to me, would think twice before committing themselves to so dreadful an alternative.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
Opinion does not seem quite so united on the other side of the House, in regard to this matter, as is sometimes the case. I judge of that from the fact that of five Gentlemen who have spoken on that side since the Colonial Secretary, three have spoken in favour of his policy, and two against it. Taking that as an average of the opinion of the hon. Members on that side of the House, it seems that only two-thirds are in agreement with the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and one- 772 third against him. That is a very fair estimate, I think. [Cries of "Divide."] Hon. Members say "Divide," but they forget that we have claimed a day to discuss this matter, and that it is one of the most important which can come before the House. We have remained silent for a long time, and I can assure them we intend to discuss it thoroughly this evening. After the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies spoke, I happened to find myself outside the House, when an hon. Member, who shares with me a general admiration of the dialectic skill of the right hon. the Colonial Secretary, suggested that he had not been so effective in his speech this evening as on former occasions. I took the opportunity of defending the Colonial Secretary. I said that while I agreed with my friend that the right hon. Gentleman had not been so effective as usual, we must consider the difficulty in which he was placed; that the Colonial Secretary was not able absolutely to speak his own mind, but had to represent the entire Cabinet, and to appear to fall into line with them. While he was speaking, I saw the members of the Cabinet were sitting in the gallery, like police carefully watching him, and seeing that he did not give them away. ["Oh! oh!"] It is all very well to say "Oh! oh!"but the Colonial Secretary was in that position, and I defended him on these grounds. Sir, it appears to me that we have not yet got to the bottom of this subject. We do not, apparently, understand what is the real reason of the present crisis. It is not really the grievances of the Uitlanders. These are in this particular case a mere pretext. The House must realise that in Cape Colony there are two parties, one represented by Mr. Rhodes and his friends, and the other by the opponents of Mr. Rhodes. There was recently an election at the Cape, when Mr. Rhodes's party were beaten. It was then suggested that Mr. Rhodes's party was defeated because there was not a fair distribution of seats. But a Bill was passed in the Cape Legislature—no jerry-mandering Bill, but a Bill agreed to on both sides—and in the election which followed the re-distribution scheme Mr. Schreiner's majority was increased. Well, the friends of Mr. Rhodes were bitterly disappointed, and they determined to regain their power by foul means if not 773 by fair. ["Oh! oh!"] The South African League is the fighting force of Mr. Rhodes's party. The plan was to go into the Transvaal, and to use the grievances of the Uitlanders there in order to create disturbances, in the hope that they would extend to Cape Colony. Sir, in the Cape the opponents of Mr. Rhodes are not alone the Dutch. The Afrikander Bond have never been able to return the majority by themselves. They have with them a very large number of Englishmen, who, rightly or wrongly, are disgusted with Mr. Rhodes's policy, and by all the speculation, and all the wild enterprises involved in that policy. They are, further, angry that Mr. Rhodes has only been nominally punished for the raid, which has been so injurious to South Africa. We are told that the Dutch in South Africa are disloyal. On what grounds? The Press is in the hands of Mr. Rhodes and his friends; and the Press undoubtedly tells us, through the correspondence to the newspapers here, and through the Cape newspapers, that the Dutch are disloyal. But the Dutch indignantly repudiate that, and say that they are as loyal as any of our colonists in any part of the world. It is perfectly monstrous that an attempt should be made, by those political leaders at the Cape who have lost their power, to create a disturbance, and to attack their fellow citizens in the way they do, in the hope that the balance of power may be redressed with the aid of British bayonets. One hon. Gentleman opposite told us that the English in the Cape are patiently loyal, but he gave an extraordinary instance of their loyalty. He said that if we do not do what they wished they would immediately "cut the painter."
* MR. NEWDIGATE
I must explain. The English in South Africa remember Majuba Hill. They feel that they have come to a great crisis in the present time. And I stated as my honest conviction, gained from three visits to South Africa, that if the British are not supported there, as they should be, on the first opportunity they will set up on their own account.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
My hon. friend has not bettered his position by his explanation. At least the Dutch have not threatened to "cut the painter," if we do not support them. The loyalty of the 774 noble English patriots in South Africa is entirely dependent on our doing exactly what they want. I said that the South African League was the fighting force of the Rhodes party. Some hon. Gentleman said "Oh, oh!" Well, I think General Butler knows quite as much of the South African League as hon. Gentlemen opposite, and General Butler speaking of one of the cases put forward by the Colonial Secretary of monstrous injustice to the blacks on the authority of the South African League, said:I am convinced that it is necessary to receive with caution, and with even a large measure of suspicion the statement of the officers of that organisation.And Mr. Schreiner, the Prime Minister of Cape Colony, said in a despatch on the same subject, that by the action of the South African League, both in Cape Colony and beyond it, they were endeavouring to foment the excitement between the two European races. It is really necessary to understand what has been the cause of all the present troubles in South Africa. I maintain that it is owing to the action of the newspapers in this country. They have persistently telegraphed falsehood upon falsehood and mis-statement upon mis-statement. Take one instance. Three days ago it was telegraphed over here by the correspondent of the Standard and by other correspondents that Mr. Schreiner had written a despatch to President Kruger, advising him not to yield to the pressure of the Colonial Office. The correspondent went so far as to say that he had seen the telegram himself. But the next day Mr. Schreiner absolutely denied that he had done this, and Sir Alfred Milner said he had seen the telegram, and the statement was absolutely without foundation. Take another instance. The Daily Newsprofesses to be a Liberal newspaper, and no one on this side of the House denies that it is a representative Liberal organ, except in regard to certain foreign matters. Well, the correspondent of the Daily News is Mr. Garrett. Who is Mr. Garrett? He is the Editor of the Cape Times. ["Question."] An hon. Member says, "Question," but surely we want to know whether we are able to believe these statements in the newspapers or not; and surely it is necessary to know who sends over the information. Mr. Garrett is editor of the Cape Times, and the Cape 775 Times is owned by gentlemen in Cape Town, amongst whom gentlemen who were connected with the raid are very fully represented. Therefore, we must take with a very considerable grain of salt anything that he sends to the Daily News.I believe the correspondent of The Times also is connected with a newspaper in Johannesburg itself. What is the position in regard to the Transvaal? We do not deny for a moment that there is great room for reform in the Transvaal. We believe there is a great deal of maladministration, and that in no self-governing country would the evils be permitted which exist in that country. We know it is not a paradise. Paradises are rarely found in this world, and certainly I would not select the Transvaal with its millionaires and its gold mines as the paradise of the world.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Except in regard to working men, as my hon. friend says. It is for them a paradise. We have not taken into consideration the enormous difficulties of President Kruger. He is naturally distrustful having regard to the raid. You can perfectly understand the head of an agricultural body of men like the Boers, who trekked into the wilderness in order to prevent being intermixed with other people, being jealous and wary when there was a gold rush into the country. Moreover, there is something peculiar in the nature of the gold in the Transvaal. It is different from the gold in other parts of the world, such as Australia and California, where on the alluvial fields each man works for himself. But in the Transvaal it is necessary to work the gold by very expensive machinery, and consequently the whole business is in the hands of capitalists from this country, who can do precisely what they wish, and form themselves into a capitalist oligarchy. It is not a question whether the gold laws of the Transvaal are, or are not, inequitable or liberal; although it is admitted that the gold laws in the Transvaal are more favourable than in Rhodesia or in Cape Colony. It is not so much a tax upon the people as a question of royalty. The gold belongs to the State, and the State has a right to exact what royalty it pleases. It is well known 776 that we Radicals desire that the coal mines in this country should belong to the State. But they belong to private individuals, who exact exceedingly heavy royalties from those who work the coal. We should bear in mind this fact, that the owners of gold mines in the Transvaal do not pay so heavy a charge upon their profits as is paid by any man who takes a coal mine here, and the only difference is that in the Transvaal the royalty goes to the State, whereas here it goes to the individual proprietor of the land. The worst of this business is that Sir Alfred Milner has been a partisan. ("No.") All these things are a matter of opinion, but I would ask anyone to read the Blue Books, and then to deny that Sir Alfred Milner accepted every assertion made against Mr. Schreiner without question. I have read the Blue Books, and that is the conclusion I have arrived at. He might have thought that he was right, but undoubtedly he was a partisan on the side of the South African League. Sir Alfred Milner, no doubt, is an able financier. He went to Egypt, and did very good work there. He was also a very able journalist here. But it by no means follows that a man who was an able journalist and financier should be a very able governor of a self-governing colony. Then the agitation culminated in the petition to Her Majesty. The right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary said that he was convinced that that petition was honestly signed. But everybody knows that petitions are poured into the House of Commons, and that persons are paid for obtaining the names to these petitions, and that there are very grave suspicions in regard to the bona fides of these petitions. That was the case as to this Transvaal petition, and I have very grave doubts as to its genuineness. There was a counter-petition, signed by almost the same number of names as the first one, and I have as much distrust of the one as of the other. Then the Bloemfontein Conference took place, when Sir Alfred Milner proposed that the franchise should be given to the Uitlanders after five years' residence. It is a curious fact that there was a despatch by Sir Alfred Milner, in the Blue Book, to the Colonial Secretary just before he went to the Conference, saying that he was going to propose a six years' franchise. Sir Alfred Milner telegraphed ultimately saying that that was a mis- 777 take, that he was going to propose five years. The Colonial Secretary, however, approved of that six years' franchise, although he afterwards refused to discuss it, and made a sort of ultimatum of the five years' franchise. Then came two despatches, which were very remarkable; we had a telegram from Sir Alfred Milner which proceeded to attack the loyalty of the Africanders of Cape Colony. The Colonial Secretary was asked whether the telegram was published with the consent of Sir Alfred Milner, and he said it was. I could never understand why it was published at all; but it was, and in hot haste. And a despatch was published which was written before the Conference and held over. That despatch was one long railing accusation against the Transvaal; the Colonial Secretary went through every case, and in an ex-parte manner attacked the Transvaal with all the offences which they had committed, and all those which they had not. With regard to the Edgar matter, Sir Alfred Milner calls it the "Edgar blunder," the Colonial Secretary calls it the "Edgar murder"; but no jury, had the case occurred in this country, would ever have convicted the policeman of murder. The right hon. Gentleman also said that the Boer Government was corrupt, because a Boer official stole some thousands of pounds, some of which has not been recovered. He also referred to a meeting which culminated in a riot and a few broken heads; but I remember a riot in Birmingham, when a highly respectable friend of the right hon. Gentleman's, called Larry Mack, was said to be at the head of a body of roughs. These despatches were published on one specific ground; they were an appeal to public opinion. Upon this Mr. Schreiner and his Cabinet interfered, and we always thought he did a useful work; but when we are told by the Colonial Secretary that we are not to listen to Mr. Schreiner, whose proposals were not the best way to attain our ends, and that it is best to make war against the wish of one of our self-governing colonies, and the paramount State in the country, I do not agree. Mr. Schreiner says that disaffection exists at the Cape, and no doubt racial feeling does run high, but I do not think that feeling goes so far as to show that there is disaffection. What I believe is that if you make war in the Transvaal you will have the majority of 778 the Cape Colony and its Ministers disapproving your policy and taking some very hostile action. The Colonial Secretary told us with great delight that, in the event of the necessity arising, the Malays and the Hausas had declared their intention to fight for us; but it is well known that both these peoples will fight for anyone who pays them. I was surprised to hear what the right hon. Gentleman said, after what the First Lord of the Treasury said the other day, if we went to war, only white troops would go to fight white men. The Colonial Secretary tells us that if we do not support the Uitlanders we should lose the respect of the natives, who might rise against us, and that we should lose prestige in Europe if we do not go to war. An Act has been passed by the Transvaal embodying the proposals of Sir A. Milner, with one exception—he stipulates for five years, and the Act makes it seven, and, we are to go to war for a matter of two years. But the Colonial Secretary proposes that a Joint Committee of Boers and British should sit and look into this question and see whether, under this present Act, the Uitlanders really receive such representation in the Volks-raad. I was delighted to hear that proposal made, because we know perfectly well, whenever a Government desires to save appearances, it always proposes a Committee; but I was sorry to hear him accompany that suggestion to the Transvaal with threats, because that is not the way to induce that country to enter into the proposal. Though President Kruger is a stiff-necked man, he is ready to yield to friendly proposals. At all events, I hope the Colonial Secretary will approach President Kruger in the matter of the Commission through Mr. Schreiner, and not through Sir Alfred Milner. There is a great deal of personal feeling between the Colonial Secretary and Mr. Kruger. I have heard rumours of the resignation of Mr. Kruger, and I am perfectly convinced that everything would be arranged satisfactorily if President Kruger and the Colonial Secretary would both show their patriotism and resign. In a speech he made at Ilford, my right hon. friend the Leader of the Opposition said that at this moment he saw no cause for hostilities or for hostile preparations. My right hon. friend spoke as the representative of the Liberal Party, and, after listening to the Colonial Secretary, he repeated that statement. That is a very important statement, and it shows 779 that if the Government go to war they will have against them, not only the Transvaal and the Cape Government, but also the Liberal Party. Can the statement be explained in any other way? I am proud of my right hon. friend, and I agree with him entirely. I do not say that the Colonial Secretary is a buccaneer, but when he poses as a man of peace, he is quite anexceptional man of peace. The Liberal Party is not in favour of this war. [Cries of "What war?"] This war that is threatened if the Transvaal does not yield. I do not believe there will be a war, and I should be sure of it but for the fact that I do not regard the Colonial Secretary as a very peaceful man. I believe a large majority of the Cabinet, and a large body of gentlemen on the opposite side of the House, are against war. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his suggestion of a Joint Committee, and trust that it may lead to a satisfactory solution of the whole difficulty.
§ * MR. ELLIS J. GRIFFITH (Anglesey)
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has discussed a number of topics, but has kept at a respectful distance from the subject under discussion, which, as I understand it, is whether the Committee does or does not approve of the conduct of the Colonial Office in regard to the Transvaal. One curious thing is that the hon. Gentleman has calculated that two-thirds of the Gentlemen opposite are against the Secretary for the Colonies. The hon. Member has a simple means of testing the feeling of the Committee. Let him move a reduction of the Vote.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to explain. I am not such a perfect fool as to move a reduction of the Vote. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are Party men.
§ * MR. ELLIS J. GRIFFITH
I am not inclined to differ from the hon. Gentleman in the conclusion he has come to about himself. I will not, however, pursue the subject, for though it has attractive features it probably would not be in order. The hon. Member occupies a peculiar position, he is not an ordinary Member, and for the first time to-night he finds himself proud of his leader. He is not only leader, but follower; he is leader of a small party, and he is also the party of a small leader. He will not divide the Committee because he does 780 not want to "tell" himself in the Lobby. So far as I understand, the question the Committee has to discuss is—first, are the Uitlanders suffering substantial grievances? If they are not there is an end of the matter. If they are suffering from substantial grievances, have we the right or duty of intervention on their behalf? Thirdly, if we have that right, how should we exercise it? That, to my mind, is the whole subject of discussion, and as I am taking a course at variance with that of some—not all—of those with whom I usually act, the Committee, perhaps, will give me an opportunity of explaining my personal view upon this matter. Is it seriously contended in any part of the House that the Uitlanders have not substantial grievances? ["Yes."] One Member, a countryman of mine, disputes that, but he stands alone. ["No, no."] Perhaps he is joined by the hon. Member and his Party. It is for the Committee to judge what constitutes a substantial grievance. Let us take, first of all, the administration of the law. Is that satisfactory when the judges can be removed at the will and pleasure of the Executive? Is it satisfactory that the Volksraad should be able by sudden resolution to repeal any law? Is it satisfactory that all proceedings in court should be carried on in a language unknown to the great majority of the people, and not translated at a trial? Is it satisfactory that in all civil and criminal cases juries should be drawn from one small class of the population? We have all heard of the Edgar case—the result of that was a foregone conclusion. Four days after the murder, a discussion arose as to the ultimate charge which was to be brought against the policeman, and it was said by the State Attorney, that if it was a charge of manslaughter the counsel would have a much easier task. What does that mean, if it does not mean that partisanship exists, and that where a question between the Boers and the Uitlanders arises the Uitlanders chances of justice are very small? It is a remarkable thing that just before the trial of the policeman the State Prosecutor brought an action against the editor of the Critic for criminal libel. The State Prosecutor bringing an action for criminal libel produced evidence. First he went into the box and said he did not think the deed was murder; then the Assistant-Prosecutor said he did not think it was murder; and then the policeman Jones gave evidence, 781 and we could hardly expect him to take a different view. Is the administration of the law satisfactory in a country where these things are possible? Then let us take the taxation to which the Uitlanders contribute—and they have a right to see how the money is spent. The first thing I understand is that taxation is heavy because expenditure is excessive; £30,000 a-year is spent in secret service, a larger sum than is at the disposal of the British Government for the purpose; £1,200,000 is spent in salaries of Civil servants. How many Boers are there over sixteen years years of age? Thirty thousand; which gives an average per Boer of £40 a year. I can see now where the Colonial Secretary got his idea of pensions from. Even if the Boer paid his fair share of taxation—£13 6s. 8d.—he would have a balance of £26 13s. 4d. Is not that rather a serious state of affairs? But then there are some people who think there are no grievances in that country. In the matter of personal freedom, it is still worse; a man can be expelled simply on the order of the President; if more than five men meet together in the open they are ordered to move, and if they go into the Amphitheatre they are liable to severe ill-treatment.
§ * MR. ELLIS J. GRIFFITH
The thing has actually happened. Then there is the matter of the British-Indian subjects; they are not treated fairly, and I agree with the Colonial Secretary when he says that that is not merely a local matter. It is likely to have a far-reaching effect on our position in India. As to corruption, it is perfectly well known, and is not denied. Out of twenty-four members, twenty-two admitted that they were bribed for the votes they gave. Mr. Woolmeraus stated himself that there had been defalcations in the national accounts, amounting to £2,000,000. That is a substantial set of grievances, and Her Majesty's Government not only has the right, but it is our duty, to interfere. We owe a special duty to the Uitlanders on account of their laying down their arms in 1896, on the faith of the promise that their grievances should be attended to, and it would be a breach of faith to leave them in the lurch now. Now, there are 782 two ways of dealing with this matter. Either take the grievances and deal with them seriatim, or if the franchise is given, drop the grievances; but that would be a fatal course to take unless the franchise is immediate and substantial. I do not think one-fifth of the representation is substantial. So I hope the Government will not yield an inch upon this important matter. With regard to the application of the remedy, it seems to me it was not very relevant to talk about war, and it is a curious thing that it is always the friends of peace who talk about war. I believe we are all agreed upon exercising firm pressure, but firm pressure must have force behind it in the long run or it is nonsense. I disagree with the strictures on Sir Alfred Milner, who has acted ably, conscientiously, and with exceeding moderation. I am glad that the Colonial Secretary has made up his mind to go through with this business, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman of my vote and support.
§ * MR. J. M. MACLEAN (Cardiff)
The grievances of the Uitlanders are admitted by President Kruger, who now offers a substantial and immediate, if not a complete remedy. This Debate has had one good result; it has drawn from the Secretary of State the declaration that there is no immediate hurry for the settlement of this business. There is to be an inquiry to ascertain if the new Franchise Law provides a compromise which can be accepted as satisfactory by Her Majesty's Government. This will take time, and it is a distinct relief to feel that we can now go to our homes without being anxious lest the country should be plunged into a war before Parliament reassembles. I do not think that the Secretary for the Colonies has been quite fair or just to Mr. Schreiner, who has succeeded in doing a work which Her Majesty's Government and Sir Alfred Milner failed to do. Mr. Schreiner took up the work where Sir Alfred Milner left off, and he has succeeded in carrying it to a successful issue. There is another matter in which I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman. He has referred at length to the grievances of the Uitlanders with regard to the franchise; but I would point out that the franchise has now been granted, and it is unfair to come down to the old catalogue of offences 783 I venture to think, too, that some of these offences have been manufactured. Take, for example, the outcry that has been made regarding the way in which the Indian subjects of her Majesty are treated. The Secretary for the Colonies knows very well that Indian subjects of the Queen are treated quite as badly in some of our own colonies in South Africa as they are in the Transvaal. The Leader of the House, in a speech yesterday, stated that President Kruger had made a great concession, and expressed his sanguine belief that the rest could easily be adjusted, and there is, therefore, no cause for quarrel left. Many people wish to avenge Majuba Hill; but we cannot atone for a blunder by committing a crime. It is true that distinctions have been drawn between the Boer population and the Uitlanders during the past twelve years, but I would remind the House that the Transvaal has been invaded by vast numbers of aliens, and I doubt whether any other country would, under similar circumstances, have acted differently. During the past year one or two things have changed considerably in the Transvaal, and Lord Salisbury has made an arrangement with Germany which makes it impossible that British influence can ever be interfered with again. I cannot say that, in my opinion, Sir Alfred Milner did all that he might have done in his Conference with President Kruger. This is shown by the abrupt way in which Sir Alfred Milner broke up the Conference and by the fact that during the Conference he practically hurled an ultimatum at President Kruger, declaring that if it was not accepted there would be war. I ask the House if that was not calculated to excite in President Kruger a determination to stand up for the rights of his country and for his independence. In conclusion, I wish to express the hope that during the recess the Colonial Secretary will impose a self-denying ordinance on himself, and refrain from writing despatches, and that we shall hear less of the movements of troops and other warlike preparations.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,.) Manchester, E
I think we now might with advantage bring this Debate to a close. I quite recognise the great importance of the 784 subject, but there is work still to be done in the course of the evening, and in the general interests of the business of the House I suggest, that this particular Debate may now come to a conclusion.
§ MR. C. P. SCOTT (Lancashire, Leigh)
The hon. Member for Anglesey divided his speech into three parts—first, he inquired whether the grievances of the Uitlanders were substantial; secondly, whether we had a right to redress them; and thirdly, in what way it should be done; and I must say that in dealing with the second portion—the right we had to interfere by force of arms in this matter—he dismissed it with extreme lightness and brevity, in a manner which would not have been expected from any man who called himself a Liberal. He preferred rather to indulge in sneers at some of his fellow Members on this side of the House, and at the President and Boers of the South African Republic. He next proceeded to urge the Colonial Secretary to be firm and vigorous, as though the right hon. Gentleman had evidenced any unwillingness to show such a spirit. I venture to think my hon. friend has, in these words, only given expression to the feelings of an insignificant minority of Members on this side of the House. I listened with great attention to the speech of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in order to see how he justified his attitude towards this little State of the Transvaal—a State which we ourselves created, and whose rights we once took away and then restored. Surely we owe to this people not merely just but generous treatment? This is not a question whether the Uitlanders have any grievances. I dare say they have; what people have not? Probably some of them are very hard to bear. But we in this country have had grievances to bear. It is not so long ago that many of our own people had not the franchise, and they tried very hard to get it for a great number of years before they succeeded. These men were not aliens: they were our own flesh and blood; they bore the burdens of the State in the wars, and they paid their taxes. While the Uitlanders do not fight the battles of the Transvaal, our agricultural labourers do fill the ranks of our army. How long is it since they were given votes, and how intense was the sense of grievances of hon. Members opposite at their 785 failure to secure enfranchisement? I say, therefore, that the question of grievances is not an essential one. The real thing we have to consider is, what right have we to interfere? Are we entitled to intervene by force of arms in a matter of purely domestic concern—a matter absolutely within the competence of the Transvaal State? I venture to assert that neither the Colonial Secretary, nor any Member on that side of the House, has shown any substantial reason for our interference; and it would be one of the most ignoble, most shabby, and most ungenerous acts which a great nation ever committed if we did intervene. The right hon. Gentleman has not pretended that we have any right to interfere under the Convention, although he did claim some right to act under the general law of nations. But that is a most preposterous assertion. We could not claim a right to take similar action on behalf of British subjects in France, or Russia, or Turkey, and why then should we feel ourselves called upon to do it in the case of the Transvaal? The argument will not bear examination, and it makes me blush with shame when I see a great historic Party, like that opposite, capable of the despicable meanness of seeking, on such grounds, to go to war against a poor little State, containing 30,000 farmers. I do not believe that the people of this country, when once this matter has been fairly placed before them, will tolerate the oppression of a little State of this kind, which we hold in the hollow of our hand, for any reason such as has been assigned in the course of this Debate. We are told that as there have been breaches of the Convention, we are entitled to tear it up. But the Boers do not admit having committed any breaches. By all means, let us insist on the Convention being observed, and not begin by tearing it up. Again, we are assured that our suzerainty gives us a right to interfere. The word "suzerainty" is one something like "Mesopotamia"—it may mean anything, or it may mean nothing. The suzerainty argument is really unworthy the attention of the House, for it has been shown in a most convincing manner by that great international lawyer, Professor West-lake, that whatever suzerainty there is is limited and defined by the Convention. The real ground on which we are proceeding is, indeed, a totally different one. There is a feeling that the 786 power of this country in South Africa is in danger in some way. But the British Empire has survived greater dangers than these, and if its power can only be sustained by an act of bad faith and injustice, then I say it is indeed in a parlous condition. I believe that the true foundation of its strength lies in justice and in its observance of treaties, and the greatest blow you can possibly strike at the Empire and all it represents, is to be faithless to pledges which you have given, and to bring the enormous power of this country to bear, in an unjust cause, upon a small and defenceless people.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)
I put a question to-day on the subject of the legal status of slavery in the Niger Coast Protectorate and the Colony of Lagos, which the right hon. Gentleman did not fully answer. I wished to know whether the legal status of slavery was going to be abolished in Lagos, following what had been done in the territory of the Niger Company. The right hon. Gentleman told me yesterday, in answer to a question, that a decree which abolished the status of slavery in the Niger Company's territory would remain in force in the future. I then asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he would follow that up by abolishing the status of slavery in Lagos and in the Niger Coast Protectorate—in, in fact, the whole of Nigeria. I certainly expected a favourable answer, for we remember his emphatic declaration in past years on the subject of slavery. But all he told me was that slavery was not acknowledged in any British Court in either Lagos or the Niger Coast Protectorate. I want a further assurance from him that the legal status shall be abolished for the future throughout the whole of Nigeria.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I think the hon. Member is hard to please; for I gave him an answer which I had hoped he would consider eminently satisfactory. I am quite unable to appreciate the distinction which the hon. Member draws between the state of things which I described as existing in Lagos and that existing in the Royal Niger Company's territory. I am advised that there is absolutely no difference between the state of affairs in Lagos and the Niger Coast Protectorate and 787 that created by the proclamation of the Royal Niger Company. That, I think, should be a sufficient satisfaction to the hon. Member. At all events, as far as I am at present informed, the condition of things is precisely the same.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
This is a legal question. Surely the right hon. Gentleman can give me more information?
§ MR. BUCHANAN
The right hon. Gentleman is well aware that by an administrative decree issued in 1897 the legal status of slavery was abolished in the territory of the Niger Company, and no such decree has been issued for Lagos and the Niger Coast Protectorate. The legal status is acknowledged in those colonies; we want an assurance that it shall be abolished for the future in the whole of Nigeria, and as he refuses one, I beg to move to reduce the salary of the Colonial Secretary by £100.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That item A (Salaries), be reduced by £100, in respect of the Salary of the Secretary of State."—(Mr. Buchanan.)
§ MR. J. A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)
The question is really this. Sir George Goldie, on Jubilee Day, 1897, found it necessary to issue a decree abolishing the legal status of slavery throughout the dominions under his control. We want to know whether in Lagos and the territory which has now been brought into the Niger country under the control of the Colonial Office, it is not necessary for a similar decree to be issued in order that the legal status of slavery may be abolished there.
§ Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN
The two hon. Gentlemen who have just spoken are under some misapprehension. Lagos is not going to be brought for the first time under the Colonial Office; it has been so for a great number of years, and during 788 the tenancy of office by successive Governments. It is quite true that with regard to the Niger Company's territory Sir George Goldie issued a proclamation abolishing the legal status of slavery. I doubt whether, under the existing state of matters there, the issue of the proclamation practically made much difference. At all events I approve of the proclamation in principle and most certainly I do not intend to make any alteration. The hon. Gentleman who last spoke asked whether I considered it necessary in connection with the transfer of the Niger Company's territory to the Government to make some change in Lagos. As far as my information goes, there is no need for any change. If hon. Members opposite can lay before me any information which justifies the claim that some change should be made in the state of things which has existed for many years in Lagos, I will consider it, and, if possible, give a favourable reply. I hope the hon. Gentleman will not divide the House upon what is really beating at an open door.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
The views of Colonel Lugard, who is the strongest advocate of the abolition of the legal status of slavery, should be taken in account, surely. Could he not be asked if he considers any such step necessary?
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I am in close communication with Colonel Lugard, and I can assure the right hon. Baronet there is no difference between us on the point.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
My only suggestion is as to the territories which have not hitherto been under the Colonial Office.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
I have here the proclamation of the Niger Company, in which they state that the legal status of slavery shall be abolished. Now the territories of the company will for the future form part of Southern Nigeria, and you will have slavery abolished in one part and not abolished in another portion. We want an assurance that it shall no longer be recognised throughout the whole of Nigeria.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
I understand that under the company's system the legal status of slavery was abolished by proclamation. The right hon. Gentleman apparently thinks it does not exist in Lagos because it is a Crown Colony. It may, however, have existed in Southern Nigeria, and I take it he promises he will look into the matter, and if the legal status of slavery does exist in any part he will see that its abolition is brought about. If that is a correct interpretation of his words I think it is all we are entitled to expect from the right hon. Gentleman at the present moment. The point is an important one: it is necessary that the status of slavery should no longer exist in any part of Her Majesty's dominions; but after the statement of the right hon. Gentlemen I would not press the matter further now.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR (Forfarshire)
I wish to ask a question on the subject of a circular letter recently issued on the question of education in the West Indian Colonies. My attention has been drawn to it by several correspondents, who have pointed out that it involves some change in the system now in force, and some alteration in the mode of dealing with the funds allocated by the Colonies to the subject of education. I am sure that if the right hon. Gentleman can give us any information on the subject it will be gladly received.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I shall be most happy to give the information for which the hon. Member asks. With regard to the majority of the West Indian Colonies there has been increased difficulty recently in making the revenue meet the expenditure. We have had to look to the possibility of economy, and in looking at the expenditure I have been I struck with the enormous proportion of the cost of two services in most of the Colonies; one was education and the other medical service. I am very loth to reduce the sum which could be shown to be necessary for the purpose of giving effective education to the people in the West Indies, but I have reason to believe that in many cases this expenditure is wasted, and that a good deal of the education given is not of a sufficiently direct and technical kind. I feel it to be 790 most desirable that greater attention should be paid to technical instruction, especially as regards tropical agriculture, and I hope that in the course of the next year or two something may be done in this direction. I have, therefore, called the attention of the Governors of the Colonies to these points, and I find that, generally speaking, they are very much inclined to agree with those views. I hope that in the course of the next year or two something may be done, both to reduce the cost of education without diminishing its efficiency, and also to secure proper education in agriculture being given to those who are desirous of taking advantage of it.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
I cannot quite understand the position taken up by the Colonial Secretary. I am reminded of a speech which he made in the spring of 1885, when he denounced the idea of the legal status of slavery being recognised in the mainland strip off the Island of Zanzibar. I think we have a right to claim from him, now that he is in a position of authority and responsibility, that he shall carry out in practice what, when in Opposition, he advocated in principle. Unless he is prepared to give us a promise that he will issue a proclamation in Lagos and Southern Nigeria, should it be found on inquiry to be necessary, I shall be forced to trouble the House with a division on this subject.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I really think that the hon. Gentleman presses me unfairly. I imagine the hon. Gentleman's object is to punish me for having in the course of the last Administration pressed upon the Government the abolition of the legal status of slavery in a totally different district and on a totally different subject. I am perfectly prepared to stand by anything I said then, and I am personally in favour of extending that principle where-ever it is possible. In the particular case to which the hon. Gentleman has again and again called my attention, I have again and again replied that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, there is absolutely no necessity for the course he proposes. There is no recognition of the legal status of slavery in this country. When the hon. Gentleman was on this side of the 791 House, and there was a Government in power to which he was friendly, he made no suggestion to them that any alteration should be made in the state of things in Lagos or the Niger Coast Protectorate. That justifies me in assuming that no such change is necessary. The only pledge I can give the hon. Gentleman is, that if he will give me evidence that I have been misinformed, and that there is a distinction between the state of things in Lagos and the Niger Company's territories which requires alteration, I will give to any representation of the kind my most favourable consideration.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.