§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment [30th January] to Question [30th January], "That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as followeth:—
§ Most Gracious Sovereign,
§ We, Your Majesty's most 'dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—(Captain Pretyman.)
And which Amendment was—
At the end of the Question, to add the words, 'But we humbly express our regret at the want of knowledge, foresight, and judgment displayed by Your Majesty's advisers, alike, in their conduct of South African affairs since 1895, and in their preparations for the war now proceeding.'"—(Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice.)
§ Question again proposed—"That those words be there added."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)
I am aware that the initiation and continuance of this debate is regarded by some people, whose judgment is entitled to respect, with great disfavour. It is even represented as the device of a factious Opposition, anxious by one and the same expedient to cloak its own domestic dissensions and to create in the eyes of the world the appearance of a divided nation. I repudiate that charge with all the emphasis that I can command, and in support of that rapudiation I am not afraid to appeal to the experience of the last three months. The times have been trying; confident hope has had to give way to bitter and reiterated disap- 732 pointment; the temper and the mettle of our people has been put to the severest test that any of us can recall. During those anxious weeks the voice of party has been stilled, and we of the Opposition have done what in us lay, by silence or, where it seemed fitting and necessary, by speech, to the best of our ability to maintain the unity of the national front and the height of the national resolve. I am not claiming any credit for us on that account, and I trust and believe that the party opposite, in a like case, would have done the same by us, had we for the time being been the trustees of the national fortunes. But it is not a little singular that the accusations to which I am referring come with the greatest vehemence from quarters from which less than a month ago, in the very darkest hour of the war, a torrent of denunciation was being daily poured, without stint, without scruple, and I will add without shame, upon our statesmen in the Cabinet, and even upon our generals in the field. In that noisy demonstration of panic and clamour I am glad to remember that not a single Member of the Opposition condescended to take part. We are therefore, I think, entitled to the presumption that in raising this debate we have not been animated by a reckless spirit of partisanship, and that we have not forgotten the obligations of patriotic reserve. I will go further and say, as my right hon. friend the Member for West Monmouthshire said last night, that if we had not raised the debate we should have been abdicating the functions which it is the primary business of the Opposition to discharge. What was the situation in which the country found itself when Parliament met? We had been engaged for over three months in a war which, for the reversal of expectations, for the bewildering exhibition of inexplicable strategy, and for the almost unbroken series of reverses and disasters, has no parallel in our history since the days of the administration of Lord North. And, while this disquieting and baffling spectacle was unfolding itself before the eyes of the people, what was the attitude and what have been the declarations of Her Majesty's Ministers? We have had alarums and excursions at Leicester; we have had rambling apologetics at Manchester; and we had, only a week ago—as lately as the first night of the session—declarations from 733 the two leading Ministers of the Grown in the two Houses of Parliament hopelessly at issue and irreconcilable one with the other on elementary and yet vital questions of fact. I appeal to any candid and fair-judging man—whether he sits in this House or whether he walks the streets—if in such a situation it was not both the right and the duty of the Opposition to challenge the Executive Government to give an account of their stewardship. I agree entirely with what my light hon. friend said last night that the course which we have taken is in strict accordance with the principles of the Constitution as they have been understood and practised by all the great statesmen of either party in the past. I know that the British Constitution is for the moment out of favour, not only with professors of poetry and the melancholy tribe of idealists, but out of favour with the leading Members of Her Majesty's Government. It is a melancholy state of things when the Prime Minister and the Constitution fall out with one another; but, as Lord Salisbury has already made a public apology to his other bete noire—the Treasury—I think we may cherish the hope that before many days are over he will again don the white sheet, and, in the same handsome fashion, "make it up" with the British Constitution. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for War, in his brilliant and powerful speech the other night, appealed to us in his closing sentences, and spoke of this House by the title of "Mother of Parliaments." Yes, but before this House enjoyed the privileges of motherhood it was, what it still is, and what I hope it will always continue to be, "The Grand Inquest of the Nation." Sir, this debate has developed, as it might have been expected to do, differences of opinion as to the apportionment of responsibility for the outbreak of the war. It would be affectation on my part to deny the existence of such differences, though I think when they come to be examined they will be found to be differences not of principle, nor even of policy, but differences for the most part as to the true interpretation of a series of historical events. But I shall imitate the frankness of those who have preceded me, and, as I believe it to be the duty of everybody who rises in debate to support this Amendment, I shall, if the House will permit me, in two or three sentences 734 endeavour to make clear my own position. Speaking to my own constituents in the early days of the month of September, when the negotiations were just reaching their most critical state, and with the information which I then possessed—thinking, I believe, with nine-tenths, nay, I might say 99–100ths, of my fellow-countrymen, that a war such as this was an unthinkable catastrophe—I expressed the opinion that if such a war were to break out it would be a reproach to statesmanship and a calamity to South Africa. I had that opinion then; I hold it still. I do not belong to either of the fashionable schools of fatalism. I do not think that the epithet "inevitable," in the sense in which it is commonly employed, is any more applicable to the outbreak of this war than it is to the blunders and disasters which have attended its prosecution. I never heard and never read in history of a war which could not have been avoided by the exercise upon both sides of two very commonplace but not very common qualities—good sense and good faith. I say, upon both sides; because if it is true that it takes two to make a quarrel, it is equally true that it may take two to avoid it. I am going to speak my own convictions. I know they are not shared by all those who sit around me. But I wish to affirm two propositions, not as covering the entire ground, or exhausting the case—two propositions to which I should like to appeal for almost general assent. The first proposition is that this war was not intended nor desired by the Government of Great Britain. It is a totally different question whether other steps should have been taken to avoid it; but the absence of any such intention or desire is in my opinion, I would not say a justification, but is the only explanation of the state of military unpreparedness in which we found ourselves. My second proposition—I do not know whether it will meet with an equally general assent—is that this is a war which should and could have been avoided by President Kruger. Proposals were put forward at a very early period in the month of September, and urged upon his acceptance, not only by Her Majesty's Government, but by men belonging to every shade and school of political opinion in this kingdom, as on the one hand perfectly compatible with the maintenance of the independence of his own State, and on the other hand 735 an instalment—a proper and legitimate instalment—of the long-delayed and over-due debt of justice to the British population in the Transvaal. If these proposals had been accepted there would have been no war. They were rejected, and that rejection was followed by demands which were known to be impossible, and intended to be refused, and by the invasion and the annexation of British territory. Mr. Speaker, if I thought that the negotiations carried on by our Government had been a mere cloak and a pretext; if I thought that they had behind them the ulterior, though unavowed, purpose of sapping the independence and paving the way for the annexation of the Transvaal; if I thought, worse than all, that Her Majesty's Government had allowed themselves to become the dupes and the tools, conscious or unconscious, of a gang of interested speculators; why, then, despite the invasion of British territory, despite the loss of British life, I do not think I should have been able to reconcile it with my conscience to vote for a single halfpenny for the further prosecution of this war. But that is not the opinion, I believe, either of the House of Commons or of the great majority of the people of this country. It is because it is not their opinion that, however much many of us may find to criticise and even condemn in the conduct of the negotiations with the Transvaal, we are, as regards the duty and the necessity of carrying on the war, a united Parliament and a united people. Sir, the Colonial Secretary last night put to me and to others this question: "How," he said, "holding the views that you do as to the origin of the war, can you with logic and consistency impeach the knowledge, the foresight, and the judgment of the Government?" I am not embarrassed by the challenge. It is one thing to assert, as I am prepared to do, for the reason I have given to the House, that this war was, in the last resort, forced upon us, and that we can engage in it with clean hands and a clear conscience. It is another and a totally different thing to approve or condone the methods, the temper, and the judgment with which, from time to time, our part in this adventure has been handled and our case presented to the world. For my part, I am prepared to maintain, nor do I think it can be seriously denied, that there have 736 been at various stages from the beginning almost up to the end of these transactions, a demonstrable lack of both insight and foresight. Sir, the House of Commons would be justly indignant with me were I, at this stage of the debate, to travel in detail over familiar and much-trodden ground. I will, therefore, indicate only in the broadest outline two or three of what seem to many of us to be the salient features of the case. In the first place who can deny—does anybody deny?—that the Government, from 1895 down to the present day, has done little or nothing to mitigate, and not a little to intensify, the temper of suspiciousness on the part of the Boers, which has been such a serious and dangerous factor in the whole business? The Boers chafed, as the right hon. Gentleman very justly told us last night—they chafed from the first at the fetters imposed on their restored independence by the Conventions of Pretoria and London. All along they have suspected us of a design of still further curtailing that independence. Sir, I believe from my heart that no responsible statesman in this country ever had any such purpose. But that was all the more reason for not giving that temper of suspicion and distrust any colour or pretext. I won't go over again the story told so often in this debate, of the raid, and the inadequate punishment of those who took part in it; of the inquiry cut short, just at the point, remember, when on the assumption of Imperial complicity, it was convenient and even necessary to stop it; of the public and formal rehabilitation of the chief offender. I say it is impossible for any man who impartially reviews these facts, realising on the one hand the pre-existing and not unnatural temper of the Boer population themselves, and, on the other hand, the ambiguous treatment which that criminal adventure had meted out to it by the Government of this country, to deny that there is one point on which we must necessarily convict the Government of want of foresight and judgment. I pass on to a later date, when we began our negotiations for the redress of the grievances of the Uitlanders. Have we not there also fresh evidence of the same defects? For my part, I think the Government were not only entitled but bound to take up the case of the Uitlanders. I go further, and say that having taken up the case they should have persevered effectually to the 737 end. But they ought to have known, they must have known, when they entered on these negotiations at that time, that they were entering on slippery ground. They knew of the armaments of the Transvaal; to use Sir Alfred Milner's phrase, the Transvaal had been converted into an armed camp. They knew of the defensive treaty between the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, and experience I think shows that the difference between a defensive and an offensive alliance is not so great as the Under Secretary for War supposes. They knew further that we were at a distance of 7,000 miles from the possible scene of action, that two of our colonies were practically denuded of all means of defence, and that mobilisation and transport of troops would take weeks and even months. I have said that in my belief the Government did not desire or intend to go to war, but war, as was now admitted, was always possible. Then why was nothing done, as admittedly nothing was done, to safeguard the territories of our two colonies from this invasion? I will not say much, indeed, I will say nothing, about the negotiations, or about that curious running commentary of speeches by which they were accompanied both in and out of Parliament. That is a topic already sufficiently dealt with. The right hon. gentleman's despatches and speeches are now the property of the recording angel of history. Litera scripta manet; what would he not give for the chance of editing them to-day?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN,) Birmingham, W.
I would not alter a word.
§ MR. ASQUITH
If I were in the right hon. Gentleman's place I would give a great deal to have the chance of un-dotting some of the i's, of uncrossing some of the t's, of erasing an epithet here, and expunging a metaphor there. I pass from that subject to the preparations that were made for war when war had become probable and even imminent. It is not necessary at this stage of the debate to labour the point. One of the most useful results of this debate has been that the pleas, the excuses, and the apologies of the Government have, one after another, been thrown away. The theory of 738 necessary ignorance was followed by the theory of inevitable accident. Both are now abandoned. The Under-Secretary for War in his admirable speech admitted errors of judgment which were patent to all the world with a candour which made all the more impressive and convincing the answers to the charges which he was able to give. The Colonial Secretary repeated the admissions. The First Lord of the Treasury has told us that the disasters and reverses of this campaign could be traced to the initial blunder the "unhappy entanglement at Lady smith." What was the origin of that unhappy entanglement? I hope the House has read the White Paper which contains the correspondence with the Government of Natal, but in case it has escaped the attention of any one, I will trouble the House with two of the documents that appeared in that book. Early in May the Governor of Natal had informed the High Commissioner that the Ministers of Natal were nervous at the prospect of war. The Governor had told the acting Prime Minister he had no reason to anticipate hostilities, but if the British Government found it necessary to advance fair and reasonable demands, the Natal Government ought to give the British Government unwavering support. The Minister replied that he would gladly do as the Governor suggested, but he feared the consequences to Natal if the British Government drew back after all. On May 25th Sir Alfred Milner telegraphed to the Secretary of State:—I have telegraphed following to the Governor:—'You can tell the Minister from me that it is out of the question that any invasion of Natal should be tolerated by Her Majesty's Government.' Such an event is highly improbable, I think, but Natal would be defended with the whole force of the Empire.On May 28th, a most important date, the Secretary of State sent a telegram to the High Commissioner, in which he said: "I approve of your message to the Governor of Natal referred to in your telegram of May 25." That meant that the Secretary of State, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, confirmed the assurance given to the Ministers of Natal that the invasion of that colony would be resisted by the whole force of the Empire. There is the secret of the unhappy entanglement of Ladysmith. I should like to know, and the country is entitled 739 to know, whether the Colonial Secretary consulted the War Office before he gave that assurance. Of course, from what we now know, the first thing the War Office would have said was, "It is a mad pledge. We cannot defend Natal. The whole of Northern Natal must be exposed." What happened? The Ministers of Natal, relying upon that pledge, were very indignant when Laing's Nek was abandoned; they were indignant when Newcastle was abandoned; and even the occupation of Glencoe and Dundee did not satisfy their demands. It was impossible for the Government, after giving an assurance of that kind, to retire from Ladysmith and leave the whole of Northern Natal at the mercy of an invading force. I pass with a sense of relief to the present time. The position at this moment has been described by the Prime Minister as a position of humiliation. I do not cavil at the word, but I venture to say, and here I think I shall have the general agreement of the House, that there is no ground in anything that has happened in the past, or in anything that we can contemplate at present, for the croakings of pessimism, or for the shivering fits of panic. The Colonial Secretary, in an eloquent passage of his speech last night, enumerated the resources still unexhausted, still unimpaired, which this country has at its disposal. I will only refer to two. First and foremost—it is the thing, I think, which strikes the imagination of us all—there is the valour and discipline, doubted beforehand by not a few critics, but abundantly demonstrated by the war, of the common soldier. Politicians and generals may have set him an impossible task. He has shown that the word "impossible" has for him no meaning, and he has exhibited qualities which have not only kindled the grateful pride of his countrymen, but have conquered the reluctant admiration of the whole world. Next, in the spontaneous and enthusiastic loyalty and support of our self-governing colonies we have been made to realise—and this, perhaps, is the greatest compensation, if there is any compensation, for the war—that our Empire is not a name or a sentiment merely, but that it is a fact and a force. The word "Imperialism" has been bandied to and fro, now as a symbol, now as a missile, in the course of this debate. In my judgment, Imperialism is a word of good or of bad omen according to the way in which it is defined. It is a word 740 which has no attraction for me, or, I believe, for the vast majority of my countrymen, except as an expression, not of a policy of menace, of aggression, of subjugation, but of an ideal which can only be realised by the loyal co-operation for common purposes of free and self-governing communities. But great as are our resources, greater still is the responsibility of those who direct them. The Colonial Secretary challenged us last night to state our view of the end that was to be attained. I speak only for myself, but I believe I represent the feeling of many other hon. Members when I say that the end to be aimed at is, first and foremost, that you should have, not a patched up, but a durable peace; next, that it must be such a settlement as will, at any rate, safeguard our colonies against the risk of further invasion or menace; further, that it must secure for both races throughout South Africa equal rights; and lastly, but not less important, the guiding principle being not superiority but equality, it must not replace the ascendancy of one race by the ascendancy of another. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of an inherent, and as he seemed to suggest ineradicable, antagonism between the ideas and aspirations of the Boers and the Britons. For my part, I believe that antagonism to be the artificial creation, the transient and removable result of accident and circumstance. I look forward to the time when at the end of this calamitous strife Dutch and British, forgetting their animosities, bound together by ties of common interest and mutual respect, enjoying in like measure both the discipline and the privileges of freedom, will be found living and labouring side by side under the shelter of equal laws in a union which no man can put asunder.
§ MR. ELLIOT (Durham)
My excuse, Sir, for rising is to say that I deeply regret from the bottom of my heart that this country has become involved in war with the South African Republic. I am not going so far as some hon. members, who assert that it will produce not only disaster to the Transvaal, to the Orange Free State, and the whole of South Africa, but to the whole of the British Empire as well. I am bound to say that in order to avoid this war I would have gone much further in the direction of conciliation, and possibly in the 741 way of compromise, to have achieved such a result as would have enabled the two peoples to live side by side happy and prosperous. We were looking forward in the contemplation of peace, in October, before one drop of blood had been shed and before the ultimatum had been issued, but our hopes were doomed to disappointment. I am not going back into the past; I am not going to raise any fresh discussion upon the manner in which the negotiations were conducted, upon the merits of our diplomacy, or the statesmanship exhibited by the Government before the war. What I feel we ought to do now, in the House of Commons, is to realise the position in which we find ourselves. Nobody deprecates more than I do the commencement and the continuance of this deadly strife, but the contest is upon us. In my opinion the struggle was forced on us by the Boers, but whatever may be our views as to how the war arose, the question immediately before us is, how do we stand now? Is it not essential to our future position in South Africa, as well as to our position in the world, that victory to our arms should be thorough and complete? Sir, I cannot conceive anything more disastrous than an incomplete success. Because what would that mean? You would have gained in your desire to govern in South Africa, not a democratic Parliament, but a party animated by Dutch feeling; and, with a foreign Power in close proximity, your position would have been infinitely worse than anything we have yet seen. Considering, then, the state of affairs as it now exists, it behoves us to make our victory final and complete. I think the Government would be very unwise to hold their hands in the event of our achieving some successes. We must all feel that in the struggle now going on it is to decide which of the two is the stronger—Briton or Boer. The issue must provide no uncertain answer. I say that as much for the good of the Boers themselves as for the good of South Africa. Now, Sir, I am not going into the military considerations and plans that were laid before the war; but I do say, as a humble observer of events, that when the Government and the War Department are censured as if they had displayed weakness, or incapacity, for my part I think that so far from that being the case, the indications and the facts point to the contrary conclusion. 742 Until war broke out I had no idea whatever of the military strength of our country. It was said, not so very long ago, that we could not put a vast army in the field such as our Continental friends are able to do; but now we have it in evidence that within a period of three months of the outbreak of the war, we had sent across the sea 180,000 men, and that before many more weeks are over we shall have a force in South Africa of nearly 200,000 men. I say that a military department which can establish a record like that is worthy not of censure, but the highest praise. There is no country in Europe which can see without surprise the enormous resources at our command. To talk, therefore, of the slowness of our organisation and the incapacity of our War Department—when within a very few weeks of the war breaking out the men who, only the other day, marched out from Knightsbridge barracks, are now storming the heights on the Modder River or across the Tugela—is so much idle nonsense. It is a military feat of the most remarkable kind, and exhibits the truth that our military strength is far greater than many of us had dreamed of. I must say that having spoken after the right hon. Gentleman the late Home Secretary, who has just addressed us, and following on the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Berwick Division, I fail to see why it is they take such a step as that of supporting a vote of censure at the present time. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Berwick Division seems to me, to use a well-worn phrase, to have "found salvation" in the speech of my right hon. friend the First Lord of the Treasury at Manchester. After reading that speech, I am bound to say that I fail to find there the terrible things imputed to it. There are in the speech itself none of the terrible atrocities attributed to it by commentators in the press. I think the original text of the speech has been almost entirely concealed, if not wholly obliterated, by the efforts of these commentators. One of them went so far as to say that the right hon. Gentleman had professed himself absolutely indifferent to the interests of the Empire. This, I say, is not fair comment, especially in view of the extraordinary feeling of excitement of the time. It is only fair—to employ a legal simile in reference to this criticism of the right hon. Gentleman—to state not only what 743 the prisoner at the bar says, but what he does; and I repeat that to say that the right hon. Gentleman and the other members of the Government are indifferent to the best interests of the Empire at a crisis like this, when they are making greater efforts than before, and have accomplished the organisation and despatch of a military force unprecedented in the history of the country, is simply criminal. The newspapers which have suggested that our leading Cabinet Ministers are triflers are the critics who are weakening us in the face of the world. I am at a loss to know what conceivable purpose can be gained by pressing this matter to a division. We are all agreed as to the policy which must be pursued. The work that has to be done is work which any Government would have to carry out—namely, to carry on the war to a successful end. Let us show the world that we are at one. I have no sort of qualm of conscience in the slightest degree in supporting the Government or with voting any number of millions of money or any number of thousands of men for which they may ask in order to bring this war to a satisfactory and rapid conclusion. It is eminently desirable, if it can be attained, that the crowning victory should be speedily achieved. We see the state of affairs abroad. It is not that the country is in danger, as some have asserted, but we are within measurable distance of a position of the very greatest difficulty. This and many other reasons make me feel from the bottom of my heart that the crisis is a terribly real crisis. That being so, I do think that we must all with no uncertain voice support the Government in the division lobby to-night.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
My main object in taking part in this debate is to make my position perfectly clear with regard to the vote I am called upon to record. Nobody who has followed the course of this debate can have failed to observe the desire on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite to fix upon us the stigma of a want of patriotism. What would have been said by them, and by nine out of every ten of the electors of this country, at such a crisis as the present, when the people of this country are smarting under a sense of humiliation caused by a carelessness not less culpable than incompetence on the part of the 744 Ministry with reference to the conduct of affairs in South Africa, if we, from a fear of being stamped as unpatriotic, or from a thought that we should incur the disapproval of a certain section of our supporters, were to hesitate to do what is manifestly our duty? We should deserve to be banished for ever from public life. With reference to the Amendment before the House, I ask whether, since it applies only to the conduct of affairs in South Africa and the state of preparation for the war, there is a single gentleman on that side of the House who could not conscientiously walk into the lobby with us? I ask in the same way whether we or the great majority of Members on this side of the House are not absolutely and completely at one with reference to the prosecution of this war to a successful issue? That being so, and seeing that at the present moment the great nations of Europe, envious of our greatness, are anxious to exult over our expected downfall, is it not incumbent on those seated upon that bench to consider the advisability of asking us to go into different lobbies, thereby giving the nations of Europe the impression that we are not absolutely and completely united? As to the negotiations, whether there might not have been greater delicacy, whether greater diplomatic foresight and skill might not have brought about a different result—are not they at the present moment questions of secondary importance? I fully admit there are great temptations from a party point of view, but in my opinion this is no time for placing party above the greatness of the State. But when I come to the second portion of the Amendment, dealing with the state of the preparations of the Government, it is quite a different question.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON
I am glad the right hon. Baronet cheers that statement, because I was just about to mention that the eloquent and able speech of the Under Secretary of State for War was, after all, nothing but an apologetic speech and did not deal with one fraction of the speech of my right hon. friend in reference to the question of preparation. No Minister has yet touched the question of why the stores and munitions of war were accumulated in Natal at the very worst point. 745 We have had no answer with reference to the question of maps. We are told that we could not have ordnance maps of Natal. Those of us who have any experience of the making of maps know perfectly well that to make an ordnance survey of the whole of the theatre of this war would cost not thousands but tens of thousands of pounds, and would occupy a great number of years. But why were not such maps made, with reference to Ladysmith, as could easily and conveniently have been made by Engineer and staff officers, as now exist of the country round about Laing's Nek? Why were not the Modder River and the Tugela River carefully surveyed by competent officers? Such a survey could have been made in a very short time. If this question of maps alone had been seen to it would have made a very great difference with reference to the conduct of the campaign. The excuse of the Prime Minister is that he bad not sufficient secret service money. There is another point which bears distinctly upon the want of preparation for the war, and that is the question of guides. Why, when the Government found that war was not only possible but probable, were not a certain number of absolutely reliable guides secured and placed at the disposal of the military authorities, so as to have removed the possibility of our men being led to slaughter as in the case of Magersfontein? Some portion of the responsibility for this war has been cast upon the British, Constitution, and the remaining portion has been thrown on the army system. For years past in this House we have been pointing out to the Government what our army system is. It is neither a short service system nor a long service system. It is a hybrid combination, and we have never even had the short service system properly carried out. Two years ago the service members in this House asked this Government to increase the number of battalions to fourteen in order that the link battalion system might be carried out. They also asked for a certain number of batteries of artillery. What was done? They were given a certain proportion, nothing more. It has always been with the service members a question of "Live horse, and you will get grass." When we pointed out that the Militia was from 20,000 to 30,000 short of its numbers last year, no steps were taken to increase 746 its numbers. We were told there was a Militia Reserve of 30,000 men supposed to be available for reinforcing the Militia. Now the reserve is used for the double purpose of filling up the Militia on the one hand, and the Line battalions on the other, which has the result of robbing Peter to pay Paul. The question of keeping in this country at least one Army Corps in a thorough state of preparation has been completely lost sight of. With what result? That we have now, if I may use the word, scratch staffs drawn from all parts of the kingdom, with the result that will always occur when a certain number of individuals not accustomed to work together are suddenly thrown together, there is friction on all hands. The Government claim that they have done their best. But they also attempt to cast a certain amount of responsibility upon the front Opposition Bench. Between 1886 and 1892, when a Conservative Government were in power, was the period when the artillery batteries in this country had their guns reduced from six to four, and the spare horses taken from them. I frankly admit that a short time ago a slight increase was made in the matter of guns. We have pointed out over and over again the want of mounted troops. The Government state that when mounted troops were offered in the first instance by the Colonies they were not accepted because it was thought infantry would be more useful at the outset of the campaign. I hold in my hand a report of a lecture delivered by a very distinguished officer early in July, 1899, and this is what he stated at the Royal United Service Institution. Speaking of the Boers he said that our infantry to master such an enemy must have the assistance of well-trained cavalry—that does not mean yeomanry—to outflank, fight, and follow up. And yet the Government refused this offer on the part of the Colonists. I ask, therefore, whether we on this side of the House are not justified—especially those of us who have been soldiers—in our righteous indignation towards the Government, who have at their backs one of the largest majorities a Government has ever had, and which includes the largest number of military men who ever sat in this House? They pointed out all these difficulties, but the Government proceeded, the very moment they came into office, to enlarge their responsibilities by enlarging the Empire, and without taking 747 proper steps for the defence of that Empire. Two years ago we pointed out that fact, and yet they took no action. I do not complain of their Imperialism. When they were annexing large tracts in the Soudan, in South and West Africa, and in China, and thus extending our Empire, and when at the same time money was pouring into the Exchequer, owing to the admirable measure of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer in regard to the death duties, what did the Government do? Why, they showered millions upon their political supporters, the parsons and the squires, while on the other hand, they neglected to make the defences of the Empire secure, and they failed to provide that which in the opinion of all the military experts in this House was considered necessary for the defence of the Empire. The leader of the House said that no great military authority had ever estimated that we should require more than 50,000 men in South Africa. That may be so, but in my humble capacity in this House last year I pointed out that were the Government to be involved in war in South Africa they would require not one but two army corps, and that if they furnished them complete from our regular Army they would leave this country absolutely bare of properly-trained troops. Is that not absolutely the case? The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for War, in his apologetic speech, very carefully and very wisely dealt with the position of affairs as they now are in South Africa, but he never attempted to deal with the state of affairs as they were when we met with those disasters. There were only seven batteries of horse artillery and thirty-two batteries of field artillery, or 234 guns. That works out at 2⅓ guns per thousand, whereas we ought to have had at least double that number. [An HON. MEMBER: We had not so many.] My hon. friend says we had not so many; but be that as it may, we ought not to have less than four guns per thousand men, which is the minimum, according to all authorities, attacking, as we were, positions strongly held by magazine rifles and quick-firing guns not to speak of heavy guns. But what was the defenceless state in which this country was left at that time? Why, we only had left in this country three batteries of horse artillery and fifteen field batteries, making a total of 108 guns. That leaves us in 748 this position—if by any accident a foreign army corps landed on these shores we had not sufficient guns for 40,000 men. I shall be told that in the event of an invasion we should rely upon our Volunteer forces. Every military man in this House knows perfectly well that the Volunteers minus guns or transport would be absolutely useless against an organised force. As regards the state of preparation for the war in South Africa, the Government, knowing as they did the character of the country, does it not seem strange that when they knew they would have to attack positions of this kind they took no opportunity of sending powerful guns of position with a long range and a heavy battering power capable of throwing shells by direct fire? [An HON. MEMBER: "They sent out howitzers."] Yes, but not very long ago, and they were sent since the majority of those disasters have taken place. There is one matter which is of greater importance, and that is the responsibility of the generals. I am anxious that the Government should not shelter themselves behind the military authorities. If it be true that the generals were given an absolutely free hand, I ask whether they were given instructions to take the political situation into consideration with the Colonial authorities upon arriving in Natal. If they were told to do so, then they were certainly not given a free hand, and General White ought to be absolutely absolved from getting into the entanglement at Ladysmith. The right hon. Gentleman has said that they do not minimise the task, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. They may not minimise the task now, but they certainly did in the past, and their action has met with the disapprobation of the country. They are bound to admit that they received from the military authorities full information. I think they were told that there would be something like 59,000 Boers in the field, and yet, knowing that they would have to operate in a country which was defensively held, and that they would require four or five times the number of our opponents' troops, the Government made no provision for pouring into the country anything like that number. Recently they have resorted to the Volunteer and Yeomanry corps, and I make no complaint of that. No doubt that was done in response to the feeling of the country, 749 but I would also ask the Government to take note that it has made us a laughingstock in the eyes of the military authorities of Europe. I am not one of those who take a pessimistic view of the forces in South Africa, and I should not be surprised if within a number of months we should secure a number of signal successes. But what we have to consider is what is our position in the face of Europe. There can be no question that every nation in Europe is only waiting for a suitable opportunity in order to insult us. Of course, that may not be the case in reference to the leading statesmen of foreign countries. I have perhaps some advantage in possessing a knowledge of foreign countries, and I venture to assert that in a country not far distant the tone of the press and the feelings which exists among the public is such that very little might land us in war. Does the Government realise that, and are they making the preparations which the country deem to be necessary? What is being done with reference to the fleet—is it being mobilised? We have a Naval Reserve numbering about 28,000 men. It ought to be double that. We know that the weak point of our Navy, which is recognised by all Continental Powers, is the supply of men. Why are these men not called up for training? I believe they are absolutely incompetent so far as the use of modern guns are concerned, for they have been trained upon the old-fashioned guns, and have never in their lives fired modern weapons. Are our battleships and cruisers now being built being hurriedly pushed to completion, and what steps are being taken with reference to the Militia and Volunteers? No doubt we shall have a statement upon that subject shortly, and the Under Secretary of State for War has said he is anxious to have suggestions. There is one suggestion I will venture to put forward. We have in this country and in Ireland some 60,000 police, who are, perhaps, the finest and most magnificent body of men in the world, but they are not trained to the use of arms. I ask whether it would not be a simple matter to arm this force with a long rifle, and train them to the use of it? It could be done by batches in the different counties, and in case of a great national emergency a large number of these could be used in defence of the country their places being supplied by special constables and others. I 750 have a certain amount of confidence with reference to the state of affairs in South Africa, but I have no confidence with reference to the state of affairs all the world over, and I hope that the Government will take the strongest possible steps in regard to preparation for possible interference by other Powers when this war assumes a certain phase. There can be no doubt that, should an opportunity occur, some other nation will endeavour to have some say with reference to the settlement in South Africa. In my opinion they should have none. As regards South Africa itself, for my part I cannot see why every man in this House should not agree with this Amendment and yet support the Government as to the war. What is the state of affairs? Why, the integrity of the Empire has been tampered with; the colonies of Natal and Cape Colony have been invaded, and the lives and liberties of British subjects are at stake. It is necessary, therefore, that every nation in the world should know that the Briton, wander where he may, is ever followed by the watchful eye and ever protected by the powerful arm of the mother country. We are a nation unaccustomed to defeat or to disgrace, and we are bound to bring this war to a successful issue. The path of duty is plain before us. The Empire has spoken—and spoken out—from the wilds of Canada to the jungles of Ceylon, and the Mother Country has responded in no doubtful or faltering tone. From this great Metropolis and England's busy towns, from the glens of Scotland and from the mountains of Wales, aye, and from Ireland's Emerald soil—that inexhaustible nursery of gallant soldiers—Britain's sons, both high and low, have nobly answered to the Empire's call. In such a crisis the place for the Government is in front of the nation, and there I hope it will be found, not only anxious, but prepared to vindicate the Imperial honour and to protect the Imperial interests.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
Mr. Speaker, so long as we are condemned by the Opposition to proceed with this wearisome and unfortunate debate, there are certain things that will have to be repeated at certain intervals, but I should like to comment on one or two of the speeches which have been delivered. I have listened now for 751 many hours to the discussion, and I have been struck with the extraordinary number of Members of the House of Commons who apparently are qualified to be Ministers of War at the shortest possible notice, and who possessed an extraordinary conception not given to all of us of what was about to occur. They are prepared to act either as War Ministers at home or as generals in the field. I discount the value of such opinions, and I think their expression is practically a waste of the time of this House. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down assured us that his side was at one with ours with regard to the prosecution of the war. Does he forget that the whole of probably the only section of his party that are united are not going to vote for this Amendment because they do not wish to see the war prosecuted? The hon. and gallant Gentleman should be more careful in what he states when the facts are contradictory to his statements. The hon. and gallant Gentleman also stated that the Government instead of spending money on the needs of the Army squandered it on the squire and the parson. I know there are many parsons with £50 or £60 a year, but I doubt whether much of the money referred to by the hon. and gallant Gentleman has gone to them. He also found fault with the military preparations of the Government, and took a rather pessimistic view of the situation with regard to foreign countries. At all events we can take this to ourselves, that not one regiment could cross the seas without the leave of the British admirals, and therefore I do not think that the state of things is so very rotten as he would have us believe. Before the hon. and gallant Gentleman addressed the House we had the advantage of a speech from a right hon. Gentleman who occupies a marked position on the front Opposition Bench; I refer to the late Home Secretary. It would be almost impertinent for a Member of my standing to cross swords with one infinitely my superior in Parliamentary warfare, but if we remain still and never try, we shall never improve. Therefore I hope the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I take exception to some of his arguments. In the first place, I was very much struck by the repetition from his eloquent lips of the phrase: "Inquest of the nation." Really that phrase has 752 been used so often that I am doubtful whether I am listening to politicians or to coroners. With the main part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman we, on this side of the House, have, however, very little to find fault. He stated that war was not intended or desired by the Government, and that we had entered on it with clean hands and a clear conscience. We re-echo that statement, and so does the country. He laid great stress on the failure which he thought was visible on the part of the Government to justify their promises to Natal. In that part of his argument there was weight and substance, but I feel certain that both sides of the House and the country are pledged to amply and loyally repay the colony of Natal for all its sufferings and sacrifices in the common cause. This Amendment is very little less than an imposition on the House of Commons; indeed, I might almost use a stronger word, and say it was a fraud on the House of Commons. I would like to regard it chiefly from the point of view of that particular section—I wish I could call it a wing, but that would be too much—of the party opposite which the right hon. Gentleman so well represents. It is also represented by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, the hon. Baronet the Member for the Berwick Division, and others who are in close touch with one of the most distinguished statesmen of the day—Lord Rosebery. They have made speeches in the country and in this House with which we have very little fault to find. They have said very much what we might say ourselves, and I am not ashamed to assert that we might have adopted both their utterances and their patriotism. They are all statesmen in a high degree, and they must recognise what their position would be if this Amendment could conceivably be successful; and they have no right to throw the weight of their authority and power into a continuance of this discussion or to support a challenge to the Government unless they are prepared to deal with the situation which would be created in the event of the Amendment being carried. That would entail on them the responsibility of forming a Government. Can they conceive it possible, in the present constitution of parties, that they could form any such Government? We have only to contrast the speeches we have heard from 753 the other side of the House to see how absolutely impotent would be the position of right hon. Gentlemen if they attempted to take the only honourable course open to them after the line of action they have adopted. The speech of the late Attorney General was at as absolute variance with the speech of the late Home Secretary as two speeches could be. I cannot conceive how extremely able men sometimes say such extremely foolish things. I cannot conceive anything more unfortunate than the speech of the late Attorney General; every sentence in it was likely to produce a continuance of bitterness and mischief instead of good. I can only recall one parallel to that kind of speech, and that was the idea in the minds of a certain number of hon. Members who most unwisely sent a telegram to the King of Greece that they wished to give him moral support in his unfortunate war with Turkey, the only result of which was an additional slaughter of men on both sides. The speech of the late Attorney General is not the only matter at variance with the possibility of right hon. Gentlemen forming a Government. We know that such a Government would have to rely, more or less, on the support of Irish members, but in regard to the war that support is entirely denied them. On this matter I should like to say one word to representatives for Ireland. When we talk of Irishmen at this moment the country is not thinking of Irish politicians, but of the Irish regiments who are doing the work of the Kingdom and the Empire in South Africa. When, on Friday night, a statement was made by the hon. Member for East Clare that he was anxious and willing to go to South Africa to fight for the Boers, I was almost inclined to ask you, Sir, how far such a statement was consonant with the oath of loyalty and allegiance which the hon. Member had taken to the Queen. The only reason why no attention has been publicly called to that and similar statements is because the nation does not care for the action of Irish politicians. It is satisfied with the action of the Irish soldiers, and that is the only reason why Irish members are allowed to go on talking their toy-shop treason in that sort of security which is begotten of absolute contempt. If, however, right hon. Gentlemen opposite mean business over this Amendment, there are other difficulties before them besides reconciling their Irish supporters. They will have 754 to reconcile also the excellent gentlemen who sit behind them, and who, more or less, are fond of omelettes, but think they ought to be made without breaking eggs. Speech after speech in this debate has been devoted to attacking the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies. With reference to these attacks the country briefly says, "We are amply satisfied with the magnificent spirit which the colonies have shown during the present crisis, and we recognise that the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman is in some degree at all events responsible for calling out that manifestation of opinion." Other speakers have not considered it beneath themselves to make constant reference to Mr. Rhodes, as if he were the cause of everything evil in this country. I am absolutely unconcerned with the raid, and have never sympathised with anything connected with it, but I cannot help recollecting that while all sorts of denunciations are being poured on Mr. Rhodes, he at all events is doing what none of his traducers are doing, he is standing up for the empire and taking daily risks. The time may come when these denunciations may be again brought before the country, and when charges which have been already dealt with may be re-opened, but in the name of fair play and honesty let these attacks cease while the man attacked is giving the greatest pledge he can of his loyalty to this country. Now the right hon. Gentlemen the Member for Bodmin also made a statement with which I take direct and absolute issue. I cannot help saying how much we admired and appreciated the effort which the right hon. Gentleman made last night, and I am sure that the sympathies of the whole House were with him in the difficulty in which he found himself placed. But he said one thing which he ought not to have said, and was not consonant with the feeling of the country. He said that this war was the war of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I deny that. This war is the nation's war; if not, it is the Empire's war. It is not the war of any individual, of any one Minister, or of any particular Ministry at all. The hon. Member for Northampton said that the conscience of the civilised world absolutely denounced this war, but how about the right hon. Member for East Fife? Has he not a conscience, and has not Lord Rosebery a conscience? Is he to depart 755 from the territories of the civilised world, of which many of us think he is a great adornment? I dare even to touch with the point of my feeble lance the shield of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire. In winding up his speech, to every word of which I listened, he recommended that we ought to follow the utterances of the Prime Minister who leads this party. If that be so, it hardly forms a very good reason for going into the lobby against the Prime Minister.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
That section of the Liberal party opposite is so hopelessly unable to form a Government that it is not an unfair thing to say that they would hardly dare to vote for this Amendment if they thought that it would be successful; but if they are not prepared to take that course, then I venture to say that their conduct is more than questionable. I only wish that the right hon. Gentlemen opposite had the numbers behind them which would justify them, if they were successful, in forming a Government; but the Liberal party must continue to present to the country the sorry aspect which they do at this moment. They would hardly venture to vote for this Amendment if they could agree that it was to be successful. I would like to ask right hon. Gentlemen opposite what they conceive will be the effect of their action on other countries and other people? The effect on the Colonies must be the suggestion that this country, instead of being united at a time, as in some places is regarded, of peril, is divided and at war with itself. What, I would like to know, is to be the effect on the Boer Government when this debate becomes their property, as I have no doubt it soon will be? Only one effect, and that is to encourage them in playing the old game, that if only they can keep on long enough they may benefit from party exigencies in this country, and may possibly get better terms from one party than the other. It means a direct incentive to fight more vigorously than at present, and to sacrifice more lives, both of their own men and of their opponents, in order that they may possibly 756 win from the divisions in the Opposition and in the country that which they never could get from a united country. The responsibility, therefore, of the Opposition is no slight one; it is genuine and real. What is thought in the Colonies of the possible effect of a change of Government? A special correspondent from Cape Town says in The Times—A change of Government at this critical period would, rightly or wrongly, be regarded by everyone in South Africa, English or Dutch, as a prelude to another betrayal of the loyal section of the population. It would create a panic among the English, and would be the signal for a violent agitation, got up by those politicians whose one object is to defer to Afrikander national ambitions at the first favourable opportunity by upholding the maintenance of the independence and the military power of the two Republics.[An HON. MEMBER: That is Mr. Monypenny.] I cannot tell you the name of the writer, but I think it is a reflection of the opinion of the Cape. Right hon. Gentlemen have to reckon with views of the situation that have done infinite harm, not only to the prestige of the country, but the progress of the war. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen may try to find excuses for the continuance of this debate in constitutional reasons, and in the allegation that it satisfies the demands of the British public. But I maintain that if you polled the United Kingdom you would only get a trifling minority in favour of it; in fact, I say that this debate is almost treasonable, and a waste of the time of the House. What earthly I good can be expected from this long, wearisome and dull debate? Not much; but a little is found in the earnest and patriotic speeches which we have heard, such as that of the late Home Secretary and others on the opposite side of the House, although the conclusion they are coming to is impotent and unfair. Then there was the speech of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, who made it absolutely clear that that which the country at large is desiring is the very object which the Government is seeking to obtain. Something of good may result if the attention of the country is riveted more closely, not on what has been done to bring about the war, but on what has been achieved. That, I think, would clear what some people call the present state of gloom. Eulogies on the gallant conduct of our men have been on every 757 lip. It had been said that foreign nations are smiling at the vanished prestige and military reputation of this country, but I venture to say, if any one of us could look into the military offices in those foreign countries which are concerned with the possibilities of the future he would find there is not a thinking soldier in the world to-day who would not say that more note of the fighting power of England must be taken than ever before. Because they see that the years of comparative freedom from great strain which we have enjoyed have not taken one fibre from the fighting sinews of our men, but that on the contrary the British soldier is not only as good as in the past, when he won victories all over the world, but superior. That is one note of satisfaction that we can deduce from the losses we all deplore. If we had had to admit that our faith in the capabilities of our soldiers had been shaken, it would indeed have been a time of gloom, but instead of being weaker we are stronger than ever before any national emergency that may arise. We are ready on this side of the House to sacrifice any Minister, the whole Ministry, and even the party itself, to secure the successful prosecution of the war. The time will come to join in fair criticism and put the blame on the right shoulders, but there is not a gentleman on the other side of the House who would dare to come over here and put his little finger on the burden which rests on the shoulders of the Government at the present moment. I apologise for having spoken so long, but I cannot help feeling earnest in this matter. While we politicians have been amusing ourselves, and trying to get the better of the man who spoke before us, the country outside is waiting impatiently and longing for the end of all this trifling and the cessation of this debate, which has been brightened by a very few speeches, but darkened by many which would have been better unspoken. I say we have not done anything during this debate to improve the position which we hold in the regard of our country. I charge it directly upon the Opposition as a whole, and upon the right hon. Gentleman who leads it, that for poor and paltry purposes they have done very much to defame our reputation, and to degrade the position which Parliament holds in the 758 eyes of the country, by this long and futile debate on an absolutely futile Amendment.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon)
The hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down has informed the House that this debate is a treasonable waste of time. One rather marvels what could have prompted so patriotic a member to assist in carrying on so treasonable an enterprise. The hon. and gallant Member said it was exceedingly undesirable that Members sitting on the front bench on this side of the House should be called upon at the present juncture to take upon themselves the burdens of the Government. I quite agree, and for the very good reason, that the Government has landed the country in a great mess, and the best thing they can do is to get us out of it. I do not wish that the Liberal party should get the opprobrium of paying the enormous bill that has been incurred. The hon. and gallant Member taunted us that many Members who protested now did not foresee the course of events. But that could not be alleged against a good many Tories on his side of the House, and certainly not against the Liberal press. I may call attention to the fact that one very important individual did foresee these disasters. There is a very remarkable communication in this morning's Manchester Guardian. That is not a newspaper in the habit of printing unsubstantial gossip. According to that communication Sir W. Butler, early in the course of last year, called the attention of Sir A. Milner to the state of things at the Cape. He pointed out that, if Sir A. Milner ordered him to send garrisons to the front, that would be provocation for war. And he pointed out further that war with the Transvaal would mean sending an army of 40,000 or 50,000 men to South Africa in addition to those then in the Cape and Natal. The communication in the Manchester Guardian went on to say that it was a matter of certainty, according to Sir W. Butler, that the Orange Free State would join forces with their brethren in the Transvaal; and in that case the British force would have to be still further augmented by at least two Army Corps. Sir A. Milner scornfully replied, "It is very natural for you to take such a line, 759 from your sympathy with your friends the Dutch." [Laughter.]
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
Where did you get such a statement? I never heard of such a communication.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
It appears in the Manchester Guardian, and I think it is worthy of something more than laughter; it is at least entitled to a denial from those who are responsible.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
That suffices for the present. I will not pursue the subject further now. The hon. and gallant Member did not admit that the Government had made any mistakes at all. I point out that that is rather out of keeping with the very remarkable admission made by the Colonial Secretary last night, who said he was prepared to make an admission as to all the mistakes committed by the Government; and proceeded to admit the mistakes of the War Office, the mistakes of the generals, and, in fact, the mistakes of everybody except his own and those of the Colonial Office. I venture to say that in the general opinion of the country the greatest mistakes that have been made are those committed in the diplomacy of the Colonial Secretary. Discussion has been rather deprecated at the present juncture, especially discussion in regard to the merits of the war; but however much we may deprecate discussion, or succeed in stopping discussion in the House, it will not be stopped in the country. The Colonial Secretary said that if the war was unjust and unrighteous it ought not to be prosecuted. That is the view taken, not by a majority, but by a very strong body of people in the country, and a growing one. Whatever line we take in this House, discussion will go on in the country, in workshops and factories, until that conviction is reached. This bloodshed should be put an end to. I think it was John Bright who said that the people took no interest in diplomacy until it had been made interesting by war. That is perfectly true. I ask hon. Members opposite how many people in this country realise that the 760 Boer Government, in the beginning of September, accepted an offer made by our Government in the beginning of August, and how many realise that we are at war now after they had accepted the proposals we had offered? I venture to put it to any lawyer in this House, whether in any court of equity specific performance would not have been enforced on that state of facts. Then we hear a good deal about the intolerable oppression of the Government of the Transvaal. How many workmen in this country realise that the wages earned by miners in the Transvaal were four times as high as at home? How many miners realise that an eight hours day, which they cannot, get their own House of Commons to give attention to, is provided for by an Act passed under this oppressive Transvaal Government? How many people in this country realise, when they hear wild, vague talk about the oppression and despotism of the Transvaal, that whereas in Rhodesia, under our own Government, the gold mining royalties are fifty per cent., under this oppressive and despotic Transvaal Government they are only one-half per cent.? Then, I would like to know how many Members of the House know really what are the grievances in regard to which we are fighting. Let me give one case in point. No grievance has excited more sentimental opposition to the Transvaal than the grievance regarding the natives. Ministers of the gospel of peace go preaching war because they are excited by tales of intolerable oppression of the native blacks. But what is the native grievance? I give it not as stated by Mr. White, or by Mr. Stead, but by the Chamber of Mines in Johannesburg in its annual report. Native touts are sent round all Western Africa to inducenatives to come to Johannesburg, and work in the mines. These touts make false representations to the natives in regard to wages and the hours of labour, and when the natives arrive they say "this is not what was promised us," and there are desertions among them to the number of 5,000 a month. What was it that the Uitlanders said? They complained against the Transvaal Government because it did not pass a law to detain these natives, to imprison them, to fine them beyond their means, and afterwards to send them per force to work in their (the Uitlanders') mines under the contracts of employment which had been 761 entered into by fraud. This is the native grievance which these ministers of religion talk about. My hon. and learned friend the Member for South Shields delivered a very remarkable speech the other day. He said that all revolutionary wars were alike questions of £ s. d., and he compared these reformers in the Transvaal to John Hampden and George Washington. And he said that behind all these questions of £ s. d. was the great principle of human liberty. Now, what is the great principle of human liberty behind the £ s. d. in this case? I will quote as John Hampden a gentleman called Mr. Rudd, who delivered a speech at the annual meeting of the Consolidated Gold Fields on November 14th, 1899, in which he said—They should try some cogent form of inducement, or practically compel the native through taxation or in some other way to contribute his quota to the good of the community, and to a certain extent he would then have to work. … If under the cry of civilisation we in Egypt lately mowed down 10,000 or 20,000 Dervishes with Maxims, surely it cannot be considered a hardship to compel the natives in South Africa to give three months in the year to doing a little honest work.That is a grievance of the Uitlanders. It means that at the price of the blood of our brave soldiers we are going to renew slavery in South Africa. That is the John Hampden of the Rand, and that is the great principle for which we are fighting. Let us come to the George Washington of the Rand. I have called this gentleman George Washington because he is an American. His real name is Mr. Hays Hammond. He was one of the leaders of the Reform party; was in the raid, and was imprisoned. These are the principles he advocated when he addressed this meeting of shareholders on 14th November. These gentlemen are very astute; they speak out after the war has commenced, and when they know that nothing can stop it. If these speeches had been delivered before the war the people of this country would have received them with disgust. He said:—With good government there should be an abundance of labour, and with an abundance of labour there will be no difficulty in cutting down wages, because it is preposterous to pay a Kaffir the present wages. He would be quite as well satisfied—in fact he would work longer—if you gave him half the amount. His wages are altogether disproportionate to his requirements. … There would also be a 762 considerable reduction in the cost of white labour."With good government," he says—and this is really a fine phrase—"there should be an abundance of labour, and with an abundance of labour there would be no difficulty in cutting down wages." That is his George Washington idea, "because," he says, "it is preposterous to pay the Kaffir the present rate of wages." Three pounds per month, I think it is. [An Hon. MEMBER: No, £2 5s.] Well, he says "it is preposterous to pay a Kaffir the present rate of wages; he would be quite as well satisfied if you paid him half that amount. His wages are altogether disproportionate to his requirements." Now, that is the great principle of human liberty espoused by my hon. and learned friend, who says that these question are always governed by £ s. d. Then Mr. Hays Hammond proceeds to condescend to particulars, and he gives the exact profit which he has been getting for his company. He thought the war might better not have been, but he came to the conclusion that as the result of it the expected gain to the Consolidated Goldfields per annum would be £2,199,433; and he goes on to say that the increased dividends would amount to 45 per cent. So that apart from the great principle of human liberty there is no mistake about the £. s. d. That is what we are fighting for. That is the natives' grievance which has excited the deepest commiseration throughout this country. That is what our brave troops are shedding their blood for; they are dying to restore slavery under the British flag. Now let us have another of these grievances. The next is the grievance of the liquor law, and it is really an extraordinary grievance to be fighting for. I quote here from the report of the Associated Chamber of Mines, which contains among other distinguished names those of Mr. Hays Hammond and Mr. Fitzpatrick. Here is the memorial of the Chamber of Mines to the Government. The first statement is that strong drink is by no means indispensable to natives; secondly, that experience has proved that addiction to strong drink is with the natives physically immoral; and thirdly, that the present liquor law is sound in principle, and that certain amendments, if vigorously enforced, will practically stamp out the illicit traffic. 763 These gentlemen are the prohibitioners. You are practically fighting for prohibition. But what a spectacle it all presents for a Government which floated into power on beer to engage in a sanguinary war to enforce prohibition in the Transvaal. That is the liquor law; and, by the way, I may say that that memorial had a good effect. Afterwards the assistance of the Crown Office was given to the Uitlanders to put it into operation. Now, another matter that is brought into the discussion is that of the railways, and it is most extraordinary. What is it that the Uitlanders demand? They demand that the railways which are now in the hands of the private companies shall henceforth be managed by the State. What, managed by a corrupt and inefficient Government?—a Government which is said to be so corrupt that it cannot manage its own affairs! They contend that the Government should not only take over the railways, but manage them as well. That is an extraordinary view for the Uitlanders to take The next grievance is as to the franchise, and with regard to that I should like to point out this. There is a great deal said about equal rights and equal privileges between the two white races; but there is really no distinction in the Transvaal between one race and another. There is only that distinction which you find in every other nation in the civilised world between a man who is born on the soil and a man who comes from another country. In this country we draw exactly the same distinction between an Englishman and a foreigner. President Kruger in the Transvaal fixes a fourteen years residence as the qualification for the franchise. In this country we insist practically on seven years; but hardly any Uitlander in this country could get a vote under six or seven years. Now that, in my opinion, does not amount to intolerable oppression. Is it unreasonable that such a distinction should be drawn in a community like that of the Transvaal, where the foreigner is in the majority? If you think that a foreigner ought to wait six or seven years in your country, where the foreigner is a negligeable quantity, surely it is not too much to expect that I should impose a period of fourteen years in my country in order to protect my position against the foreigners. But this is my point: President Kruger, who is all-powerful in the Volksraad, was 764 called upon to practically hand over the country to foreigners, and he was entitled to say: "If that be so, I must insist that the Government is a local one." How could you ask President Kruger to hand over his country to the control of a people whose patriotism was the due of a foreign nation? I think it is unfair. That is really the effect of the proposition made on behalf of the Uitlanders. Here is a test of it. The country was in difficulties, in constant difficulties with the Kaffirs. President Kruger commandeered a number of the British subjects. They said, "No, we won't fight; we are Englishmen." But what President Kruger said was that "the real test of patriotism is, whether a man will die for his country. If you are not prepared to do it, my burghers are." Then if they declined to do that, President Kruger was entitled to say, "You are no part of this country, and until I secure your fourteen years franchise I do not see that your status is different from that of the foreigner." Although there was nothing unreasonable in President Kruger's attitude, I think we would have got the five years franchise. There is good ground for thinking so. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen pointed out that there was a great reform party in the Transvaal—the Liberal party of the Transvaal—headed by General Joubert, and he came within 500 votes of defeating President Kruger. In the Volksraad there was a proposal to reduce the franchise from fourteen to five years. That was before the raid. It was defeated only by a majority of four in a House of Dutchmen elected by the Boers. I should like to give you the names of some of the men who voted in favour of that proposal. The first is that of General Joubert, who is fighting for independence at the head of the Boer army; the next is General Schalk Burgher, and the next General Lucas Meyer. In a few years time we might have hoped to convert the best men in South Africa to our way of thinking. I believe we should have got the five years franchise in a few years. The new diplomacy has converted the best friends we had in Africa into those dangerous foes who have inflicted a more grievous succession of blows upon our Empire than any which it has suffered for over a century. The whole disposition of the Boers was changed by the raid, 765 and I think there was real ground for the suspicion that they undoubtedly entertained. Here we had three or four men who have sworn that the Colonial Office was implicated in the raid. Dr. Rutherfoord Harris went into the box and said he believed that there was a coming revolution, and that he wanted this strip of ground in Bechuanaland in order to have the police ready in case of emergency. Another witness, Mr. Cecil Rhodes, and Mr. Hawksley, his solicitor, said the same thing. There were four gentlemen, at any rate, who believed the Colonial Office was behind them, and what is still more important, they said so at the time. Dr. Rutherfoord Harris believed it, so how can you blame the Boers for believing it? It is rather extraordinary that we have not had all the correspondence published. That would have thrown more light upon the matter. However, the Colonial Secretary knows perfectly well that the Boers had this suspicion in their minds, and every man in this country knows it now. The whole Continent of Europe knows it. Then there is another point—the clearing of Mr. Cecil Rhodes, the gentleman who had assured these men who went to die in the raid that they were dying for their Queen. Who was it who induced these men to commit an act which deprived them of their professional rank and ruined their professional career for life? To my mind there is no word in the English language adequate to characterise the moral turpitude of that action. It is a count in the indictment which still remains. Now, Sir, I doubt very much whether the conscience of this country will tolerate the problem of this war. What, after all, is this grievance as to the franchise in the Transvaal? I think the country ought really to be in possession of the facts. The foreigner landing in the Transvaal is in a better position in voting for the magistrates and for the election of President than he is in this country; and yet we proceed to teach them at the point of the bayonet the doctrine of equal rights. When the Conservatives were in office, in 1888–1892, they discussed swine fever among other things, but not a word was uttered about these intolerable burdens under which our fellow subjects were suffering in the Transvaal. At last in 1894 it dawned upon one bright intel- 766 lect—that of the hon. Member for the Ecclesall Division of Sheffield (Sir E. Ashmead-Bartlett)—that he could strike a fine lode, and he started working it, and it has paid him. He, at any rate, made a long speech about this grievance; but there was not a word from anybody in support of him. Alone he stood. There was not even a word from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, except that he got up and said, "We have no right to interfere." Not a word against that heretical doctrine which we are now spending millions to abolish. I agree with the hon. Member who has just sat down that this is not the war of the Colonial Office and the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary. It is the war of the hon. Member for the Ecclesall Division, and he has gone out there to watch with parental solicitude and pride the growth of his infant. Only nine years have elapsed since the agitation began for a five years franchise in the Transvaal, and we are now at war with that country, although here it took a whole century to lower the franchise. I do not believe the war has any connection with the franchise. It is a question of 45 per cent. dividends; and yet we hear of the obstinacy of President Kruger. It is said that there was no possibility of concession on the part of President Kruger except through the medium of guns and bayonets. When the war began, we heard a great deal about the obstinate and obdurate conduct of President Kruger, but only in July last the Colonial Secretary spoke of the rapidity with which the modifications made by the South African Republic since the Bloemfontein Cenference had followed each other, and said that each new scheme seemed to be an advance and improvement on that which preceded it. The statement that President Kruger was so obstinate that he would not consider anything is untrue, and, seeing that the falsehood has led to this bloodshed, it is a crime perpetrated on the country. I should have thought that the greatest pride of the Uitlanders would have been to take part in this conflict and fight for their supposed rights. But how many have availed themselves of the privilege? They prefer to lounge about the hotels of Capetown while English homes are being made desolate on their behalf. Seven thousand of the Uitlanders are fighting for their intolerable oppressors. How many are fighting for their rights? Barely 767 a battalion out of the whole 80,000, and the remainder are living in security, grumbling about their losses, and without turning a thought to those who are suffering in the war. I am sure, Sir, that I shall carry the House with me when I declare that such men and their grievances are not worth a drop of British blood.
§ SIR JOHN STIRLING-MAXWELL (Glasgow, College)
I have no intention of answering the speech to which we have just listened, because that is altogether foreign to the purpose for which I rise. If you will allow me to say so, as one who has a very sincere admiration for the hon. Member's talents, I have heard his speech from beginning to end with great regret, from the unjustifiable quotation with which he began down to the unjustified use of the sadder aspect of this war, with which he concluded. The right hon. Member for East Fife and the right hon. Member for West Monmouthshire made somewhat scornful allusions to those people who looked on this debate as a waste of time, and I trembled as they spoke; but I felt glad I was one of that devoted band, and I can honestly say that I feel no allegiance to any party so strong as I feel towards those who look on debates like this at times like this as a waste of time, and worse than a waste of time. I have no complaints to make against Members who have addressed the House, because in this matter of waste of time one speech has been as bad as another, but I make one exception due, not only to the brilliant eloquence of the Member for Dover, but to the fact that he was in the unique position of having something to tell us which we had not heard before. I cannot forget that the hon. Members and right hon. Members of this House, the First Lord of the Treasury, the right hon. Member for East Fife, who spoke to-day, and the hon. Member for the Berwick Division, gentlemen to whom we all look as the embodiment of public-spirited unselfishness in this House—even they have been drawn with zest into this discussion. I merely wish to test this Amendment by one test. Could anyone who has read this debate imagine that this House had met at a time of great national peril, or at least of grave anxiety? Could anyone imagine from the 768 speeches made in this House that all eyes in the country were turned to this House to learn how defeat was to be turned into victory? It appears to me that the ancient methods of this House have led us into grave neglect of duty. The one thing which we ought to want to hear is what proposals the Government have to make for the reinforcement of the Army, and I should like to appeal to hon. Members on both sides to put an end to this debate. One hon. Gentleman on the opposite side told us that this Amendment had to be moved because it was expected by the country. Surely the country now has had enough of it. It is an idle Amendment, but though idle it may have serious results. Up to this time the right of this House to be considered the central council of the Empire has not been disputed, but as the Empire develops and the population grows larger there may come a day when the claims will not be allowed, and when that day comes I believe the enemies of this House will point to this debate as proving that at the first moment of real peril that comes to the Empire this House wasted more than a week of public time before turning to the pressing needs of the country. I have only now to appeal to the Leader of the House, and I assure him he has underestimated the confidence this House and the Empire has in him, and that the confidence will not be shaken by any inference which might be drawn from an enforced conclusion of this discussion. I appeal to him to bring it to a conclusion.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)
I am as anxious as anyone to come to the proposals of the Government with regard to defence, but at the same time I must express my surprise that we have not had the proposals sooner. If, as the leader of the House has stated, the public service is suffering through this debate, it is quite within the rules of the House that this debate can be stopped at any moment in order to consider urgent proposals. Therefore we are not open to any charge of delaying the Government. I think we should have had the proposals before now. There are two results we can claim from this debate, one the speech of the Under Secretary for War, which contained the first state- 769 ment on behalf of the Government which showed they appreciated the gravity of the situation, and the second the speech of the Colonial Secretary, containing the most important declaration we have yet heard of the Government's policy. It showed us that the fate of the country was in stronger hands than might have been supposed from some of the statements of Ministers, before Parliament met, at Manchester, Leicester, and elsewhere, and from the statement of the Prime Minister in the House of Lords. Although I look upon this as a just war, and a war which has been forced upon us, yet I cannot conceal from myself the belief that there have been grave errors in the diplomacy and the preparations for war. In voting for this Amendment, I record my sense of avoidable disasters, but I do not in the least deny that it is a war in defence of our just rights. No charge can be made that we are unwilling to give a straight vote to the Government on the clear issue of the war. We merely desire to give them a clear perception of those parts of the policy of which we disapprove. The Under Secretary of State for War said that in various quarters this Amendment would not be understood, and that view has been re-echoed by many others. I do not think the Government or their supporters understand it. It has been denounced as a despicable party manœuvre, inspired by the ignoble aim of uniting the Liberal party in anticipation of office. Who believes that a change of Government is desirable in the country at a time like this? I do not think that charge can be seriously made. Another objection made is that we should not move an Amendment like this unless we are prepared to cross the floor of the House. That is, after all, only a technical objection, because if any discussion is to be raised it is necessary to move an Amendment. In my opinion this Amendment is perfectly fair and reasonable, being inspired by a sense that the Government have failed to prepare for war, and now fail to appreciate sufficiently the grave state of affairs in which we are placed, and that is why I welcomed the declarations made in the most important part of the debate last night. It is the duty of the Opposition to raise a debate of this kind, and endeavour to keep the 770 question within proper bounds. The supreme end of the Opposition at this time is to strengthen the Government. I have had doubts as to how that end could be best conserved, but to my mind, after the speeches on the opening day of the session, this Amendment was fully justified, and we could not have avoided bringing it before the House. It has been asserted during the course of the debate that the country does not care for an Amendment of this kind at a time like this, and although that is a characteristic statement from Members on the other side of the House, I do not think it represents entirely the feeling of the country. The country does care for the humiliation of the country. Each Minister tells his own tale. Lord Salisbury asks "How on earth we were to know the Boer strength"; Lord Lansdowne, rising within a few moments, said "We know all we care about the Boer strength." The First Lord of the Treasury said "War was inevitable." I am quoting from the Extra-Parliamentary Hansard, which purports to give a correct report of speeches of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen outside Westminster. The Under Secretary for War says that every precaution was taken which foresight could suggest. We have had admissions from the Colonial Secretary that the Government had made mistakes. The debate, I feel, will assist the country, and that was the reason this Amendment was moved. As to the unpreparedness for war, we feel that the Army did not have a fair chance at the start. At first it was thought that 20,000 men were sufficient, and that humiliation might be averted. Then we had 60,000, and we were told that we should have an easy time up to the taking of Pretoria. With 180,000 men we have found that the war has partaken of the nature of a drawn battle; and even with 200,000 men there is a long and difficult struggle before us, which will make the final settlement of South Africa all the more difficult, whilst our own position all the world over is more or less vulnerable. The question of the prompt dispatch of troops is one of the first importance, because we cannot conceal the fact that there is a world-wide sympathy with the Boers, which is greatly increased by our failure. It is the misrepresentations that are made of us, that we are shooting down harmless peasants who occupy South Africa in limited numbers, which blinds the world 771 to the fact that the British Empire, and not the Republics, stands for liberty and freedom. I hope that the proposals which the hon. Baronet wishes to see introduced will show that further preparations will be made. There are many officers and men, tired of civil life, who could be called up, and who would form the nucleus of a fresh force for defensive purposes, or would strengthen the drafts which will have to be sent abroad. There has been anxiety to know who is really head of the Army. We are told that the generals in the field have had a free hand. But unless General White's instructions expressly directed him to ignore Natal and the Natal Government, and to think only of his army, he or any British officer in his position was liable to be swayed by political considerations. One would like to know whether General White considered the forces at his command sufficient to carry out his instructions. The Under Secretary of State for War the other night gave the late General Symons as the sole authority for the affair at Glencoe, while the right hon. Gentleman himself referred at Manchester to the "unhappy entanglement" at Ladysmith in which General White found himself involved, and the late Home Secretary to-night suggested that that entanglement might really have been caused, not by General White, but by his instructions. The First Lord of the Treasury also stated at Manchester that the guns supplied to General White were guns intended for a mobile force. Such statements do not tend to allay public anxiety, and the charge of unpreparedness is almost inevitable. It would seem, from what we are told, that every brigade or division sent out during the earlier part of a war is of the character of a forlorn hope which is necessarily sacrificed. That surely is not a very encouraging message to send either to our regular forces in the field or to the colonial contingents. Real encouragement was given by the statements of the Under Secretary of State for War and the Colonial Secretary, and I hope that we may, even now on the last day of the debate, have a very strong declaration from the First Lord of the Treasury also, because we want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman is more persuaded of the mistakes that have been acknowledged by the Colonial Secretary, 772 and of the efforts which may be required to remedy a most serious state of things.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I believe I was the first Minister to state in public that there had undoubtedly been mistakes in regard to this war.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON
That statement was probably made at Manchester, and the general trend of public opinion in respect of that speech may be judged from expressions used in regard to it by the press of the right hon. Gentleman's own party. The speeches of the First Lord of the Treasury and of Lord Salisbury undoubtedly introduced a feeling of gloom. Certainly that feeling was materially lightened by the speeches of the Under Secretary of State for War and the Colonial Secretary; but until Parliament met we had no declaration which gave any confidence to the country at a time of great trial and anxiety. There is only one other point to which I wish to refer, and that is the subject of unity. We have been exhorted and lectured on the subject of unity. There is no reason to suppose that we are not united for practical purposes. Surely the voting of supplies is a very practical purpose; surely the fact of the statements of the objects of the war made by the hon. Baronet behind me being accepted by the First Lord of the Admiralty shows a considerable amount of agreement with regard to the ordinary circumstances of the war. We have been taunted on our want of unity, but I myself am as anxious as anyone on that side of the House to see unity. We may have to go very far together in pursuing these objects—that there shall be equal franchise for the white races in South Africa, and that there shall never more be any arsenal there by means of which British supremacy may be threatened. I remember many years ago, when I happened to meet Sir Hercules Robinson, as he then was, he told me that, though a strong supporter of the restoration of the Transvaal and the policy of 1881, he thought that peace having been concluded on the frontier was a serious bar to that peace being a lasting settlement, and that the way to secure a lasting settlement was to make peace at Pretoria. This time, at any rate, we shall have to go to Pretoria. That kind of support should, I think, be held to be 773 sufficient by our opponents if they wish to promote unity. There are other versions of unity held by some hon. Gentlemen, and it is interpreted as meaning that the Opposition is unpatriotic if it does not follow blindly and silently the Government into every hole and corner where its policy may lead us. If a Liberal criticises any part of the policy of the Government he is held up to obloquy; if he holds his tongue he is supporting his his party for political purposes; if he speaks here for a few moments he is told the country does not care for the debate, and he had better be quiet; and if he votes against the Government he sinks beneath the notice of any decent citizen. I think the party opposite sometimes set about to create unity on the policy of the war in an odd kind of way. We are compelled to admit that in some parts of that policy most gross mistakes have been made. The Leader of the House says it was the raid which made the Government helpless in the matter of protesting against the armaments of the Boers. No, it was not the raid. It was the conduct of the inquiry after the raid which inflicted a cruel and irreparable injury upon British justice and British character, and that is the reason, if there is any, for our helplessness in making our war preparations with respect to the armaments of the Transvaal. But that is not a sufficient excuse. This matter must be dealt with in the light of plain facts, not by skulking behind the British Constitution or public departments or the "man in the street." We should do better if our troops could take cover and our Ministers come out into the open. We have heard of a weak and discredited Opposition. It is a thousand pities there may be nothing to take their place. The Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said that the country would not turn the present Government out in order to put the Opposition in. That is a small consolation to the country, but the permanent incubus of a weak and indifferent and discredited Government would be the greatest curse that the God of battles could prepare for the British Empire.
§ MR. GEDGE (Walsall)
I am not one of those who complain of this Amendment having been moved. However small and weak the Opposition may be they have a perfect right to criticise the actions and omissions of the Government, and I do 774 not know of any way in which they could bring the matter more fairly to the test than by moving such a resolution as that now before the House. In fact I think they have done the very best thing possible for the Government and for this side of the House. If we have been in any way, which I very much doubt, a disunited party this motion will certainly bring us together in the lobby. There is nothing brings a disunited party together so much as a vote of censure on the Government it supports. But there are two things of which we may complain. The first is that the Amendment is so wide, in that it goes back so far as 1895 instead of limiting the proposed censure to the Government's conduct since Parliament was prorogued in October last. The subject of the first part of the Amendment was amply and fully threshed out in the last session of Parliament, and it was certainly unnecessary to again take us over the whole ground. Then there is the conduct of the Opposition, which has unduly extended the length of the debate. Various reflections have been cast from both sides of the House. The hon. and learned Member for West Fife, who always speaks with wit, ability, and eloquence, taunted the two front benches with the fact that the prolongation of the debate arose from their vanity, that they desired to have the best cuts of the joint themselves, and that only one of them could speak each night. I think he ought to confine his censure to the front bench on his own side of the House, because it is an open secret that the Opposition are answerable for not allowing the division to take place until to-night. That being so, if more than one Member of the front bench spoke on any evening they would soon be used up, and the debate would collapse but for hon. Members sitting behind. Therefore, if any one of us gets up to speak I cannot see how we can be held responsible for the prolongation of the debate, because it has to go on until a certain time, and the intervening hours have to be filled up somehow. There being no complaint against us on that account, we complain that so much old matter has been raked up. Things that we dealt with in October have been again brought forward, and we have had to go over the same old ground. In one respect we may regret the recent arrangement by which the 775 Address in answer to Her Majesty's gracious Speech is limited to one sentence. If the old course had been followed, a clause would have been inserted in the Address reciprocating Her Majesty's sympathy with those who are fighting in the front, and with those who are suffering because of the war, and her admiration of the heroism of the troops. If a short statement in that sense was added to the Address I believe that the hearts of our soldiers, both those who are fighting and those who are wounded, and of the relatives of those who have been killed, would receive very considerable comfort, and would glow with some thrill, knowing that not only did their Queen sympathise with them, but that the House of Commons as a body had expressed in Parliament their entire concurrence in that feeling. There are one or two speeches, which have not yet been sufficiently answered, upon which I wish to make one or two remarks. One complaint only have I to make against Her Majesty's Government. I wish they had shown a little more courage and a little more confidence in the hearty support of the large majority they have in this House, and not have feared, as they seem to have done, to make proposals which might be necessary for the safety of the country, even though they were unable at the time to lay before us all the circumstances which led them to the conclusion that such proposals were desirable. So great is our confidence in the Government that I do not think we should have needed any statement. If they had come to the House and said, "We as a Government tell you we want this or that done for strengthening the forces at home or the fleet," or if they had asked us to vote money, we should have supported them without pressing them for their reasons if they thought it desirable to withhold them. In all other respects they have done on the whole quite as well as could be expected from them. No doubt the Colonial Secretary said that mistakes had been made, and it was contended there was a discrepancy between that statement and the words of the Leader of the House at Manchester, when he said the Government were not going to apologise for any mistakes. I think they were both right. There were mistakes, but there is no need of apology. I never knew of anybody to get on at all without making mistakes. If we were all endowed with prescience, 776 if we knew exactly what was on the other side of the hill, or would take place tomorrow or next year, we should make no mistakes. He alone is culpable, and needs to make apologies for mistakes, who does not act rightly on the facts before him. There is no man in business who, on looking back, cannot see that he has made mistakes. But that is no reason for sorrow, it is not a reason for apology, to those who have done the best in their power on the facts before them, who have formed the best judgment open to them on what they knew. If things turned out not as they might reasonably have expected no one has any right to find fault, and there is no need of apology. That seems to me to be the position of the Government in the present instance. I did not have the advantage of hearing it, but I have read carefully a very long speech of the hon. Member the ex-Attorney General. There are other speeches very like his, but I think he is the chief offender in the matter. Here, at a time when great Imperial interests are at stake, at a time when we want to get to work, he thought it well to make a very long speech entirely taken up by details, full from beginning to end of small points. I could not but be reminded of a saying of Burke's about a hundred years ago in connection with the trial of Warren Hastings. An ex-Law Officer of the Crown made a long and elaborate speech on the subject, and Burke said that the hon. and learned Member was very eloquent; he was very great at nisi prius; he was a master of small points; his mind was filled with small points; but he was about as capable of understanding a great Imperial question like this as a doe rabbit is of understanding the gestations of an elephant. It seemed to me that the hon. and learned Member to whom I have referred was very much in the position of that doe rabbit. Then I heard the speech of another ex-Law Officer on this side of the House, and he thinks the war unnecessary and unjust, but yet he will gladly go into the lobby on behalf of the Government. I remember the old story of a nobleman many years ago, who was accustomed to ride at the head of his farmers to vote at the elections. One day somebody came up to him and said, "I see Mr. Jones going up with you; I wonder you do not get 777 rid of him, because he makes; Tory speeches." "I do not care what speeches, he makes," was the reply, "so long as he votes with me." With regard to the hon. and learned Member, we on this side of the House do not care a bit about his vote, we have votes enough without it, but we do care about his speech very much, and we wish he had not made it. His speech is wrong from beginning to end, and I do not believe it will do himself or anybody else any good. Whom does he represent? We are all representatives in this House. I should not venture to express my own sentiments here, if I did not represent an important industrial constituency. The hon. and learned Member to whom I referred does not represent Plymouth; his constituents would be glad to get rid of him. His constituents distinctly state that he does not represent them, and therefore in taking the course he has done he merely represents himself. Somehow or other, the hon. and learned Gentleman for the last few years has taken a strong line against the party and Government which in political matters he used to support. ["No."] Take the Venezuela question. Almost before anything was known about it he got up and made a public speech and wrote letters to show that the Government were all wrong, the country had not a leg to stand on, and the Venezuelans were all right. But what did the arbitrators say? On almost every point they gave an award distinctly in favour of this country. I only instance that to show that the hon. and learned Gentleman might have had a little more distrust in his own opinion, and before taking a line strongly against his own country and Government have looked back a little and remembered how he had been proved to be in the wrong before. I think the same fate will befall him this time. The hon. and learned Member told us that the Boers were a brave and true-hearted people. Yes, they are brave if you like, but true-hearted! What does he mean by "true-hearted"? Let me read one or two short extracts from letters in the papers from those who are at the seat of war. Here is a letter from a Newark missionary lately in the Transvaal. He says—For three years I have been living in the heart of the Transvaal, and I have watched the Boers very closely. The first thing that strikes a stranger is their piety. After one 778 has been among them for a time the gloss begins to wear off, and we find there is far more profession than possession, and we say with an American evangelist that 'of all humbugs the religious humbug is the biggest.' Taking them on the whole, their religion, their piety, is a farce. They interpret the Scriptures to meet their own purposes, and their prayers are that God will bless them and slay the—Englishmen. God is to them a God of the Dutch only. Some people venture to say the native has been treated little better than a dog. I will go further and say he has been treated worse than a dog. I have been working among 2,000 natives, composed of people from the Zambesi to Cape Town. Not one has a good name for the Boers. Dreadful as it may sound, war was a necessity. A thousand and one things called loudly for it. A government so foul and corrupt must fall. The flag of justice and freedom for black and white must wave o'er the (at present) God-forsaken Transvaal.They are the true-hearted, are they? What do we get in letters from other parts of the battlefield? From a letter from Belmont I will quote—We had a little adventure there. One of our officers and about twelve of us got separated from our company and battalion, and came across a number of Boers among the hills. We attacked them and got close to them, and when we fixed our bayonets in order to charge them they put up the white flag. Of course that put us off our guard, and when we approached them they fired on us, killing two and wounding five or six more, our officer included.That is not an isolated case. I have another case here which happened at Colenso. A doctor writes—This done, the brutes advanced with a flag of truce, and asked to be allowed to collect their wounded. Of course we allowed them, but instead they gradually worked round and surrounded us, calling on our two companies to surrender. When our colonel refused this, they beat the poor old man on the head with the end of their rifles, breaking all his front teeth, taking our men all prisoners, and marched them off to Pretoria.That is the sort of thing which is coming from every part of the battlefield. These are the class of persons who are called a true-hearted people, and it is said that we should not go to war with them on that account. We had in October last a terrible statement of the horrors of war, from the hon. Member for Plymouth and he has repeated it in this debate. Well, as a Christian, humane, and cultured people we feel deeply the horrors of war, and there is not one of us who would not be thankful if the war was stopped. But what right have Gentlemen opposite to throw this into the scale upon a question as to whether the Government have done their 779 duty or deserve censure? Horrors of war are invoked to prove that it is Sir A. Milner's war, or the Colonial Secretary's war. That is most unfair. This is Paul Kruger's war. It has been said that we have gone to war for the franchise, but that was only a means to an end. The franchise was first proposed by a member of the party opposite, the Marquess of Ripon. There were a great many things going on in the Transvaal of which we had a right to complain and remonstrate. Do not let us get involved in such questions as the drifts, the dynamite monopoly, or other things. What was desired was that the Uitlanders would be able to help themselves by having the franchise which would render all this continual nagging and interference unnecessary. The franchise was a simple means to an end, and if Mr. Kruger desired peace he was a very great fool for not giving the franchise which the Colonial Secretary asked for. Only one-fourth of the representatives of the Transvaal would have been returned by the Uitlanders, and they would have been powerless in the Volksraad. They would have brought forth their grievances, but they would certainly have been out-voted, and England could not have interfered. The first thing that opened my eyes to the real intention of President Kruger was the way in which he just got near to what was proposed, and then he put something in which we could not accept, and which showed that he never honestly intended to come to terms because his intention was, as soon as the rains had fallen and there was food for horses, to declare war. We are blamed for breaking off the negotiations, and why? Because they had been entirely upon the franchise. It was found that Mr. Kruger would not come to terms, and the Colonial Secretary very properly stopped the negotiations on those lines so that he might try something else. The right hon. Gentleman was thinking it over, and told President Steyn he would be glad to hear his suggestions, and called attention to the Duke of Devonshire's speech, in which he declared that our proposals would be very moderate. But after only a few days' delay President Kruger sent us an ultimatum declaring war and invaded British territory, and yet we are told that this is the Colonial Secretary's or Mr. Rhodes's war. I 780 say again it is Paul Kruger's war, which was forced upon us, and it must be fought to a conclusion. There is another conclusive point to my mind that Kruger intended war, and that is the fact that he took such pains to hide his armaments from the British. If a small State fears to be attacked by its neighbour it endeavours to lead the large State to believe that its armaments are larger than they really are, and that they will find if they attack them that they are only drawing the badger. What about all these cannon that were smuggled in pianoforte cases, and arms concealed in boxes of tapioca and maccaroni, which was done because Kruger wanted to hide the fact that he was making a huge arsenal of the Transvaal? All these secret preparations were not for defensive purposes, but because Kruger intended to attack us. We are waging war now for the preservation of peace in our South African Republic. Supposing any one of our Native States in India followed President Kruger's course and imported secretly armaments and got foreign military strategists to train their soldiers? We should be obliged to tell them to stop it. A complaint was made against the Colonial Secretary because he did not at once, in the early stages of the diplomacy, declare war. For a Minister to be compelled to declare war in a case of that kind would put terrible power into the hands of an unscrupulous Minister involving his country in war. It is said that the Government ought to have known all about these preparations, and that they are guilty of want of knowledge and foresight. I maintain that the Government did all they could under the circumstances, and it would be easy to point out in the newspapers which represent the party which is now attacking us that when the troops were sent out they accused the Government of sending out too many troops, and now they charge us with not sending enough. I admit we have suffered what the right hon. Baronet calls checks. We have lost lives which perhaps might have been spared, although I do not think they could have been saved by anything we could have done at home. On the face of it this great loss of life and of prisoners was due to action on the spot, and not due to any orders directed by this Government. The troops sent out have done all they were sent to do. The right hon. Gentleman was very angry because 781 the Secretary for the Colonies wired his approval of Sir Alfred Milner's statement that an invasion of Natal would not be tolerated for a moment. Would he have wished him to say that invasion would be tolerated and feebly resisted? No, he was bound to tell our colonists that the whole power of the British Empire would be used, and that such an invasion would not be tolerated. Nearly the whole of the boundaries of the Transvaal is British territory, and if we had had 100,000 men on the spot it would hardly have been possible to prevent invasion at some point on a boundary 2,000 miles long. We have done everything that was possible to repair any mistake, and we have succeeded in preventing the invasion coming still further. The Boers thought they were going to suceeed in fighting their way to Pietermaritzburg and Durban, and thus drive us out of the country. But what progress have the Boers made? Why that little army which we sent out at first has been able to stop them. Troops are now going to the front in large quantities, and we have no reason to doubt that that invasion will be stopped and the Boers will be driven back. We have gained one or two good lessons from the war. We have been shown the weaknesses of our defences in case we have a quarrel with a European Power. My opinion is that this war has also shown us to be stronger in relation to European Powers than has been hitherto supposed. We have feared Russia's invasion of India, but we have now learned from the experience of Natal that, with thousands of Indian troops, stiffened by British officers, and with the aid of our splendid artillery and of the spade, we can fortify the mountain passes and prevent any Russian invasion. And as long as our Navy maintains its present proud position we have absolutely no fear of a foreign invasion of this country. If England was strong enough to stand against all Europe a century ago it can do so now. We know that the Government is going to profit by this war and remedy the weak spots in our military preparations. Therefore, with all my heart and without hesitation, I shall go into the lobby against this Amendment.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)
The right hon. Baronet the Member for the College Division of Glasgow, to whom I 782 always listen with interest and sympathy, was under the impression that the House of Commons in this, the time of peril, ought to be engaged in a better and more dignified task than criticising the causes and the preparations for this war. He indicated that it was not a satisfactory thing for foreign nations to see the British House of Commons almost squabbling, as he said, about details while our soldiers were at death grips with the brave, plucky, magnanimous, and heroic Boers. I do not share that view. I believe that the proof of the real greatness of the British people is tested by the fact that the House of Commons is doing its legislative duty here as our soldiers are doing their duty in South Africa. In a specialised nation like this it is appropriate that the soldier should fight while the House of Commons is discharging its legal functions in discussing what led up to the war. I think it is a proof of the character and dignity of the House of Commons that while we are engaged in a war of this character, we are not excited like other assemblies or flying at each other's throats on the question as to who began the war and how it ought to be conducted. I will say for the House of Commons that I have never listened to a discussion extending over so many days in which the typical equanimity of the British character was more splendidly displayed than during the whole progress of this debate. And while we are discussing here the minds of the people are working, and the man in the train and the omnibus with almost equally placid demeanour is threshing out the issues and problems of this struggle; and I regard it as complimentary to the House of Commons and to the British people that we all have the moral courage to do our duty, taking no notice of the blind and ignorant criticisms directed against us by a few newspapers outside, owned by blackguards and edited by ruffians who clamoured for this war. I say that we are fulfilling the best traditions of the House of Commons, and we are incidentally imitating the great ones before us—Chatham and Fox and the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, who went further than the House of Commons is now doing by taking the side of the American colonies against their own countrymen when they were wrong. Then we are told by the other side that we ought to be silent; that the muzzling 783 order should be imposed, that the House of Commons should be inarticulate, and that we should be dumb dogs all. In whose interest and for what? In the interest of some pinchbeck Pitt, some embryonic Cromwell, who has not yet appeared, and whose vain ambitions and plunging policies are to override a free assembly. One man is to be invited—and I hear it with shame—from the Liberal side, to do what Pitt did a hundred years ago, without Pitt's justification. Wild Imperialism succeeded by militarism is to pave the way to autocracy. He backed up the stupidity of the King by assuming power which the House of Commons only should have assumed, and by refusing the overtures of Napoleon Bonaparte, when he humbly sued for peace, the House of Commons being practically silent, involved the country in eighteen years of war and a national debt of a thousand millions. That was because the Opposition did actually, what the present Opposition has virtually done in recent years, abdicate its function of opposing the Government. Out of a mistaken sense of patriotism men have been silent in this House at the suggestion of a clique too long. The financial elements, the military caste, the society set, have dictated African policy too long, with fatal results. In the initial stages of this war, they should not only have been eloquent against it but indignant against all the causes which led up to it. It is stated that the country is disgusted with this debate, which is doing no good and possibly doing some harm. I do not believe it. If it be true, the country must be awakened by protest, and that protest I cheerfully make. Let me first deal with one fact in the speech of the hon. and gallant Member who has recently spoken. He said that the only effect of this debate will be to stimulate the Boers and give them an incentive to fight. What more incentive do they want from the military point of view? Fifty or sixty thousand peasant farmers, market gardeners, and undisciplined troops are fighting under the greatest stimulus men can ever have—a deep religious motive, a patriotic impulse, and a love of liberty. They have kept at bay the skill of our generals and the heroism of our troops. They want no more incentive than their continuous successes, and I would advise military men, who talk without perspective and proportion more befitting 784 Laffan's Plain than of actual warfare, to remember that the Boers want no further incentive than that supplied them by the baffling of our Generals and the blundering of the Colonial Secretary for the past four years. It was not as high as a church or as wide as a door, but, like Mercutio's wound, it was enough. This debate has evoked from the Under Secretary of State for War one of the most charming speeches I have ever listened to in the House of Commons, and it has enabled us to have departmental preparations and facts put before the country. What is more, it has enabled two or three Liberal Imperialists to state the case from the point of view of jingo expansion more clearly and ably than the Government were capable of doing themselves. This is interesting if disappointing, and illustrates too clearly their departure from Liberal traditions. Then we are also told that every day that this debate goes on there is a stronger probability of the country being involved in external trouble. I am not a jingo nor a Liberal Imperialist, but this I do say, that badly as England has done in a wrong cause against the Boers, and we have done badly mainly on that account, the Germans could not have done better, and the French would, in my opinion, have done infinitely worse. France met defeat in Madagascar; Italy met its fate in Abyssinia, and in West Africa and the Cameroons, where I have been, can be seen what Germany is capable of doing, where climate and strange conditions prevail. If foreign countries went so far as to presume on our difficulties in South Africa to attempt an invasion, in which I do not believe, let me tell the House of Commons, as knowing the man in the street, that there would be a prompt dismissal from the front benches of the incompetent Ministers and of the military mandarins in Pall Mall, who are a disgrace to their office. These gentlemen lack adaptability, promptitude, and seem incapable of meeting difficulty with resource. In a real national crisis prompt, able, and adaptable leaders would be found. The Army would be demilitarised and put on a basis that would enable it to repel invasion. The civilian and mechanical instincts of the people would make short work of those who fill office but cannot inspire confidence, who can exercise empty authority but wield no power. When I hear men 785 talk about the British Empire being broken up I do not believe a word of it. It is not true. It would not happen even if we lost South Africa, as Empire depends on other qualities than military loss or failure. That kind of claptrap was indulged in when we lost the American colonies, but from 1780 up till 1900 has been a period of unexampled prosperity, and so long as our people are industrious and our merchants honest the British people will go on. This debate amongst many good results must have the effect of dismissing from the public mind the violent misrepresentations of Paul Kruger,-General Joubert, and of the Boer people generally which had been indulged in. Daily papers like the Daily Mail represented the average Boer to be a cross between Charles Peace, the burglar and murderer, a West African negro, with a dash of Jack the Ripper thrown in; and when the readers of that mendacious, and shallow and ignorant print read this description of the Boers every morning, they thought that these oracular productions and definitions of the Boer character came straight from the very fountain of truth itself. Did the gullible readers think that the proprietors of the Daily Mail, which has been mainly responsible for egging the people of this country on to this war—that Alfred Harmsworth had 500 shares in the Chartered Company; that Cecil Harmsworth was also a "chartered libertine," and that another Harmsworth was one of the Rhodesian gang? Did they think that Tudor Street and Carmelite Street were poisoning the wellsprings of information, playing the lowdown game of the Johannesburg Star and every one of the corrupt and rotten papers that have excited the man in the street to clamour for war against his better judgment and better inclination? Fortunately the people are sobering, reverses have chastened them, and respect for their opponents has begotten fair play. I am one of those who have seen the Boer in this House when he occasionally visited us and in other places, and know something of him. It is creditable that men like Lord Methuen, Sir George White, General Symons, and, indeed, all who have come into contact with the Boers either here or in the colonies, have admired the strategy, chivalry, devotion, courage, and humanity of every man who follows the Boer flag. We have a right to say that. Respect for 786 a brave foe is the first step to know how to vanquish him, and when beaten how to treat him. Members will find when the settlement arrives how their harsh words will stand in the way. We have been told in this debate by Members opposite that the debate is useless. Yes, but what about the speech of the Under Secretary for War—the debate produced that—or of the speeches of the hon. Members for Plymouth and Carnarvon? The hon. and legal Gentleman is far too great a man to be worried and troubled by the hon. Member for Walsall, who took the opportunity of attacking him in his absence. This debate was necessary if only for that speech, in which we got out the evidence of the War Office and how bad a defence could be in the hands of such a good advocate Then it was necessary to have this debate if only to hear what case the Right. Hon. the Colonial Secretary could make out for the position he has taken up. I listened to that speech. It was a kind of speech which might have been delivered at a meeting of medical students, after they had passed their examination, in the Empire Theatre on a Saturday afternoon. No argument for the war—wave the Union Jack. No defence or justification of his policy—sing "Rule Britannia." A few mistakes committed (by other people)—double the army in South Africa. And then an eloquent peroration about "seeing this thing through" in the language of the pot-house, and in the spirit of the prize-ring.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The language of the hon. Gentleman is hardly consistent with the dignity of debate. Such expressions as "the language of the pot-house" should not be used in referring to the speech with which the hon. Gentleman is dealing.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
If you take, Mr. Speaker, exception to the phrase, I withdraw "language of the pot-house" and substitute "language of the Stock Exchange." I venture to say that if the Colonial Secretary and the Colonial Office had conducted the negotiations which led up to this unfortunate war in the tone and temper of the gentlemanly speech of the hon. Member for Dover, instead of being in the death-grips, as now, with them, President Kruger, President Steyn, and General Joubert would have been 787 interesting and attractive figures in Her Majesty's Jubilee procession in 1897. But it was not to be. What does the Colonial Secretary say? We are to have no second Majuba. Is that the kind of taunt to placate an enemy who deserves by his splendid fighting qualities to be treated well? Is it the kind of thing to say, that magnanimity is a mistake? Why we shall hear next that meanness is a virtue, charity a crime, and national honour only a mere convention. Then the Colonial Secretary talks about victory. I do not yet see it in sight—although like all men I would like to—when we know that we have lost 10,000 men, killed, wounded, missing, or prisoners; or when this lamentable fact is brought to light, that in three years in the Crimean war we had 851 officers killed and wounded; whereas in three months of this war we have 615 officers killed, wounded, missing or prisoners. It is not for us to boast of victory after four months' war, or to talk about magnanimity being a mistake, in face of tragic facts like these. It is not for us to talk about no repetition of Majuba, which was a military blunder on our side, and for which no fault could be found against the Boers. What we have got to do in our struggle with the Boers, whilst prosecuting our military aim with their ability, resource, and common sense, is to avoid provocation and boastful threats, and what we have a right to do when war ceases, is to make it possible for our enemy to enter into negotiations for a lasting and permanent peace, which shall be beneficial to both sides. I am not to be dismayed from expressing my opinion by very easy taunts from the other side. I do not believe that war, even in a good cause, should be so readily invoked as it has been in this struggle, where incompetence has been followed by bloodshed, and rashness by desolation. I would refer to Edmund Burke's speech on a similar occasion, when the dread arbitrament of war was lightly invoked. Then he said—A conscientious man would be cautious how he dealt in blood. He would feel some apprehension at being called to a tremendous account for engaging in so deep a play without any knowledge of the game, It is no excuse for presumptuous ignorance that it is directed by insolent passion.The right hon. Gentleman taunted the Opposition for voting for the Amend- 788 ment. Now, I do not altogether agree with it, but, illogical though it be, I want to swell the majority against this war, consequently I am not a prisoner to phrases. I am going also to vote for the Amendment of the Irish Members, and would support any Amendment that challenges, denounces, or condemns the war, or its causes, or in any way makes for peace, which both the Boers and we will desire before this conflict ends. I am not concerned with being taunted with being inconsistent and illogical. I take up higher ground, and accept the challenge of the right hon. the Colonial Secretary. I maintain as against him that this war is unnecessary, unjust, and immoral, because I recognise the Boer Republics as independent States, owing us no suzerainty except in one particular which has not yet been infringed. There is no difference between Boer and Briton that warrants war. I say we had no right to dictate, no right to demand, only the privilege to persuade. It is because I believe this that I say this war is unnecessary, unjust, and immoral. I take up this attitude and shelter myself behind the language of the Colonial Secretary, who said on May 8th, 1896, in the House of Commons—To go to war with President Kruger in order to force upon him reforms in the internal affairs of his State, with which successive Secretaries of State standing in this place have repudiated all right of interference, would have been a course of action as immoral as it would have been unwise.If he was right then, as he was, I am justified now. I contend that this war might have been avoided, and to that extent was unnecessary. What is more, if the most elementary precautions and patience had been taken the cause of war could have been removed, if what others saw had been seen by the Colonial Office; the crisis we are now in was foreshadowed by many. But before I deal with that point I want to bring to light a prophecy, not by myself, but by the Saturday Review on March 6th, 1897. That journal took the view that—The return of Mr. Rhodes to South Africa will, we are afraid, mean the out break of further trouble. Is he to be permitted to do damage right and left now that he stands self-convicted of conspiracy against a friendly State.… Dr. Jameson, his victim, has suffered slightly for his participation in the plot. Is then the arch - conspirator, Mr. Rhodes, himself to escape scot-free? We are not disposed to be vindictive, but we do think 789 that it is criminal to allow Mr. Rhodes to meddle further in the polities of South Africa. If Mr. Chamberlain countenances Mr. Rhodes's return to active political life and reappearance on the South African stage as a prominent though nondefined character, the results will be on his own head.Well, it was because the Colonial Secretary had allowed Mr. Rhodes to go back to South Africa, and did not deprive him of his Privy Councillorship, of which he ought to have been deprived; because he allowed Earl Grey to dodge the Committee and slip away out of the country; because he promoted Sir Graham Bower, and retained Mr. Newton; because Willoughby and White had been reinstated whilst the correspondence between Mr. Hawksley and the Colonial Secretary showed how the instigators of the raid, the real cause of the war, had been treated—it is because of all these blunders and entanglements that we are involved in this lamentable war. Following the Saturday Review—and I have always taken a strong line against the Chartered Company—on the 6th January, 1896, only a week after the raid, I suggested that the charter should be revoked, that Lord Roberts should be sent out to South Africa with 15,000 men, that all chartered rights should be sequestrated, that all commissioners, high and low, especially low, should be dismissed and sent home, that Mr. Asquith should be invited to be Civil Commissioner in South Africa for five years, that a guarantee should be given to the South African Republic of the autonomy for which they were fighting and which they deserve. Now why did I suggest that? Because I knew, as the man in the street knew, the composition of the financial gang which has engineered this war, and whose methods and agents were well known to everybody but the Colonial Office. On the question of independence of the Transvaal I stood with Mr. Gladstone, no act of whose political life deserves more credit than his magnanimous, prescient, and dignified conduct in 1881. I stood with Lord Kimberley, Lord Derby, Lord Salisbury, Sir Evelyn Wood, Mr. Balfour, Mr. W. H. Smith, and the Lord Chief Justice as to the freedom and independent sovereignty of the Boers. We have evidence after evidence that beyond suggesting improvements in franchise, tariffs, and other matters, which President Kruger could or need not accept, 790 we have no right to do what we have done, and in doing which we have been involved in this terrible and regrettable war. But it may be said that I want to see British subjects in South Africa treated better. Of course I do. I want to see British subjects under British dominion—no, not dominion; that is an arbitrary word—I want to see every British subject treated, wherever he is, as a true man ought to be. But the times are out of joint, when we have Conservatives invoking the cruel arbitrament of war to enforce a franchise on the aliens in the Transvaal, of whom they had such a poor opinion when in this country that they introduce Bills into this House to exclude them altogether from residence in England. The Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs and other Tory Members insisted that the real question before the House was whether the Government were justified in espousing the grievances of the Uitlanders. I say by diplomacy, yes; by representations, yes; by war, no, a thousand times no, because you have no right to dictate to the Transvaal on its internal affairs. But you did dictate, and demand and persuade with such effect that Paul Kruger climbed down considerably, and with such rapidity that the Colonial Secretary himself was astonished at the rapidity and amount of the concessions. And I venture to say that if he had continued to squeeze the sponge it would not have been necessary to grasp the sword. If he had been more tactful and conciliatory, and had known better the traditions of our old diplomacy, we might have done with the velvet glove of conciliation what he is trying to do with the iron glove of war. If the ingenuity for war had been used for peace, this conflict could have been avoided. Mr. Hawksley knows something of South Africa, and this is what he said on 31st January, 1900—No doubt Mr. Rhodes believed that reasonable diplomacy would bring the negotiations with President Kruger respecting the grievances of the Uitlanders—the real bedrock of the controversy between the disputants—to a satisfactory and peaceful conclusion immediately on the publication of the June, 1899, Blue-book, disclosing a policy of bully and bluff leading straight to war.And certainly he was not alone when he said that if it had not been for the Colonial Secretary's despatches of June, 1899, the franchise would have been got without any trouble at all. Now, what was this de- 791 mand for the franchise? Anybody would think that there had been heads cracked in some Johannesburg Trafalgar Square, or that some Johannesburg park railings had been torn down by infuriated Britishers. Well, we have had in this war gallant deeds done by the fighting 5th Northumberland Fusiliers. I know them well. They are our collier lads from Northumberland and Durham, and fine soldiers they are. When at home every man joins his trade union, and every man is a keen politician and an enemy of oppression of every kind. But what do the Northumberland and Durham miners say of the franchise in South Africa? They say what the Cornish miners say—We are not here for votes; we are here for money. We do not want to politically depatriate ourselves. We want to go home to England and remain British subjects and exercise the vote there.When this capitalist war was brought about the Northumberland and Cornish miners very patriotically refused to fight against their country, but declined to fight against the Boers because they believed, with the best of the Uitlanders, that this demand for the franchise in South Africa is a bogus demand, and a fraudulent pretext of the financiers to cover ulterior designs, to buy up and use the votes of industrial nomads to increase their commercial power, to lower the social standard of the miners, to lower wages and to increase hours. A Cornish miner, when interviewed, said that—The five or seven years franchise did not trouble us.He said further on—We had no complaint about the hours; we went to make money; this is a capitalists' job from beginning to end, and we have really no interest in it.But let us take a higher authority than Northumberland or Cornish miners. The "Reform Union League of South Africa" sent over to England a gentleman named J. R. Dodd—Tommy Dodd he was called out there—and as soon as he landed from the ship in the dock he rushed to the House of Commons to interview the Labour Members, to interest them in favour of the grievances of the Uitlanders. In this he was following the lead of the Chartered Company, whose agents ply their schemes within these walls. I can only say he caught a Tartar when I happened to be the first Labour Member to 792 meet him. He wrote an article in the Forum, in which he said that—From 1882 to 1892 there was no serious demand for the franchise, and no great anxiety for reform. The country was rich, and most of the new settlers were making too much money to care for reform. There was still, however, great need for the latter, and the administration was going from bad to worse, while the concessions granted for the construction of railways and for dynamite were sure to work havoc in later years.There is nothing in this to suggest harsh grievances and oppression to the working people. I asked him, "Have you had any meetings in the Transvaal?" and he said "No." "Have you pulled down any park railings?" "No." "What demonstrations, then? Have you fought for the vote as long as Englishmen did at home? "No." "Do you know that the Lords, in July, 1898, by 86 to 36, excluded aliens, and that 30 per cent. of your fellow countrymen in England either cannot vote for Commons or influence the Lords?" But he had not any proper answer to give. It was like my experience with another man from Johannesburg, where he had been for thirteen years, who came home, and whom I introduced into the House. The right hon. the Colonial Secretary was at the moment engaged in talking about the difference between the five and the seven years franchise; but the Johannesburg man could not restrain himself and refused to stay any longer. He had been used to getting 30s. a day in Johannesburg instead of 30s. a week in this country, and he showed all the impetuosity of the nouveau riche. He said—We don't want to listen to the Colonial Secretary and his talk of the franchise; what we want is the confounded country.He was not so circumlocutory as Mr. Dodd, but more honest. Now who paid the expenses of Mr. Dodd? Look at his credentials and his letters of introduction. The fine Roman hand of Mr. Rutherfoord Harris will be detected there, as in nearly every grievance - mongering agitation, in the interest of gold and diamonds in South Africa. That is the spurious agitation of the discontented patriotic Britisher who wants to lose his nationality at home for a very doubtful nationality abroad! Again, what did Mr. Lionel Phillips, one of the Rhodesian conspirators, say?—As to the franchise, I do not think many people care a fig about it.793 Let us see how the franchise is used by Rhodes, Harris, Fuller and Co. These gentlemen in the Lower House in Cape Colony, in August, 1899, obstructed and got rejected by two in the Cape House of Lords a 6d. in the £1 income tax because the De Beers millionaires would have had to pay the tax equally with the poor people. But not only that, these people who call the Boer Government a corrupt oligarchy were so keenly interested in doctoring the registers of the Capetown Parliament that Rhodes' agents put on 7,000 false votes, largely forgeries, and in over twenty cases Rhodesian agents were convicted by the courts of offences against the electoral laws, and one agent got four months' imprisonment with hard labour. And then we are told that the gentlemen who do these things have sympathy with the British working man, believe in the purity of government and honesty of administration! We are informed that the Boers treat the white labourers badly, but the native labourer worse, but if any one reads the labour papers which come from South Africa he will find that organised labour in South Africa—like the trade union councils at home—is unanimously of opinion that when the Transvaal comes under the Rhodesian domination, white labour will be reduced to what it is reduced in Kimberley, and that things will go from bad to worse, as is proved by the experience of every reliable witness who knows the conduct of the Rhodesian capitalists. As we go on we find instance after instance of intimidation, if white men refuse to arm or organise themselves for political purposes; subserving a commercial end in the interests of the mine owners in the various mines. When we go into the taxes, the eight-hour day, Sunday labour, wages, and freedom from interference, then I say the men who are engaged in the Transvaal are in an infinitely better position than those at Kimberley. The men in South Africa would lose rather than gain by any change taking place. Then, coming to the natives, I have had the pleasure, and perhaps the pain, of being one of the pioneers of Africa—I went to West Africa for a year, and was there, although the right hon. Gentleman may not know it, an engineer in the employ of a company of which the Colonial Secretary was a highly compensated 794 shareholder. I know how the natives are treated, and I will say there is a tendency in Africa, thanks in no small measure to our Civil Service and captains in the Navy, to do their best to inculcate kindness, that the natives' position in this respect is better than in other parts; yet it is not so good as many people think. At the best I have seen cruelty practised there which has filled me with shame for my country, and both Boer and Briton need not be too proud of their treatment of the natives in any part of Africa Then take the compound system. In the Wellington Barracks the death rate is 6 or 8 per 1,000 per annum, but when we go into the Kimberley compound, which is filled with people of just as strong physique as the soldiers in Wellington Barracks, we find, from reports of returning miners, the death rate runs from 40 to 70 per 1,000, almost the death rate of the Middle Passage. These men work hard at low depths, are liable to accidents, and when they come up they are not allowed out of the compounds, and the consequence is their only recreation is drinking, gambling, and fighting, with their attendant results in life and limb. Once a week they are subjected to strong purgatives to see that they do not secrete diamonds in their stomachs, and I now read that they go over each native with a sounding hammer to see whether he has a diamond hidden about him in his flesh. We are now told we ought to grant the franchise at the demands of men who desire that all South Africa should come in for that treatment. The franchise for what—Asiatic labour, slavery conditions for the natives, and continually lower wages and lengthening of the hours for the skilled white labour? What hypocrisy it is to talk about franchise when monopoly rule, and commercial serfdom prevails. The right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary, who is so fervent for the franchise, and desirous of giving the Transvaal local government, who involves us in a war in October when we were going to war to enfranchise a lot of Uitlanders—mostly Jews, who if they got their vote would sell it—was depriving by a stroke of the pen in August of self-government one of Her Majesty's colonies, Jamaica, under the British flag, in the British Empire, whilst the Port of Spain, Trinidad, was protesting also against the arbitrary conduct of the Colonial Secretary in taking away its 795 powers of local self-government and municipal administration. How can he reconcile war for aliens in Africa, and restricting colonial liberties at the same time? He cannot; this war is for territory, for gold, for capitalist domination masquerading in the guise of freedom and franchise. I believe while we are prosecuting this unrighteous war against these people we ought to prospect for peace; we ought to ascertain Kruger's mind as to what the ultimate terms should be. We can do so without loss of dignity and respect, and without loss of power or prestige. ["No, no!"] I am getting rather tired of this arrogant and everlasting "No." It will have to be settled some day, I am for feeling our way now. I can remember reading, as a schoolboy, with pride and pleasure, how Old England, from King Alfred's time, has been the protector of liberty and freedom. That is the quality that differentiates us from all other countries in the world. Except Ireland, Britain has been through centuries the knight-errant of the smaller peoples. Who set Belgium on its legs, gave Greece its independence, helped united Italy, and stood by Switzerland from time to time? England. In this war England is not fulfilling her traditional task, the protector of the smaller nations, and the British Army, which used to be for all good causes the Sir Galahad of History, has become in Africa the janissary of the Jews, and at whose instance a narrow financial section in and out of this House. I spent my Christmas holidays going through the books of the Chartered Company's shareholders, and I find that nearly every one who has spoken in this debate here, in the House of Lords, and in the country, has his patriotism strengthened and his speeches lengthened by the amount of his holding in the stock of the South Africa Company It would be interesting if we could have a share list brought up-to-date to see who are the shareholders—the Duke of Fife, the Marquess of Lorne, 350 generals and Army officers, and newspaper proprietors by the yard. Then we find the shareholders in the books of the Chartered Company are also the men who figured as the Johannesburg prisoners; four of whom alone owned £12,000,000 of money, poor oppressed creatures; they were also the Jameson raiders; and we also find them directors of the Savage 796 South African Show at Olympia. Why was that started? To acquaint the people on this side with the customs and idiosyncrasies of the natives of Africa? No, it is part of a scheme to inflame the minds of the people with regard to the war against their better conscience and their better knowledge. Then we come to the Rhodesian press, and we find all the newspapers were captured by the Rhodesian gang, and I am surprised and ashamed that a great paper like The Times, the greatest newspaper in the world, but the smallest organ for oppressed humanity, should have employed the Monypennys and such people as correspondents. Wherever we go in this matter we see the same thing. Wherever we examine there is the financial Jew operating, directing, inspiring the agencies that have led to this war. They were supreme at the South African Committee in 1897. I thought I had landed myself in a synagogue when I went to hear the Commission; when I went to hear the trial of the Johannesburg prisoners before the Chief Justice I thought I had dropped into some place in Aldgate or Houndsditch; and when we see how the delay of the inquiry was brought about, and how the prisoners were allowed to escape with light punishment, and how exalted personages obtruded themselves into the committee and smiled upon the chief culprits, we see the force which is moving this country on to war. And for all this intrigue on the part of smart society for money, the nation incurs the debt of war. The trail of the financial serpent is over this war from beginning to end. I consider it my duty to the labour constituency I represent to say that I have a right to protest against this war. The Highland Brigade with typical valour and character share the brunt of battle with Welsh, Irish, and Englishmen, of the most serious struggles which have ever been compressed into three or four months of hard fighting; those men have shown they were heroes, but it is heroism wasted for ignoble ends. You should have gone to the relief of the Armenians against the Turk if you wanted war merely for war's sake. The crime of it all is that these brave lads from Inverness and Glasgow and the Rifle Brigade are fighting for an unrighteous cause, a cause which brings no military credit, will deprive a brave people of their freedom, and ultimately land us in con- 797 scription. The Highland Brigade, for example, who had so nobly done their duty by the side of men of other nationalities, were too good to waste on Mr. Rutherfoord Harris and Mr. Beit. I protest against the incompetency displayed in the arrangements for the war, the hollowness of its object, the immorality of its aim, the stupidity with which the negotiations were conducted, and above all the want of taste, tact and temper too frequently shown by the Colonial Secretary, the result being that we have been dragged into a war that has besmirched the fair name of the country. (Cheers.)
§ Mr. WYLIE (Dumbartonshire)
, speaking against the Amendment, said no Scotch Member had spoken on the Conservative side, with the exception of one who had confined himself very much to applying to the Opposition to shorten the discussion. The real cause of the war lay deep down in the moral condition of the race which had so wantonly invaded our territory, their ignorance and domineering instincts, which existed, not only prior to 1895, but from the beginning of the century. The real cause of the war was first the oppression of the native races, whom we had done so much to relieve, and secondly, of the Uitlanders, whom we were going to relieve. It was universally admitted that the treatment of the native races by the British was infinitely better than that of any other country. From 1815, the very first year after we had acquired Cape Colony, they had bitterly resented our steady interference with what they believed to be their right to treat the natives not only as slaves, but as worse than beasts of burden. The right hon. Member for Bodmin had said that we should not mention the word magnanimity in connection with our treatment of the Boers. On the contrary, he thought it could not but be admitted that we were displaying great magnanimity even at the present time. It should be remembered that in Basutoland there were 35,000 of the finest cavalry in Africa, who are restrained by British influence from launching themselves against the Boers. Such magnanimity was not appreciated by the Boers, who were actively engaged in trying to induce the Basutos to rise against the British. The Uitlanders had been treated in the same spirit as the natives had been, and if after the petition 798 in regard to the Edgar case the Government had refused to listen to their grievances, we would have lost all influence in South Africa, and there would have been the beginning of the end to our colonies all over the world. The offer of a seven years franchise was accompanied by such conditions as to render it perfectly inoperative. With regard to the lack of knowledge and foresight of the Government in the preparations for the war, the terms to President Kruger were so moderate and conciliatory that scarcely anyone thought war possible. This Government had spent a great deal to make the Army efficient, and if they had come to Parliament in October last and asked for sufficient money to transport 200,000 men to South Africa, the Opposition would have been the first to have scouted the proposal as recklessly extravagant. This was not the time for mutual recrimination, but rather for friendly co-operation. Let hon. Gentlemen remember, though we had under-estimated the strength and military resources of the Boers they had still more egregiously under-estimated ours, and the determination of this country to carry on the war to a successful termination. We had already secured peace and prosperity to a vast black population in North Africa and we would not slacken our efforts until we had secured even better results to the whites in South Africa. We were fighting for our countrymen in South Africa, who had been ground under the iron heel of oppression. We were fighting for justice for the native as well as the European, and under all the circumstances he believed that the House would reject by an overwhelming majority the Amendment that had been put before it, and that all parties would unite in carrying the war to a successful conclusion.
§ Mr. HAVELOCK WILSON (Middlesbrough)
I do not intend to detain the House very long to-night, but, as my purpose is to adopt a course which is against the party I am associated with, I think it necessary to explain my reasons for doing so. Now, Sir, I listened with great attention to the speech of my hon. friend the Member for Batter sea, and I may say that he did not convince me that the Government is in the wrong in the course they are pursuing in repelling the invasion of the Boers into British territory. We have been told over and over again that the Government have declared war in the interests of the Uit- 799 landers. I do not agree with that statement, because the fact is that the Government have been compelled to go to war in order to repel the invader from our colonies. Now, Sir, I am not one animated by jingo convictions; I do not believe in jingoism; but at the same time I do believe in upholding the integrity of the British Empire. I am a British patriot above all things. I have travelled a few times around the world, and I have found few countries where the same freedom and the same privileges are known as we enjoy. And where I find any encroachment on our territory, any invasion of our rights and liberties, I forget my party and put the support of my country, as a patriot, before all things. We do not need to go back to 1881 to find the cause of the war. I don't object in the slightest degree to Mr. Gladstone's general feelings of humanity and love of peace; but what I did object to at the time, and still think of, is the mistake made when the Government in 1881 declared their intention to go to war with the Boers in order to assert British supremacy in South Africa. Then, after suffering defeat, we climbed down, and we are made to suffer for that to-night. There is no mistake about it that that has been the cause of the trouble in the Transvaal all through. We are told that the Uitlanders have not suffered any serious oppression, and that they have not been knocked down and ill-used; but I have it from many of my friends residing in the Transvaal—and I believe them, despite what my hon. friend the Member for Battersea says—that they have been subjected to all kinds of petty tyranny for years from these Boers. I ask, in common fairness, how long can we tolerate that state of things? We are told that the Jameson raid is responsible for a great deal of this war. I don't believe it. I believe the Boers have been steadily arming for years—and for what object? They have been looking forward eagerly to the time when the South African Republic should haul down the British flag in Cape Colony and Natal. I say I do not believe that the Government have gone to war merely for the purpose of securing equal rights for the Uitlanders in the Transvaal. But, while I am not prepared, and refuse, to vote against the Government on this Amendment, at the same time I cannot approve their action in the conduct of the war. On 800 that point I believe there never has been a Government in power that has so mismanaged a war as this one. We have only to read the newspapers to learn of the complaints made by the troops in regard to the arrangements made for sending them out to South Africa, and the bad food that was supplied them. I say it is a scandal and a disgrace that the Government should lay itself open to the charge of under-feeding and ill-feeding with rotten provisions and inferior stores the men we have sent to uphold the British prestige in South Africa. There is no excuse for it. The voyage was only of some twenty or thirty days, and the authorities should have seen that sufficient stores were placed on board. I think there has been sufficient said on this question, so I do not intend to occupy the time of the House any longer; but I must say that I am sorry to disagree with my hon. friends on this side of the House. I do not believe that they are at all pursuing an intelligent policy, because on the one hand they condemn the Government for going to war, and on the other say that they have not gone far enough, and finally they urge the Government to go on vigorously with a war which they call unjust. That is an irreconcilable position and one which I must dissent from. If I did not believe in the war I would do my best to check its progress as far as I could, not merely within the walls of this House, but upon every platform throughout the country.
§ MR. BOND (Nottingham, E.)
I rise, Sir, practically for the first time to take part in an important debate in this House. And I rise principally to dissociate myself, as representative of a great Midland city—for the majority of whose inhabitants I think I may venture to speak quite fearlessly—from the attitude and the line which has been taken up in regard to this war by certain sections of society and by certain Members of this House, as well as by an influential section of the London press. I for my part am sick and tired of this daily railing and Daily Mail-ing. I think that it is little less than shocking that papers which have been calling on foreign nations to admire the calmness and fortitude which our people have exhibited in face of the 801 reverses which the British arms have sustained should themselves be daily cavilling at our administration and the inefficiency of our military preparations, and in the same breath be complaining of the Opposition for bringing forward this vote of censure. It is a kind of inconsistency which does not commend itself to the minds of reasonable men, and I am certain that in the great provincial centres these views are taken at their right value. I am told on good authority that in Nottingham nothing would be easier or more popular than to arrange for burning in the market place copies of the Daily Mail, the Morning Post, and The Times. Now, Sir, the view expressed in different ways by different speakers is that this is an inevitable war—and that view I share; but when I say it is inevitable, I say it on rather different grounds from those who have preceded me. I will explain what I mean. When this war was begun, or on the eve of the beginning of the war, I noticed a very interesting communication from the correspondent of the Morning Post, who was stationed at that time at Newcastle. He was evidently a young man who had gone out to South Africa for the first time, and he said—If any Englishman is suffering from what is called 'swelled head,' let him come out here, and he will quickly find that not only is an Englishman disliked, but despised.Now, Sir, we are accustomed to being disliked, but not despised; and I say that when a feeling of that kind becomes prevalent throughout the Boer Republic, and when we have the natural feeling of resentment which that attitude produces in the mind of an Englishman—we are not accustomed to that demeanour from those whom we come in contact with as a rule—when we have grievances about the Uitlanders, and suspicion is aroused on both sides by the raid and the consequences of the raid, so that the negotiations we were conducting could not be carried to a successful issue, it was almost inevitable that a conflagration would arise. There was too much loose gunpowder about in South Africa, and whether the explosion occurred yesterday or to-morrow does not, it seems to me, matter very much. Under all the circumstances the collision was inevitable and could not be put off. It was what Lord Bacon would have called "a birth of time," the result of a long series 802 of events, all working and co-operating together to bring about a predestined close. I am, therefore, not much concerned with the question of whether the collision might have been put off for a short time; or whether, if President Kruger had shown himself rather more reasonable and amenable to argument, we might not have been engaged in the present desperate conflict. The belief I hold is that, however that might have been, this desperate conflict could not have been put off long. In that strong belief I put aside the question whether the negotiations the Government indulged in were conducted in the most successful or judicious manner, or whether we have any reason to suppose that if the British case had been put differently the immediate results would have been different. As far as this vote of censure is concerned, all that is of comparatively little moment. Then, with regard to the preparations which the Government ought to have made, if the accusations against them mean anything they mean that when the war broke out we ought to have had more forces in Cape Colony and Natal. Now how could we have observed the rules of the game and followed the ordinary course of conduct which one civilised State observes towards another, if we had put more forces or greater military armaments out there before war broke out? The hon. Baronet the Member for the Berwick Division, in a speech delivered in the early part of the debate, said, with his usual acumen and usual fairness, that whilst negotiations were going on, it would be absolutely impossible for us to appreciably augment the forces at our disposal in South Africa. That, Sir, I take to be absolutely true. We could not while conducting negotiations make an ostentatious display of force, nor could we be surreptitiously drafting forces into South Africa sufficient to make the frontier invulnerable against attack. Well, if that be so, if we were precluded by the position we assumed from bringing into Africa forces commensurate with those which the Boers could bring against us what charge can you bring against the Government at the time hostilities broke out? Who can say with truth that the Government fell short of their duty? When the war did break out, who will say that the Government was taken unprepared? Why, Sir, within as short a 803 time as was humanly possible, the troops were on their way to South Africa. At the present time we have got an army in South Africa which no other European Power could place there in such short space of time and at such a distance from our shores. With regard to the Amendment, we on this side of the House feel that it is a matter of regret that it has been moved. It is not a patriotic Amendment; it is not an Amendment which on further consideration will recommend itself on the ground of party advantage to hon. Members opposite. I hardly know what it is they expect to gain from it. I am perfectly certain that were it carried—a contingency which cannot be contemplated—it would have a most serious effect upon our own country, and upon foreign countries, by evidencing a lamentable difference of opinion with regard to the policy of this war. Whether it be carried or not it can do nothing but harm. As far as I can judge, the only reason for proposing it is to give, for a few brief hours or for a few brief days, a fleeting and spurious semblance of unity to the disorganised battalions of the Opposition. That manœuvre, I feel sure, cannot succeed; it cannot take in the House; it docs not take in the country; and I venture to say that we shall see those who are engineering this device hoist with their own petard.
§ Sir H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
Mr. Speaker, exactly a week ago I had the opportunity of explaining at considerable length, in the debate on the main question of the Address, my general views of the position of affairs in South Africa and the circumstances which have led to it. I spoke then with full knowledge that this Amendment was immediately to follow, and my observations covered the whole ground of the Amendment; therefore I feel myself wholly disinclined, and, in fact, should look upon it as too great a trespass on the patience of the House, to attempt to repeat much that I said on so recent an occasion. Among other things I expressed the view that there was much to condemn in the general conduct of South African affairs by the Government. I claimed for the Opposition the full right of criticism, and I said that this, so far from being an inconvenient time for criticism, was the proper and most effective moment at which criticism could 804 be applied—criticism which would be of little value if it were put off to a convenient season, which might never arrive. I noted that the House received without demur the assertion of that claim, and indeed the contrary doctrine could not be sustained either by precedent or by constitutional usage and theory. Sir, I say that it was not only our right, but our bounden duty to make this motion expressive of our judgment, and to record that judgment by our votes. Surely the Government, and even the most ardent friends of the Government, who are often more sanguine than the Government themselves, could not imagine that Parliament could meet and no motion and debate of this kind occur. After recent events, and allowing as we may for every excuse and explanation which may be offered, the members of the Ministry can hardly pose as conquerors upon whose brows wreaths of laurel should be placed. Their diplomacy has failed. The end and object of diplomacy is to gain your purpose without war. Diplomacy has not gained their purpose, and we are at war. And their military operations can hardly be said to have been successful, because very little head—if, indeed, any head—has been made against the enemy, and these facts themselves invite criticism. But here arises one of the strangest phases of the present situation. For venturing to impugn the conduct of the Government we have been railed at day after day by a portion of the press on the ground of our want of patriotism, while the very newspapers that bring the accusation against us are themselves day by day denouncing the Government, calling for its reconstruction, searching about for a scapegoat, and clamouring for a change—[Ministerial cries of "No, no!"]—a change within itself if you like, but a change of some sort. They found their charge of want of patriotism upon what they represent to be the perilous position of the country. I protest against the exaggerated view of the position of the country which they take up, and which has been reflected in some of the speeches in this debate. "Humiliation" is, I believe, the word that the Prime Minister of Great Britain has used of the position of the country at this moment. Sir, disappointed we may be with the course of the war, humbled in their pride and arrogance those among us 805 may be who went into the war with a light heart, confidently hoping for an easy triumph. But as to national humiliation and national discomfiture, it does not exist. Our difficulties may indeed be great, and a heavy call may be made on the patience and courage of our troops and our people; but the hysterical writers who have of recent years taken possession of a large portion of the press of this country have worked themselves up into a state of panic for which there exists no reason at all. I was glad to hear the composed and sensible tone in which the Colonial Secretary spoke of this matter the other night. Our country is not—although some things have been done and a good many things have been said that might lead to such a conclusion—our country is not at its last gasp. On the contrary, what has been done by this country, what even the much-maligned War Office has done, shows the Stuff of which our Army is made, and the spirit which has been exhibited by the British people both at home and in the colonies has at once astonished and provoked the admiration of the world. When we are told, therefore, that we must be silent in our nation's agony because the Gauls are at the gates of Rome, I answer that the Gauls are not at the gates of Rome. We have 180,000 soldiers in South Africa, courageous, well-equipped men, and there is no reason for either despondency or panic. But on this very account we in the House of Commons are free, as we should not otherwise have been, to state our view of the administration of affairs by the Government, and to express our estimate of the spirit and the lines of policy which we think necessary for the peace and prosperity of our South African dominions—a policy by departing from which we have incurred our present misfortunes and troubles. I should like to pass by in silence, and to treat in the way it deserves, another kind of imputation put upon us because of this motion and the speeches with which we support it—namely, that we are actuated by merely party motives and by a desire to clamber into power, [An HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!] My experience, which is longer, I am afraid, than that of the hon. Member who interrupts, leads me to believe that such taunts usually come from those who are themselves the bitterest party men; but I was 806 amazed to hear this taunt and sneer coming from the right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury bench. Did it not occur to some of them that they were using a weapon which has two edges; that, if there may be sometimes on the one side a selfish desire to obtain office, there may be also on the other side an equally unworthy desire to retain office, which may vitiate the judgment and stifle the conscience of a Minister? I can only say I think little of the cause which needs the support of any such weapon, and still less of the man who stoops to use it. As for us who are supporting this Amendment by our voice and by our votes, I can honestly say that we have no desire or expectation of personal or party advantage from it whatever. There is something that we believe ought to be said in the interest of the Empire, and we desire to say it. We are deeply grieved by the sufferings of our brave countrymen in the field and of those who wait and weep for them at home, and we are moved thereby to the expression of two desires. The first is that every facility should be given to the Government of the Queen for the prosecution of this war. [At this point the right hon. Gentleman was interrupted by loud cheers at the result of the York election from the Ministerial benches.] I was saying, when temporarily interrupted by a cause which I fully appreciate, that the first thing we are led to by the consideration of the sufferings of our brave fellow countrymen is that every facility should be given for the prosecution of the war, in order that it may be terminated as speedily as possible, and that the suffering and hardship may not be prolonged unnecessarily; and the second thing which we are led to by that consideration is that such a policy should be pursued in South Africa as would give the best hope that those sufferings will not have been in vain, and that harmony and peace in South Africa may issue from the struggle. There is only one other observation I would make on the general question of this Amendment. We have heard several speeches, and one of them I listened to with great pleasure from the hon. Baronet the Member for the College Division of Glasgow, that speech being solely devoted to this subject of the uselessness and the unnecessary character of this Amendment and debate. There is one thing which would have entirely stood in the way of a debate such as this. 807 If we had been imposing the slightest delay in the way of the schemes or preparations which the Government had in hand for the purposes of the war, then I can tell the hon. Baronet and the House that so soon as we were informed of that I should have used all my influence to urge a cessation of the debate. But we have been assured by the Under Secretary for War, and the assurance was repeated by the Secretary of State himself in another place, that this was not the case, that they were in no way hindered or embarrassed. It was our expectation that by this debate we should not only have an opportunity of expressing views on the subject which are largely held in the country, but that we should be able to elicit by means of it from the Government some much-required information on important points. I cannot say that this last purpose of the debate has been very successful. This Amendment alleges against the Government a want of knowledge, of foresight, and of judgment. Let me test this allegation with reference to one particular point, and it is a crucial point. I asked the question in the speech I delivered last week, and I repeat it now—Did the Government, or did they not, know of the disparity between the defensive strength of the colonies and the military resources and power of the Boers when they entered into the negotiations which were conducted so vigorously last summer? If they knew of that disparity and realised it, then no words in condemnation of their course of conduct could be too strong. Let the House think for a moment of what have been the results—apart from the want of prudence which such a course would indicate. We see the results in the calamities which have befallen us in Natal, in the beleaguerment of Ladysmith; we see them in the alteration of the plan of campaign and in the deadlock which has occurred in the military operations in other parts of South Africa. But if the Government were informed, and formed a right judgment on the information they received, there were three things which they might have done. They might have held back from their negotiations until they had first taken steps to increase the defensive strength of the Colonies. [Ministerial cries of "Oh!"] There would have been some delay, and the thought of it appears to shock one or two hon. Members on the other side. But can you say that a delay of a few 808 months, or perhaps of a year, in gaining the object to which the negotiations were directed would have had consequences, material, social, or political, to be compared for one moment with the state of things which has arisen in the last few months? I repeat what I have said before, and I repeat it in the face of the statement of the right hon. gentleman, if the Government had come to Parliament asking for assistance for the purpose of fortifying the position of the colonies, Parliament would certainly willingly have provided all that was required. But there was an alternative course. The Government might at an earlier period have protested against the armaments of the Boers. They might have cleared themselves of all participation in, or connexion with, the raid and its authors. They might have given the most ample pledges and guarantees that no such enterprise would again be undertaken; and then, with their hands free, they could have gone to the Transvaal Government and insisted upon the cessation of the passage of arms. Either of these courses would have shown knowledge, judgment, and foresight. But take the third course, which the Government adopted. They instituted and prosecuted their negotiations with those whom they knew to be a touchy, jealous, susceptible, even, if you like, a quarrelsome people, because they had formed the mad expectation—I cannot call it other than mad, and we have never yet ascertained on what authority they formed it—that the Boers would not fight. The House will see that here surely was a question to which a plain answer can be given. Did the Government know, or did they not know, of the disproportion between these two strengths? How do we stand with regard to that question at the end of the debate? The leader in one House tells us that the Government knew everything. The leader in the other House asks querulously, "How on earth could we know?" In order to explain his lack of information, he makes an extraordinary statement—that it is due to the action either of Parliament or of the Treasury in cutting down the Secret Service Vote. Lack of secret service money is alleged by the Prime Minister to be the cause of want of information as to the armaments of the Boers. The House will be interested to know what the amount of the Secret Service Vote is. The amount 809 voted by Parliament for the years 1896, 1897, and 1898 was £90,000. What was the amount expended during that period by the Government at the head of which is this Premier who complains of the deficiency of the vote? It was only £77,948, leaving an actual surplus unexpended of £12,000. We have evidently not got much further in our explanation of this matter. But the one bit of terra firma, the one little bit of solid ground for the sole of our foot which we have obtained, was furnished to us by the Under Secretary of State for War, who in the frankest manner told us what I had all along expected would be the case, that the Intelligence Department was fully acquainted with all the armaments and preparations of the Boers; and he gave us an interesting summary of the items of information possessed by the Department. But the hon. Gentleman failed, as he necessarily must fail because he could have no knowledge of the matter, to carry that information higher, and to tell us whether it had been communicated to and considered by the Cabinet, whose policy it was calculated to influence. Unless, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman gives us further and more definite information, we are not now in a position to say that the Cabinet knew the real strength they were provoking; and we cannot, on the other hand, say that they did not know. But this, at all events, is clear—that if they were ignorant it was because they did not care, or did not take the trouble to know, and plunged with wanton blindness into the formidable conflict in which the country is engaged. On one other point we remain without information. Nothing has been a more cogent fact in influencing the opinions of men in favour of the policy of the Government than the assertion of the existence of a great conspiracy against our power, spreading over the whole of South Africa. We have waited, and we wait still, to hear, I will not say sufficient evidence, but any atom of evidence of the truth of this assertion. I must express my own belief that it is an absolute invention from beginning to end. It is quite intelligible that when the Boers began to accumulate munitions of war, and saw warlike material increasing in their hands, the wilder spirits among them might very well begin to entertain larger ambitions, and dream of finding some suitable oppor- 810 tunity when they could overthrow the British power over them, and relieve themselves of their dependence, however nominal it may have been, on the British Crown. We must hope that wiser heads would have intervened to prevent this becoming an actual outbreak. It is a formidable fact enough in itself, and well calculated, as we may quite believe, to cause considerable alarm and anxiety. But let me point out this—that it falls far short of what is alleged. The desire, even if it took a warlike form—a desire to secure complete independence in matters of that sort—is widely different from the general conspiracy of which we have heard—a conspiracy which, as alleged, was nothing short of—nothing less than—a combination, not only of the Dutch in the Republics, but of the Dutch people in our own colonies, to overthrow the British power in South Africa and sweep the British into the sea. Why, Sir, it would be difficult to imagine a more appalling proceeding than that if there were any solid foundation for it. I say it would be difficult to imagine a greater insult to our loyal fellow subjects among the Dutch. Then why have we not had a word of explanation? I trust some explanation will be forthcoming, because this may have a serious effect. We do not know from what source the information comes outside official sources. It does not come, we are told, from any one in Park Lane, and it does not come from Mr. Rhodes; but wherever it comes from we should like to know who told of this Pan-Hollandic conspiracy. The idea of its existence is contradicted by the highest authorities to whom we are accustomed to look. Sir Alfred Milner in a despatch of June, 1897—what we may call his Jubilee despatch of two years ago—declared that, as far as he was able to judge, these racial differences did not affect any portion of the subjects of Her Majesty; and in a long article in The Times, which came from The Times special correspondent at Cape Town, whom I believe to be Mr. Garrett ["No"]—well, I cannot enter into that, I may be wrong—but the special correspondent of The Times at Cape Town, under the date of December 27th—long after we were told of this gigantic conspiracy, long after the world heard of it—said that from some articles which appeared in the English papers one might think that the whole Dutch population 811 had been elaborately organised for rebellion and a great conspiracy. For this view the correspondent said there was no evidence whatever. There was nothing to implicate the party as a whole or any of its leading members in an organised conspiracy against the Imperial Government. That was the statement of The Times correspondent at Cape Town. Well, Sir, I want to know where this information came from and what is the evidence which has convinced the Government of this conspiracy. I hail with satisfaction some words used by the Colonial Secretary last night with reference to the loyal Dutch. I was not astonished to hear those words as to the loyal Dutch from the Colonial Secretary. On the contrary, I think they were well deserved and well applied; but I am bound to observe that this is the first recognition which these much tested and faithful subjects of the Queen have obtained. It is, so to speak, the first counterpoise to that unfortunate despatch of the High Commissioner which ought never to have been sent. The hon. Gentleman has rebuked me for having spoken of the claims which the loyal Dutch in the colonies have upon our sympathy and consideration, and making no mention of the British who were suffering by their side. I have equal sympathy with our Dutch and British fellow-subjects. ["Oh!" and cheers.] If I have not dwelt, except in a lesser degree, on what our British fellow-subjects are enduring it is for two reasons—first, because they, being looked after by the Government and their officers, do not require the adventitious advocacy of anyone like myself; and, in the second place, because, after all, however much they may have suffered, they have not been subjected to the strain of having their own near relatives amongst those who were fighting against their country, and therefore harassed and torn by conflicting sympathies between relatives on one side and their duty on the other. I cannot but think that these words of the Colonial Secretary may indicate a small ray of light—that they may prove to be the introduction of a wiser spirit into our future dealings with the mixed races in South Africa. I wonder if it has occurred to any hon. Member, as it has to me, that a striking illustration of the close intermixture of the two races is afforded to us by the very names with which within the 812 last few weeks we have become conversant. We read of Glencoe and Dewdrop side by side with Spion Kop and Elandslaagte. Why, the very collocation of the names shows the equal interests and the close connection of the two races. Let me repeat once more the memorable words, which ought to be again and again repeated, and which ought to be written up in front of the table at which the Colonial Secretary—not this Colonial Secretary only, but every Colonial Secretary—sits and discharges his ordinary daily work, the words, "English and Dutch have got to live together at the Cape." That is the key of the whole position. This war must be prosecuted with vigour, and the vigour must not be of the kind which is actuated by despondency, but of the kind which is actuated by confidence and hope. The First Lord of the Treasury made an attempt—not a successful attempt, and I think not altogether a very worthy attempt—to beguile me the other night to say more than I wished to say, and to give my conception of what the military end ought to be. He himself knows of no bounds to his military ardour. He gives us to understand that he will hear of no peace and no settlement until he has had a full glut of conquest. Well, Sir, I agree with my noble friend who moved the Amendment, that such a declaration by the right hon. Gentleman was an unusual declaration, and not a very wise declaration. Provided that our territories are free and our military superiority asserted, what matters it at what time or at what place a settlement is arrived at? What does matter is the nature of the settlement; and, as regards the objects to be kept in view in that settlement they could not be better laid down than they were by my right hon. friend the Member for East Fife to-day, who classed them under four heads. He said that the settlement must be a permanent and not a patched-up settlement. He said, and I agree, that it must effectually guard against any armed invasion or quarrel of this kind. He said it must provide for political equality, and he said, lastly, that it must guard against racial ascendency. I do not know four heads that could better express a wise policy in this matter. But, after all, what can sound diplomacy, what can generous and equitable considerations do, in face of the bitter feelings and memories which will be left behind after this war 813 is over? The Colonial Secretary the other day said he thought that, after this particular war, there would be no bitter memories and no bitter feelings. But a few years ago he spoke of the enmities which a war would excite, and which it would take generations to extinguish. I fear that his earlier forecast was more trustworthy than his later one. The large-hearted British people will be ready to do all that forms, arrangements, and settlements and constitutions can do to bring the mixed races together, but the efficacy of all these must depend upon the spirit in which they are framed and administered. I vote for this Amendment to-night because it condemns the errors and failures in the past which, if renewed after war is over, must inevitably again be fatal to the harmony and good government of South Africa.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
It is the duty that falls to the Leader of the House on these occasions to go through the process of what is called winding up the debate, and winding up the debate is usually supposed to signify a survey of all the arguments, or of the main general line of arguments, which have been adopted by the various Opposition speakers during the course of the debate, and an attempt to concentrate against those arguments the reply of the Government for whom the Minister speaks. If that be the duty of the Minister who has to sum up the debate, I ought frankly to preface the ont very long observations which I intend to address to the House by informing them that it is a duty which I do not mean on this occasion to perform. I do not believe it would be possible within the compass of a reasonable speech to traverse the vast field of discussion deliberately opened to the House by this Amendment; and, if it were possible, I would say that it would be inexpedient. There is nothing connected with South Africa between 1895 and the present time—nay, there is nothing between 1895 and the future settlement of the South African problem just raised by the right hon. Gentleman—which has not been touched on, indeed elaborated, by one speaker or another in the course of the five nights debate in which we have been engaged. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire found even this extended border insufficient for his gigantic activity, and he went back to 1879, 1880, and 1881, and actually asked the House of 814 Commons, called together in the face of an important crisis, and at the time of a great war, to consider the internal polities of the Cabinet of which he was a member in those years.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Yes. It is a peculiarity of the right hon. Gentleman that he always insists upon answering speeches made in the House to which he does not belong, rather than dealing with speeches made in the House of which he is a most distinguished ornament. But even the right hon. Gentleman will admit that for me to attempt, in the first place, to reconcile his version of what happened in 1881 with the versions given by other members of the same Cabinet, and then to travel slowly down the stream of time until I get to 1895, work through all the Blue-books down to the beginning of the war, then deal with the war and all questions raised by the war, and then plunge into the realms of prophecy, like the right hon. Gentleman, would be a task beyond my intellectual powers and the powers of endurance of the House whom I am addressing. But, if I do not propose to touch on these questions even in the most distant way, I may, a fortiori, be forgiven for dealing with a very small personal matter, which I should scorn to allude to if it had not been brought up in every single speech of every single right hon. Gentleman who has spoken from the Front Opposition bench, and also referred to in the debates in another place by these right hon. Gentlemen's colleagues in that House. That is that small, and I think quite unimportant, controversy raised by the speech which I made not very long ago in Manchester. I do not mean to occupy the House with a defence of that speech. Judging from the debate, there are a great many gentlemen opposite who would still learn a great deal as to the war and the circumstances which led up to it if they would peruse what I have said in that speech in an impartial spirit. [A LIBERAL MEMBER: Have you read it yet?] Yes, I have refreshed my memory in regard to it. But in any case, holding these views, the House, I am sure, would feel that it is due to them that I should not spend their time in explanations, and, I will add, it is still more due to myself that I should not spend their time in 815 apologies. I leave those relatively unimportant matters to ask the House, now about to proceed to a division—what is the object of the Amendment, what is the object with which it was moved, what is the object which it is likely to attain? We might have supposed, from the course of the public controversy, which took place before the House met, that there would be an attack, or a very serious criticism, upon one department of the Government at all events—I mean the War Office. There has been no such attack, no such criticism. The noble Lord who moved the Amendment occupied a great deal of his speech in defending the War Office. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down in a few words took the same line; and had there been anybody disposed to make a harsh or unjust criticism of that Department in the early stages of the debate, I am sure that desire would be removed by the most brilliant defence that I have heard in my time of that Department, made by the Under Secretary for War on Thursday last. But, in truth, I think the House and country are beginning to realise that whatever may be said about the conduct of the war—and a great deal may be properly said about it—the fact remains that the War Office is not open to the charge which there is always the danger that the War Office would be open to after a long period of peace. The danger which our military machinery runs, after long periods of peace, is that the War Minister who is responsible for the conduct of the department may come down year after year and tell the House of Commons, and tell the country, that the War Office can do this and can do that, can put so many men and so many guns in the field, and then, when the day of trial comes, when the country is placed in the position which France was placed in just before the Franco-German war, or which this country was placed in just before the Crimean war, it may be found that this military machine, so successfully defended session after session in Committee of Supply, and in general debate, may, after all, be found utterly incapable of carrying out the functions which it professed to be able to carry out. Whatever charges may be made against the conduct of this war, that question will have, to be thoroughly examined. It cannot be said that professions have been made by the War Office during the last five years which the War Office, when the 816 time of trial came, were found incapable of fulfilling. That, in my judgment, is great praise. I admit it is asking no more of the War Office than the War Office was bound to do. But it did it; it did it in overwhelming measure; it did it, and it did much more than it ever promised to do—it is now doing much more than it ever promised to do, and it is doing it, broadly speaking, without a hitch, without difficulty, and without friction. Let us give praise where praise is due. The doctrine of responsibility was insisted upon by the right hon. Gentleman. I admit that we who sit on this bench, who had nothing to do directly with the administration of the War Office, are yet responsible for its failure and responsible for its success. But, after all, I think the House will admit that, speaking at this moment, I stand sufficiently outside the details of that administration to be able, without egotism, to praise it; and, when I say it has carried out those duties, it is not with any intention of asking praise for the Government as a whole, but it is for the purpose of giving praise where praise really is due—namely, to those responsible for War Office organisation. Well, Sir, I leave that; no serious criticism has yet been made, though I daresay it will be made, of the War Office, and it would be unpardonable of me to spend more time on a subject which has apparently fallen outside the scope of this Amendment. Then, Sir, if this Amendment was not an attack upon the War Office, on whom was it an attack? [An HON. MEMBER: The Government.] It was an attack on the Government? That I am coming to directly. I have listened to the speeches night after night, and gradually the conclusion has been impressed on my mind that this was not an attack upon the Government, except in form, but that in substance, in truth, and in reality, it was an attack on my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies. It was not the conduct of the war, it was not the foresight or prevision of the Government that really interested hon. Gentlemen opposite. No; whenever a speech flagged or an orator felt he was not holding the attention of his friends, he had only to make an attack on my right hon. friend and immediately from a small but vocal part of the House a hearty response was obtained. I think my right hon. friend may well ignore these persistent and reiterated attacks. He may remember, and we may remem- 817 ber, that it is during his term of office as Colonial Secretary that the British Empire as a whole has first shown its full and corporate consciousness of what it is and what its destinies are. I admit that be alone is not responsible for that being done. Others have worked in that fertile vineyard, other architects have contributed to build that stately edifice; but my right hon. friend may surely justly boast—[AN HON. MEMBER: He will boast.]—that it was during his term of office, and in no small degree through his great administrative abilities, that that dramatic moment occurred for the first time in our history—[An HON. MEMBER: Magersfontein.]—when every British colony joined with the mother country to carry out a great Imperial campaign. When all these petty and contemptible charges against the Government are buried in the oblivion they so well deserve, his name will be for ever associated with that great moment in our history. [Mr. W. REDMOND: "Great slaughter."] I fully recognise that some more worthy purpose was intended by the Amendment than any mere attack on an individual or set of individuals. What was that purpose? I listened with astonishment to the version given of the Amendment by its authors. They have told us, over and over again, that an Amendment is an occasion for criticism. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite know that our proceedings offer ample opportunity for criticism at this stage, at all events, of the session, without moving any Amendment of this kind. We could have heard the eloquent speeches of the right hon. Members for East Fife and West Monmouthshire, or that of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, without any Amendment at all on the Queen's Speech, which affords occasion for criticism not intended to be followed by a vote of censure. That was the natural and obvious course. It has not been adopted; but instead of that there has been adopted a course which makes this motion not only an ordinary vote of censure, which an ordinary Amendment to the Address in reply to the Queen's Speech is, but a motion brought forward with all the pomp and trappings and importance which can be given to it by the fact that it is moved on the Queen's Speech by a member of the Front Opposition bench. Why was that done? And are we responsible for the importation of party politics into the debate? The right hon. Member for 818 the Forest of Dean reproached me the other night because some remarks of mine had been in a party and controversial spirit.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I was not aware that it was as limited as that. But I grant that I did make remarks comparing the late Government with the present in their capacity for dealing with military organisation and administration. How could I help it? This motion is to substitute gentlemen opposite for us. If this motion means anything it means that A is to be put out of office and B put in, and in order to know whether the motion is to be carried you ought to know whether A or B is the more qualified to carry on the work of the country. But the right hon. Gentleman opposite wept further. He started the doctrine of Ministerial responsibility—to which none of us object. We do not repudiate any responsibility that can be thrown upon us. We are responsible for all that has occurred at home and abroad. But, after all, is not this a rather barren doctrine, when the problem before us is who is to carry on the government of the country? If your object is to judge the Government, not according to any abstract doctrine of responsibility, but according to the doctrines which ought to regulate the conduct of each of us in our private life, you will consider what the Government knew and what they ought to have known at each successive stage of these negotiations or military transactions; you will put yourselves, by an effort of historical imagination, into the place of the Government you condemn. If you come to the conclusion that the Government, knowing what they did, took the wrong course, or that they ought to have known, and had the means of knowing, what they did not know, you will justly condemn them. But to judge by what happened in the field in November, December, or January is to apply principles to the selection of a Government which you would not apply to the selection of an errand boy. But Sir, I do not wish to defend the Government. I do not think the time has come to do it. I wish really to ask what is the course which each member of the House ought in conscience to adopt with regard to the division in which he is to take part. The Opposition, as far as I 819 can make out, are divided in this matter of the war into three quite separate camps. There are those who think the war is unjust and inexpedient, and therefore ought no longer to be prosecuted, and that peace should be as hastily as possible patched up. That is one section of opinion, and I know what gentlemen mean who say that; I think I can gauge their motives; at all events, I think I understand their policy. A second division into which I will venture to divide the Opposition is, those who regard the war as unjust and the diplomacy that led to it as extremely blundering, and who, nevertheless, think that the war should be prosecuted. I have great difficulty in understanding that point of view, and I fear those who take it are so little clear in their own minds on this topic that no argument I can use is likely to have much effect upon them. But there is a third class among the ranks of the Opposition who think, as we think, that the war is just, who think, as we think, that it should be prosecuted, but who, nevertheless, intend to vote for this Amendment, Now, I confess I am utterly unable to understand how hon. and right hon. Gentlemen can by any conceivable process of logic make their opinion harmonise with the course they are going to pursue. Let me assure them I do not attack their motives. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, the right hon. Member for East Fife, and the hon. Member for Leith Burghs, who spoke earlier in the evening, seem to think that we accuse them of some sinister transaction, some curious design by which they may obtain a party advantage which it is difficult to understand. I honestly avow I do not believe they are animated by any motive other than the public good. We profess no monopoly of patriotism and public spirit, and, as we ask the House to believe that we are not moved by party motives; so I am ready to give these gentlemen the greatest credit for being animated by principles of action not less elevated than those which we claim for ourselves. But is it a wise and, in result, a patriotic course they mean, to pursue? Whit is it at this moment that the country has to fear? What is it at this moment that the House of Commons can do for the country? What the country has to fear is that foreign nations and Transvaal politicians may think that in our division is to be found their opportunity, and that that which they 820 cannot expect from the fortune of war they may expect from party divisions and the party system of this country. I do not imagine for a moment that there is any Boer leader of importance who supposes that if the duel between the two nations is indefinitely prolonged success in the long run can rest with them. What is it that they look forward to?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
They have their hopes in the first place in the possibility of some foreign complication embarrassing to this country, and, in the second place, that this country, distracted by internal dissension and wearied by the cost and sacrifices of a long war, may agree to a dishonourable and insecure peace. Now, it seems to me, that is an answer to my first question. My second question was, what can the House of Commons do to help our arms under these circumstances? The House of Commons cannot do much, but this it can do. It can show that behind our soldiers in the field there is a united and undivided country. There have been many speeches from that side of the House with almost every word of which I am in complete agreement—I am in complete agreement, for instance, with the speech of great ability of the hon. and learned Member for South Shields, the speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for the Berwick Division—though a good deal of that speech was occupied in abuse of myself—and, in the main outline, with the speeches from the two Members for Fife, and other speeches which will be in the recollection of the House. Those speeches were so good that on an ordinary occasion I would gladly say, "Give me your speech and vote as you like"; but I cannot say so on an occasion like this, because, after all, these speeches will not penetrate beyond that comparatively narrow circle who take interest in the details of our Parliamentary life, but the record of votes will go forth far and wide, and these votes will be held as indicating the policy of those who give them towards the war. Be it as you like, no subtlety of argument can get over the fact that a Parliamentary victory which would destroy this Government would destroy the policy of which those right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen have made themselves such brilliant and courageous advocates in this House. If they say, as I daresay they do say, "We are ready to vote because we 821 know that our votes will not turn out the Government," that is something very like—as I think my hon. and gallant friend said earlier in the evening—a Parliamentary fraud, if I may use that word with no unkind significance towards any individual. Every man in this House when he gives a vote ought to wish that that vote should lead to the conclusion to which it points; and I cannot believe that those who have spoken in the sense which I have indicated would regard otherwise than with absolute horror a victory for themselves in the lobby into which I understand they are about to go. Well, I do not think that is sound Parliamentary morality or sound Parliamentary tactics, but I dare say many of us have in our time given votes which we should be very sorry to see called into action, and I do not wish to play the moralist on this occasion or to preach any impossible standard of Parliamentary action. I would appeal more directly to the patriotism of these gentlemen; I would venture to point out to them that even if they do not defeat the Government—and I do not affect to suppose that they will—every abstraction from the Government lobby of the votes of men who agree with the Government in the main policy is really a weakening of the forces of their country in the field. Every such vote tends, and must tend, to prolong this contest. Can they contemplate with equanimity that their very first action in the session of Parliament meeting in the circumstances in which we meet should be to weaken a Government whose hands they profess to desire to strengthen, whose hands I believe they genuinely desire to strengthen, in every succeeding operation connected with this war? Can they contemplate with equanimity the reflection that possibly their vote may lengthen the war, and, by lengthening the war, may increase that tragic list of losses by the war which we already have to contemplate? If, in giving their vote, they add one fraction to the chances of a European complication, one fraction to the chances that an unnecessary life may be lost or a family thrown into mourning who in different circumstances might have looked back without regret on this war, can they easily, reconcile that with their duty to their own principles and to that country of which they are, I believe, as devoted servants as we are upon this side of the House? Well, I think not. I think it is a violation of every Parliamentary tradi- 822 tion that men who desire to keep a Government in office should vote for an Amendment which, if carried, would turn out that Government, and that it is contrary to every patriotic instinct to vote even in a minority against the Government when the size of that minority may affect the whole course of European policy, the whole course of the South African war. I have stated the problem as it presents itself to my mind; I know them to be men of conscience and men of honour, and I must leave it to them to decide the problem, each man as his own conscience and honour dictate. But to the House at large I can only make one appeal in conclusion; it is that we who are the representatives of the country may rise to the height reached by those whom we represent. I ask no more, and I can ask no more of this House than that they should imitate—for they cannot exceed—the courage, the steadfastness, the resolution, the firmness under adversity, the calmness of temper with which our countrymen all over the world have dealt with the difficult situation in which we find ourselves. If the House of Commons, as I doubt not they will, imitate the conduct of those who have sent them here, then, Sir, who can doubt that the clouds by which we are at present surrounded will in a short time be dissipated, and that the Empire will issue from the struggle in which it is now engaged stronger not only in its own consciousness of strength but in the eyes of the civilised world?
§ Mr. HARWOOD (Bolton)
I rise to make an appeal to the noble Lord who moved this Amendment to save the House from a division. I make this plea—with great trepidation and hesitation—only because I feel that such a course is most in harmony with the true dignity of the House of Commons. It is not that I fear a party defeat—I am too used to them—but I would appeal to hon. Members in this crisis of our history to rise above trumpery party considerations, and follow a course most consistent with the traditions and glory of the House of Commons. It is not that I condemn this Amendment in itself. I think most Members of the House would agree with it as an abstract proposition. I think it is true that there never was a war since the Norman Conquest in which the Government did not show some want of foresight and judgment and some lack of 823 preparation. Nor do I disagree with our having had this discussion. But I would plead with the noble Lord and his friends that at a time like this we should think of something higher than ordinary party considerations. I plead on two grounds. In the first place, in a crisis of this kind there are only two courses open to us; we ought either to knock down the Government or back it up; we have no hope or desire of being able to knock down the Government, therefore I say it is our duty to back it up. In the second place, I plead with the House to consider the effect of this motion, not in this House itself, nor in England where we understand these matters, but throughout the world. I am quite sure that not only will foreigners misjudge us but that the Boers will misjudge us also. We have all read of the glory of Parliment, and I hope the House of Commons will now rise to the greatness of that glory and show that at a time like this they are able to present a united front to the world.
§ MR. C. E. SHAW (Stafford)
I rise to second the appeal which has just been made to the noble Lord to withdraw his Amendment even at this late hour. It places many of us on this side of the House in a very invidious position, and no Members could be placed in a more invidious position than the fifteen who had the courage of their convictions and voted with the Government in October last. I had hoped against hope, day after day, that this Amendment would be withdrawn, and even up to ten o'clock this evening there was a strong movement on this side of the House to have it withdrawn. The Amendment is divided into two parts. With regard to the first part,
§ which distinctly states that the war is unjust and unnecessary, all I can say is that my vote in October last has cleared me of that charge. I believe this war is just and necessary. With regard to the second part I am very largely in agreement with it. I think that the Government have not gone far enough, and I stated in June last and again in September that they ought to safeguard the position by pouring troops into South Africa. The speeches of the hon. Member for Dover and the Colonial Secretary will enable me to support the Government to-night. The country has been asking for a lead in this matter; they have been asking for something strong from the front bench, and I venture to say that in those two speeches they have got a very definite lead. I may be asked why, if I cannot vote for the Amendment, I do not abstain. I am not sent to this House to abstain. I certainly should not feel myself at rest if I found myself in the same lobby as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose or the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dumfries. I am sorry to part company with the hon. Baronet the Member for the Berwick Division and those who think with him, but I think my action is more consistent. I for one am not deaf to the appeal made by the Leader of the House; I want this House to present a united front to the world, and I have never given a vote in this House with greater pleasure and with greater determination than the vote I shall give in support of the Government to-night.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 139; Noes, 352. (Division List No. 3.)827
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Caldwell, James||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow)||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. H. Henry||Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Causton, Richard Knight||Gold, Charles|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Channing, Francis Allston||Gourley, Sir E. Temperley|
|Baker, Sir John||Clark, Dr. G.B. (Caithness-sh.)||Grey, Sir Edw. (Berwick)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Colville John||Gurdon, Sir William Brampton|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Dalziel, James Henry||Haldane, Richard Burdon|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm.|
|Billson, Alfred||Dewar, Arthur||Harwood, George|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Edwards, Owen Morgan||Hazell, Walter|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Ellis, John Edward||Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Emmott, Alfred||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan||Horniman, Frederick John|
|Burns, John||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.|
|Burt, Thomas||Fenwick, Charles||Hutton, A. E. (Morley)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez E.|
|Joicey, Sir James||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.||Stuart, Jas. (Shoreditch)|
|Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Pease, Alfred E. (Cleveland)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Pease, Joseph A. (Northmb.)||Thomas, A. (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt. Hn. Sir U.||Pease, Sir Joseph W. (Durham)||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Perks, Robert William||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Kitson, Sir James||Philipps, John Wynford||Ure, Alexander|
|Labouchere, Henry||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Wallace, Robert|
|Langley, Batty||Price, Robert John||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'l'nd||Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.)||Walton, J. (Barnsley)|
|Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||Randell, David||Warner, T. Courtenay T.|
|Leng, Sir John||Reckitt, Harold James||Wason, Eugene|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Reid, Sir Robert Threshie||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Lloyd-George, David||Rickett, J. Compton||Weir, James Galloway|
|Lough, Thomas||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Whiteley, Geo. (Stockport)|
|Lyell, Sir Leonard||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|M'Crae, George||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||Williams, J. Carvell (Notts)|
|M'Ewan, William||Robson, William Snowdon||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|M'Kenna, Reginald||Runciman, Walter||Wilson, Fredk. W. (Norfolk)|
|M'Leod, John||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wilson, H. J. (Yorks, W.R.)|
|Maddison, Fred.||Schwann, Charles E.||Wilson, J. (Durham, Mid.)|
|Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Montagu, Sir. S. (Whitechapel)||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)||Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Hudd'rsfld)|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)||Woods, Samuel|
|Morley, Charles (Breconshire)||Smith, Samuel (Flint)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Morley, Rt. Hon. John (Montrose||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Souttar, Robinson||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Herbert Gladstone and Mr. McArthur.|
|Nussey, Thomas Willans||Spicer, Albert|
|Oldroyd, Mark||Steadman, William Charles|
|Palmer, George Wm. (Reading)||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Butcher, John George||Doughty, George|
|Aird, John||Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry E.||Carlile, William Walter||Douglas-Pennant, Hon. E. S.|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Carson, Rt. Hon. Edward||Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Drage, Geoffrey|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbysh.)||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.|
|Arnold, Alfred||Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton|
|Arrol, Sir William||Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Fardell, Sir T. George|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.|
|Baillie, James E. B. (Inverness)||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Charrington, Spencer||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Chelsea, Viscount||Finch, George H.|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Clarke, Sir Edward (Plymouth)||Firbank, Joseph Thomas|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Clough, Walter Owen||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Banes, Major George Edward||Coddington, Sir William||Fison, Frederick William|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Fitz Wygram, General Sir F.|
|Barry, Rt. Hn. A. H. Smith- (Hunts||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Flannery, Sir Fortescue|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Colomb, Sir John Chs. Ready||Fletcher, Sir Henry|
|Bartley, George. C. T.||Colston, Charles E. H. Athole||Flower, Ernest|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Cook, F. Lucas (Lambeth)||Folkestone, Viscount|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol||Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford)||Forster, Henry William|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. W. W. B. (Hants.||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithfull||Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D.||Fry, Lewis|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Galloway, William Johnson|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Garfit, William|
|Biddulph, Michael||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Gedge, Sydney|
|Bigwood, James||Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton)||Gibbons, J. Lloyd|
|Bill, Charles||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of Lon)|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Currie, Sir Donald||Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Curzon, Viscount||Giles, Charles Tyrrell|
|Bolitho, Thomas Bedford||Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Gilliat, John Saunders|
|Bond, Edward||Dalkeith, Earl of||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.|
|Bonsor, Henry Cosmo Orme||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Goldsworthy, Major-General|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Davies, Sir H. D. Chatham)||Gordon, Hon. J. Edward|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex)||Denny, Colonel||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn||Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St. Geo's|
|Brassey, Albert||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield||Graham, Henry Robert|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)|
|Brown, Alexander H.||Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Donkin, Richard Sim||Greene, Hy. D. (Shrewsbury)|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Dorington, Sir John Edward||Gretton, John|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Russell, Gen. F. S. (Cheltenham)|
|Gull, Sir Cameron||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Gunter, Colonel||Macdona, John Cumming||Rutherford, John|
|Guthrie, Walter Murray||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Maclure, Sir J. William||Samuel, H. S. (Limehouse)|
|Halsey, Thomas Frederick||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. T. Myles|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord Geo.||M'Calmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh, W.)||Saunderson, Rt. Hon. Col. E.|
|Hanson, Sir Reginald||M'Killop, James||Savory, Sir Joseph|
|Hardy, Laurence||Malcolm, Ian||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Manners, Lord Edward W. J.||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Haslett, Sir James Horner||Maple, Sir John Blundell||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Heath, James||Marks, Henry Hananel||Sharpe, Wm. Edward T.|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Helder, Augustus||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Henderson, Alexander||Maxwell, Rt. Hon. Sir H. E.||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter||Mellor, Col. (Lancashire)||Sidebottom, T. H. (Stalybr.)|
|Hickman, Sir Alfred||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbysh.)|
|Hill, Rt, Hn. A. Staveley (Staffs)||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Hill, Sir E. Stock (Bristol)||Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead)||Milbank, Sir Powlett C. J.||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Hobhouse, Henry||Milward, Colonel Victor||Smith, J. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Hornby, Sir William Henry||Monckton, Edward Philip||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Monk, Charles James||Spencer, Ernest|
|Houston, R. P.||Montagu, Hon. J. S. (Hants.)||Stanley, Edw. J. (Somerset)|
|Howard, Joseph||Moon, Edw. Robert Pacy||Stanley, Sir Henry M. (Lambeth|
|Howell, William Tudor||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Stephens, Henry Charles|
|Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle||More, Rt. J. (Shropshire)||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
|Hozier, Hon. J. Henry C.||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Morrell, George Herbert||Stock, James Henry|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Morrison, Walter||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Hughes, Colonel Edwin||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Strauss, Arthur|
|Hutchinson, Capt. G. W. Grice-||Mount, William George||Strutt, Hon. C. Hedley|
|Hutton, J. (Yorks., N.R.)||Muntz, Philip A.||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Jackson, Rt. Hn. W. Lawies||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)||Sutherland, Sir Thomas|
|Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Ox. Univ.|
|Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Jenkins, Sir J. Jones||Myers, William Henry||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Newdigate, Fras. Alexander||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Johnston, Wm. (Belfast)||Nicholson, William Graham||Tomlinson, Wm. E. Murray|
|Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|O'Neill, Hon. R. Torrens||Usborne, Thomas|
|Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Verney, Hon. Richard Greville|
|Kenyon, James||Vincent, Colonel Sir C. E. H.|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Parkes, Ebenezer||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Keswick, William||Pease, H. Pike (Darlington)||Ward, Hon. Robert A. (Crewe)|
|Kimber, Henry||Penn, John||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Knowles, Lees||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Webster, Sir R. E. (L of Wight)|
|Lafone, Alfred||Pierpoint, Robert||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Laurie, Lieut.-General||Pilkington, R. (Lanc. Newton)||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon|
|Lawrence, Sir E. Durning- (Corn||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)||Plunkett, Rt. Hon. H. Curzon||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.|
|Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks.)||Pollock, Harry Fredk.||Whitmore, C. Algernon|
|Lea, Sir T. (Londonderry)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Lecky, Rt. Hon. Wm. E. H.||Pretyman, Ernest George||Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)|
|Lees, Sir E. (Birkenhead)||Pryce-Jones. Lt.-Col. Edw.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Leigh-Bennett, H. Currie||Purvis, Robert||Willox, Sir J. Archibald|
|Leighton, Stanley||Pym, C. Guy||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Llewellyn, Sir Dillwyn- (Swans.||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)|
|Llewellyn, Evan H. (Somerset)||Rankin, Sir James||Wilson Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Loder, Gerald W. Erskine||Renshaw, Charles Bine||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Rentoul, J. Alexander||Wylie, Alexander|
|Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool||Richards, Henry Charles||Wyndham, George|
|Lopes, H. Yarde Buller||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Lorne, Marquess of||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Lowe, Francis William||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Lowles, John||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Lowther, Rt. Hon. James (Kent)||Robinson, Brooke||Younger, William|
|Lowther, Rt. Hn. J. W. (Cumb'land||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Lucas-Shadwell, William||Round, James|
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ Debate arising.
§ Debate further adjourned till to-morrow.828
§ Adjourned at twenty minutes after Twelve of the clock.