HC Deb 15 June 1900 vol 84 cc211-48

9. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £255,384, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1901, for the Expenses of Her Majesty's Embassies and Missions Abroad, and of the Consular Establishments Abroad and other Expenditure chargeable on the Consular Vote."

EARL PERCY (Kensington, S.)

I have put down a motion for the reduction of this Vote, not so much with a view to pressing it to a division as in the hope of being able to elicit some assurance from Her Majesty's Government with reference to a subject which I confess I view with great anxiety—namely, the reduction of our Consular establishments in the internal provinces of Asiatic Turkey. On the 22nd March last I put a question to the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs with regard to the Vice-Consulate at Bitlis, and the reply I received was this— The British Vice-Consulate at Bitlis has not been abolished. The post is at present vacant, but is visited as occasion arises by Her Majesty's Consul at Van, and, if events should occur in Armenia rendering an appointment desirable, Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople has authority to take the necessary steps."* * See The Parliamentary Debates [Fourth Series], Vol. lxxxi., page 42. That reply only served to increase my anxiety, because it seems to show that Her Majesty's Government have in contemplation the reduction of the number of our Consulates in the interior of Asiatic Turkey. I do not ask for any declaration from Her Majesty's Government as to their general policy with regard to Turkey; but I think when we are asked to vote this large sum of money for consular and diplomatic services we have a right to ask for some explanation of what appears to be a grave departure in policy, involving, as I think, consequences of a serious and even disastrous character. Before I proceed to details I should like to place the general facts before the Committee. I think it is hardly realised that at the present moment we have no British consular representatives permanently residing in any one of the internal provinces of Turkey between Konia, Sivas, and Aleppo on the west and Van on the Persian frontier. That is to say, except in Trebizond and Erzerum on the north, we have absolutely no means of acquiring first hand information as to what is going on in any one of the great towns which were the principal scenes of the serious disturbances five years ago. That is not a situation which we can regard with equanimity. I do not want to revive unpleasant memories. Whatever view we may hold as to the culpability of Turkey for past events, I am quite certain that the Turkish Government is sincerely anxious to prevent similar occurrences in the future, and that so far as its power extends in the interior it will take steps to do so. But that does not justify us in withdrawing any guarantee we now possess. We have undertaken a very serious responsibility under the Berlin Treaty to help Turkey to render easier the conditions of life of the subject population of Asia Minor, The least we can do in fulfilment of such a responsibility is not to grudge the expenditure of a few hundreds of pounds in maintaining our representatives in the country, who can do much to avert breaches of law and order. I feel that we are bound not to withdraw any safeguards which we at present possess to help the Turkish Government to render happier and more tolerable the lives of the subject population in Asiatic Turkey. I think, therefore, we should do nothing to lessen the number of those Consuls through whom we can at present bring influence to bear. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman may say that these Consuls in the interior have very little power indeed, and that their whole time is generally occupied in tendering advice to the provincial governments which is never taken, and in writing reports which are pigeon-holed in the Embassy at Constantinople. That is not the view entertained by anyone who knows the country. I believe from my own experience that there have been instances in which the mere presence of these men has prevented acts of tyranny and injustice by individual governors and acts of folly by revolutionaries and others which might lead to fresh outbreaks of popular fanaticism and another series of disastrous consequences. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not use the argument that the presence of these Consuls is not justified by the amount of British trade in these provinces. The amount of British trade in the interior has never been very great, and it is perfectly notorious that, but for political reasons, we would not have placed any Consuls there at all. I said that we have no consular representatives in any of the central provinces of Asiatic Turkey. It is true that we have an arrangement at the present moment by which the British representative at Diarbekr spends six months of the year in that town, and the other six in Kharput. I do not wish for a moment to throw any doubt on the capacity and ability of those who have undertaken the dual duty, but I am quite sure it is practically impossible for anyone to keep himself in touch with what is going on in the combined provinces of Mamoureted, Aziz and Diarbekr. This argument applies with tenfold force to the case of Bitlis. The right hon. Gentleman, in his reply to me, stated that the British Consul at Van had instructions to go over to Bitlis whenever circumstances arose which made his presence desirable. I should have thought that a mere glance at the map would have shown the inadequacy of that arrangement. The Consul at Van not only has an enormous amount of work to do in the town itself, but he has to make extended tours in the mountains of the Nestorian district south of Van, and also on the Persian frontier, where inroads by Armenian revolutionists and Kurdish raids are a perpetual menace to the peace of the vilayet. Even if he does go across once or twice a year to Bitlis he is only on the fringe of the vilayet which extends to the borders of Kharput, and includes the most poverty - stricken district of Mush. These are the points to which I wish to direct the attention of Her Majesty's Government. The assertion that we can always intervene if occasion arises seems to mo to be perfectly useless. Past history shows that intervention after the occasion is generally nugatory, and that in 1894–5 almost every case in which disturbance arose and where the population got out of hand, was in towns where we had no British representative on the spot. I think one of the greatest blunders, to call it by its mildest term, ever made by a Government was made by the Government in 1882 when they withdrew our Consuls. Surely Her Majesty's Government having that warning before them will not commit a similar blunder. There are a great many circumstances in the Near East which give rise to considerable anxiety. We have been told that Russia has obtained from Turkey the power to veto the construction of all railways in the northern provinces, and to prevent Turkey—because Turkey cannot build railways herself— from using the only possible means of developing the country and increasing the happiness of the population. I confess I cannot understand how any Government which has undertaken in diplomatic phraseology to superintend the introduction of reforms which I suppose are not limited to reforms of the constitutional machinery of Government, but which extend also to the material improvement of the country, can acquiesce in that claim of Russia. However, that is a question of high policy which I will not enter into now. We have taken it upon ourselves to help these people, not merely Armenians or Christians, but the whole of the poor population of the interior, and I do think that the very least we can ask for is that we shall not deprive ourselves of one of the means ready to our hand, by which we can make our influence felt, particularly as there are a good many circumstances which are giving rise to a considerable amount of anxiety.


I should like to support the remarks of my noble friend. It does seem to me an enormous mistake to withdraw from the whole of Asia Minor the sources of information which Her Majesty's Government have. It cannot be forgotten that England is under special responsibility with regard to Asia Minor. We have undertaken to defend Asia Minor against Russian attack in case any further attempt were made on it. That is a very serious responsibility, and in order to keep ourselves in a position to fulfil that responsibility, it does seem to me essential that we should retain the Consuls we have there. These Consuls have been regarded as the local advisers of the governors of these provinces, who go to them for advice and assistance, and what we see now is the wholesale withdrawal of those sources of information. Undoubtedly this withdrawal is very much more serious when we consider the circumstances to which the noble Lord has alluded, and which are a matter of notoriety, and the events which have quite recently occurred. It is hardly too much to say that the whole of Asia Minor is now divided between Germany and Russia into two spheres of influence, Germany claiming the whole of the south, and Russia the whole of the north. That is a very serious matter. We know how these spheres of influence begin, and we have sometimes seen how they end. First of all, a sphere of influence is supposed to be nothing more than the exclusive right to construct railways, and then the people who come to look after the railways sometimes take the form of troops. Are the Government prepared to tear up the treaty we made with Turkey, under which we have assumed responsibility for the safety of Asia Minor? I do not know, but there are people who think we have a very serious future before us. I believe there are persons in high authority who believe that we may be at war with Russia, and not only with Russia alone, but perhaps with Russia and Germany combined. What is quite certain is that we cannot make an effective war against Russia unless we have access to the Black Sea, and if we are to give over Asia Minor to Germany and Russia we may find ourselves in such a position that even the Sultan himself cannot give permission to our fleet to pass through the Dardanelles. If there is one place in the whole world where we have undoubtedly done good—and considerable good—to the people and the governors of the country, that place is Asia Minor. I therefore, with my noble friend, very much regret the continuance of the policy of withdrawing these Consuls. I would especially direct the attention of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the very threatening aspect of affairs which seems to be developing in Asia Minor, which is being divided as it were between Russia and Germany. I hope my right hon. friend will be able to tell us that the statements in the press are either exaggerated or altogether unfounded. I hope, also, he will tell us that the Government do not intend to go on with this policy of withdrawing British Consuls from Asia Minor.

*SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)

I assume the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs does not wish to reply before we pass to other matters connected with this Vote. With regard to Item M, the question of the arrangement made with Abyssinia is one with reference to which I think we have been left very much in the dark. We are aware from other sources of the general nature of the arrangement come to a long time ago between the Government and Abyssinia. I cannot help thinking that the time has come when the publication of the arrangement which has been come to as to the boundary between Abyssinia and the Soudan would be wise. The reduction of which notice has been given by myself and others concerns a point we have discussed before, but which we are obliged to go on discussing, because the Government will not clear their own minds on the subject. I refer to the question of slavery in Zanzibar, and I propose to move a reduction of the salary of Sir Arthur Hardinge in respect to the position in Zanzibar. I wish to move this reduction without making any sort of personal attack on Sir Arthur Hardinge. I have, in common with all members of the Committee who have watched his public services, the highest respect and regard for Sir Arthur Hardinge, who is one of the best men in our service. But we think him out of place in this one particular station, not because of any defect or inability, but because of the particular and very special views which he holds—views different from the views of the vast majority of hon. Members—on the question of slavery. I do not think that that will be denied by anyone who has had the advantage of studying this question, and especially Sir Arthur Hardinge's replies to the Government. It cannot be denied that Sir Arthur Hardinge does hold these peculiar views. Indeed, on the two occasions in which he came into conflict with the Foreign Office and Lord Salisbury he maintained them with great ability. It is said that a promise as to slavery was given at the time we took over the administration of Zanzibar. Lord Kimberley was responsible for the conditions on which the administration was taken over, and he has altogether rejected the; view that any such promise was given as the present Government think was given as regards slavery. Sir Arthur Hardinge's was the official speech, and there was not a word in it of which anyone could complain. The so-called promise under which we were supposed to be more tender towards slavery in Zanzibar than elsewhere was contained in a speech not of Sir Arthur Hardinge, but of Sir Lloyd Matthews, in command of the forces of Zanzibar. He is a man who is deeply imbued with the Zanzibar feeling, but I cannot help remembering that even in that speech of Sir Lloyd Matthews the word "slavery" was not used. The phrase relied upon was that in which he alluded to the intention of the British Government that the faith of Islam and all the ancient customs of the country would be maintained there. Now, Lord Kimberley, who gave the instructions on which that speech was made, denied that there was any light to commit this country to upholding slavery, and for a long time this so-called promise was not alleged as a defence of the recognition of slavery. Other reasons were given for not acting; by Sir Arthur Hardinge we were told that the country was disturbed. The First Lord of the Treasury had made a promise to this House that as soon as practicable the same steps would be taken in regard to the abolition of slavery in East Africa as had been taken in other parts of the British dominions. These promises to maintain old customs have often been made in regard to India, but they have never been held to mean that the laws of England with regard to slavery would not apply. There have been cases where direct promises have been made in regard to slavery. In Canada we promised the French that the institution of slavery would be main- tained; but, of course, that promise was not acted upon. The case of the Soudan is very closely analogous to that of British India. In a series of speeches by Lord Kitchener he used language very similar to that, in regard to ancient laws and customs, employed by Sir Lloyd Matthews and Sir Arthur Hardinge. But slavery has been abolished in the Soudan, and what we want is that similar action should be taken in East Africa in regard to slavery as has been taken in the Soudan. I can say for those who are interested in this question that if the British Government would at once do in British East Africa what was done in. India in 1843 we should, for the time, be satisfied. The abolition of the legal recognition of slavery which took place in India in 1843 is in advance of anything which the Government have been able to do up to the present time in East Africa. I repeat we do Sir Arthur Hardinge no injustice when we maintain that the arguments he has carried on with the Foreign Office point to a gradual alteration of slavery into a system of apprenticeship, which is, however, only slavery in another form. One of the greatest dangers we have to encounter is the keeping on in our protectorates of apprenticeship. Sir Arthur Hardinge has attacked particular missionaries in East Africa, and picked out one for special praise, because he held views differing from every other, and "at variance with popular prejudice," and particularly with the views of Bishop Tucker. I believe the views of Bishop Tucker are far more consonant with the views held in this House than are those of Sir Arthur Hardinge. Then there is Colonel Lugard, whose views are emphatic, and who believes that British East Africa has been prepared for the abolition of the legal status of slavery, and that it should be abolished. Very largely in consequence of what was stated in this House, and the debates and promises made in this House, we admit that some progress has been made in that direction in East Africa, although we think that progress has been slow. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £100.

*MR. J. A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)

In seconding the motion of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, I desire to endorse all the words which have fallen from his lips in paying a tribute of admiration to the ability of Sir A. Hardinge; but I also entirely endorse what he paid in regard to the pro-slavery policy which has been pursued under Sir Arthur Hardinge and this Government throughout the area over which he has very large powers. I know that Her Majesty's Government feels somewhat inclined to resent these constant debates in reference to slavery, but I would point out that we have, as a result of these debates, on more than one occasion, got some steps in advance. The pressure we have been able to bring in this House has produced a better state of things in Zanz bar and the islands which otherwise would never have been obtained. One good that has been effected is that those who have charge of the slaves now know that they must treat them in a very different way from what they did a few years ago, and therefore our debates have done something for the cause of humanity. But it seems to me there has been something lacking in the policy pursued by the Government in the desire to see the immediate emancipation of the slaves. Two years ago Sir Lloyd Matthews in a despatch alluded to the "hasty and ill-timed interference of friends at home." These words are somewhat remarkable when we remember that Sir John Kirk sixteen years ago, in 1884, said that "the time was ripe for the entire emancipation of the population of the Zanzibar Protectorate." Sir Arthur Hardinge two years ago said, "It is idle to treat the African negro as if he were a full-grown free man." I am not one of those who think that the raw Kaffir or negro should "be given the same amount of freedom as a white man. Naturally, they should be put under some kind of restriction, but they ought to have freedom as free men, and ought not to be considered the goods and chattels of another human being. As an illustration of the character of the spirit displayed from time to time by our officials in Zanzibar, I might allude to a case in which their policy of endeavouring to conciliate the Arab owners of slaves was shown. Soon after the present Government came into power an Arab was found guilty of most inhuman conduct towards a particular slave. In the Zanzibar Gazette it is recorded that this man, Abdulla Bin Ali, punished his slave by welding the irons on his flesh, and feeding him with one cocoanut morning and evening. Well, I am very glad that the Government prosecuted that individual, that he was found guilty, and sentenced by Judge Cracknall to seven years imprisonment. But the moment that Judge Cracknall's back was turned that cruel brute was released and practically white washed by the Government. I do not think that the policy pursued by Sir Arthur Hardinge and his subordinates is to be surprised at when we find Her Majesty's Government acquiescing in all these sort of acts in regard to slavery. For instance, the Sultan, who was put on the throne by the British Government, and who was not the natural successor of the previous Sultan, was allowed to inherit 30,000 slaves, and the excuse put forward was that the decree which prevented the inheriting of all slaves except by the sons of previous owners did not affect the Sultan himself. The pledges given by Her Majesty's Government have been very specific. On coming into power they said that slavery would be removed at the earliest possible moment, and as the right hon. Baronet the Member for Forest of Dean had quoted, the Government pledged themselves to extend to the mainland the process already carried out in the islands. Sir Rennel Rodd stated that it was impossible to administer the mainland differently from the islands. Lord Curzon, when Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs two years ago, as an excuse for delay, said that the conditions were not favourable on the mainland to carry out the pledge of the abolition of slavery. We must wait for the result of the experiment in the islands. Now, from recent despatches we find that the result of the experiment has been successful in the islands, and to a large extent satisfactory. Let me read one paragraph from a despatch by Sir Arthur Hardinge dated 6th January this year— The progress of the emancipation decree is at once radual and steady, and is now attended with comparatively little trouble to the owners of plantations, who, with few exceptions, are adapting themselves to the new system, and paying their workmen, whether free men or nominal slaves, in pice. I call upon the Government to carry out the pledge which Lord Curzon in this House, when Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, gave in the name of the Government two years ago. The present Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs at the commencement of last session said that the strip of the mainland was only taken over in 1895, and since then there had been a rebellion and a mutiny to deal with. Three events had been reported: first, a mutiny of black troops; second, an attack on the Indian contingent; third, the slaughter by a tribe of a British officer and nine men, and he gave these as an excuse for not carrying out their pledges. But he added that the Government did not depart from Mr. Balfour's pledge that at the earliest opportunity they hoped to extend to the mainland the process already carried out in the islands. It was Lord Salisbury's opinion that until the Government became more settled on the mainland it was impossible to take further steps. The Government finds an excuse for its inaction in the dispatch of Lord Kimberley, and as has been explained by the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean, it has only occurred to them as a suitable afterthought for throwing over the pledges of the First Lord of the Treasury and of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs as to the abolition of slavery on the mainland. When we analyse it what does that excuse amount to? We find that Lord Kimberley did not allude to anything except law and religion. Now, the Mohammedan law does not give any approval to slavery. It is well known that if an individual who belongs to the Mohammedan faith frees his slaves he will, according to the Koran, have a better time of it in a future life. Slavery is now permitted because it is said to be in accordance with ancient customs. Instead of correcting Sir Lloyd Matthews and the impression he may have left on the minds of a few Arabs, the Government are riding off on an excuse to prevent them carrying out their pledges. It seems to me that the Government have had many opportunities of carrying out their pledges, and if they had desired to do so they could have abolished slavery throughout the whole of the Sultan of Zanzibar's dominions. When the Sultan was appointed, and the mainland was quiet, they might have adopted some measure to release the 200,000 slaves in the mainland strip of the Sultan's dominions. That area is under the direct control of the Foreign Office, and they can do whatever they like on it. This strong Government seems to mo to ride off on an excuse instead of giving instructions that any wrong impressions in regard to law and custom should be removed; and they keep to views which are contrary to the opinions of all Englishmen. I appeal to the House to support the resolution, not that we really want to reduce Sir Arthur Hardinge's salary, but because we want to abolish slavery in the protectorates, and as a protest that the Government in not carrying out the pledges they have given have committed what is little short of a breach of faith.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item P (Salaries of the General Consular Service) be reduced by £100, in respect of the salary of the Agent and Consul General at Zanzibar."—(Sir Charles Dilke.)

MR. BAYLEY (Derbyshire, Chesterfield)

Whilst we get any number of expressions of sympathy from gentlemen representing the Foreign Office with the views we have expressed on this side, we never get any further on the real question of giving freedom to the slaves under our own protection in the islands of Pemba and Zanzibar, and it is not far to look why we do not get any forwarder on this question. You have a gentleman connected with the island of Pemba as a public servant who is not in sympathy or harmony with the views the Government has expressed repeatedly in this House. That gentleman in the despatches we all read carefully has done this repeatedly. He has argued in those despatches time after time to allow a legal status to slavery in the island, to allow that to remain as it was before we established a British Protectorate. The Government in their despatches have given Sir Arthur Hardinge distinct and clear orders what to do, and in reply to these orders anybody who reads the Blue-books can see that he does not say he will carry out these orders, but that he argues against them. No public company, and no master with a servant would argue with him after a certain time. After giving him absolute and clear orders the time for argument is gone. If a public or private servant, after you have given perfectly clear and distinct orders, does not obey, all I can say is that I should join issue with that servant and say, "You must carry out my orders and policy or go your own way and make room for somebody who will." What I wish to ask is what is the policy of the Government? Is it Sir Arthur Hardinge's or is it not? If it is not the policy of Sir Arthur Hardinge, will they tell us what their policy is, and whether they will put servants in who will carry out their policy? We want action, and I think the country will call upon the Government to carry out their policy. We are the only European Government in Africa whose servants have acknowledged the legal position of slavery. A nice position for us to occupy at the end of the nineteenth century. We were the leaders of the great anti-slavery movement at the beginning of the century, and we are the last European power in Africa to-day paying, by a Vote of this House, a servant who acknowledges the legal status of slavery. That is a strong statement to make. Let us see whether it is correct or not. It is well to bear in mind what the facts are. In Mr. Lloyd's court near Mombassa there is a British judge paid for by a Vote of this House under the Consul General whose salary we are discussing at the present moment. On the court house the British flag flies, and the whole process is carried on in the name of Her Majesty. A slave owner appears before him and declares that a certain woman is his property. She repudiates the claim and asks for freedom, but does not get it. Mr. Lloyd in a British court hands her back to her master. We want to know what the Government are going to do. Is Mr. Lloyd to go on handing back slaves from the mission stations to their masters who claim them? If the Government say they propose to make no change, all I can say is that if they will stick to that then they are in absolute harmony with Sir Arthur Hardinge, and not in harmony with what they stated here last year. Are they or are they not going to carry out the able policy of Sir John Kirk and Sir Harry Johnstone? If either of these men was Consul General at the islands of Pemba and Zanzibar, the country would have unlimited confidence in him doing the best he could. If we had men there like Lord Cromer or Captain Murdo, who has charge of the Egyptian slave department, the country would have unlimited confidence, but anybody who reads the despatches of Sir Arthur Hardinge knows that his opinions are diametrically opposed to the opinions which the Government have expressed. Are we going to give up the fight with Sir Arthur Hardinge, or are we going to acknowledge that the civil servants in Africa are as lawless as some of the church clergymen who are civil servants in this country? It is a very serious position for the Government to take up. When they make statements from that bench on this question they have a right to be true and loyal to the House of Commons. They should see that their servants in Africa, whoever they are and whatever they are doing, carry out the policy which they lay down and which this House lays down as the proper and correct policy. Clearly the policy of Sir Arthur Hardinge is not the policy which has been laid down, and it is quite time that the Government said which of these two policies is going to be the policy of the future. There are some very ugly rumours in these two islands which I think require investigation—rumours that British subjects, in a way which we all know is absolutely illegal, are themselves interested directly or indirectly in this slave traffic, and that that is one of the reasons that Sir Arthur Hardinge does not carry out the instructions of the Government. I do not know whether it is true or not. It has been told me often enough that that is one of the reasons. If it is so, the Government should not protect any British subject who has got any remuneration or advantage from the slave trade. The law is perfectly clear that it is a criminal offence for any of Her Majesty's subjects to hold slaves, or take any profit or get any advantage from slavery. If there is not some truth in these ugly rumours, why does not Sir Arthur Hardinge carry out the policy so often expressed by Her Majesty's Government? These magistrates are acknowledging the legal status of slavery. What is their position if they come to England and you had one of these decisions to cite against them? Their position is that they have committed a criminal offence, and you would have the Attorney General defending these men in a criminal charge. We, as a great nation whose traditions have been on this question honourable and true, have taken the islands of Pemba and Zanzibar, and an immense territory in Africa, with the responsibility of tens of millions of natives—we have taken these in the face of Europe to do what? To stop the slave trade, and we have not up to the present time done anything at all to make things better. Before we took over these islands, we had a certain number of men-of-war protecting the seas from the slave trade. Have we the same number of men-of-war there now, and are we spending the same amount of money? Why, only the other day a ship was going from our own territory with a lot of slaves on board. It is an impossibility in these two countries to run free labour and slave labour side by side. You must make up your mind which it is going to be. Sir John Kirk told you in 1884 that one thing was certain—that until slavery is dealt with we shall never get free labour, that the present system is certain ruin, that it is neither free labour nor slavery. If you have slave labour, what is the position of free labour? You have got to wipe your hands of the whole thing, or let the people go on with their slavery. Sir John Philip knew the country, and fought for the principle of freedom which the present representative of Her Majesty is not fighting for. Sir Arthur Hardinge is fighting to the best of his ability for vested interest, and the party of slavery. He said on 13th March, 1884, that he believed the non-recognition of slavery by the law was essential to prosperity. Is the Government of that opinion? If the Government is of that opinion, why don't they carry it out and take away the then who are not carrying out their instructions? There is no greater authority than Sir John Kirk, and so far as you have gone in pemba in the direction of giving freedom, which is very little, and even Sir Arthur Hardinge in his last report admits it—so far as you have gone you have only touched the fringe of it. There is an amount of prosperity going on now which Pemba never knew before. You should be strongly determined to carry out the policy which has been so often stated on that bench without any waverings or argument with your servant. It is past the time for arguing between master and man, and if you take the strong position the country expect, and which you promised to take, you need not fear anybody, but you may rest assured that when you do something to elevate these two islands, and to bring prosperity to them, you will leave at any rate a record that at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century you have done something for the freedom and betterment of humanity.

*MR. DUCKWORTH (Lancashire, Middleton)

I wish to say how greatly disappointing our attitude to-night is on this subject, which has been brought so repeatedly before the House. The progress of emancipating the slaves in East Africa is very slow, and I am sure it must be to the right hon. Gentleman himself very unsatisfactory. The decree abolishing the legal status of slavery in the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba was passed in Parliament in April, 1897; that is three years ago. What I want to emphasise is that, not only has there been no progress, or very little progress, in there islands, but what to my mind is more serious and important still, that nothing has been done on the strip of mainland which is administered from the Foreign Office, and where we are told there are some 200,000 slaves. I put a question to the right hon. Gentleman asking if anything had been done on this strip of mainland, and he had to reply in the negative. I had been informed during the recess that something had been done, and I sent a letter to the right hon. Gentleman, which he never answered. Hence my question to-day. In August, 1897, the First Lord of the Treasury promised in this House that the same conditions should be brought about on the mainland that obtained in the islands. In February last year the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs said to a deputation that waited upon him that the Government had not departed from Mr. Balfour's pledge, and at the earliest opportunity they hoped to carry out the same measures on the mainland as were already in existence in the islands, and yet he has to come before us to-night and admit that nothing whatever has been done in reference to the freeing of the slaves on the mainland. It must be very disagreeable to the right hon. Gentleman himself to have to stand before this House so repeatedly with excuses. Just look at these excuses brought before us in answer to our questions and arguments from time to time. At one time they say they are watching the experiment in the islands before they do anything on the mainland. Surely the time for experiment is long ago past. Then they go on to say that they are afraid there may be outbursts and disturbances on the mainland if they begin to unsettle affairs. Then the troubles in Uganda are pleaded as an excuse why nothing is done. Then the difficulty, forsooth, of obtaining free labour has been pleaded as an excuse. But the last excuse is, I think, the emptiest and most unreasonable of all. The right hon. Gentleman has said again and again as an excuse why nothing has been done, "We cannot break our pledge to the Sultan." I wish the Government were as strong in keeping their pledges when human beings are before them or interested in what they are doing, as they are when it is a matter of bonds and gold which are at stake. We gave pledges to protect the Armenians, but allowed 100,000 of them to be butchered. Now when about 200,000 slaves are in existence on this strip of mainland, we are year by year met with this excuse that nothing is done on their behalf, and the right hon. Gentleman is compelled, I am sure much against his own nature, disposition and feeling, to stand in his place and simply make excuses to the House. What is there in this last excuse, so often used, and which very likely will be used again by the right hon. Gentleman tonight? It is said that Lord Kimberley before he left office in 1895 gave some pledge or understanding which is binding on the present Government. What is this pledge or understanding? On the 1st July, 1895, Sir Arthur Hardinge, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, took over at Mombasa the administration of the mainland territories of the Sultan of Zanzibar, previously carried on by the Imperial British East Africa Company. Previous to doing so he had inquired of Her Majesty's Government whether, on assuming the administration, he might assure the Arabs that the Mohammedan law and religion would be maintained. The Earl of Kimberley, then Secretary of State for foreign Affairs, replied that he might make it clear that as regards religion and law and the Sultan's sovereignty, no difference was made by the change. How was this interpreted to the Arabs and the slave dealers on the mainland and in the islands of Pemba and Zanzibar? This is an extract given from the despatch written by Sir Arthur Hardinge, in July, 1895, describing a public meeting which had been held in Mombasa, and attended by the Wali and the leading Arabs, when Sir Lloyd Matthews is stated to have made a speech in Swahili, of which the following is a translation— I have come here to-day by order of our Lord, Seyyid Hamed-bin-Thwain, to inform you all that the company have retired from the administration of his territory, and that the great English Government will succeed it, and Mr. Hardinge, the consul-general at Zanzibar, will be the head of the new administration, and will issue all orders in the territory under the sovereignty of His Highness. And all affairs connected with the faith of Islam will be conducted to the honour and benefit of religion, and all ancient customs will be allowed to continue, and his wish is that everything should be done in accordance with justice and law. That is now interpreted as something intended to cover slavery. Since then we have had Lord Kimberley's emphatic denial that any pledge with regard to slavery was given at all. I shall not repeat it. It has been brought before the House, and it has been in the public press. I have emphasised the words that "all ancient customs will be allowed to continue." It was never intended that these words should be put there, but they have been read into it purposely, I am afraid, to include the continuation of slavery on the mainland. Why have not the Government pointed this out to their officials? Why have they allowed five years to go on without pointing out that they made a great mistake? They have done that to their credit in another instance to which I will now refer. In April there issued from the Foreign Office a remarkable paper. I suppose it has been sent to all Members of Parliament as it has been sent to me, but perhaps many may not have gone through it carefully. It is worthy of careful perusal, for it is a most remarkable document. It refers to correspondence respecting slavery and the slave trade in East Africa and the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. This correspondence referred to the capture of slave dhows in Zanzibar Harbour, and also to an inquiry as to certain kidnapping of people by Arabs, who watched their opportunity, ran on to the mainland, set the villages on fire, and while the people were running half mad with fear they kidnapped them, put them into these dhows, packed like herrings, and sailed away in order to sell them as slaves in Arabia. This shows that there is still need for great vigilance on the part of those who are sent to coast about in these waters, and it is very interesting to find that our "handy men" can not only fight in South Africa, but can also look after their duty on these coasts, and endeavour to prevent this kidnapping of people and the selling of human beings into slavery. Wherever they can they pounce on these inhuman fiends and bring them, as they deserve to be brought, to justice. These papers reveal another striking instance, showing the bias of our officials in favour of the Arabs and against the freedom of these people according to law. I will not trouble the Committee, as I might, by reading the correspondence in this paper; Members can read it for themselves. I will merely summarise a few of the things so as to give a clear idea of the facts of the case. It appears that a circuit court, at which a British official presides, was instituted for the purpose of carrying out the Sultan's decree, and slaves who claimed their freedom under that decree, and gave their names and the names of their masters and satisfactory proof of their identity, were liberated in great numbers. That this was satisfactory to the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor in office is shown clearly enough. Mr. Curzon said on the 10th February, 1898— that the case of any slave thus applying for his freedom must be settled at once. This was evidently too wide a door and too easy a way for these officials on the mainland. They complained that many of these freed slaves became vagrants, and so, forsooth, to prevent men becoming vagrants they must be deprived of their liberty and kept in slavery. These officials put into force a supplementary article of the decree, which said— that any person whose right of freedom shall have been formerly recognised shall be bound on pain of being declared a vagrant to show that he possesses a regular domicile and means of subsistence. I take it that there are a great number of men in this country who would have a difficulty in doing that, but we do not put them into slavery or even into prison because of their inability to do so. But that is not the worst. These freedom-loving representatives of ours interpreted this article in their own way. They said that it referred to the condition of a slave before, and not after, he secured his liberty, and so they sent out notices that before they were freed the slaves must agree with someone to give them a home and land to cultivate, and secondly— When they have found a place to live in they must bring with them the owner or some responsible person or a letter to state that they (the proposed employers) will be responsible for the future of the freed slave settling on their land and will give them land to cultivate. This is part of a letter, and if I could give the Committee the whole of it they would find that the writer, Mr. Armitage, one of the agents of the Friends' Industrial Mission, goes on to say that many cases of hardship occur through obstacles being placed in the way of slaves obtaining their freedom. Marry had to walk long distances; they waited about the Court for several days and then returned very much disheartened because they had not secured their liberty. And no wonder! He then goes on to say— A slave now to obtain his freedom must leave his master's shamba and run the risk— no light one—of being arrested as a vagrant while he is endeavouring to find an employer, and when he has found such a man the question asked will be, 'Are you free?' and if the reply is 'No,' 'Go and get free first' is certain to follow. The man goes to the court, and, after waiting probably several days before he can even obtain admission there, finds all his trouble in vain, he must tramp back again to his prospective employers, who in all probability will decline to go to the Court or give the man a letter. And who could conscientiously make himself responsible for the future of a free man who could at any time leave the shamba when he chose? How is such a man to live honestly while endeavouring to carry out these orders? Is not this new rule more likely to cause vagrancy than to stop it? If, on the other band, a man has got his freedom, and can show his medal or his papers (papers are not being given now), and say,' I am a free man,' he will, without doubt, at once obtain work. Mr. Farler himself supports this view, for you will notice he says in his letter: 'There are hundreds of people ready and glad to make arrangements with freed slaves,' but he does not suggest they would make arrangements with them before they are freed. The sort of people likely to trouble the country as vagrants are not those, in my opinion, who take all the trouble which is involved in attending the Court and obtaining freedom. In nearly all cases it occupies several days, and is tedious and trying in the extreme. If this is not a way how not to do it, I do not know what is. I could say a great deal more upon this point, but I will not detain the Committee. I am very glad that in this matter the Foreign Secretary, Lord Salisbury, has put an end to this nonsense, and I wish the Government would show the same decision, firmness, and determination all through. What has he done? He has shown very clearly that these officials have put their own interpretation on this matter. Let me read the following— The Marquess of Salisbury has had under his consideration your letter of the 23rd ultimo, in which you draw attention to the circumstances in which effect is being given in the Island of pemba to the decree issued by the Sultan of Zanzibar in April, 1897, abolishing the legal status of slavery. The interpretation which Mr. Farler appears to have placed on Article 4 of that decree, and to which you specially allude, is not one which commends itself to Her Majesty's Government. In Article 4 the expression, 'Any person whose right to freedom shall have been formally recognised under the second Article, shall be liable to any tax, abatement, corvée, or payment in lieu of corvée, which our Government may at anytime hereafter see tit to impose on the general body of its subjects, and shall be bound, on pain of being declared a vagrant, to show that he possesses a regular domicile and means of subsistence,' should not be interpreted as laying any obligation on the slave to find someone to be responsible for his future good behaviour. Lord Salisbury has accordingly instructed the Acting British Agent and Consul General at Zanzibar by telegraph in this sense, and has at the same time directed that the cases which had been decided in accordance with the above interpretation of the decree should be reheard without delay. Would the Committee believe it—the right hon. Gentleman himself who sits opposite signed that telegram, and yet he comes here and stands up in his place and screens these officials. Again and again he has attempted to screen them, to defend them, and to apologise for them. Even the reply sent to this telegram, which will be found in this Paper, shows the spirit of those men and that they ought to be dealt with as we should all deal with them if they were servants of our own. Acting Consul Basil Cave has learned his lesson from Sir Arthur Hardinge, and he shows in his reply to the Foreign Secretary what sort of man he is, clearly indicating that just as a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still, so he is, in spite of what Lord Salisbury says. He goes on to lecture Lord Salisbury, and to tell him what the consequences will be if such a course is carried out. The Consul General has been on his holidays he is back again at his duty; but while he was on his holidays he touched at the Cape, and attended a public meeting there, at which he brought up this question of slavery and sneered at the sentimentality of Exeter Hall and about "unctuous rectitude. The fact is, that these officials hob-nob with the Arabs in these quarters, as if quite clear from the letters in the paper to which I have referred. When Sir Arthur Hardinge got hack to his duties he went to inspect the different places, Of course, when people know that the "head boss" is coming they prepare for him, and he sees what they want him to see. A man can go to Africa without seeing lions, but if he goes to see lions and looks for them he will find them. And so the head man, the Consul General, wont round to see these places, and he concludes his Report to the Foreign Secretary with these words— The Arabs, reassured by the regular payment of compensation, are appreciative of its justice, and, on the whole, are well disposed towards it. They recently showed, indeed, their good feeling by the unprecedented step of decorating the town of Chaki Chaki with Hags and bunting last Christmas Day in honour of the chief religious festival of the English officials working in their midst. The impression derived by me from my visit of inspection to Pemha was one of steady progress, reflecting much credit on the Sultan's Government and its officers. The contrast between the state of the island to-day and on the occasion of my first visit to it in the latter part of 1894, before any attempt had been made to introduce European control, is undoubtedly very striking. What a burlesque! Mohammedans celebrating Christmas with Christians, and both preventing the slaves who have a legal right to their liberty from securing it. This is a serious matter, and I feel sure that Parliament will not much longer allow the right hon. Gentleman to stand up and excuse these officials, who are not carrying out as they ought the law of the country. What is more, I feel sure that the country will not stand it. There is a very strong fooling in the constituencies on this question, and if it were not that so much attention is taken up by the lamentable war in South Africa, we should hear more of this matter than we have hoard. England is still the homo of the free, and I hope she will continue to be. 'Tis the land of the free, So it ever shall be; Her children no fetters can bind. Ere Britons are slaves She shall sink in the waves, And leave not a vestige behind. If the African stand But once on her strand, That moment his shackles are broke; A captive no more, He leaps on her shore, And shakes from his shoulders the yoke. But not only have poets sung the praises of the liberty of this Empire, but orators and statesmen have used their burning eloquence on this glorious theme, and in the words of one who was able to speak on this subject with great eloquence, I will close these remarks. I speak"—said he—"in the spirit of the British law, which makes liberty commensurate with and inseparable from British soil, which proclaims, even to the stranger and sojourner the moment he sets his foot on British earth, that the ground on which he treads is holy, and consecrated by the genius of universal emancipation. No matter in what language his doom may have been pronounced; no matter what complexion, incompatible with freedom, an Indian or an African sun may have burned upon him; no matter in what disastrous battle his liberty may have been broken down; no matter with what solemnities he may have been devoted upon the altar of slavery—the first moment he touches the sacred soil of Britain the altar and the god sink together in the dust, his soul walks abroad in her own majesty, his body swells beyond the measure of his chains, that burst from around, and he stands redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled by the irresistible genius of universal emancipation.


By the rules of the House I can only deal with the discussion initiated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean, and the particular motion with which he concluded his speech. But I can say that the remarks made by hon. Members respecting Asiatic Turkey will receive careful attention, and that I do not think there is any indication of a serious change in the policy which the Government have previously carried out. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the question of Abyssinia, and asked the Government to make a statement as to the present position of the frontier negotiations. That is not in our power at the present time to do. The negotiations have been going on for a considerable period, and are being conducted in a wholly amicable fashion with the Emperor Menelik, but they depend almost entirely upon the progress of the survey of territory. That survey has made some progress, but the surveying party have met with very great difficulties, and until that work is accomplished it will be impossible for us to make any statement as to the line of demarcation to be adopted. The right hon. Gentleman very rapidly diverged from that subject to one which has always interested the House very much— namely, the question of slavery, chiefly on the mainland of East Africa. I find some difficulty in answering the criticisms which have been made to-night, not be-cause they contain any fresh matter, but because though I have been Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs for something less than two years; but during that time I have had to trouble the. House with no less than six or seven set speeches—made in reply not to fresh orators, but on every occasion to almost identically the same speakers, who have, if I may say so without disrespect, almost always employed identically the same arguments. I do not say they have all diverged into the poetic vein of the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. He, at least, has added a fresh lustre of quotation to a well-worn theme, but most of the speeches I confess I know almost by heart, and a great deal better than I know the speeches I have made in reply to them. The point I have to make in the very few remarks I propose to address to the Committee on the subject is that there is no difference of principle between Her Majesty's Government and those who have addressed us with such vigour. The desire for the abolition of slavery is absolutely identical in all quarters of the House. The only question between us is whether in this particular case it is practicable or desirable that the transition from the one state to the other should be abrupt or gradual. Hon. Members who have spoken to-night press for an abrupt transition; the Government think they should content themselves in the case of the mainland strip of about ton miles in breadth, with a gradual transition. I submit that, in view of the decision which has been come to on previous occasions, it lies with those who oppose this policy, which is the policy of the late Government as well as of the present Government, to show that some evils are occurring, that those who have administered the law have been found not to have acted in accordance with the expectations which had been formed. But this evening we have not had one shred or suggestion of evidence that anything has occurred in connection with slavery on the east coast of Africa to justify this House in supposing that the expectations which were held out have not been fulfilled. We have not had one case of cruelty or of complaint brought before us; we have had only one breach of the law, and that was three or four years old, and had already been disposed of.


Her Majesty's representative at Mombasa is yet acting contrary to the law with regard to slavery there; he is doing so to-night I believe.


The hon. Member did not bring before us any specific cases. What the hon. Member did was to content himself with a very general charge against Sir Arthur Hardinge of a most libellous character, and which he did not support by a tittle of argument or evidence. The hon. Member said that Sir Arthur Hardinge acted as he did because some British subjects were interested in the slave traffic.


Excuse me; I said there, were rumours to that effect, but that I did not believe them.


Oh, I beg pardon. The hon. Member omitted that important qualification. These are only rumours, and yet the lion. Member says Sir Arthur Hardinge laid himself out to protect the slave trade from a corrupt motive, to assist a certain number of British subjects whom he did not specify.


I said distinctly that that was a rumour which was pretty generally held.


Then I appeal to the House whether it is desirable that hon. Members speaking on mere rumour —which I have never heard before, although I take a good deal of interest in the question—should, without a single fact or quotation or tittle of evidence to support it, get up here and advertise to the four winds of heaven the charge that Sir Arthur Hardinge had from a corrupt motive over and over again—


I never used the word "corrupt."


Over and over again—at least half a dozen times—the hon. Member declared that Sir Arthur Hardinge laid himself out to frustrate the intentions of the Government. Now he says it is a pure rumour that certain British subjects are interested in the slave trade. The whole suggestion is an absolute fabrication, and the currency the hon. Member has given to it appears to me to do very little credit to his position as a Member of the House of Commons. The hon. Member who has just sat down said there had been very little progress in the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, and that nothing whatever had been done on the mainland. These statements are, if he will permit mo to say so, the very reverse of the facts. In the first place, with regard to Zanzibar and Pemba, it is perfectly true, as I have told the Committee on various occasions, that a great many of the slaves will not take advantage of the power of becoming free which has been given them—a power which is perfectly well known to every slave throughout the two islands. Inexplicable as it may seem to us, everybody who has had anything to do with the islands or with the position of slavery in the islands is aware that there is a certain old feudal system between the masters and the slaves, that where the slaves have been well treated, they are not desirous of changing their position. Consequently, the number who have come to the court for emancipation has not been as large as we had originally hoped and supposed it would be. There were, however, nearly 5,000 last year, and a very large number were freed without coming to the court. In the island of Pemba last year there was a very serious outbreak of small-pox, which carried off a large number both of slaves and of free-men, and caused an almost total cessation of appeals to the court. I do not think that anyone, reading the Report laid before the House with regard to the state of slavery in Zanzibar and Pemba, can deny that there is great evidence, not only of complete contentment, but of the fact that the change being carried out in this gradual manner has led to an increase in the prosperity of those two islands. When we come to the mainland strip, it is perfectly true that the full measure of emancipation which has been given in Zanzibar and Pemba, and which my right hon. friend foreshadowed in a speech made four or five years ago in which he said that the same system would be carried out as soon as possible on the mainland, has not yet been given. I have pointed out on previous occasions the difficulties in the way of making a further move in that direction as rapidly on the mainland as has been done on the islands. But there is no question whatever that the situation of the two places is wholly distinct. The power and influence of the Sultan over his subjects in Zanzibar and Pemba has been very considerable, and has gone a long way towards bringing about the present state of things in the islands, but that power is not equal on the mainland. There has, however, been a gradual process of emancipation going on there. In the first place the sale and purchase of slaves is not allowed, and has not been allowed for many years on the mainland strip; then all children born of slave parents since 1890 have been born free; then there are removals from the mainland strip, and the employment given in the interior being considerable, the inducement to remove increases emancipation.


But they go into slavery when they return.


No, I think the hon. Member is mistaken.


When they come within the ten miles limit their master can claim them.


I have never heard of a case. Then no inheritance can take place in slaves except by direct succession. The slaves of any man who dies without direct or lineal heirs are all freed. The consequence is that progress is gradually being made towards complete emancipation. It is our desire that that process should be accelerated, but in the meantime it must not be supposed for a moment because we have not been able to accept the views of hon. Member's opposite that any injustice is going on. Those who are still slaves on the mainland strip are equal to their masters before the law and before the courts. As in India, under the Act which is quoted here as the palladium of the liberty of the slave, every man who has been a slave is not declared by law to be free, but it is declared by law that every man who is a slave is able to come before the law, equally with his master, and as against his master. That is the case on the mainland of East Africa. The consequence is that cruelty, oppression, violence, maltreatment; has been, as far as we can judge, stopped. If it has not been so, we can count on it that the missionary and other bodies would have informed us of cases which required looking into. I said that I would not trouble the House at any great length, because we have on many previous occasions put forward these views, and I can only say that I do not believe Sir Arthur Hardinge deserves the strictures passed upon him. When the time comes to look back upon Sir Arthur Hardinge's administration as a thing of the past it will he remembered that it was under his administration that the whole of Zanzibar and Pemba had become free, that the process of emancipation was carried on at a rapid rate along the East Coast of Africa, and that, while there were frequent debates in this House, not one single case of violence or oppression of slaves by their masters on the mainland could be alleged.


I think the right hon. Gentleman was not well advised when he commented in a somewhat sarcastic way upon the frequent debates on this subject, and on the fact that the same speeches were made on each occasion. What does the right hon. Gentleman expect? This House would not represent the general feeling of the great body of the British public if on every occasion when that Vote came up a discussion was not raised upon this question. It is only a small point, and it is not easy within so limited a compass to use now arguments. The same old arguments are in force now that were in force four or five years ago, and what we complain of is that those arguments have so little effect on the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues, and their representatives in East Africa. The country has had remarkable patience in this matter. I do not know that that patience has always been displayed in the same degree as now, for I remember that under the late Government—when I confess I was not paying very much attention, except in that left-handed sort of way which a man in one Department looks upon the affairs of his colleagues in another Department—a furious onslaught was made on that Government for their negligence and remissness, in not dealing with this matter, in a much more summary and energetic way than has since been shown, by the present Secretary for the Colonies. I think the right hon. Gentleman therefore has no reason to complain of the temperate and quiet way in which my hon. friends have discussed this question to-night or of any renewal of this discussion which may periodically occur. The right hon. Gentleman has said that there could be no abrupt transition, and that the transition must be gradual. Nobody has asked, I understand, for an abrupt transition, but what is meant by a gradual transition? The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of the automatic effect on slavery of the fact that all children born of slaves since 1890 were free. They are, of course, increasing, and I suppose there is a certain automatic process in the introduction to the world of children in those regions; at the same time, that is very small comfort to those born before 1890. They remain in the same condition in which they were. It is not necessary to bring forward cases of excessive cruelty; what the British public and British sentiment object to is the thing itself, the status of slavery. What we object to is the existence of men in that condition, whether the slaves are well or ill treated. Undoubtedly many of them are well treated, just as in the Southern States of America there are thousands of slaves who were exceedingly well treated; and they showed no desire in this case to take advantage of the freedom offered. I remember a story told by a traveller who met a wealthy negro found in a state of slavery. The traveller said, "Why don't you, who are so wealthy, purchase your freedom? "The reply was, "No, sir; nigger property is very bad property." He would not invest money in himself, That might be the case in Zanzibar and elsewhere, but it does not touch the fringe of the question. The Government must recognise the strong and hereditary sentiment in this country in favour of the abolition of slavery—the proud idea that wherever the Queen's authority exists there can be no such thing as a man being the chattel of another. The right hon. Gentleman has not shown the Committee that there has been any active effort on the part of the Government to carry the process to the utmost extent in which it could be carried. Everyone knows that Sir A. Hardinge is one of the most efficient servants possessed by the country, and I have not a word to say against him; but everyone in a position such as his is naturally largely influenced by the genius loci; he sees the difficulties, but he is not so alive to the profound sentiment of this country. My hon. friends have brought forward this matter again from the same motives which actuated them before. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Government have every desire to accelerate this process. Let them show some evidence of this desire and some result of it. Let them make it plain to Sir A. Hardinge that the country is really in earnest in this matter, that it is not a mere pious opinion, a mere decayed tradition that there should be no slavery under the Queen, but that it should be put into force, not as the right hon. Gentleman suggested, abruptly, or in spite of all the difficulties that may stand in the way, but, at all events, with the greatest possible speed that is consistent with the engagements and the interests of Her Majesty's Empire in that part of the world.

COMMANDER BETHELL (Yorkshire, E. R., Holderness)

What I think upon this question—and what a great many of those think who speak annually upon it— is that Sir Arthur Hardinge has apparently set himself to put every conceivable difficulty in the way of meeting our views. I will not criticise Sir Arthur Hardinge now, for I daresay he is doing the best that can be done under the circumstances. My right hon. friend has complained that the speeches year after year have been more or less of the same character, but what I want particularly to ask my right hon. friend is that very complicated question which arose two or three years ago. I desire some explanation as to the action of magistrates who are British subjects on the ten-mile strip of the mainland with regard to questions of slavery which are brought before them. The House will remember that two years ago, in a short debate on this subject, the Attorney General then laid down the law with respect to the rights and powers of British subjects in dealing with questions of slavery. We pressed the Attorney General, and my right hon. friend the Leader of the House was good enough to say that he would take care that the opinion of the Attorney General was cabled to the persons concerned; and this was done. We were told that a British subject might not adjudicate upon a person who had escaped from slavery and whoso master asked for him back again, but that they might adjudicate upon the question of ownership of slaves. That strikes one as being a very quaint illustration of the sinuosities of the law. It will be interesting to know what the magistrates who are British subjects upon this ten mile strip now do. Do they adjudicate on any questions at all where slaves are concerned? Do they confine themselves only to those cases where the question of ownership is raised as between two persons? That is to say, if one person has a slave and he is claimed by another, I understand from the Attorney General's decision that the British subject, being a magistrate, could adjudicate. Are those the only cases? It does strike me that it would probably be much better if the British subject refrained from adjudicating upon questions of slavery at all, and those questions might be left to the Mohammedan persons who hold a certain amount of judicial authority in that strip of mainland. It strikes one that if a British official is allowed to adjudicate in such a case as I have mentioned it is very likely that he would attempt to adjudicate on questions of returning persons from freedom to slavery. There would be a great danger of that, and the House would be glad if my right hon. friend could assure us on this point, and, if possible, tell us what are the duties, the power's, and the responsibilities of magistrates upon that ten-mile strip who are, at the same time, British subjects. I will not join in the criticism which has been made upon the general question. I think that probably I do not go quite as far as many hon. Gentlemen on the other side upon this subject. I believe there are enormous difficulties connected with the question, but we must recognise that although for something like thirteen or fourteen years we have been pressing this question, it does not seem that very much has been done,

or that as much has been done as we are entitled to expect.


In reply to my hon. friend I may say that last year, early in March, instructions were issued providing that no British official should in future administer the law in any case involving the sending back of persons into slavery. That rule has been strictly observed. I have not hoard of any case coming before one of the Sultan's judges which was governed by the undertaking that the religious law should be observed. It seems to have been entirely forgotten by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition that an undertaking was given by Lord Kimberley that the law should be observed.


But they do adjudicate upon other cases dealing with slavery.


Yes, but British officials do not adjudicate in any case which involves the sending of a slave back to a slave-owner.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 39; Noes, 94. (Division List No. 144.)

Atherley-Jones, L. Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)
Barlow, John Emmott Fry, Lewis O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Goddard, Daniel Ford Pease, Herbert P. (Darlington)
Brigg, John Griffith, Ellis J. Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Gurdon, Sir Wm. Brampton Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)
Burt, Thomas Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale- Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Caldwell, James Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire) Smith, Samuel (Flint)
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Kilbride, Denis Sonttar, Robinson
Causton, Richard Knight Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland) Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Cawley, Frederick M'Arthur, William (Cornwall) Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)
Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.) M'Kenna, Reginald Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)
Doogan, P. C. Maddison, Fred. TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) Molloy, Bernard Charles Sir Charles Dilke and Mr. Joseph A. Pease.
Duckworth, James Morgan, W. Pritchard (Merthyr)
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Charrington, Spencer Giles, Charles Tyrrell
Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Coghill, Douglas Harry Goldsworthy, Major-General
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r) Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Gordon, Hon. John Edward
Banbury, Frederick George Colomb, Sir John C. Ready Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St. Geo's)
Barry, Rt. Hn. A. H. S.-(Hunts) Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Graham, Henry Robert
Bartley, George C. T. Curzon, Viscount Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol) Dickinson, Robert Edmond Gull, Sir Cameron
Bethell, Commander Digby, John K. D. Wingfield- Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord George
Blakiston-Houston, John Dorington, Sir John Edward Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.
Brassey, Albert Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Hare, Thomas Leigh
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Dyke, Rt. Hon Sir William Hart Hermon- Hodge, R. Trotter
Bullard, Sir Harry Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas Hutton, John (Yorks, N.R.)
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Faber, George Denison Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derby.) Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Johnstone, Hey wood (Sussex)
Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East) Fisher, William Hayes Laurie, Lieut.-General
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.) Flannery, Sir Fortescue Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)
Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r.) Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk) Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Gedge, Sydney Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool)
Lowe, Francis William Percy, Earl Thornton, Percy M.
Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred Philipotts, Captain Arthur Tollemache, Henry James
Macartney, W. G. Ellison Pierpoint, Robert Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)
Macdona, John Cumming Pollock, Harry Frederick Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)
MacIver, David (Liverpool) Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Whitmore, Charles Algernon
McArthur, Chas. (Liverpool) Purvis, Robert Williams, J. Powell-(Birm.)
Malcolm, Ian Renshaw, Charles Bine Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Middlemore, J. (Throgmorton) Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir Matthew W. Wilson-Todd, W. H.'(Yorks.)
Milward, Colonel Victor Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson Wyndham, George
Monckton, Edward Philip Robertson, Herbert (Hackney) Young, Commander (Berks, E.)
Morrell, George Herbert Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford) Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew) TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C. Skewes-Cox, Thomas Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute) Smith, J. Parker (Lanarks.)
Peel, Wm. Robert Wellesley Strauss, Arthur

Motion made, and Question, "That this House do now adjourn,"—(Mr. Balfour)—put, and agreed to.

Original Question again proposed.

MR. ELLIOT (Durham)

said he desired to give the right hon. Gentleman who was in charge of the Vote an opportunity of explaining what had taken place with regard to the very important matter which had been brought before the Committee. The noble Lord the Member for Kensington, who spoke with so great experience of the Turkish Empire, had referred to the withdrawal of our Consular officials, and particularly to the withdrawal of the Consul at Tiflis. The noble Lord had pointed out how very important it was when difficulties arose in these distant places that this country should have a trustworthy representative who would inform the Government as to what was likely to take place, and that could not be effected if we withdrew our Consuls. He admitted that on a former occasion the right hon. Gentleman was unable to give a full explanation, because a reduction of his salary having been moved he was precluded from going into the whole question. Now that there was nothing to prevent the right hon. Gentleman from entering into the question, and he hoped the Committee would be told what had been done and what it was intended to do with regard to the matter.


I do not desire to pass over what fell from my noble friend, who takes the greatest interest in this part of Asia, but when my hon. friend urges me to give a full explanation as to what has been done and what it is intended to do he is rather asking for a statement of policy. The history of Asia Minor during the last few months has really been no history at all, and that certainly is, from the point of view of Her Majesty's Government, most desirable. Whatever might be the influence of our Consuls as a restraining force in those regions, we certainly desire nothing bettor for those regions than that they should enjoy quiet government, and that, as a matter of fact, there should be no call for the exercise of the influence of our Consuls. I have been strongly urged to make a statement with regard to the concession made to Russia in respect of railways in Asia Minor. That was an understanding between the Turkish and the Russian Governments, and it was, I believe, a self-denying ordinance on the part of Turkey to the effect that, if they did not make certain railways themselves, they would give the offer to another Power who was their neighbour. As far as the Government are concerned, they had no idea of any wholesale withdrawal of Consuls in Asia Minor, as has been suggested. We fully recognise the advantages which their presence has given, and, with due regard to the very heavy and increasing claims upon them, we hope to pursue the present policy with advantage.

10. £167,186, to complete the sum for Uganda, Central and East Africa Protectorates, and Uganda Railway.


said he did not wish to repeat what he had said at an earlier period of the session on the subject of Uganda; he merely desired to ask the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs when the Uganda Report was likely to be in their hands. It was most unfortunate that this Vote should be discussed before the Report was in the hands of the Committee.


I am afraid we cannot give the right hon. Baronet any information upon that point, for this reason: Sir Harry Johnstone has been unfortunately laid up with an attack of fever, from which he is only just recovering, and this has delayed the writing of the Report. I very much doubt whether it will be ready in time for a discussion this session.


I hope I shall be in order in referring to the removal of the native troops from Uganda to Somaliland, and asking for the Papers relating to such removal.


I do not think there are any Papers whatever in regard to this matter. The regiment is now in Somaliland.

Vote agreed to

11. £256,955, to complete the sum for Colonial Services.


The Secretary of State for the Colonies is not present at the moment, and do not know if there is any member of the Government who can answer the question I wish to put as to the number of cases where duties have been increased in the West Indies. We are granting money in aid of these colonies, and yet the traders are charged increased duties in some cases on British goods. The number of colonies in which the duties have been increased is not known to me, but I know of some that have been raised from 12 to 25 per tent.


The question which the right hon. Gentleman puts I am unable to answer; perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will put it down in the form of a question to the Colonial Secretary.

Vote agreed to.

12. £1,000, to complete the sum for Cyprus (Grant-in-aid).

*MR. PIERPOINT (Warrington)

desired to know whether any progress had been made with regard to the conversion of the Crimean loan of 1855, a loan which intimately affected the question before the Committee. The arrangements for the conversion of the loan were come to two years ago, and although he had asked questions on various occasions with regard to the matter, he had never received more than a postponing answer. He desired to know whether the conversion of the loan would benefit Cyprus or not. He wished to know, first, whether the arrangements entered into two years ago for the conver- sion of the loan had been ratified, or whether they had been, or were going to be, considered, and whether the arrangement, if ratified, would have any good effect upon the island of Cyprus.


In answer to the question, the hon. Gentleman, I think, is probably aware that negotiations have taken place between the Government and the Turkish Government. We have always been anxious to get terms which would be satisfactory, but up to the present we have not been able to obtain from the Porte the terms which we could accept. I do not think the case is quite hopeless; we have arrived nearly at an agreement, but at present all I can say is that no agreement has been arrived at, and I do not know that one will be arrived at in the immediate future. But I will point out to my hon. friend once more that I do not think this is a matter in which he is much interested. He is concerned on behalf of Cyprus, and I have told him before and I will tell him again, that if we made the best possible arrangement with the port as to the conversion of the loan it would not benefit Cyprus in the least.


pointed out that whilst every year it was said there was a deficiency with regard to Cyprus, that fact arose through the island paying the debts of the Porte to France and to this country. Among the first things hypothecated to the repayment of the loan of 1855 were the customs duties of Smyrna and Syria and the balance of the Egyptian tribute. But the customs duties of Smyrna and Syria not being available, what had been done was to take the tribute from Cyprus, and from that pay the debt, the result being that for twenty years Cyprus had been paying the debt to this country and France. France benefited to the extent of £40,000 and this country to the extent of £10,000 a year. So that, in fact, instead of receiving, as was constantly said, £30,000 a year, Cyprus paid £60,000 to this country and to France.


I admire the tenacity of my hon. friend, and I fear it is hopeless to convince him, after what has taken place or previous occasions, that he is mistaken, and I would not refer to the expression he used at all but for the fact that these continual discussions are repeated in Cyprus, and have the effect there of making the people believe they are badly treated by Great Britain; and when a gentleman of the authority and position of my hon. friend confirms that statement it is difficult to persuade them that really the rule of Great Britain has been of enormous benefit and advantage. Therefore, I must repeat, Cyprus has no claim whatever in this matter. Cyprus was in the position of a tributary to the Porte. When we took over the island a commision was appointed to decide the average amount of the tribute. That was the liability which we took over with Cyprus. If we had nothing to do with Cyprus we would still be under the liability to pay this tribute to the Porte. It does not matter one brass farthing to Cyprus what becomes of the tribute after it has been collected. It has no concern in the distribution of the money. When we came into possession we undertook to pay this money to the Porte in the first instance, but it was convenient to intercept it for the payment of the debtors of the Porte; and therefore a large proportion of it went to France which now has a much better security for its debt, and we took the balance. The hon. Member said that this country made money out of Cyprus. That is absolutely a mistake. We do not make a farthing. I On the contrary, Cyprus costs us every year a varying sum— £18,000 one year and £30,000 another year. And we do what the Porte could never have done. We are now engaged on harbour works, railway works, and irrigation works. We have pledged our credit for a sum of £60,000; and we are employed on experimental irrigation works which promise extremely well, and which I hope will justify a larger expenditure in future. The taxation has been rearranged, being made less arbitrary and oppressive; and although we have not done all that we might have done, we effected a considerable improvement in the condition of the island. In tribute, Cyprus does not pay one penny more to us than she would have done if the Porte still had authority in the island.

Vote then agreed to.

13. £14,350, to complete the sum for Subsidies to Telegraph Companies.


said that in a recent debate which took place on the subject of telegraphs the strategic cables which were those subsidised, and which were the subject of this Vote, were the object of some remarks, and the Government were then asked whether their attention had been called to the desirability of landing the cables which joined us to them on the Irish coast, where the water was deep, rather than on the coast of Cornwall, where the water was for a long way out very shallow. Obviously it would be very much easier to cut a cable which was laid in shallow water than if the, water was deep. He pointed out that the companies interested in the Vote had issued a circular in which they alleged that it was just as easy to cut a cable laid in deep water as in shallow, but in the recent debate he had not spoken without taking the highest opinion upon the subject, and that opinion was entirely and directly opposed to the opinion of the telegraph companies. He merely desired now to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury to call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the First Lord of the Admiralty to the matter, so that they might consider the advisability of landing these cables on the Irish coast.


The question has been considered both by the Admiralty and the War Office not so much with regard to the cables to which the right hon. Baronet calls attention now, but with regard to the general question. The whole question of landing these cables in deep water has been considered.

Vote agreed to.

Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again upon Monday next.


I beg to move that the House do now adjourn. It has long been the rule that Private Members' Orders should not be taken on an evening, devoted to Supply, and I think that the same rule should apply to the Government Orders also.

Adjourned accordingly at Eleven of the clock till Monday next.