§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding£6,895,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge for Provisions, Forage, and other Supplies, including South African Compensation Claims, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1904."
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE (Bristol, E.)
said there was some little difficulty in discussing the question of Somaliland at full length, as various decisions had been given in Committee upon the propriety of discussing the policy of any undertaking promoted by the Government upon Estimates which only provided for part of the cost thereof. In order to prevent misapprehension he therefore asked for the ruling of the Chairman as to whether the discussion on this Vote must be limited to the military policy.
Strictly speaking, the debate on this Vote ought to be limited to the policy which is being pursued with regard to military operations; and the policy which led to the undertaking of the expedition in Somaliland is one which would properly come under the Foreign Office Vote. Obviously, however, the two matters are so closely connected that it is almost impossible to divide them. The result of dividing them would be, I understand, to cause every hon. Member to bisect his speech and deliver half on this Vote and half on the subsequent Vote, and that would clearly be very inconvenient. As I understand that there is a general desire on the part of the Committee to discuss the whole question, I do not propose this afternoon to place any obstacles in the way, or to enforce the strict observance of the rule.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE
said the Committee were greatly indebted to the Chairman for his ruling. For four years this country had been undertaking expeditions of this kind without the attention of the House being directed to them. The Foreign Office and the War Office, and, at a more remote period, the India Office, had all had a hand in the operations, and it was not surprising that the work had resulted in something like a muddle of the first order. The Prime Minister was the first person to attract public attention to this question, when, in February of the present year, he stated that the people did not take nearly so much interest in Somaliland as they did in Venezuela, although the cost of the operation in the former country, both in money and in men, and the effect thereof, would be far more wide reaching. Thus, at last, was the attention of the country—and he used the words "at last" deliberately—directed to what was going on in that little-known country. He was not quite sure he might not also say that the attention of the Government, as well as of the country, was thus first directed to the matter. He would not weary the House at any length with the history of past events, but since three Blue-books had been presented, not one of which had ever been discussed, and as the subject was very little understood, he hoped he would be pardoned for briefly referring to what had taken place. The Protectorate of Somaliland seemed to have been acquired about the year 1884, but the first notice this country had of the existence of that part of the British Empire was in 1894, although for six years there had been a treaty in existence with France, laying down our sphere of influence in that part of the world. The country was further delimited by an agreement or treaty which was entered into with Abyssinia in 1897. The Mullah, who for some extraordinary reason which had never been clearly explained was called the Mad Mullah—and anybody whose proceedings were less mad from his own point of view he could not imagine—was a man of good standing in his own country. He possessed exceptional influence and had acquired an extraordinary amount of control over the tribes, by most cruel methods, no doubt. Up to the year 1899 the Mullah had been regarded as rather friendly to our 965 influence, but then he began to trouble our boundaries and became so notorious and so troublesome that in that year Consul-General Sadler suggested to the Government that it should have a military promenade through Somaliland for the purpose of impressing the natives. We had since that time had three military promenades, and the last of these was not yet over. These promenades were undertaken by the Government without any idea of what they would cost, and two of them have already involved an outlay of something like a million sterling. At that time the Mullah had a comparatively small following, 3,000 or 4,000 men, with a very few rifles. He was, consequently, from a military point of view more or less insignificant, and the Government, hampered, no doubt, in other parts of the world, paid little or no attention to the recommendations of Consul-General Sadler.
In November 1900 came the second important event, the murder of Mr. Jenner in Jubaland, a country which was sufficiently adjacent to the Mullah's country to induce a further outbreak of disturbances in Somaliland. An expedition was sent to Jubaland to avenge Mr. Jenner's death, and the officer commanding fell into precisely the same trap Colonel Plunkett had unfortunately fallen into during the last few days. He was severely handled by the tribes, and was brought back in a great hurry by the Foreign Office. The expedition terminated in a way which was certainly not satisfactory to the Foreign Office, and did not add to the glory of our arms. So far as this House knew that was the termination of that particular campaign, for no report of the subsequent proceedings had ever been presented to Parliament. If the Under Secretary to the Foreign Office was prepared to give a little more information as to what had been going on in that part of the world they would gladly welcome it. But things had evidently been going on from bad to worse. In December, 1900, Consul-General Sadler reported that there wasNo hope of order or tranquillity until the Mullah is definitely suppressed.That report was supported by another report from Colonel Harrington, our agent in Abyssinia, who telegraphed home to the Foreign Office— 966Situation become intolerable. Delay tended so to increase Mullah's force that costly expedition would eventually be needed.That surely was a strong warning to the Foreign Office, which should not have been neglected, that some effective steps were necessary to be taken immediately.
He would like for a moment to explain the difficulties which undoubtedly arose in connection with military operations in that part of the world. The interior of that country—The Haud—was a high plateau 3,000 feet above the sea level. For six months it was waterless, and in that period it was a very difficult country for troops to be manœuvred in. During the remaining six months of the year there was an abundance of rain and pasturage, and that rendered it all the more difficult to capture or to drive the Mullah into a corner. Undoubtedly if military operations in that part of the world were to be successful, they ought to take place after the rains had begun. It was noteworthy that the Administrator told the Government in connection with the present expedition that it ought not to start until April 18th. But the Foreign Office disregarded that advice, as it always did the advice of its local experts, and started the expedition two months before that time. To that he thought might fairly be attributed some of the difficulties experienced in connection with transport and water. He did not know, too, whether he might not also fairly blame the War Office in this connection. Now he would ask them to go back to the original expedition of March, 1901. The column consisted of 1,100 Somali levies, and 1,000 spearmen, under the command of seventeen British officers. But by that time the Mullah's forces had increased to 1,200 horse, and 6,000 foot. Both Consul-General Sadler and Colonel Harrington implored the Foreign Office to finish the matter right off. But Lord Lansdowne "entirely deprecated the extension of operations far into the Haud." No doubt in coming to that decision the noble Lord was guided, not so much by what was occurring in Somaliland, as by events in other parts of the world. But what did the Foreign Office hope to accomplish by only pursuing the Mullah to a particular point, and allowing him another opportunity of gathering his forces to a head. In June, 967 1901, Colonel Swayne defeated the Mullah, and Lord Lansdowne thereupon telegraphed to him—That he would not undertake the administration of the interior, but would await local opinion before deciding what to do with regard to the town of Burao.Now this town, although apparently a somewhat important place, was not to be found on the map which had been placed in the tea-room under the auspices of the Foreign Office. Colonel Swayne recommended the retention of the place, in order to prevent the Mullah re-concentrating his forces, and also to protect the tribes who were friendly to us, who had to a certain extent helped us, and who were absolutely powerless to defend themselves, being without arms, the importation of which we had prevented, although the Mullah had been able clearly to get a supply smuggled in for himself. He would like to read a quotation from Command Paper 1394, dealing with a despatch received on 19th August, 1901. Colonel Swayne said—Had you seen your way to allow me some latitude the Mullah would have been so weakened as to be incapable of again subjecting the tribes. As it is we have not seen the last of the Mullah.With that last sentence the Government would probably agree, though they might have seen the last of the Mullah had they adopted the "local" opinion to which they professed to attach so much importance. There was another ground on which the necessity for following local opinion might be pressed. Somaliland was almost the only Protectorate in the whole of the Empire which paid its way. Up to 1898, it not only paid its way, but presented a fair surplus, which the Secretary of State for India absorbed into the revenues of India without saying much about it. He had searched in vain for any financial statement, since that date, of the position of the Protectorate, but he believed it paid its way, and had some small surplus local revenue from which the protection of the frontier would be paid for. The Protectorate, therefore, had not been a considerable, if any, charge upon Imperial funds.
In September, 1901, Lord Lansdowne, having, on one pretext or another, refused to administer the interior or to protect the frontier, reaped his reward. Within eight weeks of his decision, a telegram came from the authorities in 968 Somaliland that the Mullah had broken out again, that he had a force, not of 7,000, but of 12,000, and that the situation was extremely dangerous and awkward. The local officers had done what Lord Lansdowne had told them not to do. They had held Burao, and at that place the Mullah was temporarily checked. Colonel Swayne was re-appointed to the command, and went out with these orders:—The Government did not wish to be drawn into the pursuit of the Mullah, and the operations were to be of a defensive character.What was the comment of both Colonel Swayne and the then Consul-General, Mr. Cordeaux. Colonel Swayne said—This defensive policy is only possible temporarily.and the Consul-General added—If it was adopted the situation would only become aggravated to a dangerous degree.One would have thought that that, coming on top of the other recommendations, would have been sufficient to arouse the Government to the dangerous position into which they were drifting. Not a bit of it, on 31st December, 1901, Lord Lansdowne again protested against a forward movement, because—He would not take the risk attaching thereto.The synchronisation of events was very curious. The South African war being practically terminated, the Government apparently awoke to their duties in another part of the world. In April they first seemed to realise that any measures were necessary, and they did what they ought to have done long before. They began by policing the Somali coast with British and Italian ships. In May they sent out a stronger expedition from Burao, and brought up from Central Africa reinforcements of the King's African Rifles and other negro corps. But so little importance did the Government attach to the undertaking that the troops were rationed only for four months. They had already been in the country ten months, and were likely to remain there another ten months. Alarm on the part of the Government was justified, because a naval officer employed on the coast reported—It might be years before the Mullah's power could be stamped out, owing to his mobility, armed strength, and influence.969 Colonel Swayne, who had been hunting the Mullah since May, 1902, said—The Mullah's prestige has been greatly increased, and the troops are in a state of abject terror.Nothing could be stronger than this language, and in October, 1902, the Government, realising the scrape into which they were getting themselves and the country, sent out General Manning, and only just in time. He had hardly left this country when the news came of Colonel Swayne's defeat at Erego, with a loss of one or two maxims and many camels, and the Somali levies to whom the Government had hitherto entrusted the conduct of the campaign were described by Colonel Swayne as being—So shaken by the Mullah's successes as to be entirely untrustworthy in future in close fighting.Reinforcements were then hurried up, Regular troops and a Camel Corps were brought from India—the very corps which Colonel Swayne had two years before suggested should be sent.
An entirely new phase of the proceedings was now entered upon. In August 1902, the Italian Government were approached. The really important point was that the Government were to undertake a series of operations entirely outside the British Empire. The Government offered their co-operation to Italy without asking anything in return except leave to use one of their ports. The Government practically said—"Letus operate in your territory and use one of your ports; we will bear the whole of the cost and supply the men; all you have to do is to look on, and gladly take the result of the losses which will fall on us." That was an extraordinary position for the Government to take up, and whatever explanation there must be, was not patent to anyone whose sources of information were confined to the White Books supplied by the Government. Even then Government did not seem fully to realise the importance of the operations, because in their memorandum to Sir Rennell Rodd they said—The operations would not necessarily result in the Mullah's capture, but they would check his growing power.It was something to be thankful for that the Foreign Office recognised that the Mullah's power was growing, but 970 the preparations they made to check it were not adequate. The Mullah's forces now amounted to 3,000 mounted riflemen, and probably from 50,000 to 80,000 spearmen, a very formidable force for the body at Colonel Manning's disposal to cope with.
Passing from the Foreign Office part of the proceedings, he desired to refer to certain defects in the military operations connected with the present expedition. Obbia was a most unsuitable place at which to land troops. Five or six vessels, and many thousands of pounds worth of stores, had actually been lost in the process of debarkation. In fact, the port had been found to be so unsuitable that the base had been broken up, and the stores abandoned or destroyed, thus imposing a severe financial loss upon this country, and involving the troops in a serious shortage of supplies and transport. Not only in the past, but in the present operations, the skill, courage, and resources of the enemy had been greatly under estimated. About 2,300 men were sent to a country 500 miles long and 350 miles wide, to operate against an enemy who was certainly able, full of resource, extremely mobile, and which commanded a force of between 80,000 and 90,000 men. Surely the disparity of forces was far too great when it was remembered that not more than 300 of our troops were Europeans. There were a few Indian troops, but dependence was chiefly placed upon negroes from Central Africa. He did not think the military conduct of affairs in Somaliland had been altogether satisfactory, and the general officer commanding ought to have taken more precautions. In the case of the two previous disasters our troops were led into precisely the same trap as Colonel Plunkett, and the Somalis invariably adopted the same tactics. Their tactics were to retire before our forces, and when our advance guard had thoroughly separated from the main body they fell upon our troops in the thickest bush and overwhelmed them. They had suffered three disasters from the same cause, and in his opinion there ought to have been strict orders issued to take precautions against traps of the same sort in the future. What was not patent to General Manning was patent 971 to Reuter's correspondent, who, on the 18th of March wrote:—The Mullah is playing a waiting game, in the hope that he may lure the force into a trap, when a repetition of the scenes at Erego may happen.That prediction had been fulfilled to the very letter. He thought that ought to have been provided against by the military officers in charge of this expedition. The subject was an unhappy one, and one upon which the House was not able to comment satisfactorily, but it was a fact which it could not afford to neglect in view of the other operations which it was certain would have to take place.
The only other question was, were they going to hold this country or were they not? There were reasons both ways, but upon the balance of such evidence as he wag able to get he thought that the answer was that they must hold it. In the first place it was the outlet to a very considerable trade with the hinterland. The total trade of this country was not very large, but it was an expanding trade, and the importance of the hinterland was emphasised by the fact that the French had built a railway to tap the trade which would have an outlet at the Port of Jibuti. Not only this country but other countries attached importance to this trade, and it would be a considerable factor in the conclusion which must be arrived at upon this point. Another point was that this territory was so dangerously near the outlet of the Red Sea that they could not afford to allow any other European power to control it. He knew that was a debatable point, but upon the balance of evidence he thought it would be impossible for them to allow any other European power to occupy that territory. The other alternative was to allow the country to pass into the hands of the Abyssinians, but it was by no means certain that Abyssinia could hold its own against the Mullah. The Mullah's rule had been described as giving "a precarious existence of life and property with frequent retaliatory raids, destroying all human and animal life." They did not desire that state of things repeated in Somaliland. For that reason he thought they were bound to keep possession of the country. He wanted to see some real arrangement made whereby 972 if they were to continue to protect the Italian frontier, and their own, against the Mullah the Italians should join with them adequately in regard to providing both money and men. He did not see why this country should be turned into national philanthropists going about doing everybody's dirty work, collecting the debts of one country and performing the police work of another. They had got quite enough on their own hands without interfering in other people's affairs, and if they were to continue to protect the Italians from the Mullah, Italy ought to co-operate with them in every possible way. He suggested to the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that there ought to be adequate protection of the frontier. The past revenues of the country justified spending a certain amount of money upon the protection of the country, and if that policy was followed then he thought there would be a cessation of disturbances and disasters discreditable to our rule and harmful to our finances.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item L be reduced by£500."—(Mr. Charles Hobhouse.)
THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Lord CARNBORNE, Rochester)
The hon. Gentleman, in the speech he has just delivered to the Committee, has complained that the Government has not given, as I understood him, sufficient information. I think the hon. Member himself will recognise from the Blue books that we have not been backward in producing all the official papers dealing with the subject, and that we have given all the information in our power to the House of Commons and the country. I am well aware that although the Foreign Office presents many Blue-books, there are very few hon. Members who have the time to read them; but I think the hon. Gentleman himself has evidently read them and studied them with some care. I am afraid, however, that I cannot agree with the conclusions which the hon. Member has drawn from those Blue-books. The hon. Gentleman has spoken of the reasons which originally led us to occupy the Somali coast. In the first place Berbera was occupied because it 973 afforded a convenient place from which to draw the necessary provisions for the garrison of Aden, but though that was perhaps the original view it was not the only reason which led us to retain that position. The hon. Gentlemen himself has appreciated that, and a glance at the map will show the importance of Somaliland from an international point of view. There can be no doubt that if it could be conceived that the British Government should abandon Somaliland altogether, our position with regard to Abyssinia would be very seriously modified; and, in that case, hon. Gentlemen who have made themselves familiar with international politics would be able to measure the very great extent to which that would affect our position throughout the whole of Northern Africa. Our position in Somaliland is very important, whatever it was originally, but it is not intended by the British Government, and it never was intended, to extend our effective administration far into the interior. As it was, we occupied a strong strategical position, and we enjoyed a certain trade—not a very large trade but sufficient to pay its way. It was, as the hon. Gentleman has reminded the House, the only Protectorate under the Foreign Office which had hitherto paid its way, but that, of course, will be altered in the future. Under these circumstances the Government were most reluctant to enter into any policy or operation which would throw a heavy burden on the Imperial Exchequer. I was a good deal astonished at the line the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, took up, for he seemed to think that the Foreign Office was very much to blame for its reluctance to enter upon these warlike operations in Somaliland. He told the Committee that certain warnings were received from our officials, and he said to the Government: You neglected these warnings; you ought to have acted immediately with greater vigour against the Mullah, and you ought not to have exercised any restraining influence with respect to these operations. Well, Sir, I do not agree with the hon. Member, and I am perfectly certain that if the hon. Gentleman was in office, as no doubt he will be, in any of the great ad- 974 ministrative Departments of this country, he would recognise it as an elementary axiom that you must not follow, without checking it, the advice of your officials on the spot. The officials are not to blame, because, from their point of view, the only part of the world that bulks large is the territory which they are called upon to administer, and they do not take much account of the risks we might ultimately run. What the officials contemplate is the immediate good government of the area for which they are responsible, and of course they desire the Imperial Government to enter upon expeditions and warlike operations without anything like that self-restraint which becomes the central Government. Under these circumstances the Foreign Office were eminently to be commended—I think I may say so because, personally, I was not in office at the time—when they shrank from entirely oversetting the established policy hitherto of governing the coast and merely having relations with the interior so far as trade rendered it necessary, and put off, as it were, to the last moment the undertaking of these warlike operations. But they did not reject the advice of the officials, as I think anyone who listened to the speech of the hon. Member would have been led to suppose. On the contrary, having carefully weighed and sifted the recommendations put before them, they came to the conclusion that an expedition was necessary. I am speaking of the time, as far back as 1899. An expedition was absolutely ordered and troops had been actually told off to take part in it, but the Mullah elected to retire. At that time, for some reason which was not known, his forces disappeared, and he himself retreated beyond the limits of the British Protectorate. Under these circumstances the course of the Government was obvious. The expedition was no longer called for and they at once countermanded the preparations which had been made. That finishes what I may call the first phase of the Somaliland difficulty.
But, unfortunately, the hopes which we had entertained that the Mullah had finally retired were disappointed, and he reappeared. Fresh raids were committed and fresh atrocities were inflicted upon the friendly tribes—tribes in alliance and friendship with this country. Once more it was necessary for us to consider 975 whether an expedition of some kind against the Mullah was not required, We were advised that it was absolutely necessary, as the hon. Gentleman has told the Committee. Once more, having weighed the matter carefully, and taken all the advice in our power, we issued the necessary orders in November for getting together those irregular troops which had to carry out the expedition. The expedition was formed, and was placed under the able command of Colonel Swayne The troops operated under very great difficulty against the Mullah, they defeated him in two or three engagements, and drove his forces headlong before them. Then it is said that we were advised to go forward and that we did not go forward, but restrained our forces and put an end to the expedition. That is perfectly true, but the hon. Gentleman, in another part of his speech, supplied the reason why we acted in that way. In his speech he criticised the Government very severely for having advanced into Italian territory and having undertaken an expedition at a great distance from the base, and he attributed the subsequent check which our arms received to our rashness in that direction. That is precisely what the Government desired to avoid when they put an end to the expedition ordered in 1900. It was because the Mullah had retreated to Mudug which, as the hon. Gentleman knows, is not in British territory, that it was impossible to carry the campaign any further. We had not even got the permission of the Italian Government to go there at that time, and even if we had, I frankly admit, my advice, of whatever value it might be, would have been strongly against the expedition being allowed to proceed any farther, and that we should do our utmost to keep these military operations within reasonable limits, both on the grounds of expense and of the loss of life which warlike operations of course entail.
That brings me to the third phase. Although we had established certain defensive posts upon a line which we took up, raids took place within a very few miles of the strongest of our defensive posts. Now that is very significant, because I do not think the Government would have entered 976 into a campaign of the dimensions of the present campaign—I mean the campaign actually going on—until they had tried the defensive system. It was evidently necessary before embarking upon what I am afraid will prove to be expensive operations, that we should make some attempt to see whether, by drawing up a line of defensive posts, we could not more economically resist the incursions of the Mullah. The acting Consul-General at that time was Mr. Cordeaux. He had done exceedingly well in the difficult duties he had to perform. As soon as he received the necessary orders from His Majesty's Government he at once drew up the line for the defensive posts which we had to form. When Colonel Swayne and General Manning went out they found this defensive scheme in operation. The acting Consul-General had extended this line of defence and had increased its power by various means. Colonel Swayne and General Manning had not been, I think, a month in the country before the Mullah made yet another raid of a more vigorous character, and combined with greater loss to our friendly tribes almost, than any raid made before. It was then and not till then, as the hon. Member will remember, that our responsible military advisers on the spot, namely, General Manning and Colonel Swayne, informed us that they thought it would be impossible to deal with the situation any longer, unless the Government consented to the delivery of a counter-stroke. As soon as we got that advice the Government no longer hesitated.
§ LORD CRANBORNE
This advice was received in March, 1902, and the hon. Member will find Lord Lansdowne's telegram authorising the operations immediately upon this advice under the 977 date of March 7th, 1902. Then it took some time to make the necessary preparations. In dealing with Somaliland, of course a great deal depends upon the time of the year at which the grass grows. It was necessary, therefore, for Colonel Swayne to wait some little time for that event to happen. I think that after that the Committee is pretty familiar with the course of the operations. After having carried out a number of subsidiary operations near the coast, Colonel Swayne entered the great valley which traverses east and west the interior of Somaliland, and once more the Mullah was driven back to Mudug. It is a great oasis in the Italian sphere where water is plentiful and grazing too. There the Mullah was accustomed to make his head-quarters and to keep his flocks and herds. By the experience which we had gained and by the successive advices of our various officers, we were driven to the conclusion that there was only one means of dealing with the Mullah, and that was to strike him at Mudug, the place where he looked for the re-equipment and refreshing, which were necessary after these raids into our territory. So Colonel Swayne had decided to advance to Mudug, but when he got to the borders of the oasis he found himself in a thick bushy country, very similar to that in which Colonel Plunkett's unfortunate engagement recently took place. His troops were surprised. The Somaliland irregulars at once fled, but the company of British Central African troops stood their ground like men and saved the situation. The consequence was that there was comparatively little loss of life so far as the British force was concerned, but the hon. Gentleman is quite accurate in stating that the Somalis were so demoralised that Colonel Swayne had no course open to him but to retire. That, shortly, is the history up to that date of the struggle between ourselves and the Mullah in Somaliland. At that point it once more became necessary for the Government carefully to consider the whole subject in all its bearings, and to consult their military advisers at home, with the view to coming to a conclusion as to what was the best policy to pursue.
I might I think, say that the most important consideration from our point 978 of view was how could we defend the tribes whom we were bound by treaty to defend at the least possible expense to this country? I am not sure whether hon. Gentlemen know that we are bound by treaty to several tribes in Somaliland. These treaties were made many years ago. They were not the work of any one Party in the State. Both Parties had their share in making them. In the days before difficulties with the Mullah existed these treaties merely described the relations that existed between the British administration in Berbera and the tribes which surrounded it; but gradually the relations became more intimate, and finally, in 1886, a treaty was made definitely taking under the protection of the Queen-Empress certain tribes surrounding Berbera. These tribes are called in the Blue-book the Ishak tribes, and, roughly speaking, they occupy an area of country a hundred miles in every direction from Berbera. Well, after taking these tribes under the protection of the Queen-Empress, there was only one course for the Government of this country to pursue, and that was not to abandon them. I do not see how there can be any argument on a point such as that; but even if we had been dishonourable enough to abandon our friends, it would have been a most unsuccessful policy in this instance, because the abandonment of these tribes to the vengeance of the Mullah would have meant that Berbera itself would have been threatened, and would, indeed, have been rendered actually unsafe. In fact it would not have been worth holding, because the trade which is the only financial quid pro quo we receive from Berbera, would, of course, have entirely disappeared. Exactly the same situation which would have made it impossible to hold Eastern Somaliland would have made it impossible to hold Western Somaliland, and the whole of the Protectorate would have followed suit. I ask the Committee with what face we could hold relations with any black community in that part of Africa if we had been dishonourable enough to adopt a policy of that kind? Our whole influence would have disappeared. But not only that, on the southern side of the Somaliland Protectorate—the quarter where the Mullah's influence prevails, extends to the East African Protectorate, and that, too, would have been threatened by the Mullah. 979 The Mullah, with all the prestige of success, and of having driven out of Somaliland the most powerful Western nation, would, no doubt, have threatened the East African Protectorate. What course was then open to us? We might have adopted a purely defensive policy; we might have established a series of defensive posts on the frontier of British Somaliland; but when we came to inquire as to what that would mean, we found that it would mean the permanent occupation of Somaliland by 10,000 of our best troops, and the expense would have been absolutely prohibitive. The idea was therefore abandoned. If we are not to have a defensive policy or an abandonment policy, there is only one other policy left, and that is an offensive policy; namely, to attack the Mullah in his head-quarters, and render him innocuous in the future. That was the policy the Government adopted. At this point the matter passed out of the hands of the Foreign Office into the hands of the War Office.
§ LORD CRANBORNE
His Majesty's Government came to it. As my hon. friend is aware, we had the best military advice which this country can produce, and we took it as I have detailed. I do not think the Foreign Office has anything to reproach itself with. It seems to me that we acted with great moderation. We did our very utmost to avoid throwing unnecessary expenditure on the taxpayers of this country, but at the same time we showed ourselves careful to fulfil our obligations and to preserve our honourable traditions. If the Committee think that in an Empire like this it is possible to avoid expeditions of this kind from time to time, they are very much mistaken. They are, of course, intensely to be regretted, and I have shown how much the Foreign Office regretted this one. But such expeditions are, on occasion, inevitable, and when these occasions arise, then the only thing we can do is to make the best plans in our power and press them on with vigour. I have shown that that is the course pursued in this case by the Foreign Office.
§ SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs)
said he was not rising to pronounce against the Government on the ground of the care they seemed to have taken before entering into these serious military operations. He thought that his hon. friend behind him had made a very able and interesting speech. He did not know whether his hon. friend desired to reproach the Government for the course they had taken, but if the hon. Gentleman did, he did not share that view. He thought the Government were perfectly right in the first instance in pausing before they took any steps at all and that there was justification for that. In the second place, he thought the Government were right to try to minimise, as far as they could, the extent of the operations they had undertaken. The real point the noble Lord had not explained, and that was why we have got into this trouble at all. The Paper before him—Africa, No. 5, 1901—contained in its very first pages the only explanation he knew of, as to the origin of this trouble, and he wished to draw attention to the circumstances. In 1899, the Consul-General at Berbera, Mr. Sadler, said that the Mullah at that time was a person of pacific disposition: a religious zealot particularly attentive to regularity in the hours of prayer, and to inducing people to abstain from intoxicating liquors. He was generally thought to be on the side of law and order, but the Consul-General seemed to think that he was then organising a religious movement antagonistic to our Administration. But there was nothing of violence. On the contrary, although he had several bad and suspicious characters with him, it was the case that he had quite readily returned to the British authorities a person who was supposed to have committed some offence, in order that that person should be tried and punished. He exhibited no sort of hostility to the British Administration, nor had he committed any act of violence. The Dolbohanti district, in which the Mullah was exercising his influence, although an integral part of the British Protectorate, was a part of the country in which we had never attempted to exercise any effective control, and had interfered but little in its affairs. He was not defending the Mullah at all, who had since been guilty 981 of great cruelty; he was speaking of the origin of the trouble as traced in the White-book, and the circumstances under which Consul-General Sadler advised the Government to organise a military promenade. In June, Consul-General Sadler complained, not of anything in the nature of violence, but that the Mullah sought to induce some of our native officials to free themselves from their obligations to our Administration; and then Mr. Sadler went on, in his despatch to Lord Salisbury, to say—At the bottom of all is the pernicious influence of this Mullah, who seeks to undermine our authority with the tribes, and impose his own, for what I cannot but consider political rather than religious motives.Then he confirmed that suspicion by stating—We have hitherto only occupied the coast towns, and depended for the exercise of our authority in the interior on such matters as we have found it necessary to interfere in, either in pressure brought to bear on the tribes in their dealings with the coast towns during the trading season, or by occasional punitive expeditions, which in each case have produced an excellent effect for two or three years.And the Consul-General added—If an openly hostile move is made by the Mullah, which I do not at present anticipate, this will have to be met by force.He proposed to show that no hostile movement had taken place by the Mullah before the recommendation was made to send this expedition. In another despatch dated 16th July, 1899, Consul-General Sadler writes—Reports have been receivedwhether they were true or not, did not appear from this document—that the Mullah has arrested two of our Akils, and seized the rifles of four Biladizahs, who happened to be in the vicinity with caravans. Whether the Akils went to the Mullah of their own accord, or whether they were seized by their tribes, who are hostile, and sent to him, has not yet been ascertained.Upon that, Consul-General Sadler took certain steps on his own responsibility. He wrote:—Steps have also been taken to prevent as far as possible, supplies reaching the Mullah from our coast towns.He then proceeded to say what was somewhat inconsistent in view of the precipitate action that was taken before any act of violence on the part of the Mullah—Reports in Somaliland are generally so various and so conflicting that considerable 982 caution has to be exercised in giving them credence; but I am inclined to believe that there is some truth in these reports about the attitude of Sheikh Salih and the religious sects who are opposed to the Mullah…..Raids and counter-raids are taking place between the Mahomed Aysa and the Habr Toljaaba Noh in connection with the agitation raised by this Mullah.The next statement, in July, reported that the Mullah had gone off his head. The same report was circulated about General De Wet. It was always circulated in similar circumstances, without there being any foundation forit, although he did not think it mattered one way or the other. In August the Mullah was announced at Burao, which in the opinion of the Consul-General was a movement directly against us. Nothing further happened at that time. He had read the Papers and might have omitted something inadvertently; but, as far as he was aware, at that time there was no act of violence on the part of the Mullah. The country was not patrolled or administered by this country, and the tribes moved in it freely. It was more a sphere of influence than an actual Protectorate, because this country did not pretend to exercise any effective authority there at all. That was the situation in August, 1899. Then Consul-General Sadler spoke of the action of the Mullah as an "openly veiled revolt"—rather a strange phrase. Lord Lansdowne at that time was, wisely, he thought, not prepared to take any steps. In September, 1899, he said that the situation was somewhat less alarming; he discounted the alarmist reports of Consul-General Sadler, and he was perfectly right. In September, eight days before Lord Lansdowne had declined to take any steps, Consul-General Sadler took some steps on his own account. On page 14 of the White-book he said—The danger of the position lay in the fact that the Mullah Muhammad Abdullah has made such high pretensions and claims that it was thought probable he would be forced soon to take some definite action both to try and maintain his reputation and to satisfy those of his following who had joined him for purposes of loot.… My first act on my return was to proclaim the Mullah a rebel and warn all persons, by proclamation in the Bazaar, that all those affording him any assistance and holding any communication with him would be severely punished.…All caravan communication in the affected districts has been temporarily suspended.983 What took place after September, 1899, was, he thought, most unfortunate. A proclamation was issued declaring the Mullah a rebel, all persons were prohibited under pain of severe punishment from any dealing with him, and attempts were made to shut off all supplies from him—not merely supplies of arms and ammunition. There was no doubt whatever that that was the commencement of the trouble.
§ LORD CRANBORNE
said he was afraid the hon. Gentleman had not studied the correspondence sufficiently. In the Consul-General's despatch of September 14th, four days after the despatch quoted by the hon. Gentleman, he would see on page 21 the following:—His methods are as follows; he seizes the best men of the tribes who have not declared for him, and all the property he can collect.—this is in a country under British protection—These men he beats until they agree to obey him.…The position of the employees of the Administration is particularly hard. The Mullah is seizing the karias, families, and property of all our servants he can find in the interior. Not content with this, I am informed he has issued a proclamation making the wives of all connected with the Administration lawful to his followers.These were acts which the hon. and learned Gentlemen tried to persuade the Committee were not of a hostile character, and not such as to justify the Consul-General in declaring the Mullah a rebel. He thought that course was abundantly justified.
§ SIR ROBERT REID
said he had stated that he thought the Mullah had shown great cruelty at a later stage.
§ SIR ROBERT REID
said the noble Lord interrupted him, when he was answering the noble Lord's statement. He was not justifying the conduct of the Mullah, but the noble Lord forgot to tell the Committee that the persons whom the Mullah beat were tribes who had declared against him. There was no bloodshed, but there were some acts of violence, although it was only right to remember that the Consul-General himself stated that the reports were very unreliable, and ought to be received with 984 the greatest possible caution. The point was that at the time those steps were taken by Consul-General Sadler it did not appear that any serious acts had taken place, beyond what might be expected in territories which this country did not even pretend to administer. It was under those circumstances that in September 1899 a letter was sent by the Mullah threatening war; and he undoubtedly took part in the raid. He neither now, nor had he ever, nor would, he ever, say it was not the duty of the British Government to give protection, when that protection was promised. The noble Lord referred in terms of indignation to the fact that some of the tribes were beaten, but if this country were to occupy a coast territory, he would appeal to the good sense of the Government, seeing the tremendous consequences which followed military operations, whether the greatest care should not be taken before they penetrated far inland, and involved themselves in enormous and incalculable military expenditure unless some definite and unmistakable outrage had been committed which they could not pass by. The hon. Gentleman opposite thought that some hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House were indifferent to the duty and obligation of fulfilling the promises of protection given by the British Government. He could assure the hon. Gentlemen that they were mistaken with regard to that; but before the actual outbreak of hostilities, nothing of any serious moment could be pointed to, on reliable information, for which reparation might not have been obtained by opening up negotations with the Mullah. He did not complain of the dilatoriness of the Government. On the contrary when the Mullah was acting in a friendly way by sending back a prisoner who had escaped, he thought it was a great pity that some steps were not taken before this very serious danger was incurred. He would point out what the real state of things was. They had occupied a coast territory, the interior being partly a desert, and, for a part of the year, having no vegetation at all. They had heard on high authority that the task of chasing a force like that of the Mullah was one of enormous difficulty; and that it was merely good fortune if it were caught up. He did not wish to blame Consul-General Sadler. His was naturally a 985 difficult position; and he was surrounded by those who were alarmed for their own safety and prospects; but he felt that this country would be involved in endless difficulty unless more effective supervision were exercised over our representatives in foreign countries. He would further like to ask, was it the intention of the Government to undertake the suppression of the Mullah on Italian territory without the assistance of the Italian Government? Were we taking on ourselves the whole of the business? because, so far as he could see, the Mullah was as formidable to Italy as he was to us. The noble Lord was entitled to say we were bound to extend our protection to these people with whom we had treaties, within 100 miles of Berbera. It would be inexcusable not to do it; but he wished to know how far the noble Lord or the right hon. Gentleman intended these operations should be extended, and were they to be extended in conjunction with the Italians or alone.
§ SIR JOSEPH LEESE (Lancashire, Accrington)
said it appeared to him that the interests of Italy were more in danger in this matter than those of England. On the north side of the Red Sea was British Somaliland, and on the east and south was Italian Somaliland, and to the north-west of British Somaliland was Abyssinia and the 300 square miles occupied by the Mullah seemed to be in the very centre. He could not understand why we should have made such a bad bargain with the Italians. The bargain, which was contained in page 90 of the first White Paper, was this. Two British staff officers met two Italian staff officers in conference in Rome, and this was the result—The exact route to be followed in the advance from Obbia on Mudug, and the disposition of troops employed in this advance must necessarily depend on the latest intelligence of the enemy. The final decision on these points must, therefore, be left to the discretion of the Commanding Officer on the spot; but it is recognised by the British authorities that it is strategically and politically important to cut the Mullah off from the south. The importance of this view would be impressed on the General Officer Commanding the Obbia force, and he would be instructed to endeavour to make such disposition of his troops in advancing on 986 Mudug as would be likely to force the Mullah northward or westward.Now Obbia is a port on the coast of Italian Somaliland, nearer to the Mullah's military position than any port of ours in British Somaliland. By this agreement, therefore, we received from the Italian Government the right to land troops and stores at Obbia, and to march through Italian Somaliland against the Mullah, but we were to undertake these operations by ourselves for the purpose of driving the Mullah away from the south, where all the Italian interests lie. This seemed a very one-sided bargain, and he would ask the Secretary of State for War in his reply to explain the exact position.
§ MR. MALCOLM (Suffolk, Stowmarket)
thought so far as the debate had gone there had not been such serious criticism on the conduct of affairs in Somaliland as to disturb the Government. The right hon. Gentleman opposite did not condemn the operations in Somaliland, nor did he counsel retirement. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down was loud in his praises of the cautious conduct of the Government before the operations were commenced, but neither he nor the right hon. Gentleman now suggested abandoning Somaliland. With regard to the madness of the Mullah, it was well known that the Mohammedan natives called all their inspired leaders mad; and after what had fallen from the hon. Member for Dumfries, who had told the Committee that the Mullah's madness took the form of great respect for the law and a great aversion to drink, the Government might be congratulated on the tribute they had received from the hon. Baronet the Member for Camborne, who on the previous night had referred to them as a "collection of mad Mullahs." Objection had been taken to these military promenades, but he thought they were of very great use, and with regard to the little checks that they sometimes received, he strongly objected to their being called disasters. Only two effective criticisms had come from hon. Members opposite, one of which was that our operations had been carried on on Italian territories. There was nothing sacrosanct in the phrase "sphere of 987 influence" in international law, as such spheres were nothing but international conveniences. We could freely go into our neighbour's territory, and we should be poor creatures indeed if we did not punish the Mullah on Italian territory, having pushed him into it, upon the flimsy pretext that we could not operate upon a foreign sphere of influence, Another criticism of the hon. Member for Bristol with which he agreed was that the Foreign Office had not paid sufficient attention to the reports of the experts in Somaliland. He was not satisfied with the explanation of the noble Lord that we had to check at home the reports made out there. It seemed most remarkable that reports of men upon the spot, who knew all the conditions, should not have more attention paid to them. The operations against the Mullah would have to be continued. Consul-General Sadler would not have suggested military operations unless they had been necessary; and, having started them, it was our duty to smash the Mullah as we had smashed the Mahdi years ago in Egypt. He was the whole head and front of this unrest. It was of the utmost importance, as the Mullah had threatened to invade South-East Abyssinia, that we should assist the Abyssinians in this matter. The time might come when we might be unhappily engaged in war with a European Power on our Indian frontiers; at such a time there would undoubtedly be a hostile diversion in Egypt as well, and in such a case it would be of the highest importance to us to have Abyssinia as our friend, and by assisting Abyssinia now we should be showing our friendship to her in a most tangible form. There was another important point to which we must have regard in this matter; and that was that Somaliland was not very far distant from Aden, and if news were once carried to Aden that we were weakening before the Mullah, it would soon spread up the Persian Gulf and so to India, where very great harm would be done to the prestige of the British name. He hoped the Government would continue to prosecute their operations against the Mullah with all the force that was necessary. With reference to the management of the war by the War Office, he regretted the unfor- 988 tunate remark of the Financial Secretary that it would be a big job to change the Mauser bullets. The noble Lord would find it a far bigger job if, in consequence of continuing to use bullets which did not stop these savages, many more of our soldiers were killed. This was, he believed, the first time Mauser bullets had been used against savages of the nature of the Somalis. In conclusion, he declared that our treaty engagements, our highest interests, and our prestige in the eyes of the Mohammedan subjects of the King, demanded that we should press forward until we had smashed the Mullah, and brought the Protectorate of Somaliland to the state in which every British Protectorate ought to be.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
said the noble Lord had given the Committee no information as to the present policy of the Government with regard to this expedition. He had spoken of a certain stage at which the Government, after two defeats, had felt it necessary to consider the question in all its aspects, apparently giving the Committee to understand that it had not before been so considered. The noble Lord further stated that the Government hesitated before agreeing to overstep the established policy in Somaliland. What was the established policy?
§ LORD CRANBORNE
The old policy was to govern the coast, and meddle with the interior only so far as, was necessary to our interests.
§ MR. DILLON
said it was hard that the Committee should now be called upon for the third time to vote money for this expedition, without being told what the new policy was. The practice of the present Government was to draw the people of the country into expeditions and large military operations, without taking them into their confidence as to the policy underlying those expeditions, and thereby enabling them to make some estimate as to the ultimate liabilities entailed. Of late years we had been emphatically reminded of the truth of the remark of the noble Lord that it was impossible for a great Empire like the British to be carried on without occasional expeditions. 989 The temple of war had never been closed since the Government came into office, and it never would be as long as they remained in power. No sooner was one expedition concluded than another started in some other part of the world, and the settled policy of the Government was to conceal the ultimate object of the expeditions and the policy underlying them, and to misrepresent the probable liabilities and cost of the military operations. The whole cost of the Boer War was to be£10,000,000, and it was to be paid off within two years.£50,000 was asked for for the present expedition. Would the Secretary of State for War pledge his word that the country would get out of it for twenty times£50,000? Why did not the Government put down a sum which they honestly thought might carry them through the operations? To put down such a sum as£50,000 was an attempt to deceive the taxpayers, and he should be greatly surprised if the year closed without an expenditure of£1,000,000 having been incurred. The vicious system of grossly and flagrantly under-estimating the cost of these expeditions was one of the causes of the outrageous increase in the expenditure of the country which was now seriously embarrassing the Government and threatening their destruction. Who was the Mullah? What was the original cause of the trouble? The country was led step by step into such a position that they could not turn back, without there being made, at a time when Parliament could consider whether or not the operations should be initiated, any proper statement of the grounds on which these expeditions were undertaken. Who was the Mullah? A letter had appeared in the Press, professing to have been written by the Mullah himself, in which he said he was not mad, that he was an Hungarian officer, that the reason peace had reigned for a time was that he had gone to Hungary for a vacation, and that he would soon return to Somaliland. Now that on more than one occasion disaster had overtaken the British forces, he assumed it was impossible for the Government to draw back until they had, to some extent, re-established their position. But they ought to tell the Committee how far they intended to go, and 990 what was to be the end of the campaign. Did they intend to undertake the administration of this semi-desert country, with all the expense and trouble therein involved?
The one other question to which he wished to refer was the recurrence of that savage instrument of warfare—the dumdum bullet. By persistent effort three or four members on that side of the House had driven the dum-dum bullet out of the British Army, and they would not allow its re-introduction without a struggle. Hon. Members opposite seemed to take up the position that it was lawful for a civilised and so-called Christian nation, when fighting against savages or semi-civilised people, to adopt methods of warfare which, by the universal consent of Christendom, were denied to European Powers. The dum-dum bullet was condemned by all civilised people. At the time of the South African war, although they had determined to use the dum-dum bullet, and many millions of them had been sent out, the Government were forced, by the public opinion of Europe, to withdraw that ammunition. How far would the proposition of hon. Members carry them? If they threw aside in one particular, the limitations on methods of warfare imposed by the growth of civilisation and the common conscience of mankind, where were they to stop? If they could use dum-dum bullets, why not explosive bullets? Where was the difference between expanding and explosive bullets? They were classed in the same category by The Hague Convention. If the use of expanding or explosive bullets was permissible, were they to be allowed to poison the enemy? If not, why not? Experience of human nature and the teaching of history showed that once men were allowed to go beyond the rigid limits laid down, they would stop at nothing. Were they to be allowed to kill all their prisoners and slaughter the wounded? Were they to be allowed to poison the wells? Why not? if they were allowed to use weapons which were forbidden by civilised warfare. There was a principle at stake, because when they once transgressed the limits which civilisation had placed upon the barbarity of war, their military commanders would apply those practices to civilised warfare. They saw this in South Africa.
§ MR. DILLON
said a great many surgeons and scientific men saw it, and the effect of these bullets had been observed by scientific men who had made experiments upon animals. There was no difficulty about the hon. Member getting at the facts. Having used these uncivilised methods of warfare on Indians, and on the wild tribes in the Soudan, they next proposed to use them on white men in South Africa, and would have done so had not the raising of the question in this House made it impossible. This was the kind of poison which made men absolutely forget all the progress humanity had made during the last two centuries. War was a horrible thing which was too lightly treated by the Imperialists of this country. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh, oh!"] He did not mean it in any offensive sense. When nations went to war they laid aside the New Testament and did all kinds of things which were inconsistent. In spite of all that, a certain influence had permeated all Christian nations, and it was one of the greatest and most sacred treasures of humanity that had been given them by modern progress. In one direction they had made progress, and that was that the horrors, the atrocities, and the barbarities of war had been considerably mitigated and ameliorated in recent times. Now they were going back upon that record, and resorting to methods of warfare, against savages, which had been banned and forbidden by the onward progress of humanity and by regard for human suffering. When they saw a great nation like England in conflict with a barbarian nation saying that they could not manage without using bullets that tore to pieces, and which were not allowed to be used in modern warfare, then they would realise how deadly and subtle this poison was, and how it was capable of corrupting the most civilised and humane of modern people. He appealed to the House not to listen to the military experts, but to insist upon conducting this war against these savages without staining our name by the use of these abominable instruments called dum-dum bullets, thus shocking humanity by going back on the path of progress.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)
thought the hon. Member for Mayo had drawn a very imaginative picture. He had suggested that this question of bullets might lead on to poisoning wells, murdering the wounded, and killing prisoners.
§ MR. DILLON
What I said was that these other methods could be defended by the same kind of argument.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
said he did not think the use of these bullets would lead to barbarities of that description. He wished to know whether the complaint published in General Manning's dispatch on Monday last had been found to be well-founded as the result of further inquiry addressed to General Manning; whether the right hon. Gentleman had any reply to that inquiry; whether General Manning substantiated the previous complaint; and what action was the Secretary of State for War going to take? It had not been suggested that the British troops should be furnished with explosive bullets, or any bullets that would do unnecessary damage to the foe. The hon. Member for Mayo seemed to think that the use of these bullets was against the common conscience of mankind, but the only reference to this subject was contained in paragraph E, Article 23, Section 2 of the Hague Convention, which prohibited the employment of arms of the nature to cause "superfluous injuries." If they engaged in civilised warfare the only thing that was desirable was to use sufficient force to disable your enemy. They did not want to kill, and it was better to only wound the enemy. The question was, could they apply the same treatment to civilised soldiers as to savages. In the case of the Mullah's followers their main idea was to get killed in order to secure more favourable quarters in another world. Of course we did not share that belief; neither did we think it would increase our chances in the other world if we unnecessarily risked our lives in this. The bullets referred to had very little I effect upon savages. The clause he had referred to merely said that they must not use a bullet which would cause superfluous injuries. It was well known that in the Soudan campaign the solid Martini-Henry bullet was not sufficient to stop the Soudanese in their wild charges. 993 The question was, were they to equip their troops with ammunition which was sufficient to prevent them being placed at a disadvantage. War was not a game of golf in which it was desirable to handicap one's opponents in order that they should be able to compete on equal terms. In war the object was to defeat the enemy, and to win, and he submitted it was the duty of the British Government to supply the troops with means to carry on its wars in an effective way, so long as those means did not transgress the rules of war. In this case the rules had not been broken. The only rules of which we had any cognisance, and which were recognised by civilised warfare, were the rules drawn up by the Hague Convention. A savage could not be disabled by an ordinary bullet. Therefore it was necessary to use greater force. He hoped the Secretary of State for War would tell the House what information had been received from General Manning on this point, and if his complaint had been substantiated he ventured to appeal to him not to handicap our men in order to satisfy what he could only call a feeling of sickly sentimentality.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said the statement of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs was candid and clear so far as it went. Still, it did not supply the information required to judge accurately of past events, or to suggest what policy the Government contemplated now. The Committee must also desire to hear something from the Secretary of State for War on the incidental point raised by the hon. Member for Mayo, and which he thought they need not discuss until they heard the facts. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to tell them that, to quote the words of the last speaker, they had not made their chances worse in the world to come by the use of a bullet condemned by The Hague Convention. He should also like to hear from the Secretary for War why it was that an adequate provision of artillery and supplies was not sent with the expedition, which would have saved it from the misfortune into which it had fallen. Our position in Somaliland had been, for the past four years, 994 a record of growing and extending difficulties and dangers. The Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had said that position was inevitable. He did not think it was. At any rate, it was not unprecedented. It was the old story. It was exactly what had happened over and over again in our experience in uncivilised countries. Those who remembered the debates with regard to the Mahdi in the Soudan, and the debates on the outbreaks on the North-West frontier of India knew exactly how the phenomena of these cases had repeated themselves. In this case we began by establishing a coast Protectorate, and we did it with good intentions and on good grounds. One of the great difficulties Britain always had in the East was that we were continually coming into conflict, in Mohammedan countries, with the religious question which was as serious a trouble as it was at home in the matter of elementary education. The Mullah, as a religious fanatic, seemed to be something between a Trappist and a teetotaller. He obtained an enormous influence over his followers by preaching a jehad against the infidels. There were two courses open to the Government when, three or four years ago, the power of the Mullah began to grow, and one of these was a strictly defensive policy. He was said to be mad, but there had never been a case of madness having so much method. The Government ought to have adhered to their strictly defensive policy. It was to rely upon the sea and hold the country immediately adjacent, at the same time endeavouring to stop the traffic in arms, which enabled the Mullah to add to the gallantry and dash of his spearsmen, the advantages of European weapons. The officers of our forces, as usual, desired a forward policy; and the Government seemed to have been led to enter upon expeditions which had the effect of incensing the Mullah and quickening his appetite for war. If we had confined ourselves to the defensive events might have been different. That was the way the thing grew. It went on steadily growing until the expedition of last year.
Nothing could be more unfortunate than the result of the expedition of last year, when our force was surprised on 995 approaching the Mudug oasis. That was the cause of a great deal of the difficulty, because, as was well said by Colonel Swayne, nothing in the East succeeds like success. The fact that we were defeated on that occasion had enabled the Mullah to become very much more formidable. The Committee ought to receive an explanation from the War Office as to why this expedition was allowed to proceed with what turned out to be an inadequate equipment. He thought the policy of the Government through these earlier stages might be reduced to these points. In the first place it was not clear that the Government themselves, although Lord Lansdowne wished to keep on the defensive if he could, stated and forecasted their own policy. They followed the advice of their officers instead of clinging to the policy of keeping on the defensive. In the second place, he found in the Blue-book little trace of what sort of consultation had taken place between the War Office and the Foreign Office, and one of the evils of the whole matter had been that they never knew whether it was the Foreign Office or the War Office that was responsible for the present state of affairs between the two Departments. He thought the whole matter ought to have been handed over to the War Office. So far as he could gather from the Blue-book it was the Foreign Office that had initiated the war, and not the War Office. But both the War Office and the Foreign Office seemed to have underestimated the dangers of the situation. Take one point. This was a waterless country, and it was not realised that better provision must be made for supplying the force with water than was actually made. It was not realised that a mounted force was wanted, because what the Mullah gained by being in possession of cavalry was similar to the advantage which the Boers gained in the beginning of the South African War. It was his celerity of movement that made him so formidable. He was able to escape, to cut our lines, and to scout. The difficulties we had found were very largely owing to the fact that his was an exceedingly nimble mounted force, whereas our force was largely pedestrian. He admitted that from time to time warnings on that subject were given in the reports from the officers. That was 996 the position to which we had now been brought. He did not wish to underestimate the difficulties of the position in which the Government was placed. He wished to acknowledge candidly that they did try to adopt a defensive policy. His hon. friend who opened the debate was of opinion that the Government were wrong in not striking soon and hard. That hon. Gentleman might be right, but personally he was inclined to think a defensive policy was the best policy. But when the Government had decided to abandon a defensive policy it might have been better had they struck more quickly and harder. In his opinion, it might have been better to have struck sooner, before the Mullah's forces had been reinforced, and de moralisation had set in among our own troops.
He did not think the debate ought to close without an expression from some part of the House of the great friendliness and cordial spirit which had been shown towards us by the Government of Italy. The Government of Italy, no doubt in their own interests, but still with a disregard of pedantry, and a cordial friendliness to this country which we ought to appreciate, had allowed us to use their ports, and had co-operated with us in every way they could, shoat of employing forces of their own. He had several questions to ask the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, in regard to the concluding despatches in the Blue-book with reference to the Conference at Biome an d the Memorandum in which was contained the outlines of the policy of the Government in reference to the next move forward of the Mullah; but before doing so he might refer to the loss of Colonel Plunkett. He had the honour of knowing Colonel Plunkett, and he wished to acknowledge the gallantry of that young officer of very great promise and very amiable qualities. It was in the movement contemplated by this Memorandum that this unfortunate reverse occurred in which Colonel Plunkett lost his life. It was obviously the intention to despatch a column from Obbia to the Mudug oasis in order to strike a blow at the influence of the Mullah, and to hold it. It now turned out that Obbia was a very difficult port, in fact only an 997 open roadstead, in which to land supplies. What, then, were the intentions of the Government with regard to the future? Did they propose to operate from some other point, and did the agreement with Italy foreshadow the policy of acting with friendly tribes? Did they intend to put forward Yusuf Ali, the Sheik of Obbia, against the Mullah? If so, had they considered the difficulties, which he thought insuperable, that would arise from supporting a native chief in the Italian sphere, far from our base? And, lastly, was there any intention on the part of the Government to endeavour to get Italy to actually cooperate? His hon. friend who brought forward this question expressed his desire that if the operations must be prolonged and the country be held, it ought not to be done unless Italy co-operated. But there was no indication that he could see that Italy was disposed to take any active part in sending a force into that country, or in undertaking operations there. He did not know the attitude of Abyssinia. He understood)'t was friendly, but he did not find that there was any indication that Abyssinia was co-operating with us against the Mullah.
§ MR. BRYCE
She was patrolling her own frontier, but he did not think it appeared in the latest dispatches that she was co-operating. It was, however, quite clear that, considering the present operations were going on in the Italian sphere, at a great distance from the British base in the Gulf of Aden, and with waterless deserts between, the question of the cooperation of Italy became of primary importance, and the Committee was entitled to some information on the subject. So much for the specific points on which he wanted information.
There were two possible policies for the future. One policy was to keep hold of the coast and of the tribes immediately adjoining, to defend their frontiers, so far as necessary, perhaps by a line of posts, but resting upon our own base in the Gulf of Aden. We were quite able to do that. He thought in carrying out 998 that policy everything possible should be done in the way of encouraging trade. We ought to try to give the tribes an interest in keeping the peace by means of trade, and he could not help thinking that not quite enough, had been done in that direction. A great deal also might be done, by way of judicious subsidies, to get the tribes enlisted on our side. He meant the policy adopted by Colonel Warburton in subsidising the tribes in the Khyber Pass What was the alternative policy? Had the Committee consideied where we stood in Somaliland, a territory stretching away backwards into deserts unknown even to the geographer, and where there was no natural boundary, where we did not know what tribes there were between the Italian sphere on the one side and the Abyssinian frontier en the other—and reaching as far as Lake Rudolf? Were we to pursue the Mullah into those trackless limits, were we to endeavour to establish posts there, to keep garrisons, and to make ourselves permanently responsible for those territories? The Government had given the House no indication of the view theý took. This territory was wild, and as absolutely inhospitable as any part of the earth, and little fit for us to occupy with any hope of profit or benefit, while the expense would be exceedingly heavy. He hoped they should hear from the Government that there was no intention to do anything of the kind. At present we were left in a position of great anxiety. We had spent about a million already and had the prospect of spending a million more. While the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in calculating his Budget, had allowed himself a very narrow margin, we were left with the prospect of undertaking a costly operation, the nature of which was not foreseen, and apparently entirely off our own bat. He thought that a٭ question involving so large issues would require further discussion. He invited the Committee to consider the gravity of the position, and he hoped the Government would give an assurance that they were going to conduct this, operation with more prudence and foresight than had latterly been shown, and. that they would think many times 999 before they undertook the great responsibility and enormous danger which the permanent occupation of these territories must necessarily involve.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. BRODRICK, Surrey, Guildford)
The right hon. Gentleman in his concluding sentence; drew attention to the probability that further discussion on this subject would be necessary. I do not think that anybody can complain of the tone of the debate this afternoon. The discussion, so far as it has proceeded, has gone far to clear away a good many misconceptions, both as to the operations which have been undertaken, and the objects which the Government had in view in undertaking these operations. In the first place, I do not think that the speech of my noble friend has in any serious way been challenged with regard to the account he has given of the manner in which we were forced into these operations, which we would have gladly avoided. It must be remembered that the treaties made with the friendly tribes were made, not by this Government, but by preceding Governments, which had excellent reasons for undertaking the liabilities they did accept. My noble friend showed, step by step, the circumstances which, while the Government were not responsible for them, made it necessary to exercise protection over the tribes whom we had undertaken to defend. Criticisms, indeed, there have been from various quarters. The hon. Member for Bristol thought we did not strike soon enough; and the hon. Member for the Dumfries Burghs thought we had struck too soon, and he endeavoured to show from the Blue book that the challenge was sent to the Mullah earlier than was necessary. But? think these criticisms answer one an. other. The fact remains that the tribes under our protection suffered very seriously before any steps were taken by the Consul-General at all, that they were losing their property and their wives, and had been personally maltreated at the hands of the Mullah.
§ MR. BRODRICK
The right hon. Member has confused two things. If we were to accept a challenge from a European Power, definite acts of war would probably follow almost instantaneously; but, if we reduce the language of the Acting Consul-General, the acts reported on 14th September do not by any means follow on his proclamation of 10th September. On the contrary, they were a recapitulation on his part of information which did not travel so rapidly as is the case with information in the daily paper. It was information of outrages which had been proceeding, not only a few days before, but weeks before. I only make that point for this reason. I can speak with some personal knowledge of negotiations of that kind. I have been Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and no man ever sat in the Foreign Office who was more absolutely determined to keep the country, if he could, out of these small expeditions than Lord Salisbury. That was not a unique case, for a case arose in East Africa at the same time—a case of planting a line of posts—which Lord Salisbury thought might lead to trouble. The case of Somaliland was the second. There was a similar case further south. And in all these cases Lord Salisbury set his face determinedly against anything which would make it necessary to adopt a punitive expedition? am sure it was a sentiment shared by the whole of the Government. If the sentiment would be shared in the present day, how much more would it be shared at a moment when we had undertaken great liabilities in a war in South Africa? I think, therefore, that, as regards the inception of this expedition, we may consider that we are on common ground with all our critics. Something has been said by the right hon. Gentleman as regards the manner in which it has been carried out. I was a little surprised to hear him ask the Government to explain why there was not a better provision of men, artillery, forage, and supplies. I think the question only shows that the information which has already reached us and the country, is insufficient to enable Members to judge what is the force provided by the Government. I have received violent letters in the course of the past few days, complaining that our force is inferior to that of the Mullah, and that we should 1001 put a larger number of men—the right hon. Gentleman said a larger number of mounted men on the field.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I am glad the right hon. Gentleman was not referring to the present expedition. All I can say is that Colonel Swayne conceived that, with the force which was at his disposal, he was justified in making the advance he did. He has most gallantly carried out the duties which were laid upon him, considering the force he had under him; and the misfortune which has happened to him is one of those checks which in savage warfare and in a wooded country, with the difficulties of water and transport, may happen and must be risked in any such attempt. Perhaps I may clear that point away by saying that we were anxious, with regard to this expedition, to send as large a force, as fully and plentifully equipped in every respect, as it could possibly be useful to employ, to carry out on the true basis adopted the objects in view. I believe that we fully met General Manning's requirements in every particular. The time has not come for us to have a report on the expedition from General Manning. All I can say is that any demand which has been made upon us has been promptly executed. As regards his own opinion, I may say that I have seen a private letter only a few days ago, in which he expressed the hope that the Mullah will find his force too strong for him. In another paragraph he said—We must endeavour to bring the Mullah to book, and with this splendid force I think we shall be able to.I imagine that General Manning had nothing to complain of in the provision made in respect of his force. It is obvious that in an advance of that description, made through such a country, entirely dependent on camels for transport—and these Somaliland camels, other camels being unsuitable for the work in the country—in having to proceed over large stretches of desert between the wells, we are tremendously handicapped in sending as large a force as we desire.
Complaint has been made as to the bullet. We have no information, nor had we any 1002 sort of communication on the subject, until the telegram coming, not from General Manning but from Colonel Cobbe, with regard to that retirement of his in which his square was attacked. The case was carefully considered. It must not, however, be assumed that the whole of the ammunition consists of the bullet referred to; we had also a certain number of troops armed with Martini-Henry rifles; and until I heard the hon. Member I was not aware that the Martini-Henry bullet had not been considered sufficient as against savage troops. Generally speaking, the stopping power of the bullet has been recognised as-sufficient. With regard to the other bullet, we wait from General Manning confirmation of this report. I telegraphed at once to know what his opinion was, and whether he had heard of any such complaint in other attacks which have been made I is a difficult and thorny subject. I agree to a large-extent with the hon. Member for Fareham. You are bound to have a bullet of sufficient stopping power to prevent the rush of savages. That is, I think, clear. But it can be achieved without any of the terrors which the hon. Member for East Mayo fears. A very simple operation on the bullet of cutting off the end has that effect without producing the result which has been mentioned. A subject of this kind, however, will have our most earnest attention as soon as we have the facts before us. But hon. Members must not forget that if the facts as telegraphed are true, a force of 200 succeeded in laying low at least 2,000 assailants, and it must be evident, therefore, that the failure of the bullet cannot have been so complete. No serious attempt has been made to prove that the equipment of the force has been, defective; so I am sure that no hon. Member will hesitate to agree that General Manning's progress, the difficulties which he has already surmounted, and the manner in which he has advanced during the three months he has been engaged, call for nothing but the warmest commendation from this House.
We come now to what has been achieved, and what is to be the policy. I must here say a word with regard to the attitude of the Government of Italy. 1003 One of our critics rather assumed that we were endeavouring to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for the Italians, and that we were not having sufficient regard to British interests. That is not the case at all. We appreciate to the full the cordial co-operation we have received from the Government of Italy. As far as assisting us to check the supply of ammunition to the Mullah, in sending officers to accompany our forces, in making things easy in every respect they could at Obbia, we have had full assistance from them. But it is necessary for me to say that we have not received all the assistance from Italy we had hoped or had reason to anticipate, in relation to Mudug since we have occupied it. No doubt there have been difficulties which have subsequently arisen, and which the Italian Government were unable to foresee; and we make no criticism whatever on the action of the Italian Government, which has been throughout of the friendliest character. I daresay that the map is in the minds of hon. Members, but the facts which we had to face originally were the Mullah's position. If we attacked from the north, as before, he would probably retire on the oasis of Mudug, and it would be much more difficult for us to attack from the north than for him to defend. We would drive him not merely into Italian territory but south and west into our own territory in East Africa. This was a contingency which would possibly spread the fanatical revolt and make it a bad business for us to undertake. Therefore, on the consideration simply of the strategical position, as in other respects with regard to the operations, there has been the most complete co-operation between the War Office and the Foreign Office. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the Foreign Office was doing a little filibustering on its own account without having sufficient regard to the military authorities. So long as the Foreign Office conducted the business they conferred continually with our Intelligence Department, and we have to take the fullest responsibility for all that took place. When the matter assumed a more serious character and the War Office took it over, we kept in close touch with the Foreign Office on account of so many political considerations being involved. It became necessary to make an advance from Obbia on strategical grounds. The 1004 object was to strike a blow at the prestige of the Mullah by driving him from his base at Mudug. In doing that the desire was to drive him, not to the south and west, but to the north and the east. That object was fully accomplished. The Mullah was unable to proceed to the south, and was driven to the north, in close proximity to the Abyssinian frontier. The next step was the closing up of our forces from the north That also was accomplished by Colonel Gough. The question then arose whether a similar column could drive the Mullah nearer to the Abyssinian frontier; and that was accomplished by the advance to Gumbarru; and not only has more been accomplished by General Manning than was contemplated at the outset, but the Mullah's position at present is more un favourable to himself than we could have hoped for from a campaign which could not with any certainty be expected to end in his capture. Then came the advance to Galadi. In that case I think that Colonel Plunkett was probably carried too far by his eagerness to attack the enemy. I agree with the tribute paid by the right hon. Gentleman to Colonel Plunkett. As far as we can tell, the force he commanded behaved with great gallantry and did everything that lay in their power when they were engaged by the enemy. But it is fair to General Manning to say that the further advance of Colonel Plunkett was not part of his scheme, and was undertaken by Colonel Plunkett on his own responsibility; and therefore that check must not be held to have influenced in any degree the operations which General Manning had undertaken. He is at Galadi, far in advance of the position we expected him to occupy. Colonel Gough is at Bohotle, and we are in communication with the Abyssinians, who are advancing from the west and south. I do not prophesy how far the co-operation of these bodies may lead to the desired results. I have telegraphed to General Manning to ask what he considers to be the estimate of the position; and until I receive that estimate I am sure the Committee will absolve me from any statement as to what the immediate military operations must be.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE
Could the right hon. Gentleman say where General Manning is at present? The right hon. Gentleman has telegraphed to him, therefore he must know.
§ MR. BRODRICK
We believe him to be at Galadi. But while I cannot tell what the next military steps will be, I should like to clear away the impression that we are bound to hold on to Mudug by any agreement with the Italian Government. We have cleared the Mullah out of Mudug, and have operated from that base for our own benefit. If the Italians are prepared to keep the place they may; but our responsibility for Mudug in the Italian territory is entirely confined to any advantage which our own commanders may think they derive strategically from its further occupation. It is open to General Manning to retire to Bohotle, and to establish there a chain of posts. He may wish to advance further to cooperate with the Abyssinians; but in either case we shall hear before any steps are taken; and it is impossible for me to suggest what will be the immediate course. The right hon. Gentleman has expressed the hope, in which he will have the heartiest sympathy of the Government, that we shall not pursue the Mullah into trackless deserts; that we shall not set up a line of posts and garrisons in the desert, or occupy that part of the country in which this war is for the moment being carried on. The right hon. Gentleman may make his mind easy in that respect. We have no intention of administering the country in which we now are, or, as far as I can predict, of attempting to hold the country. Our policy is to keep the coast line and to maintain our protection of the tribes whom by treaty we are bound to protect; we shall certainly try to keep in hand the traffic in arms and ammunition which leads to these disturbances. We is hall also take any steps in our power by means of the expedition now in progress to break the power of the Mullah,; so as to prevent fresh attacks on our tribes. But we are not going to send a large fresh expedition to pursue the Mullah, to whom we have dealt a heavy blow by seizing his base, and by seizing a large amount of his cattle. We are also not prepared to operate further in the Italian territory, though we recognise the assistance which 1006 we have received from the Italian Government. It is suggested that we selected the wrong base, and that that has led to a loss of stores and ships. That is not confirmed in any way. We have knowledge only of two or three boats staved in, and the loss of a pinnace. We selected Obbia because we proposed to disembark our troops before the monsoon. We had no intention of re-embarking them after, nor would the Italian Government have desired that we should occupy their territory for a longer period. General Manning has carried out, as can be judged by the language used by the Italian Government last December, the intentions with which the expedition started. He, Colonel Gough, and the Abyssinian army, stand in a favourable position for completing what has been begun. We do not propose to incur further heavy expenditure in pushing up fresh troops, though we may have to send reinforcements to enable General Manning to hold the position. We do not propose to administer the country which we now occupy; and it is not proposed to set up posts, unless they be of a defensive character, close to our own boundaries, and for the protection of the tribes within our own boundaries. These expeditions are undoubtedly onerous ones to be undertaken by this country, but the Government to be blamed is not the Government which undertakes them in pursuance of undoubted treaty obligations, but the Government which entered into those obligations. In this case we shall find that the occupation of Berbera and the undertakings given in respect of it can be justified, but it has been necessary for us to carry out those obligations and that has been an onerous charge which we have deferred as long as we possibly could. Having undertaken the task, we have given the best support to our troops, and have every reason to be satisfied with the manner in which those on the spot have carried out the work committed to them.
§ MR. ASQUITH (Fife, E.)
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman has not taken too optimistic a view of the future, for we should all be glad to share his view. But I rise to express my satisfaction with the assurances with which the right hon. Gentleman concluded his speech. It is perfectly true that the undertakings deliberately given by this country to the 1007 savage or semi-savage tribes under our protection must be rigidly, honourably, and even scrupulously observed, and it is immaterial what Government is in office at the time. As far as that goes our policy is a continuous policy. But I am also sure that we are all very anxious not to extend the boundary of these obligations in this particular quarter. From the point of view of Imperial safety and prestige, and from the point of view of trade, anything more undesirable than enlarging our already onerous and thankless responsibilities I cannot possibly conceive. Therefore I hail the right hon. Gentleman's statement on behalf of the Government that there is no intention of pursuing these operations beyond the boundaries of our own spheres of interest, but that there is the strongest disinclination to undertake the task of administering this country or of permanently occupying it. I am also glad to hear that, as far as the Italian sphere is concerned, we have undertaken no obligation at all. The Italian Government has shown much cordiality and friendliness all through, but I cannot help feeling that our common interests there, such as they are, were very evenly shared between the two parties, and that it is hardly a fair apportionment of the risk and responsibility that we have been compelled to undertake. As regards the future I only venture to say that, having studied these Papers carefully, I have come to the conclusion, which I think must be shared by all those who have looked into the matter, that, if you want to get rid of the formidable character of the Mullah as a possible source of danger in this part of the world, much the best way is to starve him out of his supply of arms. I cannot help thinking that if the policy of rigidly watching the ports and the whole coast, and policing them, had been adopted and pursued with vigour earlier than it was, the power of the Mullah would never have risen to the formidable dimensions which it has since assumed. It is in that direction, far more, I think, than by pushing punitive expeditions into distant parts of the country, that the prevention of the recrudescence of his power is to be looked for. But that, after all, is a comparatively subordinate matter. My whole purpose is to acknowledge the statement which the right hon. Gentleman has made that, so far as the intentions of the Government are concerned, they are rigidly to confine them- 1008 selves to existing obligations, and not to extend or enlarge them in any way.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs),
while rejoicing that the Government did not propose to proceed with this unfortunate enterprise, thought the Committee were invited by the declaration of the Secretary of State for War to consider why the Government had adopted the course they had been following for the last two or three years in these territories. The right hon. Gentleman said that in this last expedition they had accomplished more than they had anticipated. That was an extraordinary declaration. We had sustained a severe reverse, retreated 122 miles, and abandoned our stores; and yet the Government had accomplished more than they had anticipated. This was really trifling with Parliament.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I think the hon. Gentleman did not understand. What I referred to was that we had undertaken to turn the Mullah out of his base at Mudug. That we did, with the whole of his force, and ourselves occupied Mudug. We sent a flying column in pursuit, and that flying column penetrated a great deal further than it was supposed it would do, having regard to the route it had to traverse.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
was aware that it had penetrated, but it had had to retreat, carrying its wounded 122 miles. How was that an accomplishment of the object it had in view? There had been three expeditions, and the Mullah was stronger than ever. He started with 2,000 spearmen; after the second expedition he had 12,000, now he had at least 30,000 or 40,000; he had increased his prestige; we were in retreat before him, and the Government now declared they were giving up the job because they had accomplished more than was ever anticipated. Why did not the Government have the courage to state the facts? The truth was they made a mistake—not for the first time; they twice repeated the mistake, and then at last, having landed the country in disaster, they had discovered their mistake, and very sensibly were giving up the job. Some of the right hon. Gentleman's phrases had a familiar sound. The Government had heard that the Mullah "would not fight, "or that he 1009 was "getting tired of it," that "every demand made by the General on the spot had been more than met, "these were the phrases Members have heard for three years past. Even the statistics had the same old sound, "2000 killed!" It reminded them of the figures showing that more Boers had been killed than were ever in the field. The Mullah and his forces had been annihilated, and yet he now had ten times the number of men with which he started. The War Office had really learnt nothing. But he confessed that, when it was stated the War Office was co-operating with the Foreign Office, it was with a sense of relief he heard the expedition was to be abandoned. One Department was bad enough, but, with the combined inefficiency of both, not even the co-operation of Italy could save us. The Government had been timid where they ought to have been bold, just as in South Africa they were rash where they ought to have been cautious. They might have done one of two things—either remained on the defensive and protected the tribesmen to whom they had pledged their word, or gone forward and smashed the Mullah. They had done neither. The story was perfectly simple. Here was a Mullah supposed to be mad. If the Mullah was mad what was the War Office? It would really be interesting to have the Mullah's opinion of both the War Office and the Foreign Office. This mad gentleman started, with 2,000 men, fighting the presumably sane Department which administered our affairs in Somaliland. The sane Department at home sent an inefficient force to meet him, and they retreated "having accomplished their object," which presumably was to treble the Mullah's forces. Then, according to the dispatch of 17th March, 1902, the Government discovered that the Mullah had 12,000 men; they allowed him to raid Dolbohanti, where he added another 12,000 men to his forces. Against these 24,000 soldiers, mostly mounted, they sent a number of unmounted men—the same old story! But they sent only 2,000 African levies to overcome this really clever "madman" with a force of 24,000 first-class fighting men, whose only object in life, according to the hon. Member for Fareham, was to be killed. Naturally That force was beaten—but "they had accomplished their object." Having had these two lessons, the 1010 War Office sent another force, not of 2,000 but actually 2,300 men. Who would say, after that, that the War Office did not profit by experience? It was true the Mullah had added 30,000 to his force, but the War Office would not look at that. Then came disaster. But the War Office said their object had been accomplished They had cleared out of the whole territory; the Mullah was broken; he was chasing our troops; and the right lion. Gentleman did not know where his own General was.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I am afraid I cannot enter into the hon. Gentleman's merriment on the subject. When I was asked where the General was, I said he was in Galadi.
§ MR. LLOYD - GEORGE
understood that the right hon. Gentleman added "or somewhere near." That made a great difference. He was glad to hear he had got back to Galadi. At all events, he was in full retreat, and had abandoned his most bulky stores. After two or three years of fighting, with disaster after disaster, the War Office, aided by the intelligence of the Foreign Office, said they were going to abandon the whole thing simply because the object was accomplished. That was trifling with the House of Commons.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I made no announcement of that kind at all. I very carefully guarded myself against saying what military steps would now be taken until we heard from General Manning. What I said was that the object of the expedition—to expel the Mullah from Mudug—had been accomplished, and it was not supposed that he would operate further in that sphere. Our future policy will depend on the advice we receive from General Manning.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said the Mullah had left Mudug to pursue them, and the Government said they had accomplished their object in getting him out of Mudug. They were fighting a gentleman whom they called mad. He should not have thought it possible that two Government Departments would have shown such hopeless inefficiency and in competency as was shown at the present 1011 moment. The Secretary of State for War said he did not know now what he was going to do, and all he was clear about was that he was not going to Mudug again. He talked as if nothing had happened, and he said he deprecated disasters. Was the slaughter of some of the most gallant officers in the British Army a disaster t Was the slaughter of 150 to 200 soldiers to be called a disaster? Here was one of the best officers in the British Army, one of the pluckiest, who knew the country—his life and that of other gallant men had been sacrificed through the sheer stupidity of a couple
|Allan, Sir William (Gateshead)||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Rigg, Richard|
|Allen, Chas. P. (Glos., Stroud)||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Asher, Alexander||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Harwood, George||Roche, John|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbt. Hy.||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale||Rose, Charles Day|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Hayter. Rt Hon Sir Arthur D.||Russell, T. W.|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Helme, Norval Watson||Samuel, Herbt. L. (Cleveland)|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Holland, Sir William Henry||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Black, Alexander William||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Shackleton, David James|
|Brigg, John||Hutchinson,Dr.CharlesFradk.||Shaw, Charles E. (Stafford)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Jones, David B. (Swansea)||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick, B.)|
|Bryce, Right Hon. James||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Kearley, Hudson E.||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Burns, John||Lambert, George||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Burt, Thomas||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Caldwell, James||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Taylor, Theo. C. (Radcliffe)|
|Cameron, Robert||Leng, Sir John||Tennant, Harold John|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Levy, Maurice||Thomas, Sir A. (Glam., E.)|
|Cawley, Frederick||Lewis, John Herbert||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lloyd-George, David||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Craig, Robert Hunter(Lanark)||Lundon, W.||Tomkinson, James|
|Cremer, William Randal||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Toulmin, George|
|Crooks, William||Markham, Arthur Basil||Ure, Alexander|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Morgan,J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Wallace, Robert|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Moulton, John Fletcher||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Dillon, John||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.|
|Doogan, P. C.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Whiteley G. (York, W. R.)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Dunn, Sir William||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Edwards, Frank||O'Mara, James||Williams, O. (Merioneth)|
|Elibank, Master of||Palmer, Sir C. M. (Durham)||Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.)|
|Ellis, John Edward||Partington, Oswald||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Paulton, James Mellor||Woodhouse,SirJT(Hudd'rsfi'd|
|Evans, Sir F. H. (Maidstone)||Pirie, Duncan V.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Price, Robert John|
|Fenwick, Charles||Priestley, Arthur||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Charles Hobhouse and Sir Joseph Leese.|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||Reddy, M.|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Reid,SirR.Threshie(Dumfries)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Aubrey-Fletcher,RtHonSirH.||Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds|
|Allhusen, Aug. Henry Eden||Austin, Sir John||Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Banbury, Sir Frederick George|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Bam, Colonel James Robert||Bartley, Sir George C. T.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Balcarres, Lord||Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Baldwin, Alfred||Bignold, Arthur|
|Arrol, Sir William||Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Man||Bigwood, James|
§ of Government Departments. Whatever one's opinion might be about the South African War, everybody knew that there was in that war more bloodshed than was necessary, owing to the in competency of one of those Departments. Was it not time that this House should at least make some one responsible for all this muddle and disaster which was perpetrated in the name of the Empire?
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 118; Ayes, 233. (Division List No. 72.)1013
|Bill, Charles||Graham, Henry Robert||Pemberton, John S. G.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs||Percy, Earl|
|Bond, Edward||Gretton, John||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Purvis, Robert|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Groves, James Grimble||Randles, John S.|
|Bowles,T.Gibson (Lynn Regis)||Hall, Edward Marshall||Rankin, Sir James|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Rattigan, Sir William Henry|
|Butcher, John George||Hamilton, Rt Hn Ld.G. (Midx||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Campbell, Rt Hn J A (Glasg.)||Hamilton, Marq. of (Londondy||Remnant, Jas. Farquharson|
|Carson, Rt. Hn. Sir Edw. H.||Hardy, Laurence (Kent,Ashfd||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine|
|Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Renwick, George|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Ridley, S. F. (Bethnal Green)|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Robertson, H. (Hackney)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Heath, James (Staffs., N. W.)||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Helder, Augustus||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hon J (Birm||Henderson, Sir Alexander||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.J A (Worc||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Chaplin, Right Hon. Henry||Houston, Robert Paterson||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Chapman, Edward||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Jeffreys, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred||Sadler, Col. Saml. Alexander|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thus. H. A. E.||Kemp, George||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Coddington, Sir William||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H.||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Keswick, William||Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Kimber, Henry||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Knowles, Lees||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Lambton, Hon. Fredk. Wm.||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow||Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Craig,CharlesCurtis(Antrim,S.)||Lawrence,Sir Joseph(Monm'th||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Cranborne, Lord||Lawson, JolmGrant (Yorks,NR||Spear, John Ward|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Lee, ArthurH. (Hants,Fareham||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)|
|Crossley, Sir Savile||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Stanley, Hn. Arthur(Ormskirk)|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Davenport, William Bromley||Leveson-Gower, Fredk. N. S.||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Denny, Colonel||Lockie, John||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir Jn. M.|
|Dewar, Sir T. R.(Tr. Haml'ts||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Stroyan, John|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Dimsdale,Rt. Hon. SirJosephC.||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Long,Rt Hn.Walter(Bristol,S.||Talbot,Rt. Hn.J.G. (Oxf'd Univ|
|Dorington,Rt.Hn.Sir John E.||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore||Lowe, Francis William||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart||Lucas, Reg'ld J. (Portsmouth)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Macdona, John Cumming||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Faber, E. B. (Hants, W.)||Maclver, David (Liverpool)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Walrond, Rt.Hn.Sir WilliamH|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Ed.||M'Iver,Sir Lewis(Edinburgh W||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Fergusson,Rt Hn. Sir J. (Man'r||M'Killop, Jas. (Stirlingshire)||Welby,Lt.-Col. ACE (Taunton|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Malcolm, Ian||Whiteley,H (Ashton-und-Lyne|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Middlemore, Jn.Throgmorton||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Williams,RtHnJ Powell-(Birm|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|FitzGerald,Sir Robert Penrose||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Wilson,A. Stanley (York, E.R.|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||More,Robt.Jasper (Shropshire)||Wilson John (Glasgow)|
|Flower, Ernest||Morrell, George Herbert||Wodehouse,Rt.Hn.E.R.(Bath)|
|Forster, Henry William||Morrison, James Archibald||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Foster, PhilipS. (Warwick,S. W||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Worsley-Taylor, Hry. Wilson|
|Fyler, John Arthur||Mowbray, Sir Robt. Gray C.||Wortley,Rt. Hon. C.B. Stuart|
|Gardner, Ernest||Murray,RtHn A Graham(Bute||Wylie, Alexander|
|Garfit, William||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Yerburgh, Robt. Armstrong|
|Gibbs,HnA.G.H(City of Land||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Younger, William|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Gordon, Hn.J.E.(Elgin & Nrn)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Gordon,Maj Evans (Tr. Hmlts||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Gorst,Rt. Hon Sir John Eldon||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Pease, H. Pike (Darlington)|
§ Original Question again proposed.1014
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn