HC Deb 19 July 1904 vol 138 cc482-99
MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)

said he moved the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance—viz., "the conduct of Major-General Lord Dundonald, late Commander of the Militia in Canada, in taking part, whilst still an Officer in the British Army, in political agitation against His Majesty's Government in the Dominion of Canada." He was sorry, he said, to do anything which appeared like attacking an officer of very great distinction who had rendered great service to the Empire in South Africa and elsewhere. But the matter was of very great importance as affecting our relations with our Colonies; and it was the duty of the Imperial Parliament to make it perfectly clear that it repudiated the conduct of Lord Dundonald. There was a great and serious agitation going on in Canada and it centred round a British officer who was himself taking a prominent part in it. After his dismissal from the command of the Militia, Lord Dundonald wrote to Sir Frederick Borden, the Minister of Militia, as follows— I enclose a copy of a memorandum which I have sent by bearer to Colonel Hughes. The document referred to was a manifesto to the people of Canada charging the Government with political corruption in its management of the Militia. Colonel Hughes was a leading Conservative who took a prominent part in attacking Sir W. Laurier's administration. The manifesto was published in the leading Conservative paper in Canada, and in its comment upon the document that journal said— 'Sir Frederick Borden lied, lied from his seat in the House; lied in an official statement to the House. That showed the temper which had been aroused. The whole Opposition had taken up the case, and undoubtedly they relied upon it as a means of turning out the Liberal Government. A raging, tearing propaganda had been started in connection with the manifesto; it was like the manifesto of a political leader. On Friday night a meeting was held at Toronto, ostensibly to give Lord Dundonald a send-off. Lord Dundonald made a fierce attack upon the Government. They had, he declared, deplorably neglected the Militia, but he had tamed the searchlight on; there was nothing some people hated so much as the truth. The audience, it was stated, frequently announced their partisanship, Sir W. Laurier's name being hissed by some and cheered by others. Nothing could be more mischievous than for an Imperial officer to start an agitation against a Colonial Government; and if ever there was a case where conduct of that sort should be denounced, it was the case of Lord Dundonald. What would happen if Lord Dundonald went to Montreal? He might as well go to Belfast. The people of Montreal were divided both racially and religiously, and it required all the discretion, restraint, and judgment of the Imperial officers and of the rulers of the people to prevent bitterness from breaking out occasionally into disturbance. Lord Dundonald proposed to go to a city of that sort, where there was all the material for a conflagration, and set a match to it. There never was conduct more pernicious or more dangerous on the part of an Imperial officer; and he trusted that the Secretary for War would warn Lord Dun-donald that he should not go there, and that he would be no longer an officer of the British Army if he went there and attacked the Government.

He would not quote many precedents. But there was the case of Sir Redvers Buller, who made a speech attacking nobody, but simply defending his own conduct, and who was dismissed. Lord Dundonald took part in a violent agitation against the Government; Sir Redvers Buller did nothing of the sort. Therefore, whatever difference there was between these two cases was all in favour of Sir Redvers Buller. Then there was the case of the speech by Sir Neville Lyttelton on the new Army scheme, which was recently brought under the notice of the House of Lords. Lord Lansdowne declared that he agreed with Lord Spencer that speeches on such subjects by Imperial officers holding high position were not desirable, and so far as possible ought to be avoided. Then why should there be a distinction drawn between military officers in this country who made speeches embarrassing to the Government, and a military officer in a colony who made a speech, not only embarrassing to, but violently attacking, the Government of the colony? This matter had created a very bad and dangerous feeling in Canada. They all knew of the sensitiveness of the Colonies with regard to Imperial interference. Therefore if an officer of the British Army were allowed to interfere in colonial politics, the Colonies would be touched on a raw spot and mischief would ensue. But the incident in Canada had not merely aroused the colony's feeling of independence in their own affairs. It had created a great racial feud in Canada. He had the best authority for saying that it had aroused strong feelings among the French Canadians and among the ultra-British against the French. Under these circumstances it would be very mischievous if Lord Dundonald were allowed to run loose in the Province of Quebec. He trusted that the Government would see their way to prohibit the visit of Lord Dundonald to Montreal, and, going beyond that, that they would severely reprimand him for the conduct he had pursued. He begged to move.


rose at the same time, and the former was called on by the SPEAKER, but was received by the Opposition with cries of "Churchill."


Order, order!


I rise to a point of order. Is not the hon. Gentleman entitled to second the Motion? I very well recollect that when I moved the adjournment of the House in 1899 you asked me whether I had a seconder.


If I had known that the hon. Member intended to second the Motion I should have called on him.


He does.


Let the hon. Member speak for himself.




Mr. Churchill.


said he seconded the Motion for adjournment moved by the hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs in order to call attention to the speeches of Lord Dundonald in Canada. There had been, he said, a good many Motions for adjournment this session, but he ventured to think there had been hardly any one which it would be admitted in all quarters of the House had greater claim, apart from Party politics, to consideration. The question to which it referred had excited a great amount of interest throughout this country and Canada, and if the British House of Commons was to preserve its position as a place where discussion of great questions took place, and was not to be merely a machine to register the decrees of the Government, it had a right to consider a subject of this importance. He had not the slightest wish to make a personal attack upon Lord Dundonald, and he trusted the question would be debated without heat or ill-feeling on either side of the House. They were considering a constitutional infraction which had left certain grave consequences. What was the status of Lord Dundonald in Canada? He was the greatest political figure in that country at the present moment with the exception of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. He was an Imperial officer appointed by the Imperial Government. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No, no!"] At any rate he was appointed with the sanction of the Imperial Government. He held an office which was the link between the colonial military system and the military authorities at home. He submitted to the House that whatever might be the legal or the technical aspects of this affair, in all ordinary practice, Lord Dundonald involved and compromised the Government in the action which he had taken.

He thought there would be a great many people who would have a great deal of sympathy with the action which Lord Dundonald had taken. Everyone who knew him—and he claimed not only the honour of his acquaintance but of his friendship—would recognise that he was not a man to be actuated by any other motive than that of zeal for the public service. Probably he was right on the merits of the question, but they were not entitled on the present occasion to go into that because it would be out of order, but it was quite unnecessary to his argument. But whether Lord Dundonald was right or wrong in his opinion about the Canadian Militia it had nothing to do with the case which was submitted to the House. The allegations he had made were probably only too true. He might have been right in making his protest, but that did not settle the matter. They could not have martyrdom without the accessories of the faggot and the stake, and if a man made his protest he ought to be prepared to pay the price. No doubt no one was more surprised than Lord Dundonald that he had not already been recalled from Canada.

Passing from the motives that inspired him to make his protest he doubted whether the House would accord the same amount of approbation to his method. After all, Lord Dundonald was a soldier, but he enjoyed advantages and privileges which few soldiers possessed. He was a Peer of Parliament, and he could, perhaps with greater dignity and advantage to the public, have made his protest from his place in the House of Lords. When he read in the papers of the dismissal of Lord Dundonald by the Canadian Government and the memorandum he had published explaining his position, he naturally jumped to the conclusion that the very next day they would see a telegram published announcing that His Majesty's Government had recalled Lord Dundonald from Canada. It was clear that his utility as an Imperial officer absolutely terminated when the correspondence was published and when his dismissal by the Canadian Government had taken effect. It was impossible to say that the Imperial Government had no authority over him. But what had happened? Lord Dundonald had gone through a sort of triumphal tour through certain provinces of Canada, and they had read accounts of his appearance at banquets and public meetings, and of the scathing rejoinders he had made to the various Ministers of the Colonial Government. Two meetings had been arranged, one of which had already been held at Toronto and the other was to be held in Montreal. At the meeting at Toronto, as the hon. Member for Carnarvon had already reminded the House, the name of Sir Wilfrid Laurier was hissed by the audience and expressions of partisan opinion naturally and necessarily took place. It seemed on the lace of it a matter for the grave consideration of the House that an officer who went to Canada as the King's officer should be the principal figure at a meeting where the King's Minister was the subject of a hostile demonstration. Toronto, of all places, was the centre of the opposition in Canada to Sir Wilfrid Laurier. They had in Toronto a very fine development of that full-blooded Imperialism which arose from great earnestness and perfect rectitude of motive, but which took the form of believing that everybody who did not agree with it must necessarily be a rebel or a traitor and a very unpatriotic and undesirable person. They had had some experience of that kind of thing at home, but in Canada it was a much more serious matter because there they had the French-Canadian element.

He did not think anybody would cast any imputations upon the loyalty of the French Canadians, whose loyalty arose not so much from sentiment as from interest and conviction, but which was none the less precious thing to the British Empire. The French Canadians were of a different race and religion to the majority of the people of these islands, and they were loyal; but it was none the less true to say that they had not responded in the same enthusiastic manner to those patriotic and partisan impulses which had moved so many people in this country. To put it shortly, the French Canadians derived greater pleasure from singing "God save the King" than from singing "Rule Britannia," and he thought they ought to be well content with that. The French Canadians formed the principal part of the Party which kept Sir Wilfrid Laurier in power, and who had been made the object of a very hostile demonstration in Toronto. The Government ought to be grateful to Sir Wilfrid Laurier. In the long course of the last eight or nine years, when very difficult and delicate situations had arisen, Sir Wilfrid Laurier by his tact, skill, and loyalty, had been of incomparable value to the Empire. But this speech-making by Lord Dundonald was not to terminate at Toronto. Montreal was the next fixture and a meeting was to take place there next week. Montreal was a very different arena for such a political discussion than Toronto. The people of Toronto were nearly all of the same way of thinking, but in Montreal there was a French and a British element coming into close contact, and there was in Montreal a sharp political division of opinion. After all, the Toronto meeting had passed off all right. But what about Montreal? [An HON. MEMBER: He has not been there yet.] That was why they had moved the adjournment. At Montreal, if Lord Dundonald excited the enthusiasm of one section of the population, he would by that very fact irritate extremely the other section. Suppose they made him the object of as hostile a demonstration as the Toronto one was enthusiastic. They might thin have the spectacle of an officer who had gone to Canada as an Imperial officer and who was a Peer of the Realm turned out of a tumultuous meeting amid the hoots, jeers, and missiles of a hostile demonstration.

He noticed that a friend of Lord Dundonald had drawn attention in the Westminster Gazette to an aspect of this controversy which ought not to be overlooked. He pointed out that Lord Dundonald ought not to be taken as making an attack upon any particular Party in Canada, but as making an attack upon a bad system which had long prevailed. He thought that statement might be quite true. There was not much to choose between the two Parties in Canada as to the method of appointment to commissions. Canada was a country with high tariffs, and the commercialisation of their policy led them to view the appointment to commissions in the Militia or concessions in regard to tariffs from a different point of view to that held in this country. While he was prepared to admit that the charge against Lord Dundonald was not in substance, a partisan charge, and that it applied equally to all Governments and both Parties, and while he admitted that his motives had not been partisan motives, still the fact remained that Lord Dundonald did take part in a political and Party demonstration of the highest public importance. Whatever might have been Lord Dundonald's motives, no one could deny that he was at present being exploited by the Opposition in Canada for Party purposes. The House had often expressed itself strongly on the question as to whether the soldier, and how much the soldier, should interfere in politics. It might be impossible altogether to exclude the soldier from interfering in politics, because high military matters were of themselves essentially political matters; but whatever opinion might be held on that point, no one would defend his intervention, wittingly or unwittingly, in the arena of Party politics as opposed to general political questions. It would not be defended even in this country, where people were allowed to talk to their heart's content, and where we were in the admirable position of having the freest and best Government in the world—the freest and best system of Government in the world.

In a self-governing colony the position of an Imperial officer was one of particular delicacy and difficulty. Ho might have immense influence, but he had not a clear, definite, substantial authority. There was one great danger to which an Imperial officer, whether soldier or civilian, in Canada or South Africa was always exposed. If he became a Party man, attached himself to a local faction, or became a counter in the game of a local Party, his use and value were destroyed; he was of no good to the Empire, but an injury to it. The position of an officer in a self-governing colony should be like that of the function exercised by the Crown in politics at home. No one could recall the smallest hint or whisper of influence being exercised by the Crown in home politics; and it was that detachment from Party politics that added to the smooth working of our Constitution and to the increasing esteem in which the Crown was held. Was it too much to ask Imperial officers abroad who represented the Crown to imitate the example which the Crown had set in this country? What did the Opposition want in moving the adjournment that evening? [MINISTERIAL cries "To waste time."] They did not desire to induce the Secretary for War to abstract himself from the obligations of his office to inflict punish- ment on Lord Dundonald. He did not desire that Lord Dundonald should be made the object of Government vengeance, for they had among the soldiers of the Army too few who were ready to expose official shams and to tell the truth to the public. They wanted the Government to make it clear, however, that they were not associated in any way with the campaign Lord Dundonald had been carrying on; and he urged on the Government by the immediate recall of Lord Dundonald from Canada to terminate what was already a constitutional scandal and bade fair in the near future to lead to serious Imperial embarrassments.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn." —(Mr. Loyd-George.)


The hon. Member is under a misapprehension when he says that I view with disapprobation his intervention in this debate. That is not my point of view at all. We always welcome the hon. Member as the spokesman of the Opposition. I had motives which seemed to me to be adequate for intervening at the earliest stage in the debate. I felt before the hon. Member spoke, and I still feel, that this debate cannot contribute to the public advantage. Nothing that the. hon. Member has said in his leoture—


Order' order!


If the hon. Member for South Donegal cried "Order" a little less frequently there would be more order.


With great respect, sir, I called out "Order" only twice. I called out "Order" because I thought that the word "lecture" was an improper description for a speech.


There was nothing disorderly in what was said.


It was a sneer.


The hon. Member must not call out so frequently. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Name."]


I assure the hon. Member for Oldham that I entertain no feeling of disapprobation with regard to his speech. I do not think that I need dwell upon it. I do not think it is a good thing that he should speak of "jobs" in reference to the existing Government in Canada. I do not know that expressions of that kind tend much towards the object he has at heart, of harmonising the relations between this country and the Colonies. But I turn to what is, after all, the substance, as far as there is any substance, in this debate. There are two points involved. The first is the broad question of discipline with which I am charged as representative of the War Office; the other is the advisbility of raising this discussion at all. I should like to say a word on both points. I will remind hon. Members that yesterday, in my unavoidable absence from the House, a Question was put without notice with regard to this matter. I regret that I was not in the House to answer the Question. To-day no such Question was put, but without any notice whatever this discussion is forced upon the House. I fully admit that in the game of politics nearly all things are considered fair, and most things expedient; but I am not clear that it is wise to bring into the political game discussions of this kind. I can see no advantage whatever that can arise out of this debate, except to make bad blood between two great branches of our Empire. The hon. Member for Carnarvon spoke of the pain that was given to Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who, he truly said, had shown himself to be one of the staunchest and most distinguished friends of the Empire in the time of its troubles. I do not remember that the hon. Member entertained that view very strongly or expressed it strongly at the time when Sir Wilfrid Laurier was standing by us. I should like to know whether the hon. Member for Carnarvon speaks as an agent or representative of Sir Wilfrid Laurier.


I speak as a Member of the British Parliament. I have as good a right as the right hon. Gentleman.


I ask in what capacity does he speak? Does he speak as a representative of Sir Wilfrid Laurier? I can assure the House that no representation of any sort or kind has been made by the Canadian Government, and the Government of that colony is uncommonly well able to look after itself. I want to know what Canadian warrant he had for bringing this matter before the House. Then I take it for granted that he had none, that he brought it forward solely in the interest of harmony between the United Kingdom and the Dominion of Canada. Now I ask whether, as a contribution to the harmony between those two great parts of one Empire, the hon. Member should have raised this question in the way he did. What did he do? He quoted the most offensive terms which have been used about Dominion politicians. He quoted from the most violent expressions of Party newspapers. I ask what contribution to peace and good feeling is made by references of that kind? No, Sir, I believe that a discussion of this kind in no sense tends to that object which the hon. Member says he has at heart, the establishment of good feeling between this country and Canada.

Now, let me say a word about Lord Dundonald. Well, I said that this question divided itself into two parts, and I adhere to that view. My first proposition was—and may I extend it?—that it is a most unfortunate thing, and one of the things which make me fear most the advent of hon. Gentlemen opposite to power, that they should invariably manage, or try to manage, to contribute to an aggravation of feeling between this country and the Colonies. That is a fact which I am sorry to say was too painfully established during the late war. [An Hon. MEMBER: We are thinking Imperially.] That is the point which I desire to establish. Nothing has been said about the Government in the course of this debate which has any tendency except that of bringing on the floor of this House the controversies of the Dominion and not adorning them in the process. Now, Sir, with regard to Lord Dundonald. I do not think the hon. Member quite understood what the position of Lord Dundonald is or has been. It is not correct to say that Lord Dundonald went to Canada as the representative of the Imperial Government.


I never said so.


He went at the request of the Dominion Government to serve with a Canadian commission.


By whom was he selected?


I believe, as a matter of fact, the request was made by the Dominion Government. But let me say this about Lord Dundonald, and I will do this full justice to the hon. Member for Carnarvon. I do not think anyone will suggest throughout the whole of this matter, and that anyone has desired to impute or has imputed, any misconduct other than that of want of judgment to Lord Dundonald. Lord Dundonald, as the hon. Member said, is a most distinguished soldier, who has come of a most distinguished family, which has served its country throughout the world in times of stress and difficulty. But what has taken place in Canada has created a difficulty to which the hon. Member has drawn attention this evening. Lord Dundonald, serving as a Canadian officer, has not found himself in agreement with the Canadian Government, and the Canadian Government has discharged him from his office. I would point out that when Lord Dundonald was discharged he became at once an officer, on half-pay, it is true; an Imperial officer on the active list. Since his dismissal by the Canadian Government he has been speaking at public meetings in Canada. I have my own opinion, a very strong opinion, as to the advisability of officers in the service taking part in any political demonstration at all. I have long entertained that opinion. Before I had any official responsibility I entertained it. I entertain it still; and I have not, as I shall show, been remiss in enforcing the belief which I entertain as to what is the duty of officers so long as they hold the King's commission.

But I would remind the hon. Member that the position of an officer on half-pay is not quite the position which he seems to suppose. Lord Dundonald had a perfect right, and has now, to stand for the Dominion Parliament and to become a Member of that Parliament; he would have a right, if he were a commoner, to stand as a Member of this Parliament. He has a right, which has been conceded over and over again to officers on half-pay—to express his views on political questions. [An HON. MEMBER: Not on the active list.] Yes, I have before me the Army Act, and I am speaking of what I know. He is an officer on the active list, but at the same time he is not deprived of the privilege of taking part in public life. Therefore do not let it be supposed that the somewhat Draconian code of military law prohibits Lord Dundonald from expressing his opinions on public questions as a half-pay officer. Whether it be desirable that any half-pay officer, in any particular set of circumstances, should take part in political controversy is another question altogether. I believe that it is undesirable. I believe that it was undesirable in this case. I do not pretend and I do not propose for a moment to go into any matter of controversy between the Dominion Government and Lord Dundonald. I believe that would be most unwise on my part. I do not feel that I am charged with Lord Dundonald's statement of the case as it presents itself to him, and I do not know that I am fully charged with the case as it presents itself to the Dominion Government. But even if I were charged with all that information, I should still positively decline to express an opinion as to any differences which may have occurred between the Dominion Government and their paid servant. But I have not been blind to the disadvantage which is likely to accrue from an officer, who has the great reputation and the position of Lord Dundonald, taking part, even with the best motives and with the most ample public support, in the controversies of a great colony. The hon. Member spoke of "deliberate opposition" and "engaging in angry altercation with the Ministers of the Dominion." I do not think that is quite a fair description of the meetings in which Lord Dundonald has taken part. I shall be corrected by hon. Members who know the constitution of the Canadian Government better than I do if I am wrong in saying that Lord Dundonald was supported by the President of the Board of Trade.


Of the Chamber of Commerce.


Then I am wrong on that point. I do not think there has been any angry altercation at all. I have before me exactly the same information as is open to hon. Members. I have a summary of Lord Dundonald's speech, and I can find no trace of any angry altercation at all. But I would repeat that I think it is not desirable that any officer should take part actively in political controversy. This matter has been dealt with throughout, I believe, patiently and reasonably by the War Office. We have demanded information, and we have acted upon that information. Long before the hon. Member gave notice to-day, the War Office had taken action in this matter. We have informed Lord Dundonald that we consider it is not desirable that he should continue to take part in public discussions in Canada, and we have requested Lord Dundonald to return in order to give an account of what has taken place. If the hon. Member had done me the favour of raising this question in any other way than the way in which he has thought fit to raise it, I could have told him, and should have told him, what I have told him now. I advance no opinion whatever upon the merits or demerits of Lord Dundonald's action, and absolutely decline, before Lord Dundonald has been heard, to express an opinion upon that question. As the person responsible for the discipline of the Army in this House, I felt it my duty to remove any cause of offence which might arise from the action of an officer holding the King's commission in the situation in which Lord Dundonald stood. Quite independently of the hon. Member and quite unaware of the intention of the hon. Member, I have taken the ordinary procedure open to the War Office. I have instructed Lord Dundonald to return home, and I have also instructed him not to take any further part in what appeared to be a political and controversial discussion. That is the sole reason why I desired to anticipate the hon. Member for Oldham in this discussion. I think that, if I had been given an opportunity of stating at an earlier period in this discussion what I should have been able to say in answer to a Question to-day, I should have saved the appearance in the papers to-morrow of some of these wounding remarks which the hon. Member for Oldham in the discharge of his duty has thought it imperative to make.


The hon. Member has stated that the observations that he made towards the close of his speech constituted the reason why he wished earlier in the debate to anticipate the speech of my hon. friend the Member for Oldham. It would have been well if the right hon. Gentleman had also anticipated himself. He has made a speech—I appeal to everybody who heard it on either side of the House—which, for the first three-fourths of it, or more, indicated a determination to resist, which could be read in no other light, and was supported in no other light by the cheers of hon. Members behind him, than on the supposition that he was about to say non possumus to the request made by my hon. friend. But when he came to the point of the matter, when, after saying two or three times that he would turn to the question of Lord Dundonald, he at last got to Lord Dundonald, I do not think we have much complaint to find with the action which he says he has taken. If we drop the curtain of our memory over the first three-fourths of the right hon. Gentleman's speech and concentrate ourselves upon the last five or ten minutes, then I say that we on this side have very little fault to find with what he said. The case is an exceedingly plain one. We have not a word to say against Lord Dundonald as a distinguished officer and a gallant soldier. He was selected by the Imperial Government and lent to the Canadian Government to assist them in organising their Militia. He, rightly or wrongly, did not succeed in getting on with his superiors in that Government. We cannot inquire into that matter, because I believe there is some Gentleman in this House who is so anxious to condemn Lord Dundonald that he has put down a Motion to the effect that a public inquiry, or a Court of inquiry, or some other instrument of torture should be resorted to in order to visit upon him the proper reprobation of the British Parliament. Because this hon. Gentleman,who sits on the other Benches, is fired with great zeal against Lord Dundonald, because he has put down this Motion we are debarred by these charming rules of the House, which we so much admire, from expressing any opinion on the subject whatever. I wonder how long that hypocritical farce is to be allowed to exist. As a matter of fact, even if we had the opportunity, I should myself shrink from and entirely refuse to pronounce any opinion upon the relations of Lord Dundonald with the Canadian Government, because we are not fully acquainted with the facts—we are partially informed on the subject. But what we find is that Lord Dundonald, having occupied this position of eminence, through the selection of the Imperial Government, in Canada, and having failed to conciliate his own views with the views of the Government under whom he served, and having incurred their dismissal, remains in Canada, receives banquets from admirers, and makes speeches in which he attacks the Government which he has served, and with it, I believe, other Governments which have gone before. I do not know that that really benefits him very much in the matter. But it is undoubtedly a grave piece of bad taste, as well as, I should think, a bad constitutional action, on the part of Lord Dundonald to go on allowing himself to be made an instrument for bringing these accusations against the Government that he has served.

But the right hon.Gentleman apparently has taken the course it was his duty to take. I praise him for it. [MINISTERIAL laughter.] Why does an hon. and gallant Member laugh? I said when I began that the right hon. Gentleman had indicated a course in regard to this matter that met our views. He has remonstrated with Lord Dundonald, he has pointed out the irregularity in all respects of the conduct he was pursuing, and he has recalled him hone. I am not myself learned enough in military law to know whether he can recall home a half-pay officer, but I agree he is right if he has the power to do so. Of course, with Lord Dundonald's temperament and character, the slightest indication of a wish on the part of the head of the Army Department in this country would be equivalent to an order. I feel that much we desired to guard against has been prevented by the action of the right hon. Gentleman, and I give him full credit for it. I only wish he had taken an earlier opportunity—not in debate, but in his own speech—as I began by saying. It would have spared us a good many hard words and a good deal of anxiety if he had said at the beginning what he said at the end; if he had said on this subject to which my hon. friend and the hon. Member for Oldham very properly called attention that he had done the thing we desired to see done. I hope we shall by that course be relieved from the fear we naturally entertained, that if this sort of thing, which has been going on for the last week or two, was allowed to go on, something very much to the prejudice of good feeling between the two countries and Parties in Canada—though we have little to do with that—might arise.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)

said he wished to put a Question to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. The right hon. Gentleman stated that he had telegraphed to Lord Dundonald to return home in consequence—he took it—of the statement by the noble Lord some time ago. Now the statements attributed to Lord Dundonald were made on 10th June, and it was six weeks since. Personally he found no fault with Lord Dundonald for attacking the War Office, it was a very natural thing for a Briton to do. His interest in the matter was purely Irish. He could imagine if at the time, not very far distant, when the Government of his country was Irish and largely Catholic, an officer from this country took the side, say, of Belfast Orangemen and accused the Government in office of corruption and jobbery, and of oppressing certain persons on account of their political or social connections, he could imagine the feeling that would be aroused. The Government had come forward and announced that they had recalled the officer whose conduct had been complained of; but Lord Dundonald, while he remained on Canadian soil, was an Imperial officer, and for six weeks the Government allowed him to remain after he had outraged the feelings of the majority of the people. It was important to know at what moment it was that the Secretary for War dissociated himself from Lord Dundonald, and why he was not recalled at once. At what moment was this message conveyed to the noble Lord? The right hon. Gentleman had said that the reason why he bewailed the possibility of the return of a Liberal Administration to power was that they would act so unpatriotically. If so, there was all the more reason for haste in his message to Lord Dundonald, because he knew how unpatriotically the Opposition would act in seizing the first opportunity of stirring up bad blood between this country and the Colonies. His respected subordinate in office had not yesterday been acquainted with the fact that he had recalled Lord Dundonald. The Secretary of State had kept this important fact locked in the recesses of his breast. They all knew the great secrecy that prevailed in the War Department, but it would have had an assuaging effect on the minds of the House if yesterday somebody had been able to make the statement that had now been made. The conclusion he arrived at was that the haste of the right hon. Gentleman to rise to-night, and his desire to cut out the hon. Member for Oldham, was not so much due to his anxiety as War Minister for the disposal of this Motion as to his anxiety as Member for West Belfast for the fate of the Belfast Tramways Bill. Speaking in the same sense himself, he confessed that he had chiefly been moved to rise on this Motion because the name of the location in Belfast which he was interested in on account of that Bill was the Dundonald Cemetery. The House, which had heard him with unusual patience, would recognise, therefore, that he had a certain sympathy with the hon. Gentleman in rising as he did to take part for the first time in an Imperial debate.


said that after the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War he would withdraw his Motion. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No."]

Question put, and negatived.