§ Motion made and question proposed, "That a sum not exceeding £41,871 be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1910, for the salaries and expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs."
§ Sir CHARLES W. DILKE
We have received to-day a full report of the proceedings in a foreign Chamber on Tuesday of a Debate, which, curiously enough, turned at the end on words by which the Ministry was upset, which raised some of the matters on which we have to ask questions to-day. The Secretary of State has recognised that those who have had doubts about some portions of our recent policy have refrained from pressing him upon matters obviously delicate and dangerous. He has not even been pressed for Papers, and we have no Papers at all of our own on matters that I have to ask questions upon to-day. Although we have not our own Papers we have the official Papers of the other Powers which have been concerned. Russian, Austrian, and French Notes have been officially published by these various Governments, and very full statements have been made in Russia before the Duma and in France on the policy in which we have been concerned. So that although we have not pressed for Papers here, we have those Papers, the authenticity and correctness of which cannot in any particular be doubted or denied. There have also been an unusual number of publications based upon some secret official documents which have been vouched for by men of position, concerned officially in the events which they describe, such as throw a singular amount of light—perhaps unfortunately in some 622 cases—upon these recent transaction I make no apology for taking the somewhat unusual course of basing my questions upon documents published by foreign Governments inasmuch as these documents concern, and in some cases describe, actions of our own. The matter which was the ground of the defeat of the Government in Paris on Tuesday was, generally speaking, the danger of an adventurous policy pursued by certain Powers, of which we are one. The attack upon M. Delcassé in the Debate was that he had given form to recent understandings between the Powers which had, whether by his wish or not, led to humiliation, by seeking to impose conditions upon the Powers which they obviously could not accept, unless forced to do so, and therefore led to fiascoes by the withdrawal of policies in face of a threat of war. His very truthful reply—in which we all shall concur—was: That the understandings between the Powers to which allusion was made were in themselves most desirable, and had been, and were still, productive of good results, and that they had put an end to a period of misunderstanding. This policy of pinpricks, alleged on both sides, was now ended between Russia and ourselves, and now between France and ourselves. Many of these matters which were, and are, exaggerated and dangerous, re-acted upon others, and tended to produce a state of feeling that was regrettable, and which corresponded to no national interest. Clemenceau retorted—and it was the exaggeration of it that led to the defeat:—"You led us within a hair's-breadth of war, for which we were not ready, and humiliated France" Personally I do not believe that either France or ourselves have been led within a hair's-breadth of war. I have repeatedly asserted that I was one of those who least believed in any real risk of war in any of these transactions; but we pursued an active policy in points of detail, and we had the suspicion raised that we were setting up a new alliance in Europe in matters in which we had a sufficient concern, and it is as to that I should like to ask the House to-day to consider whether our policy has been altogether prudent. I think in these matters generally it is not the actual facts that matter so much as the things that are allowed to be said about them—things supposed to be stamped with some endorsement in quarters where more prudence and discretion would be desired. That charge I frankly state to the House, I make rather against the Foreign Minister of one of the 623 two other Powers with whom we have been acting than against either France or those who guide the Foreign Office in this country. No one who watches affairs in Europe lately can doubt that a sort of Homeric rumour has been going round calculated to do great harm to our recent policy. We have had questions between France and Russia and ourselves in connection with several European questions—and questions where our direct interest was comparatively small—and we have heard that matter described, not as what it was, not merely as a desire to bring parties together, to promote peace and not to promote friction, as a disinterested Power, but we have had a description of every one of these acts as being a new Triple Alliance, as being a policy intended, and on our side not successfully, of setting up a barrier—-I will not say isolating one Power—but setting up a barrier against one Power in Europe.
When we raised these matters last year with very much hesitation, seeing the extreme delicacy of the situation, we all of us agreed with the speech of the Secretary of State, and that the Government have been correct in their action, and, so far as we knew at that time, and in large degree so far as we know now, the policy itself was correct; but we expressed doubt as to the soundness of the policy, and we expressed the greatest possible apprehension as to the things which had been said, apparently with truth, by persons in a position to be listened to abroad as if they were the representatives of the country concerned. I do not think it is necessary that I should revive controversies or mention names, but, of course, we had a fight here once before about certain unwise utterances relating to a possible attack by ourselves upon certain powers, and we had subsequently a correspondence, in which a distinguished Member of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet took part, in which some particulars were given of a doctrine of that kind. We had comments on the Reval meeting, which, I think, went far beyond the mark and beyond the policy as it existed or was intended by the speeches here, and these comments seemed to have undue weight attached to them by foreign Powers who ought to have been in our confidence. The result was to justify in some degree the full execution of the German shipbuilding programme, which has thrown a burden upon ourselves, and is forcing us to spend upon our armaments 624 a far larger proportion of our revenue than we ought to spend. At the time of the Debate last year the Turkish revolution had taken place, but immediately after the Debate came the consequences of it. In the beginning of September there was the supposed insult by Turkey to Bulgaria, and the seizure by Bulgaria of the railway, and there was the Austrian Note to Turkey, and her Emperor's letters to the King, and to the President of the French Republic announcing the annexation of the Provinces given to her before the Congress of Berlin by Lord Salisbury and by Russia.
The matter which has caused the greatest trouble is that of the complete annexation of the two provinces so long occupied by Austrian forces and governed as part of Austria. Our position in this matter, and that of Russia, was singularly weak. The position of France was far stronger. France was far more mode rate in her action and aim. We had concluded a separate engagement with Austria, unlimited, not containing any words about temporary occupation in the first instance, of those provinces, and Russia had concluded them definitely, and had renewed them over and over again in writing—
§ Sir C. W. DILKE
In May and June, 1878. If you look bark to the Conference of Berlin you will find before the Russo-Turkish war Lord Salisbury was himself a party to the proposal that Austria should occupy the provinces.
§ Sir C. W. DILKE
I will state the case more definitely. Of course, the matter came to a head under the Russian basis for the proposed Conference. The bases were the Russian bases; it was discussed in Paris and was accepted here. These bases were the subject of protests by Austria against the Russian action, and allusion was made to the earlier promise of the annexation of these provinces made to Austria by Russia. The Russian Foreign Minister hurried to Paris and to London, and he was here for a week. Some of the heads of the proposals on which the Con- 625 ference was to be based were not disputed. There were nine heads. Most of them were excellent proposals, which would have been brought before any such Conference. Our part in that action and the Russian part I think went beyond that which we had a right to go to, and constituted a danger to our position, which was intended only to lead to peace. It was based upon the sacred-ness of the Treaty of Berlin. The chief enactments of the Treaty of Berlin were in respect of matters which were concluded before the Congress met, and many of which were secret and were enacted behind the backs of the Congress. There can be no doubt whatever that a number of the acts that came out at the Congress—for instance, our own action with regard to Cyprus—were behind the backs of the Congress, and some came out by chance or by treachery on the part of those who knew of them. The real fact is that all the Powers had ignored it, and there is no special blame on us. I think those facts do detract somewhat from the sacredness of the letter of that treaty, for it has been violated over and over again, and undoubtedly no one has kept it. This seems to me to be setting up too high the doctrine of the sacredness of that particular treaty, and it is almost inviting a charge of hypocrisy. It is a most unfortunate course on our part. Certainly two particular items which we put forward were items in regard to which failure was so certain that it was unwise to take them up. We were quite in a false position. There was no real principle behind the action on the part of those three Powers. The action taken by France was in some degree defensible, because it was action on behalf of European consultation, and it was not action by a single Power behind the back of Europe. If that principle could be secured it would be a most excellent principle to lay down. We based ourselves in speeches as Russia did in her Circular upon the Russian precedent of 1871. It is a somewhat unfortunate precedent, because we declared that the Conference was not to be a mere whitewashing Conference, but the Conference of 1871 was a whitewashing Conference. I know it was asserted that the matter was to be freely discussed, but while I do not wish to go back to the circumstances of 1871, I am certain there was no free discussion on that occasion. While Russia agreed that the doctrine of 1871 should prevail, and the breach of the treaty should be freely dis- 626 cussed by the Powers in conference, yet Russia gave a private—now public—under taking to Austria that the discussion should be a limited one, and limited by the adoption by Russia of the principle that she would not call into question the fact of annexation. Those two statements are, of course, absolutely contradictory. We now have all the facts before us, and I think it is unwise, having no pressing necessity of national interest in the matter, to put the doctrine of the sacred ness of this particular treaty so high as we have allowed Russia to make us put it. My right hon. Friend (Sir E. Grey) seems to question any moral engagements on our part with regard to these two particular provinces. Those engagements have always been hateful to the Members of the Liberal party, and we attacked them before we were definitely informed as to their exact nature. The Secretary for Foreign Affairs seems to doubt these moral engagements. It is, however, a fact of which I have proof, which I can communicate to my right hon. Friend, that Lord Salisbury was informed in Berlin in 1877 of the intention of Austria to occupy those provinces. There was nothing said about temporary occupation, and no such stipulation was made. In May, 1878, we now know from the publications abroad—and we know officially that in writing on 6th June, 1878, it had been published—that we undertook to make the proposal which we afterwards made publicly at the conference. At that time the Notes contained no limitation, and the engagement of Russia and that of Great Britain was the same as that of Germany, namely, to sup port the action of Austria in the two provinces. Later there came in the word "occupation," and the phrase in the formal document now published by which the plenipotentiaries at Berlin bound themselves in advance was "occupy and administer." We went to Berlin pre pared to adopt the policy of Austria in respect of those two provinces, and the Motion which we made was, of course, a Motion which all the Powers had agreed to before it was made by Lord Beacons field at the Congress. The case of Cyprus was different. There had been no engagement by any Power with regard to Cyprus. There have been published the Austro-Turkish protocols of 13th July, in which there is a limitation of the occupation—
§ Sir C. W. DILKE
I mean the definite engagement which is published. I say, without reservation, that on the date of the Austro-Turkish protocol of 13th July Russia undertook to raise no objection to Austria definitely occupying those provinces. I think the use of the word "definitely" with regard to the district of Novi Bazar shows that no one for a moment believes it was intended that Austria should retire from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
§ Sir E. GREY
The right hon. Gentleman is not contending that we have special engagements outside the Treaty of Berlin?
§ Sir C. W. DILKE
No, I think they came to an end with the Treaty of Berlin, but I think morally they estopped us raising too strongly the temporary character of the occupations. It was far less temporary than our own position in Egypt. That was not our fault as I tried to explain to the House before, because the conditions which Lord Salisbury proposed were reasonable conditions, though they could not be accepted. Lord Salisbury up to 1897 declared that our occupation was temporary. That is the latest case, and it is a far stronger case than we tried to make in Bosnia. Of course, the nominal reservation of the Turkish Sovereignty in this case should not be put too high. The Turkish Sovereignty has been reserved in the Soudan and in Cyprus, and we ought to look at facts and not at diplomatic fictions. Nobody believed that Austria was put in only temporary occupation of those two provinces. I was one of those who was opposed to Austria taking them, and I am opposed still, but they were in a condition of disturbance and she took them at the wish of Europe, and it is a strong act on our part, considering all the arrangements, that we should assert that Austria is now a spoliator by reason of her remaining there where she has been so long. Of course the speech of the Russian Foreign Minister in the Duma revealed that he did not know of the written engagements of Russia continuing almost up to the present time with regard to the two provinces, the engagement of 1397 for five years, and that of 1892 for five years to 1907. The Committee will remember that the Russian Prime Minister, in making that speech at Christmas to the Duma, explained that the Minister of Foreign Affairs was not in a position to neglect the previous engagements of his country.
628 Was it wise we should have acted with Russia as it were in a contrary sense, that we should have drawn up the basis of a conference, and that we should have pressed this doctrine of the sacredness of Treaties in language which was calculated to be wounding to a Power (Austria) with which we have interest in being on good terms? It seems to me to have been going too far, and to have been venturing upon dangerous ground in interfering in certain political questions concerning the Danube and Servia in which the interests of this country are not sufficiently direct to make it wise for us to take a leading part. Although Russia had agreed at that time not to reopen the fact of the annexation, yet in the publication of the Russian Nine Heads there were dangerous signs, I think, of our allowing Russia to force us too far in the direction of interference—an interference certain to be resisted and certain to be a failure. The publication of this document containing these nine heads was, of course, universally condemned, but seven out of the nine are the same as published in a more authoritative statement which was never condemned. The French Government have now explained that they limited two of those nine heads. Those limitations were perfectly good and correct. One concerned Crete, and did not affect the substance or the policy; it merely declared that the matter should be first settled by the four contracting Powers in consultation with Turkey. The other change was that the consent of Turkey should be asked to certain arrangements which concerned that Power. That was right, although at the same time we must remember that Turkey always broke the, European section of the 23rd Article and the 61st Armenian Article of the Treaty of Berlin. We have every hope that improved government in Turkey may cause Turkey to be more careful in respecting her engagements, but it must be remembered that those engagements were never kept, and the Treaty of Berlin was just as much violated by Turkey as by most of the other Powers. It will hardly be said there was no such programme as represented by the Russian heads. It is useless to fight over the exact expression. In one sense it was not a programme, but it was undoubtedly a draft programme. That we are all agreed upon. No one would be bound to the exact terms of that programme; it was a draft programme for the consideration of the Powers. It is, however, sufficient to call it a programme; it is called the programme by its authors 629 in the Russian Note. It was a preliminary draft for the consideration of the Powers.
My point is not the technical point whether it was a programme or not, but the risk we ran in including in an arrangement between the three Powers proposals for the territorial expansion of Servia and proposals with regard to the Danube, with-Out having apparently first submitted them to Austria, who was most concerned. It was a risky policy. It was a policy not risking war, but risking a snub or the fiasco with which that attempt was ultimately attended. What could have been the motive of Russia in putting forward such proposals I do not know, but that we were unwise to follow them so far as we did follow them I think there can be no doubt, though it is true it may be said it is easy to be wise after the event. It seems to me that the publication of that document even in its authentic form with the two changes to which I have alluded, lead to a consolidation of the position by the Central Powers. It, of course, forced Germany to take up publicly, as she was already invariably bound to do privately, the Austrian cause in this matter. The French Government declared the publication indiscreet. I should not have raised the matter if I were merely talking about the publication of that draft programme. My point is that it was unwise to include in the arrangements between the three Powers the proposals with regard to the territorial expansion of Servia, and the alterations of the Danube arrangements which so closely concerned the Central Powers, and so indirectly concerned ourselves. Our action in such matters ought to be, as it generally is, the bringing of people together for public peace, and not of interfering with matters where our interfering in details is certain to be resented. Of course, there was more than this in the German resistance. That resistance was always, I think, certain. It was certain to be provoked by common action on the part of the three Powers in such matters, but it was doubly caused by the indiscreet language used, not by us, but by the Press in support of the three Governments, and officially in Russia. We heard talk about Russia having at last completely joined two Western Powers in an anti-Austrian movement, and articles headed "Revelations of a New Triple Alliance" were calculated to intensify opposition on the part of Austria and Germany.
The net result has been a set-back, not so much for us as for our supposed and suspected clients, Servia. Servia has had 630 her position very much worsened by our interference on her behalf. It is unfortunate that small provinces in the Balkans should be in this position, that when Powers who are not going to fight appear to take up their cause against neighbouring Powers, however natural and wise it may be in the abstract, the result is almost certain to be to make their position worse; and undoubtedly there has been a set-back, caused by us and Russia, to Servia. We have not even with us our Mediterranean ally Italy, because Italy herself abstained from supporting us in this matter, as she was bound to abstain under her engagements. I therefore end this part of the matter by saying I think we have set the doctrine of the sacredness of the Treaty of Berlin in the circumstances too high. We have had two previous examples of the risk of setting up that doctrine, and pressing it too far in such a case. We have tried to set it up on two previous occasions, and have failed. The second of those two occasions, in 1886, is very clear. There was a distinct violation of an article of the Treaty of Berlin and of the protocol outside that article. Lord Rosebery wrote a strong dispatch with regard to that violation, and he raised the same comparison of 1871 as we raised on this question, but nothing happened. That is a very long time ago, and the Treaty of Berlin has not become more sacrosanct since 1886 than it was at that time, which was more near its conclusion.
My main point is, we have supported principles that we could not justifiably or wisely support. If we had had any political or European idea behind us, any idea of improving the conditions of peoples, or of giving greater liberty to the peoples, the country would have been more inclined to give support than it is on the mere bare doctrine of the sacredness of a treaty. On the last occasion when these matters were discussed the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs made a most brilliant speech on the Naval Vote of Censure. In that speech he defended what is very near the old doctrine of the balance of power in Europe. No one will take exception to his statement of the effect of the existing balance upon our position in Europe. The danger is now, as it was 100 years ago, and still more 120 or 130 years ago, that you may be tempted by these understandings which are good being converted into something very near but not quite alliances, to pursue a policy in support of the balance of power which will keep you 631 in permanent hot water all round with everybody, and will occasionally risk war. The general effect on our influence which these events has caused must not be exaggerated in a bad sense. We are still happily in a position to exert great influence for good, and we have done so on recent occasions.
In the case of Crete I wish to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the perfectly satisfactory position he has revealed. But that does not end the question. The Powers, in their Note, have given their support to the status quo of October last. The status quo in Crete in 1906 was made by the admission of the fact that we appealed to Greece to use her influence in Crete to prevent any sudden disruption of the bond—a bond which was purely nominal. That status quo was improved by the action of the Powers in October last, and the Note of the four Powers recognised that fact, and is satisfactory so far as anything can be satisfactory at the moment. We may hope that the improved Government in Turkey will take things as they stand, and not try to go back upon the facts already existing, facts caused perhaps by bad government in the past, but still having the almost unanimous approval of the peoples who are concerned. The Powers agreed, and it was under the circumstances a courageous agreement, to present their Note to Turkey to the Greek Government. It has been published. It is an admirable Note. It recognises the need, in the interests of reform, of Turkey accepting the status quo as established in October last. Turkey may, in future, by good government, avoid the interference of other Powers on behalf of the Armenians or other nationalities, but it would be most unwise, as far as the new Turkish nation is concerned, for anyone to encourage them to go back to the state of things concerning the protection of the subject races which obtained during the worst period which preceded their rule. If they try to reopen the question they can only reopen it with disaster to themselves. The Turkish reply has not been published. It would be a pity to see Turkey dwelling upon such minor points, for instance, as the use of the head of the King of Greece on stamps. There was no King's head on stamps in Greece. These are points unworthy the attention of the reformed Government of Turkey. It is for them to recognise that the Chamber voted annexation, that annexation has never been withdrawn, and that the powers have asked 632 that the present state of things, which is virtually annexation, should continue. That is the present state of affairs in Crete.
There is one case, and one only, where I think we see very distinct signs of weakening in our policy, a weakening caused by terror, and undue terror, of the risks which may follow. The Belgian papers, with regard to the Congo, show a distinct weakening of attitude on our part—a greater weakening than that which is shown by our own papers. There are many who regret the weakening attitude already displayed in our papers, but it is nothing compared with the weakening contained in the papers published in Belgium. I should have been inclined to ask the House to consider the last despatch had it not been that the Belgian despatch goes very much further in the same direction. In the Belgian despatch they treat us with contempt—with a sort of lofty scorn which is almost inconceivable. I have never known such a thing before; it is an entirely new departure. There are three documents dealt with in it. There is the Debate on King Leopold's speech. In the second place, there is the speech of the Belgian Minister, one of the strongest men in the Administration, a man representative of a policy which is hardly supported by the terms of this Debate and Vote; and, thirdly, there are the Despatches of the Belgian Government in reply. The Debate on King Leopold's speech I will deal with first. The Belgian Chamber, for the first time in the whole history of the Congo, unanimously passed a Resolution, amid laughter, which was supported by the Socialists as well as by the Government. It was, as a matter of fact, moved as a vote of censure, and then slightly amended by Mr. Hymans, who was at one time on our side, but is now too Governmentally inclined for us. It was assented to by the Government, after they had read it over several times, and it was carried unanimously, and, as I have said, amid laughter. But the unfortunate fact is that at the very same time Mr. Renkin was making a speech at Boma on the subject of the same proposals, King Leopold laughed at Europe, and deliberately proposed to sell an enormous extension of the concessions area in the extreme west and south-west; it was suggested that concessions for this fresh territory should be sold, and that the money thereby obtained should be devoted to public purposes in Belgium. King Leopold evidently realised that taxes are awkward things in all countries, and it was he, therefore, who 633 stepped in and said, "I will not tax you any further, but here are vast rescources which my genius has secured, and I will hand them over to you to be used for the benefit of the Belgian mercantile marine and for other public purposes." That policy, however, was unanimously condemned by the Belgian Chamber, and the Resolution, which was carried, ran to this effect:—"The Chamber as, according to the Government, the speech of the King is limited to possibilities, and as the Government declares there is no present project intended to realise those possibilities … passes to the order of the day. (Loud Laughter.)" The Government said in fact they could not accept the offer of the King. Indeed, they could not have done otherwise without being beaten, and therefore the Motion was carried unanimously. It would not matter but for the fact that at the same moment Mr. Renkin, at Boma, declared for precisely the same principle. He spoke of the great success of the grand designs of the King—these grand designs being, of course, intended to extort more money from the Congo to spend in Belgium. Now the book officially published by the Belgian Government does not in any way convey the cautious and almost hopelessly beaten attitude of that Government in the Debate. There are two documents in that book which are marked "Confidential," but which, nevertheless, are published. One is from our Envoy, and possibly the fact that it is marked "Confidential" is the reason why it has not been published in this country. I can only imagine that its confidential character has been withdrawn with our consent, or else that it has been published against our wish. It is a despatch of the 7th January to the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and it makes admissions which are most unfortunate. It excuses, as it were, the language produced here—language we thought was already weak enough, and it is a great weakening of the previous position.
§ Sir C. W. DILKE
It is a despatch from our Minister at Brussels to the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs, and it is dated 7th January this year. It sets forth that the worst atrocities pointed out in his Excellency's Note relate to matters which passed under the Congo State, and cannot therefore be considered to be in any way directed against the Belgian Government. It goes on to say it has always been 634 the habit in conformity with the exigencies of public opinion in England to publish from time to time reports affecting the Congo. It mentions that as a sort of apology. The reply takes out of it those two passages. It says: "Your Excellency must be aware that the publicity given to this correspondence will not bring in England that appeasement of opinion on the subject which we have a right to expect." But they have no right to expect any appeasement of opinion until they improve their conduct, and they will never appease opinion so long as they put forward the same bad excuse which we have rejected in the strongest language over and over again; indeed, so far from there being an appeasement, there will be an increase of legitimate and necessary feeling on the subject, because the United States are equally concerned with ourselves in the annexation of the Congo. It has been suggested that annexation has released the Congo State from a portion of its engagement to Europe as a condition of the acceptance of which it was created by Europe. For the first time they declared in writing to the United States of America that the annexation released them from some of their international undertakings. Then they attacked our Consuls and the missionaries. I am not concerned with the missionaries, because some of them have not been our best friends in this matter. It is true that some of them have been our best and noblest friends in the past, but some have been less friendly recently, and may be less friendly now. As to our Consuls, I am sure my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will defend them, and there is no occasion for me to do so; but I may point out that there is a fierce attack upon them and also our missions, and they set up against us the doctrine that our Consuls are acting illegally and' are responsible in some degree to them. We have never recognised the annexation, but they set up the doctrine that our Consuls are interfering in the administration of the Congo State and exceeding their province as Consuls, although they are not even accredited to the Government of the country. The fact is that we have our Consuls there, and we mean to keep them there, and I can find precedents for such a course. They say that our Consuls are interfering in the administration of the Congo State, and that it is not their duty to point out to the Colonial authorities-measures of the description which 635 they have done, because that is altogether beyond the province of a Consul, and these are matters which have to do with the Belgian Government. They assert indirectly there the same doctrine that they assert directly, in so many words, against the United States of America.
The only other citation that I will make is the reply in the case of the American Government, for I will leave my hon. Friends to deal with the disgraceful attack which is directed against certain of our friends here who have taken part in this agitation. It makes some statements, which are entirely incorrect, but I should detain the Committee too long if I were to go into details. The more important thing, because it concerns a great international principle, is contained in this doctrine, which they have set up in the Memorandum which they communicated to the Government of the United States of America, in which they maintained the absolute right of the Government of Belgium to deal with many matters in which we have expressed our concern in language which is quite absolute. They point out to the American Government that the Minister for Foreign Affairs stated in the Chamber of Representatives in April, 1908—we have never seen this statement before—that all the obligations of an independent state have not survived annexation. It is always thus, they say, after the cession of one state to another, but we have never recognised a cession, which would alter the treaty obligations of an international state and their international obligations, and I am quite certain that my right hon. Friend will contradict in the strongest terms the statements contained in this document, which I have read with much misgiving, and with the feeling that it concerns our action in the other matter to which I have referred, and weakens our attitude towards the Congo State in maintaining principles which this House and the whole country are determined to maintain. I beg to move the reduction of the vote by £100.
§ Sir GEORGE WHITE
I wish to endeavour, upon what I believe may be the last opportunity we shall have during this Session of Parliament, to impress upon my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the necessity for some more forcible action than he has seen his way to take with regard to this all-important question. Since the last speech of 636 my right hon. Friend and the despatches which have been made public, there has been great intensity of feeling raised and deepened in regard to this question throughout the country, and we are asking ourselves what has brought about the change of attitude on the part of my right hon. Friend. He will remember that three years ago, or somewhat thereabout, he said that we cannot wait for ever in regard to some satisfaction of our treaty rights, and we cannot fail to contrast his present attitude with the attitude then taken, and the feeling which I describe as having grown in intensity, is, I am happy to say, a very widespread one. It is not with regard to this question, as has been represented by my right hon. Friend below me, as it is with some other questions, a Parliamentary policy, but it is a policy which is expressed, I believe, not only by ecclesiastical opinion but by all political opinion throughout the country.
§ Sir GEORGE WHITE
If my hon. Friend desires to disown any expression of opinion, of course I accept his declaration at once, but I am perfectly sure that he is in a miserable minority—I call it a miserable minority, as the facts of the Congo have been so abundantly proved and admitted by the Belgian Government that all those who have taken the trouble to look into the matter are aware of the state of things.
§ Sir GEORGE WHITE
I still affirm that there is more practical unanimity of opinion upon the facts of this question, and our duties in regard to them, than almost any public question that I have known throughout a somewhat long life, and I say that opinion is deepening, and it is felt by the citizens of this country generally that we have taken upon ourselves in years gone by obligations which we have failed to fulfil, and the result of our taking those obligations and failing to fulfil them has been a chapter of untold misery and bloodshed that has rarely been equalled in the history of this country. I am quite aware that my right hon. Friend will probably have but one answer to give to our request for urgency, and it may be an all-sufficient answer. It is that the Belgian Colonial Minister is now investigating the condition of things on the Congo. He has gone there for that purpose, and therefore it is only right and 637 proper that we should wait for the reported this Belgian Minister. But may I remind my right hon. Friend, if he desires to raise that as a reason for further delay, that there has always been some reason given for delay during all these years which this question has been before the Committee. The reason has not always been the same, but it has had always one result, and that has been to delay action on the part of this Government for many years. We were asked to wait until the annexation was an accomplished fact, and then great changes would ensue, and indeed the Government promised that forced labour should cease as soon as annexation took place; but that annexation has taken place, and I am here to assert that the condition of things is as bad to-day as it was before, and that is proved by the description of those on the spot, as it has been at any time during the past history of this terrible business.
It was foreshadowed by some of us that the visit of the Colonial Secretary to the Congo would bring about a reason which would be urged for delay. Of course, when he returns, he must consider his Report, and that Report will probably have to be considered by the Government to which he belongs. The Government may, moreover, have something to submit to Parliament, and what does this foreshadow? Many months of still further delay; and whilst this delay is going on these evil things, this tyranny and slavery, are still going on. If we could feel that there was a truce to these things whilst diplomatists were dealing with the question we should feel a little more satisfied, but we know full well that there is no truce, and that there is no prospect for many months of any justice, or even mercy, in the unfortunate country. Let me just point out that it is more than 12 years since the first reports were brought by authentic witnesses of the cruelties which were raging under this International Association in the Congo Free State. First of all these cruelties were entirely denied, although their existence was verified by men whose word we should take upon any other question that they might make observations upon. Therefore many of us thought they ought to be accepted, but they were not, and afterwards they were still more thoroughly verified by the King of the Belgians sending a Commission. From the date of the Report of that Commission it was felt that it was certain that these atrocities had taken place, and 638 were almost beyond description. My hon. Friend referred to missionaries. A year ago 52 missionaries of all denominations—
§ Sir GEORGE WHITE
I am sorry if they are not Catholics, but I do not think my hon. Friend represents the Catholics.
§ Sir GEORGE WHITE
At all events 52 missionaries met and made a solemn protest against the state of things which was going on in this district, and some of us warned my right hon. Friend that if an annexation were permitted without conditions we should be landed in a very dangerous position, and I feel that that is exactly the place where we find ourselves to-day. We certainly could have refused, and could have practically forbidden, annexation except upon conditions, and if we had taken that strong course I think then we might have got these conditions much earlier than we are likely to get them now. The Treaty of Berlin contained no assent to annexation, and although it is certain we have not acknowledged the annexation, the Belgians are not one whit the worse off on that account. I may not acknowledge the right of a man to take my property, but if he has taken it, and I do not make efforts to resume it, it is of no consequence to him that I do not acknowledge his right to retain it, and that is practically the position of the Belgian Government at this moment. We have not acknowledged annexation, and they have not fulfilled the conditions, but in what respect are they worse off? I think my right hon. Friend should show in what respect the Belgian Government are worse off by our not acknowledging the annexation. Otherwise it goes on under exactly the same conditions. My right hon. Friend may say he trusted the representatives of a free Parliament and the Government to make restitution, but I am afraid in so trusting he very much underestimated the powers of the man who has so long rioted in his ill-gotten gains and also underestimated the power of those who share his ill-gotten gains, and also the power of money sometimes to enslave the conscience, as I fear it has done in some instances amongst the leaders of thought in. Belgium.
I know the question which my right hon. Friend puts is, What could we have done under the circumstances? I think at least 639 we could have spoken with no uncertain voice that both the material and moral obligations of the treaty must be carried out at once. Surely that is only a proper position for us to take as the Power by whose influence largely the inhabitants of the Congo were brought under the influence of the Congo Free State, and I am quite sure my right hon. Friend's ability and interest in this question is sufficient to enable him to find means whereby this treaty might have been observed. The system has stood before the civilised world absolutely condemned. It is possible that my right hon. Friend, with his great virtue of caution, might have been afraid that other Powers would have resented our determined action in this matter. For my part, I do not believe they could have resented it. Germany has not any great interests in the Congo, which we might be said to have, but I am quite sure the deeper we inquire into the feeling of the German people generally, and her Government in particular, we shall find that, so far from resenting our insistence upon our treaty rights, Germany would be only too glad to co-operate with us in enforcing those rights in a way that might seem desirable under the circumstances. She knows that we have no selfish purpose in this matter, and, therefore, going into it with clean hands, there could be but one motive—the interest of humanity and the determination to have our treaty rights admitted and carried through. Then we have already absolute evidence of the attitude of the United States in the matter. Who would dare to justify or defend the action of the Congo Free State in regard to its government or complain if we insisted that the obligations of the treaty should be carried out? Sometimes I think it is a pity that British traders do not themselves initiate and carry through the rights which they, as traders, undoubtedly have under this treaty, but rights which would, I have no doubt, have been resisted by the Congo Free State if they had been asserted by the traders. Then probably the Government would have stepped in. But the blood and lives of poor human beings do not seem to have presented a claim to us sufficiently strong to enable us to assert the rights which we possess. Surely we should at least have compelled this Government to give up the principle of forced labour until the whole question has been inquired into, if it must be inquired into; but it surely is something new in the history of the country to have 640 to inquire into the question as to the justice, or otherwise, of a position which my right hon. Friend has in very strong language designated as nothing less than slavery.
Just a word in regard to the testimony of missionaries. I speak from an intimate acquaintance with a society that has in the last 20 years done a very great deal for the civilisation and Christianisation of the Congo. Amongst its missionaries have been some of the greatest explorers who-have ever set foot in Africa—men like George Grenfell and others, who have done a very great deal for the interests of that country. They have demonstrated amongst the people with whom they have, worked that these inhabitants will work under proper conditions. Give them the motive and interest to work and they are industrious. They have trading instincts which would be of service to the commercial world and they can, and do, lead in many instances moral lives, which are a pattern to many who have had greater advantages than they have had. These missionaries testify to the condition into which this country has been brought. I read of a case the other day in which a population has been decimated from 7,000 or 8,000 to 500, and the missionaries had to be removed. There is some reason for the statement that in the first instance some of these missionaries at least did not tell all that they knew. The great reason was that this was an enormously wide district. Most of the missionaries did not work in the neighbourhood where this rubber oppression was most severely carried out, and being hundreds of miles away, they had to depend a great deal upon hearsay. But directly they came into contact with it they did not hesitate to inform their societies and the community at large, and to denounce it in the most scathing manner possible. Now they have to move from place to place because of the decimation of the population, and a man like Sir Harry Johnstone has spoken of the bloodstained basin of the Congo as the best illustration he can give of the cruelties which have been going on.
I feel that having taken responsibilities upon ourselves, I believe for the most beneficent and wisest purpose, the responsibilities have altogether been shirked, and the conditions from which we hoped to rid the Congo Free State have been aggravated under this new form of Government, and we ought not as a nation to stand up as though we were helpless. In 1908 my right hon. Friend said if neces- 641 sary he was prepared to stand alone in this matter. I do not believe he will have to stand alone. I ask him, therefore, what he is waiting for before he takes some more decided action? Certainly throughout the country we will have a backing of the most determined kind, and I feel that British honour is distinctly at stake in regard to this great question. We have in time past championed the cause of the slave and the oppressed where we had no concern whatever beyond the general interest of humanity. Here we have those general interests of humanity, but we have other obligations which we have taken upon ourselves and which I believe we have hitherto failed to carry out. If we have lost a disposition even to write a despatch affirming our determination to defend our rights and the rights of humanity, however great our fleets may be, we have lost that power which generations ago we held in the world as the advocate of freedom and the champion of the oppressed wherever they might be.
§ Mr. ARTHUR HENDERSON
If I do not follow the two previous speakers in their appeal to the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the Congo, I trust it will not be thought that we on these benches are in any way out of sympathy with the appeal which they have made. In fact we will associate ourselves to the full in supporting their appeal that something more should be done in this important matter. I have risen, however, for the purpose of bringing to the notice of the Committee the question of the forthcoming visit of the Tsar to our shores. There can be no doubt in the minds of any Members of the House as to the official character of the visit. The right hon. Gentleman, in answer to questions, has made that very definite and clear, but, further, I find from the Press this morning that the official character is more marked by the definite announcement that the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and the First Lord of the Admiralty have to be present at Cowes to represent the Government in association with this visit. Therefore it seems to me that the Government have taken full and complete official responsibility in this matter. It is, therefore, perfectly obvious that this visit is of a public and an official character, and that there must necessarily be associated with it all the regalia, all the ceremony, and all the conventional salutes which appear to be inseparable from a Royal welcome. In a word, it seems to me that this visit will 642 be surrounded by all the eclat of a great national reception given with the generous consent and the warm approval of a willing people. To represent this visit in any such character seems to me to mislead. It is carrying international etiquette a little too far. It is a policy which some of us believe to be repulsive to multitudes of our people. On this point I have only to remind the Government of the large number of public protests which they have received in connection with this subject from every part of the country. What are the grounds upon which we really object to this official visit? Thirteen months ago we took the responsibility of initiating a Debate and making a protest against a similar visit on the part of His Majesty the King. During that Debate those who supported our protest preferred against the official policy of Russia a strong and terrible indictment. I think it can safely be said that no attempt was made by those who took up the opposition to us to defend the dark chapter of events then recited. No effort was made to minimise the vast amount of almost indescribable suffering which those events involved. I am aware it was suggested that the projected visit would exercise a salutary and beneficent influence upon the Russian official mind. I think that was very largely the measure of the reply made on that occasion on behalf of His Majesty's Government. During the 13 months that have elapsed since then, have we not looked, and looked in vain, to find evidence of this more wholesome result which we were led to expect, and may we not to-day very fervently exclaim, "How long, O Lord, how long?" If we are told to wait, if we are reminded of the beneficent effect of these visits, surely after the expiration of the period I have named the situation ought to have been changed. I will venture to say that the position is as serious, if not more serious, to-day as it was when we took the responsibility of initiating the Debate during last Session.
May I ask the attention of the Committee to a few figures which, so far as I know, remain unchallenged, and which I think in themselves ought to bring conviction to the minds of all of us who stand, as I hope most of us stand in this House, for humanity, irrespective even of international treaties? Take, to begin with, the question of the overcrowding of the Russian prisons. I am going to quote from Prince Krapotkin, whose excellent little book will have, I hope, a tremendous cir- 643 culation, so that the true facts of the case may be known by multitudes of our people. In that book he says:—From an official document communicated to the State Council on March 15th, 1909, by the administration of the prisons, it appears that on February 1st. 1909, there were in the lock-ups of the Empire 181,137 inmates. This figure, however, does not include those prisoners who are in transportation and the numbers of whom are estimated officially at about 30,000. Nor does it include an immense number of persons detained at the police lock-ups, both in the towns and in the villages. No approximate idea of the number of this last category can be obtained, but it has been suggested in the Russian Press that it may be anything between 50,000 and 100,000.He then goes on to say that the number of inmates in the prisons has been growing steadily for the last four years. It is to these figures I want specially to call the attention of the Committee. He says:—In 1905 the average daily figure for all the prisons of the Empire was 85.000; it reached 111.000 in 1906; 138,000 in 1907; 170,000 in 1908; and on 1st February, 1909, it was 181,137. The holding capacity of all the prisons of the Empire being only 107,000 persons, overcrowding is the necessary result, and in some places there are from three to four times more inmates than the prison could possibly contain under normal conditions. The result of this overcrowding is that scurvy and typhus have developed in an alarming proportion, and that, as has been said in the introduction, nothing is done to prevent the epidemic from spreading through all the prisons of Russia.What do these figures show? This is the point I would like to lay particular emphasis upon. The record figures reached are in 1908 and 1909. Last year the number was 170,000, and in February of the present year, notwithstanding all that we were led to expect as the result of coming into contact with each other of our own King and the Czar, the number was 181,137. Then take the case of suicides in prison as the result of the awful treatment which these political prisoners are subjected to. In 1906, we are told, there were 30; in 1907, 70; and in the first ten months of 1908, 60. The charges of systematic ill-treatment, torture, and shameful neglect of political prisoners have been fully substantiated. Then what shall we say in regard to death sentences and the actual executions that have taken place? I find that in 1905 death sentences by courts-martial were 72, and executions 10; in 1906, death sentences 450, and executions 144; in 1907, death sentences 1,056, and executions 456; in 1908, death sentences 1,741, and executions 825. By the field courts-martial, in the year 1906–7, the death sentences were 683, and executions 683. The totals for these years were 4,002 death sentences and 2,118 executions. These figures which I have quoted do not 644 include soldiers They are only applicable to civilians. I find that some 84 soldiers were hanged or shot in 1907; for the other years the military figures are not known. The figures for 1909, so far as they can be compiled from the news of executions published in the daily Press, are: For the first quarter of the year, death sentences 396, and executions 235. From these figures it would appear that the strong humanitarian appeals that have been made by Count Tolstoi and others have been unheeded, and that any influence exercised as the result of the visit to Reval seems to have been rendered entirely nugatory. We must remember that these executions are carried out after what can only be described as a form of trial, but no trial in the real sense of the word. There is also to be added to this already dark chapter a considerable number of people who have been exiled for purely political offences. According to the Report published by the Department of Police to the Law Committee of the Duma the se now reach a total of 74,000. Prince Krapotkin says:—They are distributed in semi-arctic climates, in the most primitive villages, where educated men and women can find no work. The allowance for food amounts to only three shillings a month—little more than a penny a day. They are subject to I he arbitrary treatment of the police and gendarmes. Medical attendance can rarely be procured. The politicals are forced to travel with common criminals, and a letter from a mother who accompanied her daughter to Siberia describes how on the journey a woman 'political' was chained to a male criminal. Repression falls upon all classes alike, peasants and workmen as well as intellectuals. It substitutes martial law for the ordinary courts, and deprives even the meanest of the accused of legal trial. The best elements of Russian society suffer most severely. In a debate in the Duma on 7th March, 1909, the Deputy Chkeydze summarised as follows the facts regarding the fate of the intellectual leaders of Russia. No fewer than 237 ex-Deputies of the Duma have been condemned to various terms of imprisonment, and eighteen of these have been sent to the Siberian mines. Some 400 editors of newspapers and reviews have been condemned since 1905 to prison, fortress and penal servitude.The position which we and others take up in regard to this matter can be made very clear. We think, and I believe rightly, that our visitor and the Russian Government cannot be officially dissociated from responsibility in connection with these deplorable incidents. If we are right in the conclusion to which we have come, and I think we are, then I hold it is no part of our business to surround the visit of one who is, at any rate, partly responsible, with all the halo of an official welcome to our shores.
Doubtless we shall be told that in taking up this attitude we are interfering with the internal affairs of a country with whom we have no treaty rights. I do not think 645 that this is a strictly accurate way of stating the issue that we are raising this afternoon. What we are concerned with is the official attitude of our Government towards this visit. They are extending courtesy in the name of this country to one who, as I have already said, cannot be altogether blameless in regard to the policy, which I have found nobody to defend, but which I can find multitudes to condemn. The position that we take up can be put quite plainly. We say, in fact: "Your policy is known to the whole world. It is repulsive to multitudes of people in this country, and, therefore, so long as this policy obtains we cannot extend to you that unanimous, that generous welcome which, under other circumstances, we should be only too happy to give." We have, I hold, a perfect right, as a country, to state the terms upon which we shall extend our friendship to any of our visitors. Can it not be said, with perfect safety, "This country has already, by official courtesy, endeavoured to change the policy which we, all of us, I think, condemn. But having tried, by extending official courtesies, and failed to influence you, we now withdraw our hospitality until you have set your house in order." Such a policy, though I admit it is drastic and extreme, is fully justified by the circumstances of the case. I suppose we shall also be told that the position we take up involves too great a risk to the peace of Europe. I remember well the point being emphasised during the Debate last Session. I want to say, on behalf of my hon. Friends, that if this be so—and we doubt it—then, in our opinion, risks equally great have been taken by this and other Governments for objects less worthy. May I say, in conclusion, that unless the Government, through the right hon. Gentleman, can completely refute the charges that have been made against the official policy in Russia, to which I have only made a very brief reference this afternoon, unless they can disprove the position taken up by such an authority as Prince Krapotkin and others—and I am free to confess that they may have information that we have not—but unless they can do so, unless they can demonstrate beyond a shadow of doubt that already by their influence, as the result of the previous visit, a wholesome change and great improvement has been inaugurated, then it seems to me not only are we fully justified in pressing our protest, which I now make, to the extent of the Division Lobby, but it seems to me that we are justified in making that protest 646 sound through the whole of the platforms which we have the honour to take in the country.
§ Sir EDWARD GREY
I regret very much that the hon. Member for the Barnard Castle Division has introduced this particular subject on the floor of this House in order that it may come under the discussion of the House, and before I sit down I will give my reasons; but I noted although he has put me in a somewhat impossible position, a certain reserve in his speech. He expressed a desire for further information, and I should like, therefore, before the Debate goes further, to say—and I will make it clear towards the end of my speech—what I think is the true position which the House should assume. But, first of all, I must dispose of one or two things said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir C. W. Dilke). I could not quite gather what was the drift of his criticism on the attitude of the Government in regard to the Near Eastern question. He was dissatisfied with what we have done, but I do not gather clearly from his speech what he considered we ought to have done.
§ Sir C. W. DILKE
I particularly complain of our taking a leading part under the circumstances of our previous connection with these matters, in the language used in regard to the action of the Emperor of Austria last year, and the details of what occurred occurred in reference to the territorial compensation to Servia.
§ Sir EDWARD GREY
First of all, on the general part of our special relations with other Powers, he had some criticism to make, not on the interpretation which we place upon them, but the interpretation which was placed upon them in irresponsible statements made outside, in other quarters. Let me say this, it is what I have often said before: We have, of course, special agreements, which are known to the whole world, with certain European countries. We do not regard those agreements as setting up a barrier between ourselves and other Powers. We do not regard them as a barrier to our being on good terms with other European Powers, and we do not make those agreements any barrier to the Powers with which we have them being also on good terms. In other words, the interpretation we place on these agreements is that there is no reason why Crete, or any Power which is a party to them, should, because of those agreements, 647 be on bad terms with any other Power. And whenever we see the Powers of Europe settling questions between themselves amicably it is to us a matter of unfeigned good will. But, as regards the whole of these agreements, we mean to stand by them whenever they come up, because since they have been concluded they have been a most valuable cause of removing friction between ourselves and other Powers with whom they were made. Accepting the interpretation which we have placed upon those agreements in regard to their effect on our general relations with other Powers of Europe, we expect that to have its corollary in those agreements being regarded in an equally friendly spirit by the other Powers of Europe who may be parties to them. With regard to the particular action in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean said we took too leading a part, he went a little further, and said we were under a moral obligation not to take so leading a part.
§ Sir E. GREY
Why were we under a moral obligation? May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether we have any secret or special engagement other than the Treaty of Berlin? He said that was not his contention. When this matter came up we regarded ourselves, and so acted throughout, as being under no obligations except those of the Treaty of Berlin. We had no secret or special engagements. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean said that we are under a moral obligation because of the line which Lord Salisbury took before the Treaty of Berlin was concluded. I deny altogether that that entailed any moral obligation after the Treaty of Berlin was once concluded. The Treaty of Berlin once concluded, it superseded all previous engagements or previous diplomatic arrangements which might have been made between different Powers before it was concluded. The right hon. Gentleman said at that time, 30 years ago, that he condemned the line which Lord Salisbury took before the Treaty of Berlin, and now he condemns us for not having, as he thinks, acted on the line which he then condemned.
§ Sir E. GREY
We are not following Russia at all. We are taking our own view. I entirely deny that there is any moral obligation in regard to the Austrian Government, and they themselves during the whole course of the discussion last autumn never put forward any such contention. I was not aware of it before, but since the right hon. Gentleman spoke my attention has been called to this, that in 1880 assurances were given to Mr. Gladstone which are contained in the letter published by him to the Austrian Ambassador, in which he says this:—Your Excellency is now good enough to assure us that your Government has no desire whatever to extend or add to the rights acquired under the Treaty of Berlin, and that any such extension would be actually prejudicial to Austria-Hungary.And, on the strength of that, Mr. Glad stone made certain statements in reply to the Ambassador. I should not think of bringing that up for a moment as an obligation between the two Powers at the present time, but it is good as an answer to the right hon. Gentleman when he says there is a moral obligation contained in something which was said before the Treaty of Berlin. That which was stated definitely in 1880 to Mr. Gladstone was far more a moral obligation, said subsequently to the Treaty of Berlin, than anything said previously. I do not want to raise any question of moral obligation. The right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean tried to weaken the force of the Treaty of Berlin. My desire is to uphold the sanctity of these international treaties, and I think to at tempt to depress the validity of the Treaty of Berlin, which is a public engagement, by bringing up conversations or arrangements which had preceded it, as if they entailed some moral obligation—
§ Sir E. GREY
The right hon. Gentleman did say in connection with the secret arrangements, as he calls them, which preceded the Treaty of Berlin that they had weakened the force of that treaty. I myself, in the interests of peace, should contend exactly the opposite. The right hon. Gentleman spoke in the interests of peace. I contend exactly the opposite, that if you wish to secure peace stand by the sanctity of public engagements, and make it quite clear that when public engagements are concluded, after preliminary arrangements or understandings that had existed before- 649 hand—provided all the parties were subsequently parties to the public engagement—I should regard those public engagements as being superior and supreme. With regard to our own line, first of all the right hon. Gentleman said that the provisions of the Treaty of Berlin had been violated before. But we have protested before against the violation of the Treaty of Berlin, and in the case of a similar treaty being violated we came to an understanding with the other Powers in 1871 that, though international treaties were not unalterable, particular parts of them must not be altered by the action of one Power without consultation with the other Powers parties to it. In this case the alteration of the Treaty of Berlin was announced without previous consultation with the other Powers. If we are to stand up for the sanctity of treaties we were bound to take the line that consultation with other Powers is necessary, although the alteration might be one which could be recognised and made. If we are to stand up for the sanctity of treaties we were bound to take the line that it should be in consultation with other Powers if necessary, and that though an alteration might be made that could be recognised, and could not be unconditionally opposed, it could not be recognised until there had been consultation with the other Powers. That, in the first place, we were bound to do, and I do not think we did so in the least too strongly, and in similar cases and under similar circumstances we should have to take a similar line, whatever Powers were concerned. One of the things which did affect us no doubt was that this alteration of the Treaty of Berlin was a serious blow to the prestige of Turkey, which was at that moment entering upon a most critical, and I will say hopeful, condition, and that that alteration should have come at a moment when it must be prejudicial to the Turkish Government, and when they themselves were in a condition when they had to face considerable difficulty, and were also full of hope and working through to better things, and to that condition of justice and liberty the right hon. Baronet says we ought to help, I think that made it exceptionally hard. He thinks we ought to have taken a weaker line. These matters with which he dealt were in the course of the autumn and winter a subject of great anxiety at certain times, sometimes with one Power, and sometimes with another. I do not say great anxiety as far as we ourselves were concerned, we have no common 650 frontier which was involved in any of those questions, but as regards the peace of Europe generally as regards the position of certain Powers sometimes one and sometimes another, and especially as regarded Turkey herself, there were times of considerable anxiety. All these risks passed safely away, and a settlement was arrived at with regard to these particular points, which the right hon. Baronet referred to, on amicable terms, not only without a breach of peace between the Powers which were actually concerned, but also without interfering with the development of the new régime in Turkey itself. Is the right hon. Baronet prepared to say if we had taken a less decided line, if we had not spoken out so strongly that it is absolutely certain that the result as regards Turkey herself would have been so peacefully settled. The right hon. Baronet spoke on the general question. His first main point was that we had taken up too strong a line with regard to the violation of the Treaty of Berlin.
I say we must judge these things by their results, and the result has been, I do not for a moment say entirely owing to our action, but the result has been that in the long run patience, restraint, and common-sense prevailed in Europe at large, and a peaceful settlement has ensued. I say it does not lie in the mouth of anybody now that a peaceful settlement has been arrived at, to fling reproaches against the Powers who had difficult negotiations to conduct throughout. As regards Austria herself, I would say this, whatever friction may have been the result at the moment, because of the line which we took, and I contend which we rightly took, both as to the manner and as to the particular time at which this alteration of the treaty was made, whatever friction there may have been at the time. I think our attitude is now better understood, and it is certainly our wish and desire, and as the result has been in itself peaceful so we are anxious that the amelioration which has been brought about by diplomacy should continue. We, at any rate, regard the past months of autumn and winter as having been times of exceeding difficulty, and no one was more anxious than we were that the part which any Power has played in these matters, when they are settled, should be regarded as merged in the general peaceful solution. With regard to Crete, I must correct one thing which the right hon. Baronet said. He said that the Powers in 651 preserving the status quo, and in announcing that they would maintain the status quo, have brought about or sanctioned the virtual annexation of Crete to Greece.
§ Sir E. GREY
The right hon. Gentleman called it virtual annexation. If he withdraws those words as to virtual annexation I have nothing more to say, but if he adheres to them I must take them up.
§ Sir E. GREY
I may say if he adheres to them they do not represent the facts. The status quo maintained in Crete is that Crete remains in trust to the four Powers who hold the island in trust, and continue to maintain the obligations of preserving the supreme rights of Turkey. That is the status quo, and to put any other interpretation upon it, and say that it means this or that, or that it amounts to virtual annexation, is misleading and is not true. That is not intended. The Cretan question has been exceedingly difficult, partly for the very reasons which I have already named, that it was raised at a time when the Turkish Government itself was passing through a stage exceedingly difficult but exceedingly hopeful. What we have desired to do with regard to Crete is to secure that nothing shall happen which will be damaging to the prestige of the new régime in Turkey, and by being damaging to that prestige make the prospects of reform and of the increasing welfare of Turkey less hopeful.
Now I come to the Congo, and there I must say that I see no justification for the right hon. Baronet's statement that our attitude has weakened. I contend that no language which I have used, that nothing which has been used in a despatch, amounts to any weakening of our attitude. I know it has been represented in some quarters that when the Debate was raised some weeks ago our attitude had weakened, because I had said that this question, if rashly handled, might raise a serious European question. I said that in reply to a speech by the hon. Member for Oxfordshire, who in very emphatic language urged on us that we should 652 blockade the Congo and stop all ingress and egress. The Congo is by international treaty reserved for free navigation. To have taken the step which he advocates would have put us in the position, possibly, very probably, of stopping arbitrarily, ships under the flag of the other great Powers of Europe. By arbitrary action to stop a ship under the the flag of the French Government or under the flag of the German Government would undoubtedly raise a serious European question. I used that language with reference to the particular proposal which had been pressed upon me at the moment, and which I thought ought not to pass without pointing out to the House how easy it is to make proposals, which do mean that the questions, if rashly handled, would raise a serious European question. I have never said that we could wait for ever in the Congo question. The hon. Member for Norfolk said our attitude had weakened because some time ago we said that it could not wait for ever. I have not said that we could wait for ever. I am not aware that I ever said anything of the kind, nor has Sir Arthur Hardinge said anything of the kind in any despatch. There is nothing which shows a weakening of our attitude. I have not seen the Memorandum since it was originally handed in.
§ Sir E. GREY
I have not seen either since they were originally handed in. The right hon. Baronet says that they are published in the Belgian Parliamentary Book, though marked confidential. I make no complaint of that, for I see no reason why they should not be published. I am pretty sure the context was this: The Belgian Government had complained that the strong statements made about the state of affairs in the Congo, and published by the Government here, were impairing the good relations between Belgium and this country. Sir A. Hardinge, by instructions from me pointed out to the Belgian Government that it was our habit to publish facts as regards the Congo and with regard to treaty obligations, and that we were not doing anything which had not been previously our habit, and that the Belgium Government were showing undue sensitiveness, and that Belgian public opinion was unreasonable in assuming that the publication of the state of things which existed at that time when the Belgian Govern- 653 ment themselves made a point of saying they were not responsible for the Congo, ought to have no prejudicial effect on our relations with them. All our desire was that the Belgian Government should have a fair start. If we had begun immediately they had taken over the Government of the Congo to do anything which might make it appear that in our opinion they were responsible for what had taken place before they took it over, we should not have been giving them a fair start. I purposely guarded myself from anything of the kind, in order that whatever might happen in the future the Belgian Government could not be able to say that we had not given them a fair start. That, I think, was perfectly right.
The right hon. Baronet said the Belgian Government ought to understand that there would be no appeasement of feeling in this country until the Congo question was settled. Has it published a conversation of mine with the Belgian Minister? I know the Belgian Government did complain on one occasion of language which bad been used by a member of the Congo Reform Association, and used on the Continent of Europe, and which they said was bringing about ill feeling, and was unfair for Belgium. I said what was perfectly true, that I had not at that time seen the particular statement of which the Belgian Government complains. I said further that the British Government was not responsible for anything said by the Congo Reform Association, but I said that the Congo Reform Association did represent very deep feeling in this country, and that there would be no mitigation of that feeling with regard to the Congo until affairs were put right. I think when the right hon. Baronet did study and when he was going through the Belgian publication, and drawing the inference that our attitude had weakened, and went on to make this point himself that there could be no appeasement of feeling in this country, that he might have referred to that conversation which was published, and pointed out that I myself had taken that attitude.
§ Sir C. W. DILKE
I only tried to shorten time. What I did lay stress on was the first statement of the Belgian Government that they resented all interference by our Consuls, and that the Consuls had no right to interfere, and that they had ceased to be bound by certain obligations.
§ Sir E. GREY
That is not is not what was said. Exactly the contrary was said. They said that to the United States Government. Let the House clearly understand that this is an important point. It was not said to us. The direct contrary has been said to us. It has been said to the United States Government in a despatch. I do not know, and I am not in a position to know, what the answer of the United States Government is going to be; but our contention has throughout been that Belgium has inherited the obligations of the Congo State, and I am not aware, as far as we are concerned, that Belgium has disputed them under any treaty under which we have claims. The hon. Member for Norfolk (Sir G. White) says that if we had taken stronger action we should not have stood alone. What grounds has he for saying that? We alone of the Governments of Europe have made statements about the Congo more than once, saying we would welcome cooperation in taking up the question of treaty rights and the obligations of humanity with regard to the Congo. Surely if any Power is willing to take up this question they ought not to leave it to Members in this House to make such a statement. We have stated publicly our attitude and view of the matter, and it is open to any Government to respond to that at any time. But when the hon. Member for Norfolk says we ought to have forbidden the annexation of the Congo to Belgium, and that if we had done so we should not have stood alone, it ought to be borne in mind that the two greatest neighbours of the Congo besides ourselves, France and Germany, have recognised the annexation. Does he think that for us to forbid an annexation which those two great Powers were both prepared to recognise is quite so simple a matter as he supposes? I am not prepared to say that the action of this country should be limited by the action of other countries, but I do object very much to the statement that we have only got to take action ourselves and that it follows as a matter of course that other Powers who have already recognised the annexation will at once be prepared to take action of a similar kind. The policy of the Government has been made perfectly clear by the despatches which have been published from time to time. That policy amounts to this: We do not forego our rights to take action on behalf of our treaty rights in the Congo; but we do say that the Belgian Government should have more time to make their 655 intentions clear. And I say it for this reason—their Colonial Minister is now on a, tour in the Congo, and I asked the other day when he is expected back, and I was told at the end of September. He has gone on a tour to investigate the facts and to advise his Government when he gets home what is required to be done. I believe that for us to have stepped in while the Belgian Colonial Minister was actually in the Congo, and to have said that we could wait no longer, that we were bound to take action, and forcible action, to uphold our own treaty rights in the Congo and resent, what we believe to be wrong, would have been regarded as premature action by every other Power in Europe. I am quite convinced that the reply which Belgium would have made to the other Powers would not have been regarded by them as unreasonable and would not have been in itself unreasonable. They would have said, "We have in principle given replies to the British Government which are not unsatisfactory in principle. They have been pressing to know, before they would recognise our annexation, what further particular measures we are going to adopt to alter the state of affairs in the Congo. We have admitted that reforms are necessary, but cannot state what special measures we are going to take until our Colonial Minister has returned." If while that had been the state of things we on our own account had said we will not wait any longer, and had taken forcible action, I am convinced that there would have been a widespread impression abroad that we had selfish motives and refused to wait because we were afraid that if we did wait longer the pretext for action might have disappeared. The hon. Member made a great point of saying that the great Powers of Europe knew we have no selfish motives.
We have no selfish purposes, and I will do nothing which will give them, rightly or wrongly, if I can help it, any pretext or ground for supposing that we have any selfish purpose in the matter. But the situation, so long as we defer recognition, becomes increasingly unsatisfactory. We carry on at present under provisional arrangements, but those arrangements cannot last for ever, and as time elapses we get nearer and nearer to this impasse—that until the system of forced labour in the Congo which existed under the old régime, and which we so often described as amounting practically to slavery is at an end, it is impossible for us to give our 656 definite recognition to annexation which would involve our recognition of that system. That is on one side; but, on the other side, there are British subjects with their treaty rights to go into the Congo to trade, and a most serious impasse must soon arise if, when we cannot recognise annexation by Belgium, some question arises connected with British subjects and we are unable to recognise the authority of the Belgium Government in the Congo to deal with it. I do not at all agree with the hon. Member that to defer recognition of annexation creates no embarrassment at all. It will create a serious embarrassment both with us and with Belgium. We wait, and I think we are right in waiting, until their Colonial Minister has returned and until we have heard from them, subsequent on his return, what they propose to do. But undoubtedly as time elapses and we come to the end of this year and are still in the same position as now, the British Government will have to consider what steps it is going to take to uphold its undoubted treaty rights. That is the position in which the Congo remains at the moment. I do not for a moment call it a satisfactory position, but I think we did perfectly right to prolong that situation up to the present moment; but I would point out quite definitely that it is not true, as the hon. Member suggests, that it will have no embarrassing consequences. On the contrary, it is a situation which, if indefinitely prolonged, has increasingly embarrassing consequences—consequences especially embarrassing for the Government which is responsible for the actual administration of the Congo. I am most anxious in regard to the Congo question that it should be settled satisfactorily, not only on the humanitarian ground of wishing to see the state of things in the Congo improved, but because I am most anxious that we should be able to preserve friendly relations with the Belgian Government. We have been of the opinion, and I am of the same opinion still, that the state of things which existed under the old régime in the Congo was such as could not endure the publicity of Parliament. Under the old régime there was no hope. There were questions in the Belgian Parliament, and the Belgian Government replied that they had no responsibility for what happened in the Congo. That situation has been entirely changed. Now they accept Parliamentary responsibility. The Belgian Parliament is now in a position to bring up questions connected with the Congo, and the Government must accept the responsi- 657 bility. I believed that that publicity and that that Parliamentary system of Constitutional Government in Belgium or any other country would bring this state of things to an end. I can only say that until it comes to an end we cannot give our recognition to the annexation, and the longer our recognition is deferred the more certain it becomes that some seriously embarrassing question must arise, which, of course, will afford a special embarrassment to the Government responsible for the Congo.
I pass now to the last question raised—that by the hon. Member for the Barnard Castle Division (Mr. Henderson). Really his speech places the Government in an impossible position. He reads out certain statements about the internal condition of a foreign country in regard to which we have no treaty obligation and treaty rights, and he challenges the Government to disprove those statements. It is not our business even to know what passes in the internal affairs of other countries where we have no treaty rights. [Cries of "Oh, oh," and Mr. MCNEILL: "Is it not?"] Even if we do know, we cannot discuss it. To criticise the internal administration of a foreign country or to justify the internal administration of a foreign country is almost equally offensive to the country itself, and if the House were to insist upon having Debates on internal affairs of foreign countries they would place the Government in an impossible position, and in one which would destroy any influence it might have for good. The hon. Member asked me to prove that the visit of the King to Reval last year had had a beneficial effect on internal affairs in Russia. If that were the case, I would not say so. I would not admit that these visits have any effect upon the internal affairs of other countries. Oh! so much misunderstanding would be saved if people in this House before putting questions or taking part in Debate would transpose the questions in their own minds and consider what would have been the effect of a similar Debate or of a similar question in a foreign Parliament. Let the hon. Member go back to the time when there was a division between the parties in this country as to the exact extent of constitutional Government to lie granted to the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony. Suppose in some foreign Parliament there had been a statement made that the grant of constitutional Government had been facilitated and hastened by something their own Sovereign had done, by some visit he had 658 paid to our own King. Does anyone suppose that that would not have made things ten times more difficult? That is why I say the position is impossible. If there was any reason to suppose that this British Government or any British Government was exercising an influence upon the internal affairs of any other country in any part of the world which made for oppression, tyranny, or injustice, the House would be perfectly right to bring it up and resent it. But they have no right to ask any British Government to prove that the action of the British Government, or still less the action of our Sovereign, has had, or has been intended to have, an influence on the internal affairs of a foreign country. I fully admit that if we had had an influence that would be reactionary I would not dispute the right of the House to bring it up, but it is not our business to exercise influence in the internal affairs of foreign countries. If I accepted any other position it would undoubtedly be prejudicial to the state of things in this country. The hon. Member for Barnard Castle Division read out certain figures. I do not accept those figures. Of course, we do have reports from foreign countries, which we cannot publish, with regard to the state of affairs in those countries. All I have seen, which comes from sources which I could trust, goes to show that what the hon. Member has stated is not a true or fair account. [An HON. MEMBER: "From what source?"] What is the source of statements like those the hon. Member has made? I have had more than one instance recently of the fact that people who are interested in their own countries, and who come over here to acquire facts with regard to countries with which they have something to do, make statements which are not in accordance at all with the facts of the case. I have had one or two instances in the case of Persia. If you are going to make statements, I think, as the hon. Member boasts of giving true facts, he ought at any rate to bear in mind what is perfectly well known and not disputed, that, in the years to which he has alluded, there was a large number of terrible outrages in Russia, which resulted in more than 6,000 being killed and more than 6,800 being wounded. I would ask the House, in the first place, to drop dealing with the question of the internal affairs of foreign countries, but if outside people will deal with the internal affairs of foreign countries, they should bring out the whole state of the case, and not part of it. We have had one instance in this 659 country. There were two Russian revolutionaries who committed an outrage in this country in the early part of the year. People ought to bear in mind that in discussing the internal affairs of foreign countries they are bound to be discussing them with an inadequate knowledge, and that they are very often discussing a state of affairs which bears no comparison whatever to the state of affairs which may be existing in some other country. Different foreign Governments have their own difficulties to deal with, and I see no straight course except that they should be left to deal with their own Constitution in their own way. The House should understand what the hon. Member for Barnard Castle asked us to do. He asked us to refuse a civility of welcome which would be given by all our neighbours in Europe. He asks us to do it at a time when constitutional government has recently been established in Russia, when the Duma is in full activity criticising the Government and receiving explanations from the Government of the day. If only hon. Members would take the opinion of responsible people of other countries about those countries, surely, at any rate, it would put an end to any Debate of this kind. We have lately had a visit from members of the Russian Duma to this country, a visit which I welcomed, though it was entirely unofficial in its origin. I welcomed it because, though agreements such as the Anglo-Russian Agreement can remove friction between two Governments, it is only the goodwill of the people which can really create firm good relations. The members of the Duma, as they were perfectly entitled to do, expressed freely and unanimously their opinion here with regard to discussions of this kind. One expression of opinion coming from one of them I will quote. I do not adopt the words. I do not give them on my own responsibility. It is not my business to form an opinion on the point. That member said:—I am not only personally hurt as a representative of the Russian nation that such slights should be put on my Sovereign, but I regard them as being in the highest degree harmful to international relations. For in these matters we do not admit any difference of party. As far as our foreign policy is concerned we sink all party differences and think only of the nation, and the proof of this is that representatives of widely different political parties are now in England. If they considered that by such manifestations they were aiding the cause of freedom in Russia, they were profoundly mistaken. Their action could only bring about the contrary of what they desired, and the only people in Russia who would welcome and approve of it would be the Reactionaries, whose cause would thereby be 660 greatly facilitated, and who would thus be saved even the trouble of forging their own weapons.I do not know what the party is, or who belongs to it. I should not use the words myself. I have no knowledge to permit me using them. I ask what is your object in raising a discussion of this kind in the House when you have the deliberate expression of opinion of the whole of the representatives of the Duma of what is good for their country? Is it the welfare of Russia you have at heart? If it is, why not take the opinion of the representatives of that country? Many of us came into contact with those members of the Russian Duma. They belonged to different parties, tout they represent; every party which desires constitutional progress and reform. [Cries of "No."] Yes, it is a fact. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the 200 men in gaol?"] We saw no difference of purpose between them, but we did see unanimity amongst them. We did see a genuine desire, which impressed everyone who came into contact with them, for the constitutional progress and welfare of their country. I would ask the House to agree with their very moderate demands. It is just possible that those who have spoken as representatives of the Russian Duma do really know better than the people in this country, who get their information from sources working against the Russian Government, and in some cases against their own country. Those representatives know better what is for the true interest and welfare of Russia itself. I have not used any language in my speech which I think goes outside the bounds of what is an appeal to common-sense and reason of this House. If I thought some of the abominable things which have been stated outside were regarded as other than manifestations of futile folly, I should have spoken in a very different tone and made a different appeal to the House. I do appeal to the common-sense and practical sense of the House of Commons, and I would ask them to remember that the Czar who is going to pay a visit to this country will undoubtedly be remembered in history as a Sovereign during whose reign constitutional Government was granted. [Cries of "No!"]. History looks at events with a truer perspective than is always done by contemporaries, and on behalf of the Government I say we welcome the Czar as the head of a great State with whom and with whose people we desire to be on friendly terms. I am specially glad that this welcome should be given.
§ Sir E. GREY
There is a unanimous desire to be on friendly terms with Russia. We know perfectly well, it is in the memory of all of us, that there have been differences in the past which have divided the two countries. Years ago they led to a breach of the peace. At various times since then they have led to friction, not only between the Governments, but there has been a division of feeling between the people. It was, I believe, the sincere desire of the late Government before they left office to clear away, as far as they could, by diplomacy those causes of difference. We who succeeded them have laboured, and, we believe, laboured successfully, to remove those political differences between the two Governments; and I know perfectly well, having already evidence that the effect of what the two Governments have done is beginning to have a most beneficial influence on the feeling of the two peoples towards each other. Each is going to regard the welfare of the other as a subject, not of jealousy and suspicion, but of satisfaction. Nobody could have followed the proceedings when the members of the Duma were here without realising the progress which has been made in that respect. I am sure the general sense of the House will not, by an act of marked discourtesy towards the head of the State, undo the good work which has been done, and bring about a division, not merely between the Governments, but between the peoples.
§ Earl PERCY
It is not surprising that the two or three speeches delivered in this Debate before the right hon. Gentleman addressed the House should have been of a critical character, because whether those criticisms are well founded or not, it is impossible to deny that the situation with which we are confronted to-day is a more anxious and more delicate one than we have had to deal with for some years past. In the first place, the right hon. Baronet the Member of the Forest of Dean, has reminded us that the last twelve months have witnessed the first deliberate violation of that great international instrument which for more than a quarter of a century regulated and defined the political status of Eastern Europe. In the second place, although there is no apparent cause of friction between the great Powers, although we have recently been successful in smoothing away the difficulties which at one time imperilled our relations both 662 with the French and the Russian Governments, and, as the right hon. Gentleman reminded us the other day on the Vote of Censure regarding the Navy, our relations with the German Empire exhibited a steady and constant improvement, yet, in spite of all those facts, the accumulation of arms on the part of European Powers is going on at an enormously accelerated rate, and at the recent Press Conference two Statesmen who have held the office of Foreign Minister in this country, instead of congratulating their countrymen on the serenity of the political sky, found themselves obliged to warm us, in somewhat ominous language, of the calm which precedes the storm.
Language of that kind is a warning to us of how moderate our criticism should be of some of these delicate questions of foreign policy. The two speakers who preceded the right hon. Gentleman indulged in some pessimistic reflections; the one on the Russian visit, and the other on what, as I understand it, he thought some of the results of our agreement with Russia, or of the interpretation which had been placed upon that agreement. I am not going to follow with all respect to him, the hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. A. Henderson) in discussing the view of the Czar's visit which he has put forward this afternoon. We discussed it very fully last year. The Motion which was moved by the Labour Party on that occasion was rejected by an overwhelming majority of the House, and as Mr. Homiakhoff's letter showed, whether it be right or wrong, reasonable or unreasonable, is repudiated by the great mass of patriotic Russians. [Cries of "No, no."] And indeed it is incredible to me that any patriotic Russians should take the view put forward by the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie) last year when he told us that their object in trying to stop the Russian visit was to place the Russian Government in a position of financial difficulty by persuading a foreign Government to insult and boycott it. I approach this question from a point of view absolutely different to the hon. Members below the Gangway. They ask in regard to the Russian agreement and the visits, not how they will conduce to the interest of their own country, but how they will conduce to the interest of a particular party or movement in Russia. I think it would be quite as absurd to ask what effect the visit of the Czar or our agreement with Russia will have upon the internal politics of 663 Russia as it would have been in regard to the Anglo-French Agreement to inquire what the effect of it would have been upon the interests of the monastic orders in France. It seems to me that we have quite enough to do in looking after our own interests without concerning ourselves with matters which are really no business of ours, and which we can but very imperfectly understand. No one could do a worse service to British interests at the present moment than to belittle or to impair the good relations which have been—I agree with the right hon. Gentleman—largely the result of the recent agreement; an agreement which I may say was entered into by the present Government without dissent or serious criticism from any political party in this House, and which, if the Government were to fall to-morrow, and we on these benches were to succeed, would be our clear duty and our earnest endeavour to strengthen and maintain by every possible means in our power. If we are to discuss the Russian agreement at all it is reasonable to discuss it in relation to that quarter of the world—the Middle East—that it primarily and specifically refers to. It is quite impossible for anybody now to pretend that what has happened there has in any way justified any suspicion of the Russian Government or thrown doubt upon the value, of the Russian Agreement. Personally I have always thought that an agreement between Great Britain and Russia might very possibly lead to an internal movement—if you like to call it so—a Nationalist movement, owing to the fear of the people that that agreement between the two Powers was a prelude to active foreign intervention. There was a serious risk that an agitation, if it did arise, would be accompanied by such disturbance that would precipitate the very result that it was meant to avert.
That has not been the case in Turkey. Events in Persia have obliged the two Powers to take precautionary measures for the safety of their own nations, but certainly nothing has been done that can be properly described as intervention in the political affairs of that country. The action of Russia at Tabriz and Nazrin has been precisely analogous to that of the British troops at Bushire. The effect of the Anglo-Russian entente is that it has enabled us to look upon action taken by the, Russians in the North of Persia without any suspicion that it would lead to a prolonged military occupation or any 664 serious alteration in the political status. That is not a result, everybody will agree, that would have been thought possible a few years ago. It is a result upon which we are entitled to congratulate ourselves, and I, for my part, do not feel a shadow of a doubt that neither ourselves nor the Russian Government will readily do anything to shake that feeling of confidence which has been so recently and so happily engendered.
The right hon. Baronet, passing outside the sphere to which this agreement specifically refers, hints that interpretations placed upon it may have made it much more difficult in certain European matters for us to secure co-operation on the part of the Powers in matters where co-operation is eminently to be desired. If such interpretations have been placed upon it it is not the fault of the Foreign Secretary, for when the hon. Member for Ripon wished the right hon. Gentleman to make the Anglo-Russian Agreement the basis of joint action on the part of the two Powers to secure reforms in Macedonia, it was explained to him that the agreement was confined exclusively to Persia, and in the Debate on the Navy the right hon. Gentleman repudiated the idea that our ententes were intended to isolate Germany.
As regards the Congo, the right hon. Baronet knows very well that the main reason why this country was obliged at the very outset to place itself in the forefront for the movement for reform—rather against our will—was that we found it quite impossible, at all events before the publication of the evidence, to induce other European Powders to take the same serious consideration of the situation on the Congo as we did ourselves. Therefore I do not think that, either directly or indirectly, the foreign ententes can be held responsible for any difficulty in the question of the Congo.
With regard to the question of Bosnia, I think the right hon. Baronet made two mistakes. In the first place, he seemed to think that the main point of controversy on the subject of the Balkans was as to whether the occupation by Austria-Hungary of the occupied provinces was to be permanent or temporary, whereas surely the point was whether it should be an occupation or an annexation? In the second place, what we objected to was not so much the particular modifications which were proposed in the original Treaty of Berlin—I quite agree with him that those modifications in themselves were less important than previous modifications—and the in- 665 jury they involved to Turkish interests was sentimental rather than material. The principle for which we stood was the same for which we stood in the case of the Black Sea clauses of the Treaty of Paris, the very principle of which Austria herself was at that time the most strenuous champion, and that was: that the public law of Europe should not be altered except with the consent of all the Signatories, whether it was obtained by separate negotiation or by public conference. It seems to me our diplomacy was to that extent entirely successful, though no doubt it can be said that the assent was unwillingly given in the case of Russia. But if Russia, in what she believed to be the interest of European peace and the permanent interest of the Balkan States, accepted the settlement not wholly to her liking, that action only redounds to her credit, and should make all those who desire to range themselves on the side of peace desire to see the influence of Russia in the councils of Europe increased. May I say also that I think it would be a great pity if we were to assume that the policy of foreign Powers, including Austria and Germany, in the Balkans must necessarily for all time run on antagonistic lines. That is a notion, I think, which had its origin in the old assumption of the approaching decay of the Turkish Empire—an assumption which personally I never entertained, and which I hope recent events have rendered less probable than ever. The weakening or the disappearance of Turkey from the map of Europe might undoubtedly precipitate a European catastrophe, and the building up of a strong reformed Turkey is now, I believe, more than ever the interest, not only of the great European Powers without exception, but also of those Balkan States themselves whose in dependence might be threatened by the downfall of their neighbour. That seems to me a wide field in which the various European Powers may m cooperate actively, lending to the Turkish Government trained assistance, whether civil or military, of which they may stand in need, and by abstaining from doing anything which can encourage the forces which make for disruption. I am not going to enter into the question of Crete now except to say that I was very much astonished to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir Charles Dilke) declare the view that the declaration by the Cretan Parliament was to be regarded as having altered the status of the island. The status 666 of the island seems to me to be precisely what it was before that declaration took place. The European Powers are absolutely pledged by every consideration of honour to uphold the suzerainty of Turkey, and any change in the status of the island, if it is to be carried out at all, should be carried out as a direct arrangement between the Turks and the Cretans themselves.
I should like to make one or two observations upon the subject of the Congo. The speech which the right hon. Gentleman delivered in the Whitsuntide Recess Debate undoubtedly created a very widespread feeling of disappointment on the part of the more ardent advocates of reform. They apparently imagined that the right hon. Gentleman was going to bring matters to an issue at once even at the cost of a rupture of diplomatic relations. They even hinted that unless we were prepared to take that course we were confessing our impotence, and admitting the language and action which both parties had taken in this matter was a piece of mere bluff. I sincerely hope that we are not, in regard to the Congo, going to commit the great mistake of thinking that diplomacy in order to be effective must necessarily be sensational. The hon. Member for one of the divisions of Oxford suggested on the last occasion—and it was not an original suggestion; the suggestion was originally made by Lord Edmund Fitzmaurice, when he was sitting on this Bench and we were in office—that we ought to send a gunboat to blockade the mouth of the Congo and seize the Custom House. I think it is absurd to describe action of that kind as anything else but an act of war, and an act of war all the more serious, because it would involve the interests of other Powers besides those of Belgium. In some quarters it has been stated that we ought to be prepared in a cause which we believe to be righteous to run even so great a risk as that. Surely that is not the only question to be considered. What we have to ask ourselves in matters of this kind is not merely whether we are justified in incurring a risk, but whether, as a matter of fact, if we did take the risk, it would be effective in bringing about the result we desire. I remember, upon the last occasion on which I was responsible for the defence of foreign notices in this House, in 1905, we were pressed to take various measures, including, among others, the re-assertion of our rights to extra territorial jurisdiction, 667 and I ventured to point out then and the remark is just as relevant to the suggestion of blockading the mouth of the Congo, it is quite easy, if we desired to do so, to find methods of making ourselves disagreeable, but it is much more difficult to find methods to promote the object which we desire, namely, the amelioration of the condition of the natives, and it was that consideration, among others, that made me desire the solution put forward at a public meeting presided over by Sir Harry Johnson, for the annexation of the Congo by the Belgian Parliament.
That annexation has brought about two results. It has made it impossible for the Belgium Government to disavow all responsibility for, or knowledge of, what is going on in the Congo, and it has placed the whole of the system of the administration of the Congo under the searchlight of Parliamentary criticism. But I never supposed for a moment that the mere fact that Belgium took over the administration would have the effect of putting an end to all the abuses as if by the wave of a magician's wand. On the contrary, I thought it was obvious that any serious reform of abuses must lead to a large financial deficit, which the Belgian Government would be loth to make fall upon the taxpayers, and therefore those really desirous of improvement in the lot of the natives ought to have as their object and method, not to lecture and abuse the Belgian Government, but to try and find some practical means of getting the Belgium Government itself out of the difficulty they are in.
The right hon. Gentleman has more than once stated in the course of the Debate that if the Belgian Government were willing to submit the whole of the questions at issue between us and them to the judgment of an international conference, we should be quite willing upon our side to consider favourably the question of allowing the raising of the level of the Customs Duty, the proceeds of which, I believe, must be applied to the internal administration of the country. But I am not aware that that proposal has ever been enshrined in a formal despatch, or that it ever formed the subject of formal discussion between the two Governments. On the contrary, there has been a tendency lately to separate the two questions, namely, the question of the treatment of the natives and the question of our commercial rights, into water-tight compartments. I do not blame the Government for so treating them, because it 668 is quite true the separation of these two questions was originally contemplated when we were is a office, but I do not think it is a very convenient way of approaching the matter, and even if it was practicable, it seems to be hardly desirable. Our great object is to secure an improvement in the lot of the natives, and it seems to me that if we allow the settlement of the question of our commercial rights to take precedence of the settlement of the question of the natives' rights, we shall certainly be lending colour to the suspicion which we have always repudiated, that we were acting from interested motives.
The right hon. Gentleman has pointed out in his last despatch that until reform takes place, and until we recognise the annexation, it is impossible for us to submit any point to arbitration, because the Belgium Government has no title from our point of view to appear in an arbitration court in the capacity of Ruler of the Congo State. From our point of view she is merely the de facto owner of territories of which the legal rights might be argued to have reverted to the representatives of those who signed the original treaties with the International Association. But, apart from that consideration, it seems to me that the question of our commercial rights and the question of the treatment of the natives are so inseparably bound up that it is impossible to treat them apart. I cannot conceive how we could get a decision from any court upon the question of our right to free trade upon the Congo without also getting a decision upon the legality of the measures by which the natives have been deprived of their right to the produce in which alone any trade or commerce can be carried on. I observe in the last despatch sent by the Belgium Government they expressed their decided preference in connection with the dispute about our commercial rights—they express a decided preference for the method of settlement by international conference over the method of settlement by arbitration, and it seems to me if the Belgian Government were willing of their own accord to issue invitations for an European conference to consider, not merely the state of affairs prevailing in the Belgium Congo, but the whole question of how the various systems prevailing in the French Congo and in the various other territories in the Congo, including our own, could best be brought into conformity with the 669 principles of the Berlin Act, it would be in no way derogatory to the dignity of Belgium, and we, for our part, might well be content to abide by the decision at which such a conference might arrive.
There is one point upon which I think there ought to be no room for misconception at all. I observe that in the right hon. Gentleman's last despatch he says it is undesirable that our recognition of annexation should be deferred until an exact agreement has been arrived at with regard to the question of the amount of land which should be allotted to the natives, and he goes on to say that in his opinion the question of the right of the natives to trade in the produce of the Congo is of less importance than the question of the abolition of forced labour and of taxes in kind, and if these reforms were carried out recognition of annexation might be given. I confess it seems to me that the mere abolition of taxes in kind and forced labour will be a mere mockery so long as the natives are absolutely dependent for their power to pay taxes, and even for their means of sustenance, upon the terms enacted by the concessionaire companies. I am far from wishing the right hon. Gentleman or the Government to take any action with regard to the Congo that they think unwise, on the contrary, I think the right policy for us is to try and carry Belgium opinion with us. I do not desire to press the right hon. Gentleman to take spirited action, but I think it would be a great mistake, and the public opinion of this country will not tolerate, until this question of the right of the natives to the land and the produce of the soil are settled, the re-assumption on the part of this country of such a responsibility for the state of things in the Congo as would be implied by our recognition of annexation.
There is only one other question which I desire to ask the right hon. Gentleman, and that is with regard to the recent treaty between Great Britain and Siam for the cession of adjoining territory. I think no one will be disposed to dispute the great advantages which that treaty secures to this country. It gives us access to valuable markets with opportunities for railway development which will be of the greatest value to the trade of our possessions, and it gives us definitely a right to trade in the interior of Siam and definitely excludes the possibility of the establishment of foreign 670 claims in the part of the world in which the Anglo-French agreement recognises the priority of British interests. The only question is whether in making the concession the right hon. Gentleman has made in order to secure these advantages he has been sufficiently mindful of the existing interests and rights of British subjects in Siam. I gather from letters which have, reached us from Bangkok that there is considerable anxiety on the part of the commercial community in that place, and that anxiety arises from two causes. In the first place the experience which they have had of the effect of our partial surrender of extra-territorial jurisdiction under the old treaty in the northern part of Siam, has not been-of a very reassuring character. I am informed that on two recent occasions, in 1903 and 1906, the Burmese Shans, of whom there are 15,000 in that part of the country, signed a petition for the revival of the old Consular jurisdiction, on the ground that every single case in which the decision of the International Court at Chiengmai had been appealed against, that decision had been reversed by the Superior Court of Bangkok. Their attitude seems to be justified by the admission made in the recent report of the. Department of Justice in Siam that during the last three years a large number of Siamese judges and officials have been sentenced to various sentences of penal servitude for corruption. It is quite true that so long as you have a right of appeal you have some safeguard against an ultimate miscarriage of justice, and the new treaty safeguards the right of appeal. But I put it to the right hon. Baronet that the delay which is incidental to a system like that is of much more serious consequence to a commercial community like that to which this Treaty applies, than when you are dealing with a population engaged in forestry. The new system will not come into force until a satisfactory code of Siamese commercial law had been drawn up, and I regret that the Secretary for Foreign Affairs did not take this opportunity to stipulate for some reform in the system of appointing judges, because I understand that the defects in the administration are largely due to the fact that the judges are appointed as soon as they have passed the law examination at the age of 22 to 25, when it is obvious they cannot have had any practical acquaintance with commercial law and practice Another ground for anxiety is the 671 differentiation which the right hon. Gentleman has introduced between the status of the British subject of European origin and the British subject who is of native origin. The European subject, although subject to the jurisdiction of the Siamese courts, will be tried by Europeans, because a European is not only to sit in court, but he has to sit as a judge, and if his colleagues dissent from him his own judgment is to be final. In the case of the native Indian British subject the European would only sit as an adviser, and his opinion would have no binding effect upon the judges. I do not know what is the justification for this introduction of a distinction between the legal status of different classes of British subjects. There is a statement in the covering Memorandum which accompanies the treaty to the effect that that system is in accordance with the principle that natives shall be judged by a judge of a similar race. I do not know on what precedent that assertion is founded. Certainly in India in civil cases there is no distinction at all between the legal status of European and native British subjects, and there is no comparison possible whatever between the training and attainments of native judges in India and native judges in Siam. The right hon. Gentleman seems to set a precedent in this treaty of an unfortunate character, and I hope he will be able to assure us that he has satisfied himself that the new advantages which are to be obtained for those natives who are British subjects outweigh the practical or theoretical advantages which he has felt obliged to accept on their behalf.
§ Mr. H. BELLOC
Any Debate on foreign affairs in this House generally divides itself ultimately into arguments by what may be called the experts and arguments used by the ordinary type of hon. Member. There can be no doubt that the main advantage of a Debate in a popular Assembly is the arguments one hears from the latter, and not from the former. We have had an admirable example of the expert arguments from the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. Such arguments are valuable as showing the criticism or support which a particular view receives from the official Opposition. But there is also the point of view of the man who cannot pretend to be an expert at all. He is there to voice, if he can, the general opinion of his constituents, and to 672 some extent his own judgment, as arrived at by reading and travel. That is perhaps the most valuable opinion expressed in a popular Assembly. On account of the opinions which I hold upon this question I find myself compelled to differ from opinions which are held from the best of motives by hon. Members sitting on this side of the House. I shall begin by stating where I differ from them as a non-expert, and as a man who merely arrives at the rough judgment upon this question of the Congo. Here perhaps I shall stand all alone, but I think someone should say what I am going to state. I want to show why many of us who claim to be as ardent lovers of self-government as anyone in this House differ from what has fallen, and will again fall from many hon. Members opposite in the matter of the Czar's visit. The general thesis I want to maintain in this matter is that of all moments in the long diplomatic history of this country this moment is one of the most ill-chosen at which to allow this emotion full play. I take it that in the matter of the Congo the argument is that there has been a breach of treaty. I am not niggardly in my recognition of the humanitarian side of this problem, and God forbid that I should be. I believe that the vast majority of those engaged in this crusade are concerned more with the humanitarian side alone. That is certainly the case with most of my hon. Friends. If many of the statements they have made in regard to the administration of the Congo had been made with regard to a British subject they would have probably been put into prison for criminal libel. What would have happened if King Leopold had brought a suit in court as a reply to some of the charges which have been made against him. The main charge in regard to the Congo is that there has been something tantamount to a breach of treaty, and we are entitled to attempt to have it remedied.
I confess when this question is mixed up with the treatment of the natives, I find it difficult to see what standpoint the Foreign Office can take up. In an interruption of mine, for which I apologise, I said that no Catholic opinion had been heard upon this point. It was a pertinent observation, and very highly pertinent indeed, because there are Catholic missionaries all over the Congo. They are a very large majority of those at work there, and it seems to me, as a Catholic, inconceivable that if the picture which has been drawn had not been drawn, if it is accurate and not exaggerated, we should not have heard 673 their voices at all. It is an elementary fact that wherever Europeans come into contact with races so inferior as the races in the Congo basin there must necessarily be acts of cruelty and tyranny. It is an elementary fact, because such things have happened in all our colonies. They are happening to-day in Rhodesia, where recently some Rhodesian Boys were flogged to death. These things will happen wherever white men and black men come into contact under our modern system of production. How far this has been exaggerated, and how far it is true in regard to the Congo is quite another matter. If the picture which has been drawn is a true one, I should say that this is not the moment in our diplomatic history for adding one more difficulty to the very many with which we are faced today. There is a tone of mind inherited from a much better and happier past when we had one rival fleet always hopelessly inferior to our own, when we were masters of all forms of industrial production, when we had a small infantry of the line which was admirable for its purpose, but that time has now passed away. We may recreate something of the kind in the future, but no man, looking round, can doubt that we are now passing, and we shall in the immediate future continue to pass, through a very critical phase of our diplomatic history. It is necessary for us to depend quite as much upon a close system of alliances, and a close calculation of the various national forces around us, as it was necessary for us in the past to depend upon an isolation based upon the strength of our Navy and the admitted excellence of a long-service Volunteer Army. That which is true to-day in regard to the question of the Congo is infinitely more true in relation to the Empire. Of all categories of men in modern Europe there can be none in the nature of things about whom we can be more ignorant than the Crowned heads, and the picture presented to us by their personal enemies is not the picture I should respect, though I believe it has a great deal to do with the feelings aroused among Members opposite. It is, however, an undoubted fact, whether you like it or not, that every expert in Russian affairs, every man profoundedly acquainted with Russian history, Russian language, and Russian literature—and those experts can always be counted on the fingers of one hand—says that the Czar, the Emperor of Russia, is regarded as the national symbol just as one regards the flag or the lion here. The 674 comparatively small minority which desires to change all the traditions of the Russian State, and which is seen in some cases to be indifferent whether the State survives, may excite our admiration and have our active sympathy, but it has not our active sympathy and admiration as democrats if we desire that the Russian people should rule, and that the will of the people of Russia should prevail.
It is undoubted that any insult to the head of the Russian nation will be felt by the masses of the Russian people. In proof of that I will ask you to turn not to the natural bitter writings of exiles, many of whom have openly declared themselves on many occasions the unblushing enemies of their country and its traditions, and of all that makes Russia, but to any of those few men who are experts in the knowledge of their country. One, Mr. Maurice Baring, who is my intimate friend, knows the country from top to bottom. He is not your correspondent there for a few weeks only; he knows all the place. His sympathies are certainly democratic, and he has assured me that any insult or rebuff offered to the Emperor of Russia is felt as a rebuff or an insult to the national symbol, just as one feels an insult or rebuff to the national flag. Even if that were not so, was there no reason or basis for that scheme, I will not say of alliances, but of understandings which now includes the Russian Empire. I would ask hon. Gentlemen to think whether this nation is so powerful, is so unembarrassed, that we can afford to alienate, or whether their duty to the material circumstances of the nation would not make them pause before they alienate, as they would by such an action, the masses of the Russian people. Opinion cannot be proved, it cannot be weighed and measured; you can only appeal to the experts, and that is what they say. In proportion as they know the country, that is the attitude they take. There is no other argument to be used. I have really put forward one point of view—emphatically not an expert opinion, but an opinion which I think will find its echo, if not among the democratic Members listening to me now, among many Englishmen who will read this Debate to-morrow. I think there is a very widespread opinion that in the present circumstances a public disapproval or a public blame of the visit of a foreign sovereign is unwise, and I had almost said unpatriotic.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary has 675 disputed the accuracy and authenticity of the figures quoted by my hon. Friend (Mr. Henderson), and he added that his information told a different sort of tale. This matter is one of fact, and is easily capable of being put to the test. If it can be shown that the right hon. Gentleman has been misled by the Russian authorities in regard to this matter, surely it is a fair inference that on other matters he is being equally misled by them. The figures quoted by my hon. Friend have been compiled from two sources. There was, first of all, a compilation from reports appearing in newspapers. These were reported in the Russian Duma by speeches, and the Government denied the accuracy of them. A demand was set up for an Official Return. The Law Committee of the Duma thereupon asked the Ministry of the Interior to give the exact figures. They were compiled by the Police Department of that Ministry, and were communicated to the Duma on 6th February, 1909. They do not include the, military cases. As the accuracy of more than one hon. Member is at stake, I desire to ask the Foreign Secretary, categorically, whether he denies these figures. In 1905 72 civilians were condemned to death in Russia, and 10 were executed; in 1906 450 were condemned to death and 144 executed; in 1907 1,056 were condemned and 456 executed; and in 1908 1,741 were condemned and 825 executed. Up to the end of March this year the number of executions, not sentences, was 235, which is at the rate of 2,820 for the current year. I respectfully ask the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary if he disputes those figures, and, if not, whether they do not supply the justification for the protest we are making, and do not bear out our statement that, far from the position of Russia having been improved in this respect in consequence of the visit of the King to the Czar last year, as we were told in the Press and on the platform, it has steadily gone from bad to worse.
§ Sir E. GREY
If they are taken from official Returns of course I accept them. The figures I quoted, 6,400 persons mur- 676 dered and also 6,800 persons wounded, are also taken from official Returns.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
The right hon. Gentleman overlooks the fact that we now know that a very large proportion of those so-called murders are the direct outcome of the work of police agents, inspired by the authorities, and paid for by the authorities. The gravamen of the charge is that most of the executions are for political offences, and in very few cases, indeed, is there any trial worthy of the name. The military authorities by a very informal kind of drumhead court-martial condemn whom they please, and it is the outcome of this irregular military despotism that the, number of executions and imprisonments is steadily rising. My object was to make it clear that my hon. Friend (Mr. Henderson) was not guilty of any exaggeration, as the Foreign Secretary seemed to indicate, in quoting the figures he did, and which I have just repeated. We are told from both sides of the House that the British Parliament has no right to interfere with the internal affairs of another nation with which we have no treaty rights or obligations. I understand that to be the reply made to those who assert that, if the affairs of a foreign State are being conducted in a way that outrages the sense of a civilised community, it is the business of every other civilised community to withhold recognition from that State. That is our claim. The reply to that is that it is no concern of ours, and that we have no right to concern ourselves with the administration of another nation. That is a new reading of Liberalism. There was a time in the history of this country when the heads of the Liberal party assumed a widely different attitude. I am not referring to such comparatively recent events as the Armenian atrocities and the language used towards Turkey; neither do I refer to the Congo State, for there, it may be said, we have a treaty obligation which entitles us to interfere. But I take as my leading ease the action of the heads of the Liberal party inspired by the then coming Leader, the late Mr. Gladstone, in connection with the internal affairs of Naples. It will be remembered that Mr. Gladstone, on visiting that country, had his attention drawn to the condition of the prisons and to the treatment meted out to political prisoners; and it was subsequently said by Lord Aberdeen, 677 it was to his honour, that instead of seeking amusement in visiting the excavated cities, he went into the prisons, descended into the dungeons, examined the cases, find then aroused public opinion in Europe in regard to them. It may be said that Mr. Gladstone was not the head of the Government; but when he was challenged with misrepresentation, and with overstatement of the case, in spite of all the official means of evasion which have always been used, the then head of the government, Lord Aberdeen, from his seat in the House, warmly defended his colleague, eulogised the action he had taken, and sent copies of the letters which Mr. Gladstone had written, and which had been published, to all the Chancelleries of Europe, so as to awaken Christian feeling with regard to the atrocities that were being perpetrated. That was what Liberalism then did; that was how Liberalism acted half a century ago, under circumstances not so very dissimilar to those which now exist in regard to Russia. I wonder what would have been said if it had been proposed at that time that the official head of the offending State should pay an official visit to this country? The matter did not end there. On October 27th, J 860, Lord John Russell, in a despatch, dealt with the subject of the revolutionary movement in Italy, and went on to say that the Government of the two Sicilies provided so ill for the welfare of the people that their subjects looked to their overthrow as a necessary preliminary to improvement. Her Majesty's Government, he added, wore bound to admit that the Italians themselves—who were the best judges of their own interests—that the people of Naples and of the Roman States, took up arms against their Government for good reasons, and therefore Her Majesty's Government did not feel justified in declaring that the people of Southern Italy had not good reason for throwing off the allegiance of their Government.
The people of Russia are seeking to throw off their allegiance to the Government of that country. The people of Russia upon more than one occasion have been on the verge of rebellion. So revolutionary was the movement, not of a few anarchists, but so revolutionary was it for years in Russia that when that nation was in the stress of war with Japan it was compelled to concede a thoroughly popular and democratic franchise for Parliament in response to the revolutionary demand. As a result of the creation of that 678 Duma, the financial state of Russia was reestablished, but the moment that that was accomplished the Czar and his official advisers set to work to undo the reform. They twice dissolved the Duma because the members elected by the people were not lickspittles; and not only was the Duma twice dissolved, but the franchise was so altered as to prevent the people of Russia from being represented, as they would be, with a proper franchise. Nor did the matter end there. Nearly every popular leader elected to the Duma is to-day rotting in prison. Then, forsooth, we are asked to believe that half-a-dozen gentlemen who have come over here represent the people! They represent them no more than a deputation from another place across the Lobby would represent the people of England. These are some of the reasons why we oppose this visit. The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary has implied, as the members of the Duma have also implied in their statement, that the people of England outside want to be on friendly terms with Russia. No one disputes that. The people of Great Britain want to be on friendly terms with the people of Russia. But the man who is coming here to meet King Edward does not represent the people of Russia. One thing is certain—that the people of this country, to an extent purely spontaneous, are rising in indignation against the visit. The Czar is the head of a practically autocratic state. King Edward is the head of a more or less popular and democratic Government; the Czar of Russia will not represent the people of Russia in this visit; neither will King Edward represent the people of Great Britain in this visit. What we are here to say is that this House of Commons, elected by the people to represent the people, should have consideration for the feelings and wishes of the people in a matter of this kind. The Noble Lord the Member for South Kensington (Earl Percy), when this matter was being discussed a year ago, said that one of the reasons I gave for opposing a visit of the King to the Czar was that it might keep Russia in a state of bankruptcy. That is overstretching my argument, which was that the King's visit was being planned in order to restore confidence in the minds of certain financiers, who refused to come to the aid of bankrupt Russia. I venture to tell the Government and the Foreign Office that if the interests of these same financiers lay in not receiving the Czar he would not be invited either to Cowes or anywhere 679 else to meet the head of the British Empire. That is our position. This man, in his own person, represents an official despotism which has few parallels in history, ancient or modern. It may be said—it has been said—that he personally is not responsible. That is a very moot point. This we know—that when the Bloody Hundred—the Black Gang—who were responsible for the Pogram—the wholesale butcheries that took place throughout the Empire—visited the Czar, he himself wore the decoration of that body, and he also pinned the badge on the breast of his own little son to show his sympathy with these men, who, it has since been proved, were instigated by the Secret Police to carry out these outrages. We say, therefore, it is not desirable that we should officially receive in this country the official head of a State who, by his public acts and by his presence, has countenanced the acts of those who have been discovered playing the double. It is clear that his personal sympathies are with the reactionaries and against his own people.
An hon. Gentleman opposite reminded us that the day was when the Czar was looked upon as the Little Father of the Russian people, occupying a place in their minds scarcely second to that occupied by the Deity. That day has gone. The Czar himself has helped to disabuse the minds of the people on that point. They regard him as a member of the official hierarchy. We oppose this proposed visit. May I be allowed to express a hope that we shall be permitted to have a clear vote upon this one question. I should be sorry to be the cause of any entanglement, and therefore I do hope that when we go into the Division Lobby it will be upon this point regarding the Czar's visit, and that afterwards the Committee may resume the discussion of foreign affairs so long as may be desired. I belong to a party which ought to be, and is, in fact, wholly in sympathy with the people of Russia in the great fight they are making. I know that every section of the advanced movement in Russia from the extreme Socialists to the mildest Liberals, regard the visit of the Czar to this country as to some extent throwing back their cause by giving him official recognition by a great State. We shall therefore oppose this to the utmost extent of our power.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
The substance of the hon. Gentleman's argument seems to be that in regard to the question of who 680 are the representatives of foreign nations, and who is to be received with courtesy, such questions must be decided only by the ipse dixit of that despotic and not numerous section in this country, which calls itself the Labour Party. The manner of his argument seems to me to be to use as little of the ordinary terms of courtesy to the representative of another nation as possible. He seemed to think it possible if an hon. Member wishes to confine the discussion of all that vast range of affairs with which the right hon. Baronet, the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir C. W. Dilke) is concerned, to a single issue, and to interfere with the internal affairs of foreign nations, at peace with us, by rousing germs of hostility which will spread from the highest to the lowest rank in those foreign nations—he seemed to think that the only part of that vast range of affairs which should be discussed should be confined to such dangerous, irresponsible, and illusory quarrels, as that which he has brought forward. But I desire to turn to some other part of those affairs, and I think many of us will think it is time that we should turn to practical matters which more directly interest us, and which are more directly under the cognisance of this House of Commons, and more consonant with English honour and the English name.
§ Mr. MacNEILL
On a point of order. Sir, may I ask, has it not been usual in a discussion of this sort to confine the general discussion by general agreement of the Committee, to one matter until that has been decided. This course was adumbrated by my hon. Friend, and now the hon. Gentleman in possession scarcely conceals his desire to switch off the Debate to another subject.
On the Foreign Office Vote there are a great many questions raised. There is the Congo question, with which we began, and I have, not been able to call upon all the hon. Members who wish to speak with regard to it. Then there is the Persian, and also the Egyptian question, about which hon. Members wish to speak. It does not rest with me when the Division is to be called, or on what the Division is to be taken, but I must give a fair chance to hon. Members.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
The hon. Member has perfectly accurately described my intention. It is my intention not to continue the subject, which has just been debated, but to come to a more immediate matter for our Debate to-day. The subject which 681 I wish to ask the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to, and about which I wish to make an appeal to him, is one which involves no great subject of contention, and which may appear on that account to have less interest and less charm to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, but it is one in which our English honour is concerned.
§ Mr. ROBERT DUNCAN (Lanark, Govan)
I wish to ask you, Sir, if the hon. Gentleman is right to speak of our nation as the English nation, and not as the British nation?
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I am not so much the slave of nomenclature that I am not content to accept a word, as descriptive of the whole country, which is sufficiently descriptive of the language which it uses. The question in regard to which I wish to make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman is in regard to that portion of our administration of Egypt which deals with the Soudan. With that country many of us have associations of various kinds. It is one with which I myself have a very immediate connection, as I happen to be a member of the governing body of the Gordon College at Khartoum, and have from the very earliest regarded that institution with a very great deal of interest. It is strange, if we look at it, how quickly the memory of our work in the Soudan has passed from the imagination of the people of this country. Only 10 years ago, before it was blurred out by the more exciting incidents of the South African war, our attention was kept and our interest was aroused by the memory of that great man who had given his life to that country, General Gordon. They had been aroused still more by the gallant efforts which had been made to rescue that country from the reign of fire and blood, but after that work was done they turned their backs upon the smaller labours of the administration of that country, upon that unknown work that has been done in secret, and almost silently and almost without notice, by those living in this country. If we only think of the responsibility that rests upon us for that country, we ought to give some attention to its affairs. Its very size, nearly a million square miles, not so much less, if Members would only think of it, than the whole of our Indian Empire, ought to command attention.
Our first effort was, after seizing the country, to rescue it from the fire and blood which was decimating its population. We had to undo the work which 682 that system had done, and we had also to change the whole social system of the country, to abolish slavery, and our one resource was to build up an industrial system. Personal efforts were ungrudgingly given, and efforts and labour were spent in that work, in the first impulse of responsibility which ensued in the pride which we had, in the successful result of the prolonged struggle which had taken place. Ample generosity was shown by the British countries, not only was the college building provided for, but an endowment of £3,500 was provided out of the subscriptions then raised. Year by year the work of the college has increased, and the range of its effort has developed in almost geometrical progression. Resources that were adequate before are no longer adequate now, and the college finds itself in great difficulty in carrying on its beneficent work. One thing we have done. We have escaped the educational errors that we have committed in England. The education given in the Soudan is not that purely literary education involved in the teaching of sociology and various "isms," and has been more or less useful and practical from the very first in its aims and character. That work finds itself at a standstill for lack of means, and to what resources can we look? I know that Egypt has done what it could do in the past. I know how difficult and delicate a matter the financial relations between Egypt and the Soudan are, and to press unduly a grant upon Egypt is not wise. But it must be remembered, and it is often forgotten, by those who will not study the character of the country, that Egypt owes much more to the Soudan than she is prepared to admit. Were the Soudan held for a year, by a civilised power, in possession of all the resources of science, it would not take a year to bring about a great change in the present position of things. At present Egypt looks to the Soudan but keeps it within the strictest fetters, as regards the use of the main source of prosperity in Northern Africa, and I do not think it is asking unduly much if we should make a request for a slight expansion of the purse strings of Egypt for the assistance of the Soudan. Still more, would it not be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to give us some hope of help from the British Exchequer? Surely something might be done to add to the work that has been done by the benevolence of private donors, and especially to put on a sound foundation the work of the college. Beyond its own resources, 683 the only resources which we, as the Governors, have to look to are those which were contributed by a former Member of the House, and by an American citizen. Surely it is not too much to ask, that the work upon which English lives and treasure have been spent, and which has been carried on so ungrudgingly, should not now be destroyed for the want of a small fund that might enable this college to complete its beneficent work.
Would it not be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to give a start, or, at least, benevolent sympathy, towards the efforts made to set up on a stronger foundation this college bearing the name of the great soldier who gave his life for the country? I know that only a small expenditure of generosity and a limited amount of sympathy would reinvigorate the efforts which are now made. May I urge another and a stronger reason for such generosity on the part of our nation? I have spoken of the work which is being done, and which can be done on a far larger scale by this Gordon College—workshops, engineering shops, every form of mechanical education, electricity, and various other forms which may develop the vast industrial resources of the Sultan if only the capital and the labour were there to develop it. But it has another side also, no less important for our countrymen. Long after those who are now giving their lives and efforts for it have passed away and are forgotten the work which has been done by England in that country will be looked back upon with the same pride with which we look upon our Indian Empire, but we know there are drawbacks and difficulties and dangers in that country. The deadly forms of malaria which prevail there are spreading, and are not being checked. The most recent medical reports show that they are step by step advancing from the South and across the Abyssinian frontier. The danger, great as it is now, will be greater still in the near future for our brothers and sisters who are spending their lives there. The only means by which that enemy may be fought is medical research. The only source of that medical research in the Soudan at this moment is the laboratory in Gordon College given by an American citizen. I surely make no great or undue demand upon British generosity when I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether it would not be possible to complete the work we are doing there by some grant from the British Exchequer, a grant which might at least encourage the 684 Egyptian Exchequer to extend a wider measure, if possible, of generosity to its poorer neighbour, the Soudan.
§ Mr. J. D. REES
The lion. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie) referred to the days when Great Britain was able to carry out great schemes of humanitarianism. But times have changed since then, and unless hon. Gentlemen opposite will join with others in giving us a fleet which puts us in the same relative position to other nations which we then occupied, it must be recognised that those days are far passed, and that other considerations must guide the Foreign Office—considerations of prudence and reason such as we have had laid before us by the Foreign Secretary to-day. The hon. Member also gave the House various statistics concerning Russia; they were taken, I happen to know, from a little scarlet pamphlet published by the Independent Labour Press, and blushing, not for its place of origin, but for its contents. I should like to know whoever would go for information concerning the prison system of a country to one whose acquaintance with it was formed as a prisoner himself, to an exile from his own country, animated by the greatest feeling against it, and, as is usual with enthusiasts of that character, not too particular with the statistics of which he made use. I was as much surprised to see Prince Kropotkin brought forward to-day as an authority against Russia as I was the other day to hear Count Tolstoi seriously put forward as a land reformer and as the chief prophet of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood). When the hon. Member for Merthyr, with much confidence, proceeded to dissociate the people of Russia from the Government of the Czar, one cannot help remarking that the people of Russia must judge for themselves, and that during the recent visit the President of the Duma hotly resented any such statement as an insult to the Russian people and to the Czar. Previously, Professor Miliukoff a well-known Radical, at the luncheon given by the Lord Mayor to the members of the Duma, rebuked those gentlemen who took up the attitude of which the hon. Member for Merthyr is a conspicuous example, and said, "We are not the opposition to the Czar, we are the opposition of the Czar." He claimed to occupy precisely the same position in regard to his own Sovereign, which hon. Gentlemen opposite occupy towards their Sovereign, when out of office. That no doubt: is the true position.
685 I cannot myself, for the life of me, understand why, in or out of this House, a monopoly of humanity should be claimed for the English people. The right hon. Baronet (Sir C. W. Dilke) has referred to Servia and Bulgaria and other petty Balkan States, but he did not go out of his way to mention that the only one of those troublesome principalities that has been promoted into being a kingdom is one which, not many years ago, finding a traitor in its service, shot him instead of promoting him in his department. We hear that the Belgians have no humanity in the Congo, the Turks, unless they happen to be young Turks, have no humanity in their affairs, and the Russians are entirely bereft of this attribute. Why is this? The hon. Member for Merthyr spoke out of some inner consciousness aided by the scarlet pamphlet of Kropotkin. He would admit, I fancy, that he has no knowledge of Russia. I am, I believe, the only Russian interpreter in this House, and I have lived with Russian peasants for a long time, and since tales have been brought forward here against the Emperor of Russia, I will mention something which happened to my own knowledge in a village where I was living when there were no reporters about, and where the Czarevitch had no object in making a show of himself. He came down to some autumn manœuvres, and the head man of my village and his fellows said to me, "Now we are going to offer our bread and salt to the Czarevitch." I said, "You will hardly see him." They said, "We think we will see him," and they started off. When they came back, I said, "Did you see him?" They said, "We did. When we got there we were told he was at dinner, but he wished to see us all the same. We went in with our plates, and he said, 'How are you brothers? I thank you for your visit,'" and he gave orders that before the men returned they should have a good dinner. I said, "It was very kind of him to receive you," and these simple villagers said, "It is always thus with our Royal Family, and we told you it would be so."
§ Mr. REES
This happened before, but the Russian nation has a sufficiently long history to make a little interval of time such as the hon. Gentleman refers to a matter of no account, and it is exceedingly 686 improbable that the whole nature and character of the Russian people has so completely changed. I have travelled in Siberia and seen a good many prisons, and I protest that were I, as I hope I never shall be, a convicted prisoner, I would rather spend the term of my sentence in Siberia than in any prison I have ever seen in the world. [An HON. MEMBER: "Does the hon. Gentleman dispute the official returns which have been quoted today relating to prisons and massacres?"] These official returns were immediately countered by the Foreign Secretary. I am not going to attempt figures. They are most misleading, and the fact that they are drawn upon 60,000,000 of people is entirely kept out of account. The majority of the prisoners in Siberia are perfectly at large, and are allowed to go where they like, and to do what they like provided they do not leave Siberia, and, if there are some who are kept in confinement and treated rigorously, they are people who in most other countries would have been hanged for the cruel and callous assassination of officials. I hope we have now got beyond thinking that wherever an official is assassinated he must be wicked and cruel. We ought to know better than that now, and we ought to have some sympathy with other countries whose officials are exposed to the attacks of these anarchists and assassins. If ever there was a ruler of Russia who was entitled to the respect and sympathy of hon. Gentlemen who are strong democrats rather than to their reprobation, it is this present ruler of Russia. It is he who has endowed Russia with two Chambers, and given them an elective system, and has provided that nothing shall become law which has not gone before the Duma. The Czar himself is a man of most humane disposition. When he was a young man circumstances brought me for a short time into continual contact with him, and having taken particular pains at that time to watch the young man who was to occupy so great a position in the world, the impression ho made upon me was that if he was in one respect likely to be wanting in the great position to which he was to be called it was that he was not made of sufficiently stern stuff, and nothing in his subsequent history has led me to suppose that that judgment was erroneous. France is the leading democratic country in Europe, and in the Chamber recently M. Pichon said that the Czar was the ally and friend of France, and the foremost promoter of peace among nations. I believe that. It was he who 687 inaugurated the Hague Conference. I think very little of the Hague Conference. I believe no good came of it. I believe harm came of it, for we were sitting still while other nations were sharpening their weapons. But hon. Members who believe in the Hague Conference owe all respect to the monarch who invented that conference. What other authorities do hon. Members want in regard to the Czar if they will not take the Minister of the Republic of France? Is he not a good authority'? I confess I do not know who it is they want. Take the Russian people. Hon. Members opposite say that the Czar is not the representative of the Russian people. The Czar's father was such a representative of the Russian people that it was notorious nobody who saw him could have distinguished him, except for his magnificent surroundings, from an ordinary Russian in the country. He had the appearance, habits, and speech of an ordinary Russian. Why should hon. Members assume that the Royal Family of Russia are wanting in that generous sympathy and compassion towards their people which we have learned to look upon as a matter of course in this country in our Royal Family. I believe the Czar possesses a large share of that compassionate and sympathetic feeling towards his people with which we are familiar with in our more fortunate island, and upon our own Throne.
It must be remembered that there are peculiar difficulties connected with the Government of Russia. A revolutionary rising among the agricultural peasants of Russia, who are excitable creatures, would result in the greatest suffering and bloodshed. When there is an agrarian riot, if it is not sternly repressed, it is apt to spread, and it may lead to untold suffering and bloodshed. That can be averted by a little timely action on the part of the Government. Let us assume for a moment, for the sake of argument, that the Czar and his Government are not of that character which hon. Gentlemen prefer, and by which they believe all countries can be governed, though that is a thing which has yet to be proved. Is it when other countries are armed to the teeth, and all the world is a great armed camp, that we are to refuse to cultivate friendly relations with any nation because its monarch does not come up to some ideal which probably exists only in the minds of Socialists and such men as Prince Krapotkin? It is 688 the same frame of mind which is ready to condemn all the agents of British Government abroad. What was the action taken in Sweden when a motion of this sort was proposed? In Sweden by a unanimous vote the Chamber refused to allow the subject to be discussed, and I wish it had been so here. I have only spoken what I have said about the Czar because I think that the least any man—I will not say Member of Parliament—with any sense of decency in him can do is to get up and say that which he knows to be the truth, and leave hon. Gentlemen opposite to draw their own conclusions. If they do not accept what I say I regret it. I think it is most deplorable that a visit, the results of which will be so valuable to both countries, cannot be allowed to take place without having discussions of this sort, in which epithets are hurled at the head of a friendly nation and the people of that nation.
I wish to say something with regard to a question not immediately Russian, but which concerns us, in Persia, owing to the Anglo-Russian Convention. I should like to tell the Foreign Secretary that before I came here to-day I took the opportunity of going to the headquarters of Persian commerce in the City, where those whom I met said they thought the action of the Foreign Minister and of our representative in Persia had throughout the recent unfortunate events—I do not know that you can call them unfortunate—done everything that men could do to safeguard British subjects, to protect the interests of honest traders, and to enable them to continue their business undisturbed. I take the opportunity of repeating that, for I think it is a matter of the utmost importance. I want to ask the Foreign Secretary a question, now that a change has taken place in the Government of Persia. It is not for us to say whether that change is good or bad; it is not for us to say that the Persians are not to develop their institutions as they wish, and to make King whom they wish. I wish to ask whether now that there appears to be a sort of settlement of the difficulties in Persia, and that Parliamentarians and Royalists are happily united, steps will be taken to peg out the claims of this country north of the Persian Gulf, lest peradventure other nations may set up claims there? There is no one now who will get up and say that the Anglo-Persian Convention was not one of the wisest treaties that could have been entered into. I hope that in the neutral sphere that runs 689 westward from the boundary of our sphere, steps will be taken to secure that no other nation but ourselves should come in there with concessions for railways, roads, or works of any other character whatsoever. Russia has been represented in the Debate to-day in the character of an aggressive military nation. I cannot help remarking how admirable has been the action of Russia throughout those disturbances in Persia, and that she has not exercised any pressure whatever on the Royalist side. That is obvious from what has happened. But for the concerted action of Russia and England by forcing a truce at the time when the Nationalists in Tabriz were at their last gasp, the Nationalist cause would have been defeated, and if there has been intervention in the internal affairs of Persia it has had the effect of giving the Parliamentarians their chance. Now that they have a boy king they will be supreme, and practically they are victors in the struggle.
I do think that now that our bluejackets are in the south on the same terms as the Russian infantry in the north, it would be a very convenient season for taking steps to consolidate our influence to the north of the Persian Gulf so that nobody else could ever get in. I do not know what has happened at Shiraz or at Meshed. However it may be, the Russian troops must be few in number. The result of this Convention has proved in every respect of the utmost benefit, and Persia has been saved by it.
I only wish to refer briefly to the Congo in order to meet a remark made by my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk. What I said was that travellers who had been in the Congo, men whom I know to be honourable, and who have no axe to grind, told me that the atrocities were enormously and portentously exaggerated, and that the Government there was not nearly so bad as was represented. I do urge that we shall do no good by representing that the Belgians) are less humane than ourselves. I believe them to be quite as humane as ourselves. There will be difficulty in bringing about in the Congo the kind of administration which flourishes in an English parish. I believe such things as forced labour, which have been in operation for generations, will be difficult to eradicate. I object to any attempt to force the hand of the Foreign Secretary in this matter. I do not agree with those who believe he 690 should act alone. Does anybody suppose that this country would go to war on behalf of the Congo? Suppose that rash and inconsiderate action were to be taken, such as the hon. Member for Woodstock advised, does anybody suppose that the Foreign Minister would not go down to history as the most foolish of a long line of Ministers? I sincerely hope that the House will not insist upon the right hon. Gentleman taking such action, and that he will continue to deal with this question in the wise and temperate spirit which eminently characterises him without being influenced by the clamour around him.
§ Mr. MacNEILL
This Debate shows clearly in many respects, although this House is 700 years old, that its procedure needs some reformation. We came here to take part in this Debate, and not to discuss theses extending from China to Peru, not to give individual views about certain foreign matters, but to give our views on the question which has been raised by hon. Members on this side. This House, as far as foreign policy is concerned, under present circumstances, is, I can say from 23 years' experience, absolutely impotent. Treaties and negotiations with foreign Powers are not discussed here until they are all over and concluded. The Foreign Secretary arranges treaties with foreign Powers. He arranged the present treaty between Russia and this country, which was promulgated two days after Parliament rose, and without Parliament knowing one word about it.
Attention called to the fact that 40 Members were not present.
It being after a quarter-past eight o'clock attention cannot be called to the fact that there are not 40 Members present.
§ Mr. MacNEILL
I was going to say that I would be afraid not to raise my protest here against the official visit of the Czar, the head of a country situated as Russia is now; but I would be afraid not of men, but of my God, if I did not join in this protest. The Czar has been officially invited to come to England. Do the people of England wish that? Do they voice it? Do they receive him with admiration? The clearest proof that they do not wish it is that the Czar will not put a foot on English soil. He will hold a reception of the Guildhall chiefs.
§ Mr. MacNEILL
He is not going to the Guildhall, but the Guildhall chiefs are to present him with a gilt snuff-box, and the ceremony will take place on board ship, because it is thought that it would not be safe or proper that the head of a great empire should go through the streets of London lest there should be a demonstration hostile to him. I will take care not to say one word personally against the Czar. He is the official head of a Government which is on friendly terms with us, and in reference to which any criticism of its internal affairs may be considered wrong. But we, on the contrary, consider that while we may be breaking international comity, we are fulfilling the instincts of humanity in protesting against a reception being given officially to the head of a country which at the present moment is soaked in innocent blood. The Foreign Secretary says we are not to offend foreign nations because we do not agree with their methods of government, but I submit it is our bounden duty, if we take foreign nations as associations of individuals with whom we are bound by treaty, to make this protest, especially when it is known that two-thirds of the Russian Empire at the present moment are under military government, and the governor-generals are entitled to put anyone to death without trial.
§ Mr. MacNEILL
I believe Krapotkin, whom I do not know, as firmly as I believe my hon. Friend, whom I do know.
§ Mr. MacNEILL
Krapotkin protested and raised his voice against scandals which were abhorrent to humanity. He is at the present moment, not in prison but in England, though no fewer than 81,500 of His fellow subjects in Russia are in prison, the majority of them without trial at all. The prisons in which these 81,500 persons, according to the official statistics, are confined are much too small for such a number. In rooms which are no bigger than dressing rooms there are as many as 14 or 15 prisoners, and they are not allowed to be out except 15 minutes in the day. They are not given food except in an interval of four hours out of the 24 hours, and they are not allowed out of those rooms except for 15 minutes to take exercise. We all know what that means. Then it seems that of the prisons in Russia 65 are 692 afflicted with the scourge of typhus fever and that the deaths from that fever are from 35 to 40 per cent. The Gentleman who is now Member for the City—who will ever forget the delightful telegram which he wrote, "Do not hesitate to shoot." There is a Russian Governor who has out-Balfoured Balfour. He has isued an order that in these prisons that where the prisoners are striving for a breath of air that should they put their heads over a window they are to be shot at. By this kind of rifle practice one man was killed outright and two men were mortally wounded. The person who witnessed that is one of the Members of the Duma. We had in Ireland in the '98 days an infamous torture called the Pitch-cap, invented by a loyal corporal, who was known as Tom the Devil. They have taken that and used it in a still greater excess of torture in the Russian prisons. It is a common thing to divest men of all their clothes, smear with kerosene, and then put the kerosene on fire. Then we are told we must not interfere with another man's property. The women are probably treated worse than the men. These things are occurring in a country whose official head is to be welcomed with loyal enthusiasm by the great body of the English people, who, to do them justice, love justice and have a sense of Fair play and a hatred of wrong, when they do not profit by it. It is a common thing to strike a man on the forehead with a handcuff if he does not doff his hat to some Governor. One exquisite method of torture is to place three or four chairs in a cell and for the warders to get up on the chairs and jump on the body lying prostrate in the cell.
These atrocities are going on day by day and are we to say that because it is not our business we are to allow it to continue and, because British interests are not affected, and British interests generally mean financial interests, are we to allow these things to escape our notice on that account? If we did not speak about them the very stones would cry out and protest against this conduct. One does not like to say anything that would be offensive to the Foreign Secretary, and I would not like to do so, because I do not feel it: but I do say it was a very painful sight to see him at that desk to-day delivering his speech, which was a masterly one, tout which was cheered, not by his own party, but by the Tories. As I saw the Member for the City of London listening to that speech I thought I saw something in his eye which said that wisdom was justified 693 of her children. It was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London who made the present Foreign Secretary a Member of the Privy Council, and the Foreign Secretary has been praised for his foreign policy in a speech at Cardiff. You have now the most democratic Parliament that was ever called, and you have the pleasure and the pride of seeing occupying your Foreign Office a gentleman whose policy is constantly meeting with the approval of the late Tory Government, and a gentleman who has been promoted by the Tory Government, and a gentleman who is somewhat phlegmatic and constitutionally not inclined to take the same view of the tortures and suffering of humanity as some of us inferior beings do. In that book of horrors—the red book—a case is presented in which an unfortunate man was led out to execution, although in an advanced stats of fever, and in another case a man had his nails torn out and was exposed to hot irons on the day of execution. Such sufferings, though not common, were not uncommon in the excesses of the Boer War. Some of us brought them before the House. The Gentleman who is now Foreign Secretary, speaking from the Front Liberal Bench, said that the execution should have taken place in a more dignified manner. For the first time in history I saw a Minister on the Front Opposition Bench hooted down by his own party. Is it any wonder that he should be inclined possibly to pooh-pooh things that we hate and dislike? I have discharged my conscience. As I looked at the true Radicals and saw the anger, and the proper anger, of the great Labour party, who are an international party, and who know what labour is and what labour suffers, and when I heard from that Treasury Bench, spoken by a gentleman who has been promoted by the Liberal party, praise of the Russian system and the Russian Government and adjurations to us to give support to the head of the Russian Government, I said to myself, "Oh, for one hour of Gladstone!" What would Gladstone have said? It would have been enough to make him turn in his grave to have heard that performance to-day. He, whose generous heart and wide feeling led him to come back, not for ambition, but because he felt for the sufferings of the Bulgarians, would he have said that British interests are at stake, and that we had no right to interfere? I am speaking with feeling on the matter, because I belong to a country that has suffered from some of those performances, though I 694 will say that even the Balfour coercion régime in 1889, as compared with the régime at present in Russia, is about the same comparison that a cat might have with a tiger, and not much more. I thank God this protest has been made, and I hope we shall have a very significant and considerable Division Lobby, and the Gentlemen who come forward will not be forgotten when the time comes.
§ Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES
I wish to say one or two words with reference to the question which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. A. Henderson), and I may say that I have been associated for many years past—of course, only as an Englishman can be associated—with the movement for the granting of a constitution to the people of Russia, and I yield not even to the hon. Member for Barnard Castle or to his colleagues in my sympathy and devotion for Russian freedom. And I feel bound to recognise that the speech of the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie) was a noble exposition of those views which are in accordance with the best traditions of Englishmen. I will go further, and, without indulging in any declamatory language, I am content to admit that it is impossible to dissever the personality of His Majesty the Emperor of Russia from the acts of the Government which have unfortunately stained the record of his reign. But I trust my hon. Friends will recognise the grave difficulty in which His Majesty's Government are placed. I would remind my hon. Friends opposite that this is not a social visit of the Emperor of Russia in the performance of a social function. The Sovereign of a State, by the elementary rules of International Law, represents the State, and is personna of the State. I would remind my hon. Friends that the Sovereign of Russia represents the Russian State in its international relations with this country, and the international relations of this country have of recent years, at any rate, led to a rapprochement between the Empire of Russia and the British Empire, and at least one other Power, and if you were to say that the Emperor of Russia may not, accompanied by his Foreign Secretary, visit the shores of this country and meet the Sovereign of this country, accompanied by the Foreign Secretary, you are committing an act which is tantamount to breaking off the diplomatic relations, and you might equally well—and nobody appreciates that better than the hon. Member for South Donegal (Mr. MacNeill), who is 695 learned on questions of international law—call upon His Majesty the Emperor of Russia to withdraw his Ambassador from this country. In other words, to refuse access to the Emperor of Russia on an official visit of this character would be tantamount to breaking off diplomatic relations. Certainly I should be quite as much in sympathy as my hon. Friends in their natural abhorrence of the government in Russia, but I venture with the greatest respect—and I am speaking now entirely on my own Motion—to suggest that it is a little too exigent on their part to endeavour to pass a censure upon His Majesty's Government for what is nothing more than continuing the ordinary diplomatic relations. [Cries of "No, never."] And I would say this, if I may illustrate my meaning, supposing the Emperor of Russia were to visit this capital—I believe he is not going to leave the Royal yacht—[Cries of "Why not?"]—for obvious reasons, except for the purpose of, in a sense, occupying British territory by going upon a yacht of His Majesty the King—I say that if the Emperor of Russia were, on a ceremonial visit, to enter this capital, I have no doubt that the reception he would receive would be very similar to that which at times I can remember was meted out in this capital to the author of the coup d'êtat. I personally should, without the smallest possible hesitation, have voted for the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Barnard Castle, but from a widely different reason. The canons of international law which govern the relations of two States treat as totally distinct and different an official or diplomatic intercourse between the Sovereigns of States and the ceremonial hospitality which may be dispensed to a Sovereign not only by the Government, but by their people. That distinction, which, after grave reflection, has caused me—although I could not help being inspired by the noble speech of the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil—to say that, whilst I sympathise with the generous emotions which inspired him, I do not think it would be an act of justice to His Majesty's Government, or that it would be in the interests of the diplomatic relations which obtain, not merely between us and Russia, but which obtain between us and Russia and those other nations which are associated with us in an endeavour to uphold international law. Within the last few years the beginning of a great change has taken place. It is true that with the 696 cruelties which mark one particular Department of the State, there will be inseparably associated with the reign of the Czar the salient and signal historical fact that in his time there was established a Constitutional Government in Russia.
§ Mr. T. HART-DAVIES
I always feel a great deal of sympathy with hon. Members below the Gangway opposite in their able enumeration of the horrors of the prisons and of the death sentences, but there are one or two things which have to be remembered. One of them is that three or four years ago Russia was in a state of revolution. I do not defend one side or the other; but, still, one has to be fair even when dealing with the Government of Russia. I should like to point out that from what I heard from private friends—I hope to go to Russia soon, and to be able to confirm it by my own personal experience—there is a slight improvement in the condition of affairs in Russia. It i3 very slight, but still there are signs of improvement, which I think will eventually develop as long as the Duma remains and the greater power it obtains. The great object we, as friends of Russia ought to have, is that the Duma should go on. I admit the Duma is not a very democratic concern. Still, it is the Duma, and as long as the Duma goes on it will be found that its influence will become gradually greater and greater. I believe that the influence of the Duma has already been very considerable. I should like to give one or two illustrations of what I mean. There were in Russia five governors who were notoriously evil, cruel and hard to their prisoners. There was a man whose name stinks in the nostrils of everybody—a man who was governor of Moscow, and he has been dismissed along with other governors. More remarkable than anything there was a man in St. Petersburg who had control of the police—a man of very great weight, and who was utterly unscrupulous. He set up a sort of exappropriation show of his own. In the old days in Russia there would not have been a word said about that. It would have been hushed up in the interests of the Government. That man has been dismissed from his post, and is now under trial. I believe all those things are signs of brighter days, and I believe the influence of the Duma is gradually extending in Russia, and that we shall see during the next few years a very great improvement in the internal affairs of Russia. There 697 was another thing I heard the other day, and I believe this is also very significant. The Czar himself sent a telegram to the Minister for War, with instructions that a court-martial might pass the sentence of death, but it was not to be carried out unless it was murder of a peculiarly brutal character. I think that is an extremely significant fact, and it shows that a strong force of Russian popular feeling is gradually beginning to move. There is no doubt the public conscience has been severely shocked in Russia by those courts-martial. If the Duma remains in existence the brighter it is for Russia. Although the Czar is nominally the head, and ought to be responsible for all those acts anybody who knows Russia is aware of what extraordinary Government there is there, and that it is not nearly so powerful as it ought to be in its control over dangers. It is only by means of publicity—of the very criticism which the Duma now is beginning to enjoy that things are being brought to light. Although we have had rather gloomy pictures this evening of what is going on in Russia, I think things will get better gradually. I am extremely anxious that the constitutional movement in Russia should go on. Any true friend of Russia ought to do all he can to help it on. That is what the Russians themselves want. Members of the first Duma now see the futility of any armed resistance, and they are strongly in favour of the Constitutional movement. We ought to try to influence the friendship between the Russian people and the English people as much as possible, and I believe, as things are now, it would be absolutely fatal if we were to break oil our connection with the Government of Russia. It would have a fatal reaction on the politics of Russia. To do anything which would affect the relations between the King of England and the Czar of Russia would throw Russia back into revolutionary ways and destroy friendship with England. I hope Friends below the Gangway opposite will not press this to a Division. The only hope of Russia is to keep up her strong friendship with England.
§ Mr. JOHN DILLON
I rise on behalf of the Irish party to associate myself in the strongest possible way with a protest which has been made against the visit of the Czar. In doing that I wish to make two preliminary observations. In the first place I protest against this visit because it is part and parcel of the visit of the 698 King to Russia last year. I quite admit the difficulty that the Government are in. The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary stated in very impassioned language when he rose to reply to the hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. A. Henderson) that the Motion of the hon. Member had put the Government in an impossible position. No, Sir, it was the Government themselves that put themselves in an impossible position. I quite recognise their enormous difficulty when called upon in this Motion to offer an insult to the head of any great European State. But why did they advise His Majesty to go to Reval? This visit would not have been contemplated, or perhaps had been taken, but for the visit of last year.
§ Sir E. GREY
That is absolutely wrong. The Czar is paying visits to his neighbours, and when he was passing our doors we should have been lacking in courtesy not to extend an invitation to him.
§ Mr. DILLON
Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that if the King had not visited the Czar at Reval last year the Czar would have proposed to visit the King this year? Of course not. This is a return visit, and it is for that reason that I associate the two things. The second preliminary observation is this: That there is no man in this House less desirous than I to offer any personal insult to this man, the Czar of Russia. I do not know anything about him personally. He may be, for all I know, an excellent man, but it is idle and absurd for any man in this House to pretend, or seek to argue, that he does not come to this country with all the responsibility of all the acts of his Government! You cannot dissociate the Czar of Russia from the policy of the Russian Government for the last four years, for it is an absolute autocracy. Quito lately in this so-called Duma, of which we have heard so much in this Debate, a question was raised in connection with the Russian Navy, and it was laid down by the advisers of the Czar that nothing he has done in granting his alleged Constitution, or Duma, has divested him of any of the autocratic power which he has. You cannot enjoy power and divest yourself of responsibility. The Czar of Russia comes to this country as the representative of a system which I say is an insult to civilised Europe. It is because he represents that system, and not because of his individuality, that I desire to address myself to the consideration of the question. The right hon. Gentleman 699 pleaded for a good understanding between the people of England and the people of Russia. Long before the right hon. Gentleman took any prominent part in foreign affairs, I, in this House, was a supporter of a good understanding with Russia. In the old days, when Russia was a liberating nation, when this abominable system of reaction which now exists in Russia had been suspended, when Russia stood before Europe as the liberator of the Christians in the Balkans, those of us who are now-opposing the reception of the Czar of Russia, stood in the House of Commons and advocated an understanding with Russia. Russia then made for righteousness in Europe. On these benches here—I mean the Tory party—and a large section of the Liberal party—who are, some of them, more Tory than the Tories—denounced Russia, and denounced not only the Czar of Russia, but the people of Russia. Now that reaction has unhappily triumphed in Russia, when she is no longer the friend of liberty in Europe, hon. Gentlemen want the friendship of Russia. I shall show in a few moments that that friendship is of no value to this country. Hon. Members find it necessary to support the visit of the Czar and to offer this great reception to him. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Representatives of the third Duma who came to England the other day—sent, I have no doubt, as has been pointed out, as missionaries to pave the way for the Czar's visit, or they would never have been allowed to visit England—spoke for the people of Russia. I ask him to tell the Czar when he meets him in Cowes next week, to release the 200 Members of the First Duma who are now rotting in prison or working in the mines of Siberia. These are the men who really could speak for the people of Russia. They were the men elected by the people of Russia when the new franchise was introduced into that country, when the Czar of Russia gave liberty to the people of Russia under the stress of the Japanese War, and before the "Massacre of St. Petersburg" and "Bloody Sunday." No, Sir, when the Czar releases the 200 members of the First Duma then I will promise the right hon. Gentleman—I do not know whether he will value I he promise—that I will be one of those to welcome them, and if we are asked then to receive the Czar then I will not support the Motion before the House. I refuse to recognise these members of a packed Duma as entitled to speak for the 700 people of Russia. The Czar is going to visit the King. He is going to receive an address of welcome from the Corporation of London. He is coming to England in order to get a loan. The financiers of this Corporation of London see a good opportunity to get good interest for their money. I ask the right hon. Gentleman this question—I think it is a very rational question—whether if it be true, as stated in a leading article in "The Times" newspaper the other day, that the people of this country are all, or nearly all, anxious to give a welcome to the Czar, and that the men who sit upon these benches [below the Gangway] represent a contemptible minority—why do they not bring the Czar to London? The Emperor of Germany visited England. He was not very popular at the time. There was a great deal of, as I think, very absurd Germanophobia at the time. But the German Emperor was not afraid to come to London, in spite of what was said against him. He received an Address in the Guildhall. Why does not the Czar come to the Guildhall? I challenge the right hon. Gentleman and those who vote in this House in a vote which will be recorded under the pressure of party discipline, to say that it represents the voice of the people of England! I challenge him to bring the Czar to London. If he does so, he will very soon know what the people's feelings are. Might I be allowed in this connection to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that one of the greatest and most enthusiastic meetings ever held in Fifeshire—he knows where that is—was held a few days ago, and unanimously disapproved of the action of the men who sit upon those Benches in receiving this visit from the Czar. I think it would be a very useful thing for the Prime Minister himself if he would go down to Fifeshire and consult the people there as to what they think about the visit of the Czar. The hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Henderson) drew what in my opinion was an extremely mild picture of the régime that rules in Russia. He was charged by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs with exaggeration. I do not think he exaggerated. I think he grossly understated the case, and I confess I was shocked to hear from a Liberal Minister language which undoubtedly will be interpreted as an excuse and a defence of the system that prevails in Russia. Murders, we are told, prevail. Yes, they do prevail, and they always have prevailed and 701 will prevail where brutal misgovernment exists, and although I have throughout the whole of my political life been opposed to political assassination, and have argued against it with Americans and others when it was the fashion of this country to defend it in Russia in the old days before you became friends with Russia, I have always held, and still hold, that the crime and moral guilt of political assassination lies with a heavy hand upon the Government which provokes the people to perpetrate it. Who can doubt that the action of the Russian people—a kindly people in their own way—when guilty of this political assassination, is mainly due to the brutal and savage Government that exists in Russia?
We have heard a great deal about the comity of nations and the impropriety of commenting upon or discussing in this House the internal affairs of foreign nations. I quite agree with that as a general principle, but there is a line beyond which if any nation proceeds they outrage the conscience of Europe and humanity, and I say it marks a great and a sad retrogression in the minds of Liberal statesmen when they stand up in this House and take up the position that, no matter how outrageous or how brutal or thoroughly foreign to every idea of Liberalism or freedom may be the conduct of one nation, we are not entitled to consider it in this House. That was not the principle of the late Lord Palmerston or of the Whigs of the 19th century, and sometimes I think in this House, so far as foreign affairs are concerned, the Radicals of today are behind the Whigs of the last century.
What would have been said if the King of England went to Constantinople immediately after the Armenian massacres? Did the right hon. Gentleman consider it to be the duty of the King to do that, although the Turkish nation was a nation with which this country had long maintained friendly relationship, and I am glad to say that friendly relationship has been renewed with that nation again? What would be said if the King visited the Sultan at that time, and if the Sultan came over here to return the visit of the King? I ask what right has the Czar to visit England more than the Sultan, who in this regard was not one whit worse. The Czar is certainly quite as bad. Debates have taken place upon the internal affairs of Turkey, and that being so, I do not see why we should not have a Debate upon the internal affairs of Russia. We Irish Members have our eyes somewhat opened from 702 our own experience, and our sympathies are excited upon this question, and if there was nothing else in the record of Russia except the revolution of the last three months, I think it would be sufficient ground upon which to base this Amendment. We were told last year that the inteview at Reval would probably have an effect upon general progress, and would promote Liberal ideas in Russia. What effect has it had? Has it had the slightest effect in the right direction? On the contrary. I have some channels of information open to me—I will not pretend to be an expert in these matters—but I have some sources of information from Russia, and I am informed that progress has been in the other direction.
It is quite true that the present Prime Minister of Russia is to some extent a Liberal. He has made a certain fight against the forces of reaction which are becoming more and more strong, but he is now nearly a simulator of the power of the Czar and of the reactionary forces, and has practically no control, and, if anything is wanting to complete the darkness of the picture, it is the revelation of Azof and Harting. No one has heard from Harting. Perhaps he is in London now preparing for the reception of the Czar. I understand he is in London; he fled from France, and it is very probably true that he is here in the employment of the Russian Embassy, getting ready for the reception of the Czar. I challenge anyone to produce in the whole annals of mankind a more abominable record than that of Father Capon and Azof and Harting. We understand in Ireland the agent-provocateur, but our agents-provocateur are on a small scale. The Russian Government has outdistanced the whole record of Europe. I do not think there ever was a blacker instance in the whole history of mankind than the employment of these secret agents of the police, who organise murder wholesale while actually taking the pay of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman pleads in justification for the terrible catalogue of exile and imprisonment and execution the murders committed by the Russian Anarchists; but how many of these murders were organised by Azof and his gang, and how many were the work of genuine revolutionists?
This visit is most unfortunate. Surely it might have occurred to the Liberal Government that they could not have strengthened the Russian understanding—and I do not think it has been strengthened—by bringing the Czar to England 703 when they dare not allow him to land. It is rather a queer way of bringing a foreign Emperor to this country when they can only receive him on board ship in English waters under the strict guard, and when they cannot carry the sentiment of the people with him to welcome him. I think the effect of this so-called friendship in Russia will be very unfortunate, because I venture to say that before the next fortnight passes the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State will be made aware of the fact that public opinion outside this House and in the country is entirely opposed to this visit. Is the defence of the Russian agreement worthy of all this sacrifice by the Liberal Government, flouting the opinion of their own party in the country as they undoubtedly are doing. Nobody could have observed the Debate this afternoon without having been struck with the way in which that portion of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman which dealt with the Russian visit was received. It was received with thundering cheers upon the Opposition Benches. No wonder, because Gentlemen sitting on those benches have always been in sympathy with autocratic Government in Europe. There was a dead silence upon the Liberal benches, and although I know the party will vote with the Government, those who vote with a sympathising spirit will be exceedingly small indeed. What has the Russian understanding done? I take two aspects of it. First of all, take it as affecting the balance of power in Europe. We had a speech from the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary in the early days in this Session upon the Naval question, a speech of the most extraordinary character, and it seemed to be extremely inconsistent with the spirit of Liberalism. What attitude did he take up? He spoke about the danger in solemn tones of one Power obtaining complete control over the destinies of Europe. He used language of a very menacing character, all the more menacing accentuated by recent events. He intimated that if any one Power in Europe attempted to gain ascendancy in Europe it would mean war. What has the Russian understanding done? The right hon. Gentleman embarked in a policy on the lines of friendship with Russia and France last autumn in connection with the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the result that we have experienced nothing more disastrous since the battle of Austerlitz. England was rolled in the mud in connec- 704 tion with the Balkan arrangement. She protested against the arrangement and the breach of the treaty, and she protested over and over again that she would never recognise it until after a Conference.
§ Mr. DILLON
That was generally understood to be the cast; in Europe. When the crisis came Russia received an ultimatum from the Emperor of Germany, and she deserted both her allies. I want to know is it, or is it not, true that this country was pledged during the recent quarrel between Russia and France to put 100,000 men in line with and French army in case of a war with Germany? What we want to know is where this alliance is going to take us. Up to the; present time it has led to nothing but defeat and humiliation and the greatest possible danger. Even if we were to consider, as I refuse to consider, this arrangement as to the Czar's visit from the pure point of view of the interests of this country, I do not think it can be justified. The right hon. Baronet went on to say, if it could be shown that any of these visits to the Czar or from the Czar had tended to promote the cause of reaction in any other part of the world, then he thought there would be good ground for raising the question in this House. That is the very ground upon which we do raise it. What is a fact? Last year the Members of the Labour party raised a protest against the meeting at Reval. The meeting was held, and within 12 days in Tehran we saw the effect of it. Within 12 days the Parliament was shelled by Russian officers, and some of the best leaders of the Nationalist party in Persia were beheaded or tortured by the Shah of Persia. We have had as a result of that meeting a whole year of chaos and civil war in Persia. In the Press we have had the correspondent of "The Times" to-day rejoicing over the peace and amicable settlement arrived at in Tehran. That was only arrived at after a year of civil war, and after great suffering and loss of life amongst some of the most prominent leaders of the Nationalist party, who carried out this policy in defiance of the advice and threats of the British agent and the Russian agent, who warned them not to enter Tehran. They disregarded that advice, and entered Tehran, with the result, that they are now in possession of their own country. I do not believe that the danger is over. On the contrary, they are bound to keep their 705 eyes wide open, and act according to their own judgment, and not on the advice of the Federated Powers. Taking the right hon. Baronet on his own statement, we are entitled to discuss these matters. We have had before us during the last year a very striking example of the effect of these visits between two Sovereigns. There cannot be the slightest doubt that in consequence of what happened at Reval the whole policy in Persia was discussed.
§ Mr. DILLON
Then it is an extraordinary coincidence that up to the meeting at Reval the Persian Parliament was allowed to pursue its course unfettered.
§ Sir E. GREY
The hon. Gentleman will perhaps remember that in answer to a question put in the House I said it was part of the irony of circumstances that when the meeting took place at Reval those events were not foreseen in Persia at all, and the situation which arose was absolutely not discussed.
§ Mr. DILLON
That may be the effect, but whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say he was not present. It is, however, a very remarkable thing that within twelve days these Persian officers, in spite of denials in this House and the statement of the Persian Minister in Tehran, and acting under the control and orders of the Government, should attack the Persian Parliament almost immediately after the meeting had taken place. I think this meeting, apart from this question of the Czar's visit, places us in a very difficult position. I think we ought to know how far England is bound by treaties and understandings with France and Germany, because that is a very serious matter. It is ten thousand times more serious since the fall of the French Government the other day. I want to know if France proceeds to carry out her quarrel with Germany is England pledged to put 100,000 men on French soil to support that policy? It appears to me that a great deal of the trouble in regard to the foreign policy of this country arises from the monstrous doctrine preached and boasted of in recent years by the present Foreign Secretary, perhaps more than any of his predecessors, that they have succeeded in removing the foreign policy of England from the sphere of party politics. A more detestable and illiberal doctrine 706 was never propounded in this country. What does it mean to remove foreign policy from the sphere of party polities It means that there is no such thing as Liberalism in politics. It means that you are handing over the control of the foreign policy of this country to a bureaucracy, and in regard to this policy we actually see the spectacle of the occupants of the two Front Benches falling on each others' necks. If the policy remains the same and unchanged, no matter whether Tories or Liberals are in power, such doctrines are enough to make Mr. Gladstone and Sir Robert Peel turn in their graves. The great ministers of the last century in England at least recognised that Liberal principles applied to the foreign policy of this country as much, if not more, than to the home policy of this country. Is there no such thing as the love of freedom in foreign policy, as well as in home policy? Even if we look on this from the most narrow, parochial, and selfish point of view, do hon. Members for one moment imagine they can pursue a bureaucratic foreign policy and enjoy a Liberal policy and national ideas at home? Does not the foreign policy control the home policy of this country? Do not hon. Members see that the doctrine of removing the foreign policy of England from the sphere of party politics has been followed by the policy of removing the Fleet and the Army of England from the sphere of party politics? Have they forgotten the history of the last century in England? Have they forgotten that it was the foreign policy, and the foreign policy alone, that handed over England, tied hand and foot, to the most narrow Tory oligarchy that ever ruled in this country, and which brought it to the verge of revolution and rain I What was it brought the condition of England to what it was before the Reform Bill was passed? It was the foreign policy of Pitt. And I say the foreign policy will dominate again in the future, if the Liberals ever surrender their right to direct the whole policy of this country. Foreign policy sets the pace, and if you allow this policy of European alliances to go on in the dark behind your backs—no one except those in the secrets of the Cabinet knows how far we have gone in our engagements with Russia—if you allow that to go on unchecked, and if you accept the policy that there is to be no change of foreign policy, no matter what party is in power, you will accept a master which will dominate the whole policy of this country. It will set the pace in expenditure on both the Army and 707 Navy, and it is nothing short of humbug and hypocrisy for the Liberal Party to go to the polls on the cry of the old formula of peace, retrenchment, and reform, if they accept the principle laid down by the Foreign Secretary that there is to be continuity in the foreign policy of this country, and no change, whatever party is in power. I appeal to the Liberal party to abandon this principle, and to be true to the old traditions of Radicalism in this respect. We have seen it stated in the great newspaper which speaks for the Foreign Office of France—the "Temps"—and also by the Leader of the constitutional party in the Duma, that they desire and look forward to the development of the present understandings between Russia and France into direct alliances. Is that to be followed What does it amount to If you are going to allow this policy to go on you ought to pass Lord Roberts's Bill and train every man to the use of arms and adopt conscription. If you do not do that, your allies—as the "Temps" warns you—will look upon you as not true to the alliance. The "Temps" has an article calling upon England to adopt conscription and to train a proper army, and it warns her she will not be looked upon as a useful ally if she does not. It is useless, childish, and absurd for men to be sending peace deputations, wandering about Germany, and trying to make good friends with Germany while this policy is being carried on. It is not on your peace deputations that the German people have their eyes fixed, but on the policy of the Foreign Office. It is preposterous, and all your peace deputations will be regarded as useless so long as you pursue a policy of solidifying a European alliance against Germany, which must inevitably lead to rupture between the countries and end in war if the Peace party in this country do not wake up to the situation and take control of our foreign policy. Therefore, I say to the Liberal party that the time of the parting of the ways has come, and they must adopt one course or the other, and realise they cannot be Liberals in England and Tories abroad. You cannot be the friends of freedom at home and the enemies of freedom abroad at the same time. If you pursue this policy now being pursued by your Foreign Office, as it was pursued at least as much by the Foreign Office of the Tory Government, you will find it will drag you to war, and it means degradation and destruction in the future.
I am sure I am expressing the sentiments of the House when I say what a very valuable and important speech we have just heard from the hon. Member who has just sat down. I cannot traverse all the ground he has covered, but I should like to say, as a Liberal, I deeply deplore the visit of the Czar to this country. I should at the same time like to take the opportunity of congratulating the Foreign Secretary upon his policy with regard to Turkey. He has given his moral and diplomatic support to the Turkey renaissance with great and beneficent result, and I should like to appeal to him to apply the same beneficent Liberal policy towards the constitutional movement in Persia. I remember hearing the right hon. Gentleman say on several occasions that he would take great care of British interests in Persia. Might I remind him that if Persia should be occupied by Russia, then indeed we should have a permanent menace to our- Indian Empire, and we should at once have a demand in this country for an enlargement of the Indian Army, with a serious grievance to the Indian taxpayers. Might I further remind the right hon. Gentleman that after all the greatest British interest is our honour, and our honour is involved in the independence and integrity of Persia. There would be a great blot upon our escutcheon if anything happened to interfere with that independence and integrity. I make no apology for asking the House to turn its attention for a few minutes to a portion of the British Empire that has not been dealt with at all to-night, and that is Egypt. After all, we are directly responsible for government in Egypt, and I think it is unfortunate that this House does not give more serious attention to such a great and serious matter. We have to ask the Foreign Secretary to-night to define his policy in Egypt. We sincerely trust he will be able to outline a policy satisfactory to the Egyptians and to the great Liberal party which is in power at present. The right hon. Gentleman has been four years in authority, and surely he will be able now to evolve some satisfactory scheme for the better government of Egypt according to Egyptian ideas. I have to acknowledge with some pleasure that some progress has been made in Egypt recently. Concessions have been made to Egyptian feeling in matters of education, more Egyptians have recently been appointed in the Civil Service, and the deliberations of the Legislative Council have been opened to the public. 709 The Egyptians, and we, are grateful for these concessions, but how trifling and how insignificant they are when we consider the immense reforms Egyptians demand to-day. The first reform, of course, is that of self-government, and in connection with that may I remind the House that they are also anxious for a national system of education properly founded by the Government. At present only something like £400,000 a year is spent on education in Egypt, so far as the Government is concerned—one-fifth of the price of a battleship in this country. This is altogether unsatisfactory. It is inadequate, and it is impossible for the national character to be satisfactorily developed while such a state of affairs continues. I hope that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will see his way to do something to make the system of education more complete and satisfactory than it is to-day. Then, again, Cairo is without a municipality. The Provincial Councils Bill is altogether distasteful to Egyptians, because it gives them no real power. I hope the Secretary for Foreign Affairs will request Sir Eldon Gorst to make these provincial councils really popular and representative of the people, and give them sufficient power to make them capable of carrying out local self-government in a satisfactory manner. The greatest reform the Egyptians demand is self-government, and they demand it in the form of Parliamentary institutions. We cannot neglect the serious and important fact that a great change has taken place in the world during the last 18 months. We have seen the creation of Parliamentary institutions in Turkey, and that has a very great influence on Egypt. We have seen it also in Persia, and our best wishes go out to the Persians in their new effort at Constitutional Government. We cannot neglect the influence of these changes in Turkey on public feeling in Egypt, and the Government or statesman who declines to recognise this influence must be as blind as a bat and as stupid as a donkey. We are informed by Sir Eldon Gorst that this wave of enthusiasm for Parliamentary institutions has infected a considerable proportion of the upper classes, but he goes on to add that the agitation for Parliamentary institutions is a disease, whereas we, surely, as Liberals, must consider it a sign of health and life and vigour. Sir Eldon says it would be much better to begin by developing local self-government under the provincial councils, but our experience in this coun- 710 try is that there is no harm in doing that at the same time as you organise the central powers. If we look at our own history we began with the central power, at any rate as far as the county councils are concerned. There is every reason why we should develop these two things together—both local and national government. The next point Sir Eldon Gorst makes is that the existing institutions could be more satisfactorily worked than at present. He refers to the Legislative Council and to the General Assembly. I think that is almost impossible, because of the constitution and nature of the powers of those two bodies. In the first place, they are only consultative bodies; secondly, they are not popularly elected—they are elected indirectly by two processes of election; thirdly, the British advisers are masters of the situation. They dictate the policy, and if the Egyptian Ministers decline to carry it out they are cashiered. The very best statesmen Egypt produced were cashiered in that way by Lord Cromer—Riaz Pasha, Sherif Pasha and Nubar Pasha. So long as the institutions continue in the present order, with the present lack of power, it is absolutely impossible for them to satisfactorily show of what metal they are made.
The last argument which was used is of course, that the Egyptians are unfitted for self-government, but they may always remain so until they have an opportunity to show their fitness, and the grant of a Parliament itself is the best way of making them fit, and enabling them to conduct the affairs of their country wisely and well. The Egyptians are very modest in the demands they make. They are prepared to accept limitations; they are prepared to exclude the National Debt, the Suez Canal, Foreign Relations, the Rights of Foreigners in Egypt, and, of course, the Capitulations. They only desire to be allowed to govern themselves, and what honest argument can be brought against that is, to my mind, beyond conception. They are also prepared for the time being to allow the Army of Occupation to remain. They are content to raise that point at a later period, when they may claim complete autonomy. In this country we suffer very much from political strabismus. We decline to see straight whenever any portion of the British Empire asks for self-government. But let us put ourselves in the position of the Egyptians; let us try to realise what we should do if we were placed in the same position. Let us ask ourselves if it is possible to develop 711 national character under a Government which, to speak truthfully and honestly, is not only alien but autocratic? We decline to accept that position; and I say it is unfair, unjust, unreasonable for us to ask the Egyptians to retain that position to-day. After all, freedom is life, and subjection is death. There can be no initiative, no self-respect, no dignity, nor anything worth having in life until they can master and govern their own country. There are some other considerations with regard to this demand on the part of Egypt which should be borne in mind. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir C. W. Dilke) spoke about the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. My opinion is this. We in this country made a protest against the annexation of those territories and their loss of independence, but that protest was weakened, because first we appropriated Cyprus, which put us in an immoral position; and, secondly, because of the occupation of Egypt. For that reason it is time we rectified the bad example we set by the occupation of Egypt, and that we gave a good example to European Powers by restoring to Egypt what we should never have taken from her. There is another peril attaching to our occupation of Egypt, and one which, I sometimes think, we do not sufficiently consider. We forget the peril of foreign complications, which might easily lead to a disastrous European war. After all, Turkey is the suzerain Power of Egypt, and already the young Egyptians are making application to the new Turkish Parliament to help them in their emancipation. They will not receive a satisfactory answer at present, but they will keep knocking at that door, and we cannot but think that the day will not be far distant when the Turks will say that they, as the suzerain Power, will have to use their influence to enable them to get self-government. That will lead to serious complications, but I hope that it will never be necessary. The policy of procrastination is disastrous in the extreme, and will lead to the inevitable consequence that the members of the constitutional movement in Egypt will find other methods of propagating their faith, and I am afraid they will be driven, as our friends were driven in Ireland and as reformers are being driven in India, to devious and unsatisfactory courses. I trust that the. Foreign Secretary will make that impossible.
The hon. Gentleman asks me if I am referring to assassination. Assassination is one of the vilest methods that men are betrayed into, because of oppression and tyranny. I am sorry the hon. Gentleman has raised that question, but may I just remind the House of what the Prime Minister said about Parliament, speaking to the representatives of the Duma the other clay. He said:—It is the greatest instrument of freedom which the genius of mankind has yet invented.That is the instrument of constitutional Government. May I also quote the Leader of the Opposition, who spoke at that same meeting. He said:—We were gradually obtaining throughout the civilised world institutions which were becoming closer in their external form and in their beneficent operation upon the great causes of freedom and of justice and of progress.Here we have the handsomest eulogies, given by the two Leaders of this House, with regard to Parliamentary Government. Then may I quote the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary himself, speaking only on 23rd June this year. He said:—The Liberal Government bad solved the problem in South Africa by the gram of self-government, and he regarded that as the highest act of statesmanship.We on this side and the majority on the other side agree with him that it was the highest act of statesmanship, and I think it is only natural and proper to turn to him and ask him to apply the same statesmanship, with the same courage and the same faith, to Egypt, and I think we can say safely that it will meet with a very happy and beneficent result. After all, we said that our intervention in Egypt was to save that country from financial bankruptcy. We have done that. Secondly, to restore law and order. We have done that. And, thirdly, to teach these people self-government, which, according to the Prime Minister, is the greatest instrument of freedom that the genius of man has ever founded.
§ Mr. JOSEPH WALTON
Charges have been made against my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to-night which I personally do not believe to have been well founded. First, with regard to the Congo. I have carefully followed the development of events in the Congo, and I am bound to say that I cannot discover in any of the utterances or despatches of the Foreign Secretary any weakening what- 713 ever in his determination to secure that an end shall be put to this misrule in the Congo, and to uphold all our treaty rights. We all know that we have a great responsibility in that region, because we were largely responsible for the setting-up of the Congo Free State. With regard to the question of the rearrangement of territories in the neighbourhood of Siam, there is no doubt whatever that we have added to British Burma territories of the very greatest value, which with development will prove a source of increased trade to this country as well as secure to the inhabitants of those regions great ameliorations in the conditions of their life. With regard to the Far East, when we had a Foreign Office Debate a few years ago, the question of British interests there always took a foremost place. For some reason or another they seem to-night to have receded into the background of foreign affairs, and the interests of the British in the great and richest empire of the world—China—have not been mentioned to-night. They are by no means the least important, or the smallest of our interests, that are rightly touched upon in connection with this Vote. The party of the Noble Lord opposite think that the way to improve and increase British trade is to adopt a system of tariffs levied on manufactured goods coming into this country, but I rather look to increased vigilance on the part of the British Government and on the part of British manufacturers in seeking to increase their trade in the great neutral markets like those of China, with its 400,000,000 of population. I am glad to know that His Majesty's Government are giving their vigilant and careful attention to these matters, but I wish to call the attention of the Foreign Secretary to one important fact.
A few years ago the policy in China was to set up and maintain certain exclusive spheres of interest as regards railway construction. Russia was to have one district, Japan another, Germany another, England another, and France another, but now it appears that within the last two years that policy of exclusive spheres of interest in the matter of railway construction has gone by the board; practically not a single word was said about it, and now we find that the Yangtze region, which was supposed to be the exclusive sphere of this country, as regards railway construction, is to have constructed within it two enormous lines of railway, the capital being found for them by 714 France, Germany, England, and America. That is more the policy of the open door in the matter of railway construction that we claim in the matter of trade with China, and to that as a principle I have no objection whatsoever, because we have never claimed in China any exclusive right and privilege as a matter of general trade, at any rate, which was not equally enjoyed by all the nations of the earth. It seems to me that we ought not to have two policies in China. We ought not to have a policy of exclusive spheres and also the policy of the open door. In the great province of Shantung the Germans still claim the exclusive right to build railways, and the Japanese have a similar claim over a certain area in the North, but, in justice, when we admit the Germans along with ourselves to join in enterprises of railway construction in the Yangtsze region they ought in future to throw the great province of Shantung equally open to British enterprise in the matter of railway construction. I trust, therefore, that the influence of the Government will be exercised in this direction so as, if possible, to secure a uniform policy in the great work of supplying the Chinese Empire with an adequate system of railways
The members of the Turkish Parliament in this country deeply appreciate our moral support in their struggle for the setting up of a constitutional system of Government, and I am certain the same sympathy and the same moral influence and support will be extended to the Nationalists in Persia, who are struggling to have set up there a similar constitutional form of Government. I believe that in connection with the Anglo-Russian Convention we got the worst of the bargain as regards commercial opportunities and interest in Persia, but, believing as I do that had there not been this Convention in existence, we should have had Russia in military occupation of the whole of Northern Persia to-day, in my judgment the course of events which has taken place has justified the conclusion of the Convention, and I believe it has contributed largely in the setting up of a constitutional form of Government in Persia. There is no doubt whatever that up to the present moment the Russian Government have adhered strictly to the terms and conditions of the Convention, and any movement of troops that has taken place has been a necessary movement for the protection of foreign inhabitants in Tehran and other parts of Northern Persia, and there have 715 been movements of British forces in Southern Persia with a like object in view. I hope and believe that allowing the Persians to work out their own salvation, as they are being allowed to do, is the most promising policy to pursue in Persia. There is no doubt whatever that there will be great difficulties to overcome in view of the fact that there are powerful, corrupt, reactionary forces standing in the way of setting up a truly liberal constitutional form of Government. I happen to know the Bakhtiari chiefs personally, having enjoyed their hospitality, and knowing what a warlike and independent race they are, and the moment I heard they were advancing on Tehran I thought this at last means business, and it has meant business. Our sympathies must go out to those brave Bakhtiari tribesmen, who, in spite of all the discouragement they met with, did not hesitate to advance on Tehran, and so far as we can judge, humanly speaking, they have got the upper hand of the reactionaries there, and are in the process of setting up a constitutional form of Government in that country. I have the most profound belief that the Foreign Secretary will give equally to that Government his moral support and sympathy, and I trust in this great and ancient country with such a glorious history in the far past ages, there will at last arise a new nation which will become a power even among the nations of Central Europe. All has come about with startling rapidity. They seized the psychological moment for their advance on Tehran. Had that been delayed probably disorders would have arisen which would almost have compelled the advance of Russian troops, and the occupation of the capital. I rejoice that that advance has not taken place, and I believe under the Anglo-Russian Convention the Russian nation will withdraw according to the terms of that agreement, and that the influence of Russia and England alike will be exercised in maintaining the independence and integrity of Persia.
With regard to the burning question of the Czar's visit, I should be unworthy of a seat in this House if I hesitated to say that, whilst I detest and abhor the merciless and brutal method of Government, I question the wisdom of passing the Vote of Censure that has been proposed. I suppose our object should be to gain for the Russian people greater liberty and freedom. Mr. Gladstone was a friend of oppressed nations all over the world, but 716 I cannot forget that he was what you might term a pro-Russian, even in the days when they had less self-government in Russia than they have to-day. I think our duty is to take the course best calculated to assure the oppressed people of Russia that in the near future greater liberty will be given. If I believed that would be best secured by voting against the Government to-night, I should vote against the Government, but I am inclined to think that probably the Czar of Russia is "more sinned against than sinning." If you want to convert a sinner from the error of his ways you must get into personal contact with him, and that is what we are doing, and instead of sending the Czar away from British shores I should welcome him. I only wish that the Czar of Russia could spend three months in this country, and have an object-lesson in a land of liberty and freedom of what a Government can do, and what the Government in his own country would do if our system were only applied. I speak as an unofficial Member, and in a way that the Foreign Secretary could not do when I say that I have great faith in King Edward as a peacemaker, and that we may hope for something in the course of future events in Russia as the result of this visit. No one can fail to condemn in the strongest terms the barbarities and the absolute lack of freedom in Russia to-day; but I believe that the worst way to improve matters would be to cause estrangement between Russia and the people of this nation by giving a great affront to the man who, after all, is the head of the Russian nation. By receiving the Czar and drawing closer the bonds of amity and affection between the two peoples you will do something towards the rapid setting up in Russia of constitutional Government and the giving of a great measure of liberty to the people of that enormous empire.
§ Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON
If a Division is taken to-night on this Vote, it will be rather difficult to know what we are voting upon. The question of the Congo has been raised, but I suppose the main issue before the Committee is the question of the visit of the Czar. I listened carefully to the eloquent speech of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), who discussed that and a number of other issues. The hon. Member, for instance, argued very vehemently against the policy of the Foreign Secretary on the score that he was complicating the responsibilities of England in Europe, and he raised immediately 717 the question whether that policy had committed this country to the support of Prance against Germany. Now that is a very different kind of issue from the issue raised over the visit of the Czar. In fact, it raises a contrary issue. The right hon. Gentleman, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, defended his policy as regards Russia on the score that it makes for peace and the avoidance of war. But if he is at the same time attacked on the ground that he is supposed, to have undertaken to take part with France in a European war, you are raising two entirely opposite issues. The argument cannot possibly support both lines. If the policy of the Foreign Secretary has committed this country to an alliance with France in a European war, irrespective of the merits of the case, I think that would be a departure from Liberal traditions, and the traditions of Liberal foreign policy. A great deal has been said as to the traditions of Liberal foreign policy. What is the Liberal tradition as to foreign policy? [Cries of "Non-intervention!" and "Freedom!"] When you say that it is "freedom," you use a term which is meaningless. To say that Liberal foreign policy is freedom is to use the idlest of rhetoric. The practical tradition of Liberal foreign policy is non-intervention in foreign affairs. [An HON. MEMBER: "Was that Palmerston's policy?"] Palmerston's is exactly a case which is rejected as really representative of Liberal tradition. If any man is to be taken as representative of Liberal foreign policy, it is Richard Cobden. He is a higher authority on Liberal traditions. Something has been said about Gladstone being pro-Russian. He was pro-Russian at the time of the Crimean war, and to say that Russia was standing for freedom in that war is to express an opinion which would not be universally accepted. When the hon. Member tells us that Liberal tradition is non-intervention in foreign affairs on the democratic side it involves the implication that intervention in foreign affairs is the policy of the Tory side.
§ Mr. DILLON
That was not involved in anything I said. It would mean that we on the democratic side should never go to war in defence of liberty, but should only give sympathy.
§ Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON
Sympathy is not a policy. I do not impute to the hon. Member the view that Liberal foreign policy would be not be to go to war in support of liberty. If Liberal Govern- 718 ments make a point of not interfering in foreign affairs, with the view of backing up democratic movements, then you give the plainest indication that the policy of Tory Governments in England is to interfere on the anti-democratic side of foreign affairs. It was Pitt's intervention that brought about the evil series of complications which I understood the hon. Member for East Mayo to denounce. The only consistent attitude is to denounce intervention, whether democratic or anti-democratic. If England learned any lesson from the French revolution, it was that neither side does well to interfere. The value and the importance of the doctrine of non-intervention was that intervention almost invariably did, unfortunately, more harm than good, and the real justification for not in any way discussing the visit of the Czar is that all such expressions of opinion tend to promote bad feeling between nations, and that to promote bad feeling between nations tends to promote war.
I do not say that I know the whole of the foreign policy of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to Russia. In so far as I understand it, I take it to be a matter of bringing about a state of good feeling between the two countries, between whom there used to be a great deal of bad feeling, and I say that is according to Liberal tradition. The hon. Member will forgive me for thinking that we on this side know Liberal traditions as well as he does. As regards some of his criticism on the Foreign Secretary's policy, I think he raised a question which totally confuses the issue we are upon. When he says the King's visit to Reval was the cause of what happened later he is putting forward a proposition which it cannot be contended he has any right to put forward. It was the visible effect in sequence of time, and I see no rational means of connecting the two events. Therefore, the proposition is no answer to the Foreign Secretary, that if you can prove that the Sovereign has interfered in the affairs of a foreign country in a reactionary way, then the House can take action if it thinks fit. If the hon. Member makes mere sequence of time proof that the Sovereign interfered in a reactionary sense, he surely cannot ask this House to accept such a proposition.
§ Mr. DILLON
I never hinted at that. What I said was that all appearances went to show that as the result of the meeting at Reval Russian officers felt themselves free to attack the Parliament.
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
I repudiate what the hon. Gentleman now says in repudiating something which I did not impute to him. What I said was that if he can prove that the Sovereign interferes in a reactionary sense, then the House may fairly take notice. But to take that which occurred by sequence of time as really the causation is to suggest causation where there is no causation. I would ask hon. Members to consider one or two episodes in our history. Not many years since the Emperor of Germany sent to the then President of the Transvaal a certain message on the occasion of the Jameson Raid. The Jameson Raid was, I suppose, condemned by the great majority of serious politicians in this country; certainly it was condemned by the great majority of Liberals. ["No."] I am talking of the Raid, not of the South African War, though there was undoubtedly backsliding in regard to the latter. The Kaiser sent a telegram to President Kruger, which will be in the recollection of many, and which was published in other countries. It was not an intervention, it was an expression of opinion. The Kaiser did not intervene; he merely indicated what he thought, which is what hon. Members opposite want to do, but the Kaiser's telegram excited hearty indignation here, even among those who detested the Raid. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie) wound up his speech with what I think to a large extent was irrelevant. It is irrelevant to prove the wickedness of the Russian Government. While many of us are far from approving of the Russian Government, I do not think many of us would go so far as my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Joseph Walton) in making out a case for the Czar. It is no business of ours whether there is a ease or not. The whole question is, as the Foreign Secretary clearly pointed out, what the Russian, people think of the matter. It seems to me clear that a Sovereign visiting another country is, as it were, the flag of his nation. He represents it as the flag does. Im- 720 pertinence to him is impertinence to the flag, and will undoubtedly be so regarded by the majority of the people of Russia. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil said at the close of his speech that there was a complete consensus of opinion in Russia from the most extreme Socialists to the most moderate Liberals, and that they were on his side in the matter. I have to say that that statement is notoriously wrong. The hon. Member, in order to back that up, took the very objectionable step of insulting the whole of the Russian deputies who lately visited the country. He, who must realise the responsibility of maintaining good relations with Russia, used the term "puppets" in regard to the whole of them.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I was tempted to say that because in the letter the Russian gentleman insisted and claimed that they knew the opinion of the people of this country better than we did.
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
I really do not see the relevance of this denial. Whatever indiscretion they might be guilty of in professing to know the opinion of the people of this country may no doubt, be on a par with the indiscretion of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who think they know all about the opinion of the people of Russia. That cannot justify the hon. Member in using the expression puppets, as he did. Every member was a representative, and the members of the Russian Duma who visited this country recently are men who are of his own political cause. They are Socialists from Russia.
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
I do not know whether they act with the particular section with which he acts, but they are men of Socialist opinions. Only by insulting the representatives of Russia who have lately visited this country could you pretend to make out your case that the people of Russia would like to see the Czar snubbed or insulted. If there is anything certain about Russia to-day it is that the vast mass of the people still look to the Czar. When we are told of the Liberal tradition, what was the attitude of the Government when the late Czar Nicholas visited this country'? There were plenty of stories against him and plenty of crimes against him. Statesmen then did not take it upon themselves to visit upon him their opinion of his country. Let me give some further historical references. A great many of the people of 721 France in the time of Louis Napoleon bitterly resented his actions, yet on his visit to this country he was received with honours. Then when the colonels of the French Army had reason to believe that plots were being fomented or encouraged in this country, or discussions that took the shape of plots against the French, did they not make that a ground to urge the country to go to war with England?
That is the kind of issue we ought to consider. Is it worth while gratifying the sentiments of well-intentioned people in this country by flouting the Czar and by having hate between Russia and England? I can remember a time when every little while we were being told, with scare headings, of the dangerous advances of Russia in Asia, and again and again in my recollection there has been the gravest danger of war between this country and Russia because of the constant attitude of 'suspicion that was always being fostered in England against Russia. If the Foreign Secretary has got rid of that old temper of suspicion the Foreign Secretary has rendered great service to this country. The other issues I do not go into. My hon. Friend the Member for Brentford (Dr. Rutherford) made a justifiable appeal to Members tonight on a matter in which we are responsible. The Members of the Labour party speak as to how we are to bear ourselves in regard to Russia. The hon. Member for Brentford pointed to the case of Egypt. We are responsible for the government of Egypt and here we are spending the whole evening in discussing other people's affairs, going back to the good old long-discredited English attitude of always wanting to put other people's wrongs right. I am not saying that the wrongs of Egypt are of the worst description, but they are wrongs; and I think the hon. Members of the Labour party would have been well advised in devoting this discussion to a country in which we have responsibilities and where the lack of self-governing institutions is a charge that lies against us. I hope the Foreign Secretary will not ignore the appeal which has been made to him especially, as he is so well justified in his attitude in regard to Russia. I think his conduct here and in the Congo is fully justified; but is it as fully justified in regard to Egypt? Can he say that he has there attended to his responsibilities as fully as he might have done?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. McKinnon Wood)
The hon. Member who spoke last 722 and the hon. Member for Brentford (Dr. Rutherford) have referred to the position in Egypt, and I am sure it would be a gratification to them to see the advance which is being made. The sittings of the Legislative Council are now public, and the Ministers attend and explain their policy, which is, I am sure they will agree, a distinct advance in the line of constitutionalism. I can only deal very shortly with the various topics that have been raised. First of all, I should like to refer to the speech of the Noble Lord opposite (Earl Percy), which he began with an expression of general approval of the policy of the Government in the Near East—a policy which has maintained peace m circumstances of great confusion and perplexity. But I am bound to say I was astonished to hear the Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon) say that British diplomacy has been rolled in the mud in the Near East. He must have utterly misconceived the policy of the Government. We have no selfish motive in the Near East. The object of my right hon. Friend was to bring about a peaceful settlement on reasonable lines which would result in a stable condition in a very disturbed and complicated state of affairs. I think those who watched the difficulties that arose between Austria and Turkey, Austria and Servia, and Austria and Montenegro must have felt that diplomacy was guided with much wisdom and firmness, and instead of talking about the failure of British diplomacy we ought to congraulate the right hon. Gentleman on his success in securing the one British interest in that matter, viz., the maintenance of the peace of Europe. The Noble Lord in very moderate and reasonable terms asked us to explain our position with regard to the Siamese treaty and the rights of jurisdiction which have been conceded in connection with that treaty. Of course it is quite impossible to deal with that question without saying a single word about the advantages which this country has gained under the new Siamese treaty. It was inevitable that the old rights of ex-territoriality should not be maintained for ever. The interests of British subjects except in the north of Siam were based upon the condition of affairs that dated from the treaty of 1855. Then there were very few British subjects in Siam, chiefly a few Europeans in Bangkok, but as British interests grew in the neighbouring country, and we obtained territorial rights in territories bordering 723 on Siam, so natives from these territories became resident in that country. Now I must remind the House that our position under the treaty of 1855 was that whilst we had the rights of extraterritoriality for British subjects, on the other hand British subjects were under great disabilities. They had no right even of residence, except in a very narrow area in that country. We have been trying for a long time to obtain the right of holding land in Siam. We have enormous commercial interests in that country—interests in railways, interests in the lease of teak forests, the renewal of which depends entirely on the goodwill of the Siamese Government. In considering the concessions we have made in regard to British subjects, we have also to look at the advantages that we have been given by this treaty. I cannot help thinking the Siamese Government were justified in regard to the extra-territorial jurisdiction, because that jurisdiction was not satisfactory. Our Consuls are few and far between, and travelling is slow in Siam, and cases of failure of justice have occurred. Persons accused were not even brought to trial. I would further like to point out what safeguards we have obtained in regard to the trial of British subjects. If the British subject is a European he will be tried in a court in which there is a European judge. If he is an accused person or defendant, the voice of the European judge will be the prevailing voice. If the British subject is an Asiatic he will be tried in a court in which there will be a European assessor, and in both cases there will be a right of appeal to the Court of Appeal at Bangkok, where there are two European judges who signatures are necessary to the validity of the judgment. I think these are very important safeguards, and I hope the Committee will agree that we have protected the interests of British subjects, and that the advantages which are gained by this treaty are very substantial and important advantages indeed. We get the right of holding land, and we get the right of constructing a railway. We get a public declaration from the Siamese that that country will not cede or lease territory or coaling stations or docks south of certain limits, and we gain provinces which are more kindred, both as regards their inhabitants and geographically, to the Federated Malay States than they are to Siam. I hope the Committee will agree that the advantages we 724 have gained are more important than the concessions we have made. The concessions are very carefully safeguarded. Mention was made of the Chinese railways. I have been asked a question by my hon. Friend. It is quite true that the old principle of spheres of influence has been giver, up. The new system is that of division among the various nations interested. The chief subject of controversy this evening has been that of the visit of the Czar to this country. I have listened with great attention to the Debate, but I have been very much struck by one omission in the arguments proceeding from below the Gangway opposite. No single speaker has set himself to consider what the consequences would be of carrying the Vote which they propose to support to-night. I suppose that in the interests of the development of constitutionalism Persia has a place with the rest of the world. What would be the consequence s of carrying the Vote proposed by the hon. Member below the Gangway? The Russian agreement would necessarily be at an end. The agreement for non-intervention in Persia would terminate. I think my hon. Friends who spoke last were absolutely right in saying that the policy of hon. Members is a policy of direct intervention in the internal affairs of another country. What is it but intervention if the monarch of a State with which we are on friendly terms, in course of visiting our neighbours and passing our doors, is received by us practically with insults? The other remarkable thing in the discussion on the part of hon. Members below the Gangway is the extraordinary tone with which they spoke of the members of the Duma, the representatives of constitutionalism in Russia, who came here, and who were dismissed in contemptuous terms as "puppets." If the effect of this Vote is not only to insult the head of a friendly State, but also the members of the constitutional assembly, surely it would be a most extraordinary result, and one which in their calmer moments I am sure, hon. Members below the Gangway would long regret. Hon. Members seem to ignore altogether the fact that there is an improvement in the affairs in Russia. The hon. Member for South Donegal (Mr. MacNeill) spoke about two-thirds of the provinces of Russia being under martial law and in a state in which the governor was able to sentence to death without trial. That statement is absolutely contrary to the information which we have received.
§ Mr. McKINNON WOOD
It is absolutely and flatly contradicted officially. [Cries of "Oh, oh."] Then hon. Members made no reference to the fact that there is a constitutional Parliament in Russia, to which Ministers have to make an explanation and a justification of their policy, which controls the loans and to a very large extent the finances of the country; that there is an improvement in the freedom of the Press. I cannot help thinking that the real question before the House is this: First of all, are we justified because of our opinion of the internal affairs of another country in saying that we shall have no friendly relations with that country? That is what this Vote would amount to. [Cries of "No, no."] Are we justified in doing that which I believe the members of the Duma were absolutely right in saying would be an act supporting reaction in Russia, and damaging to the development of constitutionalism? There are too many people in Russia who would be glad enough, I have no doubt, to abolish the Duma. If they see British opinion—the opinion of Members holding advanced views below the Gangway flouting he views of the members of the Russian Duma, surely that will be an argument which they will not fail to use. It will be an argument not very easy to answer.
§ Mr. VICTOR GRAYSON
I rise to associate myself with the sentiments which have been expressed from these benches about the visit of the Czar to this country. I am quite amazed throughout this Debate to find that although we are castigated for insufficiency of information, though we have been told that we have never been in Russia, never been near enough to the heart of the people to speak with authority that even hon. Members on the other side who are supporting this visit have had a most amazing divergency of opinion as to the actual state of things in Russia. It has always been said by hon. Members that we on these benches represent a very small section of opinion of this country on the question that we are now discussing. While hon. Members have been saying so, there has come into my hand a telegram from a meeting of 5,000 people in one town who have passed a resolution demanding that this Government take steps to prevent the visit of the Czar to this country. 726 Right through the country wherever we have gone with this Resolution there has been perfect unanimity among our audiences. I do not remember one place where the public have been given a chance of giving expressions to their opinions, that they have not unanimously passed, and indignantly passed, a resolution protesting against this Bill. Nearly all the hon. Members who have asked us not to force this Amendment to a Division try to induce us to believe that the people of Russia love their Little Father, who reciprocates their love by cutting their throats. What a strange manner is this in which to manifest one's love for one's people when they make a perfectly constitutional demand—if we could use such a phrase in connection with Russia—and when they organise themselves together to present before the Czar their grievances in their industrial life, when they come to his palace to ask peacefully for redress of their injustices. Instead of coming down like the great duke mentioned by an hon. Member opposite, who invited the inhabitants of his little village in which he lived into his chambers and treated them all as if they had been grand dukes like himself, instead of that the military were ordered to fire upon the people of Russia, and the streets ran red with blood within sight and hearing of the Czar. We are asked to believe that the Czar is not cognisant of what takes place daily in his name, and I am quite amazed that the right hon. Gentleman, the Foreign Secretary has not since denied the figures quoted in this House. He first did deny them, but when he was informed they were taken from the official sources of the Duma returns these figures stand as an inducement to Members of this House to vote one way or the other.
I want to ask how can hon. Members who are protesting against injustice in other parts of the world, who are willing to interfere in cases where the country is too weak to retaliate when this country does interfere, how can they defend their attitude upon this great Russian question by merely questioning statistics? They have met the members of the Russian Duma. There was a strange unanimity about those members of the Russian Duma when they came to this country and were feted and fed and treated kindly by the official bodies, and about their love for the Czar. There was a wonderful consistency about their opinion of the rule of the Russian people that comes rather feebly home to some of us who have seen the scarred bodies of the Russian refugees 727 in this country who have suffered terms of imprisonment and torture in Siberia. We are told we are not treating the members of the Russian Duma, who represent Russian feeling and opinion, in a gentlemanly manner. We represent, perhaps, not the opinion of the members of the Russian Duma in this country, but I think we may claim to represent the feeling to-night of the 200 members of the Russian Duma sentenced to torment and imprisonment. We have heard nothing of the opinion of those gentlemen, but we have heard of the kindness displayed by the Grand Dukes and by the Czar himself. We have heard mentioned to-night one little incident which the right hon. Gentleman and his supporters have not attempted to deny, the incident quoted from "The Incarnadine" pamphlet, which excited so much wit upon the other side of the House, containing facts and statistics compiled by one of the most lovable and sweetest characters that lives upon this earth at the present time—I refer to Prince Krapotkin, who has been alluded to in most vulgar language by hon. Members opposite—Those facts have been carefully sifted and tested, and they were presented to the Duma and given out as official figures. There was one case of a woman charged with theft. She had what is called in Russia a trial, and she was sent to gaol, where the officials beat her until the blood flowed from her body. Two days after this dastardly atrocity the real criminal was discovered, and the woman who had been maltreated was found to be innocent and she was liberated. Such facts, although they may be bluntly denied by hon. Members opposite, are being attested day after day by refugees who come to this country from Russia. I know hon. Members discount the testimony of these refugees, and say they are embittered and malicious and present an exaggerated case against their own country, but if hon. Members refuse to believe the evidence of those who come from the spot what other source of information is there? No facts that would damage the Government or the Czar are allowed to leak through into this country, and we are kept absolutely ignorant of these matters unless we are let into the confidence of the secret diplomacy of the Foreign Office. We have taken the evidence of these refugees, and we have had examples of the kind of torture meted out to human beings provided by those who manage to escape from the Russian gaols to this country. One hon. 728 Member seemed to indicate to-night that it was a nice thing to be in a Russian gaol, and he said if he had to undergo a term of imprisonment he would rather spend it in Siberia than in an English gaol.
§ Mr. GRAYSON
We have had the spectacle of a woman being arrested for a purely political offence being manacled to a male prisoner and being dragged to gaol in that way. There is a good deal of exaggeration on the part of those who protest against this Motion as to the superior constitutional benevolence of this country over Russia. I do not claim that we have any right to hold up holy hands of horror and tell Russia that she is so much beneath our stamp. It is true that we do not massacre and kill people in this country, but we let them starve. During the recent winter there were cases where women, flesh of our flesh, people born in the country, were found starving and frost-bitten on the top of tarpauling in this country. I do not associate myself with the idea that we have so much right to, assume an attitude of superiority, but I do associate myself with the opinion which has been expressed that if the visit of the Czar is going to have such a beneficent influence, why should he not be brought right into the country? That would give us infinitely more satisfaction. If the Czar could be brought into our midst in a dignified manner, and if he could see the smiles of a grateful and loving people, it would fill the hearts of the Duma representatives with joy, and they would have a better friendship for this country. Why is the Czar brought outside a range of so many miles from the shore to receive his gold boxes and other conventional gifts from our councils? Bad as this country is in the treatment of its poor and its general treatment of those who have not been able to break down privilege, it is too good to have its traditions smirched by contact with this exceptional monster.
§ Mr. F. W. VERNEY
I desire just to make one reference to the speech delivered by the Noble Lord opposite with regard to Siam. I welcome the reference the hon. Gentleman made to and the description he gave to the treaty which has lately been concluded. The real truth is that during the last 25 years that country has advanced and progressed till it has become one of the most enlightened countries in the East, and the reference the Noble Lord made to the punishment of officials who deserve it is one of the reasons 729 why we should have greater rather than lesser contact with it. I think there are many Members of this House who, if they knew more of that small and distant country, would be very glad indeed that the connection between the two countries should be increased on such highly honourable terms as I hope will prevail under the recent treaty. I think the annexation of the Malay States comes under rather a different category than the other terms of that treaty, but I hope the annexation will give a very much improved condition of things in those distant provinces, and I have no doubt that the railway communication will prove beneficial to the trade between the two countries. I hope our relations with the Far East will improve very much in consequence of the recent treaty.
§ Mr. ARTHUR PONSONBY
I think it would be nothing short of a calamity if this Debate terminated without a single voice being raised from the Liberal side of the House in protest against the visit of the Czar. I should like to consider one or two aspects of this very delicate question. I quite realise, and I am sure everybody realises in this House, that nothing should be done to in any way hurt the good relations which exist between this people and the Russian people; but I cannot see how we can extend our sympathy to a people by giving an official reception to their oppressor. It appears to me that we must risk something on one side or the other; and I would sooner risk the loss of the favour of a monarch and at the same time retain the confidence of the people. The authority for the facts brought forward on the other side of the House have been questioned. I think the pamphlet so frequently quoted has in every case a footnote to show its particular authority—whether it is a newspaper or a speech in the Duma. I quite acknowledge
§ information of this sort may have a certain bias, but at the same time I would remind the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that the information he gets must also have an official bias. It must pass through diplomatic and official channels. I would not have intervened in this Debate had I not realised that the very large body of Liberal opinion in this country will feel very strongly the contrast between the tone of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman to-day and the ringing tones of Mr. Gladstone. The strength of our diplomacy, the force of our opinion in the councils of Europe, depends on the detached, disinterested, humanitarian views we have taken in upholding the freedom of downtrodden peoples. Take, for instance, the history of the last 50 years, whether in Italy, in the Lebanon, Bulgaria, Armenia, and Macedonia. I am afraid the modern idea is to disapprove the humanitarian view and sympathetic attitude of those who appreciate the liberties of the people and to put in its place the force of Empire and of armaments. If anybody thinks that our diplomacy is strengthened by the number of our "Dreadnoughts" I fancy they will find themselves very much mistaken. Throughout the last half-century it has been to our credit that the greatest success we have had has been our strong feeling of humanitarianism and our desire to uphold the views of people who are downtrodden. Although the Czar must be received in our waters, he will receive only an official welcome it will not be a national welcome.
§ Question put, "That Item A (salaries, wages, and allowances) be reduced by £100 in respect of the salary of the Secretary of State."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 79; Noes, 187.731
|Division No. 361.]||AYES.||[10.58 p.m.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Grayson, Albert Victor||Lundon, T.|
|Alden, Percy||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Lynch, H. B.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Hall, Frederick||Macdonald. J. R. (Leicester)|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Hancock, J. G.||Mackarness, Frederic C.|
|Bennett, E. N.||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift|
|Boland, John||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Macpherson, J. T.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hayden, John Patrick||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)|
|Clough, William||Hodge, John||Mallet, Charles E.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hogan, Michael||Meagher, Michael|
|Cooper, G. J.||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, H.)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Hudson, Walter||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)|
|Crean, Eugene||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Cullinan, J.||Jowett, F. W.||Nolan, Joseph|
|Dillon, John||Kekewich, Sir George||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Kilbride, Denis||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Gill, A. H.||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.)||O'Dowd, John|
|O'Grady, J.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Roche, John (Galway, East)||Wardle, George J.|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Pollard, Dr. G. H.||Seddon, J.||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Sheehy, David||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Snowden, P.|
|Reddy, M.||Summerbell, T.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. G. Roberts and Mr. C. Duncan.|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Greenwood, Hamar (York)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Percy, Earl|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (B. S. Edmunds)||Perks, Sir Robert William|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Gulland, John W.||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Powell, Sir Francis|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Astbury, John Meir||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester)||Radford, G. H.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-sh.)||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Hart-Davies, T.||Rees, J. D.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Haworth, Arthur A.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Hedges, A. Paget||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Barran, Sir John Nicholson||Henry, Charles S.||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Beauchamp, E.||Hills, J. W.||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Hobart, Sir Robert||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Sears, J. E.|
|Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R.||Hooper, A. G.||Seely, Colonel|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Herniman, Emslie John||Shaw, Sir Charles E. (Stafford)|
|Bertram, Julius||Hyde, Clarendon G.||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Idris, T. H. W.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Illingworth, Percy H.||Stanier, Seville|
|Bramsdon, Sir T. A.||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Brodie, H. C.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Brooke, Stopford||Kavanagh, Walter M.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Talbot, Rt. Hon. J. G. (Oxford Univ.)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Laidlow, Robert||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Lamont, Norman||Thomasson, Franklin|
|Cameron, Robert||Layland-Barrett, Sir Francis||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Lewis, John Herbert||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Tomkinson, James|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Toulmin, George|
|Chance, Frederick William||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Tuke, Sir John batty|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Lyell, Charles Henry||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Clyde, J. Avon||M'Arthur, Charles||Verney, F. W.|
|Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||M'Micking, Major G.||Walton, Joseph|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Marnham, F. J.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Cox, Harold||Massie, J.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Masterman, C. F. G.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Crosfield, A. H.||Menzies, Sir Walter||Whitbread, S. Howard|
|Crossley, William J.||Micklem, Nathaniel||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Molteno, Percy Alport||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Mond, A.||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-shire)||Morpeth, Viscount||Wiles, Thomas|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Morse, L. L.||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall)||Murray, James (Aberdeen, E.)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Nicholls, George||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Falconer, J.||Norman, Sir Henry||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Fell, Arthur||Nussey, Sir Willans|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Joseph Pease and Captain Norton.|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Pearson, Sir W. D. (Colchester)|
Resolution agreed to.
§ And it being after Eleven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.732
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again on Monday next.