HL Deb 20 June 1870 vol 202 cc451-85

, who had given Notice to move an Address for a Royal Commission to inquire into the means best fitted to guarantee the security of every part of Her Majesty's Dominions said—My Lords, I do not bring forward the Motion of which I have given Notice, from any want of confidence in Her Majesty's Government, or in the ability of the First Lord of the Admiralty or of the Secretary of State for War. They have made great reductions in the Army and Navy of late; but I believe those reductions have been made with great discretion, and have in no way impaired the efficiency of the public service. But the subject is of such great importance that I wish to make one or two observations in relation to it. The grounds on which I make this Motion are two. The first is, that since the Peace of 1815 great changes have occurred in the mode of carrying on war, and it is necessary for every Power of the first class, such as Great Britain, to be prepared for the misfortune of war. The second is, that of late years, and especially during the present year, the public mind has been much stirred with regard to our colonial possessions, and it is desirable to evoke the opinion of the Executive Government, and if necessary of your Lordships, as to the necessity of maintaining the policy which has been hitherto pursued. Now, with respect to the first ground, it is obvious that our Navy, upon which we have always relied as our sheet-anchor, has undergone many remarkable changes, and that the fleets which were sent out in former wars—whether in the First or the Second Revolutionary War—would now be totally useless. In the course of a few years there have been three great changes in that branch of our armament, which heretofore, we had been accustomed to call "our wooden walls." In the first place, our line-of-battle ships have been propelled by steam; in the next place, those ships propelled by steam have been plated with armour, thus becoming quite different engines of war; and, in the third place, much controversy, and subsequently many experiments, have occurred as to the kind of armament which should be used. It was found that those armour-plated ships, owing to the weight not only of their guns, but of their plating, were so heavy that they were not likely to compete in point of speed with other vessels; and after the Civil War in the United States the American Government turned their attention to this subject; and after much consideration, I understand they deemed it advisable, in order to accomplish the special objects they had in view, to construct two different kinds of vessels—one consisting of monitors, or armour-plated vessels, the other of fast wooden ships, on which they relied to keep the seas and attack the commercial navies of hostile countries. Indeed, I think persons employed in the United States' Executive were bold enough to say that an American man-of-war, without any plate armour, would come over to the commercial ports of this country, would destroy our whole commercial marine, and would be half-way back across the Atlantic before our armour-plated ships were ready to attack it. Of late years it has been attempted to combine speed with defensive armour, and for this purpose two kinds of ships have been devised, the one consisting of broadside vessels, more resembling our old line-of-battle ships, the other of turret ships, only a few feet above the water line. Now, of course, I am not going to offer any opinion as to which of these armaments is preferable; but it seems to me that having made so many experiments, having brought to bear so much skill and ingenuity, having expended so much pains and cost, we ought as soon as possible to make up our minds as to what kind of fleet we should send to sea in case of war, and, having so made up our minds, should, construct a fleet on those principles sufficient at any rate for the purpose of defence. I have asked officers of high rank what was likely to occur on the breaking out of war if our fleet and that of an enemy should encounter each other, and they acknowledged that they were utterly unable to tell me, and gave their opinion that no one was able to state exactly what was likely to happen in case of a naval war. If, as there can be no doubt, such uncertainty exists, it is most desirable that it should be dispelled. With regard, moreover, to the Army, there have been great changes. In military warfare immense changes have occurred from the introduction of rifled arms. The issue of the late war between Prussia and Austria was attributed in a great degree to the breech-loaders then employed by the Prussians; though others ascribed it to the character of the soldiers and their term of service. Now, 64 years ago, Mr. Windham, then Secretary of State for the War and Colonial Departments, made a very able speech in proposing the repeal of the Additional Force Act. He remarked that the time had long gone by when the whole body of a nation were available in case of war, and that, in point of fact, nations at war with each other selected a limited number of champions—a conflict between 30,000 men of one side and 30,000 of the other being often decisive. He urged, therefore, that it was of the utmost importance that this force should be so composed as to be the most powerful instrument that could be employed, and he pointed out that service for life debarred men of respectable parentage and decent habits from entering the Army, stating that, in his opinion, seven years was about the term for which men ought to enlist. For some time, accordingly that period of service was adopted. Sir Archibald Alison, who has given an admirable summary of Mr. Windham's speech (History of Europe, chap, xlv.), says he was so far right that the number of recruits rose between 1806 and 1808 from 9,000 or 10,000 to 23,000 or 24,000; but whether that increase was owing to the limitation of the term of service, or to the insurrection and to the inducements which were held out to persons to take part in the expedition to the Peninsula, is not quite clear. Now, it has lately been proposed, as I understand, that the term of service should not be seven years, but six; and that those six years should be divided into two periods, so that men will be engaged in the Army for three years, and will spend the other three years with the Reserve. Now, I confess this appears to me a very hazardous experiment. I observe that the Secretary for War said we should make a soldier in three years. There is no doubt about that—and it may be said that we can make him in one year; but the question is, what you will do with this soldier when, after three years, you have made him? Mr. Cardwell proposes that he should then be discharged into another service; but it appears to me that when you have got a good soldier, and gone to the expense of drilling him and making him fit to meet the enemies of his country, you ought for at least three, perhaps four, years to keep him in employ as a soldier. If you do not, you put your Army into this position—that one-half of them will be composed of men many of whom have not learnt their military duties, and the other half of men who have forgotten them; so that you will not have the efficient Army you now possess. I now come to the more important part of my subject. There has of late, I regret to see, been a great deal of discussion and a great many doubts as to the value of our colonial Empire. Now, my noble Friend near me, who was for some time Secretary for the Colonies (Earl Grey), has written a most interesting and instructive work on this subject, in which he points out that the advantages of the Colonies are two-fold. He shows, first, that it is a great increase of our power to have a number of territories, with large populations, owing allegiance to the British Crown in different parts of the world; and, secondly, he shows that by the responsibility resting on the Government to take care that the inhabittants of those Colonies, which, like Jamaica and New Zealand, are composed of different races, should have a predominant military force, they were saved from those internal wars which otherwise would happen. I think both those grounds are very solid ones for desiring to maintain our Colonial Empire. The Government, however—and it seems to me extraordinary—have given a good deal of countenance to the objections expressed sometimes in the Press and sometimes at public meetings, to the retention of our Colonies. Now, I cannot conceive how anybody can doubt that we are bound in duty and honour to maintain our colonial Empire; and we ought not only to resolve to maintain it, but we should take the best means of attaining that end. I am happy to see that my noble Friend the present Secretary of State for the Colonies (Earl Granville) seems in some respects to have changed his opinion; and I always thought that when he had further studied colonial questions and the position of this country, he would be of opinion that it was necessary not only to allow the Colonies to pay their allegiance to this country, but to give them from time to time such encouragement as to make them pay that allegiance happily and contentedly. I do not wish to enter into the question of New Zealand, which has been debated in this House, and has excited great public interest. It is possible that it was right to withdraw all our troops from that Colony, though it seemed at the time a harsh measure; for it was evident that the colonists were the stronger party; and it might be right that they should rely on their own resources and should maintain their own men, in order to put down any rebellion which might occur. My noble Friend, however, while refusing military aid, seemed inclined to refuse any other kind of aid; but I am happy to say that he has changed his mind on that subject. The guarantee of a loan of £1,000,000 to enable the colonists to make roads may be the best means of securing their military predominance in the Colony, and undoubtedly the Government have a fair right to exercise their discretion as to what kind of aid is the most desirable. I next come to another colonial question, which has given me very great pain—the withdrawal of the garrison from the fort of Quebec. Her Majesty being, according to all legal authorities, Sovereign of all the forts in her dominions, it shows a want not only of sound policy, but almost of honour, not to maintain a British garrison in the fortress of Quebec. As regards defence, fortresses are of the utmost importance. We find in reading the wars of Louis XIV. and William III., that whenever Louis XIV. sent Vauban to attack a fortress William III. always sent Cohorn to defend it: and in the course of the last century the reputation of England was very much raised by the gallant defence of Gibraltar under General Elliot (Lord Heathfield)—a defence which did much to compensate the calamities which the country suffered in that war. I remember the reliance which the Duke of Wellington placed upon British garrisons in fortresses in 1840. The year 1840 was a very critical time, the relations between England and France being so stretched that there was great fear of a rupture. I was told by one gentleman of much official experience that there was danger to Gibraltar and Malta; and I received a letter from my chief, Lord Melbourne, who was then Prime Minister, remarking—"I do not know what you feel at this time, but for my own part I can neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep, because of my anxiety on this subject." Now Lord Melbourne was not a man exceedingly sensitive to alarm, but no man had a deeper regard for the interest of his country. The course I took—and which I always took on questions which were partly military and partly political—was to go to the Duke of Wellington. Everybody knows that the Duke of Wellington was a man who cast aside all party considerations on such questions, and never for a moment thought of what the interests of his party might be, but was as ready to give the benefit of his opinion on Army questions to me as his most attached adherents. The Duke first told me our position was a very good one—which I was much delighted to hear; and he went on to say that the Government ought to have asked, the French Government to sign the treaty which was made in that year before we proceeded to any military measures. With regard to that, the Cabinet had decided according to the opinion of Lord Palmerston, which I believe was the right one. I asked the Duke's opinion with regard to these fortresses, and he said it would be quite easy to hold Gibraltar and Malta, because having British garrisons there there was no danger that they would be attacked. That answer impressed itself upon my mind. A British garrison is a great protection to any fortress in the dominion of Her Majesty, and such a security ought not to be lightly parted with. I am told, however, that it is the intention of the Government that the fortress of Quebec is no longer to be guarded by a British garrison, as I believe has been the case ever since the peace of 1763; but that it is to be given over to the Government of the Dominion, as it is called, and that some Canadian Militia will form the garrison. That appears to me a very dangerous course. I do not doubt the loyalty or the courage of Canadian Militia; but when I reflect that in all countries the most capable officers have been chosen for the defence of fortresses, and when I remember that it was the skill of a French officer of great ability which detained the Duke of Wellington for a whole year in achieving the conquest of the Peninsula—when I reflect what accidents may happen from a bastion not being sufficiently guarded, or from in- sufficient precautions against attack on an undefended part, I cannot but view this step with, considerable apprehension. I may be told that it will always be possible on the breaking out of war, or even in the apprehension of hostilities, to send a British Army to Canada; and I am aware that my noble Friend behind me (the Earl of Dalhousie) despatched sufficient forces to the Crimea, so that when peace was made we had 70,000 British soldiers there; and so it may be said that the British Government could send 70,000 soldiers to Canada. No doubt they might if the season was favourable; but if in the worst period of the winter there should be an apprehension of war, it might be very difficult to send the necessary troops up the St. Lawrence. Consider what the consequence would be if you heard one day that the Canadian officer in charge of Quebec, though very devoted and loyal, and the Canadian garrison, though very brave, had failed in defending the fortress and had hauled down its flag to an enemy. The discouragement in Canada would certainly be very great, and all that strong, though not very numerous, party who are unfavourable to our preserving the Colonies would say it was obvious that the Canadians could not defend themselves, that we had tried the experiment, and that it was impossible to send an army to secure the Colony. Such a danger ought to have great weight with Her Majesty's Government, and I can come to no other conclusion than that they ought to maintain a British garrison in Quebec. I will now allude to the tone of the despatches lately sent out to the Colonies. The Government have done great things with regard to other matters. Last year a question deeply affecting the feelings of the Irish people was settled according to their wishes. This year another question, supposed to be even more difficult, is about to be settled without very great difficulty; and a third question, that of education, will, I trust, after the judicious Amendments made by the Government, be settled during the present Session. But while so much has been done in very difficult questions, where great obstacles were to be overcome and great prejudices to be surmounted, I cannot but wonder that a plain and simple course has not been taken on a question where no obstacles are in the way of the policy of a Government seeking to promote the in- terests of Great Britain. Consider what the state of the Colonies was when Her Majesty's Government acceded to Office. In old times there were great disputes and difficulties in the Colonies, because we did not allow them to have their own way in respect of government, and because we interfered with their industry and manufactures; but these difficulties I have long disappeared. My noble Friend (Earl Grey) has explained in his work the changes which have occurred, and in which, when I had the honour of being Secretary for the Colonies, I had a share. The colonists have been allowed to choose their own representatives, and questions which do not concern any Imperial interest have been given up by the Imperial Government to be settled by themselves. In that way the Clergy Reserves of Canada were settled, and the kind of concurrent endowment, as it is called, which existed in the Australian Colonies was settled according to the wishes of the people. With regard to industry, Lord Chatham, while pleading the cause of America in other respects, said he would not allow even a horse-shoe nail to be manufactured there—he thought it impossible to allow any manufactures to spring up; but all that kind of proscription has been abandoned. In 1846 Parliament gave the Colonies the power of regulating their own tariffs and imposing their own Customs duties, reserving only to the Crown a power which it is quite right to use on special occasions, of vetoing any Bill sent to this country for confirmation. The consequence of these alterations is, that the colonists, having the power of regulating their own concerns, having the free use of their industry, being able, in short, to govern themselves as they pleased, have become deeply attached to this country, and when the present Government came into Office there was no danger of separation, or even of discontent. Add to this that you have Malta, Gibraltar, Halifax, Bermuda, and Quebec, in order to defend the Colonies, so that there could have been nothing easier or simpler than to go on with the system already established, and so to assure ourselves of the continued attachment of the Colonies. I cannot but feel, however, that there has arisen a feeling of coldness—provoked, I must say, in a great degree, by the course taken by the Government. My noble Friend the Se- cretary of State for the Colonies is the last person from whom I should have anticipated any sort of coldness or repugnance whenever the Colonies asked for any assistance or encouragement—but such is the tone of his despatches; and though I am quite sure no man would feel more deeply if he heard from Natal that there had been a great irruption of the Zulus, and that they had put to death the women and children they met with; but judging by the despatches I should say that the Colonial Office would bear any such calamity with a philosophic calmness. My object in bringing forward this question was very much to give my noble Friend an opportunity of explaining and vindicating the policy of the Government; and I would impress upon your Lordships that by a Commission, or any other mode which the Government may prefer, you should ascertain the means by which the whole of Her Majesty's dominions may be best protected. In view of the great changes in the art of war, we should consider what sort of protection it should be. It may, indeed, be said that there is a certain period when the connection with and our dominion over our Colonies must cease, and that it is impossible not to look forward to it. I believe that is entirely a fallacy, I know no instance in which such a separation has occurred. It is true it has happened, and might happen with territories so large as those now forming the United States; but we all know how for the sake of £15,000 of Revenue those 13 Colonies were provoked to insurrection, and how the resentment then excited has not yet disappeared; but with regard to any other Colonies, I cannot conceive that there ever need come a time when they should wish to separate from us, and when this country should concur in such a separation. In one of Dryden's plays a man and his wife are brought on the stage, who tell one another that they have loved as long as they could, and have lived together as long as was pleasant to both, but that now they must part. That, however, is a very immoral sentiment of a very immoral poet, and is by no means a proper foundation for the colonial policy of a great Empire. Such is not the kind of attachment that is felt by our Colonies. I believe the ties are far from being accidental ones, for they feel that they can govern themselves, that their industry is perfectly unfettered, and that they can live most happily under the British Crown. They feel, too, that it is a proud thing to be connected with a country which for so many centuries has been a land of liberty and order. So long as you take pains to foster that feeling they will remain with us, and I think it would be a great evil—nay, a very great crime—to weaken or impair in any way the attachment of the Colonies to this country, and therefore with a view of inducing your Lordships to take some steps to express an opinion on the subject. I will now move the Resolution of which I have given Notice.

Moved, "That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to inform Her Majesty that this House has seen with great satisfaction the spontaneous expressions of loyalty and attachment to the British Crown which have lately emanated from many of the Colonies; and to pray that Her Majesty will be graciously pleased to appoint a Commission to inquire into the means best fitted to guarantee the security of every part of Her Majesty's dominions."—(The Earl Russell.)


said, he hoped he should not, in any of the observations he might make, forget that deference and respect which were due to the noble Earl who had brought forward this subject, both on account of his personal character and the position he had held in the Government of this country. He was sure that neither he nor any of their Lordships could disagree from much that had fallen from the noble Earl in the course of his speech. He was not aware, however, that any Member of the Government had ever expressed an opinion or desire that the tie between Great Britain and our Colonies should be severed, or had spoken of the possibility of a separation with indifference. Almost up to 1851, when a change noticed by the noble Earl, who was then Prime Minister, occurred, the question of colonial military defence might be described in the terms used by Mr. Goulburn—namely, that military defence was provided for our Colonies in compensation for the monopoly of their commerce. During the noble Earl's Administration, those fiscal relations were swept away, and we had since dealt with the Colonies on juster and fairer terms, both as regarded themselves and the people of this country. He would not weary their Lordships by going into any historical disquisition; but he wished to show that the policy of colonial defence, which was now being carried out by Her Majesty's Government, was a policy which had been practically sanctioned by both Houses of Parliament, and had been steadily followed by successive Ministries. In 1861 a Committee of the House of Commons, of which he had the honour to be a member, after hearing the evidence of the Secretaries for War and the Colonies, and of every other authority at its command, came to a conclusion which was unanimously confirmed by a Resolution of the House of Commons in 1862. That Resolution was to the effect— That Colonies exercising the rights of self-government ought to undertake the main responsibility of providing for their own internal order and security, and ought to assist in their own external defence. On that principle successive Colonial Secretaries had acted for the last 10 years, and although their Lordships were not a party to the Resolution of the other House, they concurred, in 1865, in an Act of Parliament which carried the principle still further—namely, the Naval Defence Act, introduced by Mr. Cardwell, which provided for the establishment by the Colonies of naval Reserves, to be used for Imperial purposes in time of war. He quite admitted that, although this was a principle that was perfectly sound in itself, it should not be pushed to an extreme; and the Committee of 1861 pointed out that its practical application as to time and place must be left to the discretion of the responsible Ministers of the Imperial Government. A change, moreover, had occurred, partly before and partly since that date, which had materially altered the relations between the principal Colonies and the mother country—he alluded to the introduction of the principle of responsible government. As soon as responsible government was introduced into a Colony it became difficult, if not impossible, to maintain Imperial troops there in time of peace. In the case of New Zealand, for example, the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Carnarvon) clearly pointed out that it was almost an impossibility to maintain troops there in time of peace, because if the British troops were employed at the discretion of the Colony, they might be employed to carry out a policy of which the mother country disapproved; while, if not employed at the discretion of the colonists, the latter had on several occasions declared that they would rather not have them. Having said thus much on the general subject, he would now make a few remarks on that part of the noble Earl's speech which related more particularly to Canada. And, first of all, he might be permitted to say that the great principle which had guided successive Colonial Ministers with regard to Canada, were originally laid down when the noble Earl himself was Prime Minister. In 1851 the noble Earl on the Cross Benches (Earl Grey) addressed a despatch to Lord Elgin, then Governor General of Canada, laying down the principles now adopted by the Government, and from which, in consideration of the great weight due to it, he would quote one passage. The noble Earl wrote— Canada, in common with the other British Provinces in North America, now possesses, in the most ample and complete manner in which it is possible that she should enjoy it, the advantage of self government in all that relates to her internal affairs. It appears to Her Majesty's Government that this advantage ought to carry with it corresponding responsibilities, and that the time is now come when the people of Canada must be called upon to take upon themselves a larger share than they have hitherto done of expenses which are incurred on this account, and for their advantage. … In adopting this principle, I need hardly observe to you that Her Majesty's Government would merely be reverting to the former colonial policy of this country. You are well aware that up to the period of the War of the American Revolution the then British Colonies which now form the United States, as well as the West Indian Colonies, were required to take upon themselves the principal share of the burden of their own protection, and even to contribute to the military operations undertaken to extend the colonial possessions of the British Crown. This principle, laid down in 1851 by the noble Earl (Earl Grey), and concurred in by the noble Earl (Earl Russell), then Prime Minister, was carried out in 1854 by the Duke of Newcastle, when he withdrew from Canada all but a very small portion of British troops—namely, two battalions of infantry and two companies of artillery. After the termination of the Crimean War three regiments of infantry were sent there; but Mr. Labouchere, afterwards Lord Taunton, took care to abide by the principle laid down in 1851. Lord Taunton, in a despatch to Sir Edmund Head, observed— Although the regular soldiers in Canada may be more or fewer at any particular time, the policy of Her Majesty's Government continues the same, and they desire to place their main dependence on the well-proved loyalty and courage of Her Ma- jesty's Canadian subjects to repel any hostile aggression, should the occasion ever unfortunately occur, although in that event Her Majesty's Government would not fail to give to the Province the full support of the whole power of the British Empire. Such was the position of the matter in 1856. In 1860 and 1861 the military force in Canada was smaller than it is at the present moment. In 1862 a difficulty arose in Canada; and in the first instance three battalions of infantry were sent there, the force having been afterwards further increased. About that time there was a debate on the subject in this House, and there was a general expression of opinion that unless the Canadian Government were prepared to make far greater efforts than hitherto to provide for their own defence, British troops should not remain in any force. Lord Ellenborough, among others, gave a very strong opinion on the point. It was urged at the time, and with great truth, that, Canada possessing a frontier exposed to attack from a great and powerful nation, it was difficult, if there was any probability of such an attack, to say what amount of British troops should be placed there in the event of war; and a noble Earl (Earl Grey) went so far as to say that, unless the Canadians at once placed their Militia and other arrangements for defence on a proper footing, the Imperial troops, with the exception of a small force, should be withdrawn. He came now to the great change which, within the last few years, had occurred with respect to Canada. He alluded to the Confederation of the North-American Provinces, which was brought about in 1865, in consequence of a desire which we all wished to see accomplished—namely, that those Provinces might become a great and powerful nation. About that time there were conferences between the delegates from the different Provinces and Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies respecting the arrangements which were to be made between the Confederation and the mother country. In laying down certain principles, having reference to these arrangements, Mr. Cardwell, who was then Colonial Secretary, said— On the last point, it seemed sufficient that Her Majesty's Government should accept the assurance given by the Canadian Ministers on the part of Canada, that that Province is ready to devote all her resources, both in men and money, to the maintenance of her connection with the mother country, and should assure them, in re turn, that the Imperial Government fully acknowledged the reciprocal obligation of defending every portion of the Empire with all the resources at its command. The principle recently laid down by Her Majesty's Government was that the maintenance of an Imperial garrison at Halifax was all Her Majesty's Government was to do at the cost of the mother country for the defence of the Dominion in times of peace. But although this was all that Her Majesty's Government had pledged themselves directly to do, he would now inform their Lordships of what they had done, and were to do, in the way of assisting the Dominion to defend herself. In the first place, a loan had been guaranteed for the construction of a railway between Halifax and Quebec. In a military point of view such a line would, as their Lordships knew, be of the highest importance. It would open a communication between Quebec, Halifax, and this country, by means of which troops could be speedily and conveniently carried at any period of the year. Again, buildings to the value of £158,000 had been given up to the Government of the Dominion; thirdly, the whole Militia of Canada had been armed with Snider rifles at the expense of the Home Government; fourthly, the works undertaken by the Imperial Government for the defence of Quebec, and which were rapidly being completed, would cost, when completed, £240,000; and 151 pieces of ordnance had been handed over to the Dominion Government. In consequence of the Report drawn up by Colonel Jervis, who had been sent out to devise a scheme of defence, which had been laid before Parliament, the Canadian Government had passed an Act to authorize the construction of defences, and the Imperial Government had undertaken to guarantee a loan of £1,100,000 for the completion and armament of these works. As regarded the number of troops which we had at present in Canada the noble Earl (Earl Russell) had made some mistake. At present there were three battalions of infantry and five batteries of artillery in Canada. It had been intended to bring home two battalions of infantry and four batteries of artillery, leaving one battalion of infantry and one battery of artillery in Canada proper. But in withdrawing the greater portion of the troops, it had always been the in- tention of Her Majesty's Government to, act in a deliberate manner and not to do anything hastily, and a change of circumstances had recently occurred in Canada. There had been, as their Lordships knew, a miserable attempt on the part of the Fenians to make a raid into Canada, and an expedition had been sent to the Red River Settlement, in which a battalion of infantry was engaged. The Secretary of State thought that while that expedition was in progress it would be desirable to have a larger force retained in Canada, and accordingly orders had been sent to General Lindsay to detain the 1st Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, who would have otherwise been arriving home about this time. No military attack was apprehended in connection with the expedition to the Red River Settlement; but some misguided Fenians might attempt to cut off the communications, and therefore it was thought as well that the expedition should have support. He had already explained that, under any circumstances, a battalion of infantry and a battery of artillery would have remainded at Quebec. That was the arrangement for the present financial year. He would now ask their Lordships to consider what our policy with respect to the Colonies had been, and what had been the result of that policy. The noble Earl on the Cross Benches (Earl Grey) and other distinguished statesmen had laid down the principle that every community with a responsible Government must be prepared to maintain its own defence to a considerable extent. The people of Canada had accepted that principle, and had vigorously applied themselves to establishing a sound military force for their own defence. Perhaps their Lordships were not aware of the nature of the Canadian Militia. It was a force which had been organized with great ability, and which on several occasions had acted with great loyalty. A Militia Bill for the whole of Canada passed in 1868. By that Bill the Dominion was, first of all, divided into four Provinces and nine military districts—out of these were formed 22 brigade divisions, and these, again, were divided into regimental divisions, which were subdivided into company divisions. All Her Majesty's subjects in the Dominion between the age of 18 and 60 formed the basis of the Militia, and were liable to be called out for service in time of war. That Militia was called the Reserve Militia. Its staff was complete; every two years new companies were formed, and of that force something like 600,000 men could be brought out. Then there was the Active Militia. The number of that force required to drill and be in a state of efficiency was fixed at 40,000. The Active Militia consisted of volunteers. Men who had served for three years in the Active Militia obtained an exemption from serving at any future time if the whole of the Militia should come to be embodied. The whole number of men who had been drilled and formed in the Active Militia was 43,500 according to the last Report of the Inspector, and in the Report on the force there was this statement— At any time, whenever the necessity arises, the whole of the Active Militia, from Nova Scotia in the East to the shores of Lake Huron in the West, can be concentrated by battalions and corps for the defence of the country in a very few hours, and held in readiness at their respective headquarters. The Report contained this further statement, which was still more gratifying— In addition to this, however, so great has been the desire evinced to volunteer for the defence of the country, and raise additional corps, that it has been found necessary to decline such offers from those localities where the quota is already exceeded, until such time as vacancies for their enrolment may arise in the respective districts, by the expiration of the period of service of existing corps, who may not desire to re-enrol for another period. From these facts it may be safely affirmed that no difficulty will be experienced in keeping up the present strength (at least) of the active force by voluntary enrolment, and, therefore, the necessity of having recourse to the ballot is not likely to arise. In addition to that organization of the Militia, there had been introduced into Canada an admirable system of military schools, by which more than 5,300 officers had been educated, and were ready to take commissions both in the Active and in the reserved force of the Militia. Besides that, there was established the Grand Trunk Railway Brigade, which in the most effective way would provide for the defence of that great work. It might, perhaps, be said that was all very well on paper; but, fortunately or unfortunately, they had been able to test that organization by actual results, because in 1866 an attempt was made by the Fenians to get possession of some part of Canada. A body of Fenians in that year invaded Canada, and perhaps the noble Viscount (Viscount Monck), who had gained so much credit for himself, and conferred so much benefit on the Dominion of Canada, would allow him to quote a few words used by him with respect to the conduct of the Militia at that time. The noble Viscount said— Although I deplore the loss which the Volunteer Force engaged on the 2nd of June, at Limestone Ridge, has suffered, amounting to six killed and 31 wounded, I think it is a matter for congratulation that a movement which might have been so formidable has collapsed with so small an amount of loss, either of life or property. I think it is also a source of satisfaction that such strong proofs have been afforded of the spirit which animates the Canadian people, of their loyalty to the Throne, of their appreciation of the free institutions under which they live, and of their readiness at all times to prove their sense of the value of those institutions by incurring expense and personal risk in the defence of them. The period of the year at which the people have been called on to make these sacrifices of time by serving in the Volunteer ranks has been the most inconvenient that could be selected, yet I have never heard a murmur from any quarter at the necessity for suspending industrial occupation involving the risk of losing a whole year's production, while I have received information of a good deal of discontent on the part of those who were anxious to give their services, but whose presence in the ranks was not considered necessary. I have already spoken of the admirable spirit displayed by the Volunteer Force, both officers and men. I have every reason to believe that their conduct as regards discipline and order has entitled them to as much commendation as does their spirit of patriotism and self-reliance. In another place the noble Viscount said that "within 24 hours after the issue of the order 20,000 men were under arms." That happened in 1866, when the illustrious Duke (the Duke of Cambridge) felt it his duty to express, on behalf of Her Majesty, the appreciation entertained by the Crown of the services of the Canadian Militia. Again, what occurred the other day? "When another of those miserable attempts was made on the soil of Canada the Militia was embodied, and acted with the greatest promptitude, loyalty, and courage. Within two days after hearing the first rumour that there was to be a Fenian raid on Canada there were, according to the despatches received, 1,095 officers, 12,394 non-commissioned officers and rank and file, 863 horses, and 18 guns of the Active Militia on service in the several military districts of the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec on the 27th of May last. That force was able to go at once to the frontier to defeat that very futile attempt to gain possession of Canadian soil; and in the despatches addressed to the Secretary of State by Major-General Lindsay and also by the officers commanding Her Majesty's troops in Canada the highest possible praise had been given to the conduct of the Canadian Militia, to whom, those officers stated, belonged the merit of promptly and at once frustrating that attempt. Therefore the services of the Canadian Militia and the general principles of their organization have been proved to be most efficient on two occasions; and in that respect great credit was due to Colonel M'Dougall, the Adjutant-General of the force, for the energy and ability with which he assisted in its organization. The principle now agreed to, he believed, by all, was that Canada should provide in the first instance for her own defence—in fact, any other system of defence for Canada was simply impossible; and the only real point of difference was, whether the defence of Quebec should be left to the loyalty and patriotism of the Dominion, or whether a small force of Her Majesty's troops should be left in that stronghold. That was a question which he thought must be left to the discretion of the Executive Government, which alone could be fully acquainted with the real condition of affairs. So far he had addressed himself to the position of the Colonies. He would now address himself in a few words to the effect of the policy he had described upon the general defence of the Empire. The military policy of this country for many years had been to keep large garrisons in the Colonies, principally because the troops there were out of sight and did not attract so much attention from those who desired in the other House of Parliament to reduce their numbers. Now, he hoped, they had arrived at a time when the course they adopted could be both openly attacked and openly justified. Of late years the principle on which our military administration had been conducted was to concentrate our forces far more in this country than was formerly the case. There had been a very great increase in the military force of the great Continental Powers. The introduction of steam, the altered construction of ships of war, and the adoption of new and powerful artillery, had all attracted attention to the necessity of perfecting our defences, and the first principle laid down for the military defence of the British Empire was, that as this country was the heart of the whole Empire it should be placed in a position of complete security. In order to do that the troops had been more concentrated at home, and less dispersed in isolated garrisons in the Colonies. That principle had been laid down by successive Secretaries of State, and the late Lord Herbert, referring to the subject, said— The necessity for the distribution of our forces in the last few years is much altered. I should accumulate all the forces that it is possible to accumulate at home, and keep as few men as possible in Colonies. The difference between peace and war in many of the Colonies would be that, instead of maintaining a military force in them in time of war, we should withdraw it. I see no use in maintaining isolated battalions. Either we have the supremacy of the sea, in which case they are useless; or we lose the supremacy of the sea, in which case they are caught in a trap. The principal defence of the Empire and of the Colonies was not to keep troops locked up in isolated and distant stations, but to rely on our Navy. That was the view taken by the Committee of the House of Commons of 1861, who said— The tendency of modern warfare is to strike blows at the heart of a hostile Power; and it is, therefore, desirable to concentrate the troops required for the defence of the United Kingdom as much as possible, and to trust mainly to naval supremacy for securing against foreign aggression the distant dependencies of the Empire. Therefore, since that time, our policy had been to depend mainly on our naval supremacy, and to concentrate our troops as much as possible at home. It must be remembered that the use of steam as the motive power now enabled us to have much more rapid communication with our Colonies than formerly. If the principle of our military policy for the defence of the Empire was to be such as he had described, let him refer for a moment to its bearing on the question of Army organization. It had been the constant complaint of our Commanders-in-Chief and Secretaries of State for War that it was impossible to give our troops a proper term of service at home. The hope had been that they might have five years' service at home and ten years' service abroad; but, for a long period, there never was a sufficient number of battalions in this country to give that amount of relief to the troops serving abroad. That was now very materially changed; but it was only since 1868 that they had attained a satisfactory position in that respect. Last year they had 60 battalions at home and 80 abroad; and they hoped in the end to equalize the number of battalions at home and abroad. He supposed it would soon be his duty to bring before their Lordships a Bill, now in the other House of Parliament, altering the law of enlistment for the Army. The noble Earl (Earl Russell) appeared to be under the impression that that Bill provided for a service of three years in the ranks and three years in some Reserve; but he was not correctly informed. Its intention was to institute a service of six years in the ranks and six years in the Reserve, and the success of such a plan depended very much upon the equalization of the number of battalions at home and abroad; but it would be more convenient, perhaps, if he did not further discuss that matter at present. Reverting to the main subject, he believed that the policy of reducing the force in the Colonies, and allowing them to depend in a greater degree upon themselves for their own defence, was, as he hoped he had shown to some extent to their Lordships, both advantageous to the Colonies themselves, to the military strength of the Empire, and to the Army organization of this country. Agreeing that there was in this matter something beyond mere pounds, shillings, and pence, he would not dilate upon the former expense of the troops in the Colonies to the people of this country; but it was only due to them that they should not be required to pay more for colonial defence than was proper, and it would perhaps be interesting to their Lordships to know that within the last two or three years the cost of our Army in the Colonies had been reduced by half a million of money. He did not know that he need trouble their Lordships with many arguments against the appointment of the Commission for which the noble Earl had moved. It might be sufficient to point out that the inquiry would be too gigantic. The Commission would, following the sketch given by the noble Earl, in the first place, have to take into consideration the whole question of the proper construction of ships, and of heavy ordnance; the question of enlistment; how the British Army was, for the future, to be paid; how Reserves were to be provided for the purpose of rapidly expanding that Army in time of war. Then they would have to lay down for each of the Colonies the principles upon which successive Governments were to be guided in distributing the forces of the Empire. If the Commission had to inquire into all these things, the noble Earl himself would, probably, acknowledge that the inquiry would be somewhat too extensive. If the noble Earl intended to confine the scope of the inquiry to any particular points, he would find that there was scarcely one of the questions to which he had alluded, which had not been inquired into already by more than one Committee or Commission. But, taking the broader and larger view of the inquiry, it appeared to him (Lord Northbrook) that a Commission with such functions would trench improperly on the responsibility of the Government of the day, to whom alone the country must look for the due defence of every portion of Her Majesty's dominions. In fact, it would be impossible to throw on any Commission that responsibility which the Government, and the Government alone, must bear. If he required any fortification for that opinion, it would be found in a speech made by the noble Earl himself, in 1851, on this very question of the military defence of the Colonies. The noble Earl then said that— The Colonies ought to contribute in great part to their military defence; that this must be done gradually, it must be done from time to time according to the circumstances of the Colony to which you think fit to apply this rule. With respect to Canada, he observed— That which you can do now it would be madness to have done 10 or 15 years ago. With regard to some of the other Colonies, that which you cannot do now you may be able to do 5 or 10 years hence. Therefore, with the greatest deference to the noble Earl, he must say that it did not appear to be the proper course for their Lordships to agree to the proposed inquiry. The general principles of colonial military defence, which he had endeavoured to describe, had been acted upon by successive Administrations belonging to both parties of the State; they had not been hastily adopted, nor acted upon with undue precipitancy; but they had received the deliberate approval of Parliament, and had been carried out with due consideration of the circumstances of the different Colonies.


said, he understood the noble Earl (Earl Russell) to have put the matter in the form he had chosen rather with a view of leading to a discussion, than with any view of asking their Lordships to assent to the Motion; because it seemed to him that to adopt his proposal would in effect put the Government of the country into commission, and transfer to the Commissioners functions which could properly only belong to the Government. He did not imagine that anybody could seriously propose that a Commission should be appointed to inquire into the colonial policy which the Government of the day should adopt. But as the subject had been brought before the House he could not allow the occasion to pass by without saying one or two words upon the general question of their colonial policy. He certainly did sympathize with his noble Friend in the opinion that the present state of their colonial policy was far from satisfactory. His noble Friend had stated—and had stated most truly—that there was a general distrust pervading the Colonies as to the wishes of this country with respect to the maintenance of the connection. His noble Friend also stated that the dissatisfaction on this subject had been gradually increasing, and at the present moment there were symptoms of its having risen to a considerable height. He agreed with his noble Friend that to put an end to the great colonial Empire of the British Crown would be a great misfortune—a great misfortune to the Colonies, to this country, and to the world; nor could he help saying that the system of policy pursued by Her Majesty's Government, and for a considerable number of years acted on by successive Secretaries of State, though carried further by Her Majesty's present Advisers than had heretofore been done, did seem to lead directly and necessarily to the dissolution of our colonial Empire. The doctrine which had been in favour for a good many years was that they were to disclaim all exercise of authority in the Colonies, and that while doing so they were right in also disclaiming being at all responsible, either for the manner in which they might manage their affairs or for assisting them in any difficulties they might bring upon themselves. They had heard these rules ostentatiously insisted upon by various persons holding high office both in this and in former years, and he wished to ask their Lordships seriously to consider what was left of the connection between this country and the most important of our Colonies, if this doctrine were to be acted on. If they were to exercise no authority, and at the same time hold aloof and refuse to assist the Colonies in their difficulties, what was the connection reduced to? Why, simply to this—that the Queen's Government were to keep in their hands the power of appointing Governors who, when they went to those Colonies where this system prevailed, were to be mere puppets, and to exercise no real authority whatever. But if the connection were thus reduced to a mere nominal one it would be neither possible nor desirable that it should long be maintained at all, and it would soon cease. Was that desirable for this country, for the Colonies, or the world? As regarded the Colonies, every man who seriously considered the subject must see that their connection with the Imperial Government was to them of the very highest importance. If they were dissevered from the British Empire, they would form in general petty States incapable of protecting themselves from any attack to which they might be exposed, or to assert their own just rights; there would also be no bond of union between one Colony and another, and no means for settling those disputes which were likely to arise among them. Those of their Lordships who had attended to colonial affairs must be well aware that since this system had been acted upon in the Australian Colonies, differences had more than once arisen on subjects which excited the minds of the inhabitants of one Colony against those of another. But if the Imperial Government was not to exercise some authority over all, how were these disputes to be prevented from ripening into something far more serious, and how could they be sure that even the dreadful arbitrament of war would always be avoided? Then, with regard to their own interest in the matter, did their Lordships think that it would be of no advantage to this country to have in different parts of the world faithful friends on whom they could rely in times of difficulty and danger? Could their Lordships doubt that if they were to part with our Colonies, or the most considerable part of them, the consequence would be that they would no longer occupy the position among nations which had hitherto belonged to them, and that in any difficulty that might arise they would be viewed by foreign nations with very different eyes. He believed, therefore, that it was of the greatest importance to both the parties concerned that there should be a close connection between the Colonies and the mother country, and to that end it was essential that a certain amount of military support should be afforded by the Crown to the Colonies. His noble Friend who had just spoken (Lord Northbrook) had stated—and had supported that statement by various quotations—that he (Earl Grey) and others had concurred in the principle that, as the Colonies became fit for it, and were allowed to enjoy a larger measure of power in the management of their own affairs than they formerly did, so they should take upon themselves a larger share in their own protection. Having long held that opinion, having held it, too, in the House of Commons when it was an unpopular doctrine, he was not going to shrink from the responsibility of that opinion now. But the doctrine which he had always avowed did not imply that they were either, on the one hand, to abstain from the exercise of a substantial authority in the administration of the Colonies within certain limits; or, on the other, to repudiate the idea of giving them any assistance whatever. It did not imply that the Imperial fortresses, such as Quebec, were no longer to be maintained and defended by the Crown. And in like manner it did not imply that the Imperial Government was to abdicate all control over the colonial administration, because it recognized the fact that there was, unquestionably, very great need for considering what should be the relations between the Colonies and the mother country in the altered circumstances of the present times, which required a relaxation of the control formerly exercised. The change that had taken place in their commercial policy had necessarily led to a great change in their system of colonial legislation. When that change occurred they ceased to regard their Colonies as places with which they had trading monopolies, which it was their business to guard, and in consideration of which they granted commercial privileges to them. When they with- drew from them these privileges, they also, as they were bound, ceased to impose the restrictions on colonial trade by which they had been accompanied, and the Colonies were allowed, in a great measure, to decide for themselves on these matters. This involved a great alteration in their political relations; and from that time to this he did not think that sufficient care had been taken to ascertain what were the proper limits with regard to the power which is to be exercised by the British Crown over the Colonies. He, for one, believed that it was perfectly possible, while exercising no vexatious interference in the internal affairs of their Colonies—to which he was very strongly opposed—for the Imperial Government to maintain a very considerable measure of authority, to be exercised for the common benefit of the Empire at large. He was sorry also to say that, in his opinion, that might have been done formerly to a greater extent than it possibly could be now. It appeared to him, however, that if their Colonies and this country were to form an Empire at all, one of the very first points upon which the Imperial Government must exercise its control was that of commercial policy. Although what they formerly did in allowing the local Legislatures to decide for themselves on the Customs' duties to be levied in the Colonies was proper enough, yet they had still a right to say that this power must be exercised undercertain conditions, and that having adopted, for the benefit of the whole Empire, a certain commercial policy, it was the duty of each Colony in its own internal administration to conform to the great principles of that policy, and to take no measures which could interfere with its success. When they relieved them from the restrictions which were formerly imposed upon trade it was not with a view that they should impose fresh restrictions founded upon the same vicious principles as those which had been abolished, and which directly affected our commerce. That was, however, exactly what they had done. They had stood by and looked on while their Colonies, in many cases, had adopted rules contrary to the whole principles of the commercial policy of the Imperial Parliament. Then, again, it appeared to him quite right to make over to the Colonies the task of legislating with regard to the settlement of the waste lands. But, in saying this, he could not think that in adopting that principle it was wise or proper to extend the principle so far as to admit that this power was to be exercised subject to no control on the part of the Imperial Government. But this is what had been done, and the effect was that the vast unoccupied domains of Australia and North America—the whole territory which had been acquired at vast expense by English money and by the exertions of the English people—had been handed over to the entire control of the local authorities to be dealt with for the exclusive benefit of a few hundred thousand persons now inhabiting the Colonies, or rather, he feared, for the advantage of a few lucky persons and dexterous jobbers, instead of being carefully managed, as they ought to have been, as a great reserve for promoting emigration and colonization for the common benefit of all. It was, of course, as he had already said, impossible for us to recall what had been done so unwisely; but what he did ask was that the principle might not be pushed any further. His noble Friend who had just sat down (Lord Northbrook) had said that there was very great difficulty under the system of what was ludicrously misnamed "responsible government"—but was really "party government"—in the Colonies in maintaining a British force without a conflict of authority arising between the Colonial Ministers and the Imperial Government. That was perfectly true, and had led to serious and unfortunate consequences, as they had seen in the case of New Zealand; for to that fact could be traced the misfortunes which had happened in that Colony, and the Maori War which broke out in 1860. He had recently had occasion to show to their Lordships that when party government was established in New Zealand peace had lasted for several years, and the Maories were rapidly advancing in civilization and the British settlers in prosperity; but the change in the system of government had proved destructive of all progress or improvement. He agreed, therefore, with his noble Friend that there was good ground for objecting to the maintenance of any considerable British force in a Colony under party government; but the inference he drew from this was that it was inex- pedient to establish that system of government where British settlers were in contact with a large uncivilized population, and he therefore regretted to find that Her Majesty's Ministers were disposed to repeat at the Cape of Good Hope the mistake which had proved so fatal in New Zealand. The Papers laid before Parliament with regard to the affairs of the Cape Colony exhibited the extraordinary spectacle of the Government urging and pressing the Colony to accept a much larger power than they at present possessed, at the same time attempting to coerce them by telling them that the Imperial garrison would be withdrawn. The state of facts at the Cape was this—In South Africa there was a population of European residents, amounting to not more than 200,000 persons, scattered over an immense area and intermingled in the closest manner with overwhelming numbers of the coloured races, many of whom were still in a barbarous state, and none advanced beyond what might be called a very defective state of semi-civilization. These coloured tribes were very warlike and very numerous. The exposed condition in which these British settlers found themselves was a deliberate act of the English Parliament. Some 50 years ago it was determined very considerably to extend the boundary of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope for the purpose of founding a new settlement for emigrants from this counary. That scheme did not originate either with the Executive Government or the colonists, but was adopted in compliance with an Address of the House of Commons. And by the scheme of colonization adopted in pursuance of this Address, the settlers who were sent out were scattered widely apart, and placed in positions where it was utterly impossible for them to defend themselves without the aid of British troops. Growing out of this arrangement, terrible wars from time to time broke out with the Kaffirs, and a frightful destruction of life and property ensued; but happily now for some years tranquillity had been preserved. Authority was exercised by the representatives of the Crown in a very fair manner towards; both the white and the coloured races; these were gradually drawing closer together, civilization was increasing, and Christianity was at last showing some faint signs of taking root among the native population. In this state of things, what was the policy pursued by Her Majesty's Government, which they found great fault with the colonists for declining at once to accept? It was that the colonists should at once establish "responsible government," as it was called. But the coloured races were totally incapable of taking a serious or useful part in the work of government; they were in far too backward a state to exercise authority with advantage to themselves or to others. Therefore, if the policy of the Government were carried out, the consequence must be that the whole political power of this responsible government would be intrusted to one class of the population, and that the minority, while the majority would be altogether excluded. Now, what must come of this? Unless all the old principles of human nature were subverted, it was perfectly certain that a Government so constituted would fail to obtain or deserve the confidence of the coloured races. The confidence which now was justly extended to the administration of the representatives of the Crown would entirely cease, and the Natives before long would have, or imagine that they had, causes of complaint. Once this happened, insurrections and risings against the whites might again be looked for; the war of races would recommence, and a repetition of the fearful events which had occurred in New Zealand might be looked for at the Cape. And the colonists, if left to themselves, without material assistance from this country, would be wholly unable to maintain their position. A Kaffir war, let it be remembered, was a much more serious thing than even a war in New Zealand. From the beginning there had probably not been more than 100,000 Maoris to deal with in that country; but, in South Africa, no man was able to form anything approaching to an estimate of the numbers that might be drawn into the conflict. As long as the coloured races felt confidence in the Government and respect for the power that it wielded, peace might be regarded as assured; but if disturbances once broke out, it would require the presence of a much larger force to restore tranquillity than would have sufficed for its maintenance at the outset. Within the last few days he received a letter from a gentleman in British Kaffraria, describing the means that had been taken for increasing the cultivation of sugar and coffee, and the very great progress which was being made both in that country and in Natal, and the prospects which existed of increasing exports and a valuable trade. But he added that already the rumour that the British garrison was to be withdrawn was producing its effect on the minds of the people, and the Kaffirs were becoming exceedingly uneasy. With the melancholy experience of New Zealand before us they were going apparently to repeat the same fatal course. While the colonists were themselves anxious not to be encumbered with that freedom from all control, and with the right of responsible government, and asked in preference to be allowed to continue as they were, Her Majesty's Government refused to listen to this request; they totally rejected their application, and said that they might have responsible government or not, but whether or no they should not have assistance from home in the way of troops. He could not help saying that this policy appeared to him not only contrary to the first principles of honour, but of Christianity. They were in honour bound not to desert the colonists whom they had established in South Africa, and not to involve them in difficulties from which it was hardly possible for them to escape; and it was unworthy of a great and Christian nation to take a course knowing that, in all probability, this would check a rising civilization in one great division of the world, and lead to anarchy, confusion, and bloodshed. Did noble Lords suppose that if the Zulus or the Kaffirs attacked the colonists, and fearful accounts came home of the sufferings of our fellow-subjects, any Minister in the world would be able to withhold the people of this country from sending out troops to their assistance? He was not arguing in favour of any undue interference in the internal affairs of the Colonies; but he maintained that, so long as the inhabitants of the Cape wished the Imperial Government to retain the authority it had hitherto exercised, and at the same time to continue to them military protection, it was unwise to try to force upon them a change which would tend to break up the Empire, merely from some false notions of economy. And he would observe that there was a great error in the mode in which the cost of keeping troops at the Cape was usually calculated. It was not fair to reckon against the Cape the whole expense of the British force maintained there. The safety of the country demanded that we should have a reserve force; this force must be kept somewhere; it was not all wanted at home, indeed, inconvenience would arise from keeping it here; and where could a portion of that Army be stationed more usefully, and, he would add, more cheaply, than at the Cape? In these days of steam and electric telegraphs it could be speedily brought home thence if it were wanted, or despatched with facility to India. The preservation of our Indian empire was largely due to the fact that we had at the time a force at the Cape which was sent without delay to quell the mutiny. There was no better field than the Colonies for training and disciplining our troops, and giving that experience in the field every army should possess. His main object, however, in rising was to entreat their Lordships seriously to consider what was the result to which those principles of colonial policy which were now in fashion were likely to lead them. He would ask them to consider whether it was possible to act on those principles without being led, by not very slow steps, to a total destruction of their colonial Empire. He could not but think that during the last few years they had been rapidly abandoning their Imperial control and Imperial responsibility. From some words which fell from his noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies on a recent occasion, he was induced to believe that, in addition to everything else which we had given up, they were now going to hand over to the colonial authorities the very difficult task, with all its responsibilities and all its dangers, of giving directions to the cruisers in respect of the protection of our fisheries on the coast of North America. If there was one subject which, more than another, required to be dealt with on general principles and on large considerations that was the one. Owing to the abandonment of the Reciprocity Treaty the Americans were no longer entitled to fish in those waters, where they had for many years been carrying on their trade with the full permission of the British authorities, and though trespassers had constantly come into the British waters there, their rights had been over and over again admitted by the Government of the United States. Now, whatever their policy with respect to those rights might be, it ought to be the policy of an Imperial, and not the policy of a colonial Government. It was not fair to impose on a colonial Government the responsibility of carrying out that policy. If the British rights in those waters were to be maintained, it ought to be by the authority of the British Government and under the protection of the British flag. He did not say that Canada might not be reasonably called on to contribute her share of the expense; but the policy itself was one to be pursued under Imperial authority and supported by an Imperial force. On the other hand, if their rights in those waters were to be abandoned, they ought to be abandoned by the Imperial Government. If, instead of taking on themselves the responsibility either of maintaining these rights or of abandoning them, they said to the Canadians—"You undoubtedly have these rights, but whether you will enforce them is for yourselves to consider; we wash our hands out of all responsibility, and if you choose to enforce them you must incur the expense which your doing so will entail." If they adopted such a course as that, he feared there would be considerable danger of our coming into collision with the United States. If the Imperial Government determined to maintain their fishery rights, he believed the Government of the United States would co-operate with it, whatever the opinion of American citizens might be; but if, on the other hand, the matter were to be committed by them to a colonial Government, he believed the Government of the United States would have much less disposition to aid in the matter. He hoped this subject would have the attentive consideration of their Lordships and of Her Majesty's Ministers. He could not think that the manner in which colonial matters had been dealt with was very satisfactory; but, as he believed a subject of this kind could be best dealt with by a Government, he trusted his noble Friend (Earl Russell) would not press his Motion.


My Lords, I do not know that I should have thought it necessary to have addressed your Lordships this evening after the very able and admirable answer of my noble Friend the Under Secretary for War, in which he adverted to all the points raised by my noble Friend who brought forward this subject; but I think that, holding the position I do, it would be hardly respectful towards the noble Earl if I did not say a few words on the general question. I agree with the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Carnarvon), who on a former occasion remarked that the too frequent discussion of colonial matters in this House was to be deprecated. No doubt when a colonial question is discussed calmly by the eminent men who address your Lordships on these subjects, the fact is gratifying to the colonists, because it shows the interest taken in their concerns by the mother country; but there are occasions when discussions on these matters are not so desirable, because there is danger of something being said which might give a false notion of what the public opinion in this country may be. My noble Friend (Earl Russell) himself may forget it, but I remember that he read a sharp lecture to my noble Friend behind me (Lord Lyveden) for introducing for discussion the defence of Canada. Well, my Lords, after the speech of my noble Friend the Under Secretary I have scarcely anything to say on the defences of Quebec, and, therefore, I shall proceed to the general question to which the noble Earl addressed himself. I must, in the first place, say that I was rather surprised to hear my noble Friend, the Earl of Malmesbury, who has left the House, cheer the noble Earl on this occasion, remembering, as I did, what he himself said some six years ago, but which is very similar to what has been said since by eminent Conservative statesmen. I find Lord Malmesbury stating this— There was now firmly established in the public mind a complete conviction that a Colony when once it had arrived at a certain point of power and prosperity ought to defend itself against its natural enemies, and ought not to call on the mother country for the Imperial troops. With respect to Canada he said it was impossible for the people of that country to obtain further assistance in the way of English troops, and I believe that is the conviction of the British public. When I recently spoke on this subject I said I felt certain there would be some annoyance and a feeling of irritation in Canada; and I gave the reasons which I thought would probably induce the people of the Dominion to witness with some regret the withdrawal of the troops. As to the Fenians, I felt that unless they were supported by America they must play the contemptible part of filibusters, with whom the Canadians could perfectly deal, and the complete way in which the body of Fenians who attempted to invade them without the slightest justification have lately been routed by the Canadian Militia, shows the superiority of the Canadians, and that they can defend their homes and hearths with great spirit and bravery, and I have no doubt that their conduct will in the future have an immense effect with regard to the probability of such incursions, and will inspire the Canadians with confidence in themselves. The question whether troops should be kept in Quebec or Halifax is very much narrowed by the railway which runs between those two fortresses being very nearly completed. Even in the winter a few years ago troops were easily moved from Halifax to Quebec, and such a movement will be still easier when the railway is finished. I hold that nothing can be truer than what my noble Friend the Under Secretary has stated—that the Colonies must depend on the power and influence of the mother country; and that power and influence will be increased, not by dotting troops all over the world, but by being in a position to render assistance wherever needed, and I am sure that the invasion of any of our Colonies would be resented exactly as if it were an invasion of our own soil. I am convinced that what foreign nations regard as our real is our latent power, and that they are not discouraged by the presence of a few troops in a particular place. I remember that when those troops were sent out to Quebec the Government of Lord Palmerston was attacked by the Earl of Ellenborough and other noble Lords; and I am sure there is no medium course between the withdrawal of those troops and the sending out of a large army, which, in the present state of public opinion, would be quite impossible. Again, by withdrawing the troops you actually confer a great advantage on the colonists. You teach them to look to themselves and you put on them a gentle pressure to create an army which would be of great assistance in case of a war with some other country—an event which I hope will never happen. We have offered to let the Colony have a whole regiment to form a nucleus for their own army, in raising which I believe they will be very successful, and we are quite ready to let them have some of our best officers, who, however, will not lose their position in the English Army, although during the time they serve in Canada they will be entirely distinct from it, and will be the officers and servants of the Government of the Dominion. We must not forget what a great State Canada has become; for she has 4,500,000 inhabitants, a marine equal to three-fourths of that of France, there are 70,000 seamen on her lakes, and, by the great exertions which her people are making, they are proving that they feel the responsibility that lies upon them, and that they will meet it gallantly and well. So far from making it more likely that the United States will invade that Colony, I believe that the fact of our taking away a handful of British troops will remove any temptation to invasion that there might be at the time of great national irritation. With regard to the fishery question, the noble Earl (Earl Grey) has given your Lordships an incorrect statement of what has happened, although it is quite true that concurrently with the Confederation we told the Canadians that they must take upon themselves the charge of their own waters. The presence of a few British vessels is required, not so much to protect the fisheries as to preserve order. Efforts are now being made to arrange matters with the United States' authorities, who have co-operated with us and sent their vessels to prevent any collision that might possibly arise. As to Natal, we have thought it right not to make any change for reasons which are perfectly obvious; and, with regard to the Cape of Good Hope, we have agreed to retain a regiment at Simon's Bay, and to allow the Colonial Government to place that regiment wherever they think it convenient. I believe that nothing has excited public feeling in this country more than the immense sums which the Imperial Government have lavished on the Cape of Good Hope; for not merely a regiment, but an absolute army was kept up there. As to the form of government, the noble Earl (Earl Grey) has said that I have been pressing them to take upon themselves the responsibility of self-government; but that is not the case, for what I wrote to them was to say that not only were their finances out of order, but their whole legislation was in a bad state, and that I attributed partly to the expenditure to which we had accustomed them. I told them they must choose between two courses—either they must strengthen the Queen's representative in the Colony, so as to enable him to deal with the finances, or they must take upon themselves the responsibility of self-government. I venture now to make an appeal to my noble Friend (Earl Russell) to withdraw his Motion. He, not having been in this country at the early part of the Session, was naturally anxious to make his views known to the public on this important question; but I think it would not be desirable for the House to adopt his Motion, one part of which would be something like a Vote of Want of Confidence in the Government.


said, he had no wish to be supposed to have any want of confidence in the Government, and he would withdraw his Motion.

Motion (by Leave of the House) withdrawn.

House adjourned at Eight o'clock' till To-morrow, half past Ten o'clock