HL Deb 06 February 1873 vol 214 cc7-55



My Lords, in rising to move that a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty in answer to Her most gracious Speech from the Throne, I venture to crave from your Lordships that indulgence which you are always ready to extend to one who, for the first time, plunges into the discussion of the various matters referred to in the Speech from the Throne; and if on this occasion of my first speech I shall perchance commit any error against the rules of the House, I ask your Lordships' forgiveness, and that you will attribute the fault rather to a want of knowledge than to any intention to come into collision with those forms. And first, my Lords, I think it a matter of most sincere congratulation that although the state of Her Majesty's health is not such as to permit Her to undertake the onerous and fatiguing duty of opening Parliament in person, yet that Her Majesty is so far restored as to be able to resume the discharge of those offices which must bring Her into closer contact with Her subjects, and in so doing increase—if that were possible—their loyal affection toward their Sovereign.

My Lords, since your Lordships last met, an illustrious life has passed away. If anything could tend to solace the widowed wife and the orphan son, it is that the Emperor's last days, agonizing as they must have been both in mind and body, were passed in a country which in his early days reciprocated his friendship and afterwards valued his alliance. On the last moments of the Emperor it would not become me to touch—that subject was too sacred—but I think that I but echo the sentiments of your Lordships when I say that in their affliction the fatherless and the widow have the sincere and heartfelt sympathy of your Lordships. Now, my Lords, with regard to the statements contained in the Speech from the Throne, I think I may congratulate your Lordships on the general aspect of foreign affairs. As far as human intelligence can anticipate, there seem to be no reason for supposing that there will not be a continuance of the good relations which at present exist between this and other countries, or why the blessings of peace we now enjoy should not continue. More especially I congratulate your Lordships that the long-standing differences between the United States and England have at last been happily determined. I do not propose to discuss in extenso the various claims put forward by the United States against this country; but I do not think it out of place to say that much praise is due, and a deep debt of gratitude owed to our own representatives—and not to our own representatives only, but to those of the United States—and to the Arbitrators for their action towards the settlement of what were termed the Indirect Claims. It is true that we have suffered a pecuniary loss by the result of the award in the Alabama and other Claims; but what we have lost in sterling coin there is every reason to hope we have gained in the security of peace, the furtherance of commercial relations, and the promotion of feelings of good-will between the two nations. As a proof of the existence of such good feelings, I will refer to this passage of the Message of President Grant, dated the 4th of December, 1872— The Tribunal which had convened at Geneva concluded its laborious Session on the 14th of September last, and the decision they arrived at happily disposes of a long-standing difference, and leaves the two countries without a shadow on those friendly relations which it is my hope may for ever remain unclouded. With regard to the advance of Russia in Central Asia, I hope the policy of the Government will be prompt, decisive, and dignified. Anxious as we must ever be that amicable relations should exist between England and Russia, we cannot but feel that the further advance in Central Asia on the part of Russia must tend to diminish that friendship which for the last 17 years has uninterruptedly marked the relations of the two countries; while, on the contrary, any declaration on the part of the Emperor against a policy of encroachment must tend to strengthen those relations. I feel sure that the policy of the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary will be what it ought to be in this matter, and the result will be to secure peaceful and beneficial results.

My Lords, in the various questions relating to home policy which will necessarily occupy your Lordships' attention, the question of Irish University Education occupies a prominent position. It is supposed by those who are inimical to Her Majesty's Government that their policy is to settle the questio vexata merely in a manner which would conciliate the Irish Roman Catholic Prelates. It is known that in open meeting those Prelates have stated that nothing but absolute control and sway over the students, the books, studies, and examinations in an Irish University will satisfy them. Now, I am not initiated in the plan which the Government intend to bring forward on the subject of this question; but I earnestly hope and trust that a Roman Catholic endowment will form no portion of their scheme. If it should, I cannot think that it would be consistent with the speeches and declarations made by the Government there and elsewhere, or with the course taken by the Government with respect to the Irish Church. But when this question comes to be discussed by your Lordships, I do trust that a subject so important will not be allowed to degenerate into a question of religious or party strife. Although beyond doubt religion is a component and perhaps an essential part of education, yet we ought to bear in mind what, after all, is the object of all education, and especially of University education: it is, namely, the advancement of learning, and the furtherance of science and philosophical research. There is another subject of home policy which I believe will occupy much of your Lordships time and consideration, which has long been demanded by the country, and which has been recommended to the Legislature by the Judicature Commission in the strongest terms—namely, the question of Law Reform. I am not initiated into the measures which the Government intend to propose, but, as I understand the question, what the public want is that there should be a fusion of law and equity—in other words that our Courts of Law should be amalgamated, so that the Courts of Common Law should have an enlarged equitable jurisdiction, and that there should be judicial facilities for any one Court to take cognizance of any question that could come within the jurisdiction of any other Court. Whatever the project of the Government may be, I feel sure that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack will apply his mind to the production of a measure such as will satisfy not only the legal profession, but the country at large. My Lords, there are many questions referred to in Her Majesty's most gracious Speech which I think it unnecessary that I should touch upon. I feel confident from the time and deliberation which your Lordships are wont to give to any matter that comes before you, that at the end of the Session the result of your deliberations will be to place upon the Statute Book many measures which will conduce to the general welfare, happiness, and benefit of the country.

My Lords, I am unwilling to draw too vivid and glowing a picture of the condition of England at the present moment; but it is, I believe, an established fact that never within the annals of British history has our revenue been greater or commercial wealth more abundant. To maintain the country in this state ought to be our earnest endeavour.

I have now to thank your Lordships for the patience, and, even more, the forbearance, with which you have listened to the brief remarks I have made. If, with unparalleled temerity, I have "rushed in where angels might fear to tread, "I can only say that I thought it my duty—as being, to some extent, the spokesman of the Government—to delineate, in however sketchy and imperfect a manner, one or two of the great questions which it is the intention of the Government to bring forward. Most sincerely do I subscribe to the last paragraph in Her Majesty's Speech, and humbly and sincerely trust that, the Almighty prospering their handiwork, Her Majesty's Government may still put forward strenuous endeavours to maintain England in that proud position in the scale of nations which it concerns her interests and dignity to occupy. The noble Earl concluded by moving the following humble Address to Her Majesty thanking Her Majesty for Her Most Gracious Speech from the Throne:— MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN, WE, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for Your Majesty's most gracious Speech delivered by Your Majesty's command to both Houses of Parliament. We rejoice to learn that Your Majesty has the satisfaction of maintaining relations of friendship with Foreign Powers throughout the world. We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us of the steps which Your Majesty has been pleased to take for dealing more effectually with the Slave Trade on the East Coast of Africa. We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us of the decisions which have been given by Your Majesty's ally the German Emperor, and by the Tribunal of Arbitration at Geneva, with regard to the questions referred to them respectively, which were at issue between Your Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States, as well as of the course which Your Majesty has been pleased to take, and the provision which Your Majesty will ask to be made, in consequence thereof. And we humbly desire to concur in Your Majesty's acknowledgments for the pain and care which the German Emperor and likewise the Tribunal at Geneva have bestowed on the peaceful adjustment of controversies such as could not but impede the full prevalence of national good will in a case where it was especially to be cherished. We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that, in further prosecution of a well understood and established policy, Your Majesty has concluded a Treaty for the Extradition of Criminals with Your Majesty's ally the King of the Belgians; and that in prosecuting the communications, which the Government of France has, during the recess, renewed with Your Majesty's Government for the purpose of concluding a Commercial Treaty to replace that of 1860, Your Majesty has kept in view the double object of an equitable regard to existing circumstances, and of securing a general provision more permanent in its character, and resting on a reciprocal and equal basis, for the commercial and maritime transactions of the two countries. We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that a correspondence has passed between Your Majesty's Government and the Government of Russia, the main subject of which is the line describing the northern frontier of the dominions of Afghanistan, and the tenour no less than the object of which Your Majesty trusts will be approved by the public opinion of both nations. We learn with satisfaction that although the harvest has been to some extent deficient, the condition of the three Kingdoms with reference to Trade and Commerce, to the sufficiency of the Revenue for meeting the public charge, to the decrease of pauperism, and to the relative amount of ordinary crime, may be pronounced generally satisfactory. We assure Your Majesty that we will devote our earnest attention to the measure which Your Majesty has informed us will be submitted to us on an early day for settling the question of University Education in Ireland, as well as to that for the formation of a Supreme Court of Judicature, and to the other proposals that are to be brought before us. We heartily join with Your Majesty in commending our deliberations to the guidance and favour of Almighty God.


My Lords, in rising to second the Address, which has been moved by the noble Earl with so much ability in reply to the Speech from the Throne, I beg that you will excuse me if I do not rival the ability and scope of his remarks, and advert to a few only of the questions raised in the Speech from the Throne. There are, however, one or two questions to which I beg to allude, although the noble Earl has already touched upon them. The noble Earl alluded to the result of the Arbitrations at Geneva and elsewhere. My Lords, when we consider the conditions of the negotiations between our Government and the Government of the United States at the commencement of last year, I think we must all rejoice, notwithstanding the price we have to pay, that there has been a peaceful solution of our differences, and that all danger of conflict has been removed for the present, and I hope for the future. We are also told in the Speech from the Throne that a Correspondence has passed between our Government and another great Power for the avoidance of differences in respect of the affairs of Central Asia. My Lords, I am a lover of peace; but while I love peace I am far, indeed, from being an advocate for "peace at any price." I believe that we have a mission to discharge in India, and that not a mission of self-aggrandizement; and if ever the time should come when it shall be necessary that we should fight for India I hope we shall fight—there has been evidence given within the last few weeks that we would fight. But, my Lords, I trust we should all rejoice if, in the East as in the West, a peaceful solution to international difficulties should be found. Turning to domestic affairs, your Lordships, I hope, will cordially welcome a measure for facilitating the transfer of land which sloes not contemplate any violent change in the law. I am sure you will also join in welcoming an amendment of the laws regulating railways and the general traffic of the kingdom. My Lords, I now come to that portion of the Speech more especially interesting to that part of the country with which I am more immediately connected. The subject of University Education in Ireland occupies a prominent place in the Royal Speech. As an Irishman, I may be expected to have a strong opinion on that subject. I have, but I do not think this the best occasion for giving full expression to my convictions, especially as your Lordships are not yet in possession of the scheme by which the Government propose to deal with that subject. There are, however, certain principles which ought to guide the Government in dealing with the question, and on these I may be pardoned for saying a word or two. I maintain, first, that the State has a definite educational mission to fulfil. It is at once the duty and the right of the State to provide for the education of the people. This principle has been so fully acknowledged already all over the three Kingdoms in the case of primary education, that I trust it requires no argument on my part to show that its application extends to the case of University Education. But I maintain, further, that the State should not exercise merely a general supervision and control over the education of the country, but that it should have a definite judgment as to what education it should encourage—that it should teach nothing but what it has deliberately decided to be desirable. These may be truisms, but they are truisms which are sometimes forgotten. Another of these principles which may sound like a truism to many of your Lordships, but which I would rather call a great truth, is that education must be and can be nothing else than essentially religious. It is in the nature of education that it should be religious. You may, no doubt, teach science, literature, and art, without any special reference to religion; but anything which deserves the name of education is surely a means of fitting man for his duties in life. This, my Lords, I maintain, is eminently a religious work. As I have said, I do not venture to say a word as to the means by which the end should be attained, but I would just point out some of the difficulties that beset the question of Irish University Education. You have to decide what due and proportionate weight you will attach to the opinions of different parts of the United Kingdom when they happen to be opposed—what weight is to be attached to the opinion of the people of Ireland as against that of the inhabitants of the other parts of the kingdom. Lastly, how can you secure the advantages of University Education for those who ought to have it without offending the consciences of any? All these difficulties confront Her Majesty's Government; but I trust they may be able to surmount them all. Before quitting this subject, I wish, in passing, to allude to one branch of education which has not been so well encouraged in Ireland as I could wish—I refer to intermediate education. Intermediate education is intimately connected with University Education, inasmuch as without the former, the latter could not be properly carried out. For intermediate education in Ireland the existing endowments are far less extensive than they might be; and such as they are, not always, I regret to say, so well applied as they might be. A memorial on this subject has recently been sent from my part of the country—the county of Limerick—to the Government, and I trust that in dealing with University Education, the Government will not lose sight of intermediate education. The importance of a settlement of the question of education in Ireland can scarcely be overrated, and I think that on its satisfactory adjustment depends greatly the question whether Ireland will be peaceful or disturbed for many years to come. I, for one, am grateful to Her Majesty's Government that it has been able to initiate the policy of legislating for Ireland in accordance with the public opinion of that country; and I shall rejoice, as an Irishman, if it be possible to continue the policy in reference to the question of University Education; for it cannot but be satisfactory to your Lordships to notice the marked improvement in the state of Ireland during the past few years, and I cannot help ascribing this in great measure to the Irish policy of Her Majesty's Government. Crime—and especially drunkenness, which is the root of nearly all crime—has decreased to a remarkable extent; and, though there is still much drunkenness, I hope that if the Adulteration Clauses of the Licensing Act of last Session are put in force—as I hope they soon may be—they will do something to its continual diminution. A great improvement as respects the pauperism of the country has also taken place; and though this year a bad harvest followed by a severe winter and lack of fuel has made a temporary increase in the number of paupers as compared with what it was a short time since, the increase of pauperism is much less than it was in similar circumstances 10 years ago. But the most alarming feature in the social condition of Ireland has never been the ordinary crime, nor even the pauperism of the country—indeed, Ireland compares most favourably with England in both respects. The really alarming feature has been those agrarian crimes, which show such a fatal want of confidence in the law of the country; and if by their measures the Government have done anything to contribute to the confidence of the agricultural population in the law, that, in itself, is a great gain. Now, as agrarian crime in Ireland has decreased within the last two years to quite a remarkable extent, I think that improvement might be attributed to the working of the Irish Land Act in great measure, although it is, doubtless, too soon to judge of it confidently. There have been apprehensions in your Lordships' House and elsewhere as to the working of that Act. It may, perhaps, require to be amended, but I think the number of cases tried under it shows it has the confidence of the tenant farmers, and it will work a great benefit in that way. The details of the cases coming before the Quarter Sessions, and the great number—27 percent—that have been withdrawn before they came to trial, indicates a better state of feeling between landlord and tenant. I hope, therefore, the Govern- ment will persevere with legislation of the same character. My Lords, I am about to conclude somewhat abruptly, I fear; but I feel that I have trespassed too long on your Lordships' attention, and I have only now to thank you for the kindness and forbearance which you have given me. The noble Lord concluded by seconding the Address. [See page 11.]


My Lords, before I proceed to offer any comment on the important communications contained in Her Majesty's most gracious Speech, I hope I may be allowed to express to my noble Friend the noble Earl who moved the Address, and to the noble Lord by whom it was seconded, the feeling of satisfaction with which we, who on either side of the House can unfortunately look back on a good many years passed in political life, have witnessed the display and promise of ability by those whose political life is still in the future. We are always glad to see younger Members of the House taking an early and active part in debate; and I can add with truth in reference to the two speeches just made, that neither those two noble Lords have cause to be dissatisfied with the manner in which their parts have been performed; and that, so far as I can judge, not one word fell from them calculated to provoke unnecessary antagonism or to create a display of party feeling which, on these occasions, we are anxious to avoid. Now, my Lords, with regard to that part of the Royal Speech which refers to the internal affairs of the country, there is not much that calls for special comment. I am not disposed to cavil—though it may be open to criticism—at the paragraph which describes the material condition of the country as generally satisfactory. That paragraph is calmly and temperately worded, and I do not wish to quarrel with it, although if we look not merely to the past or even at the present, but at the future—and I mean the immediate future—its description is more rose-coloured than the circumstances will quite justify. The battle between labour and capital never was fiercer; one, at least, of the necessaries of life is clearer than at any former period, and we must bear in mind that if that state of things as regards the price of coal continues, it will not merely be a question of inconvenience and loss to individuals, but of danger to the pre- sent pre-eminence of our manufacturing industry. Imports and exports have increased, no doubt, but the increase is due rather to the enhanced price of the articles produced than to increased consumption or production; and though the Revenue is marvellously elastic, I cannot see with unmixed satisfaction an elasticity which is mainly in the department of Excise, or, in other words, due to an enormous increase in the consumption of strong drinks. Undoubtedly the national finances have gained from that source, and, as a friend of mine described it in private conversation—"We have drunk ourselves out of the American difficulty." But that is a gain purchased at a heavy cost, and which does not say much for the growth of frugal and provident habits among the people. Nor can I join in the congratulations as to the improved state of Ireland. The noble Lord who seconded the Address spoke of the benefits conferred on Ireland by the Land Act, which he said had produced much contentment and prosperity in that country; but at this moment there is among the tenant-farmers an agitation—absurd if you will, but widespread—against that Act, which they treat as inadequate and delusive. The noble Lord congratulated us on the improved state of public feeling in Ireland; but I cannot think that a reasonable congratulation when you remember that you have a gagged Press there, that in any district proclaimed by the Lord Lieutenant the Habeas Corpus Act may be suspended, and that the country in general is under a coercion Act, which in some respects is the most stringent and severe passed within my recollection. I do not mean to say that that Act, which was passed for Ireland, was unwise and unnecessary—I supported its passing, believing in the necessity—but I do say that so long as such a régime continues, so long as you think that régime ought to continue, you can hardly venture to congratulate yourselves on the improved state of feeling in Ireland. I gather from the Royal Speech that the Ministry are confident of being able to deal with the question of Irish University Education in a way that will satisfy everybody. I hope they are right. I shall be glad if they are right; but I am afraid that is a somewhat sanguine expectation, considering that there is only one sort of education which will satisfy the dominant hierarchy in Ire- land, that that hierarchy exercises an enormous influence over the population of the country, and that the kind of education which will meet their views is utterly alien to the ideas and sympathies of the great bulk of the people of this country. I am afraid that, without much more forbearance than religious parties in any country are apt to show when excited, the chances of coming to a satisfactory result in the matter are small. The language used by my noble Friend (the Earl of Clarendon) was only what I should have expected. It shows that he at least is not prepared to make indefinite concessions to the Ultramontane party; but when my noble Friend told us that he did not know the plan of the Government, that certainly diminished the value of his statement, so far as the future is concerned. But whatever that plan may be the difficulty remains. Any scheme that can possibly pass through Parliament will not only fail to secure the approval of the Roman Catholic Prelates, but will secure their hostility, and any scheme, on the other hand, which would find favour in their eyes will not have the slightest chance of ever reaching this House. Turning to domestic legislation, I find that Bills are to be proposed for improving the administration of the law. On the question of Law Reform it is bare justice to say that Her Majesty's Government start with every advantage. They have the advantage of a general though vague feeling throughout the country that Law Reform of some kind is desirable, and even necessary—they have an advantage that no one grudges them in the advice and assistance of a Lord Chancellor who has been fortunate enough, both in Parliament and the profession, to conciliate universal respect, and whose presence among us is welcomed on both sides. They have another advantage in bringing forward these measures at a time when no agitation is in progress, when there is no great political question pressing for settlement, and when any proposal for the improvement of legal administration is likely to attract a full share of attention, and to be fairly and dispassionately considered. But, not with standing, they are venturing on a sea subject to many storms, strewn with many wrecks, and the peculiar difficulty is that though the public is anxious that something should be done, the public has only a very indefinite idea of what it wants done, while even in the profession there is nothing like a general agreement. Everybody wants the administration of the law mended, but everybody wants it mended in his own way. Under these circumstances, I hope, rather than confidently anticipate, that some result will follow from the pledges that have been given, and the efforts that will be made. At any rate, on that subject our wish is to help, not to hinder, and if criticized from these benches no criticisms will be offered in a factious or even in an unfriendly spirit. I think I can say so much for my noble and learned Friends behind me. Turning now from internal affairs to matters of foreign policy, which occupy a rather unusual proportion of the Speech from the Throne, I observe that great prominence is given to the mission of Sir Bartle Frere to Zanzibar for the suppression of the slave trade on the East Coast of Africa. I have no fault to find with that mission; and I agree with Her Majesty's Government that if a mission was to be sent it would have been impossible to find a negotiator more able and experienced than Sir Bartle Frere; but in accepting the reference made to that subject I do so under certain restrictions. One of these is that there must be a limit—a reasonable limit—to the expenses for an object which, however excellent, concerns us only as much as it concerns the whole civilized world. The other is that we must not get involved in a system of alliances and protectorates and guarantees on the East African coast which could be of no possible advantage, and which would only add to a good many complications which we do not now foresee. A far wider and graver question is opened by that passage of the Speech which relates to the negotiations carried on with the Russian Government relative to annexations in Central Asia. Upon this matter no course is possible except an absolute suspension of judgment until the Correspondence is before us. All that I venture to say now is that I hope no pretext, however plausible, no inducement or temptation, will lead our Government, under whatever disguise, to entertain the idea of an extension of our territory to the North or West of India. That country has at present as good a military frontier as could well be drawn. I remember—for he more than once said it to me in conversation—that such was the opinion of the late Lord Hardinge—a high military authority, and who, having been Governor General of India, had necessarily studied the subject. Beyond us, in those regions, are only barren and rocky countries, inhabited by some of the most warlike and turbulent races of the earth. Every mile that we go in that direction beyond our present limits increases our difficulty—takes us further from our own resources, further from the sea and from our railroads, and, in the event of a hostile collision, diminishes the difficulties of an enemy by lessening the distance between our opponent and the base of his communications. It may be that many of your Lordships may regard this as a superfluous warning; but I cannot help remembering the Afghan War of some 30 years ago. What was the object for which that war was made, and who was really responsible for it, are questions which it might now be difficult to answer. It was a war made under the influence of a Russian panic. I know how difficult it is for a Government like ours, where it has to deal with Indian Princes, to avoid entanglements of this kind. I know how very easily in the East friendly relations become an alliance, how an alliance is converted into a protectorate, and how a protectorate ends in virtual annexation. My Lords, I cannot allow the San Juan question to pass without one word of notice. I do not and cannot blame Her Majesty's Government for referring that question to Arbitration. I myself, representing the Government of Mr. Disraeli, set the example in that direction; I thought then and think now that this was a question eminently fitted to be disposed of in that way. Nor do I criticise or complain of the decision arrived at, although I regret it. No doubt the tribunal was impartial; it had the advantage, as we know, of skilful and experienced advisers, and we must admit that we cannot be fair judges in our own case. But there is one point connected with that Arbitration about which it is desirable to have the facts ascertained. It is commonly alleged—I do not vouch for it, but such is the general belief—that the Arbitrator in that case and those who advised him were inclined to favour the selection of a channel intermediate between that claimed by the United States and that claimed by England, but that they held themselves precluded from doing so by the terms in which the reference had been framed. That reference, it is said, left them only the option between the two alternatives already before them, and did not leave them free to strike out a third by themselves. If that report can be contradicted, let it be done; but if the statement has any foundation, we have lost, by an unfortunate oversight, a naval station of considerable value. There is another part of the Speech which I cannot pass over in silence. It in some degree challenges an expression of opinion; and if that challenge is refused or evaded, we may seem to give an approval to statements in which we certainly do not concur. I refer to the language—half apologetic indeed, but half congratulatory—employed in the Queen's Speech in reference to the Treaty of Washington. I am not going to take your Lordships over ground which has been so often traversed; but, as this may be the last occasion on which the subject may come before us, I wish to place on record my emphatic denial that in that settlement there is any reasonable cause for congratulation. I know it is popularly said in defence of that Treaty that it is very disagreeable to be put in the wrong and to have to pay £3,250,000; but that, after all, such payment is a very much more tolerable alternative than war between the two nations would be. That is an assertion which I, for one, do not dispute; but for anyone who knows what the state of American feeling has been during the last five or six years to talk about those Claims being ever likely to lead to war is a proposition so absurd that it can hardly be listened to with patience. Is it seriously contended that, after Arbitration had been offered by us and refused—when the only remaining difference was as to the conditions on which Arbitration should be based—that 10 years after the original grievance, and when half the American people had forgotten all about it, they, the most commercial and most industrious of nations, who have cut down their army and navy to nothing, and are paying off their debt at the rate of £10,000,000 or £12,000,000 a-year, should suddenly break out into hostility on this old half-forgotten question, with the country with which they are doing by far the greatest part of their enormous business? But then it is said, "Admitting there was no risk of war between the two countries, it is a great thing to have secured the friendship and good-will of the American Government." From that proposition I, for one, am not prepare0d to dissent. But have you done it? I wait to hear the facts upon which this assertion is based. The only proof offered is the quotation of a few civil and courteous words in a public document. I suppose the Americans are like other people, only rather sharper where a bargain is concerned, and to believe that they will respect you the more because in this transaction they have outwitted you is to form a very curious judgment of the motives by which men are actuated. The more probable result is that, having found a somewhat peremptory and dictatorial tone of diplomatic communication to answer in this case, they will try it again when any cause of difference shall arise—not in the least from ill-feeling, but simply as a matter of calculation, because it has succeeded before. It is neither my duty nor my wish to put the matter in a light unfavourable to one's own country and its honour; but still we must recollect that this transaction admits of being looked at from different points of view. There is certainly a strange contrast between our resistance in 1864 and our almost absolute surrender in 1871. You may explain it as you will, but it admits of an explanation which is not agreeable. In the United States nine people out of every ten will say, "The English bullied us when we were weak and divided; they are civil and deferential to us now that we are united and strong." That will be, that is their feeling; and it will hardly tend either to increased cordiality or increased respect. As to the result of the Arbitration, so far as money is concerned, I have not, my Lords, a word to say. What we did we did with our eyes open. We framed Rules which were calculated to insure our defeat. We invented, at infinite pains, a nonexistent international law, for the purpose of proving that we had broken it. And if I may judge by the language of our public men and of a portion of our Press, I think the Arbitrators at Geneva may reasonably have supposed that, so far from being anxious to win, we should have felt mortified and disappointed if by any chance the decision had gone in our favour. Unluckily, the effect of this transaction does not end with the payment of £3,250,000. If it did our loss would be comparatively small. Three millions are a large sum, no doubt, but not more than one-fortieth of the yearly savings of the nation; and we can pay it at the cost of spoiling a single Budget. The money is the least part of the business. What I fear is the effect which these new Rules, and the construction put upon them, may have on future negotiations. When these Rules first commenced, we had a statement from the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Ripon), that they did not go beyond—and were not intended to go beyond—what was the guiding principle of Lord Palmerston's Administration; and so in the argument of Sir Roundell Palmer it is laid down that the Rules meant nothing more than what Lord Palmerston's Government had always undertaken to do. It was therefore in that sense, and with that meaning only, that the Treaty was concluded on our part. Now, in three material points, the award of the Geneva Arbitrators has put on these Rules a construction entirely different from that which they were meant by us to bear. First, as to what constitutes "due diligence." In the British Case we defined the meaning which we put on these words, and that definition was expanded and enforced in the final argument of the noble and learned Lord now on the Woolsack. I do not quote the passage—it is long, and I could not abridge it without risk of inaccuracy; but the view of our obligations which it embodies I accept as fair and reasonable. But when I turn to the Award I find a totally different principle adopted. The Arbitrators accept the American view of the case, and lay it down, in effect, that no diligence can be considered as "due diligence"—no matter what care may have been used—which has not been proved by the result adequate to stop the evil. In this conflict of authority we are left exactly where we were. The Rules mean anything or nothing. Now all this confusion arises in consequence of the vague, indefinite, and ambiguous words used by our negotiators; and I may remind your Lordships that this very ambiguity was distinctly pointed out in this House before the ratification of the Treaty, and when, therefore, there was time to set it right. The second point on which the principles of the Award are such as we cannot sanction, relates to ships which, having been originally fitted out or built in a manner which violated our municipal law, afterwards became commissioned ships of war of the belligerents, and then came within our own jurisdiction. We contended that such ships could not be seized, and that the first Rule did not apply to the departure of a ship after she had become a national vessel. That view was very ably supported in the arguments before the Arbitrators, but the Award declares that the failure to seize even a commissioned ship is a breach of the Rule. Now, how will that operate in future? We passed the Foreign Enlistment Act three years ago, no doubt, and that measure largely increases the power of the Executive in such matters; but it exempts from its operation all commissioned ships, and therefore, as the Award stands, if a similar case were to recur, the British Government would be liable to pay damages for not having done that which it possesses no legal power to do. The third point to which I wish to call your Lordships' attention refers to coaling. Now, coaling by a belligerent in a neutral port has always been held lawful hitherto; indeed, the United States did it to a large extent in our ports, during the late war. There is nothing in our own municipal law to prevent it being done, and it is not in the power of the Executive, so far as I know, to prevent it; but the Award declares that coaling under any circumstances will be a violation of the Rules. That is a new and startling doctrine, and, moreover, an exceedingly inconvenient one; not merely on the ground of interference with trade, which is a small matter, but because the more you multiply these restrictions the greater is the difficulty of observing them, and the greater, consequently, the risk of finding that you are breaking your own law. But that is not all. In the case of one vessel—the Oreto—the decision of the Tribunal lays down the principle that if our Government, or any Government, proceeds against a vessel in its own Courts for a breach of its municipal laws committed in its own waters, and the owners of the ship are acquitted, that is no defence to a claim under these Rules. In other words, the Executive is made responsible for the decision of tribunals which it does not influence, and over which it ought neither to have, nor has, the slightest control. A serious constitutional question is involved in this matter. Which are we to do? Alter our law to make it meet the Award, or throw the Award overboard as a guide in future proceedings? In the latter case, what becomes of all the "tall talk" we have heard about its being well worth while to pay £3,000,000 and more in order to have our international obligations defined for the future? We have had to pay when the Rules went against us, and we shall not be able to appeal to them when they might operate in our favour. In the other alternative, if we alter the law, observe that the alteration will be forced upon Parliament and the country, without either being consulted, by the action of half-a-dozen gentlemen sitting on a Commission at Washington, who, as we were told two years ago by the Foreign Secretary, had no other duty than that of arranging a method, by Arbitration or otherwise, of settling the American Claims. We know that our political system gives to the Executive a very large treaty-making power; but this is the first instance, as far as I know, on which that power has been used to pledge Parliament, without its sanction or knowledge, to a particular course of domestic legislation. I hope I shall not be misunderstood. I do not wish to deal with what is past; let bygones be bygones, by all means. By all means let us pay the money and have done with it; but my fear is that we are laying up a fresh stock of troubles for ourselves hereafter. We have been anxious to do away with occasions of offence, and in trying to do that I fear we have indefinitely multiplied them. We all believe as well as hope that in future wars we are more likely to be neutrals than belligerents; and if the principles which have been now laid down are to be received and acted upon as those which are henceforward to govern our international relations, I can only say that neutrals in time of war will have a very hard time of it. I have troubled your Lordships at greater length than I wished or intended, and my only excuse is that the matters to which I have called your attention are of real importance. I am glad to see that, in the general tone of the Speech, there is nothing which foreshadows legislation of a violent or a revolutionary character, and though I cannot build too confidently on that, yet, if the result corresponds with the promise, I for one shall cordially rejoice; and I think my noble Friends will rejoice equally, both on public and private grounds, if we find ourselves able, during the present Session, without violating our own principles or doing injustice to our own opinions, to render to Her Majesty's Government an honest, an independent, and a conscientious support.


My Lords, it is my agreeable duty, in the first instance, to acknowledge two compliments paid by the noble Earl, and for which I tender him my thanks. The first had reference to the gratifying manner in which the accession to this House of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack (Lord Selborne) has been received. The other was the very well expressed and very well deserved compliment—which I should have liked to have paid myself, but which came with infinitely greater force and authority from him—to the noble Earl and the noble Baron sitting behind me, for the speeches they have made to-day. I will not add one word to that compliment, which I believe to be most fully deserved. I would rather add a word of warning, if I may use the phrase, to them. I would say that ability has its duties as well as its rights, and after the successful and distinguished part they have taken in this debate, we have some right to expect that they will not rest upon the efforts they have made to-day. In reference to that part of the Royal Speech which relates to internal affairs, I have very little to complain of in the remarks offered by the noble Earl opposite. His speech was not, indeed, very encouraging but assumed rather the character of a wet blanket, both as to future legislation, and to the condition of this country and that of the sister kingdom. Notwithstanding the few closing sentences of the noble Earl's speech as to the legislative proposals for the Session, I am afraid they are not altogether acceptable. I can assure him we are perfectly aware of the difficulties with which we are beset in regard to the great and important question of Irish University Education; we shall present our proposals in that shape in which we think they will best deserve the concurrence of Parliament, and I trust we shall pass them with the concurrence of the noble Earl, notwithstanding that he could not quite rely upon the terms of the Royal Speech excluding anything which was violent or revolutionary from the measures to be introduced by the Government. I willingly take note of an assurance given by the noble Earl in reference to the subject of Law Reform. I heard with satisfaction the assurance which the noble Earl gave of a disposition to concede that this question ought not to be a party question at all. The noble Earl in his speech alluded to several topics of very great importance with reference to foreign affairs. With regard to the mission of Sir Bartle Frere, I am glad to see that both sides of the House join in the expression of approbation at the selection of that gentleman for the mission; and as to the warning which the noble Earl gave to a Government that is generally supposed to be too economical not to spend too much money on this particular point, I perfectly agree that we are not bound to spend money lavishly, but our object will be to spend just sufficient to attain the object on which we have embarked;—having advanced so far, we are bound to go to the point at which we shall attain it. Respecting the results of the Washington Treaty, the noble Earl expressed himself in very strong terms—in terms which I hardly think are perfectly consistent with all that he himself has said and done. I always gave him great credit for being the first to consent to Arbitration on the subject of the Alabama Claims;—I always approved his doing so, although some of my Colleagues did not share that feeling with me and thought it a mistake, though they thought that when the movement in that direction was once begun, it ought to be carried on with the view of bringing it to a successful issue. The noble Earl says there was no advantage in what we did, that we stood in a very good position, that we had offered Arbitration, and it had been agreed to; and he particularly urged that there was no advantage to us, because war was not imminent at the time. I entirely agree with every word he said to show that there was no imminence of war at the time. I must say that proves to me that that was the most satisfactory time to come to a settlement of the questions. It is perfectly clear, as the noble Earl said, that America did not wish to go to war any more than we did; she was, indeed, less prepared than we were; and there was nothing to show that there was any imminence of war. But the noble Earl forgets that our proposal to the American Government was to come to some settlement of the Fishery question between Canada and the United States, which was very pressing and urgent indeed—not absolutely as threatening war, but as likely to lead to complications which it would be difficult to settle in a satisfactory way. I do say there was no more fitting moment than when there was no question of anything being done under compulsion for us to take the initiative in a settlement of this sort. The noble Earl says it is impossible that the Americans, as the claimants, should have raised the question in a hostile spirit. I have some doubt of that; and I have an historical precedent to the contrary. Under the Milan Decrees, the American Government conceived that they were entitled to compensation for great losses; and the negotiations about those losses lasted from the time of the Milan Decrees until 1831. Then ensued a revolution and a change of Government in France, and, during the weakness incidental to those events, the claims were pressed and a treaty was concluded for the payment of £1,000,000 sterling. The Chambers refused to ratify the Treaty; the matter went on for three or four years; and the French withdrew their Minister from Washington, while the American Government threatened reprisals. Finally, on the mediation of England, the sum of £1,000,000 was paid over to the American Government. Since then the French and the Americans have been particularly good friends—and none will deny the even reckless military courage of the French; no one will deny that they have an exaggerated sensitiveness on the point of military honour. Surely, it was much more satisfactory to come to an arrangement such as we have effected at a time when there was no prospect of conflict than to have left it open to the Americans to press their claims, possibly in a hostile manner, at the moment most disadvantageous to us? The noble Earl objects to the Rules that have been made, and says that they have no authority. But we have a very high authority for saying it is advantageous to us to have Rules. The noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Cairns) had said— I do not know that I do very much, if at all, object to these Rules in substance as guides for our conduct in the future; indeed, so important do I regard it that we should have something clear and precise for our guidance in the future, that I should be willing to sacrifice my opinion of what in the abstract would be desirable Rules for the sake of having some Rules about which there can be no mistake.


But I pointed out that these Rules were not precise.


I think we do not require the authority of the noble and learned Lord to show that these Rules were advantageous. What might have happened under the perfectly open Arbitration offered by the noble Earl? The Arbitrators might have selected any Rules and any principles they thought fit, and so made an international law for the purpose; whereas, we thought fit to bind them to a set of Rules agreed to by the two countries. The noble Earl says they were new. I deny that they are; I state that the two last Rules are coincident with what the American Government and with what the English Government believed to be rules of international law. In regard to the first Rule, the Americans considered it according to international law. We had never acknowledged it as according to the principles of international law at the time of the escape of the Alabama, and the only concession we make in conceding it is, that we consent to be bound by an assurance, which is willingly given by the American Government, as to the construction which we had always put on our own municipal Act and our conduct under that Act. The noble Earl said he did not attach much importance to the money question—and it was impossible for him to have said the contrary. In the House of Commons, in March, 1868, he said that he never concealed his opinion that, under the reference proposed by us, the Americans were very likely to establish their Claims, or some of them at least, and to get the money; but he looked upon the money part of the question as of little moment. The noble Earl added, "But you can never tell beforehand how these matters will turn out." I think, then, we have some reason to complain of his criticisms to-night, after the result of the Arbitra- tion has become known. The noble Earl spoke as if the amount of British Claims would be no unimportant set-off to the Claims preferred against us. I may in reference to this remark inform your Lordships that the consideration of the British Claims under the Treaty of Washington is now going on satisfactorily, and that several important Awards have been made. But for the noble Earl now to hold that we have eaten humble-pie and injured our position with America is quite inconsistent with what the noble Earl himself allowed to go to Arbitration. The noble Earl himself announced that he expected, as the result of the Arbitration, that we should have to pay money; and that, I repeat, is perfectly inconsistent with the attack he has now made upon us. There is one matter which is, perhaps, hardly relevant to this part of the noble Earl's speech, but which, being of a personal nature, I will now mention in the hope that I may never again have to refer to it. With regard to the part taken by Lord Russell, I happen to know that had he not been prevented coming to the House to-night it was his intention to complain that Mr. Gladstone, the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Ripon), and myself had not sufficiently defended his personal honour in respect of the escape and action of some of the vessels concerned. Certain aspersions had been levelled against him, and he was very anxious that they should be fully met and answered in the presence of the Arbitrators. I wish to state what I believe will be a complete answer to that charge. I knew indeed that Mr. Fish, in his despatch to Lord Clarendon, did allude to Lord Russell's conduct personally; and I also felt that Mr. Gladstone and myself were equally responsible with him for the action of the Government at that time. But the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Ripon) tells me that Mr. Fish never made any such allusion during the negotiations at Washington. The subject was introduced in the Case of the American Government, and also repeated in the Argument upon it. We carefully considered how we should deal with the subject; and we came without the slightest doubt to this conclusion. In the Counter Case we declined to argue the point on four grounds, the principal of which were—first, on the ground of self-respect, and next because of the irrelevancy of the matter introduced. When, however, I found that Lord Russell had a strong wish that his honour in this matter should be defended before the Tribunal at Geneva, I lost no time in writing to that person who was more competent than myself, and of all others certainly the best acquainted with the whole facts of the case, having been connected with Lord John Russell's Government as one of its Law Officers—I mean the noble and learned Lord now on the Woolsack—expressing a hope that he would immediately see that the wishes of Lord Russell were attended to. After consideration, my noble and learned Friend was of opinion that he should not have an opportunity at that stage of the proceedings to bring the subject under the notice of the Tribunal; but he mentioned the subject to the Lord Chief Justice, over whom we had no control whatever, his regret at not having the opportunity of meeting Lord Russell's wishes, and submitted to him whether he would consider it consistent with his duty to allude to the subject. The Lord Chief Justice introduced the subject with the greatest eloquence and energy, repelling the accusation brought forward against Lord Russell. I may state also that with regard to the Award which has been made against us in respect of the three ships, there is absolutely nothing which in the slightest degree affects the honour of the Government, and therefore of those who administered the Government, because the grounds on which the decisions were based had reference to the action or inaction of the authorities in the colonies or of sufficient or insufficient diligence in the subordinate authorities at home. I am quite sure your Lordships will pardon this digression on my part; I could not forbear saying so much in justice to my oldest friend and my own former political chief. I must add a few words about the character of the Award. The noble Earl seems to assume that any decision of the Arbitrators was absolutely binding upon us, and would become part of our international law. That is not my opinion. My notion is that if the Arbitrators had given a very unsound and unreasonable judgment it might have been of some weight as a precedent, but it could not have been taken as constituting an obligation be- tween the two countries for ever afterwards. But we are now in a different position. We now have the advantage of an international engagement in the three Rules which it would be competent to carry out, and the effect must be to save us and the United States from future damage in case either of us are belligerents. I do feel if you went to Arbitration at all it was right to have these Rules to bind you. What has been the criticism of foreigners with regard to the character of these Rules? The criticism passed by them has been not too favourable to America, as compared with Great Britain, but that they are one-sided, inasmuch as they are too favourable to two great maritime nations. Another criticism has been that it is too favourable to a country which, like England, has naval stations all over the world. The noble Earl has alluded to the San Juan Boundary question. He admitted that he did not object to the point being decided by Arbitration. Indeed, Lord Russell, Lord Derby, and Lord Clarendon had all proposed that it should be so referred. It is quite obvious that in a question such as this, and seeing that the Island was partly occupied by English and partly by American troops, the indiscreet act of a single person might at any moment have led to serious consequences. There can be no doubt as to the wisdom of referring this question to Arbitration; but the noble Earl says he thinks that the German Arbitrators would have selected an intermediate channel, if we had taken care that the opportunity of doing so was allowed them. I really do not know why the noble Earl should hold that opinion unless it be because of the natural tendency of Arbitrators to select the middle course if three are open to them. But by the terms of the reference, they were not able to decide in favour of an intermediate channel. Is that to be made a matter of complaint against us? Until the Award was published not a word was breathed by anyone in condemnation of the terms of the reference, except by Lord Carnarvon, who did, at the time, call attention to the subject; but the only complaint made by the noble Earl was that the noble Marquess on my left (the Marquess of Ripon) had made two other proposals before he agreed to this one. Well, but if English negotiators are never to propose terms on the part of this country, except on the understanding that they are ultimata, it seems to place negotiators at a great disadvantage. Nobody knew of the Middle Channel at the time of the Treaty, and therefore it is impossible to pretend that that was the line intended by the Treaty. The Middle Channel was a compromise suggested by Lord Russell's Government, and rejected by the United States, who said—"We want a settlement, not a compromise." Moreover, the channel was hardly a compromise, for all that either we or the Americans cared about was the possession of the Island of San Juan, and the Middle Channel gave the Island of San Juan to us as much as the Rosario Channel did. Much had been said of the feelings of the Canadians, on the subject; but the Prime Minister of Canada, in his speech on the Alabama Treaty, dismissed the article of the San Juan Arbitration with the remark that it was a matter to which no one could object, nor was any objection heard of either from Canada or England, until the Award was made; nor was objection made to its terms by any person at the time. With regard to another subject, on which the noble Earl touched with great moderation—as he always treats such subjects—I allude to what has passed with Russia with respect to the Central Asian question—I have very little more than a simple statement to make. I am afraid that the few words I have to say will fail of anything like the sensational character which has been imparted to this subject both in this country and abroad, and which I must say is partly due to the telegraphic despatches from St. Petersburg itself. The facts are these. In 1869 there were several discussions between Lord Clarendon and the Russian Government as to the propriety of establishing a northern boundary line, beyond which Russia would not go; but though it was admitted to be desirable to come to an agreement on this point, yet none was effected. The subject was gone fully into, and the conclusion was arrived at that it was desirable that a frontier line should be decided upon; but no definite conclusion was arrived at. Since then there has been some discussion as to the desirability of establishing a zone of neutral States in that territory; but after duo reflection we were unable to approve of that idea. The Russian Government undertook that certain reports should be prepared, from local sources, on the points in controversy between us; and in October last I sent a despatch to that Government, courteous in its tone, and pointing out that we were still without these reports; and I took the occasion to recapitulate our reasons for believing that the frontier line we had suggested was the most suitable. In reply, there came a long despatch from Prince Gortchakoff, recapitulating on his part, but very fairly, his views on the subject, and stating why, though the Russian Government agreed with us in respect to the greater part of the territory in question, yet that there were two Provinces, Badakshan and Wakhan, which, for political reasons, he did not wish to have included in it. Almost immediately afterwards we heard, both from Lord Augustus Loftus and from Baron Brunnow, that Count Schouvaloff was coming over here charged with a special mission from the Emperor, and on the 8th of January in this year I wrote a despatch to Lord Augustus Loftus, in which I stated— Having received information from your Excellency and from Count Brunnow that Count Schouvaloff, a statesman enjoying the full confidence of the Emperor of Russia, had left St. Petersburg for London at the desire of His Imperial Majesty, I had the pleasure of receiving his Excellency on the 8th inst. He confirmed the fact that it was by the Emperor's desire that he had sought a personal interview with me. It had caused great surprise to His Imperial Majesty to learn from various sources that a certain amount of excitement and susceptibility had been caused in the public mind of this country on account of questions connected with Central Asia. The Emperor knew of no questions in Central Asia which could affect the good understanding between the two countries. It was true that no agreement has been cone to as to some of the details of the arrangement concluded by Lord Clarendon and Prince Gortchakoff on the basis of Mr. Forsyth's recommendations as to the boundaries of Afghanistan; but the question ought not to be a cause to ruffle the good relations between the two countries. His Imperial Majesty had agreed to almost everything that we had asked. There remained only the point regarding the Provinces of Badakshan and Wakhan. There might be arguments used respectively by the Departments of each Government; but the Emperor was of opinion that such a question should not be a cause of difference between the two countries, and His Imperial Majesty was determined that it should not be so. He was the more inclined to carry out this determination in consequence of His Majesty's belief in the conciliatory policy of Her Majesty's Government. Count Schouvaloff added, on his own part, that he had every reason to believe, if it were desired by Her Majesty's Government, the agreement might be come to at a very early period. With regard to the expedition to Khiva, it was true that it was decided upon for next Spring. To give an idea of its character it was sufficient to say that it would consist of four and a-half battalions. Its object was to punish acts of brigandage, to recover 50 Russian prisoners, and to teach the Khan that such conduct on his part could not be continued with the impunity in which the moderation of Russia had led him to believe. Not only was it far from the intention of the Emperor to take possession of Khiva, but positive orders had been prepared to prevent it, and directions given that the conditions imposed should be such as could not in any way lead to a prolonged occupancy of Khiva. Count Schouvaloff repeated the surprise which the Emperor, entertaining such sentiments, felt at the uneasiness which it was said existed in England on the subject, and he gave me most decided assurance that I might give positive assurances to Parliament on this matter. With respect to Khiva, your Lordships are aware that Lord Northbrook has adopted the policy of Lord Mayo and of his predecessor, and has declined to assist that country in her attempt to resist the reasonable demands of Russia, and we have the assurance of Russia that reasonable redress is all that she requires. It is quite true that an assurance of that kind can only be judged by the result; but I will say that, considering the form of the Russian Government, and the character of the present Emperor of that country, I myself attach as much value to an assurance of that kind as I should to a more formal communication. I have only now to thank your Lordships for the patience which you have extended to me, and to say that I have afforded to the House the best explanation I could give within the limit of time at my disposal of the various points that have been raised.


My Lords, no doubt the noble Earl who has just sat down (Earl Granville) has afforded us various items of information: but there is one point in his speech as to which the information is wholly deficient—and that is with regard to the light in which Her Majesty's Government regard the questions of international law which arise out of the decision of the Arbitrators at Geneva. The noble Earl escaped from the subject by pleading his entire ignorance of legal questions. I wish his diffidence had come to him at an earlier period, when he might have been induced to submit the terms of the Treaty of Washington to the Law Officers of the Crown at a time when those ambiguities which have occasioned so much confusion could have been avoided. The point with regard to the Geneva Arbitration is this—whereas you consented to one set of Rules, and were willing to be judged in the sense that you understood them; the Arbitrators, after the sacrifices you had made, set up under cover of these Rules a totally different set of principles, and we have no intimation whether Her Majesty's Government intend to accept these principles, or how they mean to proceed with regard to them. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Ripon) on a former occasion represented to us in the strongest way that these Rules covered nothing but what Lord Palmerston's Government had already accepted; and I remember that the noble Duke opposite, in answering some warnings I ventured to give, pointed out that we had sacrificed absolutely nothing, because we had only promised under these Rules to do what we had always done, and had thereby secured the assent of the American Government to the Arbitration. But it appears to me before this matter is closed, before the money is paid, that some statement of a formal character ought to be made by Her Majesty's Government, which shall prevent the doctrines set up by the Arbitrators from being used against us on a future occasion. The Arbitrators set up as a definition of "due diligence" a test to which no free people can possibly submit. They have laid it down that in the exercise of this "due diligence" they would have no regard to the municipal law by which a country may be bound at the time, and that she could not defend herself against charges made against her by pleading the inefficiency of her legal powers. What I want to know is, whether these decisions are to be looked upon as judge-made law, and whether for the future they will be held to have entered into and become a part of our international law? I trust we may obtain from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack some explanation of the view that he takes of the effect of the language which the Arbitrators used in giving their decision. If they had been content to award a sum of money and go no further, the matter would be closed at once; but in the Award they have laid it down that we are bound to adopt a system of law which may seem tolerable to foreign nations, but which would be totally intolerable to our own. They have required that we should have an organized system of espionage—that we should overrule the decisions of our own Courts—and that we should exercise a surveillance over our colonial Courts, which we could only do by reducing our Colonies to a state of submission which they would at once resist. What I missed from the noble Earl's speech was, some reference by Her Majesty's Government to those strange doctrines which the Arbitrators have laid down, and some explanation of the position which Her Majesty's Government have taken up. Do you regard these doctrines as part of international law? do you intend to accept the Rules in the sense in which you originally accepted them? or do you intend to accept them yourselves, and to recommend their acceptance to other nations in the sense which the Arbitrators have laid down? If you admit the sense the Arbitrators put upon them, you are bound, it seems to me, to make alterations in your municipal law so as to bring it into harmony with the new principles on the subject. If you contend that they are not binding in the future, it seems to me that you must insist on some alteration of them. I trust that before the debate closes we may have some explanation on these points from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack.


who was very imperfectly heard, said, he did not think his noble Friend (Earl Granville) was open to the observations of the noble Marquess. The position of Her Majesty's Government was this—that we are bound by the three Rules in the terms in which they are expressed in the Treaty, and are not bound by Statements which may have been made by the Arbitrators—which have no effect in determining the construction of the Rules and are the obiter dicta of Judges. He might further say that many of the points in the Award of the Arbitrators to which objection was taken, are not directed so much to matters arising out of the Rules as upon general principles of international law.


My Lords, in reference to the Rules adopted at the Geneva Arbitration, they have been dis- cussed in so exhaustive a manner by my noble Friend who followed the Seconder of the Address (the Earl of Derby), that I have not a word to add to what he said. If this had been an occasion when there was nothing to be done but to pay the money, it would be very unworthy of the dignity of Parliament to occupy itself with any discussion on the question. When you go to arbitration in ordinary cases the Arbitrator is the Judge. If he decides against you you cannot help it—you may be very dissatisfied with the award, but your only course is to pay the money. But, unfortunately, that is not the condition of affairs in the present instance. In this case the Award is not the end but the beginning. The Award is the beginning of a new state of things, and that new state of things we must face. The questions with respect to this new state of things have not only not been answered, but have not even been touched upon by Her Majesty's Government—as I listened to the speeches of the noble Earl (Earl Granville) and the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Ripon), I could only account for them on the supposition that they have not apprehended what our points are. The first point which we put is this—You are bound by the Treaty of Washington to make known the Rules upon which you have agreed with the United States to the other maritime Powers, and to solicit their assent and adhesion to them. The question I have to ask is this—Have you made known these Rules? if so, have you asked the other maritime Powers to assent to them, and in what sense? What meaning do you put upon these Rules? Is it the meaning you put on them at first yourselves, or the meaning which the Arbitrators put upon them? The noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Ripon) is wrong in supposing that the points we raise relate to the views stated by the Arbitrators on abstract questions of international law. What the Arbitrators have done is this—they have expressed upon the face of their Award the meaning which they attach to various portions of the Rules contained in the Treaty of Washington. My noble Friend (the Marquess of Salisbury) has pointed out three matters with respect to which the Arbitrators have put a construction on the Rules totally at variance with the construction which we put upon them. When I say "we," I mean Her Majesty's Government. In this case are you going to recommend to foreign Powers the Rules as explained by the Arbitrators, or as understood by yourselves? If you go to foreign Powers I can well imagine the first question they will ask is, what construction do you put upon the Rules? And if you say you adopt the view taken by the Arbitrators, and recommend the Rules in that sense, foreign Powers will probably remind you of the story of the fox that lost his tail, and say that his brother foxes remarked how singular it was that he had never proposed that other foxes should go without their tails until he had lost his own. I quite agree that this Arbitration should produce a very good feeling hereafter between this country and the United States, and, perhaps, the hopes the Government have of this being so are justified by information in their possession; but, considering the way in which the Treaty had been used by the Americans to set up what are called the Indirect Claims, considering the statement made in the American Case and Arguments, I can imagine there are people in this country whose feelings towards the United States have not been very much improved by the proceedings under this Arbitration. The United States, however, have cause for entertaining extremely good feeling towards us. They have certainly been the successful party, and I have been much surprised to read in the newspapers expressions indicating a very different state of feeling on their part. I am quite willing to hope for the best, and trust that good feeling will ultimately be created by this Award. There is one thing, indeed, I do rejoice at. I am very glad that before the proceedings at Geneva came to an end an opportunity was taken by the Lord Chief Justice of England, in a document which for ability, clearness, and exhaustiveness is almost unrivalled, to repel in the strongest way the statements made on the part of the United States with regard to the motives both of the Government and of the people of this country. I quite agree with the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) that these statements should not have been repelled or argued upon in the Case of the Government. The person whom I should like to have seen repel them was the Arbitrator ap- pointed by the American Government; but he did not see fit to do so, and it was left for the Lord Chief Justice, who has done it in the most satisfactory way. I do not join with the Cabinet Minister who expressed his regret some months ago that the Lord Chief Justice had published his reasons for declining to sign the Award; I have been still more surprised to hear that the Lord Chief Justice has had conveyed to him from the Government, although indirectly, a similar expression of regret.


Not from the Government. Whatever has been said was merely the expression of a personal opinion.


Then I will say no more about it, beyond taking this opportunity of expressing my entire dissent from the opinion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and I venture to think that even when we may hope the financial eccentricities of the Chancellor of the Exchequer shall have been forgotten, the document prepared by the Lord Chief Justice upon the Geneva Award will be remembered as one of the most lucid ever penned upon this branch of international law. Now, with reference to the San Juan question, I must say the points raised by my noble Friend near me (the Earl of Derby) have been in no way met by the Government. The Treaty of 1846 provides that the boundary line should be continued up the middle of the channel which separates the American Continent from Vancouver's Island. That clearly points to the middle line running down the arm of the sea between the island and the continent, and the reading of the Treaty being disputed, it should have been left to the Arbitrators to decide. The point was not overlooked, because the Commissioners proposed it should be open to the Arbitrators to decide on the meaning of the words. Upon this the Americans said they desired a decision, not a compromise. There would have been no compromise in such a reference; but the expression of the American views in such an epigrammatic fashion as this seems to have thrown our Commissioners completely on their backs, and they had not another word to say. Thus we were deprived of even the chance of a decision in our favour.


My Lords, I confess it is with some reluc- tance that I join in a discussion upon the effect of the late Arbitrations between this country and the United States. If it is to be done at all, it would be more convenient, I think, that it should be done upon an occasion when your Lordships' time could be entirely devoted to the subject; it would certainly have been better if it could have been done when the transactions were a little less recent, when all parties would have had time for cool reflection as to the effect of what has occurred, and the measures, if any, which it may be expedient to take. I personally feel additional embarrassment, because the duty I had lately to discharge makes me—as I am sure your Lordships will readily understand—not only most unwilling to say one word which can savour of disrespectful criticism of the Tribunal before which it was my duty to argue in behalf of my country, but also because it is most difficult to anticipate with certainty the effect of anything one may say upon those friendly relations between this country and the United States, to secure which was, after all, the object of the Treaty, and for the sake of which we may cheerfully have sacrificed some things which under other circumstances we might have been justified in declining to sacrifice. I will take the last point alluded to by the noble and learned Lord (Lord Cairns) as an illustration of what I have said. The simple truth of the matter relating to the water boundary between the United States and Vancouver's Island is this:—The two nations have for a considerable period been in controversy, not upon any abstract question, but upon the particular question as to whether the one or the other of two particular channels was that intended by the Treaty. We contended for one particular channel, they for the other, and neither of us contended at any time for the abstract geographical medium line of the waters: and they said, "We are not willing to send to arbitration a question about which we have not been contending, and which neither of us had in our minds." I entirely agree with the noble and learned Lord that if the political considerations which actuated both Governments in coming to this arrangement had been out of the question, it might have been a reasonable thing to leave it in the power of the Arbitrator to fix the line in any channel which he might think abstractedly right. But the question was really dangerous—more so even than the question of the Alabama Claims—inasmuch as it involved matters of controversy which at any time might become sources of disturbance to the peace existing between the two countries. We desired to give and we proposed to give full powers to the Arbitrators, but the United States were not willing to do so; and our Government, feeling that it had never stood out for the medium line of boundary, was contented to go to arbitration in order to ascertain which of the two channels contended for on each side afforded the proper line of demarcation, and we thought it would not be worth while to lose the arrangement altogether by introducing a now element. With regard to the Geneva Arbitration, I should like to advert to a topic which has been publicly mentioned by the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees upon more than one occasion. The noble Lord thought the Arbitration could be got rid of altogether—he said there was a preliminary objection to the claims of the United States being entertained, because the United States now included the belligerents on both sides, and that it was improper that Great Britain should be held liable to a nation once united, then separated, and then united again, for injuries which one part of that nation had inflicted on the other. The noble Lord thinks this point was not done justice to by the Government. But, now that the whole thing is over, I hope I maybe pardoned for saying that I do not think the argument was of the value which the noble Lord attributes to it. It might have been a very good reason for not going into arbitration; but by going into arbitration we waived that objection; or, at all events, the actual terms of the arbitration and of the reference distinctly waived such an objection. By the terms of the reference we made it the duty of the Arbitrators to say, first, whether we had failed in our duty in regard to any particular vessel, and if we had so failed in our duty, then the Arbitrators were either to fix a gross sum, or to send it to assessors to assess the sums to be paid by us. There was, therefore, no ground for the argument that, because the United States consisted of the North and South, the United States had no claims upon us at all. It was not com- petent for the British counsel to offer, voluntarily, any further argument, or, indeed, any argument at all. I asked permission to offer arguments on certain subjects; but the Arbitrators said it was for them to settle what arguments they would hear, and they refused me permission to argue upon the points suggested, and the only arguments I was permitted to offer related to points defined by themselves. I should like to say one word also upon a topic to which my noble Friend the Secretary of State also adverted, and which seems to me to have been misunderstood by the noble and learned Lord who has just sat down. It was Lord Russell's desire that certain aspersions should be met which had been cast upon him—I must call them unworthy aspersions, which I, as an individual, deeply regretted, and which must be regretted by many on the other side of the Atlantic who are acquainted with my noble, my venerable and illustrious Friend. Lord Russell expressed that wish to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and that was also my own desire. It was not in my power, however, to offer any arguments which the Arbitrators did not ask for. They did not ask for any Arguments on that subject, and as it might justly be inferred, for this reason—because those aspersions had not made the least impression upon any one of the Arbitrators. I should have received with satisfaction some larger and fuller expression of dissent from the American side with regard to the language used towards Earl Russell; but Mr. Adams, the United States Arbitrator, so far from concurring in those aspersions, stated that his own impression, derived from repeated communication with Earl Russell when Mr. Adams was United States Minister in this Court, was that the noble Earl was by no means unfriendly towards the United States, but rather the reverse. Therefore everything that fell from the Arbitrators, and the absence of any wish to hear arguments on this subject, showed that these aspersions against a man of the highest character and of more than European fame were entirely pointless and powerless. I could not venture to approach the British Arbitrator with any view of my own in a matter which he would have before him as a judge; but I did venture to state to him, that, if any desire were expressed by the Arbitrators that I should enter upon a vindication of Lord Russell, I was willing, and more than willing, to do so. I added, that, if the opportunity were not offered to me, I was sure that, if it appeared fitting for him to say something in vindication of Earl Russell, he would not forget that I had not had the opportunity of addressing the Arbitrators on the subject. Thus much I thought I might without impropriety say to the Lord Chief Justice; and he stated with authority that which I could not have said so well, and which if said as well, would not have carried the same weight. I am bound to say that I did not offer to the Tribunal at Geneva any arguments on subjects of international law, other than those which I honestly believed to be sound and correct. Nor do I suppose that the Government have changed their views on account of any opinion which on the face of the Award, or off the Award, may have been expressed by any of the Arbitrators. We do not submit abstract questions of law or abstract questions of construction to those whom we make our judges in such an arbitration. The whole matter goes to them for their decision, whether we are in fault or not, and if we are, what in their judgment is the extent of the liability upon which they are called upon to pronounce. To that extent we are bound, and we shall meet our engagement; but I do not hold that we are bound by any propositions which do not commend themselves to our reason and judgment with regard to the grounds of their opinion. I wish to speak, and I am determined to speak, with respect of the late Arbitration and of the Arbitrators. The Arbitrators, it must be remembered, had to discharge duties of a very novel kind. The noble Earl himself (the Earl of Derby) when he was Secretary of State and negotiating an open Arbitration Treaty with the United States on this very subject, never concealed his opinion that if we went into that Arbitration we should fail as to at least one of the ships, and that we should on account of that ship be liable to pay a considerable sum. The noble Earl said that the Arbitrators could not but be influenced by the anticipations of defeat which many persons in this country had expressed—according to the tenor of whose language it might appear, that we went into the Arbitration with almost the desire of defeat, and that we should have been almost disappointed if we had had no- thing to pay. If that impression did exist in the minds of the Arbitrators—and I am not sure it did not—by what means was that impression produced? Could anything be better calculated to produce that impression than the fact that one of the wisest and most cautious of our statesmen—at that very time Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (the Earl of Derby), and actually engaged in the negotiation of a Treaty—declared, in public, that he had never concealed his opinion that we should fail in the Arbitration and have to pay a considerable sum? Similar opinions were also expressed by many others, both in and out of Parliament; and I cannot but here say, that nothing perplexes me more than the public expression of opinions of this sort. On the one hand, they are not consistent with my own idea of what is prudent, or necessary to give us a fair chance of having mere justice done us in controversies of this kind:—on the other hand, I cannot but admire the manliness that leads our people, when they think themselves wrong, to declare it before the whole world. That seems to be quite a settled habit of our nation, and even the noble Earl who, as I just now remarked, is one of the most cautious of our statesmen, does not appear to be exempt from its influence. No doubt these things had an influence. And there was another thing which had a great influence. There has sprung up in our lifetime, and almost since these events, a rather numerous though, I think, not very profound school of Continental writers on international law who propound the vaguest and most novel doctrines. Some of these throw aside the notion that international law ought to be founded upon the consensus receptus inter gentes, and speculate on what it ought to be rather than on what it has been hitherto considered. These writers have occupied themselves ever since arbitration between us and the United States was talked about, and perhaps a little before, in sitting in judgment by anticipation on this question; and I cannot but think that in this Arbitration such expressions of the sentiments of many people in this country, and the opinions of such foreign publicists, may have had great weight. In regard to these particular points, which I admit are of great importance, I hope it will be seen on looking at the Papers that it is not merely on the interpretation of the Rules that these questionable doctrines are made to rest. For instance, there is nothing in the Rules about the commissioned ships of war of a belligerent Power—nothing on the subject of coaling. The views of the Arbitrators on these points arose quite as much from ideas derived apparently from general notions of what international law is or what it ought to be as from the Rules. It must be remembered that the Arbitrators were not to proceed on the Rules only, but also on such principles of international law as were not inconsistent with the Rules. There is nothing in the Rules which even remotely bears upon the right of a neutral to seize the commissioned ship of a foreign belligerent Power if the ship had been fitted out in a manner of winch the neutral Power had a right to complain. There is, indeed, a passage about an obligation to stop the departure of a vessel; but the Arbitrators held that there were no rules of international law on this subject which would prevent that obligation from applying under the circumstances I have just referred to. For my own part, I think that passage relates only to the original departure of the vessel; but independently of that, I should say that these Rules must be construed in connection with the principles of international law. What was wrong, by International Law, against one belligerent, could not be diligence, due to the other. The opinions expressed by the Arbitrators on matters not referred to then are not binding upon us if we think them wrong, and certainly they cannot be accepted and acted upon as if they were obligatory on all nations. As to the Rules being offered for the acceptance of other nations, that was, according to the terms of the Treaty, to be done by the joint action of the United States and ourselves. Now it is probable, I think, that as between ourselves and the United States we shall always be well satisfied if they act towards us in good faith on the Rules in the sense in which we ourselves have understood them; and I do not think it probable that we shall ever ask for or desire more. As regards other countries, doubts and ambiguities may possibly be suggested in consequence of what occurred at Geneva. It would be for those countries to state their views, and for us and the United States to consider in what manner any difficulties which may arise can be met. At all events, the worst that can happen is, that other countries may decline to accept the Rules. But they will still remain binding, according to their proper meaning, between the United States and ourselves. If we continue, as I think we shall, to interpret them as we did at the beginning, then we shall expect from the United States a faithful and punctual observance of them according to that interpretation. Under that we have sufficient powers conferred upon ourselves, and I do not think we shall be under the necessity of asking Parliament to arm us with any fresh powers.


My Lords, as direct reference has been made to an argument which I brought before the House, and which the Government adopted in the Case and afterwards in their Argument, I trust I may be permitted to make a few remarks. That argument was not allowed to be pressed before the Arbitrators; but I wish to say with regard to it that it was the only part of the Counter-Case which the Americans never attempted to answer. Indeed, I have never heard any answer to that argument, and I believe it to be unanswerable. I am pretty confident, therefore, that if it had been brought forward in the first instance before any negotiations for Arbitration had been entered into, it would have put an end to the whole question, and have settled the matter. No one can say it is just for the Southern States, after being reunited to the North, to join with the North in an application to us to pay for damages done by them to the North.


My Lords, after the able and exhaustive manner in which the subject of the Arbitration at Geneva has been dealt with by the noble Lords who have preceded me, I shall not allude to any of the points they have already adverted to. Before, however, I proceed with the few remarks I wish to make on the Speech from the Throne, I hope it will not be thought out of place if I say how very cordially I welcome the noble and learned Lord, and how rejoiced I am to perceive the Woolsack occupied by him on the present occasion. The noble and learned Lord will, doubtless, add lustre to our debates, and assist us in arriving at a right conclusion by the lucidity and clearness of his arguments. My only regret is that we unfortunately sit on opposite sides of the House. The noble and learned Lord, referring to the Arbitration at Geneva, has stated that in all these questions a spirit of compromise must prevail; but the truth is, that the spirit of compromise has prevailed; but it has been a spirit of compromise on one side only. I do not belong to that school of profound philosophy which the noble and learned Lord says has sprung up lately in this country; I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer may be regarded as a leading disciple of that school; and the right hon. Gentleman not long ago said he believed and hoped that there was an end of the Rules which guided the Arbitrators as soon as the Arbitration was concluded. I now proceed to the paragraph relating to the Treaty of Commerce with France. In the Royal Speech the new Treaty with the French Government is spoken of as "resting on a reciprocal and equal basis." I hope the Treaty may be satisfactory to this country; but, judging from such indications as have been afforded by the Chambers of Commerce, the Treaty is not likely to be so satisfactory to all classes as we were led to hope it might be from the Royal Speech at the close of last Session. My noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs went so fully into the Central Asian question that I do not propose to reopen it; but I venture to hope that the paragraph in the Royal Speech which deals with that question may be amended so as to express the hope that not only the object and the tenor, but also the result of the correspondence may be approved by the public opinion of both nations. Passing from these subjects, I come to a part of the Speech which has, I think, been too lightly touched upon by the noble Lords who have preceded me—I mean that part of it which refers to the domestic affairs of the country. But for the risk of appearing to be disrespectful to noble Lords opposite, I should demur to the English of the paragraph which says that the Estimates have been framed "with a view to the efficiency and moderation of our establishments." What is meant by "moderation?" It seems to me to be obscure unless it refers to frugality of expenditure. Does it imply any reduction of the Army? I regret that no mention is made in the Speech of the Army. The subject was considered so important at the close of last Session that a paragraph in the Queen's Speech was devoted to it:— The Act for the Localization of the Army, while it strengthens the defensive system of the country, Will lend an indispensable aid in effecting those important reforms which have been approved by Parliament. It would have been interesting now to have been told whether any progress had been made in the reorganization of the Army, and whether any steps had been taken for welding into one harmonious whole the forces of the country. I should like to know whether there is at this moment a single depôt centre established in any part of this country. I do not believe there is one. We were told that on the abolition of purchase the Army was to become the army of the nation. I doubt very much whether we have succeeded in making it that. It is stated that during the last 12 months the number of desertions had been greater than at any former period, and flee number of recaptures smaller—and this is attributed to the system of enlistment for general service, for short periods, without pensions, which has been adopted by the Government. Is dissatisfaction confined to the rank and file of the Army? It was said on the passing of the Bill for the abolition of purchase that the officers were not to be injured by it. But it appears from the public journals that the officers are extremely aggrieved by the operation of the Act, and that they have been told by His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief—of whom I would desire to speak in terms of the most respectful loyalty—that the course they were about to adopt in bringing their grievances before Parliament was not in accordance with the discipline of the Army. As was to be expected, they bowed at once to his decision. I hope and believe that if they leave their case in his hands they will receive justice, and I am certain, after the expression of his opinion, they will not persist in the course they proposed to take; but it seems to me that they are placed in an anomalous position. They have become officers of the army of the nation, they find their position worse than before, and they have no means of bringing their grievances before any tribunal whatever. If an officer feels that he is aggrieved by his commanding officer he can demand a court-martial; but these officers have no such resort—they can only appeal to the Commander-in-Chief—who no doubt will do them whatever justice it is in his power to afford. I now come to the important subject of University Education in Ireland. I cannot but think that the Government are rather sanguine in anticipating that their measure will be a settlement of the question, which I have always regarded as one of the most difficult that could be brought before Parliament, and I look forward with some dread to the mode of settlement to be adopted. I cannot forget that some years ago the Prime Minister, in Lancashire, spoke of three branches of the Upas-tree of Protestant ascendency in Ireland. One was the Church, the second was the land, and the third was education. Two of these branches have been cut off by the hands of the Prime Minister. The Church has been disestablished, the land to my mind has been confiscated; and we are now left to deal with the education question in a manner which I trust will be more satisfactory to Ireland than the other measures which we have passed seem to have been. The last paragraphs of the Speech are devoted to details of domestic legislation. In former times great questions used to be sifted and discussed throughout the country, and generally speaking when Parliament brought itself to deal with them the decision of Parliament was accepted by the country as a settlement of the question. But now a different state of things prevails. No sooner is a measure passed than agitation immediately ensues to get it repealed or amended. So great is the zeal of Her Majesty's Government for legislation that they have overwhelmed both Houses with measures upon every kind of important question, and in most cases when these measures have been passed they have become the subjects of agitation for their amendment. There is the Irish Church surplus with which you have still to deal, and then there is the Irish Land Bill. Last year we had complaints from the landlords of Ireland of the manner in which the Act was carried out, and a Committee sat to inquire into the question. An agitation upon the Land Act has now commenced in a different direction. The tenants are now complaining, and because the Duke of Leinster, one of the best landlords in the whole country, has offered certain leases to his tenantry, they say that the Irish Land Act is not satisfactory, and that it must be altered in the interest of the tenant. Then there is the Edu- cation Act. Not only is it threatened by the Education League, but Her Majesty states in Her Speech that there are certain provisions of the Act which will be brought before Parliament for amendment. Next there are the Licensing Act and the Public Health Act. The Licensing Act was brought into this House in a most exceptional manner. It is a remarkable fact that coincidently with the second reading in the other House of the Bill of the hon. Baronet the Member for Essex, the noble Earl opposite moved for leave to bring in his Bill.


The night before, I think.


Well, the night before; but I then pointed out to the noble Earl that in his Bill not a single Act which he proposed to deal with had been put in the schedules. What has been the result? I find in a case of appeal against some decision in Lancashire that came before the Court of Queen's Bench a fortnight ago, the Lord Chief Justice, in describing the Licensing Act, said he considered it one of the very worst Bills that had ever come before him, and he did not believe the draughtsman who drew it knew what he meant. He considered it rather hard to have such an Act brought before the Court of Queen's Bench to interpret.


It was altered in the House of Commons.


The House of Lords and the House of Commons make up the Legislature. The fact was, the Government were too hasty in the introduction of such measures, and did not allow sufficient time for consideration. The Licensing Bill was an extremely bad Bill; but I really believe the Public Health Bill was the very worst Bill that ever came before your Lordships. Under these circumstances, it would be fortunate if the Government would take due time in dealing with important questions; but I am afraid, from circumstances that have occurred out-of-doors, we are not likely this Session to have a more satisfactory state of things. It does not suit the wishes of some Members of the Government to adopt a more moderate line of policy. I wish to take this opportunity of protesting against the language which has been held out-of-doors by some Members of the Government on questions of the very greatest importance. I am going to quote the opinions of a gentleman who, no doubt, holds a subordinate position in the Government. I have the honour of that Gentleman's acquaintance, and I know him to be a very able man—Mr. Hibbert, the Secretary to the Poor Law Board. I say no Member of the Government has any right to make the statements this Gentleman has done, unless the Government are prepared to carry them out by bringing forward measures for that purpose. Mr. Hibbert, in addressing his constituents at Oldham, said— Among the questions to be considered would be that of the assimilation of the borough and county franchise. It seemed perfectly absurd to think there should be such divisions between borough and county. He hoped there would soon be household suffrage in the counties. Another question that would have to be considered was the tenure of land. He thought some alteration in the law of primogeniture and the limiting of the law of entail was required, and on that point the people of the country must speak out. In face of the growing price of butcher's meat, they ought to have all facility for the utilization of the land, and this could not be because of the great difficulties of the law of land tenure. As far as he was concerned, he was prepared to support the principle of tenant-right, which would allow the tenant to be paid for any improvement which he made upon the farm. Until they got more equal laws, and the laws connected with land put upon a fairer basis, they could never hope to deal satisfactorily with the great question of pauperism. He should like to know what Conservative Government ever paid any of the National Debt? Strong feeling had been raised with respect to some of the clauses of the Education Act, and the 25th clause ought to be repealed. Among the questions which would be dealt with by the Government next Session were the Borough Registration and Local Taxation. They would also have the question of Irish higher education, and as far as he could gather he was led to believe that the measure would be such as to give satisfaction to the Liberal and Nonconformist party of this country. The Government would also deal with the question of alteration of the law of primogeniture. It seemed so contrary to the instincts of nature that he could not understand why the alteration sought was objected to. It was, perhaps, because the House of Lords was built upon this question of primogeniture. There was one question on which he was not at present with his constituents: they knew it was a question which grew, and though he might not be with them now, he might not be against them hereafter. He meant the question of separation of Church and State. Mr. Hibbert was followed by a Member of the Cabinet, not at the same place, but a short time afterwards. The right hon. Gentleman gave expression to the most extraordinary doctrines. Mr. Goschen at Bristol on November 13,1872, said— There are questions connected with the land with which we wish to deal. I have spoken of the charge of confiscation brought against our Irish policy. Well, we hear now that the farmers of England, a very Conservative body, somewhat like the idea of compensation for their unexhausted improvements. And it is by no means deemed confiscation that a tenant should he paid for the money he had invested in the land on leaving his tenancy. Well, there are many questions connected with the land in which, proceeding on old and sound principles, and by no means on any principle that would shake in the least the tenure of property, we consider that great progress can be made. We do not want to get the vote of a single elector under the idea that we are in any way hostile to the rights of property. Another question connected with the land which has attracted considerable interest is the enormous agglomeration of land in the hands of corporations, public institutions, and various other bodies. There are the laws of mortmain, on which, perhaps, the Attorney General can tell us something. But it appears to me that by some system of trustees or some legal arrangement I do not understand, it has been possible to drive a coach-and-four through every law of mortmain, and that result which they had hoped would never arrive had happened—viz. the agglomeration of immense quantities of land in the hands of corporations. Now, I repeat such doctrines ought not to be propounded in the country by any gentleman holding the position of a Cabinet Minister, unless the Government be prepared to follow them up by reference in the Queen's Speech and by introducing measures on the subject; but when I find Cabinet Ministers making use of that language I am somewhat afraid, because, to my mind, there is but a very small step between land that is held by corporations and land that is held by private proprietors, and if we begin to meddle with one we shall not be long before we begin to meddle with the other. Unless this subject is to be brought before Parliament, it would have been far better for the First Lord of the Admiralty to have abstained from alluding to it. But I have another quotation to make—and it shall be the last I shall trouble your Lordships with—in which the most extraordinary views are expressed by another Cabinet Minister. A deputation waited on the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the 29th of November, and brought several subjects under his consideration—one of them being the high price of provisions. One of the members of the deputation, Mr. G. Murphy, said several millions of acres were kept out of cultivation for the preservation of game, and he added that half the land of the country was possessed by 150 persons. Another member of the deputation, Mr. S. Brighty, said that the stringent regulations now existing as to foreign cattle were not warranted by facts, and were kept up mainly for the protection of home growers. Mr. Howse, as a working tanner, said cattle disease was nothing like so general as had been represented. Wholesale destruction of cattle was made under the plea of their being diseased, and stringent regulations deterred the foreign grower from exporting to keep up prices. Mr. M'Ara said the game laws were for the pleasure of the few to the great injury of the body of the people. Mr. Baker referred to the coal question, and said the increase in the price of coal was not owing to increased wages or reduced hours, but to the monopoly of the coal owners. Men were suffering greatly, and might not remain quiet much longer. Government should look into it. What did Mr. Bruce say in answer to this deputation? Mr. Bruce, in reply, said— I have listened with much interest to the arguments so ably and temperately urged by those who have addressed me, and I also have much pleasure in stating that I morn or less agree with all that has been said. I come now to a deputation which called upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer with respect to the malt tax, and on this occasion the right hon. Gentleman made use of language of a character so extraordinary that I must call your Lordships' attention to it. I am not going into the question whether the malt tax ought to be repealed or not, whether, having free trade in corn, we ought not to have also free trade in malt, or whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer has got a surplus and could repeal the tax or not. On these questions I do not touch. But what I want to call attention to is the language made use of by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the occasion to which I refer. The farmers having argued in favour of the repeal of the malt tax, the right hon. Gentleman said— It would be of no advantage to you if the malt tax were repealed. It is the landlord whom it would benefit. You would have to pay increased rent. I regret to see the landlords of the country doing now that which they did 30 years ago—namely, putting forward the farmers to fight the battles of the landlords, knowing as they do that the object for which they put the tenants forward will benefit, not the tenants, but themselves. Now, I have the good fortune to belong to the class mentioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am proud to belong to the landlord class, and I repudiate in the strongest terms the imputations cast upon the landlords on that occasion by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and if it was Parliamentary I would say that these imputations have no foundation in fact. Such statements made by a responsible Minister of the Crown not only disturb the minds of those who are interested in the preservation of order and the security of property, but they lead people out-of-doors to think that they can obtain almost anything, however extreme, from the Government if they only bring sufficient pressure to bear on them. In conclusion, my Lords, I will say this: I hope, that however much you may distrust the present system of legislation, you will continue to give a calm and statesmanlike consideration to every measure that may be brought before you, in the hope that though you may not altogether prevent you may be able in some degree to mitigate, the evils that must inevitably result from the restless policy of Her Majesty's Government.

Address agreed to, Nemine Dissentiente, and ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.