HL Deb 23 April 1885 vol 297 cc443-59

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


, in rising to move that the Bill be now read a second time, said: Your Lordships may remember that in 1882 the English and French Con- trollers in Egypt were of opinion that the financial state of Egypt was such as to require a suspension of the Law of Liquidation, and that at the beginning of last year a Conference met in London to consider the subject. This Conference arrived at certain conclusions—the necessity of raising £8,000,000 to restore the finances of Egypt, the expediency of suspending the Sinking Fund, and the urgency of certain administrative expenditure; but there was a difference of opinion as to the amount of Revenue which could properly be raised. The Conference was brought to an end by an ultimatum proposed by the French Government, which, unfortunately, it was not possible for Her Majesty's Government to accept. Last Autumn Lord Northbrook went out to Egypt, and made most valuable and exhaustive Reports, and negotiations were renewed among the Powers, which lasted nearly five months. The result was that the Powers agreed again as to the normal administrative Expenditure of Egypt, including £200,000 for the cost of the Army of Occupation; and they agreed to the sum to be raised being extended from £8,000,000 to £9,000,000, this loan being raised on a joint and several Guarantee of the Powers. This Guarantee is of a sum of £315,000 per annum until the whole loan is repaid, and is to be the first charge on the Revenues assigned to the Debt, and received by the Caisse. The difference between the interest in each year on the Debt outstanding and the £315,000 is to be carried to a Sinking Fund only applicable to the present loan. This Sinking Fund may be increased by 1 per cent out of the future surplus of the general Revenue Fund. This Agreement has been embodied in a Convention which forms the Schedule of the present Bill. The first Article of the Convention enables the Egyptian Government to raise a loan of £9,000,000 at a rate not exceeding 3½ per cent, and provides that the Khedive shall by a Decree fix the rate, the conditions, and the dates of issue. The remainder of the Convention carries out the provisions which I have already mentioned, with the necessary technical details. Your Lordships will have observed that this Agreement, carried out after much discussion, contains concessions on both sides. Those made to us are considerable. In the first place, the Powers have accepted as a basis our figures of the Revenue of Egypt instead of the French. Secondly, they have agreed to a reduction of interest to the bondholders, though to a less extent than we had originally proposed; and, thirdly, they have agreed to the taxation of foreigners in Egypt. They have agreed that there shall be no inquiry for two years, and that the contribution to the Army should be £200,000 instead of £120,000. These are five concessions over the proposals made by France, and adopted by several of the Powers at the Conference of last year. The only concession, if it can be so called, is that the Guarantee of the £9,000,000 Loan should be a joint and several Guarantee by the Powers. If the same objections are urged such as have been already stated against this Joint Guarantee, it will be the duty of one of my Colleagues or myself to repeat the replies which have already been made on this subject.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(The Earl Granville.)


My Lords, the course which this House ought to adopt with respect to a Bill of this character is one of some considerable difficulty, because the consequences of our acts would go far beyond the immediate effect on Egyptian finance, and would touch the interests of this country and its relations to Foreign Powers at a time when those relations are the subject of considerable anxiety. My Lords, I confess that the further opportunity I have had of studying this Bill the less satisfied am I with the view which Her Majesty's Government have taken, and with the considerations which they have obtained for concessions which the noble Earl himself describes as trivial, but of which my principal complaint is that they are doubtful and ambiguous, and may entail consequences of the most vital character. The advantage gained by this arrangement is of a very small and unimportant kind. There is a power to tax the coupon 5 per cent; there is a power to tax the foreign bondholders. I quite agree that the foreign bondholder might be taxed, and I quite agree with the noble Earl in wishing to tax him more. But the advantage gained by submitting him to taxation is one of a purely pecuniary character, and will probably not be much felt by the Egyp- tian finances at a future time at no great distance. Another advantage is that the foreigner himself may be taxed, and there is no doubt that the inability of the Egyptian Government to tax foreigners residing in their domains was a great abuse. I do not believe that the claim to exemption from taxation was a just claim. There is no doubt that the exemption has grown up as a matter of custom, and it is a matter of very serious reproach that it has been allowed to last so long, or that foreigners who reside in Egypt and get all the advantages of government should be exempt from contributing to the burdens of the country. It is really a reproach to the Christian nations that they have insisted upon forcing such a concession upon a Mahommedan Power. These are the only two advantages, as far as I can see, which the noble Earl tells us that the Government have obtained. "When the noble Earl said that there was to be no inquiry for two years, I could not see what concession there was in that. What right have the Powers to any inquiry at all? Inquiry is entirely a matter for Her Majesty's Government. They are not bound to admit it now—they will not be bound to admit it two years hence, unless the circumstances then should be very different from those which prevail now. I earnestly hope that nothing like an International inquiry is understood to be one of the results of the passing of this Bill. Difficult as our present position is, I should not feel it consistent with my duty to vote in favour of the Bill if I thought it involved, as a necessary consequence, that in two years we should hand over Egypt practically to be governed by an International Commission. But the real cause which forced this financial operation on the Government was that most imprudent admission of the liability of Egypt to make good the results of the operations at Alexandria which the Government fell into two years ago. It was entirely the consequence of a verbal subtlety on the part of the Prime Minister. Usually his verbal subtleties have no further effect than to minister to the amusement and entertainment of Her Majesty's subjects. But in this case, because he chose to lay down that the operations we were engaged in were not war, but only "military operations," the consequence was that what took place at Alexandria was not treated as the result of war, and the Egyptian Government has had to do what is never done as the result of warlike operations—namely, to make good to private individuals the losses and injuries which they have sustained. I do not mean to say that, as a matter of compassion and humanity, those who have suffered from the Alexandria bombardment and consequent fire should not have some relief. But the burden which has been placed upon the unfortunate taxpayers of Egypt has been exceedingly heavy, and it has been the necessity of finding so much money which has thrown the Egyptian finances into that state of confusion which has forced the noble Earl to have recourse to this measure. The loan has been obtained. It was necessary chiefly because of the Alexandrian Indemnities, but not solely on that account. The loan, however, might have been obtained with equal facility by the Guarantee of this country, and could have been raised at quite as easy a rate of interest. What is it that has induced Foreign Powers to step in and say that this country should not undertake itself, as apparently the noble Earl originally wished, to use its credit for the purpose of assisting the Egyptian Government, but that it should obtain the assistance of the credit of all the other European Governments? That is a point to which the noble Earl did not allude. He tells us that was hardly a concession. He admits that it is the one thing for which the Foreign Powers pressed, though in the Papers the noble Earl has laid before us there is no trace of that pressure, there is no indication of the demand to which the Government have yielded. If it was a small concession, why was it pressed with so much energy by Foreign Governments? What is the advantage of not making the Guarantee alone? Is there something in itself so exceedingly attractive in being allowed to incur a portion of a debt that all our dear friends on the Continent should have crowded together and said—"Our generosity will not allow you to bear the burden alone, and we insist on contributing the advantage of our valuable and unquestionable credit." The noble Earl has never attempted to explain what is the real meaning of this outburst of generosity. There is nothing to account for it, except the attribution to various Fo- reign Governments of sentiments of a most high and almost impracticable character; and it is wonderful that the suspicions of the noble Earl should not have been excited. I envy the noble Earl the childlike generosity and simplicity of his disposition. He evidently thinks it was nothing but emotions of this exalted character which induced the dear Allies to rush in with their assistance in order to relieve English finance from the burden. I suppose it must have crossed the noble Earl's mind that possibly there was another motive. It must have crossed his mind that there was a desire on the part of some of the Foreign Powers to make this offer of a Joint Guarantee the ground of a claim for subsequent interference. And how is the noble Earl disposed to deal with such a claim? Will he give us an absolute denial that any such claim exists? Will he put on record a positive statement that there is no claim whatever arising from which any of the Foreign Powers can take advantage on account of the Guarantee which they have given to this loan for being formally permitted to interfere in the conduct of the affairs of Egypt? I should like to hear such a statement from the noble Earl; and I hope that, before the debate closes, something of that kind may fall from his lips. I confess that I should be glad to have something more formal still. If matters had been as they were when this Bill was in the House of Commons, I should have been disposed to ask your Lordships to record, on passing this Bill through its formal stages, that, in giving your assent to it, you did not recognize the acquisition of any power of interference in consequence of the Guarantee that is given. At the same time, I confess that it is not a good thing for a Legislative Assembly as a rule to interfere in diplomatic proceedings; and there is no doubt that, at the present moment, the noble Earl has negotiations of considerable difficulty on hand which deal with this very question. If any Foreign Government should wish to interfere in Egypt, I earnestly hope that the noble Earl will maintain the rights of the Egyptian Government and of this country intact, and that he will not give way to any unreasonable proposals. But while entertaining that hope, we are bound to do nothing that might make the noble Earl's task more difficult; and if we took any formal action in that respect—although it might be desirable to have a decision of that kind—it is possible that his hands might be in some degree embarrassed, and that we should not be consulting the true interests of the Public Service. Although, therefore, I feel strongly the imprudence of this measure, and although it is impossible to conceal from one's self that at some future date what we are doing now may add to the difficulties of the Foreign Minister of the time, yet, on the whole, as a balance of considerations, I think it is better that we should pass this Bill without any qualifying vote as it stands, and should leave to Her Majesty's Government the responsibility which naturally belongs to the Executive Government for any consequences with which we ourselves, as a Legislative Body, cannot deal. But, in doing so, I must earnestly impress upon your Lordships that we are parting with the means of extracting from the Government some statement of their policy with respect to Egypt. I earnestly hope, however, that we may persuade them, in spite of that generosity on our part, to treat us with a little more frankness and a little more candour than they have hitherto done with respect to the intentions they entertain as regards the duration of their position in Egypt and the policy they intend to pursue there. They have reserved to themselves an absolute freedom; they have refused to indicate clearly whether they intend to stay in, or whether they intend to go from the Soudan; they have refused to give any security for any lengthened continuance of the power of this country in Egypt; and in doing all these things they have infinitely multiplied the difficulties with which England has to contend in that country. They have refused to give any assurance as to the duration of their; stay in Egypt, and of their intentions with respect to the Soudan. Now, to do as they have done, leaving these things in ambiguity, to hide under a veil of doubtful and equivocal language the policy on which they have resolved, is really to announce to every tribe and to every officer in Egypt that, as a matter of safety, they cannot venture to be friends or supporters of England. They are announcing to all the tribes of the Desert, who look to us to know whether, with a due consideration for their own future security, it is possible for them to range themselves under our banner, that they can give them no assurance, and that there is a fair and very probable prospect that if those who are the least fanatical among them should help us, and make easy for us our military operations, or our civilizing mission, the results to them will be an early abandonment of our position, and their exposure to all the vengeance of the fanatical co-religionists and co-nationalists whom they will be accused of betraying. I believe that there is no duty that is more incumbent on the Government at this moment than to give those who are watching to see what our intentions are in Egypt a clear indication of their policy. This measure is only one among the chain of uncertain and ambiguous indications which has already covered their path with so much difficulty. I entreat the noble Earl, if he will not do it to-night, at all events before this measure leaves this House, and before the opportunity is gone, to make it the occasion of a clear indication of his intentions, and that he will remove the veil that conceals from the world, and from our possible allies in Egypt, the intentions which the British Government entertain.


said, the Government had pursued their usual course of simply announcing foregone conclusions, and of refraining from stating the policy they intended to pursue. The Convention was a foregone conclusion, and it would be impossible for that House to make any Motion which would neutralize what had been done in "another place." He maintained, however, that there was no necessity whatever to make that Convention, except to extricate Her Majesty's Government from difficulties which they had themselves created; and he would urge on the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the enormous importance, if the Convention was to be accepted, of a distinct declaration on the part of the Government of the policy they intended to pursue with respect to the Soudan. They knew from the declarations of the Prime Minister himself that for two years Her Majesty's Government trusted to frightening the Powers in reference to the Law of Liquidation; and this view of the matter was confirmed by Sir Evelyn Baring's Report. The Government would not see that this law was the greatest guarantee of peace that we possessed. Her Majesty's Government had never shown that it was really necessary to alter the Law of Liquidation. For his own part, he was disposed to adopt the doctrine that the value of Egyptian securities was a test of the prosperity of that country; and there was ample evidence to show that under the Dual Control they had doubled in value, and the Egyptian Government, from being in a state of insolvency, became able to borrow on reasonable terms. He was justified in saying that under a good Administration the Revenue of Egypt was a highly elastic one, and that the taxation upon the Privileged land would produce a considerable augmentation of that Revenue. Had Her Majesty's Government sought to have administered Egypt properly, they should have made themselves responsible, either directly or indirectly, for the acts of the Khedive and his Ministry; secondly, they should have appointed a Resident Minister of position, who would have commanded the respect of Foreign Powers and of the Egyptians themselves; thirdly, they should have preserved a friendly co-operation with the French; fourthly, they should have developed the resources of Egypt by improving the irrigation; and, fifthly—and he looked upon this point as almost the most important of all—they should have taken in hand the superintendence of taxation in the country, and should have pushed on the Cadastral Survey. But Her Majesty's Government had done none of these things. Why had not Her Majesty's Government initiated in Egypt such a policy as Lord Dufferin would have attempted to carry out by increasing the agricultural resources of the country, by improving irrigation, by equalizing the Land Tax, by completing the Cadastral Survey, and by supervising the collection of the Revenue? None of these matters were going to receive the attention of Her Majesty's Government except the question of irrigation. Until Her Majesty's Government had given a clear pronouncement of the policy they meant to pursue they had no right to come before the House and the country and make such a proposal. What he wanted to know was, on what principle the Government had spent nearly £15,000,000 in Egypt, and also sacrificed many of the lives of their fellow-countrymen? If he was to be a Liberal, why was he to be told that it was wrong for the late Administration to spend £20,000,000 in Afghanistan, and that it was not wrong for the present Administration to spend £20,000,000 in Egypt? The second point he wished to bring before the House was whether Her Majesty's Government would, in face of the sacrifices they had called upon the country to make, in men, money, and prestige, even now, at the eleventh hour, give any rational explanation of the policy they intended to pursue in Egypt? Would the Government put the despatches of Lord Wolseley before the House, and would they say whether they were prepared to follow his advice? Did Lord Wolseley approve of the scuttle from the Soudan, and had he not given to Her Majesty's Government some indication of the consequences likely to ensue if they retired from the Soudan? Lord Wolseley had, he believed, expressed a strong opinion on that subject; and he thought it was monstrous that the country should not be in possession of the views of Lord Wolseley. He was quite sure of one thing, and that was that the Tory Party must be extremely glad that they had no part or share in these matters. What was really wanted now from Her Majesty's Government was some announcement that what he called the Penal Clause of the Convention might not be put in force—the Penal Clause with regard to the meeting of the Conference at the end of two years. He hoped that Her Majesty's Government would inaugurate such a financial policy in Egypt as would show that they were determined Egypt should remain solvent, and that at the end of two years, instead of there being a return to International Control, Egypt would be in a thoroughly prosperous and satisfactory condition.


said, he should oppose with his voice or vote any British Guarantee of an Egyptian Loan which was intended to pay claims which were unjust in their nature and enormous in their amount. He doubted whether any unsalaried Member of either House of Parliament thought the Arrangement then in question was anything but a great Treaty of partition and appropriation among the European Shylocks of the fortunes of Egypt and England alike.


I cannot allow the debate to close without saying one or two words. First, I am quite ready-to acknowledge the tone of the noble Marquess in the observations he has made; and I also give him full credit for his sincerity in giving, as one of his reasons for not doing anything touching this Bill, the due regard which he felt for the critical circumstances in which the foreign affairs of this country are now placed. I must say that beyond that I am exceedingly glad he did not give effect to the threat he shadowed forth some weeks ago, because I think a Motion of that sort would not only have tended to embarrass us with Foreign Powers, but would have been a sort of acknowledgment that this Guarantee gave the Powers of Europe a right of control which they do not now possess. There is no doubt whatever that there are a great many International engagements of all sorts in regard to Egypt. The noble Duke says—Why not settle this matter without any infringement whatever of the Liquidation Law? The noble Marquess took a different view. He said that it was not in the least necessary to do this, because we might guarantee the loan; but you cannot guarantee that any loan shall be raised under the existing Liquidation Law except with the consent of the other Powers. My Colleagues and I have been reflecting on this subject. I have read the speeches made on the Opposition side, and I have never yet seen what the practical view was, and how it was to be carried out—namely, that against and without any consent from the European Powers we were to extricate Egypt from the difficult financial position in which she was placed. The noble Marquess spoke about the indemnities. I agree with him that these indemnities have been a serious addition to the burdens of Egypt; but I do not agree with him when he said that those indemnities arose from a subtle distinction by Mr. Gladstone as to whether we were engaged simply in hostilities or were actually at war. I never heard Mr. Gladstone make any defence of these indemnities on these grounds. I do not say there was an absolute claim. There was a very great pressure, and a justified pressure, on Egypt; but it was not the burning of Alexandria, it was not any act of hostility, it was after the rebels had been defeated in the fortifications that the Egyptians, whom the Government of Egypt was not sufficiently strong to control, destroyed in the most wanton way the town of Alexandria. Does the noble Marquess say that we ought to have taken the Guarantee upon ourselves? Surely he knows that we could not have done that without interfering with the Law of Liquidation? We might have occupied Egypt, and allowed her to become completely bankrupt; but that would not have been creditable. We might, contrary to the past policy of the Government, and of noble Lords opposite also, have taken absolute and permanent possession of Egypt, and applied our financial resources to the purpose of clearing off the whole Egyptian Debt, taking it upon ourselves. We might, in short, have placed ourselves in opposition—illegal opposition—to the whole of Europe by contravening what was established by International Law. The noble Marquess laid great stress on the Government not giving an explanation of their policy in Egypt and the Soudan. I can only say that nothing has been more consistent than the policy of the Government in regard to Egypt. It has been called vacillating; but we have been persistent in the one policy which we have declared. With regard to the Soudan—though it is a very plausible argument used against us that the Government are reticent—I do appeal to the noble Marquess whether, on calmly reflecting, and without any wish to embarrass the Government, he thinks that this is a particular moment in which it would be wise and expedient, and in the public interest, for us exactly to specify and define the course which we propose to take in the Soudan? I trust that we shall soon be able to give further explanations than we have hitherto given; and, judging from the spirit in which the noble Marquess speaks himself, there seems to be considerable reticence on the part of the Opposition with regard to pressing us to make statements which might prove prejudicial to the interests of the nation.


I wish to make one observation upon the remark of the noble Earl that this is an inopportune time to make further announcements in regard to the policy of the Government in connection with the Sou- dan. We have taken upon ourselves in the Soudan responsibilities which involve our honour and credit as a nation. For example, we have taken upon ourselves reponsibilities towards the Mudir of Dongola and the troops whom he has employed, and towards the friendly tribes who have assisted us in the neighbourhood of Suakin. I think we are bound, whether we retire from the country or not, to give an undertaking to these men who have implicitly trusted to our honour that we are not going to betray and desert them.


said, that he did not suppose that so unpatriotic and unstates man like a Bill, or one so humiliating to England and dangerous to the peace of Europe, had ever been presented to their Lordships' House for approval. What could be more mortifying to the country and to the Army than that the vast outlay of money and the great loss of gallant and good officers and soldiers should be so little valued by Her Majesty's Government that the destinies of Egypt, and of British arms and policy, should now be taken from under British rule and confided to a hexagon Government of which England only formed a sixth part, all the Governments concerned being of different policy, religion, and interests? The gift of the control of the government of Egypt, which had been so freely made in full confidence in the trustworthiness and disinterestedness of England, had been summarily taken away by the Bill before the House, in remedy of the most ill-executed, hurried, and vacillating policy that had ever stained the annals of diplomacy. To prove the distinction and the vast importance of the position held by England in Egypt—the most legitimate that could be conceived, for it was voluntarily given her by the five Powers—he would quote Lord Granville's despatch of the 4th of January, 1884, which said— It should be made clear to the Egyptian Ministers and Governors of provinces that the responsibility which for the time rests on England obliges Her Majesty's Government to insist on the adoption of the policy which they recommend, and that it will be necessary that those Ministers and Governors who do not follow this course should cease to hold their offices. Her Majesty's Government feel confident that, in the event of a change of Ministry being necessary, Egyptians will be found, either among those who have already held the rank of Minister, or in less prominent positions, who will be ready to execute the orders which the Khedive, acting on the advice of Her Majesty's Government, may give them."—[Egypt. No. 1 (1884), p. 176.] Now there had come the end of that legitimate position. Would any noble Lord say that the fall was not a most humiliating and undeserved one? England, after all her sacrifices, was only to be the sixth fraction of the collective six guaranteeing Powers. He would endeavour to describe the situation as affected by this collective, financial, and at any moment possibly administrative, Guarantee. Supposing that any circumstance, such as an irruption from our rather doubtful Ally, King John of Abyssinia, were to occur, or the re-appearance on the scene of Osman Digna or the Mahdi, availing themselves of any European complications, what might not happen? The English and the French might propose the fitting out of a Military and Naval Expedition. Italy might hesitate, and Russia and Germany, who had already made official demands to be represented officially on the Caisse, might stop the Expedition altogether. Egypt might, in fact, be a scene of universal complications, caused by the fact that the country was governed by six Powers whose interests were opposed. He proposed to mention a few historical facts which bore out the grave charges which he had made more than once against Her Majesty's Government. On the 13th of November, 1882, Mr. Gladstone stated in debate that "it was no part of the duty of Her Majesty's Government to restore order in the Soudan." Those brief words published to the world the Premier's ignorance of the diplomatic history of Egypt and of the facts of the case. Far from there being only disorder in the Soudan, the rising was a formal and well-planned rebellion of the Mahdi, a religious fanatic, with immense power in Kordofan, and of Arabi Pasha, at the head of his mutinous Army. The plan was that the Mahdi, appealing to the fanaticism and bigotry of the Mussulman Soudanese Tribes, was to call to arms some 40,000 of these warlike races, while Arabi Pasha fought against the British troops who were present in the interest of peace and order in Lower Egypt- Here appeared on the scene one of the Premier's dangerous sentimentalities, which drew upon himself a reprisal in Parliament which, to use a French expression, he could only reply to by taciturnity. Mr. Gladstone had dignified that monster in human form, who witnessed with delight the massacre that he had ordered in cold blood of a helpless foe, "a patriot fighting for the liberties of his country." Then," replied a talented Member of the other House, "if he is such a William Tell, what can justify the Premier in sending thousands of Her Majesty's soldiers to kill as many thousands of the followers of this patriot? The only reply that was made to this serious charge—and that certainly was the safest one—was taciturnity. Now as to the Soudan. Egyptian history showed that the Soudanese Tribes, numbering some 40,000 or 50,000 fighting men, the most warlike and the bravest race in the East, had always coveted the riches of Lower Egypt and hung over her like an avalanche, ready to fall upon her at any moment, defended, as she was, only by a very industrious and useful but very unwarlike population, admirable agriculturists and irrigators, but no soldiers. It had, therefore, been the policy of every Governor of Egypt to subdue these warlike tribes. They had done so temporarily by a free use of the golden key, the divide et impera system, and the mixture of Ethiopian with the Egyptian troops; but eventually Mehemet Ali, Viceroy of Egypt, certainly the greatest and most successful soldier and politician in the East, brought over from his own country, Albania, several regiments of warlike and excellent troops; and, aided by the Ethiopian and selected European troops and talented French Engineers in two campaigns, he completely brought to order the Soudan, effecting a permanent hold of the Soudan Provinces by numerous strategically constructed forts and fortified places, of which Khartoum was the key—a position four miles in extent, and protected by ditches which could be inundated by the White and Blue Niles. Thus he completely subdued and brought into order these dangerous neighbours. But what was the first step of Mr. Gladstone and his Cabinet in direct opposition to Mehemet Ali's military policy? He publicly ordered the evacuation by the Egyptian troops of these fortresses, letting loose, of course, all the elements of war, revolt, and disorder, and fearful massacres ensued. Then, instead of withdrawing the garrisons from the front, and thus protecting the retreat by the successive withdrawal of the six or seven lines of defence, so that they could have made an impregnable defence, with their right flank on Khartoum and their left on Berber, both on the Blue Nile, he withdrew them exactly in a contrary sense from the rear lines. Hence they came back in isolated bodies, and were attacked and forced to surrender from want of food, in all cases the soldiers being massacred and the women and children led into slavery. Unwarned by these terrible defeats and barbarities, the Premier committed the same error when General Graham had completely and successfully conquered Osman Digna and his numerous and gallant tribes, who were completely dismayed and disorganized by their fearful losses from British scientific arms, amounting at the last fight, at Tamai, to no less than 6,200 men—a fearful and for ever deplorable sacrifice of human life, for which the responsibility must rest on those who caused it. British patrols sent out in every direction reported the total distribution and disorganization of the rebel force, and that not an enemy could be seen between the Blue and White Niles. Most unfortunately, as he held, these successes were rendered barren by the action of the Cabinet, and the result was that we were now engaged in afresh Expedition.


said, that he wished to elicit some information upon one point. He was glad to hear that the Government would persistently maintain their power in Egypt; but he was sorry to hear from the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) that he would not press the Government as to what they would do in the Soudan. It would not be reasonable or patriotic to ask for exact details, or at what time it would be advisable to push forward again to Khartoum; but as the noble Earl's statement indicated a distinct difference between their policy in Egypt and their policy in the Soudan, he thought they might fairly ask this one question, Where they drew the line between Egypt and the Soudan? He asked this question principally because he wished to know whether, in the view of Her Majesty's Government, Dongola was in Egypt or the Soudan? We could not forget the noble manner in which we had been assisted by the Mudir of Dongola; and the statement that Her Majesty's Government held themselves entirely free as to their policy in the Soudan must have a most unfortunate effect, for it must make the tribes who had assisted us consider themselves deserted. There could not, at this moment, be a greater folly than to give up the prosecution of the railway from Suakin to Berber. It was no answer to say that some of the troops in the Soudan might be wanted by-and-bye to go to some other part of the world. It was the greatest mistake to keep troops out there without occupation, as nothing would be more likely to breed disease. He hoped Her Majesty's Government would make it understood that they would not abandon the Soudan, and that they would give a proof of their resolution by continuing the construction of the railway for which they had contracted, and for which, in any case, they would have to pay.

On Question? resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House Tomorrow.