THE EARL OF GALLOWAY
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, How soon Her Majesty's Government expect to be able to explain what was the limit to the south in Egypt on the Nile which they have pledged themselves to continue to defend, and from what place on the Nile southwards they hold themselves to have perfect freedom in regard to future action; also, whether Dongola is considered to be in Egypt or the Soudan? The reason why he put the Question was that he wished to obtain some explanation of the two statements made by the noble Earl in reference to the Frontier of Egypt, on the introduction of the Egyptian Loan Bill on the 21st of April—one, in which he stated that no provision was made in the Vote of Credit for offensive operations with a view to an early advance on Khartoum; and the other, in which he stated that the Government preserved to themselves full liberty of action in the matter, seeing that they had not at that 1475 moment absolutely made up their minds. On the 19th of February, the Government announced a definite policy to the effect that it was their intention to go to Khartoum. The statement made by the noble Earl on the 21st of April was a completely new departure. Their policy at a previous period was defined as one of "rescue and retire." It now appeared to him (the Earl of Galloway) that it might be more aptly described by the two words "bombast and bolt." He did not wish to go into these matters in detail, but simply to remind the House of some of the facts; and he put the Question for the purpose of protesting against any desertion of any of Her Majesty's faithful allies, such as the Mudir of Dongola and some Native tribes. He also wished to know what was meant by the Frontier of Egypt, and what was the limit on the Nile up to which Her Majesty's Government were still ready to announce that they would hold the country? He would ask whether Dongola was within the Frontier; whether that meant Old Dongola or New Dongola, because there was a considerable distance between them? He hoped the noble Earl would be ready to give a plain and civil answer to a plain and civil Question.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Galloway) has asked for a plain and civil answer. I can only say that we shall try to make the matter plain, and I hope to give him a civil answer. Your Lordships will remember that at the last Sitting of the House a Question very much of the same class as this Question was put to me by the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Bury), who is not now present; and one of the answers which I gave was that at a previous Sitting of the House the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury), speaking with all the authority that belongs to him, had put a somewhat similar Question to me, which I was obliged to meet with a negative. As I have stated, the noble Viscount is not now here, and I should not only be doing something uncivil to the noble Marquess, but also to the noble Viscount, if I gave the noble Earl a different answer to-night. But be that as it may, I must say that with regard to myself it would not be consistent to do so, reserving the hope that I may be able to make a full statement to the House 1476 when the Government are prepared to do so.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBROOK
said, that while the noble Earl refused to give any answer to the Question of the noble Earl (the Earl of Galloway), he (Viscount Cranbrook) thought the House ought to know whether any guarantee would be given to the friendly tribes of Arabs who had assisted the British troops. The Government had been represented in the Soudan by a most distinguished General, to whom they had given the powers almost of a Plenipotentiary, and he had perpetually held out hopes to the tribes that the English people would never forsake them. So late as the 12th of February last, Lord Wolseley had given it out most distinctly that the English would march to Khartoum and capture it, and that those who had put their trust in the English might be certain they would not be deserted. That was not the first time that he had used language in regard to the protection of the Native tribes. There was some danger that what had happened in the Soudan would happen in North Africa. When they read in the papers that morning that the 1,500 Coolies, for instance, who were taken away from the railway between Suakin and Berber had been returned to that country, it naturally aroused a new interest as to whether that railway was going on, or whether, in consequence of what had happened with respect to Russia, new conditions had been brought into consideration with respect to the Soudan, and the Government were reverting to their former policy. This was a question which deeply interested the English people, because it was one which touched their honour and credit; and it was not to be wondered at that they pressed earnestly for an answer to the Question, whether or no the pledges of Lord Wolseley were to be maintained?
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, he thought the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Cranbrook) would see that the Government having come to the conclusion that they ought not at this moment to go into the question of their general policy in Egypt, it was impossible that he (Earl Granville) should be seduced by Questions such as that of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Galloway) entirely to depart from their resolution; and, therefore, he thought that, while ad- 1477 hering to a decision which, might be right or might be wrong, he should not be led into partial accounts of particular points connected with Egypt and the Soudan.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I do not know whether I have judged correctly, or whether the noble Earl can answer me as to a question of fact with regard to the Suakin-Berber Railway; but I should like to ask him if he can tell me whether that railway has been stopped or not?
§ [No reply.]
THE EARL OF MILLTOWN
Can the noble Earl the Secretary of State for India say whether the railway is going on or not?
§ [No reply.]
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
If the noble Marquess will give Notice of the Question I will endeavour to answer it; but the question of the Suakin-Berber Railway is not in my Department.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Are not the Coolies in the noble Earl's Department? If not, what has become of them?