§ The QUEEN'S SPEECH reported by The LORD CHANCELLOR.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD (who was attired in full Highland costume) said
My Lords, I rise to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to thank her for Her Most Gracious Speech; but before proceeding with that, I must crave the indulgence that your Lordships are always in the habit of giving to those in my position.
My Lords, in the Speech are contained many and, various subjects embracing 7 matters over the whole field of politics, and to deal at length with them would take considerable time; therefore I intend merely to touch lightly on one or more of them, leaving the rest to be dealt with by those who are better qualified to deal with them than I am.
The first point that occurs in Her Majesty's Speech, is the allusion to the completion of a demarcation of the Russo - Afghan boundary. You are all well aware of the whole history of the Afghan Question, how 10 years ago we were at war with the State of Afghanistan, owing, as we believed at that time, to the intrigues of Russia, to Russia having persuaded the then Ameer of that land to decline to receive the Envoy which our Sovereign desired to send to him; of the war that ensued, of the massacre of Major Cavagnari, of the great march to Cabul, worthy of the days of Xenophon, and of the peace that followed, the tale is familiar. That war endured until about 1885, when peace was secured. During the period of peace complications again arose, owing mainly to the advances which were necessarily being made by the great Empire of Russia towards the East. Russia at that time entered the Province of Penjdeh, bringing its boundary close alongside that of the Ameer of Afghanistan. The advance of Russia in that direction was a menace to our Empire of India, and means were taken at once to discover whether those ideas were correct or were not. The strain between Russia and this country became one of the greatest tension, all but coming at one time to a rupture of diplomatic functions between the two countries. However, it was agreed that a Convention should be drawn up; that a Joint Commission should be appointed to mark out the boundary between the two States, and after some period of trouble—some period of danger to those occupied upon it on the spot in Afghanistan Proper, and on the boundaries—a line was made, drawn up, and adopted by the Commissioners. The work was then adjourned from the rough country in which they were working to St. Petersburgh, and the final rectification of the Russo-Afghan boundary was happily brought to a termination at the end of last year. Though we have come to what appears a satisfactory termination of that great business, there is no 8 doubt in the future that fresh difficulties must arise; not necessarily in that place, not necessarily of our own creating; but I think it must be conceded that in the future Russia will be drawn forward by the action she is taking in Central Asia to seek a means of obtaining access to the Eastern Seas, whether it be through Persia, through Afghanistan, or through China. But, in the meanwhile, we have implicit confidence that Russia will behave as she has said she intends to do—namely, without seeking to injure our Indian Empire.
With regard to Abyssinia, little need be said excepting regret that the Sovereign of that country has not seen fit to follow the advice and counsel tendered him by Her Majesty. A few years ago, when Abyssinia was at war with this country, the Monarch of the day committed suicide at the approach of one of the Members of your Lordships' House. A Successor was appointed, who had been a faithful ally of ours during the late campaign in the Soudan.
Then, my Lords, the Suez Canal brings forward a subject of vast interest for political and commercial matter. We rejoice to learn by the Speech from the Throne that those negotiations which have been in train for some time past with the French Republic have now happily been brought to a termination by an agreement between the two great countries. The Canal must always exist as a monument to the industry of France, and especially as a monument to the genius of him who first designed it—M. de Lesseps. Various difficulties there have been in preparing the methods for the working of this great Canal, and they have been subjects, I will not say of dispute, but of contention between the Governments which have most had to do with it. Concessions, mutual on both sides, have been made, and now we happily learn that agreement is formed. France, not content with having the Canal in its original state, has sought means whereby it may be further developed, and it is interesting to see they have brought the advance of science to bear on it, and have introduced the use of electricity along the banks of the Canal, with the result of practically doubling its capacity by allowing a ship to pass 9 through in 16 hours, as against 36 hours in former days.
The Suez Canal is not the only point on which there have been differences of opinion and happy agreement come to with France. If we move further away to the East, near the coast of Australia, we find a small group of Islands termed the New Hebrides. A Treaty between this country and France had existed for some time, to the effect that neither of the great countries should annex that group of Islands; but a short time since a loud outcry arose from Australia that that Treaty had been broken, that all rights were gone, and that France was a traitor to her word. My Lords, that was not the case. We must allow that France did not abrogate any of her Treaties in that matter. Equally well might she say that we in England have abrogated our Treaty by having been in temporary occupation in Egypt. But the contention which arose gave rise to diplomatic correspondence, with the result that a perfect understanding had again been come to, by the appointment of a Naval Commission of the Joint Powers, which will in future guard life and property on these Islands. That Commission will come into existence somewhere about the middle of March, the date when the French temporary occupation ceases.
Passing again towards the East, we strike the shores of America, and there, my Lords, we find matter of deep interest to ourselves. On the Eastern seaboard of that country, for upwards of a century there has been a question between the United States of America and ourselves, known as the Fisheries Dispute. It is one somewhat abstruse in its nature, somewhat difficult to adjust, as many statesmen have known to their cost. Practically, the question may be resolved into the saying—"Where may a man go to fish who is not a native of the land; within what distance of the shore may be obtain the means of carrying on his avocation?" My Lords, I do not desire to enter into any question of the merits of what the three-mile radius may be; but the matter was referred last year to the able conduct of Mr. Chamberlain, one of the clearest heads of this country, who was sent out by Her Majesty's Government with full power to bring about an arrangement which would be satisfactory to both 10 Powers. So far, I think, we may say the Fishery Question of the United States may be taken as a recurring decimal fraction; and unless some concession is made by one side or by the other, in order to change the value of the fraction, so long will this question remain unchanged. Difficulty may be staved off for the moment, but it is certain to arise again.
My Lords, I will now ask you to take one glance at the affairs of Europe. It would have been a difficult thing, and a Lard matter for any man in this country, a few days ago to rise and say there would be no war in Europe; but within the last few days great changes have taken place over the feelings of the country. A Treaty, unequalled, I may almost say, in importance, a secret Treaty, has been divulged on mutual agreement of the contracting parties, a Treaty which bears upon its face the certainty of either peace or the certainty of a terrible war. I firmly believe that the promulgation, or rather the publication, of that secret Treaty has done more to avert the bloody war that might have arisen between Austria-Hungary, Germany Proper, and Russia than any other course of action, diplomatic or otherwise. If we add to that the remarkable speech which the German Chancellor has just delivered, I think we may safely agree with the general feelings of Europe that the horrors of war are, at any rate, averted for some considerable time.
In the first paragraph of Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech Her Majesty says—"I continue to receive from all other Powers cordial assurances of a friendly sentiment." My Lords, to these words might have been added words to this effect—that during the year of Her Majesty's Jubilee the Queen was at peace, at least for no inconsiderable period of the year, over the whole world. My Lords, in ancient days the Temple of Janus was closed with pomp and great rejoicing. It seldom occurred in the Roman Empire that they were at peace all over the world, and yet I believe I am right in assuming that the Empire of Great Britain is still wider in extent than was the Empire of Home. My Lords, when they were at peace Cæsar in his days did not disdain to prepare for war, and in the paragraph which is specially 11 directed to the Gentlemen of the House of Commons we may see that Her Most Gracious Majesty, mindful of Her Scottish motto, Nemo me impune lacessit, desires also to add the words, Paratus sum.
I do not desire to enter on the question of the coaling stations, the fortifications to be made, and the great fleet which is required in the East and the South—there are others in this House, and the noble Lord who follows me (Lord Armstrong), who will deal with that subject; but while on the question of Estimates, although we have nothing in this House to do with them, I would make an appeal to Her Majesty's Government on one small matter which I consider vitally of importance—not vitally but materially to affect the country—and that is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should extend his munificent views to the desires of the Trustees of the British Museum that they should receive again those purchasing powers which have been taken away from them. It may well be said, my Lords, that in a time of commercial depression it is not desirable to invest moneys in non-interest bearing commodities; but, on the other hand, it is only right to remember that where distress occurs there are forced sales, small competitions, and low prices, so what is bad for the original possessor of the art treasures brought forward is good for the nation at large, provided it takes it up. The power of expending money naturally depends, my Lords, on the trade and commerce of a country. We see with true joy, from the Returns ordered in the last Session of Parliament, that there was an improvement in trade and commerce. There is no doubt that the trade and commerce of this country is advancing materially. The Board of Trade Returns, which are instructive and published weekly, show that the imports and exports of this country have increased very remarkably within the last six months. Indeed, it is time such increase should take place. Our condition is piteous. Many trades are within the verge of being closed; materials have been scarce, and profits nil. However, I hope that the Returns given by the Board of Trade will remain and keep on growing on the lines they have taken, so far as increase and prosperity is concerned.
12 Her Majesty, we regret to see, takes but a despondent view of agriculture in this country. I hope—nay, personally, I think—that the view that is taken by Her Majesty is one that is rather too despondent. I think that there is a distinct improvement in the tone of farmers, though not so much in the markets themselves, over this time 12 months ago; and we hope, for our own sakes, for the sake of the country generally, that something may be done in order to improve the position of the agriculturist. Some words in the paragraph relating to agriculture may raise hopes in the minds of some persons in this country; but I believe I am right in saying that Her Majesty's Government, in speaking somewhat vaguely of the means whereby agriculture is to be remedied, had no intention of going in the direction of what is known as Protection. At the same time, my Lords, I feel that I cannot but warn your Lordships that there is a grave feeling arising throughout the country, from the lowest depths, to the effect that in some short time means will have to be taken for the revision of our fiscal policy. This is no time or season to dwell on that, nor would I have done so had I not felt that this is a growing question, and likely, of its own power and extent, to bring itself to the front of political life in the immediate future.
The legislation which we are led to contemplate by the Speech comprises many measures, some of which are already familiar to your Lordships. The measure for the transfer of land was brought before your Lordships' House last year. That measure received the consideration of your Lordships; was amended, but proceeded no further. The same I may say with regard to the Railway Rates Bill; it was debated upon, discussed, amended, and dropped. We earnestly hope that some progress may be made on both of these measures, and others which will be laid before the House. The Employers' Liability Bill, a Bill which, was passed in the year 1880, and which expires this Session, is about to be brought before the House. I hope, my Lords, that when this Bill is brought up, due regard will be had to the existing societies—of which I happen in one instance to be the President — societies which exist for the 13 amelioration of distress consequent upon accidents in mines. As the Bill originally stood, the miner was unable to place himself in such a position that, without debarring himself from the benefit of the Act, he might retain the benefit, which proved to him a far larger value than that accruing to him under the Act. I sincerely hope that any Bill that will be brought in for employers' liability may have due regard to the existing societies for the protection of life. Liability will also, I trust, be laid on the promoters of public Companies, in order to put down the evil which has grown of late years, and which was the outcome of the legislation in 1862, and which could not have been provided against at the time.
My Lords, there is one more liability to which I should wish to allude, and that is the liability of all Governments for the maintenance of law and order. Persons in various ranks of life have not scrupled, though they ought to have known better, to raise the mob against the majesty of the law. The Metropolis has been the scene of extraordinary meetings held within a short distance of this House, where Members of Parliament and others attempted to wrest possession of Trafalgar Square from the authorities supreme. Her Majesty's Government, after having exhausted the powers of the police in their employ, thought fit to issue a Proclamation announcing that all well-disposed citizens who might desire to assist in the preservation of peace might be sworn in as special constables for a limited period. My Lords, that appeal was well responded to, and, indeed, it would have been far more than it had been had not certain restrictions been imposed by the magistrates upon those who attended for the purpose of being sworn in. Those specials were called out on three occasions, and personally they had nothing to do; those who had desired to disturb the law, to upset the peaceful authority of this Metropolis, stayed away when the amateur policeman was going to be allowed to go at them, and I think, for their own sakes, they did wisely. It was a matter of some interest to me—it was a matter of surprise to many—to see among the thousands of those specials the vast number there were who were well acquainted with the rudiments of drill. 14 I saw 2,000 men assembled in the Albany Street barracks—the Northern Division—and I really think there were not half-a-dozen of that assembly who were not perfectly acquainted as to how they ought to fall in, and the ordinary small manœuvres they might be called upon to make.
My Lords, I am now about to resume my seat and cease wearying you; but, before doing so, I wish to claim the thanks of this country which are due to Her Majesty's Ministers for having maintained law and order and the administration of the law in Ireland. That law, laid down after great difficulties, has been maintained, and, in addition to its maintenance, it has been demonstrated clearly that that law was meant to be obeyed by the peasants as well as by those who ought to have known better than to break it. We know that Her Majesty's Government have had great and almost insuperable difficulties to deal with in Ireland. We know that those difficulties have been met with a firm front; we know that the Chief Secretary for Ireland has been a man unshrinking from his duties, and performing them in a manner which we believe firmly receives and merits the thanks of the country. But, my Lords, it would be a vain attempt for the Advisers of the Crown to carry that policy of theirs into effect had it not been for the cordial, the loyal, and disinterested support of the Members of the Party known as the Liberal Unionists. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their action. We hope that the Unionists will still continue to work together, and, indeed, I believe that the time is not far distant when the Conservative Unionist and the Liberal Unionist, instead of forming, as they do now, two Parties, will combine still more intimately, and be known as one Party with one name, always joined together for the maintenance of law and order, and for the maintenance of the British Empire. My Lords, I now beg to move the Address in answer to Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech from the Throne.
§ LORD ARMSTRONG (who was attired in a Court dress) said
I rise, my Lords, with much diffidence, to address your Lordships for the first time. I do so for the purpose of performing the distinguished duty of seconding the adoption of the Address, which has been moved in such 15 appropriate terms by the noble Earl who has preceded me (the Earl of Crawford).
In the first place, I think it right to explain the grounds upon which I, as a Liberal Unionist, have undertaken a duty which might seem to identify me with the Conservative Party, especially as this duty involves my sitting on this side of the House upon the present occasion. My Lords, I am one of those who maintain that the obligations of Party are in these days much more stringent than they ought to be. For my part, I am content to accept a programme framed in a spirit of progress and moderation from whatever source it may emanate; and I consider that the Speech from the Throne accords with this description. But even if it had been less liberal and progressive than it is, the preservation of the Union and the enforcement of law and order in Ireland are of such paramount importance, that I should have deemed it incumbent upon the Liberal Unionist Party to lay aside all minor differences, and join in supporting a Government which is intent upon attaining those objects.
The Liberal Unionists have been taunted with supporting a coercive policy; but such taunts can only impose upon those who are more influenced by rhetoric than by reason. Much fervid declamation has been expended by Separatist orators upon the subject of coercion. They have denounced it as an odious thing, without any reservation in its favour as an element of law. This is precisely what the Anarchists and the Nihilists do. They reprobate coercion in the abstract; and, as a logical sequence, they repudiate all law as a violation of liberty. Coercion deserves to be reprobated when practised by terrorists to compel people to break the law; but it deserves to be applauded when applied in restriction of such tyranny. Liberty ought to be the watchword of Liberalism; but innocent liberty can only be enjoyed under the protection of law; and law, without coercion, is a nullity.
We are told that we ought to rule Ireland by conciliation; and so we ought, if Ireland could be so ruled; but of what possible use could it be to offer conciliation to those usurpers of power whose Leader has emphatically declared that 16 he will never be satisfied until the last link between Great Britain and Ireland has been severed? Every effort has also been made to inflame disaffection in Ireland by reference to oppression by England in days long since past; but no such oppression is practised in these days. It is the present, and not the irremediable past, that we have to consider; and the people of this generation have shown every disposition to deal with the difficult problem of Irish poverty and hardship in a spirit of generosity and kindness. To relieve the sufferings of Ireland, Parliament has strained the limits of justifiable legislation by interfering with the rights of property and freedom of contract, measures which could only be palliated by the benevolence of the motive which gave rise to them. At this very time we learn from Her Majesty's Speech, that measures are contemplated for developing the resources of Ireland, and for facilitating an increase in the number of the proprietors of the soil. What more that is consistent with honesty and justice can the Irish people expect from a Parliament of their own; or is there the slightest prospect that an Irish Parliament would legislate more justly and dispassionately than the Imperial Parliament?
An outcry will doubtless be raised that the benefit of the promised Local Government Act is not to be extended to Ireland; but it is obvious that it is not a time to entrust additional power to a people who are at present in a state of semi-rebellion.
As matters now stand, both Parliament and the nation have declared in favour of the policy of the Government. Amongst thoughtful and dispassionate men, the majority who uphold this policy is overwhelming; and if we analyze the minority, we find it to consist of very heterogeneous elements. Firstly, we have the disaffected Party in Ireland, and also the large body of disaffected Irishmen resident in. other parts of the United Kingdom, and who together form a very large proportion of the voting minority. But it is their cause which is sub judice, and, therefore, they are pre-eminently interested parties. Secondly, we have the revolutionary dreamers, who naturally see in the success of Irish Home Rule a step towards the realization of their own visionary theories. And, thirdly, we 17 have that section of the Liberal Party which has, from motives best known to themselves, deserted its colours, and gone over to the enemy, with which it had previously been in bitter conflict. On the other hand, the majority is compact and consistent, and free from the faintest suspicion of being actuated by any other motive than that of patriotism. The Government, therefore, may well be encouraged to persevere in their present course, until the tyranny of secret societies and rebellious organizations be put down, and legitimate liberty be extended to all classes of the Irish people.
The honour of England, as well as its security, is at stake in this matter; for it would be cowardly and disgraceful to abandon Ulster and the Loyalists in other parts of Ireland to the tender mercies of such rulers as would manifestly come into power under a Home Rule Constitution. The Leaders of the Liberal Unionists have done splendid service in resisting, with so much ability, the dismemberment of the Empire; and in so doing they have displayed such consistency, self-sacrifice, and purity of purpose as entitles them to the respect and confidence of the whole nation.
I now pass on to the first paragraph of Her Majesty's Speech, which expresses satisfaction at the state of our foreign relations, and the hope of a peaceful solution of the present complications. There is no Department of Government in which so much tact, firmness, and discretion is required as in that of the Foreign Office; and we may congratulate the noble Marquess who fills the Office of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in addition to that of Prime Minister, upon having, in these critical times, on the one hand, avoided placing the country in a state of isolation which it would be equally unwise and unbecoming for this great nation to occupy, and, on the other, has equally avoided giving cause of offence to any foreign Power. There are those who contend that we ought to have nothing to do with foreign politics; and that our proper course is to leave foreign nations to settle their differences in their own way, and without any intermeddling on our part; but those who maintain this view are bound to show that it makes no difference to this country what Power prevails and becomes 18 dominant in Europe. We know that we have nothing to fear from some nations, and that we are constantly on our guard against others. We know also that some nations are aggressive, and are watchful for opportunities of taking neighbouring nations at disadvantage; while others seek only for repose, and to be left in peace to develop their own resources. Surely it would be dangerous for this country to let aggression get the upper hand. There would be old scores to settle with us, as well as new demands to be made upon us, which, single-handed, we might be unable to resist. Our moral influence, therefore, should be exercised in favour of that side which seeks only for peace; but moral influence goes for very little, unless it implies that material aid will be forthcoming as an ultimate resort. At this moment we live in constant oscillation between fears of war and prospects of peace. Nations actuated by mutual animosity and conflicting interests are armed to the teeth, and are visibly striving to gain superiority over each other in Armies, in weapons, and in power of mobilization. Now, the natural inference is that some one or more of these nations are only waiting for a favourable opportunity of attack, in order to achieve some cherished object or gratify feelings of revenge. It is folly to talk, as some amiable enthusiasts do, of binding nations by Treaty to settle disputes by arbitration. In the present state of the world Treaties are nothing without a background of force; just as law is nothing without a background of coercion. How long the outbreak may be delayed it is impossible to say; but that it will eventually come is all but certain, unless the peace-loving nations act in concert, and prearrange measures to prevent it. There is no nation in the world less disposed to break the peace of Europe than our own; but our great wealth, the vulnerability of our commerce, and our absolute dependence upon it, present the greatest possible temptation for an aggressive Power, flushed with military success, and strengthened by its results, to make war upon us, if, without Allies, we should be too weak to resist. It would be easy to construe previous neutrality into hostility, and to invent grievances in excuse for recourse to arms.
19 And this leads me to make a few brief remarks on the question whether our national defences are adequate to insure our safety under all possible eventualities of European war. We can never compete with Continental nations in the magnitude of our Armies; but our insular position gives us great advantage as a Naval Power. We have hitherto maintained our ascendancy on the ocean, and it is a matter of life or death that we should continue to do so. If we lose it our nation will be in the position of a beleaguered city, with a community living on half-rations, with the certainty of being eventually starved into submission, and of having a war indemnity levied upon us, the amount of which would be proportioned to our ability to pay, rather than to the justice of the demand or the clemency of the victors. I do not say that this is likely to happen; but it should be impossible to happen; and if we showed it to be impossible, it would never be attempted. Moreover, the possession of an unequivocally dominant Navy on our part, ready to operate on the side of peace, would be the most efficacious means of preventing the initial outbreak of war. Hence, therefore, it is not enough that our Navy should be merely on a balance with that which could, under the most adverse circumstances, be used against us, but it should be absolutely supreme. It should be not only sufficient to render hopeless the invasion of our shores, but it should also be adequate to protect our commerce and distant Possessions, and to aid our Colonies.
I am aware that it is a delicate and a dangerous thing for a Government to propose any abnormal expenditure of public money for any purpose in the absence of a popular desire for it; but I am glad to see that there are now indications of the public mind becoming alive to the urgency of the case; and I trust the Government will receive sufficient encouragement to induce them to carry out, with a due regard to economy, whatever measures may be necessary to give complete supremacy to our naval power. They have already taken a wise step towards the protection of our commerce, by arranging with the principal Steam Navigation Companies to adapt certain selected mercantile vessels for armament, so as 20 to be available as cruisers in case of war. But it must be recollected that these selected vessels are the very ships that would be most needed in time of war for military and naval transport, and for the conveyance of mail despatches and of bullion, and possibly also of food for the people; because, being of exceptional speed, they would be best suited to elude an enemy, and to carry their precious cargoes in safety to their destinations. The arrangement for thus arming them is, however, a very proper measure, because, whether used as cruisers or transports, they would require to be armed; but it must be borne in mind that, as cruisers, they would only be capable of coping with cruisers of the same hybrid character belonging to other nations, because they could be easily destroyed by much smaller ships built specially for war. England, therefore, requires to be strong, not only in armed mercantile vessels, but also in genuine war cruisers; and it seems to me that the multiplication of vessels of what is termed the protected cruiser type, being vessels with little or no side armour, but otherwise constructed to minimize the effect of projectiles, is a much more important object than adding further to our Fleet of iron-clads.
I will not dwell upon this subject, because it may not be usual to introduce technical matters on an occasion like the present; but being intimately acquainted with what has been done, and is being done, in regard to modes of attack and methods of resistance, I think I ought not to miss the opportunity of stating that all past experience shows that the powers of attack tend to overtake the powers of resistance, and the prospect of that tendency continuing to operate appears to me to be at least as great at this time as it has ever been before. Iron-clads may grow obsolete, and will probably do so; but swift vessels, unburdened with side armour, and thereby enabled to carry a larger armament, more powerful engines, and a greater amount of fuel, will never be out of date. Great speed and nimbleness of movement, combined with great offensive power, are, in my opinion, the qualities which will in future be found of most value in naval warfare; and the saving which would be effected by dispensing with side armour would enable us to possess a far more numerous 21 Fleet than we can otherwise have, and such as we require to command the immense area of sea which is occupied by our commerce, and also to protect our distant Dependencies.
Then, again, there is the subject of the defence of our ports and coaling stations, to which special reference is made in Her Majesty's Speech. This subject—so far, at least, as commercial harbours are concerned—was, about six years ago, fully inquired into by a War Office Committee, of which Lord Wolseley and Sir Frederick Campbell were Members, and was reported upon by them; but that Report has never reached the public eye, nor has anything been systematically done towards carrying out its recommendations. And why? Because no Administration has the courage to propose the necessary expenditure, for fear of giving a handle to the Opposition wherewith to damage them. Such, my Lords, is the mischievous operation of Party faction in this age. At the present time, I believe, there is not a commercial harbour in the Kingdom that is not at the mercy of hostile cruisers, unless watched by a ship of war, which could ill be spared in time of war.
Upon this subject I may observe that I think much might be done by the organization of local Volunteers suitably trained, thereby further developing the patriotic spirit of the nation, which has been so nobly displayed in the great Volunteer movement which has taken place in recent years.
The subject of our coaling stations requires the prompt and vigorous attention which I trust it is now receiving. Nothing so much jeopardizes our naval supremacy as the insecurity of our coal depôts; for it would be impossible for our steamships to keep the sea without means of replenishing their coal. It is a humiliating reflection that the English people are never mindful of national insecurity until they fall into a panic, in which they are invariably joined by Parliament; and then money is voted lavishly, and spent wildly and wastefully. If the subject were taken up in a methodical and business-like manner, and carried through with well-considered efficiency and economy, panics, with their wasteful effects and injurious interference with trade, would be avoided, thereby causing a saving which would 22 go far towards the expense of placing the country in a state of absolute security. The outlay, of course, would be large, but so is the wealth of the country, and the amount should be judged of in relation to that wealth. Besides, there are considerations which greatly qualify the objection of expense. The whole of the money would be spent on native industry; and no labour need be withdrawn from reproductive purposes, seeing that the supply of labour in the country is redundant for all purposes. The money spent would, in fact, be money paid by the country to the country for the insurance of the country; and I cannot see that the country would be much the poorer for the transaction. The working classes, at all events, who would doubtless be appealed to in opposition, would have no cause to complain: for, whatever change of pockets might take place, it would be their pockets that would receive the most. Nor would the benefit be confined to particular industries: for, by increasing the spending power of one section, we indirectly increase that of others, which supply its needs; and this process goes on in an enlarging circle until the money is diffused over the whole field of industry.
But it is not only in a financial and economic point of view that this question should be regarded. The Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which I am glad to be still able to call a United Kingdom, holds a foremost place amongst the nations of the world. It rules, with more or less sway, over something like one-fifth of the whole human race. To maintain that sway, and our influence amongst nations generally, we must maintain our prestige, and to do that we must maintain our power. It is human nature to despise the impotent; and if we once exhibit feebleness, this great Empire, of which we ought to be so proud, will break up and dissolve away. It will be a shame if this vital question of national security be made a Party question; but Party spirit unfortunately runs so high that it is difficult to keep anything out of its sphere. I hope, however, that under the present Administration the subject will be more seriously and impartially considered than it has hitherto been; especially as our great Australian Colonies are evincing a dis- 23 position to co-operate with the parent country in giving strength and security to the Empire. There may possibly be some who may attribute these observations to interested motives. I trust it is unnecessary for me in such an Assembly as this to disavow any such motives; but in any case it is facts and arguments, and not motives, that must determine the issue.
As to the remaining topics of the Royal Speech, there is much to invite comment; but holding, as I do, that long speeches are amongst the reproaches of the day, I will not occupy more of your Lordships' time on this occasion than formally to second the Motion for the adoption of the Address to Her Majesty in reply to Her Most Gracious Speech.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, it has not unfrequently been my happy lot, with perfect sincerity, to compliment the Mover and Seconder of the Address in this House; and I have done so with perfect propriety, inasmuch as, generally, they have been chosen from among those young Peers who have their spurs to win. But it would be presumptuous in me to do so to the noble Lords who have moved and seconded the Address tonight. Indeed, with regard to the noble Earl who moved it, I am rather inclined to criticize than to compliment him, and for this reason—I think the House has Borne right to complain that since his accession to the hereditary honours of his family, with so high a reputation for ability and culture, and especially after having shown this night the facility of speaking which he possesses, hitherto he has taken so small a share in our debates. I trust that he and we shall profit by this respectful reproof. I am much more inclined to compliment my noble Friend the Seconder of the Address—who has just sat down — because, although there appeared to me to be a fine Conservative ring about his sentiments, and an intense admiration for Her Majesty's Government, which would not have been incongruous even from the place where Seconders of Addresses usually sit, yet I was very pleased with the ready firmness with which he repudiated the invitation, so graciously made to him by the noble Earl, to merge himself at once and for ever into the Conservative Party. I believe we were all agreed that when he was called to this 24 Assembly he fulfilled many of the principal conditions and qualifications which should lead to a seat in this House. I am glad that he should have been asked to second the Address, and for this reason. We are constantly told that the noble Marquess, owing to the good company he keeps, is casting off every day his Conservative principles. I therefore welcome any innovation which indicates a love of change, and this happens to be the first time I ever remember a Peer who has just shown his confidence in the Government by accepting a Peerage to be called upon immediately afterwards to give the further proof of it by moving or seconding an Address. I hope we shall also hear him on the many subjects on which he can enlighten the House. A much sadder duty has sometimes fallen to my lot. I have had to allude to losses which this House has sustained during the Recess. This year, among others who have passed away, there are three whose names I cannot pass over in complete silence. A great diplomatist has died, of the highest public and private reputation—a man of consummate prudence and judgment. He must have made mistakes, but I know of none during his long career. An excellent adviser, and, from the confidence which he inspired both in his own Government, whatever Party was in power, and in that of the country to which he was accredited, Lord Lyons was able to render great services to both nations. Another Peer who has died was an intimate personal friend of mine. Lord Wolverton, an excellent man of business and administrator, was also a keen politician. His zeal for his Party, for his political associates, and for the cause which he had espoused was of the most genuine character; and I am sure that even noble Lords opposite will agree that it is a distinct damage to this Assembly, which ought to be fairly representative of opinions out-of-doors, that an able man, with a great stake in the country, whose views were more advanced than those of the generality of your Lordships, should have been thus suddenly taken away. Again, I am sure your Lordships will not believe that I mention Lord Dalhousie because we were in political agreement. He had no enemy, no illwisher, in this House. If the cares of great possessions, and the obligations imposed upon him by this House, and 25 which he entered into with such geniality, had not taken him from his first profession, his naval career would have been brilliant. The promise of his political course has been cut short in youth, and under the most heart-breaking circumstances. I quite agree with the noble Earl the Mover of the Address as to the satisfactory character of the assurances on foreign affairs contained in Her Majesty's Speech. With regard to the general European Question, and the prospects of peace, I wish to avoid anything like pressure upon the noble Marquess to state anything which he does not wish to say. The responsibilities of a Minister in his position are great. He may not be able to give his opinion as fully and frankly as the German Chancellor has done in his remarkable speech. One thing I hope he will not do. Your Lordships may have read the predictions of newspaper sporting prophets, some of whom suggest one or two winners of a race, but also several others as likely to get places, others to show in front, others to be dangerous. Great is the subsequent triumph if the horse indicated wins; but it is almost as much so if any of the others named come in front. England and, indeed, Europe were agog the other clay to know what the noble Marquess would say in Lancashire on foreign affairs. He alluded to his prophecy of six months before in favour of peace. He pointed out that there had been no war. He then delivered an oracular opinion, so full of qualifications and re-qualifications that we were none the wiser; but he is sure to be right whatever may happen. I trust that he will be able to confirm the pacific declarations of Prince Bismarck. I cannot, having mentioned the Chancellor's speech, avoid pointing out the light it throws on the glories of British diplomacy as to the Treaty of Berlin. We were told by our Plenipotentiaries, coming back from Berlin laden with "Peace with honour," how successful British diplomacy had been, and how completely they had vanquished Russian diplomatists and foiled their ambitious efforts. We this week learn from the highest authority the authentic history of these transactions—that our negotiators were so modest that they abdicated the care of the negotiations and placed themselves unreservedly in the hands of the most powerful and able diplomatist of Europe. An excel- 26 lent choice, if it had not been unfortunately the case that he considered himself as a Plenipotentiary, with Count Schouvaloff, of the Russian Government, and in that capacity advocated and obtained for Russia every single object she desired. Sic transit gloria mundi! I am glad that negotiations begun under Mr. Gladstone's Government, and I believe on the same lines, respecting Afghanistan and the Suez Canal have made progress. The noble Marquess will tell us whether it is the case that the Suez Canal negotiation is hung up at Constantinople, and likely to remain I so. I, of course, can give no opinion on the details of these arrangements till the Papers are before us. We shall be glad to know how matters are at Suakin. Attacks have been made upon the administration of Colonel Kitchener in our time. He is an excellent public servant, and of his severe wound I heard with very deep regret. I trust the noble Marquess will be able to confirm the opinion which we always held, that the dangers to Egypt from the Soudan were at the time grossly exaggerated. The noble Marquess will himself be desirous to give some explanation as to the arrangement made between the Government of Egypt and the late Khedive, and the part which a Member of his Government played in the matter. I do not know whether it was the case with my noble Friend the late Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (the Earl of Rosebery); but I was several times sounded with regard to the claims of the late Khedive, consequent upon his enforced resignation. As far as I remember, everyone whom I consulted who was competent to judge considered those claims to have no foundation, with the exception of those for the standing crops, for which a sum of money had been received. A large portion of them seem now to have been acknowledged. I can give no opinion as to the merits of the arrangement without more information; but, at first sight, it seems to have been a compromise where no compromise at all was needed; and the grant of residences at Constantinople and in Egypt, and of large domains in the latter country to the late Khedive—who has been up to the present time in constant opposition to his son, who succeeded him—does not, at first sight, seem to be politic. The best defence I have seen 27 does not touch this point, but describes the compromise as a good business arrangement, and particularly acceptable as a proof of the supremacy of the British Government in Egypt, afforded by the concession made to an agent of the late Khedive—a Member of the present Government. I can conceive no possible occasion on which it was less desirable to show any supremacy on the part of the British Government, or a less desirable mode of showing it. I wish to know why the Government separated from the previous policy of non-interference in this case; and whether the Judge Advocate General, who sits on the Ministerial Bench in "another place," and who receives a salary for performing duties in this country, acted without sanction from the noble Marquess as Prime Minister or as Foreign Secretary, or, if he did obtain that sanction, on what grounds it was given? I presume it is too early to ask for any information as to the Fishery negotiations which are going on at Washington. It is a question which ought not to create ill-blood between us, the Dominion, and the United States; and I, for one, earnestly hope that the Government and their Representative will succeed in concluding an arrangement satisfactory to all parties. With regard to Colonial matters, the principal questions on which Parliament will desire information are connected with the South of Africa, with Samoa, and the New Hebrides. I presume that Papers on all these matters will be presented to the House. Before alluding to the legislation which is promised in Her Majesty's Speech, I should like to say a few words as to the legislation of last year. I remarked that at the beginning of the Recess the language of the Ministry and their supporters was extremely modest. They apologized for the meagreness of the repast by accusing the Irish Members of Obstruction, and by quite unfounded complaints of their having been helped by my late Colleagues. But lately they have taken another line, and boast of the great legislative measures of the past Session. I hope that legislation will do good, but as yet I have not been able to discover the evidences of it. Take the Allotments Bill, passed as a great remedial measure, though defined by one Member of the Government as 28 containing the thin edge of Socialism. It has not yet produced any effect, and there are free complaints that it has been useless and will be so in its present form. Take the great Margarine Bill, with its audacious proof of the omnipotence of Parliament actually changing the use of the English language, giving new significations to old words. What are its results? Take the Mining Act, which has an undoubtedly good and humane object. All I hear at present of it is that while the coal masters state that it will add from 1s. to 2s. per ton on the cost of coal, the miners are actually striking against its provisions being carried out. Of the Trade Marks Act I see grave complaints are being made, both as to its wording and the manner in which it is administered. With regard to the Irish Land Act and the great measure of last year—the Crimes Act—I will speak a little later. Before alluding to the promised legislation of this year, I wish to speak of the very important announcement made in Lancashire the other day. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) promised that nothing but a direct Vote of Censure will turn out the Government. He declares that the position of the Government will not be in the least affected by their measures, great or small, being rejected—including, I presume, the Local Government Bill, the relief to agriculture, the subsidies to Ireland, the Budget, and the middleaged Bills born some time ago. He says that such a course will be perfectly Constitutional. I deny that such a course is consistent with Constitutional practice. Governments have wisely not always pinned their existence to the passage of small and unimportant measures. They have ever made a few questions what are called "open questions." But I do not remember a precedent for a Government treating the whole of their legislative proposals as things which can be improved off the face of the earth with perfect impunity to the Government who originate them, and without disturbing a rose-leaf in their bed of roses. But even if I were wrong as to consistent Constitutional usage on this point, what can be the object of the Head of the Government in announcing beforehand this indifference to their own proposals, giving every encouragement to Parliament to treat 29 with contempt the measures which may be laid before them? Supposing such a course to be Constitutional and wise, what possible reason can there be for its premature announcement? I am glad to note that there is nothing in Her Majesty's Speech savouring of Fair Trade. The noble Marquess expressed in Lancashire great surprise and indignation at Mr. Gladstone having, at Dover, thrown out some doubts as to his devotion to Free Trade. I am afraid that if this was wrong in Mr. Gladstone I am also guilty in this respect. The noble Marquess hardly ever speaks on the subject without regretting that he has not in his hands those weapons which would enable him to renew the old and unsuccessful warfare of hostile tariffs on the reciprocity system. He always alludes with something like exultation to the failure of the anticipations of the promoters of Free Trade 40 years ago as to the result which our example of Free Trade would have upon the rest of the world. He condemns that great work—the simplification of the tariff. He hints at the resumption of duties on silk manufactures, forgetting that it was on the question of the silk duties that Mr. Huskisson fought the first triumphant battles of Free Trade. When describing the defects of limited liability companies, he has stated, among other objections, that their principle was good, but only so long as small capitalists joined them, and he asserted that they had reduced the wages of labour. The noble Marquess may be right in all these contentions; but they certainly savour of Protection, and not of Free Trade, and are more acceptable to Mr. Howard Vincent and to one or two noble Lords opposite than to Mr. Gladstone, to Mr. Bright, or to the numerous Free Traders in this House. But I admit we ought to be all the more grateful to him for having set down his foot and pledged the Government to resist protective duties of any kind, and I believe that the gratifying announcement as to the improvement of trade will make it still easier for him to defend the position. As for the principal measure of the Session—the Local Government Bill—much will have to be said as to the justice and expediency of confining it to England in the teeth of declarations almost amounting to pledges. Otherwise all difficulties on 30 the subject have disappeared. Mr. Ritchie, the author of it, has announced that it is perfection. I can only say that I am sure that if it should seem so to our Friends in "another place," no Party spirit, no jealousy on their part of Her Majesty's Government, will prevent them giving it a hearty support. The Speech refers to Ireland in very roseate terms, such as to create some surprise, not only in the minds of the small minority which I represent, but also in those of many of the Peers I see on both sides of the House. Nearly 88 years ago a certain number of Liberal Peers protested against the Act of Union, because it had been passed against the sense of the Irish people, and was, therefore, unjust in principle and dangerous in its consequences. The echo of that declaration can be found in one of the sentences of a Protest entered last year on the Journals of your Lordships' House, in which it is stated that the experience of a long series of years conclusively shows that exceptional legislation of this kind has failed to secure any permanent respect for law and order, while it tends to make the present system of government in Ireland odious to the Irish people. The same idea—although not in the same words—was expressed by Lord Carnarvon, when commissioned by the noble Marquess to declare what was the Irish policy of the Government. But adherence to the original system of policy of Her Majesty's Government has exposed us to severe reproaches. We have been accused of being in alliance with the Party of disorder—with men who were in league with ruffians and assassins. The connection has never been proved to us; and we do not pretend to approve of many things done by Irish Members. We went further, and used the ad hominem argument, asking the Government, if the Irish Members of Parliament were such as they described, why it is more wicked of us to accept their support than it was of the Government to communicate with them in and out of Office, and to obtain their support at a time when, if the accusation held good at all, it was then applicable. Well, we were told in reply that there never had been communications—that there never had been any alliance. This assertion has led to statements and counter-statements as to communica- 31 tions into which I do not desire to enter. But, as to an alliance, the Chief Secretary, with great candour, has recently acknowledged that there had been an alliance between the Government and the Parnellites. He defended it—though it lasted two and a-half years, and effected the overthrow of a Government—on the ground that it was casual, and had only lasted a short time. In short, he defended it on exactly the same grounds as was done by Midshipman Easy's wet nurse, who, when a baby obtruded itself into the world in an undesirable manner, defended the act on the ground that the baby was so very small. The alliance of the Conservative Party, while they did not agree with the principles of their allies, was for the obvious object of turning out their opponents. We have accepted Irish support on a question about which we believe the Representatives of Ireland are competent to speak, and, as we believe, are on the right course. The noble Marquess the Prime Minister has complained much of the criticism which has been made by the Opposition on the repressive measures of last year. I object to illegality, to outrage, and to crime; but I cannot do so more thoroughly than Mr. Gladstone, when he emphatically declared at Nottingham that—Come from whom it may, and be its circumstances what they may, illegality, be the excuses what they may, I have never defended, and will never defend.If we encouraged outrage and crime we should be as foolish as we should be wicked. For those who have adopted a conciliatory attitude towards Ireland nothing could be more impolitic than that such offences should be rife. I may add that we are not much helped by the Government attributing any tranquillity that may exist to the fear of their repressive Act. While I admit our duty to denounce illegality, I deny that we are prohibited by any Constitutional or moral obligation from condemning a law which we think bad; still less from criticizing what may seem to us to be the faulty application of such laws. How can we be logically condemned for criticizing the repressive Act of last year if the Prime Minister is justified in denouncing the remedial measure of 1881, not only to us, but to all who supported that 32 measure? We have been told that the law is the same in England as in Ireland. As long as I find that there are a number of things which I and others can do or say in England, which cannot be said and done in Ireland—unlearned as I am—I decline to receive any amount of assurance that the law is the same in both countries. My noble and learned Friend on the Bench behind me (Lord Herschell) laid down the law at Manchester the other day—the noble Marquess admits that he is an authority—that noble and learned Lord said with regard to the repeated declaration that has been made as to no new offences having been created by the late Act—You can, to-day, upon proof of certain acts being done, and certain words spoken in. Ireland, lawfully obtain a conviction, where prior to the passing of the Crimes Act, if you had proved the same acts, or the same words spoken by the same persons under the same conditions, no tribunal could have convicted them.I do not know what answer can be made to that statement, or as to the effect of the Act; nor do I know what the reply is to the complaint that your administration of the law is not impartial—that while, wisely or unwisely, you take no notice of hundreds and thousands of men who break the law by attending meetings, yet by late legislation you punish persons of all ages who, in pursuance of their ordinary avocations, sell newspapers with certain descriptions of these unchecked meetings held with perfect impunity. I propose leaving to others who have better information of the facts and more intimate acquaintance with the law to discuss the complaints that have been made as to the severity, and even illegality, of some of the proceedings of the Government in administering the new law. But I should like to go a little further, and ask what is the practical effect of the punishment which you are now inflicting? I presume that you punish not for the sake of revenge, but to deter others from following the same course. Do you imagine that a short imprisonment has a very deterrent effect when the head of the Municipality comes out of prison as a triumphant conqueror; when the priest emerges from his confinement, and is received as a saint by his flock; when Members of Parliament come back to their constituents with a still more certain security of being re-elected; and 33 when men in an ordinary position are received by their fellow-citizens, not as criminals, but as heroes? It is asserted in Her Majesty's Speech that the two measures—the Crimes Act and the Land Act—have had satisfactory results. I trust that this is the case with regard to the Land Act, notwithstanding the strong complaints made of its action on the one side by the tenants, and on the other by the landlords, of whom a deputation recently waited upon the Prime Minister, and who seemed to have been rather easily satisfied with the reasons he gave for the non-fulfilment of the pledge that they should have compensation from the British Exchequer. The noble Marquess gracefully sympathized with them in their present position, and there is no one who does not feel for misfortunes—though not without their parallel in this country—which the great majority have done nothing to deserve. I venture to think that the Laud Bill proposed by Mr. Gladstone was a proof of this sympathy. I thought, and I still think, that it was a very judiciously constructed measure, which, while it gave relief to landlords and tenants, threw no appreciable risk upon the British Exchequer. But not a word for it was said in Ireland by those most interested, and in this country it was hastily but almost universally condemned, and possibly from its provisions not having been fully understood and mastered. I did not expect, however, that this measure—conceived in a just and liberal spirit towards Irish landlords—would have been described by no less a Minister than the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a bribe—a phrase not very encouraging for any proposal that may in the future be made on the Land Question. I presume I should awake the indignation of the Government if I were to apply any such word to the promises of subscribing British money to be expended on Irish local wants. The Speech does not show in what proportion a tranquillizing effect has been produced by the two Acts. I do not know that in any case the Crimes Act has furnished the means of punishing crime and outrage which do not exist under the ordinary law; that it has caused rents to be paid, which would otherwise not be paid, or that it has enabled landlords to let land which had ceased to be occupied. Has it, by a few isolated punishments for Boycotting, 34 prevented the practice? Has it in any degree falsified the previous opinion of the Prime Minister that no legal provision can do so? The Speech does not show in what proportion the tranquillizing cause has arisen from the Crimes Act, or from the remedial measures; or how much of such effect from the latter is due to the strengthening by the Opposition of the measure which was obtained by the Government last year. We assert that any increased tranquillity that may exist is owing to the sympathy shown on this side of the water for the Irish people. Her Majesty's Government assert that it is chiefly owing to repression—assertion on both sides. But we have this advantage—that if we are right as to the cause, it will be enduring; whereas if the Government is right, judging from all that has previously taken place, it is merely driving discontent under the surface to break out again with renew ed vigour. It must not be forgotten that the postponement of evictions for six months has had in itself a very considerable effect. The present policy of the Government is to consolidate the Union by a continuous application of force for many years. We differ from the Government as to the advantage of the application of force; but suppose we are wrong and they are right as to the system, and that it is as beneficent as it is described, is there any reason to believe that it will be continuously applied? After all, the best guide of the future is the lesson of the past. In 1880 Lord Beaconsfield's Government dissolved without renewing the Coercion Act. Mr. Gladstone's Government on its accession did not do so, although later it did introduce repressive measures, chiefly owing to the outrages produced by the rejection of the Compensation for Disturbance Bill. There seems little doubt that our passing that repressive measure minimized the good effect of the Land Act of 1881. It was in 1883 that the virtual alliance between the Conservative Party and the Irish Members began. In 1884 the Franchise Act was given to Ireland, upon the importance of which the noble Marquess once so forcibly dwelt as a regulator of our conduct towards Ireland. In 1885 the Conservatives and Parnellites reduced Mr. Gladstone's majority to 14 in February, and in June 35 destroyed his Government. The Government of the noble Marquess declined to introduce any repressive measures. They did not say it was for want of time, but based it upon benevolence to Ireland, and attacked Lord Spencer—whom they had previously blamed for leniency—for the severity of his administration. During the autumn the Government did everything to ingratiate themselves into the good opinion of the Irish Leaders, and gave to them and to the world in general the impression that they were averse to coercion. This policy continued to the beginning of 1886. In the Queen's Speech there was only an allusion to a future Coercion Bill. Mr. Smith was sent over on his famous 24 hours' mission of inquiry, and a sudden conversion to coercion was announced, and this after the Irish had been assured by the Representatives of both the Government Parties that coercion was impossible after the extension of the franchise. Could we with consistency turn our front as rapidly as the Government had done? I am talking of the Government—not of many of those who sit opposite, and who had never wavered in their language as to the right policy to be adopted in Ireland from their point of view—but I am talking of the Government, who at one time were against exceptional measures, and declared that they were for giving everything for the peace, contentment, and happiness of the people of Ireland that the unity of the Empire and the supremacy of Parliament would allow. After such recent proofs of the difficulty which both Parties have felt in consistently holding to repression, what chance is there of a persistent attitude on the part of any Government, more especially after millions have in Great Britain adopted the Irish view? Before sitting down, I feel bound to make one remark upon a statement which was made by the noble Marquess opposite the other day in Lancashire. It was a suggestion from the Prime Minister that a great majority of the Conservative Party would prefer not to hold conversation with Mr. Gladstone—a suggestion of pure and simple Boycotting, which could not be touched by law in this country, although I am not so sure that it might not be in Ireland under the new law. The statement was absolutely 36 in disagreement with all the best traditions in this country, and especially in this House, of social and political life, and one which I believe the great Conservative Party would indignantly repudiate. My experience of friendly and personal courtesy from political opponents is completely unbroken. Out of the long list that occurs to me I will only mention the names of four Prime Ministers—the Duke of Wellington, the late Lord Derby, Lord Beaconsfield, and I am proud to add the noble Marquess himself. I hardly know how such a suggestion could have come from one of his position, his character, and his intellectual abilities with regard to a great political rival who has all these qualifications in so remarkable a degree, besides his much greater age and longer public services than the noble Marquess. I venture to assert that the example which Members of this Assembly ought to give is to follow the advice of my noble Friend (the Earl of North-brook), a late First Lord of the Admiralty, who, the other day, while declaring open war against our policy, adjured both sides to conduct the contest with arguments, and not with bitterness and personalities.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (The Marquess of SALISBURY)
My Lords, I must commence by expressing my thanks to the noble Earl for a large portion of his speech, with which I am able most sincerely to agree, and most of all for the very graceful compliment which he paid to my noble Friend below me, and also to the noble Lord on the Bench below the Gangway, for the speeches which they have made this evening. I was sorry, however, to incur his censure for the breach of precedent or breach of custom—though I was not aware of it—by the placing of the seconding of the Address in the hands of a new Peer by the Government which created him. Whether that is so or not, I frankly confess that I did not think for a moment whether I was inviting the noble Lord to show confidence in the Government or not. What I thought was, and I anticipated justly, that I was providing for the House a high intellectual treat, and making a very great addition to the value of our debates. We are indebted to the noble Lords, men already distinguished out- 37 side this House in fields other than those of politics, for their kindness in moving and seconding the Address; and I can only say that if there be any custom that hindered me from asking them, it was a custom more honoured in the breach than in the observance. The noble Earl passed almost at once from the merited praise which he bestowed on the speeches of my two noble Friends to a sadder theme; and, again, I have to thank him for the language in which he has noted the merits and acknowledged the great experience of my valued friend, the late Lord Lyons. A greater loss to diplomacy and to the Public Service we have not suffered for many a day. His singular distinction was the broad, calm, judicial spirit, and the active patriotism which made him a trusted and sought-for counsellor of every Ministry that he served. I can well remember again and again in troublous times how some knotty point of foreign diplomacy was solved by the suggestion that we should refer to his unfailing wisdom and to his vast store of experience. My Lords, I cannot mention foreign affairs without feeling that there is another very sad topic that I can hardly pass by, though I touch upon it with the deepest sorrow. The heir to a great Empire, closely united to us in bonds of sympathy, stands in a situation of peril—a peril the exact extent of which I will not venture to measure, and I should be very sorry to use exaggerated language—but, at least, in a situation which has excited, and which must continue to excite, the deep solicitude of his many friends and those of his family. We could wish that there was some other head on which this blow could fall. Among all the leading figures in the political field of Europe there is not one who has excited so deep and affectionate an admiration as the Crown Prince of Germany. Our sympathy is with him in his suffering; our sympathy is with his distinguished Consort, and with all his relatives, among whom the one, perhaps, who feels most deeply is our own Most Gracious Sovereign. My Lords, I have been moved to say this because the news has just reached me that the operation of tracheotomy has been successfully performed on the Crown Prince this afternoon by Dr. Bramann, several other doctors being present. According to the accounts received His 38 Imperial Highness is going on well. I can only add that such news as that does not suffer any further comment than the repetition of the words that we watch the vicissitudes of so anxious a time with our deepest sympathy and solicitude. Well, now, the noble Earl very kindly and very rightly forbore to press me upon the present state of foreign affairs, with respect to the great issues of peace or war. I am sorry that the observations which I made some weeks ago in the Provinces have, as he puts it himself, had the effect of making him no wiser. I should be very glad indeed to make him wiser. But I will not attempt to do now what I failed to do then. I certainly will not attempt to give him the "straight tip" as to what is going to happen in this terrible crisis in Europe. My Lords, the prospects of peace or war, and the precise political position of those whom public rumour is disposed to look upon as the probable combatants, have been described by a master hand, and I shall not spoil the picture by attempting to add anything to it. I may say that I hope that some kind friend in Germany may furnish the noble Earl with an accurate report of Prince Bismarck's speech. I am afraid that he has derived a very imperfect notion of what the Prince really said, if his representation of it to-day is to be trusted. But I observe that the noble Earl, though he referred to several speeches, referred not only to Prince Bismarck's speeches, but also to those of the humbler persons on those Benches. He referred to my own speeches at Liverpool and elsewhere, and to the speeches of the Chief Secretary for Ireland; but one characteristic marked all his citations—namely, that they had not any but the most fantastic resemblance to what was originally uttered. I cannot help thinking that the noble Earl must have fallen asleep while reading what I said, and that his quotations represent, not his recollections, but his dreams. Certainly, the noble Earl's quotation of what Prince Bismarck said is entirely at variance with all that I have seen and heard on this subject. I did not in the least gather that Prince Bismarck represented himself to have said that he had obtained for Russia everything that she desired. If he did say so, Russia certainly has not been of that opinion during many years past. 39 But, however, Prince Bismarck is quite strong enough to defend himself, and I will not venture to cross swords with the noble Earl in defence of his accuracy. As far as I remember the events of the Berlin Conference, they were like those of most other Conferences; they ended in a middle term—a compromise which did not correspond with the extreme demands of either side. I dare say that Prince Bismarck's astuteness may have gone a good way in inducing us to accept that compromise; but it was a compromise which, I believe, was anything but acceptable to the Government of Russia at the time, and it was highly acceptable to the English people. That, I think, is a sufficient defence of Lord Beaconsfield for accepting such a compromise at the instance of Prince Bismarck. My Lords, in the speech of Prince Bismarck there is one point to which I ought to refer. He spoke—as he has spoken for years past—of the events which might take place in the Turkish Empire or on the Turkish Frontier as being a matter that affected Germany very little; and the whole of his solicitude was directed to other events which might take place on the frontier of Germany or of Austria. In so doing he was strictly consistent with all that he ever said; he was also consistent with the traditions of his country, because your Lordships will remember that in the Crimean War Prussia was the only one of the Great European Powers which was not engaged in that conflict. But in that respect, in its entire indifference to what took place in the East of Europe, Germany differs from the other Powers—from Austria, Turkey, and Italy, from France, and from England; and though in general, I think, our sympathies would be strongly evoked in favour of the allied people over whom the Emperor of Germany rules, we are not precisely in the same position as they are in that respect. We, too, have a past; we have traditions and a policy—a policy from which we have no intention of departing, a policy that we shall consistently uphold. We have interests; we have, for the last three or four generations, asserted our interests in the South-East of Europe; and we shall not show ourselves more indifferent to those interests than those who have gone before us. But though I should 40 be misrepresenting the policy of Her Majesty's Government if I were to indicate the slightest alteration in the disposition or the policy which, with regard to those regions, has been almost uniformly pursued, I still entirely share Prince Bismarck's belief in the maintenance of peace; and I do so on the same ground. The only danger to our interests in the South-East of Europe might arise from some adventurous or illegal action on the part of Russia. We have had the most specific and categorical assurances that Russia contemplates no such illegal action, but will carefully abstain from it. I agree with Prince Bismarck that in the words of the Emperor Alexander there is great security. Of course, I speak of what I officially know. We have had one negotiation with the Emperor Alexander—the negotiation to which reference is made in the Queen's Speech—and I am bound to say that the action of his Government in that negotiation has been not only conciliatory, but eminently straightforward. I think, therefore, that I can concur with the German Chancellor in attaching great value to the assurances which have come from the Emperor Alexander; and I maintain the firm conviction that he will do his utmost to maintain the peace of Europe. The noble Earl asked me, in a desultory manner, a vast number of questions with respect to foreign and domestic affairs. One question came after the other so fast that they had rather the effect of small shot upon me. I was not able to distinguish the impact of one from the other. I would merely select one or two to which, I think, he appeared to attach great importance. The noble Earl asked a question about Colonel Kitchener. It is a matter of great satisfaction to know that the wound inflicted upon that most distinguished officer owing to his great gallantry at Suakin is not likely to prove dangerous. With regard to Samoa and South Africa, I think it will be more convenient, after the Papers are laid on the Table, that the noble Earl should raise the question. The House at present has hardly sufficient information to discuss these questions properly. With respect to the claims made by the ex-Khedive, I think the noble Earl is labouring under an error. He seems to imagine that it was a matter for the 41 decision of the British Government whether these claims were to be conceded or not. This is an entire mistake. So far as these claims were legal, they would have been enforced by the mixed tribunals. But it was a controversy of a legal character, and there was no harm in the Judge Advocate General taking that sort of business as well as other business, it being a well-understood rule that the Legal Advisers of the Grown are entitled to increase their income by taking private practice, so long as it does not interfere with their official duties. It was desirable to compromise these claims. I do not say my sympathy was moved for the sufferings of the ex-Khedive; but, as a matter of prudence, it was desirable to compromise the claims. The matter was practically settled, not by the Egyptian Government, but by the Egyptian Government acting through the medium of Sir Edgar Vincent. On the other hand, I believe it was really a great advantage to this country that Mr. Marriott was the counsel of the ex-Khedive. I cannot speak on this matter with any great fulness; but it is obvious that such a position and such a suit might, in the hands of an ill-wisher of this country, have given a great opportunity of interfering and intriguing in Egypt. It was, therefore, fortunate that the interests of the ex-Khedive were committed to the charge of an Englishman. I think we might have run into very considerable embarrassment if the ex-Khedive had selected for his adviser and counsel a person of some nationality jealous of England. There are only one or two further observations which I shall venture to trouble your Lordships with in regard to the noble Earl's speech. The first I will refer to is the solemn refusal on his part to grant me the diploma of a Free Trader. I thought the noble Earl's tone on that question very much illustrated the remarks which my noble Friend below the Gangway made on the prevalence of Party in this country—namely, that people care more for the name and organization of Party than for the opinions which that Party professes. The noble Earl is indignant with mo, not because I have professed any doctrines which were contrary to Free Trade, but because I professed doctrines which could not be ticketed as Free Trade, and which Free Traders did 42 not profess. For instance, I ventured to doubt the great wisdom of the enormous re-arrangement which, 25 years ago, Mr. Gladstone made in the tariff of this country. It was thought at the time to be a great achievement to simplify the tariff; but I believe it has taken away from the Chancellor of the Exchequer a great many very useful taxes on which he could have relied in moments of difficulty, and which pressed not upon the poor, but upon the rich—not upon the necessities of the nation, but only upon its luxuries. I do not think any advantage that was obtained by stimulating International communication in respect of gloves, silks, and wines at all meets or compensates the loss that the Chancellor of the Exchequer now has, when he looks over the resources of the country in a time of difficulty, in finding any item by which the Revenues of the country can be increased. It is the great difficulty of England—as it is of India—that, though we have Revenue enough for ordinary times, if we want to raise more revenue against an emergency we are almost cut off by past legislation from doing so. That is the explanation of the very heretical doctrine which troubles the noble Earl. Now one word as to Ireland; and first a word as to my great offence against Mr. Gladstone. I thought the noble Earl would have sat down by proposing my formal excommunication, and that I should have been driven forth from your Lordships' House. He rebuked me with great solemnity for advising the Conservative Party never to speak to Mr. Gladstone. Surely I never gave the Party any such advice. That is another instance of the facility with which I have plunged him into sweet sleep by the dulness of my discourse. In this case it is not his dreams, but his nightmares that have disturbed him.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
I referred to what appeared in The Times report.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
What I really did say was this—that Mr. Gladstone had very much misrepresented the Conservative Party, grievously misrepresented them, when he said that in their ordinary conversation they admitted that some kind of Home Rule must eventually be granted. On that I observed, in the first place, that it was not true; and, in the second 43 place, that Mr. Gladstone was the last man in the world to have known if it was true, because, I said, as a matter of fact, I did not believe Mr. Gladstone had had any large amount of Conservative society, and that he docs not spend his evenings in Conservative society. As a matter of fact, although it may be very lamentable, I suspect Conservatives generally cultivate the society of those who agree with them, more especially upon essential doctrines of politics and patriotism, more than they do the followers of Mr. Gladstone. A word now as to the alliance. We are accused of having had an alliance with the Irish. The noble Earl says that our alliance with the Irish began in 1883. It is very odd; but Mr. Parnell supported Mr. Gladstone in all the Divisions on the Reform Bill which was the great contest of the Session of 1884. I doubt, therefore, whether the alliance could have been a strong one at that time. What the alliance consisted in, as far as there was an alliance, was that on certain questions we went into the same Lobby. On two questions we went into the same Lobby. One was on the question whether the policy of the then Government in Egypt was to be admired or not; and the other was the question whether we should levy a new tax on beer. The whole question as to whether that sort of alliance is blamable or not depends upon the further question whether you did or did not depart from your own principles in the course you took. If it is according to our principles to censure the Egyptian Campaign or to object to a new tax on beer, surely it is hypercritical on the part of anyone to demand that we should abstain from enforcing those principles because Mr. Parnell and his followers might vote with us. What I maintain is, that we were strictly following our own principles in going into the same Lobby with them, and that the fact that we went into the Lobby with such companions did not in any way detract from the rectitude of our course in supporting the principles we had always supported. But the alliance of the noble Earl is an alliance of a very different kind. I do not complain of his going into the same Lobby with Mr. Parnell and his Friends; but what I do complain of is that his young men, and some who are not young, have gone over to Ireland and have stood 44 upon platforms in support of organizations for resisting the law of the land. That is the sort of alliance of which I complain; and when the noble Marquess opposite—I hope he was misreported on the point—talks of "my friend, Mr. Davitt"—
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
As a matter of fact, I never mentioned Mr. Davitt's name, nor had I any occasion to do so.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am glad I have drawn that contradiction from the noble Marquess. I really thought he must have been misreported; for I could not help thinking when I saw the remark that he must have been very ignorant of contemporary history not to have known what Mr. Davitt's life had been. But Mr. Shaw Lefevre, who is an ex-Cabinet Minister, and a former Colleague of the noble Earl, has supported those who encouraged resistance to the law. What he and his friends have done is not to support any particular set of political opinions, not to attempt to turn the Government out of Office, which is always the legitimate enterprize of every English politician, but to unite themselves with people who were resisting the law of the land; and that divides off their conduct by a sharp line, which you cannot pass, from anything that they can impute to the Conservative Party, or to any other Party, which for the last 200 years has conducted the Government of this country. That is the complaint which I make to the noble Earl; and if he will show the sincerity of his retort upon us by abandoning, on behalf of himself and his Colleagues, this combination with the men of disorder when they are resisting the application and the enforcement of the law, and instead of doing so will return to that legitimate form of alliance I have indicated, and will simply try in the Division Lobby to turn the Government out of Office, I will quite agree that there is nothing to choose between his conduct and ours. The noble Earl asked, in conclusion, whether we expected this policy of ours to have any ultimate success—whether we thought it was possible that we could consolidate the Empire by force? Unless I have very much misread history, my impression is that every Empire and every Kingdom that has ever been, has been, in the first instance, consolidated 45 by force; and it has been under the Empire of the laws so established and rigorously enforced that an opinion favourable to those laws has gradually grown up, and in the end patriotism, and a sense of the blessings that law and order produce, have sufficed to secure the political stability of the edifice, which at first was built up by means of the scaffolding of force. My Lords, the force of which we speak is only that coercion which, as my noble Friend below the Gangway, the Seconder of the Address, so well said, is the necessary sanction of all law. I understand the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Herschell) to have said that we have made things and words punishable now which were not punishable before. I must wait until my champion comes back from abroad before I venture to cross swords with so skilled an adversary as the noble and learned Lord upon this point; but I can only say that my noble and learned Friend (the Earl of Selborne)—who may, at least, be mentioned in the same breath with the noble and learned Lord—is entirely of a different opinion. At all events, in considering the nature and essential character of the Coercion Act now applied to Ireland, you must never forget that what we are enforcing is not abstinence from any particular form of political propaganda, not abstinence from any political discussion or political abuse—it is not abstinence from the effort to overthrow any particular institution. Our laws, and the laws which we have passed, and which we administer, are not levelled against conduct of that kind. It is as free as ever it was for any Englishman or Irishman to agitate against any institution of this country, and to express himself with what freedom he pleases on the characters and actions of public men. What we have enforced is the private right to the payment of those debts which the law declares to be just. The elementary rights of the creditor and the owner, that right upon which all civil society is based, and which, if the noble Lords opposite came into Office to-morrow, or if Home Rule were granted to Ireland and a Home Rule Government created, would have to be enforced and carried out by them under the penalty that without the enforcement of that right no civilized society can be maintained.
THE EARL OF JERSEY
called attention to the absence from the Queen's Speech of any reference to the measure which had been contemplated for establishing a Minister of Agriculture. He should be glad to know whether that question had been shelved, or whether it was intended to bring forward a Bill upon the subject during the present Session? He should also be glad to know whether in the Government Bill upon railway rates and charges the clauses of the Bill would be so framed as to leave it, as in the Bill of last year, in the power of the Railway Companies to charge a lower rate of freight upon imported produce than was charged upon British produce. If so, it would not be satisfactory.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Viscount CRANBROOK)
said, it was not usual to refer to the details of Government measures in the Queen's Speech; but the matters referred to by the noble Earl were under consideration.
§ Address agreed to, nemine dissentiente, and ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.